WASHINGTON (5/14/13)--"The banks may have more money...but what they don't have is the cooperative nature of credit unions," Credit Union National Association Executive Vice President of Strategic Communications and Engagement Paul Gentile said in a new League of Southeastern Credit Unions and Affiliates (LSCU) podcast.
Cooperative effort is at the heart of CUNA's Unite for Good rallying cry for credit unions, which calls upon credit unions to work toward a movement-wide strategic vision in which "Americans Choose Credit Unions as Their Best Financial Partner," Gentile told LSCU Vice President of Communications Mike Bridges in the podcast
Collaborating to remove barriers, raise awareness and foster service excellence are the three major goals of the Unite for Good effort. CUNA has suggested several steps credit unions can take to achieve each of these goals. Unite for Good has a full arsenal of resources to help credit unions spread their positive message, he said.
However, he said, the No. 1 key for credit unions right now is to go to their membership and tell them the value of the credit union tax status. "With the tax fight that's brewing, we want members to understand the value of the credit union structure," Gentile said.
Whether in financial services or other industries, being the smaller guy and not being the "king of the mountain" has its advantages, he noted.
Larger institutions, no matter the industry, can find it harder to be creative and are not as flexible as their smaller counterparts, he emphasized. "Credit unions...want to get mainstream, but we should also embrace the flexibility we have with our marketplace. You can't be everything to everybody, but if you can find a niche in your area ...that's powerful," Gentile said.
Looking at local niche areas can help credit unions "drum up lending until some of the more mainstream markets come back," Gentile said. Private student loans and loans that are intended to help homeowners better their energy efficiency through structural improvements are two examples of niche products that can help credit unions expand their lending portfolios.
Another way credit unions can make their presence felt is by reaching out to their membership. Credit unions can grow from within if they speak to their 96 million members and tell their own story within their own membership, Gentile said.
For the full podcast interview, use the resource link.