As credit unions continue to grow, prosper, and become morevisible, the credit union industry presents such an easy target. Nowonder more and more groups besides, of course, those connected tothe banking industry, single out credit unions as a way to get somefree publicity for themselves at the expense of credit unions andtheir members. But it doesn't always work. Latest example is amanufactured study released by a barely known (outside of a smallcircle of like groups), paper tiger organization, by the name ofthe National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC). Instead ofgenerating headlines, its big study was met by a big yawn by thepress despite the group holding a press conference to release theanti-credit union results. Don't be fooled by its impressivesounding name. NCRC continues to be a small, and toothless groupseeking to position itself as more influential and important thanit really is. Almost everyone immediately saw the NCRC study forwhat it really is; still another attempt to cast a negative shadowon credit unions in general, but especially those over $100 millionin assets. “Almost everyone” because of course like they do everychance they get, banking industry lobbyists jumped on the study andtried to make it and NCRC seem a lot more important. That effortalso failed. Guess what? News is news and this wasn't news, butjust more of the same old stuff paraded out countless times before.This time around, however, NCRC probably did more harm to their ownorganization than to credit unions. In reporting on the group'sclaim that credit unions over $100 million in assets need to beincluded under that ongoing banking industry nemesis, CRA(Community Reinvestment Act), Credit Union Times uncovered apossible conflict of interest. It seems that the more financialinstitutions that are covered by CRA, the more lucrative it couldeventually prove to be to NCRC itself (see Credit Union Times6-15-05 issue, page one and 74 for details). There is definitely atie in regarding procedures and leadership. Once again, as thegroup did in previous encounters with credit unions, NCRC playedfast and loose with the data to attempt to make its case.Nevertheless, the report was pretty much ignored outside of creditunion circles. But credit union representatives, including one ofits members and a group that might be expected to be supportive,the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions(NFCDCU), fired back immediately and forcefully. NFCDCU executivedirector Cliff Rosenthal actually defended what NCRC classified aslarge credit unions by saying that these are the very credit unionsthat are increasingly reaching out to the low income and minoritypopulations with specially tailored and innovative lendingprograms. There are a number of reasons that we cannot support therecommendation that larger credit unions come under CRA saidRosenthal. Apparently the report's clever name, “Credit Unions:True To Their Mission,” and its accusation that credit unions “haveforgotten their social mission” didn't sway Rosenthal's thinking.Or anyone else in credit union land. For sure it didn't impressNCUA, CUNA, or NAFCU, all of who had something to say about the dudreport. NCUA called the report, “nothing new” and went on to sayNCRC has always been an advocate of unnecessary and burdensomeregulation and continues to ignore the facts that show creditunions taking in record numbers of underserved areas. NCUA backedup their statements with lots of up-to-the-minute stats. CUNAofficials blasted the NCRC report calling it “misleading.” CUNAsaid that once again NCRC misinterpreted HMD (Home MortgageDisclosure Act) pricing data, which in fact show that low-incomeborrowers are more likely to be approved for a mortgage loan at acredit union. To support its argument, CUNA supplied figuresshowing a rise in loan approvals and a decline in denials to thepopulation segment NCRC claimed was being underserved. NAFCU alsobacked its response with stats that showed credit unions reachingout to low-income consumers. Said the group's CEO Fred Becker:“Credit unions are constantly developing new products and servicesto reach out to those populations that most need their help, suchas young people, low-income families, and recent immigrants. Theseare not populations banks want to serve.” To which we might add,even though banks are subject to CRA provisions. Perhaps the nextstudy NCRC does ought to examine the impact on underservedcommunities caused by banks closing branches, charging exorbitantfees, racking up high loan turn down rates, implementing massivestaff layoffs caused by mega mergers, etc.? And why not studies onwhat really big banks are doing? Or not doing? So if sill anotherNCRC study out of the blue turned out to again be much ado aboutnothing, why give it any attention, or even be slightly concernedabout it? Because there are so many attacks on credit unions comingfrom so many different quarters on such a regular basis that all ofthem must be taken seriously. It is impossible to know which one,no matter how far out, might just stick for whatever reason and getlegs. Each and every threat to the ability of credit unions beingable to serve their members must be challenged and nipped in thebud. And it has to be done like the latest NCRC attack, by settingthe record straight with facts, not emotion, and enlisting the aidof strong and knowledgeable credit union supporters. This scenariois precisely why all the state and national credit union tradegroups need the support of all credit unions to do their main job,credit union advocacy. Every attack on credit unions, by whatevergroup or individual, whether it be size specific such as “thoseover $10 million,” or “those over $100 million,” or those “over abillion in assets,” is in reality an attack on all credit unionsand their 87 million members. Comments? Call 1-800-345-9936, Ext.15, or Fax 561-683-8514, or E-mail [email protected].

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