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Credit unions are fond of discussing their history, I just wonder if they are learning anything from it. I have spoken to thousands of credit union professionals and this month will speak at the World Council of Credit Unions in Rome, Italy. My message to this international audience will be the same as it has been for conference attendees, credit union employees and executives all over this country: History is, change with it or get changed by it. Don’t accuse me of hyperbole, I have been to more than a dozen league shows that feature a topic like, “Win the Battle with the Banks!” It sounds good, inspiring even, but when exactly were you going to start fighting? The situation with Community Credit Union (who wishes to become a bank) in Plano, Texas demonstrates that some of you and your advocates are complaining, not competing. Bickering, not battling. As a military veteran the term “battle” has a specific meaning, but I’ll take credit unions at their word. So in military-ease, you may be in a battle, but you are not acting like you are not winning. The twist you are in with Community does not have to define your marketplace, but it does highlight the limited influence of old bulky bureaucracies like the NCUA, CUNA and others. They all spend plenty of time working to influence legislative victories that sustain the movement. But your members are not in it for the movement; they are banking with you because of what you do well. My point is, credit unions may not need a movement anymore and organizations like NCUA and others may be built for a battle that no one is fighting any longer. Credit unions that run themselves like a business are succeeding because that is what the new marketplace demands. Old ideas about advocacy and collective effort went out of style during the early 90′s. Technology and global markets set the rules of engagement and if Community Credit Union wants to change its business plan, judge them by their results, not their efforts. The same can be said for NCUA. If they continue to delay Community’s plans over how letters are folded, they make us all look like chumps. Ours is an economy of small business and entrepreneurialism. Bulky large organizations are of little assistance to nimble, thriving credit unions that have hired well, dreamt big and demanded excellence from their employees. I am not suggesting that any credit union switch to a bank charter. I am not suggesting that any credit union should not. I am simply pointing out that in our free market any business is free to try, succeed or fail. That is the history we have all been dealt. Only time will tell if Community made the right choice, but their imminent defection, and NCUA’s silly attempts to stop it, should be a wake up call for this entire industry. As history demands that we play by new rules, it’s time to admit that old thinking and old organizational advocates may have worn out their relevancy. Jason Dias Trainer, Historian, Consultant Marquis Software Solutions Plano, Texas

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