As American credit unions face economic circumstances unlike any they have ever experienced, leaders of the movement have begun discussing ways the industry can come to the aid of organizations hurt by the aftermath.
Fred Johnson, President and CEO of the Credit Union Executives Society, has called on strong organizations to help those in need. “Credit unions have an advantage; we are a cooperative movement. As such, we have not only the opportunity, but the obligation to work together to ensure the overall health of our industry,” he said.
In a recent blog post, Living With Crisis, Ken Thygerson, Ph.D., president and founder of Digital University, Inc., offers a sobering assessment. “It would be folly to say that credit unions will come out of this unscathed. The mortgage and mortgage security meltdown combined with recession-induced defaults on auto, home improvement, and credit card paper will challenge just about every firm,” he said.
Thygerson recommends that credit unions adopt policies today to help them through what he expects to be a “severe recession.” He cautions credit unions to avoid knee-jerk reactions to daily headlines and to think long-term.
Executives seeking a centralized response to the crisis have turned to CUES. “As a non-political association, CUES facilitates discussion among industry leaders from thousands of credit unions. But conversations of this magnitude are not meant solely for e-mails and listserves; they must happen face-to-face,” said Johnson.
Encouraging the leaders of the movement to come together in person, Johnson says CUES has restructured its annual conference, CEO Network, to make it a meeting of the minds. “This is not about the conference; it is about bringing executives together in a timely manner, in a safe environment where ideas can come to the surface and action plans can be plotted,” said Johnson.
In an effort to draw as many industry leaders as possible, Johnson announced that CUES has adjusted the registration fee to “pay what you can.” “What does this mean?” said Johnson. “Exactly as it sounds; tell us what you can pay. If it is nothing, then you pay nothing. You decide.”
Now more than ever, Johnson says, the industry needs to come together—credit unions helping credit unions. “Be part of the conversation,” he advises. To learn more, go to cues.org/ceonetwork/.