If given the choice, would you prefer to be a member or a number? If you belong to a credit union, you probably understand that the value proposition of membership outweighs the “number” status associated with simply being a customer.
For 80 years, the New Jersey Credit Union League has supported credit unions in the Garden State. We’ve been proud to represent our affiliates and provide them with resources to better serve you, the consumers of our state. Here, in the communities surrounding the world’s top financial center, consumers have continually sought alternatives to big banks. Over the years, millions of New Jerseyans have made the decision to choose a credit union because we’ve made collaborative banking a success while offering first-rate member service and savings. But none of that would be possible today if it wasn’t for the work done in 1934.
The foundation for a strong credit union movement was set 80 years ago, on June 26, 1934, when President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act into law, permitting credit unions to be formed across the country. Since that day, credit unions have developed considerably. Through the years, we’ve grown in membership as we’ve broadened our services to meet the needs of our members, from mortgage lending to education loans to digital banking.
Today, nearly 100 million people nationwide choose to be members of credit unions, with over 1 million here in New Jersey. Our state has over 190 independent, consumer-owned, volunteer-led, democratically controlled credit unions here to serve you.
As not-for-profit financial institutions, credit unions strive to be your best financial partner. In addition to values-based decision making focused on the communities and members they serve, credit unions return financial benefits directly to their members with higher returns on savings, lower rates on loans, and fewer, lower fees. Bank customers benefit too, as the presence of credit unions drives down loan rates, pushes up savings rates and influences fees. In fact, New Jersey consumers realized financial benefits of more than $47 million dollars in 2013.
We believe a key reason credit unions are your best financial partner is because we listen to the needs and interests of our growing membership by fostering service excellence. With services such as online banking, shared ATM access (the largest single ATM network in the country), and the growing number of convenient branch locations – and “shared branches” among credit unions – and dedication to competitive rates, credit unions’ top priorities are centered on those they serve, not in driving profits for a small group of shareholders. As a matter of fact, The American Consumer Satisfaction Index for credit unions is 85, compared to 73 for banks. We’re proud to note that in the most recent survey, credit unions were tied for the best Customer Satisfaction Benchmark among all 43 industries reviewed.
We also believe it’s important to remove the barriers that exist to service, and we encourage members who are interested to become engaged on issues that are important to them. Members have stood with and come to the defense of their credit unions through strong grassroots support on many occasions over our 80 years. We believe it’s important that our elected officials hear from those who benefit from credit union membership and, as the state association for New Jersey’s credit unions, we continually work to foster open-door policies at the congressional level as well as with federal and state regulators.
As we move forward, it’s essential to look back and remember why credit unions were created. Credit unions are cooperatives that were developed to promote thrift among the American people – bound together by a common set of business principles and values. Volunteer leadership. Democratic control. Economic participation. Autonomy and independence. Member education. Cooperation among cooperatives. Concern for community.
Credit unions are living up to those business principles and values. At the New Jersey Credit Union League, we will continue to be a voice for credit unions and deliver cooperative services that facilitate their growth. Together, we will remain steadfast in our efforts to put members first here in the state of New Jersey.