2023 AC&E: MCUL Leaders Take Center Stage!
MCUL CEO Patty Corkery started Thursday’s CenterStage! of the 2023 Annual Convention & Exposition (AC&E) by welcoming MCUL Board Chair and Honor Credit Union Chief Strategy Officer Heather Luciani to the stage to update attendees on League updates from the past year.
League Updates from Board Chair Luciani
“Over the last year, national credit union memberships increased by 4.3%, which marks the fastest annual gain since 2018 and is 11 times faster than the 0.4% Census Bureau estimate for U.S. population growth during that same time,” said Luciani. “That means our movement as a whole is making significant headway on reaching new members and introducing them to the benefits of credit union membership.”
The board chair said Michigan credit union membership now sits at 5.94 million, which is equal to about 60% of the state’s population, and is well above the 41% national rate of credit union membership.
On the topic of advocacy highlights, Luciani called out a couple key advancements.
“One of the most fruitful outcomes of our advocacy partnership with CUNA this year was Congress’ increased funding of the CDFI program. Their appropriation of $324 million was a $29 million increase from last year,” remarked Luciani. “On the state side, we similarly secured $75 million in funding for the Michigan CDFI Fund. As a result of this work, our CDFI credit unions were able to positively impact underserved markets and communities throughout Michigan.”
“And, one more advocacy achievement that we’re very proud of and excited about is the passing of a piece of legislation updating Michigan’s high school curriculum to include a required half-credit financial literacy course,” she continued. “This landmark bill will better prepare young Michiganders for the future and empower them to take control of their finances.”
On the financial education front, Luciani reported that Michigan credit unions held a total of 123 Financial Reality Fairs in 2022, “which prepared more than 8,000 students to build smart money habits as they enter adulthood.”
Before bringing Corkery back up to the stage, Luciani finished her speech by looking back on her tenure as MCUL Board Chair, “As I wrap up my term as Board Chair this week, I’ve been reflecting on what an honor it has been to serve you these last three years. I’ve witnessed first-hand what is so special about our industry … we achieve all of this together.”
MCUL CEO Patty Corkery
Corkery started her presentation by acknowledging what a busy year it’s been for the Michigan credit union movement, including junk fees, bank failures, regulatory burden, threats to interchange, employee retention and hiring, inflation, slowly rising credit card balances, rising rates and liquidity issues.
“As your trade association that is here to support you in these challenging times, these concerns keep me up at night as well,” she said. “But it is a challenge that we at MCUL take seriously.”
Referencing Simon Sinek, Corkery said MCUL’s Why is to support and protect Michigan credit unions, “Our Why is so important, it is worth our amazing teams’ work and, yes, sometimes sleepless nights. Your Why is to support your members and community. We support your Why and it creates our Why … and we gladly embrace our Why everyday.”
The League CEO touted Michigan’s over 5.95 million credit union members, who, together, saved $486 million in direct financial benefits over the last year. This was through lower interest rates, higher deposit rates and lower fees compared with banks, and is equal to $84 per member and $175 per household, Corkery explained before telling attendees to give themselves a round of applause.
She then detailed the legislative landscape at the state and federal level, mentioning that Michigan has a full democratic majority for the first time since 1984.
On the state level, Corkery said the following are the League’s current advocacy priorities:
- CU difference
- CDFI funding
- Payday lending
- ELT implementation
- Personal finance course requirement implementation
Following legislative concerns, Corkery switched gears to talk about fintechs, which she said continue to disrupt and transform the financial services industry, “Fintechs have changed how financial services are structured, delivered and consumed, but many have not successfully established themselves as dominant players yet.”
She said fintechs are by far the least trusted among financial service companies. However, even being the least trusted, the fintech industry is worth approximately $180 billion and industry revenue has more than doubled since 2017.
”In 2018, global Fintech industry revenue was approximately $90.5 billion,” said Corkery. “That figure has grown by over 100% since then.”
So, she asked, how can credit unions leverage trust and awareness? Credit unions have a 65% trust rate from consumers compared to fintech’s 36%. Fintechs can’t buy trust, but Corkery said credit unions can use the trust the movement has already gained over decades and capitalize on it by using the threat of fintechs as an opportunity. For instance, she suggested using the rise of fintechs as a road map for capabilities.
“In other words, leverage and use existing trust structure and partnerships to rapidly deploy new offerings,” said MCUL’s CEO. “But this means being proactive, not reactive. It means providing services that will help future generations, rather than acting threatened.”
Importantly, she said this doesn’t mean leaving behind anything that has gotten credit unions to where they are today as the most trusted financial service providers in the industry.
“I realize all of this is much easier said than done, but it’s imperative not only to maintain success amongst competition,” she said. “But it’s also necessary for the financial health of Michiganders.”