Todd M. Harper, NCUA chairman, spoke during day one of the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference, focusing on the economy, the agency’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of consumer financial protection, his regulatory philosophy and priorities and the need for economic equity and justice.
“Now, more than a year since the first confirmed COVID case in the United States, it is no exaggeration to say that the pandemic has affected everyone in some way and upended virtually every aspect of our daily lives,” Harper said to those attending the virtual event. “And yet, during this unprecedented time, credit unions have pressed forward as financial first responders, doing their part to support their members and the communities they serve.”
Harper said that the top priorities for the NCUA Board moving forward will be ensuring that the credit union system and the Share Insurance Fund are prepared to weather any economic fallout related to the pandemic, particularly since 2021 is likely to be one of the most “consequential” years for the credit union industry.
He also said that, equally vital to the members of credit unions is consumer financial protection and fair and equal access to credit.
By enhancing support for minority depository institutions, enforcing fair lending laws and advancing initiatives to close the wealth gap, credit unions can address the disparities created by centuries of systemic discrimination and exacerbated by the pandemic, Harper said, saying it is possible to ensure that the cooperative nature of the credit union system lives up to its mission of meeting the credit and savings needs of consumers, including those of modest means.
“We obviously have lots of work ahead of us,” Harper concluded. “But by staying focused on capital and liquidity, consumer financial protection and diversity, equity and economic inclusion, we will together achieve a more vibrant economic outcome for everyone in society.”
The full transcript of Harper’s remarks can be found on the NCUA website.