In the wake of a highly publicized financial scandal involving the deception of customers and the creation of more than 1.5 million fraudulent accounts at one of the country’s largest banks, the question of where you can place your trust when it comes to your financial service provider has become a matter of increasing concern. Fundamental to this trust is, of course, whether the financial institution you are using has made your interests a top priority. With just a basic understanding of what credit unions are and how they operate, it’s easy to discern why they have a well-deserved reputation for putting members first, and why now, more than ever, you should be using a credit union:
Why were they created? Credit unions are established by a group of individuals that combine their resources to meet their mutual financial needs. Unlike a bank, which must rely on outside capital to finance investments and is accountable to shareholders (who may or may not be depositors), a credit union’s primary purpose is to promote the financial well-being of its members. Back in 1953, SF Police Credit Union was founded by several police officers who wanted to avoid the high cost of borrowing money from loan companies and banks. By pooling their funds, they were able to provide low-cost loans and meet shared financial goals. As SFPCU continued to grow and expand its field of membership, this underlying commitment to “taking care of our own” continued to be an integral part of its culture.
Who owns the credit union? As a not-for-profit financial cooperative, a credit union is owned and controlled by the people—its members. Each member of a credit union has one vote in electing a volunteer board of directors to oversee the organization regardless of how much money they have on deposit. In addition, members of a credit union can be elected to the board. Under this structure, members have an equal say in how their credit union is managed. This is in stark contrast to banks, which are owned and controlled by stockholders whose degree of influence in electing board members is dependent upon the number of shares they hold. In addition, bank customers do not have voting rights and cannot run for election to the board.
Where do the profits go (and who do they benefit)? If you need only one compelling reason to trust that a credit union will best serve your financial interests as a member, just “follow the money.” While a bank pays out its declared earnings to its stockholders, your credit union leverages its members financial resources in order to create profits that are returned to members in the form of lower rates on loans, higher returns on savings, reduced fees and an ever-evolving array of new products and services.
Why you can have confidence in the products and services your credit union provides: Deep knowledge of the unique needs of its members and how to tailor products and services to members’ lifestyle and needs is another area in which credit unions excel. As a credit union created by law enforcement and having served first responders for more than 60 years, SFPCU has insight into the special circumstances of our members and has shaped the high value products and services we’ve created around improving our members’ financial lives. And because we were created for the benefit of our members and not to fill the pockets of bank executives, you can be assured that as a credit union member, you won’t become a target for an aggressive sales pitch for something you don’t need—or don’t want.
Outstanding service plus the 24/7 convenience: In the final analysis, first responders with hectic and unpredictable schedules not only need a financial partner that they can trust, but also one that makes it easy for them to take care of their financial business anytime, and anywhere. SF Police Credit Union fully understands the importance of convenience when it comes to your banking needs, and is proud to offer a full spectrum of secure and user-friendly online services, just a few of which include mobile banking, bill pay and online deposit via smart device. To learn more about our online banking services, visit https://www.sfpcu.org/online-services/online-banking.
Are you a member of SF Police Credit Union with a friend or colleague who is ready to make the switch to using a credit union? Keep in mind that even extended family members of a current SF Police Credit Union member are eligible to join us—including grandparents, parents, a spouse, siblings, (step) children or (step) grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, first cousins and domestic partners. For details on SFPCU eligibility, visit https://www.sfpcu.org/membership/eligibility. And for those who don’t meet the criteria for SFPCU membership but are looking for a credit union to join, just direct them to http://bit.ly/FindaCreditUnioninYourArea.