Supervisory Committee Members: The Forgotten Volunteers
in Compliance & Regulatory
By: Nicola Foggie, NJCUL Vice President, Compliance and Regulatory Affairs

Where you find education and training for credit union volunteers (which is not defined solely as board directors…there are also supervisory committee, asset-liability committee, and credit committee members, etc.) there is usually no lack of options and opportunities. Normally, you will find a list of the usual suspects in the form of topics, but if you look closely at the descriptions, you’ll see that they are generally not as all-encompassing as the word “volunteer” is supposed to imply. Those opportunities appear primarily designed for board directors, not supervisory committee members. While it is clear that board directors deserve and need appropriate education and training as well, typically when a credit union budgets for volunteers to attend conferences and training, they do so with the board directors in mind, so I can see why those industry entities that host and provide training at the volunteer level cater to this specific group. 

We know that typically these events are marketed as if they cater to ALL volunteers, but we often see only a lone breakout session or two for the supervisory committee attendees. My point being that board directors and supervisory committee members have very different and distinct roles. Directors are charged with governance and strategic planning, while the supervisory committee members are the “police” or faithful “watchdog” of the credit union, almost the “conscience” of the credit union, responsible for setting the annual audit schedule, reviewing regulatory and external audits of the credit union, and quality control. The fact is that the supervisory committee plays a hefty role in ensuring the credit union stays on track and staying current of the board’s activities and decisions to ensure it is fulfilling its responsibilities to the credit union and its members.

In the past, the duties of the supervisory committee of most credit unions were not vast or complicated. That has slowly changed over the past decade. In recent years, internal and external pressures from the financial and regulatory industries have caused the pace to pick up dramatically. Today, credit unions of all asset sizes are faced with an environment fraught with internal, as well as external threats, including cyber threats, data breaches, internal fraud, third-party partner mishaps, etc. Someone has to be minding the store. But, you can only do that if you know what you are looking out for. Credit unions have little regulatory help on that point as they are empowered to engage consultants and third-party partners to help them accomplish the supervisory committee’s duties and responsibilities.

Bottom line, I only wish to point out that the role of the supervisory committee is a very important one, and we should not underestimate their service as volunteers in this movement. That being said, a credit union’s successful strategic plan and budget will include planning and providing for appropriate education and training for supervisory committee members, specific to the committee’s duties and responsibilities to the credit union. Finding the right sources for education, conferences, and training starts with finding the right partners. Look for partners that will help your credit union’s supervisory committee stay up with the latest trends and best practices, provide them with industry insights, modern solutions and proven strategies they can use to help their credit union optimize its performance and better prepare to serve its members.

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