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First half of 2010 saw challenges opportunities for CUs
MADISON, Wis. (1/3/11)--As credit unions turn to a new year, News Now took a step back to review credit union news throughout 2010. Later this week News Now will publish its Top 20 stories for 2010. Meanwhile, staff reviewed the top stories each month to glean a quarter-by-quarter account of the movement's activities. Contrary to expectations, the agenda wasn't all corporate restructuring and lifting credit unions' member business lending caps. News stories reflected both challenges for credit unions and opportunities to press their case and make the public more aware of the credit union difference. This article will review the first six months of 2010. Tomorrow, News Now will review the second six months of the year. At the beginning of the year, credit unions were embroiled in analyzing a decade of changes, as reflected in the second top story of January: "Ten events that changed the past decade." But they also looked ahead at steep compliance challenges. The top story for January dealt with complying with overdraft rules and Reg Z in the Truth in Lending Act. Credit unions also were preparing for the Fed's final rules related to the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009, which went into effect in February and became that month's top story. During first quarter, the Move Your Money movement took root, with CBS Moneywatch, Suze Orman on ABC, and the Larry King show, among others, expounding on distressed bank customers seeking out credit unions. CNN 's "take this bank and shove it" story in February also received note. Credit unions and leagues capitalized on the issue throughout the year. The administration's proposal in February to funnel $30 billion into small banks for small business loans was perceived as a snub by credit unions, who stepped up their efforts to progress legislation to lift their member business lending cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. February also saw hints of problem credit unions in a story in which the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) discussed an increase in credit unions with lower CAMEL ratings. Compliance took top billing in March, with stories on credit and debit cards, check hold rules under Reg CC, and overdraft incentives. However, an underpinning of the corporate system restructuring issues was reflected in several of March's top stories list. Discussions of the costs of corporate losses to the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, and proposals for legacy assets, and a new corporate model all surfaced at the end of the quarter. Second quarter, April through June, saw more variety on the agenda. The top story for April was financial institution closures--seven banks and one credit union--with similar stories reoccurring later in the year. The introduction of the new $100 bill and discussion on how the Securities and Exchange Commission's actions against Goldman Sachs might affect credit unions also were highly read during April. As the administration pressed its health care issues, News Now's readers' interests reflected the national agenda with stories on cutting health care plan costs prominent. The ongoing issue of credit unions as alternatives to payday lenders also received treatment in the press. Positive press for credit unions continued, with the announcement in April of credit unions topping another customer satisfaction survey--a story to be repeated with several new surveys later in the year. In May, an interchange issue related to Congress's financial regulatory reform bill forced the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the nation's credit unions to oppose Senate banking reform--the No. 2, No. 9 and No. 10 stories for May. NCUA announced it was considering splitting share insurance and corporate fees, the fifth most-read story for May. Credit union people were also in the news. Two top stories during the first half of 2010 centered on six people who had been banned by NCUA from future credit union work. The appointment of Bill Cheney as the new president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association ranked No. 4 for May. In June, NCUA announced its assessment of 0.134% or 13 basis points of insured shares to pay for its corporate stabilization plan. That was the top story for June, followed by stories on interchange--CUNA's call for credit unions to oppose the financial regulatory reform bill and a key congressman's reassurance that the Federal Reserve's new rules governing interchange fees would not apply to credit unions or small institutions under $10 billion in assets. Compliance issues continued, with the Fed releasing a clarification of its Regulation E, Electronic Fund Transfers, and Regulation DD, Truth in Savings, rules that addressed overdraft services. A review of the second-half 2010 activities in the news will continue later in the week.


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