LAS VEGAS — The credit union movement is doing well overall, but NCUA Vice Chair Rick Metsger says it is up to CU boards of directors to make sure their individual credit unions are getting their fair share of loans.

At the 38th Directors & CEOs Leadership Convention, Metsger said credit unions need to understand what members want in order to become their primary financial institutions.

"Credit union membership is up. Credit unions are healthy, as seen by their CAMEL ratings. These are all good signs," he said. "But if you look at individual credit unions it is not always that great. As you directors talk to management, to your CEOs, ask, 'What is our value proposition?' 'How many members just have a share draft versus having a loan?' 'Why are we below the curve?'"

Just the week before the conference, Metsger noted figures showed the best pace for new car sales in 15 years. "People are buying cars, particularly trucks. But is your credit union getting the loan? Directors need to be asking these questions," he said.

Members are demanding so much more of their CUs than they ever did before, Metsger continued. At the same time, the number of credit unions continues to decline. Many credit unions have merged into other credit unions, saying they could not provide the services their members needed. "It is not always a necessity for that to happen," Metsger said. "People ask me what the NCUA board can do about it - there is not a lot we can do. But what I do know is, the American public needs the not-for-profit financial institution."

Metsger offered attendees an overview of some of the current topics NCUA is tackling, including the first major revamp of the agency's member business lending rules since 1998 — an effort that has provoked the ire of the banking industry.

NCUA is also embarking on a significant effort to modernize its field of membership rules, he noted.

What both of these initiatives have in common, Metsger said, is that they represent an effort by the NCUA to transfer responsibility from the agency back to credit unions. "We have proposed to take the responsibility from our pockets to your pockets," he said, specifically referring to the proposed revisions to the MBL rule. "So many credit unions have the expertise, so they do not need to come to NCUA to approve a member business loan."

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