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MWCUA Honors Outstanding CUs, Individuals

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DENVER, Colo. (10/10/13)--The Mountain West Credit Union Association honored employees and member credit unions last month who helped raise about $30,000 to benefit the league's charitable arm, the Mountain West Credit Union Foundation.
Fred Kent, former president/CEO of First CU, Tempe, Ariz.; Jeremy Gibson of Trona Valley Community FCU, Green River, Wyo.;  Desert Schools FCU, Phoenix; and Denver (Colo.) Community CU were all honored at a fundraiser on Sept. 27 at Mile High Station in Denver.
John Uchida, president/CEO of Aurora, Colo.-based Space Age FCU and chair of the MWCUF, termed the Star Gala "a great success."

"Credit union leaders came together to honor and celebrate the foundation that credit unions stand on, 'people helping people,'" he said.

Money raised at the event--attended by more than 220 credit union employees and volunteers from Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming--states served by the MWCUA--will support leadership and community development.

Photos from the Star Gala and YouTube videos about Desert Schools FCU and Denver Community CU can be viewed by using the links.

CU System Briefs (10/10/2013)

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  • SAN ANTONIO, Texas (10/10/13)--The loan portfolio of Security Service FCU has surpassed the $7 billion mark. Three-quarters of the loan portfolio is in indirect lending. The San Antonio-based credit union is the largest provider of car loans and the fifth largest mortgage lender in the city. "We are humbled by our members' continued loyalty and trust in Security Service over the years," said Jim Laffoon, SSFCU president. "Without it, we would have never reached this milestone." Established in 1956, SSFCU has $7.4 billion in assets and over 70 locations in Texas, Colorado, and Utah ...
  • TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (10/10/13)--First Commerce CU has given $10,525 to the Foundation for Leon County Schools--a gift that will be matched by a state grant of $7,525. Teachers have until Oct. 22 to apply for mini-grants from the funds, which, since 1986, have helped fund special projects for students, many of them low-performing. Amon Rwito, a teacher who was awarded grant funding last year, used part of a donation to finance a field trip to Challenger Learning Center, classroom visits by Florida State University laboratory scientists, and materials from the Boston Museum of Science for 120 second and fifth graders. "Since serving on the board of The Foundation for Leon County Schools, I have been especially impressed and inspired by the Teacher Mini-Grant Program," said Mary Estes, FCCU senior vice president/chief operating officer. "Our teachers are treasured assets in our community, and these grants provide funding to help them take their passion and creativity to the next level in the classroom."  The announcement was made at Kate Sullivan Elementary School. Pictured are a mini-grant recipient and students , with First Commerce mascot, Sammy Squirrel. (Photo provided by First Commerce CU). FCCU, based in Tallahassee, has over 40,000 members and eight branches, including one in Thomasville, Ga. ...

CU 'Good Guy' Status Provides Market Advantage: Gentile Tells Community CU

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. (10/10/13)
Click to view larger imagePaul Gentile, the Credit Union National Association's executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement, tells a community credit union audience that young Americans are attracted to the credit unions' values-based business model. (CUNA Photo)
--Credit unions have a unique opportunity today, Paul Gentile told an audience of community credit union representatives here Wednesday, to attract new members--and particularly and importantly new, young members--because they are values-based financial services providers.

"There's all this bad news circulating--the government shutdown, the debt ceiling, all the other things you're reading about," Gentile said at the CUNA Community Credit Union & Growth Conference, being held here through Friday.

"But credit unions are a bright spot in the country.  More people want to do business with businesses that do good.  They want to buy 'green' and shop local," he said.  Credit unions must recognize this environment as an opportunity to show they are the "good guys," the values-based financial services providers of the marketplace, Gentile encouraged.

Gentile is the Credit Union National Association's executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement.

"Big banks are our biggest promoters, by doing bad things--like adopting anti-consumer policies, getting government bailouts," but it up to credit unions alone, to seize the opportunities, he said.

Mirroring a theme introduced by the conference's keynote speaker, Paul Smith of Proctor & Gamble, who talked about the value of storytelling as a business tool (see related News Now story, Keynoter Smith: Storytelling Is Strong Business Tool), Gentile said it helps both membership growth and credit union political advocacy efforts when credit unions get out and tell their stories.  He said the stories should show the shared cooperative values of:
  • Being member-owned;
  • Being collaborative--credit unions help each other;
  • Being member-centric--it's all about what is good for the member; and
  • Being dedicated to consumers' financial well-being.
Gentile urged his credit union audience to share their stories within their communities, with their lawmakers, and with CUNA's Unite for Good website at  At the 2013 Governmental Affairs Conference last March, CUNA and the state credit union leagues launched the Unite for Good campaign toward the strategic vision where "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."

He said that while getting the good stories out will enhance the credit union reputation, meeting the Unite for Good goal of becoming the primary financial institution of 55 million Americans by 2023, up from the current 45.3 million, will also require finely tuned financial services.

He said to meet the Unite for Good goal of "fostering service excellence," credit unions must identify what their members most want.  And for the 80 million young people that comprise Generation Y that means, in part, moving toward phone-based access to mobile banking systems.

Walter Laskos Named CU Magazine Editor-in chief

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MADISON, Wis. (10/10/13)--Walter J. "Walt" Laskos will be the next editor-in-chief of Credit Union Magazine, effective Oct. 28, the Credit Union National Association announced Wednesday.
A well-known figure in the credit union system with a passion for promoting the good work of credit unions, Laskos will play a key role in continuing to elevate Credit Union Magazine as the premier source of information for credit unions, CUNA said.
"We are thrilled to have Walt as editor of the magazine," said Paul Gentile, CUNA executive vice-president of strategic communications and engagement. "I'm confident that his passion will reinvigorate our team as they continue to make Credit Union Magazine the go-to source for credit union news. We are thankful to our longtime editor Steve Rodgers, whose impressive work has set a foundation that leaves us well-positioned for the magazine's next stage."
Most recently, Laskos headed up the Laskos Group, which focused on member and employee communications for credit unions. He provided communications support for The Defense Credit Union Council and the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.
Prior to that, he spent 10 years as public relations director for Western Corporate FCU or WesCorp, where he served as spokesperson and established a succession of substantial public relations programs. They included "Operation Best Wishes," which provided free Webcast sessions to the military and their families during the holiday season, and a Web-TV program marketing International Credit Union Day, designed to foster awareness of credit unions and the impact of their work throughout the world.
Rodgers, the current editor-in-chief, will provide transitional support over the coming months for the magazine and continued support for CUNA's eScan. He has been with CUNA's publications for 33 years.

California FIs Warned About Illegal Payday Lenders

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (10/10/13)--California credit unions and banks are on alert to stop illegal unlicensed online payday lenders and to identify and report any suspicious activity.
Jan Lynn Owen, commissioner of the California Department of Business Oversight, directed financial institutions licensed by the department to monitor transactions with any unlicensed lender and immediately report potential violations, in an Oct. 7 letter.
"Protecting consumers from illegal online payday lending is a central focus of the department's enforcement efforts," said Owen. "With the recent consolidation of the state's payday lending regulator with the banking and credit union regulator into the Department of Business Oversight, we are now better equipped to protect both borrowers and financial services businesses. We are reaching out to our licensees and stakeholders to try and combat this growing threat to consumers."
The department said it will examine credit unions to ensure safeguards are in place to prevent unlicensed payday lenders from gaining access to the automated clearinghouse (ACH) network.
Names of unlicensed lenders that have been the subject of multiple consumer complaints are cited on the Department of Business Oversight website.

Students Tell CUAD New Ideas Conference: What We Need From CUs

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DEADWOOD, S.D. (10/10/13)--A panel of four business students advised regional credit unions on interacting with younger customers in Deadwood, S.D., yesterday.

Click to view larger image A business student panel tells Credit Union Association of the Dakotas' member credit unions to help financially illiterate students and stress the credit union community development mantra during CUAD's New Ideas Conference in  Deadwood, S.D.  (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas)
The panel--part of the New Ideas Conference for member credit unions of the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas--urged the audience to educate young people, rather than market to them.
With financial illiteracy rates inversely proportional to age, the quartet--three finance majors and a human resources and management major--said credit unions can stand out by being forthright with information, and remaining accessible and friendly to consumers with little knowledge of the financial sector.
The panel stressed that while students perceive credit unions as being more personal than big banks, they don't often see the two institutions as being significantly different, due to the fact that they offer similar services.

But while panel members emphasized that credit unions prioritizing honest business practices over marketing would win over younger customers, they also noted that social media outreach, online services and mobile banking are still important to their fellow students.

With Gen Y, Even Fin Lit Must Be Tailored To Tastes

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. (10/10/13)--A targeted and proactive approach by credit unions to help young consumers learn to better manage their money can help cultivate these Generation Y Americans into lifelong members. But those financial literacy efforts have to be tailored to the younger generation's terms.
That was the message of Jim Merrill, senior vice president of sales and business development for LendKey, a CUNA Strategic Services provider.  He addressed an afternoon session at the Credit Union National Association's three-day Community Credit Union & Growth Conference here.
"As credit unions and as an industry, we do need to make sure we are relevant to this Generation Y demographic," Merrill stressed during his presentation. "They have the ability to save and grow credit unions in the future. The generation is huge."
Merrill told his audience to consider the numbers: There are 80 million individuals accounted for under the Gen Y label.  The last big population boom--the Baby Boomers--was just 76 million.  As the aging Boomers move into retirement and out of the borrowing phases of their lives, the Gen Yers can more than take their place, Merrill said.
But the country's young generation has different expectations than consumers of their parents' generations.  They expect their financial services--even financial literacy help--to be available 24/7, to be visually driven and interactive, personalized and targeted and easy to find in an Internet search.
"And there must be some form of instant gratification--they must walk away with an immediate positive impression." Otherwise, a credit union's best efforts are a waste of resources because one-third of  Millennials make a decision within five seconds to leave a site if they are not immediately engaged, Merrill warned.
He also said financial literacy education is a "wasted investment" without social media distribution. He urged credit unions to get to know, and get comfortable with, the "new channels" of information distribution, such as Facebook, tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit and more. 
He also informed his audience that phones are overtaking PCs in information distribution.  There was 81% growth in smartphone use in 2012 and 95 million consumers will shop in 2013 using a tablet, he reported.
"Ninety percent of us have our mobile device within an arms length of us 24 hours a day."

Over 2,000 Participate In Online Discovery Conference

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MADISON, Wis. (10/10/13)--The Online Discovery Conference held by CUNA Mutual Group on Oct. 1 was virtually attended by 2,185 people, with over 50 registrants from 10 countries other than the U.S.

The conference, which seeks to help credit unions manage compliance risk, is still available online, with registration granting users access to conference materials free until June 27, 2014.

"If you missed the live event, it's not too late to participate," said Christy LaMasney, Online Discovery Conference manager. "You can still access the conference on demand, for free, by simply registering." Use the link.

The conference also awarded one conference participant--Dallas Pitts of FAA FCU based in Tupelo, Miss.--with a free registration to the 2014 America's Credit Union Conference in San Francisco and $1,000 for travel expenses.

CUNA Mutual Group provides insurance, retirement and investment products to credit unions and their members.

Indiana League Awards Announced

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INDIANAPOLIS (10/10/13)--
Click to view larger image Ronald H. Mazur, left, CEO, of Chiphone FCU, Elkhart, Ind., was inducted into the Indiana Credit Union Hall of Fame during the league's statewide convention. League Chairman Frank Gulley, right, of Afena FCU, Marion, Ind., presents Mazur with the honor.
Click to view larger image Chris Wardrip, left, CEO of Financial Health FCU in Indianapolis, receives the Professional Achievement Award from Indiana Credit Union League Chairman Frank Gulley, chairman of the board, Afena FCU, Marion, Ind.
The Indiana Credit Union League presented its annual awards Sept. 27 during its statewide convention.
Ronald H. Mazur, CEO of Chiphone FCU, Elkhart, was inducted into the Indiana Credit Union Hall of Fame. Mazur was on the league board of directors from 2006 to 2012 and is a past league chairman. He has been a member of several league committees, and served as chairman of the Convention Committee.
Chris Wardrip, CEO of Financial Health FCU in Indianapolis, was the 2013 recipient of the league's Professional Achievement Award. Individuals are nominated for their professional accomplishments, their commitment to the credit union movement and their contributions to their credit union and community.
With Wardrip's leadership, Financial Health FCU has reached out to lower-income individuals, and has developed products and services to serve the specific needs of this group. He is active in community dvelopment efforts and has helped establish an Individual Development Account (IDA) program and participated in Bank on Indy, Indy's Campaign for Financial Fitness and other financial education and underserved programs.
John Dierdorf, chairman of the board of FORUM CU, Fishers, received the Leadership Achievement Award. Dierdorf has been on FORUM CU's board since 1989 and has been chairman since 1994. During his tenure, FORUM CU became: the first credit union to offer mortgage services to its members, the first credit union in the state to offer auto financing at a dealership, and the second credit union in the country to offer Internet banking. It also created a credit union service organization that offers software solutions to other credit unions.
Three credit union executives received 2013 Emerging Leadership Awards, which recognize the next generation of credit union leaders in Indiana:
  • Tara Holloway, assistant vice president of marketing, Teachers CU, South Bend, has represented Teachers CU on the executive leadership team of the American Heart Association Indianapolis Heart Walk. She is an alumni of ignite--a league initiative to provide a forum for new idea exchange and implementation, collaboration and networking for Indiana's credit union leaders and emerging leaders. Holloway is also a member of the league's Emerging Leadership Advisory Group.
  • Sven Leander, director of operations at Financial Center CU, Indianapolis, is a certified compliance officer. He is a member of ignite also.
  • Deidre Davis, chief marketing officer, of Notre Dame (Ind.) FCU, is also involved in the league's ignite initiative. Her team developed a vehicle repossession website. Davis is also a member of the Credit Union National Association's Marketing and Business Development Council.
    Click to view larger image Indiana Credit Union League Chairman Frank Gulley, right, chairman of Afena FCU, Marion, Ind., presents the Leadership Achievement Award to John Dierdorf, chairman of FORUM CU, Fishers, Ind. (Photos provided by Indiana Credit Union League)

Keynoter Smith Says Storytelling Is Strong Business

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. (10/10/13)--Story telling is growing as a tool for business leaders, and credit unions can tell their stories to define their cooperative culture, inspire staff and--a big one--grow their business, according to Paul Smith, director of consumer and communications research at Procter & Gamble, who delivered Wednesday's keynote address at the Community Credit Union & Growth Conference.
Storytelling has been around since the dawn of man for a reason: It's contagious, demographic-proof, memorable, and inspirational. And credit unions, Smith said, have great stories to tell--from the birth of the movement to everyday experiences that change people's lives.
Click to view larger image Paul Smith of Proctor & Gamble says story telling can be a significant tool for business development. (CUNA Photo)
But don't confuse a recitation of facts with a story, advised Smith, author of "Lead With a Story: A Guide to Drafting Business Narratives that Captivate, Convince, and Inspire." A good story requires an emotional hook--something too many organizations are hardwired to downplay or ignore, he said.
"Emotional things happen around us all the time, but we intentionally exclude them from our thought process because we somehow think it's unprofessional," Smith says.
He invited his community credit union audience to consider this lost opportunity by Pizza Hut, a tale he relates in his book.
One day, a woman ordered a meatball sandwich from a young employee at the Pizza Hut in Springdale, Ark. When informed the restaurant didn't offer that item, the woman became distraught. She explained that her husband had lost his appetite due to illness, and only a meatball sandwich appealed to him. But no other restaurants offered them, and Pizza Hut was her last chance.
The employee realized he had the ingredients to construct a makeshift meatball sandwich, and she agreed to pay $3 for it. The next day, she called the store to personally thank the employee for going out of his way. She explained that he wasn't just sick; he had advanced lung cancer. He savored every bite of what became his last meal, as he died overnight.
"The real travesty behind that story is this: That happened almost 30 years ago, and the first time the story was written down was last year, when my book was published," Smith says. "That's an unforgivable sin in the business world. Can you imagine all the good that story would've done Pizza Hut internally as a display of excellent customer service, or externally as a market campaign?
"Why wasn't it used?" Smith asked rhetorically. "Because no one saw value in it. It was just a story."
Conversely, in the 1980s, Procter & Gamble conducted field studies on why some families continued to bypass Crisco for lard. One woman told a researcher that lard was a healthier choice, which perplexed him, because he knew otherwise. Why? he asked. Because buying Crisco meant she wouldn't have enough money to also buy milk, the woman replied.
"That hit him in the chest," Smith explained. "This was a personal decision a single mom had to make because of the high price of his product."
To his credit, the researcher didn't just recite facts--"Respondent says Crisco's too expensive"--but rather jotted down the entire story, which resonated within the company.
Likewise, founders of the credit union movement aren't just names--they have stories worth telling, says Smith. Friedrich Wilhelm Raffeisen noticed from an early age that bankers either ignored rural areas in Germany or practiced loan sharking at residents' expense, and became a cooperative pioneer. Alphonse Dejardins stumbled into a story that shocked him while working as a journalist in Canada, when a judge ruled that a man had to pay $5,000 on a $150 loan he'd taken out with a bank a year earlier. He co-founded the first North American credit union in 1900; 200 credit unions operated at the time of his death, 20 years later.
"This is the noble history of the business that you're in, and you should be incredibly proud," Smith said. "I'm convinced there are stories like these all over this room. Find them. Share them. People want to do business with people who have a purpose to what they're doing, beyond profit."

CUNA's Community Credit Union & Growth conference concludes on Friday.