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CU FinHealth 23 participants discuss financial wellbeing and other hot topics at this year’s conference in Las Vegas last week.
CU FinHealth 23 participants discuss financial wellbeing and other hot topics at this year’s conference in Las Vegas last week.

Cooperation and Innovation: CUs Unite for Financial Wellbeing

With record-breaking attendance, this year’s CU FinHealth Conference in Las Vegas created a lasting impact on attendees through powerful speakers and inspiring topics.

More than 200 credit union professionals from across the country came together for the 7th annual CU FinHealth Conference last week, jointly hosted by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, National Credit Union Foundation, and the Cornerstone Foundation. This yearly gathering has progressively evolved into the leading financial wellbeing event for credit unions and industry/system partners.

The conference began with a keynote address from Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President and CEO Jim Nussle. Nussle focused on the impact that the credit union movement can have in troubled financial times and how it can empower the financial future of communities across the country.

“You are the financial first responders in your community,” said Nussle. “Not just for your members, but when the community as a whole is under stress.”

Diversity, equity, and inclusion was the focus for day one, and it was filled with powerhouse speakers and panels. Breakout sessions led by CUNA’s Samira Salem and United Way Suncoast’s Carlene Ulacia discussed inclusivity in the workplace and financial wellbeing through product equity and accessibility, respectively, before an afternoon panel on expansion through equity and engagement. Panelists discussed how credit unions have invested in their communities through minority depository institutions (MDIs) and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), providing examples of projects they’ve accomplished in their own local affected areas.

“The fact that the credit union movement stepped into the void and could be better conduits showed that we need to address racial inequalities better and more effectively,” said Cathie Mahon, president and CEO of Inclusiv.

The conference’s second day shined the spotlight on cooperation and began with the impact of financial literacy and philanthropy on an all-girls charter school in Las Vegas. Patricia Farley, board chair of the Girls Empowerment Middle Schools (GEMS), explained to the audience: “We have to start on a more basic level and figure out how to effectively reach and teach the girls. Their main questions are, ‘How do I get money, and how do I save my money?’”

Scott Arkills, president and CEO of Silver State Schools CU and financial literacy sponsor of GEMS, added, “Don’t ever underestimate our youth. They are wildly smart; they just need to be taught.”

Financial wellbeing and potential upcoming economic issues were important topics throughout the day, from sessions on the impact of medical debt to how focusing on employee financial wellbeing can help communities.

“Credit unions win during recessions,” said Bjorn Larson, executive director of Life—Money—You. “We need to be here to help people with education, coaching, and content to help grow relationships and communities.”

The conference’s final day spent time on strategy, trending topics, and how attendees could take action once they got home. An enlightening session on cryptocurrency from Coinbase strategist Toju Ometoruwa broke down blockchains and how cryptocurrency works, and the following session on fintech taught credit unions how to keep a competitive advantage in the ever-changing financial landscape.

The final session of the event provided action steps for attendees to implement at their credit unions utilizing the Foundation’s and Filene Research Institute’s Quick Start Guide. Utilizing and implementing the quick start guide with employees allows you to impact not only them but your membership. Taylor Nelms, Filene’s senior director of market insights and advisory services, added that “Starting with your employees not only allows you to help you reach your members, it allows you to demonstrate your commitment and invest in your culture.”

The 2024 CU FinHealth Conference will take place the week of April 15, with a location to be announced soon. Thank you to everyone from California, Nevada, and across the nation who attended this year’s event!

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