Posts Tagged ‘banks’

Credit union merging into a bank

August 25, 2009

I just had a conversation with Ms. Debra Trautman of the Maine CU League/Synergent, and she reminded me that the CU-to-Bank Conversion of Kennebec Valley FCU (KVFCU) is coming to a conclusion soon. I was first alerted to this conversion by Christian Mullins at BarCampBank NewEngland 1.5 years ago.

Here is Christian’s blog on it

Here’s a Kenebec Journal article (Jan 09)

Some passionate debate on The CU Loop’s blog

Recent news about the battle from members not to merge KVFCU into a bank from Morning Sentinel

Lucille Cloutier’s Letter to the Editor questions what members get in the merger

Web site created by the Members Matters Group (with assistance from the Maine CU League) to help the members save their credit union

If you know someone in Maine who is a member of this CU, please let them know about this situation! Ballots were mailed to members today!

Let’s not let another angel (in Maine) lose her wings

October 21, 2008

At EverythingCU’s open house last Thursday, we had the pleasure of a visit from Christian Mullins. I got to meet Christian when he attended the inaugural BarCampBank NewEngland. Christian is one of the most well-versed people I know when it comes to credit unions and mergers. He has spent significant time in Mad-town, and now lives just outside of Portland, Maine. By virtue of his knowledge and location, he has a front row seat to the proceedings of KV FCU trying to merge itself into a local bank, Kennebec Savings Bank in Augusta (ME). I haven’t heard much attention so far in the CU blogosphere about this issue, so I recommend that you take a peek at Christian’s latest CU Potential blog post.

Should we get fired up every time a CU merges out of existence? (Even if into another CU?) Yes. Because the entire POINT of a credit union is to bring YOUR money, and YOUR financial institution under YOUR local control. Every merger is a step away from the goal. Every time a credit union is merged out of existence, an angel loses her wings.

That’s my take. What’s yours?

Credit Unions: Industry or Movement?

May 2, 2008

It’s pretty amazing when you look around the credit union landscape and realize there are so many passionate, hard-working professionals who are striving to make their members’ lives a little bit better every day.

Recently I had some private email discussion that made me think back to Brent Dixon’s excellent OpenSource CU post on CUs being an Industry vs. Movement. When subsequently the CU Skeptic came on the scene, and got a certain degree of flame-mail for his stance and anonymity, I had to come to his defense to say that his voice is important and likely representative of many others. There are people, both inside the industry and outside, who say that credit unions are really the same as banks… that we are just pushing more debt and doing whatever it takes to bring dollars into the institution no matter what the impact to members (e.g. fees generated via courtesy pay, tap the equity in your home for any purpose), in which case we are no different than banks, right?

Please know that there are few people more passionate about the credit union movement than I am. But more and more people within the movement are concerned about a bank-like attitude that is pervading throughout credit union land, especially at larger credit unions. And they might be afraid to speak up for fear of losing their jobs. Are large CUs losing their way? Are they a black eye to the industry/movement? Or is a more bank-like approach inevitable with growth?

Or is it that we are just an errand that people appreciate even less than dentistry, and we just create tons of junk mail in the pursuit of making a buck? Are we becoming cutthroat competitors of each other who only cooperate when its convenient? Is cooperation now an anachronism?

If we have lost our way as a movement, who is at fault, our members for not caring about the credit union difference anymore, or our fault for not telling our story in a way that resonates with them?

Update: I just discovered (via comments to the CU Skeptic’s About page) that our Irish friends are wrestling with these same issues.

(If you are a credit union professional, and want to respond in a forum where only your credit union peers will view it, you can do so on here.)

Offering banking text messag… errr, nevermind.

October 19, 2007

In July, I wrote about what I would like to have as banking or credit union consumer… the ability to text message my bank or credit union with “balance” and get my current account balance sent back to my cell phone. I figured it might be one or two years before my credit union offered it. One executive of a 55,000 member credit union said he doesn’t see a need for it, his members are not asking for it. (Note to CU executive: How are you not seeing the MILLIONS of cell phones used by EVERYONE around you? Who doesn’t have a cell phone at this point?)

But now I realize that banks and credit unions are perfectly fine not offering it. Because the new generation of Personal Financial Management (PFM) sites (Wesabe, Mint, Geezeo) will do the job nicely on your credit union or bank account, bypassing the financial institution entirely. So credit unions and banks, sit back, relax, and let the new generation do it for you. No problem. I’ve already signed up on Geezeo, and I may check out Wesabe and Mint just to find out the differences between these online PFMs. It took me all of five minutes to sign up on Geezeo and verify my cell phone for text messaging balances, and I never had to leave my home. Future blog post: Why PFMs will soon rule the world. (Quicken and MS Money are now officially 15-minutes ago.)

And if you don’t think that online PFMs are going to take off and skyrocket, that’s probably what you thought about P2P lending… who would ever do that? Just look at Prosper’s growth rate… at the current rate, in one year, Prosper’s membership will make them larger than the third largest CU in the nation. And that’s in only their first 2.5 years of existence.

New BarCampBanks update

October 18, 2007

I just had a great Flashmeeting with Frederic Baud in Paris and Matt Iverson in the Bay Area. (Love the Flashmeeting interface…. good stuff.) Frederic is interested in helping Matt get BarCampBankSF off the ground, and helping me get BarCampBankNewEngland off the ground. So here’s what came out of the virtual meeting:

BarCampBankSF: Matt Iverson of BoulevardR has interest from Jason Knight of Wesabe, as well as the Mint people and Bryan Sims of Brass, in being a part of the event. That should be enough to get the ball rolling. He’s thinking about doing it on the Sunday before President’s Day, so that’s February 17. He’s looking for local Bay Area help in organizing the event and finding a venue, and he’s thinking about holding it in or around the UC Berkeley campus.

BarCampBankNewEngland: I’ve talked with Peggy Powell, the director for America’s Credit Union Museum, located in Manchester, New Hampshire, on the site of the very first CU created in the United States, and we’re looking good for holding the event there. I think it’s mahvelous that we will be discussing the current revolution in personal finance at the site where the CU revolution in personal finance was launched 99 years ago. At this point, I’m thinking April 26, 2008, and would love any input/feedback on that date for coming to New Hampshire for the event.

I’ve got interest from several parties for being a part of this event, including Ron Shevlin of Epsilon, Peter Glyman and Shawn Ward from Geezeo, and Doug Williams, and possibly Trey Reeme, and Matt Dean of Trabian. If you would like to participate, please put your name down on the BarCampBankNewEngland page.

A Love Note on Your Special Day

October 17, 2007

So here we are on the eve of International Credit Union Day; a time to reflect and celebrate the credit union movement. In just over one month, it will be 99 years since the first credit union was founded in the United States.

In these days of trying times for credit unions, where interest margins are being squeezed, technology is progressing at dizzying speeds, and community charters are making competition stiffer than ever, I thought I would write a little love note to Edward Filene, Alphonse Desjardins, about why I get so fired up and passionate about this crazy movement, and why I love the people in it and those fighting to keep it fresh, relevant, and successful.

Consumers have changed dramatically over the last centuy. And credit unions need to change and keep up with the times, and with what their members expect of them today. Because broad things change slowly over time, we often miss the bigger picture.

Here’s the 30,000-foot view: The first credit union in the United States was started in November of 1908, and the majority of CUs were founded during the Great Depression, despite the banking industry’s best efforts to prevent them. During all of that time, life was hard for average working people, where men worked in mills for 10 hours per day, six days a week, and took home one dollar per day. Banks did not make loans to these workers. If you were very prosperous and somehow could get a bank loan, the rates would be sky-high, in some cases 25%. Banks were only interested in commercial lending, just as many still are. Regular people were simply not able, or could not afford, to get loans.

That’s the environment in which nearly all credit unions were founded. So the larger picture is that this wild and crazy idea that we could pool our money and make loans to each other, bypassing for-profit banks… well, it WORKED. The banks HAD to become more competitive in order not to lose ALL their personal business to credit unions, and they remain neck-and-neck competitive on rates with credit unions to this day.

So if credit unions did not exist, far fewer people could get loans, and those that did would have to pay far higher rates, thus slowing down our entire economy. So THANK YOU Credit Union professionals who go to work every day to make this country stronger by helping all of us help ourselves. Membership/ownership in credit unions is REAL and truly makes a difference to all of us, even if not all of our membership fully understands how special we are, and how important the work we do is to each member we serve, the community that we live in, and our entire economy.

Thank you to each of the thousands of credit union professionals across the world making a difference every day. May every credit union thrive and flourish for another 99 years.