Vermont Uncensored the ‘B’ Word
The alternately comic and sad episode over credit union marketing ended in early October with a whimper rather than a bang. And, reliable sources said no custard pies were thrown during negotiations.
The verdict arising out of the showdown between the $600 million Vermont State Employees Credit Union and its state regulator over use of the word “bank” in advertising was reached Oct. 5.
According to a joint release from the two parties, the Montpelier-based credit union cannot describe itself as a bank, but may use the word “banking” and similar words when advertising its services, as long as it discloses that it is a credit union.
That meant that VSECU’s tag line, “Redefining Banking,”would remain.
“This is not a matter of who won or lost a dispute,” said VSECU CEO Steve Post, “but an example of the state’s regulators and industry working together to solve a problem.”
A bulletin posted earlier this year on the state’s Department of Financial Regulation website said state-chartered credit unions may not use the work bank to describe itself in marketing or advertising materials. The bulletin specifically said that includes a credit union referring to itself as a “banking cooperative,” as VSECU did.
Steve Kimbell, DFR commissioner, said VSECU’s request for a hearing on the regulator’s enforcement of a statute “teed up a matter that’s been in discussion for a number of years.”
“I want to thank the VSECU for its help in finding a way to reasonably apply a decades-old statute in a rapidly changing environment for financial services,” he said.
In March, the Vermont Bankers Association complained about the credit union’s use of the word banking in its ads.