One of the critical qualities of leadership is the ability to rally support for vital issues through cooperation and example. When this leader is a regulator with the ultimate power of coercion, to see an approach based persuasion, logic and we’re-in-this-together is enlightening.
The FDIC Chair Jelena Williams outlined a new approach to innovation, not via a rule or policy statement, but rather in a public op-ed in the American Banker. I thought the following comments were powerful:
…if our regulatory framework is unable to evolve with technological advances, the United States may cease to be a place where ideas and concepts become the products and services that improve people’s lives.
At the FDIC, we want to foster innovation…By promoting and encouraging our supervised institutions toward a more advanced technological footing, the FDIC can help lead a transformation in the financial sector — one that results in easier access to banking products and services, brings more consumers into the banking fold, and makes the banking system safer and more stable…
We are looking for techies to join our ranks…
In this recent commentary, Randy Karnes outlined the leadership vacuum facing credit unions in the regulatory arena. He stated in part:
Does the credit union industry even have a process that is capable of placing a real leader of people, communities, and our CU stakeholders on the NCUA board today? Or are we doomed to a continuing future of cardboard, keep your head down, tactical players who only confirm the bureaucratic functions versus board members that could balance the need for a strong regulator with the passion for a strong credit union industry, and sell it?
Leaders Who Can be Assets, not Liabilities
In a dynamic, technology driven and competitive financial services market place, the soundness of the system is more than an aggregation of individual balance sheets and operating statements. For the cooperative system is interdependent in ways the banking industry is not. That means weakness in any leadership role can jeopardize the future of the industry. Jelena Williams shows how a proactive, positive focus can be an incalculable asset, not a liability or burden, in the ongoing arena of financial competition. Isn’t it time for credit unions to expect nothing less?