April 5, 2016
DepositAccounts.com quoted me in Types of Institutions in the U.S. Banking System – Credit Unions. It reads, in part,
What You Need to Know About Credit Unions
For more than 100 years, credit unions have been providing financial services to their members. Forget about what you thought you knew about credit unions. Long gone are the days when credit unions were seemingly only a “bank” for government employees. Today some 100 million Americans are member-owners of 6,900 credit unions and credit unions have more than $1 trillion in assets.
The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) defines a credit union as a non-for-profit, member-owned financial cooperative, democratically managed by its members, and operated for the purpose of promoting thrift, providing credit at competitive rates, and providing other financial services to its members.
Simply put — credits unions are about their members, not profits.
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How are credit unions different from banks?
“They are structured very differently. Credit unions don’t issue stock or pay dividends to outside shareholders, so they are not beholden to outside third party interests,” says Steve Rick, chief economist of CUNA Mutual Group, an insurer and maker of financial productions within credit unions.
Each person who holds an account is a member, and each member has one vote, “rather than the voices of only the powerful few stockholders heard at for-profit banks. And all earnings go straight back to members in the form of favorable interest rates and lower fees that other for-profit institutions can’t beat,” he adds.
Banks are governed by paid shareholders and voting rights depend on the number of shares owned. Earnings go to outside bond and stockholders in the form of dividends.
As cooperatives, credit unions are part of a broader cooperative community that shares philosophies around benefiting their member owners. One of the core missions of the credit union system is to educate its members on financial issues to ensure their financial health.
“It’s worth noting that credit unions can offer creative types of mortgages that should be explored by first-time and experienced homebuyers alike. The PenFed Credit Union, along with some other credit unions, has a 5/5 ARM that adjusts every five years. A product like this combines aspects of a fixed rate mortgage (fewer, but not the fewest) surprises about payment sizes, with aspects of an ARM (lower, but not the lowest) interest rates,” says David Reiss, a Brooklyn Law School professor specializing in real estate.