What If CU CEOs Had To Debate For Their Jobs?

The presidential debates have breathed some life into an otherwise stale Obama/Romney presidential race in which 90% of people seem to have long ago made up their minds, and which seems to have been dragging on since leisure suits were an acceptable option.

It seems a shame we limit these debates to politics, doesn't it? The closest many of us ever get to a debate is a high school class and after that maybe haggling for an item on eBay. Today, the presidential debates really aren't much of a debate and are really just spin-controlled Q&As. But what if credit unions and their trade groups hired their presidents in the same way?


The scene: An auditorium at the local community college. On stage, the credit union's current CEO, whose four-year employment contract is up for renewal, and his challenger for the job, the vice president of a nearby credit union. Let's listen in.


Moderator: Welcome to tonight's CU Leadership Debate. Tonight we will hear from a CEO seeking a new four-year term, and from his challenger, who is seeking his first term as a CEO. We will start with the CEO who, by virtue of a coin flipped by an independent examiner, will have two minutes to respond to this opening question: Who should be leading this credit union for the next four years?

CEO: Me. But before I begin, let me thank my board for its outstanding support these past four years. They are one of the most progressive and, dare I say it, attractive boards in credit unions. They and I have worked closely together these past four years to build a foundation for a solid future. This is no time for an inexperienced captain at the helm of our ship. Our members deserve and expect more....

Challenger: And more is just what they'll get when I'm CEO. But before I begin let me, too, pay tribute to a board that deserves leadership that's up to the same level as the board's own outstanding guidance, guidance whose only equal is the individual handsomeness and beauty of each board member. But these board members, along with members of the credit union, also deserve more: more products, more services, more locations...

CEO: More, more, more? But how are you going to pay for all that. It's the members' money. You're like the backseat driver saying if you were driving the road would be smoother and the radio would play better songs and the car would never run out of gas, but you never say how that would happen when you take the wheel.


Moderator: It's a good point. How would you do that?

Challenger: Let me say this about that. This CEO has driven the credit union car right into the ditch. Over the past four years ROA has declined, rates paid on CDs, which our senior members must depend on for income to pay for food and electricity, are practically zero, which means those same seniors are hungry and in the dark; they were eating their Early Bird specials with the lights on when this CEO took over!

And worst of all, this CEO lost money in a corporate credit union in a faraway place. That's right; he took money out of our community and gave it to a corporation. You know what else was a corporation? Enron. And do you know where that corporate was located? In our state capital. Guess what else is in the state capital? Big government! So the only logical conclusion is this CEO gave members' money to a corporation like Enron and then the money was lost in government waste.

CEO: Now hold on right there. We invested in a corporate like just about every CU, including my opponent's own credit union. We invested conservatively, as did that corporate, in mortgages, and...

Challenger (under his breath): Can you say subprime...

CEO: Excuse me, but how can you work with a board when you violate Roberts Rules of Order? It's my turn. We invested in peoples' homes, and we all know what happened. We are mirrors to our communities, and everyone felt the downturn, including my opponent's CU, which, and I'm just sayin', had to change its name.


Moderator: Yes, what about that name change?

CEO (interrupting): And what does that new name even mean? It's not a word.

Challenger: Our original sponsor manufactured board games and...

CEO: You know what board games are all about? Bringing families together. And you've abandoned Ameican families...

Challenger: What?! The sponsor went out of business! We hired a name change consultant and picked a name that is 22% Greek, 31% Latin, 18% local Native American word, and 24% English.

CEO: Ha! Your numbers don't even add up to 100%. And a lot of your name is foreign. Foreign! Not American. Who changes names? People who need aliases. And I think we all know who needs an alias...


Moderator: OK, that's enough. Let's conclude with one final question. Which of you knows the most CU acronyms and abbreviations so that you can keep the board confused?


Challenger: CMO, AFAC, MBL, LTS


Challenger: LICU, OFAC, EMV...

Frank J. Diekmann can be reached at fdiekmann@cujournal.com.