Todd Harper’s 90 Day Audition to Continue as NCUA Chairman

President Biden’s appointment of Todd Harper as NCUA chair on January 25 is not the final step in the process.

Harper’s term ends on April 10, 2021.  Three options can occur. 1) Nothing, and Harper just continues in place. 2) A new democratic nominee is selected by the Biden administration. This would require Senate approval and likely take months. 3) Harper could be reappointed–an option contested by those who read the Federal Credit Union Act as preventing successive appointments.

Harper’s Audition

The NCUA Chairman’s role is vital. His leadership, oversight of the agency, spokesperson roles and competence will affect the industry’s direction, reputation and public standing.

Whatever the future course, his three months as chair will provide credit union’s first-hand experience with his leadership style. But there is also other data to draw upon.

Harper frequently touts his prior NCUA credentials. He introduced himself in his February 2021 DCUC speech by saying: “I’ve spent nearly a decade at the NCUA and worked on credit union policy issues for more than 20 years.”

So, what does Harper’s NCUA resume include?

The Team Harper Ran With

Ed Callahan described his management and industry relationships as: “Run with good people and good things will happen.” Implicit, of course, is the reverse possibility.

The photo below is Chairman Matz and her senior NCUA staff at a House Financial Services hearing in July 2015.

From left to right:

Rendell Jones: then CFO, now deputy executive director and COO at the agency. Joined NCUA in 2014 after positions at Homeland Security and the Justice Department.

Mark Treichel: Executive director, retired in 2020 after 33 years at NCUA. Now a credit union consultant presenting himself as Helping Credit Union CEOs Achieve the Best Possible Examination Results So They Save Time and Money His capabilities as outlined in an email solicitation to credit unions:

I know how NCUA thinks and why they think it.
 know the examination process inside and out.
I know how to communicate and negotiate with NCUA.
I know how to get NCUA to YES instead of NO.
If I can help you in anyway just hit REPLY and let me know?

Steve Bosack: Matz’s Chief of Staff. Left NCUA in 2016 to join PenFed as Special Advisor to the President & Chief Communications Officer.

Todd Harper: Joined NCUA in February 2011 as Matz’s Director of the Office of Public and Congressional Affairs (PACA)and Chief Policy Advisor   (2011 until 2017).

Michael McKenna: General Counsel; retired in 2019 from an NCUA career prior to the release of a February 2020 IG report on his improper behavior with staff and unprofessional conduct.

Matz’s Post-NCUA Positions as a Bank-Finance Director

Upon leaving NCUA in April 2016, she was appointed (in November) to the Board of the Mutual of Omaha Bank where she is Vice Chairman of the Risk and Compliance Committee and a member of the Audit Committee. In addition, she has served on the Advisory Board of OpenDoor Trading (a start-up providing a platform for the resale of U.S. Treasury bonds), since January 2017. In October 2020 she joined RenoFi, a home-renovation fintech firm based in Philadelphia, as a strategic advisor.

Her appointment at RenoFi came as the company works to extend its reach in the credit union industry. RenoFi’s platform is intended to let lenders offer home-renovation loans to borrowers based on the house’s after-renovation value. The company’s press release said Matz will work to deepen its relationships with existing credit union clients and make inroads with new customers.

This Team’s Policy Initiatives

In follow up posts I will review  agency initiatives during Harper’s tenure on Matz’s staff. Tomorrow an excerpt from the House Committee hearing pictured above will illustrate this leadership team’s approach to the industry. In addition I will also provide one trade association’s concerns they hoped would be covered in this public testimony.

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