Credit Union 2.0 Podcast 44: Wendell “Bucky” Sebastian – a Credit Union Life

Welcome to episode 44 of the CU 2.0 Podcast. In this podcast, you’ll hear what killed off savings and loans and why credit unions escaped their fate, why community banks may be next to expire (and what may keep them alive), and the big advantage credit union CEOs have over their peers at banks.

A state regulator in Illinois. General counsel at NCUA. A co-founder of Callahan Associates. Longtime CEO at GTE Financial.  Head of the National Credit Union Foundation. Guess who.

Meet Wendell Sebastian, call him Bucky.

Wendell "Bucky" Sebastian podcast

His has been an extraordinary career and you will like him. For two reasons. He is a vocal credit union cheerleader. And he deeply believes that credit unions – because they serve members, not shareholders – will triumph, that credit unions are absolutely the best financial institution for just about all of us.

Bucky doesn’t shy away from a fight.  Suggest to him that it is high tech credit unions that will prevail and he is quick to argue that in point of fact it is high touch institutions that have been winning.  Of course, they feature needed tech but what puts a credit union in the winner’s circle is high touch. He cites Navy Federal as a classic for instance and in this podcast reviews the numbers to make his case.

He is a walking history book too.  Why did credit unions shrink in number from 23,000 40 years ago to maybe 5500 today? Because it was in the plan, says Bucky, and in large part, a result of policies put into place when he worked at NCUA in the early 1980s.

Isn’t a shrinking number of institutions a sign that credit unions are dying? “Never focus on the institutions, it’s about the members,” says Bucky who points to the extraordinary growth in member numbers.

In this podcast, you’ll hear what killed off savings and loans and why credit unions escaped their fate, why community banks may be next to expire (and what may keep them alive), and the big advantage credit union CEOs have over their peers at banks.

What advantage? That they can manage the institution with an eye on the horizon, not on the present quarter, says Bucky.  Managing to the quarter, he insists, is a recipe for disaster.

Do you want a feel-good podcast? You want this one – and you definitely will learn a lot of history in the process.  Related podcasts include the Jim Blaine Marathon and Cliff Rosenthal on CDFIs.

Listen here to the Bucky podcast.

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