Letter to the Editor: The Value of Credit Unions

letter to the editor

MARSHFIELD, WI (OnFocus) – Submitted –  Credit unions have been a pillar of Wisconsin communities since 1923, when City of Milwaukee employees gathered to start the first credit union, Prime Financial Credit Union, which still operates today and will soon celebrate its 100-year anniversary. While Wisconsin’s credit unions represent only 20% of the financial services market in the state, we positively impact the lives of our members and our communities in significant ways that benefit all Wisconsinites.

Credit unions have been serving Marshfield since the late 1940s with the creation of what is known today as Simplicity Credit Union, and our community is now home to three other credit unions: First Choice Credit Union, Marshfield Medical Center Credit Union, and Valley Communities Credit Union. While we serve different segments of the community, we all embody the credit union difference by operating as not-for-profit financial cooperatives, putting our members first.

If you are not familiar with credit unions, you may be wondering what the difference between a bank and a credit union is. Both entities offer similar products and services, but the biggest difference comes in the operating philosophies.

Credit unions strive to build deeper connections with our members, making decisions that help improve our members’ financial lives. We are owned by our members, not shareholders, and each member has equal say in how the organization is run-our success is our members’ success. The goal of any credit union is not to make profit at the expense of our members, but to foster financial well-being in ways that other financial institutions cannot. In 2021, Wisconsin’s credit unions helped members keep $431.6 million in their pockets in the form of better rates, fewer fees, and member patronage. These lower rates and fewer fees benefit non-members too by keeping rates at other for-profit institutions in check.

Besides serving our members, credit unions also care about philanthropic efforts, giving back over $13.8 million to Wisconsin charities, community projects, and civic groups in the last year alone. We happily choose to give back to our local communities through donations, funds, and volunteer hours, while banks are required to give back to their communities by federal regulation through the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).

While Wisconsin’s credit unions may all operate independently and have unique goals and aspirations as individual organizations, our cooperative spirit and dedication to our members and communities moves us all forward. We thank the 3.5 million Wisconsinites who have chosen credit unions as their best financial partner.

Rob Schulz, President of First Choice Credit Union
David Murphy, President of Marshfield Medical Center Credit Union
Nick Faber, President/CEO of Simplicity Credit Union
Kelly Hladovcak, President/CEO of Valley Communities Credit Union

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News Desk
Author: News Desk

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