During the last five years as an NCUA Board Member, I have often spoken to credit union groups, large and small, across the country. Unless it’s an address before a major CUNA or NAFCU conference, I always ask for questions when I conclude my remarks.
More often than not, no one initially raises a hand to take advantage of the window to question the federal regulator and insurer about something that may be on his or her mind or just to offer an opinion or comment. Occasionally, after a little prodding from me about how they should not let an opportunity to give a Washington, DC, official a little advice on what the regulator may be doing wrong and how to do it better, someone will stand up and start asking questions. Unfortunately, there are almost always too few questions.
But then, I recently spoke at the National Directors Roundtable. This is a unique conference. It’s primarily for individuals who also serve as the volunteer directors of credit unions. They normally do not have contact with a regulator or the opportunity to hear one speak. So, I enjoyed the chance to inform them about what was going on at NCUA, where I thought credit unions might be heading, and what I saw as their role within the credit union system. They were the type of group any speaker would really enjoy addressing—alert, attentive, and focused on my remarks. As an added plus, they asked questions as soon as I had finished my remarks.
The directors asked about rules, assessments, capital, exam focus, legislation, risk, and derivatives. It was encouraging to hear their interest in these topics and their desire to know the latest about them. These individuals truly understood their fiduciary responsibilities and the importance of knowing about all the issues that could impact their individual credit unions. In fact, they asked more questions than any other group I had previously addressed during my time on the NCUA Board.
The issues facing credit unions are important ones, and credit unions must be involved in the regulatory process as it impacts the way they operate and conduct business. Therefore, whenever given the opportunity to ask questions of someone who is in a position to make decisions that impact the way your credit union is allowed to operate, and you have concerns or an opinion, don’t let your chance to speak and be heard pass by.
Just remember the old adage, if you don’t ask, how will you know?