WASHINGTON – The Association of Corporate Credit Unions may not have the biggest budget or staff, but looking back on 2004, it sure packed quite a wallop in getting things done, especially on the political front. For the first time, the ACCU participated in both national political party campaigns, joining up with U.S. Central to help sponsor some events. Michael Canning, ACCU’s Executive Director, met and mingled with a host of political figures. Canning said the ACCU is an association for corporates, but when it comes to lobbying it wants to also help credit unions get their message across on Capitol Hill. “We want to definitely be known as an important partner in the credit union movement, so that in the event that CUNA, NAFCU, NASCUS or anybody needs help with contacts on the Hill, we can provide that. We want to be of service to not only our 30 corporates, but their members as well,” said Canning. Although the ACCU is based out of CUNA’s Washington headquarters and has a management agreement with CUNA, it is not a CUNA house organ, said Canning. He said the ACCU must work with NAFCU and NASCUS if it wants to truly represent corporates. “Somebody quoted me some math one day that the top eight corporates are members of NAFCU; they have something like 80% of the assets. So we know we need to work with NAFCU,” said Canning. Another political highlight for 2004 was the ACCU’s new political outreach program where corporates host members of Congress from their home state at their headquarters. This year’s pilot program consisted of about five such meetings, but next year the ACCU is hoping all corporates will get involved. In fact, ACCU Chairman Eric Kenealy has challenged corporates to dramatically expand this program. “2005 will be a big year for us. As chairman I’ve issued a challenge to corporates to host 30 legislator visits throughout the year. We want to increase the profile of corporates with legislators. We want them to know what a corporate is, but at the same time support our member credit unions,” said Kenealy. Canning said these visits are vital for ACCU to be heard on the Hill, and you just never know when they’re going to pay off, or when you’re going to just get plain lucky. Case in point: Deborah Pryce. Pryce, a Republican from Ohio, said recently that she plans on leaving the House Rules Committee, where she has spent 10 years, to rejoin the House Financial Services Committee. Canning said he has spent a lot of time working with Pryce and her aids this year, and Pryce was one of the members of Congress who participated in the ACCU’s congressional visit pilot. She visited with Corporate One in Ohio in a hands-on meeting where she was able to see how the corporate processes checks and what impact Check 21 is going to have on its operations. Canning said Pryce is now in a much more important spot for credit unions, and the ACCU fortunately already has a strong relationship. Probably the most important development of the year for the ACCU is NCUA’s exploration into risk-based capital for corporates something corporates say is long overdue. Canning said the ACCU’s move to hire Dollar Associates, LLC as a consultant helped move the risk-based capital ball along. Dollar Associates of course is led by former NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar. “It was absolutely his expertise with capital as well as Kirk’s (Cuevas) ability to work with the agency that helped us,” said Canning. Canning is one of two ACCU employees. The other is ACCU Program Coordinator Josh Jones, who has been in that role for about a year and a half. “My job is to mostly support Mike and his efforts. A lot of it has to do with member communications, maintaining the in-house functions like administering the Web site,” said Jones. He’s also responsible for monitoring the budget on a monthly basis to make sure spending is in line. The ACCU’s budget in ’04 was $625,000 and will increase to $700,000 in ’05. Jones and Canning have a history. Canning founded and served as executive director of Americans for Consumer Education and Competition, a trade association geared at promoting financial literacy. During Canning’s time, it was funded by Visa USA and community banks. It raised about $4 million for its cause in the 2.5 years Canning ran it. Josh worked there for about a year and as he puts it, eventually convinced Canning to hire him for the ACCU. Canning, going into his third year leading ACCU, believes the association is now poised to start writing its own ticket. “I think for the first time in two years, starting this year we were able to seize our own agenda and put forth changes to regulations we wanted, changes that improve the way we do business. We have chosen our goals, rather than having other people choose them for us,” said Canning. “I’ve never been more excited about any job in my life,” he said. -

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