Soon after the news hit of NCUA’s approval of the field-of-membership (FOM) expansion, I took to social media to opine. “As credit unions collectively celebrate NCUA’s FOM ruling, somewhere a few disgruntled bankers are drafting their stark opposition to an increase in consumer choices. #IfYouCan’tBeatThemSueThem” I took to all the social media platforms- Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In- to share my sentiments. Initially, my post was met with lukewarm reception. You know how social media can work, garner a few likes, some comments, and amass just enough attention to arouse vacuous satisfaction inside.
Late in the evening, the night got juicy when a Facebook friend who rarely interacts with me decided to take offense to what he considered to be a snide and acrimonious comment. Who knew I had a petulant banker hiding in the woodwork as a Facebook friend? Playing indoor soccer for Real Mediocre, a team of washed-up, bumbling has-beens in Raleigh, was sure to harvest a full variety of teammates and new Facebook friends.
He started the exchange innocently enough by asking that I let him know “when credit unions start paying taxes?” Off the cuff, I responded “will do. Let me know when banks start catering to their customers and not their shareholders.” And, away we went… back and forth, exchanging blow for blow, his jabs were countered with my combination jab and heavy undercut.
I’ll spare you of the entire exchange, but things got particularly fiery when he asked if I was working for free and he insisted banks were no different than credit unions. This is after-all the very crux of banker’s beef with credit unions isn’t it: a belief that the tax exemption provides an unlevel playing field for credit unions when they are acting homogenously to banks, anyhow.
And this is when I took to offense. Credit unions function as banks in the same way Trump functions like Hillary (or vice-versa, not a political endorsement here!). I cited the fundamental difference of credit unions operating and strategizing from a desire to improve the financial well-being of their members, rather than deepen the pockets of their shareholders. I cited how a comparison between a typical bank and credit union will show vast differences between fee structures, interest rates, and deposit rates. I also noted how credit unions are often the only place the underserved can get financing or checking accounts because most banks deem them too risky. I mentioned the community involvement of credit unions and a yearning to give back to the communities they serve. Lastly, I mentioned the most l-admirable bonus dividend that some credit unions pay to their members at year-end (returning a portion of the interest paid on loans to the member) and asked if any banks ever do that.
It was a telltale sign the discussion was not going well when he soon removed me as a Facebook friend. The petulant banker went with the straight friend removal rather than the trusty unfollow (*sidebar- the “unfollow” was one of Facebook’s greatest enhancements allowing users to control their newsfeed without offending). Contrarily, the straight removal of a Facebook friend is done for impact– a heavy-handed forget you and the horse you came in on.
And with that, RIP to my former banker Facebook friend. We’ll pour one out for ya, homie.
Admittedly when I can no longer defend my argument, I’ve been guilty of copping out by checking out before too. Bravo to the NCUA board for modernizing FOM rules and giving consumers more choices on where they want to bank.