LAS VEGAS – There were plenty of snickers to go around at a breakout session of the annual convention of the California/Nevada Credit Union Leagues with the title: "Confessions of Recovering Bankers." Sure enough, delegates enjoyed a few smiles and by all accounts gained some insight into banker thinking from Kim Tauffer, an ex-banker 27 years and now chief operating officer of Cumorah CU in Las Vegas, and Ric Dannelley, a 17-year veteran of Wells Fargo and First Interstate and now senior vice president of The Golden 1 CU, Sacramento. "I have confessed to Father Profit," joked Tauffer, a former Bank of America executive, who recalled working in a bank produced a mindset that put one's career on the line daily depending on how one achieved "profit first, customer second" goals. Tauffer, as a bank officer, said he realized that his productive worth was to shareholders and that "most of my career was spent creating value for my senior managers who were shareholders." Dannelley of Golden 1 told the panel audience "community banks are not pleased" by CU expansion into business lending, but from a large bank perspective it's laughable to consider that CUs pose "any real threat or there's hardly a level playing field." That's a fact when CU assets represent 7% of total bank assets, he said observing that CU growth "is most frequently organic growth" while banks are expanding by acquisition "at an extraordinary rate." "I believe that while banks stress service excellence as a differentiator, the message is diluted by a strong focus on sales and fee income generation," maintained Dannelley. Banks, he went on, pursue significant investment in self-service technology "but they are not perceived as offering exceptional service by customers." On secured real estate loans, banks are constantly challenged to handle "volume swings and interest rate risks while credit unions focus on what is best for a member's loan needs," said Dannelley. He said mortgages are big money makers for banks as they make significant income through loan servicing during market upswings. On the other hand, Dannelley said he has come to learn that CUs "are tough competitors for banks on direct and indirect auto loans." Credit unions often win out because they offer speedy underwriting, funding and convenient dealer deals. Tauffer said he was glad to get away from "flavor of the day marketing and selling" with a concentration "of this month's widgets." All in all, he said, many banks are simply motivated by "greed" and "just like in the `Finding Nemo' movie, banks are concerned about mine, mine, mine." [email protected]

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