Week ahead: New initiatives from credit union trades, regulator

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With the general election just two weeks away, some credit union groups are beginning to pivot to how they might advance the industry’s agenda once a new Congress is seated.

With that in mind, the Credit Union National Association on Monday launched its Advancing Communities campaign, aimed at ensuring lawmakers at the state and federal level – along with consumers – understand the role credit unions play in their communities and how CUs are assisting with the economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic.

“As policymakers consider the pathway toward economic recovery, we want to make sure that credit unions have a platform to share the work they’ve done to preserve their local economies while assisting members and small business that might otherwise be left behind. It is an important message that both federal and state lawmakers need and want to hear,” CUNA President and CEO Jim Nussle said in a press release Monday.

The National Credit Union Administration on Monday launched ACCESS, a new initiative from the agency aimed at boosting financial inclusion efforts. In an exclusive interview with Credit Union Journal, NCUA Chairman Rodney Hood said the program’s launch was spurred in part by the death of George Floyd and subsequent social justice protests.

“Now is the time to harness that national discourse around inclusion,” he said. “We’ve seen disproportionately what’s happened with marginalized communities and I recognized the time was appropriate for us to harness the energy we’re seeing and use this opportunity to say ‘Enough already, let’s make sure folks now the resources are there.’”

On the regulatory front, NCUA late last week voted to approve a plan to expand credit unions’ use of derivatives, while Monday marks the final day to submit comment on the agency’s phase-in plan for the controversial new current expected credit loss standard from the Financial Accounting Standards Board.

Last week also saw a trio of high-profile data breaches announced, with Barnes & Noble, Dickey’s Barbecue and the fintech Robinhood admitting to compromises. In the wake of that, the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions has called on Congress to address national data security standards in order to protect consumers’ personal information.

Credit union groups have been asking for those measures since the 2013 Target data breach but have only seen minimal success. With both chambers of Congress not expected to return until after the election, it’s unlikely any measurable action will take place in the near future.

Lastly, Gary Cohn, President Trump’s former economic advisor, offered a forecast for the future of community banks, suggesting that increased consolidation could be in the cards. That’s likely to be the case for credit unions, as well, as small institutions continue to disappear through mergers with larger shops. According to data from NCUA, the number of credit unions under $1 billion in assets has declined by about 15% (815 institutions) from June 2016 to June of this year, while fewer than 100 credit unions surpassed the $1 billion-asset threshold in that same period of time.

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Law and regulation Credit unions Lobbying Data security CUNA NCUA