ou all doing OK? I askbecause the year so farhas been a daily coin-flip of hoping thingswill land on the good news side.
I’m not afraid of bad news. I’msimply saying, wouldn’t it be niceto have some calm for just a littlebit?
Let’s take a calming breath together and pause for this reflection moment: Remember wheneveryone was buying duct tapeand tarps to prepare for Y2K? Andthen nothing happened? Good,paranoid times. Thank you forjoining me in that reflection of asimpler time.
Let’s get back to today’s world.
So far this year we’ve had al-
most too many huge stories hap-
pening in our world – from the in-
surrection on Jan. 6, to Jim Nussle
quitting the Republican Party, to
a new President, to Todd Harper
taking over at the NCUA, to ris-
ing economic concerns about
mortgage delinquencies. Oh,
Let’s look ahead to some bignews items that are on our collective horizons.
The no in-person experiment ofvirtual conferences and webinars,and so many video meetings thatwe’ve all experienced this pastyear, will face a real test duringCUNA’s upcoming GovernmentalAffairs Conference.
Last year around this time wasthe last time many of us were onan airplane, much less took avacation – unless you’re an antimasker and/or don’t believe thepandemic is real and/or don’tcare there is a pandemic. Whatever the case may be, a year afterthe largest in-person credit unionevent, we are going to experiencethe first-ever virtual version ofGAC.
We don’t know a lot about exactly how GAC is going to workin a virtual environment andhow you can effectively, virtuallyhike the hill. The lineup for GAC,which technically runs March2-4 (unless you count the preconference sessions from Feb.
23-25), appears to be similar towhat we’d experience if 6,000of us were in Washington, D.C.We’ll hear from bigwigs such asLt. General H.R. McMaster, newsanchor Soledad O’Brien, former New Jersey Governor ChrisChristie and former ChicagoMayor Rahm Emanuel. I supposewatching them on your computer will feel like you’re watchingMeet the Press.
I’m most interested in howwell the topic-specific breakoutsessions will work and again, thewhole meaning of GAC, hiking thehill and how effective that will bewith lawmakers who, from our experience, continue to have a toughtime navigating virtual technology(see Lawyer Cat).
I do wish CUNA lots of luck withthis event, because it could set thebar either very high or very lowbased on how it all is executed forCUNA members.
I’ll keep this short. This month
marks the first NCUA board
meeting with Todd Harper at
the wheel. As I mentioned in my
previous column, they have a lot
to work through. Harper, Hood,
Hauptman – good luck working
together. Everyone in this industry
is watching if and how the three of
you can get along and accomplish
some very important things for all
Mergers and AcquisitionsAfter that brief pause in mergerand acquisition activity in theearly months of the pandemic,things are getting very busy veryquickly. New York, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania and other states haveseen announcements of newcredit union mergers, acquisitions, and credit unions gobblingup small banks and savings andloan branches. Why now? Andwhy so many? There appear to bea couple of issues coming together: Banks looking to trim somefat and a commercial real estatecrisis. As for the banks wantingto lose some weight (New Year’sresolution?), it seems as if manysmaller and a few larger bankswere eyeing offloading many ofthese branches in the months before the pandemic and deals withcredit unions were being made.Those deals were put on holduntil the final months of 2020 asproperty taxes were coming due.This put many small banks in atough spot as bigger credit unionswere ready to get back to makinga better deal for the credit union.Commercial real estate expertshave been saying, “there’s a lot ofdistress, and it’s coming” whenreferring to the state of the marketplace. If it’s something creditunions can take advantage of tothe benefit of their communitiesand expanding their employmentbase, I say good for those creditunions.
CUs and COVID
Community involvement is
thankfully a core belief for credit
unions. Partnering your credit
union with local medical offic-
es to distribute COVID- 19 vac-
cines or even becoming a coro-
navirus testing site couldn’t be
more on the mark for what credit
unions could be doing to help
end this health and economic
crisis. American Heritage Credit
Union is the one credit union we
know of, so far, that is doing that.
Well, they are hosting coronavi-
rus screenings free to the public
as part of a partnership with a
community organization in the
Philadelphia area. As we have
seen with credit union execu-
tives opening up their branches/
community spaces to give kids
a better virtual classroom space
to work in with reliable internet
service, this coronavirus testing
and/or vaccine distribution idea
is truly a great thing to do. If you
have the space in those empty
branches of yours, why not do
this? We need more testing for
the public and more places to
distribute the coronavirus vac-
cine as production ramps up. I
hope credit unions see this op-
portunity as they do each holiday
season when they collect food
and donations for those who
need it. It’s really the same idea.
It’s our job to keep an eye on thesetopics and several other issueshappening in the credit unionspace. As an editorial group, I’dsay that we are mostly concernedwith what the economy will dothis year and just how severethe mortgage delinquencies willstrain the system. As we look at theeconomic data coming in monthsahead, we’ll be watching the itemsmentioned above and report backto you what we find.
Speaking of watching things,I almost forgot to mention oneother thing we’ve gone throughthis year – the Nexflix seriesBridgerton. Can we all admitthat the show is really DesperateHousewives, but with a Britishaccent?
We’ve seen and gone througha lot so far in 2021. I just hopethe rest of the year is better thanthat show. You all are doing somegreat things and some great work.I hope you’re OK. Be safe. n
What We’ve Seen and What We’re Watching
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