But wait . before you start sending out any pipe bombs, let me explain! I, like most readers of Credit Union Times, have been reading about the growing (or at least the appearance of a growing) trend of credit union to bank conversion attempts (See publisher Mike Welch’s March 30th column, “Conversion Attempts Continue To Make Headlines”). I’m sure that most of us with a few brain cells to rub together have a pretty fair idea why this “trend” is occurring. And, no, it’s not because we need to expand our powers to take advantage of other “business opportunities.” Those that espouse this theory aren’t fooling anyone. Making things easier has always been something that has seemed to work best for everyone involved with a challenge. We can all probably remember that little girl who suggested letting the air out of the tires to get the truck through the tunnel. I think we should let the air out of this challenge as well. By doing so, it would allow a credit union wishing to convert to do so in a more productive and less burdensome way and free up credit union regulators to pay attention to those of us who continue to be dedicated to remaining credit unions. But in order to do this, and so as not to hijack the earnings built up by the members (yes . it is THEIR money), the credit union wishing to convert to a bank charter need merely give back the money to the members who own it! Easy right? See, there is no need to send a pipe bomb! All a credit union wishing to convert to a bank charter needs do is fill out some simple paperwork, get the bank regulators to approve it, and before converting give back the reserves and undivided earnings (do we still call it that?) to the members who own the dough! The new bank would then have to raise capital through the normal capital markets, just like any other start-up bank. No need for overly burdensome regulations since the system would self-regulate. See, easier is better! So, for those in the conversion processes, or those thinking about it, have a great time. Just be honest about why you’re after a bank charter and stop hijacking the members’ hard-earned equity. After all, it doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to them! Ed Fox President/CEO Southland Credit Union Los Alamitos, Calif.

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