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New Jersey league awards CUs leaders

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (10/7/10)--The New Jersey Credit Union League presented its awards to outstanding credit unions and leaders during its 76th Annual Meeting and Convention last weekend in Atlantic City (The Daily Exchange Oct. 6). The Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award, was presented to Raritan Bay FCU, Sayreville, for its high school branch program. The Louise Herring Award for Philosophy in Action was awarded to Jersey Shore FCU, Northfield, for its Young Member Clubs Recipients in their asset and multi-credit union/chapter categories of Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Recognition Awards included:
* Hamilton Horizons FCU, Hamilton, for its Turnpike Series, which raised funds for Children's Miracle Network; * Jersey Shore FCU, for its 5K in May fundraiser for pancreatic cancer research; and * Mid-State FCU, Carteret; NJ Gateway FCU, Monmouth Junction; Local 1233 FCU, Newark; and New Community FCU, Newark, for their pilot of the Building Economic Strength Together (BEST) Program.
A new award, the Miller/Kosobucki Marketing Award, went to Elizabeth NJ Firemen's FCU, Elizabeth, for its newsletters (under $10 million assets category) and First Financial FCU, Wall, for its Win with First PURL campaign (over $25 million assets category). The league also recognized:
* Gary Chizmadia of the Credit Union of New Jersey, Ewing, as Volunteer of the Year; * Robert Carabelli, marketing coordinator at McGraw-Hill FCU, East Windsor, named as Difference Maker of the Year for dedication to the credit union's mission and his member-focused work ethic; * Lou Vetere, CEO of Garden Savings FCU, Parsippany, and a league board member, as CEO of the Year; and * North Jersey FCU, as Credit Union of the Year for its innovation, member-centric service and growth during the economic downturn.

CU CEO Confidence Index drops 9.76 points for 3Q

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PLANO, Texas (10/7/10)--Credit union CEOs' confidence level dropped 9.76 percentage points--to 10.97--during third quarter, according to the Southwest Corporate FCU's CEO Confidence Index, posted on its website. The index for credit union CEOs' confidence overall declined from 20.73 in second quarter and from 29.01 for third-quarter 2009. It was the second lowest overall confidence rating since 2004. The lowest was in first quarter 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis. The third quarter report arrives on the heels of corporate restructuring actions--including conservatorships of three corporate credit unions and assessments to replenish the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund--taken in the past three weeks by the National Credit Union Administration. The index compared CEOs' current confidence level in members' financial condition and their confidence in members' condition in six months, as well as their confidence in credit unions' financial condition for both periods. For members' condition, the confidence level for third quarter dropped to -2 from about 30 in second quarter and about 12 in third quarter last year. Expectations for members' financial condition in six months were higher, at slightly above 10. The confidence level for credit unions' financial condition stayed largely steady--at about 19--from second quarter. That was down from about 35 in third quarter last year. CEOs' confidence for six months in the future followed the same pattern, but around 25. CEOs' current expectations for share deposit growth, which peaked in first quarter at nearly 40 fell to 30 at the end of second quarter. Expectations for loan demand stayed steady after plunging from above 20 during third quarter 2009 to about 1% in first quarter 2010, where it has remained since. The CEOs' level of confidence varied widely by region and by credit union asset size. Those with the lowest confidence were in the Western (-30) and Mid-Atlantic (-25) states, while the Midwest (4.17) had the highest level of confidence. The only asset category with a positive confidence level was for CEOs from $2 million to $10 million asset credit unions; their confidence level was 6.52. All other asset groups registered in negative numbers, with credit unions of less than $2 million in asset size the most pessimistic, at -12.5.

Elevations donates 81K to Fourmile fire relief

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BOULDER, Colo. (10/7/10)--The Elevations Foundation has distributed $81,000 from its Fourmile Fire Relief Fund. The fund was established Sept. 8 and will help victims and local firefighting agencies. A wildfire burning early in September in the steep mountainsides and canyons near Boulder, Colo., became the most destructive fire in the state’s history (Associated Press Sept. 8). Many homes were destroyed by the 6,200 acre fire, and at least 3,500 people were evacuated. Elevations, which is the charitable arm of Boulder-based Elevations CU, is working with Boulder County Community Services, the Foothills United Way and the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County to distribute the funds. “These organizations have worked tirelessly to see that victims are identified and needs are being met,” said Dennis Paul, Elevations assistant vice president for business and community development. The foundation’s fund provides a source of cash resources, he said. Elevations also established a fire relief fund for the Reservoir Road fire west of Loveland, Colo. Elevations is working with the United Way of Larimer County to distribute funds for families affected in the Loveland area.

Ohio CUs host Romanias FEDCAR CEO

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (10/7/10)--The Ohio Credit Union League (OCUL) and several Ohio credit unions recently hosted Florin Simion, CEO of the Federation of Romanian Credit Unions (FEDCAR), to discuss a partnership to help stimulate credit union growth in Romania, and further develop the federation into an all-encompassing credit union support organization. Simion began his Ohio agenda with a dialogue at OCUL’s office in Columbus. Discussion focused on the types of services the league provides to its members and its role in developing credit unions. “Though we are separated by thousands of miles, our goals and obstacles are very similar,” said Paul Mercer, league president. “Our league definitely has a better understanding of the unique challenges faced by credit unions under a different government structure, and I hope in return we presented ideas and strategies that will strengthen the credit union movement in Romania.” Simion also visited three Ohio credit unions: CES CU in Mount Vernon, Healthcare FCU in Columbus, and Cincinnati Central CU. Each provided knowledge of U.S. credit union operations and the issues they face. To learn more about the corporate credit union structure, Simion visited Corporate One FCU in Columbus. The league’s partnership with Romania is part of the World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) International Partnerships Program. “These partnerships are essential to our mission as credit unions, and are a key factor in the credit union difference,” said Bill Herring, CEO of Cincinnati Central. “Ohio credit unions have a long-standing record of cooperation among cooperatives, and this is a great way to continue that tradition.” FEDCAR was formed in 2004, two years after WOCCU’s project to strengthen Romanian credit unions ended. The federation began with seven credit unions totaling 8,000 members and has since grown to 17 credit unions with 72,000 members. Credit unions in Romania operate solely as basic savings and loan institutions, which limits their growth opportunities. FEDCAR approached WOCCU for assistance in finding an international partner to help create new opportunities for its credit unions. WOCCU recommended the Ohio league and affiliated credit unions because of their past partnerships with credit unions in Bulgaria and Bolivia. “This partnership is important for FEDCAR and Romanian credit unions as it represents our cooperative roots and our future,” Simion said. “This is what we need to push our credit unions ahead to give them a viable future and make them better financial institutions for the benefit of the members.” FEDCAR and the league agreed to continue the partnership. They discussed a trip to Romania by an Ohio delegation in 2011.

Western states corporate task forces paper released

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ONTARIO, Calif. (10/7/10)--A Corporate Realignment Task Force created by credit union leaders in Western states has agreed on several guiding principles for dealing with recent changes in the corporate credit union system. The task force released a position paper detailing the principles, according to the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues. The principles recognize the need for:
* A system solution. Commercial and outside organizations may wish to provide credit union item-processing and payment-system services, but many credit union leaders have expressed an enduring system solution. “A financial institution connection is needed to provide collaborative settlement and related liquidity services,” the paper said. * Aggregation of volume, which will be needed to successfully replicate the essential services that natural-person credit unions are accustomed to receiving from their corporate credit unions because the cost of these services will no longer be subsidized by investment activity. “Given likely narrow margins, it is unlikely that a multitude of solutions will see much success; competitive pressure could result in predatory activity and eventually more painful consolidation,” the paper said. * A universal solution. “Many credit union leaders, including those at larger credit unions, have expressed their hope that a system solution will emerge that provides quality, affordable service for all types and sizes of credit unions. Our strength, both politically and operationally, lies in cooperation and system unity; it is important to provide logical, affordable service opportunities for smaller and mid-sized credit unions as well as larger ones; for modest organizations as well as complex ones,” the paper said.
The task force will work toward solutions reflecting the guiding principles and urges credit union leaders to consider supporting solutions with those elements, the leagues said. The Credit Union National Association has a Corporate Credit Union Task Force, and many leagues and associations have formed similar groups after the National Credit Union Administration announced it would be placing several corporate credit unions into conservatorship last month.

Missouris only public high school CU branch opens

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ST. LOUIS (10/7/10)--Gateway Metro FCU in St. Louis and Gateway Institute of Technology celebrated the opening of the only credit union branch in a Missouri public high school.
Click to view larger image Gateway Metro FCU, St. Louis, and Gateway Institute of Technology celebrated a partnership by cutting the ribbon at the institute to open JagCity CU, the only credit union branch in a Missouri public high school. (Photo provided by Gateway Metro CU)
The branch, named “JagCity CU” by students, will open every Friday during lunch hour. Six Gateway Institute of Technology students attended training at Gateway Metro and will staff the school branch along with a credit union employee. “I’m so impressed with the level of intelligence, diversity and maturity of Gateway Institute’s student representatives,” said David Barton, Gateway Metro president/CEO. “The school’s focus on the ‘real world’ fits perfectly with the financial education component that students will receive from their member-owned credit union. No other public high school in the state can say they have their very own credit union branch in their school.” Gateway Institute of Technology Principal Elizabeth Bender commented on the historic occasion at the grand opening ceremony, as did Katrina Stierholz, assistant vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Meagan Bonnell-Yogi, business education department head at the school, coordinated setting up the branch with the credit union. “The students are so excited with the opportunity to work in and become a member of the credit union,” said Bonnell-Yogi. Gateway Metro operates the first and only elementary school student-assisted credit union branches in Missouri at Our Lady of Guadalupe School, St. Ferdinand School, and Christ, Light of the Nations School. The credit union also opened a student-assisted branch at Trinity Catholic High School in April. Gateway Metro FCU has $182.8 million in assets.

OpSS Council honors two CUs best practices

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MADISON, Wis. (10/7/10)--Two credit unions received the sixth annual CUNA Operations, Sales & Service (OpSS) Council’s Best Practices Awards, which recognize innovative solutions optimizing credit union performance. The winners were recognized during the council’s 13th annual conference, Sept. 29-Oct. 2 in Las Vegas.
Click to view larger image Olin Community CU, Bethalto, Ill., won a Best Practices Award from the CUNA Operations, Sales and Service Council (OpSS). From left are Jennifer Lehn, CUNA OpSS Council chair; Brenda Jackson, vice president of branch operations, Olin Community CU; and Steve Langley, CUNA OpSS Council Conference Committee member.
Click to view larger image Red Canoe CU received a Best Practices Award from the CUNA Operations, Sales and Service Council (OpSS) during a recent conference. From left are Jennifer Lehn, CUNA OpSS Council chair; Michelle Trekas, training specialist and Rodney Snyder, associate vice president of branches and sales, both of Canoe CU; and Steve Langley, member of CUNA OpSS Council Conference Committee. (Photos provided by CUNA)
Olin Community CU in Bethalto, Ill., won in the Sales and Service Management category for its sales and service culture. Olin’s strategy includes:
* Organization-wide training; * A comprehensive products and services manual; * Referral goals and incentives; * Coaching; * System integration; and * A monthly newsletter.
As a result of the credit union’s efforts, members increased the number of products per household they use and the credit union saw growth in membership, assets, shares (12.69%), and loan growth (8.31%). Red Canoe CU in Longview, Wash., also won in the Sales and Service Management category for its creative sales and service culture. Red Canoe’s strategy includes:
* Incentive structures; * Creative follow-up training; * Internal campaigns; * An intranet-based sales blog for managers and staff; * Quarterly management “Segway” meetings; and * Staff recognition.
Red Canoe’s closed referral ratio is 20.54%--205% of its goal. It brought in more than $7 million in competitor buyouts. The credit union also added loan protection on 59.61% of its consumer loans, exceeding its goal of 40%. Red Canoe also brought in 49% of its home equity line of credit loans, which exceeded its goal of 25%. The OpSS Council Best Practices Awards identify, recognize and share new approaches and solutions with universal application in the credit union movement. Winners were chosen, without regard to credit union asset size, based on strategy, process, application and results.

CU System briefs (10/06/2010)

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* HARRISBURG, Pa. (10/7/10)--More than 30 credit union leaders from 12 credit unions attended breakfast with U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Pennsylvania Credit Union Association President/CEO Jim McCormack introduced special guest Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney, who shared the congressman's accomplishments for credit unions and thanked him for his support. Kanjorski commended Pennsylvania credit unions for their continuous commitment to bettering the welfare of members and communities. "Credit union members are our neighbors, friends and those who have fallen on hard times," Kanjorski said. "With an unfortunate economy, it's important now more than ever to stay focused and serve." McCormack said, "In his capacity as an outstanding senior member of the powerful U.S. House Financial Services Committee, Congressman Kanjorski has ensured that the best interest of credit unions are always heard and represented in Congress." He cited H.R. 1151, CURIA, and this session's member business legislation as examples (Life is a Highway Oct. 6) ... * ST. PAUL, Minn. (10/7/10)--Elizabeth Hayes, Affinity Plus FCU executive vice president and chief administration officer, was selected as one of the 2010 "Top Women in Finance." The list of 25 women, compiled by the Finance & Commerce newspaper, recognizes women making significant contributions to the financial services industry by positively influencing their businesses and communities. During her 12 years with Affinity Plus, Hayes introduced its Solutions Model, which provides delinquent members permanent solutions to their financial struggles. She was an inaugural member of the Filene Research Institute's i3 Innovation Group in 2004. Hayes also is involved in Member Gateway, a national credit union service organization that develops innovative products and services for credit unions and the financial services industry. Hayes also chairs the Affinity Plus Foundation, which promotes financial literacy throughout Minnesota. She noted the award "highlights the credit union industry in a time when people are looking for alternatives to banks. It helps increase the reputation of the industry and distinguish credit unions as viable competitors in the financial services industry" ... * SAN ANTONIO 10/7/10)--Wendi Taber, Security Service FCU senior risk management analyst, was honored with the Financial Literacy Award presented by the American Society of Women Accountants Educational Foundation. The award was presented at a joint national conference with the American Women's Society of CPAs in Las Vegas. Taber has taught financial literacy and life skills through the SAMMinistries the past four years. She is also president of the San Antonio CPA Society and a board member of the Texas Society of CPAs. Taber has assisted with the development of a financial literacy program for the American Society of Woman Accountants and helped implement the first financial literacy program for Seton Home, a residential facility that provides shelter and support for homeless teens who are pregnant or parenting ...

Connecticut league wins Desjardins award

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MERIDEN, Conn. (10/7/10)--Financial literacy efforts by the Credit Union League of Connecticut received national recognition with a Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award for the 2009-2010 school year.
Connecticut league sponsorship of financial reality fairs for high school students this past school year won a Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award. Pictured is a fair at Central Connecticut State University. (Photo provided by the Credit Union League of Connecticut)
A major component of the league's eductional work was supporting the Financial Reality Fair throughout the state. The program is for high school students, who research their career choice and starting salary prior to the fair date. They are provided with a budget worksheet identifying their career choice, and during the fair, must budget according to their salary. “As a cooperative movement that exists solely for benefit of our membership, we feel it is important to help provide guidance and professional education for them,” said Anthony Emerson, president/CEO of the Credit Union League of Connecticut. Fifty-two member credit unions were involved in eight Financial Literacy Fairs last year, with more than 1,800 students from 50 high schools attending statewide. The Financial Reality Fair was created as part of REAL Solutions, a national credit union program focused on creating opportunities for low wealth individuals. “We believe the first step needed to improve the economic environment within a family is access to information--and the earlier the better,” said Lois Kitsch, national program manager of REAL Solutions. “The Reality Fairs offered by Connecticut credit unions through their league are REAL Financial Education Solutions. Mixing fun with learning creates a memorable experience that will remain with the students in the months and years to come.” Credit unions will start fairs for the current school year in New Haven on Oct. 20. Six fairs are scheduled for the 2010-2011 school year statewide.

N.Y. CUs meet in Young Adult Outreach workshop

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ALBANY, N.Y. (10/7/10)--Representatives from 11 New York credit
Click to view larger image Credit union representatives attended a workshop in Albany, N.Y., to learn how they can tweak their programs to serve youth. From left are Jessica Herishko, Columbia-Greene FCU, Hudson; Wendy Meola, Community Resource FCU, Latham; Matt Amesbury and Adam Amesbury, St. Pius X Church FCU, Rochester; and Tiffany Smith, ACMG FCU, Solvay.
Click to view larger image The Filene Research Institute and the Credit Union Association of New York recently hosted a youth workshop for credit unions at the association’s headquarters. From left are Marcie Gallagher, Utica (N.Y.) District Telephone EFCU; Elizabeth Park, GPO FCU, New Hartford; Barb Insognia, Upstate Telco FCU, Gloversville; and Sherry Morosco, Utica District Telephone EFCU. (Photos provided by the Credit Union Association of New York)
unions participated in the Credit Union Association of New York’s Young Adult Outreach Initiative last week. During the workshop, the group explored the Generation Y market and experimented with “design thinking.” Brent Dixon, young adult adviser at the Filene Research Institute, led the discussions and activities. Participants were divided into groups and assigned different tasks. Two participants from each group completed the assigned task--such as making a sandwich or ironing a shirt--while other group members questioned their processes and reasoning. The groups then developed ideas to make their tasks better, incorporating innovation without recreating the wheel, said the association. Through the exercises, the groups learned that credit unions have great programs that need a few adjustments for youth, the association added. “Attracting young adults to our credit union is a top priority,” said Adam Amesbury, executive assistant, St. Pius X Church FCU, Rochester, N.Y. “The design thinking workshop created a platform where we could ‘iron’ out the steps to successful brainstorming and explore the evolution of bringing ideas to real life," he added. The workshop was funded by a REAL Solutions grant and offered for free by the association and Filene. It was held in Albany.