In this issue, Credit Union Journal continues its ongoing series on how the credit union movement has evolved. The first article in the series looked at the trend of CUs that specifically avoid referring to themselves as credit unions. This next installment explores the increasing number of credit union executives who started out as banking executives.

As former NCUA Chairman Michael Fryzel wrote in a recent letter to the editor (see page 5), the growing number of former bankers-turned-CU executives isn't necessarily a bad thing. Fryzel notes that those former bankers, having seen both sides of the financial services coin, are in a unique position to see the differences — and similarities — between banks and credit unions. And if a former banker can be "converted" to become a true believer in the credit union philosophy, surely that executive can become a powerful advocate of that difference.

As Credit Union Journal has always sought to be a forum where topics of importance to credit unions can be discussed, we've asked our readers to weigh in on some of these very topics. A recent poll that ran online at www.cujournal.com asked: "Is it a competitive advantage to use 'Credit Union' in a CU's name/brand?" (See graphic at right.)

Surprisingly, only 35% agreed that: "Yes — it's the first sign that we are different from banks and other financial services." The majority of respondents chose, "No — hardly anyone knows what a credit union is; everyone 'banks.' "

But I suppose the real question is: if hardly anyone knows what a credit union is, is the answer to give up on the credit union brand — which shouldn't be confused with giving up on the credit union difference, mind you — or does it mean the credit union industry needs to work harder to brand that difference?

More recently, we posted this online poll: "The influx of former bankers now working as credit union CEOs is:" — followed by two possible responses. The vast majority (70%) agreed with the statement "A good thing — they bring more expertise and fresh eye to credit unions." The other 30% chose "A bad thing — they are diluting the credit union philosophy."

As we continue to explore how the CUs have changed and are changing, we want to hear from you — whether it's suggesting another aspect of change that we should explore, a letter to the editor on any of the existing articles (which can be emailed directly to me at lisa.freeman@sourcemedia.com) or posting a comment online at www.cujournal.com, where every article has a comments section at the bottom.

Because change isn't necessarily or automatically a bad thing. But change that isn't well-thought out, that isn't discussed, often is.

Editor in Chief Lisa Freeman can be reached at lisa.freeman@sourcemedia.com.