Shaping the Future of Financial Well-being: A Vision from the CEO of Affinity Federal Credit Union

As the President and CEO of Affinity Federal Credit Union, I recognize the unique position our institution holds within the financial services industry. Our role extends beyond our organization – we have an obligation to the entire credit union system. Given our size and resources, we must lead by example, helping the industry achieve its primary goal of bettering the financial wellbeing of its members and communities, truly embodying our core mission of ‘people helping people.’ It's more than just numbers and accounts to us; it's about impacting the lives of the people we work with. 

Every day, our team is motivated by the opportunity to help someone buy their first home, turn the key in their new car, or find a path out of debt. As I lead Affinity into the future, we're prioritizing the enhancement of our financial counseling programs that help members achieve these goals. Our branches are not just about transactions; they're about transformations. 

The recent years have seen significant consolidation in our industry, with the number of credit unions downsizing from 8,000 to 4,000. This change doesn't deter us from our commitment to our members. To ensure that we continue to deliver on the ‘people helping people’ mantra, we actively communicate our credit union's history and mission to both our internal and external constituencies. We also show them what these ideals mean in practice in our everyday lives. 

Historically, credit unions have catered to specific sectors like the military or certain business industries, but the landscape is shifting. Today, we aim to serve anyone in need. Looking ahead, there are ambitious plans to broaden Affinity’s footprint. Every community has its unique needs, and we are committed to expanding in a way that respects and addresses these differences. 

As we look to the future and continue our efforts to expand our member base, a central goal is ensuring the financial well-being of our younger members. We must focus on engaging the next wave of young adults, a demographic as large as the boomer generation. Our approach to serving this younger generation is multifaceted. We develop competitive products, like our 4% APY SmartStart Savings Account, which not only offers great rates but also lays the foundation for long-term financial health. As we roll out advanced services and technologies, we aim not just to bring young people through the doors of our branches but to equip them with the tools and knowledge to secure their financial future. We also prioritize building relationships with organizations that cater to younger audiences, ensuring we understand their unique financial needs and can provide meaningful, holistic solutions. While the power of face-to-face interactions remains invaluable, I am deeply committed to ensuring we meet our members where they are—be it in a branch, over a video call, or on the Affinity app.

What keeps me energized in my work is the chance to make a real difference in people's lives every day. At Affinity, we believe that anyone who walks through our doors should be able to access certain resources, whether it's learning how to draft a resume or how to prepare for a job interview. 

One of the key messages I consistently relay is that the more you engage with a credit union, the more you stand to benefit. This philosophy is reflected in all of Affinity's operations. 

As we continue to chart the course for Affinity and the broader credit union industry, our commitment to the core principles of the credit union movement and our dedication to meeting the needs of the next generation remain steadfast. We will continue to work tirelessly to serve our communities, with the personal touch and unwavering commitment that has always defined us. The future of credit unions is bright, and we at Affinity are excited to be part of shaping it.

About Author:
Kevin Brauer, President & Chief Executive Officer - Kevin Brauer, a distinguished finance industry professional with over three decades of experience, has been at the helm of Affinity Credit Union as CEO and President since January 2023. His substantial contribution to Affinity over the past seven years has been instrumental in propelling the firm’s value proposition and innovating its financial wellbeing initiatives. Brauer leads Affinity’s dedicated team of 500 employees at its Basking Ridge, New Jersey headquarters and throughout its 18+ branches. 

Brauer’s expansive role within Affinity includes spearheading departments like Administration, Finance, Digital Technology, and Operational Risk Management, among others. Before joining Affinity, Brauer held high-ranking positions at VSoft Corporation, Alloya Corporate Federal Credit Union and Empire Corporate Federal Credit Union. His extensive background also includes tenures in public accounting for a Fortune 500 enterprise. As a Certified Public Accountant, Brauer possesses a Master of Business Administration from Marist College and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Niagara University.

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