Mercer op-ed: Ohioans will benefit from NCUA FOM proposal

February 16, 2016
CINCINNATI (2/16/16)--Ohio Credit Union League President/CEO Paul Mercer wrote about the benefits of the National Credit Union Administration’s (NCUA) field of membership (FOM) proposal in an op-ed in the Cincinnati Enquirer last week.

Mercer noted that while regulators and the industries in their charge often fail to see eye to eye, the NCUA’s FOM proposal would without question not only benefit credit unions, but also consumers.

The new guidelines “would provide greater accessibility to affordable, consumer-friendly financial services by modernizing the definitions of credit union membership,” Mercer wrote. “The change is good news for Ohioans, and for those who value people over profit.”

Mercer also argued that, as the communities credit unions serve evolve, so must their credit union charters.

“For decades in Ohio, these bonds were tied to steel mills, auto plants, school systems, municipalities, and other narrow groups before growing to regulator-defined communities,” Mercer wrote. “Today these same communities are increasingly interconnected beyond maps, associations and artificial boundaries, and as market demand and evolution mounts the definition of communities has changed.”

Mercer further pointed out that the proposal does nothing to alter the credit union philosophy, but rather reinforces it by allowing credit unions to provide financial services to previously underserved areas.

The proposal would change thresholds on service areas, population limits in those areas, local community definitions, and would allow a congressional district to become a basis for membership, he said.

“The rule would redefine communities that are underserved by financial institutions and select employer groups, two membership segments that are closely linked to the credit union purpose,” Mercer added.

In the end, the league president said the rule will provide Ohioans more access to the many benefits of credit union membership, and that adopting the rule as written would cultivate an expansion of the “people helping people” model, while also empowering consumers with more financial choice.