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News Now

March 31, 2015

Financial Fitness Day kicks off fin. lit. month

CU System
MADISON, Wis. (3/31/15)--Wednesday is Financial Fitness Day--and also the start of National Financial Literacy Month and National Credit Union Youth Month.
 
To celebrate Financial Fitness Day, the National Credit Union Foundation invites credit union organizations to participate in the daylong fundraising activities.

To participate in the event, which raises funds for the foundation and for state credit union foundations in order to support their respective financial literacy initiatives, credit union organizations could hold one or more of the following fundraisers:
  • A jeans or casual day for staff, where staffers donate money to wear casual clothing to work;
  • A bake sale for staff or members; and
  • A "Deduct or Donate a Buck" event, where credit unions ask their staff and members to consider making a voluntary donation as they complete their transactions, or deducting a certain amount of money from their checking or savings account.
Resources for the fundraisers can be found at financialfitnessday.com . Donations made during the day will be split evenly between the foundation and state credit union foundations.

Responding to demand from credit unions for a month-long celebration, National Credit Union Youth Week grows into National Credit Union Youth Month in 2015. The month-long celebration extends the time in which credit unions can connect and convey to their members the importance of financial education at a young age.

The month's theme, "Wild About Saving," was chosen from ideas submitted by credit union staff nationwide.

Click to view larger image Trish Fuller, loan officer at Abbeville (S.C.) Community CU, is prepared for National Credit Union Youth Month's "Wild About Saving" theme. (Abbeville Community CU Photo)
Abbeville (S.C.) Community CU has already decorated its branch with inflatable jungle animals in celebration of the theme.
 
CUNA will also sponsor its annual National Youth Saving Challenge during April. The contest will reward 25 savers with $100 cash prizes. Last year, 8,844 new accounts were opened, and 94,466 young members deposited more than $20.5 million into savings accounts during the month-long challenge.

Redwood CU (RCU), Santa Rosa, Calif., will celebrate National Credit Union Youth Month with two contests to promote good saving habits for children and teenagers.

RCU members ages 13 through 17 are invited to submit a 150-word description of their current saving plan and goal. One winner from each Redwood branch will be picked to demonstrate sound saving principles. Each winner will receive a $50 deposit to his or her savings account. An overall winner will also have his or her submission published in RCU's Jr. Partner Post , a quarterly newsletter for RCU's teen members.

Members 12 or younger can participate in a coloring contest by downloading and completing a "What Are You Saving For?" coloring sheet featuring RCU's mascot Reddy the Redwood. Each coloring sheet features a word bubble where kids can write or draw what they are saving for, and one winner from each branch will have $50 deposited into his or her savings account.

The credit unions of the Cornerstone Credit Union League's Pineywoods Chapter are giving free movie tickets to each member who opens a new youth account in April ( Leaguer March 27).

Using images designed by CUNA specifically for National Credit Union Youth Month, the chapter developed a wrapper for Sunday's edition of the local newspaper.

As National Financial Literacy Month, April also provides credit unions with an opportunity to help their members understand that financial education is the first step toward financial independence.
 
The National Credit Union Administration plans to introduce new information resources, including a Financial Literacy Resources webpage and a video on understanding payday lending, during April.
 
"An educated consumer can make better choices to build financial security, and creating those educated consumers is an important part of NCUA's mission," NCUA Chair Debbie Matz said. "During Financial Literacy Month, we encourage credit unions to take advantage of NCUA's financial literacy resources and programing to help their members become more informed."
 
The agency will also host a webinar for credit unions, "Your Mission into Action: Developing Youth Financial Literacy and Savings Programs," April 22, beginning at 2 p.m. (ET.) On the same day, will moderate a financial literacy Twitter chat at 11 a.m. (ET).
 
NCUA will participate in the Financial Literacy Day event on Capitol Hill April 24 to educate lawmakers, congressional staffers, and the public about federally insured credit unions and the role of NCUA.

Recognizing National Financial Literacy Month, Justice FCU, Chantilly, Va., reminds its membership that it provides free access to money management and financial education services through ACCEL Members Financial Counseling.

Albuquerque biz journal highlights N.M.'s CU culture

CU System
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (3/31/15)--Readers of Albuquerque Business First may nearly be experts on all things credit union, as the business publication recently dedicated wide swaths of print space to illustrate the relative state of credit unions in New Mexico.  

The coverage included Q-and-A profiles with the heads of two credit unions in New Mexico: Robert Chavez, president/CEO, Sandia Laboratory FCU, Albuquerque, and Winona Nava, president/CEO, Guadalupe CU, Santa Fe.

A third story covered recent branding changes that have been unveiled by a number credit unions in the state. The story also discussed the different ways credit unions are positioning themselves to grab the attention of younger consumers in order to stay relevant.

"Millennials definitely factor into rebranding," Hilary Reed, executive committee member of CUNA's Marketing and Business Development Council, told Albuquerque Business First (March 27). They don't want to be associated with the old, stodgy reputation of banks, she added.

Other ways credit unions separate themselves from banks is by eliminating the term credit union from their names, such as Erie (Pa.) General Electric FCU, which now operates under the name Widget Financial.

"Credit unions are more widely known than they were before the recession," Reed said. "...The ones that I'm seeing rebrand are very edgy, and banks don't necessarily have the ability to do that."

In his Q-and-A, Chavez spoke about the day-to-day operations of a credit union president/CEO, why Sandia Laboratory FCU has had such success in the state, and the general differences between credit unions and banks.

"Within the first six months I was at this credit union, I remember sitting in a meeting with our CEO and (chief financial officer), and we were talking about giving up revenue off of our credit cards," Chavez told Albuquerque Business First . "You don't have those conversations in a bank."

Nava spoke about the growth Guadalupe CU has seen over the last 24 years under her leadership, and about how the credit union serves the underbanked as a community development financial institution.

"There are a large number of our members who are underserved by the traditional banking system," Nava said, adding, "We do have members who are living in the financial mainstream, but 65% of our members are living below the designated poverty line."

Strongest savers in middle class: Bankrate

CU System
NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. (3/31/15)--The most ardent savers can be found in the U.S. middle class, according to a recent survey by the personal finance website Bankrate.com .

One-fourth of middle-class households--earning between $50,000 and $75,000 annually--set aside more than 15% of their income, while only 17% of the highest earners put away more than 15%, the survey found.

By contrast, only 8% of the lowest earners in the survey saved more than 15%.

"Middle-class Americans (have) to do the saving, because nobody is going to do it for them," said Greg McBride, Bankrate's chief financial analyst. "They don't have the six-figure income to fall back on" for expenses such as household emergencies, long-term health care, education and retirement.

Millennials, on the other hand, have yet to get the picture on the importance of saving.

The survey found that people between 18 and 29 years old were the most likely to fail to save, with 37% saying they save 5% or less and 18% saying they save nothing at all.

"They don't see a correlation between where they are now and where they will be," Tiffany Aliche, independent budgeting expert, told Bankrate.com .

It appears they should take a page from those in the middle class.

In addition to the households saving more than 15% of their incomes, roughly 35% of U.S. households considered middle class put away more than 10%, according to the survey, while only 19% of the highest-earning households save at that rate.

LCUL's Cochran: 'Old' CU benefits attract young, new members

CU System
HARAHAN, La. (3/31/15)--A new generation of Louisiana residents, inspired by "old school" services and pricing and the cooperative business model, are starting to discover the credit union difference, Louisiana Credit Union League President/CEO Anne Cochran wrote in a opinion editorial that appeared in the Lafourche Parish Daily Comet (March 27).

Millennials--consumers born between the early 1980s and early 2000s--are choosing credit unions because of the benefits and personal services offered," Cochran wrote. "Millennials are drawn to 'old' credit union features that now seem 'new': free checking, no minimum deposit accounts, fewer fees, better interest rates (in some cases nearly two percentage points lower than competitors) and personal service."

This growth among the younger generation was spurred by the positive response credit unions received coming out of the financial crisis, Cochran said.

"Many Americans saw credit unions as a safe haven in the financial services sector when credit unions continued to lend to consumers, homebuyers and small businesses while other lenders were unable or unwilling to do so," she wrote.

She cited statistics that say an overwhelming majority of credit unions offer free checking in comparison with banks.

As cooperatives, credit unions return their earnings, minus operating expenses, to their members through higher interest rates on deposits and lower loan rates.

This not-for-profit philosophy that reinvests earnings with a credit union's members generates an economic benefit of $8 billion to $10 billion each year for the U.S. economy, according to CUNA.

"These monies make it easier for families to buy a new home through lower interest rates or for a small business owner to expand and buy new equipment," Cochran wrote.

Louisiana residents are getting the message. State credit unions saw an 8% increase in loans in 2014.

Maine CU membership growth continues record pace

CU System
WESTBROOK, Maine (3/31/15)--Credit unions in Maine saw healthy membership expansion in 2014, as total credit union memberships rose to more than 651,000, a new record for the state, according to numbers released by the Maine Credit Union League ( Weekly Update March 26).

In addition to membership gains, assets, loan growth and deposits recorded solid years as well.

Combined assets at Maine's credit unions climbed 4.7% for the year to $6.4 billion, while loan growth increased by 6.3%, an increase of more than $260 million.

The share to savings ratio rose by 4% during the year, translating to a $210 million increase in savings to $5.45 billion, while memberships for the year expanded by 14,026, or 2.2%.

John Murphy, league president, said that the membership gains could be attributed to a variety of factors, including convenience, the cooperative structure and the commitment by credit unions to embrace advancements in technology.

"The cooperative structure of credit unions, where every member is an owner, provides consumers with the best value in financial services, a fact that more and more consumers realize and appreciate," Murphy said.

The state's credit union awareness campaign Young and Free Maine also played a huge role in "raising the awareness of what credit unions offers and provide to consumers of all ages," he added.

CUNA marketing, biz dev. council honors excellence winners

CU System
MADISON, Wis. (3/31/15)--The CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference honored credit unions and executives at its annual conference March 25-28 in Las Vegas.

Hilary Reed, senior vice president/chief relationship officer, Inspire FCU, Bristol, Pa., was recognized with the Marketing Professional of the Year Award.

Carol Payne, vice president/communications and marketing, California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, Ontario, Calif., won the Hall of Fame Award.

Teea Reed, director of marketing and business development, Union Square FCU, Wichita Falls, Texas., won the Rising Star of the Year Award. This new award recognizes and honors a rising professional with two or fewer years of experience in the credit union industry.

Sandi Carangi, CEO, Mercer County Community FCU, Hermitage, Pa., was presented with the Volunteer of the Year Award. Carangi serves on the Member Resources Committee.

The Excellence awards recognize outstanding new marketing and business development approaches with potential for universal application across the industry. This year's winners are (by category):
  • Business Development: Summit CU, Madison, Wis., for its free financial wellness initiative, CUatWork;
  • Community Outreach and/or Political Advocacy: Local Government FCU (LGFCU), Raleigh, N.C., for its Leading for Results program. This year, LGFCU reinvested in its partnership with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Government to offer credit union employees leadership training. The goal of the LGFCU Fellows program is to provide development and management skills to mid-level executives; and
  • Miscellaneous: Inspire FCU, Bristol, Pa., for its brand re-animation and name change. Inspire FCU's brand strategy is to build meaningful "Inspirerelationships" with members and the community, encouraging financial literacy and economic growth through relationship development. To reflect its brand strategy, Inspire FCU underwent a complete makeover of its brand this year.

CU System briefs (3/31/15)

CU System
  • WASHINGTON (3/31/15)-- A new app is available for those who want to keep pace with the  Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run and 5K Run-Walk, set for April 12 in Washington, D.C . The Credit Union Cherry Blossom app in available for iOS and Android devices. In addition to real-time tracking and results, the app also will have maps and an event calendar. Volunteer assignments and instructions also will be available on the app. Search for "CUCB" or "Credit Union Cherry Blossom" in the Apple App store or Google Play. The run raised nearly $500,000 for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals last year, and a record number of congressional delegates were honorary race chairs. This will be the 14th year running that credit unions have sponsored the event, which has raised more than $6.5 million in total  ...
     
  • MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (3/31/15)-- Massachusetts credit unions and their charitable partner, the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, are ready to crack the cover on this year's children's book drive Wednesday ( Daily CU Scan March 30). The annual April event collects new and used children's books to distribute to nonprofits statewide. Last year, 40 credit unions collected more than 16,000 books, and since 2001, more than 268,700 books have been donated ...
     
  • LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (3/31/15)-- Andrew Pickett is the new president/CEO of VA Hospital FCU, Little Rock, Ark. ( Arkansas Business March 30). He previously worked at Arkansas FCU as an assistant service center manager ...
     
  • LIVONIA, Mich. (3/31/15)-- Herbert "Budd" Hall, former manager of Dow Ludington (Mich.) Employees CU (now Safe Harbor CU) died March 24 . He was 94 ( Monitor March 30). Hall was the credit union's manager from 1974 to 1986 and joined the supervisory committee after his retirement. He also served in the Paul Bunyan Chapter of the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL), on the MCUL board for 10 years, and as league board chair from 1987 to 1989. According to his obituary he also was a delegate on the CUNA board for seven years ...
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