NAFCU Services Blog

Jul 19, 2023

Collaboration Makes our System Stronger

Collaboration Makes our System Strong­­er

By John Cassidy, Credit Union System Relations, TruStage

The credit union movement exists to improve the financial well-being of the members and communities we collectively serve. Yet in 2022, banks (78%) surpassed credit unions (75%) in The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI®) scores for the fourth year in a row.1 This trend could be concerning when you think about the future relevance of credit unions.

Cooperation among cooperatives is one of the foundational principles of our movement and one way to help curb this trend. It’s key to staying modern and competitive with other financial service providers. Credit union collaboration with system partners, and one another, helps strengthen business performance and promotes member accessibility to brighter financial futures.

Collaboration with system partners

NAFCU Services is a prime example of this principle in action, connecting credit unions with industry leading system partners like TruStage. Together, we help protect your members’ futures and provide access to experts and technology solutions to help your credit union succeed. We also collaborate on legislative and regulatory advocacy for credit unions with a unified voice at the federal and state level.

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) collaboration is another area of focus that continues to grow and should be a priority for all of us. The DEI Collective is comprised of a group of credit union voices and system leaders, finding ways to collaborate and champion DEI efforts in the industry. A deeper understanding of the implications of DEI is good not only for your organization, but also for employees, customers, members and the credit union system.

Collaboration with one another

In addition to collaborating with system partners, collaboration among credit unions is another way to make our system stronger. But what does effective and meaningful collaboration among credit unions look like in practice? What is the value that collaboration creates for credit unions? And how can credit unions leverage collaboration to grow in an ever-more-digital economy?

TruStage recently collaborated with Filene Research Institute to help answer these questions. The report, Small Credit Union Collaboration: Sharing Knowledge, Services, and People in a Digital Economy, describes three key ways small credit unions collaborate2:

  • In sharing knowledge, small credit unions learn from one another, uncover new insights about their markets and members and make stronger business decisions and strategies.
  • By sharing services, credit unions gain efficiencies, lower costs and get access to new innovations and technologies. Sharing technology platforms is especially important and impactful for credit unions navigating the contemporary digital economy, and credit union service organizations (CUSOs) have proven to be an especially useful vehicle for technology collaborations. 
  • Finally, by sharing people, credit unions work together to attract, retain and develop their most important resource: talent. A special case of sharing people with real potential for small credit unions is sharing leadership, a way not only to gain efficiencies in human capital but also to align credit unions for growth while maintaining strengths in their individual brands, identities and community connections.

Collaboration within the industry

Credit unions have a special value proposition and a compelling story to tell. An effective way to help build advocates is by providing members with unforgettable experiences across all channels. When we do this well, it provides opportunities to  increase loyalty with more members who will become our advocates.

Organizations with more resources are sharing this story through advocacy efforts, fintech partnerships, funding and increasing consumer education around the services credit unions provide to communities.

This brings us back to the importance of collaboration within the industry. It’s one of our founding principles and a superpower we should use to help ensure our collective success now and into the future as we continue to grow together and deliver on our shared purpose of bringing financial well-being to all.

1 “Capital One and Fidelity Distinguish Themselves Among Financial Services, as Disappointment With Credit Unions Continues, ACSI Data Show,” ACSI, November 2022.

2 Brolos, Anette, and Taylor, Erin, “Small Credit Union Collaboration: Sharing Knowledge, Services, and People in a Digital Economy,” Filene, January 2023.

ACSI is a registered trademark of the American Customer Satisfaction Index LLC.

TruStageTM is the marketing name for TruStage Financial Group, Inc. its subsidiaries and affiliates. Corporate Headquarters 5910 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705.

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