Autonomy and Independence: The Fourth Cooperative Principle

Autonomy and independence might seem like fancy words, but they do describe the continuation of your journey toward personal financial control. As a credit union member, you share control with your fellow CU members. And as a group, your credit union gains autonomy and independence. Strength in numbers, don’t you think?

Autonomy and independence: Offering strength in numbers

What it means to you: As a financial cooperative, your credit union is controlled by real members like you instead of outside shareholders.

Acknowledging once again this great leaflet developed by Synergy Credit Union in Saskatchewan. 

Together, credit union members help each other and their community to move toward the financial outcomes they wish for and deserve. This includes investing in local small businesses through loans and financial advice. It can also include promoting and patronizing those businesses and offering assistance to local charities active in the community. These might seem like small things, but altogether, they make a big difference.

The goal of your local credit union is to give you control over your financial well-being. I mean, has anyone ever seen a movie about the evil credit union swooping in and foreclosing on the family farm – in the way the banks do in your classic Western? 

That’s it, isn’t it? The decisions that a credit union makes are based on the needs and wants of the local community – not the whims and desires of those in a far-off board room somewhere. This provides control – autonomy and independence – where it is most sorely needed. 

Independent but still safe

It’s important to point out that while credit unions and their members pride themselves on their independent spirit, that money is still protected by provincial and federal regulations, just like the banks. 

The Canadian Credit Union Association points out that “(a)ll provinces have deposit guarantee frameworks that provide credit union members with deposit protection equal to, or higher than, the big banks. In some provinces that coverage is unlimited.” So, if anything, your money is safer at your neighborhood credit union than at the local branch of one of the big banks.

The credit union – It’s yours. Use it

So having a credit union in your neighborhood is something to be celebrated, cherished and utilized. The independence and autonomy we are celebrating here are only meaningful if we put them to use. 

So make sure you get involved in your credit union and share the news with your friends and neighbors. And if you aren’t already a member (thanks for getting this far if you aren’t), then please find one that feels right for you and become a member. You’ll feel right at home before you know it.