Principle #4: Autonomy and Independence

The fourth of the 7 Cooperative Principles for Credit Unions is the principle of autonomy and independence.
Unlike most banks, credit unions don’t answer to a group of far-away outsiders; they are local institutions that answer to and understand the community. That means greater flexibility in responding to the needs of members and rewarding economic participation.

Of course, credit unions do have regulating bodies that oversee their activities and make sure members’ interests are federally insured.  State chartered credit unions are regulated by their state credit union department, and federally chartered credit unions are regulated by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), which is an independent agency whose board members are confirmed by the U.S. Senate.  Funds deposited with credit unions are backed by the U.S. Government up to $250,000 (similar to what the FDIC does for banks) and credit unions are subject to insurance examinations to verify their security.

What this means is that essentially members get the best of both worlds: the peace of mind that comes with knowing their funds are secure and the benefit of not serving as an income pool for faceless bank executives.
Are the ideas of autonomy and independence understood within your credit union’s culture? Make sure your employees embrace and explain how your credit union is a stable financial partner for your community, without the hidden strings of being beholden to outsiders.

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