MONTREAL — In as surprise move Tuesday afternoon, NAFCU announced that it is broadening its membership to include federally insured, state-chartered credit unions, putting it directly at odds with CUNA, which had previously been the only trade group representing both types of CUs.

The expansion, effective immediately, has the potential to massively grow NAFCU's member base. According to the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS), there are more than 2,500 state-chartered CUs, 95% of which are federally insured.

"The NAFCU Board made this unanimous decision because our industry is rapidly evolving, and in a changing marketplace, credit unions are seeking more from their advocacy organizations," NAFCU president and CEO Dan Berger said in a statement from Montreal, where the trade group is currently holding its annual convention. "We've heard that message and are ready to rise to the challenge."

CUNA Media Relations Manager Vicki Christner said her trade group does not comment on the internal workings of other trade groups.

NAFCU already represents several state-chartered CUs that were grandfathered into membership after converting from federal to state charters. Moving forward, state charters will join as associate members of NAFCU.

Ed Templeton, chair of NAFCU's board of directors, called the expansion "a natural evolution of NAFCU's mission" in that it "supports our goal to help all credit unions with federal issues by becoming a stronger, more impactful organization."

NAFCU's shift to serving state-chartered credit unions adds fuel to the fire for those who say credit unions are over-represented by having two major trade groups that are often in lockstep (though not always).

Raleigh. N.C.-based State Employees' CU — one of the nation's largest credit unions — disaffiliated from CUNA last year in part due to concerns about the future structure of the organization.

NAFCU also released a video with more information on the change.

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