Are we doing enough to ensure that we will be around for future generations or am I going to sound really old talking about this subject to my kids?

“Will credit unions be around in ten, fifteen, twenty years?”

Ask this question and you are bound to get a wide variety of responses. A credit union professional might exclaim I hope so. A member of the American Banking Association might state I hope not. A random person at the Mexican restaurant by my house might look at you funny and walk away.

Personally I love this question and hearing people’s opinions. Recently I came across an article on creditunions.com titled “CUs Outshine Banks in the First Quarter”. As the title implies credit unions outperformed banks in many different categories during the first quarter of 2007. Good news right?

With my curiosity peaked I googled Credit Union Growth to see what I could find. The first link returned was to Operation Credit Union. If you are unfamiliar with Operation Credit Union it is the ABA’s project to tax credit unions. Obviously their opinion on credit union growth isn’t a positive one, yet this is the first link that appears.

I passionately believe that credit unions provide an important role in our financial system. My concern is that the ABA’s attacks on the tax status of credit unions are only going to get fiercer. If you have a moment take a look at the Operation Credit Union site’s newly posted field guide to new breed credit unions. Imagine you are an ordinary voter; would this be a convincing reason to side with the ABA?

Furthermore in response to a recent GAO study comparing the financial performance of credit unions and banks the president of the ABA, John Hall, mentioned this idea of a “new breed of credit unions” as to where the problem lies.

What scares me is that the ABA is very organized in their mission to tax credit unions and it seems that they have decided on their next strategy. I’m not sure if I can say that credit unions are as organized when it comes to defending themselves.

Do you think that as an industry we are doing enough to ensure that we will be around for future generations or am I going to sound really old talking about this subject to my kids?

Justin Martin

Justin started his long career at Verity as a summer intern. After leaving to pursue a degree in human resource management at Western Washington University, he returned to what he describes as “one of the strongest environments I have seen in terms of focus on their employees.” During his time here, Verity has been recognized with multiple awards ranging from employee development initiatives to overall work environment. Justin holds an MBA from Seattle University along with being an honors graduate from Western CUNA Management School and a certified Credit Union Development Educator.

4 Responses

  1. Robbie Wright says:

    The ABA is very organized and does have quite a bit of funding to create field guides…

    CU’s need to step up and start openly communicating about these ABA publications and talk about our differences.

    Like Vancity with We All Profit: http://weallprofit.vancity.com/

  2. William Azaroff says:

    Hey Robbie, thanks for the shout out. It’s a huge challenge, summing up our message which is nuanced and complicated, and distil it down to an essence that will entice people to move their money. A steep challenge indeed.

    I believe there are a whole lot of people that, if they understood our mission and differentiation and were given a reason and a strong call to action, would bring their money over.

    Thanks for the great post, Justin.

  3. Vicky Miller says:

    The ABA has a grassroots campaign on their website urging their members to contact their Congressional Representative with a pre-written letter to oppose the CURIA legislation. According to the ABA CURIA “will allow credit unions to stray even further from their mission of serving low – and moderate – income individuals, while also raising safety and soundness concerns. CURIA would expand credit union’s ability to offer multi-million dollar tax-subsidized commercial loans, among other things.” What exactly are the safety concerns and what constitutes other things?

    According to Opensecrets.org, the ABA has 14 registered lobbyists while CUNA has 1. The credit union industry is needs more lobbyists on Capital Hill.

    On the bright side, the CUNA website reports today that 100 Federal lawmakers back CURIA.

    Justin, I think credit unions will be around for a long time.

  4. Justin Martin says:

    I couldn’t agree more that the challenge of communicating our difference to the general public is not an easy task. However, efforts by credit unions (such as Vancity) to proactively educate people on what makes credit unions unique is, in my opinion, the best defense for our industry against the ABA.

    Thanks for the great comments!

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