The traits that coincide with the U.S. Founding Fathers – courage, conviction, and perseverance – also describe credit unions.
With Great Britain trying to control the U.S., discriminating against religion and calling for taxes without representation, the United States finally declared war in 1775.
The war wasn’t pretty, but in the end it freed the United States from Great Britain and started a diverse country that expanded and grew. While we specifically commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July, North Americans also celebrate a higher-arching theme of courage, conviction, and perseverance.
The Revolutionary War was for the first U.S. settlers what the recent Great Recession was to credit unions. During the past few years, credit unions, with the help of unsatisfied consumers, have been brave in standing up to big banks that are swayed by stakeholders more than members.
Credit unions have conviction. From the very beginning, we believed in the seven cooperative principles and the value of people helping people. We wanted members to be free from financial burden and fiscally independent.
And even in rough times, credit unions have persevered. Credit unions work for the members, and in turn didn’t take huge, inappropriate risks. Because of this, credit unions fared better when the economy fractured. And every day, credit unions across the country and around the world are helping members through tough times, modifying loans, and providing financial literacy education.
Just like the individuals in the Thirteen Colonies came together, no matter their race, sex, or religious affiliation, credit unions must also come together and to win “the battle” against big banks to better serve members. Cooperative financial institutions partner with CUSOs and vendors to share everything from branches to marketing, and the credit unions that pool resources have seen gains in overall performance.
Like the image of Paul Revere, credit unions should unite under one strong central theme: cooperation. People love the lone rider, the superhero, the one strong heroine. This is reiterated through the stories we tell, the images we see, the movies we watch.
While credit unions should stand together as one central institution that does what’s right for its members, credit unions should also look beneath the myth that Paul Revere wasn’t the only rider. There were other riders that night, part of the U.S. early-warning system. In this way, the cooperative foundation stands upon the 7,491 credit unions within the U.S. and the many others outside the country. These institutions should look to each other for advice and support in creating an industry that’s vibrant and growing. We are the collective voice for financial services.