LAS VEGAS-In the 12 months ending June 30, CUNA said its analysis indicates credit unions added 2.1 million new members, he reported. This growth is 80% higher than the 1.2 million average in any 12-month period over the last decade, and is four times greater than the 12-month period ending June 2011.
"As we near the one-year anniversary of Bank Transfer Day, recent data is off the charts," said CUNA CEO Bill Cheney in remarks before two CUNA Councils-CUNA Operations, Sales & Service Council and CUNA Technology Council-said. "When I heard the numbers I was ecstatic."
That new business has translated into 2.6 million new checking accounts over the same period, which CUNA data indicates is the strongest performance since the association began tracking the data in 1989.
"Consumers finally woke up to the fact credit unions are a better deal, and when they are walking in the door they like the experience and are telling their friends. I am excited about that, and it is about time."
While loans and credit quality have improved, Cheney said CUNA is projecting the pace of ROA growth to slow.
National Campaign Too Pricey
Cheney said he continues to field questions about a national advertising campaign by credit unions.
"I think we can use much less in terms of dollars and get efficient return on those dollars on earned media and social media, rather than traditional media. CUNA and the national Credit Union Roundtable are looking at a national campaign, just not through traditional media."
As for what credit unions can expect from Congress, the answer is not much. "The blame goes to both sides of the aisle and is an example of the partisan gridlock that has paralyzed Washington," Cheney assessed, adding CUNA holds out some hope the malaise will shake loose during "lame duck" session of Congress after Election Day.
"Congress has a lot to deal with after the election, because all that has been done all year is to kick the can down the road," he continued. "The fiscal cliff that everyone is talking about is just one of many things the legislators will have to deal with. Member business lending is one priority for CUNA. Some have suggested we just give up, but if we give up, we lose. CUNA will work to remind legislators member business lending makes sense. Businesses need money and credit unions have money to lend."
That isn't too say some in Washington haven't been active. "The pendulum has swung too far toward over-regulation, and CUNA is trying to convince people this is not sustainable," Cheney said. "The CFPB did not exist two years ago, but it now has 1,300 employees on the way to 1,600. The concept is to protect consumers, which no one can object to. It was supposed to simplify regulations so consumers understand offers from competing financial institutions. That is not what they've done."