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In response to Mike Welch’s August 3 column concerning large investment portfolios, one ratio doesn’t tell the whole story. For example is a $60,000,000 loan portfolio good or bad for a credit union with 13,357 members (ours)? In reviewing the loan portfolios of federally insured credit unions with between 12,000 and 14,000 members in the states of Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania, we found there are 14 credit unions in this group (excluding ours) that have an average of 12,730 members with an average loan portfolio of $43,067,939. In fact, in this group there is only one credit union with a higher loan portfolio than ours. Our large investment portfolio of nearly $140,000,000 is due to the following reasons: 1. Our rates on savings are higher than most other credit unions (and financial institutions), since we return about two and a half times more of our gross income in dividends to our members than other federally insured credit unions. 2. Our operating expense ratio to average assets is only .85% which places us 13th in credit unions federally insured over $50,000,000 in assets as of December 31, 2004. 3. Our operating margin of only one and a half percent between our gross income and dividends on saving accounts enables us to cover all our expenses and increase our equity as needed, which now is nearly $28,000,000. 4. Our large influx of savings, of nearly $82,000,000, an increase of nearly 76% for the five-year period 1999 through 2003, was due to our paying higher interest rates. Our members can barely maintain the value of their savings accounts due to lower rates, inflation and taxes. We felt we should do all we can to pay as high a dividend as possible to offset this effect. Our investments returns have enabled us to maintain higher rates on our share accounts. It is a sound operating practice to invest funds profitably in order to better serve your members. When a credit union provides great loan rates, a 15% interest refund on consumer loans, and furnishes loan protection insurance at no cost to the borrower, why not return as much as possible in dividends to your savers. Whose credit union is it? Jeff Rush President/ CEO Firestone Federal Credit Union Akron, Ohio

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