System healthy, but CU burdens must be addressed: CUNA letter

October 28, 2015

WASHINGTON (10/28/15)--American consumers cannot afford non-action on the crisis that is the regulatory burden facing credit unions, CUNA told members of a U.S. Senate subcommittee Tuesday.

In a letter submitted for the record for today's Senate Banking subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer protection hearing, CUNA highlighted the more than 200 regulatory changes from nearly two dozen federal agencies totaling more than 6,000 pages.

“We are confident that if barriers are removed, credit union members will be better off than they are today, because their credit unions will be spending less resources on complying with outdated, poorly focused and unreasonably burdensome regulation, and more on meeting the financial services needs of their members,” CUNA’s letter reads. “We stand ready to work with you to remove these barriers.”

CUNA notes that the health of the credit union system, with a systemwide capital ratio of 10.9%, and credit unions' history of serving members in good times and bad--including during the recent economic crisis--means there is little justification for the current barriers that hamper member service.

“If these barriers are removed, the impact that credit unions could have on the financial lives of their members would be that much more significant and the economic contribution credit unions and their members make would be that much greater,” the letter reads.

The hearing is about the regulatory burdens facing small financial institutions. Carrie Wood, president/CEO of Timberland FCU, DuBois, Pa., and a CUNA member, will testify. Wood will share how her credit union’s products and services are affected by regulatory burdens as an example of how a rural credit union is struggling under the weight of massive regulations.

CUNA also included several measures Congress should consider to remove barriers preventing credit unions from more fully serving their members, including:

  • Improve the Federal Credit Union Act by enacting legislation to improve credit union capital requirements; restoring credit union business lending authority to pre-1998 levels; and modernizing credit unions’ loan maturity restrictions, investment authority and federal credit union bylaws;
  • Consider structural reforms to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that would enhance stability, including passing legislation to allow the bureau to be run by a commission, addressing consequences of mortgage rules and protect marketplace participants from frequently changing regulatory requirements;
  • Ensure that Federal Home Loan Bank system eligibility rules for small credit unions are the same as they are for small banks, and to permit privately insured credit unions to join the system;
  • Address examination fairness issues by enacting legislation that creates an independent ombudsman and independent appeals process;
  • Modernize privacy notification requirements, and to improve merchant data security standards; and
  • Refrain from imposing any new burdens on credit unions. For example, the National Credit Union Administration has requested authority to supervise third-party vendors.

CUNA also reiterated its support for a number of provisions in the Financial Regulatory Improvement Act of 2015, introduced by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chair of the Senate Banking Committee. Shelby’s bill contains a number of provisions to ease the regulatory burden on credit unions and other small financial institutions.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. (ET) and will be streamed live on the Senate Banking Committee website.