ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Large credit unions would have to file an annual report on incentive-based compensation programs and couldn't have any such programs that encourage exposure to inappropriate risks, under a proposed rule the NCUA board issued for comment at its Feb. 17 meeting.
Credit unions with $1 billion or more in assets couldn't have programs that might lead to material loss and have to document their compliance procedures.
Credit unions with assets of $10 billion or more would have to meet all those requirements and defer at least 50% of their incentive-based compensation for at least three years and adjust payments to reflect subsequent losses caused by the decisions.
The rules, which will be subject to a 45-day comment period, must be issued by all financial regulators as a result of the financial overhaul bill passed last year.
According to the NCUA, there are 184 credit unions with assets of $1 billion or more and six credit unions with assets of $10 billion or more.
NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz asked Staff Attorney Regina Metz during the board meeting whether the proposed rule would put credit unions at a disadvantage compared to other financial institutions. Metz replied it would not because the law requires all regulators to enforce such restrictions over institutions that they oversee.
But the top lawyers for CUNA and NAFCU both expressed concern about the thresholds in the proposed rule.
"The thresholds for credit unions are different from banks. [The most restrictive parts of the rule kick in at $50 billion for banks.] And there is no record of abuse within the credit union system on this issue," said CUNA Executive Vice President and General Counsel Eric Richard.
NAFCU Vice President and General Counsel Carrie Hunt said the change would create "inconsistent regulatory requirements across the financial services industry."
In addition, the board approved keeping the maximum interest rates that federal credit unions can charge for loans at 18% through September 2012.
The board also approved new corporate credit union chartering guidelines. The rule stated that the persons applying for a charter must be "competent, experienced, honest and of good character." Applicants must demonstrate that there is a "sufficient customer base" as evidenced by surveys or written comments. The applicants would also be required to present a business plan that covered items such as written policies for shares, lending and funds management.
The board also sent out for comment proposed changes to the NCUA rules that replace references to credit rating agencies as required by the financial overhaul bill.
For example, federal credit unions can invest in collateralized mortgage obligations but before doing so must determine if it is a mortgage-related security as defined by the SEC, rather than relying on credit rating. Also, there are additional concentration limits proposed for certain investments.
Despite the additional rules, NCUA Senior Capital Markets Specialist Dale Klein conceded that assessing asset quality is more of an art than a science.
Mary Ann Woodson, NCUA's chief financial officer, told the board that the number of troubled credit unions remained about the same in January.
There were 369 CAMEL 4 and 5 credit unions at the end of January, compared with 368 at the end of December and 51 at the end of December 2009.
There were 1,819 CAMEL 3 credit unions at the end of January, compared with 1,827 at the end of December.