The credit union tax exemption continues to evoke bank-CU clashes–even at one of those information-gathering Federal Reserve meetings aimed at demonstrating grassroots harmony.
In this case, according to Gary Soukenik, president/CEO of the $770 million Seven Seventeen CU of Warren, he was verbally accosted “in the elevator on the way up to the meeting” by a handful of community bankers who chided Soukenik for CUs holding the exemption advantage. “And I simply responded, ‘why don’t you convert if you think the grass is greener and you think so much of the credit union charter.’”
Soukenik said “I am serious” about the verbal sniping, adding he took the remarks in stride as he and more than 10 community bank CEOs took part in a March 16 debut conference of the Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
During the Fed session, Soukenik joined by at least one CU peer, Patrick Ferry, senior vice president of Members Heritage FCU of Lexington, Ky., engaged in a wide-ranging discussion of financial trends in the district as well as pressing topics including debit interchange, payments developments and compliance burdens.
“We did have some lively discussion about the emergence of so many new outside players in the payments area including all those unregulated vendors and online firms,” said Soukenik.
The Warren CEO said he was particularly interested in what Cleveland Fed staffers had to report about Walmart’s advance in financial services considering his CU competes with Ohio outlets of the retailer.
“We’ve sent our own employees into the Walmarts to check exactly what is being offered and so I’ll be interested to see what the Fed can tell us,” said Soukenik. During the Cleveland Fed session, staffers said they are working on a payments study related to Walmart.
Soukenik said the “educational value” from the report’s conclusions will be “well worth my time” spent participating in CDIAC meetings. Soukenik also said he understands that the timetable for future CDIAC meetings will be quarterly.