From the Field: Concerns About Leadership for CU America

The following email recently landed. The writer lists multiple concerns which reflect a lack of vision for the system. My experience is that his concerns are widely shared. Following used with permission:

I find myself squirming about another CU Times article pushing mergers.

  • A month or so ago I was talking with an Ohio CU CEO who shocked me with the tale that the NCUA was pushing them toward dropping their State charter because the CU was informed they would never be a candidate to acquire a CU in a merger if they did not fall back into the Federal ranks.
  • A few months before that I was contacted that my credit union was “ripe” and a good candidate for merger and wanted to know if I was interested further.
  • A year before that we were pulled from consideration from a perfect merger candidate when the NCUA put a rep in their shop to “facilitate” and pushed it toward a fed charter CU.
  • All of these things have been like an itch I can’t scratch. Here are my thoughts on lack of vision and these pressures:
    • I thought it was about member choice? – doesn’t the Boards know that they are the representatives and should stand up for their base’s wishes?
    • If CU Times and NCUA are going to champion mergers, why do they need MORE operating budget?
    • Why are well capitalized smaller, even the tiniest, cu’s “ripe” for anything?
    • What happened to the unique circumstance that brought them in to existence? – why is that not relevant now?
    • Why do CU leaders not recognize the risk to loss of tax status if we just keep consolidating, homogenizing, embracing banking attitudes and strategies, not evangelizing currently recognizable differences.
    • Why does the national leadership groups keep beating this drum? – what is the agenda and long-term vision for CU America?
    • Is CUNA Management school really focused on creating opportunities for CU rising stars in an environment that is saying less and less opportunities will be available?
    • When did CU leaders agree not to be cooperative and eat our own?
    • Can we get efficient with process and products and investments and keep our uniqueness out front?
    • NCUA approved 50 mergers in the 3rd quarter 2019 (138 Q3 2018) – what was the value gained for the industry?
    • Growth and value are not the same thing
  • These may seem like rantings with no clear meaning/point/resolutions. I may not be able to articulate the concern but my hackles are up and the lack of national CU leadership recognition and the media that pander to it are making me feel like I put on that thick scratchy wool sweater that you have to wear to a relative’s house because they gave it to you.

2 Replies to “From the Field: Concerns About Leadership for CU America”

  1. I like tiramisu and lasagna, you wonder and are eager to get to the layers underneath. This “ranting” got me thinking of what are the next few layers. First; is the CEO pool split into 2 distinct groups? – drivers and operators. Those who lead with visioned purpose vs those who transact the business. I think both should incorporate traits of the other but which should be the heavier weighted style to get us cooperatively forward? Second; is it easier for national leadership to identify the operators and leverage mergers thru that channel? Which tract is being promoted for the next generation of CU leadership and why? Are regulatory overreach and burden pushing us to be transactors? OK – one more layer: Do today’s Boards recognize their CEO’s leadership style and articulate vision and purpose expectations for the survival of the memberships’ choice? Will national leadership get behind prioritizing evolution of CEOs versus mergers that degrade opportunities and uniqueness? Kinda like when we started baking this dish called Credit Union

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