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Fryzel in The Hill: CUs challenge banks to do better job
WASHINGTON (7/3/14)--Outgoing National Credit Union Administration board member Michael Fryzel responded in The Hill Wednesday to recent banker criticisms of credit unions and a proposed credit union to serve professional athletes. In his commentary, Fryzel said the existence of credit unions alongside banks provide an environment rich with options for consumers of all income levels.

"[W]hen Congress authorized the establishment of credit unions in 1934 lawmakers must have determined banks were not providing financial services to all citizens," he said. "And now, 80 years later, this system remains in place and credit unions continue to provide valuable financial services to American families...I always believed credit unions challenged the banking industry to do a better job and that together they could provide our citizens with outstanding financial alternatives."

The proposed Players Choice FCU is the brainchild of Stacey Fielder August, former wife of baseball player Cecil Fielder and mother of current Texas Rangers player Prince Fielder. The NCUA gave preliminary approval for a field of membership for Players Choice FCU in May.

This led to accusations from American Bankers Association President/CEO Frank Keating that taxpayers would suddenly be on the hook for subsidizing financial services to professional athletes.

Credit Union National Association interim President/CEO Bill Hampel responded in a column in Tulsa World June 25, saying that not all professional athletes pull in millions of dollars each year--in fact, many in the major sports' minor leagues are low-income consumers.

August said her experiences watching her ex-husband lose most of his approximately $47 million in career earnings showed her that even eight-figure contracts aren't a guarantee of financial security without financial education, which the proposed credit union intends to make part of its mission.

"There is no denying that not only do people of modest means often like credit unions better, but those who have accumulated savings over the years often prefer them as well. Better service, better rates, lower fees, greater convenience," Fryzel said. "Who wouldn't want to use a financial institution like that regardless of what you earn and your financial status?"

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