Beginning with the first U.S. credit union in 1909 to the present, credit unions have always had a strong, resilient spirit. More than 100 years later, we are now an industry serving 95 million members nationwide.
It has been my extraordinary honor to serve at the helm of NAFCU these past 131/2 years, and it has been an incredible journey. Today, NAFCU has a world class team that stands at the forefront of the financial services industry. While the number of federally chartered credit unions has decreased by 25%, NAFCU has increased its representation of federally chartered credit unions from nearly 63% of assets in December of 2000 to 68% as of March 31, 2013.
Total assets of federally insured credit unions now top $1 trillion, and we've witnessed remarkable growth in credit union membership. Our industry eschewed the questionable lending practices that led to the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. Doing what they do best, credit unions-like NAFCU-maintained their singular and relentless focus on their members, ensuring that the families and small businesses that depended on them had a safe haven during hard financial times.
Credit unions' impressive reputation is stronger than ever. New members flocked to credit unions in 2011 as a result of Bank Transfer Day, and the migration continues. NAFCU's credit union locator, CULookUp.com, sees extraordinary traffic as consumers actively seek out credit unions to serve their financial needs. This is a testament to the ethical, unprecedented service credit unions provide to their members.
The Price of Success
But as Winston Churchill said, "The price of success is responsibility." We have no divine right to success, and great potential and past glory do not guarantee our industry's future success. Member service must be thought of in a new way. Is selling this product the right thing to do? Is the product right for some customers but not others?
You can be assured more questions like these will need to be asked as credit unions continue along a bumpy regulatory road. Life will not get any easier, but struggle does pay off.
As I step away from NAFCU, I am extremely confident in the future of our industry. As I say goodbye to our members and reflect on my time as a leader in this growing industry, I leave you with one final thought from business guru Warren Buffett: "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it."
We've made great strides and had great success. Remain vigilant and true to your mission.
Fred R. Becker Jr. is retiring as president of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions.