Does Your Credit Union Have a Robust Disaster Recovery Strategy?
By: Nicola Foggie, NJCUL Vice President, Compliance and Regulatory Affairs

Are you ready for an unexpected event? A large-scale natural disaster like a hurricane, earthquake or flood may lead to hardware failure, network outage or a total shutdown of credit union facilities.  Even a small scale event could shut down a credit union for hours and serve to shake member’s confidence in you.  Recent natural disasters have illustrated the importance of effective contingency planning to ensure that all credit unions are able to fulfill their missions and obligations to their members during natural disasters or other disruptions in their operations. Effective business continuity planning and disaster recovery practices were discussed Thursday during a free compliance webinar, “Credit Union Disaster Preparedness and Business Continuity”, offered by the New Jersey Credit Union League. Those at a credit union who should be addressing the disaster recovery and business continuity strategy and plan include board directors, senior management, and those responsible for execution. Speaker, Nicola Foggie, VP of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs with NJCUL, provided a high-level overview to effective continuity planning and practices for credit unions, including answering questions and addressing necessary actions like:

  • Why have a plan?
  • Objectives of a plan?
  • Key components of a plan
  • How to customize your plan
  • Steps for Recovery

Working through creating and updating plans, as well as ongoing work with the right business continuity and disaster recovery standards can have the side benefit of getting your organization on the path to continued compliance. A well-planned and regularly tested business continuity and disaster recovery strategy often goes way beyond the typical DR plan.  Usually put together by an internal team, then put away in a drawer and maybe revisited once a year.  Sometimes a plan is not looked at until an actual disaster or significant disruptive event occurs.  Only one thing worse than not having a well-thought out Disaster Preparedness & Business Continuity Plan and that’s having an outdated, ineffective one.

Click here to check out NJCUL Business Continuity and Disaster Planning resources and information.

Compliance & Regulatory
Not Again?! Merging the TCCUSF and NCUSIF…a Good Idea, But Not at Credit Union Members’ Expense
By: David Frankil, NJCUL President/CEO

What is the difference between May, 2009 and September, 2017?

In 2009, the markets were plunging, the economy was in crisis, the Corporate system was failing – and credit unions across the country were asked to make "temporary" contributions to stabilize the entire system.

In 2017, the economy is stable and growing (albeit more slowly than desired), there is no systemic crisis in the credit union system – and NCUA is trying to convert those "temporary" contributions into permanent contributions.

Something is wrong with this picture.

The NCUA Board is seeking comment on a proposed plan to close the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund (TCCUSF) and to concurrently raise the equity ratio of the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) Normal Operating Level (NOL) from 1.30 percent to 1.39 percent of insured shares, with planned Equity Distributions.

This seemingly innocuous change in an obscure operating ratio would allow NCUA to retain a significant percentage of the “temporary” stabilization fees that credit unions paid into the Fund. Although the NCUA estimates that credit unions will receive an NCUSIF distribution (dividend payment) between $600 million and $800 million for 2018, the increased operating ratio would mean that NCUA would retain as much as $1 billion by some estimates. Some New Jersey credit unions have reported that their equity distributions would be reduced by more than 50%.

NCUA is justifying this capital grab under the guise of “risk management.” Currently, NCUA’s process is that the money in excess of the 1.30% equity ratio the regulator uses as its NCUSIF NOL must be paid back to credit unions in the form of a dividend. NCUA is proposing to raise that ratio to 1.39%, to hold back $1 billion dollars in case the original assets of the TCCUSF (which would now be a liability of the NCUSIF due to the merger) do not perform as expected. 

On the surface this may seem reasonable, until you look at the Board’s justification for the increase, which is based on the same selective modeling that resulted in billions of excess reserves, unnecessary premiums, and overestimates of losses on legacy assets over the past seven years. 

Let’s think about this. Given the restructured corporate system that exists today, much of "yesterday's" risk has been eliminated. If a comparatively larger rebate is made to credit unions and its members by NCUA today, which ends up being premature, the fund can always be recapitalized at a later date. In the interim, absent a crisis, I would suggest that credit unions could do a much better job of managing those assets for themselves than will the regulator.

We can expect that the closure of the TCCUSF will reduce expenses, add sorely needed transparency by simplifying the NCUA’s reporting, and so, in general, it’s a good idea. It should also enable the NCUA to tie financial results of the NCUSIF to real-world credit union events rather than its current practice involving projecting long-term scenarios to justify current expenditures — scenarios that often don’t hold up over time. Credit union members are the ones that send one cent of every insured share to fund the NCUSIF. NCUA is the “steward” for those interests and credit unions have a responsibility to speak up on behalf of their members’ interests.

The current plan to close the TCCUSF is long overdue and the NCUA board should be commended for doing so, but I think the action steps are based on past intricate models that have been shown over the past half dozen years to underestimate the value of the assets taken and overestimate the losses. By closing the TCCUSF and transferring those funds to NCUSIF, the equity ratio of the NCUSIF could be as high as 1.47%.

CUNA and NJCUL have argued the NCUA’s proposed increase in the NOL (to 1.39%) is absolutely unnecessary and are urging the agency to increase no more than 1.34%, temporarily, to offset the risk of underlying legacy assets, if at all. We make it clear that we expect the NCUA to publicly reaffirm the 1.30% NOL as an appropriate upper bound for the NCUSIF’s capital level (given favorable historical performance) and we ask that the agency specifically document plans for the orderly and expeditious return of the NOL from 1.34% to 1.30%. 

The challenge to credit unions today is to take action on your and your members’ behalf by responding to the NCUA Board’s request for comments. Merging the TCCUSF and NCUSIF will place a spotlight on NCUA’s management of future corporate resolution transactions and end a stabilization work out that has now gone on for nearly nine years.

Make your voice heard! Click here for NJCUL’s Stabilization Fund Resources, access to PowerComment and a Comment Letter Template. Comments are due by September 5.

Additional Resources:

 

Compliance & Regulatory
Calling All Policy Wonks
By: Nicola L. Foggie, CUCE, BSACS, NJCUL Vice President, Compliance & Regulatory Affairs

My name is Nicola, and I’m a policy wonk (and proud of it!)

That’s true for the rest of the NJCUL compliance team too – Donna, Sabrina, and Evelyn. But there is a very good reason why we wear the policy wonk label as a badge of honor – it is a core part of the value we provide to NJCUL members, with free use of CUPolicyPro.

Compliance & Regulatory
Changes to the HMDA Act: What Do You Need to Know?
By: Nicola L. Foggie, CUCE, BSACS, NJCUL Vice President, Compliance & Regulatory Affairs

The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) has undergone several changes, since it was first enacted in 1975. The most recent changes, which went into effect on October 15, 2015, are just the beginning of reporting modifications set to roll out in the coming years.

What are the changes and what does your financial institution need to do to prepare?

Compliance & Regulatory
Would You Want to Live in a Risk-Free Society?
By: David Frankil, NJCUL President/CEO

Think about it – there is literally no human activity that occurs without some degree of risk.  Walking on the street, riding a bike, driving a car, flying in an airplane, even getting a meal in a restaurant all pose some degree of risk. 

The question we face as individuals is the same we face as leaders of financial institutions – how much risk are we willing to accept, and how do we manage it.  But to re-state the obvious, without risk, there is no return....

Compliance & Regulatory
Court Dismisses Bankers’ Frivolous MBL Lawsuit
By: Nicola Foggie, NJCUL Vice President, Compliance and Regulatory Affairs

Yesterday, the NCUA and credit unions won a huge victory! U.S. District Court Judge James Cacheris dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) against the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), this past September. The Banker’s suit against the agency challenged NCUA’s 2016 member business lending rule (MBL). The American Bankers Association supported the ICBA litigation that challenged the MBL rule and amendments that changed the statutory MBL cap, including making it easier to exclude nonmember loans from the cap calculation. According to the court’s opinion, the lawsuit was dismissed based on ICBA’s lack of standing and timeliness. In his opinion, Judge Cacheris stated that even if the ICBA had established standing and timeliness, the court said it still would have found that the rules satisfied the requirements established by the Administrative Procedures Act and existing case law.

Compliance & Regulatory
Did You Know that NJCUL was Founded in 77 BC?
By: David Frankil, NJCUL President/CEO

That would be “Before CFPB.”

And odds are that your credit union was also born in the BC era.

Few new financial services regulatory agencies have had the fast start and wide-ranging impact of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). For anyone charged with tracking and complying with their rules, the last five years probably seem like dog years.

This all came to mind this week with the Wells Fargo debacle, and the role that the CFPB played in bringing those practices to light and to an end. The CFPB vision and values statements provide the foundation upon which they acted – but what is most interesting is how consistent they are with what you’d see at a credit union:

Compliance & Regulatory