VALDOSTA, Ga. (11/3/14)--Mike Gudely isn't necessarily taking sides, but after working in banks for 25 years and then switching to a credit union, it appears he likes where he's working now.
"It's a very unique model," Gudely told Valdosta CEO, a daily publication that focuses on Valdosta, Ga., business news. "I have to tell you, it's very refreshing for me to be in this business."
Gudely sat down with Valdosta CEO recently to talk about his transition from the banking industry to his role as president/CEO of Southeastern FCU, Valdosta, Ga., with $199 million in assets.
Before he joined the credit union, he said, he didn't know much about the movement.
"Credit unions were very foreign to me," Gudely said. "I never competed with credit unions. I can't honestly say I understood what a credit union was." He said he thought there was some kind of affiliation with an employer.
"When I first came to the credit union industry, I had friends in banking that didn't understand how I got the job. They'd say, 'Were you already a member of a credit union? Did you go to the graveyard at midnight and have the swearing-in ceremony?'"
Of course, there are many similarities between credit unions and their banking counterparts. But as Gudely spent more time working for a credit union, he also learned the very important differences.
"Because we exist for the financial benefit of our members, we're able to put their financial needs ahead of the credit union's need to sustain itself and make profit," Gudely said.
"You typically see a credit union can offer a little higher rates on deposits, whether it's a money market (account) or certificates of deposit, and it can offer lower rates on loans because the primary driver for us as a credit union is our members, not our return on assets, our profitability, or what our stock price is."
While working for banks, Gudely also became familiar with the industry's rhetoric on the so-called advantages credit unions hold over banks.
Whether he believes the rhetoric or not, Gudely said that credit unions have their fair share of disadvantages to the banking industry as well.
"Credit unions do have disadvantages, too, in trying to compete with banks," Gudely said. "Credit unions are highly regulated and there are just certain things that credit uniosn are not allowed to do."