There is one conversation that parents universally dread having. Even if you’re not a parent you know the one, because you dreaded being on the other end of the conversation with your parents—the sex talk.

Turns out I just may have discovered the credit union equivalent to the sex talk: the competition versus collaboration talk.

Del-One FCU, Dover, Del., recently sparked this conversation when it decided to affiliate with a league other than its home state league (see page 14). When I received the $422 million credit union’s press release I realized the story isn’t about Del-One—the story is: what happens if other credit unions follow suit?

I remember lo’ these many years ago when then-NCUA Chairman Norm D’Amours railed against overlapping fields of membership, saying it would kill the cooperative spirit. I thought he was being a tad melodramatic and that competition, as a general rule, is a good thing. Indeed, that’s the very notion behind the dual-charter system: choice is good and competition between the state and federal charters is what keeps everyone on their toes.

But there is also no question that the cooperative spirit of this industry is why it’s also referred to as a movement—it is, in fact, one of the things that makes credit unions different from banks. And though competition can inspire everyone to up their games, it can make it awfully difficult for competitors to collaborate.

When we started reaching out to potential sources to talk about the bigger-picture ramifications of Del-One’s move, we had a number of people who refused to talk about it on the record and some who refused to discuss it at all.

The thing is, much like the harrowing sex talk, it’s a conversation you can’t afford to skip.

Editor in Chief Lisa Freeman can be reached at