Grassroots Effort Was Key in Turning NCUA, Says CUNA Exec
That law, allowing credit unions to spread corporate stabilization cost payments over seven years, was enacted "as a tribute to our action alert" advocacy efforts, declared Susan Newton, CUNA senior vice president and executive director of the American Association of Credit Union Leagues.
Speaking to the annual convention of the Arizona Credit Union League, Newton thanked the state's CU leaders for their active participation in the outreach campaign considering the state's CUs "remain on the front lines" in the nation's economic crisis.
Newton said the grassroots efforts were successful in forcing greater transparency in the NCUA's corporate actions, which at the same time had stirred industry divisions.
Though huge challenges lie ahead, she said, the industry is weathering the economic crisis and now sees "great opportunities for wearing white hats."
Still, enormous problems can surface for CUs on any number of fronts in a quirky Congress with shifting coalitions, she said, pointing to the industry's efforts to hold a tough stance on cram-down mortgage legislation, the Community Reinvestment Act and member business lending.
She said the question of card interchange fees "is one that will not go away" because of the vigorous opposition by retail merchants.
On MBLs, Newton said CUNA continues to work with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on his possible introduction of a bill to temporarily eliminate CUs' MBL cap. Also high on the CUNA agenda this year will be a request to Congress to modify the definition of net worth to include alternative forms of capital, an issue before both the NCUA and the Treasury Department.
Separately, Steve Dunham, chairman of the league, said there's a feeling that economic conditions are improving for Arizona CUs, but, "We may not be there yet as loan losses and delinquencies continue to mount."
Dunham, who also is president/CEO of the $145 million Canyon State CU of Phoenix, compared CUs' plight to that of Winston Churchill's England during World War II. "Seemingly we, too, are besieged from all sides as we endure the effect of our great recession," said Dunham, listing the impacts of declining real estate values, increased unemployment, delinquencies and charge-offs, corporate stabilization and declining profitability and capital ratios.
Still, he said, "I believe that this can also be our finest hour as we persevere, rededicate ourselves to help and serve our members and perpetuate" CU philosophies. The key, however, is for CUs "to demonstrate unity, commitment and support each other" during this trying period.