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CUNA, CU Member Take On Bankers On Tax Status

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WASHINGTON and DULUTH, Minn. (10/9/13)--The Credit Union National Association took on the bankers in an article in the Tennesseean about bankers' attacks on the credit union tax status, and a credit union member chimed in on the tax debate in an op-ed in the Duluth News Tribune.

"Banks don't want to level the playing field; they just want to eliminate the competition completely--and they know that without the tax exemption, credit unions will not be able to compete," said Credit Union National Association Executive Vice President Paul Gentile in the Tennessean article, which was published Monday.

CUNA told the publication that credit unions provide members with lower fees, lower interest rates and higher returns on savings and taxation would end up costing consumers, rather than making a difference in federal government revenues.

The statements were made in an article about the priorities of the next president of the Tennessee Banking Association, Colin Barrett, who named taxing credit unions and simplifying regulatory burdens prompted by the financial crisis of 2008.

Barrett said that "a lot of our banks are finding themselves in a situation where they have more compliance officers than they do lenders because it takes so much to keep up with everything coming out of Washington." He predicted, "it's going to make it more difficult for consumers to get mortgage loans and it's not going to provide any benefit."

Credit unions' tax status is also a running debate through a number of letters to the editor and op-ed pieces. The latest, on Monday, is an op-ed from credit union member Bryce Makela of Duluth--who outlined why credit unions deserve their tax exemption.

"I have accounts in both credit unions and banks," Makela said, noting that the only advantage he had found with banks was wider accessibility with ATMs.

"Credit unions are owned by those they serve; banks are owned by their stockholders. Credit unions return their profits (after expenses and salaries are paid) back to their members; banks, as corporations, are created to make as much profit as possible for their stockholders," he wrote.

New Jersey League Announces State Awards

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (10/9/13)--The New Jersey Credit Union League presented its annual awards at its 2013 Annual Meeting & Convention, Sept. 29-Oct. 1 in Atlantic City.
 
This year's award winners include:
  • CEO of the Year--Eileen Crean, president/CEO,  Members 1st of NJ FCU, Vineland;
  • Credit Union of the Year--New Jersey Law & Public Safety CU, Trenton;
  • Calvin Jackson Memorial Volunteer of the Year--Jack Hickey, board member, Jersey Shore FCU, Northfield;
  • Difference Maker of the Year--Tom Quigley, director of marketing, Xcel FCU, Bloomfield; and
  • Miller & Kosobucki Marketing Award--Bay Atlantic FCU, Vineland, and Credit Union of New Jersey, Ewing.
The NJCUL's YouTube channel features videos of each award winner's nominator describing the honoree's accomplishments. Use the link.

CU System Briefs (10/09/2013)

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  • FERNDALE, Mich. (10/9/13)--A credit union in Michigan announced the winners of a July contest designed to promote its social media via Pinterest and its 75th anniversary (Michigan Monitor Oct 7.) Ferndale-based Credit Union ONE announced that Stacy Davis and Janna Smith won the contest, which asked members to share photos of great relationships in their lives on the photograph sharing platform Pinterest. Davis and Smith each won a trip to Mackinac Island, on Lake Huron. Credit Union ONE also awarded two runners-up with $100 gift cards, and another four contestants with $75 gift cards. "The exposure to this new social media platform is what we were going for, so we are pleased with how it turned out," said Andrea Pertile, the credit union's social media marketing manager. Credit Union ONE promoted the contest with emails, in-branch marketing and on Facebook. Members posted 429 photos, and 58 individuals followed them. The credit union also asked members to post a photo caption detailing what 75 years meant to them. Credit Union ONE has $810.2 million in assets ...
  • FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (10/9/13)--Generations FCU, a San Antonio, Texas-based institution, was named one of the city's healthiest employers by the San Antonio Business Journal (The Leaguer Oct 8). The 73-year old credit union with $419 million in assets received the honor for company policies that promote the health of employees, including a walking challenge with a 65% participation rate, and health food cooking contests. Generations FCU will be honored alongside other winners--including Security Service FCU, another San Antonio-based institution--at a group fitness walk and a subsequent awards breakfast on Oct. 24 ...
  • MELBOURNE, Fla. (10/9/13)--Space Coast CU handed out 100 $20 gas gift cards to motorists, in a promotion at a Deltona, Fla. gas station Friday afternoon. "October marks SCCU's 20th year serving Volusia and Flagler counties, and we wanted to give back to the local community," said Kimberly Tyree, director of regional services for SCCU in the two counties. "Surprising residents with $20 to help fill up their tank is a fun way to engage and educate the community about SCCU Members Watchdog," she added, explaining the credit union's "Watchdog" philosophy that seeks to look out for members' interests. SCCU employees from the Deltona branch also gave away scratch cards for cash and incentives redeemable at Valusia and Flagler county branches of the credit union. SCCU, chartered in 1951, is based in Melbourne, Fla., and has more than $3 billion in assets ...
  • BELLEVUE, Neb. (10/9/13)--An architect who designed the corporate headquarters for SAC FCU was honored for his plan. Leo A. Daly was given a People's Choice Award for distinguished accomplishment in excellence by the American Institute of Architects Nebraska for his design. The Papillion, Neb.-based building, which is scheduled to open in the spring of 2014, will have a solid black brick base that will host public functions, including a retail branch, a community room, and a four-story atrium. Corporate offices will be situated atop the base, in a curtain wall system protruding toward an intersection. The building also features hardwood floors, and Daly is attempting to diminish the building's carbon emissions through a geothermal well system and LED lighting. SAC FCU has over $670 million in assets ...

Bankrate Checking Survey: Fees At Record High

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MADISON, Wis. (10/9/13)--Checking fees at banks are at a record high, according to Bankrate's 2013 Checking Survey, further evidence that credit unions, with their emphasis on lower fees, remain the smarter choice for fee-conscious consumers.
 
ATM fees, overdraft fees and monthly maintenance fees were also at record highs, according to the survey. But after years of steep declines, the share of checking accounts considered free may be stabilizing, said Bankrate.
 
Between 2009 and 2012, free checking declined to 39% of checking accounts from 76%. This year, 38% of checking accounts offered by major banks are free, down 1 percentage point from last year's study.
 
The percentage of banks offering free checking also dropped in the first half of the year, according to the MoneyRates.com Bank Fees Survey (News Now Aug. 20). Less than 30.31% of banks surveyed had no monthly maintenance fee--the lowest percentage since 2009. That figure is a drop from 36.6% recorded at the end of 2012.  In 2011, roughly 34.7% reported charging no fees--the lowest percentage until now.
 
Those who do pay monthly fees are paying more than ever, according to Bankrate's survey. The average fee on a checking account rose from $5.48 to $5.54 per month.
 
ATM fees also hit an all-time high said Bankrate. Banks now charge noncustomers an average of $2.60 to use their ATMs, up from $2.50 last year.
 
There's another way to avoid fees, said Karin Bonding, a lecturer in personal finance at the University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce. Shop around.
 
"You don't have to go to a bank, there are other options," Bonding said. Instead, she suggested checking out a credit union or online financial services provider.
 
According to Bankrate.com's  2013 Credit Union Checking Survey, released in March, 72% of America's 50 largest credit unions offer free checking (News Now March 21).

Kansas CUs Beat National Averages In Loan, Share Growth

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WICHITA, Kan. (10/9/13)--Credit unions in Kansas outperformed financial institutions around the nation in the second quarter, according to the Kansas Credit Union Association. Loan and share growth at credit unions in the state grew at 6.78% and 5.3% respectively throughout the quarter. National loan and share growth rates at the same time were at 5.43% and 4.7%.

"Consumer support for Kansas credit unions is strong and growing," said Tammy Wendland, vice president of products and services at KCUA. "With loans and shares growing, it's evident that Kansas consumers are looking to credit unions for lower fees and better rates."

Net interest margin, at 3.18% in Kansas credit unions, also bested the 2.7% national average.

Average delinquency at Kansas credit unions reached a record low of 0.80%, and credit card delinquencies reached a 15-year minimum.

Product penetration, a measurement that reflects how many members are using credit unions' products, was also on the rise in Kansas, alongside member growth. On June 30, KCUA tallied 630,000 credit union members in the state.

Credit unions with less than $20 million in assets saw loans increase by 42.49%, shares grow by 18.63%, and membership grow by 39.21%.

Their counterparts with between $20 million and $100 million saw loans increase by 38.83%, shares grow by 15.75%, and membership increase by 8.92%.

Credit unions with over $100 million in assets saw loans increase by 15.82%, shares grow by 19.19%, and membership increase by 11.18%.

The growth reflects a relatively strong economy in Kansas. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics measured seasonally adjusted unemployment in Kansas to be at 5.8% in June, and at 7.6% nationwide.