26SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Gigi Hyland Gigi Hyland serves as the Executive Director for the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), the philanthropic and social responsibility leader of America’s credit union movement. Prior to her work with … Web: www.hylandhighway.com Details It’s the time of the year to be thankful, right? Family, friends, lots of great food to share and enjoy together. I think as I get older I become even more thankful for the simplest things in life. Take teeth. As a foodie, I’m quite appreciative that my choppers are in fine shape to enjoy all that great food previously mentioned.So, what if someone asked you if you are thankful for credit unions? How would you respond? After all, credit unions offer a commodity similar to many other financial institutions that tout similar products and services. In fact, I was just at a meeting where a couple of big banks did a presentation on new “safe” accounts that they offer in alignment with the FDIC’s Model Safe Account Template. And I thought to myself, “Well, credit unions do all of that.”My next thought was, “Hmmm, do they?”I uneasily remembered the 2012 Pew report that looked at the 12 biggest credit unions and the 12 biggest banks and found issues with the transparency of disclosure of key checking account terms and conditions. Many credit unions since the 2012 report have adopted Pew’s recommendations for a clearer disclosure. Pew recently updated the report in April noting significant improvements related to disclosure. However, the 2014 report goes on to list continuing concerns and policy recommendations on overdraft protection and dispute resolution.Let me be very clear on what I’m saying here. I am truly thankful for credit unions. I am inspired by member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperatives whose sole mission is to serve members and improve members’ financial lives. But, my thankfulness comes with a solemn ring of caution. In the world of commodity financial services, the thankfulness of members for credit unions must be earned, not assumed.Credit unions need to continue to keep the members’ best interests front and center. Put another way, how can we assure a future where Americans do choose credit unions as their best financial partner? It all starts and ends with the member. Meeting the member where she/he is in life and offering affordable, appropriate products and services to meet that need. Credit unions must never forget that. It is who credit unions are and it is what uniquely distinguishes them from other players in the financial services realm.