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Metsger: FOM Regulation the Top Issue for Credit Unions
Friday, March 20, 2015 6:30 AM

Modernizing field-of-membership regulations is the most important issue for the long-term health of America's credit unions, according to National Credit Union Administration Board Vice Chairman Rick Metsger, who encouraged people in the credit union system to join that effort.

"The last time federal field-of-membership rules were significantly overhauled, online and mobile services were a novelty," Metsger said. "Now it's 2015, and people are as likely to define their common bonds by their social media connections as by where they live or work. States have done a better job than the federal government of keeping pace with changes in the marketplace. It’s time for us to catch up."

Metsger said credit unions need to be engaged for change, and he welcomed suggestions from more than 100 credit union leaders attending his session on FOM issues at the Credit Union National Association's recent Governmental Affairs Conference. Some of the suggestions from that session included:

  • Simplifying field-of-membership processing,
  • Modifying the meaning of "well-defined local community,"
  • Allowing credit unions to serve additional rural and underserved communities,
  • Allowing credit unions with multiple select employee groups to serve independent contractors, and
  • Grandfathering select employee groups at credit unions that convert to community charters.

The agency has created a dedicated email, FOMSuggestions@ncua.gov, to make it easier to submit more suggestions. Last year, NCUA Board Chairman Debbie Matz created a special internal Field-of-Membership Working Group to consider ideas for enhancing federal charters. Metsger said the working group will review suggestions to help determine what steps NCUA can take administratively and what changes require Congress to amend the Federal Credit Union Act.