Published by CUInsight

The ALM First Financial Forum brings the brightest leaders in the industry together with exceptionally unique networking opportunities. This year’s Forum was held at the Silverado Resort in Napa Valley, a quaint but bold resort in the wine country. Unlike your typical all-inclusive resort, the rooms were disparate and paid homage to its history, built originally in the 1860s as a southern style mansion. The resort is situated in the rolling hills of Napa Valley with diverse fauna and regal oak trees dropping acorns like rain. It was the site of the Fortinet Championship, a professional golf tournament and part of the PGA Tour, just a week prior to the conference.

In his keynote speech, which kicked off ALM First’s 2021 Financial Forum on September 27, Rodney Hood, former NCUA Chairman and current Board Member, enthusiastically described himself as a believer that regulation should be effective but not overbearing. His stance extended itself to the world of “Fintech”, a term used to describe financial technology seeking to improve delivery and consumption of financial services. While Fintech can be seen as scary to some, due to the paradigm shifts that may occur as a result, Hood, and hence the NCUA, are embracing Fintech “with alacrity.”

Amongst other topics, including the modernization of the NCUA’s derivatives rule and capital adequacy framework, Hood laid out the NCUA’s plan as it pertains to investments and partnerships in Fintech companies. According to him, all federal agencies recognize its importance and are pursuing some form of policy around it currently.

As such, he informed conference attendees of the newly formed Office of Innovation and Access and the active pursuit of a Director of Fintech. The NCUA’s expanded efforts in the Fintech space have included the hiring of ex-Fintech veterans, an increase in educational efforts around trends in technology, and consideration of regulatory needs to support continued innovation for credit unions. In addition, the NCUA has learned about and visited several Fintech companies to understand what’s out there.

Hood’s efforts and passion towards the subject showed as he discussed his commitment to ensure credit unions have the framework needed to continue to evolve with the times. At times, it almost appeared as a moral imperative: “financial inclusion is a matter of civil rights”, Rodney expressed, highlighting the purpose of supporting and accelerating greater opportunities for economic inclusion.

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