POTTSVILLE, Pa. (3/14/14)--You won't find credit unions listed on any stock exchange. That was among the ways that John H. Murga, president/CEO of $109 million-asset Hidden River CU, Pottsville, Pa., distinguished credit unions from banks in an op-ed piece that appeared in the March 12 issue of the Republican Herald.
"Banks...have full access to the capital markets and may sell stock or debt (bonds) in order to raise the capital they need to fund growth," Murga wrote in his commentary, "Tax exemption status warranted."
Credit unions are democratically controlled, not-for-profit financial institutions, Murga explained. Unlike shareholders of corporations, member share equally in the credit union. "That's why you're called a member," Murga wrote. "You own it and have a voice in how things are run, no matter how much you have on deposit. There are no customers and certainly no stockholders. As an owner, your opinion matters every time you come through the front door."
Capital is returned to members as owners in the form of better rates on products and services, Murga wrote. At a bank, capital and profits are owned exclusively by stockholders.
A credit union's board of directors is made up entirely of volunteers elected by the membership. They are leaders who serve the interests of the members, help manage the credit union and are willing to commit hundreds of hours of sincere, dedicated service without pay, Murga noted.
It was also banks that asked Congress for taxpayer-funded bailouts during the 2008 financial crisis. "As a movement, we paid for any credit union losses from within the system and from amongst our fellow credit unions with not one cent of taxpayer funds," Murga wrote. "Banks believed then it was the taxpayers' turn to pay their 'fair share.'"