NCUA’s Otsuka, DOJ’s Clarke share goals, approach at GAC

NCUA Board Member Tanya Otsuka, and U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke addressed the 2024 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) Tuesday, where they outlined their priorities for their respective offices.

“My work at NCUA will be guided by a commitment to a safe and sound financial system of cooperative credit that ensures members benefit from fair and affordable products and services,” Otsuka said. “Safety and soundness and consumer protection are not two separate issues.”

Otsuka said she will focus on “making sure credit unions, especially small low income and MDIs, can continue to stay competitive and provide affordable financial services to their members in a constantly evolving financial system.”

Otsuka said she wants to keep learning about different and unique ways credit unions meet member needs and seeks feedback on ideas from credit unions on ways NCUA programs can support that goal.

“I also appreciate many of the challenges your institutions are facing. I heard from the Small Credit Union Committee Sunday about the challenges of cybersecurity and potential for increased delinquency. I’ve heard about the increased cost of funds and the slowdown in lending growth, which has put pressure on earnings,” she said.

Clarke—who started by sharing her mother’s “decades-long love affair” with her credit union— said she is a 24-year credit union member herself and appreciates “how important it is that you are able to serve your members an provide communities with safe and affordable products and services.”

Much of Clarke’s work involves tackling redlining and other discrimination in housing. She said the DOJ’s efforts in this area means working alongside regulators, in addition to U.S. attorneys state attorneys general, to identify and build cases on redlining. NCUA and CFPB have general supervisory and enforcement authority of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) over credit unions depending on asset size, but both agencies are required to make a referral to DOJ when they believe that a credit union has participated in a pattern or practice of discrimination unlawful under the ECOA.

“One clear message, which you already know, is we’re seeing increased redlining enforcement work at the federal and state level, and we’re moving full speed ahead on this work. We know that litigation is not enough, and that it’s going to take partnership with all of you to truly conquer these issues,” she said. “To achieve equal opportunity in homeownership in this country we know that we need partnership and leadership and collaboration with all of you in this room.

“You all hold the power to transform the lending industry into one that reflects fairness access and equal opportunity for all,” she added.

Use #GAC2024 on social media to engage with America’s Credit Unions and industry advocates throughout the 2024 Governmental Affairs Conference.

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