WASHINGTON-Being open and including every faction of the credit union community in the information gathering process of the Renaissance Commission was extremely important according to commissioners. In determining the next step for CUNA’s board, self-determination for credit unions appears to be the theme. According to Renaissance Commissioner Rosie Holub, president of the Missouri Credit Union System, the commission’s job was “like the birthing process:” no one was sure how it would turn out but now everyone is behind it. She added, “We really aren’t making recommendations, we’re planting the vision.” Technically, the commissioners just organized the information provided to them during the Renaissance Commission hearings and created the vision statements. “It was very open and more of a listening process than a judgmental process,” Alla Holland, president and CEO of C&O United Credit Union of Edgewood, Kentucky, agreed. “The thing I like about the commission was everything we looked at was looked at from the point of view of everybody,” Patricia Wagner, president and CEO of New World Federal Credit Union in Lafayette, California, said. She added that there was a special focus on small credit unions. “We think the vision statements will set a tone for what the rest of the process will hold,” Holland said. However, the rest of the process is what concerns at least one Renaissance Commissioner. “The concern I have is people will jump right to the tactics. If we jump right to the tactics, we lose the point of the commission,” Teachers Credit Union President and CEO Rick Rice remarked. Rice said that this type of inventorying of the credit union system was a good idea, because credit unions not only need to serve people of modest means, they also should serve people formerly of modest means. While he applauded the commission’s work and mission, he cautioned that it has to be handled properly. “If the board takes these [suggestions] and concentrates on the vision statements and makes its recommendations, then it will live up to the hype,” he predicted. “If they concentrate on the tactics, then it won’t live up to the hype.” However, Ohio Credit Union System President Paul Mercer noted that CUNA has been prudent thus far. “It will need to be [deliberative]. CUNA has been smart about planning this all the way through,” he said, adding that he had a positive feeling about quality of individuals chosen for the commission and that he was particularly proud of the self-determination philosophies included in the report. Wagner commented that while nothing in the report was “earth-shaking,” because it came from the credit unions themselves, the process needed to be ongoing. Rice agreed that he was disappointed the process could not have gone on over a course of two to three years and felt they were pressed by the schedule of the CUNA Board. “Things will be changing, as well as the thought processes that we had to make the recommendations available to the board for June,” he explained. Mercer said that individual credit unions and leagues were constantly re-evaluating themselves. “I think that process is always in place. It was in place before the Renaissance Commission; it will be in place after the Renaissance Commission. The Renaissance Commission just provided a center of gravity for that process,” he said. The possible changes listed in the Renaissance Commission report were mainly focused on self-determination for credit unions. Holub reasoned, by giving the elected credit union board more power, the membership is actually deciding what it wants. “It’s the membership determining.the direction in which they want to go,” she said. And while the process was “cumbersome” it was worth it, she added. “Overall, we leaned toward a regulator creating an atmosphere for credit unions to thrive and serve our membership,” Holland agreed. What credit unions do not want is regulation so complex that they are serving the regulations, rather than their members, she said. Some in the credit union movement expressed concern over some issue that others may push for, including open fields of membership, expanded business lending, and secondary capital, because they felt the trade-off could be taxation. According to the commission’s vision statements, credit unions’ tax-exempt status needed to be protected and many believe it will not be an issue. “We haven’t changed our birthright, we’re trying to change with our members,” Holub pointed out. [email protected]

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