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<p>I read with great interest Richard Rays’ comments in the January 23, 2002 issue of Credit Union Times about the words “credit union” that follow the trade names of the institutions in our movement. I agree with Richard that the word “union” does not properly describe what we do for our members. We should look for a better alternative. At Arkansas Federal, nearly 15 years ago, we added the tag line “Arkansas’ Largest Financial Cooperative” to describe who we are. We are a “cooperative” first and a “credit union” second. Maybe it is time our trade associations and regulators give some serious thought to providing some options in how we say and present our names? Another word in the name that is only partially true is “credit.” While we certainly do provide credit with the deposits members entrust us with, we need both savings and credit (or loans) to operate a true financial cooperative. Using credit in the names of our institutions could give the uninformed potential member (or member for that matter) the idea that we are a place to obtain loans, but are not interested in giving our members a safe place to deposit their heard earned savings. Of course nothing could be farther from the truth. Looking back 10 to 12 years, Savings & Loan Associations went about offering naming options to their industry. Some of these organizations still in fact call themselves “Savings & Loan Associations” but they are few and far between and usually in very small towns. Larger, more progressive associations simply use the name “bank” or “savings bank”. They had a very good reason to change their name after all the S&L industry’s financial problems during the decade of the 1980′s. We are not in that situation, but changing our name is long overdue. Remember 20 years ago when all the chief executive officers in credit unions were called “managers” or “general managers” and the chief elected official was always called the “president?” Some still use those titles, but most of the larger or more progressive credit unions call their CEO the President and their chief elected officer their Chair of the Board. Richard’s idea is long overdue. I for one would urge our regulators and trade associations to start the dialog that will make this option available to all the nations credit unions. H. C. “Hank” Klein President/CEO Arkansas Federal Credit Union Jacksonville, Ark.</p>

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