PROVIDENCE. R.I. (12/22/14)--Rhode Island credit unions last week participated in a cybersecurity exercise hosted by the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency along with the Banking Division of the Department of Business Regulation (DBR).
"Operation Firewall" was a tabletop exercise designed to address relevant cybersecurity planning in the public and private sector (
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The exercise was the first of its kind in the state.
Cybersecurity preparedness is a top priority for DBR, which also developed and sponsors a working group on the issue. It also created a network to distribute alerts, guidelines and practical tips.
Operation Firewall consisted of a review and in-depth discussion of four real-life scenarios: financial institution phishing and malware; domain name system server and denial of service; item processing failure; and corporate account takeover.
Other topics covered included intelligence and information sharing, operational coordination, operational communications and public information and warning.
The program provided a baseline check on communication levels within credit unions as institutions that operate between the private and public sector in Rhode Island.
The Credit Union Association of Rhode Island will continue to coordinate and serve as a clearinghouse with DBR's cybersecurity working group and other local resources, such as the Rhode Island State Police, to provide additional opportunities for information sharing, training and immediate assistance to credit unions for cybersecurity preparedness.
SANTA ROSA, Calif. (12/22/14)--Since immigrating to the United States from Nigeria in the 1980s, Amy Ahanotu has not only established himself as a U.S. citizen, he has distinguished himself as his city's figurative No. 1 citizen. Ahanotu, a branch manager at $2.3 billion-asset Redwood CU, Santa Rosa, Calif., recently took over as mayor of Rohnert Park, Calif.
Ahanotu was first elected to the City Council in 2010 and won re-election in November. Soon after, he was selected by his fellow council members to serve as mayor of Sonoma County's third-largest city for the upcoming year. As mayor he will set the City Council's agenda, run meetings and represent the city at public functions.
Ahanotu became involved in local politics about eight years ago when he thought his business acumen could help bridge the gap between local government and local businesses. Indeed, his credit union background has informed his political career, he told
"Part of Redwood CU's mission is to passionately serve the best interests of our members, employees and the communities," Ahanotu said. "This is my way of serving the community. Our service standards say we will be ambassadors. As mayor, I promote the credit union philosophy within the community."
Ahanotu said the leadership provided by Redwood CU President/CEO Brett Martinez within the community has provided him with a great example in promoting credit union ideals.
"Brett Martinez makes it easy to promote businesses as the good partners for the city and its citizens," Ahanotu said.
And Ahanotu is bringing Redwood CU's culture to city hall. For example, one area of focus has been customer service--and that it means more than saying please and thank you, Ahanotu said. "You cannot be a roadblock to providing projects and services," Ahanotu added. "Things are going to go wrong. Own it, solve the problem and move on. That is what works for us at Redwood CU."
But perhaps the most important credit union principle he has stressed in his political career is fiscal responsibility. Ahanotu is proud to be a member of a City Council that has achieved a balanced budget for the first time since 2008.
"It's taking the credit union philosophy of financial management to the public sector," Ahanotu said. "It's very simple. If you don't have the money you cannot spend it."
MADISON, Wis. (12/22/14)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) picked up three new additions to its board last week, as elections were held at its meeting Dec. 15.
will be Bill Cheney, president/CEO, SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana, Calif., with $10.3 billion in assets; Patrick La Pine, president/CEO, the League of Southeastern Credit Unions, Tallahassee, Fla.; and Larry Middleman, president/CEO, CU Business Group LLC, Portland, Ore.
Cheney will fill a vacant board seat, while Middleman will take the seat most recently held by John Gregoire, president of The ProCon Group, Madison, Wis. Cheney is the former president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association.
La Pine will fill the seat reserved for the American Association of Credit Union Leagues representative. The seat was previously held by John Radebaugh, NCUF vice chair and president/CEO of the Carolinas Credit Union League, Greensboro, N.C., who termed out.
The new board members will begin their terms Jan. 1.
In addition to the new members, the NCUF also re-elected three previous members, including:
Edwin Williams, president/CEO, Discovery FCU, Wyomissing, Pa., with $131 million in assets;
- Laida Garcia, president/CEO, floridacentral CU, Tampa, Fla., with $400 million in assets; and
- Christopher Roe, senior vice president of corporate and legislative affairs, CUNA Mutual Group, Madison, Wis.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (12/22/14)--The Ohio Credit Union League announced 10 of its chapters will become credit union outreach alliances beginning in January.
The restructuring, announced in October, will give credit unions the freedom to focus on the community outreach areas of financial literacy, scholarship funds or charitable giving (
The 10 chapters are Butler County, Central Ohio, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Lake Erie, Mahoning Valley, North Central, Northeast, Northwest and Stark County.
The alliances are charged with coordinating community outreach initiatives for participating credit unions (league members and potential members) drawn from the geographic area previously served by a chapter; credit unions in neighboring areas not served by an alliance; and other credit unions interested in an alliance's community outreach initiative (
Alliances are currently developing their 2015 scholarship programs, which will operate independent of each other and the Ohio Credit Union Foundation. Current chapter board officials will serve on alliance steering committees. Community outreach initiatives will be finalized in the first quarter.
OMAHA, Neb. (12/22/14)--Nebraska credit unions performed well in a number of areas of growth in the first three quarters of the year, the Nebraska Credit Union League reported last week, with loan, membership and net worth growth all advancing.
The total dollar amount for all loans made by Nebraska credit unions between January and September climbed 2.2% compared with the dollar amount for the first nine months of 2013.
Further, all loan categories recorded increases in growth in September compared with their year-ago levels, with loan growth averaging 10.7% for new-auto loans and 3.6% for other real estate loans.
All loans increased to $2.6 billion in September, an 8.9% jump year-over-year.
"The positive results are not surprising and underscore the enduring value of our cooperative principles of participation and patronage," said J. Scott Sullivan, league president/CEO. "The ultimate goal of credit unions has and continues to be to serve consumers rather than view them as a source of profit. This not-for-profit, member-owned model is proving to be increasingly popular with Nebraskans."
Additional highlights from the data:
- The loan-to-share ratio at Nebraska credit unions climbed 4.5% annually to 80.7% in September--above the national average of 74%;
- The average member relationship, or the total number of loan and share balances per member, increased by 1.6% annually to $12,242 in September;
- Total net worth rose 5.5% to $418.9 million in September, with assets outpacing reserves, pushing the net worth-to-assets ratio 36 basis points higher than this time last year, at 10.9%;
- Nebraska credit unions reached 469,032 members in September--a 3.6% annual increase. The membership expansion outpaced the national average of 2.9% in September; and
- Delinquencies and net charge-offs fell 12 basis points in September and four basis points annually.
Earlier this month, the National Credit Union Administration reported that credit unions nationwide experienced strong numbers in the third quarter as well.
The median growth rate for loans outstanding climbed to 3.5% for the 12 months ending in the third quarter, a 1.8% increase from the year ending Sept. 30, 2013.
COLCHESTER, Vt. (12/22/14)--For the first time, the board of the Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU) authorized grant monies for small credit unions to attend the 2015 Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC).
Up to $2,000 in grant funding is available on a first-come, first-served
for member credit unions of less than $35 million in assets (
"This action by the board directly synchronizes with AVCU's primary role as an advocacy organization for credit unions," said league President Joe Bergeron, "and underscores the need for credit unions of all sizes to participate in this important annual advocacy event.
"In addition to all of the fantastic events and speakers for which the GAC is known, I strongly urge recipients of these special grant funds to attend the GAC's Small Credit Union Roundtable," he said, adding, "This complimentary event provides a terrific opportunity to learn about resources, share ideas and collaborate on a wide variety of issues from compliance to succession planning."
The AVCU grants are to be used to defray up to $2,000 in registration, accommodation and travel costs for one officially designated representative from any eligible member credit union in good standing to attend CUNA's signature event.
CUNA's discounted small credit union registration of $595 leaves substantial grant funding available for eligible Vermont personnel to receive a total discount of between 60% and 80% off average GAC attendance expenses.
LIVE OAK, Texas (12/22/14)--Randolph-Brooks FCU (RBFCU), with $6 billion in assets, surpassed 500,000 members last week.
The Live Oak, Texas-based credit union has grown from its founding nine members to the second-largest credit union in Texas and the 13th largest nationwide.
"Our communities see the value of RBFCU membership and continue to choose us to finance their homes and vehicles, and to provide the services they need to manage their accounts," said Sonya McDonald, RBFCU executive vice president/chief of staff. "We continue to welcome record numbers of new members each month because they recognize the many ways RBFCU helps them save time, save money and earn money."
One such way is its rewards program. Since Oct. 1, the credit union has been giving back members 20 cents on each debit card purchase--double its normal rewards level.
In addition to cresting the $6 billion-asset threshold in 2014, the credit union opened its 50th branch and held more than $4 billion in loans.