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5 Strategies for Staying on Top of the Onslaught of Regulations
Friday, October 28, 2016 6:35 AM

Steve Gibbs, CUCE, BSACS, AVP Shared Compliance, Credit Union Resources

With the passage of the Dodd-Frank Financial Regulatory Reform Act in 2010 (Dodd-Frank), 224 of 400 required rules have been written, spanning more than 7,000 pages and resulting in the most broadly sweeping regulatory changes since the Great Depression. Through Dodd-Frank, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created, raising the total of major financial institution regulatory agencies to five.

In the latter part of 2016, the CFPB is expected to reveal a new slate of regulatory changes affecting the policies, procedures and operations of all financial institutions, credit unions being no exception. A tsunami of regulation has engulfed this industry over the past ten years. With little regulatory relief in sight, we must carefully strategize our handling of these issues, or as our grandparents said, “Those that fail to plan, plan to fail.” 

There are no easy answers, but common sense tells us preparation and understanding will aid in surviving the transition of changing laws. Suggestions include:    

Designate staff member(s) to report on regulatory issues.
Management should consider appointing an individual (compliance officer, operations manager, etc.) to report on hot compliance and regulatory issues directly affecting the credit union. This can be accomplished at employee meetings, whether they are daily, weekly or monthly. During the move to pass the Credit Union Access Act in the latter part of the 1990’s, whole staffs were kept apprised of the Act’s progress, creating a greater feeling of involvement and knowledge, which was then shared with members.

Develop a network of professionals to contact and share information. 
Credit unions have always been a family, and sharing of information is beneficial in maintaining knowledge. Given the variety and depth of contacts available to credit union professionals, information can be passed among individuals in calling trees, texts, or other available social media. Caution should be exercised, however, as information sources should be checked and verified. Information from industry periodicals (Credit Union Journal, Credit Union Times), government web sites (NCUA, FFIEC, CFPB) and trade association sites (state leagues/associations, national organizations) are go-to resources and can usually yield a bounty of valuable information.

Training. 
The overwhelming number of regulations has been met with an equal proliferation of learning opportunities available online and at a variety of locations around the U.S., depending on your budget. Everything from webinars to complex certifications can be obtained. Caution: some programs are more geared to banks rather than credit unions and should be scrutinized carefully before investing valuable training dollars. 

Set aside time each day to read and do research on regulatory issues.
With daily demands, any available time is precious. For those who are attempting maintain budgets, often the direct method is most prudent. Taking 30 minutes to an hour to scan industry periodicals, trade association offerings, regulatory agency issuances, and various related web sites keep important issuance in your daily frame of thought.

Align yourself with professional organizations. 
As mentioned earlier, resources such as CUNA, Cornerstone, and your local chapter are invaluable in providing much needed information, advocacy, and support. Also, you can find local compliance associations comprised of various financial institution compliance professionals and established groups (AICPA, ACAMS) in providing networking and newsletters.