NEW YORK (1/27/09)--Over the past decade on average, credit unions have charged about 1% less on loans than have banks and paid out on average 1% more in interest on certificates, Dan Mica, president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association, said in a three-page advertorial published Monday in The New York Times. The reason, he added, is that credit unions are not about boosting share values for stockholders and paying them dividends, but about serving members. "We talk about the 'credit union movement.' There is a philosophy behind what credit unions do. We are about helping people," Mica said. Nationally, about 8,000 credit unions serve 90 million members. "We are Main Street, not Wall Street. Credit unions are financial services' best-kept secret," Mica told the Times. The advertorial, "Rock-solid credit unions hunt for more borrowers," hit home the point that credit unions don't make risky loans and have plenty of money to lend and that they do make mortgage loans. Richard Maxstadt, chief operations officer of CUC Mortgage, an affiliate of the Credit Union Association of New York, pointed out that the prevailing credit union approach is to lend on the basis of personal knowledge of the borrower. As a rule, credit unions are conservative in their lending, Maxstadt said. "Our loans tend to be plain vanilla, primarily 20- and 30-year fixed rate. Too many consumers forget that credit unions do make mortgages," he said adding credit unions offer some of the best rates around. Stan Hollen, CEO of CO-OP Financial Services, based in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., noted that its network "underlines the cooperative nature of credit unions. It is the biggest ATM network in the country--no bank has anywhere near our number of locations--and for our individual members, there are no fees." "Big banks like to talk about their convenience, but when you look into it, credit unions offer a lot more convenience than any bank does," Hollen said. He noted the cooperative nature of the industry means there's a relative lack of competition between particular credit unions. "Often they work together to benefit everybody." Bob Siravo, CEO of WesCorp FCU, San Dimas, Calif., in discussing services, noted credit unions are pushing into new territory with many looking at how to provide service over cell phones. Credit unions are poised for a hugely successful run amidst the turmoil in financial services in 2009 because consumers are fleeing to safety and looking at credit unions, said Jeff Russell, vice president, The Members Group, based in Des Moines, Iowa. CUNA Mutual Group Vice President Jim Buchheim agrees that in difficult times, people turn to who they trust--"and for many Americans, that will mean credit unions." The full page advertorials was surrounded by paid ads from CO-OP Financial Services, CUC Mortgage Corp., CUNA Mutual Group, WesCorp, and four credit unions.