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The issue of private insurance is only one of many issues on my mind these days. There are a number of other divisive issues at present, and frankly I am tired of being accused of “hurting the movement” when I do not agree with CUNA. Why should I let others make choices which will have an adverse impact on the membership of Navy Federal? Let’s deal with a few of these issues. Choice: Within the movement these days you constantly hear the choice “mantra,” asking why can’t we choose our fields of membership or private insurance or secondary capital. Perhaps I live too close to the beltway, but there is no such thing as a free lunch! Everything has a price! We seem to have lost our historic focus on the greater good for the credit union movement. Private Insurance: There is one primary private insurance company left in the U.S. Why is that? Could it be a difficult economic model to make work? Banks and savings and loans have not been permitted to have private insurance since the savings and loan crisis. Is there a reason for that? Did the Rhode Island bank/savings and loan/credit union insurance failure hurt the regulation of credit unions in a general sense? This is an extremely important issue to consumers. If the perceived problem is NCUA, the overhead transfer rate or whatever, take on that issue directly. Don’t use a surrogate issue in an attempt to solve the problem. Open Fields of Membership: Whether you believe it or not, legislators in Washington believe that there is an importance to credit unions having defined “fields of membership.” They view this as a distinguishing characteristic of credit unions. NCUA is doing everything that can be done to allow credit unions to expand their fields. Why are some credit unions hurting us all by proposing, in effect, no fields of membership? Yes, we have a large membership, but Navy Federal grew its membership by putting member service first over the last 70 years. I am amazed when I hear someone say “my field of membership is larger than yours.” Instead, take a hard look at market penetration; a field means nothing if you don’t serve it. Secondary Capital: Many of those to whom I speak don’t even know what secondary capital is. Most of the arguments for having it are “because we want a choice.” Is the real issue PCA? If so, get that fixed. Credit unions are known for their distinguishing characteristics. If we surrender those characteristics, I predict that the credit union movement will cease to exist. Have you wondered why credit unions are not on the top six concerns listed by America’s Community Bankers for 2003? Why should they worry about us? We are going to do it to ourselves. I have tried to work within all organizations, including the board of NAFCU, Executive Committees of CUNA and CUNA Mutual, and the AACUL leadership to recognize the realities, from my perspective, associated with the issues facing the credit union movement. I will continue to do this as long as I am confident it will benefit the credit union movement. Brian McDonnell President/CEO Navy FCU Vienna, Va.

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