CFPB Regional Director Discusses Agency Priorities, Mortgage-Lending Rules with Northwest Credit Unions

Edwin Chow, regional director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), told a group of more than 30 Northwest credit union professionals that the bureau will continue to primarily focus on financial institutions with more than $10 billion in assets and on non-federally regulated entities, such as mortgage lenders and brokers, consumer reporting agencies, and payday lenders.

Chow was on hand yesterday at Pacific NW Ironworkers Federal Credit Union in Portland, Ore., for an open dialogue and question-and-answer session hosted by the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA). The majority of those in attendance were compliance or lending professionals interested in the recently finalized mortgage rules, and they were joined by credit union CEOs from both Oregon and Washington, service providers, credit union board members, and a number of others who wear multiple hats at their credit unions.

Pacific NW Ironworkers President and CEO Teri Robinson opened the meeting with a brief history of the $9 million dollar ironworkers credit union. Robinson shared a story of personally sitting down with a member to help him understand the budgeting process. The financial education from the credit union allowed the member to save and ultimately purchase a house.

“This was a great example of how credit unions serve their members,” said John Trull, director of regulatory advocacy for the Association, “and it gave Regional Director Chow a better understanding of the passion and dedication credit unions have for serving their membership.”

Following the introduction, Chow highlighted the supervisory process that the CFPB expects to follow, reiterating the agency’s focus on large financial institutions and non-federally regulated entities. While the CFPB can participate in an examination conducted by a state examiner or the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), its focus is not currently directed toward credit unions. Chow recognized that credit unions are doing things right and stated that he has confidence in the state and federal examiners that currently examine credit unions with less than $10 billion in assets.

When asked during a closing question-and-answer session why the recent wave of mortgage rules has been issued and why the compliance timeline is so short, the regional director explained that Congress mandated that the majority of the mortgage rules be finalized by January 2013. In addition to the January deadline, Congress also mandated that certain provisions of the laws take effect no later than 12 months after the finalization of the rule.

The bureau recognized that it made sense for many of these intertwined rules to be implemented at the same time, which should allow for financial institutions to better prepare and make one large update as opposed to facing a steady stream of minor technical updates. The Association shared this position and has advocated for issuing rules in a logical sequence.

Chow did say that most federally regulated institutions can expect to already be in compliance with most of the findings. Additionally, the CFPB’s examination manual is available on its website, and credit unions are encouraged to review that as well. Chow urged those in attendance to advocate at every level through multiple mediums and promised to share the concerns of the credit union movement with the appropriate departments at the bureau.

“It was very encouraging that, following the meeting, a number of attendees expressed an interest in being more actively involved in regulatory advocacy,” Trull said. “As individual involvement increases, the effectiveness of our advocacy efforts increase exponentially.”

Credit unions have an opportunity to play an active role in the advocacy process this week, as Thursday is Credit Union Day at the Capitol in Washington.

“Our goal is to have every legislator receive a visit from a local credit union on that day,” said NWCUA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Mark Minickiello, and that goal is within reach thanks to outstanding contributions from credit unions like iQ Credit Union, who will be sending 15 employees to Olympia on Thursday, and from groups like the Pierce County Chapter of Credit Unions. Six of the chapter’s board members will be in attendance, and the chapter itself sponsored the registration of two additional credit union employees from Pierce County as well.

“Our state legislators are going to be facing some tough decisions this year, and a lot of them are newly elected,” Minickiello said. “If our legislators don’t know anything about credit unions or the great things we do for our members and our communities, then they assume we are just like banks. Help us spread the word about how credit unions are different.”

Several changes to this year’s program were implemented to help ease the burden on credit unions that send employees to participate, such as:

  • Shorter conference (10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with no hotel stay required)
  • Free parking and shuttle
  • Reduced registration costs ($49)
  • Casual dress code (logo-wear encouraged)

Registration for the Washington Credit Union Day at the Capitol is still available online. Help spread the word by also joining the event on Facebook and sharing it with friends and colleagues.

 

The NWCUA Regulatory Advocacy team works with state and federal regulators to help reduce the regulatory burden on credit unions and protect the credit union movement. The Association encourages members to participate in the regulatory process. If you have any questions on these or any regulatory issues, please contact Director of Regulatory Advocacy John Trull at jtrull@nwcua.org, or at 503.350.2209.

Posted in Advocacy News, Events.