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INDIANAPOLIS – Representatives from more than 300 Indianapolis-area credit unions, banking and venture capital institutions met over a “power breakfast” Feb. 25 hosted by the Indianapolis Business Journal to participate in a panel discussion and examination of issues affecting their industries. The newspaper periodically holds these events as part of its Power Breakfast series. Among the topics covered at the Feb. 25 breakfast were how technology is reshaping banking, the role of credit unions, how de novo banks can compete in the robust local market, and telemarketing laws. Indiana Credit Union League President John McKenzie represented credit unions at the event. Joining McKenzie on the panel were Jane Martin, general partner, Village Ventures; Thomas Maxwell, partner, Barnes & Thornburg; Steve Stitle, president and CEO, National City Bank; and Robert Warrington, president and CEO, First Indiana Bank. McKenzie said the panel was a good opportunity to showcase the credit union difference, CUs’ important role in the financial services industry, and how the business community as well as consumers benefits from CUs. On the topic of whether banks and credit unions have a level playing field, for example, McKenzie stated that banks and credit unions “have different circumstances. We have different types of financial institutions, different charter options. Each of those comes with a perceived advantage and disadvantage to the so-called playing field that has to be competed upon.” He added that the differences between credit unions and banks are in the structures and limitations and fundamental purposes of the financials. “As a not-for-profit, credit unions’ function is to serve their members who own them. Earnings that are beyond what the credit union needs are returned to the members through better rates and lower fees.” In separate comments, Barnes & Thornburg’s Maxwell said the credit union sector, which represents about 10% of the financial institutions’ market, provide “a very important checks and balance for financial services that helps keep rates lower for consumers and small-business owners.” Maxwell reiterated the fundamental structure differences between credit unions and banks, and stated “there is an important social purpose served by having those types of alternatives available in the marketplace.” On the issue of whether CUs should pay federal income taxes, no one on the panel argued in favor of that. And Maxwell, who works with both banks and CUs, questioned why the American Bankers Association continues to push for that. “I don’t know why the ABA wants to pursue this issue when it is a sure loser. And they will; they will pursue this and won’t get anywhere,” said the attorney. – [email protected]

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