Proposed League Pact: An Agile Strategy Or Is It a Lone Star State Power Play?
TULSA, Okla. -- To hear Oklahoma credit union executives tell it, the proposed plan by the Texas Credit Union League to provide a host of services to its Oklahoma counterpart is either clever strategy--very good for the industry--or another example of a power grab by its big state neighbor with its giant killer reputation.
"I guess the concern in something like this is, Will there really be improved service as a result of what looks like a merger?" asked Robert Howard, a director of the $85 million Cherokee Strip CU of Ponca City. "We really don't know the answer to that, but it could be much better for all of us though there can be a loss of control in this kind of situation."
Howard said he was reluctant to call the service package a merger, but the worry remains, "Will we have a say in what occurs or will we be told what to do?"
For Dennis Yelton, director of the $150 million Fort Sill FCU, the proposed service agreement "can only strengthen our league and be good for Oklahoma credit unions." The Texas league simply "has the numbers and we don't" and so its size can be an asset.
Phyllis Kunze, president/CEO of the $8 million East Central CU of Ada, said red flags always go up "when it involves Texas." Even though the Texas concept had been bandied about for months, "this meeting is really the first time I had heard directly" about the plan.
"I love the auditing service we've been getting from the league, and I don't like the idea of some of those auditors losing their jobs," declared Kunze.
Barbara Ray, president/CEO of the $25 million Department of Public Safety CU of Oklahoma City, said she is unworried about any Texas takeover "since we keep our Oklahoma board intact. They will keep our best interests in mind."
Don Bown, chairman of Municipal Employees Credit Union, also of Oklahoma City, said the Texas plan is "something worth trying though it may not work." Still, since "we're a smaller league, there is always that concern that we'll disappear," said Bown who said Oklahomans are used to having "Texas in our face."
Everett Baker, director of the $6 million Teachers CU also of Oklahoma City, said the Texas plan has merit considering "they will be on the cutting edge" of technology and industry advances with quicker service as well, said Baker.
There is that risk, however, "of losing our identity with Texas," observed Baker.
Agreeing with that notion was Charles Tanner, chairman of the $13 million Space Age Tulsa FCU, who said he is familiar with some Texas and Oklahoma banks whose names have been changed and now there is confusion in the public's mind.