Author Archive

A Smarter Choice (.org) for Your Finances

Posted by on Thursday, 17 February, 2011

A common question in the Credit Union industry is “how do we change credit unions from being ‘the best-kept secret in financial institutions’ to ‘It’s no secret: Credit unions are consumers best option for financial services.’”

Insiders may get it, but to everybody else – well, it’s still a secret.

A new website, going on-line Feb. 28, aims to start changing that.

ASmarterChoice.org will debut at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) on February 28. The site is aimed at telling the credit union story to consumers-at-large and the press. Above that purpose it will also work at convincing more of those potential members to consider and then join a credit union.

The new website is being developed through a partnership between CUNA and State Leagues- Its development costs were borne entirely by the state associations; the website’s services are free to all visitors.

A key component of aSmarterChoice.org is the first, consolidated and comprehensive “credit union locator” which will direct consumers to a CU they can join with minimal hassle and no confusion. The CU locator will include all credit unions – regardless of their charter, affiliation, size, or business models.

The website name, aSmarterChoice.org, emphasizes the exceptional value and service credit unions provide to more than 92 million consumers today.  As not-for-profit cooperatives, credit unions return earnings back to their members in the form of better rates and lower fees.  Independent surveys consistently rank credit unions above banks and thrifts as the institution consumers trust to look out for their best interests.

The stimulus for the project came from a task force assembled by the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL), made up of chief executives of several state associations. In their deliberations, the task force identified a key goal for the new web tool: Helping credit unions build membership.

In addition to the tools provided by aSmarterChoice.org the site will also spread the latest good word of credit unions appearing in the national, regional and local news media and much more.

aSmarterChoice.org has the potential of spreading the CU difference like never before, allowing us, passionate credit union professionals and enthusiasts to add another tool to our “share the CU spirit” arsenal. What ways do you think this can revolutionize our industry?  Post your ideas and comments below!


Read the Whole Story: NCUA Actions Won’t Cost Taxpayers

Posted by on Wednesday, 29 September, 2010

Watch as CUNA President and CEO Bill Cheney urges consumers to “read the whole story” about NCUA’s actions on corporate credit unions–not just the headlines–about NCUA’s actions Sept. 24 to stabilize, resolve and reform the corporate/wholesale credit union system.

Cheney assures credit union members that the consumer credit unions they use every day “have not been affected” by the NCUA actions.


National Press Likes ‘Move Your Money’ to Credit Unions

Posted by on Thursday, 27 May, 2010

The “move your money” campaign generated much excitement among consumers, credit unions — and the press. That’s not news: It’s been going on since December, when the campaign to move deposits from big banks to “community banks” was first outlined on the Huffington Post (and, as a result of demands by readers of HP, eventually extended to credit unions).

Lately, though national press interest in the idea of more consumers moving to credit unions has been spiking. At CUNA, we’ve received inquiries from national media as well as big regional papers. A Newsday feature (in NYC and Long Island) about consumers moving their money to credit unions is just the most recent example. At CUNA, we jump on the opportunities to promote credit unions through all channels.

There is no doubt that consumers have been moving their money to credit unions. Last year, savings grew by 10.3 percent, the biggest one-year increase in at least five years. But are consumers moving with their money? In other words, what’s the membership growth?

More people are, in fact, becoming credit union members: 2009 witnessed more than 1.2 million new members — a 1.4 percent growth rate (to 91.2 million members — now nearly 1 in 4 Americans are CU members). That growth is robust: It outpaces the U.S. population growth by 1.5 times, as well as the growth of the nation’s banking customer base, which largely mirrors the U.S. population growth rate.

But is the 2009 growth rate an anomaly? On its face — not really. In 2008, for example, membership grew by 1.6 percent (the fastest one-year growth over the last half decade), and 2006 growth was 1.4 percent also.

But, CUNA economists suspect there is something more to the numbers (as economists typically do). They point out that indirect lending by auto dealers had been the engine (so to speak) of CU member growth prior to the Great Recession starting in late 2007.

Over the last 18 months or so, car buying has waned with the growth of the economy, which means indirect-lending-member-growth has slowed as well.

Nevertheless, membership grew in 2009, as the numbers show! CUNA’s experts believe that consumers are, in fact, moving their money and their feet to credit unions, even though the numbers were not inflated so much last year by new members through indirect lending.

We don’t have 2010 numbers yet (for 1st quarter), but they should be ready soon. Will there be a corresponding spike in membership? If so, we’ve got another great story to tell to the national press. If not — well, we’ve still got a great story anyway. More to come, no doubt.


Credit Union Business Lending in the News

Posted by on Friday, 7 May, 2010

If credit union business lending has been the subject of stories and opinion pieces in your local newspaper – or even in the national papers you read or the local radio stations you listen to – it’s no accident.

It’s the result of a coordinated effort by the Leagues – working with CUNA – to get out the word through local media that credit unions are helping the economy, and want to do more. And pressing the point that they could do more if Congress would allow credit unions greater capacity to make member business loans.

Which would pump $10 billion into the economy and create 108,000 new jobs at no cost to the taxpayer.

News stories and op-eds have appeared from Maine to California. News stories typically feature local business owners singing the praises of their credit unions.

“Community Choice (Credit Union) has been a godsend for us,” Christy Drake told the Des Moines (Iowa) Business Record. Drake, with her husband, owns and operates two small businesses in Greater Des Moines; a bank had recently called their loan. “I never missed a payment, and I was never late; that was the shocker,” she said.

“We have had a very pleasant experience (dealing with the credit union) compared to the similar challenge facing traditional banks,” Mike Cahill told the Arizona Capitol Times. Cahill owns seven Phoenix-area car wash locations.

The Las Vegas Business Press wrote that local business owner Curtis Wells “is the kind of customer community bankers dream of, but he is committed to Boulder Dam Credit Union, which gave him his first loan and all the loans since.”

These items – and more – are on the CUNA website; click on Member Business Lending under CUNA Initiatives.


First Feedback on Bill Cheney as New CUNA President/CEO

Posted by on Wednesday, 5 May, 2010

Bill Cheney

Feedback from credit unions and the press about CUNA’s hiring of Bill Cheney to succeed Dan Mica as president and CEO is already starting to roll in. From credit union folks: “Great choice” and “a real CU man” have been common.

 From reporters, there have been questions (which is what they are paid to ask). Somewhat typical: “Why didn’t you hire another ex-congressman?” (We’re in a much different place than 14 years ago, when Dan was hired. Because of Dan’s work, CUNA is highly respected on Capitol Hill and within the CU System. With Bill’s advocacy experience and system knowledge, our board agreed that Bill has the right combination of talents needed for these times.) “So, is CUNA going in a different direction?” (Nope; with his proven knowledge, background and experience, Bill can take the wheel immediately, build on CUNA’s achievements, and take the organization to new heights.) “Who were the other candidates, what’s the paycheck?” (Sorry folks; that’s all confidential.)

 The resulting stories from the reporters reflect their questions. Credit Union Times and Credit Union Journal (subscription required) both note Bill’s extensive experience throughout credit unions.

The Hill (a Washington newspaper covering Congress and the Capitol Hill community) mused about other candidates (including ex-congressmen and women).