news.cuna.org/articles/115314-branching-out-youve-got-mail
Branching Out: You’ve got mail!

Branching Out: You’ve got mail!

Credit Union Magazine humor columnist James Collins catches up on his correspondence.

January 9, 2019

We’re starting off the year with a bit of email I’ve received over the past few months.

While it’s good to see readers care enough to write “you’re awful” in an email before hastily dashing it off, I also get the odd question or two, such as “Did you know you’re awful?”

Anyway, here are some of my favorites:

How did you get so funny?

Thanks, Mom. But I don’t view myself as funny.

Funny people can light up a room, no matter how dark and foreboding. My humor ranges from gutter to sarcasm.

I’m the person you bring to a party to tone it down, not raise it up. But for inspiration all I can say is to do one thing: Read.

You’re a CEO and a writer, and you do search and rescue. How do you find the energy?

Red Bull and Pop-Tarts.

Given the changes in Washington, D.C., do you think regulatory relief will finally come to small credit unions?

We’ve had some wins of late, namely the effort to pass S. 2155.

The prevailing way many regulations come out is, “Those under $XX assets don’t need to worry, but the minute you hit $XXX, life as you know it will be over” (Cue evil laugh).

Regulations come with an incredibly high fixed cost. I believe the only way to absorb this burden is to spread it out over as many assets as you can—hence a drive to larger credit unions.

Did I mention that you’re awful?

I’ve heard that.

Prepare to become the most unwelcome person at the party.

You’ve been serving the cannabis industry since 2014. Do you have any suggestions for those of us thinking of putting our toes in the water?

Two things come to mind:

  1. Dipping your toe in the water is a bit like becoming “somewhat” pregnant (and is probably about as difficult as it sounds). You’ll need top-quality people and an automated Bank Secrecy Act system just to keep from being throttled by your local regulator.
  2. Prepare to become the most unwelcome person at the party. From armored cars to corporates, the number of friends you have will dwindle.

Will interest rates go up or down in 2019?

Yes.

Who will be our biggest competitors in five years?

Great question, and not probably an answer you expected: Vertically integrated companies like Amazon.

Why not others, like the herds of fintech firms roaming the country heralding the end of banking as we know it? Easy: Almost every fintech needs financial institutions to help them in one way or the other.

Vertically integrated firms can capture entire payment channels by selling, servicing, and financing what you need.

Is a recession coming in 2019 or 2020?

Given that I have predicted a recession in every year since "The Lego Movie" was a thing, I’d say my track record is about as good as your local meteorologist predicting the weather four months out.

But the storm clouds look ominous with stock market volatility, narrowing interest-rate spreads, and that Spice Girls reunion I keep writing about finally coming to pass.

I don’t care what they say. You’re one of the most talented writers out there!

Thanks again, Mom.

JAMES COLLINS is president/CEO of O BEE CU, Tumwater, Wash., and Credit Union Magazine's humor columnist.