Tag Archive for: Credit Unions

In late 2021, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) confirmed the right of credit unions “to establish relationships with third-party providers that offer digital asset services to the FICUs’ members” (an FICU is a federally insured credit union).

That announcement meant that credit unions could begin the process of connecting their members to various cryptocurrency providers. And administration vice chair, Kyle Hauptman went so far as to say, “I don’t want credit unions to get the way of Blockbuster Video because we, the regulators, prevented innovation.”

You probably need to be of a certain “vintage” to understand that reference. Let’s say that we can talk about “Netflix and chill” while “Blockbuster and chill” would just generate confused stares.

For that matter, is “Netflix and chill” still a thing? Probably not – post-COVID and all…

And I don’t know about you, but I can still remember a time when Blockbuster had the chance to buy Netflix.

Now look!

Sometimes, the opportunity we don’t take is the one we have to take. Hindsight is 20/20.

Is the same true for cryptocurrency in the years to come?

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Happy International Credit Union Day. After writing about the seven principles of cooperation at the core of the credit union movement, I wanted to share my thoughts on this special day.

As you might be able to see from this banner from the World Counci of Credit Unions, this is their 75th anniversary. 

So, just what is International Credit Union Day?

In its 65th year, this year is extra special. On their website the World Council of Credit Unions tells us that:

International Credit Union (ICU) Day® celebrates the spirit of the global credit union movement. The day is recognized to reflect upon the credit union movement’s history, promote its achievements, recognize hard work and share member experiences. International Credit Union (ICU) Day® has been celebrated on the third Thursday of October since 1948.

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Credit unions pride themselves on their commitment to their communities and demonstrate that concern in many ways. This includes supporting charitable drives in the neighborhood, bankrolling local small businesses, or sponsoring financial literacy efforts aimed at their friends, neighbors, and fellow credit union members.

This commitment can be seen in the social media feeds, email newsletters, and web posts of credit unions all across Canada and the United States. I believe it is a sincere commitment and is one of the greatest strengths of the credit union movement as a whole.  Read more

You and I know that credit unions are here to help their members and their community. This includes helping that community to build a strong financial foundation as individuals and as a whole. One of the ways credit unions do that is by offering education, training and information on financial goals, products and services.

What it means to you: Access to financial literacy tools and resources. Credit unions believe that education contributes to personal growth.

Brought to you once again by Synergy Credit Union in Saskatchewan. (The quote, that is) Read more

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.
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Multi coloured stick people fill a piggy bank

I’m not sure that everyone who is a credit union member is familiar with just what it means. Do you know why you’re a member? You probably are, if you’re sitting down to read this. But I would hazard the guess that there are many others who don’t really know why they’re a member.

For some, it might be where their family has been banking for decades. For others, it might be because their employer supports one. And for others, it might be that the credit union is right down the street.

All of those are valid reasons for being a credit union member, but there are other things that make it something to be proud of. As a credit union member, you are in an elite group making a real difference in your community.

And that community can be whatever size you want it to be. Credit unions make a difference in their local neighbourhood, but by working with other credit unions across the province, the country, or even the world, they make a difference wherever they are needed.

And at their core, credit unions act as financial cooperatives involved in offering banking services to their members.

They aren’t the only type of cooperative enterprises out there (coops for short). There are worker coops, food coops, farming coops, etc. The list goes on.

The Seven Cooperative Principles

Did you know that there is actually a set of cooperative principles maintained and shared by the International Cooperative Alliance? These seven principles are:

  1. Voluntary and open membership

  2. Democratic member control

  3. Member economic participation

  4. Autonomy and independence

  5. Education, training and information

  6. Co-operation between co-operatives

  7. Concern for community

Let’s spend some time looking at each of these principles to understand it in the context of your local, much-beloved credit union, where you feel at home the moment you walk in the door.

But before I continue, I want to take a moment to acknowledge this handout prepared by Synergy Credit Union in Saskatchewan – the birthplace of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. But again, that’s another story…

What do these principles mean?

Voluntary and open membership

What it means to you: No matter what your financial situation looks like, the door is open, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

Isn’t it nice to know that when you walk through the door, you’ll be accepted for who you are? I know I appreciate it.

Democratic member control

What it means to you: You help call the shots by electing a board of directors. One member equals one vote. This is local democracy in action.

And when you get your invitation to attend the general meeting and vote for your board of directors, you have just as much say as the person sitting next to you, no matter how much either of you have invested in your credit union. Not exactly the message you would hear if you were to go to one of the big bank’s annual meetings.

Member economic participation

What it means to you: Better rates, lower fees and services that benefit the entire credit union. The more that members participate, the more there is to go around.

This is something else you don’t see from the banks. When things go well, the only people cheering are the shareholders.

Autonomy and independence

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

Power in your hands and in those of your neighbours. That’s a comforting feeling.

Education, training and information

What it means to you: Access to financial literacy tools and resources. Credit unions believe that education contributes to personal growth.

Lessons in personal finance, for saving, borrowing, or investing, help you live more stress-free and on top of your games than you would otherwise. And besides, don’t you think the coffee and donuts are a nice touch?

Co-operation between co-operatives

What it means to you: Your credit union strengthens the co-operative movement by partnering with organizations that share the same important values.

There is comfort in the knowledge that there are credit unions like yours all across the country (and around the world) out there sharing your values working with you to promote those values.

Concern for community

What it means to you: Knowing that your day-to-day banking translates into benefits for charities, local businesses and the entire community.

By being a member of your local credit union, you are contributing to your community. Whether that is through supporting local business or contributing to local charities, you’re supporting your own community.

What does all this mean?

If you are a member of your local credit union, stand up and be proud. You deserve the credit. (Get it? Teehee)

This is a message to be shared. In the same way that we share these values.

A drawn image of a crowd of people of all colors

No matter what your financial situation looks like, the door is open, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

As a member of your local credit union, you participate in deciding who will oversee the general direction of the institution, and it will act to serve its members and community. And refreshingly, your influence is based on being an individual member – not on the number of voting shares you bring to the table. In some ways, it seems like a radical concept, but it doesn’t need to be. 

Credit unions work by offering members a sense of ownership along with the feeling of inclusion I talked about in my last post. And that sense of ownership can be empowering. 

But that sense of power brings with it a feeling of responsibility. We are collectively involved in real decisions with real consequences. And those decisions should not be taken lightly.

The purpose of any credit union is to offer economic and financial benefits to its members. And that means you. Because the credit union belongs to its members, rates and fees are set to benefit everyone in the credit union. And services are put in place to help each of us.

When financial consumers and credit union members want to discuss financial literacy, they’re really looking for financial wellness.

While you might get questions about contribution limits for RRSPs and TFSAs, the answers you offer need to include information about emergency funds and insurance.

So, while members can benefit from understanding key concepts and terms about their personal finance, their lives will be improved when they put a plan in place that gives them the financial security they need and desire.