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<p>Mike Welch’s May 15th column, “Small credit unions are not the backbone” was, as usual, interesting and provocative. However, in citing my statement that “small credit unions are the backbone of the credit union community”, he mischaracterizes its context. By that statement, I did not intend to convey that only small credit unions perform the fundamental mission for which credit unions were created. In fact, I stated in that same speech that I do not believe that “all credit unions need to remain small and serve only people of modest means. I believe that this is unrealistic and a prescription for failure.” In fact, I believe the success of the credit union industry historically is attributable to the work of small credit unions in providing exemplary member service and in serving those who might not have otherwise have access to financial institutions. In many instances, it is the small credit union that is the only financial institution available for underserved people and the working poor. I believe that fundamental to the future of the credit union industry is the continuation of the traditional quality of member service found in small credit unions. Having said that, however, I observed in the same speech, “I’ve met with officials of many large credit unions and that, indeed, small credit union spirit seems to be alive in these institutions, as well. Maybe that’s because the way credit unions are formed and operated, that commitment to member services will always be there, regardless of size.” This observation seemed to be shared by Mr. Welch in the conclusion of his column. My thoughts on the future of small credit unions are still evolving, but I do have some concerns. Credit unions under $50 million in assets are the overwhelming majority of federally insured credit unions. However, the smallest of these credit unions are disappearing at a rapid rate. Because of this, more than ever, it is important that credit unions, regardless of size, need to continue their grand tradition of member service and reaching out to all the people in their field of membership. Deborah Matz Board Member NCUA Arlington, Va.</p>

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