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DE program recognizes 3 for CU achievement

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MADISON, Wis. (8/21/14)--Three credit union development educators recently were honored by the U.S. Development Education (DE) Program for exemplifying what DE stands for through their individual or cooperative efforts to make a difference in their credit union, community or on a national/international basis. 
 
Michael Ray, director of corporate relations, Congressional FCU, Washington, D.C., and board director for America's Credit Union Museum, left, receives the lifetime achievement award from the U.S. Development Education Program from Gigi Hyland, executive director, National Credit Union Foundation. (National Credit Union Foundation Photo)
Michael Ray, director of corporate relations for $810 million-asset Congressional FCU, Washington, D.C., received the lifetime achievement award for making a significant and lasting contribution to the credit union movement and the DE program. Ray is a director for America's Credit Union Museum, Manchester, N.H., and serves on the D.C. chapter board for the Maryland and D.C. Credit Union Association.
 
"He quietly goes about his work to raise awareness about credit unions, to facilitate connections within the system and to foster international credit union development," said Gigi Hyland, executive director, National Credit Union Foundation. "That quiet work has made a tremendous difference in so many people's lives, and we are thankful for his commitment to credit unions and credit union development education."
 
Ray, who completed DE training in 1996, said he learned about the movement's pioneers at a DE "Philosophy is Good Business" seminar. "It was a wonderful introduction to what I consider my calling in life--to help others help themselves," he said.
 
The individual achievement award for significant impact on a national or international basis went to Melvin Edwards, a credit union development educator who has made it his mission to set up a DE training program in the Caribbean.
 
Edwards, who was the first Caribbean representative to serve as chair of the World Council of Credit Unions, also helped start the St. Kitts Cooperative CU.
 
CU Aware, a council within the Carolinas Credit Union League, received the Cooperative Spirit Award, which honors two or more individuals for a project that has made a significant difference to a community, school, credit union or the greater credit union movement.
 
CU Aware promotes awareness of cooperatives and the credit union difference. It was founded in 2011 by Patrick Livingston, director of strategic projects, and Brandon McAdams, consumer lending product development manager, both from $2.2 billion-asset at Coastal FCU, Raleigh, N.C.

Shifting delivery channels critical to survival: Report

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (8/21/14)--Member interactions with credit unions are shifting, and unless credit unions address those delivery channels, their future is at risk, according to research from Cornerstone Advisors.
 
In "Delivery Redirect: Start Now or Perish Later!" the credit union consulting firm details how the current operational and regulatory burdens may be clouding credit unions' vision of the year 2020--if they make it that long.
 
The report cited:
  • The median number of branch teller transactions per month dropped 24% at mid-size banks since 2010;
     
  • A third of all mobile phone owners have used mobile banking in the past year, and 38% deposited checks using their mobile phones, nearly double from 2012; and
     
  • Lower branch traffic means fewer in-person opportunities for financial product purchases.
The report stressed that in preparing for 2020, financial institutions need to focus on migrating interactions and acquiring members instead of performing basic financial transactions.
 
Resources need to concentrate on the desired mix of physical and digital channels as well as the internal changes to redirect, support and leverage that model, the report added.

Post-pilot, N.J. energy loan program seeks more CUs

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (8/21/14)--The New Jersey Credit Union League will hold an information session Sept. 10 about New Jersey's energy-efficient home improvement loan program, cuGreenLoans.
 
According to the league, the program was successful for the pilot credit unions, and it is now seeking more credit unions to participate. cuGreenLoans is a state-subsidized, interest-free loan available to homeowners for qualifying energy efficient home improvements through the New Jersey Clean Energy Program.
 
The program has been rolled out to all approved contractors throughout New Jersey, and members must meet specific requirements in order to be eligible.
 
The league will hold a live session at its headquarters in Hightstown that will be video conferenced to Atlantic FCU, Kenliworth, with $263 million in assets, and Members 1st of NJ FCU, Vineland, with $50 million in assets. The free session will run from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (ET) Sept. 10.
 
 Pilot participants $292 million-asset Garden Savings FCU, Parsippany, and $153 million-asset XCEL FCU, Bloomfield, will answer questions as part of the presentation.

Calif., Nev. catching up with robust loan growth

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ONTARIO, Calif. (8/21/14)--Loan growth at California and Nevada credit unions has surged recently, with both states posting numbers that haven't been recorded since before the Great Recession.

In California, credit unions nearly doubled their first quarter rate of loan growth, posting a 4% increase, which is the best second quarter for the state since 2007 ( CU Weekly Aug. 18).

Auto loans fueled the increase, with new-vehicle lending up 17.6%--nearly matching the national year-over-year increase of 19.4%--and used-auto loans increasing 8.1%. Mortgage-loan growth jumped 5.6% as well.

Dwight Johnston, chief economist for the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, told News Now that California lagged behind the rest of the country in recovering from the recession, and that the state is just now realizing the gains the rest of the country experienced previously.

"It's essentially California playing catch up," Johnston said. "(We've seen) a lot of growth in higher-paying jobs, and that's translated into better numbers this year."

Further, savings at California credit unions ticked up 3% in the first half of 2014 and are up 3.6% year-over-year. Credit union membership in the state has climbed 0.9% so far in 2014.

Credit unions in Nevada watched overall loan growth jump 4.7% in the second quarter, according to numbers from the Credit Union National Association, pushing up growth for all of 2014 to 5.1%.

And in Nevada, which took a similar economic hit to California, the economy is just now starting to catch up, according to Johnston.

"Nevada's biggest sector, travel and leisure, makes up more than 30% of workforce," Johnston told News Now . "It's now just recovered back to pre-recession levels."

While the majority of credit unions in the United States have seen growth driven largely by auto loans, credit card loans led the way in Nevada, with card balances climbing 7.2% in the first two quarters of the year.

Used-vehicle loans rose 5.9%, meanwhile, first mortgages increased 4.4% and new vehicles edged up 2.3%.

Deposits also climbed in Nevada, as balances jumped 0.6% in the second quarter, with savings account balances increasing 3.6% in the first six months of the year.

Save to Win hits $1M in savings at 6 Wash. CUs

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SILVERDALE, Wash. (8/21/14)--Credit unions in Washington offering the Save to Win program achieved the major milestone of taking in more than $1 million in deposits.

Launched a little over a year ago, Save to Win is a type of prize-linked savings (PLS) account that credit unions throughout the United States are encouraging state legislatures to legalize in order to help under-banked citizens improve their savings habits.

Washington's foray into PLS demonstrates just how effective the programs can be.

Among the six credit unions offering Save to Win, 1,242 members have opened accounts as of July 31, and the average account balance was $812.39 ( Anthem Aug. 19).

"Save to Win has been a great tool for us to help our members save money in a fun and unique way," Scott Prior, president/CEO of Connection CU, Silverdale, Wash., with $27 million in assets, told Anthem. "It's interesting the looks you get from people when you explain how it works, as if it almost sounds too good to be true."

Through the yearlong program, members open a 12-month share certificate with at least $25. For every $25 they save, they earn entry into monthly and annual drawings to win prizes that range from $50 to $5,000.

While not all Save to Win participants win prizes, they do keep all the money they've put away, plus interest, at the end of the year.

"I think the synopsis is, this works," said Jim Morrell, CEO of Peninsula Community FCU, Shelton, Wash., with $149 million in assets, who told Anthem he expects more credit unions to pick up the program in future months. "It encourages people to save and they don't have any chance of losing money."

"Not enough people are in the habit of saving," Morrell added. "This can help instill that habit."

States that have passed PLS legislation include Connecticut, Maryland, Indiana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Washington, Maine and Rhode Island, with New York's own law only awaiting the signature of Gov. Andrew Cuomo ( News Now July 9).

CU CEO confidence continues upward trend

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PLANO, Texas (8/21/14)--Strong financial conditions and expectations have driven credit union CEO confidence to its third quarterly increase, according to Catalyst Corporate FCU's survey.
 
Catalyst Corporate's Credit Union CEO Confidence Index reached its highest level in six years--32.94--in the second quarter. This follows a first-quarter number of 30.32.
 
The largest quarter-over-quarter increase was noted in the CEOs' expectations for their credit unions' financial condition section, which jumped to 45.64 from 39.16.
 
The Present Situation Index edged upward to 32.76 from 29.47, and the Expectations Index bumped up to 33.03 from 30.75 in the first quarter.
 
The percentage of CEOs expecting conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 45.64 from 39.16. Assessment of their institutions' current condition also rose to 37.61 from 34.78.
 
"I share the optimism of the survey results," said Mike Murphy, CEO, $141 million-asset Holyoke (Mass.) CU, in a statement. "Credit losses are low, and real estate values are increasing modestly. Loan demand is up, with the exception of mortgage refinance activity, and the cost of funds is stable. Improvements in employment prospects are sure to benefit my membership."
 
CEOs also reported a positive membership environment, giving members' current financial condition an increase of 3.8 points and 3.44 points in the expectations for future conditions category.
 
Loan growth expectations barely moved from the previous quarter, and share growth potential declined to 23.27 from 24.15.
 
Credit unions have seen much-needed growth in consumer loans, said Brian Turner, director/chief strategist, Catalyst Strategic Solutions. "Unfortunately, the industry's larger credit unions ($500 million and greater) continue to get the lion's share of that growth. Credit unions under $500 million in assets are collectively experiencing a 12% decline," he noted.
 
More than 200 credit union professionals responded to the July survey, which evaluates current financial condition of members; current financial condition of the credit union; anticipated financial condition of members in six months; anticipated financial condition of the credit union in six months; anticipated loan demand at the credit union in six months; and anticipated share deposit growth at the credit union in six months.

NFCC: Prevent holiday blues by checking budget now

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WASHINGTON (8/20/14)--Don't want coal in your stocking for breaking the holiday budget? The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) is encouraging consumers to assess their current financial status before heading into the holidays.
 
"Consumers may still be receiving the summer vacation and back-to-school bills, but should not lose sight of the fact that the holiday spending season is just around the corner.  This makes it vitally important for a person to understand their current financial situation before taking on new debt obligations," said Gail Cunningham, NFCC spokesperson. "Doing otherwise could result in damaging an already fragile financial situation."
 
The NFCC offered a financial checkup quiz as part of the assessment, where a simple true or false can give consumers an idea of where they stand.
 
True or false:  "Concerning my current financial situation, I ..."
  1. Know how much I currently owe on each credit card.
  2. Am receiving collection calls and notices.
  3. Have money saved to pay cash for holiday expenses.
  4. Will be adding new debt on top of old debt if holiday expenses are charged.
  5. Have reviewed my credit report and score in the past 12 months.
  6. Am near the maximum amount allowed on my lines of credit. 
  7. Am current on my vehicle payment.
  8. Have applied for a payday loan, title loan or credit card cash advance in the past 12 months.
  9. Have savings in addition to money earmarked for holiday spending.
  10. Have overdrawn my checking account more than twice in the past 12 months.
If the answers for the odd-numbered statement were true, consumers are in good shape. Answering true to the even-numbered statements means borrowers may be headed for choppy waters and should re-evaluate budgets before holiday spending begins.