WASHINGTON-CUNA President Bill Cheney expects 2013 to be a year in which CUs continue to take business from banks, but added a caveat that much of the long-term success from the new members will hinge on service excellence.

"There is much more attention to credit unions coming out of the financial crisis," Cheney told Credit Union Journal. "It started with Bank Transfer Day and has accelerated from there-growth has gotten stronger every quarter. I can't recall in my 26 years in the credit union movement a better opportunity for credit unions to shine as an alternative to other financial providers."

Cheney said CUNA will do its part to tell the CU story, saying the trade association has many initiatives planned this year to help CUs grow. "At GAC we will roll out a new vision for the credit union movement that talks about promoting growth, removing barriers, and fostering service excellence."

Other points made by Cheney related to the year ahead:

* While it's imporant to ensure new members are profitable, the first step is not cross-selling, but to focus on service and deepen the relationships.

* Cheney urged CUs to stress the CU difference with members and within their communities. "They can explain not only the better value credit unions bring but share the fact credit unions are a better way of doing business."

* For 2013 CUNA's top priorities, Cheney said, are protecting the credit union tax exemption, reducing CU regulatory burden, and enhancing the credit union charter. CUNA will continue to push for an increase in the MBL cap.

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