NWCUA Launches Updated Credit Union Philosophy Manual

The credit union philosophy of “People Helping People” has guided the financial cooperatives that abide it for more than 100 years. This solid foundation is built on principles and bound by a mission to serve members—a mission that is perennially recognized as the best customer service model in the nation.

This rich, unique history is the root of credit union strength—past, present and future.
To make it easy for all credit unions to continue the traditions begun by Alphonse Desjardins, Edward Filene and Roy Bergengren, the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) has created an online credit union philosophy training manual, available to credit unions at no cost.

The Credit Union Philosophy Certification Manual is an entertaining, informative online course that gives all credit union employees easy access to a greater understanding and appreciation of the origins of their chosen career, investing them in the larger movement and empowering them to further the philosophical foundation and its meaning with each member interaction.

The manual was originally developed by the Credit Union Association of Oregon’s (CUAO’s) Operation Grassroots Committee in 1993 because, as the manual states, “philosophy is a central tenet of the credit union movement.”

“It has been ‘Northwesternized,’” said Stacy Augustine, former NWCUA senior vice president and general counsel, of the new-for-2012 version. “Originally, it was put together as part of the [CUAO’s] advocacy program, but it became more of an orientation piece. We’ve now updated it, added more information, and made it available in an electronic format that allows us to share it more easily and streamline the testing process.”

The testing process refers to an online test available after completing the manual. Whereas one previously had to print out the test and mail it to an Association staff member to be checked manually, the results now are immediate and entirely electronic. A credit union employee who completes the course and successfully completes the test earns a certificate of completion appropriate for framing.

“The number of credit unions using the manual had dwindled,” Augustine said of the increasingly outdated original. “We hope to now make this a part of credit union onboarding and advocacy processes.”

In pursuing that end, Augustine, who now works as a legal advisor to the Association, worked with human resource personnel at credit unions around the region and sought input from credit union professionals in a variety of departments and disciplines, learning how to best make the manual a truly useful, user-friendly tool.

In a sense, the manual itself gives the best explanation of its own value.

“In today’s credit union, it is not enough to know how to price products and services,” reads the manual’s opening paragraphs. “Everyone, including directors, managers, and staff, needs to understand why credit unions are in the business they are in. The most powerful spokespeople for the credit union movement are those selfsame directors, managers and staff. Educating the public about credit unions, while essential, is not enough. It’s critical to make sure that credit union staff and volunteers understand credit unions’ unique history and philosophy. When our staff and volunteers understand and are comfortable speaking about the unique qualities of credit unions, we will thrive.”

And the manual’s education process doesn’t stop simply with a tunnel-vision look at the credit union movement, but compares them to other financial institutions and cooperatives as well.

“We believe that when credit unions stand toe to toe with other institutions, the differences come shining through,” the manual states. “We urge you to make reading this manual mandatory for all new employees and volunteers.”

The manual and the credit union philosophy quiz are available on the NWCUA’s website.


Questions or Concerns? Contact Matt Halvorson, Anthem Editor: mhalvorson@nwcua.org.

Posted in Advocacy News, Around the NW, NWCUA.