Study: Ore. Credit Unions indistinguishable from banks

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Report Finds Large Oregon Credit Unions Indistinguishable from Commercial Banks
— Fewer, larger credit unions hold nearly 70% of combined industry assets and customers; pay executives over $1 million in annual compensation

By Marvin Umholtz
Umholtz Strategic Planning & Consulting, Washington

 A report analyzing Oregon credit unions reveals an industry that is growing, consolidating, and increasingly dominated by a handful of large institutions.  The report was released by Marvin Umholtz, a 37-year credit union industry veteran who has held numerous leadership positions with credit union organizations.

“The old image of the credit union as ‘the little guy’ is simply outdated,” said Umholtz.  “Oregon’s credit union industry today is dominated by a handful of larger institutions that control the overwhelming majority of assets and members.”

The full report can be found at www.oregoncreditunionfacts.com.

Here are some of Umholtz’s key findings:

  • 40 years ago 265 credit unions in Oregon held $192 million in combined assets.  By 2012, 73 credit unions held $15.5 billion in assets.
  • The top 10 Oregon credit unions hold 69% of the industry’s combined assets and serve 64% of the state’s 1.4 million credit union members.  Oregon’s consolidation of assets and membership among large credit unions is higher than the national average, which is 65% and 56%, respectively.
  • An analysis of 2012 net income shows Oregon’s 10 largest credit unions enjoy 82% of the overall value of the industry’s tax exemption.
  • According to IRS documents, OnPoint Credit Union paid its CEO $1.8 million and Senior Vice President over $1 million in compensation in 2010.
  • With the value of the industry’s tax exemption increasing, there is a growing call for credit unions to show some public benefit in exchange for their tax benefit.  There is no current requirement.
  • Oregon credit unions have won the right to take government deposits and make business loans, two services once only provided by tax-paying financial institutions.

“Oregon credit unions will inevitably grow larger and fewer in number,” says Umholtz.  “At what point does the industry’s tax exemption, which is mostly enjoyed by a handful of the largest institutions, continue to make sense in the absence of a clear public purpose?  This is a real issue for policymakers.”

About Marvin Umholtz 

President & CEO of Umholtz Strategic Planning & Consulting Services based in Olympia, Washington. He is a 37-year credit union industry veteran who has held many leadership positions with credit union organizations and financial services industry vendors during those years. A former association executive and lobbyist, he candidly shares his credit union industry knowledge and analysis with public policymakers, financial industry executives, and vendor companies. Umholtz also writes and distributes CU Strategic Hot Topics, a “clients and colleagues” newsletter that analyzes the actions of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), the Congress, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Federal Reserve, the corporate credit union crisis, the mortgage finance mess, the sagging economy, uncertainties in financial markets, divisive partisan politics, and the growing conflict about the future role of credit unions in the financial services industry.

For more information about the report or to speak with Marvin Umholtz directly, he can be reached at (360) 951-9111.

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