Worth the Expense?

Credit Unions debate paying for directors’ spouses to accompany volunteers pursuing Credit Union-related education

by Charlene Komar Storey

If a spouse or guest accompanies a director on an educational trip, who should pay their costs? In 1995, the National Credit Union Administration set out guidelines for whether and when a federal credit union can provide the means for a director’s guest to attend, and CUs are acting within them, based on their own philosophies.

CUES member Deb Evans, CEO of 9,800-member, $90 million Embark Credit Union in Great Falls, Mont., investigated many credit union approaches before her CU instituted a formal policy about paying for a spouse to accompany a director pursuing education.

“Some CUs have a policy that they do cover spouses’ expenses because they felt that the networking spouses do is beneficial. Some never cover it under any circumstances,” Evans says. Two years of discussion led to a compromise at Embark CU.

“I will preface this by saying that my board generally does not travel out of our region at all. I have had limited success in persuading one or two to attend specialized conferences in about six years,” Evans says. “Our expense policy allows spouse/guests expense reimbursement only at in-state or specific regional events. It does not cover out-of-state conferences for spouses/guests. Several board members have tried to convince me that we would get more out-of-state participation if spouses were covered, but if the spouses don’t attend the local events, I don’t see why the credit union should pay for out-of-state conferences that end up being held in vacation locales.

“We set the tone for expenses with this policy statement at the front end of our policy: ‘The credit union recognizes that training and development is an important part of our continued growth and success in an increasingly complex industry. While many activities are available locally or through online or other means, it is expected that national conference attendance and travel will be necessary from time to time.

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