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TOPEKA, Kan. – It’s like dj vu for John Smith. After being away from the Kansas Department of Credit Unions for eight years while serving as director of the Missouri Division of Credit Unions from 1999 to April 2005, Smith has officially begun working as the new Administrator for the Kansas regulatory agency – the same position he held from 1993-1998. Smith, a native of Kansas City, Mo., was unanimously confirmed by the Kansas state Senate for the appointment on Feb. 2. He succeeds Jerel Wright who served in the position for about seven years and resigned in September 2005 to work at the Kansas Credit Union Association heading up its governmental affairs department. “It’s like someone turned the clock back,” Smith quipped, “not too much has changed.” He’s using the same office he did eight years ago, and most of the Department of Credit Unions staff working there now were there during Smith’s first turn as credit union administrator. That includes four examiners. Even so, some things have changed in the credit union landscape in Kansas since Smith has been away. For ont thing, there were 121 CUs when he left and there are now only 91. “I’m glad to be back at the Kansas Department of Credit Unions and back in a regulatory position with credit unions. I’ve had a long history with credit unions either on the volunteer or regulatory side, and I enjoy working with them. The 27 years I spent as a volunteer on the board or supervisory committee of Wesley Medical CU in Wichita was always very enjoyable for me,” said Smith. While he has to bring himself up to speed on some things now that he’s back on the Kansas regulatory side, adjusting to differing issues facing Kansas’ credit unions isn’t among them. Smith said the issues are “pretty similar.” One item that may eventually need a closer look at is the state’s credit union act. Smith said it was last recodified in 1991, although there have been some moderate changes made since then in areas, for example, pertaining to CUSOs. But Smith said, “It’s still too early now to see if we need to make more changes.” A more immediate situation facing the state regulatory agency is it’s inclusion as part of the state government’s legislative post-audit pertaining to “Regulator of Credit Unions: Reviewing the Department of Credit Unions’ Procedures for Ensuring Institutions’ Safety, Soundness, and Compliance with the Law.” According to the Kansas legislature’s Division of Post Audit, the action is being taken in response to credit unions expansion of their range of services “spurred in part by regulatory changes and the advent of online services.” Consequently, it reads, “Legislators have expressed an interest in knowing whether the Department of Credit Unions is providing adequate oversight of credit unions’ expanded services consistent with the department’s current statutory authority, whether Kansas consumers are adequately protected, and whether the department has adequate procedures for regulating expansions or mergers of credit unions.” It continues to state that, “Other legislative concerns have been raised about whether the department has allowed out-of-state credit unions to operate branches in Kansas without reciprocity agreements allowing Kansas credit unions to operate in those states; the number of these out-of-State branches, the extent to which they have acquired Kansas credit unions, the impact these acquisitions may have on the department’s ability to carry out its mission; and whether state laws or regulations or department actions may put Kansas-based credit unions at a competitive disadvantage or encourage those acquisitions.” Smith explained that periodically state agencies are audited, and as far as he knows “there are no problems I’m aware of, but as we go through the process we’ll find out if there are concerns.” He’s also not concerned at this point about the banker/credit union atmosphere in the state. While Smith was director of the Missouri Division of Credit Unions he was named as a defendant in several field-of-membership appeals by the Missouri Bankers Association who challenged his decisions in several cases to grant FOM expansions to CUs in Missouri who had filed applications. Smith said there have been no similar challenges by bankers in Kansas. Now that he’s back in a state regulator’s seat, Smith is looking forward to resuming his involvement with NASCUS. He had been chair-elect before he left his position in Missouri and had also been very involved with many of the association’s committees and task forces. “Mary Martha (Fortney) hasn’t wasted any time asking me to be on some committees,” said Smith of the NASCUS president/CEO. “I plan to be involved, but I don’t know which ones yet. I served on nearly all of them already anyway,” he said. -

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