TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-As an industry, CUs in 2013 need to begin planning for how they will do business in an era in which their tax exemption is taken away.
Mansel Guerry, president and CEO of Credit Union 24, believes with all the pressure on the federal government to find new revenue streams that CUs will lose their tax-exempt status within the next three to five years. He urged credit unions to begin working to develop uniform national branding that will separate them from banks and be easily recognized by consumers. He also insisted that credit unions get much better at educating people on the CU difference.
"Unfortunately, I don't see credit unions preserving the CU tax exemption forever. It is inevitable that at some point that status goes by the wayside," said Guerry. "Even if credit unions lose their tax-exempt status, I still think the industry is best served to maintain its not-for-profit status because it provides a clear focus on the mission of the institution. Forgoing their not-for-profit status would be a mistake, further blurring the lines between themselves and banks."
What CUs need to do now, said Guerry, is further capitalize on Bank Transfer Day momentum and "re-energize the credit union brand. We need to have some form of common brand. I said 20 years ago we needed to adopt common signage for credit unions to help consumers see, and better understand, the credit union difference. It's an opportunity we have not seized, and now is the time. So the challenge in the next three-to-five years is for credit unions to really think about their brand and create a common message, as well as a common image, that clearly communicate to consumers what credit unions are all about."