Richard Miles Johnson, who served as president/CEO of Western Corporate Federal Credit Union for 30 years until his 2002 retirement, said he's been gone from WesCorp far too long to assume a major role in corporate restructuring.
But that hasn't stopped him from voicing strong opinions on the subject.
"Every single credit union needs settlement," the 86-year-old Johnson told Credit Union Times. "And we can go to any number of vendors, but what is a vendor truly interested in? How much money he or she can make."
Johnson admitted the corporate system he pioneered may have run its course but said he hopes credit unions hang on to the proprietary knowledge they've developed since he first took over at WesCorp in 1976. He suggested credit unions form a CUSO to provide core corporate services, rather than paying for-profit vendors.
"Credit unions still need the services and expertise corporates provide, and if it were me, I'd like to be able to have some control over that. Especially the price," he said.
Corporate employees probably "won't have their jobs for much longer," but Johnson said he thinks most of them will remain in the industry, filling the same roles as before.
"The name may change, but the services won't," he said. "I hope credit unions either save corporates or reinvent them."
Although some natural person credit unions are large enough to find their own service providers, Johnson said he hopes they, and credit unions of all sizes, continue to work toward a cooperative solution.
"Large credit unions can go off by themselves, but even for them it's expensive," he said. "It's no secret economy of scale works. Even if two $1 billion credit unions got together, they would have $2 billion worth of volume and could both get a better price for their members."