SAN ANTONIO -- State credit union regulators feel they have dodged a big bullet but face challenges ahead. Yet they are more optimistic than not.
"We made our case to lawmakers about the importance of the dual chartering system, and they kept that intact," NASCUS President/CEO Mary Martha Fortney told Credit Union Times during an interview with her and the association's other two leaders. "But now we have to see how the regulatory overhaul is implemented. It is all about the details."
NASCUS Chairman Thomas Candon said the regulatory overhaul bill passed by Congress this year requires 200 studies and sets of rules, and that will determine what kind of additional work state regulators will have to do.
Candon, the deputy commissioner of banking and securities for the Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration, said the nature of state credit union regulation will also depend on how quickly the economy rebounds.
"We are hoping the worst is behind us but I don't know," he said. He said that while his state had been hurt by the recession things weren't has bad as they had been. The unemployment rate is 6% and the state government has a mortgage assistance program that has helped many struggling families make mortgage payments so that financial institutions won't lose as much money as they might otherwise.
Parker Cann, NASCUS credit union advisory council chairman, said he is optimistic about another of the agency's top priorities for the future: changing the law to allow credit unions to accept secondary capital.
"The momentum is growing in the industry, and there is more interest on Capitol Hill," said Cann, the senior vice president and general counsel of Boeing Employees Credit Union in Seattle. He is also the former chief credit union regulator of Washington State.
Fortney said there has at times been a lack of understanding among some on Capitol Hill about why the change in the law will help credit unions. However, her organization has worked with CUNA, NAFCU and the NCUA to educate lawmakers, and she sees the tide turning.
"Part of it is about fitting it on their schedules. There have been a lot of [financial services] issues that have competed for their attention," she said.