This is a bittersweet moment for me, as this is my last column for The NAFCU Journal. For almost 18 years—the last 10 as president and CEO—I have been part of NAFCU, representing credit unions in Washington, D.C., and fighting to help the industry thrive.
Throughout my life, I have witnessed firsthand the resiliency and strength of the credit union industry. The passion you have for improving lives—of your members and people within your communities. The commitment you have to financial well-being and empowerment for all. Because, even before I joined NAFCU, I was a credit union member and have benefited from so many of your financial products and services at every stage of my life.
We all face difficult moments and choices throughout our careers. While there is sadness in my decision to step down at the end of this year, I’m overwhelmed by optimism for a brighter future for our industry. With members of NAFCU and CUNA approving our merger, America’s Credit Unions is on track to transform advocacy, compliance and education opportunities for credit unions across the country. As a strong, united voice, this association will be one of the largest and most impactful organizations in Washington, D.C.
The success of America’s Credit Unions will be built on a solid foundation, and a critical component of that will be you, its members. To ensure this new association can meet its mission, I call on you to “lean in.” Our industry is strong because of its cooperative spirit—keep that alive by engaging in policy discussions, offering feedback on products and services, connecting with your fellow credit union professionals and sharing ideas. Be willing to step up when you’re called upon for the good of your institution—and the industry as a whole.
The financial services space is a competitive one. It’s ever evolving in the wake of new technologies, regulations and consumer preferences. Just as NAFCU and CUNA have done for decades, I am confident that America’s Credit Unions will fortify the industry with relentless advocacy to defend against bad policies and secure wins that allow you to compete and grow.
Credit unions have stood the test of time and earned the reputation of the White Hats of financial services because you remain focused on your mission: serving your members. When times get tough, you don’t close up shop or turn away. You embrace the challenge and find ways to support those most in need. America’s Credit Unions is being founded so you can continue to do that.
I always said, “I have the best job in Washington, D.C.” And I meant it. It’s been a tremendous honor to serve you in this capacity. I look forward to seeing your continued success as you serve as a beacon of hope for millions of Americans.
Connect with B. Dan Berger on Twitter, @BDanBerger.