I feel compelled to respond to Editor-in-Chief Paul Gentile’s column in the Oct. 26 issue concerning credit union-to-bank conversions. Now, for the record, I’m a former banker. Indeed, a banker who once worked for a mutual savings bank that went public and was subsequently sold. The sale took place about four years after the conversion. And yes, I confess, I did derive personal financial gain as a result of this process. I’ve been in the credit union industry five years and am in senior management. Given my background, it is not surprising that I am not an anti-charter conversion advocate. Instead, I champion a very simple premise that free enterprise should be allowed to occur within the market place without undue interference from self-interest groups. Most objections to charter conversions come not from member-owners, rather from groups who allege they represent the members but, in reality, are primarily interested in their own survival. Let’s face it, as the number of credit unions dwindle so too does the number of job positions at NAFCU, CUNA and NCUA. Of course the potential for lost jobs is also accompanied by a reduction in revenues generated via dues and assessments. Now at the risk of being tarred and feathered, I question how it can be suggested that those wishing to convert are evil profit seekers while those who act to protect their own jobs and power base are well-intended consumer advocates. The fact is the board and management of each individual credit union is uniquely able to chart the path that best suits their institution’s ability to serve their constituency. It is neither the place nor the role of any outside group to initiate a PR campaign that champions their own self-interest while simultaneously giving the appearance of advancing the cause of members. This is particularly nauseating when the self-interest group paints members as being indifferent or ignorant. Richard Stout SVP, Operations Charter Oak Federal Groton, Conn.

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