Most often used in the world of sports, the word "momentum" identifies a team that is on its way to achievement and may not be stopped. Usually in a seven-game match, for example, the team that wins the fifth game is said to have momentum, a force moving them forward, and they will likely win the series. Sometimes during a game sportscasters will say a team has momentum because they are dictating the pace of the competition.

In politics, a candidate is said to have momentum if they have a week of events that attracts crowds of people or they raise more money than the other candidates running against them. Momentum could also result from winning a primary contest in one state the week before an election in another.

Momentum is a great thing to have as it signifies movement in the right direction. But momentum can change overnight. The sports team loses game six and has to play game seven away from home: momentum lost. A candidate misspeaks and his words dominate the headlines rather than his crowds, fundraising or primary win: momentum lost.

Momentum Gained

In the credit union world we recently saw a good example of attaining momentum. The announcement by NAFCU that it is opening its membership to state-chartered, federally insured credit unions grabbed everyone's attention. It sent a shock wave through CUNA, the group with whom most state charters affiliate. Already working to rebrand and refocus itself, CUNA appeared to be caught off guard by the NAFCU announcement and did not have much to say in response. Advantage NAFCU.

Momentum is a great thing to have. Once you get it, you want to keep it. But to keep it, you have to continue moving forward. You must be ready with your next step, the next piece in the puzzle that will convince others you're on the right track.

Everyone will be watching with great interest to see if NAFCU can keep moving forward or if CUNA can curtail the advancement and develop its own momentum. The stakes are very high.

State-chartered credit unions are in a great bargaining position as each association is able to offer them a deal on dues, programs and access. Buckle up — the ride has just begun, and the battle is just beginning as both NAFCU and CUNA make their best moves to grab and hold the big M. What is the prize for the winner? Influence and prestige for years to come.

Michael E. Fryzel is an attorney and consultant to the financial services industry with offices in Chicago. He is a former chairman of the National Credit Union Administration and board member. He can be contacted at: meflaw@aol.com