A final word …

(Feb. 4, 2022) This issue of NASCUS Report is my final offering as editor of the publication, a tenure that began in 2015. This issue also represents the completion of my formal career — which started in 1984 — in the credit union movement. Over that time, I have worked for all three national credit union organizations: the two trade associations and the professional association that is NASCUS.

I’m ending my role as editor to enter a more fulsome retirement, which I started about three years ago, when I relocated from the Washington, D.C., area to my home state of Arizona.

Much has changed in the credit union system (as many call it now) since I came on board and is likely to continue changing over time. There are now about 18 times more assets, and more than 2.5 times more members, in the nation’s credit unions than there were in 1984. However, the total number is approaching only about 25% of the number of credit unions there were 38 years ago.

The asset and membership growth is nothing short of fantastic, an acknowledgment of enlightened guidance by credit union management and boards, and careful, effective supervision by the states and NCUA.

But the decline in the number of credit unions (which, in many ways, parallels the contraction of small, “community” banks) is of concern – especially since much of the shrinkage has come from the hollowing out of small credit unions, once the heart and soul of the movement/system.

So also of concern is the inability of credit unions, despite their growth, to capture more market share among financial services providers. That portion still hovers around 12% (according to the Federal Reserve’s January 2022 Consumer Credit/G.19 report), and is under increasing pressure from ever-dominant banks and, nowadays, the rise of fintechs as alternatives to traditional credit unions and banks.

The challenge ahead to grow market share, and deal with the shrinkage of the number of small credit unions, is daunting but worth the effort. I hope the credit union movement/system figures out a way to deal with both.

To close: It has been a great privilege to work with state regulators (and credit unions – the state system) over the past seven years of my NASCUS tenure. State regulators are unique: not only do they work with NCUA, but with all the banking regulators (state and federal). They see it all; they have a voice; it matters.

My thanks and appreciation to NASCUS President and CEO Brian Knight, and the exceptional association staff – as well as the organization’s leadership — for their support and guidance. Thanks, especially, to former NASCUS leader Lucy Ito for giving me the opportunity to work for the state system.

My thanks also to those readers who read NASCUS Report; I hope you have found it helpful.

Patrick Keefe
NASCUS Report editor