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Iowa banks' proud legacy of trust and service

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John Sorensen, guest columnist

In his Sept. 16 guest column (“Wells Fargo case shows need for credit unions”) Iowa Credit Union League CEO Pat Jury asserts that not-for-profit cooperatives are somehow more ethical because of their corporate structure than for-profit corporations which are in his words, “driven by profits and greed, which fosters corrupt behavior.”

Painting the traditional American business model as a source of greed and corruption should anger every Iowa entrepreneur, small business person, and farmer, who works hard to create value for their customers, contributes to their community, provides a return for local investors, and pays their fair share of taxes.

If the credit unions in this country paid taxes like the rest of American business, it would add over $2 billion a year to the U.S. Treasury. That’s $2 billion a year that each and every American taxpayer contributes because credit unions contribute nothing. An Iowa family of four pays more in income taxes than all credit unions combined. Iowa’s largest credit union has over $3 billion in assets and made over $47 million last year. Their senior executives were the primary beneficiary.

A recent report from the financial website Moneyrates.com ranks Iowa as the best state in the nation to bank — with a “competitive, financially healthy market.” Iowa has 316 banks based in the state and 23 additional institutions choosing to offer services here. In Iowa, consumers, small businesses and farmers have choices. The principal driver of a healthy marketplace is a large number of providers competing to offer the best possible service to customers — on a level playing field.

Iowa’s hometown banks remain proud of our legacy of trust and service to Iowa communities. I would encourage Iowans to think about who contributes to their security, roads, schools, charities, and community organizations when they consider a financial provider. Don’t let the credit union campaign to hold on to an outdated subsidy distract you. In the meantime, Iowa banks will work hard to earn your business.

• John Sorensen is president and CEO of the Iowa Bankers Association, Iowa’s largest banking association representing 339 Iowa banks and savings institutions. Comments: jsorensen@iowabankers.com or (515) 286-4313.

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