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Regs, consumer protection are topics of NCUA/CFPB webinar

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WASHINGTON (1/8/13)--The changing environment for financial regulation and consumer protection issue will be addressed during a Feb. 5 National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)/Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) webinar.

NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz, who will host the free webinar, said the event will give credit unions a unique opportunity to ask questions directly to CFPB Director Richard Cordray.

The town hall is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. ET.

The webinar agenda includes discussion of new developments in financial regulation, including CFPB's recently finalized regulations, proposed rules, and enforcement efforts, an agency release said.

The NCUA is accepting questions ahead of the webinar. Questions can be submitted to The agency asks that participants use "NCUA-CFPB Town Hall" in the subject line of their submitted questions.

To register for the webinar, use the resource link.

Inside Washington (01/08/2013)

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  • WASHINGTON (1/8/13)--Ten mortgage servicing companies have reached an $8.5 settlement agreement with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Reserve Board over alleged foreclosure abuses. The agreement includes Aurora, Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, MetLife Bank, PNC, Sovereign, SunTrust, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, said the agencies' press release. The amount includes $3.3 billion in direct payments to eligible borrowers and $5.2 billion in other assistance, such as loan modifications and forgiveness of deficiency judgments. The payments involve mortgage servicers operating under enforcement actions issued in April 2011 by the OCC, the Fed and the Office of Thrift Supervision. The agreement entitles more than 3.8 million borrowers whose homes were in foreclosure in 2009 and 2010 to cash compensation. Eligible borrowers likely will receive compensation ranging from hundreds of dollars up to $125,000, depending on the type of possible servicer error …
  • WASHINGTON (1/8/13)--Sens.Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) have been appointed to the Senate Banking Committee. Heller and Coburn fill positions vacated by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). DeMint resigned to lead the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank (American Banker Jan. 7). Wicker has taken different congressional committee assignments. Coburn may be familiar to credit unions because he successfully worked last year to expand a short-term extension of the National Flood Insurance Program into a Credit Union National Association-supported five-year extension. He previously served three terms in the House and joined the Senate in 2005. Heller, who previously worked in the financial services industry and served on the House Financial Services Committee, was backed during the fall election by Friends of Traditional Banking, a bank superPAC …

NEW: CUNA says CU difference must show in CFPB rulemaking

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WASHINGTON (UPDATED: 3:15 P.M. ET, 1/8/13)--The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) should bring its awareness of the credit union difference into play as it develops any new rules, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) urged in a letter to agency director Richard Cordray today.

CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney wrote that credit unions do not always expect to be exempt from new regulations. However, he added, "There are a number of factors unique to credit unions that support liberal use of the CFPB's exemption authorities for our members, and we urge the agency to be as proactive as possible in considering how those authorities should be applied.

"We urge the agency to help direct its appreciation of the way credit unions operate into meaningful regulatory relief for credit unions so that they can do even more to serve their communities," he added.

CUNA also urged the bureau to focus more attention in 2013 on regulating entities in the financial marketplace that engage in abusive practices, such as payday lenders, that have been unregulated or under-regulated to date.

The call for a honed approach to regulation comes just before the CFPB is expected to release final versions of several mortgage regulations required under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.

The CUNA CEO said credit unions are most concerned about:

  • The CFPB's pending definition of "qualified mortgage" under the Ability to Repay proposal;
  • Whether the agency is going to expand the definition of "finance charge" under Regulation Z;
  • Key requirements in the mortgage servicing proposal; and
  • Provisions in the mortgage loan originator compensation proposal.
Cheney highlighted CUNA's advocacy efforts, which include supporting a delayed compliance date of up to 18 months, or 24 months in some cases, for new mortgage regulations. CUNA also has urged the CFPB to provide coordinated and achievable compliance dates with as much time as possible for institutions to reprogram systems and deal with the operational challenges the new mortgage rules will present, he noted.

CFPB credit access reg gets CUNA support, with tweaks

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WASHINGTON (1/8/13)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) supports a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) plan to address credit-access issues, but suggested some simple tweaks in a comment letter to improve the regulatory change.

For purposes of Regulation Z's ability-to-pay requirement, the CFPB proposal would allow credit card applicants who are 21 years of age or older to list funds of a spouse or partner to which the applicant has access. The proposal would change portions of Regulation Z that have in some cases limited the ability of stay-at-home spouses to secure new lines of credit.

CUNA in the comment letter suggested the agency clarify how credit unions and other credit card issuers will apply this revised standard once implemented.

The CFPB as it develops a final version of the proposal should also clarify that credit card issuers have sole discretion in determining:
  • whether a credit card applicant has "reasonable expectation of access" to the income of a spouse or partner; and
  • whether to extend credit to the consumer.
Further, the CFPB should provide supplemental guidance in regard to factors an issuer may choose to consider in determining "reasonable expectation of access," CUNA said.

The proposal applies to all applicants regardless of marital status, and the Bureau expects that it will ease access to credit particularly for stay-at-home spouses or partners who have access to a working spouse or partner's income.

For the full CUNA comment letter, use the resource link.

NAFCU's Becker to retire; Berger named successor

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ARLINGTON, Va. (1/8/13)--After 13 years at the head of the National Association of Federal Credit Union (NAFCU), Fred Becker has decided to retire effective July 31, 2013.

The NAFCU board of directors has named Dan Berger, NAFCU executive vice president of government affairs, to succeed Becker as president/CEO.

Berger joined NAFCU in January 2006 as senior vice president of government affairs. Three-and-a-half years later he was named executive vice president and in that post has managed five divisions.  Prior to joining NAFCU, Berger was vice president of government relations for America's Community Bankers and, before that, chief of staff for U.S. Representative Katherine Harris.

Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney, hearing Becker's news, said Monday, "When I served as a member of the NAFCU board, I worked with Fred on a variety of issues. Congratulations to him on his service to the credit union movement; I wish him well in his future endeavors. I also look forward to working with Dan when he assumes his new role."

Exam survey sparks big response of CUs' stories

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WASHINGTON (1/8/13)--More than 1,100 credit union representatives have responded to the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) examination survey, illustrating the importance of the issues being addressed. However, there is still time for more voices to be heard as the Jan. 15 deadline approaches.

The survey gives credit unions a chance to detail their experiences with on-site regulatory examinations and discuss how satisfied they are with National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and state examiner performance, and the results of those exams. Credit unions can also describe the strengths and weaknesses of their state and federal regulatory examination experiences.

"The strong response is no surprise," CUNA Senior Economist Mike Schenk said Monday. "We know there are issues out there. We are confident that the survey results will assist us in working with NCUA and state regulators to improve the exam process for credit unions."

Schenk said CUNA is eager to start working through the responses and "doing what it can to support credit unions from a regulatory advocacy standpoint." Advocating on behalf of credit unions to improve the examination process is one of the highest priorities of both CUNA and credit union leagues. (See related story: A closer look: CUNA 2013 goal is a better regulatory environment)

Survey replies are confidential, and identifying information from individual credit union respondents will not be seen by individuals outside of CUNA's Market Research Department. Only summary results will be reported.

The exam survey has been sent to all CUNA-affiliated credit unions except those in NCUA Region II, whose league already executed a similar poll.

CUNA members may use the resource link below to access the exam survey.

CUNA to address CFPB mortgage field hearing as rules unfold

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WASHINGTON (1/8/13)--The spotlight is set to shine this week on much-anticipated Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) mortgage rule changes and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) announced Monday that SECU of Maryland President/CEO Rod Staatz will testify on behalf of CUNA and credit unions at the CFPB Jan. 10 mortgage-policy field hearing in Baltimore, Md.

Also, CUNA anticipates that the bureau will release a number of its mortgage rule changes Wednesday, just ahead of that session.

Over the last two years, the Federal Reserve and the CFPB have issued a series of proposals to implement rule changes dictated by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. The regulators are now pushing up against a Jan. 21 deadline for adopting some of the final rules.

The reforms issues include:
  • Ability-to-repay/qualified mortgage regulations;
  • Loan originator compensation regulations;
  • Home Owner's Equity Protection Act regulations;
  • Mortgage servicing rulemakings that impact Regulation Z and Regulation X; and
  • Higher-risk mortgage appraisal regulations.
New escrow disclosure and waiver requirements are also expected to be finalized by the CFPB early this year. A final version of integrated Truth in Lending Act/Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act disclosures, and accompanying rules, should be finalized by mid-2013.

CUNA continues to meet with the CFPB and urge improvements in all of these proposals and will keep credit unions posted as the new rules are issued, Dunn said.

For more on the CFPB hearings, use the resource link.

A closer look: CUNA 2013 goal is a better regulatory environment

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WASHINGTON (1/8/13)--"Credit unions need and deserve significant regulatory relief," Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney emphacizes when talking about CUNA's goals for the year.  "That is why CUNA's 2013 regulatory advocacy initiatives and efforts will concentrate on improving the examination process, minimizing restrictions and maximizing flexibility for credit unions."

Cheney added that CUNA will continue efforts to coordinate with the state credit union leagues and CUNA Councils on regulatory advocacy issues and that CUNA will challenge regulatory burden on the legislative front as well.

On the regulatory side, CUNA, working closely with the New Jersey Credit Union League, developed a survey asking credit unions to describe the strengths and weaknesses of their state and federal regulatory examination experiences. The deadline for responses is Jan. 15. (CUNA members can use the resource link below to access the survey.)

In encouraging credit unions to participate, CUNA has said the survey results will provide a good picture of the current state of the exam process and help shape CUNA's discussions with the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and state supervisory authorities. (See related story: Exam survey sparks big response of CUS' stories.)

In addition to exam issues, CUNA's 2013 regulatory advocacy, including with the NCUA and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), will be focusing on:

  • Containing new regulatory requirements, including from the NCUA and the CFPB, that limit credit unions' operations and divert them from serving their members;
  • Pressing for more regulatory latitude for well-managed credit unions;
  • Continuing to educate the CFPB and other regulators on credit union distinctions;
  • Urging increased regulation for unregulated entities in the financial marketplace, such as predatory lenders;
  • Seeking further improvements in the examination and appeals process;
  • Pursuing greater cost management of the NCUA's budget; and
  • Achieving enhanced congressional oversight of regulatory concerns.
When regulators take positive actions that facilitate the ability of credit unions to serve their members, CUNA will ensure credit unions are aware of those steps. Likewise, when there are concerns about a rule or other agency actions, CUNA will continue to identify those concerns to its credit union members and work with members to address them.

Also throughout the year, CUNA will be encouraging the NCUA and other regulators to utilize industry-based working groups to address regulatory issues and determine if a new rule is even needed or how it could be tailored to achieve the best results for credit unions and regulators alike. In 2012, the NCUA successfully used that approach when it formed a working group to allow credit unions to restructure a member's loan under the Troubled Debt Restructuring rule, a move CUNA strongly supported.

CUNA will also continue to address concerns about the NCUA budget and its process, specifically cost containment and accountability. In 2012, CUNA urged the agency to do more to make its resource allocation decisions transparent and to increase accountability to credit unions regarding its budget decisions. NCUA has established a new webpage with information about the agency's budget that previously was not available.

Use the resource link below for more from CUNA's regulatory advocacy department.

Last week, CUNA's Cheney identified the top priorities that will drive CUNA's action agenda in 2013: Protecting credit unions, easing their regulatory burden, and helping them prepare for the future.

News Nowis featuring an in-depth look at each area of CUNA's 2013 priorities. This article is the second in that series. The first unveiled CUNA's legislative priorities.

Use the resource links below to read more about CUNA's 2013 action agenda and legislative priorities.

Tiny Milwaukee CU closed by regulator

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/8/13)--New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church CU, a Milwaukee, Wis., credit union with a tiny membership of 294, has been liquidated by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). The credit union held $585,000 in assets.

The NCUA Monday reported that the Wisconsin Office of Credit Unions moved to close the credit union after it determined New Covenant was in an unsafe and unsound condition to transact its business and had no prospect of restoring viable operations. The NCUA was then appointed as liquidating agent.

The credit union was chartered in 1982 and served members of the New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church and related groups.

This was the first liquidation of a federally chartered credit union in 2013. There were 13 federally insured credit union liquidations in 2012.

For the full NCUA release, use the resource link.

New Congress, same issues early on

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WASHINGTON (1/8/13)--After last week's swearing in ceremonies, members of the 113th U.S. Congress are preparing to take up many of the same tense issues faced by the last session.

Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan said the mood on Capitol Hill during last week's swearing-in ceremonies seemed upbeat despite looming fights over such things as the country's debt ceiling and tax laws.

For now, Congress is out of session.  But federal lawmakers are scheduled to return before the inauguration of President Barack Obama on Jan. 21.

After that, Congress will hold organizational meetings for its myriad committees. The first regular meetings of those committees will likely take place in early February.