Removing Barriers Blog

Email to the Hill: Retaining your constituents’ local financial access
Posted April 09, 2021 by CUNA Advocacy

Earlier this week, CUNA's Chief Advocacy Officer wrote to all 535 Members of Congress highlighting why it’s more important than ever that communities retain access to a local financial partner that can meet their needs.

Good afternoon,

The banker associations are at it again: complaining that their member banks are choosing to sell to credit unions. What’s really concerning, however, is that banks are closing and there’s an increasing prevalence of financial deserts in urban and rural communities across America.

Credit unions work hard in the community to promote their members’ financial well-being. They’re tax-exempt based on their structure as not-for-profit financial cooperatives and the mission that Congress gave them: to promote thrift and provide access to credit for provident purposes.

Here are five things I’d like you to keep in mind when you hear the banker associations complain about their member banks choosing credit unions over other banks:

  1. 80% of bank-credit union transactions have involved low-income designated credit unions, ensuring that consumers most affected by banking deserts retain access to a local financial institution.
  2. Bank-credit union transactions account for only 0.3% of all bank assets sold since 2012. Furthermore, credit unions only account for $1.9 trillion in all financial assets, while the four largest banks each hold more in assets.  
  3. Since 2004, 86 banking deserts have been created by the net shuttering of nearly 6,000 bank branches. In the same period, credit unions have opened a net 1,600+ branches. Many community banks rushing to cash out their portfolios turn to credit unions to ensure their communities are served by a local financial services partner, reporting employee and branch retention among the top factors in the decision.  
  4. Credit unions paid nearly $25 billion in local, state, and federal taxes last year. Meanwhile, bankers continue to celebrate a $30 billion annual tax break on investor profits.  
  5. Credit unions returned $12.9 billion in earnings to members last year through their people-over-profit structure.
It’s more important than ever that your constituents retain access to a local financial partner that can meet their needs. Credit unions are eager to be that partner—which is why they’ve been there for some bankers when they’ve been ready to exit the market.

Ryan Donovan
Chief Advocacy Officer
Credit Union National Association