Friday, September 09, 2016

Does NCUA Need To Change? Never Hurts To Ask...

Not that century!

When I was much younger (last century!), discovered early on that "it never hurts to ask" - politely!  Was of course, much to my great regret, told "No" - most often in no uncertain terms. But, one never knows if one never asks and occasionally, well...

After suggesting yesterday that "someone" needed to ask our leading credit union trade associations - NAFCU, CUNA, and NASCUS - about working on an effort to make NCUA the premier financial regulator in the Country; decided, having little at this point in life to lose and with some Sancerre encouragement, to raise my hand! 

Sent Ms. Ito, Mr. Nussle, and Mr. Berger each an email and asked if they would be willing to chat
about "revisioning" the NCUA to the benefit of all stakeholders. And, much to my surprise, they all said "Yes"! 

That's the other problem with asking, sometimes you get what you ask for...!

Now we're all really in trouble... we might really have to come up with some answers!!

Just blowing bubbles?

So, I plan to talk to them and see what they are thinking. Will let you know if any promising ideas "bubble up".  

But while you're waiting, you have to do a little bit of homework and read the currently approved NCUA Strategic Plan 2016-2017 [here's the link]. Strategic plans are supposed to tell you what's important to an organization and where it's heading. What do you think of NCUA's Plan for the future?

Guess we can all come up with plenty of reasons why nothing much is likely to change - stalemate is the current "status quo" in Washington as we all know! And change is always difficult, isn't it! Particularly if the NCUA believes "they have a plan", "everything is OK" at the Agency, ... and they do not want to try to become the premier financial regulator in the Country.

Y'know fresh thinking with open minds can be a bit threatening to some folks...

[Do your homework!]  



Rusty said...

Jim -- all of the recent discussion on your blog has got me thinking [a sometimes dangerous pastime, no?]. Here are a couple of thoughts that might be worth considering going forward:

I got started with credit unions more than 40 years ago, NOT because they were "financial" institutions, but because we were PEOPLE institutions who took the "People helping People" philosophy seriously. Banks were in the business of making money -- WE were in the business of helping our members, especially when the banks wouldn't touch them, to help deal with the vicissitudes of life and try to build solid financial foundations for our members and their families. As a CEO back then, my belief was that if we would take good care of our members, the numbers would tend to take care of themselves. Having brought two small credit unions back from the brink of liquidation served to confirm that as a sustainable approach to me 00 both of them are still around today, neither liquidated or merged. I worry that many have lost sight of the people -- our members -- who are the true strength of credit unions. Some seem to have gotten lost along the way -- managing for the bottom line, the ROA, etc., perhaps without paying enough attention to the real people behind the numbers -- an increasingly easy omission in our technological age, but NOT an inevitable one.

I think it's critical as we talk about credit unions, trades and regulators going forward, that we look in the mirror first, decide what our REAL business is -- maybe get back to seeing ourselves as a movement more than an industry -- before indulging in so much random name calling and finger pointing. We continue to "talk the talk" -- perhaps it's time for more of us to look at how we can really "walk the walk" too. I can think of a couple of the largest credit unions in the world who got there by taking that path.

Jim Blaine said...


What would you think NCUA's reaction to your ideas and thoughts would be/

R said...

Good question, Jim,

Given the political climate and the rule of bean counters in government and industry these days, I'm sure there are some chuckling over on Duke Street. Particularly if they look at so many of the snide, snarky and sometimes whiny comments that appear in this space from time to time. That's part of why I feel compelled to speak up a bit [although the recent receipt of my Medicare card may also be a factor]. We sometimes seem to be in a world rules by bean counters who are clueless about how the beans are grown. Unfortunately, I think that many credit unions have been similarly affected [infected?]. I'm most definitely NOT saying to ignore the numbers on the bottom line -- budgeting and planning are key tools that should be used in pursuit of our mission. But they are NOT, or should not be, the mission itself. I think it's just as important for credit unions to look at ourselves as at the regulators.

Having said that, I think NCUA would be greatly improved if they were truly more independent, rather than marching in lockstep with the CAFPB* and the political winds of the day [*CAFPB -- the A is for Attorneys, since those are the folks who have enjoyed the financial protection of the Bureau. But that would be a separate rant for another day]. As you have noted, we have a far more reasonable NCUAB in place now.

My comments are in the hope that some attention will be paid to these deeper issues by all of us, and when you convene your summit, rather than just looking for parity with the banks [do we REALLY want to stoop to their level? If so, maybe charter change is a good solution . . .] or begging for a few more months to comply with poorly drafted regulations that should never have applied in the first place. But before we can take strong stands of that sort with the banks, the regulators, legislators, etc., it behooves us to make sure our own houses are in order. Most are, I think, so let's start talking about the things that really count, rather than just counting basis points.

Greg said...

To be the best at anything, you first have to have some talent.

Anonymous said...

Not to discourage you but look at the past performance of the two trade leaders and just remember two words.....self-serving.

The jury is still out on Lucy but the signs are not promising.

Do not get your hopes up. Only a real change in the administration of this country will be good for credit unions and don't believe anyone who tells you different.

Anonymous said...

What in the world have you done to make a difference? Those that point fingers at others tend to be the most useless.