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CU 'Good Guy' Status Provides Market Advantage: Gentile Tells Community CU
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (10/10/13)
Click to view larger imagePaul Gentile, the Credit Union National Association's executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement, tells a community credit union audience that young Americans are attracted to the credit unions' values-based business model. (CUNA Photo)
--Credit unions have a unique opportunity today, Paul Gentile told an audience of community credit union representatives here Wednesday, to attract new members--and particularly and importantly new, young members--because they are values-based financial services providers.

"There's all this bad news circulating--the government shutdown, the debt ceiling, all the other things you're reading about," Gentile said at the CUNA Community Credit Union & Growth Conference, being held here through Friday.

"But credit unions are a bright spot in the country.  More people want to do business with businesses that do good.  They want to buy 'green' and shop local," he said.  Credit unions must recognize this environment as an opportunity to show they are the "good guys," the values-based financial services providers of the marketplace, Gentile encouraged.

Gentile is the Credit Union National Association's executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement.

"Big banks are our biggest promoters, by doing bad things--like adopting anti-consumer policies, getting government bailouts," but it up to credit unions alone, to seize the opportunities, he said.

Mirroring a theme introduced by the conference's keynote speaker, Paul Smith of Proctor & Gamble, who talked about the value of storytelling as a business tool (see related News Now story, Keynoter Smith: Storytelling Is Strong Business Tool), Gentile said it helps both membership growth and credit union political advocacy efforts when credit unions get out and tell their stories.  He said the stories should show the shared cooperative values of:
  • Being member-owned;
  • Being collaborative--credit unions help each other;
  • Being member-centric--it's all about what is good for the member; and
  • Being dedicated to consumers' financial well-being.
Gentile urged his credit union audience to share their stories within their communities, with their lawmakers, and with CUNA's Unite for Good website at uniteforgood.org.  At the 2013 Governmental Affairs Conference last March, CUNA and the state credit union leagues launched the Unite for Good campaign toward the strategic vision where "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."

He said that while getting the good stories out will enhance the credit union reputation, meeting the Unite for Good goal of becoming the primary financial institution of 55 million Americans by 2023, up from the current 45.3 million, will also require finely tuned financial services.

He said to meet the Unite for Good goal of "fostering service excellence," credit unions must identify what their members most want.  And for the 80 million young people that comprise Generation Y that means, in part, moving toward phone-based access to mobile banking systems.
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