From Defense to Offense: The 2015 Regulatory Landscape

The past five years have forced the credit union movement to respond to a slew of new regulations, many of which arose from the Dodd-Frank legislation. But according to John Trull, the NWCUA’s director of regulatory advocacy, 2015 will be the year when Northwest credit unions will take a proactive approach to improving their regulatory environment.

“We have a Congressional majority that is skeptical of regulation,” said Trull, “many of the most onerous statutory regulations are now finalized, and we anticipate a stabilizing economy that will necessitate greater access to capital, which will allow us to change the conversation.”

NCUA, RBC, and Regulatory Relief

Trull said that he expects significant regulatory changes from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) in the first quarter of 2015 that will require a broad credit union response. Specifically, the revised risk-based capital proposal is expected on January 15 and a proposal on interest rate risk likely is not far behind. “Northwest credit unions should be ready to respond,” said Trull. In the second half of 2015, Trull suspects that the  NCUA might focus its attention on overdraft fees.

“However,” said Trull, “this year also presents a great opportunity to improve the playing field.” The NCUA will conduct an official regulatory review, a process to identify regulations that no longer make sense, and present its findings to Congress. “The Association will weigh in on each of these occasions, making sure that our priorities are expressed in the final product,” said Trull.

He also said that regulatory advocates are working to update the federal bylaws in 2015, and to change the secondary capital structure. Specifically, they want the NCUA to put in place a process that automatically approves secondary capital plans if the plan meets the established requisites, and to make sure that credit unions have a simple way to get excess secondary capital off their books when it no longer counts as secondary capital. “Longer term,” said Trull, “we are looking at ways to improve access to capital through supplemental capital throughout the system.”

Oregon and Washington Advocacy

In Oregon, regulatory advocates will work in 2015 to update the model credit union bylaws for the state, a process that took place in Washington in 2014. “We will harness the best minds in the system to make sure that Oregon’s model bylaws reflect state-of-the-art best practices,” said Trull.

Advocates also have aggressive regulatory improvement agendas for both Oregon and Washington. “We hope these will result in rulemaking that will improve the credit union environment,” said Trull.

Low-Income and CDFI Assistance

“Last year was a record-breaking year for bringing grant dollars to the Northwest to serve our most vulnerable members,” said Trull. He said that the Association will continue assisting credit unions that are interested in earning low-income credit union (LICU) designation and becoming certified development financial institutions (CDFI). Trull said that the Association is actively looking for ways to help member credit unions with the application process.

“In 2015, we want to blow last year out of the water in terms of LICU and CDFI grants, and to do that we are going to need a very successful CDFI round.”

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

Posted in Advocacy News, NCUA.