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Hike the Hill: 63 credit union pros make advocacy Priority One

Posted: Oct 26, 2023 | Author: Cornerstone League
Hike the Hill 

Updated Oct. 27, 9 a.m.

This week the Cornerstone advocacy team held its annual Hike the Hill legislative and regulatory event in Washington, D.C. Sixty-three credit union professionals from the Cornerstone region made advocacy a top priority.  

Key discussions with lawmakers during the three-day event focused on priority issues for credit unions, such as:

  • Credit Card Competition Act
  • Veterans Member Business Loan Act
  • CFPB reform
  • Regulatory burdens: tailoring regulations for not-for-profit credit unions

 

Day One

The first day comprised a group breakfast and a Cornerstone welcome and legislative briefing conducted by Cornerstone’s EVP & Chief Advocacy Officer Jim Phelps and CUNA’s Deputy Chief Advocacy Officer Abby Gunderson-Schwarz. Thereafter, attendees conducted state breakout sessions to discuss strategy and presentation for afternoon visits with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.  

Cornerstone executives Caroline Willard, Jim Phelps, and Suzanne Yashewski joined two of the League’s member military credit unions in a meeting with Defense Credit Union Council President Tony Hernandez. Attendees wanted a better understanding of the unintended consequences of awarding a DOD contract to Navy FCU.

 

Day Two

Day two began with a shared debriefing on the previous day’s legislative meetings and the support credit unions could expect from various lawmakers. Among the reportage, the Young Professional Crashers talked about how impactful it was for them to see all the work that really goes into advocacy and how important it is to remain informed.

Hike the Hill professionals with YP Crashers

Credit union professionals, including this year's YP Crashers,
attend Hike the Hill in Washington, D.C.
 

As Regulatory Day, CUNA Deputy Chief Advocacy Officer and Managing Counsel Alex Monterrubio provided a regulatory briefing. Alex discussed the latest developments at the NCUA including regulatory matters, exam priorities and the newly nominated board member. Monterrubio also covered updates related to the CFPB, including the lawsuit against the CFPB originally filed by the bankers’ associations (which CUNA and Cornerstone joined forces to intervene on behalf of credit unions), the proposed open banking rule, CFPB's stance on “junk fees,” and more.

Hike the Hill Regulatory Day

Cornerstone Regulatory Compliance Counsel Suzanne Yashewski discussed changes to exemption thresholds under the Fair Lending Standards Act, as well as the IRS scrutiny on the employee retention credit. 

NCUA: Vice Chair Kyle Hauptman

NCUA Vice Chair Kyle Hauptman (who always succeeds in entertaining the crowd) discussed the future of the NCUA, the NCUA board, the interplay between NCUA and the CFPB, climate change, and more. And an important takeaway: Hauptman is very accessible, always willing to take direct emails from credit unions on any questions they have. 

Fair Lending

Matt Biliouris, director of the NCUA Office of Consumer Protection, along with his deputy director, Lisa Roberson, discussed fair lending with coverage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. They also discussed NCUA's nondiscrimination requirements and issues that may trigger a focused fair lending examination, which could include member or employee complaints, practices leading to concerns of discrimination, and more. 

HTH Regulatory Day, CFPB

They reminded credit unions that the ECOA and Reg B require NCUA to refer a matter to the Department of Justice when NCUA has reason to believe that a credit union has engaged in a pattern or practice of illegal discrimination. NCUA stated that DOJ will generally defer to NCUA enforcement as long as the discrimination was not severe or pervasive and credit union quickly and adequately fix areas of concern. They highlighted automated underwriting and urged credit unions to review the parameters for compliance. 

CFPB: Director Rohit Chopra

In the afternoon, the group moved over to the CFPB offices for a meeting with Director Rohit Chopra where myriad issues were discussed, including P2P fraud, elder abuse, deposit account fees, auto lending (including captive auto financing by auto dealers), overdraft, and more. The director was very open to feedback and discussions and recognized the need for smaller financial institutions like credit unions in the market. 

 

UNITE: New grassroots advocacy group.

 

Day Three

On the final day of Hike the Hill, Cornerstone brought more than two dozen member credit union leaders to a private meeting with CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. The credit union leaders posed tough questions, explaining to Chopra that while none of the credit unions in the room were subject to onsite CFPB examinations, they would still feel the effects of the agency’s regulatory rulemaking. 

 

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