The Lack of CU Cooperation at Local Level May Not Be Such a Bad Thing
Since reading both Editor-in-Chief Sarah Snell Cooke's comments and those of Fred Becker regarding cooperation among credit unions [CU Times, Feb. 3], I have been thinking a lot about this subject.
In my view, cooperation is alive and well at the national level-just look how many people attend the GAC and NAFCU's Congressional Caucus. Beyond political concerns, it appears that credit union conferences are continuing to attract officials and employees from throughout our industry. Yes, attendance is down a bit, but that most likely is due to the recent recession and not any decrease in the number of conferences.
That said, your published statements do ring true at the local level, but this is not necessarily bad. It's only the evolution of the credit union movement. As we all know, credit unions started in this country early in the 20th century when many people began moving from farms to the cities. As our industrial might grew, it was only natural that credit unions sprang up through the companies employing these migrating populations.
As SEG-based entities, cooperation was easy. We could share and work together without fear of a competitor stealing our ideas and members. Life was good. Unfortunately, as the United States moved more toward becoming a service-based economy, we continued to operate using the old model. Slowly, over the years, we have come to realize that the old rules of cooperation just don't work in today's local competitive landscape. Not only do we compete with each other, but we face competition around every corner from other financial institutions and nonfinancial businesses. Competition drives us to provide better service to our members or fall by the wayside.
I believe a bigger threat to our survival is the increasing regulatory burden imposed on us by Congress and the NCUA. Congress, in its rush to protect the small percentage of consumers whose poor choices often lead to a lack of financial responsibility, is making it difficult for us to generate the income we need to operate. The NCUA, with a focus only on the bad players instead of the successful players, continues to impose rules and regulations that protect the NCUSIF in an effort to eliminate risk at all levels. The recently released Part 704 is an example. It's a regulation written in response to the actions of a few bad players in the corporate network. It appears that the agency did not even consider looking at the 20 corporate credit unions whose only mistake was to have invested in U.S. Central.
All reward comes with some risk. And if policymakers continue on the current path, they surely will eliminate all risk because none of us will be in business.
Cary J. Anderson
Main Street Financial FCU
Baton Rouge, La.