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CU System briefs (01/21/2011)

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* WARRENVILLE, Ill. (1/24/11)--Balance Sheet Solutions LLC, an investment brokerage firm, has hired the staff of Financial Solutions Group, a former department in Western Bridge Corporate FCU. The eight individuals, led by David Scott, senior interest rate risk consultant and office manager, will remain in their current San Dimas, Calif., location. "This addition compliments our strategies and services in the balance sheet risk management arena," said Jim Toliver, president. "There is little doubt that the role risk management will play within the credit union industry is sure to grow. The skill sets are a unique niche and the best tools are expensive. With the expertise in complex modeling, both team and tools, this group allows Balance Sheet Solutions to expand our infrastructure and range of ALM services," he added. The San Dimas office currently serves the balance sheet risk management and consulting needs of 150 credit unions … * MACON, Ga. (1/24/11)--Lisa R. Cox, 48, a 17-year employee and former head teller at Macon-based MidSouth FCU, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for embezzling $624,608 from the credit union. She also was ordered to pay more than $600,000 in restitution and serve five years' supervised release after her prison term ( Jan. 20). Cox pleaded guilty in September in a U.S. District Court to the embezzlement and to falsifying teller drawer and vault records. She used the money to gamble, take vacations in Europe, make car payments and pay other expenses, said authorities … * BANGOR, Maine 1/24/11)--Donovan W. Steen Jr., 20, has been charged in the robbery Jan. 18 of Penobscot County FCU, based in Old Town, Maine (Bangor Daily News Jan. 19). Steen had been arrested on Jan. 7 after his mother reported the theft of about $4,000 in jewelry and a computer, which Steen allegedly sold to pawn shops. The robbery occurred at about 4:25 p.m., just before the credit union closed. Other details were not made available … * GREEN BAY, Wis. (1/24/11)--PCM Employees CU, based in Green Bay, said last week it had made a $534,000 rebate to its members for 2010. The rebate included 7.5% on loan interest paid in 2010 and a 50% bonus dividend on interest earned on all regular share accounts. During the past six years, the credit union has given a combined total of $1.5 million to its members. The $135 million asset credit union serves employees and their families of Paper Converting Machine Co., and about 30 other select employee groups. It has about 7,700 members (Green Bay Press-Gazette Jan. 19) …

Insider fraud more prevalent in FIs says study

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BOSTON (1/24/11)--Forty-three percent of financial firms surveyed say at least 5% of their total fraud losses come from internal fraud, costing them hundreds of millions of dollars collectively, according to a new survey by Aite Group. Fourteen percent said they suffered at least 10% of fraud through internal fraud. On average, institutions surveyed said internal fraud prompted 4% of their fraud losses. The Boston-based firm said the estimates are likely low, since many financial firms are "not keen to discuss the issue." It noted institutions that build their brands on trust and reliability do not want it widely known that insider fraud is a problem. As a result, 35% of the survey respondents reported prosecuting 10% or less of their confirmed internal fraud cases. Aite Group surveyed 35 fraud and product executives at financial institutions across the U.S. and Canada during November and December. Aite recommended that financial institutions use a layered approach of collaborative and analytic fraud mitigation techniques to lessen the risk from internal fraud, which it defined as applying to a variety of criminal behavior perpetrated by a firm's own employees or contractors. Internal fraud generally falls into three categories: theft from customers, theft from the firm, and abuse of position, said the firm. The report mentioned providers of fraud prevention technologies that financial institutions can use to combat internal fraud. ID Analytics, a CUNA Strategic Services provider, was one of the companies mentioned.

Pioneer CU donates 23000 from Packers parking

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (1/24/11)--Pioneer FCU donated more than $23,000 to local non-profit groups in Green Bay by taking advantage of its location near Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers. The $445 million asset credit union's main office is a few blocks from the popular, usually sold-out stadium. During the 2010 season, the credit union charged for parking in its parking lot and an adjacent lot. All monies collected during the 10 home games for the season went to area charities ( Jan. 21). The charities were chosen by Pioneer employees, who volunteered to attend the lots and collect the money. They included the Boy Scouts of America, The Salvation Army, Humane Society and others. The Packers were in the playoffs this past weekend for the National Football Conference championship against the Chicago Bears. The winner of that match will play in the Super Bowl XLV.

CUs focusing on savings programs

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MADISON, Wis. (1/24/11)--Credit unions are gearing up their 2011 savings programs with contests, tips and the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) savings challenges related to Youth Week. Here are some examples of savings initiatives. First CU in Chandler, Ariz., has launched a new initiative, “Working to Save You a Million,” geared to help members discover ways to save money. It can be tough finding ways to save money in today’s economy, the credit union said. The $400 million-asset First CU is helping members find ways to save money by posting money-saving tips on Facebook and Twitter and educating consumers about refinancing loans through the credit union. Competitive rates and affordable terms can go a long way towards saving money every month and over the life of an auto, boat, recreational vehicle, motorcycle or home loan, First CU said. Redwood Credit Union (RCU) a $1.7 billion-asset credit union in Santa Rosa, Calif., is seeking applicants for its new Amazing Savers Contest, which will follow five contestants as they transform their finances to compete for $10,000. Applicants must be or become an RCU member to participate. The contestants will meet regularly with a personal financial coach from RCU, who will help them create budgets, reduce debt, and transform their finances so that they can save more and improve their financial future. The process will be documented through contestant blogs and online updates, and the community will be encouraged to follow along at home for tips and guidelines to improve their own finances. Followers of the contest also will cast their vote for the contestant they believe has made the most progress. At the end of the year, the contestant who has made the biggest overall improvement in financial outlook will win $10,000. National Credit Union Youth Week, sponsored by CUNA, encourages youth to take the first step toward accumulating savings. By sponsoring the National Youth Saving Challenge, a credit union can generate excitement about setting money aside for personal goals. Although the 2011 National Credit Union Youth Week is officially April 17-23, credit unions can challenge youth savers any time during the month. In an effort to beat the amount that young people saved last year at participating credit unions nationwide--a $24.8 million total--CUNA has made it as easy as possible to take part. Use the links.

State committees appear CU-friendly in Maine

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PORTLAND, Maine (1/24/11)--The Maine Credit Union League said the makeup of the state's key legislative committees that will hear and debate many issues of interest or impacting credit unions appear credit union friendly. "We are pleased to have so many credit union friends serving on our key committees," said league President John Murphy in the league's newsletter, Weekly Update (Jan. 21). "We anticipate that the makeup of the committees we are most often in front of have many members that will be receptive to issues and concerns of credit unions and our members." The chairs of the Insurance and Financial Services (IFS) Committee--Senate Chair Rodney Wittemore and House Chair Wes Richardson--are strong supporters of credit unions, and a committee member, Rep. John Picchiotti, is chair of the board at KSW FCU, Waterville. Also six other members were endorsed by the league in the past election. Six members of the Judiciary Committee were endorsed by the league, including the chairs, Sen. David Hastings III and Rep. Joan Nass. The Transportation Committee contains nine members who received league endorsements, including both chairs, Sen. Ronald Collins and Rep. Richard Cebra. The league noted that in addition to Picchiotti, three other credit union board members are serving in the house. They are:
* Rep. Herb Clark, vice chair at Katahdin FCU, Millinocket, who is the ranking member of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee; * Rep. Michael Lajoie, vice chair at Lewiston Municipal FCU, Lewiston, who serves on the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee; and * Rep. Ken Fredette, board member at Sebasticook Valley FCU, Pittsfield, who serves on the Appropriations and Financial Services and Elections Committees.

UVA Communitys grant will expand VITA sites

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (1/24/11)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) has awarded the University of Virginia Community CU an Innovation Grant of $8,000 to expand the credit union’s role in supporting the earned income tax credit (EITC) in its community. The credit union was one of 11 credit unions across the nation to receive an Innovation Grant from the NCUF. “One of our primary goals as a credit union is to improve the financial well-being of the people who live in the communities we serve,” said Alison DeTuncq, credit union president/CEO. “These days, with household budgets tight, we know that the earned income tax credit can make a real difference. The grant from the NCUF will help us reach more people.” This is the second time that the credit union has been recognized for supporting greater access to the EITC. In 2009, it won first place in the Virginia competition for the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Recognition Award for ensuring that more eligible taxpayers in the Greater Charlottesville Region received their maximum EITC benefits. The award is sponsored by the Virginia Credit Union League and the Credit Union National Association. As part of the Thomas Jefferson Area EITC Coalition, the credit union co-hosted luncheons and training sessions to involve employers and developed an EITC toolkit that organizations can use to increase awareness of the EITC among their employees and patrons. In 2009, the credit union’s three UVA Community CU branches were designated Internal Revenue Service Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites and credit union employees were trained to provide free basis preparation services for individuals. One of their responsibilities was to determine if their clients were eligible for the EITC, which can amount to more than $5,600. The credit union will use the Innovation Grant to add two branches to its VITA network, said Rebecca Cardwell, UVA Community CU director of community relations. “In the process of helping workers retain more of their income, the coalition’s efforts are also aiming to create an economic stimulus of more than $1.5 million for our community,” Cardwell said.

Iowa CUs study co-ops in Germany Poland

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SOPOT, Poland (1/24/11)--With the help of World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), two Iowa credit union league officials traveled earlier this month to Sopot, Poland, and several cities in Germany to discuss collaborative efforts and visit cooperative financial institutions. The purpose of the trip by league President/CEO Patrick S. Jury and league Vice Chair Tim Chapman, president/CEO of Members Community CU in Muscatine, was to examine ways in which credit unions in other countries effectively manage resources through collaboration in hopes of finding ways for Iowa’s credit unions to save money while better serving their members.
Iowa Credit Union League Vice Chair Tim Chapman (from left), president/CEO of Members Community CU, Muscatine, and Iowa League President/CEO Patrick S. Jury joined Brian Branch, World Council of Credit Union’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, in visiting cooperative financial systems in Poland and Germany in search of greater collaborative operational techniques. (Photo provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
Polish credit unions take a collaborative and integrated approach to service. The institutions operate under a uniform brand and use system-wide operations and management capabilities to serve Poland’s 2.2 million credit union members more efficiently. Several Iowa credit union officials would like to see similar economies of scale at work in their state, said WOCCU. “Credit union income is under significant pressure due to corporate stabilization needs and anticipated reductions in debit interchange income,” Jury said. “We want to help Iowa’s credit unions achieve greater economies of scale through collaborative efforts and make sure these initiatives add value for the credit union member.” Poland’s SKOK credit union system works under one unified brand for all of the country’s 62 credit unions and their 1,837 branches. All credit unions belong to the National Association of Cooperative Savings & Credit Unions (NACSCU), headquartered in Sopot and WOCCU’s member in Poland. NACSCU provides the brand identity and system-wide marketing and investment services. It also provides a framework for products, but credit unions set their own pricing, an arrangement that enables them to operate more competitively, said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Outsourcing services through these companies reduces costs for all credit unions and allows small credit unions to implement programs they otherwise could not afford to,” said Branch, who accompanied Jury and Chapman on the tour. “These include uniform credit analyses, standardized product development with pricing appropriate credit unions, common branch-office design and standardized marketing initiatives.” The SKOK system owns several companies that provide economies of scale in serving credit unions, Branch said. The companies provide expertise in supervision, insurance, investment funds management, publishing, accounting software, training, financial education and arbitration available to all NACSCU members. The SKOK network electronic payments system (HSO) supports 848 ATMs, includes two mobile ATMs and has 1,100 POS devices. HSO provides credit union software, telecommunications card services and electronic settlement and payment services, allowing credit unions of all sizes to offer call center services, internet banking and credit scoring system. It also provides association centralized collections, offers remittances and is a member of Visa, Branch added. In 2010, a pilot group of nine credit unions representing 50% of the system’s assets integrated under the Stefczyk credit union banner to share management services through a limited partnership joint stock company, TZ SKOK. The participating credit unions united around a common commitment to compete aggressively with Poland's banks. The group is led by Stefczyk credit union, which has 759,000 members served by 369 branches and 2,200 employees. Stefczyk's US$1.9 billion dollars in assets constitute 29% of the assets of the entire the Polish credit union system. “The Stefczyk group is an interesting idea that I would like to explore more fully with Iowa’s credit unions,” Jury said. “We have 135 credit unions in Iowa, all but one of which are state-chartered. We’re a close-knit credit union community with long-standing leadership, and we believe there are great opportunities to work together.” The group also met with leadership from the National Association of German Cooperative Banks, the International Raiffeisen Union and other German financial cooperatives. The maturity of the German system yielded additional ideas to those learned in Poland, which launched its modern credit union movement in 1992. Visits to both countries’ systems opened participants’ eyes to possibilities, according to Branch. “There is a great deal of interest among U.S. credit unions to control costs and improve efficiencies,” said Branch. “Many economies can be achieved through collaborative effort, and cooperative systems in other countries offer models of how to do that.”

N.J. League gives CUs 10 dues rebate

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (1/24/11)--In recognition of the difficult economic and operating environment facing credit unions, the New Jersey Credit Union League (NJCUL) has enacted a one-time 10% dues rebate for 2011. “With continued National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) assessments and a challenging economy, we want to assist our members in any way we can. We already do that through advocacy and high-quality association services, but this year we are also offering a 10% across the board NJCUL dues rebate," said NJCUL President/CEO Paul Gentile (Daily Exchange Jan.21). The NJCUL will continue to seek ways to assist members throughout 2011 and will also continue to press the NCUA to reconsider its 12% budget increase while using the tools at its disposal to lessen the corporate assessments. “The 20- to 25-basis point estimate for 2011 is just too high, based on the estimated losses and the time period the agency has to work with,” Gentile of the NCUA assessments. League members have the option to forego the dues rebate and pledge their rebate to the league’s advertising cooperative program that fuels its “Banking You Can Trust” statewide credit union awareness program, the league said.

WOCCU opens registration for Glasgow conference

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MADISON, Wis. (1/24/11)--World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) will convene this year’s annual global gathering of credit union professionals and volunteers in Scotland. It’s time to register for the event.
World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) will convene this year’s annual global gathering of credit union professionals and volunteers in Scotland. The historic Klevingrove Art Gallery & Museum will host the 2011 WOCCU Supporters reception at the conference.
WOCCU has opened online registration for the 2011 World Credit Union Conference, which convenes in Glasgow, Scotland, July 24-27. As the only global credit union gathering, this year’s conference is expected to attract as many as 2,000 attendees from more than 50 countries. WOCCU is encouraging credit unions to register online and secure their hotel accommodations. Hotel and tour space are limited and the $100 early bird discount for registration ends May 29. The conference is being held in cooperation with the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd. Its agenda features keynote speakers and educational breakout sessions focusing on four tracks:
* Moving from Philosophy to Service; * Defining Leadership and Strategy: * Developing Credit Union Movements; and * Raising Financial and Operational Standards.
A roster of speakers will provide insights into multiple strategic credit union and business topics. Planned sessions include:
* Peter Tufano, the Peter Moores Dean and Professor of Finance, University of Oxford Saïd Business School, who will help credit unions identify the gaps in financial services today; and * An executive dialogue on the role of giving back to constituents while moving the enterprise forward that includes: Peter Marks, group chief executive for United Kingdom retail giant The Co-operative Group; Tamara Vrooman, CEO for VanCity, the largest credit union in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; and Jeff Post, CEO of CUNA Mutual Group.
Networking opportunities include the annual meeting of the Global Women’s Leadership Forum, which brings together women credit union CEOs and executive leaders from around the world for educational and networking sessions. Donors who support the network at the $250 level or above are invited to a special networking reception July 23 before the conference begins. The leadership forum, open to network members, starts with the donor reception and runs all day July 24, prior to the official conference opening ceremony. The network also benefits from the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions’ golf tournament on July 28, one day after the conference closes. The tournament, open to men and women and not limited to network members, raises funds that are used in credit union development work worldwide.
The iconic River Clyde bridge is one of Glasgow, Scotland’s most recognizable landmarks. (Photos provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
Other conference highlights include WOCCU’s Young Credit Union People Program for attendees under the age of 35. The program offers special conference educational and networking events for young credit unions professionals and the opportunity to compete for one of five scholarships to attend WOCCU’s 2012 World Credit Union Conference in Gdansk, Poland. Glasgow and its surrounding area offer attendees and their companions’ activities, sights and culture to experience. The Scottish highlands combine with sites of historic importance to reveal a country steeped in tradition, but with a forward-thinking, progressive edge. For those who want to come early and stay late, WOCCU is arranging what Scotland has to offer through pre- and post-conference tours, as well as optional day tours. For more information about any of these events, use the links.

MCUA revamps senior management titles

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ST. LOUIS (1/24/11)--The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) has revamped the titles of its senior management team to better reflect each executive’s responsibilities and focus on Missouri credit unions. Chief Financial and Services Officer Kevin Brueseke, Chief Membership Officer Don Cohenour and Chief Advocacy Officer Peggy Nalls work with President/CEO Michael Beall to help bring services and products to Missouri credit unions (The Missouri difference Jan. 21) Brueseke oversees finance and accounting, business partnerships, product development, information technology and credit union partnership (CUP) products, including the Shared Branching and League Item Processing Center. Brueseke joined Missouri Corporate Credit Union in 1985 and has held numerous positions within the MCUA during his 25-year tenure. He is based in the MCUA’s St. Louis office.

Cohenour joined MCUA in 1994 after serving as a credit union volunteer, vice president consultant and president. He is based in the Kansas City office. Cohenour’s responsibilities include managing MCUA’s field representatives, credit union staff and volunteer development, consulting services, regulatory compliance, education and training, and product and service sales.

Nalls oversees MCUA’s state and federal advocacy efforts and communications. After a career in radio news and hotel management, Nalls served as a credit union marketing manager before joining MCUA in 1993. She has worked in and supervised a variety of areas at MCUA, including marketing, education and training, compliance, and public relations. Nalls is based in the Jefferson City office and is a credit union development educator.

UK prime minister MPs state commitment to CUs

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LONDON (1/24/11)--United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron and several members of Parliament stated the government's commitment to supporting the credit union sector, according to the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd. (ABCUL).
United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron reiterates government policy supporting credit unions. (Photo provided by ABCUL News)
Cameron took the opportunity during the weekly Prime Minister's Questions event to express support for credit unions in response to a question from Tom Blenkinsop, MP, about the government's policy on illegal money lending. Cameron replied, "I think there is unity across the House that we should try to encourage credit unions and try to get people out of the hands of loan sharks. That is our policy and that is what we want to do…" Also in a Commons debate called by Sheila Gilmore, MP, centering on the provision of basic bank accounts in Scotland, Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mark Hoban, MP, stated the government's support for credit union services to be made available through the Post Office. Hoban said Gilmore "also asked about support for credit unions and post offices working together. There has been much discussion about that in recent months, and there is already a lot of cooperation between post offices and credit unions. For example, credit union current account holders can access their accounts through the Post Office, and more thought is being applied to that area." ABCUL Chief Executive Mark Lyonette said, "We are delighted to see David Cameron underline the government's commitment to supporting credit unions in Prime Minister's Questions. To do so on such a high-profile platform is an excellent endorsement to the fantastic contribution credit unions are making to the financial inclusion agenda. "Assisting the victims of loan sharks, though, is only one area of credit unions' role," Lyonette continued. "As Mark Hoban rightly points out, there is a role for credit unions in the provision of current account services, a role in developing the Post Office's financial services offering and a role in generally providing competition and choice in banking, which drives up standards and increases the stability of the financial system," he said. "A growing, strong credit union sector is in the interests of everyone and to see the government commit to this is a very welcome recognition," he concluded.

Maine CEO notes foreclosure issues for governor

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PORTLAND, Maine (1/24/11)--The Maine Credit Union League applauded a credit union CEO for telling Gov. Paul Lepage's administration about the impact that foreclosure regulation is having on credit unions. Rhonda Taylor, president/CEO of the Maine Highlands FCU, a $77 million asset credit union based in Dexter, highlighted the issue during the governor's Red Tape Removal Audit held in Dover-Foxcroft. The governor's representative at the meeting was George Gervais of the Department of Economic and Community Development, said the league's newsletter, Weekly Update (Jan. 21). Taylor spoke about the state's new mediation process that extends foreclosures for consumers by at least two months. She said consumers can live in their homes for 12 to 14 months without making payments, during which time some destroy the buildings. "I have pictures that I can show you that would blow your mind," Taylor told Gervais. "One property that was taken back recently had four windows left because the consumers had taken the others, plus the doors and the furnace." Some consumers never need mediation, yet the lending facility must mediation fees, which cannot be recouped, and those costs must be passed on to other consumers, she said. League President John Murphy applauded Taylor for highlighting the issue at the event. "We raised the same issue during each of our regional Breakfast with Legislators events in December so awareness of this issue is building," he said, adding, "We will continue to discuss solutions with legislators and other officials."