Dear Valued Member:
I am honored to have served my second year as the President of YOUR credit union! The spirit of the credit union movement from the beginning has been people helping people. Did you know that one of the very first credit unions ever established was in a rural area of Southern Germany in 1864 by a man named Friedrich Raiffeisen? He believed that if neighbors and friends pooled their money together, they could achieve a higher standard of living by loaning funds to each other at low rates when a need arose. This model established the credit union structure and was the foundation for the future credit union movement. The credit union model reached the United States in 1909, when the first American credit union, St. Mary’s Cooperative Credit Association, was established by Edward Filene. Credit Unions were growing in number, but it wasn’t until the 1930s that credit unions achieved national acceptance and federal recognition.
In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act into law and credit unions in every state became legally authorized to create a system of not-for-profit cooperatives. These cooperatives, which we still espouse today, were created to promote thrift and sound financial practices! It is important for all credit union members to understand our roots and understand why credit unions are vastly different from banks. While both credit unions and banks provide an array of financial services, such as checking accounts, consumer loans, mortgages, and credit cards, at its core, credit unions were created to provide you, our members/owners, a place to manage your finances with the best possible terms. Meanwhile, banks were created to generate profits for their corporate directors. The credit union motto, not for profit, not for charity, but for service has been at the heart of the credit union movement since the beginning and will continue to be the beacon of light that guides GNO into the future. The history of credit unions runs deep, and I encourage you to learn more at https://ncua.gov/about/historical-timeline#.
Since 1935, GNO members have pooled their resources and have worked together to help one another have access to better financial services. Though we started with humble beginnings as New Orleans Bell Telephone Employees Federal Credit Union with just 7 members, GNO has grown and thrived throughout the years to become a strong, sound local financial institution serving the Greater New Orleans area while continuing to keep your best interest at heart. Through your deposits into your GNO savings and checking accounts, and your investments in certificates and money managers, GNO can continue to lend to members of the community who are in need and as a member-owned community credit union, your money grows with you and your family. From our youngest and newest members to our legacy members, GNO is big enough to serve you, but small enough to know you.
We were quite busy in 2022 unveiling some superior changes that bring value to our members. We introduced our EPIC Platinum Checking Account, which offers our members cell phone protection, roadside assistance, identity theft protection, discounts to restaurants and entertainment venues, along with a nice yield on funds deposited and lower rates on loans. This checking account offers so much value, over 50% of new members opening a checking account today are opting to be EPIC!
We completely revamped our Home and Mobile Banking platform allowing our users a seamless transition, updated features such as user card controls, travel notes, remote deposit capture, and aggregated balances allowing for a better user experience, while extra security features such as unique user IDs and multi-factor authentication help protect your data. The enhanced navigation and account management, including one username/login for both on-line and mobile access and an at-a-glance dashboard that can be customized to your preferences, along with access to eStatements on the app means you have a full-service platform right in the palm of your hand. Thank you for your patience and grace as we worked to bring you a stellar solution for your everyday banking needs.
Thankfully, 2022 seemed to be a reprieve from major challenges such as hurricanes and pandemics. We saw things continue to open back up and people began to enjoy life again. While the year was not entirely without its challenges, it was nice to take some time and enjoy our community. Here at GNO, we got to visit some community partners such as Covenant House, Goodwill, and Volunteers of America. We’ve been able to reconnect with our local colleges, Delgado, Nunez, and University of Holy Cross, and our local high-school partners. We were able to provide college scholarships to two amazing recipients and look forward to providing more in 2023. Did you know that GNO offers financial education on campus for our high-school and college partners? We also offer youth accounts to enable young people to start on a positive path towards financial freedom. Our youth are our future, and it is important for us to stand in the gap for them and teach them a better way to manage their finances and empower them to take control of their futures by understanding credit.
We continue to offer a FREE on-line educational gaming app, ZOGO, to our entire community regardless of if you are a member or not. This gaming app teaches concepts such as savings, investing in index funds, retirement, entrepreneurship, taxes, protecting yourself from fraud, and even trading in stock options! Over 25 topics allow you to learn in a fun, comprehensive way, while earning prizes. This free service exemplifies another credit union philosophy, not for profit, not for charity, but for service.
With the economic uncertainty facing us in 2023, I want you to know that your credit union is here for you. Members facing tighter monthly budgets due to inflation, resulting in a higher cost of goods and services, existing debts, and the potential for a recession, GNO is the partner you need. With access to GreenPath Financial Wellness, this free service offers you, our members, help with budgeting, debt management, credit counseling, and so much more. In addition, you can stop in at any of our locations and talk to one of our Account Officers for credit score enhancement and financial counseling. We are your credit union and are here in good times and challenging times because that is what we do. We will walk beside you as you work to get back on track.
In closing, there is so much to be thankful for daily! I am so thankful for you, our members, for trusting us with your financial needs, our employees for the work they do every day in helping you achieve your goals, our board and supervisory committee for their constant guidance and oversight, and to our community and business partners for allowing us to be their credit union of choice. We spent 2022 showcasing our commitment to focus on people over profit, process, and product and we will continue to do so in 2023. Your credit union is working on ways to lower fees, further enhance our digital options, enhance member’s credit scores, help you get out of debt, and help you set yourself up for a bright financial future. We are proud of our accomplishments, grateful for our financial strength, and humbled by the support of our members, team, and communities. Our team is poised and ready for the year ahead no matter what it may bring! GNO is a viably strong and financially fit organization paving the way for the Greater New Orleans area to be known as a credit union community. Thank you for your membership and if you are not a member, come and join us!
President & CEO