Wegner Award Winner Sarah Canepa Bang: “This is a big deal to me.”

“I keep counting the days,” said Sarah Canepa Bang about winning the Wegner award for Individual Achievement. “This is day three and they haven’t asked for it back. I’m starting to think it might be true. This is a big deal to me because I love this business so much.”

In her own words, Canepa Bang talks about some of the passion, commitment and career accomplishments that the Wegner judges recognized.

In your position at CO-OP Shared Branching-FSCC, LLC, you and your team pioneered shared branching. How has that changed things for consumers?

“The average credit union has two or three branches. When you can add 7,000 access points, we’ve suddenly made credit unions relevant for consumers. Convenience is such an issue for them.”

Why haven’t the banks figured this out?

“The Shared Branching network is the one channel they will never have, because they can’t share. They can’t do it because they can’t share locations. This is what leap frogs credit unions ahead of banks . . . our members get much greater service, because we’ve spent the last 20-30 years building this difficult notion of shared branching. It will take the banks 15 or 20 years to catch up.”

What’s the next great innovation thing for credit unions?

“Everybody is worried about payments. The next big thing, we already have. It’s called Sprig. It has been re-launched under CO-OP and is very robust. If you’re a member of a shared branch credit union you can do person to person transactions back and forth. You don’t have to send a check to your child attending college out of state. You can send it through your mobile phone, and the credit union doesn’t have to buy more technology. We reach half the credit union movement with P2P transactions now and will find a way to offer this even outside shared branching.”

When you were with the former Oregon Credit Union League, you were instrumental in getting a community college to offer a degree program for credit union professionals. Why, and could that program go national?

“I’m so proud of that! One of the things I noticed at the time was, we saw credit union CEO jobs being filled by bank CEOs. What are we, chopped liver? I got tired of credit unions being the red-headed stepchild; I don’t mean to insult red heads. I thought if we had a degree program specifically designed for cooperative financial institutions we would get more respect. A degree in credit union management, holy cow! The Mount Hood Community College team was so open to it. To do that nationally, it will need a higher education champion. If you never make the ask, it won’t happen, right?”

Editor’s note: Sarah Canepa Bang was one of the early founders of Credit Unions for Kids and helped take it to the national level. In Thursday’s Anthem, she reflects on the personal family tragedy that shaped her commitment to sick children, and helped drive her commitment to Credit Unions for Kids.


Questions? Contact Lynn Heider: 503.350.2225, lheider@nwcua.org.

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