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Inside Washington (10/18/2011)

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* WASHINGTON (10/19/11)--The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide whether the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act (RESPA), in addition to its clear prohibition on lenders receiving kickbacks in exchange for “unearned” fees charged to borrowers, also prohibits lenders from charging borrowers fees that are defined as unearned in the first place (American Banker Oct. 18). The high court announced last week it will hear Freeman v. Quicken Loans Inc. That Fifth Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals case alleges that Quicken Loans charged borrowers thousands of dollars in “loan discount fees” that were unearned because it failed to give borrowers loan discounts. The article notes that the case has major implications for other lenders and could affect everything from what lenders charge borrowers for credit reports, to fees charged for appraisals and other services … * WASHINGTON (10/19/11)--The Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund has made new enhancements to its monthly reports--Certified CDFIs; Certified Native CDFIs; Newly Certified CDFIs; and Newly Certified Native CDFIs. The monthly Certified CDFIs and Certified Native CDFIs reports have been combined into one report that will include all of the relevant certification data for CDFIs. The Newly Certified CDFIs and Newly Certified Native CDFIs will also now be one report, with the Native CDFIs highlighted for easy identification. The reports will be sent out in one monthly e-mail. A link to separate, static PDFs for certified CDFIs and Native CDFIs sorted by name, state, and type of organization will no longer be sent each month. Rather, starting with this month, the fund will send one link to a comprehensive Excel spreadsheet containing the previously released information and additional information requested by readers. This new report format will allow readers to sort the information in several different ways, said the fund’s announcement … * WASHINGTON (10/19/11)--The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) supervision and examination manual will employ some of the same methods that regulators have previously used to conduct exams, but examiners will look at the information they gather in new ways, Steve Antonakes, the bureau’s associate director for large bank supervision, said in an interview Monday (American Banker Oct. 18). Exams will reflect the primary focus of the bureau: risk to consumers and transparency of information, Antonakes said. The bureau is a member of Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, follows many of its procedures and enforces many of the same laws, including the Truth in Lending Act, Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act … * WASHINGTON (10/19/11)--The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced Tuesday that it has directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to transition away from current foreclosure attorney network programs and move to a system where mortgage servicers select qualified law firms that meet certain minimum, uniform criteria. The FHFA announcement noted that under current practices in certain states, Fannie and Freddie individually designate law firms eligible under each entity’s own criteria to undertake foreclosure work and mortgage servicers, then select and work with these firms. The new approach, which the FHFA believes will lead to greater transparency and benefit delinquent borrowers who become subject to the foreclosure process, supplants Freddie and Fannie’s individual criteria with the agency’s uniform criteria. The change will be implemented after a transition period, during which FHFA will seek comment from servicers, regulators, lawyers and other market participants …

Fair lending is topic of free Fed webinar

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WASHINGTON (10/19/11)—Credit unions and other interested parties can register for the Federal Reserve System’s upcoming Outlook Live webinar on Fair Lending Issues and Hot Topics, scheduled for Nov. 2 at 2-3:30 p.m. (ET). The Fed is conducting the free webinar in conjunction with the Non-Discrimination Working Group of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force, created by the president in November 2009, is charged with confronting financial fraud relating to the financial crisis, such as discrimination in the lending and financial markets. During the upcoming session, representatives from the Non-Discrimination Working Group will discuss a variety of emerging fair lending issues and hot topics. Introductory remarks will be provided by Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights, for the U.S. Department of Justice; and Sandra Braunstein, director of the division of consumer and community affairs, of the Federal Reserve Board. A representative of the National Credit Union Administration also will address the webinar. Other speakers of this event will represent a variety of agencies, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This webinar is part of an ongoing series of events focused specifically on consumer compliance issues. For more information and to register, use the resource link below.

American Idol winner Hicks to open 2012 GAC with concert

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WASHINGTON (10/19/11)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) announced today that American Idol star Taylor Hicks will perform at the 2012 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) opening concert. The event is sponsored by the CUNA Councils.

Hicks, the fifth-season winner of American Idol in 2006, is known for his gritty, soulful, southern vocals and engaging live performances.

The platinum-selling singer/songwriter released his latest album, The Distance in 2009. Hicks has seen his debut album certified platinum, performed with such music greats as Earth, Wind & Fire, The Allman Brothers, and Willie Nelson, has toured through Asia, penned a brisk-selling Random House memoir, and made his Broadway debut in Grease. He is currently working on a new studio album while continuing performing with his eight-piece band for select dates.

"Taylor Hicks is a great opening act for the 2012 GAC," said Erin Mendez, chair of the CUNA Council Forum and executive vice president/COO of SchoolsFirst FCU in Santa Ana, Calif. CUNA Councils is pleased to again sponsor the GAC concert, bringing attendees together to launch an exciting credit union week in Washington D.C. Late last month, CUNA annnounced as GAC headliners former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and America's iconic journalistic duo, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

The GAC will be held March 18-22 at the Washington Convention Center. Both Rice and Woodward and Bernstein are scheduled for March 19. CUNA's GAC is the credit union movement's premier political event and its largest national conference, each year providing more than 4,000 credit union executives and board members an opportunity to hear influential leaders from the U.S. Congress, the administration and federal regulatory agencies.

Additional speakers and session topics will be announced in the weeks to come. For more information and to register use the resource link below or go to

CUNA seeks comment on plan to help underbanked

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WASHINGTON (10/19/11)--The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) authorized the U.S. Treasury Department to establish a multi-year program of grants, cooperative agreements, financial agency agreements, and similar undertakings to promote initiatives aimed at enabling low- and moderate-income individuals to establish accounts in a federally insured depository institution, including federally insured credit unions. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is asking credit unions to comment on what types of program initiatives Treasury should promote. The relevant section of Dodd Frank also authorizes recipients of the grants to provide low- and moderate-income individuals with small-dollar amount loans and financial education and counseling related to the use and management of such accounts. Treasury is currently developing implementation rules and is seeking comment until Nov. 14. CUNA asks credit unions to send comment its way by Nov. 1, on such issues as:
* What types of program initiatives should Treasury promote to enable low- and moderate-income individuals to establish accounts in federally insured depository institutions? * How should Treasury evaluate whether an account in a federally insured depository institution is “appropriate” to meet the financial needs of low- and moderate-income individuals? What account features and terms are “reasonable” to meet the financial needs of such individuals in an appropriate manner? * What level of financial access should be the desired outcome of such initiatives? What other measures of success of the initiatives should be considered? * How can Treasury enable, enhance and assist local, regional, and state start-up collaborations that incorporate low- and moderate-income individuals into the financial mainstream? How can existing collaborations be supported to expand or improve their financial access efforts? How could meaningful innovations be fostered by these collaborations?
Use the resource link below to read CUNA’s complete Comment Call.