During the 2013 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference, I unveiled a shared, strategic vision for the credit union movement: “Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner.”
The aim of this strategic vision was to guide us and bring us together to achieve a shared agenda to:
Remove barriers (such as outdated laws and regulations that hold credit unions back from fully serving their members);
Create awareness (among the public, generally about the roles credit unions play in the lives of their members—but especially among future credit union members and leaders); and
- Foster service excellence (by always looking for and providing avenues to deliver the best service experience to members).
We developed this shared vision and agenda to reach two goals by 2023:
1. Add more than 55 million Americans as primary financial institution members at credit unions; and
2. Return $20 billion in financial benefits to members annually, through lower rates on loans, higher returns on savings, and fewer and lower fees.
That’s a big bite. So, we developed a catch-line to make it easier to digest: Unite for Good.
This sums up what our vision really asks our movement to do: Unite behind a shared vision to result in more good for our members.
We provided tools and resources, and credit unions embraced the vision. And we backed them up by:
Pushing relentlessly to remove barriers by advocating for regulatory relief, both in legislation and in regulation (oft en arguing it’s unreasonable to subject credit unions to any more regulation than they already face).
Creating awareness by working with the press to publish and broadcast reports about the value credit unions return to their members—and arranging special events, such as our demonstration outside the NBC “Today Show” in New York during our America’s Credit Union Conference.
- Providing educational resources and events about the latest techniques for maintaining the highest level of service to members.
Coupled with credit unions’ own efforts to always give members the best service possible, we’ve seen results: For the sixth straight year, credit unions were tops among financial institutions (especially banks) in the 2013 American Customer Satisfaction Index, even increasing their “satisfaction level” over last year.
We have a long way to go— and we’re laying out a plan for going the distance.
We’re exploring exciting ideas and initiatives to bring these goals into a unified approach to achieve our shared agenda.
Since I came to CUNA, I’ve stressed the importance—and value— of credit unions being more politically involved and engaging members in the effort. We’ve done that successfully through Don’t Tax My Credit Union—but we need to do more.
An important discovery we’ve made is when credit unions engage their members politically (by asking them to support candidates or speak out in support of credit union issues), those members who do so become, by and large, even more loyal users of financial services from their credit unions.
Our movement is on the cusp of reaching a milestone of 100 million memberships. Imagine what credit unions could accomplish if we could engage just half of those in support of our issues—especially as it results in a larger pool of “most loyal” members.
We’re working to accomplish that right now.
In 2014, we’ll continue to work to Unite for Good and to reach our goals. Our journey is just starting.