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WARSAW, Poland – NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar talked about the essentiality of credit unions when he spoke to the 558 delegates at the World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) sixth annual Leadership Institute. Throughout his speech Dollar played with the word “essential.” Dollar, who was mistakenly introduced as the ex-NCUA chairman by WOCCU Board member Bobby McVeigh, joked that since things change rapidly in Washington, maybe McVeigh knew something he didn’t. Credit unions are essential, Dollar said, because they provide economic empowerment to the individual. They make the difference. He said credit unions can’t stand by and let 5 billion people on the earth be among the unbanked, the unserved, or whatever term one chooses to use. He pointed out that even in the United States, 90 million people do not have access to affordable financial services. Dollar said that the essential difference between credit unions and banks is the service mentality. He cautioned that even when credit unions go high tech, which they must do to compete, they should also keep their high touch characteristics. Although he praised credit unions for their vision, Dollar said it is essential that credit unions continue to renew their vision rather than rest on their laurels. He derided the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, saying if all credit unions had that mentality they would still be using typewriters rather than computers. Dollar said he felt it was essential to expand as much as possible to serve as many people as possible. He spoke of his “least popular essentiality” – regulation. But Dollar was quick to point out that excessive regulation was just as hurtful to the industry as too little regulation. To those delegates from countries other than the U.S., Dollar offered that the American CU model might not fit all cultures, but he is ready to extend a helping hand to those that needed and asked for it. Co-operation between credit unions and between movements in different countries was not only an essential difference, it was essential to the success of the movement worldwide. -

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