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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Kevin Chandler, president/CEO of the Minnesota Credit Union Network, recently challenged banks to convert to CUs if they feel small business lending poses a threat. In a May 28 editorial to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Chandler responded to a bank lobbyist letter “lecturing not-for-profit CUs here in Minnesota because they are serving small-business owners that many banks wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.” “To listen (to) the bank lobby, not-for-profit CUs have a sweet deal compared to for-profit banks,” Chandler wrote. “To that end, I would be happy to forward a charter application to any bank that wishes to convert to a CU. It’s not difficult, simply do the following: shift the focus of operations from maximizing shareholder profits to meeting member needs; open your board of directors to democratic elections in which each depositor receives one vote; only raise capital through retaining a portion of the income stream; limit commercial loans to 12.25% of total assets; start calling customers “members,” and treating them as co-owners; substantially cut the CEO’s salary and eliminate stock options.” “Any takers? I didn’t think so,” Chandler wrote. Chandler also pointed out that “banks are not really worried about competing on a `level playing field’ with credit unions – they have had record profits year after year. They want to own the whole field. Why? Because credit unions prevent banks from gouging their own customers even more than they do now by providing a real, affordable alternative to consumers. Small-business owners need more affordable financial options, not fewer. Communities need more small businesses, not fewer. And if not-for-profit credit unions can help our small businesses, many of whom have already been turned away by the banks in town, they will.” Chandler wrote.

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