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What is the Credit Union National Association?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2018
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The Credit Union National Association is a not-for-profit trade association that provides support services to US credit unions. Based in Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wisconsin, the association employs several hundred people with the intent of assisting credit unions across the nation on various levels. Among its most significant functions is the provision of training for credit union staff, board members, and executives. It also employs lobbyists to approach the federal legislature with credit union-related issues. In addition, it carries out a large amount of financial research which informs individual credit union policy and organization.

Credit unions are essentially not-for-profit financial cooperatives that are owned by their members. Unlike traditional banks, credit unions allow each member an equal vote in matters like board elections. They are generally thought to offer a high level of service to members and often emphasize financial prudence over borrowing. Credit unions are often single-branch institutions, however, and usually have far fewer assets than conventional banks. Thus they can benefit from the support of a national advocacy group.

Since its establishment in 1934, the Credit Union National Association has sought to provide this advocacy on a not-for-profit basis. Its governing board is comprised of volunteers voted in by credit union colleagues. Financially, the association maintains itself through tuition fees from its professional training courses as well as membership dues from the state credit union leagues to which credit unions must belong to avail of Credit Union National Association services.

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A primary goal of the Credit Union National Association is the improvement of individual credit union performance and efficiency. Thus the association offers a number of training opportunities to credit union workers of all levels. Sample training topics include fraud prevention, mortgage underwriting, and financial counseling. Some topics are addressed in one-time conferences or online seminars. Others involve prolonged self-guided study which can in some cases lead to various forms of certification or qualify as college credit.

Another important function of the Credit Union National Association is the provision of advocacy in national legislation. This aspect of the organization offers small credit unions a voice in policy making. The association employs a political affairs staff to approach the national legislature with issues affecting credit unions across the country, including such topics as debit card purchase fees and business lending restrictions.

Additionally, the Credit Union National Association retains a research and statistics department that provides in-depth data about general economic conditions and trends in the credit union and the wider financial services sector. The department also offers consultation services. In many cases, this research helps shape the operational policy of individual credit unions.

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