While the CAMEL disclosure controversy shows no signs of slowing down, maybe it’s time for reasonable heads to prevail and allow both sides to reflect upon the fallout from State Employee’s Credit Union’s action.
Amid the discourse is the deafening silence from SECU’s board of directors. If their voices have been heard within the state, little comment from them has been available to those of us watching from the sidelines. May we assume that the SECU board approved the release of the CAMEL rating? And, if they didn’t approve of it in advance, why not? Or perhaps the board delegated that responsibility to the management staff of the credit union?
Credit union boards have the fiduciary responsibility to their members. Financial disclosure falls under that realm, including reasonable and understandable financial condition reports. It could be argued that members and the public do not have a working knowledge of what CAMEL ratings are and what they say about a particular credit union. Without that confidence, or lacking a thorough explanation of CAMEL ratings, boards should in general exercise caution in publishing data that can easily be misinterpreted by members or cause them to wonder why these ratings are not universally provided.
In addition to the fiduciary duties of boards, they also accept functions of planning, organizing, directing, coordinating and controlling their credit unions. As a directing responsibility, the board agrees to operate the credit union in accordance with federal and state credit union acts. When a conflict such as this one between the federal policy and the state permission arose, the board could have moved into the coordinating realm and attempted to synchronize a more harmonious solution.
The Monday morning picture allows for shared blame on both sides. For the future, lessons for other credit unions emphasize the all-important role of directors and their duty to protect the credit union by formulating the governance policies which will allow the credit union to function effectively through sound business practices.
Carson City, Nev.