From Being Careful What You Ask For to Not Asking for This

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Some niblets from among the Thanksgiving leftovers:

• There was a great quote recently in the Vegas Business Press worth noting. Media in Las Vegas have been giving a fairly significant amount of coverage to credit unions and related issues, reflective of the players in the market that credit unions have become. Not all the coverage has glowed like the Strip, which isn't surprising given several CU failures in the market and credit union exposure to both residential and commercial real estate problems.

One Vegas Business Press story included this observation: "Credit unions have been lobbying for years, pushing Congress to let them expand further into commercial and real estate lending with bigger loans and at greater loan volumes," Service1st Bank Chief Executive Officer Bill Martin said in an e-mail. "Be careful what you wish for."

• During the recent BAI Retail Delivery Show in Boston there were numerous breakout sessions inside the convention center over what consumers want. But as if often the case, if you just listen to some of the conversations around you, you can conduct mini focus groups of your own.

Such was the case with two workers at the convention center, who spent a good five minutes, while smoking, complaining about the cost of cashing their paychecks. Neither seemed to have a deposit account, even though scores of credit union and bank executives were walking all around them.

On the other hand, you have to be careful from whom you take your feedback. While riding solo on one of the buses between the hotel and the convention center, I got to talking with the driver, who lived in Connecticut, about his career choice. During the discussion he mentioned that he had driven a bus in all 52 states. When I responded, "All 52?" he didn't take it as a question, he took it as a point of pride. So I followed up by asking what were some of his favorite states. Among his responses: "Atlanta."

• As reported in Credit Union Journal Oct. 5, one credit union has tapped into all that angst over bank fees and pricing with one of the most effective and creative skewerings we've seen (and here's hoping they enter it into the Frankies). If you haven't visited Addison Avenue FCU's yet, make sure to do so and to watch the episodic video of a family staging an "intervention" with their "bank-addicted" son.

In the final episode, the son, coaxed on by what we assume is a bank intervention counselor, lets go of his repressed anger with one of the funniest lines I've heard when asked if there's anything he'd like to say to his bank. He takes a deep breath and lets it all out: "Every time I pay one of your exhorbitant fees it feels like one of your overpriced executives steals a little piece of my soul." And he does this venting while punching a pillow on which the word "Bank" appears. Go watch it.

• If you know anything about professional athletes, you know the only thing faster than their 40 time is the speed they can go from being a member of the privileged and financially over-served to the ranks of the rent-to-own underserved. Jocks who earned millions of dollars each season see their playing days come to an end and before they can sign another autograph they're wondering where all the money (and their entourage) have gone. Now the NFL Players' Association has announced a partnership with a company that also works with credit union members: Financial Finesse.

The Players Association says the goal is to provide a "revolutionary new financial education program that will "fully address players' and their families' financial concerns on all levels, including budgeting and savings, protecting the income they make during their football years, avoiding fraud, buying a home, retiring from football...and more."

Many NFL players may get an early glimpse of how much their lifestyles are costing, as many are projecting a "lockout," due to unresolved labor issues, for the 2011 season.

• Apparently the image of credit unions as the more friendly financial alternative isn't true everywhere. From the People-Who-Owe-Other-People-Money Dept., a recent report in the Irish Times noted, "A person who does not pay back a loan is more likely to go to prison if the debt was with a credit union rather than with a large bank."

The newspaper report went on to say, "Ahead of a conference on human rights yesterday, the director general...said the bigger banks tended to see imprisonment as useless because it did not force the person to pay the debt. Very often it is credit unions that pursue people to the point where they end up in jail."

In the last five years, the newspaper said, 1,000 people have been jailed for non-payment of debts. They spent on average 21 days in prison and when they were released, they still owed the debt.

• Received an e-mail with the subject line, "55 Secrets to Improving your Life." Am guessing "Simplifying Things" wasn't one of them.


Still want to have some of your work considered for a Frankie Award? The drop-dead deadline is Dec. 4 for examples of how your credit unions has creatively told your story or that of the credit union difference. It's easy to enter, and best of all, it's free. Send your entry or any questions to

Deadline for entries is Nov. 25.

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