Before social media took over, there was this strange form of communication called face-to-face conversation. Two people would actually stand in the same room, look at one another and exchange thoughts and ideas through verbal interaction. For those of you who remember this form of communication, you may recall that it was actually interesting. It gave you a feeling of connection with the person you were talking to.
Wanting to take the pulse of America, the reporting media years ago would send someone out to get actual face-to-face feedback from everyday people. On the subsequent newscast, where they would share this information, it would be reported to the general public by the “Man on the Street,” the person who would engage others in the art of conversation.
I have found that talking to executives and directors about pressing credit union issues has been extremely helpful. Their ideas, comments and suggestions have informed my thinking and decisions.
In recent weeks, the most significant matter they have wanted to talk about is the rule proposed by the NCUA Board relating to certain credit unions being allowed to engage in derivative investments.
As everyone is aware, such an investment product is not for everyone. Some estimate that as few as 50 out of more than 6,700 credit unions would actually engage in such an activity if authorized.
So playing the role of Man on the Street, I have been talking to small groups across the country. I have asked them individually their thoughts on derivatives. I was amazed at some of the responses and the strong opinions they have on the subject and who should pay for it, if it became a final rule.
In my conversations with these credit union executives and directors, I have asked three simple questions:
- Do you believe credit unions should have derivatives authority?
- Would you engage in derivatives?
- How should the regulation of that activity be paid for?
Every person I asked answered those questions in a very concise and definitive way. There was no waffling and no side stepping, just straight answers. I found it very refreshing.
July 29 is the last day you are able to submit your comments to the NCUA Board about your thoughts on the proposed derivatives rule. It is extremely important that every credit union take the time to answer the three questions I regularly ask.
After all, if it becomes a final rule, it can, in some way, impact your credit union and how you conduct business. The NCUA Board needs to know what you are thinking and why.
Until that date, I will continue to be the Man on the Street asking questions and getting your responses. What you are thinking is important to me and will be a major factor in how I vote on a final rule.
So, as Kelsey Grammar would say on “Frasier”: “I’m listening.”
Michael E. Fryzel