Chuck Bruen’s letter [Oct. 12, page 30] prompted by the announcement of Technology Credit Union’s intention to convert to a thrift charter, made a number of excellent points and should be thoughtfully considered by all credit union executives and trade groups. The decision of whether to seek a charter change is vested in the board of directors and the members of the credit union. As Bruen said, “Messing with any credit union’s internal governance affairs is an ugly business and is not proper behavior for a trade association or other misguided outside groups.”
Many credit unions and certainly the trade groups believe that because a credit union changes its charter that it will change its philosophy of serving its members or customers or its rates will change merely because of the conversion (as compared to the impact of the market). As an attorney who has counseled more than a dozen credit unions through the process since 1996, including Kaiser Permanente Federal Credit Union to Kaiser Federal Bank, I can tell you that philosophy doesn’t change since I continue to represent them as savings banks. For example, Kaiser Federal Bank still heavily focuses on the employees of the Kaiser Health Care system and like many of my former credit unions, still thinks of them as members.
My advice to credit unions is simply to do your due diligence and get both sides of the story. Relying on the material produced by the trade groups or a regulator as your sole source of information is misplaced.
There are plenty of other sources of material if you make the effort to find them. The ostrich approach is not a good one to champion and clearly does not fulfill your fiduciary duty to your members.
In the final analysis, you should use the charter that will best serve your members now and into the future.
Richard S. Garabedian, Esq.
Luse Gorman Pomerenk & Schick, P.C.