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CEO Message: Focus on Improving Lives is Key to Credit Unions’ Success

Contributed by: Heath Combs

Photo_Marc_SchaeferAfter 25 years at the helm of Truliant FCU, nine as CEO of FDIC Employees FCU (now a part of NASA FCU) and four as Controller of the USPS FCU, I am stepping away at the end of this year.

Most of our 248,000 members would not recognize my name or face and that’s as it should be. Truliant is not about any individual or even groups of leaders. It is not about our asset size or number of locations or breadth of services, although those are all impressive. Those metrics only represent our members’ belief and trust in Truliant as their choice for building their financial foundations.

It is about a shared commitment over many, many years to understand and improve the lives of our member-owners. We have built on this purpose for nearly 67 years and through the efforts of successive groups of committed professional and volunteer leaders. In addition to feeling blessed to have served to help improve the lives of tens of thousands of our members, I am also grateful that the Board of Directors provided the time and opportunity to attract and prepare an even more able team to carry on and build on the vision that was established in 1952.

Our President, Todd Hall, along with our Volunteer Board leadership, has prepared the Credit Union for a seamless yet dynamic transition and transformation to fully serve our members’ present and future needs. His steadfast commitment to you as our member, our small businesses, our Business Partners, his team and our special staff that serve you every day has been amply established and validated over the last seven years.

Our culture was founded on focusing on improving our members’ lives and investing in our staff so that they could fulfill our promise to the membership. While the financial service landscape and social environment has certainly evolved, Truliant’s culture of understanding and meeting members’ needs in their best interest and how we treat our own team members who make that possible has not changed. In many ways, it has been strengthened by the challenges we’ve faced.

Continuous attacks by the banking industry, including a threat against our very existence from 1990-1998 that resulted in the passage of the Credit Union Membership Access Act – where we helped lead the charge – to more recent attempts to undermine our structure and tax status, have only strengthened our members’ will to preserve Truliant as a choice for financial guidance and service.

Missteps in the banking sector, including the savings and loan meltdown in 1984-1995 and the bank-driven financial crisis and horrible recession of 2008-2010 followed by massive taxpayer bailouts, demonstrated to our members why credit unions are critical to a healthy financial-services sector.

Documented and systematic harmful banking practices driven by a profit-focus versus consumer needs have further heightened awareness by consumers/members that having Truliant FCU as an option is worth fighting for – no matter the size of the lobbying war-chest or the political influence of our banking counterparts. The mega-bankers speak of wholesale reform of their practices, but their structure of ownership and modes of compensation make real change directly benefiting the consumer highly unlikely.

Member-driven and owned credit unions like Truliant are as relevant and vibrant today as they were in 1909 when the first credit union was established in the U.S. Truliant has not only stood the test of time, we have also stood up to defend the right of the consumer to choose a credit union that can fully serve their needs in the modern world.

It has truly been a privilege to be a small part of that amazing history as we’ve continued to blaze the path for consumers and credit unions into the future.

 

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