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Wis league responds to banks misstatements
PEWAUKEE, Wis. (11/26/12)--Brett Thompson, president/CEO of the Wisconsin Credit Union League, has issued a statement about what the league terms as the Wisconsin Bankers Association's (WBA) most recent misstatements about credit unions, made after regulators announced Wisconsin credit unions' strong third-quarter financial position.

"Credit unions are not only fulfilling their mission of serving all their members regardless of income, but they're doing it despite tremendous disadvantages," Thompson said. "You'd never know that listening to the WBA."

He said banks don't say that Wisconsin credit unions:

  • Saved Wisconsin consumers $201 million in 2011. Credit union depositors saved more than $128 million on loans, earned more than $36.6 million on savings products and paid $36.5 million less in fees than if they had used for-profit banks. WBA called this a "subsidy."¬†Consumers call it real, significant savings, he said.
  • Earned seven top honors in seven years for helping members and communities. These accolades stem from credit unions' REAL Solutions initiative, which helps consumers save and build wealth and assists 3,000 local causes and organizations each year. WBA calls this "lost funds." Credit unions call it investing in Wisconsin, Thompson said.
  • Increased business lending without any taxpayer bailout. This is in contrast to banks that took taxpayer funds and reduced help for small businesses when they needed help the most, said the league. Since the start of the recession, Wisconsin credit unions increased their business lending by 55% while Wisconsin banks shrank theirs by 2%. WBA called this success by credit unions as "abandoning their mission." Credit unions say it's doing what's right, regardless of profit, the league added.
"Credit unions do all this in spite of far greater regulation than banks, an arbitrary cap on business lending that applies only to credit unions, and the inability to raise capital by issuing stock, which only banks can do," Thompson said.

"What's more, credit unions pay all the same taxes banks pay except corporate tax, which more than 80 Wisconsin banks don't pay either," Thompson said. "Except credit unions have that single tax exemption because consumers, not shareholders, benefit from credit unions' earnings.

"Banks just don't like the fact that by making consumers more financially successful, credit unions have become more successful," Thompson added. In 2012, Wisconsin credit unions saw the largest increase in checking accounts in more than a decade, at 6.6%, surpassing the national growth rate, he said.
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