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NEW: 'Lone Survivor' author Luttrell announced as 2014 ACUC keynoter

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MADISON, Wis. (1/14/14, UPDATED 10 a.m. CT)--Marcus Luttrell, one of a team of four Navy SEALs ambushed by a large Taliban force in 2005 and the only one to survive the following hours of combat, will be a keynote speaker at the Credit Union National Association's 2014 America's Credit Union Conference (ACUC), to be held June 29-July 3 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, Calif.
 
Luttrell, critically wounded in the attack, crawled into the mountains and was taken in by the Afghan villagers of Sabray, who nursed and protected him, despite escalating Taliban threats, until he was rescued. After recuperating, he redeployed to Iraq for a second tour. In the spring of 2007, Petty Officer 1st Class Luttrell retired. He was awarded the Navy Cross for combat heroism in 2006 by President George W. Bush.
 
America's Credit Union Conference, praised by attendees as an energizing, forward-thinking event, features the nation's best business innovators and motivational leaders to deliver ideas for growth and the inspiration to drive positive change for credit unions.
 
"It is with great pleasure that we welcome Marcus Luttrell to tell his heroic story," said Jill Tomalin, CUNA executive vice president and COO. "His conference-closing keynote presentation on courage, sacrifice and community is sure to connect with credit union values, giving us a patriotic sendoff just in time for Independence Day."
 
For more information about speakers and sessions at the ACUC, and to register, use the resource link.
 
Luttrell has written two books: "Lone Survivor" (2007), which recounts the harrowing trials of Operation Redwing and is now in movie theaters across the United States; and "Service: A Navy SEAL at War" (2013), in which Luttrell turns his focus to the nature of service on America's battlefields and the soldiers who give their lives to defend their nation and each other.

Maine league's message: 'Now is the time for a CU'

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PORTLAND, Maine (1/14/14)--The sense of urgency is clear: Now is the time for a credit union --for convenience, for lending and for being a trusted financial partner.
 
That is the message behind the Maine Credit Union League's statewide awareness campaign, which is going into its second year.
 
"No matter how a member or potential member saw us, we had a consistent message: Look to us for all your needs," said Debra Trautman, league assistant vice president of corporate marketing.
 
 
Members who want convenience are reminded of shared branching networks--a unique credit union characteristic, surcharge-free ATMs and mobile capabilities such as apps or websites.
 
The latest 30-second commercials show how credit unions can "make it happen" for home or auto loans and how more Maine people are joining credit unions because they offer true financial value.
 
"Make It Happen" is the key part of the social media campaign that will use #MECreditUnions. The league is seeking photos, Tweets and Facebook posts that show how credit unions helped consumers accomplish or obtain something positive.
 
"Our goal is to make a giant mosaic where members can see what other people use," Trautman said. There was a lot of engagement with the #DontTaxMyCreditUnion campaign in Maine, she said, adding, "We knew we could get them to share their stories."
 
The total media buy for 2014 is $600,000 including Young and Free Maine. "Now is the time for a credit union" will be distributed via traditional television commercials, community event sponsorships as well as voice-over spots on Pandora and Spotify.
 
The first year's goal was to increase awareness among members and directly reinforce the benefits of credit unions over banks (News Now 1/14/13).
 
The market responded with approval of the positive message, a reported increased knowledge of what a credit union is and an appreciation of the ATM and shared branching networks. Maine has nearly 240 ATMs in its surcharge-free network.
 
When convenience is featured, those shared branching transactions increase, Trautman said.
 
Through the first three quarters of the year, assets at Maine's 61 credit unions increased 4%, nearly $250 million. Assets collectively totaled $6.1 billion. Loans volume improved 5.6% to $4.1 billion for the year, with shares coming in with a 4.3% increase to $5.2 billion.
 
Membership is at an all-time high of more than 636,500 members statewide.

W. Va. FCU staff pull together during water shortage

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (1/14/14)--Credit unions are known for helping their communities in their time of need, but they also take care of their "credit union families."
 
"From an employee standpoint, what you do have is everybody working together," said Nick Arvon, president/CEO of West Virginia FCU. The $164 million-asset credit union is within the nine-county area that was declared a federal disaster area Friday because of a chemical spill into the Elk River. Monday, the ban was slowly being lifted on using water for anything other than flushing toilets.
 
Employees live anywhere from three to 30 miles from work, he said. Those who live farther away from the Charleston metropolitan area invited co-workers to meals and offered a place to bathe.
 
"It's the cooperative spirit we all share," Arvon told News Now. "Everybody is checking up on everybody to make sure there aren't any other needs."
 
Arvon said skip-a-pay fees could be waived for members who need them this month. Small businesses such as restaurants had to close Thursday evening, missing a weekend's worth of customers. Hospitals and government buildings also were closed as up to 300,000 residents were without tap water.
 
"It really makes you appreciate some of the things you take for granted, like laundry, showers and baths," he said.
 
As far as disaster recovery lessons to be learned, Arvon said he recognized the importance of leadership in time of crisis: "Focus on the task at hand, show you have plans and keep people informed."

3Q numbers show strong momentum for Kansas CUs

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WICHITA, Kan. (1/14/14)--Kansas credit unions outperformed their counterparts around the country in two key areas in the third quarter.
 
The expansion of loans and shares in the state outpaced the national average, according to a recent report commissioned for the Kansas Credit Union Association (Vision Jan. 10).
 
Shares and outstanding loans at Kansas credit unions increased by 5.5% and 8.5%. The national averages for share and loan growth in the third quarter were 4.1% and 6.8%.

Used auto loans, the largest component of the loan portfolio, increased 8.7% over September 2012 levels. New auto loans increased 17.9% at Kansas credit unions. The overall auto loan portfolio increased 10.3%, up $195.7 million from September 2012.
 
Delinquency rates, meanwhile, remained low, at 0.86%--below the national credit union average, 1.02%, local commercial bank average, 1.63%, and the in-state savings bank mean, at 1.34%.
 
The third quarter also saw 15,000 additional Kansans join credit unions, bringing the total number of state members to 641,000--almost a quarter of the state's population.
 
The report revealed that credit union service organization (CUSO) participation, as measured by loans to or investments in CUSOs, rose by more than 40% on an annual basis in the third quarter, by $14.3 million.
 

Burek wins District 4, Class A seat on CUNA board

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MADISON, Wis. (1/14/14)--Geraldine Burek won the election for the District 4, Class A seat on the board of directors for the Credit Union National Association.
 
Burek is president/CEO of South Division CU, a $53 million-asset credit union in Evergreen Park, Ill. She won over Pat Drennen, CEO of 1st Gateway CU, an $87 million-asset credit union in Camanche, Iowa.
 
Burek will represent credit unions having less than 25,000 natural person members in District 4, which covers Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. Her term will expire at the adjournment of the 2017 annual general meeting.
 
In December, seven credit union leaders were elected by acclamation to the board.

The elected directors, their districts and classes are below.

District 1--Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands:
  • Class A (credit unions having less than 25,000 natural person members)--Edwin L. Williams, president, Discovery FCU, Wyomissing, Pa., $132 million assets; and
  • Class D (league presidents)--William J. Mellin, president, Credit Union Association of New York, Albany, N.Y.
District 2--Delaware, District of Columbia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia:
  • Class B (credit unions having at least 25,000 but not more than 93,999 natural person members)--Dallas Bergl, president, INOVA FCU, Elkhart, Ind., $281 million assets; and
  • Class D--Rick Pillow, president, Virginia Credit Union League, Lynchburg, Va.
District 3--Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee:
  • Class C (credit unions having at least 94,000 natural person members)--Maurice R. Smith, president, Local Government FCU, Raleigh, N.C., $1.3 billion assets.
District 5--Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming:
  • Class C--Tony C. Budet, president, University FCU, Austin, Texas, $1.64 billion assets.
District 6--Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, American Samoa, Guam, Johnston Atoll, Midway Atoll, Northern Mariana Islands, Palmyra Atoll and Wake Atoll:
  • Class B--Jeff York, president, CoastHills FCU, Lompoc, Calif., $718 million assets.
Directors elected will take office upon the adjournment of CUNA's annual general meeting during the Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., Feb. 24.

Unity Project saves members $1M, gives $6,500 to community

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GREAT FALLS, Mont. (1/14/14)--A credit union based in Great Falls, Mont., saved its members a significant amount on loans while simultaneously expanding its loan portfolio and giving back to the community.

Russell County FCU said it has refinanced 607 loans, benefiting members by more than $1 million, and used the additional business to give $6,500 to community charities (Great Falls Tribune Jan. 10).

The effort, known as the Unity Project, started with the $61 million-asset credit union asking employees and members to talk about the program with friends and family who used lines of credit elsewhere. Each new referral between May and December, the credit union said, then voted for an organization eligible to receive a donation.

The Unity Project ended up raising $3,000 for Great Falls Public Schools Foundation Homeless Students Program, $1,500 for Kairos Youth Services, and $2,000 for the YWCA Mercy Home--a domestic abuse shelter for women and children.

Meanwhile, members who refinanced loans reported significant gains. One member, who refinanced a mortgage, two car loans and consolidated credit-card debt, reportedly is saving $80,071. Another saved $15,000 in interest charges after consolidating a loan taken out for a truck repair, according to the Great Falls Tribune report.

According to research from the Credit Union National Association, the combination of higher yields on savings, lower loan interest rates and lower fees translated into $5.8 billion worth of benefits to credit union members in 2012. Non-members benefit from credit unions' presence in the financial markets to the tune of $2.2 billion per year.

The Mercy Home told the Great Falls Tribune that it would spend most of the Russell Country donation on renovations. The public schools foundation said it was planning to spend at least $100 on clothes for a student who has been couch-surfing for two years.

Detroit News spotlights CU defibrillator program

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LANSING, Mich. (1/14/14)--An article in the Sunday edition of the Detroit News highlighted a Michigan Credit Union League program that places automated external defibrillators in credit unions.
 
The article told the story of John Looman, CEO of $124 million-asset Community West CU, Grand Rapids, Mich., who at the age of 49 suffered a heart attack during a YMCA spinning class last year. Now fully recovered, Looman credits quick-thinking bystanders and an automated external defibrillator (AED) for saving his life, the News reported.
 
Looman told the News that at first he felt lucky, but in truth it was planning on the part of the YMCA to place AED in its facility and the fast response of well-trained bystanders that saved his life.
 
Inspired by Looman's experience, the Michigan league started a program to offer AEDs to credit unions and their business members at a reduced cost. Through the manufacturer and its authorized distributor, NorthStar Medical Equipment, the league offers AEDs at a discounted price of $1,250 each, a 37% discount off the retail price.
 
In less than two months since the program started, eight credit unions have installed AEDs in 27 branches. The league has the devices in its offices in Lansing and Livonia.
 
In conjunction with the program, the league will offer CPR/AED classes at its Annual Convention and Exposition in June.

In the media: Mobile payments, CU membership, stress test rule

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MADISON, Wis. (1/14/14)--USA Today, U.S. News & World Report and The Hill were among the national media outlets that featured information and insight from the Credit Union National Association in the past several weeks.
 
Meanwhile, other publications noted how credit unions are helping their members navigate the Target breach, increasing in popularity among consumers, and reporting improved financial results, according to CUNA's weekly "In The Media Report" (Jan. 10). The report covers mentions of CUNA and credit unions in the media and is available to CUNA's member credit unions.
 
USA Today (Jan. 8) featured content from CUNA's mobile payments survey. Titled "Youngest adults are not the top users of mobile payments," the graphic broke down the survey by age groups.
 
A Jan. 7.U.S. News & World Report article, "The Benefits of Joining a Credit Union," highlighted benefits credit union membership offers American consumers. The article also provided answers to common questions about credit unions, and described how credit unions differ from banks in structure and purpose. 
 
An article in The Hill (Dec. 31), outlined CUNA's position on the new stress test rule. CUNA believes that credit unions already have all the incentive they need to make sure the financial institutions have sound plans. In a comment letter submitted to the National Credit Union Administration, CUNA wrote that regulators should issue advice in the form of guidance, not mandatory regulations.
 
On Dec. 27, Missouri ABC 3 KTVO News reported state-chartered credit unions are becoming more popular with consumers, especially in larger cities. As of June, state-chartered credit unions had $11.2 billion in assets, $9.7 billion in deposits and the loan volume reached $6.5 billion.
 
In a Jan. 4, Sacramento Bee op-ed piece, "Time for tougher measures to combat another credit card breach," Diana Dykstra, president/CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, said the massive, pre-holiday card data security breach at Target serves to illustrate the serious need for tougher card- and cyber-security measures to protect consumers. Dykstra called for toughening the "dangerously weak credit and debit card security measures employed by U.S. retailers."
 
A Mother Jones (Jan. 9) article described how the $638 million-asset Silver State Schools CU of Las Vegas offers loans specifically for K-12 teachers who are struggling to scrape together classroom supplies on small budgets.
 
A Jan. 5 MiBiz.com article highlighted Michigan credit union small business lending. Member business lending (MBL) at Michigan credit unions surged 18% through the third quarter of 2013, and state credit unions are well-positioned for future MBL increases, Dave Adams, Michigan Credit Union League president/CEO, told MiBiz.com.
 
An Arizona Daily Star article (Dec. 22) noted improving third-quarter financial returns for state credit unions. Bauer Financial said 84.4% of the state's credit unions were recommended in the third quarter of 2013, improving from 76% recommended in the third quarter of 2012.