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As always, thanks for the great news and commentary from Credit Union Times. The June 28th issue reminded me again that banks and credit unions are deeply divided, yet I cringe when I see terms like “reformed banker” in reference to bankers who have gone to work at credit unions. I think we make a mistake when we use terms like that. I’m afraid that we are building a bias against banks and therefore close our minds to both opportunities and new ideas. Credit unions are missing some opportunities to work with banks. And I think in some ways banks have a better mechanism for dealing with underperformance. There are bank leaders like Harris Simmons who disagree with us and are working to impose taxation on credit unions. But that does not mean that banks are bad organizations. It also does not mean that it is in our best interest to reject all affiliations with banks or bankers. I recall that when I was on the board of the CO-OP we asked our owners to vote on whether to let banks into the CO-OP. I thought it was a good idea. Adding banks to the CO-OP would add more surcharge-free, deposit taking ATMs to the CO-OP. It would add more cardholders that would use credit union ATMs. The proposition was voted down. I think the primary reason was the strong bias against banks within the credit union movement. I think we cut off our nose to spite our face.

SAFE Credit Union has had great success with the bankers we have hired. They are member oriented, well trained, and they are great credit union advocates. I don’t like the term “reformed banker.” It implies that bankers have mistreated their customers or otherwise transgressed. Lately there has been some discussion that CEO jobs have gone to bankers. If a banker is the best person for the job then that’s the right choice. Let us worry instead about those credit unions that are lead by CEOs that are not meeting their members’ needs.

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