The CU Difference
Defending the Credit Union Difference Against Banker Attacks
NHCUL Mounts Strategic Response with Lawmaker Correspondence, Opinion Pieces, and Image Ad Campaign on WZID-FM
On March 20, the New Hampshire Bankers Association began a public attack on New Hampshire credit unions. This campaign began with a press conference that showcased a flawed and one-sided study that they commissioned designed to impugn the integrity and reputation of credit unions.
The League has responded quickly by making member credit unions aware of the situation, reaching out to New Hampshire lawmakers to make certain that they heard the true story, and advancing pro-active messaging in the New Hampshire marketplace to refute the bankers' attack. The New Hampshire Credit Union League continues to not only counter, but go on the offensive, against the New Hampshire Bankers Association and their flawed anti-credit union study.
On March 25, League President Paul Gentile wrote to Representative Edward Butler, Chairman of the Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. In the letter, he clearly and completely refutes the anti-credit union arguments put forward by the New Hampshire Bankers Association in their attacks as well as those in the study that they commissioned. Please click here to view a copy of that letter.
The media efforts involved outreach to daily papers that ran stories based on the report that the bankers commissioned with carefully written opinion pieces that refute the bankers' claims.
The first response came with an op-ed from League Chairman Gerald Dumoulin, president and CEO of Guardian Angel Credit Union, Berlin, NH, which was published by the Union Leader on March 28, entitled "Banker attacks on credit unions really target consumer choice." Dumoulin responded to a March 22 article, "NH banks to challenge credit unions' tax status" that relied extensively on an anti-credit union study that the NH Bankers Association commissioned.
In this piece, Dumoulin dismantled the banker claims one after the other. One of the key points he made was that New Hampshire credit unions are local institutions responsive to New Hampshire consumers. He wrote, "Credit unions are also locally owned and operated. In contrast, out-of-state banks control 56 percent of deposits of financial institutions in the state, an increase of 12 percent over the past two decades."
Foster's Daily Democrat
On April 6, the bankers placed another story based on their highly flawed study NH bankers cry foul on credit union tax breaks in Foster's Daily Democrat. A strongly worded response prepared by League President Paul Gentile debunks their claims and sets the record straight. In it he challenges the bankers to act on their claims regarding the advantages credit unions enjoy, writing, "If banks think credit unions have such an advantage, we urge them to come join our ranks and convert to credit unions." He added, "Banks can quite easily become credit unions, but if they do so they can no longer pay their board members, which at credit unions are democratically elected from the membership. They also would no longer be able to serve anyone who walks in their doors and they would be immediately limited in how many commercial loans they can do."
The Portsmouth Herald
The New Hampshire Bankers Association took their attacks on credit unions to the seacoast again on Sunday, April 6, with an article in the Portsmouth Herald entitled, "Local bankers call for 'even playing field' with credit unions." The bankers once again cited the recently released study they commissioned, which recycles old arguments about the idea that the credit union tax exemption is putting them at a competitive disadvantage. In the article, Service Credit Union President and CEO Gordon Simmons effectively rebuts that argument, saying, "The reasons credit unions are thriving are not due to tax exemption but because we are member-owned. We give back to our owner-members in the way of higher deposit rates, lower loan rates, and lower to no fees." In the same article, League President Paul Gentile pointed out that the bankers refuse to acknowledge the real differences between banks and credit unions and went on to say, "Don't change the structure of what it is. At the end of the day, it's still a not-for-profit serving the community. If that structure is so advantageous, why don't banks work to become credit unions?"
WZID Radio Campaign
The League also aired a newly produced radio spot titled "You Matter," for two weeks on WZID-FM 95.7 to counteract the bankers' disinformation campaign. The spots ran a heavy rotation beginning March 31, and aired weekdays four times a day (twice in morning drive time and twice in evening drive time), through April 11.
The spots highlighted the local cooperative nature of credit unions. For example, at one point the narrator states, "Credit unions know their members. Loan decisions are made locally not by bureaucrats and computer models from across the country. You can listen to the spot by clicking on this link: You Matter
Links to articles and audio files:
Fosters' Daily Democrat
April 16, "Banks urge tax exemption repeal for credit unions."
March 31 - April 11 You Matter (mp3 audio file)