Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mark Calabria and NCUA Board Member J. Mark McWatters both talked about credit unions from the regulator perspective Monday at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference.
Calabria, who was confirmed by the Senate to lead the FHFA in April 2019, said community lenders such as credit unions are the “backbone of the mortgage finance system” and lamented post Dodd-Frank credit union closures. He praised NCUA Chair Rodney Hood’s efforts to achieve “right size” regulations to ensure a strong credit union environment.
He expressed admiration for credit unions and said he was committed to making a strong mortgage market that works for all, with credit unions an important part. Calabria encouraged credit unions to reach out to FHFA with recommendations on policy changes and ways to streamline regulations.
“I think it’s so important that what you do is special, and how you do it is special. No one else in the mortgage origination business can say their borrowers are other members. I think it’s fair to say that the last thing you’d ever want to do is foreclose on a member; rather, you’d like to help them stay in their home through good times and bad.”
Calabria also echoed several points of CUNA’s housing finance reform priorities, including that he wants to ensure that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do not discriminate when it comes to lenders based on size.
McWatters’ remarks addressed the agency’s recent sale of taxicab medallions, NCUA work on behalf of credit unions, and more. He also pledged to continue working on ways to help credit unions better serve members.
“Regulation, supervision, examination, and enforcement should derive from transparent and fully accountable rules and regulations that respect the ability of credit unions to make their own business decisions while allowing for innovation and growth that strengthens the credit union system and, as such, the Share Insurance Fund itself,” he said.
He also shared his thoughts on bank attacks over banks selling assets to credit unions.
"Based upon my experience as an M&A, corporate and tax attorney, and CPA for approaching 40 years, it is clear to me that market forces and arm’s-length negotiations have driven the recent spate of mergers between credit unions and community banks," McWatters said. "That is, as a person who reviews and studies these transactions at the NCUA, the relevant facts indicate that community banks are simply selling their assets to credit unions in market-driven, negotiated transactions. These transactions are not, based upon my analysis as a regulator, hostile or unfair to credit unions, community banks, or consumers."
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