October 21, 2021
What sets credit unions apart?
Laurie Baker, President & CEO, The Summit Federal Credit Union
Maybe you belong to a credit union and maybe you don’t. Either way, if you’re reading this blog, chances are you know something about credit unions as well as the basic services offered. Depending on their size and the needs of the membership, credit unions do all the things you’re probably thinking: we give loans, issue debit and credit cards and have savings and checking accounts whose deposits are federally insured. But credit unions have a host of advantages you may not realize. Take a look below at what makes credit unions different and why so many people choose a credit union for their financial services needs.
We’re not-for-profit financial institutions
People are sometimes surprised when they learn that credit unions are not-for-profit organizations, but it’s this fact that perhaps most defines what credit unions are about.
Credit unions are member-owned cooperatives. Any person with a deposit account is a member of that credit union, not a customer. This is an important distinction, because each member of a credit union is also an owner. Each member owns exactly one share of the credit union equal to one vote. It doesn’t matter how much money you have deposited into your accounts or what type of loan you have. All members of the credit union are equal.
It also means that credit unions exist to benefit their members rather than a small group of investors. Why does this matter? Read on.
Our focus is on helping people
It’s a simple assertion but it’s true: credit unions are here to help people. Therefore, a credit union’s profits go back into serving the members in the form of more favorable rates, improved technology and services, updated facilities and a range of products. Credit unions also provide community support, with the goal of improving the lives of those who live and spend time there. All of these activities fulfill the credit union mantra of “people helping people.”
If you do belong to a credit union, it’s likely that you trust it to always act in your best interests and you know that your financial wellness is important to your credit union. Because of our continual focus on members’ well-being, putting special programs in place during the pandemic was a no-brainer. Credit unions across the U.S. stepped up with programs such as emergency loans, loan forbearance and special financial counseling sessions to help people negatively impacted.
Board members are elected volunteers
The board of directors of a credit union are all volunteers elected by the credit union’s members. A person must be a credit union member to run for a board position. The board ensures that the credit union is acting in the members’ best interests and in compliance with federal, state and local laws and regulations.
Credit union leadership better reflects the diversity of its membership. According to the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU), there are ten times as many female CEOs of credit unions than there are of banks.. Those are significant numbers!
Becoming a member is easy
Credit unions traditionally serve a specific group or multiple groups of people such as teachers, employees of a certain company or residents of a particular city. Yet, membership in a credit union is easy. Truly, there is a credit union for everyone.
Check here for all the ways to qualify for membership in The Summit. We’d be happy to welcome you and to help you experience the credit union difference.