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ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Something you will not often see is an NCUA Board member and the chairman of the American Bankers Association on the speakers’ list for the same conference. NCUA Vice Chairman Rodney Hood reached out to the North Carolina Bankers Association in a historic speech last week as the only sitting NCUA Board member in memory to address a banker group. ABA Chairman Harris Simmons was also on the agenda as well as America’s Community Bankers President and CEO Diane Casey-Landry. “I firmly believe that credit unions and banks have a shared vision and common goals,” Hood stated during his speech at the 110th Annual Convention of the North Carolina Bankers Association. The vice chairman himself is a former North Carolina banker. “In today’s dynamic financial marketplace, credit unions, banks, and thrifts share a vision for successfully managing regulatory burdens while seeking to provide financial products and services to consumers in a cost-effective manner.” NCBA’s Sam Atkins called Hood “an old friend of NCBA” and said of his comments, “I think it was well-received.” Hood explained that this opportunity was “unique” in that many of them “started their careers with me and I with them.” Hood said he was invited to speak there last June, even before he was confirmed to the NCUA Board, and his aim was to establish a better understanding of credit unions and their common goals with the banking community. He explained that he would not just go out and speak to any banking group, such as the ABA. Hood related that at a dinner the night before his remarks, the bankers there were unaware of credit unions’ 12.25% of assets cap on business lending or that they represent just 2% of all business loans originated. Hood said he looked at the opportunity not only “as a chance to build bridges but also a chance to inform.” He added that the theme of his speech, “shared vision, common goals” was particularly relevant in North Carolina. “North Carolina has worked very well, the banks and credit unions, to eliminate predatory lending around our military bases,” Hood pointed out. In his remarks to the approximately 300 attendees of the convention, Hood explained, “Banks and credit unions clearly have a shared goal in supporting regulatory relief. It is a challenge for bankers and credit unions to respond to the steady stream of new regulations while continuing to comply with existing ones. Regulation changes, especially for smaller credit unions and smaller community banks with limited staff can be quite costly since implementation often requires computers to be reprogrammed, staff retrained, manuals updated and new forms produced.” As a regulator, he said he believed, “Regulation needs to be effective and not excessive; and we are to manage risks and not avoid them.” Along this vein, Hood asked banks and credit unions to work together to help create a more efficient and effective system of compliance for Bank Secrecy Act compliance for both financial institutions and law enforcement. A portion of his remarks was devoted to curbing predatory lending. “Financial services providers are only as strong as their weakest community,” stated Hood. “As you are all aware, predatory lenders tend to establish outlets in poor communities that have watched economic progress from the sidelines. Those communities that have banks and credit unions are able to provide consumers with mainstream financial products and financial literacy that afford them access to achieving the American dream of homeownership, financing cars, sending children to college, and saving for their family’s future.” He highlighted a few other common interests like promoting homeownership and entrepreneurship, data security, consumer education, and support for the dual chartering system. “As a former commercial lender,” Hood said, “I know firsthand that banks and credit unions also strengthen communities through providing capital to small business owners, and have played a pivotal role in helping create the largest number of small business owners in history.” Concerning homeownership, he added, “Thanks to effective marketing, financial education, and product innovation, banks and credit unions have helped Americans achieve the highest homeownership rate in history.” Additionally, Vice Chairman Hood suggested that credit unions and banks must work together to protect consumers’ personal information and confidence in electronic commerce. “Having worked in financial services for almost twenty years,” he concluded, “I have seen firsthand the unique role that credit unions and banks play in today’s dynamic marketplace. Consumers are the true beneficiaries of a robust banking system and a vibrant credit union system.” [email protected]

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