WASHINGTON (2/26/14)--The role of a volunteer credit union board member and that of a federal credit union regulator are not all that different, National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) board member Rick Metsger said Tuesday during the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington.
Metsger should know. He's been both. And he said that both positions, in fact, require a person to be a regulator.
Rick Metsger marks his six-month anniversary as an NCUA board member at CUNA's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference Tuesday. (CUNA Photo)
"When I was a credit union director, my job wasn't to manage or micro-manage the operation of my credit union. It was to ask intelligent questions, help set policies, offer perspectives that others may not have considered and reassure our members that our credit union was not only safe today, but would be safe tomorrow and for the foreseeable future.
"My role at NCUA is similar," he said. Metsger was sworn in as an NCUA board member Aug. 26, 2013.
He went on to say:
A director's job is to make sure underwriting and investment criteria are sound; a regulator's is to make sure examination and supervision criteria are sound.
A director wants to be reassured that his or her loan officers are asking the right questions and making the right decisions; Metsger, as a regulator, wants to be reassured that NCUA examiners are asking the right questions and making the right decisions.
The NCUA board member also addressed the issues of relevancy and mission, stating that even in the pursuit of the safety and soundness of the system in light of the rapidly changing financial marketplace, credit unions must not be so constrained by their regulator--or so risk-averse--that they cannot meet the financial needs of their members.
"Credit unions must remain relevant in the mix of financial services options available to the American public. A credit union that is safe and sound, but irrelevant to its members' needs, is not a viable outcome of regulation," he said.
During his speech to the record crowd of 4,400 credit union advocates at the CUNA GAC, Metsger noted that it has been six months to the week that he joined the agency as a board member.
He used the introduction to his speech to serve also as an introduction to himself to the credit union crowd. He noted that he has been "blessed with many careers" in his life: high school teacher, college basketball coach, life insurance agent, television news reporter, small business owner and Oregon state senator.
"I remember one Thanksgiving dinner when my elderly aunt leaned over to my wife and expressed concern that I didn't seem to be able to hold on to a job," he joked to the audience's great amusement.