The Courage of Our Convictions

Credit union volunteers and leaders are working to change the financial landscape of America.   


“One man with courage can make a majority.”  I was reminded of President Andrew Jackson’s quote when reviewing Jim Blaine’s blog.

Jim’s “Something Sphinx!” entry talks about NCUA’s continued “friendly fire” at the credit union system. His post summarizes the growing credit union frustration with NCUA’s tactics and hubris. His words are timely. Credit unions are coming en masse to DC next week for CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference. The GAC offers credit unions a chance to deliver their individual messages directly to CUNA, NCUA, and Congress.

Along with Jim Blaine and countless credit union leaders, Dave Serlo, the late president of PSCU Financial Services, also spent his entire professional life serving credit unions. Dave left credit unions with timeless wisdom in his last lecture, which was recorded for PSCU’s annual meeting in May 2010. The thesis of his speech is credit unions are “different by design.”

Dave offers one example of this difference by design: “Credit unions [have] a unique tradition of providing a financial safe haven for America’s consumers.” And on Saturday, the New York Times offered another affirmation of credit unions’ different role. The article “Healing a Wounded Credit Score” singles out credit unions as “institutions more willing to work with members who have checkered histories.”

What I like most about Dave’s vision is that it acknowledges the past while looking toward the future. “Credit unions’ role today is to change the financial landscape of America,” he says. That, of course, was Edward Filene’s goal in 1934 in seeking support for the passage of the Federal Credit Union Act. In a tangible way, the ambition of every volunteer who put in the sweat equity to start a credit union or who oversees the legacy handed over to today’s leaders is to change the financial landscape of America.   

So as Jim and Dave remind us, it is not the numbers on our side but the willingness to venture; to have the courage of our convictions, even if they are not yet the majority view. 



Feb. 21, 2011


  • I think our loan (credit) services should be the best in the market. How do you prove them to non-members? Make them a loan and let them see. In the Feb Report the suggestion is that we restrict loans solely-for-member"s". Why not make loans to anyone - charge a market price and patronize the 'extra' back to members at year-end? Members gain the benefit and non-members learn by practice the value of membership.
    Ralph Jones
  • Every time I read an article by Chip or virtually anyone on staff at Callahan & Associates I am encouraged in some tangible way. I'm proud to work for a CUSO with a heart for their clients who serve members nationwide and proud to be a member of 3 credit unions. I like the reminder "Dave’s vision is that it acknowledges the past while looking toward the future." That parallels a basic premise 'The only thing we can do with the past is learn from it.' and that truth is exercised almost daily. Thanks, Chip for the affirmation that credit unions are in it to win it - but in favor of their members. Wishing great things for all those who prepare and speak with confidence at this important GAC.