New credit union members can get their first taste of financial democracy when they attend their credit union's annual meeting.
The increase in bank fees and the need to drive profitability on the backs of the consumer has prompted many to flee big bank bureaucracy to a more democratically run financial institution like a credit union.
Unlike how business is conducted at a bank, new members are finding that when they are part of a credit union their voice is heard and their opinion counts.
Credit union annual meetings provide the perfect forum for members to obtain specific financial information about their credit union’s previous year performance and learn more about the strategy proposed going into the current year.
All members are invited and encouraged to attend the annual meeting as information being shared impacts dividends, rates, products, fees and more. Plus credit union annual meetings differ from other “corporate” gatherings as refreshments are often served and even door prizes are sometimes awarded.
Most annual meetings are held during second quarter and members are provided with notification weeks in advance.
The Annual Report is Revealed and Reviewed
An annual report is distributed to all attendees at the annual meeting, outlining specifics including total deposits, loans, assets, operating costs and an overall financial review. Additionally, members can learn more about the executives and volunteer board members, along with detailed strategies outlined in the report.
Often credit unions are part of rebuilding the community or dedicated to a specific charity. The annual report provides a platform to discuss efforts made in charitable or humanitarian areas, along with plans for future events.
The annual report may also provide a springboard for announcing new products or technology development. Executives from each division also discuss their initiatives for the year and outline strategic plans and missions for the coming year.
Credit Unions Elect Leaders
Different from banks that have stockholders calling the shots and only looking at bottom line profits, credit union members are eligible to run for its volunteer board aimed at creating a better environment for the membership as a whole. Board members have numerous duties including policy approval, budgets and strategic planning.
In addition to attending to “business as usual” many boards create or are actively involved in philanthropic efforts. For example, Credit Union of Colorado’s ($940 million, Denver, CO) board of directors recently created the Credit Union of Colorado Foundation, dedicated to finding ways to improve the community.
Terry Leis, president/CEO said, “Our board of directors established this foundation to honor the legacy of service that began with the people who founded our credit union in 1934. With these first steps, we hope our foundation will start a new legacy of making our communities a better place to live.”
Financial Resources Federal Credit Union’s ($300 million, Bridgewater, New Jersey) board of directors were also behind an initiative this past holiday season to ensure that 30 children placed in foster care received holiday gifts.
Lena Matthews, CEO of Financial Resources Federal Credit Union says, “Being in foster care is hard enough. We wanted to make the holidays as happy as possible for these children. We hope that our small contributions during the holidays made a difficult situation as good as possible for the children.”
Generally any member can run for a board position, but most credit unions mandate that the member is in good standing at the credit union, with no criminal history and at least 21 years of age. Board members typically serve a term limit of three years but can be re-elected after the term as expired.
The board of directors and executive management team run the meeting and election, announcing election results at the annual meeting. Prior to the meeting, the membership is notified of volunteer board vacancies. Every member receives a ballot and has a vote, regardless of how much business they do with the credit union.
Unsure when your credit union will hold its annual meeting? Find your credit union for more information.