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On Nov. 18 you published an article online (www.cutimes.com) by Heather Anderson in which Peter Duffy addressed the issue of investment bank conversions to banks and insurance company acquisitions of banks as yet another sign that banks enjoy a competitive edge. Duffy is quoted as saying, “Insurance companies were competing head to head with banks, but they couldn’t take in deposits or raise capital like banks could. So, they decided to level the playing field [by buying banks].”Duffy later goes on to say that credit unions have been asking him about bank charters because they want to prepare for the possibility of unfavorable regulatory reform. These comments are clearly designed to give the impression that bank charters are so highly desirable that credit unions that do not consider them (and convert) are shirking their duty to their members.Nowhere in the article does Duffy explain that the real reasons for insurance companies buying banks and investment banks becoming banks is to gain access to billions of dollars in relief from the Treasury bailout plan.In today’s environment, natural person credit unions are doing relatively well except in areas where they have fallen victims of the real estate bubble and financial meltdown that was created by the big banks, mortgage brokers and investment bankers on main street and Wall Street. And, rather than “level the playing field” as suggested by Duffy, converting to a bank charter has become even more expensive as banks will now get to pay for the losses they and the FDIC are experiencing for many years to come.Thanks but no thanks to Mr. Duffy and his charter conversion Kool-Aid; I’ll take the not-for-profit, do-the-right-thing model every day.Also, regarding your article appearing the same day on the Realtors and their lack of awareness of credit unions as real estate financing alternatives, while I think there is a fair amount of validity to their lack of understanding, I also think it has a lot to do with “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” in real-world business dealings. Credit union folks don’t spend much time wining and dining Realtors, and they don’t see them at the local civic club meetings either. That is where business gets done, and we’re not there.

Peter Westerman

Credit Union Times

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