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Happy International CU Day

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (10/21/10)--It’s finally here--the day in which credit unions take note of what they do and celebrate--while honoring those who have made contributions to the global financial cooperative movement. International Credit Union Day, traditionally the third Thursday of October since 1948, has a theme this year of “Local. Trusted. Serving You.” Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney, in extending best wishes to the national movement, noted that this year’s theme “perfectly captures what makes credit unions so appealing to consumers across the nation and around the globe. “Here in the U.S., the 90-million-plus Americans who are credit union members have an advantage over all other consumers in our nation: They experience, first-hand, the benefits of receiving financial services from member-owned, cooperative financial institutions--which practice a philosophy of putting people before products,” Cheney said. “In fact, in doing so, they and their families realize substantial, direct financial benefits: More than $7.5 billion this year alone from favorable rates and lower fees as a result of using credit unions rather than other financial institutions. That breaks down to an average of $84 for each credit union member or $159 for each member household. Because credit unions are member-owed, this savings stays right in local communities,” he added. “It is no wonder, then, that survey after survey shows consumers trust credit unions to look out for their best interests more than any other type of financial institution. Our goal, as committed credit union supporters, should be to ensure that ALL Americans have the opportunity to realize these benefits through a simple, effective path to membership,” he said. A webcast at Credit Union House in Washington, D.C., today will feature a panel gathered to discuss their collective member service heritage. Cheney and Pete Crear, president/CEO of World Council of Credit Unions, will head today’s webcast. Also, participating in the panel, moderated by Paul Berry, the voice of CUNA’s Home and Family Finance Radio, will be Paul Hazen, president/CEO of the National Cooperative Business Association; and Mark Meyer CEO of the Filene Research Institute. The webcast, which will run from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET, is open to the public and will allow time at the end of the discussion for panelists to respond to question submitted from the online audience. Use the link to access the program, which will also be recorded and available for viewing on WOCCU’s website after the broadcast.

Southeasts member capital not impacted by Sept. OTTI

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (10/21/10)--Membership capital at Southeast Capital FCU will not be impacted by an $873,063 additional other than temporary impairments (OTTI) recorded in September, announced the corporate Wednesday. With the additional OTTI from September, Southeast’s year-to-date earnings total $321,902. The corporate’s September financials are located on its website. They detail that Southeast recorded $53,102 in earnings in September, and then recorded the $873,063 OTTI, resulting in a net loss for the month of $819,961. Retained earnings were sufficient to cover the OTTI, the corporate said in a member bulletin. Year-to-date, Southeast’s OTTI totals $1.7 million, including OTTI the corporate recorded in June and in September. “Continuing to improve operating efficiencies is helping to build our retained earnings, which serve as first loss protection for membership capital, which totaled $58.7 million as of Sept. 30,” said Southeast President/CEO Brad Miller. “Going forward, our goal is to continue to improve earnings and efficiencies while providing transparency in our financial position,” he said. “The timing and amount of any future losses coupled with adherence to the new corporate rule will ultimately determine the impact to retained earnings and membership capital,” he said.

Media Traditional free checking is ending

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NEW YORK and CHICAGO (10/21/10)--Free checking is on the demise in big banks, with at least one source suggesting that smaller Main Street banks and credit unions can prepare for the opening to attract more member/customers. “The days when you could walk into a bank branch and open an account with no charges and no strings attached appear to be over,” reported the Associated Press in a widely disseminated story, “Say Goodbye to traditional free checking” (via “Yahoo! News” Oct. 19). The article noted that Bank of America is charging $8.95 a month for banking with a teller and receiving a paper statement. Twelve percent of BofA’s revenues is made through fees. Tuesday the bank announced a major shift in how it addresses consumer business. Free checking will be nearly unheard of, largely because of the number of regulations hitting banks’ bottom lines, including new laws on high-risk trades, are squeezing banks’ bottom lines, the article said. Free checking rose steadily in recent years before dropping this year, according to Moebs Services, a Chicago-based economic research firm. Last year 81.5% of banking customers had free checking. That dropped to 72.5% this year. Moebs Services founder Michael Moebs said it is now up to smaller Main Street banks to use the opening and grab customers from big banks. Free checking could become a mainstay of community banks and credit unions in the future, he said. To read the full article, use the link.

NCUF celebrates 30 years of investing in CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (10/21/10)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) is celebrating 30 years of serving as the charitable arm of America’s credit union movement. The foundation has awarded more than $25 million in grants since October 1980 to further its mission of promoting and improving consumer financial independence through credit unions. Originally incorporated as the CUNA Foundation, the organization initially focused on international development and scholarships and grants to small credit unions. In 1991, it reorganized as a charitable foundation aimed at supporting credit unions’ unique ability to meet consumer needs. Its current name was adopted in 1998 to reflect its national focus. Current NCUF programs and grants help credit unions provide financial education, expand access to affordable financial services and empower consumers to save, build assets and own homes. Foundation programs and grants include:
* REAL Solutions, which helps credit unions offer services with proven success in meeting the needs of people of modest means; * Credit union Development Education (DE) to provide training in credit union philosophy and cooperative principles; * Financial education through sponsorship of the award-winning BizKids financial education series that airs on Public Broadcasting Service stations; * CUAid, which raises disaster relief funds for credit union employees, volunteers and members through an online site and other efforts; and * Innovation Grants to encourage creative approaches to credit union operations.
NCUF is supported by credit unions participating in the Community Investment Fund, corporate supporters, individual donors, state credit union leagues and foundations, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), CUNA Mutual Group and the Corporate Credit Union Network.

Study CUs more savvy with branch technology than banks

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NEW YORK (10/21/10)--Credit unions are considerably more advanced than banks when technology investments in branch infrastructure are compared (FierceFinanceIT.com Oct. 16). According to a recent study by Celent, New York, credit unions top banks because:
* 34% more credit unions than banks use teller cash dispensers, while 8% more use more teller cash recyclers; * 25% more employ automated account opening systems * 23% more have automated loan origination systems; * 23% more use image ATMs; and * 20% more use in-branch self-service technology.
The Celent report, Branch Banking in a Multichannel World: What Ever Happened to the “Branch of the Future?” put banks ahead of credit unions only in the use of customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Overall, less than a third of financial institutions participating in the survey, or 28%, had operational CRM systems and 23% had analytic CRM. In addition, 29% of all financial institutions had automated, paperless systems for account opening. One in four financial institutions used teller cash recycling, while only one in five had automated loan origination systems.

CUs make Wisconsin consumers more money savvy

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PEWAUKEE, Wis. (10/21/10)--Wisconsin credit unions look out for members’ long-term financial health by promoting thrift, according to the Wisconsin Credit Union League (WCUL). WCUL highlighted activities around the state that reflect Wisconsin credit unions’ commitment to promoting positive savings habits and wise borrowing, including:
* 109 youth-run branches, where students in elementary grades through high school have saved $2 million; * Free learning materials and online resources for public high schools; * Financial counseling and classes that help members learn to make ends meet; * Training for teachers through the National Institute for Financial and Economic Literacy; * Free presentations and workshops on credit reports, home buying and other financial topics for schools and community organizations; * Educational events, such as “reality simulations” and workshops in money management, to teach students the cost of living; and * Savings programs to encourage young people to save, with 3,800 young people in Wisconsin depositing $385,339, or about $101 per saver, during National Credit Union Youth Week in April 2010.
Thrift was highlighted in the third of five WCUL press releases celebrating credit union contributions during International Credit Union Week this week.

CUNA chief economist addresses Conn. Economic Forum

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MERIDEN, Conn. (10/21/10)--Bill Hampel, chief economist for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), addressed more than 100 Connecticut credit union executives, board members and officers about current economic conditions at the Economic Forum hosted by the Credit Union League of Connecticut in Plantsville, Conn.
Click to view larger image Tony Emerson, president /CEO of the Credit Union League of Connecticut (left), listens to a point made by Bill Hampel, chief economist at the Credit Union National Association, following Hampel’s presentation on the economy for Connecticut credit union officials at the league’s Economic Forum in Plantsville, Conn. (Photo provided by the Credit Union League of Connecticut)
Although Hampel pointed out the factors driving the unpredictable economy, he said the recession was over, conditions are on the mend, and “the long-term outlook is modest.” He predicted moderate savings and asset growth going forward for credit unions. However, interest rates will remain low along with continued weak loan growth. “People are saving a lot more than they used to, using disposable income mostly to pay down debt,” Hampel said. In fact, the forecast into 2011 is for a marked decline in loans, the first time CUNA economists have predicted such for future credit union performance, Hampel added. Following the discussion, three officials from the National Credit Union Administration--currently overseeing operations at Constitution Corporate FCU, Wallingford, Conn., now in conservatorship--provided a status update and outlook for the corporate’s future, and took questions.

Third candidate in contested CUNA board election

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MADISON, Wis. (10/21/10)--A third candidate nomination has been received for a contested seat on the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) board of directors. The most recent nomination was for Dennis A. Fisher, president/CEO of First Security CU, Lincolnwood, Ill., for the District 4, Class A seat. His nomination brings the total nominations to 11 for board seats. Fisher will be running against Brian Smith-Vandergriff, board member of Catholic Family CU, Kansas City, Mo., and Patricia A. Wesenberg, governmental affairs liaison, Marshfield (Wis.) Medical Center CU, for the District 4, Class A seat. So far, that’s the only contested race in the elections. The deadline for nominations is Friday. Voting will take place from Oct. 27 through Dec. 17. Nominations also have been received for:
* Jeff York, president/CEO of CoastHills FCU, Lompoc, Calif., District 6, Class B seat; * Stephen G. Behler, president/CEO of Kemba CU, West Chester, Ohio, District 2, Class B seat; * Brett Martinez, president/CEO, Redwoods CU, Santa Rosa, Calif., running for a District 6, Class C seat in a special election; * Harriet May, president/CEO, GECU, El Paso, Texas, District 5, Class C. May is currently CUNA's chairman; * Paul Gentile, president/CEO, New Jersey Credit Union League, Hightstown, N.J., District 1, Class D; * Ed Williams, president/CEO, Discovery FCU, Wyomissing, Pa., for District 1, Class A; * Wendell Lyons, president/CEO of the Kentucky Credit Union League, District 2, Class D; and * Maurice Smith, CEO, Local Government FCU, Raleigh, N.C., District 3, Class C.
Positions up for election are:
* District 1, Class A; * District 1, Class D; * District 2, Class B; * District 2, Class D; * District 3, Class C; * District 4, Class A; * District 5, Class C; and * District 6, Class B.
There is one special election: CUNA's current District 6, Class C director will step down from the board at the end of this year. The successful candidate in that election will be seated Jan. 1 and serve through the 2012 CUNA Annual General Meeting. The others elected will take office Feb. 28 and serve a three-year term that expires at the adjournment of the 2014 CUNA Annual General Meeting.