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NCUA Board Member Todd M. Harper Statement on Board Briefing about the ACCESS Initiative

January 2021
NCUA Board Member Todd M. Harper Statement on Board Briefing about the ACCESS Initiative

As Prepared For Delivery on January 14, 2021

Thank you, Matt and JeanMarie, for your briefing about the work completed to date on the agency’s ACCESS initiative, as well as the plans going forward. I share the Chairman’s interest in these important issues, and I believe the NCUA must do all that we can to advance economic equality and justice.

In working to enhance support for minority depository institutions, expanding access to affordable credit, and improving financial literacy resources, we can begin to address the disparities caused by centuries of systemic discrimination and exacerbated by the pandemic. We can also ensure that the cooperative nature of the credit union system lives up to its mission of meeting the credit and savings needs of consumers, including those of modest means.

With respect to supporting minority depository institutions, it is very important that we work to preserve them. In that regard, I am aware that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has developed a process whereby minority depository institutions seeking to merge with other minority depository institutions in receivership are given extra time to review the books and develop a bid. They also receive technical assistance in understanding the bidding process.

The FDIC has found this process can help it to merge two minority depository institutions together. I think this is something that the NCUA should consider and implement. JeanMarie, will the Office of Credit Union Resources and Expansion work with others in the agency, including the Office of General Counsel and our field offices, to explore this option? Such efforts have the potential to preserve the distinct nature of minority depository institutions.

The agency can go a step further by advancing initiatives to close the wealth gap. As you move forward with implementing ACCESS, Matt will you and your team in the Office of Consumer Financial Protection work to develop policies and implement projects aimed at helping people of color to build wealth? 

In working to close the wealth gap, support minority depository institutions and ensure compliance with fair lending laws, we will help ensure that people of all colors can buy a home, purchase a car or finance college without being subject to discriminatory terms. In doing so, we will lift all boats and live up to the cooperative philosophy at the heart of the credit union movement.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have no further comments or questions.

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