Spotlight Shines on Advocacy at MAXX 2019

It was clear that engaging in telling the credit union story to policy decision makers is everyone’s job, and the why, what, and how took centerstage.

10/22/2019

National Credit Union Administration Director, J. Mark McWatters

National Credit Union Administration Director, J. Mark McWatters, addresses credit unions at MAXX from the main stage during the Annual Business Meeting.

Advocacy is the key strategic priority of the Northwest Credit Union Association. It’s at the heart of what NWCUA and its dedicated member credit unions do to further evolve and maintain the best operating environment, so credit unions can serve their 7.3 million members in the Northwest.

No surprise, then, that it took center stage at the 2019 MAXX Convention. Policy discussions, legislative and regulatory guests, and training were in the spotlight Oct. 15-17.

Straight from the Policy Makers: Please Stay Engaged

Elected officials and state and federal regulators attended MAXX and shared some important messages with credit union leaders.

“It is important that legislators hear from you,” said Senator Andy Billig (D-WA-3). “We work on, probably 10,000 issues a year. We are a citizen legislature. That makes it more important to hear from you. Please stay engaged.”

Marcus Riccelli also represents Washington’s third district, but in the House of Representatives. He told attendees at the Tri-State Governmental Affairs Committee meeting that his credit union, Spokane-based STCU, recently did him a money-saving favor.

“They called me so we could get a better (home refinance) rate, and that’s a credit union,” said a delighted Riccelli.

From the mainstage, National Credit Union Administration Director J. Mark McWatters described a collaborative environment and engaged staff at the agency, which has achieved milestones for credit unions. Most notable was turning “a $700,000 assessment into an $800,000 distribution,” referencing the stabilization of the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund.

While implementation of the Current Expected Credit Loss (CECL) standard was delayed this summer for one year, McWatters does “not expect it to go away” and said it would be critical that local CPAs assisting credit unions understand the expectations.

NCUA Director Todd Harper was also present at MAXX and discussed his view of key priorities including capital and liquidity, and cybersecurity.

“It’s a big concern within the NCUA Board,” Harper said during his address to the Small Credit Union Roundtable at MAXX, “and we plan to add resources.”

Setting the Stage for 2020 and Beyond

All three of the NWCUA’s state Governmental Affairs Committees met onsite at MAXX. Members of those committees are working closely with the NWCUA this year to develop the policy agendas for 2020 and beyond.

The new Federal Charter Work Group has completed its recommendations, which were shared at the meetings.

Advocacy Skit at MAXX

The “Super Save” was an entertaining skit during the annual, “Maxximize your Advocacy” lunch at MAXX Convention. Advocates “fumbled” the first half during a hill visit with a distracted congressional representative, but after some half-time coaching, came back to win the game by turning the Congressperson into a CU champion.

The Super Save

During the “Maxximize your Advocacy” luncheon, credit union advocates turned a “Super Disaster” into a “Super Save.” They performed in a humorous skit during which actors “fumbled” the first act during a visit to Congress where they met with a distracted Member of Congress. After some halftime coaching, they won the game and turned the Congressperson into a credit union champion.

That is, at its core, the job of credit union advocates. Throughout MAXX they heard a resounding theme: don’t merely rely on data to sway the policy needle; it’s equally important to share the human connectivity and the things credit unions do every day to make members’ lives better.

Advocacy is teamwork, and as NWCUA President and CEO Troy Stang made clear, the Association is a committed partner.

“As things move fast in the legislatures, we will be there every minute, to ensure our structure stays intact so you can serve your members, “Stang said.

When advocacy is effective, he said, it ensures that regulations protect consumers but don’t get in the way of credit unions’ service to members.