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CEO Message: ​Are We Different…Enough?

Contributed by: Heath Combs

Photo_CEO_Marc_SchaeferThe following message was written by our Chief Executive Officer Marc Schaefer for our Summer Quarterly Newsletter.

Success can breed complacency and satisfaction with the status quo.

Over time, organizations can lose their focus and change direction away from their original mission. Truliant has been successful by traditional banking business measures. We’ve grown in membership to nearly a quarter of a million member accounts. Our assets have grown to more than $2.5 billion. In banking terms, that would be enough for traditional shareholders to cash out and move on.

But Truliant is not a bank and our owners are you, our members. Our purpose, unlike a community bank or mega-bank, is not to reward a few shareholders. It is to continuously improve the lives of our members. Our structure allows us to pass the value of the ownership back to you in the form of favorable loan, savings and investment rates along with the access channels and guidance that will improve your life.

It’s no wonder that bank lobbyists attack credit unions. They simply cannot understand us. They believe our success – in their terms – is a competitive threat. They want us to look like and behave like them. But our actions show that credit unions are indeed different. Our growth in size and ability to serve the consumer denotes our growing relevance as an alternative financial services provider – not that we are bank-like.

Our assets are a reflection of our members’ trust in placing their hard-earned deposits with us and turning to us for their purposeful borrowing needs and guidance in their own best interest.

Our national, state and local public policy makers are often torn between their constituents including credit union members and bankers. In the past, our voices – even though about a third of the U.S. population now belongs to a credit union – were not enough to convince everyone that we should be looked at in a different way. Following the housing crisis, when Congress punished the banking industry for their poor judgment in making mortgage loans to individuals who could not realistically afford to repay them to drive their profits, they lumped credit unions who had not done so into their policy.

The government’s “qualified mortgage” definition took the determination of how much debt a member could have relative to their income out of our hands as a financial institution, even though we know our members’ situation and we are committed to helping them build their financial lives. This congressional action only made it more costly and difficult to make affordable mortgage loans to middle-income members with average credit scores in our markets.

In another example, the Federal Communications Commission recently approved new rules that would make it easier for telephone providers like Verizon and AT&T to block callers who use automated calling systems. Again, they are trumpeting a one-size-fits-all solution that may interfere with our ability to notify our members of concerns you need to know about related to your accounts.

Yes, Truliant must earn your trust every day and with every interaction we have with you, either in person, by phone or over our digital channels. We know that your expectations of us, as your member-owned financial partner, exceed that of our banking counterparts.

In turn, we will need your voice, at some point, to let policy-makers know that Truliant is different and … more than enough.

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