WASHINGTON-NCUA Board Member Gigi Hyland encouraged credit unions to look at their current challenges as opportunities. She emphasized that NCUA’s efforts to begin documenting credit union service to members of modest means is only a pilot program. “I am absolutely opposed to imposing CRA-like requirements on credit unions,” Hyland, the third NCUA Board member to express such an opinion, said. Hyland quipped that credit unions never want to be on their regulator’s list for anything, but, “The pilot program is actually an opportunity to feel good about being on a list.” The 481 credit unions that will undergo the modest means questionnaire during their examination are being given “a genuine opportunity for credit unions to shine.” “This is an opportunity for credit unions to be able to define how your credit union serves its members,” Hyland stated. She noted that as she was going through the Senate confirmation process for her post, some Senators admonished NCUA as a `cheerleader’ regulator and asked how she would be able to distance herself from the industry, having been a part of it for 14 years. Hyland reiterated what she told the lawmakers: “I unabashedly believe in credit unions. I believe they can make a difference in people’s lives.” She has witnessed it throughout her career, and if that makes her a cheerleader, so be it, she said. A regulator’s job is primarily to ensure the safety and soundness of the credit union system. “But, I truly believe safety and soundness has to be balanced with regulatory flexibility,” she said. While safety and soundness is important, she said credit unions should not be overly cautious. She encouraged the credit union participants at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference to manage risk and not be risk averse. In line with safety and soundness, Hyland explained that NCUA is continuing to review the risk-based examination process. Another opportunity for credit unions is in the debate on mutual savings bank conversions. “NCUA, frankly, doesn’t have a lot of leeway on this,” she said. However, NCUA will continue to work to ensure members of credit unions considering a conversion have full and clear disclosure before them before casting their vote. The final opportunity she touched on was the board’s perception among other parts of the government. Hyland said it is very important to be viewed as “being a strong, well-respected regulator.” The board members are working to establish and grow relationships on Capitol Hill. -

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