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Opinions

CUs Must Stay Focused On Mission, Not Seek Excuses For Failure

I’d like to comment on the latest events taking place due to the Fed’s actions on interest rates, or the economy, whichever is easier to handle and write about. Everybody seems to have been waiting for this as an opportunity to improve profitability at their shop. Why not take this as an opportunity to improve your position in the market place, just as real estate lending CUSOs are pushing for in the lending arena?

Everybody talks about how bad banks are, etc., etc., but why not take this opportunity to gain market share from the BofAs and all banks, period, by keeping your dividend rates as high as possible. Grow your credit union!! There are so many rate shoppers out there nowadays that it upsets me to turn them down because they don’t qualify for membership at my CU.

Is it that loyalty is back on? I have heard so many times that financial services are a commodity. Other credit unions have lowered their rates so much that they are just as bad as banks’ rates, if not worse.

I invite you to take this opportunity to give back to your members, gain market share, gain your members back, and not just to keep your existing members.

Remember what your founding fathers were after by founding your CU.

I guess nowadays most CEOs are more concerned about the bottom line, regulator’s opinion and CAMEL rating, and why not say it – their bonus!! – than the real reason they were hired. I think it’s OK to give up a little capital and sacrifice a little bit of earnings for the credit union and cooperative philosophy. The economic situation we live in should be seen as a great opportunity to redeem ourselves as an industry. Of course, that’s only acceptable and possible if you didn’t choose to play the game all others played in the RE arena.

Because we are a church-based credit union, we are immune to what’s going on, but I feel that if we stick to the real reasons we all were founded, and remember the times in which we were founded in (Great Depression), we would be sitting very pretty today and thriving like “heaven sent” to our members. Have you heard of the INGs lately? Do a survey and see where they stand against your credit union in dividend rates. Have you heard of 0.00% intro rate on credit cards lately? All I’m trying to say is that we, as an industry, must concentrate and focus on our mission and not let ourselves be driven by the short-term satisfaction, don’t let ourselves be driven by the INGs, JP Morgans, Chase, etc.

We can control our destiny. At least, I plan to control ours, whether the economy is up or down. Let’s not look for excuses to justify our financial performance. Let’s not say we are the credit unions that had no losses this year, but rather say we are some of those that have survived and thrived through all of this and all the turbulent times because we believed and practiced the true credit union philosophy. Consistency, not greed.

Ramon Noperi, President & CEO

United Methodist FCU, Montclair, N.J.

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Credit Union Journal encourages reader feedback. Letters to the Editor can be sent to Managing Editor Lisa Freeman at lfreeman<at>cujournal.com. Letters can also be faxed to 561-832-2939 or submitted online at www.cujournal.com. (c) 2008 The Credit Union Journal and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.cujournal.com http://www.sourcemedia.com

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