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Second half of 10 dealt interchange corporate regs

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MADISON, Wis. (1/4/11)--Maybe credit unions were in shock the first half of 2010. Or perhaps they had more specific information available during the second half of the year about what lies ahead. When News Now reviewed its third- and fourth-quarter coverage of 2010, it found many more stories focused on--no surprise here--interchange proposals, financial reg reform and corporate system stabilization plans. Every month during the third and fourth quarters had interchange stories in their top four stories. The first half of 2010 was reviewed in Monday's issue (See link for "First half of 2010 saw challenges, opportunities for CUs.") Today, News Now examines the top stories of the second half of the year. Later in the week, News Now will feature its annual Top 20 Stories of the Year, based on total readership. Financial regulatory reform was a hot topic for the third quarter. But July stories were all over the range, similar to second quarter. Other popular stories for July included alerts about home equity fraud schemes, news of CEOs barred from future credit union work, and reports of a credit union CEO killed by police in a park. These aren't operational stories that normally attract many credit unions, but the latter three fall under stories that are "unusual" for credit unions. The impact on credit union operations from external forces was the common thread in August's top stories. The top story was economic, with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) relating what conclusions credit unions could make from the decisions by the Federal Open Market Committee, the Federal Reserve' policy makers, on quantitative easing and interest rates--big issues in a year where credit unions are looking at a slow recovery and dents in the bottom line from operations challenges. Proposed changes to the Financial Accounting Standards Board's Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) rules were of high interest to credit unions, with some saying the rules would mean tens of thousands of dollars in extra annual costs to credit unions. The Fed's review of check-hold rules in the new financial reform law and some of the smaller changes credit unions might see in their operations also was a top story. And finally, there was the Durbin Amendment, with CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney urging further consideration of how credit unions and banks offer credit cards differently. By the end of third quarter, credit unions saw more action in the corporate system. Credit unions combatted the "bailout" perception in the media after the conservatorship of several corporate credit unions; reacted to the National Credit Union Administration's (NCUA) corporate stabilization actions; heard about the registration process that banks, credit unions and employees would have to follow under the Safe and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing (SAFE) Act; and saw NCUA make a rare denial of a community charter application in Missouri. The fourth quarter saw credit unions mulling over more compliance issues. In October, the sole noncompliance article--and top story for the month--centered International Credit Union Day, which was Oct. 21, and credit unions' philosophy. Otherwise, top stories included NCUA's announcement it would redesign its examination process to better interact with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, and a ruling in a lawsuit that deemed the interchange rules as unconstitutional. The election for the 112th Congress was the top story for November with CUNA analyzing how credit unions' candidates fared in the election results. Corporates dominated the top 10 list for the month, as Fitch ratings company withdrew its ratings of three corporates under conservatorship as they formed bridge corporates, and NCUA projected what the corporate stabilization assessment would cost credit unions. A fourth story hit on growth and strategies to adapt services to retain young adults, with the Filene Research Institute noting that attracting more Generation Y members would be a matter of survival for credit unions. Credit unions ended the year with 13 U.S. senators urging greater consideration by the Fed on the interchange rules in a letter encouraged by CUNA; more scams involving HELOCs, the passage in the House of NCUA's technical amendments; and NCUA's opinion on gift cards as incentives to attend credit unions meetings.

Perfect Circle CU closes branch

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HAGERSTOWN, Ind. (1/4/11)--Perfect Circle CU, Hagerstown, Ind., has closed one of its four branches as a consolidation strategy. The credit union closed its west Richmond branch, and will move staff to its other branches in east Richmond, Hagerstown and New Castle. No jobs will be lost. PCCU President Lisa Dykhoff told the local newspaper that two years after the $51 million asset credit union opened its east Richmond branch, it conducted a market analysis, followed by a second earlier this year ( Dec. 31). The analyses indicated more members were transferring their business to the east side location, which has more vehicle and food traffic. West side businesses have been declining in recent years. Dykhoff noted in the article that the credit union is facing regulatory changes and increases in the costs of providing basic financial services.

CU System briefs (01/03/2011)

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* KENNEWICK, Wash. (1/4/11)--A gang-related shooting injured a man outside of the Kennewick branch of Richland, Wash.-based Hapo Community CU. The victim, Miguel Montenegro, 20, was shot in the stomach as he walked to his car on the street outside the busy credit union. He is in serious but stable condition, said police. Police arrested Jose Cardona, who is charged with assault first degree, possession of a stolen firearm and felon in possession of a firearm. After Montenegro was shot, he ran to the credit union's parking lot before collapsing. Police indicated several others may be involved in the shooting. ( and Dec. 30 and 31) … * CONYERS, Ga.(1/4/11)--A couple who followed a getaway car are being credited for helping police capture two Army National Guardsmen accused of robbing the Conyers, Ga., branch of Atlanta-based Georgia's Own CU. The unidentified man and woman were out shopping Dec. 23 when they saw two men run from the credit union with guns and a large bag. The couple drove behind the men as they got into a getaway car driven by a third man. Police said the couple caused the suspects to deviate from their escape plan. The men were caught after they drove into a dead end at a warehouse and fled the car. Arrested were Jemelle Francis, 25, and Menshack Nyepah, 21 ( Dec. 30) … * TEXAS CITY, Texas (1/4/11)--AMOCO FCU announced it would distribute about $1 million in bonus dividends and provide a 4% loan interest refund to members in good standing as of Dec. 31, 2010 (LoneStar Leaguer Jan. 3). This is the 15th year the Texas City, Texas-based credit union has paid dividends to members. The board determined that the credit union's reserves and capital were at levels in excess of what is necessary to protect members' accounts … * HANSCOM AFB, Mass.(1/4/11)--Hanscom FCU will return more than $750,000 in loyalty dividends to members, representing a 2.5% bonus on dividends earned and consumer loan finance charges paid in 2010. Dividends were paid on Dec. 31. "This year brought an extraordinarily challenging financial climate," said board Chairman Paul Marotta, noting that the credit union continued to grow assets. The $846 million asset credit union serves 44,376 members …

Help members with their No. 1 resolution

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SILVER SPRING, Md., and HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/4/11)--A December poll by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) revealed that decreasing debt was consumers’ No. 1 financial New Year’s resolution. Sixty-nine percent of more than 3,200 respondents chose this goal over other objectives, such as increasing savings, improving their credit score or decreasing their dependence on credit cards. Credit unions are already helping members with their No. 1 resolution of the New Year--and better manage their finances. The poll question and results are: My No.1 New Year’s resolution for 2011 is to:
* Decrease debt-- 69%; * Improve my credit score--18%; * Increase savings--7%; and * Decrease my dependence on credit cards--7%.
Credit unions, leagues and NFCC had plenty of advice to assist consumers. Lonny Maurer, president/CEO of Belco Community CU in Harrisburg, Pa., discussed five resolutions that consumers should make in 2011,when he appeared in December with Mike Wishnow, senior vice president of communications and marketing with the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association on a TV segment of Pennsylvania Newsmakers, Belco said. The resolutions are:
* Develop a written monthly annual budget; * If you don’t already have one, establish a relationship with a credit union or bank; * Take a critical view of your personal debt; * Develop a plan to save and invest; and * Teach your children about finances.
The Ohio Credit Union League also has some tips to get the most out of your money, according to the Akron Beacon-Journal ( Jan. 2). They are:
* Pay yourself first; * Create a budget and stick to it; * Pay off debt; * Manage your credit; and * Already saving? Save more.
To read the Akron Beacon-Journal article, use the link. The NFCC offers these tips:
* Define your objective--Be specific about which area of your financial life you want to address. Having an overall goal of “improving your financial situation” is too broad. Success is more likely if you identify one problem and take steps to rectify it. You can always add more categories, but taking on too much at once can be overwhelming and discouraging. * Be willing to pay the price--Be prepared to make significant lifestyle adjustments in order to reach your goal. The sacrifice will be worth it. Changes, even those that are ultimately positive, can be difficult. Knowing this up front will help you persevere. * Be ready for set-backs--When the going gets rough, don’t give up your goal. Set-backs are inevitable, so anticipate them and commit to riding them through. There is nothing to be gained by quitting. * Have an accountability partner--Holding yourself accountable is one thing, but having a partner often means the difference between success and failure. Share your goal with trusted friends, family members or mentors, and ask them to provide support to help you stay determined. * Celebrate success--Establish a reward as you begin your financial journey, to serve as a great incentive to keep going. And, once you meet your goal, you’ve earned a reward.

Illinois Michigan leagues announce alliance

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. And LANSING, Mich. (1/4/11)--The Michigan and Illinois credit union leagues have entered into a strategic alliance, with both leagues stressing the agreement was neither a merger agreement nor an indication of an intention to merge.
Click to view larger image From left, Michigan Credit Union League and Affiliates CEO David Adams and Illinois Credit Union League President/CEO Dan Plauda announce an alliance between the two organizations. (Photo provided by Michigan and Illinois credit union leagues)
In a press release, the leagues stated “the agreement expresses each state’s desire to seek ways to collaborate, share services and partner on product development on behalf of credit unions in the two Midwest states.” “This collaboration will provide economies of scale that credit unions nationwide can tap into when expanding or growing products,” said Illinois Credit Union League President/Chief Executive Officer Dan Plauda. Michigan Credit Union League CEO David Adams also reinforced the need for collaboration. “There is a remarkable lack of overlap in our product areas,” Adams said. “We think this creates great opportunities for joining forces either formally or informally in order to share our strengths and visions in each state.” Each league’s management met in Chicago on Dec. 16 and 17 in what was the final of several meetings to organize the arrangement between the two state leagues. The strategic alliance does not require any kind of formal combination of the two organizations, though both organizations cited the alliance as a first step toward more formal collaboration

CUNA provides home-buying advice in IBankrate.comI

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MADISON, Wis. (1/4/11)--A valuable tool for home buyers, especially first-time purchasers, is down-payment assistance, according to Susan Tiffany, director of consumer periodicals for the Credit Union National Association, whose advice was featured on two of “6 must-do’s before buying a home.” Strapped-for-cash homebuyers can improve their chances by searching out down-payment assistance in addition to banking their own money, Tiffany said. Often this type of assistance is location-based or tagged to a type of buyer such as first timers. She recommended that buyers conduct an Internet search with the city name, county name, and word combinations like “down payment assistance,” “first-time home buyers” and homebuyers assistance.” A safe formula for home expenses is not to exceed 28 percent of gross monthly income, Tiffany said in another home-buying tip in the article. She said home buyers can improve their chances by “trying on” a rough estimate of their mortgage payment before they sign the papers. Tiffany recommended that home shoppers calculate the mortgage in their price range, along with expenses such as taxes, insurance and utilities, then bank the difference between that total and what they are currently paying for monthly home expenses.

Top 10 INews NowI stories for December (01/03/2011)

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MADISON, Wis. (1/4/11)--Stories about interchange fees and legislation dominated December’s credit union news with four spots in the top 10 stories for the month in News Now. The stories are: 10. Fed offers two plans for interchange fees WASHINGTON (12/17/10)--The Federal Reserve on Thursday issued for public comment its proposed rules addressing interchange fees. 9. NCUA CU risk concentration regs out next year--Matz WASHINGTON (12/10/10)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) is developing new regulations on natural person credit union risk concentrations, and those regulations will be released during the first quarter of 2011, NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz said during a Thursday Senate hearing. 8. Agencies issue guidelines on real estate appraisals/evaluations WASHINGTON (12/3/10)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), in conjunction with other federal financial institution regulators, has emphasized that financial institutions are responsible for selecting appraisers and people performing evaluations based on their competence, experience, and knowledge of the market and type of property being valued. 7. New survey: CUs on top in customer satisfaction MADISON, Wis. (12/8/10)--Credit unions and small banks lead their larger rivals in customer satisfaction and loyalty, according to the Prime Performance 2010 Bank and Credit Union Satisfaction Survey released Tuesday. 6. Rep. Frank shares interchange concerns for CUs WASHINGTON (12/21/10)--The implementation of still-pending interchange regulations, if not properly crafted, “may have unintended consequences” for credit unions and consumers, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) recently said in a letter to the Federal Reserve. 5. CUNA to Fed: Interchange rules confirm CU fears WASHINGTON (12/20/10)--The Federal Reserve’s proposed rule on interchange fees, which was introduced late last week, confirms the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) “worst fears about the inadequacies of the purported protections” for credit unions and other smaller issuers of debit cards, CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney has said. 4. Gift cards as meeting incentive? NCUA says yes but … ALEXANDRIA, Va. (12/16/10)--In a legal opinion released this week, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) advised a federal credit union that sought to increase participation at its yearly meeting by giving $25 gift cards to members in attendance. 3. NCUA tech amendments bill passed by House WASHINGTON (12/23/10)--The House on Wednesday approved a technical corrections bill that would provide the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) with new tools to address both troubled individual credit unions and the larger corporate credit union crisis. 2. Scams zero in on home equity lines MADISON, Wis. (12/29/10)--Identity thieves are having a field day with scams, particularly lucrative ones aimed at home equity lines of credit (HELOCs). Others have stepped up their card scams, and phishing and vishing efforts to take advantage of consumers’ good will and inattention to details during a busy holiday season. 1. Senators urge greater interchange consideration by Fed WASHINGTON (12/13/10)--In an action strongly encouraged by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), 13 senators late last week wrote to the Federal Reserve to voice their concerns over proposed interchange regulations.

Michigan commissioner named to NASCUS Board

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ARLINGTON, Va. (1/4/11)--Ken Ross, commissioner of the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation (OFIR), has been appointed to the board of directors of the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS). He will fill the unexpired term of Roger Little, also of Michigan, who retired earlier this week from his state regulatory career. Ross' term will run until September. Ross has served in the Michigan commissioner position since February 2008. He formerly was deputy commissioner for policy and the commissioner's chief of staff. Prior to joining OFIR, Ross served as vice president of regulatory and legal affairs at the Michigan Credit Union League.