CLEVELAND – Ohio credit unions want their private insurance. That message came through loud and clear from the leaders at the Ohio Credit Union League’s 69th convention to the 1,400 attendees. “Insurance options are non-negotiable,” said chair-elect Rose Bartolomucci, president of Kent Credit Union. Ohio is a strong private-insurance state. It helps that American Share Insurance Inc., the primary private insurer in the United States, is a neighbor in Dublin, a Columbus suburb, of the Ohio CU League. Bartolomucci said later that about 100 Ohio credit unions have private insurance. In her prepared remarks, Bartolomucci also discussed other long-term goals. She said under her leadership the organization would reaffirm the importance of the league’s role as an advocate for credit unions. Among the other pillars of her two-year term leading the group, she said, would be to pursue the growth and success of the Ohio Credit Union League Service Corp. and strengthen the organization’s capacity to defend credit unions against attacks from banks. But safeguarding the availability of private share insurance is at the top of her list. While she sees specific advantages to private insurance, just having it available is its biggest advantage. “The advantage is to have that choice, period,” she said. Paul Mercer, OCUL president, concurred in almost identical terms. “The advantage is in having a choice,” he said. Mercer likened it to dual chartering making both state and federal systems compete to best serve credit unions. “The real benefit is in having the choice.” Competition from private insurance is a good competitive counterbalance to keep the federal overhead transfer rate down, Mercer added. While private share insurance tops their list, Bartolomucci and Mercer both stressed the importance of the league’s advocacy role. Said mercer: “The trade association has put a lot of effort to make sure both the state charter and the federal charter are empowering business charters so credit unions can serve who they want, how they want and provided the products (members) need.” Much of the convention educational activity was geared to smaller credit unions. The highlight of the small-credit union activity was a Saturday morning roundtable discussion for officers, staff and volunteers of smaller credit unions. Several top league officials, including Bartolomucci and Mercer, John Florian, OCUL COO, and David Fearing, COO of OCUL Services Corp attended the session. Mercer noted that of the 550 credit unions in Ohio, two-thirds have assets of less than $10 million. Going around the room, attendees ticked off a long list of problems – a lack of human and financial resources, competition from the Internet and encroaching community credit unions and the lack of participation by board members. The staff described the transformation of the Small Credit Union Success Committee into the Small Credit Union Task Force which will address these issues and sharpen its focus on improving small credit union education and strengthening and improving the opportunities for small credit union executives to help themselves by networking. “It used to be enough to offer a half point below the available interest rate,” observed Dianne Easterday, chief executive of ODJFS FCU, an $8.3 million credit union in Columbus. [email protected]

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