WASHINGTON—CUNA President Jim Nussle challenged the entire concept of “coopetition” among credit unions during remarks opening the trade association’s Governmental Affairs Conference.
“Coopetition,” a word often used to describe competition among cooperatives such as credit unions, doesn’t make any sense in a market in which banks continue to hold a dominant market share (93% vs. 7%), said Nussle.
“I hear about coopetition: why?” asked Nussle. “We have way too much at stake. Why go after another credit union? Go after Bank of America. Go after other banks. Go after Starbucks. Don’t just as what’s in it for me, ask what’s in it for we. We can be fiercely independent and fiercely cooperative.”
Nussle said the result is the “heart” of credit unions is under attack,” but not from banks as much as from credit unions themselves.
Nussle addressed a record CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference audience of 5,300.
A CU ‘Heart Attack’
“I call this threat the credit union heart attack,” said Nussle. “This is not a medical condition. This is when the heart of our movement is under stress when we forget why our cooperative principles matter and we don’t cooperate with each other. The word coopetition is creeping into our vocabulary as more credit unions compete against each other. And I ask, why?”
Nussle said he recognizes that ambition is part of the movement’s DNA, but that credit unions should
“work with each other, collaborate–otherwise plaque builds up on our arteries and we have a heart attack.”
2 Other Challenges
Nussle outlined two other industry challenges that lie ahead, including attacks on the credit union business model.
“Bank hypocrisy and over-regulation threatens our very existence and the market attack. And, the marketplace is changing, and credit unions need to get on board to keep our relevance,” he said.
Nussle urged attendees to use their “cooperative superpowers,” to make a difference, which are otherwise known as the 7 Cooperative Principles:
- Voluntary and open membership
- Democratically controlled
- Member economic participation
- Education, training and information
- Concern for community
- Cooperation among cooperatives
‘Why We Are Here’
“The last one, again, is the most important,” Nussle said, saying that credit unions may be forgetting the powers they have. “That’s why we are here in Washington this week, to rally and come together to solve problems.”
Nussle also pointed to the success CUs enjoyed in 2018, calling it an “incredible” year.
“In 2018, credit unions delivered roughly $16 billion in direct and indirect financial benefits to consumers,” he said. “Credit unions added nearly five million members, growth that is five times higher than the U.S. population growth.”