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Fin. marketers survey Inadequate budgets top challenge

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MEDFORD, Ore. (1/18/12)--Credit union and bank marketers have named insufficient budgets and manpower as their No. 1 challenge for 2012, according to a new marketing survey.

Forty-six percent of the 228 marketers served said budgets and manpower were their biggest marketing challenge, according to The Financial Brand's 2012 Bank and Credit Union Marketing Survey. Respondents included  84 banks, 30 community banks and 104 credit unions. Forty-five percent of respondents indicated their marketing budget will increase this year, while 12% expected a decrease.

Difficulty measuring and proving results for return on investments was the second most common challenge, cited by 38% of respondents. That was followed by inflexible and limiting information technology (IT), 37%; employee support for marketing and branding sales, 34%; and regulation and compliance issues, 33%.

Top marketing priorities for the next 12 to 24 months include cross-selling and loan growth, according to the survey. Products expected to receive the most heavy promotion include: mortgage loans, auto loans, free checking, credit cards, online banking, small business banking, mortgage refinancing, small business lending, and auto refinancing.

Credit unions and banks continue to use traditional marketing tools. Nearly half of them said that print, TV, radio and outdoor advertising will have about the same importance this year as in 2010. However, online ads, social media and personal finance management tools will grow in importance.

More institutions picked up on using e-mail as a marketing tool, with 79% of those surveyed using e-mail, compared with 69% in 2010.  More credit unions and banks also are paying for online banner ads today--68%, compared with 54% in 2010--and more are using ads in their e-statements.

As for social media tools, Facebook dominates, with 72% of respondents using this tool, followed by Twitter (54%); YouTube (49%); Linked in (48%)  and others.   However, the survey noted that 40% of credit union and bank marketers devote only one to five hours a week to social media each week.

For the full survey report, use the resource link.

IBankrateI CUNA offers tips on finding CD deals

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MADISON, Wis. (1/18/12)--A Credit Union National Association  (CUNA) economist offered some tips on finding the best certificates of deposit (CD) in a low-rate environment, in an article in Bankrate.com (Jan. 11).

"Look for specials," Bill Hampel, CUNA chief economist, told Bankrate. "Some financial institutions sometimes have strong loan demand for whatever reason and have a need for money for a certain period. They could be offering a relatively more attractive rate on one kind of CD."

Also, consumers looking to save who have debt may be better off paying off their debt with their savings rather than putting savings in a CD, because it is hard to rationalize an investment returning less than 2% while having to pay out 16% interest to credit card companies, Hampel said.

To read the article, use the link.

Pa. CUs performed better than national CU average banks

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/18/12)--Pennsylvania credit unions performed better than the state's banks during the 12 months ending Sept.30, according to the Third Quarter 2011 Pennsylvania Profile. Also, the state's credit unions continued to grow ahead of national averages.

Credit union assets rose 5.5% during the period, compared with a 3.5% increase for banks, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) (Life is a Highway Jan. 17).

Credit unions saw loan growth of 1.4%, while Pennsylvania banks reported a 3.3% decline in loan balances for the period. Pennsylvania credit union loan growth was slower than all of 2010, when loan balances increased 3%.

Member business loans was the fastest-growing loan category, with an increase of 21.7%, more than five times the national growth rate of 4.3%. Commercial loans at Pennsylvania banks during the same period increased 8.3%.

Also growing in loan growth were first mortgages and credit card balances. They exceeded the national rates of 3.4% and 2.8%, respectively.

As of Sept. 30, 533 federally insured credit unions in Pennsylvania managed $35.2 billion in assets, and served 3.6 million members. Membership grew 1.2%. Savings deposits grew 5.4%, ahead of the 5% national rate, but below the state's rate of 6% for 2010.

The 2012 state forecast calls for improving job growth and consumer confidence, and for household balance sheets to increase credit union loan growth, said PCUA.

CU employees call 911 after woman blacks out on phone

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YAKIMA, Wash. (1/18/12)--Fast thinking employees at Yakima, Wash.-based Solarity CU called 911 when they realized something was wrong with a member who began slurring her words and blacking out while she was on the phone Thursday with the credit union.

The woman, Wanda Neff, 60, credits them with saving her life. She told local media she took too much prescription medication Thursday afternoon just before she called the credit union. During the call, she began to feel odd, started slurring her words and everything was turning to a dark blue, she said (WAPP TV Jan. 16).

The Solarity employees she talked to, Teresa Wood and Kelcy Young, realized Neff was in trouble. While Young kept her on the phone, Wood call 911 for help. They used caller I.D. to identify Neff's address and direct paramedics to her.

When paramedics arrived, Neff fell trying to get to the door but was able to open it. She wouldn't let go of the phone, which she said was "like a lifeline."

The credit union's employees said they were frustrated they couldn't do more to help, but Neff, who spent the night in the hospital, praised the tellers. Without their help, she would have been alone until family arrived the next day, she told the station.

Filene adds to shuffles leadership roles

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MADISON, Wis. (1/18/12)--The Filene Research Institute has hired Jason Milesko as chief of advisory services as it continues to focus on using research findings to help credit unions thrive. Under the new organizational structure, George Hofheimer will be the chief research and innovation officer, and Denise Gabel will serve as chief finance and strategy officer.

Polands CU pioneer nominated for sainthood

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SOPOT, Poland (1/18/12)--Franciszek Stefczyk, a former country school teacher and political organizer, soon may make Poland the first country to have a credit union saint, according to the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). Stefczyk is credited with starting Poland's first credit unions in the early 20th century.

"Dr. Stefczyk, who has been referred to as the 'Polish Raiffeisen,' was an ardent Christian, a great Polish patriot and a pioneer of rural cooperative credit unions," said Janusz Ossowski, president of Poland's Cooperative Research Institute. "He was a person of wonderful qualities of spirit and mind whose entire life bears testimony to the belief that the rules of business can be reconciled by the Gospel if those rules are based on true values and the idea of helping one's neighbor."

Beatification, often years in the making, is based on specific criteria established by the Roman Catholic Church. In December, World Council First Vice Chair Grzegorz Bierecki, president/ CEO of the National Association of Cooperative Savings & Credit Unions (NACSCU) and a senator in Poland's parliament, nominated Stefczyk for beatification to the Most Rev. Mieczysław Mokrzycki, archbishop of Lvov. Mokrzycki accepted the request, expressed his support and pledged to take further action based on the church's canonization laws.

"Franciszek Stefczyk was an eminent personality, setting the example for Poles," Bierecki said. "He was a man who, through his personal example, showed how the Gospel can be put into practice, and he deserves canonization."

The credit unions Stefczyk created flourished until 1939, when Nazi forces shuttered them during the invasion and occupation of Poland. The credit union movement was further suppressed under the communist rule that followed World War II. Credit unions remained virtually dormant until the Solidarity movement helped the country earn its freedom in 1989.

With some early assistance from WOCCU, Poland's credit unions have blossomed since that time, and the country has become home to one of the world's fastest growing and most progressive credit union systems, said WOCCU.

In 2012, SKOK will celebrate its 20th anniversary, which will include hosting WOCCU's World Credit Union Conference. The event will be held July 15–18 in Gdańsk, birthplace of Solidarity and adjacent to Sopot, where Poland's credit union trade group and World Council member NACSCU is headquartered.

For more information on the conference, use the link.

CU members spent 15 more during holidays--study

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif., and FRANKLIN, Mass. (1/18/12)--Credit union members spent 15% more during 2011's holiday shopping season than they did in 2010, according to a new analysis by CO-OP Financial Services and Saylent Technologies.

"This month-long holiday spending surge among credit union members is even higher than Black Friday sales growth among the same group, which we found grew 8.1% year over year," said Stan Hollen, president/CEO of CO-OP Financial Services. "This robust sales activity mirrors the powerful momentum of the credit union movement overall," he added.

"Our analysis revealed a remarkable 10% increase in the number of debit cards in use during the holiday season, the result of a burgeoning consumer interest in credit unions," said Tyson Nargassans, president/CEO of Saylent Technologies.

Highlights include:

  • A 513% increase in political contributions, which CO-OP and Saylent attributed to the U.S. presidential campaign;
  • A 48% increase in sales at tavern and alcoholic beverage purveyors;
  • A 38% increase in contributions to charitable and social service organizations; and
  • A 125% increase in stocking up sales at buying clubs and shopping services.
The strongest sales were in leather goods, and records and compact discs, each up 42%.  Other strong sales were in flowers and nursery stock, up 40%; bicycles, up 22%; computer software, up 21%; books, up 21%; candy and nuts, up 18%; and pets, up 17%.

The analysis  is based on more than 71.9 million transactions representing $2.8 billion in spending between Nov. 25 and Dec. 25. Drawn from debit card transactions across 563 credit unions processed by CO-OP, the comparison was performed through an advanced analytic solution, CO-OP Total Revelation, which is powered and conducted by Saylent.

The spending analysis looked at credit union members both at brick-and-mortar and online establishments.

Saylent is a provider of payment intelligence solutions based in Franklin, Mass.  Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.-based CO-OP provides access and convenience products for credit unions.

Ohio foundation grants states newest CU 5K

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (1/18/12)--The Ohio Credit Union Foundation has given a $5,000 grant to the state's newest credit union, Neuva Esperanza (New Hope) Community CU, Toledo.

The credit union, chartered in May 2010, is the first credit union chartered in the state in the past 15 years. The outreach grant is for ongoing support to help it grow and serve the underserved membership in south Toledo, said the foundation in the  Ohio Credit Union League's eLumination Newsletter  (Jan. 11).

The foundation said it has $237,000 available for grants in 2012 because of contributions and support in 2011 from credit unions, chapters and individuals.  For more information, use the link.