Mar. 17, 2023 – The National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) has announced the appointment of Aaron Ferenc, the Deputy Commissioner of Banking at the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation (DFR), to the NASCUS Performance Standards Committee (PSC) for a two-year term. The PSC is responsible for setting the policies for the NASCUS Accreditation Program and establishing the standards for credit union supervisory agencies to acquire and maintain NASCUS Accreditation.
“I am excited to expand and grow my participation with NASCUS and continue to offer my regulatory perspective to strengthen the state credit unions system. I look forward to working with the PSC to continue maintaining high standards and adapting to our evolving regulatory environment,” stated Ferenc. Read more
Nov. 4, 2022 — Is the proposed merger of Vermont’s largest credit unions a referendum on the financial cooperative movement itself? Or is consolidation the best way to help the credit union movement survive and thrive well into the future in the Green Mountain State?
After eight months of public debate, members of the $1 billion Vermont State Employee Credit Union in Montpelier are currently voting on whether to consolidate its 75-year-old organization that serves 71,028 members with the $1.9 billion New England Federal Credit Union in Williston that serves 96,661 members.
Cooperative Credit Union Association and Vermont Credit Union Association Host First Credit Unions on Tap Event
Sept. 27, 2022 — Last week, the Cooperative Credit Union Association and the Vermont Credit Union Association hosted credit union leaders from NH and VT for the first ever “Credit Unions on Tap” event. Held at the Harpoon Brewery in Windsor, VT, attendees were able to mingle with their peers from across the state line, while enjoying some excellent local beer and food. Our event was sponsored by CUNA Mutual Group and MemberClose.
Ron McLean, President and CEO of the CCUA, welcomed the group to the event, expressing his enthusiasm for the collaboration between the two leagues. “It’s exciting to see our two leagues working together, and I am encouraged by the strong attendance from both New Hampshire and Vermont,” McLean shared. “Cooperation among associations and credit unions is a key contributor to our success in serving the credit union industry.”
After attendees had some time to mingle and network, special guest Barb Lowman, President of CUNA Strategic Services, shared some personal and thought-provoking leadership strategies. Barb’s resonating comments alerted our credit union leaders to the importance of inclusively supporting our peers, as we share in our combined focus on serving our community.
Thank you to all our NH and VT credit union leaders for their support and attendance. We look forward to our second “Credit Unions on Tap” event soon. Cheers!
June 30, 2022 — The Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) was recently authorized to offer discretionary grants for financial services education initiatives undertaken by public and nonprofit organizations. The grant program is authorized in 9 V.S.A. § 5601 and § 5616 and is funded from the Vermont Financial Services Education, Victim Restitution, and Whistleblower Award Special Fund.
Opportunities Credit Union, from Winooski, Vermont, was awarded the first such grant in the amount of $200,000 to provide financial counseling and education to current and prospective small business owners in Vermont through a new “Business Sense” program. The funds will be distributed in $50,000 increments over four years.
“Our goal is to help consumers access financial and insurance-related services with confidence,” said Interim-Commissioner Kevin Gaffney. “I’m pleased that we’re able to provide some funds to Opportunities Credit Union to support the growth and development of Vermont small businesses, particularly in underserved populations such as women-owned, minority-owned, and immigrant/refugee-owned businesses.”
If your organization is interested in a grant, applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Learn more online about DFR’s Financial Education Grant Program.
January 3, 2022 — Credit unions have received their first green light from the National Credit Union Administration to partner with crypto firms to help members to manage digital assets.
Many credit unions were hesitant to delve into the cryptocurrency market amidst concerns of regulatory backlash from the NCUA. The agency offered clarity this month to address concerns voiced by many in the credit union industry.
“The NCUA does not prohibit federally insured credit unions from partnering with third-party providers of digital asset services that leverage evolving technologies,” Todd Harper, chairman of the NCUA, said in a letter to the industry.
Harper also provided credit union executives with supplementary guidance, outlining potential areas of concern such as member disclosures and topics to address when signing contracts with partners.
Visions Federal Credit Union in Endicott, New York, began working with the New York City-based Bitcoin servicer NYDIG back in October after reviewing conversations and existing signals from the NCUA. The credit union expects to launch the feature allowing members to buy, sell and hold digital assets through NYDIG in January.
“We’ve become pretty close with the vice chairman of the NCUA, with the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions and with many other trade associations, and we’ve been working to try and push for guidance like this … so this is what we were waiting for,” said Cynthia Schroeder, senior vice president and chief information and innovation officer of the $5.5 billion-asset Visions.
VERMONT PREPARES FOR HURRICANE HENRI
August 21, 2021 – In preparation of Hurricane Henri, the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) Commissioner Michael Pieciak encourages Vermonters to verify their flood insurance coverage, prepare for possible flood conditions, and follow recommendations from Vermont Emergency Management.
Before the storm:
- Listen to state and local officials on storm activity.
- Sign-up for VT-Alerts to hear emergency alerts.
- Prepare for the flood by reviewing your property and flood insurance policies.
- Gather supplies in case a flood leaves you without power, water, fuel, or food.
- Snap some pictures of your property and do an inventory.
- Locate and safely store your health, financial, and insurance documents.
After the storm and if your property sustained damage:
- Be safe when moving in and around damaged property.
Notify your insurance agent and company as soon as possible to begin filing a claim.
- Take photos of the damaged property.
- Save samples of damaged material, such as carpeting, curtains, and upholstery.
- Secure your property from further by covering broken windows, damaged walls, or leaking roofs, but do not make permanent repairs.
- Make a list of the damage and keep receipts of repairs or replacement.
- Contact your insurance company again if an adjuster is not assigned within two weeks.
July 15, 2021 – The National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) is proud to announce Vermont has earned Re-Accreditation following a series of in-depth reviews and assessments by a panel of veteran state supervisors.
More than 88% of the $989 billion in state-chartered credit union assets are supervised by NASCUS’ 28 accredited state agencies.
“Accreditation is direct evidence of an agency’s capabilities and benefits all credit unions in the state as well,” said NASCUS President and CEO Lucy Ito. “It recognizes the professionalism of a state agency’s regulators, supervisors, and staff, while potentially delivering an impetus and support for legislation to modernize state law and policy changes to advance state supervisory processes and best practices.”
“Our department routinely examines the financial firms operating in Vermont to ensure their compliance with our laws. Accordingly, it is important for independent experts to examine our department’s operations to ensure we are following best practices and providing the highest level of service to Vermonters,” said Vermont Commissioner Michael Pieciak. “I am proud of our team for receiving Accreditation.”
NASCUS accreditation is a robust process that includes disciplined self-evaluation, peer review, and ongoing monitoring. The process, administered by the NASCUS Performance Standards Committee (PSC), measures a state regulatory agency’s ability and resources to carry out its regulatory and supervisory programs effectively.
To earn Accreditation, a credit union state supervisory agency must demonstrate that it meets accreditation standards in agency administration and finance, personnel and training, examination, supervision, and legislative powers.
NASCUS adopted the Accreditation Program in 1989 to administer and assure states’ credit union examination and supervision quality standards. This program, modeled on the university accreditation concept, applies national performance standards to a state’s credit union regulatory program.
April 8, 2021 — The Supreme Court has handed financial institutions a major victory in their fight against lawsuits involving automated calls and text messages to consumers.
In a 9-0 decision last week, the court sided with companies, including banks and credit unions, that have been sued for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Financial institutions have paid big settlements in recent years to resolve suits that allege they made illegal calls.
The court’s ruling will reduce, but not eliminate, the threat of litigation, predicted Kyle Tayman, a lawyer at Goodwin Procter who represents financial institutions in robocall cases. “I think that’s going to be greatly diminished, but I don’t think we can say it’s completely gone forever,” he said.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court sided with companies, including banks and credit unions, that have been sued for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
Consumer advocates argued that the decision will add to the flood of unwanted robocalls to U.S. households, and called on Congress to impose new restrictions.
March 5, 2021 — The Securities Division of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation today reminded investors to be on the lookout for investment schemes pitched through the internet and social media, particularly those involving precious metals, cryptocurrencies, promissory notes, and foreign exchange markets.
Schemes related to these products were identified as the top threats facing investors this year in a survey by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), of which the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation is a member. The survey includes responses of enforcement officials with state and provincial securities regulators throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
The survey found fraudulent internet- or social media-based frauds as the top threat to investors. Ranked second are cryptocurrency-related and precious metals-based investments, especially those purchased through self-directed individual retirement accounts, which lack the services and protection of traditional IRAs and can be fertile soil for scammers. Foreign exchange-related schemes rounded out the top three threats. In particular, enforcement officials expect to see a resurgence of high-yield foreign exchange and cryptocurrency-related schemes targeting investors this year disguised as membership or investment programs.
New Commissioner Named
July 7, 2016 — Michael Pieciak is the new commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, replacing Susan Donegan who completed her service June 30.
Formerly deputy commissioner of the agency’s securities division, Pieciak has practiced law in Vermont and New York, and has public service to former Gov. Howard Dean and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont).
In a statement, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin praised Pieciak. “Susan Donegan left big shoes to fill, but I cannot think of someone who is more prepared to lead DFR at this critical time than Mike,” Shumlin said.
Vermont, Idaho Approved for Reaccreditation
Feb. 1, 2016 — State financial institution regulatory agencies in both Idaho and Vermont have been approved for reaccreditation by NASCUS and the Conference of State Banking Supervisors (CSBS) following recent reviews.
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