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Wisconsin CUs outperform state banks in service
PEWAUKEE, Wis. (9/17/09)--Credit unions' mission is to serve all working Americans and their families, not just the poor, and in Wisconsin, they are doing a better job at it, even though banks are required to serve low-income areas through the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), says the Wisconsin Credit Union League. League President CEO Brett Thompson noted that a recent report by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) uses faulty methods to conclude that banks do a better job that credit unions serving low and moderate-income people and calls for unnecessary legislation. NCRC's report has several flaws, said the league. It mistakenly assumes credit unions are intended to serve only the poor and "cherry picks data and ignores findings from federal regulators that show credit unions are fulfilling their true mission--to serve all working Americans," Thompson said. A previous NCRC study's state-specific data indicates that Wisconsin credit unions outperform Wisconsin banks in serving minorities and people of modest means, despite the fact banks are subject to CRA while credit unions are not, said Thompson. Wisconsin credit unions outperformed state banks in all three areas covered in the study: providing single family home purchase loans, refinancings and home improvement loans. Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data says Wisconsin's low-income mortgage borrowers' approval rate is 74.7% at credit unions and 49.8% at non-credit union lenders. For minority mortgage applicants, the Wisconsin credit union approval rate is 72%, compared with 46.6% at non-credit union lenders, said the league. Credit unions have 10% of the Wisconsin financial services market share but operate 40% of the financial institution branches in the state's low-income census tracts. Roughly 94% of all Wisconsin banks, including 12 of the largest 20 banks, have no branches in low-income census tracts, said the league. "Wisconsin's credit unions are doing a great job serving all of their 2.2 million members," Thompson said. "Last year, their members saved $208 million by saving at and borrowing from their local credit unions instead of banks. Credit unions don't need more regulation to do right by their members--they're already doing it. One more flawed study can't change the real facts."

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