Various segments of credit unions are in great denial regarding the world around them. Considerable hand-wringing takes place over the issues of industry consolidation and why more credit unions aren’t being formed. The reality is many can’t–and shouldn’t–stay in business.

The issue has nothing to do with the asset size of the credit union but actual quality service and understanding of and ties to the community or field of membership it serves. For smaller credit unions, it particularly helps to have the support of the sponsor for space and other resources. But when they’re creative and resourceful, credit unions can accomplish great things even without those things. I caught up recently with Gregg Stockdale of 1st Valley FCU who’s doing just that at $37 million in assets.

Even SAFE CU CEO Henry Wirz, who often writes about the downfall of the small credit union, agreed on that point, though he still contends a larger credit union can do it more efficiently. I concede the point but is efficiency always better? It goes back to what you consider service. McDonald’s serves decent coffee efficiently, but Starbucks is still booming at twice the cost. Many local coffee houses are faring well in the shadows of these two giants, too.

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