Are Credit Unions Too Squeamish To Watch Matz And McWatters Duke It Out?

A new era of transparent debate and both sides of the story will be good for us all!

In general the credit union industry is made up of people who like the appearance of consensus, even at their own expense. We are an industry led by those who dislike conflict, to the point that we delegate to the trade associations. We let them keep us in the dark as they claim to be the group that will fight and debate our issues with the establishment in Washington, DC, behind the scenes.

Our industry is made up of organizations that are often paralyzed by issues that cannot come to a unanimous vote. Our industry is not really made up of the average set of gawkers that love to be present at a knockdown drag-out fight we look away. We value the appearanceof being cooperative over almost any other marketing stance. But appearingcooperative is not always the same as beingcooperative and finding our way to success and sustainability.

Case in point: I have been surprised by the lack of buzz over the NCUA board meeting changes. They are great, and not just because I think chair Debbie Matz might be getting her comeuppance for an era of leading by her approved design or manipulated consensus. The changes are great because for the first time in a long era under Matz, I believe we will have board meetings and agency governance that will be credible and where the word integrity might become in vogue.

The governance we need at NCUA is one based in the open discussion of the topics that affect our organizations. The governance we need is the kind that makes us believe that those on the board of directors are the arbitrators between bureaucracy and the owners of the credit union industry. Unanimous votes without debate are not the foundation of setting direction, they are the enemy. We need a fair and transparent debate so there is some chance of unanimous execution understood by the governing and the governed. We live in a what-the-heck-are-they-thinking world that is crippling to the spirit. And it’s no formula for the innovation we all need to sustain our owners’ and industry’s hopes;

Thank you, board member Mark McWatters, for your activities of late and what seems to be a commitment to airing your dissent. A voice of dissent and a tactic of encouraging debate should be visible everywhere in our industry. That is the fuel of well-thought-out designs. It’s the breath of fresh air we need to fuel change and the only hope our owners have that they can work with the NCUA to understand the agency’s contribution to our future.

I am not saying I will always take up with McWatters’s side of the debate, but I will always look for both sides to be present in the minutes of NCUA board meetings over big topics that need careful analysis.

That’s why I’m encouraging everybody in the industry to speak up and join the conversation. And it’s why CU*Answers has created an engine for commenting to the NCUA on the revised proposal.

Here’s to dissent and risking the unseemly brawls that our industry dreads. Tell me why I’m wrong. []

P.S. The blog of Jim Blaine, CEO of SECU North Carolina, can get you going if you need a jump-start. And McWatters’s comments here might bring you into the flow of things.

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Randy Karnes is CEO of CU*Answers, the Michigan-based core processing CUSO. He shares his thoughts in his blog Tell Me Why I’m Wrong.

February 5, 2015

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