Jim Blaine on Transparency, CAMEL Score: ‘A Little Sun Under the Rock’
News Update: Jan. 13, 2012 - NCUA Orders Two Exams a Year in NC in Response
The CEO at the nation’s second-largest credit union said his institution doesn’t need to hide its CAMEL score and that perhaps others shouldn’t either.
After clearing it with state regulators, the $23 billion State Employees’ Credit Union of North Carolina announced Wednesday that it has a CAMEL score of 2 on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is the best.
SECU said it sought permission from the N.C. Credit Union Division to disclose its individual CAMEL score, which are confidential, and the 2 score was in its June 30 audit report from state regulators.
It’s all about transparency and reform, says the CEO of the 1.7 million-member institution.
“Shining a little sun under the rock never hurt anyone,” Jim Blaine told Credit Union Times on Thursday. “If a credit union has a problem with its CAMEL rating being revealed, perhaps there’s a deeper problem there, something going on that managers need to address and members need to know about.”
Blaine said that he thought such information should be publicly available on a routine basis, but added, “That’s up to individual credit unions and the regulators to decide.”
The NCUA regularly releases information about CAMEL scores without identifying individual credit unions, and announced in August it would begin sharing ratings of federally insured state-chartered credit unions with state regulators.
As for the move by SECU, the agency “does not release CAMEL codes or any other confidential supervisory information. The CAMEL information released is not NCUA's CAMEL rating of SECU," a spokesperson said.
In the interview Thursday, Blaine noted that his credit union is one of three (along with Navy Federal and PenFed) that are over $10 billion in assets and thus fall under the purview of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“As institutions get larger, it becomes harder for members and customers to really grasp the organization that they trust their money to. We think more should be expected of large institutions like us,” Blaine said.
He also said SECU’s move is a step towards the transparency he said is needed for effective reform in the nation’s financial system, and that credit unions should “lead the way.”
"I’m uncertain who’s being protected by not revealing or publishing this stuff,” he said. “Isn’t it a heck of a lot better to have an informed membership than having people occupy Wall Street or Pennsylvania Avenue?”