The lady at the helm of the world’s biggest cooperative credit union | Credit Union Journal

Being CEO of Navy Federal Credit Union is a bit various from running any other banks — and not just since it’s the biggest cooperative credit union worldwide. 

The task needs an intimate understanding of the military way of life. For the previous year, that’s indicated changing the cooperative credit union’s innovation, management and outreach to supply assistance for members who deal with pressure on numerous fronts.  

“What I have always tried to do and have been proud to do in the time I’ve worked here is to just focus on who we are inherently,” stated Mary McDuffie, Navy Federal’s president and CEO. “Our members tend to be young and have challenges that everyone has when starting out in life. They want to make the best decisions for them and need people along the way to help them.”

Navy Federal Credit Union CEO Mary McDuffie has actually updated innovation as part of the organization’s technique to reach more youthful members. 

Navy Federal invested the previous year focusing on financial investments in its omnichannel platform and information facilities. Other current relocations consist of a collaboration with the Cybercrime Support Network, a not-for-profit that assists victims of scams. Navy Federal likewise rebranded its broker-dealer and financial investment advisory service from Navy Federal Brokerage Services to Navy Federal Investment to show a broader variety of items. 

“We are not for profit and we plow our earnings back into the service we provide for members. I think that is a good and righteous model,” stated McDuffie, among American Banker’s Most Powerful Women in Credit Unions for 2022. 

That design has actually concentrated on including digital innovation to serve more youthful members, with more mobile function and gain access to for individuals who are not as familiar with phone or branch service as older members. 

Over the previous year, the cooperative credit union has actually started turning senior executives into various service lines to provide fresh point of views to personnel. For the leaders, it’s likewise an opportunity to expand their own viewpoint and to acquire know-how in various locations of monetary services.

“We hire people from industries who come with a specific expertise,” McDuffie stated. “It’s been my observation that some of our best leaders are those who have walked a number of paths.” 

Navy Federal’s members stroll numerous courses of their own, and the cooperative credit union supplies monetary education for an audience that is more youthful and most likely to transfer. As the effects of high inflation struck military members, Navy Federal likewise counts on its understanding of the military as an occupation — and how that way of life suits the bigger economy — to notify how it engages with its members.  

“If they are active duty we know how much they make and we have a hand up on helping them manage through difficult times,” McDuffie stated. “We know that if they want to buy a certain type of car that they can or can’t afford it.” 

McDuffie has actually been with Navy Federal for more than twenty years, beginning in 1999 as vice president of marketing. Her functions have actually covered interactions, financing, shipment channels, and a stint as Chief Operating Officer prior to ending up being CEO 3 years back. McDuffie, a graduate of Wellesley College in Massachusetts, has actually likewise held executive functions at Porter Novelli and J. Walter Thompson, to name a few companies. At J. Walter Thompson in the 1980s, she worked out of Jakarta, Indonesia.

“There is a culture to the military and you have to know that language,” McDuffie stated. “You have to be able to relate.”

Her experience at Navy Federal has actually enabled McDuffie to acquire an understanding of the military culture, which has actually assisted her lead personnel who likewise get the very same understanding as they collaborate and acquire experience. For example, Navy Federal’s personnel consists of Rear Adm. Dietrich Kuhlmann, who is Chief Operating Officer.

In his marine profession, Kuhlmann commanded Submarine Group Nine, which covered all submarine obligations in the Pacific Northwest, from 2014. He likewise was accountable for monetary tasks at the Pentagon, consisting of oversight of an $800 billion capital allowance procedure, supplying a background for a profession in monetary services. 

Navy Federal Credit Union is without a doubt the biggest cooperative credit union in the U.S., with $159 billion of properties, more than 12 million members, 21,000 staff members and 355 branches (189 of which lie on or near military setups). Navy Federal is bigger than the closest 3 U.S. cooperative credit union — State Employees’ Credit Union, PenFed Credit Union and BECU — combined, according to

“Navy Federal is the north star of the credit union industry and clearly gives even the largest banks a lot of competition for consumer business,” stated Jim Adkins, a co-founder and handling partner of Artisan Advisors, including the cooperative credit union has the ability to effectively browse its charter limitations, which specify members should be military or an instant relative that was or is military. 

Navy Federal likewise enhances its brand name with the population at big through its advertising campaign, which utilize humor to show the alarming straits its military members would deal with if they didn’t have access to Navy Federal’s services. In one advertisement, a vehicle loan recipient taking his brand-new car through a vehicle wash envisions what it would have resembled if he had not gotten that loan — in his creativity, he is still in the automobile wash, getting drenched. The advertisements constantly end with the tagline, “Our members are the mission.”

It’s a message not just for prospective members, however for the cooperative credit union market as a whole. “Just like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America on the bank side, Navy Federal sets the standard in the credit union space,” Adkins stated.


A news media journalist always on the go, I've been published in major publications including VICE, The Atlantic, and TIME.

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