Discussion on Critical Issues Missing from Conferences
Over the years we have seen greed and self-serving become something of the norm in business today. Has this phenomena now become part of the world of credit unions? This is hard to tell since most CEOs don't like to talk about it in an open forum for fear of being seen as self-serving. At the CUES networking conference we had a number of good speakers, but when you really review what they are saying most of them are slanting their presentations toward their products or services. These speakers are leaders in their fields and they have a lot to give us. Do you think that when you pay someone to be a speaker that they should leave their interest on the sideline and address the issues from a general point of view? Timely issues like business lending and conversion to mutual savings banks were great topics. Talking about your company and how good you are as an expert is something we can get form a Credit Union Times ad, not in a seminar that we paid good money to attend. Should credit unions convert to a mutual savings bank? This topic is talked about a lot today with many people having strong opinions. Maybe we should have one ground rule that would help us work through this issue. In whose interest should we approach the question? If we answer this question first and honestly then everyone will know how to interpret what we are saying. As CEOs do we have any responsibility to anything or anyone when approaching this issue? You decide. If we are a director of something like CUNA Mutual do we work for the owners or the company? The answer in most people's mind is you have a fiduciary responsibility to look out for the owners but when you add in excess of $45,000.00 a year per director to the equation does this change their thinking. Then add closed board elections and the elimination of ownership rights what do you have? We may not know but we should be concerned. What ever happened to volunteerism within the CEO ranks? It's still alive but it is being challenged more and more these days. Maybe some of the responsibilities lie with directors who are still thinking of the 1970s and not paying CEOs for the responsibilities they carry. It could be that the CEOs believe that they are the brains behind the credit union movement and should be paid big bucks and have no debt to the ideals and preservation of the credit union movement. Have we become so professional that size and money is all credit unions mean to us? Well it's a lot to think about but more open discussions and dialogue will help us sort it out. Terrence F. Bigda President/CEO Northland Area Federal Credit Union Oscoda, Mich.