BEAVERTON, Ore. (9/23/13)--Higher interest rates are coming, and credit unions should already have plans in place to manage risk and protect their reputation, urged Richard Metsger, the National Credit Union Administration's newest board member, during a visit to his home state of Oregon last week.
"We should have one goal...Today and tomorrow, our 95 million members must feel that credit unions are the one institution they can trust to have their best interests at heart," said National Credit Union Administration Board Member Richard Metsger at the annual meeting of Northwest Credit Union Association's Mt. Hood Chapter in Oregon. (Photo provided by the Northwest Credit Union Association)
"We should have one goal," Metsger told the annual meeting of the Northwest Credit Union Association's Mt. Hood Chapter of Credit Unions (Anthem Recap Sept. 20). "Today and tomorrow, our 95 million members must feel that credit unions are the one institution they can trust to have their best interests at heart."
(Metsger's statement fits in with the credit union movement's strategic vision where "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner." The Credit Union National Association and state leagues have rallied under the Unite for Good campaign to work toward this goal by fostering service excellence, increasing awareness of the value of credit unions to members and the community, and removing barriers, such as legislation and regulations, to that goal. Use the links for more information.)
With so many fixed-rate mortgages on the books, financial institutions face significant risk from rising interest rates, Metsger said. "I'm really, really concerned. Rates are at historic lows. There's only one way to go, and that's up. The only question is, 'How far, how fast?'"
Safeguarding the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund is the NCUA's top priority, Metsger said, which means ensuring that credit unions can serve their members' financial needs while also protecting the safety and soundness of the fund. "We must make sure that the public's trust and faith remain strong," he said.
Metsger's public comments were his first in Oregon since being sworn in on Aug. 23 as the NCUA's newest board member. Metsger said he's spent much of the time since adapting to life inside Washington D.C.'s Beltway.
"I'm proud to be the first board member from the Northwest," he said. "But it's a different type of culture (in D.C.), and trying to learn how things operate has been interesting."
Metsger served in the Oregon state Senate from 1999 to 2011. During his tenure, he was known for his straightforward, honest and unscripted style, said the Northwest Credit Union Association in the Anthem. His remarks to the Mt. Hood chapter were characteristically delivered off-the-cuff and without a prepared speech.
He vowed that the visit to a local chapter meeting would not be his last.
"I'm pretty accessible, and I'm always happy to talk to credit union folks," Metsger said. "Going around the country, dropping into credit unions, seeing how they're being impacted on the ground--that's important," he added. "I like to hear what's really going on."