A couple weeks ago while I was out and about running errands, I stopped by the credit union to make a deposit into my account. When I was finished with my transaction, the teller handed me a postcard and started telling me all about the credit union’s upcoming annual meeting. Dinner, door prizes, guest speakers, that sounded kind of fun! I put the card in my purse and went on my way. Now, if you’re like me….a purse is a very dangerous place to put something that you don’t want to forget about. Eventually, with the moving around, pulling out the wallet, digging for the keys and stuffing of receipts and notes, things can become lost very quickly. This morning, while searching for a very important shopping list, I came across the postcard that had made its way to the deepest depths of my purse. I pulled it out and read over it again and realized that I’ve been getting notices for the credit union’s annual meeting for years, but I’ve never actually been to one. What do they do at these meetings? So I called and got more information.
As a not-for-profit that is cooperatively owned by our members, the entire credit union benefits when its members engage and participate in their ownership. It’s an opportunity for you to meet your management and elected board and other volunteers as well as many of the other employees who serve the membership. It’s also an occasion that is used to report on the performance of your mutually owned credit union and look ahead to the future.
Why Do Credit Unions have Annual Meetings?
When you opened your deposit relationship with your credit union, you became an owner because your deposit represents a share of ownership (much like a share of a corporation or stock purchase). At the annual meeting, the members (again, who are the cooperative’s owners) elect a volunteer Board of Directors. Their responsibility is to oversee the credit union and serve the membership with decisions that are based upon what will best benefit the credit union’s near and long-term direction while ensuring it is in the best interest of the membership at large.
Any member with an interest in serving on the Board of Directors is encouraged to contact the credit union to obtain more information about the various duties and responsibilities of the position as well as the requirements that exist for becoming a candidate.
Getting More Involved in your Cooperative
Knowing that you are an owner, whether you have an interest in running for the Board of Directors or not, you may want to see about becoming more involved. Unlike business that’s conducted at a bank, many newer (and often long-time) members are surprised to learn that, when they are part of a credit union, their voice is heard and their opinions really do count.
A credit union’s annual meeting provides a wonderful forum for members to obtain specific financial information about their credit union’s performance from the prior year and learn more about the strategy and efforts that will be followed for the current year.
All members are invited and encouraged to attend the annual meeting, since the information that’s shared impacts the dividends that are paid, the rates that are received, the products that solve life needs, the fees that are sometimes applicable and the reasons that those fees exist, not to mention the investments in technology, branches, ATMs and more.
The Annual Report
The annual meeting is also the first time that the annual report of the credit union is made available to the public. It’s distributed to all attendees of the annual meeting and made available through other means throughout the year. The report typically outlines specifics about the total deposits, loans, assets and operating costs from the prior year as well as an overall financial review.
With all that said, remember that the credit union exists to serve the ever-growing needs of the people who do business with the credit union. They are members and owners who experience more benefit from stronger and deeper relationships. The people who work for the credit union, while they are members first, are genuinely interested in serving other members to help improve the lives of other fellow owners. As the old credit union mantra goes, they are “people helping people.”
Hearing all of this information really made me value my long-standing relationship with my credit union even more. They invest so much into their members and their community, and are willing to share so much information with you. I think I’ll definitely be attending the annual meeting this year. I’m Claire, the Afena blog mom. Thanks for reading.