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Alot of credit union information flows in and out of Credit Union Times every day. Some of it brings some interesting questions to mind. Like these: When the credit union idea has such tremendous potential for helping less fortunate people around the world, why does the official International Credit Union Day celebration create such a big yawn in this country when it rolls around every October? Why does it come and go for most United States credit union people with hardly any awareness of what it is all about? Does the program need a fresh marketing face and a public relations shot in the arm to increase awareness of all the good work being done by its sponsor, the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU)? Do U.S. credit union folks only think of WOCCU when the international group meets in exotic places where credit union people can go at credit union expense? How much time should a member of the board of a credit union be expected to spend on credit union matters above and beyond the time spent in monthly board meetings? Are excessive time demands a major reason why younger people starting families and careers shy away from serving as credit union volunteers? Is it possible that some volunteers spend too much time unnecessarily on credit union business? Should credit unions be at all worried that the non-profit status of hospitals is being challenged more frequently including by powerful Congressional leaders? And at the same time bringing what they do for the less fortunate in their communities and compensation packages of hospital CEOs under the microscope? Can hospitals make a case that they deserve their non-profit classification because of all the charity work they do for those unable to afford health care? Can these same arguments end up spilling over into discussions on why credit unions are not-for-profit and thus tax-exempt? Who should be monitoring situations like these? PCA (Prompt Corrective Action) regulations aside, how much capital does a credit union really need to operate safely and soundly? Rather than too little, is it possible that some credit unions have too much capital? How much is too much? 26%? Isn’t it hard to believe the results of the Oregon regulator’s recent credit union survey on why Oregonians use payday lenders that showed it was because CUs (and banks) wouldn’t give them a loan (25%) and because overdraft fees were too high (39%)? Should the regulator tie in his agency’s approval for CU requested FOM expansions, branching, community charter conversions, etc. to their developing a payday loan alternative product as proposed? Although the average credit union person doesn’t know much about NCUA’s relatively new TIP (Trade, Industry, and Profession) charter, does common sense seem at all in play when a TIP charter is granted to a credit union that after many years in business has only reached an asset level of $3.1 million? Is it logical to expect such a credit union to have the financial and personnel wherewithal to attempt to capture a significant slice of an entire industry located in its backyard? Will this action discourage other credit unions from exploring a TIP charter? Along those same lines and forgetting for the moment the predictable negative reaction from the banking industry, can a $300 million credit union realistically be expected to provide credit union service to Los Angles County’s 10 million residents? How? Can this credit union be expected to be in the billion-dollar range in the near future? Does this action by NCUA make somewhat of a mockery out of even larger credit unions having to jump through hoops to try and expand to serve a couple of nearby counties in less populous areas and states? Was the president of the Utah Bankers Association being disingenuous when he stated recently that credit unions have gotten so big that members’ votes are too diluted to matter? Did he mean all credit unions have gotten too big or just a handful? Or just those in Utah? Or just a couple in Utah? Does he actually think that a small stockholder in a trillion dollar bank (or even much smaller) can cast a vote that would ever in a million years make one iota of difference regarding who gets on that bank’s board of directors? Knowing that the various weekly business journals published in most cities of any size around the country have been for years a favorite place for the banking industry to place op-ed pieces and letters to the editors, isn’t it surprising to hear credit union trade group public relations types say something like this: “In what seems to be a trend, another business journal tackles the issue of banks versus credit unions?” Seems to be a trend? Does the average credit union CEO believe for one minute one of the major conclusions of the latest Filene Institute study that boards are most happy when they don’t micro-manage? Could the study’s conclusion possibly be referring to credit unions operating on a different planet? Does any one else find it unbelievable that as recently reported Hispanics receive only 20 direct mail pieces a year while non-Hispanics receive approximately 300? Or that the response rate by those Hispanics is from 25% to as much as 100% greater than those receiving the 300 DM pieces? Doesn’t this information send a clear message to credit union marketers seeking to do a more effective job of penetrating their own Hispanic market? And finally this from the out-of-the-blue department: Should Credit Union Times expand its readership services to help male readers connect with good-looking females who appear in photographs in these pages? Is this the kind of reader feedback we should expect more of: “I was wondering the name of the very pretty girl in the yellow sweater in the picture on page 38 of the last issue of Credit Union Times because I would like to meet her. Do you have her contact information?” Yeah right! 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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