Stepping Down

September 23, 2009

Daniel A. Mica

I’m moving on, but definitely not retiring.

You may have heard I’m stepping down as the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) CEO, effective January 2011. If you haven’t heard, well, it’s true: I’ll be moving on.

Let me be clear about one thing, however—I’m not retiring. I’m of the firm conviction that there’s much more room left in my life to do any number of things.

And I’m just as clear that change is a good thing—for me, personally, and for the credit union movement, generally. Change has the potential to open the window to fresh air and to clear the way for new ideas and approaches.

For me, change has come around about every 10 years or so: as a congressional staff member, as a member of Congress, and in my position before coming to CUNA. In each case, I closed out my service after about 10 years.

At CUNA, things worked out just a bit different. I love what I do here with and for credit unions, and I deeply care about the credit union movement. Both sentiments caused me to stay on a bit longer than my past practice.

But now that I’ve made this decision—of my own choosing and my own preference—the die is cast for the next 15 months or so. During that time, among other things, I’ll participate in finding my own successor with the board-appointed executive search committee.

Further, I pledge to work with the board, staff, leagues, and credit unions nationwide to see that CUNA doesn’t miss a beat during this transition period from one leader to the next.

The issues and challenges before us right now demand that we maintain momentum. Here’s why:
•  The Consumer Financial Protection Agency will continue to be debated in the Congress. Controversial to some, CUNA has said it could support the new consumer-oriented regulatory body if a set of seven issues affecting credit unions are satisfactorily addressed. These issues deal largely with the unique characteristics of credit unions and their regulation.

•The negative impact on credit unions of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act must be erased. We’re in continuing discussions with the National Credit Union Administration (the agency that will enforce the law) about giving credit unions breathing room. We’re also exploring a legislative fix that could either narrow the reach of the provisions, or extend the compliance date.

•  The nation’s economic recovery needs all the help it can get, and credit unions—as a source of small loans to their members’ businesses—are tailor-made to be part of the solution. Legislation to give credit unions more flexibility in extending business loans to their members is now pending in Congress. Banks are vehemently opposed to this legislation, so we need all the support we can muster.

•  Merchants continue to threaten interchange fee income at credit unions and other financial institutions, particularly by limiting what institutions may charge. We understand that fiddling with the interchange structure could actually limit consumers’ options, ultimately costing them more money.

•  It’s imperative that credit unions have the authority to build additional capital, either from members or nonmembers, in a way that doesn’t dilute credit unions’ cooperative ownership and governance structure.

And there’s much more on our collective plates right now.

While I’m making a change because the time is right for me, you can be sure that CUNA’s ability to effectively face these issues remains unchanged. CUNA’s management team is a fine-tuned group of professionals who understand credit unions and their challenges. Working with the CUNA Board and our partners—the leagues—I know they’ll protect your interests and support your operations.

I am a true believer in credit unions. I have seen how they provide the best deal to consumers, and I’m convinced that credit unions will become of even greater importance to a growing number of consumers.

DANIEL A. MICA is president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association.