The opinion piece written by Frank J. Diekmann in the March 18, 2013 edition of the Credit Union Journal entitled, "Why paying CU Boards Could Hurt the CU Movement," is a must read for all credit union advocates.
Mr. Diekmann's piece brings to mind the saying, "be careful what you ask for." Clearly, credit unions are, and have always been, unique financial institutions. Owned by their members and built on the cooperative principles of people helping people, they have been the source for millions of individuals to save and borrow at the best rates, establish sound credit and grow their financial wealth.
Credit unions have been the most important financial mechanism that has allowed individuals to grow into the middle class of this country enabling them to own their own homes, send their children to college and save for retirement.
Those accomplishments have been fostered by credit unions because of their principles of helping those who join, keeping members for life and making sure that when a person walks into a credit union they know they are family.
The key to credit union success may be the simple fact that they are different. Credit unions are different from other financial institutions because they are member driven, not for profit but for service, and governed by a board of volunteers that give their time because they care.
Volunteer, non-profit, member driven are key words and phrases that have driven the success of credit unions.
If credit unions now start to change what sets them apart, for example by compensating directors, it is just the start of becoming like all other financial institutions. It is the start of no longer being different.
Change is always noted, and sometimes most noted, by those who would use that type of change for their benefit.
Already there are some who say credit unions are just like banks. Paying credit union directors would just add to the list of similarities. And as some would say, if they are the same then they should be treated the same and they should be taxed.
Credit unions are different. Being different is better. Being different is how they should stay.
Michael E. Fryzel, Board Member
NCUA, Alexandria, Va.