Oregon DCBS Announces Merging of Insurance, Finance Divisions

In a news release issued last week, DCBS Director Pat Allen announced that the merging of the finance and insurance divisions into the new Division of Financial Regulation became effective January 1.

“This new structure will allow us to focus more effectively on consumer protection while still assuring competitive markets for financial products,” Allen said. “The financial services industry, including insurance, has been evolving rapidly since before the dot-com era. By organizing this way, we can maintain our broad focus on the entire industry, and not just a few products.”

Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali has taken the reins as administrator of the new division. Allen noted that Cali led the Insurance Division through “some of the biggest changes to the health insurance system in decades. Her commitment to consumer protection and providing a sound business environment make her the perfect person to lead the new division.”

As DCBS prepared last fall for the merging of the divisions, Northwest Credit Union Association and credit union leaders asked whether blended staffing would result in more experienced examiners, and a cross-department understanding and respect for the uniqueness of delivering cutting edge services under a not-for-profit cooperative financial services model. During a November briefing with NWCUA President and CEO Troy Stang and Assistant Vice President of Regulatory Advocacy John Trull, Allen stressed that agency leadership at all levels would remain involved as the agency reorganizes for the future. Allen said the agency will remain in constant communication with the industry stakeholders. DCBS Program Manager Janet Powell, who manages the team of current credit union examiners remains is that role following the reorganization. Powell is highly regarded by Oregon credit unions.

Allen and Powell met with state-chartered Oregon credit union leaders in November to formally introduce them to Cali. In addition to knowledgeable examiners, access to agency leadership for such dialogue is considered to be one of the values of a state charter.

“Accessibility, relevancy, and a world-class cooperative charter all come to mind with we think about the capacity the state needs to stand favorably with the scope and scale of today’s sophisticated landscape of financial services regulation. That is what’s needed to monitor market landscape being tested by the un-regulated new entrants,” noted Stang.

Questions about this story? Contact Lynn Heider: 503.350.2225, lheider@nwcua.org.

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