Chairman Emphasizes Need for Forward-Looking Regulation to Strengthen Industry; State Regulators to Be Consulted
COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (Sept. 18, 2013) – National Credit Union Administration Board Chairman Debbie Matz today announced the agency’s Office of National Examinations and Supervision is drafting a proposed rule to require annual stress tests at credit unions with assets exceeding $10 billion.
Matz made the announcement in a speech at the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors’ annual State System Summit. The NCUA Board should issue the proposed rule for public comment before the end of the year.
“At NCUA, we need to utilize all the tools at our disposal to look ahead in order to protect the industry in the future,” Matz said. “Stress tests are forward-looking measures. They’re designed to determine whether an institution is holding an adequate capital cushion to survive adverse scenarios and to allow credit unions to make adjustments before a crisis hits.”
The Dodd-Frank Act requires certain financial firms with more than $10 billion in assets to conduct annual stress tests. Matz noted that stress testing is just as important for credit unions of comparable size.
“With more than $1 trillion in industry assets, deposits at federally insured credit unions are protected by a fund of just over $11 billion,” Matz noted. “However, four credit unions each have assets of $10 billion or more. So, each of those four has assets nearly the size of, or greater than, those of the Share Insurance Fund.”
Stress testing is a risk-management analysis that determines whether financial institutions have adequate capital to withstand economic shocks. Stress tests are meant to detect weak points in time for the institutions and regulators to take corrective action.
Matz said stress testing would be part of NCUA’s “coordinated approach” to supervision of a changing industry with asset growth concentrated in large credit unions. Stress testing of federally insured credit unions with state charters would be conducted in consultation with the state regulator.
The shocks used in the stress testing would be based on scenarios issued annually by the Federal Reserve, with adjustments for differences between banks and credit unions.
“The results of NCUA’s stress tests will help each credit union and NCUA identify future risks by quantifying the impact of potential financial and economic shocks on loan losses, net income and capital,” Matz added. “The results will serve to alert credit unions to just how far their capital would fall under extreme stress scenarios, enabling them to make the necessary adjustments to protect against losses.”
A credit union that fails a stress test would be required to revise its capital plan to demonstrate how it would meet minimum stress test capital ratios. A credit union that passes the test would benefit from the analysis by identifying potential improvements in its enterprise risk management system.
Matz said one issue still being reviewed is whether stress test results would be publicly available. She noted banks are required to disclose their results, but banks are publicly traded entities, unlike credit unions. She said public disclosure would enhance transparency to members but results could also be misinterpreted and lead to inaccurate conclusions about a credit union’s current stability. Comment will be sought on this issue.
NCUA is the independent federal agency created by
the U.S. Congress to regulate, charter and supervise
federal credit unions. With the backing of the full
faith and credit of the United States, NCUA operates
and manages the National Credit Union Share
Insurance Fund, insuring the deposits of nearly 100
million account holders in all federal credit
unions and the overwhelming majority of
state-chartered credit unions. At
Pocket Cents, NCUA also educates the public on consumer protection and financial literacy issues.