In 10 to 15 years, the majority of the senior management team at your credit union will retire.
The stewardship of credit unions will be passed to our generation. But will we be ready? What about now? If you are 20-something, or (gasp) 30-something, you should be concerned about the future of credit unions.
Credit union lending to businesses has been limited to 12.25% of total assets for the past 14 years. Some credit unions have reached that cap. Some have a ways to go. Regardless, credit unions are asking Congress to raise the cap to 27.5% of total assets. This would create jobs and energize your neighborhoods, all free to taxpayers. Not surprisingly, banks strongly oppose our request.
Credit unions can probably survive without authority to make more small business loans.
What concerns me is, if we allow banks this win on this issue, what will stop them from launching other attacks, such as coming after our not-for-profit tax status? In fact, it appears that banks in some states, including in my state, Washington, are starting a time to tax credit unions campaign. CUNA officials warn there also could be serious discussions about our tax-exempt status as Congress faces increasing pressure to reduce the federal deficit.
A loss of our unique tax status would mean higher interest rates and lower deposit rates. Credit unions would begin to look more like banks. Our very essence would change.
Alternatively, if we win the MBL cap issue, it will show that credit unions have turned a new corner, become stronger, better organized and more politically effective. It will send a message that we won’t sit by idly as the credit union industry is threatened after a century of helping communities, businesses and individuals, including many who received unfair treatment from banks.
As young credit union employees, we cannot allow our senior management team to do all the heavy lifting. Those of us who will be in this industry for the next 25 to 40 years have the most to gain or lose with regulation and legislation outcomes. It’s time to advocate for our members, our communities and, yes, for our own self-interest, to protect our financial future and our careers in credit unions.
We often hear that politics is a dirty business. If that’s the case then let’s get dirty and go to battle, side-by-side with our executive teams and board members.
Kristin DeVleming is a financial analyst for Spokane Teachers Credit Union.
Contact 509-343-6118 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cooperative Trust is a grassroots organization composed of several hundred young credit union professionals. Its activities include meetings, mentorships online collaboration and development projects. Opinions expressed are the personal views of the author.