NWCUA Board Chair Jeff Adams on “Shining an Even a Brighter Light on Credit Unions: Elevating the Association Model”

Editor’s note: Earlier this year, the Northwest Credit Union Association and the Mountain West Credit Union Association entered a due diligence process to explore the benefits that combining the two organizations would bring to their respective memberships. After a thorough review of the findings, both Boards of Directors have unanimously voted in favor of merging the two associations and strongly encourage a “yes” vote from member credit unions. In this article, NWCUA Board Chair and President and CEO of Spokane Valley-based Horizon Credit Union, Jeff Adams, provides insight into how the merger would position the region’s credit unions to shape the future of the Movement.

Leading change is nothing new to the Credit Union Movement. Credit unions have evolved strategically to address the rapidly shifting needs of consumers and their communities. They’ve increased operational efficiencies, implemented new innovative tools and services, partnered with communities, and elevated the resources available to their members.

In the nearly four decades that I’ve been with Horizon Credit Union, 16 of those years as CEO, I’ve seen this evolution firsthand. It’s been especially prevalent during these last few years of accelerated change in financial services. With successful transitions to remote environments, our personal world got smaller, but the ability to reach beyond our space got larger. No longer limited by physical geography, credit unions can now serve more consumers than ever while maintaining the close, personal touchpoints members expect and appreciate.

To complement, support, and effectively advocate for where credit unions are today and where they are evolving tomorrow, leagues and associations must also evolve.

The merger of the Northwest Credit Union Association and Mountain West Credit Union Association, as recommended by both boards and management teams, is part of a strategic, long-term effort to create the Association of the future — an Association designed to serve credit unions of varying geographic locations, asset sizes, and membership demographics in the best way possible.

In joining forces, NWCUA and MWCUA will leverage the strengths of both organizations, providing value to member credit unions through a more diverse talent pool, additional training and education, access to the best technology solutions in the industry, and perhaps most importantly, an even more influential and unified advocacy voice. These key benefits will help our combined 305 member credit unions enhance the real, tangible value they deliver to the 12.3 million consumers they serve in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.

There is no doubt that advocacy is job one for our Association. By placing a laser-like focus on hyperlocal advocacy that starts at home in every community our credit unions serve, there is an increased potential for expanded federal influence. Particularly as more of our states’ elected officials are likely to step into leadership positions on key committees that oversee financial services.

Additionally, strengthening the voice of local credit union advocacy and broadening the scope of credit unions’ impact across six mighty states means the Credit Union Difference message will ring louder than ever. The more powerful our collective voice becomes, the further opportunity we have to advance legislative priorities and build an increasingly favorable operating environment — one that ensures consumers can choose and do choose credit unions as their financial services partner.

This unique partnership will also bring new innovations and more services to the table for all. As credit unions, we know we can achieve more when we have a future-focused Association team at our side bringing us modern-day services, talent and leadership development, and cutting-edge business partners. These vital resources help us meet the needs of our members and remain competitive in the fast-paced financial services landscape.

This is a time when credit unions across all six states are dreaming big, and I couldn’t be prouder of how our management teams and member credit unions are leaning in to help create this next-generation Association.

Throughout the MWCUA and NWCUA merger due diligence process, several things became abundantly clear. Both organizations have a similar culture and passion for the Credit Union Movement. Both organizations have a diverse group of talented staff who bring distinct and valuable perspectives. Both organizations are committed to this collaboration and already have begun sowing the seeds of a cohesive six-state team, organization, and membership mentality. The synergy has emerged. The possibilities are endless.

I’m inspired by the enthusiasm demonstrated by both Associations’ Boards of Directors as we explored this collaboration opportunity. The appropriate blend of deep reflection, thorough due diligence, and dreaming of what is possible has led both boards to unanimously agree to move the proposed merger to a member vote and strongly recommend member credit unions vote in favor of the combined organization.

Our next dedicated phase is to engage our memberships in an extensive town hall communication and listening series. Throughout March, there will be numerous opportunities where member credit unions can take a front-row seat to learn more about what we discovered, understand what we are recommending, and share their ideas and passions with the combined association leadership.

I encourage you to engage with this effort to evolve the credit union association model, which I’m confident will ultimately better serve your credit union and your members. Dream big and be a part of the future — your contributions are vital as we build on the successful legacies of both organizations. The power of our potential collaboration cannot be overstated, and as you can tell, I am excited about the many possibilities as we move forward with this exceptional opportunity. Together, we are positioned to shape the future of the Credit Union Movement.

Posted in Leadership, Media & Public Awareness.