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I read with interest Director Bill Slach’s letter to the editor (CU Times, Sept. 11). CUES has published a compensation survey for our industry for 38 years. It has become the survey boards’ and CEOs’ trust for reliable, comparative compensation and benefits data. Any survey can be deemed “suspect” if the reader has predisposed beliefs. When I served as a credit union director, whenever the subject of the CEO’s compensation came up, I’d hear another director comparing any proposed increase to what he “made” in his job. While this might be a natural reaction, it is illogical because the two jobs weren’t comparable. Director Slach suggests that it’s in the best interest of the CEO filling out the survey as well as to CUES’ advantage to “distort” the data. A director who suspects dishonesty should ask, “Would the CEO we entrust to manage our credit union members’ funds willfully misrepresent his salary as a means to personal profit?” All our experience says if this happens, and it might, it is a very rare exception. Furthermore, if it occasionally happens, the sample size in the CUES Executive Survey is so large that it would have no significant impact on the result. Besides, all CEOs I know of (including me) never fill out surveys. We send them to our HR or Finance department to complete. CUES contracts with Survey Research Associates, an expert, impartial survey firm, to conduct our Survey. No one at CUES ever sees the raw data coming from those filling out surveys; and that includes me. The data goes directly to SRA for compilation, analysis, and reporting. Charles Carlson, SRA’s president/CEO, has been designing and conducting compensation surveys for some 25 years. He has also taught compensation at the graduate school level. Here’s what he says regarding Director Slach’s concerns: “In all my experience surveying pay, I find people try to provide accurate data for base salaries and bonuses. To the extent that a few executives report data too high, I believe there are at least an equal number who report too low. The sample size is so large that the impact on the averages from an overstated or understated salary would be insignificant. “Regarding the concern that credit union executive salaries have been increasing at a rate higher than inflation, that is what the data shows. We believe this is occurring because credit unions have become more complex. Salaries have been increased to be more competitive with other types of financial institutions. “Mr. Slach argues for a more appropriate method of distributing credit union compensation through heavier emphasis on bonuses, rather than base pay. Our survey shows this is what is occurring. We applaud him for his thoughtful suggestions on executive compensation packages. Clearly, he feels strongly about the matter and has given it a lot of thought.” CUES will continue its leadership role in the industry by providing accurate, timely information as part of our contribution to our members and to all credit unions. Fred Johnson President/CEO CUES Madison, Ws.

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