NCUA Board Member J. Mark McWatters Remarks on Allocation of Additional Resources to the Office of Consumer Financial Protection

October 2020
NCUA Board Member J. Mark McWatters Remarks on Allocation of Additional Resources to the Office of Consumer Financial Protection

It has been my distinct honor and privilege to serve as the Chair and as a Board Member of the NCUA for over six years. I wish to thank each of you for your assistance during my tenure. To the extent I have succeeded, it’s because of you. Otherwise, it’s on me.

When people inquire as to how Sarah, Katie, and I managed the NCUA during my chairmanship, the answer is simple: We didn’t, without the invaluable assistance of the NCUA staff. We trusted and respected you and your colleagues as our success was built on your success. The tone comes from the top and with the right touch as well as the ability to share any credit and take responsibility for your actions, positive results follow. It’s not that difficult – teamwork, trust, respect, and a strong sense of inherent fairness and collegiality is pretty much all it takes.

I have endeavored to ascertain that the people who develop the best ideas receive recognition for their work and contribution, because it was always about the mission of the agency and not for personal credit. I thank each of you for your service and offer my support for your valuable mission during my remaining time on the Board.

Specifically, today, I wish to comment on the allocation of additional resources to the Office of Consumer Financial Protection and the agency’s consumer protection mission.

Consumer protection is endemic to the NCUA and the credit union community, as the typical credit union’s business model focuses almost entirely on extending credit and other financial services to its member consumers. Treating consumers inappropriately is not only wrong and in violation of the law, it’s bad for credit union business and undermines the agency’s safety and soundness mandate.

As such, it’s imperative that we provide the Office of Consumer Financial Protection and the agency’s consumer protection staff with the resources necessary to continue to proactively safeguard credit union consumers. The 120 million or so Americans who rely on credit unions, and our staff who carry the burden of protecting those consumers, deserve that commitment.

I encourage my colleagues to allocate additional resources to the Office of Consumer Financial Protection and our consumer protection mission when they vote to consider the next NCUA Budget.

Finally, I wish to note that many businesses may endeavor to control their environments by limiting access; requiring masks, social distancing, and temperature checks; upgrading their cleaning systems; enhancing ventilation; and the like. Unfortunately, we cannot control the travel, lodging, dining, business, and other environments to which our examiners and other staff members are often exposed.

As I have advocated, we should follow the science and not reopen the agency until either an effective vaccine is developed and distributed, or viable treatment protocols are successfully implemented. We will have to monitor and analyze in a thoughtful, rigorous manner the consequences of future waves of the coronavirus and other matters as the facts and circumstances develop and the science evolves. It is imperative that we not place our staff at risk.

Thank you.

Last modified on
10/06/20