Every day, millions of lives are touched by credit unions, and millions more are looking to join. In the United States alone, we saw membership increase by more than 4 percent since last July1 – the fastest rate of growth in a generation.
The credit union message spreads far beyond our shores, though. Globally, there are over 220 million members in well over 100 countries2. It’s an impressive foundation but there’s still a way to go if we’re to reach WOCCU’s target of 260 million members by the year 2020.
Having spent my career working with and for credit unions, I am confident we will reach that number; in no small part because the movement is – as it always has been – steadfastly committed to its founding principle of people helping people.
When yet another banking scandal hit the headlines recently, we were reminded just how unique this philosophy is to our industry. It is what distinguishes the credit union system from other financial services. It is the authentic difference that we are proud to celebrate today, on International Credit Union Day.
For members like Leslie Finklea – a hardworking single mother from Longview, Texas – and millions like her across the world, there is no question of the real and lasting impact that a credit union can have on the community it serves.
After saving for ten years to build a home for her and her son, Leslie was twice denied a mortgage by the banks she trusted. For them, Leslie’s teacher’s salary was deemed insufficient, and the absence of a co-signer too great a risk. But for East Texas Professional Credit Union, an institution with which she had no financial history, it was an opportunity to help someone build a better, stronger financial future.
As not-for-profit financial cooperatives, credit unions can do what banks beholden to their stockholders simply cannot: put a member’s wellbeing first. They can see value beyond a simple dollar sign.
At CUNA Mutual Group, we are proud to be a part of the international credit union movement. For us, it is a privilege to work with and for these institutions and today, on International Credit Union Day, we say thank you for letting us share this journey with you.