By Donya Parrish, MCU VP- Risk Management
One of the first questions people ask me about the credit union industry in Montana is “how many credit unions are there?” While a valid question, I feel like a simple number (47 by the way…) doesn’t truly represent the trend of what is going on across our state. Yes, there have been some mergers. True, we have fewer credit unions than we used to.
But, the story that is often missed is that nearly all of our credit unions are growing — serving more members and expanding into additional communities with branches and services. That is exciting for Montanans who may not have had easy access to a member-owned financial cooperative in the past.
The trend should also cause your board to stop and ask “how are we representing these new communities?” Some credit unions are specifically including a board member from communities where branches exist. I love that trend and hope that more of you will consider it. After all, each branch and town is unique, and to best know their needs, you need a local voice. Maybe you gather input from the branch manager and use it to tailor how you will incorporate each area’s uniqueness into planning and services? That works too, as long as it is done.
If you haven’t looked at your board composition lately, put it on your list to discuss soon. While having long-time representation from a company that started your credit union or one that merged into yours is relatively easy, it is important to the success of your credit union to be proactive in the voices crafting the direction of your institution and leading it forward.