NCUA Chairman Renews Call to Strengthen Fair Lending Enforcement
NCUA Chairman Todd Harper renewed his call to expand fair lending examinations for credit unions in an aim to combat discriminatory practices. Learn why.
NCUA Chairman Todd Harper.
Agency head pushes to expand fair lending examinations for credit unions in aim to combat discriminatory practices.
Citing just-released research showing minority credit union members were more likely to be denied mortgages, NCUA Chairman Todd Harper on Wednesday renewed his call for additional staff and resources for fair lending examinations.
“The NCUA completed only 68 fair lending examinations and reviews in 2021, which represents just over two percent of all federal credit unions,” Harper said in a speech opening the agency’s DEI and ACCESS Summit. “And yet, at the end of 2021, the NCUA had identified 64,000 credit union members subjected to potentially discriminatory practices.”
He added, “That’s why the NCUA must continue to enhance its fair lending program as part of ongoing efforts to strengthen the agency’s consumer financial protection oversight.”
Using figures from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, NCUA economists found that minority borrowers were between 1.2 to 1.29 times more likely to be denied mortgages than White borrowers.
The report also found that Black borrowers paid between 2 and 10 basis points more than White borrowers on average. For Hispanic borrowers, rate premiums ranged between 10 and 13 basis points higher.
NCUA officials cautioned that while the nation’s largest credit unions were included in the analysis, more than 3,500 credit unions were not.
The NCUA’s draft 2023 budget calls for an additional 25 Full Time Equivalent positions in an effort to beef up fair lending efforts as well as a variety of other agency priorities.
Credit union trade groups have questioned the need for additional staff members at the agency.
In a press call with reporters following the speech, Harper said that it remains to be seen if board members can reach a consensus on the additional positions. He also explained that regardless of whether the agency adds more examiners, the number of fair lending exams will increase, with the agency on track to conduct a total of 80 this year.
Increased Scope of Fair Lending
In his speech, Harper said the NCUA should expand its fair lending efforts beyond mortgages, noting, for instance, that credit unions offer new and used auto loans, credit cards and private student loans.
“Going forward, NCUA’s fair lending program should consider more than HMDA data when identifying which credit unions to examine and review,” he stated. “With more resources dedicated to fair lending oversight and better methods for determining fair lending risks, we can better ensure that credit union members of all races and ethnicities are fairly treated.”
Concern Over Appraisals
During the phone conference with reporters, Harper revealed he continues to be concerned with the property appraisal process, saying financial regulators should develop quality control standards for automated valuations.
He added that staff members at the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, which he currently chairs, are working on recommendations as to how financial regulators can best supervise the appraisal industry.