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<p>WASHINGTON – Jerrie Lattimore, Chairwoman of the NASCUS Board of Directors and administrator of North Carolina credit unions, compared credit unions to Wal-Mart to illustrate their commitment to service and pointed out how, on alternative capital and other issues, state chartered credit unions and regulators are leading the movement. “Wal-Mart doesn’t produce anything. It doesn’t invent anything. It doesn’t even improve anything,” Lattimore told CUNA’s 2002 GAC. “It utilizes its buying power to be able to obtain goods at the lowest possible prices and then passes those savings on to the customer. It provides a service.” “Isn’t that what credit unions do,” she asked. “Members pool their resources in the institution that they have chosen, and use that pool of funds to improve the financial lives of all members.” Lattimore compared credit unions’ with the retail giant to illustrate credit unions commitment to service, a commitment she noted was ever more in step with the current U.S. economy. “Service to members is the mantra of all credit unions – large or small, state or federal, community or single sponsor,” she said. Choice is the other pillar and “battle cry” of the credit union movement, Lattimore said. Credit union members have “field of membership choices: single sponsor, multiple sponsor, association, faith-based, or community. Credit unions have a choice of regulators: state or federal. For the last few years, we have seen more credit unions that are choosing to become state-chartered,” she said. But credit unions now face limiting choices, Lattimore contended. “Right now, in board meetings throughout this country, the question is being asked: Do we remain a credit union or roll our charter to a mutual savings bank and perhaps then a stock company,” she asked. Restrictive regulations that prevent credit unions from using alternative forms of capital available to other financial institutions are part of the reason boards are facing those decisions, Lattimore said, and she announced the creation of NASCUS’ alternative capital task force to address the issue. “We have state regulators and state-chartered credit union CEOs, CFOs and industry experts working together to hammer out this issue, Lattimore said, speaking of the task force. “It has to be done. We are taking the lead.” “We are in North Carolina. We are in California. We are in Virginia. We are in Michigan. We are in Washington State,” Lattimore declared. “You get the message: the states are not only looking at it, we are doing something about it.” States are also taking the lead in predatory lending, member business lending and field of membership, Lattimore said, adding: “Every one of us needs to lead, follow or get out of the way.” Lattimore raised NASCUS’ familiar issue of the overhead transfer rate, noting that was one reason state chartered credit unions are interested in alternative share insurance. “We can’t talk about share insurance without raising the issue of the overhead transfer rate,” Lattimore said. “We are pleased that Chairman Dollar opened the process for the first time last year. But we have a lot of work to do in sorting out the regulatory functions and insurance functions that have become blurred over time. This task may be difficult but it is certainly not impossible,” she said. “State regulators will persist in pointing a laser on this subject. I think credit unions have to ask, `How is my money being spent? How is it being accounted for?’ “</p>

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