Metsger Tells Oregon Credit Unions: Maintain the Public’s Trust

“We should have one goal . . . Today and tomorrow, our 95 million members must feel that credit unions are the one institution they can trust to have their best interests at heart.”NCUA Board Member Rick Metsger, addressing the NWCUA’s Mt. Hood Chapter of Credit Unions

Higher interest rates are coming, new NCUA board member Rick Metsger said during a swing through Oregon this week, and he urged credit unions to have plans in place now to manage risk and protect their reputation.

“We should have one goal,” Metsger told the annual meeting of the Northwest Credit Union Association’s Mt. Hood Chapter. “Today and tomorrow, our 95 million members must feel that credit unions are the one institution they can trust to have their best interests at heart.”

With so many fixed-rate mortgages on the books, financial institutions face significant risk from rising interest rates, Metsger said. “I’m really, really concerned. Rates are at historic lows. There’s only one way to go, and that’s up. The only question is, ‘How far, how fast?’”

Safeguarding credit unions’ Share Insurance Fund is the NCUA’s top priority, Metsger said, and that means ensuring that credit unions can serve their members’ financial needs while also protecting the safety and soundness of the fund.

“We must make sure that the public’s trust and faith remain strong,” he said.

Metsger’s public comments were his first in Oregon since becoming the NCUA’s newest board member. It’s been less than a month since he was sworn in on Aug. 23, and Metsger said he’s spent much of that time adapting to life inside the Beltway.

“I’m proud to be the first board member from the Northwest,” he said. “But it’s a different type of culture (in D.C.), and trying to learn how things operate has been interesting.”

During his time in the Oregon Legislature (Metsger served in the state Senate from 1999-2011), he was known for his straightforward, honest and unscripted style. His remarks to the Mt. Hood Chapter were characteristically delivered off-the-cuff and without a prepared speech. But that’s not how things usually work in D.C.

“The first couple of weeks were an adjustment,” he admitted. “I hope to have some influence on how things operate at NCUA, and ‘unscripted’ isn’t typical in the Beltway environment. So part of this adjustment has been trying to get them to know my style, too.”

Still, Metsger had nothing but praise for NCUA staff, calling the people he’s met “very nice, very smart, very engaging.” He lauded the leadership and vision of board chairman Debbie Matz, saying her guidance had been “invaluable.”

And he vowed that this visit to a local chapter meeting would not be his last.

“I’m pretty accessible, and I’m always happy to talk to credit union folks,” Metsger said. “Going around the country, dropping into credit unions, seeing how they’re being impacted on the ground—that’s important.”

“I like to hear what’s really going on.”

NCUA board member Rick Metsger sat down with Anthem before the Mt. Hood Chapter meeting this week to talk about his new role at the NCUA and how a “Northwest perspective” might inform his decisions and priorities. Look for that story in the Sept. 24 newsletter.

 

Questions? Contact Gary Stein: 503.350.2216, gstein@nwcua.org.

Posted in NCUA.