The Credit Union Difference
In Wisconsin, more than 2 million people belong to credit unions in communities throughout the state. These members are a diverse group – teachers, students, doctors, lawyers, office workers and blue collar employees. Many belong to a credit union just as their parents did. But a growing number are new Americans and those who haven't been able to find the financial help they need anywhere else – people who believe that with hard work and careful planning, they'll be able to achieve their financial dreams.
Other financial institutions tend to focus more directly on "money". From the start, credit unions have focused on people, dreams and results.
The difference of credit unions is defined in four key ways:
GOVERNANCE - Volunteer Directors Elected by Members
Credit Unions are locally owned and their boards of directors are elected by members. Decisions about the organization, direction, programs and policies that govern credit unions are driven by the benefits they provide to members—the people who are saving to buy a first home, finance a child's education, or make a new car purchase. Credit union boards are made up of volunteers who understand member needs and focus on ways to meet those needs. Conversely, other financial institutions answer to shareholders, so their bottom line is maximizing profits.
PURPOSE - To Serve Members
The most important responsibility of credit unions is promoting the financial success of their members. While maximizing profits for shareholders drives other financial institutions, credit unions are not-for-profit. The money they make does not pay dividends to stockholders. It is invested in members.
MEMBER BENEFITS - Earnings Invested in Members & the Community
Money that is made by a credit union is invested in member benefits in the form of higher interest rates on savings and lower interest rates on loans. Generally, small businesses and self-employed individuals thrive with credit unions. Lower and middle income members are treated with the same consideration and respect as wealthier members. Credit unions are reaching out to growing numbers of new Americans and those who can't get the financial help they need from other institutions. Credit unions not only offer better rates on savings and lower fees on loans, they also provide valuable information and financial counseling to members—advice designed not to make a profit for the organization but to benefit members.
VALUES - In People, Not Profits
Credit unions bring financial benefits to the community. By focusing their resources on helping members realize their financial goals and build secure futures, credit unions strengthen their communities. Moreover, because they are locally owned and managed, they are vested in and are committed to making significant contributions to the local area. Taken together, these qualities add up to a single focus and a solid commitment to credit union members and to their financial success. The more than 2 million individuals and their families who have joined a Wisconsin credit union have an ally that is dedicated to their financial future, whose expertise is available to help make their dreams realities and whose purpose is to advance members' interests. The values of credit unions reflect the values of their members. That's good for hardworking people who dream of a better future. That's also good for communities that are stronger when individuals and families are able to build a better quality of life.