One of the traditional advantages of credit unions is their local knowledge. This includes members’ circumstances, critical business trends in the area and continuing reinvestment to improve collective and individual opportunity.
As credit unions expand their market aspirations and growth ambitions, knowledge of and commitments to local communities can wane. The local knowledge and the resulting advantage of loyalty and member trust can be forfeited.
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Here is a portion of the October 19 email update featuring mutual financial firms. It asks a critical strategic question about credit unions.
|While reporting a few years ago, I came across this startling fact: In 1986, the number of community banks across the country peaked at 15,717, but today there are fewer than 4,500.
Now I can’t remember the last time I went a whole day without thinking about it. I vaguely recall, as I’m sure many others do, the wave of bank mergers that really took the country by storm in the 1990s.
Maybe some of those mergers made sense, given changes in technology and the world. But the rising tide of mergers went along with a drought in the formation of new banks and credit unions.
I still don’t think we’ve fully processed what this shift in the banking system has meant for our cities and communities.
Even today I don’t think we have a full picture of what was once possible, why it’s no longer possible, and maybe why we should make it possible again. I hope today’s story helps make that picture more complete, if not more clear.
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Shouldn’t credit unions be in this reporting?