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CUNA gives compliance officer advice in iCU Magazinei

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WASHINGTON (9/17/12)--Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Federal Compliance Counsel Colleen Kelly welcomed newly promoted compliance officers to the family, and, with the help of compliance veterans, gave them advice on how to adapt to their new position, in  September's Credit Union Magazine.

As they take on their new role, compliance professionals should seek out as much training as possible, the Credit Union Magazine article said. Online training webinars and compliance schools are great options, and becoming a certified "credit union compliance expert" (CUCE) through CUNA's RegTrac certification program will also help. State credit union leagues and other outside sources also offer local compliance seminars.

New compliance officers should also develop a network of colleagues that they can call on, and should particularly work to develop relationships with compliance officers from credit unions of similar sizes to theirs. Local and regional compliance roundtables exist to aid this kind of networking, and CUNA's compliance schools can also serve as a meeting place for new colleagues, Kelly wrote. CUNA offers these schools at least four times per year.

The item also recommends that new compliance officers:

  • Acquaint themselves with online resources, including CUNA's e-Guide to Federal Laws and Regulations and other CUNA resources, state league resources such as InfoSight, and home pages for various regulators, including the National Credit Union Administration, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and
  • Subscribe to daily blogs and e-mail lists, such as CUNA's daily compliance blog, CompBlog, CUNA's Compliance Brainstorming on the Web (COBWEB) compliance e-mail list, and other RSS feeds.
On the job, compliance officers should be sure their colleagues understand the importance of regulatory compliance, and should not be afraid to tell colleagues with questions "let me check on that and get back to you." When facing a compliance issue, accuracy always outweighs expediency, Kelly said.

While compliance officers can be seen as the bearer of bad news, they also have a chance to become a "go-to" resource that helps their credit union create compliance solutions.

Compliance officers aren't there to make the rules, they are just there to interpret them, Kelly noted.

Getting involved in the development, improvement, and promotion of products and services as early as possible can help avoid late-breaking compliance issues. In addition, keeping good records can aid compliance officers if noncompliance issues crop up at a later date, Kelly said.

And, in closing, the Credit Union Magazine item offered one final piece of advice: "maintain a sense of humor, and get a dog."

NCUA donates new laptops to small CUs

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (9/17/12)--New computers and computer training are on the way for 14 small credit unions, courtesy of the National Credit Union Administration's (NCUA) Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives.

The free laptops and training will be provided to:
  • Gloucester Municipal CU, Gloucester, Mass.;
  • Great Neck School Employees FCU, Great Neck, N.Y.;
  • McKeesport Congregational FCU, McKeesport, Pa.;
  • Millwrights/Pile Drivers of Pittsburgh FCU, Saltsburg, Pa.;
  • Monumental CU, Chicago, Ill.;
  • Noxen Community CU, Monroe Township, Pa.;
  • Northern States Power Employees FCU, Grand Forks, N.D.;
  • Plainfield (N.J.) CU;
  • Prince FCU, Brooklyn, N.Y.;
  • Saint Norbert's CU, Pittsburgh, Pa;
  • San Fernando Valley Japanese CU, Sylmar, Calif.;
  • St. Monica FCU, Gary, Ind.;
  • Williamsport Teachers CU, Williamsport, Pa.; and
  • Zion Hill Baptist Church FCU, Los Angeles, Calif.
All of these credit unions hold less than $10 million in assets, according to the NCUA.

The laptop donations are part of the agency's efforts to eliminate paper call report filings in 2013.

The new laptops will help these credit unions improve their member service, file their call reports electronically, and modernize other recordkeeping. They will also reduce their environmental footprints, the NCUA noted. NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz said the agency is "constantly seeking opportunities to give small credit union managers the tools, training, support, and resources needed to improve efficiency and aid in the economic viability of their institutions."

For the full NCUA release, use the resource link.

FinCEN reaches out to BSA filers on e-filing

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WASHINGTON (9/17/12)--While the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has required electronic filing of all Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) reports since July 1, some financial institutions are still filing these reports in the older paper format. FinCEN has reached out to these firms in a bid to correct this mistake.

FinCEN reported its new e-filing platform, launched this summer, had issues that prevented BSA filers from sending those forms electronically. However, FinCEN noted, the issues have been resolved, and the system is now functioning properly.

Currency Transaction Reports, Designations of Exempt Persons, and Suspicious Activity Reports are among the reports that can be e-filed. Almost all BSA reports must now be e-filed, but Currency and Monetary Instrument Reports are not covered under the e-filing requirement. Firms that continue to file paper versions of BSA forms may face civil money penalties, FinCEN said.

The switch to all-electronic BSA filing will improve efficiency, reduce costs for the financial industry, and enhance the ability of investigators, analysts, and examiners to gain better and more timely access to important financial information, according to the agency. Increased BSA e-filing will also help speed up financial crime investigations.

The agency has scheduled a pair of upcoming webinars to help BSA filers adjust to the filing changes.

FinCEN Query, a new application that will allow law enforcement and regulatory officials to access and analyze 11 years of BSA reports and other data, was released this week by the agency.

For more on the webinar and FinCEN Query, use the resource links.

CUNA trades urge QM clarity in letter to CFPB

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WASHINGTON (9/17/12)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and other financial trade groups have urged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to broadly define qualified mortgages and provide mortgage lenders with a legal safe harbor from ability-to-repay litigation.

In a recent letter, which was sent Friday to CFPB Director Richard Cordray, CUNA and the groups said the qualified mortgage definition must meet three requirements:

  • Qualified mortgage must be broadly defined to include the vast majority of very high quality loans being originated in today's market;
  • The product, documentation and underwriting requirements must be based on objective, bright line standards; and
  • Lenders and investors must be granted a clearly defined legal safe harbor from ability-to-repay litigation when they originate loans that meet the qualified mortgage standards.
A broad qualified mortgage definition, with bright line standards embedded in a legal safe harbor, "is the only sure means to serve the widest array of qualified borrowers with affordable credit," the letter said. "A safe harbor will result in far more mortgage borrowers obtaining sustainable credit," the letter added.

Under a still-developing CFPB rule, mortgage originators would be required to consider a homebuyer's ability to repay a loan before the loan is offered. The CFPB's ability-to-repay requirements would apply to consumer credit transactions that are secured by a dwelling and be further defined by the agency's definition of a qualified mortgage.

"As the agency works to finalize the rule, which is required to be published by January of next year, we want to ensure credit unions will be able to serve the widest array of qualified member/borrowers as possible," CUNA Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn said.

The letter was co-signed by the American Bankers Association, the American Financial Services Association, the Consumer Bankers Association, the Community Mortgage Banking Project, the Consumer Mortgage Coalition, the Housing Policy Council of the Financial Services Roundtable, the Independent Community Bankers of America, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions.

For the full letter, use the resource link.

Inside Washington (09/14/2012)

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  • WASHINGTON (9/17/12)--Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray sought to allay Sen. Richard Shelby's (R-Ala.) concerns that the CFPB may ignore or attempt to re-write the Dodd-Frank Act by utilizing its exemption and modification authority. In a Thursday hearing before the Senate Banking Committee, Cordray said his agency "cannot ignore or re-write" the laws that Congress mandates, but indicated that where appropriate, the agency intends to use its exemption authority to potentially exempt certain smaller institutions such as community banks and credit unions from certain regulatory provisions "where they don't make sense." Cordray also delivered prepared remarks during the Thursday hearing. The Credit Union National Association will continue to urge the CFPB and its officials that credit unions must see more action with respect to the agency's exemption authority ...
  • WASHINGTON (9/17/12)--The Hill newspaper has posted a news story on the Credit Union National Association's Sept. 12 member business lending press event, and an accompanying three-minute video clip of Sen. Mark Udall's (D-Colo.) remarks at the event. The Capitol Hill event highlighted House and Senate legislation that would increase the credit union MBL cap to 27.5% of assets, from 12.25%. An archived video of the event has also been posted on The Hill's home page ...
  • WASHINGTON (9/17/12)--Strong enforcement of The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) remains a top priority for the Federal Trade Commission FTC, an agency official said in testimony before a House subcommittee Wednesday The agency is committed to educating consumers and businesses about consumer reports, credit scores, and their rights and obligations under the FCRA, Robert Schoshinski, assistant director of the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, said   The FTC has played a key role in the implementation, enforcement, and interpretation of the FCRA for more than 40 years and now shares many of these responsibilities with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau …
  • WASHINGTON (9/17/12)--The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and AARP will partner Oct. 2 to host the first National Encore Entrepreneur Mentor Day.  The event is targeted at entrepreneurs over age 50 to match "encore entrepreneurs" with successful business owners and community leaders for advice and assistance. National Encore Entrepreneur Mentor Day is part of a larger effort by SBA and AARP to promote entrepreneurship among individuals ages 50 and older. It will consist of events that will include speed mentoring allowing mentors and entrepreneurs to share information for five-minute sessions, and mentor lunches …