CU 2.0 Podcast 37: Cliff Rosenthal on CDFIs

Welcome to episode 37 of the CU 2.0 Podcast. Today is all about community development financial institutions.

Do you want to know about community development financial institutions? Cliff Rosenthal is the man you want to talk to.  He literally wrote the book on CDFIs and also the longstanding credit union initiative to serve the unbanked: Democratizing Finance: Origins of the Community Development Financial Institutions Movement.

Have CDFIs lived up to their potential?

Have credit unions changed the shape of financial services in America?

Rosenthal has opinions and he shares them in this podcast.

Along the way, he talks about his stint at the CFPB – and the ingrained credit union executive distrust of that institution. Which may not be entirely warranted.

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Rosenthal pulls no punches. He said, “It dismays me that 100 years after the birth of credit unions we still have a significant problem of the underbanked and unbanked.” And, note, about 25% of households fall into the category.

Rosenthal also said that in 1990 there were around 13,500 banks and thrifts and a like number of credit unions.  There now are about 5500 of each.  “The number of credit unions falls by 200 to 300 each year.  Ten years from now there will be 3000, 3500 credit unions.”

That math is flawless. And it has to scare you.

In this podcast, you’ll hear a discussion of the successes of a Mississippi credit union executive Bill Bynum.  He told his own story in this podcast.

You’ll also hear about Jim Blaine, the charismatic, longtime CEO of State Employees’ Credit Union in North Carolina, one of the country’s biggest.

And you’ll also hear Rosental insist that many credit unions that focus on serving the underserved do better financially than those that focus on fighting with banks for more affluent consumers.

If you enjoy this podcast, listen in to the podcast with Cathie Mahon, CEO of Inclusive, a trade group for institutions that focus on community development. Listen, too, to this podcast with Bill Bynum of Hope.

Click here to listen to Episode 37 Cliff Rosenthal on CDFIs.

Check out other podcasts in the series here!