ARLINGTON, Va. -- The NAFCU Certified Compliance Officer program recently graduated its 500th student.
Actually, according to NAFCU Associate Director of Education Vanessa Butler, "As of January 1, we hit 501 since the inception of NCCO in 1996." There are currently 326 active NCCOs, she added. To become active, candidates must attend NAFCU's compliance school, which took place last week, and "successfully complete five exams."
"They're really hard," NAFCU Director of Compliance Anthony Demangone interjected. "I went to law school. I work at NAFCU and I failed two out of five and had to retake them." Demangone is now an NCCO and Butler is working on her certification.
The five days of class can only be described as "intense" the two said. Twenty speakers were slated last week to discuss issues from lending to savings to privacy and security to discrimination. Optional exams follow each day to complete certification.
Attendance is typically kept around 90, but this year 110 registered to participate. Demangone credited corporate compliance as boosting popularity. "I think it goes back, quite frankly, to Enron." Bank Secrecy Act scrutiny could be another reason, he offered.
Additionally, he said it could be the move toward a more risk-based regulatory environment. "It sounds nice...but it really puts a burden on an institutions for that expertise."
The vigor of the coursework has led attendees to "affectionately" dub the school "Camp Compliance," according to Butler. NAFCU tried something new this year with its own attorneys holding study sessions after class.
In 2006, approximately 40 of the 90 attendees completed certification and another 15 were already certified and returning as a refresher course. Attendance is not limited to credit unions either. Vendors, CPAs and even NCUA examiners have taken NAFCU's courses.