NCUA: Credit Unions Deserve a Fair Shake
The comment period on the NCUA's proposed risk-based capital rule is closed. The listening sessions are over. With more than 2,000 comment letters submitted and packed attendance at the three regional listening sessions, the proposed risk-based capital rule has garnered widespread concern among the credit union industry, to say the least.
In addition, lawmakers have also raised a multitude of questions. In a remarkable bipartisan effort, legislators from both sides of the aisle joined in record numbers to express their concerns regarding NCUA's risk-based capital proposal.
In May, led by Reps. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), 324 members of the House of Representatives asked in their own letter to NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz to consider significant changes to this proposed rule.
Many senators, including Senate Banking Committee members Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), along with Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Bill Nelson (D- Fla.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) also took issue in their own comment letters.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) in particular jointly aired concerns about the proposal's potential negative impact on agricultural lending and the NCUA's lack of recognition of the capital cushion examiners have encouraged credit unions to keep.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee Chairman Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) also wrote the NCUA noting specific concerns about the risk weights in the proposed risk-based capital rule.
And of note, House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) wrote the NCUA asking for information to support the agency's proposed capital rule, including how the rule was developed and what impact it will have on the credit union community. These types of formal inquiries are sometimes precursors to a hearing.
The NCUA has responded to some of the queries from Congress but the real response will be what the agency puts out in the form of a final rule following the plethora of comments and questions that have been raised. Currently, all of the comments are being considered by the NCUA as part of its internal deliberation. The NCUA has continued to reiterate that it will make changes throughout the rule. And we believe this is positive.
We also continue to urge an extended implementation period of at least three years. This would be appropriate for all stakeholders, credit unions and the NCUA alike, because with changes of this magnitude systems and software will need to be modified and tested. Likewise, NCUA examiners will need to be trained on any new rule and processes.
Ultimately, the agency's rule as proposed could put credit unions at a competitive disadvantage to banks, and credit unions need a guarantee that a final rule will cure this ill.
In the end, NAFCU's goal is to help the credit union system thrive, and we need the NCUA to create a regulatory regime that supports that. The next few months have the potential to bring even more rules as the agency moves to address its concerns with interest rate risk.
We hope the NCUA will keep in mind that finding ways to cut down on burdensome and unnecessary regulatory compliance costs is the only way credit unions can thrive and continue to provide their member-owners with the financial services and exemplary service they have come to expect from them.
Ultimately in our current environment, open debate with all stakeholders and policymakers becomes more important than ever. Whether the NCUA will get it right is a question that can't yet be answered. But will the agency be fair? We’re hoping that's an easier one and that the answer is yes.
Dan Berger is president/CEO of NAFCU. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 522-4770.