An excellent September 25 issue of Credit Union Times discussed some of the pros and cons of credit unions selling their card portfolios, an important if not controversial matter for many. Having advised credit unions and other financial institutions 110 times on precisely this subject, perhaps I could clarify a few major points. First, the main reason so many CU’s use outside advisors in a card portfolio sale is to get a higher premium price and faster than if one sells without such professional advice. Indeed, three separate industry studies supported the assertion that those who use experienced advisors get a better selling price as a result (up to 7.5% more), far more than the expertise costs. That is an increase of up to $750,000 on each $10 million in assets sold. Second, there are several types of advisors to choose from: a listing-only broker (who renders no valuation opinion, nor any negotiation expertise); a second opinion advisor, who simply supplies the credit union board with only a valuation to verify premium fairness; and a full service advisor, who handle all the details of the sale, start to finish. The expertise and costs associated with these advisors necessarily vary widely, as do their results, with fees typically 25 to 100 basis points on the assets sold. Finally, it bears repeating that any card portfolio buyer would dearly love to get a seller at the negotiation table without a professional experienced advisor to guide that seller to protect them. I leave it to your capable readers to understand why that is obviously so, and why they should avoid that at all cost. To make matters worse, many potential sellers without professional guidance end up with no sale at all, at any price. Deals can fall apart for many reasons, not just price; a professional advisor can help you avoid that problem. P.S. Publisher Mike Welch’s September 18 column on vendors was the best I’ve seen in years. As a 30- year credit union member and a vendor to financial institutions for 25, my take is that he hit the nail squarely on the head. It, too, has been my experience that the better CUs tend to view vendors as working partners. Robert Hammer Chairman and CEO R.K. Hammer, Investment Bankers Thousand Oaks, Calif.

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