RALEIGH, N.C. -- "I would say that our biggest competitor is the whole panoply, the whole arcade of for-profit financial institutions," said Jim Blaine, CEO of the $15 billion State Employees' Credit Union, the second largest credit union in the country and headquartered in the same state as Bank of America.
"Everything from payday lenders to cash advance loan places to title loan places to mortgage lenders and savings banks and stock banks," Blaine said. "But even more than those institutions, we really compete with a mentality that more or less profit at any price and the devil take the consumer. We struggle to promote an outlook which puts our member consumers in the most important spot."
And Blaine noted that the proliferation of things like payday lenders, title lenders and tax prepares who offer very expensive loans on tax returns, not to mention the current subprime loan mess, suggested that SECU and other credit unions are losing the fight.
"They're like a noose being drawn around the necks of the people we want to serve," Blaine said, "the middle class, lower-middle, and lower classes are all getting stiffed at many turns."
Blaine said SECU tries to compete with the mentality by offering lower cost alternatives to the for profit firms and by making their products and services more convenient.