Friday, April 19, 2013

The Credit Union Difference—One of Principles, Not Profits

Back in mid-March, the Credit Union Times carried a front page story on Chip Filson and his petition for NCUA board members to be motivated by the unique contributions and needs of a cooperative business.

The article included comments from several credit union executives, two of which struck a chord with me. One was Randy Karnes, CEO of CU Answers, who said Congress didn’t create the credit union charter because the nation needed “nice banks.” He pointed to the cooperative principles as the defining element which makes the structure of credit unions different from banks.

Henry Meier, associate general counsel for the Credit Union Association of New York was the second. Henry suggested that those advocating for the cooperative structure to play a larger role in the credit union industry seem to be promoting it for its own sake.

Hearing the comments of both executives took me back down memory lane into the corporate credit union environment. There, as I rubbed elbows with right-brainers and left brainers alike, I began to realize more and more how important it was to find a course of harmony between the cooperative principles and the principles of asset/liability management, if a credit union was to be truly faithful to its “soul” purpose.