HERSHEY, Pa. — Jim McCormack has been a force to be reckoned with for more than 40 years in the credit union community, but he has announced that he will retire this year from his post as CEO of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association.
“The marketplace has change so much in 40-plus years, and the economy has changed,” McCormack observed in an interview with Credit Union Times at the PCUA’s Pennsylvania Credit Union Association CONNECT Conference, held Thursday and Friday in Hershey.
McCormack noted that he had traveled to Erie, Pa. the night before. The town used to be bustling with manufacturing plants, but now they’ve all closed down. Still the credit unions there have survived by merging and are thriving.
McCormack worked closely with former U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) on what eventually became H.R. 1151, the legislation that granted credit unions community charters in the wake of their loss in the U.S. Supreme Court to the bankers.
While stating that the legislation was necessary at the time, McCormack added, “It’s not that we haven’t had a couple of setbacks with that legislation, such as member business lending.” At the time, he explained, it was a small price to pay.
Lobbying is fundamental to credit unions’ future success to ensure they get the authorities that they need to prosper, according to McCormack. “It’s the number one priority of the trades. We have to educate our federal and state legislators. There’s been large turnover recently.”
As for his retirement, McCormack wants to relax and get healthy. McCormack recently suffered a stroke. “These are tough jobs to stay healthy in,” he said.
He also plans to increase his exercising and travel. While he’s traveled to many places in the world and all over the United States, there are some places he said he simply “needs to see” with his wife, Joan. Peru and New Zealand are his top priorities, in addition to a train trip through the Southwest.
McCormack shared his chief concern for credit unions in the future. “As they get larger, they still must adhere to ‘people helping people,’” he said. The size of the credit union is not a problem if they continue to do just that, he added.
Right now, McCormack said the median size credit union in Pennsylvania is $14 million in assets, but he expects that could reach $100 million median in the next five years. “Unfortunately [the smaller credit unions] will get gobbled up, not through their own fault, but through the economy,” he explained.
McCormack said the smaller credit unions are particularly adept at living the “people helping people” philosophy “but they don’t have the tools the members need.”
However, McCormack is very optimistic about the future of credit unions. “By continuing the job they’re doing, I think they’re going to double their market share in the next five years,” he predicted.
He continued, “The biggest differentiator going forward in the future is marketing. And iBelong (PCUA’s cooperative advertising campaign) addresses just that. Everyone has access to the same technology.”
McCormack’s daughter, Elizabeth, will continue to carry the credit union flag in the family. She is employed at Members 1st FCU of Mechanicsburg, Pa.
Dollar Associates, headed by the former NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar, is performing the CEO search. A decision on a successor has not yet been made.
McCormack has been with the PCUA for 32 years. He began his credit union career in 1971, holding various positions with CUNA Mutual Group.