The CU-bank rivalry in Iowa City, with the Iowa Bankers Association playing a backstage role with the university in seeking to curb UICCU's expansion plans, has for years been a topic for discussion in the state.
At the time, speculation was rife that the banking lobby, through its alumni or wealthy donors serving on the University of Iowa board, had pressured the university administration to force UICCU to sever or loosen its ties to the university.
During the run-up to the Optiva flap, the Iowa banking trade group had quietly complained UICCU's business loan expansion should be curbed.
Kelly and other UICCU officials have declined to discuss whether banking pressure figured in the new Hills two-year contract.
In the meantime, UICCU expects to "continue operating profitably and successfully as we have in serving the University of Iowa community" from four other Iowa City branches.
For Best of Iowa, the merger with UICCU underlines what its veteran CEO, Stanley Younce, said is a problem for medium-size credit unions to compete in costly media markets like Cedar Rapids where larger credit unions have their eye on growth.
While the merger with UICCU is a positive step for his credit union, which is also healthy and well-capitalized, in providing added services, it does underscore "what may be a trend elsewhere, where the very smallest maintain a niche, but medium-size credit unions find it far harder to compete," said Younce.
Best of Iowa did entertain offers from other credit unions to merge but chose UICCU as the best fit, said Younce.
Disterhoft of UICCU, with ROA of 1.5%, said the addition of Best of Iowa fits into a long-range plan of adding branches in metro Cedar Rapids.