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CUs' true advantage--trust--will win new members--CUNA's Gentile
WASHINGTON (1/8/13)--Credit unions should tap into their true advantage--trust--rather than their fee and rate advantages to woo new members during 2013, says the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) in an editorial in CU Insight.

"For too long the credit union system has hung its hat on its rate and fee advantage over banks," wrote Paul Gentile, CUNA's executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement. "While being competitive is always important, we need to promote our true advantage--trust," he said.

"As nonprofit financial cooperatives that exist solely to serve the lending and savings needs of consumers, credit unions' value proposition is trust. Whether we are in booming economic times or a recession, credit unions operate the same way. We learned that during the most recent recession. While banks reined in their lending, credit union lending expanded."

Many leaders say consumers "don't care about anything but the best deal they can get," he wrote. "In this low-rate environment, that has probably never been less true. Credit unions are the best deal more often than not, but in today's era of corporate mistrust we should think bigger than that. Reputation matters. Credit unions everywhere should be talking about their cooperative history and with that our value proposition of trust will shine through."

The credit union system's core mission is advancing financial literacy/education. "I have witnessed first hand how credit unions can win over people in their community, not just members, by offering financial education sessions on everything from retirement to financing college," he wrote. "We are already deep into the trust game and should be sure consumers are aware of it."

CUNA has already established a channel to get the credit union message out: aSmarterChoice.org--"a landing pad for consumers and press alike to learn about all the great things credit unions do for members, and all the reasons credit unions are 'trusted' financial providers."

Gentile encouraged credit unions to visit the site, read stories that colleagues contribute and find a story they can contribute."Together, we can build aSmarterChoice into a comprehensive repository of 'trust' stories that will help us win consumers over."

To read the full article, check out aSmarterChoice, or review News Now stories about surveys where credit unions' reputation stood out during 2012, use the links.
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