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ARLINGTON, Va. — When it comes to clout for the credit union industry in Washington, two voices are definitely better than one, NAFCU President Fred Becker said last week.He said two trade associations enable credit unions to be an effective counterbalance to the banking industry, which has two main trade groups, the American Bankers Association and the Independent Community Bankers of America.“There are enough credit unions for two groups,” he said during a dinner speech to the Metropolitan Area Credit Union Management Association. “There is a long history in this country of diverse opinions. There is no one voice in lots of areas.”Becker, who answered questions from Credit Union Times Editor-in-Chief Sarah Snell Cooke, noted that NAFCU had taken the lead in persuading Congress to increase the lending capability of the Central Liquidity Facility. But he also noted that the two associations have worked together to ensure parity for credit unions in the Troubled Assets Relief Program and their recent joint statement on the need for supplemental capital.Earlier this year, several executives of credit unions that each have several billion dollars in assets issued a white paper calling for the consideration of a merger between CUNA and NAFCU, saying that it would save money and raise the industry’s profile. NAFCU has rejected the idea while CUNA is open to it.Becker also noted that although credit unions were being hurt by the current recession, banks were being more adversely affected. He said the number of banks is getting smaller at a faster pace than credit unions are declining.He pointed out that in recent years credit unions have become more visible and this is a mixed blessing, and the mainstream press doesn’t always understand the nuances of credit unions.“Credit unions have come of age. The good news is credit unions are more visible. The bad news is credit unions are more visible,” he said.–cmarx@cutimes.com

Peter Westerman

Credit Union Times

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