Credit Unions Provide Education Services to More than 104 Million Members
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 6, 2019) – Credit unions can play an important role in helping more Americans save and build stronger financial futures by providing financial education and expanding access, National Credit Union Administration Chairman Rodney E. Hood said today.
“If we are to improve the financial well-being of all Americans, then more people need access to financial education,” Chairman Hood said. “We must encourage the creation of products and services that make savings easier, and we need to bring more Americans into the financial mainstream. I know we are up to the challenge. Credit unions began when ordinary people came together to improve the financial lives of their neighbors and communities.”
The need for more education and greater access to help people save is crucial, Hood said.
“Far too many Americans today hang dangerously close to the edge financially,” he said. “Data released by the Federal Reserve shows many adults are not prepared to deal with small, unplanned expenses or brief financial disruptions.”
Chairman Hood noted that more than half of all federally insured credit unions, with a total membership of more than 104 million, offer financial education. That means nearly 90 percent of credit union members have access to these services.
“Credit unions were founded more than a century ago to meet the needs of communities ignored by traditional financial providers and improve the lives of the members,” Hood said. “Helping members make smarter financial decisions is part of the credit union mission.”
Credit unions that have branches in schools play a particularly important role, Hood said. While only 17 states mandate personal finance courses in high schools, credit unions are helping to educate young people on how to make good financial decisions.
“I’m especially proud of the 365 credit unions that have in-school branches,” he said. “Research by the Financial Literacy and Education Commission and others shows financial education at an early age plays a critical role in shaping financial practices later in life.”
The NCUA, Hood said, provides materials to help credit unions with financial education programs on its consumer website, MyCreditUnion.gov (opens new window).
Innovation is Essential
Americans will find it easier to save if credit unions increase the availability of safe and affordable financial services and products, Hood said, adding that savings programs, technology, and a modern regulatory framework can all play a role in expanding access.
“Automatic savings programs are an effective way of making saving easy and effortless,” Hood said. “Embracing the opportunities financial technology provides is also necessary. Reforming our regulatory structure to meet the challenges of a twenty-first-century financial landscape and the needs of consumers is essential.”
Financial Education and Financial Inclusion
Chairman Hood said the country could no longer afford to have millions of citizens outside the financial mainstream.
“We know the lack of access to affordable financial services holds working families back,” he said. “We need to remove the obstacles these Americans face. That will require us to utilize technology, form new public-private partnerships, and support community-based depository institutions. It will take the combined efforts of policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels, community organizations, and industry leaders.”
This cooperative effort, Hood said, promises great rewards.
“We all must work together; because all of us have a stake in the outcome,” he said. “We all benefit when more of our citizens can control their financial futures and enjoy the limitless opportunities this nation provides.”