Credit Unions Spotlighted as USC CEO is Quoted in Story

Gary Perez, CEO of USC CU
Gary Perez, CEO of USC CU

The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues would like to applaud Gary Perez, CEO of USC CU, and recognize his contribution to a recent Los Angeles Times article that shows the tremendous benefits of the credit union mission. His insights embody the “people helping people” spirit.

The newspaper piece (“Big Banks Want Communities of Color to Trust Them. But it’s Not so Simple”) highlights a growing trend in the news media and the financial services sector where banks are consolidating physical locations away from low-income areas, while still attempting to serve those communities:

  • Credit unions are an alternative to banks and often provide services with lower fees and penalties, though they usually are not open to all members of the general public. For example, USC Credit Union serves university employees, students and alumni, as well as Los Angeles residents who live within five miles of USC’s main campus or health sciences campus. Credit unions also sometimes face a name recognition problem. “Most people don’t know what a credit union is,” said Gary Perez, president and chief executive of USC Credit Union. “The overwhelming majority of people who don’t work for an entity that has a credit union, they just don’t know what distinguishes a credit union from a commercial bank.”

As the financial services marketplace moves prominently online and to mobile technologies, credit unions have an opportunity to serve a niche membership that relies on physical locations, primarily in underserved, low-income and rural areas.

Credit unions are currently advocating changes to field-of-membership restrictions that will allow them to add these communities into their field-of-membership requirements. The Leagues and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) are working with Congress toward passage of the Expanding Financial Access for Underserved Communities Act, which is an important step forward for access and inclusion in these areas.

House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) has released the draft of this language to committee members for consideration at a later date.

The Leagues will keep credit union leaders informed.

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