MADISON, Wis. (3/10/14)--Christine Henzig, Wisconsin Credit Union League director of communications, explained why credit unions are the financial institution of choice for consumers in a recent interview on
WIBA-AM 1310's "
Ask the Experts" program.
The foundation of the credit union difference is a cooperative ownership structure, Henzig explained. "Unlike banks that are owned by shareholders--a small group of shareholders that are in it to earn profits--credit unions are owned by the depositors," Henzig said. "As a credit union member...you are the owner."
Because of that structure, any profits beyond required reserves, go back to members in the form of better pricing on financial services. "That's a great deal for consumers," she said.
Henzig said there's a common misperception that credit unions are hard to join. Although credit unions began with a common membership bond as a form of collateral protection, today they offer much broader terms of membership. "There are some restrictions as to which credit union you can join, but there's always going to be a credit union you can join," Henzig said.
She suggested consumers log on to aSmarterChoice.org to find a credit union that fits their needs. aSmarterChoice is the consumer website created by the Credit Union Natoinal Association and its affiliated state credit union associations., such as WCUL.
Credit unions offer typically the same services that banks do--checking, saving, auto loans, mortgages, small business loans, student loans and investment products---in addition to 30,000 no-fee ATMs through CO-OP ATM Network.
The credit union system is built on collaboration, Henzig said, adding,"Other financial institutions don't collaborate the way credit unions do. Because our depositors own us we want to do them a good turn. If we don't have the service at one credit union, we'll send them to another credit union, because we know they will get good service."
Wisconsin credit unions members saved $100 million in fees and better rates over banks in 2013, including $57 million in lower loan rates, and $24 million in lower and fewer fees.
"That's $100 to $200 a household," Henzig said. "That's pretty significant."
About 40% of Wisconsin residents--2.4 million consumers--are credit union members, Henzig said. In 2013, nine in 10 Wisconsin credit unions provided free checking, offered loans of $1,000 or less, and adjusted loan terms to help members facing financial hardship due to unemployment, furloughs or temporary job loss.
To listen to the entire interview, use the link.
BETHPAGE, N.Y. (3/10/14)--A credit union-sponsored survey taking the temperature of the small business climate in Long Island drummed up a bit of media attention this week.
Survey results, unveiled Thursday by Bethpage (N.Y.) FCU, with $5.4 billion in assets, were picked up by
and CBS' New York affiliate,
More than 600 Long Island small business executives--who oversee outfits with annual revenues of less than $10 million--were polled. Bethpage FCU's Business Banking Group worked with Stony Brook University's Center for Survey Research to conduct the poll (
Long Island Exchange
Subjects ranged from confidence levels in national political leaders to expectations for business growth in 2014.
Perhaps most notably, despite broad concern for the direction of the national economy, many business owners watched their operations expand and their sales build in 2013.
Among those queried, 36% said their businesses grew in 2013, compared with 26% in the year prior; 35% expect their businesses to grow over the next six months; and 41% predict that year-end 2013 sales will surpass that of 2012, which is a 10% improvement from the previous poll.
Only 12% of business executives, meanwhile, believed that government officials in the nation's capital would energize the national business climate this year, while 62% said they instead have confidence in Long Island business leaders.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (3/10/14)--For the third consecutive year, Harvard University Employees CU, Cambridge, Mass., offered Harvard undergraduates a financial literacy class designed to provide them with an understanding of personal financial management.
The optional class, called "Personal Financial Management," ran three days with a four-hour session each day. Students received a carefully targeted curriculum of consumer credit, credit scoring, personal budgeting, financial goal setting, planning, insurance, taxes, the financial marketplace and investing.
"Historically, it has primarily been the responsibility of parents to teach their children the basics of personal financial management," said Gene Foley, president/CEO of the $442 million-asset credit union. "The problem with that is the financial products now offered in the 21st century are not the same as the ones that parents grew up with."
The goal of the "survey course" curriculum was to present the knowledge most critical for undergraduates to understand and apply now in their personal financial life.
Less than 20% of college students receive any kind of formal personal financial education--a knowledge gap that leaves serious potential for financial missteps in college and beyond, according to Tom Murphy, the credit union's director of student services,
"Though most students have been using and managing money since before they were in kindergarten, a significant portion of their financial education has been self-taught," Murphy said. "We live in an increasingly complex financial world, and the better we prepare them now for that reality, the more successful they'll be when they come face-to-face with it."
The first day of the program provided students with the foundation to develop a solid financial plan. Using case studies, students reviewed the fundamentals for proper financial planning and use of credit.
The second day included a panel on investing with recent graduates from Harvard Business School (HBS), the College and Harvard Law School. The final day of the program covered wealth management, insurance and taxes.
SEATTLE (3/10/14)--Credit unions are known to cater services to their memberships. That's why it was no surprise when Verity CU, based out of bicycle-loving Seattle, rolled out a new loan program just for bike riders.
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But while Verity, with $422 million in assets, isn't the first credit union to offer a bicycle loan program, the way the organization advertised the new service in 2013 was perhaps unique.
Using the social media service CafeGive Social--a social marketing app company--Verity launched its loan campaign with a photo contest called "Roll On Seattle," which asked community members to send in snapshots of their favorite bikes.
The response was instantaneous, according to CafeGive's website. With a $250 gift card to the winner as an incentive to enter, Verity increased its number of Facebook "likes" by 68%.
That's 68% more people who learned the details of the loan program, which includes no payment for 90 days and loan amounts ranging from $500 to $7,500.
Verity also donated $5 for the first 100 entries to Bikeworks Seattle, a nonprofit that supports sustainability initiatives, bicycle education and safety.
FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (3/10/14)--The Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation has awarded 41 grants totaling more than $88,000 to support credit unions and credit union chapters in their community outreach and financial literacy efforts and the professional development of staff and volunteers.
Staci Zale, foundation associate director and grants manager, thanked credit unions for their support of the foundation. "By awarding these grants, we are simply paying it forward," she said.
Twenty-one of the grants awarded were for professional development. Sixteen were community outreach grants to support activities such as Junior Achievement and Financial Fitness of Greater Austin and Financial Fitness of Greater Dallas, the Cornerstone Credit Union League reported (
Four credit union chapters also received grants. The grants helped the chapters host reality fairs and bring speakers to their chapter meetings.
The foundation is once again collaborating with the Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Greater Dallas to host 100 financial education webinars in April for National Financial Literacy Month.
NAPERVILLE, Ill. (3/10/14)--It's not only today's work that's critical to the credit union movement. The industry also must keep an eye leveled toward the future.
The Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL) has launched CU*Reach, a program that will immerse young professionals into the world of credit unions and prepare them for a future in the industry.
"CU*Reach is a great opportunity for professional development, as well as a chance for young professionals to recognize their potential within the credit union movement," said Jennifer Riebold, a member of the Illinois Youth Involvement Council's Young Professionals Advisory Committee, the group developing this initiative.
The program offers opportunities in networking, mentoring, education, leadership development and community involvement. The committee in charge of the campaign also plans to put together local and statewide specific programs.
Organizers have built CU*Reach to serve individuals ages 40 and under; however ICUL representatives say there are plenty of opportunities for those over the age of 40 to get involved through the league's CU*Reach Champion program.
ATLANTA, Ga. (3/10/14)--Leadership of the Carolinas Credit Union League (CCUL) met its new National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) representative, Region III Director Myra Toeppe, last week in Atlanta.
Toeppe was named director in September, replacing Herb Yolles, who retired at the end of 2013 after 35 years of service with the NCUA. Before joining NCUA, Toeppe worked for nearly 25 years in financial services regulation, including stints with the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta.
CCUL leaders also met with Dave Hibshman, assistant regional director of programs.
"With last year's retirement of Herb Yolles, the leadership team at Region III has changed," said John Radebaugh, CCUL president/CEO (
In the Loop
March 5). "We appreciated their time and the opportunity to share the concerns of some credit unions in the Carolinas."
Radebaugh traveled with Dan Schline, CCUL senior vice president of association services, and Jeanne Couchois, vice president, regulatory/compliance counsel, to meet the new representatives.
"We view regulatory advocacy as (a) core function of the league," Schline said. "Developing relationships with regulators and having an ongoing dialogue about how rules and regulations are impacting credit unions in the Carolinas is central to that process."