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CU System briefs (01/17/2014)

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  • MADISON, Wis. (1/17/14)--Feb. 1 is the deadline to purchase tickets for the National Credit Union Foundation dinner, which will be Feb. 24 in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference. "The top two tiers of sponsorships are already sold out, and tickets overall have been selling twice as fast as last year," said Executive Director Gigi Hyland. The dinner includes the award ceremony for recipients of the Herb Wegner Memorial Awards. Lifetime achievement honorees are Gary Oakland, retired president/CEO, BECU, Tukwila, Wash.; Jim McCormack, retired president/CEO, Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, Harrisburg, Pa.; and Tim Haegelin, retired president/CEO, Generations FCU, San Antonio, Texas. The individual achievement award will go to Sarah Canepa Bang, president/COO, CO-OP Shared Branching-FSCC, and chief strategy officer, CO-OP Shared Branching ...
  • FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (1/17/14)--The Cornerstone Credit Union League is moving its Principles & Philosophy Conference to May 12-14. The conference was originally scheduled for Feb. 10-12, but there was some concern that the event was too close to the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference, which is Feb. 23-27 in Washington, D.C. (Leaguer Jan. 14).  The conference, themed "Leveraging the Credit Union Difference," will be in Dallas ...
  • MADISON, Wis. (1/17/14)--The Filene Research Institute is hosting a free webinar on social media compliance 11 a.m. CT Jan. 29. Titled "Critical Considerations," the webinar is part of Filene's Social Media Advisory program. In December, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) released guidance to help financial institutions understand how existing requirements and supervisory expectations associated with the use of social media apply to them (See News Now "CUs, FIs Get Social Media Guidance," 12/12/13) ...
  • VANCOUVER, Wash. (1/17/14)--Two southwest Washington credit unions announced their plans to merge--a move that coincides with the retirement of their respective leaders. iQ CU, with $503 million in assets, will consolidate with $196 million-asset Lacamas Community CU in July. Roger Michaelis, president/CEO of the Vancouver-based iQ CU, plans to retire in July. In Camas, President/CEO Kathleen Romane is set to retire at the end of the year from the $196 million-asset credit union. The combined institution will have 15 branch locations and 240 employees ...
  • CLEVELAND, Ohio (1/17/14)-­-The former CEO of Taupa Lithuanian CU was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud that resulted in $15 million in losses at the now-defunct credit union. On Wednesday, the FBI released details of the charges against Alex Spirikaitis, 51. Spirikaitis personally embezzled about $4.2 million from the Cleveland, Ohio, credit union between 2001 and 2013, according to the information. The release said Spirikaitis used the embezzled funds to buy firearms and vehicles and to build a home. Spirikaitis went into hiding in July after the credit union was liquidated by the National Credit Union Administration and was arrested in October.  In related news, John Struna, 51, was charged in federal court Tuesday with one count of conspiracy to commit theft or embezzlement from a credit union. Former teller Michael Ruksenas pleaded guilty Dec. 2 to embezzling more than $481,000 from the credit union. At the time of its closure, Taupa Lithuanian CU had $23.6 million in assets and 1,154 members ...
  • PUTNAM, Conn. (1/17/14)--Charter Oak FCU, Groton, Conn., pledged $50,000 over five years to build a regional community YMCA facility in Putnam, Conn. The YMCA will serve the towns of Brooklyn, Eastford, Killingly, Plainfield, Pomfret, Putnam, Thompson and Woodstock (Norwich Bulletin Jan. 13). The $784 million-asset credit union contributed to the roughly $13.2 million that has been raised by the Newell D. Hale Foundation, the YMCA of Greater Hartford, the state of Connecticut, and individual and corporate donors . . .

Illinois' Plauda: CUs vital to consumers in SJR op-ed

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (1/17/14)--Dan Plauda, president/CEO of the Illinois Credit Union League, hailed credit unions as a vital, locally owned financial services option for consumers in an op-ed piece that appeared in the Wednesday edition of The State-Journal Register.
"Every day, nearly 3 million Illinois residents are among 96 million Americans who count on their local credit union to reach their financial goals," Plauda wrote.
Plauda explained that as not-for-profit financial cooperatives, credit unions were first exempted from federal income taxes in 1917 explicitly to fulfill a special mission as valuable and affordable alternatives to for-profit banks to serve individuals with a common goal or interest.
Credit unions are owned and democratically controlled by their members, who together pool their funds to help each other,  he wrote. After expenses and reserve requirements are met, net revenue is returned to members via lower loan and higher savings rates, and lower costs and fees for services.
"A credit union's goal is to serve all members well, including those of modest means--every member counts," Plauda wrote. "Credit unions exist solely for this reason, not to make a profit. Members know their credit union will be there for them in challenging times, as well as good times--which is the reason why they are so fiercely loyal."
Plauda also explained the credit union tax status. "Even though credit unions are exempt from income tax, they still are subject to, and pay, property, payroll and sales taxes, as well as a host of governmental regulatory supervision fees," Plauda wrote.
"Last year, credit unions returned financial benefits to their members of $6 billion--nearly four times that which would be realized by subjecting credit unions to taxes," he continued. "In other words, the full benefits of the tax exemption were passed on to members, and then some--primarily because credit unions do not have to pay dividends to stockholders."

To read the editorial, use the link.

Youth Week set to 'Catch the $ave Wave' in April

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MADISON, Wis. (1/17/14)--Sunny beaches and rolling waves are a part of this year's theme for the 2014 National Credit Union Youth Week, April 20-26.
Credit unions selected "Catch the $ave Wave" from submissions nationwide.
"Kids loved a recent campaign with beach balls throughout our lobby," said Meredith Mosely, marketing director, Tomah (Wis.) Area CU. "With Youth Week in the spring, kids will be ready for summer."
"Catch the $ave Wave" and Youth Week engage and encourage younger members to set up savings accounts, learn how to manage money and be more financially literate.
Credit unions nationwide may join in the celebration through April, or just during National Credit Union Youth Week, said the Credit Union National Association.
"National Credit Union Youth Week fits perfectly with the credit union cooperative principle of member education," said Jan Garkey, CUNA's youth week coordinator.
Garkey suggested that credit unions introduce young children to the credit union through regular deposits of their quarters, hold a Mad City Money simulation at a local high school, or hold a parent seminar on how to teach money skills to children.
"Use the celebration to create a new generation of financially literate consumers, and have fun in the process," she said. (See today's News Now "CUs are the place to help kids save, says NerdWallet.")
For the latest information on Youth Week, sign up for the free Youth Week e-Newsletter or follow @CUYouthWeek on Twitter.

CU House seeks nominations for Hall of Leaders

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WASHINGTON (1/17/14)--Credit Union House is seeking nominations for its Credit Union House Hall of Leaders. Nomination forms are due Jan. 31.
The Hall of Leaders provides lasting recognition for credit union leaders whose commitment has made a significant impact on the credit union movement at the local, state or national level.
"Credit Union House is the movement's permanent presence in our nation's capital," said Dick Ensweiler, Credit Union House chairman and president/CEO of the Cornerstone Credit Union League, which represents credit unions in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. "It is therefore fitting to recognize the outstanding leaders who have dedicated their lives to promoting credit unions within its walls."
Those selected for the honor have shown commitment that inspires others in the credit union movement. Inductees include board chairmen, league presidents, credit union CEOs, league board members and volunteers.
Nomination forms must be submitted by the deadline for recognition at the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference, Feb. 23-27, in Washington, D.C. They can be obtained on Credit Union House's website and sent to:
Credit Union House
403 C St. NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
All nominations must be approved by the state league where the credit union is affiliated.
Credit Union House is a townhouse in Washington, D.C., owned by every state credit union trade association and the American Association of Credit Union Leagues. It was built primarily for credit unions and credit union groups nationwide as a coordination center on Capitol Hill and is considered a symbol of the strength and permanence of the credit union movement on the national scene.

For more information, use the links.

CUs are the place to help kids save, says NerdWallet

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MADISON, Wis. (1/17/14)--NerdWallet, the personal finance and financial literacy website, touted credit unions as financial institutions that help kids save money with incentives and rewards.
"Because the majority of schools often lack comprehensive financial education resources, it is important to teach your child the significance and benefits of saving money as early as possible--and reward them for doing so, because a little gift here and there never hurt anybody," the Jan. 16 article said. "Many credit unions offer savings accounts for children, and some of them come with a variety of incentives and rewards."
The article cited several credit unions that offer accounts and benefits for children.
In addition to youth savings accounts and certificates of deposits, $26 million-asset Pueblo (Colo.) Government Agencies CU, offers a CU Smart Kids section with games and worksheets to motivate and entertain kids, NerdWallet said.
York County FCU, with $195 million in assets, Sanford, Maine, provides both free online banking and free eStatements with its youth accounts. The superhero-themed Centsables kid's website provides creative and interactive games that will teach children about money and savings.
1st Choice CU, with $23 million in assets, Atlanta, offers a program called the Savasaurus Club, for kids 12 years old or younger, with a required minimum opening deposit of only $1.  Kids receive an account card, a coloring book, crayons, and other items that will help motivate them to save money.
Each time a child makes a deposit into $95 million-asset Riegelwood (N.C.) CU's Buck Club  he or she is entered into drawings for periodic prizes, including trips to amusement parks and local water parks. This Valentine's Day they could win a large stuffed bear and a Radio Flyer wagon stuffed with treats and prizes. Riegelwood CU employees also visit local schools and teach financial literacy classes.
The Kids Club account at $31 million-asset Wyrope Williamsport FCU, South Williamsport, Pa., gives kids a Money Mouse dollar for every $10 they deposit. They can also win a Money Mouse dollar for getting As on their report card. They can use their Money Mouse dollars to buy prizes such as stickers, books, water bottles and board games.

For more on credit union activities and kids, see today's News Now "Youth Week set to 'Catch the $ave Wave' in April."

To read the full article, use the link.

CNN, NY Times highlight 'Save to Win' program

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NEW YORK (1/17/14)--Save to Win, the prize-linked savings program for credit unions, garnered more national attention with articles in CNN Money and The New York Times this week.
In the past two months, NPR, ABC News and PBS have featured the program, which encourages saving by giving entries for prize drawings for each deposit. All money that goes into the account, including interest, belongs to the account holders.
On Tuesday, CNN Money detailed the benefits for members and for credit unions in "Savings account lotteries: Win up to $25,000."
In Michigan, where the program started with the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL), Filene Research Institute and the Doorway to Dreams Fund, the average savings balance of a participant has grown to $2,873 from $734.
"These accounts are not geared toward people with lots of money," MCUL President/CEO Dave Adams told CNN Money. "They're geared toward people who aren't regular savers."
CNN Money also had a slideshow of winners from Besser CU, Alpena, Mich.; Community Alliance CU, Dearborn, Mich.; KEE FCU, Kearney, Neb.; U.P. Catholic CU, Marquette, Mich.; and Mountain CU, Waynesville, N.C.
The common themes were disbelief and a desire to share the good fortune. "If you draw our name again next year, just pretend you didn't see it and draw again. It's somebody else's turn," KEE FCU winner LaVerne Bricker told CNN Money.
In Wednesday's The New York Times, "Playing the Odds on Saving" cites the crisis in Americans' savings habits--more than a quarter have saved less than $1,000 for retirement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute--and how lottery-style programs can boost participation.
Henry Hubbard, CEO of $32 million-asset Communicating Arts CU in Detroit, told how Save to Win gained attention immediately from members--about 800 members signed up. "It's not the silver bullet, but it's making a difference," Hubbard told the paper. "It's the best thing we've been able to find to encourage people of modest means to put a little bit aside."
Credit unions gain deposits and increase loyalty among members, Adams said. "Credit unions see the merits for this type of program," he told the Times. "It is part of their social mission to help people of modest means achieve their financial objectives."
Prize-linked savings accounts are allowed by state law in Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Washington, according to Doorways to Dreams.
In October, both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives introduced legislation that would allow credit unions and other financial institutions to offer prize-linked savings accounts.

CUNA D.C., Madison offices closed Monday

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (1/17/14)--The Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wis., offices of the Credit Union National Association will be closed Monday due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

There will be no News Now edition Monday, but News Now will publish Tuesday.