Marking his first month as CEO, Tim Lyons of the $1 billion Tulsa Teachers CU, argued Friday that banking’s badly frayed image marked anew by Bank of America’s $5 debit fee can only worsen, and credit unions stand to benefit “as we have for the past three years.”
“In fact, we in eastern Oklahoma have enjoyed outstanding growth – $100 million in assets for each of the last three years – and a lot of that has come from consumers tired of banking’s ‘gotcha’ practices,” said Lyons, who moved up Sept. 1 from chief financial officer of the state’s second-largest CU.
Lyons credited his veteran predecessor, Les Rector, who retired officially today, with helping generate new loan business, particularly on the indirect side “where we have built up very good dealer relationships.”
As for the BofA fees and those of other large banks, Lyons forecast that they could indeed backfire and their urgent actions in trying to generate revenue comes at a time when BofA itself “is busy downsizing on a big scale.”
“We think we might be interested in some of those branches that might be available,” Lyons said. While it may be a while until his CU can perhaps join the bidding, “we’ll be out there looking,” he said.
Lyons said the Charlotte, N.C.-based megabank does not have a major presence in Oklahoma as compared to some large regionals. The TTCU head also stressed that he wishes no harm to BofA “since they are one of those banks too big to fail and if that, God forbid, happens, we the taxpayers would be stuck.”
At the same time, “I have no trouble wishing them just a small amount of discomfort as we in the credit union industry are able to take advantage,” he said.
Like other CUs, TTCU does expect to take a sharp interchange hit on the PIN networks “but we are just waiting to see how it plays out.”
Lyons also touted his CU’s sponsorship announced this week of a new statewide literacy program for high schoolers through the Foolproof Financial Literacy Initiative of Melbourne, Fla.
The program offers teachers online help in bringing financial literacy curriculum to the classroom.
“This kind of program is not inexpensive but we feel we have an important mission to play and we’re willing to make it,” said Lyons.