NY Times Opinion Sparked My Interest

Hi folks,

I read our local paper, the Newark Advocate, every single afternoon. It’s just a habit, I’m usually pretty busy in the mornings, so that’s when I get around to the paper. There was a recent article on the OPINION page, posted on Tuesday, August 26th, it was taken from the New York Times, and it captured my attention. It was entitledUntil the Financial System Reformed, We Should Be Angry”  you can read a copy of the opinion article here: http://tinyurl.com/mo4s7m.

I wrote a response to the article and sent it in to the Newark Advocate, but I thought it was important to share it with you here as well. Credit unions aren’t part of the financial system  problem, we’re part of the solution. You can see my response down below, just some food for thought- and I welcome all comments.



My opinion article-

After reading the recent Guest Opinion article titled, Until Financial System Reformed, We Should Be Angry, from the New York Times, on the opinion page in the Tuesday, August 25th edition of the Newark Advocate, I decided I’d like to take this opportunity to respond.

Now is the time, to turn to America’s best kept secret of the financial world, and folks, that’s a credit union? Yes, I am the President and CEO of Hopewell Federal, but I’ve also been a part of the credit union industry for more than 40 years, and I can safely say, that we have not been a part of the banking problem, we are a part of the solution. Credit unions are strong, safe and secure. They’re member-owned. That means that you won’t see any golden parachute retirement packages or stock options here.  In fact, after we pay bills to keep the lights etc. and set reserves aside, we can offer our members lower rates and fees on most financial products, because we don’t have stockholders. As a member- owner, you become one of the owners of the financial cooperative. You can even run for a board of director’s position, if you so desire because credit unions elect their board members from within their own membership. We even own our own credit card portfolios so that we can manage them ourselves and continue to offer better rates that make sense and lower fees that won’t gouge your wallet.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of credit unions. Yes, it’s hard to believe but we have been around for that long and still struggle for our voices to be heard. Typically, to join a credit union you have to meet one of the requirements of their field of membership, whether that’s the place you work or the community where you live. We have several credit unions in Licking County that you could choose to join. And I’m proud to say that we all work cooperatively together. While we may not be as big as some banks, you can use our shared branching service and do your banking at any of them, for free. Let’s face it, sometimes ATM charges can really add up if you’re not at your own institution and that’s another convenience we all offer to our members. Plus, three credit unions in our area, Harvest, Fiberglass and Hopewell Federal are participating in Bet You Can Save.com. It’s a contest where 10 central Ohio credit unions chose a family to coach and help save money. The contest takes places over five months and the winning family receives $10,000. The runner up families will receive $500. But more importantly, we’re teaching them how to get ahead financially.

While the New York Times article does not mention credit unions in the midst of this financial mess, there have been many media reports including a recent post in the New York Times, Economix blog that tout credit unions as superheroes. While we may not wear capes, we’d sure like to be the financial superheroes in your life. So don’t waste time being angry, do something about it. I invite you to compare your current rates, products and services to the credit unions that serve Licking County; you may find the difference surprising.

 Al Smith
President & CEO
Hopewell Federal Credit Union

Same Places, New Faces

Hi folks,

Al here. It’s Friday, August 21, for some school’s back in session already and for others, their kids go back next week. It’s a busy time at Hopewell Federal as well. We’ve had several folks retire lately, and have made some changes by hiring some new faces! I invite you to stop in, say hello and get to know the newest members of our Hopewell Federal Staff. They’re enjoying their jobs so far and are anxious to get to know you!

Our marketing director will be leaving us soon as well. You may have read her posts on this blog from time to time. Cammie, who yes, really did sit on a giant yoga ball-it’s still in her office, is relocating to the state of Tennessee. We are going to miss her too!

While there are some new faces here at Hopewell Federal, you’ll still see some familiar ones as always, and one thing that won’t change is the frosted mug service that we love to provide to our members. It’s that extra special thing you weren’t expecting that makes us different. And I’m proud of that service.

When it comes to banking, the difference is in the details and I’m telling you-if you’re not happy with your current financial institution, I ask you to compare what rates and fees your paying to the products and services we offer here at Hopewell Federal, you might be pleasantly surprised at the difference a credit union can make in helping you get ahead financially.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Two Years of Blogging and Counting!


I’m happy to say that this month, is a mini-milestone for my Ask Al blog. It’s our 2nd anniversary! Can you believe it has been two years?

Hopewell Federal was one to the first credit unions to have a blog and use it to communicate with member and non-members. Many of my peers have asked for help in starting a blog for their credit union and we have happily and cooperatively obliged. Why? Because it’s all about people helping people, that’s why! Even our fellow credit unions across America.  I guess you could say that “Ask Al” was a first for Ohio credit unions! I hope you have enjoyed reading my comments as much as I havewriting them.

I guess if there’s any real flaw with the blog, I’d like to see more people ask me some new questions! I know we get plenty of readers, but I’d love to hear from you too! 

When it comes to credit unions, I’ve been in the business since 1968 – wow, that’s a long time! But during my tenure, I’ve witnessed plenty of changes over the years. Credit unions have come a long way in the past forty-one years. I can remember when credit unions only served employees of an individual business. When they only offered savings accounts and small consumer loans. Now, credit unions, like Hopewell Federal, are full service financial institutions serving entire communities. And credit unions are doing well in this difficult economy. 

Hopewell Federal is continuing to grow and serve our members. No layoffs here, folks! So, thanks for allowing me to post or “boast” my own Ask Al anniversary… and remember,  if you have financialquestions- just “Ask Al”.