WASHINGTON (6/14/12)--While consumers would benefit from greater simplicity and clarity in checking account disclosures, any disclosure changes that are made must be achieved without exacerbating credit unions' already heavy regulatory burden, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney said in a New York Times blog post this week.
The Times this week covered a recent Pew Charitable Trusts study that found that credit unions and banks could both stand to improve their checking account disclosures. The Pew study analyzed checking account data from the nation's 12 largest credit unions and 12 largest banks.
In the study, Pew noted overall that financial institutions "do not summarize important policies and fee information in a uniform, concise, and easy-to-understand format" and "do not provide accountholders with clear and comprehensive information about overdraft options and their costs."
Cheney told The Times that account disclosures "to a large degree are dictated by regulatory requirements," but said CUNA has discussed account disclosure issues with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The study also focused on overdraft programs and fees, noting that the median overdraft fee charged at credit unions mentioned in the study was $25. This fee was $10 below the median bank fee of $35. Median non-sufficient fund fees charged by credit unions totaled $26, lower than median bank fees, which totaled $35, the study said.
Cheney said credit unions need the flexibility to "reasonably and fairly" price their overdraft programs, and said CUNA is developing overdraft program best practices that it will share with member credit unions.
Overall, credit unions charged fewer account fees, on average, than banks, and a greater percentage of credit unions offered interest-bearing accounts, the study said.
For the New York Times post and the Pew Charitable Trusts study, use the resource links.