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CHICAGO – After three days of listening to experts on the regulatory, lending and services sides, attendees at NASCUS’ 2005 annual conference got the chance to hear from top management from the national credit union associations – both federal and state – on the major issues they’re dealing with. Leading off the discussion during the Credit Union Leadership Forum, NAFCU President/CEO Fred Becker verbalized what credit unions are experiencing daily. “The credit union community is more challenged than in the past, from bank attacks, Congress, the media and the courts,” said the NAFCU leader. “We’re also dealing with the conversion issue now. As we go into the future, we should think about `united we stand, divided we fall.’” On the state-charter side, NASCUS President/CEO Mary Martha Fortney said looking ahead, CU governance, improving the state-charter credit union charter, and “making sure state regulators are educated as best as they can be” lead the association’s priority list. For the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL), executive director Susan Newton said dealing with the banker attacks and protecting CUs’ tax exemption are at the top of the list. Banks, she said, are trying to limit the products and services credit unions can offer members, and on that AACUL is focused on helping leagues enrich their offering. The association has also appointed a task force that will soon be releasing a white paper on the charter conversion issue. CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica told attendees, when you take tough situations like rising oil pricing, the continuing war in Iraq, and mix those with upcoming elections, “Credit unions will have one of the most active years in Washington when you combine these various concerns and tensions and then mix in banks’ willingness to do everything they can to put us out of business.” Mica told attendees pointedly that, “I don’t believe the rhetoric” about how credit unions are converting because that’s what members want. “You can listen to the lawyers talk about this all they want about how it’s good for the credit union. The regulators’ time will be to judge what’s good for public policy. There’s a need for the private sector and the public sector. When millions of dollars go into the pockets of the few, that may be legal, but there will be some sort of public accountability.” Mica urged state regulators to “ask what’s best for public policy, your community and constituency,” and he strongly warned them “there will be repercussions. What the law says and what people think are two different things.” -

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