ALEXANDRIA, Va. (3/11/14)--National Credit Union Administration Chairman Debbie Matz has assured the Credit Union National Association that key changes to the agency's risk-based capital (RBC) proposal are not out of the question prior to the rule becoming final.
She also indicated that the capital proposal is the "last significant safety and soundness" rulemaking she intends to initiate at the agency. Her term ends April 10, 2015.
Regarding the RBC plan, proposed at the agency's January open board meeting, Matz wrote, "Just as NCUA incorporated significant changes to our final rules on troubled debt restructurings, loan participations and derivatives...I assure you NCUA will do so, as appropriate, on this critically important rule." Her remarks were in response to a joint letter from CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney and National Association of Federal Credit Union President Dan Berger that urged a longer RBC comment period than the 90 days allowed (News Now March 3).
CUNA's primary objective with the RBC proposal is to achieve a vastly improved regulatory outcome: If the NCUA board will not withdraw the proposal, then CUNA argues broad changes must be included in the final.
CUNA has warned that the RBC plan, as proposed, could affect the core operations of most, if not all, credit unions with assets over $50 million, despite NCUA analysis that says fewer than 200 credit unions will be impacted.
CUNA's top regulatory advocacy goal overall is to reduce credit unions' regulatory burdens. The trade group is aggressively following up with the agency to reinforce the need to reduce credit unions' regulatory burdens, not increase them.
Also in her March 5 letter, Matz declined to expand the RBC comment period beyond the given 90 days, which ends May 28.
She wrote that credit unions effectively will have 120 days to comment to the agency, in part, because the proposal's publication was delayed in the Federal Register. The comment period begins from the date of publication.
CUNA urges credit unions to weigh in on the proposal and let regulators know their concerns. Also, CUNA has produced an "Inside Exchange" video segment on the steps for writing an effective comment letter on this issue. (See resource link.)
WASHINGTON (3/11/14 UPDATED 1:40 P.M. ET)--The Credit Union National Association announced today that Pat Keefe has been promoted to senior vice president of communications.
Keefe, who has nearly 30 years of experience with communications at the national level, has been with CUNA since 2000, most recently serving as vice president of communications.
"Pat was promoted to this position based on his long service to credit unions, his experience here at CUNA and his interaction with our executive team," said CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney. "As senior vice president of communications, his role will be to ensure that CUNA continues to enhance its strong reputation as the leader of the credit union movement by all of our audiences, especially our member credit unions, the financial services industry, the Washington community and the public at large."
Cheney noted that Keefe was named to the position after CUNA conducted a broad search to fill the chief communications officer position, considering nearly 90 applicants from across the nation. That list was winnowed down to about a half-dozen finalists, who themselves held impressive credentials and experience, Cheney said.
Prior to working at CUNA, Keefe was a communications executive with the National Association of Federal Credit Unions in Arlington, Va., for 16 years. He is a former newspaper reporter and editor.
During his credit union career, he has been engaged in communications strategies and tactics affecting nearly every key issue for credit unions, including: Protecting the tax-exempt status of credit unions, bankruptcy reform, debit interchange and--most recently--dealing with data security breaches.
In the late 1990s, Keefe played a substantial role in planning and executing the Credit Union Campaign for Consumer Choice, which passed legislation to overturn a Supreme Court decision limiting credit union membership.
"I'm greatly honored to represent the credit union movement and will use my experience and background to help protect and advance the movement's interests," Keefe said.
WASHINGTON (3/11/14)--The Credit Union National Association and credit unions are part of a new, cross-industry effort to improve payment security systems. Formed by MasterCard and Visa, the group will focus on enhancing payment system security to keep pace with the expectations of consumers, retailers and financial institutions, MasterCard said in an announcement.
"One of the critical roles we play is to protect consumers and businesses against criminals and fraudsters...Only through industry collaboration and cooperation will we address the real and immediate issue of security and maintain consumer confidence and trust," said Chris McWilton, MasterCard president of North American markets.
The group initially will focus on Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) standards and also will discuss tokenization, point-to-point encryption and other security systems.
Along with CUNA and credit unions, MasterCard and VISA, the groups will be comprised of representatives of large and small banks, acquirers, retailers, point-of-sale device manufacturers and other trade groups.
The group's conversations "will serve as a useful forum to share ideas, break down barriers and spur the adoption of next generation security solutions for the benefit of all," Visa President Ryan McInerney in the announcement. "No one industry or technology can solve the issue of payment system fraud on its own," he added.
CUNA welcomes the discussion, pursuit and deployment of new payment system technology, but is skeptical that a solution to merchant data breaches can be achieved without first requiring all participants to follow similar data security standards. Merchants must also be held accountable for the damages that breaches to their systems cause financial institutions and consumers.
CUNA has repeatedly encouraged members of the U.S. Congress to address inconsistent rules that require credit unions and other financial institutions to follow high security standards while exempting merchants. CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney has also called on the House Financial Services Committee to hold hearings on the last year's Target data security breach, and to call on credit union witnesses for such hearings.
WASHINGTON (3/11/14)--This week in Congress, there are a number of matters of interest for credit unions. As reported earlier, the Senate Banking Committee's rescheduled hearing for the nomination of J. Mark McWatters to become a National Credit Union Administration board member is on the plate for Thursday. So are a potential markup of legislation that would allow some credit unions to join the Federal Home Loan Bank system, and a full Senate vote on a National Flood Insurance Program bill.
Rep. Steve Stiver's (R-Ohio) bill (H.R. 3584) would permit privately insured credit unions to join the Federal Home Loan Bank system. The bill may be considered when the House Financial Services Committee holds markup sessions Thursday and Friday. Stivers' bill addresses one of the more than 30 regulatory relief proposals the Credit Union National Association submitted to the committee at a hearing last year.
H.R. 2672, which would address the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's rural designation, and the committee's budget views and estimates, may also be considered by the Financial Services panel.
The Senate this week is expected to approve legislation providing for a four-year delay in the implementation of some provisions of the 2012 Biggert-Waters National Flood Insurance Program Act, such as an increase in premiums.
CUNA will also track committee hearings this week, including:
Today's Senate Banking Committee consumer protection subcommittee hearing titled "Finding the Right Capital Regulations for Insurers;"
A Wednesday House Budget Committee hearing on President Barack Obama's fiscal 2015 revenue and economic policy proposals; and
A Wednesday Senate Banking Committee economic policy subcommittee hearing titled "The State of U.S. Retirement Security: Can the Middle Class Afford to Retire?"
When the House and the Senate recess at the end of this week, they will be out of session until the week of March 24.
WASHINGTON (3/12/14, updated 10:44 a.m. ET)--Housing finance reform just got a huge shot in the arm after being mired in inaction for so long. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and the committee's top Republican member, Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho), announced this morning that they have agreed upon a bipartisan plan on how to overhaul the housing finance market, as well as on what to do with government-owned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
A draft bill could be unveiled in the next few days, with a committee vote to follow in the next weeks.
"This bipartisan effort will provide the market the certainty it needs, while preserving fair and affordable housing throughout the country," Johnson said in a statement. "I look forward to moving this effort through committee once members have had a chance to review our forthcoming legislation."
The Credit Union National Association has and will continue to advocate for credit unions as housing reform moves forward.
CUNA has repeatedly said that credit unions appreciate the need to reform the current housing finance system, but any reforms must not hinder the ability of credit unions to meet their members' housing finance needs in a member-friendly cooperative way.
CUNA has also said that the transition from the current system to any new housing finance system must be reasonable and orderly, and a transition deadline needs to be flexible.
WASHINGTON (3/11/14)--The President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans held its first meeting Monday and the Credit Union National Association joined U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, and private, public and nonprofit leaders and innovators for that inaugural session.
The council was established by President Barack Obama last year. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray also is a member of the council, which has been charged with increasing the financial acuity of young Americans.
"Mastering the basics of financial decision-making at an early age will equip young people for the first major financial decision many Americans are likely to face: Whether to pursue post-secondary education and, if so, how to pay for it," Lew noted in his opening remarks.
"The primary purpose of the advisory council meeting was to provide a forum for council members to meet in person and share what they believe to be the most pressing issues facing the nation's youth," CUNA Senior Assistant General Counsel Luke Martone said following the meeting.
The council will follow up on the formal recommendations of the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability, which included promoting financial education in the community and researching and evaluating those efforts.