Posted by Anthony Demangone
The Holiday Season is upon us! I know this for a number of reasons, but mostly because of the following:
- My calendar says December.
- The local businesses already have twinkling lights and holly plastered all over the storefronts.
- Every other commercial I see has a massive red bow on a very expensive car. (I consider these commercials to be possible signs of the apocalypse.)
This time of year is special to different people for different reasons. I am Roman Catholic (a real shocker, given my last name, I know...), so I celebrate Christmas. While Christmas is a religious holiday, I also readily admit that some of my excitement this time each year is based on the fact that some chipper, obese and jolly man will don a ridiculous red suit, fly around the world, and break into homes to leave things rather than take them. With this in mind, I have written a letter to Old Saint Nick on behalf of credit union compliance officers. Today is December 3, so this gives him enough time to get to work, or at least to delegate the action items to his Elfish subordinates.
I work in the area of credit union compliance, along with a number of people. We want certain things for Christmas. But I'm not sure you can give them to us. Rather, we hope that you can convince NCUA to provide them. You see, we try to comply with rules, regulations, and guidance documents, but it isn't always easy. So if you could convince NCUA to help us, we promise to be good boys and girls this year. Here's our list for NCUA. Please see what you can do...
- For Letters to Credit Unions that have attachments, we'd like NCUA to include a link to the attachment within the document. Or as an alternative, create one document that includes everything.
- We wish NCUA would let everyone sign up for NCUA Express. This would help trade associations, law firms and other consultants spread the word when NCUA issues guidance documents.
- When writing a legal opinion that references another legal opinion, we'd like NCUA to link to that opinion or provide it as an attachment.
- When a Letter to Credit Unions or legal opinion is outdated or no longer accurate, we want NCUA to mark it as such.
- We wish that NCUA would make sure that the bylaws-related legal opinions are incorporated into general searches of NCUA legal opinion letters.
- When the NCUA board approves a new proposal or final rule, we'd like NCUA to update the regulation section of the NCUA website as soon as possible. It is too cumbersome, and seemingly unreasonable, to ask credit unions to navigate the “recent board actions” website when they are looking for newly-issued regulations.
- Regarding the NCUA website search engine, the search engine often limits the search results to two items when you confine your search to a subset, such as legal opinions. This just creates a new requirement to click on the “repeat the search with omitted results included” hyperlink. We'd like NCUA to eliminate that unnecessary step and just show all the search results.
- We'd like NCUA to update its documents more often, such as the Supervisory Guide, Examiner’s Guide and NCUA Compliance Self Assessment Guide.
- We'd like NCUA to consider taking the AIRES Exam Software Information spreadsheet and turning it into a .pdf document that does not require the use of a spreadsheet and tabs. It will make it much easier for those who wish to use the AIRES information for research purposes. NCUA did that for the overdraft protection questionnaire, which for some reason stands by itself separately on the AIRES home page.
- When NCUA issue documents via a webinar, those documents should be incorporated into the NCUA website itself, rather than only being available via a link through the third party webinar provider. For example, it unclear how anyone would get to the “Key Examination Issues for 2008” webinar, and the supporting documents.
- NCUA should be aware of non-NCUA regulations that impact credit unions. For example, NCUA's short-term, small amount loan rule proposed as a best practice that credit unions violate Regulation E by requiring repayment of a loan via electronic means. We generally understand how this might happen. When keeping track of so many different regulatory schemes, it is nearly impossible to be perfect. But we think it is important for NCUA (and other regulators) to keep in mind that they are not the only Sheriff in town. Credit union compliance officers have to deal with multiple regulators on a daily basis, and it is never easy.
- We wish NCUA would issue more Regulatory Alerts, akin to the FDIC’s Financial Institution Letters. Many credit unions do not have adequate regulatory affairs staff to keep abreast of every rule or regulation. Regulatory Alerts, especially on major issues such as the ADA regulation amendments related to ATMs would be very useful to clarify your expectations.
- NCUA should never post a “scanned document” to the NCUA website. Documents should be in the .pdf format whenever possible, as this allows interested parties to search for particular words or phrases. Scanned documents are almost the equivalent of a picture of a document, and they are not conducive to searching.
- When an examiner makes a recommendation, they should provide a citation to the Federal Credit Union Act, NCUA regulation, or NCUA or FFIEC guidance document. If the recommendation is best practice, it would be good to know how the examiner came to know it as a “best practice.”
- NCUA should consider releasing a document that lists the most common violations on credit union exams. It would be a fantastic auditing tool for credit unions to improve compliance. It also would force examiners to document exactly what regulations are being violated on exam reports. I assume NCUA already has this data, so it would just be a matter of publishing it. OSHA already does this. In fact, they do so in an interactive, electronic format. http://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/citedstandard.html
Santa, keep in mind that this list is not meant to be mean spirited. We understand that regulators are often bound by laws and other restrictions. But this list, we think, gives them a list of things that would make our lives easier that do not require new laws or regulations. At the end of the day, this would also allow us to better meet NCUA expectations.
- Anthony Demangone
P.S. My daughter Kate also would like a pony. I'd like the stable and feed fees to go with it, if possible. And my son Briggs simply wants a cell phone. I understand that he doesn't really speak yet, but my phone seems to be his favorite thing in the world at this moment.