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WASHINGTON-Attendees of NAFCU’s Congressional Caucus posed some serious questions to the NCUA Board members. When NCUA Board Member Debbie Matz finished her prepared remarks, one attendee asked her why so many large community charter conversions were being granted when hundreds of small credit unions were being driven out of business every year. She explained that this was an issue she struggled with all the time and that, for many, a field of membership expansion was the only way to continue prospering. She pointed to an FOM approved at September’s board meeting where the credit union’s initial service area had three-quarters of the population already members of credit unions. Matz admitted, “We have a very permissive definition,” which provides some competition, but she expressed the hope that the credit unions were looking to reach out to new consumers in the field of membership. “The key to surviving is not taking members from other credit unions, but reaching out to new members,” she said. The board member suggested that community chartered credit unions come up with best practices regarding their overlapping fields of membership with an eye toward smaller credit unions. Later that morning, NCUA Chairman JoAnn Johnson was asked about the competency of NCUA examiners in the member business lending area, which his credit union was just entering. Johnson reassured the audience, “We have, are and will continue to gear up.” She added that she had a goal for consistency across the regions as well. “Qualified lenders deserve qualified examiners,” Johnson stated. She also encouraged credit unions getting into business lending to call their examiners to ask how to do something in advance if they are unsure, “Our staff would much rather help on the front end than have to bring that hammer down [afterwards,]” she explained. [email protected]

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