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As state rep, CU employee stresses in-person advocacy

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SEATAC, Wash. (1/30/14)--As a Washington state representative and as a credit union employee, Steve Kirby knows the importance of in-person advocacy from both sides of the desk.
Kirby, who is a sales and services specialist for Lakewood-based Harborstone CU, represents Washington's 29th District and serves as chair of the House Business and Financial Services Committee.
Steve Kirby, left, and Vicky Nelson both are Harborstone CU employees. At the Feb. 6 Credit Union Day in Olympia, Wash., Kirby will be busy working as a state representative for the 29th District, and Nelson will be leading a group of advocates from the Lakewood, Wash.-based credit union. (Northwest Credit Union Association photo)
"Credit unions are unique in the world of financial institutions, but that's not always readily apparent to our legislators," Kirby said (Anthem Jan. 28).
"It never hurts for lawmakers to be reminded of the credit union story," he said, "and the best way for politicians to receive any input on any issue is from their own constituents. That's probably the reason credit unions consistently enjoy strong bipartisan support whenever they have issues before the Legislature."
Next week, credit union advocates will be meeting in Olympia for Credit Union Day at the Capitol.
"Every day is someone's 'day on the hill,'" Kirby told the Anthem. "Whether it's the Realtors, the bikers, the physical therapists or the community bankers, everyone wants to be heard. Credit Union Day at the Capitol is very important to insure that the credit union story is heard, too, and that the credit union model remains intact."
Last year, Kirby worked with Vicky Nelson, business sales and services manager, to create a Governmental Affairs Roadshow that stopped at every one of $1 billion-asset credit union's 17 Washington branches. The goal was to make sure that every employee, at every branch, understood the unique structure, value and impact of the credit union movement and why they needed to be active in advocacy efforts.
Nelson will lead a delegation of Harborstone employees to the Feb. 6 event. "As a credit union employee, I am in a wonderfully unique position to share the importance of credit unions not only with our members, but also with our state legislators," Nelson said.
Credit Union Day at the Capitol comes at a time when the Legislature is struggling with budget shortfalls and focusing on tax reform. That makes it imperative that every legislator understands the difference between credit unions and banks and the importance of the credit union tax exemption, said Mark Minickiello, vice president for legislative affairs, Northwest Credit Union Association.
"If our state legislators don't know anything about credit unions or the great things we do for our members and our communities, then they assume we are just like banks," he said.  "That's why our goal is to have every legislator meet with a credit union representative from their district."
A Financial Reality Fair for students is being held on the Capitol grounds in conjunction with Credit Union Day, which will give legislators an opportunity to see the difference that credit unions make with financial education.

On a national level, credit union advocates will take their message to Capitol Hill during the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference Feb. 23-27 in Washington, D.C.

Flood insurance program under Pa. league's watch

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/30/14)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association is watching federal legislation that would change the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
At the state level, both the House Democratic Policy Committee and Senate have held hearings on legislation--set for a vote in the U.S. Senate today--that would delay rate increases for up to four years and implement additional NFIP reforms (S. 1926). 
"While this appears to be a federal issue, there is great concern among elected officials in Harrisburg," said PCUA President/CEO Patrick Conway (Life is a Highway Jan. 28).
The league is "educating appropriate parties about the act's unintended consequences on credit unions, and monitoring state committee and legislative actions for potential relief for consumers," Conway added.
Tuesday's panel discussion went beyond the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, the exponentially higher flood insurance rates that homeowners face, and the recently introduced federal legislation that addresses rate increases and other reforms.
Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) said every county in the state has high-flood risk areas, reported Life is a Highway (Jan. 29).
Roughly six out of every 1,000 properties in Pennsylvania has a flood insurance policy, but as many as five times that many parcels are located in a flood zone.
The Credit Union National Association is closely watching the progress of an amendment that may be offered by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) related to force-placed insurance. The amendment, in its current form, would prohibit lenders from receiving any kind of fee or reimbursement in connection with insurance they purchase on behalf of a borrower who lets the insurance lapse. (See Tuesday News Now story: NFIP delay bill one of CUs' interest items this week.)

Cornerstone chapters share best practices

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (1/30/14)--Credit union leaders from Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma shared best practices during Cornerstone Credit Union League's Chapter Leaders Conference in Dallas last week.
The two-day event also offered credit union chapter leaders an opportunity to network, share ideas on how to bring value to local credit unions and positively affect their respective communities through the chapter program (Leaguer Jan. 29).
The best practices session was moderated by Scott Rose, CEO of $86 million-asset Kelly Community FCU, Tyler, Texas, and president of the Tyler Area Chapter of CUs.
Panelists included Mark Casares, loan officer at $66 million-asset PosTel Family CU, Wichita Falls, Okla., from the Wichita Falls Chapter; Karyn Gonyea, vice president at $24 million-asset Union Pacific of Arkansas FCU, Little Rock, Ark., from the Central Arkansas Chapter; and Stephen Lark, vice president of marketing and corporate development at $936 million-asset Communication FCU, Oklahoma City, Okla., from the Greater Oklahoma Chapter.
Best practices discussed included:
  • Taking the "meeting" out of chapters and focusing instead on chapter events;
  • Focusing on advocating, collaborating and educating (ACE) when planning chapter events;
  • Rotating chapter event responsibility among local credit unions;
  • Involving local credit union young professionals in chapter board governance; and
  • Focusing on "quality vs. quantity" when developing a chapter plan--which may require changing the meeting schedule from monthly to quarterly.

Sen. Blunt cites CU costs in data security radio interview

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (1/30/14)--Credit unions and other card issuers, not retailers, ultimately bear the burden of losses created by data breaches like the one that victimized Target shoppers, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) noted in a recent NewsRadio 1120 KMOX interview.
Blunt said a bill he recently introduced, The Data Security Act of 2014 (S. 1927), is getting plenty of attention now. The bill was introduced with chief co-sponosr Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) in mid-January and has been referred to the Senate Banking Committee.
The Carper/Blunt bill would require credit unions and other financial institutions, retailers, and federal agencies to protect sensitive information, notify consumers if a breach occurs, and conduct their own investigations in that event. If a breach impacted more than 5,000 consumers, the federal authorities, law enforcement officials, and various consumer reporting agencies would have to be notified. Overall, the bill aims to replace various state-based data protection laws with one single, federal standard.

The Credit Union National Association supports the Carper/Blunt legislation, which is similar to bills the legislators have introduced over the last five years.
Blunt on KMOX said Congress should require better card security standards, but should not specifically tell institutions how to secure their cards.
CUNA is still accepting credit union data on the costs and burdens created by the Target data breach. According to CUNA estimates released earlier this month, the total cost of the breach for credit unions is between $25 million and $30 million. However, the actual costs could exceed this estimate in the coming weeks if greater fraud losses are incurred or those that have reported already add additional costs to their reported totals.
The CUNA survey has garnered widespread media attention, with outlets as varied as the San Francisco Business Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Chain Store Age, MSN Money, the Associated Press,, Yahoo Finance and Computerworld covering the issue and/or CUNA's survey results. (See related Jan. 24 story: More media outlets spotlight CUs, CUNA's breach survey.)

CU System briefs (01/30/2014)

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  • Click to view larger image University of Central Oklahoma junior Abigail Wilburn, left, takes notes as senior Jackie Smith inspects evidence in the simulated crime scene held at the Edmond, Okla., branch of Tinker FCU. (Photo provided by Tinker FCU)
    EDMOND, Okla, (1/30/2014)--The Edmond, Okla., branch of Tinker FCU looked like a set from "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" when students from the University of Central Oklahoma staged a simulated crime scene. Twenty-one students from Professor Don Mizell's class at the School of Criminal Justice used the after-office-hours opportunity to sketch the scene, tag evidence and predict what happened. The students, who are majoring in criminal justice or forensic science, will follow up by doing simulated witness interviews with employees at the credit union. "Our participation in this simulation allowed students to practice real-world skills in a real-world environment," said John Micue, security and safety officer at $3.1 billion-asset credit union  ...
  • NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. (1/30/2014)-- GPO FCU's board of directors has announced Nicholas Mayhew as its new president/CEO. Mayhew has served on the board of the $202 million-asset credit union for 25 years and played an integral part in the strategic planning process as vice chairman. He formerly worked at Rome (N.Y.) Memorial Hospital as vice president and chief financial officer. Mayhem said he would continue to stress the importance of member service. He will replace John Prumo, who is retiring as president/CEO after more than 40 years at the New Hartford, N.Y., credit union ...
  • BELLINGHAM, Wash. (1/30/14)--After 41 years as CEO of Whatcom Educational CU, Wayne Langei announced his plan to retire from the Bellingham, Wash., credit union. The board expects to name a new CEO in August, with Langei staying on as a consultant until January 2015. There are three internal CEO candidates: Jeff Dykstra, Jennifer Kutcher and Robert Langei, all executive vice presidents for the $961 million-asset credit union. Langei will not be involved in the selection process because his son Robert is one of the candidates (The Bellingham Herald Jan. 28) ...
  • BREA and GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (1/30/14)--Members of Golden West Cities FCU, Garden Grove, Calif., voted Jan. 21 in favor of merging with CU of Southern California, Whittier. The credit union will serve more than 60,000 members in 11 locations and have nearly $760 million in assets. As of April 1, members of Golden West Cities FCU will have access to additional products and services, including extended weekday and Saturday hours, free mobile banking, remote deposit capture, individual retirement accounts and member business loans. CU of Southern California President/CEO Dave Gunderson will remain president/CEO while Golden West Cities FCU CEO Jaqueline Wadsworth will extend her retirement date and act in an advisory position for one year. The credit union will remain under the CU of Southern California name ...
  • ST. LOUIS (1/30/14)--Vantage CU, Bridgeton, Mo., is looking for an 18- to 25-year-old to be the Young and Free representative for St. Louis. Applications will be accepted until March 3. Applicants can enter by submitting a short YouTube video outlining what would make them the best Y&F Spokester, a blog post on a financially entertaining topic and a personal information form. A public vote will take place March 5-17, and eight contestants will move on to the final round. Applicants will then submit a final YouTube video and blog post and participate in a "Show Your Stuff" challenge. The winning Spokester will be a salaried employee of the $705 million-asset credit union and will participate in regional events and regularly create videos and blogs ...

NWCUA debuts 3 redesigned websites this week

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PORTLAND, Ore. (1/30/14)--New websites for the Northwest Credit Union Association, the Northwest Credit Union Foundation and Strategic Link, the association's service corporation, debuted this week.
"In today's ever-changing world, our members need quick and easy access to their association, their Foundation and their service corporation," said Troy Stang, NWCUA's president/CEO. "These newly designed websites make it easier than ever to connect to the right information, at the right time, and in the right context."
The redesigned Northwest Credit Union Association website includes a home-page "hub" that allows visitors to plug into key resources.
The NWCUA website includes a home-page "hub" that allows visitors to plug into key resources. The home page also includes a slideshow of photographs that highlight the impact Northwest credit unions have on the communities they serve.
All three websites use bigger photos, brighter colors and bolder typography to create a more dynamic user experience. The three sites also feature content that is more closely aligned with the league's strategic plan and priorities: Policy advancement, public awareness, value creation and strategic philanthropy.
The NWCUA's website includes:
  • More ways to access the most in-demand content, including Resource Centers that gather all of the relevant information, articles and pages in one place for departments, such as compliance, advocacy and public relations and marketing;
  • A new Public Awareness section, with graphics, videos, photos and stories that credit unions can share with members on their own websites, in branch lobbies and in newsletters;
  • An updated jobs board and career-resources page;
  • A new online and mobile directory; and
  • An upgraded Anthem newsletter that includes the ability for members to filter the articles, an RSS feed and a list of related posts for each article. There's also a new way for members to share news from their own credit unions. As part of the changes, Anthem will publish once a week, but the online blog will be updated daily to include breaking news.
The new Northwest Credit Union Foundation website includes a tab to apply for scholarships and grants.
The new Northwest Credit Union Foundation website is organized into tabs:
  • The "My Foundation" tab makes it easy for credit unions to apply for scholarships and grants, using a new online application process developed by Profits4Purpose;
  • The "Do More" tab supports greater community engagement by offering ways to contribute time, talent and funds to the Foundation and its programs; and
  • The Financial Education Resource Library offers resources and guidance to help credit unions host financial education programs in their own communities.
The redesigned Strategic Link website includes a "partner" connection for vendors. (Photos provided by Northwest Credit Union Association)
The Strategic Link website includes:
  • The launch of BetaSpace, which connects credit unions to financial technology startups and their latest innovations;
  • A "partner" side of the website, which highlights three ways to work with Strategic Link and NWCUA's member credit unions: Official partnerships, an annual sponsorship program, and the opportunity to exhibit at Amplify;
  • A new feedback area to help credit unions engage with Strategic Link, recommend potential new partners, and make suggestions about the kinds of products and services they need.

Leadership defined by 6 disciplines, says Filene report

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MADISON, Wis. (1/30/14)--A new report from Filene Research Institute breaks down strategic thinking into six disciplines and looks at how each element is deployed at credit unions across North America.
The report, "Strategic Thinking and Credit Union Leaders: Strategic Aptitude Assessment Findings, Fall 2013," was written by Jarrad Roeder and Franck Schuurmans of Decision Strategies International, which developed the strategic thinking model.
The six elements of strategic thinking described in the report include:
  • Anticipate. Strategic thinkers consistently look for signals of change, scanning their environment for signs of impending threats as well as emerging opportunities. By proactively monitoring changing market dynamics, these leaders are able to seize opportunities and mitigate threats--well ahead of the competition.
  • Challenge. Strategic leaders question what others take for granted. They do not jump to judgment; instead they challenge their own assumptions, as well as those of others, to encourage creativity and divergent points of view. Only after examining a complex problem through many lenses and engaging in careful reflection do they take action.
  • Interpret. This is the ability of a leader to view strategic challenges through multiple lenses and evaluate alternative interpretations against robust decision criteria. Interpretation is related to wisdom, and wisdom requires the ability to compare multiple viewpoints and hypotheses to ascertain and interpret the facts as they emerge.
  • Decide. Strategic leaders have to make sure that groupthink, gut calls, old habits and analysis paralysis do not stifle the strategic decision-making process. Furthermore, leaders play a key role in avoiding groupthink by making sure that the decision team is truly diverse. With well-defined assumptions and good data, the decision process will be more productive.
  • Align. This is the ability to converge distinct views and agendas to advance a strategic decision. Strategic change can be achieved when people work as an integrated system to develop, stress-test and support transformation. This is rare and difficult to achieve.
  • Learn. Learning is often a selective process to seek confirmation of what the learner believes to be true. Real learning requires an honest analysis of facts and causality. Success will come from a combination of good process, serendipity and execution.
The report also offers an assessment tool for credit unions to use in the selection and evaluation of CEOs and other executive-level leaders.
To download the report, use the link.