Concern 1: Clarity
Obtaining clear answers from your compliance provider is a passionate concern among credit unions. It is imperative that compliance officers are able to trust the answer they receive is correct, and that they are able to communicate to both their team and managers why a decision has been made a certain way. After all, it is their job on the line in the end.
$270M Evergreen Credit Union is tucked away up in Portland, Maine, and has four branches in the region. Progressive and open-minded, the credit union has been voted one of the best places to work two years running by the Maine State Council. We interviewed Laura Briggs, VP of Compliance at Evergreen Credit Union, about the concerns she has with the inherent ambiguity of compliance.
“You end up asking yourself, ‘Did I interpret this wrong? Am I biased with the answer or am I looking for the answer objectively?’’ Briggs mulled over the complexity of being a compliance officer, and raised a fascinating point about the benefit of having deeply knowledgeable compliance assistance.
Briggs appreciated that Aux’s compliance services team was willing to spend the extra time describing precisely how they understood the regulation, where they pulled sources from, and why. She described experiences with a previous compliance vendor: “If I came back and had a follow up question, their response was, ’Well…that’s just how we see it.’ That doesn’t help me. Can you explain to me why you feel this way? I need someone to articulate why. I need to be able to provide answers to staff – not just mumble, ‘Well that’s just what I think and that’s that.’”
Interior FCU is located in Washington, D.C., some 500 miles down the Atlantic coast from Evergreen Credit Union. They too valued that their compliance provider cited sources and offered clear answers. “We had questions about offering custodian accounts, such as who can sign for them, and so on. The Aux Compliance Team sent their specific wording and also cited the regulation. They didn’t just give us a ‘he said she said’ reasoning,” said Vicky Doyle, VP of Member Services at Interior FCU. Doyle is a 37-year credit union veteran and worked as a compliance consultant for many years. That being the case, she has a unique, outside perspective on what credit unions want from a compliance vendor. “The Aux Team provides facts to back up their answers. I don’t have to question what they have given me,” Doyle said frankly.
“When looking for a compliance vendor, you need someone who understands the credit union movement. Now, I still call it the credit union movement, not industry,” Kristen Tatlock of Aux said. She has been involved in credit union compliance for nearly 30 years and has old-school credit union blood running through her veins. Tatlock emphasizes that, in their search for a compliance provider, credit unions need to find someone who understands credit unions, before anything else. We’ve found that credit unions are easily frustrated and dismissive of compliance vendors who treat them like banks. One key to a fulfilling compliance partnership is to communicate on a level where there is no “bank speak.”