WASHINGTON-NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar hit on the theme of change in his speech to attendees of NAFCU's Congressional Caucus last week at the Grand Hyatt in Washington. Change, as he indicated, has generally served the credit union community well. In reviewing alterations to the credit union community in recent years, the chairman touched on credit unions' efforts in member business lending and lobbying to expand their authorities in this area. He noted that federally insured credit unions offering member business loans dropped from 1,573 at the end of 1994 to 1,539 by year-end 2001. Dollar reminded his audience that the agency expected to have an updated member business lending proposed rule out by year's end, but that NCUA is constrained by statute. He stressed the difference between the multi-million dollar loans involved in commercial lending and the small business loans that credit unions are interested in getting more involved in for items like taxi cab medallions. Dollar added that member business lending is a key aspect of the agency's Access Across America initiative, NCUA's initiative to extend service to the underserved. The popular chairman acknowledged that business lending or adding underserved areas was not necessarily the right move for every credit union, but suggested all credit unions at least look into it. Dollar touched on changes occurring throughout the credit union community, including the hot topic of the agency's budget. He described the budget process as formerly closed and "spiraling," then noted NCUA's 2nd annual Budget Briefing and Public Forum, initiated by the current chairman, to be held November 7. He also pointed to the more efficient and streamlined agency structure and operations including greater focus on risk-based regulating and dropping agency staffing below the numbers of a decade ago without reductions in force or forced retirements, but through attrition. Dollar also discussed the shift away from what he calls a "one-size-fits-all" regulatory approach to earned regulatory flexibility. All these changes were initiated by Dollar. Ambitiously touching on several other important matters NCUA has been involved in aimed at helping the credit union community conduct its business, Dollar also talked about the modernization of the incidental powers rule and credit unions' ability to turn a profit on these services. [email protected]

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