What if your credit union could serve anyone you wanted to serve? What if you could serve every single man, woman and child in the U.S.?
This isn’t just idle daydreaming—it turns out one credit union already can. In fact, due to looser rules in some states prior to the creation of the Federal Credit Union Act in 1934, there’s a handful of credit unions out there with “open” fields of membership that were grandfathered in after regulators battened down the hatches.

But those dream FOMs didn’t result in unbridled success. On the contrary, at least one such credit union was placed in conservatorship and consequently merged into a larger institution (that has now inherited that expansive field—learn about that credit union’s growth plans, as well as the plans of seven other credit unions with the greatest number of potential members on their rolls in a special report coming Monday).
Having literally hundreds of millions of people to market to doesn’t mean much if there’s no plan in place to woo them—and the plans and resources in place to serve them once they’re won over.
As bankers hunker down for their lawsuit against the National Credit Union Administration’s modernization of FOM rules, credit unions need to do more than just be ready to fight to preserve their newfound rights to expand—they need to be ready to make good on the promise of the credit union difference.
The new FOM regulations still don’t allow a credit union to serve the entire population of the U.S. But there is value in asking yourself: what would you do if you could? And more: there is value in being able to show lawmakers, regulators and consumers alike why they should wish that you could.

Editor in Chief Lisa Freeman can be reached at lisa.freeman@sourcemedia.com.