Looking Ahead to a Prosperous Future

B. Dan Berger, NAFCU President and CEO

After more than a year of lockdowns, restrictions and uncertainty, we are finally rounding the corner toward normalcy. But the coronavirus pandemic has changed us; the future “normal” will likely not fully mark a return to ways of the past.

We’ve learned a lot about ourselves, our communities and our nation over the past year. It has been difficult, forcing us to reflect on issues that have long plagued our country and what’s most important. Many of us experienced firsthand the human toll of the virus — the impact on health and loss of loved ones.

What has been reinforced to me is that we are resilient, and the credit union industry is a prime example of that resiliency.

As our neighbors, friends and family members lost jobs, saw hours cut or had to close their businesses, credit unions stepped up to help get them through financial hardships. Our advocacy amid the pandemic has focused on relief and flexibility — ensuring our members could adjust program terms, expand offerings or have access to the resources needed to stay viable as loan payments fell and spending habits changed.

Now that we’re looking forward to life after coronavirus — whatever it entails — we’re focused on policies that will allow Americans to thrive.

That’s why NAFCU is pushing for:

  • improvements to business lending policies, such as
    • exempting from credit unions’ member business lending (MBL) cap loans made to small businesses dealing with the impact of the pandemic;
    • extending federal credit unions’ loan maturity limit to bring it in line with today’s standards and provide members with better terms for their business loans; and
    • extending provisions related to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) loan programs to increase the loan programs’ guarantees and make it more appealing for credit unions to offer these loans to members;
  • effective housing finance policies that provide renters and homeowners with financial assistance to stay in their homes and reduce the burden on financial institutions facing increased forbearance requests and possible foreclosures;
  • policies to address credit unions’ capital and liquidity concerns, including by
    • providing prompt correct action flexibility;
    • authorizing additional investment authorities to allow credit unions to better manage the influx of deposits and provide more services to members; and
    • making permanent the enhanced access to the NCUA’s Central Liquidity Facility;
  • allowing all credit unions to add underserved areas to their fields of membership — the pandemic has highlighted financial inequities and lack of access to safe, affordable financial products and services for many in low-income and minority communities, and credit unions are willing to fill these gaps; and
  • a level playing field in the financial services industry to ensure credit unions are not placed at a regulatory disadvantage to compete within the market and consumer trust of the system is maintained.

The credit union industry plays a critical role in helping people who are struggling get through tough times. That’s been evident amid the pandemic and NAFCU is proud to tell your stories of helping members, communities and businesses survive this trying time to decision-makers in Washington.

A prosperous future is in sight. NAFCU’s bold advocacy strategy will focus on obtaining the regulatory environment that creates opportunities to better serve members looking to recover from the past year of struggles.

You can count on us to fight every day for a better future for you and your members.

Connect with Dan Berger on Twitter @BDanBerger.