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IDes Moines RegisterI Coopera helps CU build Latino base

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DES MOINES, Iowa (1/19/11)--Village CU, Des Moines, Iowa, is seeing its member base grow by getting to know the Latino culture. Now 12% of its members are Latino. The $8.5 million asset credit union credits its growth to Coopera Consulting, a Clive, Iowa- based consulting group that helps credit unions attract Latino populations in their areas. Coopera Consulting is owned by the Iowa Credit Union League and works with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and was featured in Tuesday's Des Moines Register. Warren Morrow, CEO and founder of Coopera, told the newspaper that to have true outcomes, "the mainstream institutions need to come to the realization that their future is tied to the Hispanic community….that they're interdependent." That means rethinking how they do business. He suggested that the root issues for Hispanics include isparities in access to assets, access to wealth and economic stability in the household. He suggested hiring bilingual employees and offering culture specific services--such as low-fee remittances and home loans for non-resident, tax-paying individuals--to get new members in the door. Then credit unions can introduce the new members to mainstream banking practices. Serving the Hispanic community fits well with the mission of credit unions and it makes sound financial sense, Mark Condon, CUNA senior vice president of business and consumer publishing, told the Register. "If you're looking to grow and reach more younger people, you need to look at Hispanics, because that's where the growth is coming," he said. Condon is liaison to CUNA's Hispanic outreach committee. "Coopera is helping credit unions do good business by doing good." For the full article, use the link.

Discover Members consumers less optimistic on finances

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RIVERWOODS, Ill. (1/19/11)--Although it noted that credit unions did not engage in the practices that contributed to today's economic mess, a new study indicates that even credit union members--"a typically confident group of consumers"--are feeling the economy's effects on their finances. Data released this week by Discover Financial Services in its U.S. Spending Monitor for December found that 47% of credit union members surveyed--as well as 47% of nonmembers--said their finances are getting worse. Six months ago, credit union members were five percentage points more optimistic than nonmembers, reported Dow Jones Newswires which was published in The Wall Street Journal (Jan. 18). In November, there was nearly a four-point difference between the two groups, with just over 43% of credit union members saying finances are becoming worse, compared with 46.8% of nonmembers. The decline in confidence may indicate a shared pessimism about personal finances and the economy that transcends where consumers choose to bank, Kevin O'Donnell, a Discover executive, told Dow Jones. He also noted the lower confidence could stem from post-holiday bills and noted credit union members appear to anticipate higher household expenses than nonmember counterparts and are adjusting their spending intentions accordingly. Other findings:
* 56.5% of credit union members surveyed rated the economy "poor", compared with 54.9% in November and compared with 57.2% of nonmembers in December. * 43.7% of members ranked the economy "worse," compared with 44.9% of members saying so in November and compared with 44.3% of nonmembers. * 38.2% of credit union members said they spent more in December than in November. That was an increase from 30.6% saying the same thing in November. Roughly 35.9% on nonmembers said they spent more in December. * When asked how many months they could hold their lifestyle if their income was lost, 22.9% of members and 21% of nonmembers said they could go more than six months, while 28.8% of members and 29.5% of nonmembers said they could go no months.
Confidence ratings overall reached a three-year high in November but slid in December. The survey polls 8,200 consumers, including 2,500 credit union members.

ECCU CEO named to Religious Org. Accountability Commission

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BREA, Calif. (1/19/11)--A three-year investigation by U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) into the financial practices of six ministries has resulted in a new commission to explore accountability and the tax-exempt status of religious organizations. A credit union CEO has been named to the commission. After staff reported on the investigation, Grassley asked the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) for input on how to facilitate discussion about whether the issues it raised “can be addressed without legislation.” ECFA responded by creating the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations. Evangelical Christian CU (ECCU) President/CEO Mark G. Holbrook joins ECFA President Dan Busby as an ex-officio member of the commission, which is chaired by Michael Batts, a certified public accountant with experience in board governance, financial reporting and tax-compliance issues for nonprofits. Four to six additional panel members will be named soon. Holbrook’s selection aligns with Brea, Calif.-based ECCU’s commitment to financial accountability, which is a common topic of discussion with ministry leaders, the credit union said. Ensuring financial integrity is one of four financial priorities by which the credit union’s ministry development officers encourage ministries to operate. “The commission will address some of the most challenging tax and policy issues involving religious organizations” according to an ECFA statement. Its approach will be to gather input from religious organizations of many faiths and provide feedback to Grassley’s office. Issues the commission will address include:
* Whether churches should file the same highly detailed annual information returns that other nonprofits must file (Form 990); *Whether legislation is needed to curb abuses of the clergy housing-allowance exclusion; * Whether the current prohibition against political campaign intervention by churches and other nonprofits should be repealed or modified; and *Whether legislation is needed to clarify tax rules covering “love offerings” received by some clergy.

Filene to survey green lending in CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (1/19/11)--The Filene Research Institute and Hall Associates Consulting LLC are collaborating to assess credit union green lending. Filene encourages all credit unions to complete the survey, regardless of their current green-lending profile. The results will be published this year with a guide that outlines the opportunities, variables and challenges of sustainable lending. Surveys are due by Jan. 28. “This research builds on significant work we’ve done to identify sustainability opportunities for credit unions,” says Filene Chief Research Officer George Hofheimer. “This will provide the first real baseline report of how credit unions are lending around green initiatives.” Large banks are increasingly focused on environmental initiatives, according to research by Hall Associates Consulting LLC, a credit union-focused consulting firm. Bank of America has earmarked $20 billion for a 10-year environmental initiative addressing climate change, including energy efficiency and clean-energy investments and services. Citi is aiming $50 billion over 10 years at alternative energy, “clean technology” and carbon reduction. A new commercial banking group at Wells Fargo is designed specifically for businesses that manufacture, market or develop clean technology products and services. Even without the scale of these banks, credit unions are beginning to act more locally with products such as energy-efficient mortgages and loans for fuel-efficient vehicles and remodeling projects. “The volume of household-level green lending in the U.S. could be as much as $100 billion, even if only 10% of households participate,” said W. Robert Hall, president of Hall Associates Consulting. Credit unions that participate will be asked about the specific components and financial performance of their loan products. Data submitted for the survey will be reported in aggregate, and individual credit union data will be kept confidential, Filene said.

WOCCU Womens Network announces scholarships

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MADISON, Wis. (1/19/11)--The Global Women’s Leadership Network, a World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) subsidiary that addresses the contributions and needs of women credit union leaders worldwide, has issued a call for 2011 scholarship applicants. The deadline for application materials is March 15. Scholarships will cover registration fees and partial travel costs for women from developing credit union movements to take part in the 2011 Global Women’s Leadership Forum, July 23-24 in Glasgow, Scotland. The network, formed in 2009, is designed to promote educational, networking and mentoring opportunities for women credit union leaders worldwide. This year’s forum once again will be held in conjunction with WOCCU’s World Credit Union Conference. “The Global Women’s Leadership Forum provides an important link for credit union women across boundaries,” said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Countless times we have seen women in credit unions worldwide lead the development and growth of their institutions and their communities. Both the network and forum seek ways to improve and increase those contributions.” The scholarship is designed to promote access to the annual forum and related events for eligible women leaders. Under the forum’s criteria, women from Australia, Canada, Ireland, Poland and the U.S. do not qualify for scholarships. Qualified recipients must demonstrate both financial need and successful contributions to their communities, credit unions and/or credit union systems. Preference will be given to recipients from diverse backgrounds who the evaluation committee believes have the most to gain from the experience. Scholarship materials should be sent to WOCCU’s Madison, Wis., headquarters. Scholarship offers will be made to successful candidates by March 15. For more information, use the link or contact Nicole Bice at nbice@woccu.org or 608-395-2027.

Jane Bryant Quinn CUs 1 of 4 ways to beat bank fees

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MADISON, Wis. (1/19/11)--Credit unions are one key avenue for consumers to go down if they want to avoid high bank fees, Jane Bryant Quinn wrote Tuesday in an article titled “4 Ways to Beat the New High Bank Fees” for CBS Moneywatch.com. Bankers claim pro-consumer legislation passed last year is causing them to pass on additional compliance costs to their customers, Bryant wrote. She recommended low-cost accounts at credit unions in the Tuesday article. “It might surprise you to learn that everyone is eligible for at least one credit union,” Bryant wrote. “These institutions serve particular member groups. In general, they charge lower fees on credit cards, auto loans, and checking accounts, and pay higher interest rates on savings--not the top rate, but above average. They’re also more customer-friendly than most banks. You can find someone to talk to about your finances and even appeal a decision. “To find a local credit union, enter your zip code, church, company, school, or city at FindACreditUnion.com, to see what you might be eligible for,” she added. To read the article, use the link.

Technology 2011 Whats next

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Just three years ago, someone who mentioned “twitter” or “tweet” in a business meeting would draw blank stares. Today “Twitter” and “tweet” is part of the everyday lexicon, and using Twitter is an important branding vehicle for many companies, including credit unions. Who would have thought 140-character micro-blogging would become so vital? While forecasting the next hot technology isn’t an exact science, here is a list of technologies that gained traction in 2010, and just might change the strategic landscape for credit unions in 2011. This is part two of a two-part News Now series on hot technologies for credit unions in 2011.
* Online rewards programs. how Cardlytics, Atlanta, is creating rewards programs for financial institutions through online statements, Jim Bruene, the author and publisher of the Online Banking Report and the blog Netbanker, told News Now. Users log into their online banking accounts and find promotions linked to their transactions. For example, underneath a transaction from an eatery, there may be an offer for $5 off if the consumer spends a minimum of $10. So far companies such as McDonald’s and Macy’s have signed on with Cardlytics and the company has partnered with more than 50 financial institutions, including credit unions. * Fraud prevention. Banks and credit unions will begin taking a more serious look at software-based fraud prevention systems in much the same way they monitor the Bank Secrecy Act compliance and money laundering, said Steve Williams, principal of the consulting firm Cornerstone Advisors, Scottsdale, Ariz., and one of the authors of the online newsletter Gonzobanker.com. These systems typically rely on transaction and customer monitoring to identify “red flags” that may indicate a fraud attempt is in progress. “I’ve seen more credit unions go harder at implementing these systems and spend the staff time to make them work,” Williams said. * Member analytics. Williams believes credit unions will focus more on member analytics in 2011. Where in the past credit unions focused on product use and relationship building with their analytics, increasingly they are emphasizing earnings, because credit union margins are threatened by corporate credit union upheaval and interchange regulation. “The analytics to measure the retail portion of your business are more important than ever,” Williams said. * Person-to-person payments. (P2P) Some financial institutions, including The Golden 1 CU, Sacramento, Calif.; Boeing Employees CU, Tukwila, Wash.; and Patelco CU, San Francisco, already offer P2P payments, at least on a trial basis. Rudy Pereira, senior vice president of operations and technology at Alliant CU, Chicago, said that although financial institutions are intermediaries in the P2P process, consumers will look to them to ensure a secure transaction environment. * Tablet technology. Pereira says the iPad is the “beginning of the storm” for tablets. He noted that PC makers are rolling out their own tablets as laptop growth declines. Pereira says his credit union is already taking advantage of the iPad’s portability to streamline workflow management. “Folks can be away from their desk and still drive workflow,” he says. He said that same portability can be used for business development and loan member applications. “The possibilities are virtually endless,” Pereira said. “The whole delivery channel needs to be rethought with tablet technology.” * Cloud computing. Cloud computing is location independent. Hardware and software are housed on off-site servers and accessed on demand. Peirera said the flexibility offered by cloud computing makes it attractive to businesses of all sizes. In the credit union world, cloud computing could make credit union mergers much easier from a back office perspective. * Blippy and Swipely. Blippy and Swipely are services that allows consumers to automatically share their transactions online. Friends then have an opportunity to share their comments. Bruene acknowledged that sharing this sort of information is not for everyone, but adds that it adds a new context to the viewing of financial transactions. “People are getting used to seeing streams of data, via Facebook feeds and Twitter feeds,” he said. “Now banking transactions can be viewed in the same way.” And, don’t dismiss the potential these services offer, he added. For example, with the proliferation of debit cards it’s harder than ever to keep track of transactions, he noted. With Blippy and Swipely, couples that share a checking account can update each other on their transactions in almost real time. Or, parents could monitor their children’s transactions.
Who knows, next year at this time consumers may ask, “Do you blip?”

CU System briefs (01/18/2011)

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* OSCODA, Mich. (1/19/11)--Northland Area FCU Member Service Representative Karla Schneider was working at the drive-thru on Christmas Eve at the Oscoda, Mich.-based credit union's West Branch, when the car pulled up in the second lane (Michigan Monitor Jan. 17). The man inside slid something in the tube and sent it her way. She opened the tube and found a transaction of a different sort: a small box. Inside was an engagement ring. Paul MacArthur surprised Schneider with a proposal. After her initial shock, she rushed around to the branch entrance to meet MacArthur, who works for Pumford Construction in Saginaw. He officially proposed on bended knee in the credit union's parking lot. MacArthur received the response he was hoping for, a resounding "YES." They are planning a spring 2012 wedding (Photo provided by the Michigan Credit Union League) … * TEMPE, Ariz. (1/19/11)--Two credit unions, both clients of Tempe, Ariz.-based LemmonTree Marketing Group, received Gold Ava awards for their ads from the Association of Marketing & Communication Professionals. The 2009 Branch Opening Ad created for movie theatre advertising for Fort Campbell FCU, Clarksville, Tenn., received the 2010 Ava award in the High Definition/Overall Production category. The 30-second commercial used Flash and video elements. The "I'm a Patriot" television commercial created for Patriot FCU, Chambersburg, Pa., received its award in the Commercial/Financial category …