Musings from the CU Suite

Jan 10, 2012

Little Things, or Big Things?; NCUA's Focus

As credit unions and other businesses attempt to improve their operations, they will focus on improving this or that.  Perhaps it would be improving processes, technology, or training.  For the sake of simplicity, I call these tweaks "little things."  By the use of that term, I mean no disrespect.  Tweaks to "little things" can make major improvements. 

I've always wondered, however, if changes to "big things" could also have a positive effect.  What comes to mind today is employee health and fitness.  

Where am I going with this?  I generally feel and perform better when I live a "healthy" life.  If it is true for me, it should be true for most employees. If you could promote health and fitness among your employees, wouldn't that improve individual performance, all other things being equal?  I would think so.  

But how do you do that?

Employers could purchase gym memberships, install a gym, or make some other health-related investment.  But budgets are tight, and not everyone has the space or resources to do such things.

We're going to try a different tactic at NAFCU, focusing on education.  At this month's all-staff meeting, we're going to watch this video (You Tube), which I call, 23 1/2 hours.  It is just over 9 minutes in length, and it can be a bit dense at times, but its message is powerful.  In it, a researcher answers this question: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?  I won't steal its thunder.  You'll have to watch it for yourself. 

I will tell you this, though.  That video caused me to make one fundamental change in my day, which has improved my productivity both at home and at work.  Not bad for a free video from You Tube, eh?  


NCUA recently issued this letter to credit unions to announce NCUA's supervisory "focus" for 2012. These documents are worth their weight in gold, as NCUA tips their hand regarding where examiners will focus. Those areas are:

  1. Credit risks
  2. Interest rate and liquidity risks; and
  3. Concentration risks

In the letter, NCUA went out of its way to sound an alarm bell regarding mortgages:

Of particular concern: Growth in low-rate first mortgages continues to far exceed growth in overall loans. Credit unions holding high concentrations of long-term fixed-rate loans will be subject to negative margins when interest rates rise and short-term funding costs exceed income from fixed-rate mortgages.

I'd also note that NCUA devoted a good portion of its most recent monthly "NCUA Report" to hammer away at this theme.  I think they are trying to get our attention.

NCUA's guidance will not necessarily predict the focus of any one particular examination.  But NCUA doesn't issue such documents out of boredom. I'd read and share it as necessary within your shop.