Former NCUA Chair JoAnn Johnson, slated to become Iowa's top credit union supervisor next week, said Wednesday she is prepared to field some tough questions about excessive regulation, but she also contends industry conditions remain quite positive.
"It's not as though I am walking into some kind of mess," said Johnson, a former state legislator who left the NCUA Board in 2008 after a four-year stint to join her husband's Des Moines lobbying practice.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad named Johnson superintendent of the Iowa Division of Credit Unions succeeding veteran regulator James Forney, who is retiring. Following Senate confirmation, Johnson is expected to assume the job on Monday and was named to fill out the remainder of Forney's four-year term beginning in May.
"I never thought I'd get back into this field but I was honored when I was asked about a month ago to submit my resume," said Johnson, who served on the NCUA Board beginning in 2002.
There are, of course, new challenges to confront, Johnson said, adding she is busy boning up on corporate issues. "I'll need to study lots more," she said, regarding the corporate environment in Iowa in which Iowa Central Corporate is about to "wind down" or dissolve its correspondent services replaced by the National Cooperative Bank of Washington. That deal, unveiled in October with support of the Iowa Credit Union League, is still in a preliminary stage though league leaders had forecast the "winding down" process for the nation's smallest corporate at $100 million would be in force by yearend 2010.
Since leaving NCUA, Johnson said, she has spent time "being a grandmother to three-year-old twins" and assisting her husband, Brian, in operating the lobbying firm whose clients include mostly energy firms and Iowa trade groups. Johnson said she also spends time on the road commuting the 100 miles from her home in Panora to the state capitol.
Johnson said she is fortunate to come into a supervisory job "in a state in which the credit unions are doing well on many fronts" compared to some parts of sand or rust belt states. "Remember there are some banks that are not doing well," she said.
In Iowa, CUs "are well capitalized, have seen membership gains and hold 9% of the market share which is higher than nationally," said Johnson, who also acknowledged the worries about compliance burdens overwhelming CU shops.