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FFIEC IT exam handbooks available online only

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WASHINGTON (5/8/12)--The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) announced it will no longer print hard copies of its IT Examination Handbooks, opting instead to make IT handbook content available in an electronic format only.

The IT Handbook consists of 11 booklets covering a variety of technology and technology-related risk management guidance for financial institutions and examiners, according to the FFIEC.

"In addition to reducing costs and saving resources, users will now have the ability to select the materials they wish to print–from a single page to the entire booklet," the FFIEC said in a release.

The change is prompted in part by recent upgrades to the functions and features of the FFIEC's online InfoBase. The FFIEC said it has improved the InfoBase to allow more frequent updates. Those updates can be viewed in a new "What's New" section of the FFIEC InfoBase website.

The InfoBase improvements will enable the FFIEC's partner agencies "to respond to changes in technology and the risk environment on an as-needed basis rather than waiting for the next revision of a particular booklet or booklets," the FFIEC said.

For more on the IT Handbook and InfoBase changes, use the resource link.

CUNA to testify on reg burden Wednesday

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WASHINGTON (5/8/12)--Terry West, president/CEO of Vystar CU, Jacksonville, Fla., will address how the growth of financial services regulations has impacted his credit union's ability to lend and to serve its members at a Wednesday House subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer credit hearing in Washington.

VyStar CU president/CEO Terry West (second from left) testifies on CUNA's behalf before a 2009 Senate Banking subcommittee hearing. This week, West will address before a House subcommittee hearing how financial regulations have distracted his credit union from its core goal of serving members. (CUNA Photo)
West will testify on behalf of his credit union and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

The hearing, which is entitled "Rising Regulatory Compliance Costs and Their Impact on the Health of Small Financial Institutions," is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday. West is expected to be joined by First United Bank & Trust CEO William Grant, SRP FCU CEO Ed Templeton, First State Bank Chief Investment Officer Samuel Vallandingham, and Georgetown University law professor Adam Levitin.

In his testimony, West will focus on the impact that new and revised regulations have had on consolidation in the credit union system, and whether federal regulators are considering the cumulative impact of these types of rules on small fin institutions.

Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.) in a statement said the hearing builds on field hearings the subcommittee has held across the country "regarding whether small financial institutions face significant regulatory burdens, and if so, guaranteeing that there is a workable regulatory regime so that these institutions can continue to survive and grow.

"We must ensure that we have a diverse financial system," she added.

CUNA Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan said it is not clear if any additional new legislation will come from this series of hearings; however, he noted that bills related to financial institution examination fairness and ATM fee disclosure requirements were first raised at earlier sessions of this series of hearings.

The subcommittee earlier this year held field hearings in San Antonio, Texas, and Cleveland, Ohio, on the impact of regulations and small financial institutions. Maria Martinez, president/CEO of Border FCU, Del Rio, Texas, and Robert Glenn, president/CEO of Air Force FCU,  San Antonio, testified at the Texas hearing, and Stan Barnes, president/CEO of Canton, Ohio-based CSE FCU, testified in Cleveland.

Credit union concerns were also aired in a Las Vegas, Nev.-based subcommittee hearing on potential private sector solutions to foreclosure issues, with Sue Longson of El Monte, Calif.'s SCE FCU testifying. Central City CU, Marshfield, Wis., CEO and CUNA board member Pat Wesenberg and Mark Willer, chief operating officer of Royal CU, Eau Claire, Wis., also testified in a November field hearing in Wausau, Wis.

For more on Wednesday's scheduled hearing, use the resource link.

Congress back CUs Hike Hill on MBLs

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WASHINGTON (5/8/12)--The Credit Union National Association on Monday called on credit unions to keep up the pressure and continue to urge the U.S. Congress to support increased member business lending authority for credit unions, and the North Carolina and South Carolina credit union leagues will do just that when they visit Capitol Hill this week.

The leagues will be the first two groups to launch Hike the Hill events this spring, and will meet with their members of Congress and National Credit Union Administration board members during their two-day visit.

Overall this week, the House and Senate schedules will be busy, as Congress returns from a week-long district work period. The Fiscal Year 2013 Appropriations for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies bill (H.R. 5326) and another budget bill are scheduled to be considered in the House this week, and the Senate is set to address  judicial nominations and the Stop Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act (S. 2343).

Also of note is a Wednesday House subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer credit hearing, in which Terry West, President/CEO of Vystar CU, Jacksonville, Fla., is scheduled to testify on how the growth of financial services regulations has impacted his credit union's ability to lend and to serve its members. The hearing will focus on how compliance costs impact small financial institutions. (See related News Now story: CUNA to testify on reg burden Wednesday)

Several other hearings have been scheduled, including:

  • A Tuesday House domestic monetary policy and technology subcommittee hearing on pending legislative proposals that would overhaul the Federal Reserve System;
  • A Wednesday House insurance, housing and community opportunity subcommittee hearing on oversight of the Federal Housing Administration's reverse mortgage program for seniors;
  • A Wednesday Senate economic policy subcommittee hearing on long-term National Flood Insurance Program reauthorization;
  • A Wednesday Senate financial institutions and consumer protection subcommittee hearing on limiting government support for financial institutions; and
  • A Wednesday Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on privacy protections.
The House Financial Services Committee recently released its May hearing schedule, and bank capital requirements under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, aspects of Federal financial regulatory agency legal settlement procedures, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's Structured Transaction Program, and the Financial Stability Oversight Council's authority over nonbank financial firms are scheduled to be discussed.

For the full committee schedule, use the resource link.

Inside Washington (05/07/2012)

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  • WASHINGTON (5/8/12)--
    Click to view larger image Click for larger view
    A credit union delegation was part of a White House briefing session last Friday organized by the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA). Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Cooperative Alliances Committee Chairman Mark Cummins thanked the Obama administration for its support of member business lending (MBL) legislation and urged its continued assistance in the push for enactment. Cummins, who is also president of the Minnesota Credit Union Network, emphasized how much more credit unions could do to help small businesses and create jobs with the passage of the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act (S. 2231). "And it can be done at no taxpayer cost," he added. Co-op Alliances Vice Chair Diana Roberts, CEO of Hershey FCU, Hummelstown, Pa., also took note during the briefing of the growing regulatory burden credit unions face. Roberts pointed out smaller credit unions sometimes have to incur the added cost of outsourcing for compliance help (News Now May 7).  Members of the credit union delegation, shown here in front to the Old Executive Office Building, directly to the west of the White House, prior to the briefing are (from left): Tristram Coffin, CEO, Alternatives FCU, Ithaca, N.Y.; Cummins; Roberts; Mark Wolff,  CUNA senior vice president of communication; and Joe Bergeron, CEO, Association of Vermont Credit Unions. (Photo provided by National Cooperative Business Association) ...
  • WASHINGTON (5/8/12)--Regulation of nonbank players such as mortgage originators, mortgage servicers, payday lenders and private student lenders is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) top priority, the agency's director, Richard Cordray, said Friday. "With so many areas going unsupervised, at least at the federal level, it is no wonder that consumer financial markets are rife with concerns about how well they serve the public," Cordray said in remarks before the 2012 Simon New York City Conference. "Through our oversight, we are working to level the playing field and make sure that these businesses are playing by the rules and being held accountable for their actions." Cordray said the CFPB is working to build a consumer financial services marketplace where consumers can can see prices and risks up front and compare the pros and cons of different products. "We see financial education and disclosure as a problem of closing the sizeable gap between where consumers actually are in their financial capability and where they need to be to navigate consumer finance markets successfully, Cordray said. "We can close that gap in two distinct ways: by striving to elevate people's capacity to handle matters of personal finance, and by striving to reduce unnecessary complexity in the information provided in that marketplace" …
  • WASHINGTON (5/8/12)--The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Justice Department are in discussions to hash out details about how they will jointly enforce the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. CFPB is required to transfer cases to the Justice Department if it identifies a pattern or practice of discrimination (American Banker May 4). It also has the authority to file its own cases against banks and other financial institutions in federal court. Patrice Ficklin, the CFPB's assistant director for its Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity, said at a panel discussion in Washington with Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez, that her agency is trying to include, within settlement agreements, mechanisms that would help borrowers repair their credit and invest in the communities affected by discrimination--rather than provide direct financial compensation …
  • WASHINGTON (5/8/12)--Although President Barack Obama is considered the favorite in 2012 U.S. presidential race, the banking industry is supporting Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee (RNC) through political donations by nearly 2-to-1, according to a May 4 American Banker article. The banking industry's support of Romney is spurred by anger over the increased burden of regulation from the Dodd-Frank Act. Bankers believe Romney would support policies more favorable to banks than Obama would in his second term, according to the Banker. Even if bankers support the president, it is unclear if they would be able to affect policy during Obama's second term, said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. In the 2008 presidential race, banking financial support was more evenly split between the two political parties. Commercial banks and their employees donated $3.4 million to Obama in 2008, and $2.4 million to Republican nominee John McCain, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. However, commercial banks donated about $1 million more to the RNC than they did to the Democratic National Committee during the 2008 campaign …