Credit unions love to talk about collaboration. In fact, that's what they're best at: talking about collaboration. The actual collaboration part? Not so much.
It's a tragedy in many ways, because if credit unions put more cooperation into the cooperative, the advantages are almost too numerous to list here. Certainly a reduction in back-office redundancies, a lifting of the compliance burden, and a sharing of numerous costs are just the beginning. It is, as the MBA programs will tell you, credit unions' greatest lost opportunity cost.
Credit Union Journal is proud to launch something that is just a beginning, as well; call it "opportunities recaptured." In response to all the talk about collaboration, and in the spirit of the U.N.'s International Year of Cooperatives, we have launched CUllaborationNation.com.
It isn't that credit unions haven't been willing to share information. It's just that so many of those shared resources remain in individual silos, hidden away from most folks unless you know where to look for them. And if you have to spend time searching around for them, it kind of detracts from the whole point of collaborating.
Our goal is to create a repository for as many of those resources as we can. At CUllaborationNation.com you'll find polices and procedures, white papers, research, videos of all sorts, Best Practices and much, much more.
It's a shared resource of shared resources.
Part of that sharing involves you, of course, and not just taking time to sift through all that is being made available. In the name of contributing to a cooperative community, Credit Union Journal invites you to share materials you feel would be helpful to others in the same position as your credit union.
They can be anything: a training guide, marketing materials, a policy or procedure. We welcome your questions and submissions; indeed, it is the latter that will make CUllaborationNation.com all the more valuable.
On the front page of this publication you'll see our mission printed right across the top of the page: The Newsweekly for Growth-Oriented Credit Unions. CUllaborationNation.com is the latest in that effort to help credit unions grow.
Send your input and feedback to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One person recently spoke up with some strong words about the role of smaller CUs and how they fit into the larger picture.
In the Feb. 6 issue of Credit Union Journal, there was an interesting observation shared by Dan Wagner of Lisbon Farmers CU. Wagner was profiled for the custom guitars he makes when not managing the credit union. But he offered some insightful thoughts when asked about the future of the CU community.
In case you missed it, Wagner said, "I think the best way to support average people in this country is to have a very strong credit union system in place, and I don't mean mega-sized organizations that are the result of merger after merger. If we truly want local economies to excel and stay strong and represent 'economic freedom,' local control should not be sacrificed so 'bigger' can have a better looking balance sheet. We are not-for-profit and should never forget that members own credit unions, and if we are truly doing our jobs we will do our best for rich and poor alike.
"We need to separate ourselves from profit-driven policies of financial institutions that serve greed and not membership needs. We need to remember that credit unions were founded to help average hard-working people hang on to more of their hard-earned cash," Wagner continued. "We need to be fair and have members' best interest in mind when making administrative decisions."
Turns out Wagner doesn't just make guitars, he knows a thing or two about lyrics, too.
It's time for the adults to step up and settle things in North Carolina, where NCUA has just finished second (and surprise) examinations of every state charter. At issue is a disagreement over whether a credit union can disclose its CAMEL rating.
State Employees asked the state regulator if it could, the state regulator got the OK from the Attorney General's office, and it approved the move. Federal law prohibits the disclosure of CAMEL ratings and when NCUA and the North Carolina Credit Union Department couldn't come to an agreement, the federal agency played the re-examination card-because if one exam is a joy, how could two be anything less?
Perhaps NCUA felt that was the best way to make its point, but it seems perhaps it could have threatened to do so, first, before Fed Ex'ing a letter saying the examiners were on their way. NCUA has some legitimate points; disclosing CAMEL ratings opens big cans of wormy issues, beginning with threats to consumer confidence in situations where members aren't going to take time to understand the details of why a "2" became a "3."
It's time for both regulators to smooth out the humps in this CAMEL.
Frank J. Diekmann can be reached at email@example.com.