Choosing a New Chairman

We stand on the end of one era and on the threshold of another. The leadership at NCUA is going to change.

 
 

We stand on the end of one era and on the threshold of another. The leadership at NCUA is going to change. The new era will host challenges we have not even imagined. Who in 1990 was contemplating 24/7 delivery of services and a thriving e-commerce? Who knows what might lie ahead? Accordingly, we should choose a new chairman (read as well "chairwoman") with great care. Much lies in the balance. I recommend selection after consideration of the following six points:

  1. The new chairman should be a person who truly understands the credit union difference. Credit unions are not banks of a different flavor. They are instead not-for-profit financial cooperatives. They are meant to serve people, not create profits.

  2. The new chairman should be a person who truly understands the business world and what it takes to succeed in the competitive business environment. The climate in which credit unions exist is highly competitive and credit unions have to struggle in the marketplace against formidable and wealthy rivals in order to survive.

  3. The new chairman should not arrive with a political agenda. A background in politics is not a particularly fertile field for effective chairmanship at NCUA. A person with a political agenda is all too likely to entangle it with NCUA's mission, which is to foster the development and advancement of credit unions.

  4. The new chairman should command the respect of the financial world. When Alan Greenspan speaks, the world hangs on the pauses between his words. We don't need that kind of attention, but owing to the benefits credit unions have bestowed on the country and the number of credit union members, the chairman should attract the same respect as the leaders of the OCC and the FDIC.

  5. The new chairman should have the managerial skills to adequately draw on the talents and resources of the agency. There are vast capabilities at NCUA but they are not always fully utilized. The agency would function better if its subordinate members were heard. To this end, the new chairman should embody integrity. A new chairman with good will and integrity will be better for the agency than one with pizzazz.

  6. The new chairman need not see the future clearly -- who can? But he or she must have the wisdom to remain open-minded to it, to remain flexible enough to allow for the conditions -- whatever they might be -- that in turn allow credit unions to prosper. Those conditions extend to flexibility of charter. The credit union movement has to serve and follow the members. If changing charters is the means, then so be it.

Let us hope that those who nominate have the wisdom to do so wisely. Credit unions remain under attack and in an increasingly volatile financial services environment. In order to continue the mission of serving the nation's ordinary men and women with reasonably priced financial services, the regulatory agency requires -- and the nation deserves -- a man or woman who as much as possible embodies the meritorious qualities discussed above.

 

 

 

Jan. 3, 2000


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