Reflecting diverse priorities, the CEOs of two New England credit unions, James Blake and John Dwyer, expect to give the Federal Reserve an earful next week drawn from differing agendas-one on mortgage lending and the other on Fed access.
Both Blake, the president/CEO of the $1.8 billion HarborOne FCU of Brockton Mass., and John Dwyer, president/CEO of the $800 million New England FCU of Williston, Vt., are participating in the inaugural meeting of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's newly created Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council next Tuesday at offices of the Boston Fed.
The CDIAC meeting is slated to coincide with nearly a dozen similar sessions being held across the country over the next two weeks conducted by the Fed Board and regional Fed banks to improve grassroots ties with community banks and CUs.
The CDIAC meetings ostensibly are for Fed managers to gather data on local economic conditions from financial leaders, but CU participants have said they are ready to bring up a range of hot-topic policy issues ranging from setting of interchange rates to excessive compliance burdens.
"I'll tell you what I think is important: the future of mortgage lending and all the issues that surround Fannie and Freddie and the FHA," said Blake, maintaining that "up to now Fannie and Freddie have been among the agencies which provide low income housing." But their roles are changing, and now "I wonder about the future of the 30-year fixed rate. If the 30-year fixed rate were no longer available, then lenders would be more inclined to place shorter-term mortgages on their balance sheet. This, in turn, would provide better scrutiny of both consumer credit and housing collateral."
Meanwhile, Dwyer, of New England FCU, said he expects to discuss what he says is a key issue: "equal access to Fed services" among all financial institutions.
"I think it is vital that other credit unions understand the cost efficiency of Fed processing and access to check clearing services," said the longtime member of the Boston Fed and major user. Though his CU does rely on corporates for various services, "we have found the Fed very useful and we expect to continue," said Dwyer, who heads up Vermont's largest CU.