CUNA President to Kick Off NWCUA Convention

As Congressional leadership spent a rare working weekend in Washington DC to raise the debt ceiling and cut the deficit, the options were cutting social security benefits or raising taxes—a no-win for elected officials hoping to stay in office. How long would it take for someone to put credit unions’ tax status up for grabs?

Protecting credit unions’ tax status is the biggest challenge that Bill Cheney faces as he comes to the end of his first year as president and CEO of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). However, he is confident that credit unions can succeed because of the good relationships and connections the movement, including the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA), has established with lawmakers.

“We get assurances on a daily basis that credit unions are not on the table as part of the deficit reduction,” said Cheney, who will discuss the regulatory challenges the industry faces in his address at the Association’s Convention and Annual Meeting on September 20.

CUNA is developing an attack plan that Cheney calls the “525 Strategy.” He wants a strategic contact for every member of congress. “We must make sure we know where they stand; who we can count on for support and who we can’t.

He credits the Northwest Credit Union Association and CUNA with leveraging government relationships and encourages credit unions to participate in the process. “Sticking together we can make a difference,” he noted.

Cheney helped lead credit unions in Texas and California, before transitioning to the California/Nevada Credit Union leagues as CEO, so he knows credit unions and what is important to them. He understands the system is frustrated with the recent Interchange results. However, there are other battles.

“We have to dust ourselves off and move on. Focus on the next issues, not the past,” he cautions.

He feels it will be critical to work with those elected officials and not against them, with other major issues looming such as Member Business Loans.

In a wide-ranging interview, Cheney voiced his concern about the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) “one size fits all” approach that is forcing unnecessary restrictions on risk management for many successful, experienced credit unions.

“We are in the business of managing risks, not eliminating them,” Cheney said, and acknowledged that inexperienced examiners working in regions they are not familiar with have put unnecessary burdens on credit unions.

Despite the constant pressures of legislation, compliance and regulatory issues, credit unions have come through the recession with a sterling image, Cheney believes.

“We never lost our focus on the member. Credit unions were there offering services when big banks turned their backs on consumers.”

He encourages the industry to continue making loans and other services available for members that will help them to navigate the economy, noting that credit unions were “the original social network.”

“We started as people who came together to help others. Even with the evolution, the concept of ‘people helping people’ continues today.”

Bill Cheney’s address to NWCUA delegates will follow the Annual Business Meeting on Tuesday, September 20, 2011. Register here.

 

Questions? Contact Training Programs Coordinator Yuri Jung: 206.340.4817, yjung@nwcua.org.

Posted in CUNA, MAXX Annual Convention, NCUA, NWCUA.