Boosting growth a key priority for US credit unions in 2019

Nafcu says revised regulation may be necessary to address structural changes to growth

A strategy for continued growth for the US credit union sector has been outlined for 2019.

The National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (Nafcu) has published a list of priorities for the year, which includes supporting legislation and regulation to help credit unions grow their membership, loans and revenue.

Nafcu says regulation may have to be revised to address structural changes to growth. It suggests allowing credit unions to issue supplemental capital, making membership rules more flexible and ensuring fair pricing for the sector as part of the housing finance reform.

The federation will also press for the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to be the sole industry regulator, exempting credit unions from Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection oversight, and fostering strong relationships with NCUA board members to ensure credit unions’ voices and concerns are heard.

In terms of transparency, Nafcu will encourage government accountability, including reducing the NCUA’s overall operating budget, reforming the bureau structure and getting additional National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) distributions for credit unions.

Regulatory relief remains a concern for the sector. Nafcu calls for “clear, streamlined regulation that allows credit unions to put more resources toward serving members”. The federation also aims to preserve the credit union tax exemption which, it estimates, saves US consumers US $16bn annually.

As they compete with larger banks, credit unions will also strive to promote innovation and are in favour of creating national data and cybersecurity standards. Nafcu wants new regulation for fintech companies to create a level playing field, and more data/cyber security measures to hold retailers accountable.

“Our commitment to serving you and representing you before policymakers as your Washington watchdog is personal,” said Nafcu president and CEO Dan Berger. “For me, the Nafcu board and staff, this means we will stop at nothing to ensure a legislative and regulatory environment that promotes health and viability for your institutions.”

Mr Berger shared these priorities with leaders of the NCUA, Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and the Treasury Department. 

In 2018 Nafcu met with president Donald Trump at the White House where it secured his support for the Nafcu-backed Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155), which was enacted in May. The federation also testified before 12 congressional panels during the 115th Congress on issues critical to the sector, including housing finance reformaccess to small business loan programs and Bank Secrecy Act relief.