CUNA and NAFCU Announce Intent to Merge
Credit union trade groups CUNA and NAFCU announced their intention to merge into one national association, with the aim of being fully operational by 2025.
New national credit union trade group would aim to be fully operational by 2025.
The merger is subject to a vote by both trade groups’ membership during a 60-day period scheduled to begin later this month. The new trade group would be legally established no earlier than January 2024, with the goal of being fully operational by early 2025.
If the merger is approved, CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle will serve as the president/CEO of the new organization.
NAFCU President/CEO Dan Berger, who according to the announcement decided earlier this year to resign “to fulfill family obligations and pursue other opportunities,” will remain at the association until the end of the year and will work on merger issues.
What They’re Saying
“By bringing together these two powerful credit union associations we are doubling down on our commitment to ensure the growth and prosperity of all credit unions across the nation and the 137 million Americans they serve,” Nussle said, in a statement. “We look forward to uniting CUNA and NAFCU in what will be an exciting new chapter ahead, and we’re thrilled about the opportunities this will create for our members, employees, and business partners.”
“Both CUNA and NAFCU have worked together over the years to achieve victories for the credit union industry, and now the sky is the limit,” he said, in a statement. “I believe this is the best path forward for the industry. A new, singular association under Jim’s fervent leadership will be able to harness the combined talent of both organizations to provide outstanding value to our members and ensure every household in America has the best credit union to serve them.”
Backstory and Context
Rumors about the merger began circulating earlier this year. The groups said that their respective boards of directors and executive committees unanimously voted in favor of the merger in May.
Initially, the new association will be governed by a 16-member board of directors, which will include current board members and executive committee members from both groups.
The chairs of both boards of directors said they are excited about the prospect of the merger.
“Both organizations have worked together to achieve great victories for the industry,” said Lisa Ginter, chair of CUNA’s board. “This merger will provide the opportunity to innovate and strengthen the credit union industry as we respond to the banking challenges of the future.”
“We have the utmost respect for both associations and their employees and look forward to working together as we integrate the two organizations to best support the credit union industry,” said Gary Grinnell, chair of NAFCU’s board. “We appreciate Dan’s relentless focus on growing NAFCU and serving its members with aggressive advocacy and ‘extreme member service,’ and wish him much luck in his future endeavors.”
More on Nussle and Berger
Nussle became president/CEO of CUNA in 2014.
He had served as a Republican member of the House from Iowa from 1991 to 2000, eventually becoming chairman of the House Budget Committee. In 2006, he was the Republican nominee for Iowa governor, but lost to Democrat Chet Culver.
He first came to fame in October 1991, when, protesting the ethical behavior of House members in operating an internal bank, he wore a paper bag over his head while delivering a speech in the well of the House chamber.
Later, he became director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush—serving from 2007 to 2009.
In 2021, he renounced his membership in the Republican Party, following the insurrection of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Berger joined NAFCU in 2006 and became its president/CEO in 2013.
Overlap on Issues
The two groups also operate their own Political Action Committees. CUNA’s is one of the largest trade group PACs; so far, for the 2024 election cycle, the association’s Credit Union Legislative Action Council has contributed $798,000 to congressional candidates.
NAFCU operates a much smaller PAC, having contributed $99,000 to congressional candidates this year.
Both trade organizations also employ lobbyists.
CUNA has billed itself as “the most credible financial services trade association and the only national association that advocates on behalf of all of America’s credit unions.”
NAFCU, on other hand, has defined itself as “a direct membership association for federally-insured credit unions.”
This is not the first time the two groups have discussed a possible merger.
In 2008, CEOs of six large credit unions told the trade associations that the industry would be better served if the two groups merged.
Earlier in that decade, then-CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica pushed for a merger.
In 2010, when Bill Cheney was appointed CUNA president/CEO, he told Roll Call, “It would make sense to move to one national credit union association. That’s something the credit unions have to decide, not something a trade association can decide.”
However, Fred Becker, who then headed NAFCU, dismissed any merger talk at the time.
“I think we’ve proven the value of having two trade associations and the value they can bring on various legislative issues,” Becker told Roll Call. “I look forward to working with [Cheney] in equal partnership.”