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ARLINGTON, Va. – With 2005 winding down, NASCUS Board and advisory council board chairs and officers met at the association’s offices for three days in mid-December for executive committees meetings to discuss their goals and strategies for the new year. The executive committees are comprised of the chairs and officers of the NASCUS Board and the Credit Union Advisory Council Board. The regulator members of the executive committees include: NASCUS Chairman Linda Jekel, director of credit unions, Washington state; Chair-elect Ken Roberts, acting deputy superintendent for the Ohio Division of Financial Institutions; and Secretary Doris Gunn, deputy commissioner for the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions. The Credit Union Advisory Council members of the executive committees include: Chair Jo Anne Filwock, president, Financial Health CU; Chair-elect Mendell Thompson, president, America’s Christian CU; and Secretary Parker Cann, president, Columbia CU. In addition to prioritizing goals for the coming year and strategizing action plans, NASCUS President/CEO Mary Martha Fortney said the annual meetings which were held Dec. 14-16 were an opportunity to meet with congressional staffers on Capitol Hill, their staff, and representatives from NCUA. Overall, Jekel said the meetings are an opportunity for Advisory Council Board members to learn what state regulators are doing, and for the NASCUS Board to hear what credit unions consider to be the hot issues facing them and need to be looked at on a regular basis. Over the three days, the executive committees met with new NCUA Board members Rodney Hood and Gigi Hyland as well as with NCUA senior staff and regional directors to discuss current issues relevant to state regulators. The attended the swearing in ceremony and reception at the U.S. Capitol for Hood and Hyland on Dec. 15. Members of the Credit Union Advisory Council Executive Committee members also met with Rep. Brad Sherman’s (D-Calif.) staff. Dan Sagar, senior policy analyst with the House Committee on Financial Services visited with both state regulators and credit union members of the executive committees at NASCUS’ offices in Virginia. Looking back on 2005, Fortney recounted some of the association’s goals for last year such as working to strengthen state regulatory agencies by making sure they have all the necessary tools to supervise state-chartered credit unions – 82% of state-chartered credit unions’ assets are currently supervised by 28 state regulatory agencies accredited by NASCUS. The association also focused on providing more education and training classes to state examiners. Jekel described NASCUS as being “very nimble” on education. “If an issue comes up and the regulators feel they need additional training, NASCUS finds experts to provide us that training,” she said. For example, Jekel said the association provided three seminars in 2005 on BSA and also held a webinar every six weeks on a variety of timely topics. NASCUS has 15 school classes scheduled for regulators in 2006. Another area NASCUS has been giving a lot of attention to is strengthening corporate governance on the credit union level. On the regulator side, Jekel said regulators were also encouraged to go back to their bylaws and policies and polish them up. “It’s good to make sure you’re in good shape before you ask credit unions to do the same,” she said adding that, “We’ve seen more visibility of what credit union corporate governance is in areas such as charter conversions, merger activities and maintaining trusts of memberships. It’s time for credit unions to look at their democratic processes and determine if they’re doing their best practices.” Fortney reminded that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) stressed the importance of verifiability in his hearing last year, and to that end she said “enhanced practices are a goal of ours. It’s important to be proactive in this, it promotes good public policy.” Formulating its goals for 2006, Fortney said one priority for the association is the continued strengthening of state regulatory agencies and possibly offering a mentorship to those that haven’t yet been accredited by NASCUS. Of those state agencies that haven’t yet received their NASCUS accreditation, Fortney said some are in the process of applying and others “are not interested.” She stressed though that “just because a state credit union regulatory agency isn’t accredited doesn’t mean they don’t have worthwhile practices and policies.” Fortney said, “We don’t expect all state agencies to be accredited. The process is expensive – $10,000 plus a $1,000 annual fee for the annual review. With budgets being so tight, an agency may not have the money for that. Also, some states may have few or even no state-chartered credit unions. Hawaii, for example, only has two or three, and Arkansas doesn’t have any.” Jekel added that the application preparation process is also very lengthy and time consuming – it took Washington state about a year to complete its preparation. Also on NASCUS’ 2006 radar screen, Fortney explained, is continuing to minimize federal preemption and preserving state choice on Capitol Hill, as well as continuing to increase the association’s presence with other organizations. Another area that Jekel said NASCUS intends to continue to focus on is alternative capital. “We realized from 2005 that we have a lot of work to do taking with credit unions, NCUA and state regulators why it’s important to have alternative capital. We thought there would be more interest in it, but we found some credit unions and regulators don’t understand the concept. We were surprised there wasn’t more interest in it, and it caught us by surprise. There’s a need for more understanding of alternative capital,” she said. Lastly, NASCUS intends to continue to work on the Unrelated Business Income Tax issue. Jekel said NASCUS “thought we’d get more headway with the IRS understanding of credit unions. We realize we have more work to do with the IRS.” -

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