CINCINNATI -- There was more to the 1993 Credit Union National Association convention than seminars, giveaways, and a closing night concert by Lou "Lady Love" Rawls.

Both CUNA, the trade association representing 90% of credit unions and the convention host, and the National Credit Union Administration, the federal regulator, made announcements that will shape their organizations for years to come.

Ralph S. Swoboda, president of the trade group, said CUNA would take off the gloves against some banks and the American Bankers Association in response to their legal attacks on credit union expansion.

While plans are not yet solid, the trade group may use a three-pronged attack against the banks. It includes challenging legislation favored by bankers and commenting on bank charters, mergers, and expansions. Also, it may launch a public-relations campaign to inform consumers of banker attacks, and provide legal assistance in lawsuits filed against credit unions or the regulator.

Mr. Swoboda stressed that not all banks are targets, and he encouraged credit unions to discuss the lawsuits with banks with whom they do business.

Calendar Conversion

Meantime, top regulator Roger Jepsen said the agency will, probably convert to a calendar year effective Jan.1, 1995, to simplify administration and accounting and bring the agency in line with credit union practice.

Currently, the agency has separate fiscal years for its operating budget (Oct. 1 to Sept. 30) and the insurance fund (July 1 to June 30).

The regulator will use its reserve fund, which grew to $12 million on Sept. 30, to fund the three-month conversion period at the end of 1994.

Concern over Loan Growth

Mr. Jepsen said the conversion had been considered for six years, but the agency did not want to assess credit unions to finance it. The board will vote on the move at its November meeting.

One credit union executive voiced his concern over lack of loan growth among institutions. According to mid-year figures released by Callahan and Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based credit union consulting firm, the average loan-to-deposit ratio for the industry was 59.9%.

"Everyone's having problems with loan to share," said Don Klassen, director of Nipsco Industries Federal Credit Union in Merrillville, Ind. "Credit unions have to make more loans, or else we're not doing our job."

The convention in the Queen City had highlights that weren't related to business. Attendees staying at one hotel had their own challenge -- their rooms. Complaints of thick dust and dirty tubs were heard often enough to suggest that the staff of the sitcom "WKRP in Cincinnati" had taken control.

For the first two mornings of his stay, a trade group official battled with a shower. The first morning the shower didn't have a curtain, and the bathroom floor looked like a pond. The next morning he had a curtain, but no towels. He didn't realize the shortcoming until he was ready to dry off.

Two-Hour Wait

Finding a restaurant that wasn't packed to the rafters was no easy feat either. A group of convention goers ready to endure a two-hour wait Saturday night at the Montgomery Inn, a popular rib restaurant, thought they had found their ticket to a quick seat when they spotted Mr. Jepsen, a former U.S. senator from Iowa.

They asked if they could use his name, with all its attending clout, to get a table.

"Sure," he said, "it didn't work for me."

About 2,000 credit union officials attended the convention. Many credit union executives attended a session on complying with the federal regulator's ruling on the Truth in Savings Act.

The National Credit Union Administration's ruling, effective Jan. 1, 1995, bans accounts that calculate interest according to the lowest balance during an interest period ("rollbacks"), require interest to be paid on a daily average or daily basis, and require new disclosures. The edict is anticipated to cost credit unions $180 million a year in compliance costs.

Truth-in-Savings "is a big thing confronting us now," said William J. Strebner Jr., president of Exxon 53 Federal Credit Union in Linden, N.J. "I feel sorry for the smaller credit unions. I hope the state leagues can help them out, because a lot of them can't afford the automation they'll need in order to comply."

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