Money matters: Attorney continues to draw on his finance background


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Credit unions and other financial institutions have to navigate a complex web of laws and regulations.

“It’s incredibly fulfilling working with credit unions – as their underlying mission is to help their members,” says Steven Van Beek, an attorney with Howard & Howard Attorneys in Royal Oak, who previously served as vice president of Regulatory Compliance and senior federal counsel at the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU).

Van Beek, who joined the firm a year ago, focuses his practice on helping his clients stay compliant in an ever-changing regulatory environment. He does so by utilizing his knowledge of the regulations and guidance issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, National Credit Union Administration, and Federal Reserve Board, and the underlying legal statutes; as well as his knowledge of operational issues facing financial institutions.

A frequent compliance trainer at national and regional industry events, Van Beek’s interest in finance dates back to high school, where a Junior Achievement economics class solidified his interest.

He graduated summa cum laude from Hope College in Holland, Mich., with a double major in economics and management, studies that highlighted the role the law plays in the economy – especially the impact of regulations.

“The ability to further analyze the interplay between law and economics drove me to George Mason University School of Law, located in Arlington, Va., just outside Washington D.C., which was the ideal place to further study the costs and benefits of regulations.” 

With the opportunity to learn from outstanding adjunct professors – including current and former regulators – Van Beek’s focus on financial issues and the further study of regulations was a natural combination. He also participated in a legal clinic where students analyzed a proposed regulation and drafted a formal comment letter to regulators regarding the costs and benefits and alternative suggestions to reduce regulatory burden.

The experience provided the ideal foundation for an internship at NAFCU that turned into a position as regulatory compliance counsel, and then as vice president/director of Regulatory Compliance and senior federal counsel.

“My main responsibilities were helping almost 800 credit unions understand and comply with the numerous laws and regulations impacting the ways in which they provided financial products and services to their members,” he says.

His work included direct compliance assistance as well as written compliance resources – newsletters, blog posts, Q&As – and compliance training.    

His years at NAFCU were during a difficult time for financial institutions.

“The financial crisis – and the Congressional response with the Dodd-Frank Act – brought up a number of unique and novel issues and it was both challenging and rewarding to help credit unions work through those issues,” he says.   

A native of Hudsonville, Mich., Van Beek now makes his home in Royal Oak, where he and his wife Erin enjoy volunteering at their church, including helping at a local food pantry.

The two enjoy traveling in Europe, spending their honeymoon in Spain, and a subsequent visit to Paris, and Montreux, Switzerland, where they toured the medieval Chillon Castle on the shores of Lake Geneva. Van Beek also spent time in Germany as one of two law students from the United States to participate in an exchange program with the University of Hamburg.

“The other 28 students came from other countries throughout the world – this diversity of backgrounds provided an incredible learning environment,” he says.

When the semester ended, he toured Europe for two months, with stops in 10 different countries.

Van Beek enjoys sports, and in D.C., played on three softball teams each year; since relocating back to Michigan, he has joined his church softball team.

Golf is another leisure pursuit; and during summers in high school and college, he worked in golf course maintenance.

“My highlight was helping to build a new golf course, designed by Greg Norman, just outside Vail, Colorado,” he says. “I continue to golf and find it an incredibly relaxing hobby and a wonderful way to unwind and unplug for a couple of hours.”

A big fan of Michigan football, he would travel back each year during his time in D.C. to attend a couple of Wolverine games with his father and brothers. The third of four boys, he became the seventh of eight boys when his widowed father remarried.

“Our blended family was – and continues to be – extremely close,” he says.