PHOENIX -- Issuing a plea for industry unity to stop conversions, the retiring head of the Arizona Credit Union League has criticized conversion advocates as greedy and "get rich" schemers.In remarks made at his last major public appearance as president/CEO of the Arizona League, Gary L. Plank, labeled the industry forces pushing bank conversions as full of "hypocrisy" as they turn their backs on the CU nonprofit structure which has served the nation well.
The 65-year-old Plank, a veteran league manager with 42 years of service including stints at Midwest leagues, urged Arizona CU leaders to "guard the credit union legacy."
Plank, departing the league job as well as ending a term July 30 as chairman of the World Council of Credit Unions, spoke June 2 at the closing business session of the league's annual convention held at the Biltmore Hotel.
Plank, who earlier in the week was honored by top CUNA brass flying in for a retirement dinner, said the approach of conversion advocates runs counter to the industry's co-op spirit and history dating back to Boston pioneer Edward Filene.
Discussing the methods used by conversion insiders to sway CU members, Plank said a serious "mutation" in the CU structure has surfaced and should be dealt with by those CU leaders who follow him.
"You are the keeper of the keys," he implored.
Responding to Plank, the chairman of the Arizona League, Linda Dhaemers of Tucson, pledged that Arizona CUs would guard "what you've built" as well as "guard the keys." Dhaemers is also president/CEO of Desert Energy Federal Credit Union.
On hand for Plank's convention talk was his successor, Scott Earl, CUNA vice president of league relations and former president/CEO of the Utah League of Credit Unions, who takes over the Arizona job Aug. 1.
In a separate action, league members unanimously approved a new dues formula and a graduated 25% increase to be spread over the next three years with CUs under $5 million experiencing no change or in some cases a decline.
It was the first dues increase in 16 years. League officials said the added revenue was needed to pay for rising lobbying costs with the formula adopted following a series of statewide meetings last year.
Under the "square root formula" which has been used by a number of state leagues, dues are calculated against an existing budget and apportioned over a three-year period with $500,000 in funds being drawn from the league's service corporations.
In convention remarks, the Vice Chairman of ACUL, Steve Dunham, called on CU executives to step up lobbying efforts noting Arizona has work to be done on CURIA. Indeed, he said, only one of the eight Arizona lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors. Dunham is also president/CEO of Canyon State Credit Union, Phoenix.
During the annual meeting and at the Plank "roast" June 1, tributes were extended to Plank for his league service with Dan Mica, CUNA president/CEO, paying respects.
Dhaemers, the league chairman, credited Plank for possessing "a wealth of information" about U.S. CUs and those around the globe.
"You don't go to a credit union conference or meet people within the credit union field that don't know him," said Dhaemers.
Added Ken Bredemeyer, president/CEO of AEA Federal Credit Union, Yuma, and the longest tenured board member when Plank was hired, said the league has enjoyed an enviable reputation on the national scene because of him.
At any given industry meeting "you'll see that his peers respect his opinion. His shoes are hard to fill."
In a separate development at a convention awards ceremony, the league named Carolyn Cameron, vice president of marketing at First Credit Union, Chandler, recipient of the "R.C. Robertson Award for Advocate of the Year."
Robertson, the retired chairman of Arizona State Savings Credit Union, Phoenix, presented the award to Cameron and in his remarks also urged CU executives to keep faith in the industry. "Remember we are always believable," as compared to other financial institutions, he declared.