As the year 2004 winds down it means it is time for me to fessup on how I did on the predictions I boldly made way back onJanuary 7th. For starters, credit unions did achieve impressiveresults in mortgages, member business loans, and with the new kidon the block, namely, trust account services, as predicted. But myoptimism regarding huge membership increases was off the mark. AsNCUA Board Member Debbie Matz frequently points out, there has beena big slowdown in membership growth despite the granting of hugenew FOMs, especially in low-income areas, something I did correctlypredict. My prediction that total industry asset growth wouldcontinue strong with the biggest gains coming from credit unionsover $100 million in assets would play out. It did, as did myprediction that many more new products and services would beintroduced. They were. But never when I predicted majorimprovements in technology did I expect the number to be so large.The number of credit unions did decrease due to mergers andliquidations, but short of the 400 number predicted. More mergersinvolved larger credit unions as also predicted. Membersatisfaction, although still impressively higher than anycompetitors, improved slightly rather than decline as predicted,but bears continued watching since many credit unions still don'tseem to have this important area on their radar screens. As forNCUA, as predicted an unknown Republican was nominated by PresidentBush. Nothing much happened after that and eventually the nomineetook himself out of the running leaving the NCUA Board with onlytwo members. Jo Ann Johnson was bumped up to chairman as predictedafter former chairman Dennis Dollar stepped down after monthsbeyond the expiration of his term, as also predicted. Dollar didform a Washington-based consulting firm, as predicted, whichappeared to be going great guns by year-end. Yet, I stick with myfurther prediction that this is not a long-term proposition, butwill position the popular chairman for greener pastures. Aspredicted, UBIT (Unrelated Business Income Tax) seemed to come andgo as a major issue during the year even though a lot of creditunion resources were earmarked to work with those states alreadytargeted by the IRS. Close but no cigar sums up my predictionregarding the top 100 credit unions. I said it would take $1billion to make the list by year-end. With 95 billionaires on thelist it now looks like it will be early in 2005 before it will takea billion dollars in assets to make the list. Stepped upconversions to community charters and charter switches from stateto federal did happen as predicted, as did a bogging down amidcontroversy of credit unions wanting to become banks. And as alsopredicted, no large credit unions followed the lead of Patelco CUin dumping NCUSIF in favor of private primary insurance coverage. Iwas on the money that banking industry lobbyists would swarm allover credit union specific proposed legislation, but missed themark when I said they would try to re-craft the credit unioninitiatives to fit their own goals rather than attempt to killthem. Unfortunately I was dead on with my prediction that thebanking industry would put in high gear its efforts to attackcredit unions on a state-by-state basis. Fortunately, I was also onthe mark with my added prediction that because of diligent effortsby credit union trade groups and massive grassroots efforts bankerswould see little if any success. A changing of the guard in thecorner office at the ABA (American Bankers Association) did unfold,but credit union nemesis Howard Headlee, CEO of the Utah BankersAssociation, is still firmly ensconced in his office. For now atleast. Some predictions take longer, but do eventually play out sostay tuned on this one. Over at NASCUS, the final CEO selection wasnot a surprise as predicted, but staff changes that followedquickly after Doug Duerr was booted out did occur as predicted. Aslam-dunk prediction that despite credit union trade group optimismbankruptcy reform would again not see the light of day wasaccurate. My prediction that about-to-retire credit union CEOswould set themselves up for cushy jobs as part of a merger dealwith a larger credit union was partially correct; there were justfewer that went this route than predicted. Cases of embezzlementand robberies did increase as did violent crime perpetrated againstcredit unions as predicted, a trend that appears to be on a steadyupward curve. A little closer to home, my prediction that more thantwo dozen vendors would debut as advertisers in Credit Union Timesturned out to be far too conservative as financial industrysuppliers are discovering the lucrative credit union market inrecord numbers. CUNA's Future Forum in Hawaii did draw a recordnumber of participants, for them, but the annual event didn't comeclose to approaching the huge numbers NAFCU draws every July forits Annual Conference and Exhibition. I had predicted a much highernumber for CUNA and was way off the mark. One prediction that Imake every year is that credit union boards seemingly withoutwarning will unceremoniously dump a number of high-profile creditunion CEOs. Every year I am correct. However, never would I havepredicted that the CUNA Mutual Group CEO Mike Kitchen would befired over an alleged union transgression, especially since he hadestablished such an impressive track record in getting the creditunion colossus in the black. Nor would I have predicted theannounced early retirements of credit union industry heavyweightsBob Rose, CEO of CO-OP Network and Les Muma, CEO of Fiserv. Watchfor 2005 predictions in this space in the next issue. HappyHolidays! Comments? Call 1-800-345-9936, Ext. 15, or Fax561-683-8514, or E-mail [email protected].

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