CAMEL Disclosure: N.C. NCUA Exams Called 'Tempest in a Teapot', 'Blitzkrieg'
Credit union managers in North Carolina expressed frustration Wednesday with the ongoing CAMEL disclosure dispute that has NCUA examiners subjecting them to dual exams.
“This is all a tempest in a teapot and we’re the teabag,” groaned Joy Watts, president/CEO of the $78 million Carolina Postal CU of Charlotte.
Another credit union manager called the NCUA move “a blitzkrieg” that resulted from a conflict that “should have been resolved by reasonable adults.”
The NCUA in the past couple weeks has been sending examiners to 52 state-chartered, federally insured credit unions in North Carolina, saying the $24 billion State Employees’ Credit Union disclosure of its CAMEL score last fall meant the agency could no longer rely on dual examinations with state regulators.
Watts said a rotating group of five examiners arrived Jan. 21 and spent seven days combing her credit union’s books. “This was a first. We’ve never had a separate NCUA exam,” she said.
Watts said the examiners at her credit union had come from Illinois and Indiana, apparently, and were “courteous, helpful and tried to educate us on what they were doing.”
“I think one said he was from the home of Notre Dame at South Bend,” she said, stressing that her healthy CU had nothing to hide, “but since we never had anything like this before I was a little worried and I kept asking if they needed anything at all.”
Watts said she had heard “horror stories” of examiners closing down a CU for various infractions and on that front she said she sympathized with smaller brethren who might be overwhelmed by the visits.
“Maybe while doing their work, they’d like a cup of coffee or a latte?” she laughed.
Watts, who is a director of the North Carolina Credit Union League, which this week joined the negotiations to settle the dual exam dispute, said the extra exam “will not cost us directly but the fees will come from the overhead transfer portion of the stabilization expense.”
Regardless, the extra visit “seems like such a waste bringing on needless anxiety,” she said. And the examiners told her the yearly visit would be a routine from now on.
Watts called that a step toward undermining dual charters. Small state charters “may as well apply for a federal charter rather than go through this,” she said.
Echoing Watts on the “unnecessary nature” of the NCUA “blitzkrieg,” Jack Braswell, president/CEO of the $230 million Members CU of Winston-Salem, called the NCUA move “a knee jerk” reaction to a situation “that should have been resolved by reasonable adults.”
“I heard someone say, ‘This is like the parents fighting but ending up slapping the children,’” Braswell said.
He said three examiners were at his shop all week and found no apparent issues. Braswell said he understood NCUA examiners had been in the state for four weeks after being “brought in from Ohio and Indiana.”
Braswell said he heard the explanations from SECU President/CEO Jim Blaine, president/CEO of State Employees’ CU on his rationale for disclosing SECU’s CAMEL 2 rating during last week’s league-sponsored “town hall” meeting, but Braswell said he still may not completely appreciate the outcome.
“I’ve known Jim very well and I always try to figure out his agenda,” said Braswell.
Several other CEOs expressed indebtedness for Blaine’s and SECU’s financial and moral support for peer CUs in the state. “He did apologize” at the league meeting for any undue fallout, said Watts of Carolina Postal.