Credit Unions Are Safe & Sound. Reassure Your Members.
This is what we currently know of the situation, but it is fluid and changing quickly.
Last Updated: March 16, 9 a.m. PT
We’ve been closely monitoring the failures of Silicon Valley Bank, Silvergate, and Signature Bank. Naturally, these developments create more scrutiny of the financial services marketplace and cause consumers to be concerned about their finances. Now is the time to reassure your members that they’ve made a good choice to be part of the not-for-profit, cooperative Credit Union Movement. Help the members to understand how credit unions’ structure holds them accountable to members.
Banks are owned by stockholders and must deliver profits to them, credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives, essentially owned and governed by their members. During challenging economic times, credit unions remain strong because credit unions don’t profit from motives that are driven by risk.
We are providing these messaging resources and will continue to add collateral to the toolkit as the situation further develops.
Silicon Valley Bank – the 16th largest bank in the U.S. and previously among Forbes’s list of top financial institutions – was shuttered by regulators on March 10, 2023. This was the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history with Washington Mutual being the largest at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. State regulators also closed New York-based Signature Bank on March 12.
While this is unsettling news for consumers, it is important to understand that this was a unique circumstance impacting a bank with a specific portfolio. SVB catered to tech start-ups and the venture capital community.
- You’re seeing the news about bank failures in the past few days, and you are concerned. We get it, but know that your funds deposited in this credit union are safe.
- The failed banks are much different than credit unions. They had unique portfolios, focused on tech, venture capital, and cryptocurrency interests. Traditional financial institutions have more diverse portfolios and policies.
- [Credit Union Name] Credit Union is safe and sound. We meet (or exceed) regulatory standards for well-capitalized financial services providers. We are well-positioned to meet our members’ financial services needs, including loans and savings opportunities.
- Credit unions are structured differently than banks. They can provide you with the same services – opportunities to save, to borrow so you can buy a car, a home, or start a business – but the bottom line is that credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives.
Member Facing Talking-Points
What does that mean for you? It means it’s all about you!
- As not-for-profit cooperatives, the credit union is essentially owned by you and your fellow members using our services.
- The decisions about products and services offered are made in your best interests. Our board of directors is comprised of people just like you who are members of the credit union.
- We answer to Main Street, not Wall Street. As a not-for-profit financial services provider [Credit Union Name] Credit Union does not have stockholders. As a cooperative, we invest our earnings back into you, the member. That’s why you’ll often find our interest rates and fees to be competitive.
- Our cooperative structure inherently holds us accountable to you, and to the other members.
- And, we live and work in this community, too. We exist solely to serve our members, taking local deposits and making local loans.
- Your money is insured here. The National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund insures your money, and it is protected up to $250,000 per individual depositor. For more information, visit mycreditunion.gov/share-insurance. Here is a reassuring fact: no credit union member has ever lost a penny of insured savings held in a federally insured credit union!
- We are healthy, safe, local, and focused on financial wellness for all, and on building thriving communities.
- If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our call center. [Provide link or number]. And as always, if you do find yourself in a financial emergency, reach out, so we can work towards a solution.
- Spread the word. If you have friends or family members who are concerned about bank failures in the news, tell them about credit unions’ accountable, safe, not-for-profit cooperative structure. We would welcome them to join us.
We are pleased to share some of the messages that GoWest member credit unions are sharing with their members. Here are some examples. If you have messaging you’d like to share, please email Katy Wagnon.
- STCU’s blog on consumer strategies to insure accounts beyond the $250,000 level
- Advantis Credit Union’s message to members about safety and soundness
- OneAZ CU’s message to members
- Rivermark CCU’s Seth Schaefer’s message to members
- Statement from NCUA Chairman Todd Harper
- Elevations CU’s Message from CEO Gerry Agnes
- Credit Union West’s Message to Members
Share Insurance Fund
GoWest member credit unions may access the Infosight resource on the GoWest Compliance website.
This page has valuable information about how the insurance program works. The Account Insurance Estimator allows your credit union to estimate the maximum federal insurance coverage of funds in any member’s account, for the ten most popular types of coverage. Sharing a customized estimate and estimate form with your members could reinforce your credit union’s value to them.
This League InfoSight tool is available to GoWest member credit unions. Free webinars are being offered on March 21 and March 22. Learn more here.
- This news release is recommended only for credit unions that meet or exceed the regulatory standards to be considered well capitalized
- Before using this template, ensure it matches your credit union’s policies and positions. Edit and customize as needed.
- Ask your compliance team to review the news release before it is shared with media.
- If you are going to pitch a story, make sure you have your spokespeople readily available. In this digital age, if reporters are going to respond to a story pitch, they will usually do so very quickly, and will want to do the story right away.
- Prepare your spokesperson with the three main talking points you most prep that spokesperson with the three main talking points they want to be articulated in the interview.
You can find the sample news release here.
Other Media Coverage
STCU, GoWest quoted in Spokesman-Review
Solarity CU stresses financial health in Yakima Herald-Republic