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CU System Briefs (10/17/2013)

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  • KANSAS CITY, Mo. (10/17/13)--United Labor CU has been named the winner of the 2013 Missouri Excellence Award, given by the Small Business Institute for Excellence in Commerce (SBIEC). The Kansas City-based credit union was chosen for outstanding business ethics and organizational values, according to the Missouri Credit Union Association (Missouri Difference Oct 16.). The SBIEC picks the winner of the award through business surveys and industry research to honor small enterprises that demonstrate contributions to their local business environment and industry ...
  • ST. LOUIS, Mo. (10/17/13)--John L. Irvin Jr., former chairman of the Missouri Credit Union Association board and a former director of the Kansas Credit Union League (now Kansas Credit Union Association), has died at the age of 87 (Missouri Difference Oct. 10). He served as head of the MCUA board from 1965 until 1967, when the organization was called the Missouri Credit Union League. Arnold Sandbothe, a former employee of MCUA, described Irvin as an innovator. "He was not only a professional credit union executive, but held numerous volunteer positions that influenced untold positive outcomes for the success of credit unions of today," he said. "His volunteerism not only reached top elected positions in Missouri, but also in neighboring Kansas and on the national level." Irvin was the CEO of Yellow Freight CU from 1966 until 1985, and the president of Central CU from 1985 until 1991. He also was active with the Kansas City Chapter of Credit Unions and the Kansas City Credit Union Managers Association ...
 

CUs Around the Globe Unite For Good Today--ICU Day

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MADISON, Wis., and WASHINGTON (10/17/13)--Today is the big day, where credit unions and their members around the world celebrate the 66th annual International Credit Union Day with the theme, "Credit Unions Unite for Good," and promote awareness of the credit union difference.
 
"International Credit Union Day is a great opportunity to celebrate everything that makes credit unions different," said Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney.
 
"This year's theme is 'Credit Unions Unite For Good,' reminding us of all the excellent work that credit unions do for members and their communities. With over 200 million credit union members worldwide and growing, this day is also a great reminder of how far the credit union movement has come. We encourage all members to participate, and share their own personal story."
 
International Credit Union Day, celebrated on the third Thursday of October since 1948, often brings proclamations recognizing the value of credit unions to their members and community. Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa and Gov. Mark Dayton of Minnesota have signed proclamations making today Credit Union Day in their states.
 
The proclamations say in effect that credit unions embrace the "people helping people" philosophy by pooling personal resources and leadership abilities for the good of the cooperative, "empowering members to improve their financial futures and untied to help those in need."
 
"On this day in Iowa, and all over the world, credit unions celebrate their common roots, the cooperative spirit and their community service achievements," said Iowa Credit Union League CEO/President Patrick S. Jury. "This is the day to celebrate credit unions as a robust alternative to for-profit banks," he said, noting that at credit unions, "people are more important than profit."
 
"For credit unions in Minnesota and around the world, International Credit Union Day is a time to recognize what the industry has achieved and to highlight the difference credit unions make in their communities. Credit unions truly unite for good wherever they are," said Minnesota Credit Union Network President/CEO Mark D. Cummins.
 
The Pennsylvania State Senate and State House of Representatives issued resolutions recognizing this week as Credit Union Week in Pennsylvania.  Sen. Don White (R-Indiana), chairman of the Senate Banking and Insurance, sponsored Senate Resolution 215, while Rep. Robert Matzie (D-Beaver), a member of the House Consumer Affairs Committee, sponsored House Resolution 464.  The resolutions recognize Pennsylvania's 499 credit unions as cooperatives, and their commitment to providing their 23.7 million members with low-cost financial services.
 
The World Council of Credit Unions has posted a Youtube video on its website with a "Happy International Credit Union Day" message from World Council Chair Grzegorz Bierecki and President/CEO Brian Branch inviting the world to join in the celebration. Use the link to view the video.
 
The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions is celebrating its member CDCUs' "commitment to expanding financial inclusion to low-income families, new immigrants, young people, and an ever-growing number of Americans seeking alternatives to mainstream banks," said a message from Deyanira Del Rio, federation board chair, and President/CEO Cathie Mahon.

In the United Kingdom, the Archbishop of Canterbury has written to all clergy in the Church of England urging them to become "actively involved" in supporting credit unions. (Express & Star Oct. 16).

Some credit unions have reported what they are doing today:
  • Bay Winds FCU in Charlevoix, Mich., will host member appreciation events and accept donations for a local domestic violence shelter. It has invited members to stop by its branches from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today for refreshments and gifts.
  • Shell FCU, Deer Park, Texas, will be up early, hosting a free gas giveaway at the Wilson Road Shell gas station in Humble beginning at 7 a.m. The first 100 vehicles in line will receive $30 of gas pumped into their vehicle free.  Also, all Shell FCU branches will offer the chance to win a $50 Visa Gift Card to anyone who stops by today.
  • Everett (Mass.) CU has invited its members to visit and celebrate the cooperative spirit today. "The credit union movement is a united force based on camaraderie, cooperation and collaboration," the credit union said in the Everett Independent (Oct. 16).
  • Royal CU, Eau Claire, Wis., has invited its members and members of the community to enjoy free cookies and coffee at all RCU offices while supplies last.
  • In the United Kingdom, Darlington CU is highlighting some of its work in the local community through a junior savings program and is urging members to sign up for holiday loans program which helps members save money. "We want to use International Credit Union Day to get the message out there in Darlington that the credit union is very active and vibrant and we welcome all new members," said Tony Brockley, coordinator at the Darlington branch (The Northern Echo Oct. 16).
Many will be sharing their activities through social media. If tweeting about your activities, use the hashtag #ICUDay. For more information on using social media to celebrate, see News Now's story, Tomorrow's ICU Day will Connect With Social Media, by using the link.

Wesenberg, Cheney Stress Don't Tax My CU Message To CUNA Employees

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MADISON, Wis. (10/17/13)--Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney and CUNA Chair Pat Wesenberg emphasized the importance of spreading the Don't Tax My Credit Union message Wednesday in comments at a meeting with CUNA employees in Madison, Wis.
 
Click to view larger image CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney told CUNA employees in Madison, Wis., that credit unions are in "once in a generation" battle with banks over the credit union tax status.
Cheney and Wesenberg just returned from a World Council of Credit Unions meeting in Australia, where credit unions are taxed. Cheney and Wesenberg said the message from Australian credit unions was clear: U.S. credit unions should fight to retain their current tax status.
 
"Credit unions and banks that used to be called credit unions told us, 'Whatever you do, don't lose that battle; whatever you do, don't lose that battle. You've got to win,'" Cheney said. "'Once you lose, it's never the same again.'"
 
Much of the credit union culture has been lost in Australia, Cheney said. Most of Australia's largest credit unions have converted to banks. The former credit union association is now known as the Customer Owned Banking Association.

Click to view larger image CUNA Chair Pat Wesenberg, president/CEO of Central City CU, Marshfield, Wis., urged CUNA employees to continue to spread the Don't Tax My CU message to member credit unions during her comments at CUNA headquarters in Madison Wis. (CUNA photos)
"Can you imagine if we changed the name of the Credit Union National Association to the Customer Owned Banking Association in the United States?" Cheney said.
 
Wesenberg, president/CEO Central City CU, Marshfield, Wis., stressed the importance of CUNA employees continuing to emphasize the Don't Tax My CU message in their day-to-day work with credit unions.
 
"Anything that you can do to help get the message out, even if it's on a personal level, such as sending an e-mail to five of your contacts, asking them to reach out to their legislators, those efforts make a big difference," Wesenberg said.
 
Cheney also offered an overview of the tax reform as it relates to the U.S. government furlough and the debt ceiling debate.
 
"The concern is out of that will come sort of grand bargain," Cheney said. "And the banks see this as a generational opportunity to destroy credit unions. Their goal is not just to tax credit unions. Their goal is to eliminate the competition, which they did to the [savings and loan] industry."
 
But Cheney said credit unions can win the battle if they stay in constant contact with leaders of Congress.
 
"We need people in the room when this grand bargain is struck to say, 'You're not going to tax my credit union.' Then we've won for a generation," Cheney said.
 
So far, credit unions have made more than a million contacts through the Don't Tax My Credit Union message, Cheney said. CUNA hopes credit unions can make at least two million contacts through the campaign.
 
"CUNA and the leagues have the led this fight, and I believe we're going to win it, but only if we continue to battle," he said.

Rock Star Helen Estes: Credit Scores 'Don't Tell the Story You Need to Hear'

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MADISON, Wis. (10/17/13)--If you know only one thing about Helen Estes, it will tell you a lot.

Estes, loan officer at Old Dominion University CU in Norfolk, Va., detests credit scores. "I don't believe in them," she said. "They don't tell the story you need to hear. If you're going to lend money to somebody questionable, why charge an outrageous rate just to foreclose on them a year earlier?"

Credit Union Magazine is celebrating the credit union movement's rock stars--those ordinary people who manage to pull off the extraordinary--in honor of International Credit Union Day today, which is Thursday.
 
This is the second of five credit union rock stars News Now will highlight this week.
 
Estes' lending decisions run the gamut, from $100 consumer loans to $1 million mortgages. She recently helped an overseas professor who had a $450,000 down payment on a $1 million mortgage but couldn't get a secondary market-approved loan because he didn't have a credit score.
 
"I gave him the loan," she said, adding that everyone involved agreed the member was a good credit risk.
 
As a one-woman loan department, Helen is in a unique position to bend the rules to everybody's benefit. "Old Dominion accepts that I've occasionally made a wrong call, but they support my approach," she said.
 
Her openness to borrowers' stories doesn't mean she never says no. "The first time I had to say no, I was scared," she said. "It was difficult. I had to explain our policy and why this loan wouldn't work. Many times when I say no it's from a gut feeling."
 
She can be strict. "Sometimes I'll spend hours with a member, methodically contacting and paying off creditors," she said. "When we're finished, I say, 'This is the only time I'll do this for you. If you go back to these lenders again, where will you get the money to pay them off?'"
 
Helen meets with almost all applicants face to face. "They have to sit down and talk to me," she said. "I know the people I lend to and I know their stories."
 
If her answer is "no," she'll work with the member and explain the steps needed to make improvements before the credit union can offer services. "Sometimes they cry, and sometimes I cry right with them."
 
Honoring credit union rock stars is just one way credit unions and more than 196 million credit union members in 100 countries are preparing to "unite for good" with activities to today celebrate the credit union difference and demonstrate the value of credit unions.
 
This year's ICU Day theme, "Credit Unions Unite for Good," builds on the Credit Union National Association's Unite for Good campaign, which has rallied credit unions to work to remove barriers, create awareness of the good credit unions do for members and their communities, and foster service excellence to encourage Americans to choose credit unions as their best financial partner.

Governor, Coach Headline Indiana CU Convention

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INDIANAPOLIS (10/17/13)--
Click to view larger image At the Indiana Credit Union League's Annual Convention are, from left, League Governmental Affairs Committee Chair and league director George McNichols, Hoosier Hills CU; League Vice President Governmental Affairs Chris Beaumont; League Chairman Frank Gulley, Afena FCU; Indiana Gov. Mike Pence; League President John McKenzie; and Indiana Credit Union Political Action Committee trustee Dave Abernathy, Via CU. (Photo provided by the Indiana Credit Union League)
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence praised credit unions at the Indiana Credit Union League convention in late September.

Pence, a long-time supporter of credit unions, shared his appreciation for credit unions' role in Indiana's economic environment, said the league.
 
The Sept. 25-27 gathering, which featured a keynote motivational speech from Indiana University basketball coach Tom Crean, also served as a fundraiser for Samaritan's Feet--a charity that delivers new shoes to impoverished children in the U.S. and around the world.
 
"We were pleased to have more than 500 attendees at this year's 79th annual convention," said ICUL President John McKenzie. "They represented almost 90% of Indiana's 2.2 million members."

Next year's ICUL convention is scheduled to take place Oct. 15-17.

CUNA's Dunn Offers Regulatory Insight At NWCUA Conference

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PORTLAND, Ore. (10/17/13)--While Congress and regulators have introduced an abundance of new regulations in recent years, the Credit Union National Association remains steadfast in its efforts to ease the burden on credit unions, Mary Dunn, CUNA deputy general counsel, said during a breakout session at the Northwest Credit Union Association's Amplify Conference in Portland, Ore. last week.
 
"Working with the leagues and credit unions, CUNA's regulatory advocacy is proactive at all times and aggressive when needed," Dunn said.  "Our No. 1 regulatory advocacy priority is to pursue a positive regulatory environment for credit unions and minimize their regulatory burdens from the National Credit Union Administration, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or whatever agency is involved to the greatest extent possible."
 
A strength of the credit union system in working with regulators is the strong partnership among CUNA, state leagues and credit unions, Dunn said.
 
That relationship also helps CUNA carry a unified message to lawmakers."Credit unions understand we are carrying that message the credit unions are burdened by regulation loud and clear to Congress," Dunn said.
 
CUNA continues to push for broad exemptions for credit unions on some CFPB rules, she said.
 
"Are they complete as we want them to be? No," Dunn told the group. And that is something we continue to work on," Dunn said.
 
CUNA's long-term strategy is to help regulators, including the NCUA, understand the regulatory burden credit unions face on a daily basis.
 
That includes even if a new regulation is needed, then considering if an existing regulation can be eliminated," Dunn said.

U.S., Canada, Australia Leaders Explore Collaborative Solutions

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SYDNEY (10/17/13)--
Click to view larger image At the international workshop on challenges facing credit unions worldwide are, from left: Credit Union Central of Canada President/CEO David Phillips, Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney, Australia's Customer Owned Banking Association CEO Louise Petschler and World Council of Credit Unions President/CEO Brian Branch.
Credit union trade association leaders from the U.S., Canada and Australia met in Sydney last week for a symposium on collaborative solutions to shared industry challenges.

Conference topics included regulatory issues, advocacy, credit union branding, and consumer demands for modern payment systems. Discussions about regulatory constraints focused on Basel III, anti-money laundering statutes, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, member business lending, and strategies about fostering member identification with the credit union brand.

The World Council of Credit Unions--led by President/CEO Brian Branch and Vice President Victor Miguel Corro--coordinated the exchange.

Click to view larger image U.S., Canadian and Australian credit union trade association leaders discuss key issues affecting member credit unions and how to respond to them. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
"The challenges are similar, the answers are sometimes different and participants gain new insights from this engagement to apply to their own credit unions and national systems," said Branch. "They also provide World Council with valuable lessons that we can share with the rest of the credit union world who face common regulatory, branding and payments challenges."
 
The American delegation, led by Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney, stressed that Americans tend to choose credit unions when regulatory barriers to membership are minimized, and when they understand the difference between credit unions and banks.
 
The Canadian delegation was led by David Phillips, president/CEO of Credit Union Central of Canada, and the host delegation was led by Louise Petschler, CEO of Australia's Customer Owned Banking Association.
 
Joining the leaders were a number of trade association and credit union executives.

From the U.S., Cheney was joined by:
  • Susan Newton, CUNA executive vice president of system relations and American Association of Credit Union Leagues' executive director;
  • Patrick Jury, president/CEO, Iowa Credit Union League;
  • Diana Dykstra, president/CEO, California and Nevada Credit Union League;
  • Pat Wesenberg, CUNA chairman and president/CEO, Central City CU, Marshfield, Wis.; and
  • Dennis Pierce, CEO, CommunityAmerica CU, Lenexa, Kan.

From Canada, Phillips was joined by:
  • Daniel Burns, CUCC chairman;
  • Scott Kennedy, CUCC director;
  • Loretta Elford, CUCC director;
  • Stephen Fitzpatrick, CUCC vice president of corporate services and chief financial officer;
  • Wendy King, senior vice president of government relations, general counsel, corporate secretary and chief compliance officer, Central 1 CU; and
  • Michael Leonard, president/CEO, Atlantic Central.
Joining Petschler in hosting duties, was COBA head of public affairs, Mark Degotardi.

While in Australia, conference attendees visited a mutual bank and credit union--Bank MECU and Victoria Teachers Mutual Bank in Melbourne. The mutual banking sector in Australia includes credit unions, mutual building societies, mutual banks, cooperative banks and friendly societies, and many Australian credit unions have decided to become mutual banks because of regulatory pressures.

Montana CUs Lead VITA Grant Procurement

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HELENA, Mont. (10/17/13)--A credit union-led coalition of community development organizations won a $76,800 Internal Revenue Service grant to help support Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites in Montana.

Montana Credit Unions for Community Development (MCUCD) heads the consortium--called the Montana VITA Partnership (MVP)--with Community Action of Northwest Montana, Human Resource Development Councils in Billings and Bozeman, Opportunity Link Inc. and the United Way of Yellowstone County all participating.
 
"Being part of a coalition makes us better," Carin McClain, MCUCD's VITA program manager said. "We are better able to serve taxpayers in our communities, advocate for our programs, and get the word out about important tax credits that benefit hard-working Montanans."

McClain predicted that the program will save taxpayers in the state "millions." The average taxpayer spends more than $220 preparing their income tax returns, according to the National Society of Accountants. Last year, more than 152 VITA volunteers prepared 5,515 tax returns in Montana.
 
Most households and individuals who make $51,000 or less qualify for the free income tax preparation service.