The 2012 NACUSO Annual Conference is taking place in Las Vegas this week. I imagine the shadow of the NCUA is looming large over the event. As the CEO of a data processing CUSO, NCUA is on my mind as well. It’s important for NACUSO to use this opportunity to take the lead in the industry’s response to examination by setting a new, innovative example of what can be done.
When I say “setting a new, innovative example,” I don’t mean NACUSO should rally everyone to say, "No." Nor do I mean NACUSO should stand in defiance of the NCUA’s possible contribution to our futures. I don’t mean NACUSO should create an environment that will lead to punishment and overreactions to challenges.
But here’s what I do mean. I believe NACUSO can create new processes to ensure our organizations get a marketing boost from NCUA’s involvement. Regulatory interactions can be used to emphasize our competitive difference and elevate credit unions in the minds of consumers and the financial industry. NACUSO can build something with an embedded process ROI that turns an examination into a business-building exercise. NACUSO can support a healthy credit union perspective toward investing time in examinations. We can use this opportunity to create new intelligence about our organizations and our industry.
When it comes to my own interactions with the NCUA, I will be a staunch process person but I won’t fight with the agency. In fact, here is my pledge as a business designer: My organization will develop a blueprint, a process design that will drive our exchanges with NCUA. We will be ready with a strong set of protocols that will guide the interactions and ensure we draw maximum benefit from them. This schematic will allow for constant review and innovation and is intended to slow or even reverse the natural human instinct to deny change or external input. It will also create a documented chain of events that both sides can use for appeal and third-party judgments as to the value to the organization and its owners.
This is my pledge as a business designer, and my board has elected this pledge as our forward path should the NCUA become a constant part of the CUSO and vendor marketplace. When it’s at its best, our system is open and candid. Our system needs to be at its best. Contributors stand up and declare themselves in the light of day. To be contributors, regulators must do the same. My pledge is to continually debate the path to innovation and harvest external input so ideas are fully vetted and mandates are consistent with the intent of regulations.
As I’ve stated publicly many times before, I believe NACUSO has the opportunity to be a different kind of trade organization and network compared to your counterparts in the credit union space. But to achieve this, you must avoid taking up the old enemy-of-my-enemy rallying call to garner support for NACUSO. Now is the time to garner support for innovation and leadership. Now is the time to formulate a response that will enhance our businesses, no matter what challenges they face.
I have no affection for the current administration or the current mood at NCUA. But it is only that, the mood of the times. We must be the architects of business designs that will thrive through this mood and the ones to follow. Credit union members — our ultimate owners — will be watching, and as CUSOs we have to remember that now more than ever.