Regulator touts two dozen changes in agency structure, lessening burden on credit unions

More than two dozen “substantive changes” to the structure of the federal credit union regulator have resulted in less regulatory burden for credit unions while “enhancing access to affordable financial services,” the board chairman of the regulator said Wednesday.

In remarks to the annual convention of the National Federal of Community Development Credit Unions (NFCDCU) in Clearwater, Fla., National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Board Chairman J. Mark McWatters said the changes came about through bipartisan collaboration between himself, a Republican, and NCUA Board Member Rick Metsger, a Democrat.

McWatters also said he and Metsger are revising the agency’s regulations to relieve the regulatory, reporting and examination burdens of federally insured credit unions.

(Two weeks ago, in testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, McWatters pointed to changes in the NCUA’s structure resulting from a review of the agency’s operations and staffing. The review, McWatters told the committee, resulted in a plan that reduced the agency’s regional structure from five to three regional offices and reorganized several central office functions to reduce costs. The regional consolidation, he said, will enter its final stage in January 2019.

(McWatters also told the committee that in August of last year, the agency adopted a “reform agenda” which proposed a four-year, three-tiered regulatory relief plan with approximately 40 regulatory relief recommendations. Since the adopting the agenda, he said, NCUA has completed nine of the initial regulatory relief recommendations and proposed rules or commenced action on five others.)

In other remarks, McWatters told the NFCDCU (which is changing its name to “Inclusiv,” it announced this week):

  • There continues to be strong and consistent demand for short-term, small dollar loans among credit unions. He said a viable short-term loan program provided by credit unions could be an alternative to high-priced payday loans and a way to break the cycle of debt that traps millions of consumers. Additionally, such a loan program could be a “first step in bringing the millions of unbanked and underserved populations into the credit union system,” he said. (The agency in June proposed amendments to its regulations on payday alternative loans that it said would give federal credit unions (FCUs) more market-based, payday alternative loan options.)
  • The agency has awarded $2 million in Community Development Revolving Loan Fund (CDRLF) grants to 203 low-income credit unions, to be used for digital services and security programs, outreach to underserved areas, and leadership development and training for credit union staff.

McWatters: Bipartisanship is Producing Results