Our history is rooted in Edward A. Filene’s reliance on solid, innovative research. His spirit lives on as we pursue knowledge that benefits credit unions, their members, and all consumers of financial services.
- Filene introduces applied research in 2009 to help credit unions bring these research and innovation ideas to life.
- Through hundreds of credit unions, half a million consumers get their debt in focus with the Filene-incubated Debt in Focus concept in 2010.
- Twenty-five young credit union professionals called The Crash Network crash CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference in 2010.
- The Crash Network becomes The Cooperative Trust in 2012, with a three-year funding commitment from CUNA Mutual Group and support from CUNA and PSCU Financial Services.
- Filene moves into a warehouse on Main St, buys giant propeller, and gets a new look.
- Silicon Valley start-up SavvyMoney buys Debt in Focus in 2012. Hundreds of credit unions now offer SavvyMoney’s suite of debt management and credit tools to their members.
- A grant from the Ford Foundation in 2013 helps Filene launch an accessible financial services incubator.
- Filene averages 30+ research releases per year, including:
- “Customer Experience and Credit Union Opportunities: A Collaboration with McKinsey & Company”
- “Withstanding a Financial Firestorm: Credit Unions vs. Banks”
- “Credit Union Financial Sustainability: A Colloquium at Harvard University”
- “Credit Union Sustainability: Costs, Consolidation, and Differentiation: A Colloquium at the University of California-Berkeley”
- “The Culture of Borrowing and Debt: An Ethnographic Approach”
- “Linking Member Satisfaction to Share of Deposits: Applying the Wallet Allocation Rule in Credit Unions”
- “Channel Delivery for Tomorrow”
- The i3 program introduces more concepts for credit unions, including:
- H.R. 3374 – The American Savings Promotion Act, legislation to remove barriers to offering prize-linked savings accounts, passes the House in 2014. Filene’s research and innovation around lottery-based savings programs helped lay the groundwork for the Act.
- Filene creates a multi-academic institution research fellows program in 2005 to connect with top thought leaders in the academic, nonprofit, and financial services worlds.
- Mark Meyer becomes Filene’s CEO in 2006.
- The National Credit Union Foundation adopts REAL Solutions as its signature program in 2006.
- In 2007, Filene publishes a series of research briefs to keep young adults issues top of mind for credit unions through CU Tomorrow. The 30 Under 30 community also introduces product, service, and business model ideas for credit unions, geared towards attracting young adult members, employees, or volunteers.
- A Summer Fellowships talent project in 2008 and 2009 places summer fellows, most of them MBA candidates, at credit unions across the country.
- The Doorway to Dreams (D2D) Fund, Filene, and the Michigan Credit Union League launch Save to Win, the nation’s first prize-linked savings account program in 2008.
- Filene averages 25 research releases per year, including:
- “Why Choose a Credit Union? An Ethnographic Study of Member Behaviors”
- “Does Imagery Matter: Delving into the Mind of Low-to-Moderate-Income Savers”
- “Characteristics of Credit Union Mergers: 1984–2008”
- One i3 team introduces The Savings Revolution, which inspires savings challenges among credit unions nationwide
- Filene averaged 12 research releases per year, including:
- “The Economics of Payday Lending”
- “Subordinated Debt for Credit Unions”
- “Outsourcing and Sharing Credit Union Management: A Colloquium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison”
- “Failures and Insurance Losses of Federally Insured Credit Unions: 1971–2004”
- “Strategy Errors Made by Even the Smartest CEOs: How to Avoid Them in Credit Unions: A Colloquium at Pepperdine University”
- Filene introduces REAL Solutions in 2003 to help credit unions better serve low-and-moderate-income financial consumers.
- The i3 (Ideas, Innovation, Implementation) program first brings together the best and the brightest next generation of credit union leaders in 2004 to address consumer finance challenges. Twenty-five inaugural executives ideate solutions such as:
- Building on earlier research around young adults, Filene launches COOL Solutions in 2004 to help credit unions more effectively attract, engage, and serve the 16–29-year-old market.
- Bill Kelly serves as executive director from 1994-1995.
- Filene averages seven research releases per year, including:
- “Board-CEO Relationships: Successes, Failures, and Remedies”
- “Who Uses Credit Unions?”
- HR 1151 – The Credit Union Membership Access Act becomes law in 1998. Filene’s research helped lay the groundwork for the Act, which greatly increased the potential for credit unions to serve millions of additional Americans.
- Several workshops and a pilot explore the viability of providing check-cashing, payday lending, and other alternative financial services at credit unions. Swarthmore College Professor John Caskey’s research reports for Filene around the financial needs and preferences of low-income households and the efforts of credit unions to serve them prompted these programs.
- CUNA Mutual Group, with support from the Credit Union National Association, state credit union leagues, and several credit unions, officially launch Filene Research Institute on May 31, 1989.
- David Chatfield joins Filene as its first executive director in 1989.
- The organization’s founders establish a research council of 25 credit union CEOs to explore, define, and oversee its research projects.
- Filene partners with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Credit Union Research to produce research for its first 16 years.
- Robert (Bob) Hoel joins Filene as executive director in 1991.
- Filene averages four research report releases per year, including:
- The organization’s budget grows from $70,000 to $1M.
Born in 1860 to Jewish immigrants, Edward A. Filene took over his family’s Boston clothing business at the age of nineteen when his father’s health began to fail. Despite his lack of formal schooling, Mr. Filene became one of the most ingenious retailing minds in the country, understanding that the best merchants do not sell products but serve human needs.
In 1908 Mr. Filene attended a meeting about spreading the idea of credit associations in the United States. He offered financial support to the credit union movement, and in 1933 he began touring the United States speaking on credit unions.
Mr. Filene kept the credit union movement going at a critical point in its development. He never organized a credit union, and he was involved in the organization of the national association in only a broad way. But he was the movement’s spiritual leader. He passed away in 1937 at the age of seventy-seven.