3 Key Takeaways From CUNA's GAC


Earlier this month, I had the good fortune of attending CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington. My four days in the nation’s capital garnered countless insights into industry trends, the current regulatory landscape and innovative strategies and tactics credit unions are implementing across the country. It was a truly memorable experience to say the least. 

The following are major takeaways:


Improving Consumer Consideration


I was encouraged to hear the substantial progress that has been made improving consumer consideration of credit unions. The Open Your Eyes to A Credit Union initiative has been extremely effective in addressing misinterpretations of credit unions as well as detailing how credit unions can benefit consumers. The initiative has aimed its messaging at combating the myths that people are unable to actually join credit unions and that credit unions don’t “have the scale and technology to meet [consumers’] needs for financial services.” 


So far, four million people have seen the initiative’s creative content while 1.5 million people have viewed the initiative’s various videos. Clearly, the Open Your Eyes to A Credit Union initiative is resonating with consumers and fostering improved consideration of our credit unions. 


Advocating for Members


Over the past decade, credit unions’ ability to successfully advocate for their members has grown more and more important. As regulatory burdens have drastically increased, credit unions have been forced to overcome significant obstacles to serve their members. 

To combat this harsh regulatory landscape, various expert panelists encouraged credit unions to appeal to legislators and regulators by communicating their institutions’ story. 


Furthermore, the experts encouraged credit unions to highlight the key differentiators that further their members’ interests and positively move the financial industry forward.  


Communicating Values


One of the high points of GAC was Malcolm Gladwell’s keynote address. His address centered on how credit unions can appeal to consumers who have negative preconceived notions about credit unions or are simply unaware of the benefits credit unions can bring. To address these issues, he recommended talking “broadly about the values you hold and what you represent—that you’re all about community and service, and you’re willing to go the extra mile to form bonds that don’t exist anywhere else.” 


Mr. Gladwell also cited an organizational strategy Starbucks utilizes as an example that credit unions should emulate by noting that “Starbucks doesn’t sell coffee; it sells an experience.”


Truly 'Enlightening'


Overall, the CUNA GAC provided attendees a plethora of substantive information that can be immediately applied at their financial institutions. From speeches by national figures to panel discussions from industry thought leaders, the CUNA GAC delivered a comprehensive experience that had something for every attendee. For me, it was truly enlightening to learn more about the efforts underway across the United States to positively alter industry norms, relentlessly advocate for credit union members and better communicate institutional missions and values to non-members. 

Additionally, I was excited to see the numerous ways credit unions are integrating new technologies to better serve their members and grow their credit unions. I am already looking forward to next year!



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Rhiannon Stone
Chief Operating Officer, EPL
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