Community Service

A Fighter for Small CUs

Compliance burden is ‘like an avalanche.’

April 01, 2014
KEYWORDS credit , morrisey , ncua , small , unions
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Dan Morrisey

The movement’s smallest credit unions also are strongly people-focused. But too often they face challenges that divert them from this aim, particularly the continuous onslaught of regulatory changes, says Dan Morrisey, CEO/treasurer of $2 million asset Queen of Peace Arlington (Va.) Federal Credit Union.

“It’s like an avalanche,” he says. “It’s one of the reasons—maybe the top reason—many small credit unions have shut down or merged.”

Although his credit union has limited hours—the first Thursday of each month, a few weekend hours, or by appointment—Morrisey spends much of his precious time keeping up with NCUA regulations and staying active in state and national associations.

Vote for the CU Hero of the Year

Each year we’re honored to present four outstanding leaders Credit Union Magazine readers have nominated as credit union heroes.

These individuals exemplify the credit union philosophy of “people helping people” and have gone the extra mile to make a difference in their communities.

Now it’s time to choose the 2014 Credit Union Hero of the Year. Voting is open now through May 1. Vote now for one of these heroes:
• William Armstrong, Northeast Community Credit Union, Elizabethton, Tenn.;
Dan Morrisey, Queen of Peace Arlington (Va.) Federal Credit Union;
William “Bill” Rissel, Fort Knox Federal Credit Union, Radcliff, Ky.; and
Joni Senkpeil, Illinois Credit Union League.

This year’s winner, or his/her representative, will be honored at CUNA’s America’s Credit Union Conference in San Francisco June 29 to July 3.

Vote now.

Now retired from his career at two data processors, Morrisey continues to devote hours to keeping the credit union on track. Even while working full-time, he spent nights and weekends volunteering for the credit union, which still has a niche field of membership: parishioners, employees, and families of a local Catholic church.

“In 1976, I was a church member, but not a credit union member,” Morrisey recalls. “The credit union’s board wanted to shut it down, but our pastor gathered a new group of volunteers. I joined the supervisory committee and became assistant treasurer. My wife was treasurer.”

The credit union processed manually at the time with a ledger book for handwritten transactions. “Then we converted to a batch computer system and mailed transactions for processing once a week,” says Morrisey.

Except for a hiatus from 1983 to 1987, Morrisey has been with the credit union ever since, volunteering until two years ago when he became a part-time employee.

Around 1990 the credit union converted to in-house core processing—a big change—allowing it to offer an array of transaction accounts, consumer loans, and prepaid debit cards.

He and his team encourage children, however young, to have accounts and perform their own transactions—something they probably couldn’t do elsewhere. “What bank would allow a six-year-old to conduct transactions?” he laughs.

“We provide service to members that they couldn’t get otherwise,” he adds. “We don’t take the cookie-cutter approach of automated lending like so many financial institutions do. We don’t just look at credit scores; we look at the entire picture, the member’s history with us, and see what we can do to approve loans.”

The credit union approves nearly all loans, sometimes with modifications. “We make loans to people who have been rejected elsewhere at affordable terms,” says Morrisey. “It does take time and effort, but it’s worth it. Virginia is an island of predatory lending.”

He speaks out in the community and at the state capital against such unjust practices, letting people know they don’t have to pay exorbitant rates and fees for financial services.

Morrisey also advocates nationally on behalf of small credit unions, recently writing to NCUA to express his displeasure with its proposal to ban home-based credit unions—and he encourages colleagues to do likewise.

“Make it known how regulations affect small credit unions,” he says, admitting that efforts to educate regulators can be discouraging. “You might feel like they’re not paying attention, but often they do and we have to keep up the fight.”

Fighter for Small Credit Unions

Wanda Holdaway
April 08, 2014 4:18 pm
I, until recently, have been a manager of two small credit unions. We recently merged with a larger credit union as a result of the regulations and not being able to keep up. We were in a "catch 22" of not being able to afford more staff to help with the back room work, compliance issues, and many other tasks. After going through two federal exams we felt the writing was on the wall. We found a merging partner while we were still sound and not waited until we were forced to merge. Although the merged has been good for the membership over all we have lost our identity. My advice to any other credit union in this position would be to think long and hard and see if there is any other way to make the credit union work. I have learned a lot since the merger and can see things we could have done to make the credit union survive.

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