News Now

July 25, 2014

Elimination of fixed-asset cap on NCUA board agenda for July

Washington
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (7/25/14)--The National Credit Union Administration will consider a proposed rule on federal credit union ownership of fixed assets, among other proposals, at its monthly board meeting Thursday.

Speaking at the National Association of Federal Credit Unions conference Wednesday, NCUA Chair Debbie Matz said the proposal is intended to streamline the rules that implement Federal Credit Union Act provisions governing the process for those credit unions to occupy land or buildings.

Matz said the intent is to allow federal credit unions to manage their own fixed-asset purchases without having to seek permission or waivers from the NCUA. This would allow them to update facilities, upgrade technologies and make purchases that do not impact safety and soundness.
                 
"NCUA should not micromanage individual business decisions," she said ( News Now July 24).

Board member Rick Metsger has made fixed-asset issues an area of focus since joining the NCUA board in 2013, and said Thursday at the American Association of Credit Union Leagues meeting in Chicago that he was strongly in favor of giving credit unions the ability to make their own decisions on managing fixed assets.

The board will also give the quarterly share insurance fund report, the guaranteed notes performance report, and the agency's 2014 mid-year operating budget.

Also on the agenda is a request for a community charter expansion for Call FCU, a $360 million-asset institution based in Richmond, Va.

Matz said last week that along with the fixed assets proposed rule, board meetings later this year would address two other regulatory relief proposals. One would be to support legislation to increase the member business loan cap from 12.15%, as well as look for other ways to "modernize" member business lending to make it easier for credit unions to serve small businesses. The other proposal would involve updating appraisal provisions.

The NCUA board will not meet in August. The next board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 18. ReadMore

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Fraud-fighting advice for CUs: Now on NCUA YouTube channel

Washington
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (7/25/14)--In an effort to help credit unions detect and deter fraud, the National Credit Union Administration has released the first videos in a new series on fraud prevention.

The agency has posted the first three videos on its YouTube channel, with the remaining four to be released in the coming weeks.

"The potential for employee fraud should always be a concern for credit union officials and volunteers," NCUA Board Chair Debbie Matz said in announcing the new resource.

"Unfortunately, employee fraud led to $311.4 million in losses for the Share Insurance Fund between 2010 and 2013 at liquidated credit unions. To protect the Share Insurance Fund from future losses, NCUA has developed this new video series to educate credit union managers and volunteers about detecting and reducing the potential for fraud and dishonesty among employees," she added.

The series, conducted by staff from the NCUA's Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives in partnership with CUNA Mutual Group, discusses ways credit unions can increase internal controls to deter insider fraud and employee dishonesty. Credit union managers and volunteers will also learn how to identify potential clues that are warning signs for fraud.

The first three episodes of the "Deterring, Preventing and Detecting Employee Dishonesty" series provide an overview of the series and outline the importance of maintaining a policy on employee fraud and conducting surprise cash counts.

Joette Colletts, senior manager for risk management with CUNA Mutual Group, is featured in the videos taking a credit union CEO through various phases of fraud prevention and explaining why each one is essential to an overall prevention strategy.

The NCUA will release the remaining four episodes in the coming weeks, which will address separation of duties, employee and family member accounts, file maintenance transactions and vault cash.

Use the resource link below to access the videos. ReadMore

Comments on NCUA regs, Freddie/Fannie g-fees due in August

Washington
WASHINGTON (7/25/14)--Various regulatory agencies have comment call deadlines during the month of August, on regulations from mortgage guarantee fees to the National Credit Union Administration's annual regulatory review.

The Credit Union National Association will be circulating its draft letters in advance of comment deadlines to credit union leagues and others then submitting detailed comments. CUNA's ongoing concern is to urge all regulators to minimize negative rules and facilitate a more favorable regulatory environment for credit unions.

The due dates and regulations in question are:
  • Aug. 4: NCUA Administration 2014 Regulatory Review. The agency reviews its regulations every three years on a rolling schedule that examines one-third of regulations each year. This year the NCUA will review regulations 748, 749, 750, 760, 761, 790, 791, 792, 793, 794, 796 and 797. CUNA will be recommending a numbers of changes and improvements to NCUA rules;

  • Aug. 4: Freddie Mae and Freddie Mac Guarantee Fees. The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced proposed increases to guarantee fees that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac charge lenders. The changes include an across-the-board 10 basis point (bp) increase, an adjustment of upfront fees charged to borrowers in different risk categories and elimination of the 25 bp adverse market charge for all but four states. CUNA opposes increases in the g-fees;

  • Aug. 25: NCUA Asset Securitization. The NCUA board would amend regulations to clarify that a natural person federal credit union is authorized to securitize loans that it has originated, as an activity incidental to the business for which the institution is chartered, provided the transaction meets certain requirements. This would also apply to state-chartered credit unions that are permitted by state law to securitize their assets. CUNA supports this proposal and the complementary one below but will be recommending some improvements;

  • Aug. 25: NCUA Safe Harbor. The NCUA board would amend regulations regarding its treatment as liquidating agent or conservator of a federally insured credit union of financial assets transferred by the credit union in connection with a securitization or a participation. The proposed rule continues the safe harbor for financial assets transferred in connection with securitizations and participations in which the financial assets were transferred in compliance with the existing regulation and defines conditions for safe harbor protection for securitizations and participations for which transfers of financial assets would be made after the effective date of this proposed rule; and

  • Aug. 25: NCUA Appraisals. The NCUA would amend the agency's regulations to eliminate the now duplicative requirement that federal credit unions make available a copy of the appraisal used in connection with that member's application for a loan secured by a first lien on a dwelling. The proposed rule would also amend NCUA's appraisal regulations by expanding the current exemption for certain transactions involving an existing extension of credit. CUNA continues to support changes to minimize appraisal requirements.
There are also two comment deadlines coming in September. Comments on the NCUA Regulatory Publication and Review under the Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act of 1996 are due Sept. 2. Comments on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Mobile Financial Services and their potential for improving financial lives of economically vulnerable citizens are due Sept. 10.

Use the resource links below for information about each comment call. ReadMore

HMDA rule changes could increase reporting burden

Washington
WASHINGTON (7/25/14)--The negative impact of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's proposed changes to Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) reporting rules will far outweigh any benefit to credit unions--or their members, Credit Union National Association Associate General Counsel Jared Ihrig said Thursday.
 
In a release, the CFPB unveiled a proposal it said is intended to improve the information reported about the residential mortgage market under HMDA. It also is meant to simplify the reporting process for credit unions and other financial institutions. However, by the CFPB's own estimates, the changes would represent a compliance burden of 4.7 million hours annually for all regulated entities required to report under HMDA.
 
However, Ihrig noted that the proposal adds 37 data fields to the HMDA reporting requirements and also adds a requirement for reporting HMDA information on all Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs).  Currently, reporting on HELOCs is optional.

"CUNA is disappointed to see that the CFPB's proposal contains requirements that are well beyond the statutory requirement carried in the Dodd-Frank Act. The bureau upped that to an unwieldy and unnecessarily burdensome 37 new data fields under the proposal," Ihrig said. According the CFPB's numbers, more than 2,000 credit unions were required to file HMDA reports in 2013.
 
The CFPB's Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act advisory panel met earlier this year to discuss possible changes to HMDA rules. Six CUNA-member credit unions on the 21-member panel urged the bureau to consider the compliance burden on small institutions and to only require reporting of those data fields that are statutorily required under the Dodd-Frank Act.
 
Ihrig noted that credit unions also informed the CFPB that requiring HMDA reporting on HELOCs would create great operational complications and a significant compliance burden.

Many credit unions maintain their first-mortgage origination operations separate from their HELOC operations, which are more aligned with consumer lending. In these instances, data aggregation for HMDA reporting purposes may require significant changes in training, operations and technical requirements.
 
On the plus side of the CFPB proposed changes, the bureau is considering raising the reporting threshold to 25 or more closed-end loans or reverse mortgages in a year. In addition, the proposal would eliminate reporting of certain home-improvement loans. Currently, financial institutions must submit reports on their mortgage lending activities even if they write just one home-purchase loan or refinancing in a year.

Also in its announcement, the CFPB noted that it would be providing clarifications on its HMDA rules. CUNA's Ihrig said credit unions would welcome any guidance on such things as the definition of what constitutes a "dwelling," how to treat manufactured, modular and multiple properties under HMDA, and many other topics.
 
"Any clarification the bureau can provide is helpful," Ihrig said, but added that CUNA will be analyzing the proposal to see if any of the CFPB's proposed amendments would be adding to the regulatory burden.
 
The CFPB also said it is looking to improve the electronic reporting process and will be considering what new technological tools would make the data submission process more efficient, ease the data formatting requirements and help financial institutions prevent errors.
 
Ihrig noted that CUNA will be posting a Regulatory Call to Action for state credit union leagues and credit unions in the coming days and encourages all affected credit unions to weigh in with comments on the proposed rule. Comments are due to the CFPB Oct. 22. ReadMore

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Business Rates

Market
Daily Financial Rates -- 2014-07-25

Financial Rates


Friday, July 25, 2014

03:55 AM CDT

TREASURY YIELD CURVE
(based on the $1 million market)

TermFri
7/25
Thu
7/24
Wed
7/23
Tue
7/22
Mon
7/21
1 month0.040.030.030.020.03
3 month0.030.030.030.030.02
6 month0.060.050.070.060.05
1 year0.110.110.110.110.10
2 year0.530.500.490.510.51
3 year0.000.960.970.990.97
5 year1.721.671.681.701.69
7 year2.182.122.132.142.14
10 year2.522.482.482.492.50
20 year3.040.000.003.013.03
30 year3.303.263.253.263.29

TREASURY BILLS

Results of the July 21, 2014 auction of short-term U.S. government bills, sold at a discount from face value in units of $10,000 to $ 1 million

TermLatest
Mon, 7/21
Week Ago
Mon, 7/14
13 weeks0.0250.025
26 weeks0.0550.060

PRIME RATE

3.25% Last changed December 16, 2008

FEDERAL FUNDS

TermFri
7/25
Thu
7/24
Wed
7/23
Tue
7/22
Mon
7/21
high0.3120.3120.3120.3120.312
low0.0500.0600.0600.0600.050
near closing bid0.0600.0500.0700.0600.070
offered0.0800.0800.0900.0800.100
effective rate20.1200.1200.1200.1300.120

FREDDIE MAC (Mortgage commitments, 30 days)

TermFri
7/25
Thu
7/24
Wed
7/23
Tue
7/22
Mon
7/21
30 year0.000.000.000.000.00

FANNIE MAE (Mortgage commitments, 30 days)

TermFri
7/25
Thu
7/24
Wed
7/23
Tue
7/22
Mon
7/21
30 year3.7763.7403.7723.7593.759

LIBOR

TermFri
7/25
Thu
7/24
Wed
7/23
Tue
7/22
Mon
7/21
1 month0.225000.224000.223000.219000.22200
3 month0.379000.378000.375000.374000.37200
6 month0.546000.544000.544000.540000.54100
1 year0.856000.855000.854000.853000.85300

COMMERCIAL PAPER (Financial, 90 days)

TermWeek ended
7/22
Week ended
7/15
90 days0.230.23

NA: Data not available at time of page generation (shown at top of page)

Sources:
Wall Street Journal
U.S. Dept. of the Treasury


All rates are from the previous business day unless otherwise noted. ReadMore

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New-home sales sink to 3-month low in June

Market
WASHINGTON (7/25/14)--Sales of new single-family homes fell 8.1% in June to 406,000 annualized units, according to numbers released by the Commerce Department Thursday.

Sales are down 11.5% year-over-year, and the weak month means a second straight quarter of decline for new homes after an abysmal first quarter ( Economy.com July 24).

The Census Bureau also revised new-home sales in May substantially lower than the 504,000 annualized units that were initially reported by 12%, further undercutting the second-quarter's new-home sales performance.

"The June new-home report is unexpectedly weak," said Celia Chen, Moody's analyst ( Economy.com ). "Sales are down again in the second quarter and slack is creeping back into the market."

All U.S. regions witnessed a drop in sales in June, with the Northeast and South experiencing the steepest declines.

Meanwhile, inventory outpaced demand, as the number of new homes for sale climbed 3% in June. Median prices for new homes fell $3,100 as well, but prices still sit 5.3% higher than prices in June 2013.  ReadMore

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Consumer Rates

Market

Informa Research Services, Inc.
Daily Rate Comparison

Informa Research Services, Inc.
Deposit Products Credit Unions Bank Average Difference
12 Month CD $10,000 0.45% 0.28% 0.17%
Personal Savings $1,000 0.21% 0.10% 0.11%
Personal Interest Checking $2,500 0.35% 0.15% 0.20%
NSF Fee $27.77 $31.91 $-4.14
Personal MMDA $2,500 0.17% 0.10% 0.07%
Business MMDA $2,500 0.17% 0.09% 0.08%

Consumer Loan Products Credit Unions Bank Average Difference
Unsecured Personal Loan - $5,000 - 4 Years 10.16% 10.44% -0.28%
New Auto Loan - 5 Years 2.59% 3.83% -1.24%
Used Auto Loan - 2 year Old - 4 Years 2.77% 4.02% -1.25%
HELOC - 80% LTV - $50,000 4.18% 4.42% -0.24%
HE Loan - 80% LTV - $50,000 - 15 Years 5.68% 6.02% -0.34%

Mortgage Loan Products Credit Unions Bank Average Difference
30 Year Fixed Conforming 4.16% 4.21% -0.05%
30 Year Fixed Jumbo 4.24% 4.15% 0.09%
5/1 Year ARM Conforming 2.93% 2.90% 0.03%

Credit Card Products Credit Unions Bank Average Difference
Platinum 9.17% 11.03% -1.86%
Annual Fee $25.00 $48.60 $-23.60
Maximum Late Fee $26.22 $34.29 $-8.07
Reward 9.95% 11.94% -1.99%
Annual Fee $26.71 $99.75 $-73.04
Maximum Late Fee $22.48 $33.15 $-10.67

Indirect Auto Loan Products Credit Unions Bank Average Difference
Indirect A Tier New Auto Loan - 5 Years 3.60% 3.77% -0.17%
Indirect B Tier New Auto Loan - 5 Years 5.34% 5.30% 0.04%
Indirect C Tier New Auto Loan - 5 Years 7.53% 6.72% 0.82%

Averages displayed are straight averages of all institutions within the Informa Research Services database for the selected region as of Thursday, July 24, 2014. For detailed disclosures click here.

ReadMore

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KCUA's Wright appointed as Kan. CU regulator

CU System
TOPEKA, Kan. (7/25/14)--Jerel Wright, assistant vice president of compliance at the Kansas Credit Union Association, was appointed as administrator of the Kansas Department of Credit Unions by Gov. Sam Brownback.
 
As administrator, Wright will be responsible for overseeing the daily functions of the Department of Credit Unions, the Credit Union Council and the laws, regulations and exams for state-chartered credit unions.
 
"I enjoy so much what I do with credit unions right now that I will miss working with them," Wright, 56, told News Now . Wright has been with the Kansas league since 2005 and previously had another 11-year tenure with the league.

Wright also has been appointed state administrator in the past so this gives him "the chance to serve the state of Kansas again," he said. "I've been in credit unions all my career."
 
"Jerel brings a great deal of knowledge and experience to this position," Brownback said in a release. "I appreciate his willingness to serve the people of Kansas in this capacity."
 
Although the state Senate will have to confirm his four-year appointment when it reconvenes in January, Wright will begin working at the department in September. He succeeds John Smith, 76, who has been administrator since 2006.
 
Wright has a bachelor's degree in business administration and a law degree from Washburn University, Topeka, Kan. He earned his credit union compliance expert certification in 2008.
  ReadMore

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CU System briefs (07/25/2014)

CU System
  • SAN DIEGO (7/25/14)-- San Diego County CU, with $6.5 billion in assets, hopes to set a Guinness World Record for document shredding on Saturday, when it invites San Diegans to bring old papers and try to fill more than 40 trucks with shredded remains ( Times of San Diego July 23). The free event is scheduled for 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (PT) in the parking lot of Qualcomm Stadium. San Diego County CU is planning to set the record for the most paper collected in 24 hours. Last July, the credit union collected and shredded 168,147 pounds of paper, setting the current record and filling 40 trucks. Ten cents for every pound of e-waste collected goes to the San Diego Humane Society and the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (San Diego County CU Photo) ...
  • KANSAS CITY, Mo. (7/25/14)--After a lot of hard work on the part of both organizations, Kansas City CU, with $28 million in assets, was granted permission to install an ATM at the KCMO Water Department in Kansas City, Mo. ( Missouri Difference July 23). "Our employees and customers have always wanted an ATM to be placed in our lobby, but we had been turned down before by a bank," said Kandi Patterson, senior accountant for KCMO Water Services, when the ATM was installed July 15. "When KCCU approached us with the idea, we jumped at the opportunity." Patterson said the ATM will provide convenience for KCMO customers, giving them the ability to withdraw money to pay their water bills. Many KCMO employees and customers are Kansas City CU members, so the ATM gives them quick, fee-free access to their money ...
ReadMore

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Debit use bolsters noncash payments, says Fed payments study

CU System
WASHINGTON (7/25/14)--Consumer use of electronic payments--whether by card or via automated clearing house (ACH)--continues to outpace cash and checks, according to updated statistics from the 2013 Federal Reserve Payments Study.
 
Of the 776 million plastic cards used in the United States in 2012, 334 million were credit cards, 283 million were debit cards and 159 million were prepaid cards.
 
Consumers pulled out their debit cards for an average 23 payments per month compared with an average of 11 payments per month for credit cards and 10 for prepaid cards. In 2012, the number of debit card payments reached 47 billion--significantly higher than the 26.2 billion credit card payments.
 
The number of online bill payments--through online banking websites, directly through billers and settled via ACH--exceeded 3 billion in 2012.
 
Notable is the use of mobile payments: Mobile wallet applications accounted for more than 250 million mobile payments, and there were at least 205 million person-to-person or money transfer payments.
 
Check usage continues to decline, although, when used, almost all checks in 2012 were either cleared by electronic image exchange or converted to ACH payments. More than 90% of the drop in total checks was due to reductions in checks for $500 or less.
 
The number of fraudulent transactions in 2012 was 32.2 million worth $6.4 billion. Only 5% of the 32.3 million were made via ACH, and checks had the lowest unauthorized transactions at 3%.
 
This revised report updates data from the December 2013 original report.  The 2013 Federal Reserve Payments Study is the fifth conducted since 2001 by the Federal Reserve System to estimate aggregate trends in noncash payments in the United States. Estimates are based on survey data gathered from depository and financial institutions, payment networks, processors and issuers. ReadMore

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St. Louis treasurer taps CU to serve unbanked

CU System
ST. LOUIS (7/25/14)--In her quest to connect unbanked residents with financial institutions, St. Louis' treasurer has called on a credit union to lend a hand.

Tishuara Jones, who said her top priority when first elected as the city's treasurer was to improve the financial health and literacy of local families, has asked 1st Financial FCU, Wentzville, Mo., to help her achieve her goal by offering free checking and savings accounts to youth in need ( St. Louis Business Journal July 20).

The $203 million-asset credit union will provide free accounts to 700 participants--between the ages of 16 and 20--of the Summer Youth Employment Program that kicked off this week.

1st Financial also will offer financial education, with an emphasis on saving, during orientation. Further, the accounts will have no overdraft, checking or debit fees, Tracy Verner, 1st Financial brand ambassador, told the St. Louis Business Journal.

"Studies show that those with savings accounts are more likely to go to college," Jones said.     

St. Louis has the third highest percentage of unbanked residents in the United States at 29% compared with the national average of 8.2%, according to a 2011 study by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. ( St. Louis Business Journal ).

The local impoverished, many of them minority residents, often turn to predatory lenders such as check cashers and payday loan businesses because they either don't trust or have access to traditional financial institutions.

The estimated cost of those alternative services in lost fees and interest, the St. Louis Business Journal reported, was $89 billion in 2012, according to Center for Financial Services Innovation numbers.

Other initiatives spearheaded by Jones include:
  • A monthly financial literacy program for city employees paid for by financial institutions;
     
  • Sponsorship of the annual Financial Empowerment Fair for the general public, an event she hopes to bring the city annually; and
     
  • Making direct deposit mandatory for 7,000 city employees, which has resulted in 800 opening accounts with local credit unions and other financial institutions.
ReadMore

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CUs a compass on path away from bank fees: Daily Finance

CU System
MADISON, Wis. (7/25/14)--When ditching a big bank and all the charges and fees that come with it, a credit union can be a great alternative when picking a new financial institution, a recent article in Daily Finance said.

Fees tend to be significantly lower at a credit unions because they are cooperatively owned, not-for-profit organizations that exist only to serve members, explained Daily Finance 's Carol Kopp.

"Historically, membership in a credit union is open to people with a common interest--members of a union, employees of a company or worshippers at the same place," Kopp said. "But many are open to an entire community."

To find a credit union when plotting your escape from a bank, the article suggests the National Credit Union Administration's credit union locator. Another option is www.asmarterchoice.org from the Credit Union National Association. ReadMore

Landmark exam parity bill gets Ill. gov. signature

CU System
CHICAGO (7/25/14)--The examination process for Illinois credit unions was just upgraded, as Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill into law Thursday that will certify that the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation administers fair examination protocols for all state-chartered credit unions.

Sean Hession, Illinois Credit Union League president/CEO, left; Patrick Smith, vice president of communications and regulatory affairs; Steve Olson, executive vice president/general counsel/chief operating officer; Ashley Niebur, manager of state governmental affairs, and Keith Sias, vice president of governmental affairs, witness Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn sign HB 5342. (Illinois Credit Union League Photo)
HB 5342 will require all state regulatory examinations to be conducted in a procedurally and consistent manner, and aims to provide clarity, flexibility and authority in a number of operational areas.

The Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL) played a key role in drafting the bill, which passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly with wide-ranging support in May.  

The bill was sponsored by Deputy Majority Leader Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) and Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), two longtime advocates for credit unions.

"There will now be standards that state-chartered credit unions can reference and rely upon with respect to the entire regulatory examination process," said Steve Olson, ICUL executive vice president/general counsel.

Added ICUL President/CEO Sean Hession: "The contents of the bill, as well as the rules and guidelines to promulgate it, are cause for celebration and will serve as a model across the country for state and federal regulators."

The key provisions of the bill include:
  • The authorization for credit unions to form charitable donation accounts, which will allow credit unions to reach for higher yields on charitable accounts as long as 51% of the returns are donated to a recognized charity;
     
  • The ability for credit unions to share daily operational services, correspondent services and fixed assets, which will allow them to achieve economies of scale and operate more efficiently;
     
  • Permission for credit unions to forego drafting a new appraisal during either a mortgage loan renewal, refinancing or restructuring when no money is advanced;
     
  • The requirement for Illinois credit union board members to have a basic understanding of a credit union's financial statements, services, products operational risks and internal control structures; and
     
  • The requirement that Illinois credit union supervisory committee members receive annual training to their statutory duties.
ReadMore

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CUs get national online tool for communicating reg concerns

CU System
WASHINGTON (7/25/14)--PowerComment, a new online resource that helps credit unions take their regulatory concerns directly to state and federal regulators, was officially announced at the summer American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL) meeting Thursday.

Developed by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, and now being taken national by Credit Union National Association, PowerComment is an interactive tool that allows all CUNA-affiliated credit unions to write and immediately submit comment letters on regulatory proposals directly to the National Credit Union Administration, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other federal and state regulators.

Credit unions can read proposed rules and how they might affect their operations and members, as well as ask fellow PowerComment users or their leagues questions related to proposed rules. In addition, they can view letters submitted by other credit unions and their leagues on the website, available exclusively to CUNA-affiliated credit unions.

"This is the power of the CUNA-League System at its best," remarked CUNA General Counsel Eric Richard. "CUNA is pleased to leverage the great of work the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues to effectively deliver credit union comments back to the regulatory agencies."

The national rollout of PowerComment now makes it easier for credit unions throughout the United States to voice their concerns and comment on proposed rules, especially in this challenging regulatory environment," said California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues President/CEO Diana Dykstra. "By commenting at the beginning of the process, credit unions can help shape the rules, and mitigate overly burdensome directives."

Prior to the national rollout, PowerComment was tested by 10 leagues, including the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA).

"PowerComment allowed us to easily track regulatory proposals, get insight from colleagues and write effective comment letters," said NWCUA President/CEO Troy Stang.

"The analysis and reminders are another benefit that helped us successfully manage our time in an efficient manner. PowerComment is an additional tool in the credit union toolbox that we look forward to seeing available to a broader audience," he added.

Use the resource link to check out the new tool. ReadMore

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N.Y. young professionals shine in leadership role on Hill

CU System
ALBANY, N.Y. (7/25/14)--Seven members of the Credit Union Association of New York's (CUANY) Young Professionals Commission (YPC) demonstrated their leadership skills this week and furthered the advocacy efforts of the state's credit unions during the league's Hike the Hill event in Washington, D.C.
 
Click to view larger image From left: Mike Lanotte, Credit Union Association of New York; Cristina Morrissiey, AmeriCU CU, Roma; Meghan McGee-Pelkey, UFirst FCU, Plattsburgh; David Roy, Buffalo Metropolitan FCU; Jennifer Preston, Reliant Community FCU, Sodus; Rep. Dan Maffei (D); Kayla Barber, Dannemora FCU, Plattsburgh; Angela Hitchcock, Sidney FCU; and Brittney Wensley, Sunmark FCU, Latham (Credit Union Association of New York Photo).
For the second straight year, members of the under-35 group joined the league in visits with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. But the young professionals weren't there as observers. When possible the league arranged visits with lawmakers from the districts where the commission members' credit unions were located. Each young professional then took the lead in presenting the credit union advocacy case before his or her district's lawmaker.
 
"The YPC member would introduce the group and present the topics on our agenda," Cristina Morrissiey, financial center manager at AmeriCU CU, Rome, with $1.2 billion in assets, told News Now . "When we completed our presentation, and everyone had contributed, we asked the lawmaker or staff member for their support and thanked them. We took a very active role in this, with a lot of support from the assocation and CUNA."
 
On Monday, the group convened at the Credit Union House for a legislative briefing led by Mike Lanotte, CUANY senior vice president/general counsel, and staff from the Credit Union National Association. Following the briefing, the advocates then met with representatives from the offices of Sens. Charles Schumer (D) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D), both of New York. For several of the young professionals, it was their first time lobbying at the federal level.
 
The advocacy efforts continued Tuesday, when the group met with nine House members and staffers. Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle encouraged the group to continue advocating on behalf of their members ( The Point July 24). Some representatives, including Rep. Dan Maffei (D), praised the YPC and acknowledged the important role that credit unions play in low-income and rural communities.
 
In total, the group was able to meet with representatives or staff from one-third of the New York congressional delegation, including: Reps. Tom Reed (R), Chris Collins (R), Chris Gibson (R), Richard Hanna (R), Bill Owens (D), Brian Higgins (D), Louise Slaughter (D), Paul Tonko (D) and Maffei.
 
Meghan McGee-Pelkey, marketing specialist, UFirst FCU, Plattsburgh, with $57 million in assets, told News Now , participating in the hikes helps her gain a more complete perspective of working within the credit union system.

"You know about your CEO and upper management going to CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference, but you don't understand exactly what's happening there," McGee-Pelkey said. "You don't understand that behind your job, there are all of these issues that are affecting your credit union. Having the association invite us to Washington to present these issues on behalf of our credit union is an amazing experience."
 
Other YPC members participating in the hikes included:
  • Kayla Barber, Dannemora FCU, Plattsburgh, with $141 million in assets;
  • Angela Hitchcock, Sidney FCU, with $385 million in assets;
  • Jennifer Preston, Reliant Community FCU, Sodus, with $376 million in assets;
  • David Roy, Buffalo Metropolitan FCU, with $90 million in assets; and
  • Brittney Wensley, Sunmark FCU, Latham, with $404 million in assets.
McGee-Pelkey said the CUANY's YPC initiative has presented her and other members with leadership opportunities and responsibilities beyond this week's Washington visit. "There are several YPC members who are becoming more involved with their chapters and committees," she said.

"For example, we have a young professional commission member that is the president of her chapter. I myself am a CULAC/CUPAC trustee, and I sit on the council for my chapter.  So being a part of the YPC has opened so many new opportunities for me that I never expected to have in my career as a credit union professional, and that includes hiking the hill." ReadMore

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It's time for 529 plan withdrawals

Consumer
NEW YORK (7/22/2014)--College is just around the corner for newly graduated high school seniors, which means the first tuition bills will appear at any moment.
 
To help guide families who are using 529 plans to pay for tuition, the College Savings Plans Network (CSPN) offers these guidelines (July 10):
  • Start early. Find out from your plan how long the funds transfer will take, whether the plan will send a check to you or directly to the college, and if there's anything else you should know as you start withdrawing funds. Once your beneficiary decides on a school, the earlier you start the process, the better.
     
  • Know before you go. Tuition due dates vary--some are not until after the course add/drop period, some are before the semester starts. Check with your school to find out its due date for tuition payment, and make sure you start withdrawing your funds well in advance.
     
  • Do your homework. Make sure to check with your plan to find out what it defines as qualified higher education expenses. This generally includes tuition and fees, room and board, and the cost of books, supplies, and equipment required for enrollment or attendance. If you are unsure if any specific item qualifies, ask your plan administrators.
     
  • Keep a record. For tax purposes, keep records and documentation of higher education expenses for any withdrawal you intend to treat as qualified.
     
  • Be prepared. Make sure your distributions do not exceed your higher education costs. If the distribution does not exceed the amount of the student's qualifying expenses, you do not have to report it as income on your tax return. But if the distribution exceeds those expenses, you must report the earnings on the excess as "other income" on your tax return.
For related information, read "Money 101: School Your College-Bound Child" and "The College Affordability and Transparency Website: Tools to Make Informed Choices" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center. ReadMore

CU24 real-time P2P added to CU Mobile Apps

Products
TALLAHASSEE, Fla., and FRANKLIN, Tenn. (7/25/14)--CU Mobile Apps and CU24 Thursday announced a strategic alliance to bring POCKET2POCKET, CU24's mobile person-to person (P2P) money transfer service, to CU Mobile Apps' client credit unions.
 
Rick Hargis, managing partner of CU Mobile Apps, cited research findings that growing numbers of potential credit union members are seeking mobile P2P solutions. "Real-time is the critical advantage they're looking for, and that's what CU24 enables us to offer our client credit unions and their members," Hargis said.

POCKET2POCKET is a real-time electronic funds solution, rather than a traditional automated clearing house-based method that can delay funds transfer by anywhere from 24 to 72 hours, said Joe Woods, CU24 vice president of sales and relationship management. "P2P offers a new level of efficiency," he added.
 
The new POCKET2POCKET feature will be added as a tab to the app that existing CU Mobile Apps credit union clients are already accessing, explained CU Mobile Apps partner Tom Gray. 
 
"It works like PayPal within the credit union and financial industry," Gray explained. "Just open your credit union app, click on 'P2P,' identify the person you wish to pay, their cell number and the dollar amount--then hit 'send' and it's done automatically, instantaneously. Our partnership with CU24 has provided us with this quick, easy way for people to pay other people, whether on a one-time or recurring basis, directly from their debit card accounts." ReadMore

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