What one prominent banker gets wrong about credit unions

In a recent news opinion piece for Fox Business News, Alex Sanchez, president/CEO of the Florida Bankers Association, viciously attacked the credit union industry, claiming “corporate welfare” for credit unions must end. It’s a new verse of the same song Sanchez, a longtime opponent of credit unions, has been singing for years, including in a recent Credit Union Journal article.

But I for one am tired of hearing his off-key screeches, which have no basis in fact. He continues to claim that Florida credit unions have outlived their purpose and usefulness, and that somehow the credit union tax exemption has caused the current decline of community banks. As usual, he couldn’t be further from the truth.

His attacks on credit unions, which hold 8.7 percent of the market share in Florida, can’t be justified if he would only look at the large national and regional banks that continue to devour community banks and make it more difficult for all community financial institutions to do business. This rabble rouser should realize there are more than 2,200 for-profit banks in the U.S. that pay no corporate income tax because they organize as tax-exempt Subchapter S banks. And let’s not forget the more than $28 billion in tax breaks the banks received from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Someone in his position should pay a lot more attention to facts and less attention to attempting to undermine an industry that has proven its merit over and over. The FDIC reports that bank profits in 2018 were 44.1 percent greater than in 2017. And for smaller banks, net income was up 65 percent compared to the prior year. Banks should be thinking of ways to help consumers get a better deal, like the ones they get at credit unions.

Credit unions brought more than $530 million in direct benefits to Florida’s consumers in 2018, but Sanchez doesn’t acknowledge such facts. We work in a cooperative spirit, and it would serve Sanchez and other nay-sayers to work with Florida’s credit unions to enact much-needed regulatory reform.

Sanchez wants credit unions to be subject to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). He even had the audacity to say credit unions don’t give back to their communities the way banks do, when in fact credit unions are known for serving their communities. Banks are subject to the CRA because of their notorious history of aggressively redlining and ignoring low-income consumers.

Unlike paid directors who rake in big cash bonuses from banks, Florida credit union board members are volunteers. To criticize an institution based on its size, rather than the service it provides, is disingenuous. There is a reason credit unions continue to outperform banks in consumer satisfaction surveys such as the 2018 FIS PACE report, and it has nothing to do with taxes. Credit unions are for people and not-for-profit, and so naturally more and more Floridians are choosing credit unions as their financial institution of choice.

Source & Original Article: Credit Union Journal, Patrick La Pine, April 8, 2019