Leagues Form Conversions Task Force

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The American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL) has created a task force that it says will examine and develop strategies for dealing with the issue of credit union conversions to mutual savings banks.

The task force will not be taking a position on the issue, however. Rather, said Susan Newton, executive director of the AACUL, it will form a "library of information" and resources related to conversions so that state leagues can adopt a policy if they want to. Newton said some leagues currently have a policy on how to respond to charter conversion attempts, and others do not.

The AACUL Cooperative Business Model Task Force, chaired by Mike Mercer, president/CEO of the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates, expects to have a final report completed by mid -July.

The task force will focus on four areas:

* Developing strategies to shed light on what conversions mean for the dilution of member influence and economic interest in their CU.

* Identifying changes that will further enhance the credit union charter in ways critical to the long-term viability of credit unions.

* Identifying options for leagues to implement during all stages of a conversion process.

* Creating a library of information and tools for leagues to use in addressing conversions.

Newton said that as part of the process the task force will examine positions already taken by some leagues, such as Michigan, which purchased newspaper advertising to inform members of Lake Michigan Credit Union what that CU's attempt to convert would mean, and Texas, which, other than saying it will act as a resource for members seeking information, is taking a hands-off approach to two billion-dollar CUs in that state that are seeking to convert. Newton said the task force will examine the perceptions and misconceptions related to conversions.

The key issue, said Newton, is how "do we ensure that a member's economic well-being is the first priority in a conversion." The task force will also seek to address the issues raised and reasons cited by credit unions that seek to convert or convert. "This is not about how to stop conversions or put up roadblocks," said Newton. "But we also believe the credit union charter is the best charter for serving consumers."

In addition to Mercer, other task force members are California's Dave Chatfield (who is vice chair), Michigan's Dave Adams, Washington's John Annaloro, Florida's Guy Hood, Hawaii's Dennis Tanimoto, Nebraska's Scott Sullivan, West Virginia's Ken Watts and Alabama's Gary Wolter.

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