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Nussle to CUs: Be Bold, Disrupt the Financial Services Industry
Tuesday, February 23, 2016 6:40 AM

Nussle to CUs:  Be Bold, Disrupt the Financial Services Industry

Credit Union National Association President/CEO Jim Nussle told attendees at Monday morning's opening session of the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference that if CUs can be disruptors like Uber and Amazon, they can grab market share from the big banks.

The roar of helicopter blades over the convention center briefly filled the General Session hall during the CUNA GAC. On cue, Nussle, who was in the middle of his opening remarks, stopped and said: “I don’t know if that’s the bankers, or not.”

While the sound might have seemed ominous at first, Nussle told attendees not to be afraid. “Frankly, it’s time for credit unions to stop being afraid of the big banks,” he said.

“Some might say if we’re too bold, we’re going to wake up the bankers,” Nussle said. “Can I just tell you something? They’re awake. They’re already awake. Nothing we’re doing this week is waking up any bankers.”

Instead of harboring fear for those other financial institutions, Nussle said credit unions must be bolder, and more aggressive. That way, credit unions can grow and begin chipping away at the grip big banks have on market share in a material way. One critical way credit unions can consume more of that market share is by becoming the same type of disruptors that have recently turned other industries on their ears.

Companies such as Uber and Amazon are spurring massive change in their respective industries, and credit unions have the ability to assume a similar identity, Nussle said. “Credit unions are and need to be the disruption in the financial services marketplace that Americans are searching for. This is probably one of the biggest challenges we have ahead of us.”

“Are we Uber or are we taxis? Do we want to be the disruptor, or do we want to be disrupted?” he continued. “I want us to be the disruptors to the 100 biggest banks in the country that have 75 percent of the market share right now and that are ripe for stealing that market share.”

"We're not banks," Nussle said. "We don't want to be like banks, so stop treating us like banks!"

He laid out the three tenets of credit union leadership:

  1. Credit unions are different—let's celebrate!
  2. We reject one-size-fits-all financial services policies that rob us of our difference.
  3. Credit unions are the financial services disruption that Americans are searching for.

He suggested that credit unions take four messages to their legislators this week during their Hike the Hill visits:

  1. Finish the field of membership (FOM) rule;
  2. Ensure merchants are held to the same standard of data security as financial services;
  3. Remove regulatory burdens; and
  4. Protect the credit union not-for-profit status. Credit unions should stand up proudly and defend our tax exemption.