NCUA's New Small CU Working Group Holds Its 1st Meeting

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Members of the National Credit Union Administration's newly created Small Credit Union Working Group met for the first time last week to discuss some of the issues that need to be addressed.

NCUA Board Member Debbie Matz proposed the creation of the group after listening to small credit union leaders' concerns during the NCUA's Strategic Leadership Summit in January. The group said smaller financial institutions needed policies geared toward their unique needs.

The Small Credit Union Working Group, made up of representatives from various NCUA departments, expects to initially meet monthly to set some goals, map out a plan and set deadlines for completion.

"Small credit unions, those under $10 million, are the icons of the credit union movement,'' Matz said. "They are what many people think of when they think of credit unions.''

Credit unions with fewer than $10 million represent more than 50% of all federally insured credit unions, Matz noted, although they represent a far smaller piece of total assets. Matz expressed concern over the fact small CUs are disappearing at a rapid rate due, in part, to the unique challenges they face in the shadows of credit union consolidations, expansive fields of membership and the growing prevalence of electronic financial transactions.

Rapidly Disappearing

"We've already lost more than 90 credit unions in the first quarter of this year, compared to 312 for all of last year,'' Matz said. "In most instances, they shut their doors because they cannot meet the service needs of their members and continue to attract new members in a high-tech environment.''

That leaves some small communities with only one other alternative-predatory lenders, she said.

Matz said the group that met via telephone and video conferencing agreed to keep a tight focus on NCUA's role and what changes may be needed to give small credit unions a fighting chance.

"We will look at a wide range of NCUA functions and how those functions affect credit unions,'' she said. "We'll look at what's good and what's not in everything from examinations and regulations to communications and the Small CU Program (already in place).''

Matz stressed that there will be no outside involvement from league officials or other trade groups, but did suggest that small credit unions contact the group's new chairman, Anthony LaCreta, head of the agency's Office of Community Development, to discuss their issues and concerns (see CUJ Resources above).

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