Not All CUs Are Lambasting NCUA's Pay Raises

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Second in a series

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.-While some credit union CEOs continue to express dismay at NCUA in the wake of its announced plans to boost its budget-and many employees' pay-in 2011, other are saying pay increases are a necessary investment to avoid having to pay higher costs further down the road as the result of insufficiently trained and staffed examination teams.

Donna Bland, CEO of The Golden 1 CU in Sacramento, Calif., said she sees a need for increased examinations. "There is a need for improved oversight," Bland said. "NCUA and credit unions should have the highest quality examiners. If the raises that were negotiated within the contract and with the union helps to attract and retain top performers and high-quality examiners, then the industry and the insurance fund are better off in the long run. I feel having a collaborative relationship with our examiners is a good thing to have, because we all want strong credit unions. I want well-qualified examiners on my exam."

Bland added she supports NCUA's creation of the Office of Minority and Women inclusion as a means of increasing diversity.

Similarly, Teresa Halleck, CEO of San Diego County CU, said she also sees the need to hire and retain competent examiners, as "participants in a cooperative insurance fund, it is in everyone's best interest that our federal examiners be highly-qualified individuals who are able to understand the complexities of the markets and perform well during these turbulent times."

Ken Burns, president and CEO of Patelco Credit Union in San Francisco, said at first blush the pay increases seem "high," but he is reserving judgment in the absence of comparable data from other federal agencies and even accounting firms.

"We complain on the one hand that examiners are too inexperienced for the complex organizations we are running today," said Burns. "Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that NCUA suffers from fairly high turnover, diluting their knowledge base."

Burns noted that hindsight offers some perspective. "Had greater expertise on the regulatory front led to reduced losses in natural person as well as corporate credit unions, in hindsight we'd pay whatever it takes to provide that assurance," Burns said.

This is the second half of a series kicked off last week giving credit union executives an opportunity to sound off on two separate, recent NCUA actions: proposed amendments to the agency's corporate rule and the budget hike.

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