ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/10/13 UPDATED: 10:30 A.M. ET--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) today increased the asset-level test that defines a small credit union. The threshold was raised to $50 million as recommended by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), up from $10 million.
CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said, "Raising the threshold for the definition of 'small entity' is a step in the right direction, and we look forward to monitoring the effectiveness of this approach for credit unions."
He added, "In our comments to the agency, we suggested a threshold of $50 million for agency assistance and access – and a higher level for purposes of regulatory relief. We commend the agency for taking the action today, which will benefit many more small credit unions. CUNA continually looks for ways to assist small credit unions and we anticipate working with NCUA as it implements this new threshold."
The NCUA's change will make assistance from the NCUA's Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives (OSCUI) available to more than 4,600 credit unions--an increase of 2,270. The agency made it clear that the OSCUI will make changes to its procedures to handle the increased workload without adding additional staff.
Under the new rule, the NCUA will consider periodic changes to the asset-level test; initially every two years, and eventually every three years.
NCUA Chairman Matz said, "We will not be in a situation again where the definition lags reality."
The regulatory changes will go into effect in 30 days after publication in the Federal Register,
which generally occurs within a week or two of an agency's adoption of a new rule.
Credit unions that meet the regulatory definition for "small" have some additional flexibility when it comes to NCUA rules. The current $10 million small credit union asset threshold was set by the agency in 2003.
In CUNA's comment letter CUNA demonstrated that using the "complexity index" as a method for determining small entity thresholds can or will be used in a variety of ways that could, ultimately, lead to negative or unintended results for credit unions. "Those include reductions in credit union flexibility, increases in risk profiles and reductions in member service provision," the letter stated.
The agenda for today's NCUA open board meeting also included:
A board briefing on an interagency final rule addressing higher-priced mortgage loans;
The agency's 2013 annual performance plan;
A final rule to extend credit union low-income designation response time to 90 days, up from 30 days; and
Some technical amendments.
For more coverage of these items, see Friday News Now.