Converting Allows Growth and Member Benefits to Continue

As a credit union, many are currently faced with slowing growth to stay in compliance with the higher credit union capital requirements. The slow down would not be necessary as a bank. Slowing growth involves reducing rates on deposit accounts and has the undesirable effect of encouraging members to move banking relationships elsewhere. Although increasing loan rates and fees helps mitigate the need to slow growth, a credit union’s competitiveness and new account acquisition strategies would suffer. These strategies underwrite adding member conveniences, like new branches, as well as support ongoing high levels of member responsiveness. Branch development requires account and deposit acquisition to cover operational costs and helps make services more cost effective for all members. But, branch expansion must be supported by capital. Lack of capital slows growth and delays branch development, thus reducing convenience for existing members, and delays the hiring of new employees and infrastructure development which supports economic recovery.

Remaining a credit union and living with capital constraints will mean putting a stop to growth, turning away new members, lowering the rates offered on deposits and raising the rates charged on loans. Moreover, the facts challenge the assertion that credit unions have an inalienable pricing advantage over banks, as some observers would have you believe. Many banks and other financial institutions charge no fees whatsoever on basic products like checking accounts, or offer savings yields well in excess of the average credit union.

The credit union capital disadvantage is widely acknowledged by credit union industry leaders. For example, Dan Mica, President of Credit Union National Association, recently wrote, "Credit unions are indeed burdened by an inappropriate system of prompt corrective action, which requires them to hold even more capital than a bank despite their typically lower risk profile." John Annaloro, president of the Washington Credit Union League, said in a press release that recent (bank) conversions are representative of the "fundamental weaknesses in the overall national credit union charter that needlessly restrict capital accumulation and business lending." Mica remarked that he was "heartened" by legislation proposed to reform PCA.