Matz: Home-Based CUs Are History
In an exclusive interview with CU Times, NCUA Board Chairman Debbie Matz said the days of credit unions operating out of homes are over.
The NCUA approved a proposed rule by a 2-1 vote at the agency’s December board meeting that would require home-based credit unions to move into commercial office space within two years.
“For an industry that is growing and becoming more and more sophisticated and is concerned about the reputation of the industry, I don’t think that there is any justification for having a financial institution in somebody’s home,” Matz said. “I really think that those days are over.”
The text of the proposed rule said the NCUA had contacted each home-based credit union to offer assistance.
Some home-based credit unions told CU Times they were not contacted by the NCUA.
“It’s interesting you should say that because there clearly is a misunderstanding,” Matz told CU Times. “In June of this past year, our office of small credit union initiatives sent all home-based credit unions information about relocation services that we offer including a re-location guide, grant assistance, consulting assistance and these notices were provided via email if the credit union had e-mail or by phone and also that information has been available online and in the newsletter,” she added.
Matz also said home-based credit unions should take responsibility for getting information instead of solely relying on the NCUA.
“We did try to get in touch with all of these credit unions. We basically know which are the home-based credit unions and we think we know how many there are but they don’t necessarily have to self-identify that on the call report. If they don’t have e-mail and if they don’t have voicemail, it’s very hard to get in touch with them,” Matz said.
“If these home-based credit unions have the wherewithal and the desire to grow and to serve as many members as possible, then they can find commercial space or other space that’s publicly available but being in their home is in many cases a credit union that has not grown and does not offer many services. I feel very strongly that examiners are not going to be going into another person’s home. There are safety issues but also protecting the privacy of the data is an issue,” she added.
In some cases, Matz pointed out that the credit union’s manager is paid a rental income for use of their home, which could be applied to commercial space.
In response to those that argue home-based credit unions are a part of history that should be honored, Matz said credit unions have to change with the times.
“I think that’s what it is – history. You know, the buggy whip was useful in its time. It’s not useful anymore and I think for financial institutions especially, if you don’t change with the times and stay ahead of the curve, you and your members become very vulnerable – both in terms of privacy and in terms of cyber threats and safety issues,” she said.
“Yes, they were part of the credit union history, but we’re in 2014 now and times have changed and financial institutions have changed as well. If you are stuck in the past, that means that you are not growing, you are not serving your members well, and they would probably receive better services from a different credit union.”