The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

Record Earnings For CU Movement Actually Benefit The Little Guy

On March 11th, 2013, posted in: Uncategorized by

Every so often, I get pretty frustrated with the credit union movement that I love so very much. I use the word “movement” intentionally. See, a movement is bigger than industry.

Industry is about making money, getting bigger and making profits – all of which I’m a big fan of until said profits are at the expense of the little guy. Sort of like businesses currently making record profits and sitting on trillions of dollars of cash while at the same time not hiring anybody. As a 401K owner, I’m pretty happy. As a concerned citizen, not so much.

A movement is about compassion, caring, and the betterment of a situation. Movements incite emotion to involve people in a solution that works to better the world in which we live. See, credit unions are a movement. We’ve got “movement” written all over us. As an example, “Bank Transfer Day” (a movement) was born out of this idea that credit unions provide return to members to improve people’s standard of living and better their lifestyle. Conversely, the national “too big to fail” banks are all about being in industry, i.e. making profits. See the difference?

Now back to my frustration. Our national trade association and our regulator/insurer announced through a formal press release last week that credit unions made “$8.5B in record earnings” during 2012. Has an “industry” sort of sound to it, don’t you think? The banking industry wants us taxed because we already act like a bank, i.e. have “record earnings.” I’m sure they have this press release already circulating on Capitol Hill.

I guess I’m more frustrated with how they said it than what they said. The fact is that credit unions return ALL of the money we earn to our members. So, making $8.5B is a good thing. That’s the cooperative business model in all of its glory. But society is conditioned and, quite frankly, frustrated with reading about corporate profits. From the working man’s perspective, it’s just one more example of “the man sticking it to the little guy.” OMG! Credit unions may be viewed as “the man.” Shame on us!

I’m going to take some poetic license and try to clean up what was meant to be said from the perspective of just a guy out here pedaling fast every day to make our members’ lives a little bit better. What they meant to say was that credit unions “returned more” to their members than ever before. They meant to say that the cooperative credit union movement is alive and well and giving back to our members at a record pace in 2012. Continuing on, they wanted to re-emphasize that because credit unions are not paying federal income tax, it has allowed for the working people that call their home Main Street USA a chance to truly be the beneficiary.

They wanted to say that we are safe, stable and exude a passion for serving people. I’m sure they wanted to share that, through all of the difficulties in the economy, credit unions remain focused on providing the best possible services for those people who entrust their paychecks and savings with us.

They probably wanted to say that the credit union movement has provided permanent economic stimulus for just over 100 years in the United States.

That’s what they wanted to say – I’m pretty sure.

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