Contests seem to be all the rage these days. Why even the banking industry has taken to awarding prizes as part of their ongoing anti-credit union campaign. Banking industry rewards are given for something as simple as writing a letter to lawmakers blasting CURIA, to catching credit unions in the act of doing something that they shouldn’t be least in the eyes of the bankers, to pointing out credit unions occupying facilities not in keeping with the image the banking lobbyists have of credit unions. Seems only fair that those of us involved in credit unions also put together a little competition in an effort to put the shoe on the other foot. This is it. The prize for the best entries in the following dozen categories will receive a complimentary subscription to Credit Union Times. The judging panel will consist solely of me. All entries should be sent to me. How’s that for being about as objective as the various anti-credit union contests sponsored by the banking industry? First Category: Identify any bank of any size in any U.S. location that can give concrete proof that it lost market share and thus money otherwise earmarked for its stockholders because of competition from one or more credit unions. Supporting materials such as the bank’s profit and loss statement are not required but would be helpful to the judge. So would any proof that staff reductions were caused by credit union competition. Second Category: Show the bank that charges the highest fees to its customers in such key areas as ATM surcharges, bounced check fees, annual credit card fees, or fees levied for speaking to the bank CEO. Documentation such as very thick brochures listing all fees the bank charges will go a long way towards deciding the winner in this category. Third Category: Single out the highest paid bank CEO regardless of the size of the bank by including base salary, bonuses, stock options, all major perks (country club memberships, company cars and planes, expense accounts, etc.), retirement plans, annuities, and any miscellaneous compensation whether or not reported annually to the IRS. Fourth Category: This one is probably the easiest one. Find the bank that has the largest percentage of dissatisfied customers. It would be helpful to identify some of the reasons why its customers are so dissatisfied along with an indication of how the bank in question is showing that it could care less. Fifth Category: This one is tough. Identify a single bank that has never in any way or at any time been involved with a merger with another bank or with any other financial institution of any kind. To strengthen entries, add an affidavit from the bank CEO that he or she will not consider a merger with a larger bank no matter how much money and financial sweeteners may be involved for the CEO because they would rather just stay committed to their original purpose of remaining small and serve their base of aging customers as Congress intended they do. Sixth Category: With the pell mell run by banks of all sizes to convert their “C Corporation” charters to “Sub S Corporation” charters, this one should be fun. Identify a bank that does not reimburse its stockholders with a dividend or through some other means to make it possible for these stockholders to pay off the pass through taxes on their individual tax returns and have a healthy sum left over as disposal income. Seventh Category: This one is going to be almost impossible but nevertheless worth a try. Find at least one bank CEO who can clearly articulate the correct definition of a credit union and parlay that definition into a concise and accurate explanation of the differences between a credit union and a bank and do so without using any of the standard propaganda regularly disseminated by any and all state and national banking trade groups and their representatives and members. Eighth Category: Find a bank CEO who is willing to admit that he could care less about credit unions and whatever impact they are supposedly having on credit unions. Hint: a good starting point would be to utilize the list of the CEOs of the 100 largest banks in the country, which CUNA CEO Dan Mica currently has in his possession. Ninth Category: Find a bank building that is less impressive looking than any credit union facility of a credit union of an asset size similar to the bank. Include a comparison of the CEO’s office and the boardroom. Tenth Category: Identify any bank CEO who will admit and can conclusively prove that he or she has never ever taken advantage of every possible tax break afforded their bank by regulation and law and that it has never made any effort (such as relocating a satellite facility out of state) to do whatever it takes to reduce its tax burden. Eleventh Category: Find a bank that has had the most different names within the past five years and correspondingly has spent the most money with local printers and sign companies. As part of this category, extra weight will be given to the bank that as part of all its name changes has laid off the largest number of hourly employees while giving retention bonuses to its senior staff. Twelfth Category: Locate a bank that is considering converting to a credit union charter so that it can compete more effectively, reduce CEO compensation, eliminate stockholder expenses, pare down board of director costs, and enjoy serving only a predetermined group of individuals rather than every Tom, Dick, and Harry who happens to walk through the front door. Let the contest begin! Comments? Call 1-800-345-9936, Ext. 15, or Fax 561-683-8514, or E-mail [email protected]

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Peter Westerman


Credit Union Times

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