WASHINGTON (3/5/12)--With more than 4,000 attendees expected at the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) 2012 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), credit unions will have a valuable chance to drown out the banks' competing voices and show the strength of their movement to Washington, CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney noted in an interview with CO-OP Financial Service's THINK magazine.
Cheney noted that bankers are also holding a conference at the same time as the GAC, and are expecting as many as 1,000 attendees. "Wouldn't it be great if credit unions outnumbered the banks by a margin of four to one — or more?"
The 2012 GAC will take place March 18-22 at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
"As an industry, we face more and more regulation, with higher and higher costs for compliance. It's as important as ever to be heard," he said. CUNA is working to address these issues by developing coordinated advocacy strategies with state credit union leagues. "What we want is one approach to federal governmental affairs and a coordinated strategy for approaching advocacy at the state level… by giving credit unions a stronger, more unified voice with the government, we think we can be more effective as an industry," he said.
The CUNA CEO said that increasing the 12.25% of assets credit union member business lending cap, protecting the credit union difference, and pushing back against over-regulation will be key priorities in 2012.
Cheney also stressed the importance of ensuring legislators understand key differences between credit unions and banks. "Our not for profit status is at risk. Especially in the budget-cutting environment that we are facing, credit unions need to speak out about the importance of maintaining this difference," he said. "Credit unions were created to give consumers a choice. It's very clear—now more than ever—why credit unions are necessary."
That difference, as not-for-profit cooperatives, also helped credit unions weather the financial crisis with far fewer problems than banks, Cheney added. "Credit unions have been through a lot, but if you look back at how everyone fared after the crisis hit, it's startling how much better credit unions did than banks," he said. "Credit unions are, by several orders of magnitude, better than banks."
For the full interview and more on the 2012 GAC, use the resource links.