Today’s Vital NCUA Board Meeting-Will it Be Productive for Credit Unions?

December’s NCUA board meeting will set the spending budget for 2024.  What will be the guiding star in the voting, to borrow words from yesterday’s post We Three Kings?

Is the guiding star one that illuminates the unique design and resilience of cooperatives? Or will it enhance bureaucrat resources as the number of credit unions falls to its lowest level since before the passage of the 1934 FCU Act?

Rodney Hood’s Credit Union Service

Hood has served as an NCUA board member during three tumultuous financial decades.  The first (November 2005-August 2009) saw the Great Financial crisis unfold.  The second  from April 2019 included the Covid national economic shutdown and the highest inflation since the 1980’s.

This meeting may be his final one as his current term ended in August. His two tenures over 18 years provide a unique perspective on the board. He brings a shared history of an important era for the cooperative system. 

We can only understand and celebrate the present when we appreciate how it came to be.  In the words of historian David McCullough, “history is who we are and why we are the way we are.”

Hood’s Focus as a Board Member

Relevant for today’s meeting is his support for the long time, traditional NOL cap on the NCUSIF of 1.3%, full transparency for all financial calculations including reserves, and most urgently, a more meaningful presentation of the fund’s equity ratio using current data in both the numerator (the 1% deposit) and denominator (insured risk.)

As chairman he oversaw the only year in NCUA history since 1984 that recorded an actual fall in NCUA’s expenditures. He has supported returning to credit unions the increasing surplus cash built up in the Operating Fund.

Another example of his expense focus is that his office is  the only one of over 25 NCUA budgets to request a lower amount in 2024, by 1.8%, versus the current spending level.  NCUA’s  2024 overall operating budget projects an 11% growth.

An Honorable Gentleman

The first time I met Rodney was at a credit union meeting in New York during the emerging financial crisis.   He was and still is a true gentle man, unfailingly polite and easy to talk to.

His manner at NCUA board meetings is always respectful.  Even when staff’s answers to his questions might be non-responsive, he never publicly challenged the presenter.

In his voting, he rarely dissents even when he disagrees with the motion or policy.  He would explain his vote as either deference to the Chairman’s role or to promote bipartisanship.  These acts of corporate courtesy were not the practice when he was chair.

As a board member in 2008 he approved an NCUSIF dividend when the NOL exceeded 1.3%.  That was the last time a dividend was paid.  This is a legal commitment intended to reward credit union’s perpetual 1% deposit underwriting. Last year he succeeded in urging the board to reduce the cash stockpile in the operating fund by giving credit on the FCU operating fee for 2023.

His approach to budgeting and board decisions to set meaningful agency  guardrails reflects the experience and wisdom of his years of credit union service.

Should this be his last official board meeting, his perspective  will be missed.  As Pearl Buck’s observed “if you want to understand today you have to know yesterday.”

In recent Board meetings, Rodney has tried to raise important issues and seek meaningful data. What might he propose today to recognize credit union’s exceptional performance this year?  Tune in at at 10:00.

The Question in The Three Ships Carol

To recognize the pivotal nature of today’s many board votes, I believe the lyrics of the carol I Saw Three Ships are most relevant.

Here are some pertinent stanzas:

I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning

And what was in those ships all three
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day?
And what was in those ships all three
On Christmas Day in the morning?



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