The Arrogance Of Those Who Claim To Guard The Reputation Of The Industry

NCUA chair Debbie Matz does not understand that in member-owner cooperatives, it is the consumer who decides what is relevant or not.


I did not have to read past NCUA chairman Debbie Matz's first quote in the Credit Union Times article "Matz: Home-Based CUs Are History" to understand what is wrong with a large part of our cooperative system today. Matz has decided she should guard the reputation of our industry and what is relevant from her office on high. She has decided “somebody’s home” does not meet her imposed standards. She might as well has have said “somebody’s community” is not relevant or “some people” are not relevant. She might as well have said only credit unions that she and her central planners in Washington, DC, deem significant should be credit unions at all.

What Matz does not understand about the idea of member-owner cooperatives is that it is the consumer who organizes and breathes life into an organization that decides what is relevant. As of late, Matz and the other NCUA board members seem ready to accept that our cooperative financial service industry is nothing more than mere banking, and we should rush toward an agenda that mimics everybody else — one that will certainly eat through the heart and soul of why we exist as an industry.

What next? A mandate from the NCUA on what is the relevant employee size, the template for acceptable facilities, or the proper makeup of board members and their required diversity, academic background, community standing, ...

I understand this is a small point for many credit unions. I also understand it makes sense to build businesses that are efficient for the NCUA to interact with. However, I tire of those who lack respect for the ideals of cooperative business design and think their role in our system is to make sure the system fits into a for-profit or otherwise unrelated business structure. Will we ever have a regulator that understands the spirit of our industry? Our industry is precious to our economic system; it is precious to the future of the American consumer that hopes for alternatives in financial service banking designs.

Matz likens home-based credit unions to "buggy whips” Good grief. It is our current NCUA board system — the appointment process, board members' lack of ability to act like board members instead of bureaucratic rubber-stamping seat warmers, and a regulator that no longer sees cooperative ownership as the significant factor to consider when trying to insure against the risk of failure — that needs to step up to be more useful. Good luck to us all if the NCUA board chair can this simply and easily dismiss the right to organize and be a credit union.