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Ind. senator proposes relief measure for CUs, community banks

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WASHINGTON (4/11/14)--A Republican senator from Indiana introduced a bill Thursday intended to give credit unions and community banks some relief from "crippling financial regulations" enacted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Sen. Dan Coats said his bill would modify the way in which the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) requests information from financial institutions with less than $10 billion in assets. The CFPB would be required to use publicly available information or seek the requested information from existing banking regulators.

The Indiana Credit Union League and the Credit Union National Association support the legislation.

In announcing his bill, Coats noted that credit unions and community banks are paying a price of burdensome regulation for mistakes made by players on Wall Street. Credit unions and community banks "did not cause the financial crisis, but they are being treated as if they did by federal bureaucrats," he admonished.

John McKenzie, president of the Indiana Credit Union League, said Coats' bill would be a good first step to bringing a measure of relief from some of the burdens created for credit unions and community banks by the Dodd-Frank and its creation of the CFPB. He said credit unions face "crushing regulatory burdens" in the post-Dodd Frank world.

"We appreciate and support Sen. Coats' efforts to clarify that such reporting requirements need to flow instead through the reports that credit unions are already required to provide to their primary regulators," McKenzie said.

The Coats bill also would allow a financial institution's prudential regulator to deny any request for information from the CFPB, and would allow the CFPB to request only institution-specific information rather than industry-wide information.

Comment due June 9 on AMC proposal

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WASHINGTON (4/11/14)--An interagency proposed rule on the regulation of appraisal management companies (AMCs) was published in the Federal Register Wednesday. Comments are due by June 9.

This is the rule proposed last month by the National Credit Union Administration and the federal banking agencies to implement requirements of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act for the registration and supervision of AMCs.

An AMC is an entity that serves as an intermediary between appraisers and lenders and provides appraisal management services.

The proposed rule would apply to states that choose to establish an appraiser certification and licensing agency with the authority to register and supervise AMCs. Under the proposed rule, a participating state would require AMCs to:
  • Register in the state, which will be responsible for supervising its AMCs;
  • Use only state-certified or licensed appraisers for federally related transactions;
  • Comply with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP);
  • Ensure the selection of competent and independent appraisers; and
  • Have controls in place to ensure that appraisals comply with the appraisal independence standards under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA).
During the March NCUA open board meeting at which the rule was proposed, NCUA staff indicated they did not think the proposed rule would measurably impact credit unions.  Use the resource link to access the joint-agency proposal.

Award confers women-friendly workplace status on NCUA

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (4/11/14)--Women seeking employment in the Washington, D.C.-metropolitan area might want to check out the "jobs available" section of the National Credit Union Administration's website. The agency announced Thursday that it has been recognized by Professional Woman's Magazine as a "Best of the Best" place to work for women.

Workplaces are scored based on policies supporting equal access, advancement and inclusion of all individuals, as well as other activities demonstrating a commitment to diversity and equal opportunity, according to the agency's announcement.

The parent company of Professional Woman's Magazine, DiversityComm Inc., is a human resources research and consulting firm specializing in workplace diversity. The company annually conducts evaluations of employers, including government agencies, to identify those it classifies as "Best of the Best" in terms of outreach and accessibility to African-American, Hispanic, female and veteran populations.

The NCUA took the opportunity of the award announcement to highlight its most recent annual report to Congress about the agency's diversity efforts. 2013 found the representation of women in executive positions had jumped by 11.2 percentage points to 42.6% since 2011. Additionally, minorities, including multiracial, collectively represented 26.8% of the NCUA's workforce in 2013, an increase of 1.6 percentage points over 2011 (News Now April 1).
 
"NCUA strives every day to be an employer of choice," NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz said. "Part of that effort is to promote workplace diversity and opportunities for women and minorities to pursue rewarding careers."

Treasury research shows in-school branches deepen fin. ed. effort

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WASHINGTON (4/11/14)--A recent U.S. Treasury Department study found that having an in-school credit union or bank branch really helped a financial education curriculum resonate and gain traction with young students.

Treasury commissioned the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) and the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to conduct this "first-of-its kind" examination of the combination of classroom financial education and in-school savings account access. A summary of the report called it "a promising approach for driving measurable improvements in financial capability."

The Treasury's approach would be considered experiential learning, a method based on the argument that people--small or otherwise--learn better when they can apply what they learn in a practical setting and if it is shown to be relevant to their lives.

The study involved Royal CU, a $1.4 billion-asset credit union in Eau Claire, Wis., and Amarillo, Texas-based Happy State Bank, $2.4 billion in assets. The research took place in elementary school classrooms in the two school districts during the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years.

"We're really encouraged by the result of this study," noted Gigi Hyland, executive director of the National Credit Union Foundation. "Through NCUF programs, we know first-hand the power of youth financial literacy and experiential learning. I hope credit unions use this data to further and strengthen their own financial education efforts to improve their member's financial well-being."

In the report summary, Treasury noted, "Overall, the research found improved outcomes from the hands-on financial education approach. Even relatively short classroom financial education significantly improved student financial knowledge, the effects of which persisted through the end of the study period."

"Both the financial education and access to in-school savings accounts were found to improve students' attitudes toward saving and about financial institutions," the summary said, adding that a student with access to financial services in his or her school also was more likely to have a savings account than a student who did not.

Treasury concluded that partnerships between local financial institutions and school districts are a promising strategy to teach financial skills to children early in life, particularly when in-school branches can be combined with a financial education curriculum.

The CFED has scheduled an April 23 webinar to detail the study findings.

Use the resource links to access the study and the webinar registration link.

CUNA at White House meeting on housing reform

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WASHINGTON (4/11/14)--"Access to mortgage credit in the current market" was the topic Thursday of the White House's latest in a series of stakeholders' meetings held to discuss housing finance policy issues.
 
The stakeholders' sessions have been being held as the Senate Banking Committee prepares to consider the Johnson-Crapo housing finance reform bill on April 29.
 
Credit Union National Association officials and staff attended the meeting at which the Johnson-Crapo bill was discussed, as were:
  • Mortgage down payment requirements;
  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) fees;
  • The FHA Homeowners Armed With Knowledge (HAWK) initiative, which seeks ways to embed housing counseling into FHA mortgage origination and servicing; and
  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency development of a common securitization platform on behalf of the government-sponsored housing enterprises.
FHA Commissioner and Assistant Secretary for Housing Carol Galante was in attendance at the meeting.  CUNA was represented by General Counsel Eric Richard, Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn and Assistant General Counsel for Special Projects Robin Cook.