WASHINGTON (8/24/11)--Regulatory burdens in the form of higher compliance costs could lead to more credit union mergers, Bill Hampel, chief economist for the Credit Union National Association, told The Washington Post Sunday. Hampel was commenting after Synergy One FCU, with $180 million assets, based in Manassas, Va., received regulatory approval to merge into the $1.53 billion asset Apple FCU, based in Fairfax, Va. As credit unions struggle with higher compliance costs linked to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, those costs could lead to more credit union mergers, Hampel told the Post. “The compliance burden is a fixed cost, regardless of size,” he said, adding small credit unions may feel the need to join a larger institution to manage the additional paperwork. “What’s more, credit unions may consolidate further as net interest margins--the difference between what they earn on loans and pay on deposits--continues to decline amid tepid loan demand,” Hampel added. Partly because of mortgage defaults, regulators required more credit unions to merge or liquidate assets following the financial crisis, Hampel told the Post. CUNA said 37 credit unions merged or liquidated in 2010, compared with 13 in 2007. To read the article, use the link.