NCUA’s Gill to Address Volunteers’ Conference Attendees, Ask for Feedback

National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Board Chairman Debbie Matz announced plans in March to host “Listening Sessions” across America from May through July.

“What you have to say is important, and sometimes it helps to discuss issues face-to-face,” Chairman Matz told more than 4,000 officials at the Credit Union National Association’s Governmental Affairs Conference. “That is why, over the next three months, NCUA will hold Listening Sessions in all regions of the country. We want to hear directly from you about how we can improve our examination process, how we can reduce or streamline our regulations, and anything else that’s on your mind.”

Participants will have opportunities to dialogue with NCUA Board members, senior NCUA staff, and supervisory examiners from the NCUA Region co-hosting each Listening Session. Participants will also be invited to contribute to roundtable discussions with their peers, with free registration available to the first 150 people to register online.

Geographic difficulties could have prevented credit unionists in the Northwest from having a hand in the process, as the listening session for NCUA Region 5, which includes Oregon and Washington, will be held in Denver on July 31.

However, attendees at the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) Volunteers’ Conference June 14-16 in Spokane, Wash., will have a chance to get a local look at the NCUA’s listening sessions through a presentation by Buddy Gill, the NCUA’s senior strategic communications and external relations adviser.

“I’ll talk a little bit about what we’re doing,” Gill said. “We’re listening. What kind of ideas are on the table?”

This pursuit of feedback is a hallmark of the current slate of listening sessions, and it gives credit unions a rare opportunity for a direct line of communication with their primary regulatory body. However, Gill cautioned that credit unions must be aware of what regulations the NCUA has control over and which it simply is charged with enforcing.

“Make sure that if your credit union has ideas for changes in regulation within NCUA’s control—and that is a key sentence, because when we ask people about regulatory burden and say, ‘What are the problems?,’ they mention Bank Secrecy Act, they mention Reg Z, they mention Truth in Lending, Truth in Savings. Those are all things that NCUA has no control over,” Gill said. “Those are laws written by Congress, and we’re charged with enforcing and examining for them, but we can’t change them. When we can change things, like we just did on the troubled debt restructuring rule, that’s within our power. That’s something that we could do, and we saw a way to do it that was responsible, and we did it. So it’s looking at those rules, at NCUA-specific rules. We’re wide open. This is the time to make suggestions. And after the listening sessions are done, we’ll probably do a webinar in the fall, and that’ll be it. We’ve taken the input, and we’ll implement things. So this is the time to get your ideas on the table.”

As Matz’s right-hand man, Gill will also offer insight from the NCUA chairman’s office and explain to attendees how to best receive and respond to an examination report. He will also go into detail about the importance of NCUA rule proposals and how to effectively respond.

“One thing we’re asking people is, ‘How can we make the examinations of the future better?'” Gill said, and he said the NCUA encourages honest, thoughtful feedback on the process—with the knowledge that not all suggestions are feasible or would necessarily align with the NCUA’s duty to preserve the safety and soundness of the movement as a whole.

“Some ideas that people want, we’re not going to do,” Gill said. “For instance, we used to have an 18-month exam cycle, and we shortened it to 12, and people are going, ‘Well, if I’ve got a well-run credit union, can I go back to 18?’ A problem that we had in the crisis is that we had credit unions that were by every measure well-run, earning ones and twos, but the crisis hit, and with an 18-month exam cycle, they went under. So, we’re sticking to our guns on that. But we’re open for people’s ideas, and we are getting some good ideas about some things we can do. Even just things like sending a letter at the gbeginning of the year talking about who your examiner is, who their supervisory examiner is, a general sense, if it’s not a surprise exam, of when things are, and what materials to have ready.”

More than anything, Gill said the important thing for vlunteers is to have a good grasp on the regulatory process as a whole—on the delicate balance that the regulatory burden represents.

“We’re really a small portion of all that [burden],” Gill said of the NCUA. “It’s the cumulative effect of everything, and we get it. We understand that. So, it’s just trying to kind of set the record right, saying that we’re listening and that we’re trying to be helpful where we can, and when you give us an idea that makes sense, we’ll do it, just like we did with TDRs.”

The flip side of over-regulation, of course, is under-regulation, and the risk and burden associated with a financial services industry that is too loosely regulated and lacks uniformity is greater than one that is at times regulated a bit too stringently.

“No credit union wants to pay for other credit unions’ failures,” Gill said. “And so, when NCUA is tough, you’ve got to remember, they’re being tough somewhere else. If we weren’t tough, and that went bad, you’re going to end up picking up the costs of the share insurance fund. So, that’s kind of it. How do you do it responsibly? That’s what we’re looking for. What are responsible things that can be done to try and make those burdens less at the credit union level that NCUA has control over.”

 

Interested in Learning More?

In today’s rapidly changing financial services climate, credit unions are finding they must be able to rely upon the leadership skills of their elected officials. The NWCUA’s 2012 Volunteers’ Conference prepares credit union volunteers to work efficiently, make informed decisions and improve credit union performance by understanding key issues that are impacting the industry. This regionally unique event offers national-quality learning for both new and experienced volunteers, with the valued convenience of a regional location.

Learn more about Buddy Gill’s Volunteers’ Conference session and find registration information on the NWCUA’s website.

 

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

 

Posted in NCUA.