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NEW: Cheney Calls On CUs To 'Unite For Good'

WASHINGTON (2/25/13, UPDATED 10:45 a.m. ET)--Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney today presented a bold new, overarching strategic vision for the credit union movement: A vision in which "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."

Outlining this strategic vision, and how credit unions can "Unite for Good" to achieve it, was the focus of the CUNA leader's remarks this morning to the 4,200 participants at the opening general session of CUNA's 2013 Governmental Affairs Conference.

Cheney stressed that developing a vision where Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner stemmed from more than one year of discussions with credit union and league leaders, credit union system partners, and CUNA's own leadership.

All agreed a new vision must be rooted in credit unions' shared values, including collaboration, a focus on members, community involvement, and a dedication to financial well-being. Cheney told a packed GAC audience that he is presenting a broad vision for the movement now because the time for credit unions has never been better.

Cheney explained that a cultural shift is happening in America that aligns perfectly with the credit union movement. "People want to do business with people who have their best interests at heart...This cultural shift is right in our wheelhouse." People are interested in more values-based decision-making and there is a move away from big corporations and big banks, he said.

The CUNA CEO cited Nationwide Insurance, which now touts "doing what's right for our members" in ads, as one prominent example of this cultural shift toward values-based businesses. Bank Transfer Day in late 2011 was another example, one that grew out of consumer frustration with new fees from big banks and prompted consumers by the thousands to discover credit unions through aSmarterChoice.org, the new CUNA/league consumer web site.

"Our advantage is a values-based business model of credit unions…People over profit, banking with a conscience, focusing on members, an organization that's built around your needs," Cheney added.

To realize a vision where Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner, the credit union system will need to work collaboratively to advance three broad goals:

  • Remove barriers: This will requireactively participating in credit union grassroots activities and the political process. The CUNA/League "Plan to Win," which offers detailed involvement prescriptions and accountability measures for credit unions, leagues and CUNA, can help provide a roadmap for success.
  • Raise awareness: Credit unions can achieve this by expanding their outreach and image in their community, taking greater advantage of social media, becoming a trusted resource with their local media, and participating in state and regional co-operative advertising campaigns. These avenues can lead to success. Credit unions can use tools, programs and channels that already exist to share their stories in local communities.
  • Foster service excellence: Cheney stressed that the system must work together so that credit unions across the board can offer a complete set of forward-looking and constantly improving financial services to members of all backgrounds and life stages.

Cheney said these efforts can create a major accomplishment for the credit union system over the next decade.

Two key measures of success, he offered would be to:

  • Increase PFIs: He suggests the movement aim for raising the number of members who consider their credit union to be their primary financial institution (PFI) from today's 40 million up to 50 million by 2023. Another 10 million in 10 years is achievable, and would be clear evidence that more Americans are choosing credit unions as their best financial partner, Cheney explained. The credit union movement will gain immeasurably from all the attendant benefits-in advocacy, growth, and  strength-that emanate from PFI relationships, he noted.
  • Provide more member value: He offered a goal for member value-what consumers save in better rates and lower fees by using credit unions rather than banks-of $20 billion annually by 2023. Today, that figure is about $6 billion. But Cheney noted the second goal compliments the first: The more PFI members we have, the more value we return. And the more value they see, the more people are attracted to credit unions, he said.

CUNA will be working with leagues and credit unions in the coming weeks and months to advance this common vision. And Cheney announced that a new web page, uniteforgood.org, has already been launched with an overview of the initiative and a video on why the time is so right for credit unions to unite for good, with more resources and key information still to come.

"We need to unite for good. We need to unite for the good that credit unions do. Unite for good, so that Americans will choose credit unions as their best financial partner," Cheney told the GAC audience.

For the new web site, use the resource link.

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