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CUNA Officials Pledge To Redouble Efforts To Reduce Regulatory Burden
WASHINGTON (2/28/13)--Reducing credit unions' regulatory burden--one of the top priorities of the Credit Union National Association for this year--will be pushed for aggressively on Capitol Hill and when dealing with the regulatory agencies that have jurisdiction over credit unions, CUNA executives said Wednesday.

"We plan to continue our good working relationships with the agencies--we want them to respect us even if they don't like us--and continue to provide them with data to show how regulations impact credit union operations,'' CUNA Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn said during a panel discussion at CUNA's 2013 Governmental Affairs Conference held here through today. More than 4,200 credit union leaders registered for the conference.

Dunn said CUNA will be targeting problems, using data and cost-benefit analysis, and will be working with the CUNA Councils and credit unions to focus on problem regulatory areas.

Click to view larger image CUNA's Mary Dunn (second from right) says CUNA will continue to provide regulators with data that shows how regulations impact credit union operations.  Also shown (from left): CUNA General Counsel Eric Richard, Georgia Credit Union Affiliates President/CEO Michael Mercer and CUNA Senior Vice President for Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan. (CUNA photo)

CUNA Senior Vice President for Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan said the association will be making its case on Capitol Hill through testimony at congressional hearings and conversations with lawmakers and staff members about disturbing regulatory trends. For instance, he said CUNA has pointed out that the National Credit Union Administration is the only financial regulator that increased its budget last year.

"We hope that will result in calls of concern to the agency from Congress,'' he said.

Donovan added that while lawmakers pass laws with good intentions, the impact of their efforts is often more burdensome than they intended.

He noted that when Congress "shines a light on regulations and their impact, regulators pay attention.''

Dunn said that even though credit unions are pro-consumer, it is a "phony argument,'' that they aren't going to be adversely impacted by additional regulations that government agencies deem to be pro-consumer. She noted that there are additional costs always involved when a new rule is issued, even if it doesn't change a credit union's practice in a particular area.

Georgia Credit Union Affiliates President/CEO Michael Mercer said the excessive regulatory burden has three main effects: Small credit unions feel "beat down,'' and their leaders spend most of their time trying to keep up with the regulations so they survive their next exam. Often the boards of these credit unions discuss whether the regulatory climate makes it viable for them to survive; the increased costs and inconvenience of taking steps to ensure that a credit union isn't "inadvertently" out of compliance; credit unions have less ability to be innovative.

Mercer, who just ended his term as CUNA's chairman, said the increasing tendency of regulators to issue one-size-fits-all rules has resulted in the "homogenization and commoditization of consumer financial services, which makes it harder for credit unions to differentiate themselves.''

CUNA General Counsel Eric Richard moderated the panel.


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