NAFCU: We Could Be Super Heroes

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Credit unions as Super Heroes?

That's what NAFCU President Fred Becker posited during his group's 39th annual convention last week.

But which Super Hero?

Why, Spiderman, of course.

That's because he's a regular guy, doing great things for average people, Becker said.

And like Spiderman, credit unions are able to rescue citizens from villainous banks, protect them from predatory lenders, and serve the needs of all Americans.

Becker even disrobed before the 2,000 attendees to the annual trade show to display a Spiderman shirt under his suit.

Becker also departed from his usual approach and urged the gathered credit union executives to step out just a little bit and take some chances, on their communities and on needy members.

"Our primary focus should always be our members, and helping others become members-not our CAMEL ratings," said Becker.

"But I believe that we can strike a balance-and like Peter Parker (Spiderman)-be Super Heroes-even though we're just regular people," the NAFCU President said.

Later, NCUA Chairman JoAnn Johnson struck a similar vein, telling the attendees that NCUA has a responsibility to respond to Congressional concerns about credit unions and demonstrate that credit unions are serving the underserved.

Johnson said the agency has received overwhelming cooperation from the more than 400 credit unions targeted to participate in its pilot data collection project, aimed at providing Congress with a glimpse at credit union service to the underserved.

The project is expected to be complete, as scheduled by the end of August, she added.

Johnson met last week with several key lawmakers to discuss ongoing agency initiatives, including the dilemma surrounding the underserved expansion rules. On the one hand, she told the members of Congress, NCUA is defending itself against an American Bankers Association lawsuit claiming its overstepped it legal boundaries in allowing credit unions to expand into underserved communities.

On the other hand, she pointed out, the bankers, and members of Congress, are insisting that credit unions do more to serve underserved communities.

She said her suggestion to amend the Federal CU Act to allow all credit union types-not just multiple group charters-be allowed to expand into underserved communities, received support from those lawmakers she met with.

The NCUA chairman also touted the agency's proposed rule to expand disclosures for conversions to mutual savings banks, explaining that greater transparency in the process served the purpose of consumer (member) protection.

She urged attendees to submit comments on the proposed conversion rules.

Johnson also said she will continue to lobby Congress for enactment of a risk-based capital system for credit unions, even as it is not likely to be passed this year.

She told The Credit Union Journal she believes the best chance for the initiative may be when banking regulators amend their own risk-based capital rules.

As usual, the annual convention proved a boon for NAFCU's political action committee. Despite being washed out by a torrential rainstorm, the PAC's annual golf tournament raised more than $18,000, with no one asking for a refund-even though the event was cancelled after just two holes.

A silent auction and PAC dinner brought the annual haul to more than $25,000, which will be used to help fund political allies during this fall's elections. (c) 2006 The Credit Union Journal and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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