news.cuna.org/articles/111167-one-small-change-has-a-ripple-effect-on-everything
Elaine Evans

'One small change has a ripple effect on everything.'

Compliance brings order amidst the chaos.

October 22, 2016

Elaine Evans, quality control manager at $62 million asset Marion (Ohio) Community Credit Union, received a Compliance Champion Award Best in Class for credit unions with assets of less than $100 million.

The new honors from CUNA recognize outstanding achievements in credit union compliance management by individuals and credit unions.

Q: What’s your compliance philosophy?

A: We have rules and regulations for a reason—to keep credit unions’ and members’ money safe and secure. I’ve found over the years that when you start moving away from those rules and regulations, that’s when you see the problems begin, and then you end up chasing problems and potentially seeing losses.

The rules give everyone guidelines to make better decisions, and without them, there’s chaos. Compliance brings order.

While we don’t want to alienate members by asking for too much information, they’re very understanding if you break down why you need what you need. They know we’re helping them and protecting everybody.

Q: How have recent regulatory changes affected how your CU runs its compliance program?

A: It mostly means we’re doing more with the same or less resources than before, because the more regulations there are, the more money it costs, and the harder it becomes to manage.

We try and get management as involved as possible, to get the word out, and make sure people aren’t getting stuck in the old way of doing things.

This means always having the latest policies in place, developing procedures in a timely fashion, and making sure forms and programs are up to date. That can tend to get people bogged down, but it’s one of the most important functions of the institution.

Q: What’s one of the biggest compliance challenges you’ve faced? How did you address it?

Making sure you update everything—from top to bottom of the credit union—with new information. One small change has a ripple effect on everything from advertisements to membership packets, and it all needs to be correct. We include everyone at the credit union—including marketing and tellers—in the process to make sure the system is correct.

For example, with recent Truth in Lending Act changes, we were tracking down every sheet of paper that had the old information printed on it. It was like following a ball of yarn to the end.

It is rewarding once you finally get to the bottom, though, because you can be confident that your credit union’s members are getting the correct information.

Q: How can you make a positive impact on the CU system as a whole?

A: Being consistent in your practices, because you’ve got to safeguard the reputation not only of your credit union, but of credit unions as a whole. People tend to look at credit unions as all being related, so it means any mistakes make the credit union system vulnerable.

Any time you’re able to make a positive impact on a member helps the credit union system as a whole.

Q: What advice would you offer your compliance colleagues?

A: Make sure you use the vast number of resources available to you.

CUNA and the leagues have a lot to offer when it comes to compliance issues, and so does NCUA. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other compliance professionals when you have questions. They’re a great resource because chances are they’ve already dealt with a similar problem you’re facing and solved it.

Networking is very important in the compliance community, and it gets to the nature of the credit union philosophy of people helping people.

It’s rewarding to help someone solve a problem, and it’s rewarding to put procedures in place to help your staff succeed. You need to help those on the front line stay motivated.