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DENVER – A former state credit union league lobbyist and 30-year veteran of credit union trade group and vendor operations is adding a “bankers welcome” to his consulting shingle. “I don’t bash credit unions and there’s nothing unusual or nefarious about what I’m doing,” declared Marvin Umholtz, a former Washington governmental affairs operative for CUNA and ex-lobbyist and staffer for the Kansas and Michigan Leagues and who now runs Umholtz Strategic Planning & Consulting Services. The firm, in business for a year with CU clients, most recently signed up the Wyoming and Colorado Bankers Associations for speaking presentations with a pitch geared toward giving bankers guidelines and strategies to use in their political battle with CUs. “The two speeches I’ve given contained basic national and state data and statistics that are readily available on many Web sites of credit union organizations, NCUA, Callahan and the trade press,” said Umholtz. In his banker talks, Umholtz claimed banks have their work cut out for them in trying to beat the “political freight train” of grassroots lobbying fine-tuned by CUs and their trade organizations, but he also cited many CU weaknesses including an inability to “deliver at the ballot box.” With suggestions at how banks might challenge CU strategy, he discussed the tax exemption battles as well as the “ambitious” entry into business lending by some large CUs which also are undertaking initiatives on field of membership and community charters citing in addition the “divide and conquer and mega morphing” strategy of the American Bankers Association in trying to corral CUs. “Credit union lobbyists have nothing to fear from my fact-based presentation,” Umholtz insisted, claiming bankers may indeed have come away “scared” after hearing the two speeches he gave in Cheyenne and Denver Jan. 20 and 21 respectively. Umholtz, who before setting up his consulting business out of his suburban Castle Rock home was a corporate account executive with Fiserv IntegraSys (formerly EDS) for more than two years, defended his reach for banker business as a natural expansion move. “I contacted the bankers associations via e-mail after I asked myself, `Who else would pay me for what I know?’” he said, noting he also has solicited business from state Leagues and vendors. Umholtz said he began e-mailing a broad list of banker and vendor trade groups last year “testing” the market as he promotes his 30-year insider knowledge including a nine-year stint as a lobbyist for the Kansas League and on the government affairs staff of CUNA in Washington. Umholtz has also previously served as vice president of strategic alliances for Cavion Technologies, Inc., an Internet banking software firm with operations in suburban Englewood that was sold to Liberty. The Jan. 20 talk in Cheyenne entitled, “Meeting the Credit Union Challenge” and lasting 45 minutes was given before a group of Wyoming bankers meeting on legislative issues. The Jan. 21 session in Denver, he said, was before an Operation Credit Union task force meeting of Colorado bankers on the ABA-linked committee. He said the information he shared with the banker groups represents material “they should already know” but perhaps don’t. He said he tried to make it entertaining and “interesting from someone who knows credit unions.” Umholtz, who said he wanted to be open with the credit union trade press about his intentions, made copies of his two “Powerpoint” talks available. In one section, he listed loan stats of top Wyoming CUs as well as personnel and background of top staffers at the Colorado League (which manages Wyoming) plus the CUNA leadership and a list of other leading CU trade groups. And in another section he went on to discuss the differing “agendas” of large and small CUs and how those agendas impact the “unity and passion of their advocacy message.” He also took a swipe at the negative image some non-members hold of CUs as “tax dodgers” and the tendency of some CUs “to shoot themselves in the foot.” But Umholtz concluded that the credit union lobby remains strong and that if credit unions “want to maintain the status quo, they must continue their formidable political action efforts.” “It’s also my view that if credit unions are ever taxed, they will adjust to it in just a few years and continue to be fierce competitors to banks.” He said. “I mentioned to the bankers that CUs pay income taxes in other countries and remain major players.” [email protected]

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