When Filene and Bergengren sowed the seeds of cooperation as a guiding principle to a nascent movement of credit unions back in the 1930s and 40s, they engendered within our system a distinct power and ability to grapple with change, to adapt and to survive.
Although there are some who I’m sure will argue that such a power does not exist, given ongoing mergers and all the recent failures, I contend that it is quite alive and in fact even thriving.
If we focus our perspective solely on the members and what is best for them, then mergers should prove to be opportunities for enhanced service; and failures, opportunities to learn how we might better retool the many complex processes that make up today’s modern-day credit union. Although a failure at a natural person credit union often times brings a stigma to that credit union and its brand identity, the members survive, typically receiving a continuation of service from another credit union, and for the most part, accomplished in a very transparent and caring manner. It’s just the way credit unions do business. I’d bet members of the former WaMu wish they could experience the same!
And when credit unions come together in a spirit of cooperation, reflecting the principles and values they share in common, they seem to always work miracles.
HR 1151 proved to be such a significant event. I might also point to the National Credit Union Foundation and many of the state leagues for the miracles they have worked in times of adversity and natural disasters. Such profound acts of charity—such miracles—occurred because of our cooperative nature; joining our hands and hearts together—cooperatively—for a common goal.
Our cooperative strength is in numbers and the more of us that come together, the greater our voice is heard and our actions noticed.
As credit union executives gather this week in
for The GAC, perhaps there is no better a time to herald that which makes credit unions strong and distinct within the financial services marketplace. Washington, D.C.
More important, it’s a time to recommit ourselves once again to the vision set forth for us by our founders.