On Thursday, November 2nd, CUNA and NAFCU announced that their proposed merger to form one advocacy group— America’s Credit Unions—had been approved. The voting period for the merger, which began on August 28th, lasted for 60 days and came to an end at 5 PM on November 1st. The results were very favorable, with 94% of CUNA members and 86% of NAFCU members voting to approve the merger.
Since the intent to merge was announced back in August, the majority of credit union groups and organizations have spoken in favor of the merger. Others, such as Chip Filson, have expressed disappointment at further consolidation in the industry and a future lack of contrasting opinions. Filson argues that historically, the two organizations’ differing opinions and approaches had led to new perspectives and solutions for the industry as a whole and that in essence, NAFCU’s perspective would be going away entirely.
“As any CEO who has merged their credit union will testify, mergers are acquisitions, not ‘marriages of equals,’ or other PR pseudonyms,” said Filson. “CUNA’s culture, priorities, and politics will be—absent explicit goals—the continuing model.”
However, CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussel—who will lead the new organization—has been clear that the merger does not represent a lack of strength in the industry but rather signals that the industry has no need for two large trade groups and that the two would be stronger together. A united front.
NAFCU President/CEO Dan Berger—who will not be joining America’s Credit Unions—echoed this sentiment, arguing that as credit union numbers dip below 5,000, the industry cannot sustain both groups and that the timing is right to combine forces.
“As one organization,” CUNA’s statement on the merger approval noted, “we’ll deliver the best advocacy, education and compliance training—increasing value to our members by providing even more effective resources to strengthen and grow credit unions across America.”
At the news of the merger’s approval, Nussel released a statement expressing his excitement at the outcome.
“I’d like to thank our credit union members who have been engaged throughout this merger process—asking tough questions, holding us accountable, and helping us plan for the future,” said Nussel. “I am incredibly humbled to lead this new organization and fight for a stronger credit union industry. Your needs will remain our priority as we embark on this transformation over the next several months.”
Berger called the merger a “monumental moment for the credit union industry.”
America’s Credit Unions will be legally formed on January 1, 2024. CUNA has said they will be spending the first year “aligning products and services” to better meet the needs of the credit union industry.