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Open dialog with credit union examiners draws full house

More than 40 credit union executives shared with examiners and NCUA Region I Director Larry Blankenberger (at lectern) their views on issues (see box, below) affecting their business decisions.


As of January 1 this year, Wisconsin credit unions became part of the National Credit Union Administration’s Region I for federal supervision. That’s why NCUA staff, led by Region I Director Larry Blankenberger, came to Credit Union House recently, along with state regulatory staff, to hold an open dialog with the credit unions they are responsible for examining, and to discuss expectations going forward.


Nineteen NCUA staffers participated in the meeting, along with four staffers from the state’s Office of Credit Unions (OCU). More than 40 Wisconsin credit union CEOs and executives attended.


The dialog yielded some key points, notably that:


  • NCUA aims to coordinate with the OCU to visit credit unions for exams.


Credit union execs shared insights

Credit union executives shared a frank assessment about the unique nature of Wisconsin credit unions and their current operating environment. They noted that:


  • Wisconsin credit unions collaborate well with one another and have had a strong and proactive relationship with state examiners.


  • Wisconsin credit unions are less affected by major economic swings than other regions of the U.S. because Midwesterners generally don’t take on as much risk and are financially conservative.


  • Operating expenses are higher in some areas of the state in which costs are higher to operate and/or because a large percentage of membership is low income.


  • Despite some economic improvement, many members are earning less and are generally taking on less debt. Others lack the skills for available jobs.


  • The deluge of regulation has been onerous for credit unions.

  • Some Wisconsin credit unions will have the same examiners from NCUA while others will see new ones. For up to three years, NCUA staff from Region IV will continue to assist with Wisconsin credit union exams, and staff from Region II will assist for the next two years. NCUA is assigning personnel to minimize travel and achieve efficiencies wherever possible.


  • There is an expectation of professionalism for both NCUA staff and credit union staff involved in credit unions’ examination process. Credit unions should contact the NCUA or Office of Credit Unions if there are conduct issues that need to be addressed.



  • Policy requirements sometimes dictate the actions NCUA must take despite every interest in flexibility.


Credit union attendees urged NCUA to coordinate with OCU to minimize the need for duplicative reporting and paperwork as well as to come to credit unions without preconceptions that can inhibit communication.


Blankenberger cited interest rate risk as a top concern of examiners this year. He stressed the importance of having up-to-date policies and making credit union board members aware of how and why decisions are made affecting risk-management.


Nineteen NCUA examiners (some not pictured) shared their backgrounds and interest in continued open dialog with credit unions.
Office of Credit Unions Director Kim Santos explained how her staff coordinates with NCUA.

©2005 Wisconsin Credit Union League. All rights reserved.
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