When an Oregon credit union seeks out collaborative support and guidance to manage rigorous compliance needs, the results are better than anticipated. Discover why augmenting your expertise may be a smart move for your CU in 2015. With less than a year to implement a variety of complex new mortgage rules, the leadership at $870 million Oregon State Credit Union made a strategic move. Understanding the strain a high-stakes implementation process could have on its resources, the Oregonbased credit union aligned with the regulatory firm PolicyWorks for support and guidance.
Completing nearly 500 mortgage-related loans each year, the credit union is a market leader in many of the communities it serves. Running a tight and member-focused ship is important to the lending team, which knew it could not afford any distractions.
“It was our goal to be as efficient and effective in our implementation approach as possible,” said Debra Riggle, Oregon State CU’s vice president of financial services. “As a local mortgage lending leader, it was critical for us to stay focused on helping our members pursue their dreams of homeownership. Yet to truly maintain that focus and comply with the changing rules on time, we needed to augment our own expertise.”
To get started, PolicyWorks provided a framework to organize each mortgage rule change. That framework allowed Oregon State CU to track timing requirements, prioritize and identify impacted areas, and develop a cohesive deployment strategy. “We met weekly with the PolicyWorks team, which was extremely helpful in making recommendations based on our distinctive operations,” said Lyndora Taylor, Oregon State CU’s director of real estate services. “They asked us questions about our specific processes, so they could provide us with customized information and options on how best to comply with the regulations.”
The entire effort was facilitated by PolicyWorks team members who prepared the meeting agendas and formulated the assignments each week. Beyond these regular milestone meetings, PolicyWorks assisted the Oregon State CU lending team by reviewing policy and procedural templates to assist in the discussions. “They also provided an implementation spreadsheet for each regulation and how they were connected,” said Taylor. “I still refer back to that resource even today.”
Among the measurements of success Oregon State CU established was the vital meeting of key dates. “We were in full compliance prior to the regulatory deadlines, which provided us with peace of mind,” said Taylor, who credits “manageable action steps” with keeping the implementation as stress free as possible. Although the credit union has put a giant checkmark next to its 2013 mortgage rules implementation project, it has opted to continue its relationship with the firm. Ongoing compliance support, the credit union’s leadership has found, is vitally important to the cooperative’s success.
“Credit unions have always put the best interest of the members first. It’s in our DNA. But with the sheer number of regulatory changes, our focus on the mission of serving members has been threatened,” said Riggle. She went on to say her credit union is proactively managing that threat with good planning and strategic
collaboration. “With more regulation, it becomes a nonstop cycle of research, tracking and documentation. We have to stay ahead of the regulation and advocate when it is possible to influence the
Laurie Roe, Oregon State CU’s AVP of organizational development, agrees. “Keeping a strategic eye on the pulse of the ever-changing regulatory and compliance arena is critical to living our value of integrity.” Speaking specifically of the credit union’s partnership with PolicyWorks, Roe added, “Their proven track record created a foundation of trust upon which to expand the
Today, PolicyWorks is on constant standby to answer
compliance questions regarding all elements of the credit union’s operation in a timely and thorough manner. Riggle insists the firm’s expertise is unmatched. “Because they stay current on emerging issues, they can provide insight not only for our business decisions, but also our advocacy efforts. We put great value on PolicyWorks’ understanding of the landscape and being able to make educated predictions on legislative outcomes.”
The Oregon State CU team also enjoys access to additional resources, such as a monthly newsletter, TheWorksBlog.com and PolicyAid, an online library of policy and procedure templates that
make development of these documents a much simpler task for credit union staff.
Oregon State CU takes full advantage of its partnership with the firm by inviting PolicyWorks speakers to the credit union to provide
education to its leadership. “Our leaders are looking for a wellrounded understanding of compliance across various divisions,” said Riggle. “Where else can you find people who can provide both the high-level view of major regulations to help management and the nitty-gritty details that generate efficient implementations?” As for future plans for the partnership, Oregon State CU views PolicyWorks as a critical resource in the ongoing education of its staff. “PolicyWorks will be providing our mortgage loan originator training that is customized precisely to our unique needs.” That attention to the uniqueness of its clients is something Riggle finds incredibly distinctive. “The PolicyWorks staff collaborates with clients to provide exactly what is needed, rather than [offering] a boilerplate of information that must be sifted through and adjusted.”
Because ongoing compliance challenges persist, Oregon State CU has refocused its compliance strategy, with PolicyWorks as an important resource. The 10-year-old audit and compliance department, which is staffed by a member of senior management and a compliance officer, works with every department as needed to ensure the credit union is in full conformity with the law and regulations. Yet the department is not alone. “In today’s regulatory environment, the job of compliance belongs to every credit union
employee,” observed David Low, Oregon State CU’s AVP of audit and compliance.
Thankfully, those employees have even more support with the long-term PolicyWorks collaboration. “We will continue to work diligently to balance service to members and compliance with regulation,” Low said. “By augmenting our current resources with the talent at PolicyWorks, we are taking a creative and prudent approach to achieving success.”
JANUARY 2015 | COMPLIANCE UPDATE | CUBUSINESS.COM