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Mike Welch’s recent publisher’s column, “Waving the Flag for Small CUs Not Smart,” touched on the comparison of small credit unions to the mom and pop businesses that have disappeared amidst the propagation of chain restaurants and mega stores. Given the sensitivities of this issue, I think it’s important to clarify and emphasize, on behalf of OCTFCU and other once-small credit unions, we must continue to be mindful of the importance of the small credit union in our movement. Just as it is unfair to generalize about large credit unions, we should also recognize that stereotyping small credit unions is equally inappropriate. Small credit unions not only live and practice the credit union philosophy, but also do a wonderful job of serving their members, creating a positive image, and fulfilling an important and special niche. As Mike says in his column, “Size has nothing to do with how legitimate a credit union is. The only accurate measuring stick is how well a credit union serves its members.” And while he acknowledges that, “many small credit unions do a good job of serving their members.” I take exception to the comment that it is because members “have lower expectations.” While not every credit union is able or chooses to meet the wide variety of services their members may desire, that fact is not limited only to small credit unions. But if we properly practice the cooperative and collaborative culture of our credit union movement, credit unions of all sizes can provide a great deal more. Because of our cooperative nature, we believe large credit unions have a responsibility to assist smaller credit unions. This is not “propping them up,” but by helping them take full advantage of their uniqueness, which has been part of our movement from the beginning. We at OCTFCU fully support small credit unions. Often with a little help they can do a superior job of serving their members in which case everyone wins. This support should be based on the fact that this is the right thing to do and not for any other reason. We must always remember that credit unions are an integrated movement comprised of large and small, and should therefore share one purpose. Our legislative efforts shouldn’t be focused on preserving any one type of credit union, but on preserving the credit union difference. And living that difference each and every day by putting our members’ interests ahead of our own is what will ensure long-term success. Rudy Hanley President, CEO Orange County Teachers FCU Santa Ana, Calif.

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