Alabama credit unions took advantage of the first field hearing by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director to express their concerns about the regulatory burden.
“The Birmingham hearing provided credit unions a great opportunity to talk directly to Director Cordray about the challenges and the already increased burden of regulation,” said Patrick LaPine, president/CEO of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions.
LaPine helped organize the hour-long session that followed the hearing, a session he said allowed the credit union leaders to express their angst over the prospect of heightened regulatory scrutiny from a newly created federal agency.
“We feel it is important that credit unions speak out now,” a league spokesman said. The field hearing on payday lending seemed opportune. The CFPB had earlier queried the league on finding a CU leader to testify on the topic since Alabama and Birmingham for months have been at the center of a statewide fight over predatory practices and outlet proliferation.
Birmingham, with 80 lenders, recently instituted a six-month moratorium on any new shops. There are more than 1,000 payday outlets throughout Alabama.
Testifying at the special CFPB hearing, which drew 400 leaders from credit unions, banks and other providers, was Daryl McMinn, vice president of operations at the $536 million Listerhill CU of Muscle Shoals, who pleaded with CFPB to “let credit unions like ourselves provide vital services to consumers without heavy regulation tying our hands.”
He cited Listerhill’s alternative product, the Better Choice $500 loan with an 18% rate and 30-day repayment plan.
Such loans have been break-even for Listerhill, McMinn said, but serve a needy segment of the market and so for the future “we can’t provide these kinds of loans if we don’t have the flexibility to offer them.”
He stressed the need for Listerhill and other CUs to have “the creative capacity to offer such products down the road.”
Taking part in the Birmingham sessions along with Cordray was Elizabeth Vale, the agency’s aassistant director for community banks and credit unions. Vale had earlier spoken at the league’s development conference in Point Clear, Ala., in November.