Winston Churchill wrote: “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”
American credit union history covers almost five generations. The first four “eras” shown below established the modern credit union system. Each had a distinct theme. The amazing growth, and decline, of active charters is described on the bar graph.
What is the Current Era?
If the fourth chapter ended in 2008, credit unions are now halfway through the next part of their story. What will be the dominant theme from this generation of credit union leaders?
Some of the events so far are noted at right. COVID and related social crisis should certainly be added to this list.
How would you characterize the industry’s status at this interim stage? Some ideas might be:
- Consolidation, Concentration and Competition
- Regulatory Backlash
- Membership Passes the Century Mark
- The CUSO Era
- Maturing Coop Model Seeks New Growth Curve
The Value of Perspective
Seeing present day priorities through the lens of the past, can highlight what future outcomes might be.
The outlook of many of today’s leaders has been shaped by the 2008/2009 financial crisis. This interrupted the momentum and confidence from a generation that mined the benefits of deregulation for members.
The current crisis is the second in a decade to engulf members. Can credit unions be masters of their destiny or morph into just another financial option?
Churchill also remarked: “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”
Naming the current era is one way credit unions can shape their history. Please send your suggestions for the title of the chapter we are creating now.