The "Big" Guys Just Won't Call the Kettle Black
I have been reading, with great interest, the ongoing debate on Private Insurance vs. NCUSIF coverage. Information and opinion continues to come from both sides of the isle and, while hesitant to offer my opinion (this and $1.50 can buy you a cup of coffee . not a latte' mind you, just coffee), I just couldn't stay silent any longer. NAFCU, the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), and the leading proponent from the credit union side, Navy Federal believe that it's their responsibility (dare I say duty?) to protect us poor unwitting novices who have the distinct honor and pleasure of running smaller credit unions who currently have a deposit insurance choice, or might have the choice in the future. (And remember, ladies and gentlemen, we are ALL smaller than NFCU.). In fact, if we read between the rhetoric, even us poor novices can see that this is merely a veiled attempt by NAFCU to improve their chance at retaining and growing their membership (required federal insurance increases the propensity for state chartered credit unions to convert to a federal charter . why have more than one regulator?), and the potential for a substantial increase in their cost to stay in NCUSIF and NAFCU. (Remember . no NCUSIF dividend this year and a probable increase in the overhead transfer rate loom for all that remain federally insured. Also, lower NAFCU membership means higher costs for those who remain.) Why can't the "Big" guys just admit to what this really is . Just call the kettle black! Ah . but before you see red (or black if you will), let's restate the obvious. Not a single credit union, nor NAFCU, nor the CFA had the time or inclination to bring this issue to the table while us poor `ol novices running smaller shops were converting to private insurance. Not until a pretty "Big" guy, Patelco converted to private insurance did anyone stand up for the purported unwary and, by Navy FCU, NAFCU, and the Consumer Federation of America's claim, uniformed member/consumer. Just as a side note . did anyone from any of these prestigious organizations examine the length and extent Patelco went to properly inform (and continue to inform) their members about private insurance? Did either NAFCU, the CFA, or Navy FCU poll Patelco's membership, and/or other privately insured credit union's members to prove their claim that the member must not have been well informed on this issue to vote in such a majority as to approve the conversion? (Looking at their Web sites doesn't count, by the way.) Did any of these organizations recommend, because of their concern for the public, that the consumer be informed each and every time their balance exceeded the Federal insurance limit and those "excess" dollars became uninsured? I'd bet a quarter that they didn't! Anyway . back to the point. Did NAFCU, Navy FCU, or the CFA support the extensive research and informed position of Boeing Employee's Credit Union (another "Big" guy) concerning the overhead transfer rate being charged to state chartered members to support NCUA and, therefore, federally charted credit unions? They would have if their premise were to protect the consumer. They didn't. (Sorry BECU for dragging you into this . couldn't be helped!). I could go on with countless examples of where members from any credit union, regardless of charter, may have been well served by actions such as the one NAFCU, Navy FCU, and the CFA have taken regarding deposit insurance, but I fear boredom would set in. Again, if the "Big" Guys' position is one of protecting our member/the consumer (yes . that's what you're truly saying when you say "protecting the industry"), where were these fine, informed, bright leaders before an equally fine, informed, bright leader chose a different direction and pulled their dollars out of the "kettle"? If NAFCU, Navy FCU, and the CFA are truly concerned with ALL members/consumers, why haven't their drums beat loudly on other insurance issues other than the one that will, most certainly, cost them money if the private insurance option is allowed to continue? One last comment. Why is it that these organizations, with a truly vested interest in the position they've taken (can anyone say conflict of interest?), believe that they are any smarter than our members, our boards, or our leaders within the credit union industry? We are, in fact, not novices at what we do nor has our industry experienced the great success we have all enjoyed solely on the back of NAFCU, NCUA, or the "Big" guy. Yes, we applaud the success Navy FCU has experienced (and I know will continue to experience as they care for their members) and the great work NAFCU and, more recently NCUA has done for our industry. Yet I'd hate to think that the extremely well informed and bright leaders we have everywhere throughout the country in credit unions would take their memberships, their integrity, and their reputations down a road where no one should tread. In fact, they wouldn't, haven't, nor would they. The deposit insurance choice should remain in the hands of the well-informed member and not left to those with a clearly vested interest in the argument. Isn't it the members' credit union and therefore, the members' decision? Is the kettle getting any blacker for anyone out there? Edward H. Fox President/CEO Southland Credit Union Downey, Calif.