I've been energized by the growing movement to call for an open and visible means of nominating NCUA officials who support cooperative principles. I see the current petition drive as an opportunity to engender a regulatory process that considers credit unions' unique role as financial cooperatives.
Sticking with our cooperative role hasn't always been easy, given current regulatory burdens. But as our industry grows beyond a trillion dollars in total assets, all of us-credit unions and regulators alike-must focus all the more on our core mission: serving people of moderate and small means, ensuring low fees and keeping rates reasonable. Certainly, safety and soundness must be at the forefront of any financial institution; but beyond ensuring adequate capital, covering expenses and planning for needed enhancements, there is no reason to simply fatten the bottom line.
My hope is that as this campaign continues it will elevate public awareness of credit unions' singular role in consumer finance-both among the general public and in the halls of Congress. Typically, government appointments are the result of political favors. But in keeping with credit unions' democratic structure, a transparent process could bring to the front nominees known for their experience, knowledge and clear understanding of the difference between credit unions and banks. Such criteria should result in a better decision-making process.
Of course, we have had regulators who understand cooperative principles; but by being intentional and public in the selection process, we are more likely to ensure leadership who consistently take into account that credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives, as the Federal Credit Union Act calls for them to do.
Robert Fouch, President/CEO
Corporate Central Credit Union, Muskego, Wis.