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NCUA should follow banking agencies’ lead on Camels ratings: Analyst

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A prominent credit union analyst is calling for the National Credit Union Administration to reexamine the current CAMEL rating system for credit unions.

Keith Leggett, a former executive at the American Bankers Association and a frequent commenter on credit union issues, wrote in a blog post Monday that NCUA should follow in the footsteps of the Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in seeking comment on how the CAMEL system is used for applications and enforcement actions.

In October, the Fed and FDIC issued a request for comment on how the CAMEL system might be revised, and FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams has called revamping the system one of her top priorities.

Leggett noted that in seeking public comment, the two bank agencies are looking to assess how the ratings vary between examination cycles, how on- and off-site examinations impact ratings and whether the system accurately reflects a variety of differences between institutions, including size, risk and more.

“NCUA would benefit from receiving this feedback from stakeholders on its use of CAMEL ratings,” he wrote.

This issue has not come up during recent NCUA board meetings and representatives from the agency had no comment at the time of publication.

Leggett’s suggestion comes when the industry’s regulatory bent is already moving closer to that of the for-profit banking industry. NCUA board member Todd Harper recently called parity between regulators a “guiding principle” as he proposes adding oversight for CUs with $1 billion to $10 billion in assets. Earlier this year the board discussed the possibility of adopting a credit union version of the Community Bank Leverage Ratio. Earlier this fall, Congress also put forth discussion draft legislation to give NCUA and the Federal Housing Finance Agency third-party vendor oversight powers, a move NCUA has long requested that would grant it authority already held by FDIC and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

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