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NCUF grant helps Mich. CUs attain FiCep certification
MADISON, Wis. (11/1/11)--With assistance from a National Credit Union Foundation, the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) offered a training program that produced 72 Certified Credit Union Financial Counselors last year.

With a National Credit Union Foundation grant, the Michigan Credit Union League trained 72 Certified Credit Union Financial Counselors last year. Here, Kathryn Greiner from University of Michigan CU presents on the "Budget Counseling Process" during training. (Photo provided by National Credit Union Foundation)
Since then, MCUL has reached an estimated 170 credit union staff and more than1,850 consumers through the program.

The training combines the Credit Union National Association's self-study Credit Union Financial Counseling Certification Program (FiCEP) with webinars and local in-person training and networking, to help credit union staff to become more confident in assisting members with their financial futures. 

An additional 101 credit union staff from 26 credit unions have enrolled in the program in 2011.  The guided self-study portion provides bi-weekly interactive webinars on each of the eight FiCEP modules and two live training and testing sessions during a six-month period. Upon completion of the modules, training and testing, participants receive their Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor designation. 

A major component of the enhanced training is working with counselors to develop a strategic for their credit unions to obtain maximum impact for the credit union and the community.

MCUL's goal is to increase the number of credit unions providing financial counseling to assist Michigan residents to manage their money and avoid problems such as bankruptcy, foreclosure and loan defaults. Michigan's credit unions are attracting the interest of partners such as Habitat for Humanity and United Way's 2-1-1 system as a source of trustworthy financial guidance for the families they serve. 

With 24 credit unions reporting in the first half of 2011, counselors logged in about 1,200 hours of counseling activity, helping more than 1,850 consumers. Expanding those results to the full group of 170 credit union financial counselors in 56 credit unions would translate an annual reach of more than 8,800 consumers, said NCUF.

Second-quarter National Credit Union Association Call Report data has illustrated the program's impact shows Michigan credit unions experiencing fewer delinquencies and charge-offs and a reduction in the rate of bankruptcy among members.     

"Members are always thanking us because we helped them and no one else would," said Lisa Blevins, a FiCEP participant from Education Plus CU in Monroe, Mich. "Our charge offs and delinquencies are way below our peers, and we take pride in keeping it this way because that tells us we are helping more members than charging them off as a loss."
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