WASHINGTON – In the pursuit of safety and soundness, credit unions must not be so constrained by their regulator, or so risk-averse that they cannot meet the financial needs of their members, NCUA Board Member Rick Metsger said Tuesday morning at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference.
The former credit union volunteer turned regulator drew applause for that comment and others that communicated his ability to see regulation from the credit union’s side of the exam table.
“Credit unions must remain relevant in the mix of financial services options available to the American public,” Metsger continued. “A credit union that is safe and sound, but irrelevant to its members’ needs, is not a viable outcome of regulation.”
Metsger also charmed his general session audience in his first major conference address with humor, sharing stories of his credit union past and previous trips to GAC as a board member.
“I came to CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference six or seven times during my service on the credit union’s board of directors, sitting in the same chairs you are sitting in now and listening to the parade of speakers who would praise, promise and pontificate,” he said, adding to that two of the directors he served with in the 1990s were in the audience, still attending GAC.
For attendees meeting with lawmakers this week, Metsger provided an advocacy suggestion.
“If you really want to know the perspective your elected official has on the credit union industry and how it fits into the broader financial marketplace, I’d suggest that you start by asking a question, and listening to the answer, rather than by launching straight into your pitch,” he said. “Ask your elected representatives what they believe the primary differences are between credit unions and other financial services providers and why those differences are important to them. I believe the response you receive will give you a far better picture of where your Member of Congress stands and where your conversation should begin.”