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IChicago TribuneI Money is safe in a CU

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CHICAGO (10/2/08)--Yet another newspaper--this time the Chicago Tribune--is educating consumers about federal deposit insurance and making sure that readers know their money is safe in a credit union. Gail Marks Jarvis' article (Oct. 1) discusses the issues in a question-and-answer format. One question, "Is my money safe in a credit union," brought this response: "Like banks, credit unions have insurance that covers investors if the institution has financial trouble and fails. But the insurance varies. The safest comes from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). It's just like the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.), with the U.S. government behind it, making sure your money is covered up to $100,000 a person on an account." She refers readers to NCUA's website to check whether their credit union has federal insurance. "If you don't see NCUA at your credit union, it probably means the institution is regulated at the state level with private insurance. That's also insurance, but having the U.S. government as the insurer is the safest form you can have."

IWall St. JournalI CUs are federally insured option

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NEW YORK (10/2/08)--The Wall Street Journal's personal finance page notes that depositors who want options to the big blockbuster bank consolidations can shop for savings at credit unions and community banks as federally insured options. In "As Big Banks Converge, Depositors Find Deals at Smaller Institutions," the newspaper notes community banks and credit unions offer generous yields and lower fees for local savers (The Wall Street Journal Oct. 1). With competition shrinking with blockbuster acquisitions of the past week, "there are plenty of options for rate-sensitive depositors and borrowers," including credit unions, the article said. The article recognized that credit unions have largely sidestepped the subprime crisis because of conservative underwriting. They "often offer generous rates and low fees. And deposits are insured for up to $100,000, per account, per institution, just like regular bank accounts," it said. Some credit unions are receiving new deposits from former Wachovia and other large bank customers, the Journal said.

SandP issues rating statement on several corporates

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NEW YORK (10/2/08)--Saying that "overall we believe the credit union sector/industry remains quite healthy," Standard & Poor's (S&P) Rating Services reported Tuesday it has adjusted the ratings of four corporate credit unions. S&P's placed two corporates--Western Corporate FCU (WesCorp) and Members United FCU--on a CreditWatch Negative. It revised its outlook on Southeast Corporate FCU and Southwest Corporate FCU to negative from stable. S&P noted that the overall corporates "have a comparatively low-risk profile, strong liquidity, and exhibit adequate financial profiles. "A testament to the overall and individual health of the corporates is that despite the unprecedented challenges of the prolonged credit crisis, the rated corporates have been able to not only hold their structured securities portfolios, but to do so without compromising their ability to perform their key roles as investment vehicles and liquidity providers to their members," said S&P. The ongoing credit crisis and longer-term structural changes to the industry have put downward pressure on several ratings, S&P added. The four corporates issued statements saying they were pleased with the overall reaffirmation of their ratings, given the economic environment. "Although S&P has placed WesCorp on watch negative, it's reassuring to know they continue to view our business and financial profiles, and particularly our liquidity, as solid," said Jim Hayes, WesCorp senior vice president and chief financial officer. He pointed out that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) are preparing to propose additional interpretative guidance on fair value measurement under U.S. generally accepted accounting practices later this week. "We anticipate any new clarifications will have a positive impact on S&P's independent review of our portfolio," Hayes said. Members United Corporate FCU President David A. Preter, in a letter to members posted on the corporate's website, noted, "During this unprecedented market upheaval, it is not surprising that ratings agencies are taking a cautious view of all financial institutions." Members United carries the highest short-term rating given by S&P: A-1+ and that rating has not changed. Preter said, "S&P acknowledged its belief that the majority of our investment portfolio remains sound, and that our unrealized losses overstate expected future losses." He noted S&P expressed concerns about a pending write-down of Lehman senior debt and "the potential for additional losses from our mortgage securities portfolio. "During this especially turbulent time, it is gratifying that Members United's ratings were not downgraded--but rather placed on CreditWatch Negative pending further review," he said. Robert F. Schleiter, executive vice president of Southeast Corporate FCU, told News Now, "We are very pleased that Standard & Poor's reaffirmed our ratings, given the current stress in the markets." John Cassidy, president/CEO of Southwest Corporate, said in a message on the corporate's website, that S&P reaffirmed its ratings at AA (senior obligation) and A1+ (commercial paper). "Southwest Corporate views S&P's affirmation of our ratings during this period of unprecedented stress in the credit markets as a positive confirmation," Cassidy said. "The change in outlook was not unexpected as such actions are now common for investors in mortgage-backed securities and followed Fitch Ratings' similar change in June." He noted that the reason for the change is to reflect concern over the corporate's exposure to potential realized investment losses. "It is important to note that S&P characterized Southwest Corporate's potential losses as manageable, and this opinion echoes the message we have communicated to our members over the past year."

CUs preparing for ICU Day Oct. 16

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MADISON, Wis. (10/2/08)--It’s October, and credit unions around the world are making plans to celebrate International Credit Union Day (ICU Day) on Oct. 16.
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International Credit Union Week will be held Oct. 12-18. This year’s theme is “It Belongs to Me.” ICU Day was established by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) in 1948 to celebrate the international credit union movement. “ICU Day offers credit unions and their members a chance to reflect on the cooperative history of credit unions and their achievements, and to promote the credit union difference worldwide,” Joe Day, CUNA director of business development, told News Now. Coloring pages, graphics, and public relations and marketing materials are available from CUNA for ICU Day. Celebration ideas include participating in community service projects, offering products and services promotions, providing education, focusing on the credit union difference, and planning a festive week. CUNA also encourages credit unions to submit their celebration ideas and stories for ICU Day (use the resource link). Some ideas credit unions have implemented:
* Poplar Bluff (Mo.) FCU will place international flags in the credit union’s atrium, serve international food and coffee, and provide giveaway prizes to members. It also plans a Member Appreciation Day and will invite the entire community. At the event, the credit union will have a live broadcast by local radio stations, free food, face painting, document shredding, dog-tag engraving by the U.S. Army, and a demonstration of a rollover simulator by the Missouri Highway Patrol. * Northern United FCU, Escanaba, Mich., will host a luncheon with Chef Chris Rogers of “The Oaks.” Rogers will prepare a roast turkey dinner for members. * Last year, Pittsburgh (Pa.) FCU served hot dogs, potato chips and bottled water to members on ICU Day. The food went over well with members and they have asked that it be served again. “The nice part of that is we are able to say, ‘They were for a special occasion--ICU Day,’” the credit union said. * Digital FCU, Marlborough, Mass., is working with mainstream media--television, radio and print--to raise awareness of ICU Day. Media will be invited to the credit union’s branches to allow staff members to talk about the credit union’s history, culture, and people. It will focus on credit union philosophy. * The People’s CU in Malaysia will celebrate ICU Day with songs, dances, drama and cultural performances for credit union members and their families. * Tower Hamlets CU, London, England, will launch its new Visa debit and cash card options with credit unions accounts on ICU Day. The services are a “major breakthrough for British credit unions,” the credit union said. * Shell Employees’ CU, Alberta, Canada, will have a red carpet day for members with drinks, door prizes and giveaways. The credit union will rent a red carpet and popcorn maker for members and sponsor a coloring contest for children.
The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) acknowledged ICU Day in Life is a Highway (Oct. 1). In the same brief, PCUA emphasized the importance of credit unions spreading their cooperative message. “During these difficult and uncertain economic times, credit unions should make an all-out effort to get the good word out about credit unions that they are safe, sound and secure,” PCUA said. It has included links on its website about how credit unions are getting the word out about their safety and soundness. The World Council of Credit Unions also has public relations and marketing materials available on its website for ICU Day. For more information, or to submit ICU Day ideas, use the links.

Teller pepper-sprayed by robber suspect nabbed

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WACO, Texas (10/2/08)--A robber pepper-sprayed a teller at 1st University CU before jumping over the counter to steal money from the Waco credit union Tuesday afternoon. Christopher Brinkly, 39, allegedly walked into the $12.5 million asset credit union and did not say anything to the teller before spraying her, police said (Tribune Herald Oct. 1). The robber stole an undisclosed amount of cash and fled the credit union. Brinkly was nabbed at a Waco intersection by police a short time later. The teller was treated at the scene by paramedics, Waco police told the paper.

INew York TimesI notes CUs federal insurance

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NEW YORK (10/2/08)--The New York Times recognized the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), which covers federally insured credit unions and most state-chartered credit unions, in an article Wednesday. “Navigating Troubled Times: Answers for Readers” invited readers to ask the newspaper questions about their finances. A member of Florida Telco CU, Jacksonville, asked the Times if his money is safe at the credit union. Another credit union member asked the newspaper if his shares, share drafts, certificates and deposits were safe in a credit union. The member noted that he has used credit unions for banking “because I like the small-town feel of them.” The newspaper responded: “The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), is the government agency that supervises federal credit unions. The NCUA runs an insurance fund--the NCUSIF--that is backed by the U.S. government.” The Times also noted that the fund covers individual credit union accounts up to $100,000 and joint accounts up to $200,000. The fund also provides $250,000 coverage for retirement accounts.

CU System briefs (10/01/2008)

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* LANCASTER, Pa. (10/2/08)--The Lancaster (Pa.) Consortium of Credit Unions (LCCC) participated in the Latino Fest and 29th Annual Puerto Rican Parade, Sept. 20. The theme for the event was “Unidos preservando nuestra cultura latino,” meaning “Together preserving our Latin culture.” The mission for the day was to bring awareness to the Latino community that credit unions care and want to be involved. Volunteers from LANCO FCU, Wheatland FCU, Lancaster Red Rose CU, Mennonite Financial FCU, Belco Community CU and Citadel FCU hosted a booth. Each credit union tended a prize wheel and gave out promotional items donated by the credit unions. Volunteers wearing LCCU T-shirts also participated in the parade and handed out candy along the parade route. The LCCU was awarded third place in the parade (Life is a Highway Oct.1) ... * SALT LAKE CITY (10/2/08)--Mountain America CU sponsored its fifth annual Swing for Kids Challenge--a golf tournament--raising $100,000 for Primary Children’s Medical Center. “This was our fifth Swing for Kids Challenge and it brought our total contribution to Primary Children’s to more than half a million dollars,” said Gordon Dames, Mountain America president /CEO. “When asked how we do it, I simply say that we have remarkable friends who support us in this effort. We can’t thank them enough.” Participants from the credit union movement included major sponsors Pemco Technologies and CO-OP Financial Services. Other sponsors included Credit Union Direct Lending; First Tech CU, Beaverton, Ore.; Member Business Lending LLC and Southwest Business Corp. …

Savings safe at CUs say two Wisconsin papers

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OSHKOSH and APPLETON, Wis. (10/2/08)--Several credit unions in Wisconsin are safe and sound in the face of the ongoing U.S. financial crisis, according to articles in two state newspapers. Citizens First CU, a $335.4 million asset, Oshkosh-based credit union, has been deluged by member calls checking to see if their money is safe (The Northwestern Sept. 30). The credit union tells members their accounts are indeed safe because Citizens does not invest in Wall Street, and that it has avoided investing in subprime mortgages and adheres to conservative lending practices, Carla Altepeter, Citizens president/CEO, told the paper. Following the same guidelines it always has, the credit union continues to lend to many of its 78,000 members, Altepeter added. Bailouts of Wachovia and Washington Mutual--rather than concerns about the congressional bailout vote--have fueled member calls seeking assurance of safety and soundness of their accounts at the $1.089 billion asset, Appleton-based Community First CU, said Cathie Tierney, president/CEO (postcrescent.com Oct.1). The $325 million asset, Kimberley-based Capital CU has not seen any member reaction in response to the country’s financial crisis because most think the federal government will remedy the situation, Alan Zierler, Capital president/CEO, told the paper. Some members had initial questions on safety and soundness, but Capital allayed any concerns by letting them know that most of the credit union’s mortgages are held locally and only 1% to 2% were sold to secondary markets, he added. The $145.2 million asset, Appleton-based Prospera CU has not seen any panic among its 15,000 members, Ken Eiden, CEO, told the paper. Prospera focuses on lending in the local Appleton area and its members understand that, he added.

Collier nominated for CUNA board seat

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (10/2/08)--Ron Collier, CEO of Indiana Members CU, Indianapolis, has submitted his nomination for the District 2, Class C Credit Union National Association (CUNA) board of directors position. The deadline for nominations for eight positions on CUNA’s board is Oct. 17. Already nominated are:
* Sandy Lingerfelt, Clinchfield FCU, Erwin, Tenn., for District 3, Class A; * Brett Thompson, Wisconsin Credit Union League, Pewaukee, Wis., for District 4, Class D; and * Winona Nava, Guadalupe CU, Santa Fe, N.M., for District 5, Class A.
The eight directors elected will take office Feb. 27, 2009, for three-year terms to expire at the adjournment of the 2012 CUNA Annual General Meeting. Positions up for election are:
* District 1, Class B; * District 2, Class C; * District 3, Class A; * District 3, Class D; * District 4, Class B; * District 4, Class D; * District 5, Class A; and * District 6, Class C.
Nominators must submit the appropriate forms and obtain consent of the candidate. Voting will begin Oct. 22 and will close on Dec. 19. For more information, use the resource links.

Freiburg to keynote CUNA Lending Council Conference

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MADISON, Wis. (10/2/08)--Author and speaker Kevin Freiburg will discuss how to step up to the leadership plate and choose to become a force for change during his keynote address at the 14th annual CUNA Lending Council Conference, Nov. 2-5 in Orlando, Fla. During “Boom! Seven Choices for Blowing the Doors Off Business-as-Usual,” Freiburg will illustrate how to create a culture of commitment and accountability, one choice at a time. Attendees will learn how to inspire people to assume responsibility for the success of the organization and how to build a reputation for being indispensable. Conference breakout sessions will tackle issues to help lending professionals succeed in current market conditions, including:
* The mortgage meltdown: tools and tactics; * Hot collection and bankruptcy topics in an economic downturn; * Underwriting risk for underbanked and underserved consumers; * Opportunities in mortgage lending; * To do or not to do: indirect vs. direct auto lending; * Home equity lending-risk strategies; * Open-end lending: Reg Z impacts to the credit union; * Mortgage lending strategies for today’s economic environment; * Hottest topics in lending compliance; * Reverse mortgages; and * Building members from indirect borrowers.
A luncheon on Nov. 3 will honor the winners of the Credit Union Excellence in Lending Awards, sponsored by CUNA Mutual Group and the CUNA Lending Council. On Nov. 2, attendees may choose to sign up for a golf tournament at Shingle Creek Golf Club or volunteer at Give Kids The World Village (GKTW) in Kissimmee, Fla. GKTW is a not-for-profit resort for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.