It has truly been an honor to serve as NAFCU’s president and CEO for 13½ years. Before I leave, I’d like to share a few thoughts about where our industry has been and where it is likely headed.
The financial services industry has seen more change in the past decade than just about any other. From the financial crisis and the Great Recession to the ongoing fight against overregulation, credit unions have had to prove themselves again and again by adapting to the ever-changing environment while keeping their focus on what is best for their members.
Within two weeks of my start at NAFCU in January 2000, I had what you could call a baptism by fire. The House and Senate judiciary committees were negotiating a bankruptcy bill that had the potential to limit credit union members’ ability to reaffirm loans after filing for bankruptcy. I was encouraged by how the NAFCU board responded to the threat, as we moved quickly to lead the effort to oppose this development–and in a short period of time, we had convinced the committees to include new language that would protect credit unions.
Of course, that was only the beginning. The credit union industry was dealing with increased regulation in the wake of the 1998 passage of H.R. 1151. The regulatory burden for federally chartered credit unions was driving many credit unions away. In the three years before I arrived at NAFCU, 146 credit unions had converted to state charters, and others had converted to mutual banks.
We lobbied the NCUA Board and brought about an overhaul of the FOM rules. These new regulations allowed community credit unions to serve entire cities or counties, and, further, created a new charter for credit unions servicing a trade, industry or profession. This achievement freed credit unions to offer a real alternative to their communities and beyond, especially for people in places underserved by banks.
While that was a success, there was more to be done. H.R. 1151 also resulted in excessive restrictions on member business lending, which particularly hampered credit unions’ ability to serve entrepreneurs and small businesses.
In 2003, NAFCU turned to Capitol Hill again to urge our allies to introduce what became known as CURIA. This was the beginning of multiple efforts on NAFCU’s part to reduce the regulatory burden on credit unions.
The effort to reduce the regulatory burden on credit unions became even more important in the aftermath of the financial crisis with passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and, of course, the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2010.
During the height of the financial crisis, NAFCU worked diligently to lift the Central Liquidity Facility appropriations cap and pass legislation to implement the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund. We also ensured parity for credit unions by convincing the NCUA to increase the insured amount of individual deposits accounts to $250,000.
As each of these developments came about, NAFCU maintained its relentless focus on its members and our industry, remaining committed to preserving the credit union industry’s unique role in American communities.
The organic creation of Bank Transfer Day in 2011, resulted in hundreds of thousands of consumers joining credit unions after their frustration with the high fees and poor customer service offered by banks had taken their toll.
Finally, this past February, we introduced our five-point plan for comprehensive regulatory relief, soon to be embodied in legislation by Congressmen Gary Miller (D-CA). Finally, as I depart, I am confident that NAFCU will continue to excel under the leadership and guidance of Dan Berger, who will continue the fight for credit unions and their members. You can rest assured that your association will not miss a beat during the transition and in the years to come.
Fred R. Becker