WASHINGTON (3/12/14)--Pat Keefe
has been promoted to senior vice president of communications by the Credit Union National Association.
Keefe, who has nearly 30 years of experience with communications at the national level, has been with CUNA since 2000, most recently serving as vice president of communications.
CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney noted that Keefe was named to the position after CUNA conducted a broad search to fill the chief communications officer position, considering nearly 90 applicants from across the nation. That list was winnowed down to about a half-dozen finalists, who themselves held impressive credentials and experience, Cheney said.
"Pat was promoted to this position based on his long service to credit unions, his experience here at CUNA and his interaction with our executive team," said Cheney. "As senior vice president of communications, his role will be to ensure that CUNA continues to enhance its strong reputation as the leader of the credit union movement with all of our audiences, especially our member credit unions, the financial services industry, the Washington community and the public at large."
Prior to working at CUNA, Keefe was a communications executive with the National Association of Federal Credit Unions in Arlington, Va., for 16 years. He is a former newspaper reporter and editor.
During his credit union career, he has been engaged in communications strategies and tactics affecting nearly every key issue for credit unions, including: Protecting the tax-exempt status of credit unions, bankruptcy reform, debit interchange and--most recently--dealing with data security breaches.
In the late 1990s, Keefe played a substantial role in planning and executing the Credit Union Campaign for Consumer Choice, which passed legislation to overturn a Supreme Court decision limiting credit union membership.
"I'm greatly honored to represent the credit union movement and will use my experience and background to help protect and advance the movement's interests," Keefe said Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (3/12/14)--Top credit union priorities coming out of last month's Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference are detailed in the March edition of CUNA's "Legislative Update Webcast."
The advocacy efforts of 4,400 credit union supporters during the GAC "certainly made an impact that will last for a long time," CUNA Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan said in this month's webinar. "As we turn the page from the GAC, several of our priorities are on the front burner of Congress," Donovan noted.
In the webinar, Donovan provides updates and analysis of key credit union issues, including:
Merchant data breaches;
Housing finance reforms;
Patent reforms; and
On the credit union tax status, Donovan emphasized that the recently released draft "is just the first chapter in tax reform," and groups that did not do as well as credit unions did in the first draft will be seeking to improve their own position in future drafts. Credit unions must defend their hard-earned gains in the future, he emphasized.
Donovan said CUNA does not expect the U.S. House to consider Rep.Dave Camp's (R-Mich.) tax plan this year, and it is not clear if the Senate will introduce its own tax reform document this year.
However, he added, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who could take on House Ways and Means Committee chairmanship, has said he would use Camp's proposal as a starting point for his own work on taxes.
Each month, CUNA's legislative update webinar breaks down vital information on top congressional concerns into an easy to access and understand format.
For the full 15-minute webinar, use the resource link.
WASHINGTON (3/12/14)--While many have reported on the great promise that Bitcoin and other virtual currencies hold for consumers and businesses alike, buying and using digital currency such as Bitcoin carries certain risks, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. (FINRA) warned Tuesday.
FINRA bills itself as the largest independent securities regulator in the U.S., with a central task of protecting investors by maintaining the fairness of U.S. capital markets.
"Speculative trading in Bitcoins carries significant risk. There is also the risk of fraud related to companies claiming to offer Bitcoin payment platforms and other Bitcoin-related products and services," FINRA wrote in an investor alert.
The alert reminds that:
Digital currency such as Bitcoin is not legal tender, and businesses and individuals are not legally required to accept it as payment. If no one accepts Bitcoins, Bitcoins will become worthless, FINRA writes;
Platforms that buy and sell Bitcoins, and digital wallets, can be hacked, costing consumers;
Bitcoin transactions can be subject to fraud and theft;
The account insurance and other safeguards provided by credit unions and banks are not provided to users of digital wallets;
Bitcoin payments are irreversible, and refunds are only made if a seller decides to provide them;
Bitcoin has been used in illegal activity, and thus, Bitcoin exchanges could be shut down by law enforcement agencies; and
Bitcoin prices can fluctuate wildly.
Many criminals also view Bitcoin "as a chance to steal your money through old-fashioned fraud," FINRA added. Warning signs of fraud include business claims that are not backed by financial reality, FINRA said.
For the full FINRA alert, use the resource link.
WASHINGTON (3/12/14)--With the April 15 tax return due date approaching, credit unions must stay on their toes to protect themselves and their members from fraud schemes, the Credit Union National Association warned in this month's edition of the
"As always, but particularly during tax season, credit unions must protect their members' personal information, and stay on top of suspicious activity," Kathy Thompson, CUNA senior vice president for compliance and legislative analysis, wrote.
One type of fraud credit unions have alerted CUNA to is non-member tax refund checks going into member accounts. Not only must credit unions note and potentially report such suspicious activity for Bank Secrecy Act purposes, they must also be on the lookout for members using personal accounts for business purposes, such as a tax return filing business, she added.
Thompson noted the U.S. Internal Revenue Service has reported a steady increase in instances of tax refund fraud between 2011 and 2013. From 2011 through November 2013, the agency has stopped 14.6 million suspicious returns involving more than $50 billion in fraudulent refunds, she wrote.
- Top concerns outlined by credit unions at last month's Governmental Affairs Conference;
- Recent Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act amendments and clarifications;
- Final Affordable Care Act employer regulations; and
- News on student lending issues.
also updates credit unions on the latest regulatory changes and offers a question-and-answer section.
For the full
, use the resource link.
WASHINGTON (3/12/14)--Housing finance reform got a shot in the arm yesterday. After five years of debate and delay among policymakers, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and the committee's top Republican member, Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho), announced Tuesday that they have agreed upon a bipartisan plan to overhaul the housing finance market, as well as to wind down government-owned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The Credit Union National Association has and will continue to advocate for credit unions as housing reform moves forward.
CUNA has repeatedly said that credit unions appreciate the need to reform the current housing finance system, but any reforms must not hinder the ability of credit unions to meet their members' housing finance needs in a member-friendly cooperative way.
CUNA Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan said that, based on early information, the Johnson-Crapo initiative seems to include many of the housing finance reform suggestions CUNA made during testimony last year.
"We look forward to reviewing the legislative text when it is made available and are hopeful this will be a bill that credit unions can strongly support," Donovan stated.
A draft bill could be unveiled in the next few days, with a committee vote to follow in the next weeks. Information released by Johnson and Crapo indicated the legislation will reflect significant provisions of S. 1217, a bill introduced by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) last June.
Like that legislation, the new bill would wind down government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and replace them with a new mortgage guarantor, the Federal Mortgage Insurance Corporation (FMIC).
The winding down of Fannie and Freddie, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, would be accomplished within five years of the bill's potential passage. GSE assets would be sold off, and their charters would be revoked once the FMIC is established.
Under the terms of the bill, private entities would purchase mortgages from lenders. Those mortgages would then be reissued as securities and sold on to investors. Investors would need to maintain a 10% interest of equity for every dollar of risk.
New loans would not be required to go through the FMIC. Only those that wanted the government guarantee would be processed by the agency.
"This bipartisan effort will provide the market the certainty it needs, while preserving fair and affordable housing throughout the country," Johnson said in a statement. "I look forward to moving this effort through committee once members have had a chance to review our forthcoming legislation."
CUNA's Donovan said, "We appreciate that the committee engaged CUNA frequently through the development of this legislations, and we look forward to its consideration in the Banking Committee very soon."
Daily Financial Rates -- 2014-03-12
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
03:55 AM CDT
TREASURY YIELD CURVE
(based on the $1 million market)
Results of the March 10, 2014 auction of short-term U.S. government bills, sold at a discount from face value in units of $10,000 to $ 1 million
||Last changed December 16, 2008 |
|near closing bid||0.050||0.050||0.070||0.050||0.030|
FREDDIE MAC (Mortgage commitments, 30 days)
FANNIE MAE (Mortgage commitments, 30 days)
COMMERCIAL PAPER (Financial, 90 days)
: Data not available at time of page generation (shown at top of page)
Wall Street Journal
U.S. Dept. of the Treasury
All rates are from the previous business day unless otherwise noted.
WASHINGTON (3/12/14)--The Small Business Optimism Index fell by 2.7 points in February to a reading of 91.4, a number before seen in periods of severe economic downturn such as recessions or sub-par growth (NFIB
Even hiring plans, which in January's report showed promise for the New Year, took a 5-point dive.
"Uncertainty is a major cause of the index's dip," said Bill Dunkelberg, chief economist, National Federation of Independent Business, the agency that maintains the index. "Lacking any progress in Washington and facing continued unknowns with the healthcare law, the Environmental Protection Agency, the minimum wage (debate), tax reform and more, it is no surprise that the Small Business Optimism Index fell."
New job numbers in the report came in higher than originally estimated, however, unemployment still climbed a tenth of a point.
Findings also included a drop in expected real sales, likely signaling rough waters head, the index found.
"We shouldn't expect blue skies soon," Dunkelberg said.
Labor Markets: NFIB owners increased employment by .11 workers on average.
Job creation: Twenty-two percent of owners reported job openings they couldn't fill, while 13% reported taking on temporary employees.
Sales: Sixteen percent of business owners listed "weak sales" as their top business problem.
Earnings and wages: Earnings remained at a discouraging net negative 27%.
Credit markets: Only 5% of businesses reported that all their credit needs had not been met.
Inflation: Fifteen percent of NFIB owners said they reduced average selling prices over the past three months, a 2-point increase, while 19% reported price increases, also a 2-point increase.
DES MOINES, Iowa (3/12/14)--Iowa credit unions ranked second in the nation in annual loan and annual asset growth, according to numbers released by the National Credit Union Administration.
The Iowa Credit Union League pointed out that the state's credit union loans and leases increased 13.6% to $8.2 billion in 2013, compared with 8% nationwide. (See March 4 News Now
: 2013 financials show continued positive trends at CUs.)
"Iowa credit unions are strong and healthy, and continue to be leaders in the industry," said Pat Jury, league president/CEO. "Our positive growth in credit union membership, loans and deposits affirms that Iowa consumers desire to conduct business with not-for-profit financial cooperatives."
Total assets at Iowa credit unions increased by 6.6% compared with the year prior, clocking in at $11.8 billion. Nationally, federally insured credit unions' total assets trended up by $5.3 billion in the fourth quarter.
They experienced 6.6% growth in share and deposits to $10.2 billion compared with the national share and deposit growth of 3.7%.
Membership at Iowa credit unions ticked upward by 1.2% to 1,015,287, with 12,463 members added since December 2012. Nationally, membership in federally insured credit unions grew 2.6%.
The Des Moines Register
noted the state's credit unions were led Veridian CU, Waterloo, and the University of Iowa Community CU, North Liberty (March 11). Veridian CU reported total assets increased 3.6% to $2.43 billion during 2013. Membership ended the year at 178,888 members, with a 3.9% growth rate.
Meanwhile, the University of Iowa Community CU noted assets bumped up by 20% to $2.16 billion in 2013, and membership came in with a 9.1% increase to 11,706 members.
DULUTH, Ga. (3/12/14)--In a video encouraging credit union members to make their votes count in Nov. 4 elections, Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) spoofs the irony that Americans are more engaged in "American Idol" voting than taking part in governmental elections.
The video supports ElectionWatch 2014, a nonpartisan political program designed by the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates to encourage credit union members to "Be Counted." and "Vote!" in city, state and congressional elections this year.
In the video, "Government Idol" contestants vie for the approval of actors portraying former Idol judges Randy "The Dog" Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell, as anxious would-be voters watch the show on their TVs at home. With the judges' collective nod, the contestants win a ticket to the capital.
In between performances, a series of messages is displayed: "Every year, important legislation is introduced that could drastically impact the way your credit union helps you.
"Now that's something to get excited about.
"If credit union people don't vote, credit union people don't count."
GCUA's ElectionWatch 2014 offers current information on the candidates, issues and special events so that members can become more informed of the political process and how it can affect their everyday lives.
To watch the video, use the link.
MADISON, Wis. (3/12/14)--Entries are now being accepted for the 2014 Credit Union National Association Blockbuster Awards, an event that recognizes the outstanding marketing, advertising and publication efforts of state leagues and league service corporations promoting the credit union movement.
All submissions for 2013 work must include an entry form, the corresponding entry materials and the appropriate fee payment.
This year's program also features several new rules: Entries can now be submitted digitally; the program has been streamlined with several adjustments to categories; and the name of the program has been changed from the Pro & Blockbuster Awards to the Blockbuster Awards.
The awards will be presented during the GAPS/Communicators Conference June 16-18 at the Marriott Marquis in Washington.
The deadline to submit entries is April 18. Winners will be notified in May and honored at an event held at the conference.
For all specific submission guidelines, categories and information, use the resource link.
DES MOINES, Iowa (3/12/14)--The Members Group (TMG) and its sister companies will make a $10,000 donation to the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), the Des Moines, Iowa-based payments processor announced Tuesday.
Attendees who visited The Members Group's exhibit hall booth at the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington Feb. 23-27 were asked to fill out a "Make a Difference" card with an example of how they've made a difference in the lives of others. In honor of the "Make a Difference" project, The Members Group and its sister companies pledged to donate $10,000 to the National Credit Union Foundation. (The Members Group photo)
The gift is the result of a campaign TMG conducted by the Des Moines, Iowa-based payments processor from its booth at the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) Feb. 23-27 in Washington, D.C.
Joined by Hispanic market solutions company Coopera, credit union regulatory firm PolicyWorks and credit card agent issuer TMG Financial Services, TMG hosted its "Make a Difference" project at GAC. Attendees who visited the booth were asked to fill out a "Make a Difference" card with an example of how they've made a difference in the lives of others.
In honor of the Make a Difference project participants and their contributions, the sister companies and their parent organization, Affiliates Management Company, pledged to donate to NCUF.
"As a group, all of our sister companies decided to take a minimalist approach to our GAC booth display to keep the focus on our shared mission, which is to ensure the vitality of credit unions by improving the financial lives of consumers," said Georgann Smith, TMG vice president of marketing. "By simply doing good for others, organizations like ours can have a tremendous, positive impact on the credit union movement."
In addition to the in-booth story collection project, the sister companies sent representatives into the conference crowd with pre-loaded gift cards. They were instructed to hand out the gift cards to anyone they wished, explaining that the idea was to do good for others without an expectation of anything in return.
The response was inspiring, according to TMG's Vice President of Product Ryan Anderson, who passed out cards to strangers in line for coffee. "I watched several people 'pay it forward' by handing the card off to someone behind them in line," he said.
ST. LOUIS (3/12/14)--The data breach that bit St. Louis-based Schnucks supermarkets last April has dealt at least a $1 million blow to Missouri credit unions, a Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) survey found.
When MCUA leaders attended the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington last month, they made sure to relay the financial implications of the breach to elected officials.
"Being able to provide members of Congress with hard numbers about the impact of the Schnucks data breach on credit unions in Missouri had a real impact during GAC," said Amy McLard, MCUA senior vice president of advocacy. "This puts a cost and effect on how data breaches impact their constituents."
CUNA has repeatedly encouraged members of the U.S. Congress to address inconsistent rules that require credit unions and other financial institutions to follow high security standards while holding merchants to different standards. CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney has also called on the House Financial Services Committee to hold hearings on the last year's Target data security breach. In addition to new payment security standards, merchants must also be held accountable for the damages that breaches to their systems cause financial institutions and consumers.
Credit unions who responded to the Missouri survey--28 in all--spent about $246,000 to replace compromised cards as a result of the incident. At least 67,900 credit and debit cards total had to be replaced, and the cost to reimburse members for fraudulent charges totaled about $643,000.
Not all credit unions who responded answered each survey question. About 2.4 million credit and debit card numbers were stolen at the time.
To help MCUA accurately illustrate the total impact on credit unions, organizations that have not responded to the survey and who suffered losses because of the Schnucks breach are encouraged to contact McLard at email@example.com
MADISON, Wis. (3/12/14)--The adoption of appropriate risk-weighted capital adequacy standards would put banks and credit unions on the same safety-and-soundness footing, making such standards a "compelling" consideration for policymakers, according to a new report from the Filene Research Institute.
The Credit Union National Association supports risk-based capital but has strong concerns that there's a multi-billion-dollar price tag of additional capital for credit unions attached to the National Credit Union Administration's proposed risk-based capital (RBC) rule. For risk-based capital to be implemented correctly, CUNA asserts, it must be part of overall capital and prompt corrective action reform---changes that will require congressional action.
The Filene report says that allowing credit unions to access alternative capital would bolster their stability during times of stress and strengthen their ability to grow in both good and bad times, according to the report, "Credit Union Capital Adequacy: What's New and What's Next?"
The paper outlines the mismatch between credit unions and investor-owned banks, focusing on the implications of Basel III capital guidelines, prompt corrective action (PCA), and the structure challenges of maintaining the principle of member ownership in the face of outside capital.
With risk-weighted capital adequacy standards, simple credit unions could stick with a leverage-only requirement, while those with more complicated balance sheets could opt for risk-weighted reporting, the report said.
For U.S. lawmakers, the case to revise the current regime is compelling, the paper said. Alternative capital would moderate draconian PCA requirements by providing an alternative to jacking up income or shrinking assets. The Government Accountability Office (GAO), the research arm of the U.S. Congress, concluded in 2004 that it was too early to recommend changes to credit union PCA, but the financial crisis showed that the risks posed by credit unions do not warrant more stringent PCA triggers.
The newly released U.S. final capital rule for banks should be catalyst for alternative capital reforms, the paper advised. A streamlined approach for credit unions that mirrors the rule, and related Basel III requirements, would support a safer, more resilient credit union system.
Where credit unions can issue alternative capital instruments, it is possible to balance the interests of member-ownership with those of outside, the paper said. Credit unions would be safer and more flexible with additional access to capital.
To download the paper, use the link.
AUSTIN, Texas (3/12/14)--Credit union CEOs are feeling more optimistic going into 2014, according to a recent survey by Abound Resources.
The consulting firm found that 48% of CEOs stated they feel either "somewhat" or "very" optimistic--an attitude bolstered by ongoing credit union profitability, said President/CEO Brad Smith.
"Even with a tough interest-rate environment, credit unions have reason to be optimistic," he said, adding, "In our conversations with credit union CEOs, the majority realize that they can do even more to position their credit union to rise above economic and regulatory challenges and remain profitable and relevant in 2014 and beyond."
CEOs are firmly committed to consumer lending as a critical part of their growth strategy. In 2013, 88% of CEOs cited consumer lending as a growth priority. This year, it's a resounding 94%, the report said.
Membership growth remains a focus, with 25% of CEOs calling it a top priority, up from 17% in 2013. This aligns with the increasing average age of a credit union member and credit unions' desire to add younger members.
NEW YORK. (3/11/14)--Consumer spending in January climbed higher than predicted, swelled in part by the biggest increase in services outlays since 2001.
The spending on services was likely driven by the unusually cold weather and higher-than-normal heating costs, but household purchases, which account for about 70% of the economy, were also up by 0.04%, according to Commerce Department figures (Bloomberg
The financial forecast anticipates consumers will continue spending more on goods and services as hiring gains, climbing housing values, and a robust stock market drive an improving economy.
But, just a few years out from the Great Recession, are Americans already spending too much? Last month The Wall Street Journal
reported that most financial planners would say, "Yes."
The reasons are varied--lack of a budget or a desire to maintain appearances--but, to better manage your spending, many financial advisers recommend tracking your cash flow and monitoring your emotional state.
. It's not only big expenses that put you in debt. More likely it's "death by a thousand tiny cuts" eating up your income. Track your spending with a notebook or online app, shop with a list, consider using only cash for a couple of months, and set up monthly automatic deductions from your share draft/checking account into an emergency savings fund.
. Try to understand why you're overspending. Maybe you're trying to keep pace with high-rolling friends or spending makes you feel better--temporarily. Regardless, when you feel compelled to buy something you maybe don't need, wait 24 hours and consider why you're buying it. Ask yourself, "How will I feel when the credit card bill comes?"
. Know what pleasures you can't live without and decide in advance how much you'll spend on them each month. Try to focus on the joys in your life that cost nothing--friends, family, a favorite public park--and for big-ticket items, set aside a little each paycheck until you can afford to buy it.
For more information, read "Everybody's Money Matters: Deciding How Much to Save" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.
MADISON, Wis. (3/12/14)--A CUNA Mutual Group tablet application that helps credit union members plan for retirement security has won a Bank Insurance & Securities Association (BISA) Technology Innovation Award.
Financial advisers, including advisers from CUNA Mutual Group's broker-dealer, CUNA Brokerage Services Inc. (CBSI), use the ZONE tablet application to present investment options for CUNA Mutual Group's new registered index annuity, MEMBERS Zone Annuity.
The ZONE is one of nine BISA Technology Innovation Award recipients. The BISA Technology Innovation Award recognizes technology innovation in the financial services industry.
"Today's financial advisers are tasked with evaluating a broad range of customer financial needs and presenting a complex set of financial solutions in an environment that is an ever-changing mix of market volatility, regulatory scrutiny and product choice," said Bob Buckingham, CUNA Mutual Group annuity product vice president. "The products that are ultimately sold are intangible, and often difficult to understand."
The ZONE is designed to remove this anxiety by providing a simple and effective tool for the adviser to present investment options, Buckingham said.
Launched in August 2013, the ZONE presents CUNA Mutual Group's registered index annuity, MEMBERS Zone Annuity, in a web application optimized for the iPad. The ZONE allows advisers and customers to customize a zone of risk and reward aligned with their investment goals using the MEMBERS Zone Annuity product.
"The ZONE app immediately turns the intangible into a real set of financial choices by visually demonstrating growth potential and downside limits by showing how a client's personal comfort zone translates into an allocation between the annuity's two investment accounts," said Buckingham.
By leveraging game-like visuals and controls, the ZONE creates a participatory experience with a personal zone of risk and reward, which is then used to evaluate how the annuity might perform over time using hypothetical investment returns and market scenarios.
Since the ZONE app's launch, mobile application usage among licensed CUNA Mutual Group advisers increased more than 400% in the last quarter of 2013. Sales of the MEMBERS Zone Annuity reached $22 million in the first month after launch, and first year sales exceeding target by more than 300% for 2013, CUNA Mutual said.