McWatters pledges greater diversity at NCUA

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J. Mark McWatters, chairman of the National Credit Union Administration, emphasized the importance of diversity in hires during the agency’s monthly board meeting.

The regulator aims to “attract, engage, and retain a highly skilled diverse workforce and cultivate an inclusive environment” as part of its strategic plan for 2019.

“Those are easy words to say,” McWatterrs said, recognizing that many institutions discuss the issue. “I think everyone says those words now, but it is something else to actually be doing about it.”

“So we can talk the talk, but can we walk the walk?” he asked during the meeting on Thursday at the agency’s headquarters in Alexandria, Va.

NCUA increased its female hires by 5 percent from 2017 to 2018 while minorities at the senior staff level increased by 21 percent. Total minority representation increased by about six percent, and McWatters noted that the agency also added members of the LGBTQ community to its diversity program.

The financial services industry has long struggled with diversifying its top ranks. More than half of credit unions are led by women but they tend to be the CEOs of smaller institutions.

NCUA also unanimously approved two measures during the meeting, which was the first of the year.

The first proposal was giving the green light to the agency's 2019 annual performance plan, an initiative that assists the NCUA with its goals. The strategic plan emphasizes ensuring a safe and sound credit union system, providing a framework that is efficient and improves consumer access and maximizing organizational performance.

The second item approved was a request from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to revise its member business lending rule to ensure parity with NCUA’s own rule approved in May. The change last year said that federally insured credit unions didn’t have to count credits made for 1-to-4 family properties as member business loans regardless of the occupancy.

In other NCUA news, President Trump said he would renominate Rodney Hood for an open seat on the board. Trump first selected Hood back in June, but Congress hasn’t approved the nomination.

If confirmed, Hood would serve until 2023. He previously served on the board from 2005 to 2009 during former President George W. Bush’s tenure.

Hood’s renomination was touted by both the Credit Union National Association and the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions. Both groups praised Hood’s understanding of credit unions and the work he has done on reducing the regulatory burden.

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Regulatory reform Diversity and equality Workforce management MBL J. Mark McWatters NCUA