GAC continues in grand style on Tuesday

An award-winning journalist, regulator, and legislators provide the day's headlines.

February 23, 2016


The U.S. government has plans for hurricanes, blizzards, earthquakes, and droughts—but nothing in the event of a cyberattack on one of the nation’s three power grids, author/broadcast journalist Ted Koppel said Tuesday. Koppel led a solid lineup of speakers during day three of the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC). Following are some highlights.

Ted Koppel at GAC 2016

Tuesday keynote speaker Ted Koppel warned attendees of a potential cyber Pearl Harbor—and favored them with two amusing political songs.


NCUA will look “aggressively and thoroughly” at the Network CU model this year, NCUA Vice Chairman Rick Metsger said Tuesday. The model enables smaller CUs to band together under one charter to solidify their operations while maintaining their individual identities. “The death of a small CU does not have to be a foreordained conclusion,” Metsger said.


Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., and a member of the House Financial Services Committee, said advocating with Congress helps CUs best serve their members.


GAC attendees were treated to a stunning performance Tuesday morning by the City Choir of Washington, D.C.


The Cooperative Trust’s James Marshall rallies the GAC Crashers after a breakfast sponsored by the CUNA Councils. During the breakfast, speakers offered “Six Takes on CU Excellence.”


The Maine CU League hosted a breakfast Tuesday with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, and Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, to discuss issues including regulatory burden. The Maine League used information from CUNA’s regulatory burden study to show the impact of excessive regulation on the CU industry.


Gary Vien, chief administration officer at Suncoast CU, Tampa, Fla., spoke about how easily his CU implemented the CUNA Member Activation Program (MAP) during a breakout session Tuesday. CUNA provides turnkey resources that allowed Suncoast to engage with its 60,000 members and urge them to contact elected officials about important issues such as data security.


Gigi Hyland, executive director of the National CU Foundation, joined other experts on small-dollar loans during a breakout session Tuesday to provide insight about the future of these important products, which give the financially disadvantaged an important alternative to payday lenders.


Ryan Myers, director of Cornerstone Advisors, presented in great detail the results of the regulatory burden cost study CUNA performed with the company last year. On average, small CUs must dedicate one in four staff members to regulatory tasks, Mathis said. And for all CUs, the amount of time spent grappling with compliance has doubled over the past four years.


John Best, CEO of Best Innovation Group, believes blockchain, the distributed database technology that supports the digital asset and payment system Bitcoin, “is as transformative as the Internet was in the late ‘90s,” he said Tuesday. Blockchain’s potential information security applications hold great promise, perhaps as a universal consumer identification tool, he added. Best Innovation Group is a CUNA consulting partner supporting CUNA’s efforts in advocacy, compliance, and keeping credit unions informed.


Gail Laster, director of NCUA’s Office of Consumer Protection, underscored at a regulatory breakout session Tuesday the principles-based approach for the agency’s recent member business lending final rule. The change from a prescriptive approach under the old rule allows CUs more latitude to reach their lending goals while still operating within regulatory parameters.

New CUNA Board Chairman Rod Staatz and exiting Chairwoman Susan Streifel participate in one of the GAC’s time-honored traditions: the ceremonial passing of a giant CUNA gavel to signify the change of command. The tradition also represents the “continuity of our movement,” as Streifel, president/CEO of Woodstone CU, Federal Way, Wash., phrased it. She told Staatz, president/CEO of SECU in Linthicum, Md., “You bring to this office a distinguished record of service to credit unions.”


Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., told CUNA GAC attendees Tuesday that CUs “should not pay for the sins of Wall Street,” and commended CUs for their member service, particularly to rural areas where financial services are often hard to come by. He told attendees the most effective advocacy comes from friends and neighbors who can tell their stories to legislators to spur them to action.

Town Hall

CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle and Chief Operating Officer Rich Meade answered questions from CUNA GAC attendees at the close of Tuesday’s general session. Questions ranged from the makeup of the NCUA board to the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s current expected credit losses proposal to how CUNA members can make the most of their membership.