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Kentucky court DFI cant grant community charters

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (11/3/08)—A Kentucky appeals court judge dealt a blow to credit unions recently when he sided with a lower court with a ruling that, in effect, says the state Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) can’t grant community charters. The case was brought by Home Federal Savings and Loan Association against the DFI in May 2006. The bankers argued that state law does not permit community-based FOMs for state-chartered credit unions. The bankers claimed the DFI has violated the separation of powers doctrine in the Kentucky constitution by approving community-based FOMs for state-chartered credit unions, Kentucky Credit Union League (KCUL) President Wendell Lyons explained when the league joined the suit in 2007. On Oct. 25, 2007, the Kentucky Circuit Court for Franklin County sided with the plaintiff and ruled that the DFI exceeded its statutory authority when it approved geographic fields of membership for six state-chartered credit unions between 2000 and 2005. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) joined the suit in appeal in April of this year by filing an amicus brief that argued, in part, that the lower court incorrectly applied federal administrative law precedent, instead of Kentucky administrative law, to deny the DFI judicial deference. And the court further erred, CUNA argued, because, if correctly applied, the federal precedent would have compelled the court to back the state regulator under judicial deference. CUNA General Counsel Eric Richard said CUNA got involved in the case because the lawsuit was part of a pattern in which bankers have been challenging community charters in state courts around the country. In addition to Kentucky, Richard noted, multiple cases have been brought in Missouri, since resolved by state legislation, and in Pennsylvania. KCUL’s Lyons said of the ruling Friday, “We are obviously disappointed in the Appeals Court ruling. We will keep all options on the table. We will be gathering our legal team and then we'll decide on the best course of action for Kentucky's state-chartered credit unions.” Richard added, "We will work with the Kentucky League and the affected credit unions to analyze the court's opinion and assess options that protect consumers' right to choose credit union service. The impact of this case will likely be limited to Kentucky because the Kentucky Credit Union Act has unusual field of membership language that is not very close to the language of other laws around the country."

CO-OP Network Consumers can avoid ATM fees

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ONTARIO, Calif. (11/3/08)--ATM surcharges may be at an all-time high at banks, but consumers can avoid them if they join a credit union that belongs to the CO-OP Network. Stan Hollen, president/CEO of CO-OP Financial Services, made the statement in response to a Bankrate.com survey on rising bank fees (News Now Oct. 31). The survey had concluded that fees, particularly ATM surcharges, at 249 large banks in 25 metropolitan districts were at an all-time high. "Why pay bank fees when credit unions have access to over 28,000 surcharge-free ATMs?" asked Hollen. CO-OP Network, which is owned and operated by CO-OP Financial Services, based in Ontario, Calif., provides more than 2,000 participating credit unions and their members access to more than 28,000 ATMs. Those ATMs are free, he said. Other surcharge-free ATM networks serving credit unions include Allpoint, Credit Union 24 and MoneyPass. That means that most credit union members have a way to avoid heavy surcharges from bank networks. "Credit union fees are not only lower than banks, but despite the rise in bank ATM networks resulting from recent mergers between the largest banks, credit unions still offer the largest number of surcharge-free ATMs in the country," Hollen said. Many credit unions are also members of CO-OP Shared Branching, which provides their members the same transaction privileges at over 3,400 participating or "shared branches" nationwide that they would get at their own local credit union, he added. "Credit unions offer modern, innovative products and services that rival any bank, including check imaging (depositing checks from home using a scanner and Internet connection), mobile and home-based banking. Credit unions are not only a viable alternative to banks, we are also better in terms of convenience and accessibility."

CU System briefs (10/31/2008)

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* NILES, Mich. (11/3/08)--Two men pleaded guilty to armed robbery at a credit union in which a third robbery suspect was killed during a gunfight with a guard (wsjm.com Oct. 30). The men, Travis Lamar Curry and Glenn Maurice Porter, both 22 and from Indiana, pleaded guilty to bank robbery and weapons charges stemming from the Jan. 18 robbery of the Niles, Mich. branch of St. Joseph, Mich.-based Berrien Teachers CU. Devarence Kimbrough, the third suspect, was shot twice and died in surgery afterward. Porter was also wounded in the gunfire exchange (News Now June 20). Curry and Porter will be sentenced in federal court on Dec. 5 … * WHITE HALL, Mich. (11/03/08)--HarborLight CU, Whitehall, Mich., has teamed up with Montague High School to open the first White Lake area student-run credit union branch. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Oct. 16. The branch will have several student-employees selected by the school principal and Sheryl Hogle, HarborLight CU’s youth educator. The credit union has been involved with area school systems by conducting classroom presentations on financial education for the past several years. Here, HarborLight CEO Linda Wood completes the first transaction with student teller Alaina Moreau (Photo provided by HarborLight CU) ... * SOUTH JERSEY, N.J. (11/03/08)--Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2), a credit union supporter, met with the Shore and South Jersey chapters of the New Jersey Credit Union League last week (Weekly Exchange Oct. 27). He is a co-sponsor of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act. He is favored to win an eighth term Tuesday, said the league. At the meeting, LoBiondo discussed the economy and the government’s efforts to stabilize the markets. Pictured are: Steve Schlundt, president, Atlantic City Firemen’s FCU and league board chairman; Carol Muessig, South Jersey Chapter president and president of Bay Atlantic FCU; Paul Gentile, league president/CEO; LoBiondo; and John DiNofrio, director, Jersey Shore FCU and league director. (Photo provided by the New Jersey Credit Union League) ... * PITTSFIELD, Mass. (11/3/08)--Greylock FCU has committed $90,000 to support fuel assistance and senior nutrition programs in Berkshire
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County, Mass. The funds will be provided to Berkshire Community Action Council (BCAC) for its fuel assistance fund and to Elder Services of Berkshire County for its "Meals on Wheels" program. The five-year pledges by Greylock will steer $18,000 annually to the two programs. Greylock President Angelo Stracuzzi said the $1 billion asset credit union made the multi-year pledges because of the difficult economy and the missions of the two agencies. The credit union boosted its commitment "knowing that the rocky economic times may hit many families for months or even years to come," he said. From left are: Don Atwater, executive director, BCAC; Stracuzzi; and Robert Dean, executive director, Elder Services. (Photo provided by Greylock FCU) …

New Jersey league asks CU inclusion in state rescue plan

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TRENTON, N.J. (11/3/08)--The New Jersey Credit Union League is encouraging the state’s Gov. Jon Corzine to include credit unions in a broad economic rescue plan to help guide the state out of the national economic downturn and credit crunch. The plan proposes to use state pension and cash-management funds to purchase certificates of deposit in community banks, and to provide small-business loan guarantees to spark economic development and job creation, said the league (The Weekly Exchange Oct. 27). A similar proposal that includes credit unions was made by the governor of Illinois. The league said it is encouraging Corzine to include credit unions in a manner similar to the Illinois plan. “If ever there were a time for a comprehensive, non-partisan economic plan by New Jersey’s elected officials, it is in today’s circumstances,” Corzine said. “The unprecedented and evolving financial crisis of the past several months has already significantly weakened America’s, and the state’s economies. It undoubtedly will bring more severe challenges in the months ahead.”

St. Louis CUs reach out to Bosnian community

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ST. LOUIS (11/3/08)--A group of 17 St. Louis-area credit unions are working with U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-3) to conduct outreach to the growing Bosnian community in the area.
From left, Mirela Seferovic, First Missouri CU, St. Louis; Sandra Jakovlejevic, staff member for U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan (D- 3); Tim Stephens, Health Care Family CU, Richmond Heights; and Jana Wolfe, First Missouri CU, discuss ways credit unions can help the Bosnian community. (Photo provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association)
Many of the credit unions have tellers that speak Bosnian and have developed a brochure printed in both English and Bosnian (The Missouri Difference Oct. 29). Representatives from First Missouri CU, St. Louis, and Health Care Family CU, Richmond Heights, met Oct. 27 with Sandra Jakovlejevic, Carnahan’s Bosnian-speaking staffer, to discuss issues facing the Bosnian-American community and ways credit unions can help. Many Bosnians lost their savings during the war in their country. That means Bosnian immigrants are more vulnerable to the economic crisis, Mirela Seferovic, First Missouri teller and Bosnian immigrant, told the Missouri Credit Union Association. “If someone lives here in the U.S. now who had that bad experience in Bosnia, they might be more frightened than other people about the economic news,” Seferovic said. The credit unions provided Jakovlejevic with several hundred copies of the brochures, which highlight the credit union difference. The credit unions plan to participate in future Bosnian community events through Carnahan’s office. “I would estimate that 25% of new members at our credit union are Bosnian,” says Steve Ogolin, First Missouri president. “We want to make sure more people realize that credit unions are a financial option for them.”

Homes for Our Troops arrives in Missouri

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ST. LOUIS (11/3/08)--Missouri credit unions officially introduced the Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) effort in the state with the help of Army Specialist Scott West and HFOT Founder John Gonsalves.
John Gonsalves, Homes for Our Troops president and founder, traveled to Missouri to meet with Army Specialist Scott West for the kick-off meeting to introduce the program to the state Oct. 24.
Missouri credit unions and HFOT are cooperating to build a specially adapted home in Branson, Mo., for West, who lost both legs below the knee in an explosion in while serving in Iraq. Gonsalves, West and representatives from 10 participating credit unions met in St. Louis Oct. 28 (The Missouri Difference Oct. 29). They also announced the effort to Branson media Wednesday. West said he is excited for the project to begin. “With a new home on the way, there are no words that can describe how I feel,” he told the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA). “None of it would be possible without Homes for Our Troops, Missouri credit unions and the many people who prayed for me.”
Credit union representatives discuss plans to build disabled Army Specialist Scott West a home in Branson, Mo. (Photos provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association)
The initial step in the process is to secure land and a general contractor for the Branson home, the association said. MCUA is sending credit unions a packet of information about the project, including a pledge form. Mid Missouri CU,Fort Leonard Wood, which includes military members within its field of membership, is serving as the lead credit union for the Branson home's development, said MCUA (The Missouri Difference Oct. 31). Missouri credit unions have committed to raising $100,000 to build the homes for Specialist West, with plans for other specially adapted homes to follow.

Banks fees at all-time highs says new study

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NEW YORK (10/31/08)--Banks are taking it on the chin in Bankrate.com's latest fees survey, which concludes fees for ATM surcharges, checking account fees and monthly service fees are at all-time highs. Some fees have outpaced inflation, Bankrate.com told CNNMoney.com (Oct. 29). The 2008 Checking Study surveyed interest-bearing and noninterest-bearing accounts at 249 banks and thrifts in the largest 25 metro areas. The study found:
* ATM surcharges--the fee the ATM-owning bank charges to nonaccount holders--rose to $1.97, about 11% more than the $1.78 charged last year. The cost of using a foreign ATM was $1.46, up from last year's $1.25. That puts the total average cost of using an out-of-network ATM at $3.43 per transaction. Bounced-check fees rose 2.5% this year, to $28.95 per check. * In interest-bearing accounts, monthly service fees hit a new high of $11.97 on average. Minimum balance requirements also set a record with a minimum average of $3,461.84 required to keep an account at the bank open. * For noninterest-bearing accounts, the reverse was true. Monthly service fees for these accounts hit a new low--at $1.96 and their minimum balances were a low of $109.26 average balance required. * Online banks had higher average minimum requirements to open either an interest-bearing checking account or noninterest-bearing account than a brick-and-mortar bank. For interest-bearing accounts, online banks required an average $650.81, versus $376.75 at a traditional bank. For noninterest-bearing accounts, online banks required $133.33 while traditional banks required $82.71.
Credit union accounts are not included in the survey. The news comes at a time when banks are doing everything they can to make up revenue gaps from market exposures and rising credit costs stemming from lending, said Forbes.com (Oct. 27). Large banks are raising some account fees to record levels at a time when more consumers are struggling to pay bills, USA TODAY Oct. 30) noted.

September CU loans up savings down

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MADISON, Wis. (10/31/08)--Credit unions maintained a strong level of real estate lending in September, along with increased year-to-date loan growth compared with last year’s pace. However, flagging consumer confidence and fears of a prolonged recession likely will result in weak consumer lending in the fourth quarter, said a Credit Union National Association (CUNA) economist. Credit union loans outstanding increased 0.8% in September and 6.2% over the first nine months of 2008, compared with 4.9% during the same period last year, according to the CUNA monthly sample of credit unions.
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Home equity loans led growth (2.5%), followed by adjustable-rate mortgages (2.2%), fixed-rate first mortgages (1.1%), used-auto loans (0.9%), unsecured personal loans (0.5%) and new-auto loans (0.4%). Fixed-rate first mortgages and adjustable-rate mortgages had the highest year-to-date increases, 15.1% and 11.8%, respectively. “Credit unions continued to do well in real estate lending during the month of September,” Steve Rick, CUNA senior economist, told News Now. Fixed-rate first mortgage loan balances rose 1.1% in September and 3% for the third quarter. Year-to-date total loan growth came in at 6.2%, up from last year's 4.8% pace, Rick said. “Falling consumer confidence and expectations of a deep and prolonged recession will keep consumer lending weak in the fourth quarter,” he added. “However, with banks tightening their mortgage loan underwriting standards, credit union real estate lending will continue to dominate credit union loan portfolio growth.” Though credit union savings balances declined 0.9%, to $685 billion in September from $691 billion in August, they rose 5.1% for the first nine months of 2008.
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Individual retirement accounts increased 1.5%, while share drafts (7.3%), money market accounts (0.6%), regular shares (0.3%), and one-year certificates (0.4%) declined. With loan growth increasing and savings growth decreasing, the loan-to-savings ratio increased to 84.3% in September from 83% in August. The liquidity ratio--the ratio of surplus funds maturing in less than one year to borrowings plus other liabilities--decreased to 14.6% from 15.5% in August. Credit unions’ 60-plus-day delinquencies increased slightly to 1.1% from 1% in August. The movement’s overall capital-to-asset ratio remains at 11%, with the total dollar amount of capital at $90 billion. “The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported economic growth of negative 0.3% in the third quarter,” Rick said. “Consumer spending fell 3.1% on a seasonally adjusted annual rate.” Spending on durable goods--furniture, appliances, autos--fell by 14.1%. Credit union new-auto and credit card lending reflected the spending slowdown. Credit card balances rose only 2.3% in the third quarter, down from last year's third-quarter pace of 4.7%. New auto loans rose 0.5% versus last year's third-quarter pace of 1%, Rick added.

Iowa league PAC raises 200000

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DES MOINES, Iowa (10/31/08)--The Iowa Credit Union League’s state political action committee, the Credit Union Political Action Committee (CUPAC), will break its fundraising record for the second year in a row. This year, supporters have surpassed CUPAC’s goal of $200,000 by raising $213,297.21--with two months left to go. “It is particularly impressive since all our fundraising must come from individual contributions, as Iowa law doesn’t permit corporate contributions to political action committees,” said Justin Hupfer, league vice president of governmental affairs. “We anticipate this level of fundraising support will put CUPAC among the top three or four of more than 200 PACs in the state,” Hupfer added. CUPAC uses personal contributions to provide bipartisan support to state legislators who support credit unions. Its mission is to raise funds in compliance with state law to increase credit unions’ impact in the political process.

Diamond Awards 2009 entries due Jan. 12

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MADISON, Wis. (10/31/08)--Entries are now being accepted for the 2009 Diamond Awards, sponsored by the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council. The awards feature 34 categories--ranging from advertising to youth marketing-- for the best in credit union marketing and business development across the country. Judges evaluate entries based on strategy, creative concept, design and production, copy and communication, and results. Entries must be received by 5 p.m. (CST) Jan. 12. Entries received by Jan. 6 will receive a discounted rate. For anyone entering the website marketing category, all entries must be received by Dec. 18. Judging will take place Jan. 21-23; winners will be notified via e-mail by Feb. 2. Awards will be presented at the 2009 CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council Conference March 11-14, in San Diego. Additional information and entry forms are available online (use the link). The site features a complimentary webinar for council members that provides tips on putting entries together. For questions about packaging an entry, call Credit Union National Association’s Bobbi Bischke, at 800-356-9655, ext. 4018, or e-mail bbischke@cuna.coop. For information pertaining to the award or award categories, contact Lesley Carrell, Fibre FCU, at 360-414-4204, or e-mail lcarrell@fibrecu.com.

Michigans largest CU gives 17 million dividend

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DEARBORN, Mich. (10/31/08)--DFCU Financial FCU’s board of directors approved a $17 million dividend to be distributed the first week of January. The dividend is the largest in the history of credit unions, according to DFCU Financial. The minimum dividend eligible members will receive is $50. During the past three years, members had received more than $50, which is a considerable amount considering the difficult economic climate in Michigan, said the $1.991 billion asset, Dearborn, Mich.-based credit union. The special patronage dividend is a way for DFCU Financial to thank members, said Mark Shobe, DFCU president/CEO. “For the past seven years, we’ve worked hard to become an efficient, healthy and well-capitalized credit union so that we are able to give back and help our members in many ways--more branches, investment advisory services, free budget and credit counseling, our no-payment/no-interest loans for workers and the special dividend,” Shobe said. Roughly 133,000 people--125,000 who are Michigan residents--are scheduled to receive the dividend.

Firefighter CUs form coalition

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ST. LOUIS (10/31/08)--Several firefighter credit unions nationwide formed a coalition at a summit in Coconut Grove, Fla., Oct. 15-18, to bring innovation and a shared vision. More than 180 firefighter credit union officials, spouses, guests and vendors participated in the seventh annual conference for credit unions serving the firefighter community. The Coalition of Firefighter Credit Unions (CFCU), founded Oct. 16, comprises representatives from 26 of the nation’s 105 identified firefighter credit unions primarily representing firefighters. Grant Sheehan, CEO, Miami Firefighters FCU, was named chairman of the coalition. CFCU seeks to leverage collective resources to further the growth, development and interests of firefighter credit unions nationwide. It will:
* Represent firefighter credit unions to external audiences including regulatory agencies, legislative bodies, trade associations and other publics; * Provide educational and informational exchange opportunities; and * Promote firefighter credit unions’ safety, soundness and financial strength.
Also at the meeting:
* Rodney Hood, vice chairman of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), provided an overview of activities of NCUA. He expressed his concern for the survival of small credit unions and the challenges facing them. During a question and answer period he discussed NCUA examinations, the economy, corporate credit unions, legislation, regulations and more. * Economist Jim Hagerbaumer discussed the state of the economy. * Richard Wagner, a senior director with the Municipal CU in New York City, shared some of the challenges his credit union faced during the 9/11 disaster. The credit union’s headquarters was across from Ground Zero. * Fifteen million dollars was looted from the credit union in New York City by its own members--including city employees, health care professionals and education workers -- when a computer failure caused by the collapse of the World Trade Center allowed unlimited access to money in ATMs. * The credit union lost 129 firefighter members on Sept. 11, 2001.

Federation holds fin-lit day in N.Y.

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NEW YORK (10/31/08)--Nearly 100 financial literacy practitioners and government officials attended the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions’ Seventh Annual Financial Literacy Day celebration at the Museum of American Finance in Manhattan last week. Representatives from credit unions, city officials, banks and community organizations addressed attendees about financial literacy and the work their organizations are conducting in low- and moderate-income communities. Practitioners should “reach out to all levels of government and non profit agencies” to make the most of available resources, said Dan Iannicola, deputy assistant secretary for financial education at the U.S. Treasury. “With the financial industry in turmoil and the persistent problems in the global economy, the need for this type of work is greater than ever,” added federation President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal. Other presenters included:
* Lee Kjelleren, CEO, Museum of American Finance; * Johnette Hartnett, director of public policy at the National Disability Institute; * Dianne Dixon, deputy superintendent of the New York State Banking Department; and * Thom Dellwo, financial education coordinator, Cooperative FCU, Syracuse, N.Y.
“Credit unions are uniquely qualified to teach financial literacy because of their commitment to their communities and particularly as financial institutions,” Dellwo said. He authored the book, “Life Skills: Planning Your Financial Future.” Support for the event was provided by the New York Credit Union Foundation, Signature Bank and the Museum of American Finance.

New Jersey league granted 30000 for small CUs

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (10/31/08)--The New Jersey Credit Union League (NJCUL) received a $30,000 Innovation Grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) to help small credit unions.
New Jersey Credit Union League Field Representative Angel Santos (left) and Salem Baptist FCU President Ethel Bond (standing) begin the Small Credit Union Initiative with board members and management. (Photo provided by the National Credit Union Foundation)
NJCUL is matching the grant with $30,000. The New Jersey Credit Union Foundation is contributing an additional $10,000. More than 60% of New Jersey’s credit unions have less than $10 million in assets. The NJCUL created a Small Credit Union Task Force to help them. The task force includes small, large and corporate credit unions, and the National Credit Union Administration. Five issues hindering small credit unions’ success are:
* Lack of board involvement and participation; * Lack of strategic planning or direction; * Not committing resources necessary to improve the credit union; * Lack of management’s desire to grow; and * Not enough focus on getting where the credit union needs to go.
“Through education, we strive to give board members and management the knowledge they need to better oversee and manage their credit unions,” said NJCUL President Paul Gentile. “Our desire is to help boards and management work together to ultimately make each credit union a better financial institution for its members.” Twelve credit unions up to $20 million in assets will participate in NJCUL’s Small Credit Union Initiative. Each must undergo a membership survey, operational analysis, and a facilitated peer review as part of their strategic planning.

CUNA economist briefs INY TimesI on auto financing

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NEW YORK (10/31/08)--Those who finance their auto purchases through credit unions are on “good footing,” Credit Union National Association Senior Economist Steve Rick told The New York Times. The Times noted in a Thursday article that credit unions are willing to lend to car buyers--unlike banks, which are being hit by the subprime crisis. “[Credit unions] didn’t have the losses,” Rick told the newspaper. “We don’t need to hoard credit.” More members are taking advantage of credit union loans to finance used vehicles rather than new ones, Rick added. The Times article, “Deals are Plentiful (But Bring Good Credit),” focused on the availability of car loans to potential buyers. To read the full article, use the link.

FSCC CUs team up on National Runaway Prevention Month

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CHICAGO and SAN DIMAS, Calif. (10/30/08)--Financial Service Centers Cooperative Inc. (FSCC) and National Runaway Switchboard (NRS) have teamed up again to raise awareness with credit unions throughout the country to support National Runaway Prevention Month in November. FSCC is encouraging credit unions, including non-shared branching credit unions, to support the campaign. The campaign aims to raise awareness of issues facing runaway and at-risk youth, and educate Americans about solutions and roles they can play in preventing youth from running. "Credit unions are leaders in their communities, and they invest time and resources to help people every day," said FSCC President/CEO Sara Canepa Bang. "Raising awareness about youth runaway issues helps not only our communities, but also members and employees." FSCC said credit unions can participate in the campaign, which has a theme of "Let's Talk," by using the campaign's promotional materials. Materials for branches and lobbies and a community action kit are available at FSCC and NRS websites. According to NCR call volume statistics, family dynamics such as divorce, remarriage and problems with siblings, and abuse (substance, physical, sexual, neglect) are the top reasons youth reach out for help. Between 1.6 million and 2.8 million youth run away in a year.

Intermountain CU members OK merger with CU

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SALT LAKE CITY (10/30/08)--Members of Intermountain CU at a special meeting Tuesday voted nearly unanimously to merge into Ogden, Utah-based America First CU. About 150 members of Intermountain were present for the vote, said The Salt Lake Tribune (Oct. 28). Beginning immediately, Intermountain's administrative staff, member accounts and assets will be integrated into America First. The merger is expected to be complete by the end of the year. Intermountain was struggling financially as a result of the mortgage crisis. The merger was approved by the National Credit Union Administration and the Utah Department of Financial Institutions. The 54-year-old credit union had 6,900 members and $41 million in assets. America First has $4.5 billion in assets.

Police rule CU reporters case a murder-suicide

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BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. (10/30/08)--Boynton Beach police say a former credit union trade publications writer murdered her former partner and committed suicide (Palm Beach Post Oct. 29). Carol Anne Burger, 57, committed suicide Friday several hours at her home in Boynton Beach after the body of her former partner, software executive Jessica Kalish, 56, was found in her car more than two miles away (News Now Oct. 28). Police said Burger, upset about the disintegration of the couple's relationship, stabbed Kalish more than 200 times with a Phillips-head screwdriver in their garage, reported the Post. Police said she tried to conceal the killing by cleaning the garage, moving Kalish's car, and planting Kalish's keys and wallet elsewhere. Burger was a former writer for Credit Union Times and Credit Union Journal and wrote for several industry organizations. She had been reporting political news on a blog for The Huffington Post website until the deaths.

CU System briefs (10/29/2008)

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* SUITLAND, Md. (10/30/08)--Andrews FCU has opened four new Warrior in Transition Unit (WTU) barracks rooms at the U.S. Army Garrison in Chievres, Belgium. The rooms provide furnishings and amenities of home for soldiers recovering from injuries requiring care and rehabilitation for a time to heal. Andrews Federal provided the décor for the rooms, and toiletries, linens and other supplies. As current soldiers heal and new soldiers arrive, staff at the credit union's Chievres branch will refresh the supplies at the units. Staff also will make sure each soldier has a pleasant stay by baking cookies, donating holiday gift cards and providing care packages. (Photo provided by Andrews FCU) … * BANGOR, Maine (10/30/08)--Maine Credit Unions' seventh annual Ending Hunger Walking Tour kicked off Tuesday in Augusta. Brenda Davis, executive director of Crossroads Ministries of Old Town, which serves people in eastern Maine, took her first steps of a nearly 700-mile journey, where she will visit 56 communities in every Maine county and end her fundraiser Dec. 1 at University CU, Orono. In each community she visits, Maine's credit unions will donate $100 to a local pantry (Bangor Daily News Oct. 28) …

Americas CU Museum premieres 100th anniversary DVD

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MANCHESTER, N.H. (10/30/08)--An event premiering a DVD about the history of credit unions and celebrating the 100th anniversary of the credit union movement was held in Manchester, N.H., Oct. 23.
Present at the premiere of the 100th Anniversary of Credit Unions DVD were: Dan Mica, Credit Union National Association president/CEO; Dan Eagan, Massachusetts and New Hampshire Credit Union League and the Credit Union Association of Rhode Island president; Susan Newton, American Association of Credit Union Leagues director; Pete Crear, World Council of Credit Unions president/CEO; and Gordon Simmons, America’s Credit Union Museum chair. (Photo provided by the America’s Credit Union Museum)
The event began with a reception at America’s Credit Union Museum in Manchester. It located in the original structure of the first credit union in the U.S., St. Mary’s Bank, which opened its doors 100 years ago in November. After the reception, a viewing of the DVD was held at a theater in downtown Manchester. The DVD, “Credit unions: 100 years of building financial futures,” is sponsored by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the American Association of Credit Union Leagues, CUNA Mutual Group, U.S. Central, and St. Mary’s Bank. The video chronicles the U.S. credit union movement and showcases the events and people responsible for the development of the credit union movement, according to the Massachusetts Credit Union League. Attending the premiere were Dan Mica, CUNA president/CEO; Dan Eagan, Massachusetts and New Hampshire Credit Union League and the Credit Union Association of Rhode Island president; Susan Newton, American Association of Credit Union Leagues director; Pete Crear, World Council of Credit Unions president/CEO; and Gordon Simmons, America’s Credit Union Museum chair. Credit unions' 100th anniversary (as well as the 75th anniversaries of CUNA and the Federal Credit Union Act) will be showcased at CUNA's 2009 Governmental Affairs Conference in February. The anniversary will be celebrated in June at the America's Credit Union Conference & Expo, which will be held in Boston in conjunction with the Massachusetts Credit Union League's annual meeting. The anniversaries also will be spotlighted in the November and December issues of Credit Union Magazine and in a special CUNA web page that will go live Nov. 1.

CUs shared branch gets perfect score

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ERIE, Pa. (10/30/08)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Service Centers, Inc. (PaCUSC) reported that Erie (Pa.) FCU’s Greengarden Road branch earned a perfect 100% score after a recent mystery shop conducted by CO-OP Shared Branching. The shop is part of an overall mystery shopping program designed to measure and improve member service quality among all 3,443 shared branches nationwide, according to PaCUSC State Coordinator Sandy Shenk (Life is a Highway Oct. 29). Erie FCU is the second shared branch to earn a perfect score in Pennsylvania. Earlier this year, Parkview Community FCU, McKeesport, earned a perfect score. Mystery shoppers evaluate the service quality provided by a shared branch on:
* Transaction performed as per member request; * Transaction performed within network guidelines; * Overall member service experience; and * No solicitation of member.
Scores for Pennsylvania shared branches are slightly ahead of national averages, Shenk said. In no instance has a member of another credit union been solicited by staff of a shared branch, she added.

Corporates conference addresses fraud I.D. theft more

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WARRENVILLE, Ill. (10/30/08)--Members United Corporate FCU’s fifth annual Operations Outlook Conference provided answers to questions about identity theft, automated clearing house (ACH) risk assessment, pandemic planning and growing staff.
Jim McKee, Federal Reserve Retail Payments Office, explained why the Fed is reducing its check-processing centers during Members United Corporate’s Operations Outlook Conference Oct. 21. (Photo provided by Members United Corporate FCU)
Nearly 100 credit union operations professionals from eight states attended the conference in Albany, N.Y., Monday through Wednesday. “This is the fifth year we have sponsored this operations-based conference in an effort to help attendees learn more about emerging technologies,” said Kevin Brauer, president, northeast region, Members United. Highlights included a pre-conference session entitled “Scams, Schemes and Fraud ... Oh My!” Tim Mills, Electronic Payments Network, shared statistics about payment fraud. More than 500 million checks are forged annually with losses totaling more than $10 billion. Vigilance is key to preventing fraud, he said. Jim McKee, of the Federal Reserve Retail Payments Office, said the Fed once had 48 sites across the country processing checks. The Fed’s current plan is to have only four or fewer processing sites by 2010, due to the electronification of checks. Concurrent first-day sessions offered these topics:
* Understanding the New International ACH Transaction, Bank Secrecy Act, Anti-Money Laundering, Office of Foreign Assets Control--A Never-Ending Journey; * Cross-Selling; * Conducting Your ACH Risk Assessment; * Mitigating Risk in Check Processing; * Information Security Update; * Bill Payment Trends and Adoption Best Practices; * Trends in Identity Theft; and * Your Most Valuable Asset--Do You Stand Out From the Competition?
The final general session, National Consumer Fraud Awareness, was presented by Al Weissmann, a U.S. Postal Service inspector. He shared stories about consumers being swindled out of their life savings via various postal scams. Weissmann warned that any time a consumer is asked to wire funds within a short period of time a “red flag” should go up. The conference also included “Branding You--Achieving Success and Satisfaction in an Extraordinary Career and Life,” presented by Jeff Rendel of Rising Above Enterprises. He suggested ways to brand the areas of life (family, friends, career, health) by identifying stakeholders (spouse, children, parents) and outlining goals and the life tools needed to fulfill those goals. The final day continued with concurrent sessions such as A Spoonful of Sugar: Making Your Financial Literacy Sweet, Your Member’s Experience--Will it Win, Wow or Worry and Pandemic Planning. The conference concluded with a Compliance and Regulatory Update from Yvonne Applonie of the National Credit Union Administration.

350 attend WOCCUs Africa SACCO Tech Congress

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BANJUL, The Gambia (10/30/08)--More than 350 volunteer leaders and staff from 18 nations studied new ways to overcome adversity and better manage their savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs) during the World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) Africa SACCO Technical Congress last week in Gambia.
African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) Treasurer Hubert Hoosman Jr. (center) enjoys a moment with Patson Ngwevela from South Africa (left) and Kusi Boachie from Ghana at the 2008 World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) Africa SACCO Technical Congress.
The event, held in conjunction with WOCCU’s Management Certification program, was co-sponsored by the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC), the Canadian Cooperative Association, the Irish League of Credit Unions and the National Association of Co-operative Credit Unions of The Gambia. The sessions offered participants an opportunity to tap into solutions critical to issues affecting SACCO performance. The congress sessions focused on the growing need for financial services in increasingly turbulent social environments throughout Africa. Effective SACCO management has never faced a time of greater challenge, according to Sylvester Kadzola, a WOCCU director and chief executive for the Malawi Union of Savings & Credit Cooperatives.
Click to view larger image Participants from Ghana enthusiastically wave their country's flag during the World Council of Credit Unions Africa SACCO Technical Congress opening ceremonies.
“Given the current social and economic conditions many of us face, participation in events like WOCCU's Technical Congress has become even more important for SACCOs in Africa,” said Kadzola. “Africa has made tremendous progress in the areas of government, technology and the development of regulations to enhance SACCOs’ ability to properly serve members,” added Hubert Hoosman Jr., treasurer for AACUC and president/CEO of Vantage CU, Bridgeton, Mo. “But there is still significant work to be done.” Much of that work concerns issues such as the civil unrest that shut down SACCOs and other businesses in Kenya for several weeks earlier this year, the need for greater government oversight and credit union-specific regulations and the continuing battle against HIV/AIDs. SACCOs have launched HIV/AIDs education and awareness programs to protect members who are succumbing to the disease in increasing numbers.
World Council of Credit Unions Director Sylvester Kadzola addresses Africa Technical Congress participants. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
Congress participants came from Botswana, Burundi, Gambia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Canada, Ireland and the U.S. Officials from the government of The Gambia who attended the opening ceremonies included Fatou Lamin Faye, secretary of state for basic and secondary education; Abdoulie Bojan, deputy speaker of the National Assembly; Sheriff Gomez, secretary of state for youth and sports; Fatim Badjie Janneh, secretary of state for information and communications; Bakary Sonko, director general of the National Agricultural Development Agency; and Bamba Saho, governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia.

CUs making gains amid financial turmoil

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MADISON, Wis. (10/30/08)--Credit unions across the nation are performing well compared with other financial institutions amid the national economic turmoil and are providing education and assistance to consumers to help them through tough times. Not only are credit unions not a part of financial problems afflicting the U.S., they are outperforming the rest of the country, Gary Parks, president of the South Carolina Credit Union League, told a local newspaper (The Herald Oct. 28). For example, Family Trust FCU, a $217.7 million asset, Rock Hill, S.C.-based credit union, reported near-record loan growth for the first half of 2008, the newspaper said. Family Trust has seen 9% membership growth since 2007, and growth in every loan category. Family Trust’s success is not due to the credit union being smarter than its competitors, but mostly because it has not taken risks like many on Wall Street have done, Lee Gardner, Family Trust CEO, told the paper. The Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) will offer a one-day forum on Nov. 13 to bring industry experts together to share information on lending, investing and managing during the current financial crisis (Michigan Monitor Oct. 27). “MCUL is doing everything possible to keep credit unions prepared to deal with the current financial climate,” said David Adams, MCUL president/CEO. “This forum is an excellent opportunity to gain insight on some of the most important challenges and opportunities facing credit unions during this financial crisis.” Pacific Service CU, a $1.109 billion asset, Walnut Creek, Calif.-based credit union, is offering two online videos that provide information about deposit insurance, financial stability, and the benefits of credit union membership. The videos, titled “Why Your Deposits Are Safe” and “What is a Credit Union?” are available on the credit union’s home page (use the link). “In today’s economic environment, an informed consumer has a powerful advantage when it comes to making financial choices. Knowledge about the strength and liquidity of credit unions and how we are different is essential information,” said Steve Punch, Pacific Service president. “We believe these videos do a great job of answering key questions that consumers have about financial institutions at the present time.”

Alamo chapters TV forum nets hundreds of calls

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SAN ANTONIO (10/30/08)--The Alamo Chapter of Credit Unions sponsored a Financial Forum Friday on TV station KENS 5 “Great Day SA” to answer financial questions posed in a town-hall format. Hundreds of viewers called in to the show.
Click to view larger imageThe Alamo Chapter of Credit Unions sponsored a Financial Forum Oct. 24 on TV station KENS 5 “Great Day SA,” to answer financial questions in a town-hall format. Hundreds of viewers called in to the show.
Credit union employees staffed a telephone bank during the program and continued taking calls and answering questions. Many of the chapter’s 37 member credit unions and a local credit counseling service provided experts for the program and staff for the telephone bank. Hundreds of callers who had financial questions and concerns about the economic climate took advantage of the free educational program. The panelists covered subjects including deposits and insurance, mortgage lending, consumer and auto lending, education loans, the current economic climate, collections and credit counseling. “The major difference between credit unions and banks is ownership; credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives, owned by members, and banks are for-profit institutions, owned by stockholder,” Robert Williamson, chapter president, said at the beginning of the show. Asked about the impact of this type of program, a panelist said it is valuable for individuals as well as businesses to get their questions answered on a timely basis, especially in tough times. Calling in to ask a question is an easy, non-threatening way to get information, the chapter said.
Bridget Smith (left), host of San Antonio TV show “Great Day SA,” and Robert Williamson, president of the Alamo Chapter of Credit Unions, discussed financial questions during the show. (Photos provided by the Alamo Chapter of Credit Unions)
The Alamo Chapter provided the program for educational purposes, and it encouraged viewers to contact their credit union or financial adviser for advice in their specific situation. Members of the chapter are working cooperatively to enhance overall consumer understanding of how credit union deposits are insured to at least $250,000 through the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF). NCUSIF is backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, but has never required financial assistance from the federal government, the chapter emphasized. One panelist put the main message in perspective: “We want to tell everyone that credit unions have money to lend, and that they are strong, stable institutions in which to deposit your money.”

CU difference noted in Missouri credit crisis forum

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ST. LOUIS (10/30/08)--A credit crisis forum featuring financial institution leaders and experts provided an opportunity to share the credit union difference in the St. Louis area, says the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA).
From left, Radha Gopalan, Washington University; D. Eric McClure, Missouri Division of Finance; Bill Ratliff, Missouri Bankers Association; Rosie Holub, Missouri Credit Union Association; and Julie Steakhouse, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. (Photo provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association)
MCUA President/CEO Rosie Holub joined the panel discussion at the forum "Financing the Future: A Look at How the Credit Crisis Affects Development and Job Creation in St. Louis." State Rep. Jamilah Nasheed (D-60) hosted the event at Harris Stowe State University Friday (The Missouri Difference Oct. 29). Holub emphasized credit unions' safety and soundness and said credit unions have money to lend. She also pointed out that the current economic situation offers an opportunity. "This is the time to rethink our financial discipline by clearly separating needs from wants, and financial education is key," Holub said. "Credit unions are an excellent resource for information, and the more knowledge you have, the more you can look at your situation and find income opportunities." Other forum participants included Professor Radha Gopalan, Washington University Olin School of Business; D. Eric McClure, Missouri Division of Finance; Bill Ratliff, Missouri Bankers Association; and Julie Steakhouse, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Moderating were Amy Blouin, director of the Missouri Budget Project, and Eric E. Vickers, spokesperson, Minority Inclusion Alliance. More than 40 people attended. They included representatives from 1st Financial FCU, St. Charles, and St. Louis Community CU. A local cable access station, Channel 10, will re-broadcast the discussion at 3 p.m. CT today.

Wash. DFI rule protects seniors from misleading marketing

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (10/29/08)--The Securities Division of the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) has adopted a rule governing the use of professional designations that imply knowledge about issues relating to seniors. The rule is to protect seniors from misleading marketing by people offering investment transactions. The rule adopted is the North American Securities Administrators Association's Model Rule on Senior Designations. DFI says Washington is the first state to adopt the rule. "The purpose of the rule is to protect seniors by prohibiting the misleading use of senior and retiree designations," said DFI in a press release. "There has been a proliferation of professional designations that purport to show special knowledge of issues relating to seniors." Some of the designations represent a significant course of study, while others are mere marketing devices. Under the new rule, which became effective in July, the Securities Division can take license action against securities salespeople who use a senior designation to mislead seniors about their expertise. DFI warned consumers to check out anyone offering investment services or investment opportunities prior to signing any agreements, and to avoid those opportunities accompanied by high-pressure sales tactics that imply the offer won't last.

CU System briefs (10/28/2008)

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* RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (10/29/08)--CLARIFICATION: RaAnn Wood, president/CEO of California Central CU, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., was named deputy commissioner of the division of credit unions at the California Department of Financial Institutions. She will remain as CEO of California Central until Nov. 21. News Now reported Monday Wood was CEO of another credit union ... * CHANDLER, Ariz. (10/29/08)--First CU has partnered with Junior Achievement of Arizona to sponsor the financial institution at its second JA BizTown T learning experience for fifth and sixth grade students. Representatives of the $500 million asset credit union attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for its newest "branch." JA BizTown T encourages students to learn about the free enterprise system by participating in a simulated town. Student experiences vary from working in a financial institution, a television station or a retail store to managing personal finances. The partnership enables First CU to reach nearly 10,000 Arizona elementary students, said Desiree Hoogerhuis, community outreach coordinator at the credit union … * RALEIGH, N.C. (10/29/08)--State Employees' CU's (SECU) annual meeting Oct. 14 in Greensboro, N.C., attracted 900 members, says SECU. Many attending serve as volunteers on local branch Advisory Boards or on regional Loan Review Committees. SECU has more than 2,500 volunteer members serving statewide, acting as ambassadors for the credit union in the community. Board Chairman Shirley Bell noted that "SECU volunteers are crucial to the success of our member-owned financial cooperative, and we are thrilled so many were able to attend … Now is a crucial time for all financial institutions, and we are extremely proud to report our credit union is financially safe and sound, and is still seeing positive growth during difficult economic times." President/CEO Jim Blaine also focused on the safety and soundness of the credit union. (Photo provided by State Employees' CU) … * WESTERVILLE, Ohio (10/29/08)--A woman described as "dressed like a church lady" but "intimidating" robbed three financial institutions--including a credit union--in Franklin County, Ohio, last week (The Columbus Dispatch Oct. 25). Authorities have tied her with a bank robbery in the area in early 2006. The most recent robbery was Thursday at BMI FCU in Westerville and occurred near closing time. A note the woman handed to a teller said she had a gun and wanted a large amount of cash. However, the teller didn't have that much cash on hand and gave her rolls of coins. The woman also robbed a bank on Monday and another bank on Wednesday. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, female robbers are rare and one so prolific is an anomaly. Nationally, 6.4% of the 7,411 financial institution robberies last year were committed by women. In 2003, the figure was 5.4% …

Missouri CUs hit airwaves newspapers

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (10/29/08)--Missouri credit union representatives statewide are reaching out through the media to share the story of the credit union difference in tough economic times. Presidents Dan Alderman, Missouri Baptist CU, Jefferson City; Marsha Borgmeyer, First Financial CU, Jefferson City; and Rick Nichols,
Missouri Credit Union Association President Rosie Holub, left, talks about the credit union difference at radio station KCLR in Columbia, Mo. Rick Nichols, River Region CU, and Marsha Borgmeyer, First Financial CU, also were interviewed. (Photo provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association)
River Region CU, Jefferson City; and Rosie Holub, Missouri Credit Union Association, used airtime on radio station KCLR in Columbia to spread the message (The Missouri Difference Oct. 24). Credit union lending, benefits of membership, safety and soundness, and how credit unions avoided the financial crisis were among the issues they addressed. The interviews ran Oct. 20. “Banks dominate the news, and by default, credit unions get some of the cynicism that is generated by the press,” Nichols said. “This helps plant seeds about the real story of credit unions.” Missouri credit union leaders also are appearing in print media. The Daily American Republic included a photo of Polar Bluff (Mo.) FCU and information about credit union share insurance. President Dennis Sommer, Alliance CU, St. Louis, wrote two letters to the editor in October, countering articles written in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the St. Louis Business Journal. The letters pointed out that credit unions continue to meet the borrowing needs of their members, even as national banks cut back their lending.

Grant to expand Americas CU Museum program

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MANCHESTER, N.H. (10/29/08)--A $25,000 Innovation Grant from the National Credit Union Foundation will expand CU 4 Reality, a financial education program provided by America’s Credit Union Museum.
Middle school students visit America's Credit Union Museum in Manchester, N.H., to sign up for the CU 4 Reality Financial Education Fair. (Photo provided by the National Credit Union Foundation)
CU 4 Reality fosters partnerships between credit unions and middle schools to educate youth about fiscal responsibility. Its two-year curriculum combines career development and financial education. It is designed to:
* Guide students to select careers that will support their desired lifestyles; * Teach students basic financial literacy; * Provide credit unions opportunities to offer financial literacy support in partnership with educators; * Give educators a ready-to-use curriculum that is adaptable for the classroom.
Classwork is combined with hands-on learning experiences, and culminates in an interactive CU 4 Reality Financial Education Fair. “[The program’s growth] will help position credit unions as innovators and leaders in financial literacy education and community service,” said Peggy Powell, museum executive director. “It will also foster a familiarity with credit unions among our youth, an important emerging market for all credit unions.” Program grants are made possible through the Community Investment Fund.

NACUSO to CUs Its time to capture new market share

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SAN DIEGO (10/29/08)--Now is the time for credit unions to capitalize on all of the dysfunction that is occurring in the marketplace, according to National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO) President/CEO Thomas Davis.
Credit unions should "rev up their engines" and go after market share, said National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO) President/CEO Tom Davis at NACUSO's Member Business Alliance Oct. 15-17. (Photo provided by the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations)
“Credit unions and credit union service organizations (CUSOs) can take advantage of the market opportunities that have been created for us,” Davis said at the NACUSO Member Business Alliance Oct. 15-17. “It really is time to rev up our engines, take off and go after market share. That is particularly true with respect to business services, business deposits, lending and business services. The opportunity has never been better.” He also noted NACUSO’s National Center for Collaboration and Innovation and its four strategic pillars--critical thinking, innovation, collaboration and implementation. “It’s important to look at the risks that are changing and determine in advance what kind of corrective action might be necessary, rather than waiting to see what changes,” said Margaret Dengler Ross, National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Member Business Lending program officer, during the conference. “Credit unions offering member business lending should proactively and continually validate that risk assessments are current and relevant.” NACUSO speaker Kirk Cuevas, principal partner, Dollar Associates and a former NCUA chief of staff, talked about the opportunities CUSOs and credit unions have. “Credit unions will need new and innovative products to compete in a dynamic financial marketplace,” he said. He encouraged credit unions and CUSOs to monitor NCUA Board actions and comment on proposed rules. Kent Moon, president of Member Business Lending LLC, said loan volume is up for business lending and there is a positive outlook for credit unions. “The best single piece of advice is to move,” he said. “I recommend credit unions launch their proactive mode, move into the market and look forward to building a real, strong membership for their credit union.” Lisa Renner, CEO, CU Holding Company, Kansas City, Mo., noted that the fastest growth in the next decade will be seen in women business owners, the young entrepreneurs, the immigrants and baby boomers. Credit unions can become involved with the community through the chamber of commerce and business fairs. “The credit union can garner new clients from those professional resources used to help their business service members,” she said.

Two leagues make wager for charity on World Series

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HARRISBURG, Pa. and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (10/29/08)--Jim McCormack, Pennsylvania Credit Union Association president/CEO, and Guy Hood, Florida Credit Union League president/CEO, have made a wager on their respective home teams winning the 2008 World Series. If the Phillies win, Florida will make a $250 contribution to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation. If the Devil Rays win, the association will send a $250 contribution to the Florida League’s favorite charity (Life is A Highway Oct. 28). Monday night’s Game 5 was suspended in the sixth inning due to heavy wind-driven rain. The game was to resume last night at 8 p.m. EDT, weather permitting. If the weather causes a further delay, fans will have to wait longer to celebrate a Phillies championship--or for Tampa Bay to take the series back to Florida. The Phillies lead the best 4-out-of-7 series, three games to one.

Good Morning America on bank fees Check out a CU

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NEW YORK (10/29/08)--On a consumer financial segment aired Tuesday morning on “Good Morning America” (GMA) titled “Bank Fees Out of Control,” viewers were encouraged to check out credit unions as an alternative to banks. The segment featured an irate mother whose college-aged daughter was charged $650 in bounced-check fees at a bank for a $100 overdraft on her account. GMA host Elizabeth Piper said a government study indicated that banks did a poor job of informing customers about transactions and overdraft fees. “See if you have access to a member-owned credit union,” Piper told viewers in her parting tips. “Their fees are typically way lower.” Some specific bank fees that Piper discussed:
* The average bank overdraft fee is $29--a 34% increase from a decade ago, according to Bankrate.com. Multiple overdrafts mean multiple overdraft fees for the bank; * Using an ATM at a bank other than their own can cost consumers up to $3.43 per transaction; * Consumers can be charged a $15 fee to pay a bill by phone; * Copies of old checks can cost $5; * Stop-payment requests can cost $20 apiece; * Depositing a bad check from someone else can cost the depositor $12; and * A line of credit used to cover overdrafts can cost the consumer $10 plus interest every time the bank activates the line of credit.

ICU Day over but CUs mission continues throughout year

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MADISON, Wis. (10/29/08)--International Credit Union Day (ICU Day)--celebrated Oct. 16--may have passed, but credit unions continue to promote their philosophy of “people helping people.” Activities include:
Click for slide showStaff at Prime Financial CU, Cudahy, Wis., celebrated International Credit Union Day by representing a different country at each of its nine branches. The branches treated members to cookies and candy to represent each country. (Photo provided by Prime Financial CU).
* Prime Financial FCU, Cudahy, Wis., celebrated ICU Day by asking each of its nine branches to select a country and then treat members to cookies and candy representing each country. The credit union distributed handouts with the history of credit unions and the purpose of the celebration; * Minnesota’s Southwestern Chapter of Credit Unions packed meals for children around the world to celebrate ICU day at the chapter’s second-annual Kids Against Hunger event. More than 70 credit union employees, board members and their families packed 23,000 meals. The chapter also donated $4,500 to cover the cost of food and supplies; * The Lafayette Chapter of the Louisiana Credit Union League held a jambalaya cook-off on ICU Day with five teams and judges (eWeek Oct. 23). First place was earned by Lafayette Schools FCU. Funds raised at the event will benefit the Credit Union Legislative Action Council; * Consumers CU, Waukegan, Ill., celebrated ICU Day with a grand re-opening of its new office in Mundelein; * E FCU, Baton Rouge, LA., also celebrated ICU Day with the opening of a new branch in Zachary, La.; * Erie (Pa.) General Electric FCU provided an Italian lunch to its members, and gave away a $100 Wal-Mart gift card; and * Freedom CU, Philadelphia, served soft pretzels and candy to members at its branches.

CUNA fin-lit tools win outstanding consumer info award

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MADISON, Wis. (10/29/08)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) recently won the 2008 Outstanding Consumer Financial Information Award for its suite of online financial literacy products for credit union members from the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE). “CUNA is committed to helping credit unions achieve their mission to educate their members--and the communities they serve--about personal finance and the importance it plays in lifelong financial security,” said Jim Hanson, vice president of CUNA’s center for personal finance. “Over the years, CUNA has gone from publication-only education to life-stage-based online tools. It is these innovative tools that served as the basis for this award application.” The six online life stage products honored in the award include:
* Googolplex--a three-in-one website, written predominantly by youth for youth, that deals with money matters and life issues through stories, videos, contests, calculators, interactive games, and blogs; * Guides to Independence--a series of interactive tutorials, which includes audio track and simulations, to help high school students learn about money management; * MoneyMix--a one-stop financial resource, designed for 18- to 30-year-olds, that features videos, articles, checklists, budgeting tools, and blogs; * Anytime Adviser--seven coaches, available in both English and Spanish, with topics that cover major financial decisions; * Home & Family Finance Resource Center--timely information on personal finance topics, including consumer articles, online calculators, videos, and audio programs to help adults achieve financial success; and * Plan It: Retire Ready Toolkit--a complete online toolkit to aid baby boomers in planning for and achieving financially secure retirement years.
The award will be presented during the AFCPE’s Annual Conference Nov. 19-21 in Garden Grove, Calif. Mike Schenk, CUNA’s vice president of economics and statistics, will provide the closing remarks on the current housing crisis and its implications for the future at the conference. The AFCPE is a professional organization focused on supporting, promoting, and advancing the field of financial counseling and planning education. Its membership consists of personal finance educators, military financial counselors, private practitioners, and organization and government officials. For more information, use the link.

Media continue reporting CUs efforts on strength

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MADISON, Wis. (10/28/08)--Credit unions and leagues continue to hammer home the message that credit unions are safe and sound, and ready to lend while loans elsewhere are hard to come by. Media in a number of states have picked up that message. In the past week, the message has appeared in media in Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin, North Carolina, New York, and Pennsylvania The Columbus Dispatch (Oct. 26) reported that bank loan applicants are made to jump through series of flaming hoops to get a loan, but BMI FCU, Dublin, Ohio, has money to lend. BMI reported its mortgage loans have gone up 53% the past year. Ohio Credit Union League spokesman Patrick Harris noted that BMI is the rule, not the exception. Ohio's credit unions loaned $11.3 billion during the 12 months before June 30, up from $600 million the previous year. The Dallas Morning News' "Dollar Wise" column reassured a consumer who expressed concern about bank failures (Oct. 27). It pointed out that depositors in banks and credit unions have federal insurance on their accounts. The column also mentioned credit unions' National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) and the National Credit Union Administration three times. The Alamo Chapter of Credit Unions announced it will sponsor a Financial Forum in a town hall format Friday morning on television station KENS 5 "Great Day SA," where chapter President Robert Williamson will kick off the show explaining misconceptions about credit unions and their share insurance fund. Credit Union Association of New York CEO William J. Mellin authored an op-ed piece in Times Union (Oct. 16) that reassured readers about credit unions' safety. That same day, another article featured Sunmark FCU, Latham, and SEFCU, Albany, saying credit unions didn't participate in risky, speculative lending that fueled the credit crunch. It mentioned NCUSIF's role in protecting deposits of credit unions. The Tomah (Wis.) Journal (Oct. 26) featured a letter on safety of credit union deposits from John Laufenberg, president/CEO of Tomah Area CU; Donna Evans, branch manager, RIA FCU; and Colleen Woggon, CEO, Oakdale CU. Credit unions in the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina have successfully launched a cooperative ad campaign in seven local newspapers, reported the North Carolina Credit Union League (Weekly Update Oct. 23). The four-week campaign launched on Oct. 19 focuses on the NCUSIF. In Pennsylvania, Tom Iacona of the Patriot FCU, Chambersburg, was interviewed for an article in Public Opinion about vehicle sales in Franklin County during the economic slowdown. He noted the credit crunch has been somewhat beneficial to the credit union with competitive interest rates on loans and direct financing. And the Pottsville Republican & Herald published a letter from Raylene Thompson, board president of Schuykill FCU, Pottsville, explaining credit unions exist to serve their members. It also promoted safety and soundness of credit unions (Life is a Highway Oct. 22).

Not marketing to Hispanics Better check population stats

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MADISON, Wis. (10/28/08)--Still haven't begun outreach efforts to attract Hispanics in your area to your credit union? These statistics might make you change your mind. Fertility has surpassed immigration as the driving factor in the Hispanic population growth in the U.S., according to a Pew Hispanic Center report released on Thursday. The center analyzed the Census Bureau's 2007 county population estimates, as well as the 1900 and 2000 county population tallies from the Decennial Censuses, it said (LoneStar Leaguer Oct. 27). The Hispanic population has increased by 10.2 million since 2000, with six million the result of births in the U.S. That outnumbers the 4.2 million growth due to immigration, says the center. Although Hispanic population increased during the 1990s, that population's growth accounted for less than 40% of the nation's total population increase. That trend is now reversed. As of mid-2007, Hispanics accounted for 15.1% of the total U.S. population. Although the dispersion of Hispanics in the most recent counts has been skewed more to counties in the West and Northeast, the South accounted for a greater share of overall Hispanic population growth than any other region in the new century, says Pew. Hispanic population growth is also concentrating in metropolitan areas. Credit unions interested in serving Hispanics have resources available to them from the Credit Union National Association. Use the resource link to find out more.

Another round of robo-call scams hit CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (10/28/08)--Credit unions in four states are reporting members and nonmembers have been hit with another round of e-mails and "robo-call" scams, aimed at tricking consumers out of their personal financial information. Among the reports:
* In Green Bay, Wis., Harbor CU received hundreds of phone calls from members Saturday morning saying they had received phone calls between 10 p.m. and midnight Friday from an automated dialer. The robo-calls said their account numbers had been compromised and asked them to enter a credit or debit card number and their personal identification number (PIN). (WBAY.com Oct. 25 and Green Bay Press Gazette Oct. 27). President Mike DeGrand told local media that the timing of the calls should be a clue--financial institutions don't call that late and financial institutions already have the card information. The Brown County Sheriff's Department also received dozens of complaints and said there has been a rash of phone scams reported recently. * In Morris, Ill., police received calls on Oct. 20 from Morris Community CU and from several local residents that a telephone scam was claiming the individuals' credit union account had been frozen and that account information was needed to reactivate the account. A similar set of calls targeting the $23.8 million asset credit union occurred on July 17, Morris police said. In both instances, the caller generates the credit union's telephone number on recipients' caller ID (Morris Daily Herald Oct. 22). * An e-mail phishing scheme targeted $17 million asset Allegheny-Ludlum Brackenridge FCU, Brackenridge, Pa., according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway Oct. 27 and Valley News Dispatch Oct. 26). Most of the recipients of the message were not credit union members. The message says the recipients' online account has expired and asks them to click on a site to provide their account number. Earlier last week, State Attorney General Tom Corbett also issued a warning about e-mail phishing scams disguised as messages from financial institutions and related to investment or retirement accounts. * Earlier this month, the Mason City, Iowa, police department reported receiving numerous reports of a credit-card scam by phone targeting members of $41 million asset North Iowa Community CU. The automated message reads out a person's name and says that person's credit card has been deactivated. It then asks the recipient to call and enter the credit card number. The calls come from out of state. One man dialed in his information and found unauthorized charges on his card, said police (Associated Press Newswires Oct. 2).

More than 550000 donated to TCUF disaster fund

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (10/28/08)--The Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) continues to be involved with Hurricane Ike relief efforts and has raised more than $550,000 for its disaster relief fund. More than 940 grants totaling $469,000 have been provided to credit union employees who work for credit unions in the affected areas (LoneStar Leaguer Oct. 27). Credit union employees in Southeast Texas who were impacted by the hurricane are eligible to apply for the league’s “Adopt a Family” program. Eligible employees must have at least one child and have suffered significant loss from the hurricane. Applicants must complete an online submission form (use the link). Six families have submitted profiles to date. TCUL also is offering debriefing sessions to help employees overcome grief and prevent emotional “stress fractures.” The league also will host a celebrity golf tournament next month with Southwest Corporate FCU in Plano, Texas, and the Harmon Killebrew Foundation. Proceeds will go to the disaster relief fund.

Connecticut league reassures CUs members of safety

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MERIDEN, Conn. (10/28/08)--Credit Union League of Connecticut President/CEO Anthony L. Emerson recently addressed members of Personal Care America FCU, Trumbull, Conn., to discuss the effects of the economy and their account insurance. Emerson addressed 24 employees of Unilever Home and Personal Care USA, a subsidiary of Unilever United States Inc., comprising the membership base of the $17.3 million asset credit union. The credit union's CEO, John E. Keet Jr., invited Emerson after members expressed serious concern over the deterioration of economic conditions and their potential effects, said the league. The session was recorded and is posted on the credit union’s website, www.pcafcu.com. Emerson discussed what led up to the present economic situation, what the initial “rescue bill” was defined to accomplish, the overall challenges financial institutions have faced over the past six months, and why banks are distressed while credit unions are not facing the same difficulties. He also discussed the strength and stability of credit unions' account insurance coverage through the National Credit Union Administration's (NCUA) fund, the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund. He stressed it functions as the federal insurance arm for credit unions, functioning on part with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s regulation of banks. Emerson also called upon his background in economics to assess where the economy stands and where it is possibly headed. In addition, he discussed the fundamental differences between credit unions and banks, and added that “although credit unions in Connecticut have not been a part of the current crisis, they are ultimately committed to being a part of the solution.” In initiating the program, Keet said it was important to ask “someone familiar with economics to talk with our member base in layman’s terms. Our league president was the logical choice.”

NCUF grant to build Latino Real Estate Coalition

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DES MOINES, Iowa (10/28/08)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) has presented a $24,050 Innovation Grant to build a Latino Real Estate Coalition to refer Spanish-speaking homebuyers in the Des Moines area to affordable credit union mortgages. “The Latino Real Estate Coalition will address the need for ethical practices among minorities and serve as an informal policing of best practices,” envisioned Debbie Whittie, CEO of Village CU, which will pilot the project in Iowa. Through the grant, Village CU will:
* Educate Latinos about the importance of credit scores in the U.S., and provide opportunities to build credit affordably and safely; * Build a coalition of professionals such as realtors, builders, appraisers and lenders to help Latinos buy homes; and * Create a best practices report, which can be shared as a model throughout the country.
Village CU will work with Coopera Consulting, a subsidiary of the Iowa Credit Union League that partners with credit unions seeking to grow membership in emerging markets. “Credit unions are often left out when real estate agents partner with mortgage brokers,” said NCUF Deputy Director Steve Bosack, staff liaison to the NCUF Grants Committee. “And much too often, minority homebuyers are steered toward sub-prime mortgages. Being on the ground floor of a Latino Real Estate Coalition would give credit unions a strong foothold to provide sustainable low-cost homeownership opportunities for Latinos." Best practices from the coalition may also be incorporated into NCUF’s signature program, REAL Solutions, which offers several low-cost homeownership options, including Home Loan Payment Relief (HLPR) mortgages advocated by the Credit Union National Association. HLPR mortgages are priced as low as 1% below the nationwide average. Innovation grants are made possible through credit unions’ investments in the Community Investment Fund.

Wood named Calif. DFI deputy CU commissioner

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (10/28/08)--RaAnn Wood, president/CEO of California Central CU, Glendale, has been named deputy commissioner of the division of credit unions at the California Department of Financial Institutions. “Wood brings to the position a depth and breadth of knowledge about credit union philosophy and credit union operations,” said Bill Cheney, president/CEO of the California Credit Union League. Wood will remain with California CU through Nov. 21. She previously worked as professional networks manager for the league, and is a vice president and small credit union advocate for its Mount Baldy Chapter.

IUSA TodayI sees CUs as option for MBLs

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McLEAN, Va. (10/28/08)--Credit unions are good places to go for a loan right now, according to a financial expert quoted in USA Today (Oct. 26). “Credit unions are not exposed to the same risks that big banks are,” said Steve Strauss, in response to a question from a reader about where to go for credit. “As such, local credit unions have seen their portfolio of small business loans increase.” “The good news is that there are still options out there, it's just that if you want to find the money to start or expand your business, you may need to look in new places and be more creative,” he added. For the full article, use the link.

Texas commission to discontinue consolidated 990 filings

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (10/28/08)--The Texas Credit Union Commission has voted to discontinue the Texas Credit Union Department’s (TCUD) consolidated filing of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) form 990, effective next year, according to the Texas Credit Union League. The league asked the department to reconsider its proposal after the department received more than 50 letters about the change (LoneStar Leaguer Oct. 27). “This change is driven by the IRS and its new form, not by the Texas Credit Union Department,” said Dick Ensweiler, president/CEO of the Texas league. “The new form makes consolidated filing extremely challenging.” The TCUD will file a group form next spring for all state-chartered credit unions that want to be included. The filing will cover 2008, but credit unions must prepare their own individual Form 990s in 2010 for the year 2009, the league said. The Texas league has offered training sessions for the new 990 form and plans more for the future.

Former ICU TimesI ICU JournalI reporter Burger dead at 57

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BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. (10/28/08)--A former reporter for the Credit Union Times and Credit Union Journal, Carol Anne Burger, was found dead at home Friday, an apparent suicide, according to police. Burger, 57, died of a gunshot wound to the head. She was found by police outside her Boynton Beach, Fla., home, just hours after her former longtime partner, Jessica Kalish, was found stabbed to death in her car (Palm Beach Post Oct. 26). Burger had reported Kalish missing on Thursday. In addition to working as a reporter for Credit Union Journal, Burger was employed as a special assignments report for Credit Union Times. She also contracted public relations work for the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS), and the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO). At the time of her death, Burger was writing a blog for a political website, the Huffington Post, contributing to its "Off the Bus" presidential election campaign coverage, said the Post. "Carol Anne was very much a believer in the philosophy and mission of credit unions but she covered and wrote about the movement with the objectivity her profession required," said Mark Wolff, CUNA senior vice president of communications. "She was a dedicated and tenacious journalist who will be fondly remembered and sorely missed. This is indeed a tragedy."

New York foundation announces state Desjardins winners

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ALBANY, N.Y. (10/28/08)--The New York Credit Union Foundation recently awarded four first-place and two honorable mention state-level Desjardins Youth Financial Education Awards to credit unions. First place recipients include:
The New York Credit Union Foundation awarded state-level Desjardins Youth Financial Education Awards to New York credit unions. Receiving the awards on behalf of their credit unions are: Sharon Phillips, Capital Communications FCU; Laurie Baker, The Summit FCU; Thom Dellwo, Cooperative FCU; James Suriano, Sidney FCU; Ron Ehrenreich, Cooperative FCU; and Robert Allen, Teachers FCU. (Photo provided by the New York Credit Union Foundation)
* Cooperative FCU, Woodridge, less than $35 million in assets; * Sidney (N.Y.) FCU, $75 million to $250 million in assets; * Capital Communications FCU, Albany, more than $250 million in assets; and * Teachers FCU, Farmingville, more than $1 billion in assets.
Honorable mentions went to:
* The Summit FCU, Rochester, more than $250 million in assets; and * Visions FCU, Endicott, more than $1 billion in assets.
The Desjardins awards are presented to credit unions that demonstrate a significant commitment to youth financial education. “Today’s economic situation certainly underscores the importance of improving the financial literacy of New Yorkers,” said Diane LaVigna-Wixted, foundation executive director. “After [I saw] all of the great projects credit unions submitted for the award, it was obvious that our credit unions recognize the importance of [financial literacy].”

Minnesota network hosts fraud-fighting workshops

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EAGAN, Minn. (10/28/08)--The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) hosted a fraud workshop Thursday to emphasize the importance of educating members about fraud schemes and outline how credit unions can prevent fraud.
Jeff Schwalen (center), president of Hiway FCU, St. Paul, Minn., revealed during a fraud prevention workshop hosted by the Minnesota Credit Union Network Thursday that a member of his credit union was the target of a mass marketing scam. (Photo provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Network)
Thursday’s session was one of three MnCUN workshops held statewide. The workshop featured two special agents from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Fraud Enforcement Unit. They shared information about lottery and sweepstakes scams, how to identify a mass-marketing scam, the negative impact these schemes have on financial institutions and how to report fraud. MnCUN has partnered with Minnesota’s Fraud Enforcement Partnership task force since 2007. The network also is working with its member credit unions to provide them with fraud prevention information. “These scams prey upon credit union members and consumers all across the state,” said Mark D. Cummins, MnCUN president/CEO. “MnCUN’s goal is to use our resources to educate credit unions and consumers about this fraud and help them protect themselves from becoming victims.” Each year, Minnesotans lose $8 million to $10 million to fraud schemes. Because of under-reporting, officials estimate that losses could be as high as $20 million to $25 million.

Newsletter profiles Vermont CUs for Co-op Month

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (10/27/08)--Four Vermont credit unions and Joe Bergeron, president of the Association of Vermont Credit Unions, were featured in the October edition of Washington Electric Co-Op's newsletter, Co-Op Currents, which focused on National Cooperative Month. The article profiled credit unions where the co-op's members live, including United Community CU, Vermont State Employees CU, Members Advantage Community CU, and Granite Hills CU (Newslines Express Oct. 24). Bergeron told the publication that credit unions operate in the same economy as everyone else, with members paying more for gas and taxes and losing jobs. "We're definitely connected to what's going on," he said. "But you're not going to see credit unions disappear off the face of the earth like some banks are doing, because we aren't holding any of those subprime mortgages." He explained credit union members' deposits are protected by federal insurance and that although they aren't part of the economic crisis problems, they are part of the solution. For the entire article, use the resource link.

CU System briefs (10/24/2008)

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* GREENSBORO, N.C. (10/27/08)--Two staffers from Suriname's Godo CU--Member Service Representative Corrine Hooplot, left, and Head Teller Felicia Ejik--visited North Carolina credit unions Oct. 11-19 to learn technology, improving efficiency on the front lines, and deepening member relationships. Credit unions visited included American Partners FCU, Carolina Postal CU, Latino Community CU, State Employees' CU and Truliant FCU (Weekly Update Oct. 22). Since their visit coincided with International Credit Union Day celebrations, the pair experienced a Murder Mystery in Hickory with the Foothills Chapter and celebrated Oct. 16th with the Piedmont Chapter. "These visits are always helpful and inspiring for everyone," said the North Carolina Credit Union League President/CEO John Radebaugh. "We learn from one another, and I think the big thing both sides discover is despite differences in culture, services and technology, we are all bound together by the cooperative spirit." (Photo provided by the North Carolina Credit Union League) … * HERNDON, Va. (10/27/08)--Northwest FCU Foundation partnered with the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce to present the Reality Store to the senior class of Chantilly High School Oct. 15. There, 750 senior students learned the importance of saving and spending money wisely as part of a real-life simulation workshop. Local NBC reporter Kimberly Suiters covered the event, which aired locally on NBC news. Volunteer facilitators are shown here helping students make budgeting decisions at the event. (Photo provided by Northwest FCU) … * WICHITA, Kan. (10/27/08)--Kansas' largest credit union, Boeing Wichita CU (BWCU), has named Robert Corwin as its new president/CEO, effective Dec. 3, the credit union announced Friday (Wichita Business Journal Oct. 24). Corwin most recently was executive vice president and chief operating officer at $1.8 billion asset First Tech CU in Beaverton, Ore. BWCU has $587.4 million in assets and 165 branches. Corwin succeeds Gary Regoli, who resigned to lead Achieva CU in Clearwater, Fla. … * ST. LOUIS (10/27/08)--Vantage CU CEO Hubert Hoosman Jr., left, was presented with an American flag that was flown on an A-10 combat mission June 5 in Afghanistan. Making the presentation during Vantage's quarterly staff meeting in October was Master Sergeant Kile Hartley from the 442nd Fighter Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base. The presentation was made in appreciation of Vantage's support of employees in the line of duty and Vantage family and friends who are in or have been in the armed forces. Hartley returned to his full-time job at Vantage's West Florissant branch in June, after nearly two months in Afghanistan. (Photo provided by Vantage CU)

CUs represented at Bank on Philadelphia summit

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (10/27/08)--Credit unions were recognized during a “Bank on Philadelphia” summit and press conference Wednesday in Philadelphia, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA). Philadelphia is one of eight communities nationwide to participate in a pilot program led by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz. The program aims to increase access to financial services and financial education for low-and-moderate income families and individuals (Life is a Highway Oct. 23). A total of 12 Pennsylvania credit unions have signed onto the program. “A credit union relationship or bank account can be an on-ramp to the mainstream financial system for the unbanked and underbanked,” said Dan Iannicola Jr., assistant secretary of the Treasury for financial education. “Financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions, serve as a shield against financial predators,” added Laurie Magid, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Mike Wishnow, PCUA senior vice president of communications and marketing, attended the event. He discussed the PCUA’s Credit Union Better Choice program. Zach Stecher, PCUA account executive, also attended. Credit unions attending the program included:
* Freedom CU, Warminster; * Philadelphia FCU; * P.S.T.C. Employees FCU, Upper Darby; * SERVCO FCU, Feasterville; * Sun East FCU, Aston; * Transit Workers FCU, Philadelphia; and * TruMark Financial CU, Trevose.

California CUs grow 3.02 in assets

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (10/27/08)--California credit unions’ assets grew 3.02% during the first half of 2008--about 0.08 percentage points off last year’s pace, according to the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues. Credit union shares grew 3.62% from January through June. “Overall, shares gained more than $5 billion, offering credit unions liquidity, which is a highly coveted position in today’s marketplace,” said Daniel Penrod, league industry analyst. Credit unions in the state realized a $3.1 billion gain in fixed-rate first mortgages through the first two quarters of 2008. Money market and regular shares grew 15.25% and 8.55%, respectively. Share certificate growth increased $133 million and retirement accounts increased by $504 million. Available for sale securities increased $2.2 billion, investments in corporate credit unions were $941 million, and total deposits in other institutions were $479 million.

NCUF seeks nominations for two board seats

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MADISON, Wis. (10/27/08)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) is seeking nominations for two board seats. Seats include:
* Credit Union Executive or Director–Each candidate must be and remain an executive officer or director of a credit union serving “natural persons.” The nominee elected to this seat will be asked to serve a term of three years; and * At-Large–Each candidate must be and remain a representative of an organization outside of the credit union system, such as a cooperative, that has demonstrated a commitment to the purposes of NCUF. The nominee elected to this seat will be asked to serve a term of one, two, or three years. This term will be determined by the board at the time of the nominee’s election.
Qualified candidates interested in applying for either of these board seats can use the resource link. Applications must be received by Nov. 21. “Serving on the NCUF board is an opportunity to make a real impact on the lives of credit union members across America,” said current NCUF Board Chairman Allan Kemp McMorris, president/CEO of Oakland County CU, Waterford, Mich. McMorris has applied for the open Credit Union Executive seat. John Gregoire, current NCUF board member and partner at The Pro-Con Group, Ltd., in Madison, Wis., is running for a second term in the At-Large seat. NCUF’s Governance & Nominations Committee will review all candidates and recommend a slate of nominees to the NCUF board. The board will vote on the nominees in December. In January 2009, board members will elect officers at the organizational meeting. Other meetings planned for 2009:
* Organizational Meeting: Jan. 27 in New Orleans, La. * Strategic Planning Session: date to be determined in Madison, Wis. * Fall Board Meeting: Sept. 29 in Washington, D.C.
The 13 voting seats on the NCUF Board include seven natural-person credit unions, two national organizations serving credit unions, one corporate credit union, one state credit union foundation, one state credit union league, and one At-Large seat.

Love cites CUs fiscal responsibility in CU visit

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (10/27/08)--Alabama State Rep. Jay Love, a candidate for the second congressional district of Alabama, praised credit unions' fiscal responsibility during a visit Thursday to a credit union in Alabama with former Massachusetts Gov. and presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Five Star CU CEO Bob Steensma, left, and Second District congressional candidate Jay Love pose after a press conference at the Dothan, Ala. credit union.
Former Massachusetts Gov. and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney visits with Five Star CU Loan Officer Donna Loper. (Photos provided by the Alabama Credit Union League)
They visited Five Star CU, Dothan, Ala., and met with members and staff of the credit union before holding a press conference to discuss the economy and tax policy. Five Star CEO Bob Steensma opened the press conference by explaining credit unions' difference and told how that difference has allowed credit unions to remain sound in an economic crisis. Love held up credit unions as an example of fiscal responsibility, which he said is needed in Washington, D.C. "Your business model is one that is sustainable," Love said. "Credit unions and fiscal common sense--that is what we need. We need more small business leaders, people who have operating businesses and who understand what leads to economic prosperity for all Americans." He thanked credit unions for their support and told the crowd he appreciated that credit unions were one of the first groups to endorse him. "Credit unions absolutely must be at the forefront of the political process, making sure our voice is heard clearly during the election process," said Gary Wolter, president/CEO of the Alabama Credit Union League. "Events like this one are proof that committed advocacy work on behalf of credit unions has lasting, positive benefits for the credit union movement, both now and down the road," Wolter added.

Federation initiatives to help CDCUs in economic crisis

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NEW YORK (10/27/08)--The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions has launched several initiatives to help community development credit unions (CDCUs) in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis. With the help of the National Credit Union Foundation, the federation has become the sole national intermediary for credit union-based mortgage counseling and will guide 14 credit unions nationwide to provide homeownership and foreclosure prevention counseling to credit union members. The federation is working with the Coalition of Cities for Financial Empowerment to promote savings and expand financial education in low-income communities. The coalition is chaired by officials in New York and San Francisco. “The federation has been working with both New York and San Francisco on anti-poverty initiatives for a number of years now, and will help all types of credit unions to become involved in these local efforts,” said Cliff Rosenthal, federation president/CEO. The federation also extended Rosenthal’s tenure. He originally intended to step down in 2010, but the board reconsidered the term in light of the nation’s economic turmoil and its effect on CDCUs. “The federation’s board of directors discussed the economic upheaval we have undergone and looked to identify what long-range impacts might be on the organization, and it because obvious to all of us that we are in unchartered waters,” said federation Chairman Eunice Rogers. “Because of this and other factors, the board unanimously decided to invite [Rosenthal] to extend his time as CEO of the federation.” Like other credit unions, CDCUs have suffered “collateral damage” from the subprime crisis--reflected in rising delinquencies, falling investment income and decreased access to liquidity within the credit union system, the Federation said. “We don’t underestimate the challenges,” Rosenthal added. “But this is no time to retreat in the face of the difficulties our communities face. This is a prime opportunity for credit unions to show what this movement is all about, by helping members in need. The federation is here to help make that happen.”

Minnesota CU reps among Top Women in Finance

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (10/27/08)--Three Minnesota credit union
representatives were selected as “Top Women in Finance” by Finance & Commerce magazine for 2008. Credit union honorees were:
* LeAnn Achtenberg, vice president of marketing, Anoka Hennepin CU, Coon Rapids; * Joanne Johnson, senior vice president/chief information officer, US FCU, Burnsville; and * Lynn Kothe, president/CEO, North Memorial FCU, Robbinsdale.
Achtenberg has focused on youth financial literacy the past 12 years through her work with the National Youth Involvement Board and the Minnesota Family Involvement Council. She has served as chair of both organizations. Johnson is responsible for US FCU’s core processing system, telecom/network, e-commerce, security and compliance functions as senior vice president and chief information officer. Kothe served on boards and committees for the Minnesota Credit Union Network, the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation and the Credit Union National Association. Award recipients will be honored Nov. 6 and their accomplishments will be noted in a November special section of Finance & Commerce.

WOCCU fund aims to boost volunteer giving

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MADISON, Wis. (10/27/08)--The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) is aiming to boost volunteer giving through a more aggressive WOCCU Directors’ Action Fund to solicit financial support from credit union volunteers so development programs stay alive.
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The fund targets volunteers because they are in a position to understand the credit union philosophy and appreciate the impact credit unions make, WOCCU said. If credit unions contribute $40 for each volunteer, their participation could affect significant change for credit union members in developing countries. “Supporting WOCCU helps me feel like I am giving back to other credit union directors who don’t have the same training opportunities and resources available,” said Gayle Adkins-McDonald, director, Water and Power CU, Los Angeles. “Our small gift can make a real difference in a developing country.” Contributions to the fund are critical this year because economic challenges likely will reduce development assistance funding from other sources, said WOCCU President/CEO Pete Crear. “The backbone of the credit union movement has always been the dedication and commitment of its volunteer leadership,” he added. Research from the Center for Global Development indicates that countries in an economic downturn categorically reduce their foreign aid when weathering tough times, WOCCU said. For more information, use the links.

Southwest Corporate has high credit quality says Fitch

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PLANO, Texas (10/24/08)--Although Fitch Ratings has concerns about specific segments of Southwest Corporate FCU's investments portfolio, the global rating agency says "the vast majority of the company's assets are considered low risk." The corporate "is still considered to be a high credit quality company with strong fundamentals," said Fitch in an Oct. 16 press release. "Besides having an overall low risk profile, Southwest maintains ample asset liquidity, ready access to contingent funding sources, and its current capital base is considered sound and exceeds regulatory requirements," Fitch noted. Fitch downgraded Southwest Corporate's ratings and the short and long ratings remain on negative watch. The ratings are:
* Long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) downgraded to A+ from AA-; * Short-term IDR downgraded to F1 from F1+; * Short-term debt to F1 from F1+; * Individual to B from A/B.
According to Southwest Corporate President/CEO John Cassidy, "The primary reason for Fitch's action is to reflect concern about expected losses from Southwest Corporate's $49.5 million holdings of senior unsecured Lehman bonds and potential future losses from Southwest Corporate's mortgage-backed security holdings." "While indicating that Southwest Corporate's loss exposure supports the revised ratings, Fitch also noted that near-term losses will be absorbed by Southwest Corporate's earnings and capital base," said Cassidy in an Oct. 17 statement on the corporate's website. "Even with potential future losses from mortgage-backed securities, Fitch expects Southwest Corporate's capital ratio to exceed regulatory requirements," he added. Cassidy noted the ratings remain at "high investment grade. Fitch also confirmed our message that the unrealized loss of our available-for-sale portfolio overstates the true risk to the company, and that we have the liquidity to hold our securities to recovery which limits the risk of loss from selling securities into distressed market conditions." Cassidy said the corporate's executive team will conduct a webinar Nov. 3 at 3 p.m. CT. Use the webinar link for more information. Cassidy also urged credit unions to read Fitch's statement in full. Use the Fitch Report resource link.

IBusiness WeekI CUs small biz loans way up

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NEW YORK (10/24/08)--Credit unions originated $6.5 billion in business loans during the first six months of 2008, Credit Union National Association Chief Economist Bill Hampel told Business Week online. In its Wednesday article, "Small business loans from credit unions way up," Business Week noted that credit unions' increase in originating business loans is one more indicator of credit conditions for small businesses. Small business owners are turning to credit unions for financing. Business loans at credit unions are up 36% from the $4.8 billion they loaned in the first six months of 2007, Hampel said. In 2007, commercial banks originated about $287 billion in small business loans. "So credit unions, like microlenders are a relatively small source of small business lending, but with many banks in bad shape, it looks like they may be increasingly important," said the publication. The publication advised entrepreneurs to consider a credit union or microlender for financing.

ITimeI Bad times for banks mean boom for CUs

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NEW YORK (10/24/08)--Time magazine's website features a positive article on credit unions weathering the financial system crisis. The article is entitled "Bad Times for Banks Mean Boom Times for Credit Unions." According to the article, business is booming for credit unions, with Texas Dow Employees CU doubling its real estate lending over the past five weeks and tracking a 405 to 605 growth in auto loans (Time.com Oct. 23). The credit union is getting calls from car dealerships who have been jilted by auto companies' financial arms. Filene Research Institute Chief Research Officer George Hofheimer notes in the article that credit unions typically are conservative in good times --to the point of being boring and old-fashioned--but such practices are "just what the doctor ordered" in bad times. Credit unions are making sure people are aware they are lending and are taking pre-emptive action to keep delinquencies down. Unitus Community CU in Portland, Ore., hired a work-out specialist to review loan data and make preemptive calls to members who might need help, "the sort of down-home, we-care solution credit unions sell themselves on," said the article. For the full article, use the link.

CU System briefs (10/23/2008)

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* SALT LAKE CITY (10/24/08)--Mountain America CU (MACU) hosted six Votkinsk, Russia, leaders participating in an Open World Program "Women as Leaders" visit to West Jordan, Utah, Votkinsk's sister city. Attending a luncheon at the credit union Oct. 7 were
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Olga Pyankova, director, Votkinsk Municipal Fund for Small Business Support; Nataliya Nikitina, deputy head, Education Department, Votkinsk City; Yuliya Durova, correspondent with Autoradio Votkinsk; Yekaterina Mikryukova, educational psychologist, Republic Center for Complex Social-Psychological Aid to Youth; Nataliya Sterkhova, leading specialist for Religious Ethic Relations, Culture, Sport and Youth Policy, Votkinsk City; and Viktoria Kabatyuk, English teacher from Karelia and group facilitator. Also attending were West Jordan Chamber President Craig Dearing; West Jordan Mayor David Newton, and Salt Lake County Mayor Peter. Here, the group poses with MACU representatives Brent Lawrence, Annette Zimmerman and Denise Dubcek. (Photo provided by Mountain America CU) … * ALBANY, N.Y. (10/24/08)--Tony Schilling, financial education specialist for the New York Credit Union Foundation received the 2008 Hobart H. Conover Friend of Business Education Award from the Business Teachers Association of New York State for supporting business and marketing education in New York schools. The award recognizes his contributions as a member of the New York State Education Department for 21 years and his promotion this past year of the foundation's financial literacy programs to business teachers in the state … * BATON ROUGE, La. (10/24/08)--Michele Merle Lacour, chief growth officer at LA DOTD FCU, Baton Rouge, died Tuesday at the age of 40, reported the Louisiana Credit Union League (eNews Oct. 23). She was involved in the credit union movement at the local, state and national levels, and was active in many outreach programs benefiting youth, including the opening of in-school branches in Baton Rouge and implementing financial literacy programs. She managed six grants from the National Credit Union Foundation for the credit union the past three years. Through her efforts, LA DOTD FCU received the national Desjardins Youth Financial Literacy Award from the Credit Union National Association. She is survived by her husband, parents, one son, and sister. Visitation is today at 10 a.m. followed by service at 11 a.m. at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, Baton Rouge …

Canada to include CUs in interbank lending guarantees

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TORONTO, Ontario (10/24/08)--Canada expects to include credit unions in a plan to guarantee interbank lending. Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty this week introduced the plan, which is similar to plans introduced by several countries, including the U.S., to cope with the economic crisis (Dow Jones Newswires Oct. 23). The move is ostensibly designed to help Canadian financial institutions remain competitive with institutions worldwide, rather than to mitigate any specific problems in the Canadian financial system, industry sources told the newspaper. The plan has a six-month limit, will be offered to banks on commercial terms, and will not cost taxpayers, the paper said. Finance officials in Canadian provinces have indicated they expect to provide similar assistance to credit unions, Flaherty told the paper. The program is offered as a safety mechanism in the event the ongoing credit crisis disrupts lending to Canadian financial institutions, Flaherty told the paper.

Nevada CUs shares assets loans increasing

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (10/24/08)--Bucking a three-year trend of asset growth deceleration, Nevada credit unions saw their assets exhibit strength with a 4.02 % increase through the first half of 2008, according to the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues. Credit union share (deposits) growth increased by more than $231 million, a 5.45% rise through the second quarter. Nevada credit unions have seen their investment portfolio grow 13.11% for the first six months of 2008, drastically reversing the prior year’s losses in total investments of 10.54%. Net worth realized a total dollar gain of $52,758 for the first six months of the year. As regular reserves and net income grew ($5.5 million and $3.4 million, respectively), undivided earnings and other reserves dropped ($7.4 million and $1.5 million, respectively), virtually cancelling out each other. “Maintaining net worth, especially given the economic climate, is actually a show of strength for Nevada’s credit unions,” said Terrin Griffiths, league economist and industry analyst. In lending, fixed-rate first mortgages grew $144.3 million while other loans grew $10.7 million. In a surprising turn against the national averages, auto lending was rather strong with used autos growing 2.87% ($9 million) and new autos keeping pace at 2.43% ($8.6 million), the league said. The statistics are from the league’s 2008 mid-year WestScan economic activity report for credit unions. WestScan is a financial report that examines economic, financial, demographic, and other trends affecting credit unions in the state.

Ohio league announces board election results

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DUBLIN, Ohio (10/24/08)--The Ohio Credit Union League announced the results of its board of directors elections. Elected to the board were:
* Mike Kurish, Associated School ECU, Youngstown, District IV; * Judy Andrews, State Transportation ECU, Columbus, District I; * Ernie Jackson, Community Star CU, Elyria, District III; and * Sandy McCormick, Total Assurance FCU, Worthington, Membership Category A.
Kurish, Andrews, Jackson and McCormick were the only candidates in their respective categories and were elected by acclamation. Kurish filled a seat vacated by Gary Soukenik of Seven Seventeen CU, who was term-limited (eLumination Newsletter Oct. 22). Beginning in February, there will be a vacancy in Membership Category B. The three-year terms begin in February and expire in 2012.

Wright-Patt CU staff to assist trailing BRAC spouses

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DAYTON, Ohio (10/24/08)--Cindy Swigert, vice president of human resources at Wright-Patt CU, Dayton, Ohio, is helping civilian military spouses find employment in the Dayton area. Swigert teamed up with human resource specialists in the Miami Valley Human Resource Association to create a website that provides information on employment. The website aims to attract civilian employees from out-of-state Air Force bases to Wright-Patterson Air Force base by September 2011 (Dayton Daily News Oct. 18). Users can submit their information to the website, www.mvhra.org, and Swigert connects them with area employers. The website has received about a dozen inquiries so far. Helping spouses find jobs is crucial in helping individuals decide whether they will relocate with the federal base realignment and closure (BRAC) program, supporters told the newspaper. Wright-Patterson could gain 1,100 jobs from bases in Massachusetts, New York, Texas, Arizona and Florida. About 15% of civilian employees who could choose to relocate did so during BRAC shifts, the Daily News said. For more information, use the link.

CU guard fires on armed men thwarts robbery

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (10/24/08)--A credit union security guard thwarted an armed robbery attempt Wednesday morning at One Thirteen CU in Colorado Springs. The guard opened fire on four men--at least two of whom were armed--as they stood at the entrance to the credit union. Some of the suspects wore masks, the guard said (denverpost.com Oct. 22). The guard fired several shots through the glass entrance doors and through a window at the armed suspects as they stood near the credit union’s entrance, according to police. The suspects fled in a car. It is not known if any suspects were hit by gunfire, but the getaway car may have been hit, police said. Four employees and one member were in the credit union at the time of the incident, Bruce Aldridge, president/CEO of One Thirteen, told News Now. “Four guys pulled up and one had a sawed-off shotgun,” Aldridge said. “We have an armed guard here and when he saw them, he locked a magnetic lock we have at the entrance, so they couldn’t get into the credit union. “The guard fired a total of six shots at them and they fled,” he added. “The guard isn’t sure, but he thinks he may have hit of one the suspects because the guy fell back and his mask fell off.” No new information regarding the incident has become known yet, Aldridge said.

WOCCU Peru CUs launch shared-branching network

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LIMA, Peru (10/24/08)--The World Council of Credit Unions and FENACREP, Peru’s national credit union federation, last week launched Kuskanet, Peru’s first national shared branching network. WOCCU’s program in Peru is funded by the U.S. Sgency for International Development and implemented in partnership with FENACREP.
Presenting Kuskanet to consultants at the launch event are, from left: Steve Schaefer, World Council of Credit Unions program manager; Manuel Rabines, FENACREP CEP; and Carlos Nolazco, WOCCU-Peru financial adviser. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
Three credit unions are part of Kuskanet: Finatel in Lima, San Francisco in Huanuco and San Martin de Porres in Tarapoto. The credit unions have 13 points of service across four departments--Peru’s equivalent of states. The network expects to add four more credit unions by the end of the year and plans to launch ATM and debit card services. “Kuskanet will enable credit unions to offer services that other Peruvian financial institutions offer the market, which would be very difficult for each credit union to do individually,” said Luis Jimenez, WOCCU’s Peru program director. “On the basis of scale economies, the credit unions will now be able to offer financial services through the network that they couldn’t in the past. We expect that affiliating with Kuskanet will favor an increase in membership, and therefore strengthen credit union growth in Peru.” “From the Peruvian Andes to the most remote Amazon villages and from Lima to other coastal cities in the country, credit union members will now be able to make deposits or withdrawals of money at credit union branches outside their communities, where members will be served as if they were at their own credit union,” added Manual Rabines, FENCREP CEO and a member of the WOCCU board of directors. “Kuskanet will bring to more people, especially those in impoverished situations, better access to appropriate, dignified and convenient financial services,” he added. Credit unions represent less than 5% of the country’s financial system. There are no credit unions that offer ATM or debit card services, and few credit unions offer members the possibility to perform inter-branch transactions, which are possible only through credit union-to-credit union agreements, according to WOCCU. Kuskanet comes from the word “kuska,” which means “together.”

Philly CUs show support for World Series team

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PHILADELPHIA and WARMINSTER, Pa. (10/24/08)--Two Pennsylvania credit unions are showing their support for the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team as it competes in this year’s World Series.
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Philadelphia FCU (PFCU) with branches located throughout the city is showing its support of the Philadelphia Phillies with a special savings certificate promotion. The credit union is so confident that the Phillies will win the World Series that they created a special promotion called the “Red October CD Blast.” For anyone who purchases a PFCU Regular One-Year Savings Certificate from now until Oct. 25, PFCU will lock in a special annual percentage yield (APY) of 3.25%. Participants also get a chance to score in the credit union’s Red October CD Blast. For each game that Philadelphia wins, PFCU will add 50 basis points to the certificate. If Philadelphia wins the series, the certificate will automatically increase to 6 % APY as a special bonus. The minimum purchase is $250 and there is no maximum. The offer is available to new and existing account holders. Philadelphia FCU has $580.9 million in assets.
Click to view larger image Freedom CU employees celebrated the Phillies entrance into the World Series by having a “Phillies Day” Wednesday. All employees wore Phillies jerseys and T-shirts to show their support and enthusiasm for their hometown team. (Photo provided by Freedom CU)
Freedom CU employees celebrated the Phillies entrance into the World Series by having a “Phillies Day” Wednesday. All employees wore Phillies jerseys and T-shirts to show their support and enthusiasm for their hometown team. Freedom Employees were encouraged to wear their Phillies gear in hopes of rallying team spirit and good luck for the team’s first World Series game against the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday night. The Warminster, Pa.-based Freedom CU has $350 million in assets.

Grant helps small businesses in underserved areas

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WINSTON SALEM, N.C. (10/24/08)--To help small businesses revitalize underserved communities, the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) has approved an Innovation Grant of $22,840 to Truliant FCU, based in Winston-Salem, N.C. The grant will help Truliant provide entrepreneuer education, credit counseling, and strategic planning for small business owners in five underserved areas of North Carolina and Virginia.
A staffer from Truliant FCU, based in Winston-Salem, N.C., teach entrepreneurs how to improve their credit scores under an Innovation Grant from the National Credit Union Foundation. (Photo provided by the National Credit Union Foundation)
“Rural entrepreneurs in particular need greater access to equity capital,” observed Truliant Director of Community Services Marjorie Rorie. “Our program aligns with the mission of NCUF to ‘improve consumer financial independence through credit unions,’ by increasing access to loans for low-wealth and rural-based entrepreneurs in underserved communities. "We want to broaden financial options for start-ups and growing businesses," Rorie said, adding, "We will make a concerted effort to provide financial literacy among adults and youths to prepare them better for entrepreneurship.” Rorie learned two important lessons from conducting financial literacy classes that will help refocus the next series for entrepreneurs:
* “We have to make the foundation of every class about ‘how to improve credit scores.’ In one class we conducted, 40 out of 48 potential and current small business owners had credit scores under 600. This is a critical issue. Without good credit, it becomes a struggle to run a business,” Rorie noted. * “We also saw that many small business people have no formal plan on how they should run their business. Often this has led to their seeking unrealistic loan amounts to borrow for their business,” Rorie said.
In a pilot funded by NCUF during the first six months of 2008, Truliant has offered new and existing members a “holistic approach to building financial strength through saving, credit building, account management, and financial education.” Rorie reported that “We have seen success with this pilot, with credit scores rising significantly.” Classes will be delivered in Spanish and English. This is the fourth of 14 Innovation Grants to be approved by NCUF in 2008 (News Now, Oct. 20). The grants are made possible through credit unions' investments in the Community Investment Fund.

News articles tout CUs during financial crisis

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MADISON, Wis. (10/23/08)--Five news organizations--including U.S. News & World Report and MarketWatch--published articles Tuesday and Wednesday pointing out that credit unions are doing well during the global financial crisis. Two of the articles say the banking industry's black eye has spurred gains for credit unions. An article and video in Rnews.com and News10now Oct. 21 indicate that banks' losses could be credit unions' gain. "We have been talking about credit unions for a long time, that they are a great financial alternative, and I think the message is finally starting to hit home," Michael Lanotte, Credit Union Association of New York, told the newspapers. "Despite the economic downturn, credit unions are stable and safe, mainly because unlike banks, they are not for profits." Mike Vadala of Summit FCU, Rochester, noted that credit unions' motive is "to take care of our members, not make a profit off of them"--a big differentiator in service, he said. The article, which also quoted a Summit member, pointed out that credit unions are continuing to lend while banks are tightening their lending. The takeovers, bailouts and government intervention plaguing the banking industry is having a positive effect on local credit unions, said credit unions interviewed by The Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise (Oct. 21). Lisa Balone, senior vice president of marketing for DuPont Goodrich FCU, Nederland, Texas, told the newspaper that since the government's bank bailout bill, the credit union has seen $7 million in new deposits. The biggest concern expressed among members is insurance and safety regarding accounts, she said. However, she provided information about credit unions' federal deposit insurance and coverage. The article also interviewed Ron Burkhalter, president/CEO of Gulf CU, Groves, Texas, and Jason Landry, president/ CEO, Neches FCU, Port Neches, Texas. Burkhalter pointed out that because members own credit unions, the credit union doesn't invest in subprime mortgages and is required to keep reserve capital. Landry said that increased familiarity is contributing to credit unions' growth. His credit union has about 33,000 members, up from 30,000 in October 2007. Hurricane Ike and new insurance guidelines has meant the credit union has more loans available. The Orlando Sentinel (Oct. 21), notes that community banks and credit unions are still lending money while bigger banks aren't. As a result, McCoy FCU, Orlando, is seeing increased membership and a surge in car loan, unsecured signature loans and credit card applications, said A.C. Cowan, president. Cowan says "quite a few calls" are from people who are big bank customers now interested in credit unions. MarketPlace (Oct. 22) distributed a press release from the Tennessee Credit Union League, which said that despite troubled times, Tennessee's credit unions continue to operate in a safe and sound manger, are open for business, and are meeting the financial service needs of members. It reemphasized that credit unions have not caused the current problems in the credit and equity markets and have not been involved in the types of loans, investments and financing practices that caused the problems. Credit unions continue to meet their members' lending and transaction needs. With banks tightening lending standards and interest rates headed north, U.S. News & World Report (Oct. 22) noted that 90 million Americans are turning to credit unions. The article discusses how to determine eligibility and where to find a credit union as well as benefits such as better rates, how credit unions have been affected by the current financial crisis, and their federal insurance. The article cites websites for more information, including that of the Credit Union National Association.

The young like the video ads

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NEW YORK (10/23/08)--Credit unions looking to market to potential members may want to note that consumers under age 25 are most likely to click on video ads than any other type of advertisement, according to a study from iPerceptions Inc. iPerceptions collected user-generated feedback from over 14,000 visitors to leading media sites during August 2008 to paint a detailed picture of consumers’ advertising preferences based on their likelihood to click on different types of online ads. Video ads are not popular among consumers in general--only 11% said they would likely click on them. But the group under age 25 makes up one-third of the video-ad viewing audience. The study also found that marketers do not need to spend on fancy interactive ads to reach consumers. About 25% of respondents said they were likely to click on simple text ads, while 20% of respondents are likely to click on right Internet banners and 12% likely to click on top banners. Study results indicated that the higher an individual’s income, the less likely that person is to click on a video ad. The income gap is most pronounced with video ads--about 49% of consumers making less than $50,000 a year will click on video ads. Also, 65% of consumers who click on the ads are weekly or daily browsers of a site, while 15% are first-time visitors and 6% are sporadic.

Missouri CUs sign up for new troops home project

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (10/23/08)--The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) has signed an agreement for credit unions to team up with Homes for Our Troops (HFOT)--a nonprofit group that builds specially adapted homes for severely disabled members of the military. The agreement also includes a provision to build homes for Missouri veterans in Branson and St. Louis (The Missouri Difference Oct. 22). Specialist Scott West, a Branson resident, lost his legs below the knee in Iraq when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded beneath the humvee he was driving. West spotted the IED and jerked the vehicle to the right so it would explode underneath him, rather than his fellow soldiers, the association said. John Gonsalves, HFOT founder and president, will meet with West in St. Louis Tuesday and help introduce the Home for Our Troops effort in Missouri. MCUA encouraged credit unions are encouraged to take part and learn more about the effort. Credit unions were instrumental in building homes for two wounded veterans in Colorado and Minnesota during the national political party conventions this past summer.

CU System briefs (10/22/2008)

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* BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (10/23/08)--Mutual Savings CU announced it will close a branch located at a hospital that filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday. The branch at the Physicians Medical Center Carraway will close by the end of next week. The Birmingham-based credit union's branch will continue processing transactions until Friday and will offer loan assistance until Oct. 29. The branch closing is related directly to the hospital's closure, not to performance or stability of the branch, said the $189 million asset credit union's website. Members can go to nearby credit union locations in Forestdale and Gardendale for service, the announcement said … * MEDFORD, Ore. (10/23/08)--Rogue FCU, a $408.6 million asset credit union based in Medford, was selected as regional and state winner of the 2008 Oregon Governor's Outstanding Employee Volunteer Program by Oregon Volunteers and the State Commission for Voluntary Action and Service (Oregon Outlook October). From left are: Kerrie Davis, Rogue FCU community and education outreach coordinator; Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury; and Rogue FCU President/CEO Gene Pelham. (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of Oregon) … * ALBANY, N.Y. (10/23/08)--Nassau Educators FCU, a $1.217 billion asset credit union based in Westbury, N.Y., was presented the 2008 Ralph W. Hillman Marketing Award by Universal Sharing Network Inc. (USNet). The award recognizes a participating USNet credit union that best exemplifies the spirit and enthusiasm consistently exhibited by Hillman in his support and marketing of the shared branching network. From left are UsNet Chief Operating Officer Marc Inger and Eileen Nolan, senior vice president of Nassau Educators FCU (Photo provided by Universal Sharing Network Inc.) … * WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (10/23/08)--Purdue Employees FCU (PEFUC) President/CEO Bob Falk hosted a complimentary Town Hall Meeting at the Purdue Technology Center in West Lafayette Oct. 14. The event attracted 70 members and non-members, who learned about the causes and effects of this year's financial crisis, how PEFCU avoided the crisis, and how a credit union is different from a bank. Falk noted that the typical order of business for the credit union is transparency. "We're not afraid to talk about our operations now and we weren't afraid to talk about them before," he said. (Photo provided by Purdue Employees FCU) …

Texas league unveils Adopt-a-Family program

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (10/23/08)--The Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) unveiled its Adopt-a-Family program Wednesday to help credit union employees in Southeast Texas rebuild their lives and communities in the wake of Hurricane Ike. Traditionally TCUL joins with local charities to “adopt” a family for the holidays and fulfill their wish lists through participation from league staff. This year, TCUL’s choice to adopt three credit union families in Southeast Texas garnered positive feedback and support, the league said (LoneStar Leaguer Oct. 22). TCUL is now soliciting applications from credit union employees in the region to find families in need. Eligible credit union employees must have lost their home in the hurricane and have at least one child. Online application forms are available on the TCUL website. TCUL staff will randomly draw three applications from all the families who are submitted for consideration, and work to fulfill the families’ holiday wish lists. All other applications will be posted on TCUL’s Adopt-Family page on its website. TCUL will post profiles of credit union families in need of “adoption” for the holidays as they are submitted.

Top financial business drivers swing factors examined

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NEEDHAM, Mass. (10/23/08)--The financial crises of 2008 serves as an ultimatum to regulators and financial services institutions (FSIs) to swiftly adopt a more integrated risk management framework or face irreparable loss of confidence in the financial industry, according to TowerGroup research.
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The call to action is a core finding of new research exploring the top 10 fundamental forces driving the financial services industry today and into 2009. The industry must undergo core structural shifts to better account for diverse and interdependent risk types, said TowerGroup. The result will be more transparent and timely gauges of liquidity and credit risk positions, which were lacking in the run-up to the current crisis, TowerGroup said. “Aside from the continuing losses, credit exposures, and liquidity constraints, the turmoil inflicted an even more severe trauma to many financial services institutions and the industry as a whole--specifically the loss of public confidence and trust,” said Guillermo Kopp, executive director and global research fellow at TowerGroup. “Systemic interdependencies between risk types have created exposure levels that have transcended the financial clout of any single institution or jurisdiction and pose a threat to the industry and the economy,” he added. TowerGroup’s “top 10” business drivers for 2009 will evolve as the industry prepares for renewed challenges and opportunities. Although local concerns relative to credit, liquidity, margins, and performance still dominate the scene, the industry should pay heed to growth possibilities emerging around the globe, TowerGroup said. TowerGroup believes that FSIs need to catch up with structural shifts occurring within and outside the industry. For example:
* Polarization between leaders and laggards will continue to increase in aspects such as financial performance, client relationships and market share gains; * Whether or not individual FSIs embrace innovation, advances in technology and business process continue relentlessly and will act as a catalyst for improved FSI performance; * In emerging from the present shock, FSIs must integrate their risk management systems, spread liquidity and credit risk, broaden sources of funding, and ensure they have an integrated and comprehensive view of their business transactions in real time; * To deliver optimal value to their clients, institutions must move beyond current defensive strategies to integrate processes, invest in advanced technologies, partner with an ecosystem of capable industry providers, and continue to innovate; * Globalization is picking up speed and the world's economy is increasingly interdependent, so internationally minded FSIs need to adopt a genuinely multidirectional approach; and * As information technology budgets have become more constrained, FSIs must consolidate and rationalize technology resources to free up investment capacity for vital projects.

Connecticut governor notes CUs food program support

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MERIDEN, Conn. (10/23/08)--The Connecticut Credit Union Charitable Foundation and Connecticut credit unions, donated more than $58,700 to the Connecticut Governor’s Care and Share Program, which aims to provide $100,000 to Hartford FoodShare and the Connecticut Food Bank. The food banks held an acceptance ceremony at Hartford’s Bloomfield warehouse facility Friday. Nearly 45 individuals attended, including representatives of the food banks, the governor’s office, the media and credit unions.
From left, Gloria J. McAdam, president/CEO, FoodShare; Nancy L. Carrington, executive director, Connecticut Food Bank; Kelly R. Fuhlbrigge, vice president, government relations, Credit Union League of Connecticut; Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell; Anthony L. Emerson, league president/CEO; Robert L. Aresti, president/CEO, 360 FCU, Windsor Locks; Francis R. N. Proto, president/CEO, Dutch Point CU, Wethersfield; and Mary Ann Pollaro, executive director, Connecticut Credit Union Charitable Foundation. (Photo provided by the Credit Union League of Connecticut)
Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who designated state funds of $25,000 to each food bank to kick off the program, thanked the contributors for helping surpass the $150,000 goal. Rell singled out the foundation, which contributed $50,000, and credit unions, whose contribution exceeded $8,600, as first to meet the challenge that she initiated back in August 2008. “Credit unions are traditionally touted as ‘people helping people,’” Anthony L. Emerson, president/CEO of the Credit Union League of Connecticut, said in addressing the group. “As financial institutions, we have had a unique insight and understanding as to how hard-hitting our current economy is to families, and we recognize the many challenges all are facing now and will continue to face over the winter and beyond,” he said. Fourteen credit unions contributed to the program.

CUNA learning event How to better serve Gen Y

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MADISON, Wis. (10/22/08)--Credit union professionals can learn the financial needs of the Gen Y market during the YES Summit: Serving 18-30s, CUNA’s featured learning opportunity in December. The YES Summit, taking place Dec. 3-5 in Tampa, Fla., helps credit unions develop lasting relationships with young adults by tapping into their needs for money management, creditworthiness, debt management and wealth building. In addition to exploring products and services geared toward this demographic, a panel of young adults will provide insights on how to enhance current programs and potential ideas. Other December learning opportunities include:
* Board and supervisory committee members can better understand their responsibilities in evaluating the security and strength of their credit unions during the Supervisory Committee and Internal Audit Conference, Dec. 14-17, in Las Vegas. The conference covers important auditing, compliance, and fraud topics and helps attendees to better evaluate how the current economy impacts their credit unions. * An optional Supervisory Committee Fundamentals Pre-Conference Workshop, Dec. 13-14, explores responsibilities, job duties, and effectiveness of the supervisory committee. * Certified Financial Counselor School: Parts I and II take place Dec. 7-11 in Tempe, Ariz. Part I details the role of financial counselors in helping members prevent and resolve financial problems. It also addresses spending plans; improving creditworthiness; creditors’ and consumers’ rights and remedies; creditor/member relations; additional programs and resources; and designing a counseling program. Part II examines the underlying causes of financial difficulties for members and suggests ways to control and monitor living expenses. Topics include: insurance, education planning and saving, consumer credit, investment basics, taxes, consumer fraud, addictions, retirement planning, money conflicts, and more. Attendees may earn their Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor certification by successfully completing exams for both parts of this school. * The Business Lending Certification Institutes: Fundamentals and Credit Analysis will convene Dec. 8-12 in St. Pete Beach, Fla. Fundamentals lays a foundation for providing financial services and advice to member business owners. Topics include: business basics and lending regulations, analyzing member requests and applicant information, financial analysis fundamentals, loan structuring, loan default warning signs, member loan protection, and additional member business services. Credit Analysis analyzes issues such as: business credit and tax return analysis, financing fast-growth businesses, loan repayment, business life cycles, financial projections, and business plan development. An optional certification is available to attendees to document their knowledge and expertise in the business lending arena.
For more information, use the link.

CUs FIs filling GMAC void

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MADISON, Wis. (10/22/08)--Credit unions and independent financial institutions are filling the void left by General Motors’ former captive finance company, GMAC, according to a report by Automotive News. GMAC has begun stepping away from auto lending by setting credit score limits at 700 or higher. As a result, the “vacuum” left by GMAC is being filled by credit unions and other financial institutions, the report said (Global Insight Daily Analysis Oct. 21). Steve Graham of Genesee Township, Mich., told The Flint Journal that he financed his 2008 Chevrolet Equinox with a credit union instead of GMAC because the credit union offered a lower interest rate (Oct. 16). Credit unions have not been as affected by the credit environment and continue to finance loans, the Journal said. Security CU in Flint, Mich., has “a lot of money to lend” and is “making car loans to qualified individuals in the area,” Chad Merrihew, vice president of operations, told the newspaper.

Texas league debriefs Hurricane Ike victims

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (10/22/08)--The Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) is offering “debriefing” sessions in four Southeast Texas communities to provide additional support to credit union employees struggling to rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Ike last month. Charles A. Scott, master of social work and licensed clinical social worker, presents the sessions, designed to help credit union employees identify, overcome and prevent stress, and to gain a better understanding of the loss and grief process (LoneStar Leaguer Oct. 21). Credit union employees who have suffered personal loss as a result of Hurricane Ike are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity share experiences with their peers, who perhaps are going through similar stresses and sense of loss, the league said. The sessions are open to all credit union employees in the affected areas, and employees are encouraged to attend a session that is most convenient to them. Over the last several weeks, TCUL President/CEO Dick Ensweiler and other league staff, visited Southeast Texas credit unions damaged by Hurricane Ike. In these visits, Ensweiler and his staff had the opportunity to speak with credit union employees who suffered significant personal loss. “I’m so proud of how employees in the area are coping with the situation. Despite their own hardships they wear a brave smile for their members,” Ensweiler told the league. “Offering these sessions is our way of letting them know that the credit union community cares about their well-being. It is our hope that these debriefing sessions will give these employees the tools they need to more effectively deal with the range of emotions they will surely experience during the healing process.” Scott conducted similar sessions in Mississippi for the Mississippi league, after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the league said. Scott has worked for 33 years helping individuals, families and organizations. He worked with over 600 credit union employees in Hurricane Katrina-affected areas. Scott has concern for and understanding of the difficult times that survivors have during and after a disaster such as Hurricane Ike, the league said. These sessions were made possible through a grant from the Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF). The grant was given from TCUF’s General Fund, and no money is being taken out of the Hurricane Ike Disaster Relief Fund to cover these sessions, the league said.

Prospera offering GoodMoney to CUs nationwide

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APPLETON, Wis. (10/22/08)--Prospera CU of Appleton, Wis., is offering its GoodMoney not-for-profit payday loan alternative to credit unions nationwide. So far, Superior Choice CU, Superior, Wis., and Delta County CU, Escanaba, Mich., have committed to offering the program. GoodMoney costs half of a typical payday loan. With a start-up fee, credit unions can access training, advertising support, marketing materials and customized software offered by CU*Answers, Prospera said in a release. “GoodMoney provides lower-cost alternatives to consumers looking for a short-term loan,” said Lois Kitsch, national program director for the National Credit Union Foundation’s REAL Solutions program. “The program encourages financial education, creating a more informed borrower, and access to other financial products to increase their financial stability.” GoodMoney was launched in 2005 as a collaborative effort between Prospera and Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin, and Financial Information and Services Center. More than 12,000 GoodMoney loans have been processed for loans totaling more than $4.5 million. Payday lending costs Americans $4.2 billion annually, and the average borrower pays $793 to borrow $325, according to the Center for Responsible Lending.

Safety soundness message pushed by CU leagues

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MADISON, Wis. (10/22/08)--State credit union leagues continue to push the message of credit union safety and soundness in the media. Leagues are conducting the following efforts:
* The Michigan Credit Union League and Michigan credit unions aim to impart the message of credit union growth, (on pace for 2 million new members nationally in 2008) and soundness (assets rose 5% nationally in the first half of 2008), through a new, multi-million dollar campaign called “The Credit Union Difference Initiative.” The campaign theme of “Love + Trust = My Credit Union” will consist of two phases. The first phase is a radio advertising campaign that will run statewide for six weeks, and the second phase will include a customizable radio, Web and collateral campaign in 2009. * In response to feedback from member credit unions, the Louisiana Credit Union League (LCUL) recently launched a statewide advertising campaign promoting the many benefits of credit union membership to current and potential members. LCUL facilitated this cooperative print ad campaign, which was funded by participating credit unions around the state. The ads were placed in major daily newspapers across the state. “Louisiana Credit Union Members Sleep Well at Night … knowing their money is safe, sound, and insured” was the theme of the print advertisements. The league also launched a radio advertising campaign Oct. 15 that is airing statewide. As with the print ads, the radio campaign assures credit union members that that their money is safe and insured. It also presents the benefits of joining a credit union and encourages potential credit union members to visit the league’s website to find a credit union that they may be eligible to join. The league provided the funding on behalf of Louisiana credit unions. * On Oct. 10, viewers of Burlington television station FOX 44’s early evening and 10 p.m. newscasts got an important message from Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU) President Joe Bergeron--credit unions are safe, sound, insured, and have money to lend. FOX 44 Reporter Julia Dunn visited the AVCU offices with a cameraman to interview Bergeron amidst the ongoing turmoil of the rapidly falling markets and bailouts of for-profit financial institutions. “In a tanking economy, people are wondering where to put their deposits so that their money will be safe,” Dunn reported. “Instead of pulling all your money out and stuffing it into the mattress upstairs, credit unions are grabbing more people's attention.” * The New Jersey Credit Union League has stepped up with unbudgeted funds to invest in advertising throughout the state to spread the message of credit unions. The league office reported it has been bombarded by consumer requests for more information on New Jersey credit unions and its promotional websites have seen a significant increase in Web traffic. Media calls are on the rise and even competitors have caught wind of the leagues’ efforts. The league’s advertising efforts stem from the slogan, “New Jersey's Credit Unions, Banking You Can Trust.” The ads are running in several state papers. The ads that have made a big impact are running on the radio waves, the league said. The league is running 60-second spots that a number of the callers have referenced when contacting the League. Online ads are also running in several outlets. * The Virginia Credit Union League is launching a statewide consumer awareness campaign on credit union safety and soundness next week. The print element features one of the ads produced by the Credit Union National Association.

CU System briefs (10/21/2008)

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* ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (10/22/08)--The Credit Union Association of New Mexico (CUANM) recently presented Children’s Miracle Network with $50,000 from the association’s annual fundraising events. New Mexico credit unions are working to raise $1 million in five years for the construction of and equipment for the University of New Mexico Hospital’s new pediatric emergency unit. To date, more than $755,000 has been raised. From left are: Amy Vigil, CUANM education and training manager; Elisa Furlan-Young, CUANM staff accountant; Samantha Wells, CUANM education coordinator; Daniel Jaecks, Children’s Miracle Network development specialist; Derek Wright, CUANM accounting manager; and Sylvia Lyon, CUANM CEO. (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of New Mexico) ... *
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WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (10/22/08)--Pacific Service CU recently sponsored the annual picnic for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area. The event took place Sept. 20 and allowed Big Brothers and Big Sisters to gather with their siblings for the day. Pacific Service CU has been the presenting sponsor of the annual picnic for the last six years. "As a member of the Bay Area community, we are proud to sponsor this special day for those involved in the local Big Brothers Big Sisters program," said Steve Punch, Pacific Service president. Pacific Service CU has $1.109 billion in assets. (Photo provided by Pacific Service CU) ... * SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (10/22/08)--Intermountain CU, Salt Lake City, Utah, will ask its members to vote on a proposed merger with America First CU, Ogden, Utah, Oct. 28. Intermountain approached America First about a possible merger due to problems in Intermountain’s construction-loan portfolio, Intermountain CEO Jeff Blackburn told the Deseret Morning News Monday. The merger would “help protect our members” and offer them more products and services, he told the newspaper. Intermountain has $80.6 million in assets. America First has $4.34 billion in assets ...

Miss. CU official quoted in newspaper spurs editorial

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GULFPORT, Miss. (10/22/08)--An official with Keesler FCU, Biloxi, Miss., was quoted about credit union safety and soundness in a local newspaper article, which led in part to an editorial that praised credit unions for providing financial security. Josh Duncan, Keesler assistant vice president of lending, was quoted in an Oct. 12 article in The Sun Herald. "We have actually seen an increase in the number of car loan applications in the past couple of months. We approved more car loans in September 2008 than we did in September 2007," Duncan told the paper. "Our approval percentage is also up over last year. We have been consistently approving more home loans as well. "Homeowner's insurance is still the key factor on the coast concerning the local real estate market. Keesler FCU continues to follow conservative underwriting guidelines. We are here willing and able to make loans to our membership," he added. The article also mentioned that business at the $1.607 billion-asset Keesler FCU is better than a year ago. Afterward, an Oct. 14 editorial in the paper said: “Not only are our banks and credit unions secure, they are still very much in the business of lending money. They're just lending it the old-fashioned way: to people who can be expected to repay it … When have South Mississippians ever been able to go to their local bank or credit union and receive a loan for anything, much less a home, based on anything but their own credit worthiness? “Never, that we know of … a more conservative approach to credit and debt by local financial institutions is now paying dividends. For that, we can all be thankful,” the editorial concluded.

CUs leagues share ICU Day celebrations

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MADISON, Wis. (10/22/08)--Among many activities by credit unions nationwide, Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn was joined by credit union and community officials at a press conference on International Credit Union Day (ICU Day) Oct. 16 to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Pembroke Township CU.
Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn held a press conference on ICU Day. From left are: Keith Sias, Illinois Credit Union League director of state governmental affairs; Quinn; Rachel Lakes-Bingham, Pembroke Township CU; Paul Simons, president/CEO, Credit Union 1; and Mayor Samuel Patyon, Hopkins Park. (Photo provided by the Illinois Credit Union League)
Pembroke Township CU is a branch of Credit Union 1 in Rantoul, Ill. In 2005, Quinn and Team Illinois, which is led by the Department of Human Services, worked to create a plan to bring financial services to the area. The result was a branch of Credit Union 1 in Pembroke Township, according to the Illinios Credit Union League. “I’m a lifelong credit union member,” Quinn said. “Credit unions are an ideal way for everyday citizens to save, borrow and build personal and community wealth. “With this year’s theme, ‘It Belongs to Me,’ we’re reminding the people of Illinois that despite the current economic uncertainty our nation faces, breaking the cycle of poverty can be done if we build a community of active, informed consumers,” he added. Quinn also was joined by Hopkins Park Mayor Samuel Payton, and Rachel Lakes-Bingham, office manager of Pembroke Township CU, at the conference. Other ICU Day activities reported to News Now:
DEXSTA FCU, Wilmington, Del., held a $1.99 gas promotion on ICU Day Oct. 16. (Photo provided by DEXSTA FCU)
* Seasons FCU, Middletown, Conn., gave mugs with candy, hot chocolate, tea, lemonade and $50 to its employees. The board of directors hired masseuses to give each employee a 10-minute massage. The credit union also handed out ICU Day skittles to members; * DEXSTA FCU, Wilmington, Del., held a $1.99 gas promotion; and * State Employees CU held a member appreciation cookout in conjunction with an enterprise car sale. More than 100 members and potential members attended.

Illinois CUs take first steps toward offering VITA

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (10/22/08)--Illinois credit unions are taking steps to provide free income tax filing help--Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA--to individuals of modest means, the Illinois Credit Union League said Monday.
The Center for Economic Progress (CEP) has been a major partner in assisting consumers with filing their tax returns free of charge at many sites throughout Illinois, including credit unions. Ellen Smith, CEP tax site manager (left) helps an individual during a free tax filing day for seniors sponsored recently by North Side Community FCU in Chicago. (Photo provided by the Illinois Credit Union League)
VITA helps those with incomes of about $40,000 or less who cannot prepare their own tax returns. A good opportunity exists for credit unions to build partnerships with existing VITA sites, which are generally open from January to April 15. Credit unions also can provide consumers with alternatives to Refund Anticipation Loans and help them make better financial decisions, the league said. Two credit unions in Illinois have partnered with the Chicago-based Center for Economic Progress, which provides free tax preparation and representation services. South Division CU, Evergreen Park, said the partnership with the center “went great.” “We helped over 40 underserved veterans in just two hours,” said Geri Burek, South Division CEO. The credit union plans to continue helping veterans during the next tax season, Burek said. North Side Community FCU, Chicago, also serves as a host VITA site. The credit union provides service for members on Mondays when the credit union is normally closed, and on Tuesday evenings for community members. “We are always looking for ways to strengthen the relationship with our select employee groups, and VITA is a great way to do it,” said Ed Jacob, North Side CEO.

CUs worth checking out says D.C. radio station

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WASHINGTON (10/21/08)--WTOP Radio in Washington, D.C., spotlighted credit unions on its Answer Desk segment last week.
Click to listen.
Credit unions “didn’t go knee-deep into the hoopla” that is the mortgage mess, WTOP said. “It might be worth checking them out.” Credit unions also don’t have to answer to shareholders or Wall Street critics. They are privately held organizations run “by the little people [as opposed to big banks],” WTOP said. ABC News also noted credit unions’ safety in a question-and-answer story on its website. “If the credit union offers higher interest rates, or is closer to your home or work, then by all means choose it,” the news outlet said.

Penrod No Indymac failure with a CU

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (10/21/08)--Credit unions are weathering the economic storm, according to an industry analyst with the California Credit Union League. “Credit unions are well-capitalized,” Daniel Penrod, league analyst, told the Business Press (Oct. 13). “You will not see an IndyMac-type failure with a credit union.” Some credit unions have mortgage-backed securities, but haven’t required “one dime of bailout,” Penrod added. The newspaper also interviewed two San Bernardino, Calif.-based credit unions--Arrowhead CU and First Valley CU. Arrowhead has a reserve ratio of 10.1%, Larry Sharp, Arrowhead president, told the newspaper. The credit union didn’t engage in subprime lending and wasn’t hurt by many of the problems in the mortgage sector, he added. First Valley has “stuck close to what credit unions traditionally do,” CEO Gregg Stockdale said. The credit union also avoided the subprime mortgage market. It focuses on auto and home loans, savings and checking accounts, he told the newspaper.

CUSOs have pivotal role in biz lending says SBA rep

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SAN DIEGO (10/21/08)--Credit union service organizations (CUSOs) have a “pivotal role” in providing their expertise when it comes to business lending at credit unions, according to a speaker at a recent National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO) conference. “CUSOs have an extraordinary opportunity,” said John M. Wade, chartered financial analyst with the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Financial Assistance. He also noted that the SBA also offers additional resources some individuals might be unfamiliar with and that CUSOs could provide as additional lines of service, such as ETRAN capability. ETRAN is a web-based loan application developed by the SBA. The NACUSO conference, the Member Business Services Alliance, was held Thursday in San Diego. It drew 125 attendees. The conference also offered member business lending training led by Member Business Lending LLC President Kent Moon.

CU official tells paper CUs better way to save

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ASBURY PARK, N.J. (10/21/08)--Because credit unions “share a long history of embracing prudent lending standards” they are a safer place for consumers to place their money, a credit union official wrote in an editorial to a newspaper. Susan Aitoro, assistant vice president, real estate lending at First Atlantic FCU, Eatontown, N.J., wrote in the Asbury Park Press Sunday that credit unions, by and large, have not participated in subprime lending and answer to members--not stockholders and CEOs. As a result, credit unions provide members with loans that have “a monthly payment to fit their budget.” Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) are one of the main reasons for the current financial crisis, Aitoro wrote. Most credit unions mortgages are traditional fixed-rate loans, according to the National Credit Union Administration, so borrower can be assured of the same payment for the duration of the loan that they take out and avoid the uncertainty caused by upwardly moving payments cause by ARMs, she added. With federal deposit insurance increasing to $250,000 from $100,000, credit unions now are safer than ever, Aitoro wrote.

N.Y. CU Assoc. endorses candidates for Congress

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ALBANY, N.Y. (10/21/08)--The Credit Union Association of New York’s board of directors voted to endorse three candidates running for “open” Congressional seats in the 2008 election. The association grants endorsements to pro-credit union candidates and encourages credit union leaders and members to support elections and “Get out the Vote” for the candidates of their choice. In the 21st Congressional District (Capital), which will be vacated by retiring Rep. Mike McNulty (D), the association endorses Paul Tonko (D). The New York 21st Congressional District is a strong Democratic district, reflected in the heavy competition for the Democratic Primary win in September. Tonko won in a crowded primary race and is now running against Republican candidate Jim Burhmaster. Tonko is a former assemblyman and was a credit union supporter in the assembly. As assemblyman, Tonko sponsored association-drafted legislation to promote financial literacy in schools in 2005, and was a cosponsor of legislation to create a CDFI fund. In the assembly, Tonko chaired the Energy Committee. He also received support from the Credit Union Political Action Committee. For the 25th Congressional seat (Central), left open by retiring Rep. Jim Walsh (R), the Association backs Dan Maffei (D). Maffei is a former staffer to House Ways and Means Chairman and New York Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-Metro). The association has received a candidate questionnaire from Maffei, and he shares his former employer’s support of credit unions. Maffei is running against Dale Sweetland (R), a businessman and the former Onondaga County Legislative Chair. The 26th Congressional District will be left vacant by retiring Rep. Tom Reynolds. The association endorses Chris Lee (R), who faces Democrat Alice Kryzan. The race for the Congressional seat made national news in September following a victory by Kryzan, who surprised pundits with her win over the two favored candidates as a relative unknown. Lee is a businessman and is endorsed by Rep. Reynolds. “We are pleased to back these candidates, who have demonstrated support for credit unions and understand the value of offering New Yorkers a not-for-profit financial option,” said William J. Mellin, president/CEO of the association. “We look forward to working with these candidates during the remaining days of their campaigns and after they take office.”

Texas CU employees share Hurricane Ike stories

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (10/21/08)--Dick Ensweiler, CEO of the Texas Credit Union League, and other league staff visited credit unions and their employees over the past few weeks in Southeast Texas--an area that was heavily impacted by Hurricane Ike in September. League representative Marie Russ accompanied Ensweiler on several of the visits, and shared her impressions and thoughts (LoneStar Leaguer Oct. 20). “My family and I suffered very little damage and were out of electricity and communications for over a week, but that is nothing compared to those that I have seen in the past several weeks,” Russ said. “In one community-- Bridge City--it was estimated of the 3,500 plus homes in the community, only 14 were considered livable. “I have learned that as many as 60, if not more, credit union employees have lost their homes due to the storm surge--water up to six feet in their homes,” she added. “These employees have lost everything--furniture, children's toys, appliances, clothing, personal items, vehicles, livestock, everything,” Russ continued. “The majority of homes and businesses are still standing but the insides are gutted, leaving only the structure. One credit union employee said she didn't realize that she would miss something as simple as Q-tips. Employees are living with other employees, friends, families--and some families are split up between all--probably for the next six months to a year so they may rebuild. “Yet despite their personal hardships, they still report to work with a smile on their face--for others--others that are going through the same. I'm so proud to be a part of such a wonderful credit union family,” she concluded. TCUL has posted several interviews with credit union employees on its website. For more information, use the link.

Three nominations received for CUNA board

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (10/21/08)--Three more nominations for positions on the CUNA board of directors were received at the end of last week. Eugene Foley, president/CEO, Harvard University ECU, Cambridge, Mass., has submitted his nomination for the District 1, Class B position. Pete Dzuris, president/CEO, Northland Area FCU, Oscada, Mich., has submitted his nomination for the District 4, Class B position. Dave Rhamy, president/CEO, Silver State Schools CU, Las Vegas, Nev., has submitted his nomination for the District 6, Class C position. The deadline for nominations for eight positions on CUNA’s board was Oct. 17. Already nominated are:
* Rod Staatz, president/CEO, State Employees CU of Maryland, Linthicum, Md., District 2, Class C; * Mike Mercer, president/CEO, Georgia Credit Union League, Duluth, Ga., District 3, Class D; * Bohdan Watral, president/CEO, Selfreliance Ukrainian American FCU, Chicago, District 4, Class B; * Ron Collier, CEO of Indiana Members CU, Indianapolis, District 2, Class C; * Sandy Lingerfelt, Clinchfield FCU, Erwin, Tenn., for District 3, Class A; * Brett Thompson, Wisconsin Credit Union League, Pewaukee, Wis., for District 4, Class D; and * Winona Nava, Guadalupe CU, Santa Fe, N.M., for District 5, Class A.
The eight directors elected will take office Feb. 27, 2009, for three-year terms to expire at the adjournment of the 2012 CUNA Annual General Meeting. Positions up for election are:
* District 1, Class B; * District 2, Class C; * District 3, Class A; * District 3, Class D; * District 4, Class B; * District 4, Class D; * District 5, Class A; and * District 6, Class C.
Nominators must submit the appropriate forms and obtain consent of the candidate. Voting will begin Oct. 22 and will close on Dec. 19. For more information, use the resource links.

CU System briefs (10/20/2008)

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* FORT WORTH, Texas (10/21/08)--Students at Washington Heights Elementary School saved $21,000 at their in-school Unity One CU branch in Mapsco, Texas, during the 2007-2008 school year (Targeted News Service Oct. 8). Unity One is an adopt-a-school partner for Washington Heights, and serves pre-kindergarten through 5th grade students at the in-school branch ... * BURNSVILLE, Minn. (10/21/08)--US FCU, Burnsville, Minn., has launched its Minneapolis Community and Technical College cinema scholarship program. Students vied for production excellence awards by submitting their projects in film, video, screenwriting, sound arts, media production and digital photography categories. The credit union recently honored 12 finalists and six winners. Production Excellence Award recipients also received $1,000 scholarships. From left are US FCU Chief Administration Officer David Hutchins and Tyler Jensen, ‘best film’ winner. (Photo provided by US FCU) ... * SAN ANTONIO (10/21/08)--San Antonio FCU (SACU) raised $184,892 for the United Way in 2008--a record-breaking donation. The credit union’s 670-plus employees recorded 100% participation. “Having 100% voluntary employee participation three years in a row is really living SACU’s ‘people helping people’ philosophy,” said Jeff Farver, SACU president/CEO ... * HARRISBURG, Pa. (10/21/08)--Brad Stewart, senior vice president and chief investment officer for Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU, spoke at the Beaver Valley of Credit Unions meeting Oct. 8 (Life is a Highway Oct. 10). The credit crunch is not as bad as reported by the media, he said. “Unemployment is at 6%; however, no one mentions the 94% of people who are working,” Stewart said ...

Maine CUs help students become financially fit

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WESTBROOK, Maine (10/21/08)--Maine credit unions helped students become financially fit at the first-annual Financial Fitness Money Management Experience Wednesday in Topsham, Maine. About 220 students, the entire senior class at Mt. Ararat High School, participated in the half-day event. Students received an interactive “game of life” with a scenario packet of their lives at age 22, including their occupations, income and credit history. Students mapped out their financial future, financing housing, and purchasing food and clothing, said the Maine Credit Union League. “As high school seniors, these students are preparing to enter the
Adam Morris (right), Five County CU in Bath, Maine, helps a student during the Financial Fitness Money Management Experience in Topsham, Maine.
Roger Carbonneau (left) of Atlantic Regional FCU, Brunswick, reviews credit options with a student during the Financial Fitness Money Management Experience. (Photos provided by the Maine Credit Union League)
real world, be it through applying to college or joining the work force,” said Jon Paradise, Maine league governmental and public affairs manager. “It is critical they gain a strong understanding of money and how to spend and save. The interactive nature of this event allows them to do just that.” Students remarked that the event gave them a “dose of reality.” “This fair showed me that I’m going to have to make some tough choices,” one student said. “It took me a couple of times to get a spending plan that didn’t have me in debt. This was a really helpful day.” Credit unions participating in the event included:
* Atlantic Regional FCU, Brunswick; * Five County FCU, Bath; * Midcoast FCU, Bath; * Lisbon ME FCU, Lisbon; and * Down East CU, Baileyville.

Oregon Assoc. honors efforts in governmental affairs

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (10/20/08)--The Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO) announced the 2008 Credit Union Advocate of the Year, Professional and Volunteer, during the Awards Banquet at CUAO’s 72nd Annual Meeting and Convention on Oct. 8. The individuals and credit unions were honored for their dedication to the credit union movement in the legislative and political arena. The 2008 CU Advocate of the Year, Volunteer was presented to Gene Hatfield, OSU FCU, Corvallis. Hatfield is an advocate for credit unions and has served in many capacities including secretary/treasurer of the board of directors, chair of the supervisory committee, and on executive, financial services, and nominating committees for the credit union since becoming a volunteer in 2000. This year’s Credit Union Advocate of the Year in the Professional category is Dan Penn, CEO, MaPS CU, Salem. Penn has worked in the credit union movement for more than 38 years, and has been CEO of his credit union since 1980. He has contributed to the movement with his service on the Northwest Corporate board of directors, the CUES board, the CUAO board of directors, and the board of the Capitol Chapter. He has also served as chair of the Grassroots and CU Advocacy Committee and currently serves as chair of the PAC Trustees Board. Penn has been the recipient of the OCUL “Medal of Honor” for his leadership on the Operations Grassroots Campaign, the Heidemann Scholar Award for outstanding service to the Credit Union Movement, and the 1993 recipient of CUAO’s Distinguished Service Award. Besides credit unions, he is a leader in his community by serving on the Executive Leadership Council of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce. “Our CU Advocates of the Year lead by example. They are out leading the way on advocacy programs and getting the word out about credit unions to their communities and their elected officials. We are proud of all they do for Oregon’s credit unions,” said Pamela Leavitt, CUAO senior vice president of governmental affairs/communications. CUAO also honored credit unions for being at the “Osborne Top of the Hill” in the area of legislative and political advocacy. This special recognition is for credit unions that have excelled and increased their participation in Oregon’s major advocacy programs, including Project Differentiation, Project Zip Code, Credit Union Legislative Action Committee (CULAC) Month, and the CU Advocate Program. The recipients for 2008 were: Blue Cross Blue Shield FCU, Portland; Cascade Central CU, Hood River; Cascade Community FCU, Roseburg; Castparts Employees FCU, Portland; Central Willamette Community CU, Albany; Forest Park FCU, Portland; KaiPerm Northwest FCU, Portland; Legacy FCU, Portland; Oregon First Community CU, Coquille; Oregon Pioneer FCU, Portland; St. Helens Community FCU, Saint Helens; and Wauna FCU, Clatskanie. Contributors to Oregon’s state political action committee, CULAF, and the federal PAC, CULAC were applauded during the ceremony for meeting and exceeding their respective fundraising goals. CULAC fundraising reached 91% of the 2008 goal with 2,151 credit union supporters contributing over $55,000.

Financial challenge helps member pays out prizes

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MADISON, Wis. (10/20/08)--Credit union subscribers to CUNA's Home & Family Finance Resource Center are offering members two special resources to help them meet their rising financial challenges. Since January, each month the Financial Fitness Challenge has featured one reader submission in a column describing a way to manage or save money. “From the beginning, we saw that members were concerned about food and fuel expenses--whether to run the car, the furnace, or the refrigerator,” said Susan Tiffany, director of personal finance information for adults in CUNA’s Center for Personal Finance. Each month one winning idea also is highlighted on Home & Family Finance Radio, with host Paul Berry. Up to five members each month are awarded $50 for submitting useful ideas. “Through September, we have 45 winners from 31 credit unions,” Tiffany added. There have been multiple winners from several credit unions:
* Six winners from American Airlines FCU, Dallas; * Five from Oklahoma Employees CU, Oklahoma City, Okla.; * Four from NASA FCU, Upper Marlboro, Md.; and * Two from Keesler FCU, Biloxi, Miss.
The remaining 28 winners each come from a single credit union. A list of all winners, their credit unions, and their winning ideas at are availableHome & Family Finance Resource Center. “We are making up to five monthly awards of $50 through the end of 2008, so keep those submissions coming,” said Jim Hanson, vice president of CUNA’s Center for Personal Finance. Members and credit union staff alike are eligible to win the awards. The jackpot comes in early 2009, when readers will choose the winner of a $1,000 gift. “We’ll send that prize money to the winner’s credit union so the credit union can make the presentation,” Hanson added. In addition, the resource center is featuring several articles and tools addressing the economy in its ongoing Tough Times series. “We have been ahead of the curve on topics such as avoiding foreclosure, anticipating and preparing for a layoff, steering clear of abusive lenders and bogus credit counselors--these and other issues that consumers are grappling with in the current economy,” Hanson said.

Community Development CU opens new retail location

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SAN FRANCISCO (10/20/08)--Mission SF FCU and its nonprofit affiliate, Mission SF Community Financial Center, held a grand opening celebration Oct. 10 of their new retail location in San Francisco. More than 100 people attended the event, which featured presentations by supporters and partners, including Mission SF members who shared stories of how their lives were transformed through their credit union membership. The grand opening was co-sponsored by the Bank on San Francisco program and the Office of San Francisco City Treasurer José Cisneros. Along with Cisneros, local officials spoke at the event, including State Rep. Mark Leno, City and County Supervisor Tom Ammiano, and representatives from the mayor’s office and the Department of Children, Youth and their Families. Part of the grand opening celebration included Mission SF FCU’s public recognition of Patelco CU, and its Senior Vice President, Anita Macias, whose support made the new office opening possible. In honor of their support of the community development credit union (CDCU), and the new retail location in particular, Mission SF announced that it would be naming their conference room the Anita Macias, Patelco CU conference room. Cliff Rosenthal, President/CEO of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation), and Federation Board Chairman Eunice J. Rogers, CEO of NRS Community Development FCU (Birmingham, Ala.) also presented Macias with a crystal award for her long-time support of CDCUs. “In addition to her local work, Anita has been a valuable volunteer for the Federation, advising our Community Development Investment Program, which has placed millions of dollars in CDCUs across the country. She is one of the true champions of the cooperative movement, and we’re fortunate to have worked so closely with her over the years,” he added. With more than half of Mission residents being unbanked (without a formal relationship with a mainstream financial institution) and nearly half of its residents having no credit histories, there is a critical and urgent need for financial education, credit building and repair programs, and small short term affordable loans, particularly in these turbulent economic times, said Mission SF. “Never before has it been more critical to ensure that people have opportunities to learn how to manage and save their money and get a shot at the American Dream,” said San Francisco Treasurer José Cisneros. “Mission SF offers a set of financial products and services for low-income and immigrant San Franciscans that create real pathways to financial security and economic self-sufficiency.” The increased visibility and outreach capacity has produced dramatic results in a very short time, Mission SF said. Since the doors opened in February 2008, Mission SF tripled the number of loans it makes each month, with loans starting as low as $300. They doubled the number of new members joining monthly, with 30% of those new members opening their first account ever; dramatically expanded a financial education program that has engaged over 14 community-based organizations, 200 adults and more than 125 youth; and most recently, launched a new microlending program for immigrant entrepreneurs with support from the Mayor’s Office of Community Investment. Mission SF FCU’s and Mission SF Community Financial Center’s activities also are largely supported from Patelco funds, and through the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and their Families, the Levi Strauss Foundation, Ruddie Memorial Youth Foundation, the National Credit Union Foundation, Walter S. Johnson Foundation, the Richard Myles Johnson Foundation, the Mayor’s Office of Community Investment and Youth Funding Youth Ideas. Mission SF FCU is an $8 million-in-assets community development credit union serving more than 2,000 members.

NCUF grant will help union workers avoid job losses

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SPOKANE, Wash.(10/20/08)--To help union workers learn new skills and avoid job losses, the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) has approved an Innovation Grant of $20,000 to The Union CU. This grant aims to expand The Union CU’s “Step-Up Program” to more than 500 local labor unions representing 549,000 workers. “To our knowledge, this innovative program is the first to address workforce development before early intervention,” said The Union CU CEO Demaris Krummel. “The Step-Up Program helps workers access higher education, develop new skills, and take the next step in life: transitioning their education and skills with the changing economy to proactively avoid job displacement and find new career opportunities.” Krummel revealed that “the staff and board of The Union Credit Union are inspired by NCUF’s REAL Solutions program. The concept of our program stems from best practices established by REAL Solutions and Ed Filene’s revolutionary idea to bring the first financial cooperative to the U.S. to serve his employees.” The Step-Up Program employs two strategies consistent with the deployment of REAL Solutions:
* Delivering high-quality financial education to people of modest means. Krummel explained how by leveraging The Union CU’s partnerships with unions, the Step-Up Program reaches “working people at their place of employment to help union members achieve financial independence. Union members learn about budgeting and saving, how to increase credit scores, retirement planning, the truth about payday lenders and credit card debt…and much more. Financial education at the workplace can influence behavior over a lifetime of spending and saving.” * Delivering innovative financial products and services to people of modest means. The Union CU provides unique “Step-Up Loans” at members’ workplaces and in union halls. These loans help potentially displaced workers finance continuing education and skills transition without using costly credit cards. “This innovative product deployment and affordable service approach attracts new credit union members,” Krummel observed, “while addressing the real needs of working people, the union community, and the American economy.”
America’s 15.3 million unionized workers account for 12% of the total U.S. workforce. Washington is the only state where union membership has grown throughout this century, where 2.7 million unionized workers account for 20% of Washington’s workforce. “Trade union members specifically have difficulty obtaining loans,” Krummel related. “They typically have multiple employers in a short period of time, which labels them as ‘high-risk’ borrowers and makes completing loan applications difficult. “The trend of merging credit unions with union select employee groups (SEGs) into community chartered credit unions unintentionally leaves union workers underserved. Union leaders and The Union Credit Union understand this and can fulfill this need by taking education and affordable loans to the workplace.” Krummel suggested that the Step-Up Program “can be replicated by any credit union serving union members or workplace SEGs. It’s an innovative solution to the needs of working Americans in the rapidly changing economy.” This is the third of 14 Innovation Grants to be approved by NCUF in 2008 (News Now Oct. 16).

WOCCU ICU Day events touch global audience

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WASHINGTON, D.C. and SAN DIMAS, Calif. (10/20/08)--World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) celebrated International Credit Union Day (ICU Day) Thursday by co-sponsoring a worldwide webinar to talk about WOCCU's service to its members and through its programs in developing countries worldwide. The event introduced to new audiences credit unions' attempt to fight world poverty. The effort dovetailed today's International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which is an annual day of recognition supported by the United Nations to spread awareness about poverty and its violation of human rights. On Thursday, credit union executives and volunteers met with legislative staffers during a late-afternoon reception at the Cannon House Office Building to share news of the credit unions' international accomplishments and the benefits they bring their members. The reception was co-hosted by WOCCU and Credit Union National Association (CUNA).
World Council of Credit Unions board member Catherine Roberts displays a headline touting credit unions services in Michigan during a presentation in Washington on International Credit Union Day.
Moderator Paul Berry (left) listens as World Council of Credit Unions President / CEO Pete Crear explains global credit union challenges to a studio audience during a first-ever ICU Day webinar from WesCorp in San Dimas, Calif. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
“Since 1948, credit unions have celebrated the services they provide members worldwide on the third Thursday of October each year,” said Catherine Roberts, WOCCU board secretary and former CEO of Community Choice CU, Livonia, Mich. “The date is arbitrary because, no matter what the day of the week or hour of the day, a credit union somewhere in the world is helping its members build better lives for themselves and their families.” Roberts also displayed a copy of Crain’s Detroit Business with a lead story on the ways credit unions benefit Michigan, one of the states hardest hit by the housing crisis. During the toughest times, credit unions need to be there for members, Roberts added. National Credit Union Administration board member Gigi Hyland and Ryan Donovan, vice president of legislative affairs for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), also spoke to reception attendees about the important role credit unions have in the lives of their members. At the same time in San Dimas, Calif., Pete Crear, WOCCU’s president/CEO, was the subject of an in-depth interview during a global webinar broadcast live from WesCorp, California’s corporate credit union. In his interview with Paul Berry, host of CUNA’s Home & Family Finance Radio, Crear described the opportunities and challenges the global credit union movement faces, explaining the credit union difference when it comes to microfinance. “Credit unions are owned by the people in the countries in which they are established and have a sustainability other microlenders don’t have,” Crear told the international audience. “Eventually, microloan funds may dry up, but the credit unions will be there, and their savings component will offer an extra advantage for members.” An estimated 450 listeners tuned into the hour-long broadcast from 14 countries, including Brazil, Fiji, Ireland, Kenya and Russia. Studio audience members and online participants submitted questions during the formal interview. Rick Grady from the Texas Credit Union League asked via the Internet how credit unions worldwide should position themselves in light of the current financial crisis. Crear stressed the need to inform members how strong credit union capitalization and member ownership played into the credit unions’ success. “Credit unions worldwide have a great story to tell, and you’re in good position to make things happen for your members,” he added. WOCCU hosted a workshop in Washington Friday for participants of its International Partnerships program, an effort that matches U.S. state leagues, U.S. corporate credit unions and Canadian central credit unions with credit union organizations in developing countries. Participants shared experiences about the challenges they face in supporting credit unions in developing countries. WOCCU supports 26 international partnerships. “The International Partnerships are helping WOCCU strengthen credit unions around the world,” said Victor Miguel Corro, manager of the International Partnerships program. “We encourage everyone who wants to do good to get involved in international credit union development.” WOCCU’s global efforts to establish credit union systems in developing countries falls in line with the goals of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. First observed in Paris in 1948 with the signing of a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the U.N. General Assembly sanctioned the event in December 1992. It is celebrated each year on Oct. 17. The United Nations resolution invites all countries to devote the day to presenting and promoting, as appropriate within their national contexts, concrete activities with regard to the eradication of poverty and destitution. “In a world where nearly half the population lives on less than $2 a day, there is a dire need for credit unions to provide global development support,” Crear said. “Our goal is to raise the standard of living through credit union development, which enables members worldwide to have a hand in developing their own financial future.”

Two CU officials write letters to editors extolling CUs

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ARNOLD, Mo. and SYRACUSE, N.Y. (10/20/08)--Two credit union officials at two separate credit unions have written letters to the editor at two newspapers, reaffirming credit union safety and soundness in unsettled economic times. Ken Moser, vice president, Arsenal CU, Arnold, Mo., sent an Oct. 16 letter to the editor of the Arnold-Imperial Leader for overlooking credit unions in an Oct. 9 article in the newspaper titled, “Bankers say branches are safe, secure.” Moser told News Now that he was especially irked by the omission since the credit union purchased an ad that ran in the paper’s same issue. The ad was an open letter from Arsenal President/CEO Linda Allen that assured people in the community that their money was safe with the credit union. “It appears the reporters didn’t intentionally leave us out of the conversation when they put the article together; the paper made amends by publishing my letter and giving credit unions in the area some much-needed recognition,” Moser said. “The paper ran my letter in its entirety; the only thing I noticed that the paper changed was changing ‘members’ to ‘customers.’” In the letter to the editor, Moser said in part: “You overlooked mentioning that credit unions are also not part of the financial mess and are safe and sound … The credit union system is healthy, with credit unions having strong balance sheets and higher capital than banks--11.1% vs. 10%, respectively. “At a time when many lenders have stopped making loans, credit unions are continuing to extend credit to qualified borrowers,” Moser continued. “Year-to-date, credit unions have made over $180 billion in new loans, including nearly $31 million at Arsenal. “People who do business with credit unions can sleep well at night, knowing their money is safe, and that their credit union is always looking out for their best interests,” Moser’s letter concluded. Bill Ryan, CEO, Syracuse (N.Y.) Fire Department Employees FCU, wrote an Oct. 16 letter to the editor of The Post Standard/Herald-Journal, pointing out the safety and soundness benefits of credit unions. “With all the attention focused on the current financial crisis, the media have been quick to report that savings in bank accounts are safe, insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp,” Ryan said. “It's important to assure consumers that credit union accounts are federally guaranteed as well. The National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund insures members' savings up to at least $100,000, with higher total coverage if the member has a combination of accounts. There is separate insurance coverage of up to $250,000 for IRA accounts,” he added. “Credit unions have been able to steer clear of sub-prime problems because they do not engage in risky lending practices, holding about 70% of their mortgage loans. As not-for-profit, non-market-based financial institutions, credit unions are, for the most part, shielded from the severe ups and downs of the stock market,” Ryan said. “Consumers seeking a safe harbor during today's financial turmoil need look no further than their local credit union,” he concluded.

Ill. treasurer commits 1 billion for credit crunch

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CHICAGO (10/20/08)--Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias announced that he will make up to $1 billion in interest-earning deposits available to Illinois credit unions and banks to thaw the credit freeze and improve the state’s investment portfolio. “We applaud the treasurer’s on-going efforts to work with Illinois financial institutions, including credit unions,” said Dan Plauda, Illinios Credit Union League president/CEO. “Many credit unions already hold state deposits.” Giannoulias will implement the plan by expanding the existing Access to Capital program, which allows approved credit unions and banks to request state deposits at market rates. The money to fund the program will come from a reallocation of the state’s diversified investment portfolio. The expansion will be implemented incrementally with $500 million immediately available, and the additional $500 million gradually becoming available at the start of each month between December 2008 and March 2009. “By investing in healthy Illinois credit unions and banks, Giannoulias is helping to untangle the credit mess and ensure the state’s commitment to Illinois families and businesses,” said John Pawlowski, vice president of finance and investments at Consumers CU in Round Lake Beach, Ill. “Illinois credit unions did not create the current financial crisis, but they will be part of the solution. They will continue to be strong and healthy and will assist the treasurer in any feasible way to help the Illinois economy rebound,” Plauda added.

IExaminerI CUs roll out red carpet

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SILICON VALLEY, Calif. (10/20/08)--The Silicon Valley Real Estate Examiner prominently mentioned the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the advantages of joining a credit union in a Thursday article. “Been to your friendly neighborhood credit union lately?” asked Broderick Perkins, in his article, “Credit Unions Roll Out the Red Carpet.” “What are you waiting for?” he continued. “You could find that elusive home loan you have been unable to get anywhere else.” Credit unions avoided the subprime mortgage mess by lending conservatively, and credit unions are “relatively untainted by the credit squeeze,” he added. Mortgage originations at credit unions rose 10.1% during the first half of 2008, according to CUNA research Perkins cited. He also noted Mortgage Bankers Association statistics, which indicated that bank and mortgage lender loan originations fell 17% during the first half of 2008. “Because credit unions didn’t hop a drunken ride onboard the get-rich-quick home loan assembly line, their members aren’t suffering the kind of housing hangover many homeowners face today,” he said. “Credit unions are solvent, thriving, and rolling out the red carpet, but if you go shopping for a credit union mortgage, leave your subprime attitude at the door,” he added. For the full article, use the link.

33 CUs sue over unpaid Centrix claims

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NEW YORK (10/20/08)--According to media reports, 33 credit unions have sued Lyndon Property Insurance regarding claims that were not paid on defaulted subprime auto loans. Lyndon Property is a unit of Protective Life Corp. (Bloomberg News Oct. 16). It also is the insurer for Centrix Financial, a subprime auto lending service that serviced credit unions (News Now Feb. 13). Credit unions suing Lyndon are from Texas, California and Illinois, and seek to recover losses covered under default protection policies Lyndon refused to pay. The suit was filed Oct. 10 in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Bloomberg said. Centennial, Colo.-based Centrix was placed under involuntary Chapter 11 protection on Sept. 15, 2006, by creditors IFC Credit Corp., Suntrust Leasing and Wells Fargo Equipment Finance Inc. They said Centrix owed them a combined $4.6 million in lease payments. Several days later Centrix and its affiliates filed voluntary petitions for Chapter 11 protection (News Now April 25). Credit unions and other entities have claimed millions against the company's assets. More than two-thirds of Centrix's portfolio is owned by roughly 230 credit unions nationwide. It underwrote more than 250,000 loans totaling $4 billion (News Now Sept. 6, 2002).

CUs share ICU Day celebrations

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MADISON, Wis. (10/20/08)--Credit unions nationwide reported their ICU Day celebrations--ranging from prize giveaways to safety and soundness promotions. Several state governors also proclaimed ICU Day. Activities included:
* Bay Area CU, Oregon, Ohio, gave members a “Go Green Eco-Friendly” shopping bag; * Augusta (Ga.) Metro CU offered members the chance to win prizes with a “Wheel of Fortune” game; * MidWest America FCU, Fort Wayne, Ind., is concerned that members do not realize their deposits are federally insured, so the credit union made up shirts to increase the awareness about insured deposits. All staff members wore the shirts, press releases were sent out, and a local radio station and TV station interviewed Mike Woehnker, vice president of marketing; * Olean (N.Y.) Area FCU celebrated all week with prizes, treats, and a member appreciation day on Thursday; * Horizon FCU, Williamsport, Pa., served refreshments and offered shredding services. The credit union also handed out calendars with identity theft information; * Metrum Community CU, Centennial, Colo., hosted a Guitar Hero contest. Any member that played was entered in a drawing to win $240--the same amount that the average household saves by being a credit union member; * First Community FCU (FCFCU), Parchment, Mich., hung ICU Day posters in all 10 of its branches and featured new services, such as the FCFCU Member Advantage Program; * Western Corporate FCU, San Dimas, Calif., served a cake with the imprint “It Belongs to Me” and gave away ICU Day six-pack coolers with the “It Belongs to Me” logo; and * Belco Community CU, Harrisburg, Pa., celebrated with a $200 Visa card giveaway and free hot dog lunch.
Alameda County in California recognized International Credit Union Day and the 100th anniversary of the credit union movement. From left are: Alameda County Board of Supervisors President Scott Haggerty and Cooperative Center FCU CEO Gary Bell. (Photo provided by the California Credit Union League)
Counties in California and Nevada declared ICU Day Thursday and also recognized the 100th anniversary of credit unions. “Citizens and businesses are facing unprecedented financial challenges, and credit unions are vital to helping local communities in providing service to their members,” said California and Nevada Credit Union League President/CEO Bill Cheney. “We are honored that our credit unions have been recognized by local government for all the hard work and services they provide within their communities.” Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas proclaimed ICU Day Thursday, and commended Vermont credit unions for their “people helping people” philosophy of pooling personal resources and leadership abilities to help people. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty also proclaimed Thursday as ICU day. He said that credit unions work to create a brighter economic future for their members and communities, and that credit unions provide access to credit, encourage savigns habits and “develop strong alliances that transcend political and geographical boundaries.” “Minnesota credit unions take this opportunity to pay tribute to the founders of the credit union movement,” said Mark D. Cummins, Minnesota Credit Union Network president/CEO. “ICU Day provides us with an opportunity to look to the future and renew our pledge to the credit union movement, while thanking those who work hard to maintain, sustain and build modern cooperative financial institutions.”

NADA CUs have money for auto loans

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SAN DIEGO (10/17/08)--Many credit unions have the capacity to lend when it comes to auto loans, according to the chairman-elect of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). “It’s important for consumers to know that credit is available,” said John McEleney, NADA chairman. “It may be a tough time for business, but it’s a great time for consumers who have a stable job and solid credit scores.” “The fact is local dealers have access to multiple sources of financing, including many credit unions and community banks that have plenty of money to lend,” he added. Gesa CU, Richland, Wash., has made $51 million in auto loans this year, which is an increase of $7 million compared with last year, Sandi Blakely, Gesa vice president of marketing, told the Tri-City Herald (Oct. 10). HAPO Community CU, Richland, Wash., told the Tri-City Herald that although the number of auto loans from credit unions and banks in the area declined by 300 in August compared with the year before, HAPO’s share of dealer-generated auto loans increased from 300 to 360 during the same period. The average loan size is $15,000, said Scott Mitchell, HAPO director of consumer lending. General Motors plans to launch a campaign, “Financing that Fits,” to show car buyers that there are credit unions and other lenders willing to do auto loans and leases, spokesman John McDonald, told Dow Jones (Oct. 15).

Oregon association honors CUs at awards banquet

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (10/17/08)--The Oregon winners of the Dora Maxwell, Louise Herring and Desjardins awards were announced during the Credit Union Association of Oregon’s (CUAO) 72nd Annual Meeting and Convention Oct. 8. The Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Recognition Award is presented to credit unions for outstanding social responsibility projects implemented in the community in which the credit union is located. This year’s recipients are:
* Linn-Co FCU, Lebanon, first place, $50 million to $100 million in assets; * Pacific Crest FCU, Klamath Falls, first place, $100 million to $200 million; * Rogue FCU, Medford, first place, $200 million to $500 million.
The Louise Herring Award for Philosophy in Action is given to a credit union demonstrating the internal application of the credit union philosophy to help better financial matters and increase financial education for members. This year’s recipients are:
* Mid Oregon FCU, Bend, first place, $50 million to $250 million in assets; and * Rogue FCU, first place, greater than $250 million.
The Desjardins Award recognizes leadership within the credit union movement on behalf of youth financial literacy, and considers all activities supporting the personal finance education of young members and non-members. This year’s recipients are:
* Mid Oregon FCU, winner, $75 million to $250 million in assets: and * Rogue FCU, winner, more than $250 million.
The state winners of these awards were entered into the national level competition to compete with credit unions from around the United States.

Canadian CUs contributed record amount of community projects

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TORONTO, Canada (10/17/08)--Canadian credit unions not only celebrated International Credit Union Day Thursday, but also the more than $35.8 million they contributed in 2007 to community projects--a record total which was a 3% increase over 2006. Each year, credit unions nationwide support community initiatives, local services and sports teams, finance affordable housing, assist students, and reduce or waive service charges for community groups (Canada NewsWire October 16). Credit unions support their respective local communities with money services and time, according to the seventh national survey of credit union philanthropy. The biggest area of support was donations and sponsorships, with credit unions giving $25.3 million, up about 3% from the previous year. Credit unions also donated $3.7 million to their own charitable foundations, handed out more than $900,000 in scholarships and bursaries, and provided $2.8 million in financial services to community organizations, mostly by reducing or waiving service charges for those groups. Credit union employees also volunteered for community activities and organizations. In 2007, 47% of the credit unions surveyed said their employees participated in community activities as part of their paid work, while 67% of employees volunteered on their own time. A total of 299 credit unions participated in the 2007 Credit Union Community Involvement Survey. There are more than 5 million members who belong to 449 credit unions with assets of $109 billion that are affiliated with Canadian Central.

PSFCU shows commitment to community at parade

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. (10/17/08)--Polish and Slavic FCU (PSFCU), Brooklyn, N.Y., showed its commitment to the community in a recent parade celebrating Pulaski Day in New York. PSFCU’s mobile branch rode in the parade, with Polish music, dancers and a display. The credit union aimed to communicate its intention to help “shepherd members into the future” with the display, according to the credit union (PR Newswire Oct. 15). “The Pulaski Day Parade is a special time for all Polish-Americans, but especially for our credit union because we are able to take center stage to let everyone know how deeply committed we are to this community,” said PSFCU CEO Bogdan Chmielewski. “We are so much more than just a bank to our people. That’s where the credit union difference comes into play.” PSFCU also encouraged its members to be active in the upcoming elections. The credit union urged all parade attendees to register and vote. In June, PSFCU sent voter registration forms to members with their monthly statements. PSFCU has $1.2 million in assets and serves more than 70,000 members of the Polish and Slavic communities in New Jersey and in New York.

Delaware newspaper voices support for new CU

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WILMINGTON, Del. (10/17/08)--The News Journal, Delware’s statewide newspaper, voiced support in a staff editorial for the creation of a new credit union to help low-income Delaware residents. The Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council last week sent an application to federal regulators to create the credit union. The credit union would “appropriately” be named Stepping Stones Community FCU, the newspaper said. The credit union would be “significant and welcome progress” for eastside residents in Wilmington, Del. “Credit union membership at this time is a good idea, particularly during this extended credit crunch,” the newspaper said. To read the full article, use the link.

CUAO honors award recipients

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (10/17/08)--The Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO) announced the Distinguished Service, Young Credit Union Professional and Heidemann Scholar Award recipients for this year. The recipients were honored during CUAO’s annual meeting and convention Oct. 8. Mark Turnham, CEO, NW Priority CU, Portland, received the Distinguished Service Award. He has served as his chapter’s president for 15 years, served as a CUAO board member and on the nominating committee, and resides on the governmental affairs committee. Terry Gavin, Unitus Community CU, Portland, received the Volunteer of the Year award. He has volunteered for 25 years and has served as board chair. Paul Kirkbride, vice president of credit services, Unitus Community CU, received the Young Professional Award. He has developed consumer friendly products and held seminars on financial responsibility. Matt Stephenson, chief financial officer, Rogue FCU, Medford, received the Heidemann Scholar Award. He graduated from Western CUNA Management School this year and is the fifth person in the history of the program to graduate with highest honors.

Two leagues CUs promote safety and soundness

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MADISON, Wis. (10/17/08)--Some state credit union leagues and individual credit unions are continuing to promote the message about the safety and soundness of credit unions in the unsettled U.S. marketplace. During the recent financial uncertainty, the Alabama Credit Union League (ACUL) has reached out to various media outlets in the state in an effort to inform and reassure the public about the safety of credit unions. In addition to spreading the message that credit unions continue to be safe havens, the league has actively been providing the media with financial experts and information. “During these times, people are looking more carefully than ever at their own personal financial situation. The league has been providing pertinent information on the safety and soundness of credit unions to the media to help reassure the public,” said league Gary B. Wolter, president/CEO. “In particular, during the Wall Street panic and the economic relief package debates, the league stressed the message about deposit insurance, reassuring the public that like banks, credit union accounts are federally insured through the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund. In addition, we are using the opportunity to point out some of the distinct benefits of credit unions and credit union membership,” he added. Articles and letters to the editor have appeared in the Montgomery Advertiser, the Mobile Press-Register, the Birmingham News, and are planned for additional newspapers across the state. Credit union CEOs have been featured in television news interviews and newspaper articles on the economy within the last weeks and the league is currently looking for additional ways to raise the visibility of credit unions in Alabama. The Wisconsin Credit Union League issued a press release Oct. 7 on credit unions’ share insurance being raised to $250,000 after passage of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act. “Recently, credit unions have gained national attention as strong and secure institutions that have generally avoided the bad lending practices that contributed to today’s financial crisis. As a result, credit unions are recognized as healthy lenders that are well positioned to fill a growing demand for personal, auto, business and student loans, as well as mortgages and more,” the release read. Brett Thompson, president/CEO of the Wisconsin league, said in the release: “Although credit unions have remained stable and well capitalized through our nation’s ongoing economic struggles, we welcome this extended coverage on deposits and hope this further strengthens people's confidence in their financial institution.” Community First CU, a $1.089 billion asset, Appleton, Wis., credit union, has placed radio, newspaper and TV ads locally to highlight the strength of the credit union for its members and communities in Northeastern Wisconsin. The spots highlight not only the credit union’s safety and soundness, but its gratitude to members, and Community First’s willingness to continue lending. In addition, Community First’s website highlights safety and soundness with a home page banner and landing page, as well as a similar banner within its Home Banking product. Its current newsletter edition also carries a similar message on the front page. Citadel FCU, A $1.086 billion asset, Thorndale, Pa.-based credit union issued a press release earlier this month about the new share insurance fund bump to $250,000. “Recently, the majority of our member questions have revolved around the security of their deposits,” said Carol Humenick, Citadel senior vice president, in the release. “There has been a great deal of media attention on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, but a lack of focus on credit unions and their security in general. With the increase in deposit insurance, we are pleased to have an additional opportunity to reinforce the message of deposit security to our members and the marketplace.” “Citadel focuses on the long term needs of our members. We have avoided risky lending practices, preventing us from being caught up in the current credit crisis. The increase in deposit insurance provides further safety, soundness and security for Citadel members,” the press release concluded.

Delta Community CU builds energy-efficient branch

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ATLANTA (10/17/08)--LEVEL5, a consulting and facilities development firm specializing in financial institutions, recently completed Atlanta-based Delta Community CU’s newest energy-efficient branch in Newnan, Ga.
Click to view larger imageAtlanta-based Delta Community Credit Union’s newest branch in Newnan, Ga., is the 12th facility for which LEVEL5 and Delta Community have partnered together to design and build and the first location to incorporate various energy efficient features.
This branch is the 12th facility for which LEVEL5 and Delta Community have partnered together to design and build and the first location to incorporate various energy efficient features. The exterior of the branch has energy-efficient blue-tinted glass and a “cool roof” comprised of white thermoplastic olefin. The white color reflects solar radiation rather than absorbing it. This reflection, in conjunction with the well-insulated roof adds to the building’s energy efficiency. Contemporary design “air foil” sunshades provide shade for the windows and reduce internal heat caused by the sun.
Click to view larger image An interior view of Delta Community Credit Union’s newest branch in Newnan, Ga., incorporating various energy efficient features. (Photos provided by Delta Community CU)
“LEVEL5 was an asset in the planning and fulfillment of our retail delivery strategy,” said Rick Foley, president/CEO of Delta Community CU. “They incorporated our branding and retail merchandising elements throughout the Newnan branch, both internally and externally. This facility offers everything a state-of-the-art financial institution needs to have today, and, perhaps best of all, the Newnan branch is energy efficient.” “Focusing on energy efficiency is more than just a trend--it is a responsible way to protect member’s investments,” said J. F. Kassler, president/CEO of LEVEL5. “The progressive design of Delta Community’s Newnan branch will save its members money for decades to come,” he added. “The environmental benefits are huge as well. Building an energy efficient branch that also resourcefully uses the latest technology and design layout on the inside, Delta Community Credit Union will experience the highest possible return on investment from a branch where members want to conduct their business.” Delta Community is the largest credit union in Georgia, with 174,000 members and more than $2.8 billion in assets. Initially founded to serve the employees of Delta Air Lines, the credit union is expanding its membership base to provide financial services to much of the greater metro Atlanta community, including residents of 10 counties.

NCUF approves grant to Maryland and DC CU Association

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COLUMBIA, Md. (10/16/08)--To extend credit unions’ outreach to unbanked consumers in and around the nation’s capital, the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) has approved an Innovation Grant of $16,250 to the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association (MDDCCUA). The NCUF grant will empower MDDCCUA to organize four “Community Outreach Financial Fairs” that are projected to bring financial education to 40,000 unbanked consumers throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia. Outreach efforts will focus on underserved areas of Baltimore, Prince George’s County, and Western Maryland, as well as the District of Columbia. “The needs of these consumers vary from basic savings accounts to mortgages for first-time homebuyers, but all efforts must center on financial literacy,” observed MDDCCUA President Mike Beall. “Unbanked consumers need to be educated on how best to obtain and use financial services that will benefit their personal wealth and well being.” MDDCCUA staff Sharon Sykes and Jennifer Gore plan to recruit credit unions, business partners, and financial education leaders to participate in the quarterly fairs. Expert exhibitors will be asked to help consumers answer key questions:
* What is a credit union? * What products and services do credit unions provide that work for me? * How do I use these products and services for my personal wealth advantage?
“As a result, consumers will become better informed and learn that access to credit union membership is available and attainable,” Beall concluded. This is the second of 14 Innovation Grants to be approved by NCUF this year (News Now, Oct. 15).

CU System briefs (10/15/2008)

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* TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (10/16/08)--Southeast Corporate experienced record-breaking attendance during its eight days of fall forums in Florida, Mississippi, and Alabama this month. More than 160 credit union executives attended the forums, surpassing prior attendance by more than 30%, the corporate said. Forums focused on investments, anti-money laundering, and payment systems ... * HARRISBURG, Pa. (10/16/08)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association’s (PCUA) Better Choice program was featured in the fall 2008 issue of Cascade, a publication of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank(Life is a Highway Oct. 14). PCUA Senior Vice President Mike Wishnow, and Director of Communications Diane Powell were featured. To read the article, use the link ... * SOUTHBRIDGE, Mass. (10/16/08)--Southbridge (Mass.) CU’s student-run branch at Southbridge High School recently celebrated its 20th anniversary (Values and Visions Sept. 24). The credit union gave each student a commemorative notebook, which contains information about the credit union’s “Start Right” program and some educational facts from 1988, to celebrate. The credit union staff mentors students, presents literacy topics to student groups, and last year it installed MoneyMix to Southbridge CU’s website ...

League CUs vote to pursue merger disappointing

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WESTBROOK, Maine (10/16/08)--The Maine Credit Union League called the vote of Kennebec Valley FCU’s (KV FCU) board of directors to continue with its proposal to convert to a bank and immediately merge into another one “disappointing but just one step in a long process.” On Tuesday, the credit union board voted in favor of its proposal to pursue the conversion process. If approved, KV FCU would convert to a mutual savings bank and then merge with Kennebec Savings Bank. The conversion vote seems to run contrary to much of the feedback coming from credit union members, according to John Murphy, Maine league president. “From everything we have heard, many members are opposed to this proposal and look forward to making their votes count,” Murphy said. “From the beginning, our position has been and remains that the credit union charter is the best option. “There is a significant value of member ownership that belonging to a credit union offers and that would be lost if this credit union converts. Educating members and helping them understand what they would lose will be the focus of our message in the months ahead,” he said. The league encourages credit union members to get the facts about the proposal and consider it carefully. “In the end, members will consider if it is in their best interests to lose their credit union and the benefits of using a credit union, such as consistently higher rates on savings, lower rates on loans, and the value of being a member-owned institution. The reality is if more members vote to convert to and merge with a bank, the credit union will no longer be their credit union and all of the capital, assets and structure will cease to belong to them,” Murphy concluded. KV FCU, based in Augusta, Maine, has $51 million in assets.

Bush proclaims ICU Day

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MADISON, Wis. (10/16/08)--President Bush commended credit union employees for their commitment to excellence, integrity and personal responsibility in a letter proclaiming International Credit Union Day (ICU Day), which is being celebrated by credit unions around the world today. “Credit unions provide financial services for millions of members worldwide. As nonprofit financial institutions, credit unions play a vital role in expanding economic opportunity and helping individuals and families achieve their dreams. For nearly 100 years, credit unions in America have made a positive difference in the lives of their members and the communities they serve,” Bush wrote. ICU Day was established by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) in 1948 to celebrate the international credit union movement. This year’s theme is “It Belongs to Me.” "This year’s theme celebrates the economic democracy and equal ownership rights of each credit union member, regardless of how much money a member has on deposit," said CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica. "Our unique structure and the philosophy it engenders are at the root of the extraordinary affinity that members have for their credit unions." "In a movement that is marked by cooperation rather than competition, International Credit Union Day is the perfect time for credit unions groups to demonstrate their spirit of unity and service to members. After all, it is this cooperative spirit and commitment to members that we celebrate today," he added. Activities at credit unions today:
* Board directors from ONR Employees’ North Bay CU, Canada, are greeting members at the credit union throughout the day. ONR also is holding a non-perishable food drive to support the credit union philosophy of “people helping people”; * VA Pittsburgh (Pa.) EFCU is giving away cash door prizes each hour and is placing $5 in new members’ accounts; * Southend CU in the United Kingdom is holding an international coffee tasting; * Valley Oak CU, Three Rivers, Calif., will open the doors for members in each branch and will wash the windshields on members’ cars; and * Watertown Employees (S.D.) FCU employees will be speaking during radio spots inviting the community to the credit union’s celebration.
Delaware credit unions are celebrating International Credit Union Week, which started Monday and will end Saturday, by publishing their seventh Credit Union Supplement in The News Journal, Delaware’s state newspaper. The 16-page supplement was paid for with advertising from Delaware credit unions, according to the Delaware Credit Union League. The supplement, “My Credit Union: It Belongs to Me” highlights the safety and soundness of Delaware credit unions and explains the difference between credit unions and banks. It also includes a directory of all 34 credit unions in Delaware. More than 120,000 copies of the supplement were inserted into the newspaper. The World Council of Credit Unions also is hosting a special ICU Day webcast with WOCCU President/CEO Pete Crear (use the link). WOCCU and CUNA also are sponsoring a reception at the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill. During the reception, credit union contributions will be honored. Attendees include Capitol Hill staffers, National Credit Union Administration board members, representatives from the credit union trade press, and credit union representatives.

Staatz nominated for CUNA board

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (10/16/08)--Rod Staatz, president/CEO, State Employees CU of Maryland, Linthicum, Md., has submitted his nomination for the District 2, Class C board of directors position. The deadline for nominations for eight positions on CUNA's board is Oct. 17. Already nominated are:
* Mike Mercer, president/CEO, Georgia Credit Union League, Duluth, Ga., District 3, Class D; * Bohdan Watral, president/CEO, Selfreliance Ukrainian American FCU, Chicago, District 4, Class B; * Ron Collier, CEO of Indiana Members CU, Indianapolis, District 2, Class C; * Sandy Lingerfelt, Clinchfield FCU, Erwin, Tenn., for District 3, Class A; * Brett Thompson, Wisconsin Credit Union League, Pewaukee, Wis., for District 4, Class D; and * Winona Nava, Guadalupe CU, Santa Fe, N.M., for District 5, Class A.
The eight directors elected will take office Feb. 27, 2009, for three-year terms to expire at the adjournment of the 2012 CUNA Annual General Meeting. Positions up for election are:
* District 1, Class B; * District 2, Class C; * District 3, Class A; * District 3, Class D; * District 4, Class B; * District 4, Class D; * District 5, Class A; and * District 6, Class C.
Nominators must submit the appropriate forms and obtain consent of the candidate. Voting will begin Oct. 22 and will close on Dec. 19. For more information, use the resource links.

Eleven CU pros earn new security certification

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MADISON, Wis. (10/16/08)--Eleven credit union professionals earned their credentials as Security Fraud Experts through CUNA’s new Security Certification School, which took place Sept. 21-26 in Seattle. The institute is designed to confirm professionals’ ability to secure the safety of their credit unions. Graduates include:
* William Barrett, First Commonwealth FCU, Lehigh Valley, Pa.; * Linda Baughman, Commonwealth CU Inc., Frankfort, Ky.; * Barbara Bethea, Fort Campbell FCU, Clarksville, Tenn.; * Melissa Catlow, Verity CU, Seattle; * Leland Cramer, Finance Center FCU, Indianapolis; * Douglas Gonzalez, Massachusetts State Employees CU, Boston; * Richard Klefsky, Suffolk FCU, Medford, N.Y.; * Cindy MacDonald, PSECU, Harrisburg, Pa.; * Michael McMillan, Rocky Mountain CU, Helena, Mont.; * Michele Motter, PSECU, Harrisburg, Pa.; and * Don Whitler, Randolph-Brooks FCU, Universal City, Texas.
For more information on the Security Certification School, use the link.

Members CU launches Ask Jack blog

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (10/16/08)--Members CU, Winston-Salem, N.C., has launched the “Ask Jack” blog to help its credit union members understand financial news. The “Ask Jack” blog allows consumers to send questions about finances directly to Members CU President/CEO Jack Braswell Jr. The questions can be submitted anonymously and will be answered publicly on the blog. “Grasping the implications of complex financials can be tough,” Braswell said. “Our site will allow consumers to get unbiased, straightforward answers from a not-for-profit financial cooperative whose simple goal is to reduce public panic about their money.” Members CU has $208 million in assets. To read the blog, use the link.

Survey CUs overdraft fees lower than banks

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CHICAGO (10/16/08)--A recent survey indicates that credit unions charge lower overdraft fees to its members compared with banks and other financial institutions. According to data gathered by Moebs Services, credit unions’ average overdraft fees are $24.24, compared with the $27.03 charged by banks. The national average is $25.67, according to the survey (BusinessWire Oct. 15). Debit card overdrafts are allowed by 57.9% of credit unions, compared with 47.8% of banks. ATM overdrafts are allowed by 40.5% of credit unions, compared with 33.5% of banks. The national average is 36.9%, the survey said. Moebs also said that the average price of overdrafts has increased by an average of 2.59% each year. “There is a clear trend that market forces are at work in establishing the fees that banks and credit unions charge in different parts of the country,” Moebs said. It also noted that upcoming regulatory changes by the Federal Reserve could increase competition between banks and credit unions. The survey also indicated that Miami, Washington, D.C., and Denver are the three highest-priced markets in the U.S. for overdraft fees. Financial institutions in Miami charge an average fee of $30.26 for overdraft coverage, compared with $28.15 in Washington, D.C., and $28.02 in Denver. Florida ranks as the highest-priced state for overdraft fees at $29.55 per check. The three lowest-priced cities are San Francisco, Sacramento and Los Angeles, with respective average charges of $22.39, $22.79 and $22.92. The lowest-priced states are California, Illinois and Wisconsin, the survey said.

International CUs gird against financial turmoil

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MADISON, Wis. (10/16/08)--With International Credit Union Day here, it is noteworthy that British, Japanese and New Zealand credit unions are gearing up to ensure safety against global financial troubles. The New Zealand Association of Credit Unions endorsed the inclusion of credit unions Tuesday in a national deposit guarantee plan (Scoop.co.nz Oct. 13). Because of New Zealand credit unions “sound business operation,” 170,000 member depositors will be given the same commitment from the government as those given to banks, Doug McLaren, chief executive, New Zealand Association of Credit Unions, told the newspaper. The Japanese government and ruling parties have decided to create an emergency funding mechanism geared to bolstering smaller lenders balance sheets through preventive injections of public funds. The move started in response to small and midsize financial institutions in the U.S. being negatively impacted by financial turmoil, the government said (Nikkei Report Oct. 10). The government is considering an infusion of 10 trillion yen [nearly $99 billion] with potential recipients being credit unions, Shinkin banks and second-tier regional banks, the paper said. [Shinkin banks are cooperative regional financial institutions serving small and medium enterprises and local residents. Anyone who lives, works, or has an office in the region served by the bank can become a member. However, companies with over 300 employees are prohibited from membership.] The plan will be drafted into legislation and likely finalized later this month, as it is incorporated into the Japanese government’s second economic stimulus package. Currently, a regional financial institution can qualify for funding if its failure would pose a threat to available credit in the region. This has led to demands for a safety net for financial institutions that are too little to meet this condition, the paper said. British credit unions are safe from the turmoil afflicting many other financial institutions, according to the Association of British Credit Unions, Ltd (Express and Echo Oct. 14). Mark Lyonette, the association’s chief executive said in a statement: “As credit unions do not rely on borrowing from other banks or the international money markets, and are not in the business of buying up the debts of the financial institutions, they are well sheltered from the economic turmoil that is causing worry for so many people at the moment. “Credit unions use the savings of their members to make loans to other members,” he added. “Savings in credit unions are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.” [The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) is the UK's statutory fund of last resort for customers of authorized financial services firms. This means that FSCS can pay compensation if a firm is unable, or likely to be unable, to pay claims against it. FSCS is an independent body, set up under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.]

CUNA receives record number of Desjardins entries

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MADISON, Wis. (10/16/08)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has received a record number of entries for the Desjardins Award this year. Judges will select the best examples of youth financial education from 53 credit union and league entries. Entries in the Desjardins contest have risen steadily in the eight years since its inception, according to CUNA. “With the economy undercutting families’ financial security and peace of mind, it’s gratifying to know that credit unions in so many parts of the country are taking the lead in teaching young people to manage their money wisely,” said Jim Hanson, vice president of CUNA’s Center for Personal Finance, which runs the Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award competition. “The judges are going to have their hands full determining the top credit union programs from so many worthy entries.” This year’s Desjardins judges are:
* Amy Rae Crowe, Development Educator (DE), public relations and education liaison, Great Wisconsin CU, Madison; * Marty Kelly, senior vice president of marketing and business development, US FCU, Burnsville, Minn.; and * Pamela Owens, DE, director of education and training, National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, New York, N.Y.
The Desjardins Award is named in honor of Alphonse Desjardins, the founder of the North American credit union movement. It considers all activities supporting the personal finance education of young members and nonmembers, including, but not limited to, face-to-face teaching, publicity, lobbying for curriculum requirements, teacher and volunteer training, and promotion and use of the National Endowment for Financial Education High School Financial Planning Program. Each year, national Desjardins winning and honorable mention awards are presented at CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference in conjunction with the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility and Louise Herring Philosophy in Action recognition programs.

ASI FCU to host local Night Out Against Debt

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HARAHAN, La. (10/16/08)--ASI FCU, a local leader in the world of community development financing, announced that it will be hosting a Night Out Against Debt on Nov. 6. The evening will feature a screening of the documentary film “Maxed Out,” as well as food, prizes, and information to help people better their financial situations. The timing of this event could not be more appropriate, in light of the financial crisis facing our nation, said the credit union. “There is no doubt that the recent economic downturn is cause for concern,” said Mignhon Tourné, president/CEO of local ASI FCU. “At the same time, an opportunity has been created for all Americans and financial industry leaders to take a serious look at how we manage our money.” “ASI has a long, solid history of serving the underserved and promoting economic empowerment and asset accumulation,” added Tourné. “By hosting the upcoming Night Out Against Debt, ASI FCU hopes to draw attention to the irresponsible lending practices that so many financial service providers have used to the detriment of the American people. More importantly, ASI staff hopes to show local citizens what they can do to more easily manage their finances and rebuild their credit.” “Maxed Out” takes viewers on a journey deep inside the American style of debt. With coverage that spans from small American towns all the way to the White House, the film shows how the modern financial industry works, explains the true definition of “preferred customer” and explains why the poor are getting poorer while the rich keep getting richer, the credit union said. Hilarious, shocking and incisive, “Maxed Out” paints a picture of a nightmare, which is real for some Americans. Following the movie screening, ASI staff members will be on hand to offer free counseling on debt and financial management. Tickets to the event are free, but must be reserved by calling 504-733-1733, ext.79210. ASI FCU is based in Harahan, La., and has $280.3 million in assets.

CommunityAmerica CU CEO fabric of community

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LENEXA, Kan. (10/15/08)--CommunityAmerica CU CEO Dennis Pierce has made a dedicated effort to be a part of the fabric of the Kansas City community, according to Missouri Credit Union Association president Rosie Holub. “He believes in leading by example,” she told the Kansas City Business Journal (Oct. 10). The Journal published an article spotlighting some of Pierce’s achievements in his credit union career. Pierce, who said he “started at the bottom” and received his first raise when the minimum wage went up, is a “natural leader” for the credit union, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Chairman Tom Dorety said. Pierce began working in the credit union movement in 1983, when he was hired as the data processing systems manager at Steel Workers CU, which is now United Consumers CU, in Independence, Mo. He was hired as president of Members America CU, CommunityAmerica’s predecessor, in 1993. The credit union was serving employees of TWA, an airline that was struggling after going bankrupt, the newspaper said. Pierce helped the TWA employees by making sure the credit union’s products matched their needs. He also created a community identity for the credit union and permitted credit union employees 12 work hours a year to volunteer with community organizations. Pierce led a merger with Yellow Financial CU in 1998, which created CommunityAmerica. He also set up an agreement to put branches in Hy-Vee retail stores in 1999. Last year, CommunityAmerica merged with Midwest United CU of Blue Springs. Pierce said his goal isn’t to see how big the credit union can be, but how well it can help people, he told the newspaper. With the merger came a $6 million distribution to members. The last payment was in November--$250. One member said she was going to use the dividend to buy Christmas presents for her children. Without the dividend, she had no money for the holidays, she told Pierce. “That type of thing just really gets me going,” Pierce told the Journal. CommunityAmerica has $1.689 billion in assets.

NCUF approves 10278 grant to Montana CUs for community development

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HELENA, Mont. (10/15/08)--To help more low-income families receive free tax filing from a special corps of volunteers, the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) has approved an Innovation Grant of $10,278 to Montana Credit Unions for Community Development (MCUCD). The NCUF grant will empower MCUCD to expand Montana’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to 13 credit unions and 16 sites. Part of the grant will support AmeriCorps Volunteers In Service To America (VISTAs), a corps that will be specially trained to process tax returns for 3,000 low-income families. AmeriCorps VISTAs will encourage low-income workers to file for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC is a tax break designed to lift low-income workers out of poverty. “Over its 30-year history, the EITC has developed into the nation's largest anti-poverty program,” explained MCUCD Executive Director Jeanne Saarinen. “Increased capacity and access to VITA sites helps families build wealth by increasing access to EITC and helping families keep more of their tax refunds.” All tax filers are also advised to avoid refund anticipation loans. “We believe our model of statewide credit union VITA sites is sustainable and replicable,” said Saarinen. “MCUCD has the experience and training to set up and run VITA sites in communities without any other free tax preparation sites. We take the burden off of individual credit unions, so each credit union can focus on what it does best--helping members.” This is the first of 14 NCUF Innovation Grants approved this year. During the 2008 Innovation Grants application cycle, NCUF received 41 applications requesting over $2.2 million in funding. This was nearly four times the $600,000 budgeted for Innovation Grants through the Community Investment Fund (CIF). “Grant requests were much higher this year because the needs are much greater,” said NCUF Deputy Director Steve Bosack, the Foundation’s staff liaison to the NCUF Grants Committee. “More credit unions are seeking innovative ways to serve people with low wealth and modest means.” “More credit unions than ever are investing in the Community Investment Fund,” said NCUF Executive Director Steve Delfin. “Yet here’s the paradox: even though CIF balances reached an all-time high, the fund has returned a much lower percentage of grant dollars in 2008. “This is due to federal interest rate cuts from January through September. So especially during these challenging economic times, we thank all 650-plus CIF investors, the NCUF Board and Grants Committee for allowing us to maintain our $600,000 in Innovation Grant commitments and reward credit unions serving low-wealth households,” he added.

Australian CUs told to boost liquidity

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SYDNEY, Australia (10/15/08)--The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) is putting pressure on the country’s credit unions to lift their liquidity levels in a move to reinforce the country’s $65 billion industry buffer against ramifications from the global financial crisis. APRA approached several institutions last week in advance of the government’s weekend announcement of deposits and wholesale funding guarantees that also cover credit union and building societies (The Australian Oct. 15). A building society is a financial institution, owned by its members, that offers banking and other financial services, especially mortgage lending. APRA is believed to have asked some of the country’s regulated entities to increase liquid assets--funds that can be converted to cash within days--to 15% from the previous 13% of total assets. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) reported that the country’s banking system maintained well-capitalized with the aggregate capital ratio standing at 10.6% as of the end of June. Also, RBA said the credit union sector remains well-capitalized, with an aggregate capital ratio of 16.5%. About 4.5 million Australians are members of credit unions or building societies.

Florida SECU establishes employee volunteer outreach program

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (10/15/08)--State Employees CU (SECU), Jacksonville, Fla., has made a commitment to increase its involvement in volunteer efforts within its communities and beyond with the establishment of SECU C.A.R.E.S., the credit union’s employee volunteer program. The name, SECU C.A.R.E.S., was developed by credit union staff and stands for “Committed, Able, Resourceful, Employees in Service.” After research into volunteer opportunities within its communities, it was decided that SECU’s first efforts would be centered on a partnership with Ronald McDonald House. The Ronald McDonald House provides a home for families of seriously ill children receiving treatment at nearby hospitals. SECU C.A.R.E.S. is excited about this partnership and the many volunteer opportunities it will afford staff, the credit union said. The Jacksonville and Raiford SECU staff members recently participated in the Children’s Way 5K Run/Walk. As a further means of raising money for the event, the branches sold sponsor running shoes for one dollar each. The employees and local members are also participating in the Ronald McDonald House beverage pop top collection efforts. The pop tops are recycled for cash to support the house program. SECU’s Tallahassee offices sponsored a pizza and salad night for their local house. The families had pizza and salad waiting for them after a long day at local hospitals. Wish list collection boxes have also been placed in the branches for employees and members to donate needed items for the house. SECU C.A.R.E.S. is off to a great start, and SECU is proud of its staff and their commitment to its members and communities, the credit union said.

Newspaper article CUs avoid risky investments

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (10/15/08)--Because credit unions are focused on the needs of members, they stay away from the risky investments that have plagued many other financial institutions during the current economic crisis, according to a Tuesday article in the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “The purpose of a credit union is not to make profits to provide services to its members, so there’s no incentive to be involved with risky lending,” Patrick Keefe, spokesman for the Credit Union National Association, told the newspaper. “Credit unions don’t have any skin in the game.” More than 90 million credit union members nationwide are federally insured [through the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF)] at the same rate--up to $250,000--as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insure bank deposits, Keefe added. Despite the current economic turmoil nationwide, credit unions may be some of the safest U.S. financial institutions, the Florida Credit Union League told the paper. “Where some financial institutions are reeling from the economy, credit unions are not,” Guy M. Hood, league president, said in league-issued statement. “There has been some hype about money in credit unions being unsafe, when in fact, it is just as safe being insured with the [NCUSIF].”

Certificate growth at CUs noted by IWall Street JournalI

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NEW YORK (10/15/08)--Investors are turning to certificates of deposit (CDs), and term share certificates--especially at credit unions, according to a Tuesday article in The Wall Street Journal. Term share certificate deposits at credit unions nationwide have risen an estimated 4.8% so far this year, according to data from the Credit Union National Association, the paper said. There has been a $57 billion increase in the total amount of revenue held in CDs and term share certificates of $100,000 or less during the past few months, according to Federal Reserve data, the paper indicated. The primary motive for investors moving more into CDs and term share certificates is security because they offer a way to insure investors’ money, the paper said. Certificate investors also have been prompted by the new $250,000 federal insurance limit [at credit unions and banks], said John Nersesian, managing director of Nuveen Investments in Chicago. The yield on an average one-year CD now is 2.56%, and the average five-year CD yield is 3.38%, according to Bankrate.com.

CNBC Minn. news station promote CUs safety soundness

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MADISON, Wis. (10/15/08)--CNBC and a local St. Paul, Minn.-based television news station recently noted credit unions’ safety and soundness. CNBC’s Jane Wells noted credit unions during a segment about the subprime mortgage crisis. Bill Cheney, president/CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, was interviewed for the segment. Cheney told Wells that credit unions are well-capitalized. WCCO 4 News in St. Paul featured Hiway FCU and its CEO, Jeff Schwalen, during the news station’s “Good Question” segment. WCCO interviewed several credit union members who described the credit union difference and noted that they felt their deposits were safe at the credit union. Hiway has $742 million in assets. To see the videos, use the links.

100 students attend KCUA fin lit camp

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TOPEKA, Kan. (10/15/08)--About 100 middle school students attended the Kansas Credit Union Association’s Money$mart Financial Literacy Camp Friday.
Jim Holt (left), president/CEO of Mid-American CU, and Kristen Spear, Mid-American assistant to the CEO, assembled materials for the Kansas Credit Union Association’s Money$mart Financial Literacy Camp.
The Kansas Credit Union Association held a Money$mart Financial Literacy Camp to teach middle school students financial skills. (Photos provided by the Kansas Credit Union Association)
About 20 credit union leaders were in attendance at the day-long event, which was held at Truesdell Middle School in Topeka. The camp taught students leadership and financial skills. Students attended workshops on budgeting, saving, goal-setting, cash and credit. KCUA partnered with Kansas State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins to hold the camp. “Financial education is vital to the success of our state’s citizens and it must begin with our youth,” Jenkins said. “The Money$mart Financial camps are a perfect way to bring this invaluable information to young people so they can begin to understand how to make responsible decisions with their money.” The camp, endorsed by the middle school, was held on an in-service day, which means only teachers and administrations were required to report to school. The school opened for the camp so students could learn in an environment that was familiar to them.

CUNA honors community CUs

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SAN DIEGO (10/15/08)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) named Erie (Pa.) General Electric FCU, and OSU FCU, Corvallis, Ore., the 2008 Community Credit Unions of the Year at CUNA’s 2008 Community Credit Union Conference in San Diego.
Carlyn Roy, executive vice president/chief operations officer, OSU FCU, Corvallis, Ore., received the Community CU of the Year award from John Sackett, award judge and board treasurer, Royal CU, Eau Claire, Wis. OSU FCU won in the more than $250 million asset category.
Award judge Lee MacMinn, CEO, Freedom CU, Warminster, Pa., presented Gail Cook, CEO, Erie (Pa.) General Electric FCU, with the Community CU of the Year award for institutions with less than $250 million in assets. (Photos provided by the Credit Union National Association)
The award recognizes community chartered credit unions that best exemplify credit union ideals, are proactive in their communities, and provide a wide array of services to meet their communities’ diverse needs. Erie General Electric Federal, the winner in the less than $250 million asset category, excelled in new product development and community impact, noted Lee MacMinn, president/CEO of Freedom CU, Warminster, Pa., and an award judge. Most of Erie General Electric Federal’s new products are geared toward helping members that other financial institutions don’t want to serve, MacMinn noted. “The credit union was willing to take a chance on helping members help themselves through many ‘second chance’ type programs.” The key to community credit union success is “serving all segments of your membership and the community,” said Carlyn Roy, executive vice president/chief operations officer for OSU Federal, the winner in the more than $250 million asset category. “By reaching out and supporting varied communities, we end up gaining members out of nonmembers. “Our slogan is ‘creating financial solutions to make lives better,’” she continued. “All of our staff live by that mantra at work.”

Southeast Corporate second quarter report extremely strong

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TALLAHASEE, Fla. (10/14/08)--Southeast Corporate FCU in Tallahassee, Fla., had a very strong second quarter, the credit union said in its second-quarter report. Southeast's total assets stood at $3.86 billion as of June 30, a slight decrease compared with the $3.93 billion in assets as of Dec. 31. Net income during the first half of 2008 was $5.56 million, compared with the $1.94 million earned during the same period in 2007. Southeast maintains strong Standard & Poor’s ratings of AA long-term and A-1+ short- term. The corporate also is rated F-1+ short-term and AA- long-term by Fitch Ratings. The ratings are assigned through an independent review of Southeast's financial and operational activities and represent the highest ratings given to corporate credit unions, the corporate said in its report. Also, Southeast continued to maintain a strong capital position during the first two quarters of 2008, the report said. During the period, retained earnings increased to $117.8 million as of June 30, from $112.3 million as of year-end 2007.

Not knowing CU difference can cost says league

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MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (10/14/08)--Consumers’ lack of understanding when it comes to the credit union difference can have an adverse effect on credit unions, wrote the president of the Massachusetts Credit Union League in a “president’s message” to credit unions in the state. Daniel F. Egan, Jr. wrote that with the passage of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, financial and credit markets should hopefully stabilize, but credit unions need to do their part (Values & Visions Oct. 6). “One issue that has become clear as we dealt with the reverberations from this financial crisis is that the consumers’ lack of understanding when it comes to the credit union difference comes a cost to us,” Egan wrote. “We have expended considerable effort to make our credit unions the safe and sound institutions they are. “Likewise, we fund a very well-capitalized and safe federal deposit insurance system, yet numerous credit unions indicate that they heard from many consumers who were nervous about the money that they had in a credit union,” he continued. “We all need to do more to communicate the fact that credit unions are unique and distinct.” Consumers desire the benefits that credit unions offer, such as concentrating investments in loans to members because that is the main purpose and commitment of credit unions, Egan added. When consumers are made aware of this--along with the fact that credit unions have a true commitment to safeguard members’ deposits--then all credit unions “will enjoy their true power in the marketplace,” Egan concluded.

Survey Cash beats romance for 18-24 year olds

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LONDON (10/14/08)--Credit unions might want to note the findings of a recent survey that indicated almost 90% of 18-24 year olds care more about money than romance. Global research firm Synovate released the findings last month from its 2008 study which was conducted on young people between the ages 18-24 across 26 different markets. The survey sought to find out the truth behind some popular misconceptions surrounding young people, including finances, according to Julian Rolfe, global manager, Syndicated Youth Research. The findings showed that 18-24 year olds are more pragmatic than they are given credit for. More than half of the 12,000 young people surveyed expressed their concern to some extent about their economic situation, with 24% saying they are worrying about it a lot. And 87% revealed that money was an important, if not very important factor for them, outweighing love and romance. What could be a contributing factor is that young people actually have very little disposable income to begin with--39% having less than $50 a week to spend. Less than 10% have over $250 per week, the survey indicated. Almost half have less than $16 to spend a week on clothing. And 84% spend less than $16 per week on music. Further, 76% spend only $16 a week on music. More than two-thirds spend that same amount per week on their mobile phone bill. The survey also asked if young people gave much thought about their future plans. The survey indicated 35% would like to be financially independent by the ages 22-24, 28% by the ages 25-30, and 10% by the ages 18-21. And 17% stated that they are already financially independent.

Collaboration is essential says First Day Financial CU

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DUBLIN, Ohio (10/14/08)--Credit unions need to cooperate to ensure their survival, according to FirstDay Financial CU, Dayton, Ohio. FirstDay recently completed a core data processor conversion with the help of AurGroup Financial CU, Fairfield; CINCO Family Financial Center CU, Cincinnati; and River Valley CU, Miamisburg. “In the spirit of cooperation, three [Ohio] credit unions jumped in to help and even lent their support staff to make the first week much less stressful,” Lee Spivey, FirstDay CEO, wrote in the Ohio Credit Union League’s eLumination newsletter (Sept. 24). “That is exactly the kind of cooperative spirit upon which the credit union movement was founded and is necessary to ensure long-term survival,” he added. Collaboration is a way for credit unions to “merge without merging,” Spivey said. “Credit unions all do many of the same things. We handle many of the same problems. We face many of the same issues each day. Why not join forces wherever we can? The power of size can be achieved by working together in an organized fashion and sharing expenses.” Credit unions face increased regulatory burdens, greater competition, new products and services and tighter margins. “If we cannot check our collective egos at the door and work together, it is quite likely that in 10 years, instead of 400 Ohio credit unions with an average asset base of $40 million, there will be only 50-100 with average assets of $500 million or more,” Spivey added. FirstDay has $75 million in assets.

CU System briefs (10/13/2008)

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* NEW ORLEANS (10/14/08)--The Louisiana Credit Union League offered attendees of the 2008 Annual Meeting and Convention the opportunity to “Go Green.” The league gave attendees the option of receiving a compact disc with information from the sessions or a printed booklet. About 20% of the 322 attendees elected to go with the CDs. With an additional contribution by the league, 100 trees also were planted in national forests through the Trees For America program ... * MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (10/14/08)--HarborOne CU, Brockton, Mass., and Hanscom CU, Boston, received Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility awards, the Massachusetts Credit Union League announced. HarborOne received first place and Hanscom received second place. HarborOne’s winning entry focused on its multicultural banking center which was created in 2007 to help consumers affected by subprime mortgages and other predatory financial practices. Hanscom won the award for partnering with Kids at Heart to raise money for a children’s hospital. It broke all donation records and raised $14,519.45 ... * SAN ANTONIO (10/14/08)--Air Force FCU, San Antonio, announced that its member contact center is open 24 hours per day, seven days a week, and 365 days per year, including holidays. “We serve a membership that is apt to be deployed worldwide and we want to be there when they need us,” said Robert Glenn, Air Force FCU president/CEO. Air Force FCU has $310 million in assets ... * ABERDEEN, Md. (10/14/08)--Aberdeen (Md.) Proving Ground FCU donated $72,000 in 2008 to nearly 50 community-based organizations and programs, the credit union announced. Organizations included Harford Habitat for Humanity, Scoutreach, Salvation Army, Elkton Alliance and the Boys and Girls Clubs. The credit union has $664 million in assets ...

CUANY recognizes professionals volunteers at convention

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ALBANY, N.Y. (10/14/08)--The Credit Union Association of New York recognized outstanding professionals and volunteers, and announced its statewide Dora Maxwell and Louise Herring Award winners at the 88th Annual Convention in Niagara Falls last week. “Credit Unions: Harness the Power” was the theme of this year’s convention. Hundreds of participants gathered for the three-day event. “The friendly upbeat mood that existed throughout this year’s event made it obvious that convention is the perfect venue to acknowledge and applaud our award recipients,” said William J. Mellin, Association president/CEO.
One of the two Credit Union Association of New York 2008 Professionals of the Year was Paula Stopera, president/CEO, Capital Communications FCU, Albany.
The other Credit Union Association of New York 2008 Professional of the Year was Dorothy White, vice president, Fidelis FCU, New York. (Photos provided by the Credit Union Association of New York)
The following awards and honors were presented during the convention. Outstanding professionals are:
* Paula Stopera, president/CEO, Capital Communications FCU, Albany; and * Dorothy White, vice president, Fidelis FCU, New York.
Outstanding volunteers:
* Virginia Brady, UFirst FCU, Plattsburgh; and * Thomas Messina, Columbia Greene FCU, Hudson.
Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award:
* Western New York FCU, West Seneca, $5-$20 million in assets, first place; * GHS FCU, Binghamton, $50-$100 million in assets, first place; * Sidney (N.Y.) FCU, $200-$500 million in assets, first place; and * Capital Communications FCU, $500-plus million in assets, first place.
Louise Herring Award for Philosophy in Action:
* GHS FCU, $50-$250 million in assets, first place; and * Mid-Hudson Valley FCU, Kingston, over $250 million in assets, first place.
Additional convention highlights included general session appearances by Paul Dyster, mayor of Niagara Falls; Rodney Hood, vice chairman of the National Credit Union Administration; Alison Levine, president of her own consulting firm, Daredevil Strategies; as well as education sessions.

CU blogger notes female members needs

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PLYMOUTH, Mich. (10/14/08)--Selling a woman on a credit union is like selling an entire household, according to a credit union blogger. Mark Arnold, senior vice president of marketing at Neighborhood CU, Dallas, noted female credit union members’ needs on CU Campus, an Internet-based tool developed by CU Village and launched by the Michigan Credit Union League. Credit unions should connect women with their brand because they’ll pass it along to friends. “Women are three times more likely to recommend a brand or service they enjoy than men are,” Arnold said. Credit unions also should offer retirement plans focused exclusively on women. Women are under-enrolled in retirement plans compared with men, he said. “Women make almost 80% of the household buying decisions, comprise 59% of total college graduates and will control 60% of the wealth in the U.S. by 2010,” Arnold added. For more information, use the link.

Zopa withdraws from U.S. marketplace

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LONDON (10/13/08)--Peer-to-peer lender Zopa has pulled out of the U.S. marketplace, the lender announced on its website Thursday. Six credit unions had partnered with the online lending initiative last year. “The U.S. has been adversely affected in a way that just couldn’t have been predicted when we launched in the U.S.,” Zopa said on its blog. “[It] is no way the fault of our partners.” Zopa’s U.S. customer deposit accounts are insured by the National Credit Union Administration up to $250,000, and servicing of those accounts and loans will be assumed by the credit unions within 90 days, Zopa said. The six credit unions that partnered with Zopa include:
* Addison Avenue FCU, Palo Alto, Calif.; * Affinity Plus FCU, St. Paul, Minn.; * FirstTech CU, Beaverton, Ore.; * FORUM CU, Indianapolis; * Provident CU, Redwood City, Calif.; and * USA FCU, San Diego.

Minnesota CU Network hosts shared branching forum

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OAKDALE, Minn. (10/13/08)--The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) hosted its first Shared Branching Forum Oct. 7 in an effort to enhance knowledge and encourage participation in shared branching. More than 60 individuals representing 29 credit unions attended. MnCUN Executive Vice President Peter Skaalen kicked off the session by providing an overview of shared branching, a summary of options available, and an update on recent developments. He discussed the advantages of shared branching, including increased member convenience and immediate access to the 26 outlets located in Minnesota and more than 3,400 service centers throughout the country. “Not only does shared branching offer tremendous member convenience that would be impossible for a credit union to match on its own by adding branch offices, it can also be a key component in disaster recovery plans,” Skaalen said. The forum featured a panel discussion of current users, including:
* Carla Hansen, TopLine FCU, Maple Grove; * Ruth Ann Horns, City-County FCU, Brooklyn Center; * Barb Jackson, the Shared Service Center, Duluth; * Gail Krall, Minnesota Power Employees CU, Duluth; * Russ Plunkett, Postal CU, Woodbury; and * Bill Raker, US Federal CU, Burnsville.
Panelists fielded questions on their experience with shared branching. The concept of shared branching is terrific, especially for small credit unions, because it provides immediate account access members at so many branches around the state and around the country, Raker said. The session concluded with an in-depth review of operational requirements, rules and policies. “Session participants were engaged and inquisitive about shared branching and provided positive feedback about this important member service,” Skaalen said. “We look forward to growing the number of outlets in Minnesota and providing increased convenience to credit union members.”

State CU leagues promote safety and soundness

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MADISON, Wis. (10/13/08)--Several state credit union leagues are continuing to spread the message to credit union members and the media about credit unions’ safety and soundness in uncertain economic times. The Maine Credit Union League has had a significant amount of media opportunities responding to questions and concerns arising from the current financial crisis going on nationally and the uncertainty that the crisis has created. In a recent past week, the league’s outreach efforts to educate, inform and respond to the media on federal savings insurance and the availability of liquidity has resulted in unprecedented media coverage in a seven-day period, the league said. During that time, the league has been a part of a total of 83 stories about Maine’s credit unions that have appeared in various forms of media outlets. “Our approach has been to be proactive in our media outreach efforts and this has proven to be an effective strategy resulting in positive media coverage for Maine’s credit unions. We have focused our messages on educating consumers on the fact that every Maine credit union is federally-insured as well as reinforcing the message that Maine credit unions have plenty of liquidity and that credit is available and lending remains strong,” said John Murphy, president of the Maine Credit Union League. “We continue to be sought out by media outlets looking for answers and perspective on what is happening in Maine, and our ability to provide information helpful to consumers has made us a valuable resource during this period,” noted the league's Governmental and Public Affairs Manager Jon Paradise. Borrowing on the theme of a print ad created by the Credit Union National Association, the Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU) began a newspaper advertising campaign last week to inform Vermonters that credit union deposit insurance limits have been raised to $250,000 as a result of the passage of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (Newslines Express Oct. 10). “Vermont credit unions have always been a safe place for money and they offer a full range of modern financial services,” the ad stated. It explained that Vermont credit unions haven’t made the same types of risky investments and loans that have harmed other institutions. The ad statement, “Today, as they always have, Vermont’s credit unions continue to make responsible loans to 280,000 members,” further drives that message home. The ad’s copy is completed by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) share insurance sign, AVCU logo, and an action message directing readers to the AVCU website to learn more about share insurance and how they can find a credit union to which they can belong. The ad was placed in a number of the state’s daily newspapers and appeared on multiple days. It also appears on a complimentary basis in weekly publications related to the paid placements in the dailies. After the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association’s board of directors approved a special ad campaign to spread the message of credit union safety through Pennsylvania, staff quickly went to work preparing scripts and developing media schedules. A series of radio spots, featuring Jim McCormack, association president/CEO, were taped last week (Life is a Highway Oct. 8). The radio commercials began airing Thursday as part of the three-week intensive campaign to inform consumers that credit unions are safe and sound; NCUA share insurance coverage is backed by the full faith of the U.S. Government--the same as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; and that non-members can visit iBelong.org to find a credit union to join. The North Carolina Credit Union League, in its Oct. 6 CU Communicator newsletter produced by the leagues communications department, provided tips on boosting a credit union’s safety and soundness message in search engine results from Christopher Morris, web manager for CUNA Councils in Madison, Wis. It is important for credit unions to come up with list of key words and to use those keywords wisely. “If you have access to good website statistics for your site, you can usually get a listing of keywords that visitors use to get to your site via search engines,” Morris wrote. “There might be some good information in there to add to your listing.” For more information on Morris’ tips, use the link.

Auto loan delinquencies fewer at CUs

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DETROIT (10/13/08)--Auto loan delinquencies are rising, but credit unions aren’t being hit as hard as other lenders. According to a Dow Jones story published Oct. 6, auto lenders have experienced a 9% increase in loans 30 days past due and an 11% increase in loans 60 days past due in the second quarter, compared with the same time period last year. About $25 billion in auto loans are past due, according to research by Experian. Credit unions are seeing an increase in auto delinquency rates, but their rates are not rising as fast as other lenders, Steve Rick, Credit Union National Association senior economist, told News Now. There are many economic headwinds that are placing strain on household budgets--which are causing them to become delinquent on auto loans, according to Rick. “First, rising energy and food prices are reducing funds available for debt service and other purchases. Second, rising unemployment, falling commissions and bonuses and slowing wage growth is reducing incomes for millions of Americans,” he said. “Third, rising interest rates and tighter loan underwriting standards have reduced the ability to refinance high rate debt.”

International CU Week kicks off today

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MADISON, Wis. (10/13/08)--International Credit Union Week starts today, with International Credit Union Day (ICU Day) on Thursday--and credit unions nationwide are preparing to celebrate. ICU Day has been celebrated each year on the third Thursday of October since 1948. The event honors those who have contributed to the credit union movement. This year’s theme is “It Belongs to Me.” ICU Day activities include:
* The Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association will host a reception on Thursday at Credit Union House in Washington, D.C. Credit unions can sponsor the event to fund international projects; * Fremont (Ohio) FCU will host a Shred for Safety event on Thursday. It also will distribute information on identity theft (PortClinton NewsHerald Oct. 3); * Purdue Employees FCU, West Lafayette, Ind., will celebrate with a youth coloring contest and a “What a credit union means to me” essay contest for high school students; * United Educational CU, Battle Creek, Mich., will host a Financial Survival Fair this week. The fair will offer resources to help consumers trim grocery bills, reduce energy consumption, balance budgets, and preserve homeownership (BattleCreekEnquirer.com Oct. 6); * The Michigan Credit Union League’s state political action committee will host an online auction this week and a Credit Union Week Casual Day program. Last year, credit unions raised more than $8,000 by hosting casual days (Michigan Monitor Oct. 6); * The Credit Union Association of Oregon has bought advertising in local newspapers this week, including the Lebanon Express, Lincoln City News, Seaside Herald, Portland Business Journal, Grants Pass Daily Courier, Albany Democrat/Corvallis Gazette, Bend Bulletin, East Oregonian, Register Guard, Klamath Falls Herald, Medford Mail, Roseburg News, Statesman Journal, and the Oregonian; * Hundreds of the California Credit Union League’s credit unions received recognition from local elected officials at ceremonies throughout California and Nevada. Ceremonies will continue to take place throughout the month of October. “Citizens and businesses are facing unprecedented financial challenges, and credit unions are vital to helping local communities in providing services to their members. We are honored that our credit unions have been recognized by local government for all the hard work and services they provide within their communities,” said Bill Cheney, president/CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union League. Counties honored International Credit Union Day with resolutions and proclamation letters which highlight the credit union philosophy of “people helping people.”

MECU opens first student-run CU in Baltimore

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BALTIMORE (10/13/08)--Municipal Employees Credit Union of Baltimore (MECU), in partnership with the National Academy Foundation High School (NAF)--Baltimore, opened the first student-run credit union in Baltimore Wednesday.
Click to view larger imageParticipating in the ribbon cutting ceremony at Municipal Employees CU of Baltimore’s (MECU) new student-run branch were, from left: Bert J. Hash Jr., president/CEO, MECU; Brian Morris, chair, Baltimore City School Board; Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, president, Baltimore City Council; Darius Johnson, student/MECU teller; Joan Pratt, Baltimore city comptroller; Karen Ndour, principal, National Academy Foundation (NAF), Baltimore; Herman Williams Jr., chair, MECU board of directors; Andres Alonso, CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools; John Sarbanes, U.S. Rep. (D-3rd District); and Jeff Homes, co-chair, NAF board of directors. (Photo provided by Municipal Employees CU of Baltimore)
The MECU branch is the first of its kind in a Baltimore public school. Students can deposit and withdraw funds three weekday mornings from the MECU branch in the lobby of Digital Harbor High School, in which NAF-Baltimore is located. Students from NAF-Baltimore’s Academy of Finance, who will run the MECU branch, took the same two-week training course that all MECU tellers take. MECU Chairman of the Board Herman Williams Jr., and President/CEO Bert J. Hash Jr. were joined by Dr. Andres Alonso, CEO of the Baltimore City Public School System, U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-3rd District), NAF-Baltimore Principal Karen Ndour and more than 200 students, and civic and business leaders for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at NAF-Baltimore. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Alonso was the first person to open an account at the branch. He was followed by Baltimore City Comptroller, Joan Pratt, making a deposit into her existing MECU account. “We are excited to be opening MECU’s first student-run branch at the National Academy Foundation High School--Baltimore,” Hash said. “Students are so enthusiastic about this project and are committed to doing an excellent job, that I see a very strong future for the credit union movement with these young people among its leaders.” “This is an incredibly poignant opportunity for students to learn about the effective management of personal finances,” Ndour said. “NAF-Baltimore provides unique experiences to prepare students for the future; with the opening of the MECU branch, we will equip them with life skills that will be of great value long after graduation.” NAF-Baltimore prepares students for careers in hospitality and tourism, finance, and information technology through work-based learning experiences made possible by partnerships with industry leaders and local businesses like MECU. The school’s curriculum emphasizes both academic excellence and career training with traditional classroom instruction, internships and job shadowing. In 2008, the school achieved a 100% graduation rate and 100% of graduating seniors were accepted to at least one college or trade/technical school.

WOCCUs first Pacific Congress well-attended

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NADI, Fiji (10/13/08)--From developing credit union bylaws to conducting a successful credit union meeting, operational basics dominated the agenda for the inaugural Pacific Credit Union Technical Congress in Fiji, co-sponsored by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), the Fiji Savings and Credit Union League (FSCUL) and Credit Union Foundation Australia (CUFA). Nearly 200 participants from nine countries gathered for the week-long educational event that concluded Oct. 3. The purpose of the congress--the first comprehensive meeting of its kind for the Pacific region--was to bring together credit union
Mark Cifuentes, World Council of Credit Union’s senior vice president of technical services (center), gives a hands-on presentation at the Pacific Credit Union Technical Congress in Fiji. (Photo provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
movements, their leagues, federations and government regulators from developing and developed nations in the Pacific region to share information and learn from each other. Attendees included credit union volunteers and professionals from Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, the U.S. and Vanuatu. The high turnout made the Pacific Congress one of the most successful in WOCCU's series of regional educational sessions, according to Mark Cifuentes, WOCCU's senior vice president of technical services. Topics on the agenda, which also included defining board member authority and responsibility, financial management strategies and evaluating policies and procedures, filled a vital need for attendees, he added. “While exploring the unique challenges of the Pacific credit union movement, participants also benefited from a return to the basics of cooperative and financial principles,” Cifuentes said. “It was important to provide these emerging institutions with a solid foundation so that they can acquire the necessary skills to efficiently serve the needs of their members.” In addition to 156 people attending the congress, 36 attendees participated in the first year of WOCCU's Manager Certification Program, an intensive two-year course for credit union managers and aspiring managers. Certification program students study accounting basics, financial management and other topics specific to credit union operations. This year's participants are required to attend the second year of the program in order to complete certification requirements. Next year's certification program will be held in conjunction with the 2009 Pacific Credit Union Technical Congress. “Other participants of the congress would agree with me that the event was a great success,” said Tom Ha'aute, credit union services manager for Central Bank of Solomon Islands. “We've broken the ice and have passed a milestone for the whole movement.” Subsequent congresses and certification programs will be held in October in Banjul and Gambia, and in November in Bucharest, Romania. For more information use the link or contact Nicole Bice at nbice@woccu.org .

CUs Fewer borrowing to buy cars

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TACOMA, Wash. (10/10/08)--Fewer people are looking to borrow money to buy cars, two Tacoma, Wash.-based credit unions told The News Tribune recently. Although the $397-million asset Sound CU has plenty of capital to lend, borrowing has changed. Loan growth is “positive, but it is slower than it has been,” Carl Roer, Sound CU vice president of lending, told the newspaper. Members are being more careful because of higher gas prices and lower home values, he added. The $234 million asset Tapco CU has left its loan rates unchanged, but is not making as many exceptions to members because of the economy, Tom Shafar, Tapco loan manager, told The News Tribute. Consumers need to understand their credit and check availability. Dealerships have large inventories, so they can negotiate. But demand has lessened, Roer said. More than 80% of auto loan applications in the U.S. were approved last year. The number has dropped to 63%, according to research cited by the newspaper. For the full article, use the link.

SECU pledges 250000 to hospice facility

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RALEIGH, N.C. (10/10/08)--State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) members, through the SECU Foundation, have pledged $250,000 to assist in the construction of a freestanding inpatient hospice facility for Hospice of Wake County in North Carolina. The pledge is a matching gift to Hospice of Wake County’s “Building Partners in Caring” capital campaign. With plans to begin construction before the end of the year, the proposed facility consists of three buildings--a 19,000-square-foot hospice house, a 26,000-square-foot community/administrative building and a 1,000-square-foot spiritual sanctuary. “The pledge grant for Hospice of Wake County will give families even greater resources to deal with the medical and emotional aspects that come with the anticipated loss of a loved one,” said David King, chairman, SECU Foundation board of directors. “Many of our members have been touched by hospice care, so this is a very fitting project for the SECU Foundation. We are happy to assist with this effort.” The Hospice House will have 14 acute care beds, six residential beds and a space dedicated for families, including a kitchen, family room and playroom for children. The community center will feature a state-of-the-art bereavement center and will provide space for community education programs, for children to take part in play and art therapy sessions, and for adults to participate in counseling programs. “This generous pledge by SECU members will help make it possible to build a permanent home for Hospice of Wake County, and allow us to deliver tender medical care to patients in a facility that is specifically designed for end of life,” said Michael D. Blanchard, vice president of development for Hospice of Wake County. “Thanks to the SECU Foundation and SECU members for truly being our partner in caring.” “The SECU Foundation was founded on the basis of ‘people helping people’ and hospice epitomizes this philosophy, serving patients at the end of their life and their families,” King said.

Arizona league opposes payday loan reform act

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PHOENIX (10/10/08)--The Arizona Credit Union League (ACUL) has adopted a more public stance in opposing Proposition 200--the Payday Loan Reform Act, which is up for a vote Nov. 4. The ACUL maintains that the proposition, which was written by the payday lending industry, is not reform. Drafted and proposed by payday lenders, the proposition will allow payday lenders to conduct business without the legislature’s ability to review and amend, permanently, and with new exemptions. Payday lenders will charge high interest rates, will have new electronic access to borrowers’ checking accounts and will allow people to receive numerous payday loans at once, regardless of existing debt, the league said. If the proposition passes, “the most vulnerable people in our communities will become more susceptible to the three-digit interest rates and debt traps set by Arizona payday lenders,” the league added. The ACUL is reaching out to more than 1.6 million Arizona credit union members and urging them to vote against Proposition 200. It also is working in conjunction with the “No on 200” campaign. “We need to look out for the best interest of our members and all consumers to protect them from a deceitful and harmful proposition,” said Scott Earl, ACUL CEO. “Credit unions are not-for-profit institutions whose sole motivation is upholding what is in the best interests of its members, our community and local economy. We encourage everyone to come out in force on Nov. 4 and defeat Proposition 200.”

CU System Briefs (10/09/2008)

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SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. (10/10/08)--Numerica CU, Spokane Valley, Wash., exclusively sponsored Balloons over Valleyfest, a community event in Spokane Valley. Seven hot air balloons participated in the event and launched each morning from Friday through Sunday. Numerica banners were placed on each balloon basket. Credit union employees volunteered on the hot air balloon crews, assisted pilots with inflating the balloons, landing and packing up after each flight. Numerica also contributed in providing free kids’ activities, food and entertainment. Numerica CU has $750 million in assets. (Photo provided by Numerica CU) ... * MILWAUKEE (10/10/08)--Guardian CU, Milwaukee, plans to merge with Prime Financial CU, Cudahy, Wis., to form a credit union that will have about $491 million in assets (The Milwaukee Journal Oct. 8). The resulting credit union will be called Guardian CU and will have 82,000 members. It will be the 10th largest in the state. Guardian began as Harnischfeger Employees CU in 1934 and has branches in Milwaukee County, Racine County and Waukesha County. Prime Financial was founded in 1923 and formerly served city and county employees ... * SILVER SPRING, Md. (10/10/08)--The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) will launch Protect Your Identity Week Oct. 19-25. NFCC member agencies nationwide will conduct ID theft workshops, credit report reviews and shredding events. The agencies also will provide education. “We need to fight back [against identity theft], and the way to do that is to arm consumers with concrete steps they can implement into their daily lives,” said NFCC spokesman Gail Cunningham. The Credit Union National Association is an NFCC coalition member ...

White papers Marketing to baby boomers ex-bankers at CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (10/10/08)--How to market to baby boomers, and credit unions filling lending positions with ex-bankers are the subjects of two new white papers from the CUNA Councils. Addressing the financial services needs of the often-ignored baby boomers--the 76 million men and women who comprise 26% of the population--is the subject of the first white paper. “Marketing to Baby Boomers,” by the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council, details relevant products and services for this demographic and how to strategically market these offerings. The white paper includes research and case studies on boomer women, who are emerging as a market superpower predicted to control two-thirds of U.S. consumer wealth over the next decade. The paper outlines the numerous opportunities that the baby boomer market presents, along with some caveats in the competition for wallet share. “This age cohort is hungry for financial information from their trusted advisor,” the paper reads. “They will attend seminars, but want information without the sales hustle--they get too many offers for free dinners and credit cards. As the interviews with professionals indicate, if the information is too sales oriented, your members will be turned off immediately.” The second new white paper--“Ex-Bankers Working for Credit Unions: Challenges and Opportunities” by the CUNA Lending Council--offers tips and tools for hiring ex-bankers with the right mindset to thrive in the credit union environment and helping them to make the transition. Credit unions have been filling lending positions with ex-bankers for many years, but the trend has gained more attention recently due to credit unions’ growing need for commercial lending experience. “For ex-bankers, the key to success in the credit union movement seems to be understanding the credit union philosophy and reconciling it to their own approach to lending policies and procedures,” according to the paper. “When ex-bankers successfully take this step, they can make significant contributions to their credit union organizations and even the credit union movement.”

Conn. league adopts Texas league small CU support program

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MERIDEN, Conn. (10/10/08)--The Credit Union League of Connecticut’s “Small Credit Union Task Force” voted Wednesday to adopt the “Small Credit Union Support Program” model created by the Texas Credit Union League. The purpose of the program is to provide specific support in the areas of compliance, vendor management, advertising and marketing, asset liability management and budgeting, and networking opportunities for smaller asset size credit unions in Connecticut. “In an effort to provide more support to smaller credit unions, we researched several existing programs and found the Texas model to be a good fit for our credit unions in Connecticut,” said Anthony Emerson, Connecticut league president/CEO. “I really appreciate the cooperation shown to us by Dick Ensweiler and his staff at the Texas Credit Union League. It was nice not to have to recreate the wheel.” “Small credit unions everywhere are finding competing in this fast-paced and high-tech environment to be challenging,” Ensweiler said. “There are many opportunities for other credit unions and leagues to assist. We congratulate the Connecticut League for adopting the support program that has been developed and time-tested here.” The Credit Union League of Connecticut has already taken steps to fund the “Small Credit Union Support Program” by creating a dues-discount program, of which up to 5% of a credit union’s dues may go to the “Small Credit Union Support Fund.” Also, the league has offered several affordable and “scalable” compliance and information technology products and services to smaller credit unions in the state. “With a majority of credit unions in Connecticut having less than $20 million in assets, it is imperative that our league have plans and programs in place to support their needs and growth,” Emerson said.

Filene examines large CU success factors

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MADISON, Wis. (10/10/08)--Why do many large credit unions grow rapidly and thrive, while others produce much slower growth in assets, membership, and earnings? Filene Research Institute sought to answer that question by analyzing data from a five-year period, beginning January 2002. The result is a newly released Filene Research Institute report, “Thriving Large Credit Unions,” by Robert F. Hoel, Colorado State University Emeritus Professor of Business and a Filene Research Fellow. Using a methodology developed for the institute’s examination of small and midsize credit unions (1999 and 2007), Hoel isolates “star” and “laggard” credit unions in larger asset sizes, and reports their characteristics across a variety of measurements and indicators. The study concludes that star credit unions conduct a number of business practices and traits that distinguish them as exceptional performers:
* They are highly effective lenders; * Their members use the credit union extensively; * They excel in high-payoff product and service offerings; * Their members receive more total interest income on their savings; * They operate more branches and are more likely to engage in indirect lending; * They generate more fee income than their peers; and * They invest their capital in growth.
Hoel also reports on the qualities of low-performing credit unions, almost always in sharp contrast to star traits. For example, whereas stars are highly effective lenders, laggards tend to have low loan-share ratios; and while stars invest their capital in growth initiatives, laggards are more conservative with their capital. One of the findings of the research is the consistency of the key success factors for star credit unions across asset size categories and time frames. “Despite the uniformity of these success factors, it would be folly for credit unions to conclude that all seven effective practices are necessary to become a star,” said George Hofheimer, Filene chief research officer. “A given credit union may have a different definition of what constitutes high performance by putting less emphasis on assets, earnings, and/or membership growth, for example.” There is no silver bullet or magic elixir that guarantees business performance, Hofheimer said. Credit union failure or success is dependent on a complex interaction of external and internal factors. The Hoel report does, however, outline factors that lead to credit union success. Hofheimer recommends using the report as a building block and analysis for credit unions to consider in assessing future strategies and tactics. Copies of “Thriving Large Credit Unions” are available free to Filene members; $125 to non-members. For more information, use the link.

IAssociated PressI iWash. Posti note CU share insurance

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NEW YORK (10/10/08)--Associated Press and Washington Post writers in stories this week noted credit unions' competitive rates on savings accounts, was well as federal and private share insurance. Most shares at credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), noted the Associated Press, which pointed out credit unions also offer more competitive rates on savings accounts. Members also can access branches through shared networking. “The bigger the credit union, the more likely it is to offer services such as credit cards, mortgages, ATMs or online banking,” the article said. Most consumers are eligible to join a credit union through their geographic area, profession, university or church. And credit unions may have “a greater degree of individual attention” that consumers may be seeking during the current financial crisis, the article noted. Meanwhile, Washington Post consumer finance columnist Michelle Singletary reminds readers the new Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008--in addition to banks--also temporarily increases the insurance limit to $250,000 on accounts in federal credit unions and the majority of state-chartered credit unions. "In nine states, 163 state-chartered credit unions offer coverage from American Share Insurance, a private insurance company. It insures up to $250,000 per account," write Singletary. To read the full articles, use the link.

Indiana league elects table officers honors U.S. Rep

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INDIANAPOLIS (10/10/08)--The Indiana Credit Union League elected new table officers and directors to its board Sept. 27. The league also honored U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-8th District) as Outstanding Hoosier Legislator for 2008. Table officers are:
* Chairman: George McNichols, Hoosier Hills CU, Bedford; * Vice Chairman: Lamoura Munse, Indiana Members CU, Indianapolis; * Board Secretary: Ron Mazur, Chiphone FCU, Elkhart; and * Treasurer: Lori Dauksas, Members Choice FCU, Bloomington.
Table officers were elected at the League’s reorganization meeting, which was held during the League’s annual meeting and convention. Affiliates also elected Dave Fleming, CEO of Partners 1st FCU in Fort Wayne, and Doug True, senior vice president of Technovation at FORUM CU in Fishers to three-year terms on the board of directors. Fleming and True attended their first board meeting Sept. 27. Leaving the board at the conclusion of the league annual meeting was Jenny Budreau of FORUM CU in Fishers. She was recognized during the meeting with a special resolution. Ellsworth was presented his award at the league’s annual convention. Ellworth, who is serving his first term in Congress, has developed a strong relationship with credit unions in Southwestern Indiana, the league said. He is a co-sponsor of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act and has also met with Indiana credit union leaders in Washington, D.C., and at his home. “His accessibility as well as his receptiveness to our message about how consumers and small business owners benefit from credit unions has been tremendous,” said Indiana league President John McKenzie.

Conversion merger one-sided deal says CEO

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AUGUSTA, Maine (10/9/08)--Paul Guerrette, vice president of Alliance of Maine FCU and former member of Kennebec Valley FCU (KV FCU), says he is “both personally and philosophically opposed” to the merger of KV FCU with another local bank. Guerrette wrote a column Wednesday in the Kennebec Journal about KV FCU’s proposed merger in response to another column written by Kennebec Savings Bank President Mark Johnston. Guerrette acknowledged that he should support the proposed merger because it would take a competitor out of his market, but argued against it. KV FCU's board is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a proposal to convert to a federal mutual savings bank. Immediately following the conversion, the credit union would merge into the bank (News Now Sept. 10). KV FCU members may submit comments to the credit union about the merger until 5:30 p.m. today. If the board approves the proposal for the conversion and merger, the proposal will be submitted to the credit union’s membership for a vote following a notice period that is no longer than 90 days, the credit union said on its website. If KV FCU merges with Kennebec Valley Savings Bank, only the bank "will survive and become more competitive by increasing its assets, expanding its reach and eliminating a competitor. The credit union will cease to exist," Guerrette said. KV FCU said the conversion and merger would expand its ability to meet the current and future needs of members. “It makes sense to consider combining our efforts with a local institution that has similar values,” said Beverly Beaucage, president/CEO of KV FCU (News Now Sept. 10). According to Guerrette: “If mutual savings banks were ‘just like credit unions’ the Federal Credit Union Act of 1934, which paved the way for the establishment of credit unions across the country, wouldn’t have been necessary.” KV FCU, Augusta, Maine, has $51 million in assets.

CUs on the Tube Bethpage FCU

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NEW YORK (10/9/08)--Bethpage (N.Y.) FCU was featured in a recent televised news story by NBC 4 in New York. Credit unions are thriving, according to the NBC 4 story. Deposits at credit unions are up $43 billion this year--6.8%, the news outlet said. NBC 4 also interviewed Kirk Kordeleski, Bethpage FCU CEO. He told the news outlet that the credit union has experienced growth of 11%. “With a cooperative there’s just a different relationship with the owners--who are the members. Better rates, better value,” he told the news station. NBC 4 also noted that credit union accounts are insured, and that they generally offer lower rates and fees than larger financial institutions. To see the video, use the link.

ICU Day webcast to celebrate global CU growth

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SAN DIMAS, Calif. (10/9/08)--The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and WesCorp of San Dimas, Calif., will sponsor a first-ever International Credit Union Day (ICU Day) webcast on ICU Day Oct. 16. This year's ICU Day theme, “It Belongs to Me” recognizes credit unions' identity as member-owned financial cooperatives and celebrates the concept of member ownership. Pete Crear, WOCCU president and CEO, will be the guest in an hour-long Oct. 16 discussion with moderator Paul Berry, a former Washington, D.C., television news anchor who hosts Home & Family Finance, a weekly radio program sponsored by the Credit Union National Association. The program will be recorded and available for viewing on both WesCorp's and WOCCU's websites. It is the first such broadcast to take place on ICU Day. Participants hope it will help spread the good news about the global credit union movement, Crear said. “As a lifelong member of the credit union movement, I know we've always had a good story to tell,” he added. The webcast's goal is to make the ICU Day discussion as global as the movement that the annual holiday represents, said Bob Siravo, WesCorp president/CEO. The 60-minute webcast, produced with Overland Studios, will allow time at the end of Crear's interview for questions from a studio audience. International webcast listeners can e-mail questions that will be answered on the air. “Overland Studios' technology will enable us to invite credit unions throughout the world to unite and celebrate the valuable contributions all of them are making to their members and the communities in which they live,” Siravo said. The webcast begins at 12 p.m. PT Oct. 16. It is open to the public and may be accessed by registering at www.wescorp.org or www.woccu.org. ICU Day has been celebrated annually on the third Thursday of October since 1948. The event provides a time and opportunity to honor those who have made contributions to the global financial cooperative movement, to recognize the hard work of staff and volunteer board members working on behalf of credit unions and cooperatives today, and to express appreciation to members of credit unions and cooperatives living at home and abroad.

Sustainability highlighted at Oregon association annual meeting

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (10/9/08)--Hundreds of Oregon credit union professionals gathered this week in Portland, Ore., for the 72nd annual meeting and convention of the Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO). The theme, “Knowledge is Evergreen,” acknowledges that building sustainability pertains to the credit union movement just as much as it does the environment. The event featured 12 educational sessions ranging from “Going Green at Your Credit Union” to “The ‘Why’ Behind Generation Y's Financial Decisions.” U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) spoke at the business meeting. During these turbulent times for the financial sector, Sen. Wyden addressed the latest activity on Capitol Hill. The general sessions Wednesday featured Ron Galloway, author and filmmaker of “Boxed In: Competitive Threats from Banks, Brokerages, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart,” and Frank Diekmann, publisher, The Credit Union Journal, who analyzed today’s news and explained why he believes credit unions are more relevant than ever. Thursday will spotlight John Mitchell, Ph.D. and economist, M&H Consultants, who will provide an economic outlook for 2009. Andrea Harris, director, Community Leadership, Vancity CU, will discuss corporate social responsibility and how it is both a duty and a privilege. On Friday, Josh Sundquist will share his stories about losing a leg to cancer, ski racing in the Paralympics, and playing practical jokes with the artificial leg to give motivation for overcoming adversity and appreciating the gift of being alive. CUAO worked with its hotel to minimize the environmental impact of the meeting by decreasing the amount of solid waste produced by the event, reducing energy and water consumption at the event, off-setting harmful emissions resulting from vehicular transportation and energy, disposing of solid and liquid waste in an environmentally responsible manner and eliminating the use of harmful chemicals at or for the event.

Irish CU leader blames countrys bank chiefs in crisis

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DUBLIN, Ireland (10/9/08)--Samuel Adair, president, Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU), said it would be an embarrassment if the credit union movement ever was in the financial crisis that Irish banks now find themselves. ILCU would not seek a similar guarantee to the government’s $545 billion of Irish banks because credit unions did not want to be linked or associated with bankers, Adair said (Sunday Tribune Oct. 5). The current financial crisis besetting banks was evidence that credit unions have a better record of acting on behalf of saver’s interests than banks do, Adair told the paper. Although Irish credit unions are not underwritten by the government, savers should have confidence in them because credit unions do not give out mortgages and risk exposure there, or receive funding from international money markets, he added. Deposits in Irish credit unions are guaranteed up to about $136,000, and credit unions have to hold reserves of 10%. Also, the ILCU stabilization fund all help credit unions if they experience trouble, Adair said. Despite the fact that credit unions in the country of Northern Ireland do not have the $136,000 deposit guarantee, there has been no evidence of funds moving across the border as a consequence, he added.

CUNA offers consumer lending basics eSchool

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MADISON, Wis. (10/9/08)--Credit union professionals can learn the basic concepts of the consumer lending process through a Credit Union National Association (CUNA) eSchool beginning in November. The seven-session Consumer Lending eSchool: Foundations meets Nov. 5-Dec. 3. The eSchool begins by exploring the lending process basics, including member inquiries, credit investigations and decisions, and proper documentation. It then covers regulations affecting consumer loans and addresses the latest compliance issues impacting credit union lending. Next, participants will learn about the collections process and how to identify bankruptcy warning signs. Finally, it addresses sales and service as well as improving negotiation skills. For those who need a review of new and updated compliance issues, CUNA offers Regulatory Compliance eSchool: Update. The six-session eSchool runs from Nov. 6-Dec. 18 and provides an in-depth understanding of regulations and compliance issues surrounding vendor due diligence, consumer and mortgage lending, eBanking, and disaster planning. Also, participants will learn the National Credit Union Administration’s hot topics and red flag-issues for the year to prepare for their credit union’s upcoming examinations, along with pending and possible future compliance issues. An eSchool is a series of interactive classroom sessions that features live, real time instruction from industry experts via the Internet and a telephone conference call. Students have an opportunity to interact with the instructor and other participants via online chats and live discussions. Participants may register for specific webinars or the entire series of sessions as an eSchool. For more information, use the link.

N.Y. CUs unscathed by economic crisis

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NEW YORK (10/8/08)--New York credit unions have remained unharmed in the economic crisis, according to The Journal News. William J. Mellin, Credit Union Association of New York president/CEO, told the White Plains, N.Y.-based newspaper that he didn’t know of any credit union in the state with soundness problems (Oct. 4). Credit unions in New York have expanded--the number of branches grew by one-third to 21,122, the newspaper added. Quorum FCU, Purchase, N.Y. avoided the economic crisis because it did not participate in subprime lending, President/CEO Bruno Sementilli told the newspaper. Though it makes no subprime loans, the credit union does help members who have struggled with credit, he added. Because credit unions don’t have shareholders, they can take a “long view” in managing business and deliver service to members long-term, Sementilli said. Quorum has expanded its membership by attracting employees of other businesses, including Kraft Foods, Tarrytown; Good Samaritan Hospital, Suffern; Pernod Ricard USA, Purchase; and Prestige Brands, Irvington, the newspaper said. Palisades FCU, Pearl River, also remained unharmed by the economic crisis. The credit union recently put a note on its website to assure members that their deposits are safe. Connie Craven, Palisades FCU spokesman, told the newspaper the credit union’s call center received an increase in calls during the past week because of the crisis.

CU System briefs (10/07/2008)

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* SANTA ANA, Calif. (10/8/08)--SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana, Calif., donated 1,048 shirts to poor villages in Kenya and South Africa. The credit union is trying to get other credit unions worldwide to collaborate on the donation project. “We have an opportunity to help many people who are living on less than $1 per day,” said Shelly Berryman, SchoolsFirst director of member advocacy. With the World Council of Credit Unions’ help, SchoolsFirst donated the shirts to the African Congress, who will disperse them to African credit union representatives in November. The representatives will hand the shirts out to needy members. “I wanted to find a way to put our old shirts with our old name to good use, and I thought there were a lot of people in Africa who could use them,” said Jenna Elliott, SchoolsFirst division assistant for technology operations. SchoolsFirst, formerly Orange County Teachers FCU, has $8 billion in assets ... * HOUSTON (10/8/08)--Carolyn Taylor, partner at Hughes Watters Askanase, will give the opening speech at the Missouri Credit Union Association Lending Summit Oct. 22 in St. Louis. She will address loss mitigation options and pitfalls for credit unions and other mortgage lenders caught in the credit crunch. “With the industry in a state of turmoil, we hope to shift the focus of servicers, the judiciary, consumer advocates and governmental and regulatory authorities toward frank dialogue and the development of systemic and uniform approaches and solutions for these issues,” Taylor said. The lending summit is a two-day course designed for credit union presidents and CEOs, loan managers, credit committee members and other staff ... * PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (10/8/08)--Northeast CU, Portsmouth, N.H., introduced Energy Smart loans, a low fixed-rate loan product to help people afford energy-efficient home improvement products and services. “We believe in the importance of helping people obtain the energy-saving products and services they need, in order to minimize utility costs during these very challenging times of increased fuel and energy prices,” said Peter Kavalauskas, president/CEO, Northeast CU. Northeast has more than $550 million in assets ... * MANITOWOC, Wis. (10/8/08)--Thaddeus “Ted” Sekora, 87, died Sunday in Manitowoc, Wis. He served on the City Employees CU board of directors for 30 years (Herald Times Reporter Oct. 6). City Employees CU is now RiverWood-Maritime CU in Two Rivers, Wis. Riverwood has $28 million in assets ...

Grant to help fund Jumpstart Coalition

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MADISON, Wis. (10/8/08)--The Charles Schwab Foundation has announced a $150,000 grant to disseminate hard copies of the national personal finance curriculum standards, which were developed with input from the credit union movement. The award goes to the Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, and will cover the cost to print and distribute 100,000 copies of the 2007 revision of the “National Standards in K-12 Personal Finance Education.” Philip Heckman, the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) director of youth and young adult program, chaired the Jumpstart task force that produced the 2007 standards from an earlier edition. Several credit union, league, and CUNA staff reviewed drafts of the revision and provided comments for improving it. The print copies will be sent to chief state school superintendents, state department of education curriculum directors, state legislative committees dealing with education, state boards of education, and the leadership of various educational associations. “This generous grant will raise awareness of the national standards and help curriculum developers and school officials determine how to cover this subject,” Heckman said. “The national document has already influenced standards in several states, and will help ensure that personal finance courses are comprehensive and relevant to K-12 students throughout the country.” Among the practical uses for the national personal finance standards and expectations are to:
* Suggest a range of content that students should know and be able to act on; * Provide guidelines for evaluating published educational materials; * Help to shape lesson plans, unit and course outlines, learning activities, textbooks, and other instructional materials, and * Increase awareness of the need for personal finance in the nation's schools.
“The fact that credit union organizations were asked to participate in the 2007 standards revision is a measure of how highly regarded the movement is as a model for personal finance education,” Heckman added.

Mississippi licenses PCUA iBelong campaign

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (10/8/08)--The Mississippi Credit Union Association (MSCUA) has signed a licensing agreement to air the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association’s (PCUA) iBelong campaign in Mississippi. Recognizing the lack of credit union awareness by Mississippians, MSCUA sought to conduct a statewide advertising campaign. The cooperative awareness campaign concept was introduced at MSCUA’s Annual Convention and a Cooperative Awareness Campaign Committee was formed to lead development efforts. After reviewing several other state campaigns and deliberating a request-for-proposal process, the committee determined licensing PCUA’s iBelong campaign would save time, energy, and dollars to most effectively meet Mississippi’s goal of increased awareness. “The consistent iBelong campaign messages of ‘credit unions are for everyone,’ ‘better rates and fees,’ and ‘credit unions care’ will increase awareness of credit unions and the credit union difference in Mississippi,” said Charles Elliott, MSCUA president/CEO. “We feel this is an initiative our credit unions can get excited about and support.” “We are extremely pleased that the Mississippi Credit Union Association has selected the iBelong campaign,” said Jim McCormack, PCUA President/CEO. “A great deal of research went into developing the iBelong campaign by our steering committee and outside experts. Its message is timeless and engaging, regardless of locale.” The iBelong campaign launched on TV and radio stations throughout Pennsylvania in July 2006 and was licensed by the Illinois Credit Union League in 2008. Consumers seeking to join a credit union are invited to visit the iBelong.org website for online search locators. The website contains the commercials and credit union facts are also featured. The MSCUA board of directors approved an association contribution of $100,000 to help license and launch the campaign. Credit unions will be asked to contribute $1 per member in Mississippi for additional funding. One-hundred percent of credit union contributions will be utilized for advertising placement. At this level, the committee will be able to fund a television and radio campaign that will span most of 2009. “With 100% participation from our membership, we can begin to change the way Mississippi consumers think about credit unions and assist them in finding one to belong,” Elliott said. As an incentive, contributing credit unions will have access to supplemental marketing materials that compliment the commercials, allowing credit unions to “piggy back” on the campaign’s momentum. Participants will also have a listing in the iBelong website’s credit union search locator tools. Under the licensing agreement, MSCUA will use the existing iBelong website as one of the drivers and primary measurement tools for the campaign.

MarketWatch Why CUs make sense

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NEW YORK (10/8/08)--Credit unions are on “high ground” in the economic hurricane, according to MarketWatch writer Jennifer Openshaw. “[With credit unions] you can sleep at night, often with better rates and a better experience to boot,” she wrote (MarketWatch Oct. 6). Credit unions’ not-for-profit status, self-funding, deposit insurance and better rates are just some of the reasons to join a credit union, according to Openshaw. She also cited some Credit Union National Association statistics: 70% of loans are funded through a credit union’s own deposits, and 0.7% of credit unions’ mortgage loans were delinquent in July compared with 9% of mortgages in the industry overall. “[Credit unions] don't buy loans from other institutions either--that’s another ‘sleep well at night’ factor,” she said. To read the full article, use the link.

NCUF accredited by Better Business Bureau in IUSA Todayi

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McLEAN, Va. (10/8/08)—The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) appeared in a full-page ad sponsored by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in USA Today (Oct. 7). NCUF’s full name appeared under the banner headline, “Start With Trust.” The ad encouraged charitable donors to “Look for the Better Business Bureau Charity Seal and give with confidence. It’s your assurance that a charity meets 20 rigorous BBB Wise Giving Alliance standards.” The ad was placed by BBB in USA Today’s “Special Report” section, “Sharing in the USA.” “This ad with a seal of approval from the Better Business Bureau sends a strong message to Community Investment Fund (CIF) investors, Corporate Supporters, and all donors that the National Credit Union Foundation is a charity they can trust,” said NCUF Executive Director Steve Delfin. “We proudly use the BBB Accredited Charity seal as a symbol of our commitment to strong accountability, ethical practices, and sound stewardship of our donors’ funds.” Before national charities can use the BBB Accredited Charity seal, they must pass an independent evaluation under the Wise Giving Alliance’s Standards of Charity Accountability. The evaluation involves scrutiny of a charity’s governance, effectiveness, finances, solicitations, and informational materials. “The standards go well beyond what government regulators require,” Delfin said. NCUF exceeds the Wise Giving Alliance Standards on several fronts. For instance, the standards require that charities spend at least 65% of contributions on programs and grants. In its most recent fiscal year, NCUF spent 87% of contributions on programs and grants. The Wise Giving Alliance produces reports on more than 1,000 national charities. NCUF is one of only 64% qualified to display the BBB Accredited Charity seal.

Syracuse CU receives grant to fight foreclosures

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (10/8/08)--Syracuse Cooperative FCU and Home HeadQuarters were selected as grant recipients under statewide efforts to fight foreclosure, New York Gov. David A. Paterson announced last week. The two Syracuse-based organizations, which operate independent foreclosure prevention programs, will use the funding to collaboratively expand their foreclosure counseling and advocacy services in the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County. The grant to the $14-million-asset Syracuse Cooperative FCU, in partnership with HomeHead Quarters, Inc., was one of nine grants awarded by the New York State Banking Department to central and upstate New York agencies. The two partners, which were the only Onondaga County agencies to receive an award from the banking department, will use the $100,000 grant to launch an outreach campaign, deliver counseling, provide affordable refinancing options, and help borrowers obtain work-outs with their lenders. Services will be provided in English and Spanish. Syracuse Cooperative FCU is a nonprofit, community development credit union that has been fostering local economic revitalization and financial empowerment since 1982. “The irresponsible practices of many lenders have led to tough times for hard-working homeowners in our region,” said Ron Ehrenreich, Syracuse Cooperative treasurer/CEO. “As a lender that puts people over profit, we are grateful for this opportunity to help resolve the crisis in cooperation with Gov. Patterson, the banking department, and our allies at Home HeadQuarters.” “This grant brings two organizations together that are both dedicated and experienced in dealing with foreclosure,” said Kerry Quaglia, Home HeadQuarters executive director. “We hope this can act as a foreclosure model, a foreclosure triage system, that all of Central New York can utilize in the near future.” Home HeadQuarters, a local, independent not-for-profit, is a chartered member of NeighborWorks America and the largest housing and community development organization in Central and Upstate New York. Both Syracuse Cooperative FCU and Home HeadQuarters are Housing and Urban Development-approved housing counseling organizations that provide education and individual counseling to first-time homebuyers, low-income families, and homeowners struggling to avoid foreclosure. Syracuse Cooperative FCU also has received $202,825 in three homeownership grants from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF):
* A $75,000 NCUF grant through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services enables the credit union to open Individual Development Accounts for low-income tax filers who commit to saving for a down payment; * A $49,824 NCUF grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development enables the credit union to provide homeownership counseling to aspiring first-time homebuyers; * And a $25,000 NCUF Innovation Grant through the Community Investment Fund (CIF) helps the credit union increase access to innovative mortgage products and financing opportunities for low-wealth families.

Two more nominations received for CUNA board

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (10/8/08)--Two more nominations have been received and verified for Credit Union National Association (CUNA) board positions. Mike Mercer, president/CEO, Georgia Credit Union League, Duluth, Ga., has submitted his nomination for the District 3, Class D board of directors position. Bohdan Watral, president/CEO, Selfreliance Ukrainian American FCU, Chicago, has submitted his nomination for the District 4, Class B position. The deadline for nominations for eight positions on CUNA's board is Oct. 17. Already nominated are:
* Ron Collier, CEO of Indiana Members CU, Indianapolis, District 2, Class C; * Sandy Lingerfelt, Clinchfield FCU, Erwin, Tenn., for District 3, Class A; * Brett Thompson, Wisconsin Credit Union League, Pewaukee, Wis., for District 4, Class D; and * Winona Nava, Guadalupe CU, Santa Fe, N.M., for District 5, Class A.
The eight directors elected will take office Feb. 27, 2009, for three-year terms to expire at the adjournment of the 2012 CUNA Annual General Meeting. Positions up for election are:
* District 1, Class B; * District 2, Class C; * District 3, Class A; * District 3, Class D; * District 4, Class B; * District 4, Class D; * District 5, Class A; and * District 6, Class C.
Nominators must submit the appropriate forms and obtain consent of the candidate. Voting will begin Oct. 22 and will close on Dec. 19. For more information, use the resource links.

Texas league honors award winners

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DALLAS (10/8/08)--The Texas Credit Union League honored three individuals for their commitment and service to credit unions. The individuals are: Sherry Roman, CEO, T & P FCU, Big Spring, Texas; Michael Brown, president/CEO, JSC FCU, Houston; and Joyce Gibson, board director, City CU, Dallas.
Roman was named the 2008 Small Credit Union Achiever of the Year. As CEO, Roman fills many roles, including those of a loan officer, teller, accountant, collector and marketer. She also is active in the Big Spring Chapter of Credit Union and chairs the Small Credit Union Committee. Roman is a 1987 graduate of Southwest CUNA Management School (SCMS) and attended SCMS graduate school last year. Brown was named 2008 Professional of the Year. Hewas instrumental in establishing several programs at the credit union, including:
* Star Team Club, a program for members under 12; * CU Succeed, for teens ages 13-17; * Scholars, a program for young adults ages 16 and older; and * Horizon Club, for members ages 55 and older.
Gibson was named the 2008 Volunteer of the Year. She has held several positions on the City CU board, including chair, vice chair, secretary and treasurer. She also chairs the credit union’s political action committee.

Michigan league granted 43828 for foreclosure video

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PLYMOUTH, Mich. (10/7/08)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) awarded an innovation grant of $43,828 to the Michigan Credit Union League for a video on foreclosure prevention that will be distributed though credit unions and online. It will inform homeowners about money management and financial resources. The video will be the centerpiece of a Web page for troubled homeowners that will include information on mortgage relief programs such as those offered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. The league also will distribute the video through a partnership with the Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Association of United Ways. “The video will help credit unions to be even more a part of the solution to the foreclosure crisis,” said CU Village President and Chief Operating Officer Todd Mason. “By combining the educational power of a video and the resources available on the website, we are able to provide a tool to help people avoid the trap of foreclosure. The credit union network and our partners in this project will make sure that the video is seen by those who need it.” The NCUF supports projects by credit unions and state leagues that make a difference in local communities. Its Community Investment Fund has given out more than $500,000 this year.

Leagues full-court press on safety continues

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MADISON, Wis. (10/7/08)--Several state credit union leagues are continuing the movement’s push to let consumers know about the safety and soundness of credit unions amid the financial turmoil afflicting the U.S. Here are the steps some leagues that have taken to assure members:
* The Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association Community Outreach Committee is sponsoring a fall ad campaign focused on safety and soundness of credit unions in Maryland and Washington D.C. Thirty-second ads and traffic sponsorships will be broadcast on top-rated radio stations in the Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; and Western Maryland media markets (Focus Newsletter Oct. 6); * The Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) is deploying a new radio campaign to inform consumers that credit unions are safe, sound and trusted. MCUL hosted two meetings last month with credit unions in the state to discuss a supplemental radio advertising campaign to begin this month. Forty of Michigan’s 50 largest credit unions listened on Sept. 30 to MCUL’s idea of covering the state with radio commercials touting the trustworthiness of credit unions. Later that day, 132 credit unions were presented the idea on a conference call. Both groups responded positively to the idea of the campaign, MCUL said (Michigan Monitor Oct. 6); * A safety and soundness toolkit developed by TCUD is available on the Texas Credit Union League website (LoneStar Leaguer Oct. 6); * The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) has worked with public relations firm Fleishman Hillard to distribute news releases to media outlets statewide about the good shape of credit unions. MCUA staff also have conducted interviews with local media about credit unions’ financial situation. Missouri credit unions grew $555 million in deposits last year--the highest level since 2004; credit unions loan-to- share (savings) ratio is 79%; and credit unions have $1.5 billion available to loan to members, MCUA said (The Missouri Difference Oct. 3) … * The Delaware Credit Union league will highlight the issue of credit union safety and soundness, and the difference between credit unions and banks in this year’s Credit Union Week supplement in The News Journal on Oct. 14 (Together Sept. 30); and * The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association’s Michael Wishnow, vice president of marketing and communications, told a local newspaper that if a credit union issues a mortgage, it’s usually at a fixed rate. The credit union likely will hold the mortgage for its duration, rather than selling it to another bank or mortgage broker in the secondary market. Because credit unions keep the mortgages, they have to be more fiscally conservative, Wishnow told the paper (Bucks County Courier Times Oct. 6) …

Latest successes of CUs in the media

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MADISON, Wis. (10/7/08)--Credit unions continue to spread the message of their safety and soundness through various media outlets. Some examples:
* Department of Labor FCU, Merrifield, Va., was featured in a newscast Oct. 2 on NBC4 in Washington, D.C. The news program spotlighted a Department of Labor FCU member who found the credit union’s payday lending alternative, Stretch Pay, as a way to get out of high-priced payday loans. Joan Moran, Department of Labor FCU CEO, said the credit union uses the Stretch Pay program to serve its members, and not to make a profit (Focus Newsletter Oct. 6). * Family First CU, Orem, Utah, announced that it has faced a minimal impact from the turmoil on Wall Street. “Family First has not been out there buying mortgage-backed securities as investments or making subprime mortgage loans, but following conservative, sound lending practices,” said Todd Hatfield, Family First assistant vice president of mortgage development in a press release. “It has pretty much has been business as usual for us, as we are welcoming first-time buyers and have been able to get them into a conventional loan with as low as 5% down.” * Nine credit unions in the Schuykill Valley Chapter in Pennsylvania sponsored an ad in the Reading Eagle Oct. 4 with the headline, “It’s Great to Belong to a Credit Union.” The ad notes that credit unions are safe, sound and federally insured (Life is a Highway Oct. 6). * Pennsylvania State Employees CU President/CEO Greg Smith appeared on a segment of Smart Talk on WITF-TV Friday. The topic was, “The Financial Crisis--What it Means to Pennsylvanians.” * Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, plugged credit unions in an online story. “In general, my recommendation is to bank at a credit union, not at a bank,” he said (Life is a Highway Oct. 6). * Eight credit unions in the Altoona Chapter of Credit Unions produced an ad campaign, “Safe. Sound” with newspaper ads, statement stuffers, lobby posters and other ad pieces. The newspaper ads ran on Saturday and will run again on International Credit Union Day (Life is a Highway Oct. 3). * SPE FCU, State College, Pa., ran a color ad in the Center Daily Times Saturday and Sunday, which focused on the safety of credit unions. * Tobyhanna Army Depot FCU, Scranton, Pa., placed a message on its website promoting credit unions. WNEP Channel 16 also filmed a consumer segment at the credit union Sept. 26 (Life is a Highway Oct. 3). * Heritage Family FCU President/CEO Ron Hance and Opportunities Mortgage Specialist Erica Glidden spoke with Vermont Public Radio on the $700 billion bailout bill. They also talked about how the financial crisis affected the Rutland, Vt.,-based credit union, according to the Association of Vermont Credit Unions. The credit union is continuing to sell mortgages, Hance said. But mortgages are becoming more difficult to maintain, Glidden added (Newsline Express Oct. 3). * Credit unions were noted in the Macon Telegraph Friday in a question-and-answer article. The newspaper stated that credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund and no money in the fund has ever been lost (Oct. 3). * MaPS CU, Salem, Ore. opened 34% more new checking accounts this month compared with September 2007 because of the economic crisis. Oregon State University (OSU) FCU, Corvallis, Ore., also saw an increase in the number of accounts. OSU FCU opened a new branch in West Salem recently (Statesman Journal Oct. 2).
In the Media CUs: Safe and Sound statement stuffer http://buy.cuna.org/detail.php?sku=22959 Your Insured Funds booklet http://buy.cuna.org/detail.php?sku=13103

13 employees of MCT CU relying on kindness for shelter

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PORT NECHES, Texas (10/7/08)--MCT CU in Port Neches, which made it through Hurricane Ike relatively unscathed last month, is offering assistance to employees of its Lumberton branch who were not as lucky. The Lumberton branch’s roof was ripped off. Heavy rain submerged the building and caused extensive damage, forcing employees to work out of a temporary mobile unit. Also, 13 of the branch’s 95 employees were displaced from their homes, said the Texas Credit Union League (LoneStar Leaguer Oct. 6). “The hurricane has passed, and many of us have resumed life as normal; however, we need to remember that many families in Southeast Texas have lost everything and their lives will never be the same,” Jill Forse, MCT vice president of human resources, told the Texas league. “Thirteen of our employees are relying on the kindness of friends and family for shelter. Yet, despite their own personal hardships, they show up to work every day with a smile on their faces and a sincere desire to serve our members,” Forse said. “To me, that demonstrates true perseverance.” MCT is doing all it can to assist employees, including allowing them time off to deal with insurance contractors, insurance adjustors and the like, she said. The credit union also has begun a collection drive to help the 13 most-affected employees replace lost items. All have received emergency grants from the Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF). Credit union employees statewide who experienced personal losses due to Hurricane Ike are continuing to submit grant applications for aid to TCUF. As of Friday, TCUF had distributed 749 grants, totaling $360,690, the foundation said.

Schwarzenegger vetoes data breach bill--again

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (10/7/08)--California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation last week--for the second time in the past year--that would have required retailers and other businesses in the state to implement measures to protect credit and debit card data. Assembly Bill 1656--the Consumer Data Protection Act--also would have required retailers to disclose more details about data breaches to consumers impacted by them. The California State Senate and Assembly passed AB 1656 by a substantial margin last month (Computerworld Oct. 6). “The veto of the bill is obviously disappointing to the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues,” Melissa Ameluxen, legislative and regulatory lobbyist for the leagues, told News Now. “We’re not going to stop fighting for this measure until we are confident that California retailers are ensuring that Californians’ personal financial data is safe and secure every time they use a debit or credit card.” The issue has been a popular one. Therefore, some legislator is “very likely” to take up the issue again next year, Amulexen said. The California league had pledged to renew its efforts to pass a data protection bill in the wake of Schwarzenegger's [first] veto in October 2007 of a league-backed bill to protect consumers from the effects of data breaches (News Now Oct. 16, 2007) Last year, Schwarzenegger vetoed AB 779, authored by Assemblyman Dave Jones (D-9), after intense opposition from retailers and bankers. This year’s bill would have required retailers to adopt security standards based on industry best practices when storing consumers' credit and debit card information, and give consumers better information about when and where their personal financial information is stolen during a data breach. In 2006, the nation's largest data breach of data from TJX Cos. resulted in the theft of 46.5 million consumers' credit or debit card information (News Now Sept. 4). While credit unions and other financial institutions worked to replace the breached cards, they were not able to inform consumers where the breach occurred.

WOCCU adopts international principles

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MADISON, Wis. (10/7/08)--The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) is piloting the International Credit Union Consumer Protection Principles with select credit unions. WOCCU also will participate with other leading microfinance agencies to assure equitable lending and savings practices gain global acceptance. The principles, approved in July by the WOCCU General Assembly in Hong Kong, is the latest in a series of international credit union guidelines issued by the organization. The nine principles are designed to supplement rather than supplant local regulatory requirements and prudential standards, offering “best practice“ models for serving credit union members, according to Dave Grace, WOCCU's vice president of association services. “Credit unions around the world exist to serve their members, but not all members are served equally,” Grace said. “Credit union members worldwide have the right to expect fair and ethical treatment delivered with a high degree of honesty and integrity. WOCCU's principles outline standards for ethical member service applicable to all credit unions wherever they are located.” The nine principles were developed over two years through a participatory process with WOCCU's members and global experts on consumer protection. The principles form the cornerstone of WOCCU's efforts in Kenya, Mexico and the Philippines, where credit unions are piloting a program that assesses credit union performance against the principles and implements changes where gaps exist. WOCCU expects the initial program to take six to nine months to complete. Results will guide application of the principles among credit unions in other countries, Grace said. WOCCU also is participating in a work group under the auspices of the Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION International, a Boston-based microfinance organization. In addition to Grace and representatives from credit unions piloting WOCCU's principles, participants in the group include Deutsche Bank, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor and other organizations. The work group will take a broader look at financial service conditions in developing countries, but WOCCU's efforts will focus solely on credit unions, Grace explained. “The Consumer Protection Principles were approved during a time when credit union systems in WOCCU member countries like Australia and Ireland were examining their own codes of conduct, and in the wake of a U.S. economy reeling from a subprime mortgage crisis caused by financial institutions clearly not operating in consumers' best interests,“ Grace said. “We're confident results from our pilot studies will show that serving members ethically and honestly is simply good business.” WOCCU's International Consumer Protection Principles address several issues:
* Disclosure of rates and fees: Credit unions shall present savings and share fees, and interest and dividend rates clearly and in writing to members before completing any transaction; * Periodic statements: Credit unions shall distribute comprehensive member statements disclosing loan and savings balances, rates, fees and finance charges quarterly; * Honest and non-deceptive promotions: All marketing and advertising shall contain honest and relevant information to help members make informed decisions; * Fair credit practices: Credit unions shall provide members with accurate, comparable, transparent and complete information about the total cost of loans, including fees and commissions as required under applicable law; * Dignified collection practices: Credit unions may exercise persistent collection practices as needed, but shall not harass nor physically or verbally abuse members in the process; * Members' consent to share information: Credit unions shall provide members with the option of not having their personal information shared with third parties for the purpose of selling members products or services; * Dispute resolution services: Credit unions shall provide members with options to settle disputes to augment options offered through the legal system; * Provide education about thrift and wise use of credit: Credit unions shall educate and provide members with tools describing how to accumulate wealth and use credit wisely; and * Fair and forthright conversions: Credit unions seeking to demutualize must have at least 30% of their members directly vote on the issue, with 75% voting in favor of demutualization.

CU System briefs (10/06/2008)

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* SAN ANTONIO (10/7/08)--President George W. Bush Sunday honored Sonya McDonald, vice president of sales operations, Randolph-Brooks FCU, Live Oak, Texas, with the President's Volunteer Service Award for her volunteer work with Fisher House and Returning Heroes Home. "What a tremendous honor for Ms. McDonald, and of course, Randolph-Brooks FCU," said Texas Credit Union League President/CEO Dick Ensweiler. He noted the "tireless commitment and energy she has devoted to this noteworthy cause is to be applauded." In 2006, while her husband was deployed to Iraq, McDonald spearheaded a fundraising effort for Fisher House, a national foundation that provides military families a home away from home to be near hospitalized loved ones. Her goal was to raise $200,000 between Memorial Day and Independence Day 2006. Soliciting help from local businesses and organizations, she raised more than $217,000. Randolph-Brooks FCU matched and exceeded that amount, and the funds went to support the Fisher Houses at Fort Sam Houston, which opened last year. McDonald is also on the board of Returning Heroes Home, which is building a 12,000 sq. ft. house at Fort Sam Houston to help military members and families learn to cope with war-related injuries. The house will open in December. President Bush honors a local volunteer when he travels throughout the U.S. He has met with more than 650 volunteers since March 2002 … * ST. LOUIS (10/7/08)--Mid Missouri CU volunteer D. Virginia Thompson, left, was inducted recently into the Defense Credit Union Council's Hall of Honor, by DCUC President Roland A. "Arty" Arteaga, right (The Missouri Difference Oct. 3). Thompson serves on Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo.-based Mid Missouri CU's board of directors. According to Mid Missouri CU President Sharon Ichord, Thompson was one of the founders of the credit union, which grew from $325 in assets to more than $130 million. (Photo provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association) … * ST. LOUIS (10/7/08)--Kirkwood Municipal CU, a $3.2 million asset credit union based in Kirkwood, Mo., has merged with $109.2 million asset West Community CU, O'Fallon, according to the Missouri Credit Union Association. Gary Hinrichs, West Community president/CEO, noted that the credit union has a lot of members living in the Kirkwood area. The staff from Kirkwood Municipal will stay on to serve at the branch. West Community is working on a new branch near the current Kirkwood Municipal location. The move is slated for November. The new location with be a Shared Branch (The Missouri Difference Oct. 3) … * ROCKVILLE, Md. (10/7/08)--Rockville-based MCT FCU's 45-day summer Green Auto Loan campaign boosted its loan portfolio by $10 million-- or $3.5 million more than its goal, said the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association (MDDCCUA) (Focus Newsletter Oct. 6). On July 15, the credit union launched an auto race-themed competition to motivate staff to meet lending goals and promoted the event through its internal e-newsletter, The Buzz. The program offered members a 0.25% discount on their auto loan rate upon purchasing or refinancing a fuel-efficient vehicle. It sponsored traffic reports on three major radio stations in the DC metro area, offering $100 gift card incentives for online loan applications. It also advertised through websites such as Facebook and displayed banners outside each branch advertising new- and used-auto rates as low as 3.99% annual percentage rate. MTC FCU's Clarksburg branch employees, shown here, won the loan rally (Photo provided by the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association)

CUs media work gaining more attention

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MADISON, Wis. (10/6/08)--Credit unions can expect more notice of their safety, soundness and security as more leagues and credit unions complete another round of media efforts. The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association board (PCUA) Friday approved an emergency ad campaign to spread a message of credit union safety throughout Pennsylvania on behalf of credit unions (Life is a Highway Oct. 3). "The special radio campaign will provide intense ad messages telling consumers that credit unions are safe and sound; National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) share insurance coverage is backed by the full faith of the U.S. Government--the same as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC); and that non-credit union members can visit iBelong.org to find a credit union right for them," said PCUA. The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) also worked the past week to keep everyone abreast of the developments in the economy and their affect on credit unions. "Through radio advertisements, e-mails and online resources, MnCUN is impressing upon the state that credit unions are safe and secure during turbulent economic times," said MnCUN. A two-week radio flight to educate consumers will air on major stations throughout the state and will be available to credit unions to customize and air on local radio. (Use the link to hear the ad). The league also has state newspapers and television outlets, encouraging them to include credit unions in their stories about deposit safety. MnCUN President/CEO Mark Cummins has discussed credit union insurance and security on Minnesota Public Radio and the Minnesota News Network. Uncertain times call for "us to be communicating that credit unions are a safe haven for member deposits," said Cummins. "We are doing all we can to emphasize how credit unions operate differently than other financial institutions, which has lead to the continued strength and stability of credit unions." Meanwhile, credit unions in North Carolina were successful in their media contacts. Truliant FCU, Winston-Salem, N.C., told Carolina News 14 that it experienced a 22% increase in mortgages. The credit union did no subprime lending. “Our focus is making sure our members are well-educated and make sure they can afford the mortgage they’re signing up for,” said Joseph Whitaker, Truliant FCU chief operating officer. Marcus Schaefer, Truliant FCU CEO, told Fox 8 WGHP-TV about the credit union’s prudent lending standards. “We haven’t absorbed any losses from subprime lending--we don’t do subprime lending,” he said. “And so we should be able to pay better rates on savings and low rates on loans.” Joe Mecca, Coastal FCU’s director of community and corporate relations, told the Raleigh News & Observer: “We have seen some pretty strong growth this year.” Coastal Federal has added 13,600 members this year, an 8.5% increase, Mecca told the Observer. It also has seen a nearly 60% increase in new checking accounts; loans are up 20%, the newspaper said (Sept. 28). For more information and to hear the reports, use the links.

Season Three of Biz Kid in production

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (10/6/08)--The next season of Biz Kid$, a TV show that teaches kids how to make and manage money, is in editing and being delivered to American Public Television for broadcasting starting in January. At least 311 stations in 49 states will air the 13 new episodes of the 30-minute show, reports the Washington Credit Union League (FOCUS Oct. 1). Biz Kid$ is exclusively underwritten by America’s Credit Unions. The next key phase of program is outreach of the show and its complementing curriculum into classrooms, libraries, after-school programs, and so forth. To support that effort, the Washington Credit Union Foundation and the show's producers are offering credit unions a full master box set of the show's first two seasons--26 episodes. Each episode is contained on a separate DVD. Accompanying curriculum also is included on a separate CD. Credit unions, leagues and foundations are purchasing box sets to donate to libraries and resource centers of school districts to serve as a companion to the Biz Kid$ curriculum. Others are giving the set to after-school programs, summer camps, Boys & Girls Clubs, children’s hospitals, and daycare facilities. And others plan to use the DVDs in credit union branch lobbies. Credit unions can support in-branch screenings by posting customized Biz Kid$ posters or flyers with the times and dates of when the series broadcasts in your market, said the foundation. Collectively, credit unions must order a minimum of 100 master DVD box sets to secure the $50 per set price, which covers the costs of producing the master set and shipping. For more information, contact Sarah Hyman at

CU helps community recover from Gustav Ike

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BATON ROUGE, La. (10/6/08)--Pelican State CU got right down to business to help members and others in the Baton Rouge, La., community recover during the days after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The $145.7 million asset credit union returned more than $3,100 in ATM fees to members who used a non-Pelican ATM in the days after the hurricanes. "In a disastrous situation, you've got to get gasoline and cash wherever it's available. That is why we decided to refund our members," President/CEO Jeff Conrad told the Louisiana Credit Union League (eNews Oct. 1). "During times like these, every little bit counts." Before the storms hit, the credit union put into action its disaster recovery plans, including mobile generators and back up computer servers. It also created a Member Relief Program to assist members whose homes were destroyed. The flat rate loan helps members meet their high insurance deductibles. So far, Pelican has received 288 applications and disbursed over "$327,000 in loans for home repairs. Because of the demand, Pelican extended the program through the end of October. Also, Conrad, Senior Vice President Ronnie Stephens and other Pelican employees served free jambalaya to more than 450 staffers of Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center in Houma, one of the hardest hit cities in Louisiana. "Staff members had been working around the clock to make the repairs to the hospital and take care of their patients," said Conrad. "We wanted to lend a helping hand and they were truly appreciative.

CU System briefs (10/03/2008)

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* WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (10/6/08)--Purdue Employees FCU (PEFCU) President/CEO Bob Falk will host a Town Hall Meeting on Oct. 14 to discuss the nation's current financial crisis, how the credit union has avoided it, and why it remains a safe harbor for members' funds, announced the credit union. The meeting, free and open to the public, will emphasize PEFCU's federal insurance coverage by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and Excess Share Insurance (ESI), a private insurance company that offers additional coverage to members … * SAN DIMAS, Calif. (10/6/08)--Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based Pacific Marine CU has partnered with the Financial Service Centers Cooperative (FSCC) to provide a shared mobile branch at Camp Pendleton for members' use. The mobile branch, operated by Pacific Marine, will open by year-end and is expected to operate primarily on base. The traveling branch will cover roughly 200 square miles and serve more than 60,000 military members and families …

CU With 10 what would you do for someone else

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SEATTLE (10/6/08)--Seattle Metropolitan CU will hand out $10 bills today to 200 people. All those people have to do is answer the question, “If we gave you $10, what would you do for someone else?” The credit union will videotape the answers and put them on YouTube and on the credit union’s website. From Oct. 14-Oct. 19, the public can vote for the best seven answers (Seattle Post-Intelligencer Oct. 3). Seven is an important number for Seattle Metropolitan because it symbolizes the credit union’s core principles, which include giving back to the community, spokesman Andy Wright told the newspaper. The winner will be announced Oct. 20 and will receive $1,000 from the credit union to give to the cause or person specified in the answer.

CUNA Uptick of peak borrowers at expense of youth

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MADISON, Wis. (10/6/08)--Credit unions are increasing their ranks of "peak borrowers" (members age 25 to 44) but apparently are slipping in their abilities to attract "future borrowers" (those 18 to 24) to their memberships. So says the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) 2008 Member Statistics research study--a precursor to its National Member Survey and Survey of Potential Members, scheduled for release in April, 2009. "Over the past several years, many credit unions have been working diligently to attract more members in the peak borrowing ages, in an effort to improve their lending volume," said Jon Haller, CUNA's director of corporate and market research. "Success in these efforts, combined with the initial signs of a long-awaited turnaround in the prevalence of peak borrowing consumers, are no doubt behind the first rise in peak borrowers that credit unions have recorded in more than two decades." (See chart.)
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But while great news from a near-term lending perspective--the negative impact of the current U.S. economy notwithstanding--credit unions' gains in peak borrowers appear to come at the expense of any significant growth in future borrowers, who are one of the primary keys to credit unions' longer-term success, Haller said in his October Research Review. Past CUNA studies have shown that non-member young adults are the group most likely to say they are eligible to join a credit union and least likely to be familiar with the benefits, advantages, and financial services that credit unions provide. They comprise a large, attractive target--if perhaps a somewhat unwilling one, to this point--for credit unions' membership-growth efforts, he said. "It's clear that a number of credit unions have recognized--some of them, years ago--the extreme importance that young adults hold for the organization's future, and have had tremendous success in bringing them into the fold," Haller said. "However, the credit union movement, as a collective group, appears to still have a great deal of room for improvement in this area." Many credit unions that have attracted large numbers of young adults would say that it takes time, effort and especially, commitment--from the CEO, executives, and board, alike--to make this happen, he said, adding, "If your credit union has yet to take these steps, there's no better time than the present to begin the process."

Filene fellows blog on economy Bullish for CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (10/6/08)--The economy’s troubles present an opportunity for credit unions, according to several Filene Research Institute Fellows, who are blogging on the economy. The bloggers comprise a panel of research fellows in Portland, Ore. They recently answered some questions on the blog about credit unions and how they can help the economy for “September Madness.” The “madness” mimics “March Madness” collegiate basketball brackets with major financial institutions moving their way to a “stressful sixteen and awkward eight,” according to Filene. All of the bloggers encouraged credit unions to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the faltering economy. “I’m bullish about the opportunity for credit unions,” said Dorian Stone, McKinsey and Co. partner. Jim Wilcox, University of California-Berkeley professor, agreed. “For credit unions, it’s going to be raining members,” he said. Credit unions need very aggressive and more sophisticated marketing to add members, Stone said, acknowledging that “there’s a blind spot in the media that affects credit unions.” “Every credit union should call up their local paper and ask to have lunch to explain the key issues about the crisis, then explain how credit unions can play a [role],” said Robert Manning, professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The fellows also expressed concerns. Peter Turfano, Harvard Business School professor, said he worries that as consumers make a flight to quality, credit unions will make a flight to safety by not serving new groups. Credit unions should be convinced to take advantage of the market by knowing that “people who take out loans with a credit union are less likely to default because of the affinity,” Stone said. Regarding regulatory fallout, “the tax advantage is going to be back on the table when this is all done, and if credit unions can show what they did both before and during the crisis, they will be in better stead,” Turfano said. For more information, use the link.

Texas disburses 295660 in disaster grants

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (10/6/08)--The Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF) continues to receive grant applications from credit union employees who experienced personal losses as a result of Hurricane Ike’s destruction, according to the Texas Credit Union League. As of late Thursday, TCUF has distributed 613 grants, totaling $295,660. To fulfill these grant requests in a timely manner, the foundation urged the continued support and efforts of the credit union community (LoneStar Leaguer Oct. 3). "We are very grateful for the level of support from our credit union family, not for us, but for the hundreds who have experienced such devastation and upheaval in their lives. We want to remind all of our generous contributors that 100% of the donations go directly to the credit union employees who need help with the disaster recovery," said Jill Pharr, TCUF executive director.
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Pledges are updated daily, with the actual dollars received into TCUF’s Disaster Fund standing at $343,793.06, which now includes those contributions made through the National Credit Union Foundation’s (NCUF) CUAid. In the three weeks since Hurricane Ike made landfall, the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) has received a total of $124,230 in donations through online donations), wire transfers, and checks, according to Steve Bosack, NCUF deputy director. NCUF has wired a total of $113,985 to TCUF to provide emergency grants to Texas credit union employees. Donors have designated the remaining $10,245 to Louisiana credit union employees who are facing needs ranging from "serious" to "critical," he added. Some credit unions are still suffering from the storm’s aftermath, but all have begun recovery repairs, said Phil Tschudy, CUNA Mutual Group media relations manager. “As expected, we are seeing some new losses, all involving auto, repossessed auto and ATMs. The bottom line is the long route to recovery is well under way,” he added. The Texas league rescheduled its 2008 Compliance, Audit and Human Resources Conference for Nov. 2-4 because of Hurricane Ike. The conference will be held in Dallas. Attendees who already registered will have their commitments honored, though they will have to rebook their rooms with the new hotel. Early bird discounted registration rates will be extended until Nov. 2, the league said. The league also plans a stuffed animal drive on International Credit Union Day Oct. 16. The toys collected will be given to children affected by the hurricane. The league also plans to work with the Credit Union National Association on an Adopt-a-CU program, in which credit unions are matched with credit unions recovering from the storm. Dr. Susan Fletcher, a psychologist, will be invited to assist those recovering from the disaster. Fletcher is a former aide to television personality Dr. Phil. Dick Ensweiler, league president/CEO, also visited a number of credit unions impacted by the disaster (see slideshow), including Firestone Community CU, Bridge City, Texas, and Five Point CU of Nederland, Texas, which operated out of a mobile unit after the storm. The Texas league crisis-management team will continue meeting each Monday and Thursday through the end of November. About 11,000 households are still without power on Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula, the league said. Roughly 190 credit unions were affected by the hurricane; 29 are partially operational. CU Resources is working with its alliance partners to review services they can provide to affected credit unions. Critical needs include furnishings and equipment.

Leagues efforts in media outreach succeeding

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MADISON, Wis. (10/3/08)--Leagues across the nation are reporting success in their efforts to educate the public and the media about credit unions safety, soundness and strength. Many of their media outreach activities have resulted in positive press for credit unions. The Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO) reported a "busy week for talking to the media about credit unions on both a national and local level, and we are only half-way through," said Laura Weiking, director of communications. "We are in a great position to be the 'good guys' and we are taking every opportunity to tout that credit unions are safe, sound and still lending," she said. "In each interview we are stressing that credit unions are insured, they are sound, they are lending and they are ready to talk to consumers about becoming a member," Weiking told News Now. CUAO President/CEO Troy Stang participated in a live show, "Think Out Loud," on Oregon Public Broadcasting and spoke with the Oregonian. Weiking and Pam Leavitt, CUAO vice president of government affairs and public relations, were interviewed for separate shows on KEX 1190 News Radio. CUAO also is running an ad, "There is a Credit Union for You," as part of its statewide awareness campaign the week prior to International Credit Union Day (Oct. 16). New Jersey Credit Union League President/CEO Paul Gentile was quoted in the state's largest paper, the Star-Leger about credit unions' ability to help consumers and businesses in the tough times because of their strength. The Wall Street Journal interviewed Gentile Wednesday, and the league recently published an op-ed touting credit unions in the Jersey Journal. Today he is in New York City to record a video message about the safety of New Jersey's credit unions that the league's member credit unions can put on their websites. The league's trainer is conducting a 25-minute webinar to train frontline staff on how to explain share insurance to members. "We have made emergency funds available to do ads on 101.5, New Jersey's largest radio station, touting credit union safety and our strength," Gentile said in an e-mail. "We are using the slogan: 'New Jersey's Credit Unions, Banking You Can Trust.'" Funds are also earmarked for ads in three major newspapers. Credit Union Associations of Colorado and Wyoming CEO John Dill was featured prominently in Rocky Mountain News Thursday in an article, "Bailout tough pill, Colo. leaders say." "The current conditions clearly call for drastic action, and the Senate approval is a first step toward unfreezing our credit markets," said Dill. He was the first Colorado leader quoted in the story. He told the publication that consumers' anger is justified. "Credit unions, like most Americans, are not the source of the problem that has led to the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression," he said. "Despite the fact we're fully insured by the federal government and our efforts to help members, we still need action to address the psychology and the substance of the problem." Sylvia Lyon, president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of New Mexico (CUANM), was interviewed Thursday on Channel 13-KRQE, a local television news station. The segment focuses on how credit unions are performing in the current economy and the financial crisis, and emphasizes credit unions federal insurance coverage and the increase in coverage through the U.S. government's rescue plan. Lyon also explained why credit unions didn't get involved in subprime mortgages, and she discussed membership eligibility and how to locate a credit union. The Ohio Credit Union League has sent chapter presidents sample press releases and guest columns they can customize for their local media. It also is sending an ad stressing credit unions' safety and soundness and ability to offer loans during the credit crunch. The Massachusetts Credit Union League will publish quarter-page ads in major newspapers throughout the Commonwealth on Sunday. The ads reinforce the message that credit unions are safe, sound and secure (E-Weekly Oct. 1). The Delaware Credit Union League sent out a press release developed by the Credit Union National Association about the increase to the federal insurance coverage, which includes credit unions.

Forget banks join the CU is just one headline

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MADISON, Wis. (10/3/08)--Credit unions have got to love the headlines that have appeared about them the past week in both local and national media while the nation struggles with the financial crisis. Two of the latest examples: "Forget Banks, Join the Credit Union," from West Orlando News (Oct. 2), and "Credit unions are doing just fine," from Indiana TV station WFIE (Oct. 1). Credit unions "may be among the safest financial institutions in the nation, despite our nation's current economic struggles," says the West Orlando News article. It notes credit unions are gaining recognition among consumers and on Capitol Hill for avoiding the problems that created the financial mess, and for being part of the solution.
Greg Smith, president/CEO of Pennsylvania State Employees CU and Bill Hayes, former chairman of the Pennsylvania Bankers Association, discussed the impact of the financial crisis on Pennsylvania consumers on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) Wednesday (Life is a Highway Oct. 2). During the hour-long call-in show, Smith said credit unions are federally insured. He told how the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund is equivalent to that of the FDIC. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association)
In the article, Florida Credit Union League President/CEO Guy M. Hood tells about credit unions' federal insurance with the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and notes that "when it comes to personal finances, credit unions are here to serve, to counsel and to protect their membership compassionately." Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Chief Economist Bill Hampel explains that credit unions are in very good shape and that delinquencies are up but low in comparison with other financial institutions. (Use link for complete article.) Credit unions are providing a safe haven to investors during the financial crisis, says the WFIE Indiana story. It features Kate Baumgartner of Evansville FCU, and Ruth Gaon of Heritage FCU, Newburg, who have seen depositors moving money from banks to their credit unions (14 News Oct. 1). In New York, Kirk Kordeleski, CEO, Bethpage (N.Y.) FCU, was interviewed Tuesday evening by NBC Channel 4 in Long Island about loans--specifically auto loans and mortgages. It's difficult to get loans because credit is being evaluated more carefully and there isn't as much liquidity, he told the news station. However, Bethpage FCU has liquidity and is able to lend to its members. Its loan portfolio has grown "substantially," Kordeleski told News Now. Bethpage's mortgage portfolio grew by $300 million compared with last year--a 12% increase, he said. The credit union has seen growth in fixed and adjustable-rate mortgages, and is one of the few lenders in Long Island that can offer well-priced loans. Homes in the area go from $350,000 to $800,000, he said. "In a scary and shaky time, there seems to be an opportunity for us," he said. "Credit unions across the country are seeing deposit growth and [an increase in] lending." In Pennsylvania, Fox 43 News at Ten featured a story about "Nation's Economic Problems hit Main Street in Mechanicsburg." Carol Fastrich, vice president of marketing at Americhoice FCU, reiterated the message that credit unions are safe, sound and secure. She told the station that accounts are insured by NCUA. WBRE TV, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., last Friday told viewers that the financial crisis has credit unions busier and focused its story on people who deposit their money in smaller financial institutions. It featured Mark Filbert, CEO of NEPA Community FCU, Stroudsburg (Life is a Highway Oct. 2). (Use the link for the article.) In the Lebanon Daily News, a letter to the editor by Glenn Rambler, executive vice president of Lebanon (Pa.) FCU resulted in an article, "Local bankers say customers need not fear," which featured Rambler and Jim Starr, director of marketing and media of Pennsylvania Central FCU. They mentioned credit unions' federal insurance. (Use the link for the full article).

SACU creates new division with CU Factory Built Lending

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SAN ANTONIO (10/3/08)--Employees of CU Factory Built Lending L.P. (CUFBL) have joined San Antonio FCU (SACU) as a new division, SACU announced Wednesday. Since 2004, CU Factory Built Lending L.P. has been a SACU subsidiary, taking a leadership role in providing and servicing manufactured home loans for the credit union industry. Filling a void for consumers in a climate where site-built construction costs have skyrocketed, the organization helps thousands of members obtain loans to buy construction at an affordable price or refinance their existing homes to more favorable terms, said SACU. SACU President/CEO Jeff Farver said the change will allow CUFBL and the $2.6 billion asset credit union to serve current and prospective members. The division and SACU will continue providing manufactured housing lending.

CU merging with bank meets with members

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AUGUSTA, Maine (10/3/08)--Kennebec Valley (KV) FCU held town meetings this week to inform members about a proposal to merge with a local savings bank. The town meetings were Tuesday in Augusta, Maine, and Wednesday in Oakland, Maine, according to media reports. KV FCU is based in Augusta. KV FCU and Kennebec Bank announced in September that they were discussing the credit union converting to a federal mutual savings bank charter and then merging with the bank (News Now Sept. 10). The credit union said the proposed conversion and merger would expand its ability to meet the current and future needs of members (News Now Sept. 10). News Now was unable to reach KV FCU for comment by press time. KV FCU has $51 million in assets.

CU System briefs (10/02/2008)

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* HARRISBURG, Pa. (10/3/08)--Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU President/CEO Jay Murray represented credit unions Thursday at a Pennsylvania House Commerce Committee meeting on how the economic and banking crisis and bailout rejection will impact Pennsylvanians (Life is a Highway Oct. 2). Murray explained the corporate provides liquidity to the state's credit unions and that credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to the same extent as banks. Credit unions have reached out to members in assuring them their deposits are insured, he said. In discussing the need to address issues on how to prevent the crisis from happening again, Murray said, "Right now, it is crucial that confidence is kept with consumers and we don't cause anymore disruption in the system." He reiterated he had confidence in credit unions and that consumers should feel safe to have their funds deposited in them. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association) … * MADISON, Wis. (10/3/08)--The University of Wisconsin CU (UW CU) has pledged $600,000 to needs-based scholarships across all the campuses it serves. An outright pledge of $300,000 will be gifted and the additional $300,000 is part of a member-match initiative. YW CU is offering to match donations to UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Green Bay, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Whitewater and Madison Area Technical College. Also, the University of Wisconsin Foundation will match any gifts to the UW-Madison fund, multiplying the donation by four. The initiative will run through the end of December. "Statistics show that from 2000 to 2005, tuition has increased nearly 28%," said UW CU President Paul Kundert. "We hope that our members and our community will see that together, we can provide the opportunity for anyone to succeed and graduate from one of the top universities in the world." …

ColoradoWyoming CUs launch Foolproof fin ed program

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DENVER (10/3/08)--The Credit Union Associations of Colorado and Wyoming reported that nearly one-half of the states’ 1.7 million credit union members now have online access to consumer education and information programs through FoolProof, a financial literacy initiative launched in April. “This is the fastest adoption rate of any program we’ve offered,” said John Dill, president/CEO. FoolProof uses interactive, online modules and websites to reach members and non-members. “Even the smallest credit union can have five separate financial literacy and consumer educator programs--separate programs for adults, high school students, and college-age students,” said Will deHoo, FoolProof president. FoolProof for High Schools provides high school teachers with two weeks of free, web-driven classroom instruction on financial literacy and management. FoolProof Solo teaches college students the credit union difference, and Information Edge is a real-time consumer newspaper with video, podcasts and breaking news stories. Credit unions receive a marketing materials to help introduce the program, including press releases, presentations, newsletter articles and Web content. The program’s cost is tiered to make it affordable for credit unions regardless of asset size.

Texas regulator urges caution in explaining CU difference

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (10/3/08)--A Texas regulator is urging credit unions in the state to use caution with the claims they make to explain any advantages credit unions may possess in maintaining the security of members’ accounts. The Texas Credit Union Department (TCUD) issued a regulatory bulletin regarding advertising campaigns geared to educating the public about safety and soundness of credit unions (LoneStar Leaguer Oct. 2). The bulletin reads: “It has come to our attention that some credit unions have engaged in very liberal advertising campaigns using such superlatives as ‘most secure,’ ‘strongest’ and ‘safest’ or that play on public fears about other types of financial institutions.” TCUD said it has received numerous complaints that these types of ads are disseminating information that usually is impossible to justify or quantify. “We believe this form of advertising is inappropriate and, in some cases, represents a violation of state and federal laws,” the bulletin continues. “These ads undermine the public standing of other insured financial institutions and increase the public’s concerns,” TCUD said. The regulatory bulletin references a state code that says in part that “an advertisement shall be deemed to be misleading if it states that the credit union’s services are superior to or of a higher quality than that of another financial institution, unless the credit union can factually substantiate the statement.” To view the regulatory bulletin, use the link. Visitors will have to log in to view the document.

IWSJI CUs captives best chance to get auto loans

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NEW YORK (10/3/08)--Credit unions and automakers’ captive-finance companies can offer consumers the best chances of receiving an auto loan, The Wall Street Journal said Thursday. Credit unions are in a better financial position than large banks, and will consider other factors outside of a FICO score when lending to members, the newspaper said. Economic troubles have halted credit, meaning that car loans and leases are harder to find because lenders don’t have the money to lend to buyers, it added. Auto lending is down about 64% of auto loan applications were approved as of Sept. 20, compared with 83% during the same period in 2007, according to CNW Marketing Research. Subprime application approvals were at 44%, compared with 67% a year ago. Car loan recipients are required to put more money down--up to 20% of a vehicle’s value. The average down payment on a car was $3,067, up from $2,435--the second time the amount has exceeded $3,000 in four years, the Journal said. To see a video about credit unions and auto loans, use the link.

Market events boost economic forum registrations

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PLANO, Texas (10/3/08)--Credit unions appear to be looking for strategic guidance due to financial market turmoil, according to Southwest Corporate FCU’s early registration figures for its 2008 Economic Forum. The forum has a 13% increase over last year. The theme for the forum Oct. 28-29 in Dallas is “Looking Beyond the Horizon.” Speakers will address political implications for the economy under a new U.S. president. Other topics include: emerging trends in technology, the impact of developing authentic member service relationships, effects of high energy costs, global economic factors, demographic patterns, observations from Wall Street and the latest credit union statistics. “The market events for the last few months are unprecedented,” said John Cassidy, Southwest Corporate president/CEO. “Credit unions want to know what they can do to increase their insulation from these events, and the boldest ones want to know if it’s possible to grow in this environment. “The Economic Forum and our two bonus seminars give credit unions the ability to draw from the perspectives of up to 20 different financial experts under one roof in less than three days,” he continued. Registration for the Financial Management Sequence, which occurs the day before the forum begins, has already surpassed last year’s attendance. Southwest Corporate also added a new seminar on member business services, for which registration is nearing capacity. The Financial Management Sequence will address what to expect in the markets and industry, the outlook for mortgage and consumer loans, investment and liquidity strategies, and core operating trends. The new Member Business Services Sequence will provide credit unions with an overview of options available and what to consider in launching and supporting a member business services program. Considerations include strategy development, automated clearing house and Treasury services, remote deposit, lending and marketing. For more information, use the link.

CU robbery suspect dies in getaway crash

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DES MOINES, Iowa (10/3/08)--A man suspected of robbing a Des Moines credit union died minutes after the robbery when a stolen car he drove crashed during a high-speed chase by police. Gregory Novel Doudy, 37, allegedly robbed employees of EdCo Community CU at gunpoint around 7 a.m. Wednesday, according to police (Des Moines Register Oct. 1). Two employees at the $27.9 million asset credit union arrived at work when a gunman followed them into the credit union and robbed them. No injuries were reported, police said. The gunman stole one employee’s car and crashed it west of Des Moines with police in pursuit. The suspect was killed in the crash, the Iowa State Patrol confirmed.

August CU loans up 1 savings up 3.2

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MADISON, Wis. (10/3/08)--Credit union lending remained strong in August and the overall credit union loan delinquency rate remained historically low, indicating the credit crisis is having a marginal effect on credit unions’ credit quality.
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Credit union loans outstanding increased 1% in August, and 5.4% over the first eight months of 2008, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) monthly sample of credit unions. Other loans (2.6%) led growth, followed by adjustable rate mortgages (1.6%), home equity loans (1.4%), credit cards (1.2%), fixed-rate mortgages, and used-auto loans (1%). Fixed-rate mortgages had the largest rise since December, increasing 13.9%, while new-auto loans decreased 5.8% during the same period. “Credit union lending remained robust in the month of August as total loan balances outstanding rose 1.1% or 8.4% on a seasonally adjusted annual rate,” Steve Rick, CUNA senior economist, told News Now. “With other financial institutions tightening their loan underwriting standards, credit unions are picking up market share, especially in the real estate lending area. “Fixed-rate first mortgage balances increased 1.1% in August, slightly lower than adjustable-rate first mortgage balance increase of 1.6%,” he continued. “More and more credit unions are holding onto their mortgages rather than selling them into the secondary market. In the first half of 2008, only 24.5% of originated mortgages were sold into the secondary market, down from 27.6% in the first half of 2007,” he said.
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Credit union savings balances remained at $691 billion in August, but have risen 5.9% year-to-date. Share drafts led savings growth, rising 3.2% in August. Money market accounts (0.3%) and individual retirement accounts (0.2%) increased, while one-year certificates declined 1%. With loan growth outpacing savings growth, the loan-to-savings ratio increased to 83% from 82.1% in July. The liquidity ratio--the ratio of surplus funds maturing in less than one year to borrowings plus other liabilities--remained at 15.5% in August. Regarding asset quality, credit unions’ 60-plus-day delinquencies remained at 1% in August and for all of 2008 so far. “The credit crisis is having only a marginal effect on credit unions' credit quality,” Rick said. “The overall credit union loan delinquency rate barely climbed to over 1% in August, even though it is up from 0.73% during August 2007. The current delinquency rate is low by any historical measure and is quite manageable for credit unions.” The movement’s overall capital-to-asset ratio remains at 11%, with the total dollar amount of capital at $90 billion.

IChicago TribuneI Money is safe in a CU

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CHICAGO (10/2/08)--Yet another newspaper--this time the Chicago Tribune--is educating consumers about federal deposit insurance and making sure that readers know their money is safe in a credit union. Gail Marks Jarvis' article (Oct. 1) discusses the issues in a question-and-answer format. One question, "Is my money safe in a credit union," brought this response: "Like banks, credit unions have insurance that covers investors if the institution has financial trouble and fails. But the insurance varies. The safest comes from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). It's just like the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.), with the U.S. government behind it, making sure your money is covered up to $100,000 a person on an account." She refers readers to NCUA's website to check whether their credit union has federal insurance. "If you don't see NCUA at your credit union, it probably means the institution is regulated at the state level with private insurance. That's also insurance, but having the U.S. government as the insurer is the safest form you can have."

IWall St. JournalI CUs are federally insured option

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NEW YORK (10/2/08)--The Wall Street Journal's personal finance page notes that depositors who want options to the big blockbuster bank consolidations can shop for savings at credit unions and community banks as federally insured options. In "As Big Banks Converge, Depositors Find Deals at Smaller Institutions," the newspaper notes community banks and credit unions offer generous yields and lower fees for local savers (The Wall Street Journal Oct. 1). With competition shrinking with blockbuster acquisitions of the past week, "there are plenty of options for rate-sensitive depositors and borrowers," including credit unions, the article said. The article recognized that credit unions have largely sidestepped the subprime crisis because of conservative underwriting. They "often offer generous rates and low fees. And deposits are insured for up to $100,000, per account, per institution, just like regular bank accounts," it said. Some credit unions are receiving new deposits from former Wachovia and other large bank customers, the Journal said.

SandP issues rating statement on several corporates

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NEW YORK (10/2/08)--Saying that "overall we believe the credit union sector/industry remains quite healthy," Standard & Poor's (S&P) Rating Services reported Tuesday it has adjusted the ratings of four corporate credit unions. S&P's placed two corporates--Western Corporate FCU (WesCorp) and Members United FCU--on a CreditWatch Negative. It revised its outlook on Southeast Corporate FCU and Southwest Corporate FCU to negative from stable. S&P noted that the overall corporates "have a comparatively low-risk profile, strong liquidity, and exhibit adequate financial profiles. "A testament to the overall and individual health of the corporates is that despite the unprecedented challenges of the prolonged credit crisis, the rated corporates have been able to not only hold their structured securities portfolios, but to do so without compromising their ability to perform their key roles as investment vehicles and liquidity providers to their members," said S&P. The ongoing credit crisis and longer-term structural changes to the industry have put downward pressure on several ratings, S&P added. The four corporates issued statements saying they were pleased with the overall reaffirmation of their ratings, given the economic environment. "Although S&P has placed WesCorp on watch negative, it's reassuring to know they continue to view our business and financial profiles, and particularly our liquidity, as solid," said Jim Hayes, WesCorp senior vice president and chief financial officer. He pointed out that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) are preparing to propose additional interpretative guidance on fair value measurement under U.S. generally accepted accounting practices later this week. "We anticipate any new clarifications will have a positive impact on S&P's independent review of our portfolio," Hayes said. Members United Corporate FCU President David A. Preter, in a letter to members posted on the corporate's website, noted, "During this unprecedented market upheaval, it is not surprising that ratings agencies are taking a cautious view of all financial institutions." Members United carries the highest short-term rating given by S&P: A-1+ and that rating has not changed. Preter said, "S&P acknowledged its belief that the majority of our investment portfolio remains sound, and that our unrealized losses overstate expected future losses." He noted S&P expressed concerns about a pending write-down of Lehman senior debt and "the potential for additional losses from our mortgage securities portfolio. "During this especially turbulent time, it is gratifying that Members United's ratings were not downgraded--but rather placed on CreditWatch Negative pending further review," he said. Robert F. Schleiter, executive vice president of Southeast Corporate FCU, told News Now, "We are very pleased that Standard & Poor's reaffirmed our ratings, given the current stress in the markets." John Cassidy, president/CEO of Southwest Corporate, said in a message on the corporate's website, that S&P reaffirmed its ratings at AA (senior obligation) and A1+ (commercial paper). "Southwest Corporate views S&P's affirmation of our ratings during this period of unprecedented stress in the credit markets as a positive confirmation," Cassidy said. "The change in outlook was not unexpected as such actions are now common for investors in mortgage-backed securities and followed Fitch Ratings' similar change in June." He noted that the reason for the change is to reflect concern over the corporate's exposure to potential realized investment losses. "It is important to note that S&P characterized Southwest Corporate's potential losses as manageable, and this opinion echoes the message we have communicated to our members over the past year."

CUs preparing for ICU Day Oct. 16

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MADISON, Wis. (10/2/08)--It’s October, and credit unions around the world are making plans to celebrate International Credit Union Day (ICU Day) on Oct. 16.
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International Credit Union Week will be held Oct. 12-18. This year’s theme is “It Belongs to Me.” ICU Day was established by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) in 1948 to celebrate the international credit union movement. “ICU Day offers credit unions and their members a chance to reflect on the cooperative history of credit unions and their achievements, and to promote the credit union difference worldwide,” Joe Day, CUNA director of business development, told News Now. Coloring pages, graphics, and public relations and marketing materials are available from CUNA for ICU Day. Celebration ideas include participating in community service projects, offering products and services promotions, providing education, focusing on the credit union difference, and planning a festive week. CUNA also encourages credit unions to submit their celebration ideas and stories for ICU Day (use the resource link). Some ideas credit unions have implemented:
* Poplar Bluff (Mo.) FCU will place international flags in the credit union’s atrium, serve international food and coffee, and provide giveaway prizes to members. It also plans a Member Appreciation Day and will invite the entire community. At the event, the credit union will have a live broadcast by local radio stations, free food, face painting, document shredding, dog-tag engraving by the U.S. Army, and a demonstration of a rollover simulator by the Missouri Highway Patrol. * Northern United FCU, Escanaba, Mich., will host a luncheon with Chef Chris Rogers of “The Oaks.” Rogers will prepare a roast turkey dinner for members. * Last year, Pittsburgh (Pa.) FCU served hot dogs, potato chips and bottled water to members on ICU Day. The food went over well with members and they have asked that it be served again. “The nice part of that is we are able to say, ‘They were for a special occasion--ICU Day,’” the credit union said. * Digital FCU, Marlborough, Mass., is working with mainstream media--television, radio and print--to raise awareness of ICU Day. Media will be invited to the credit union’s branches to allow staff members to talk about the credit union’s history, culture, and people. It will focus on credit union philosophy. * The People’s CU in Malaysia will celebrate ICU Day with songs, dances, drama and cultural performances for credit union members and their families. * Tower Hamlets CU, London, England, will launch its new Visa debit and cash card options with credit unions accounts on ICU Day. The services are a “major breakthrough for British credit unions,” the credit union said. * Shell Employees’ CU, Alberta, Canada, will have a red carpet day for members with drinks, door prizes and giveaways. The credit union will rent a red carpet and popcorn maker for members and sponsor a coloring contest for children.
The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) acknowledged ICU Day in Life is a Highway (Oct. 1). In the same brief, PCUA emphasized the importance of credit unions spreading their cooperative message. “During these difficult and uncertain economic times, credit unions should make an all-out effort to get the good word out about credit unions that they are safe, sound and secure,” PCUA said. It has included links on its website about how credit unions are getting the word out about their safety and soundness. The World Council of Credit Unions also has public relations and marketing materials available on its website for ICU Day. For more information, or to submit ICU Day ideas, use the links.

Teller pepper-sprayed by robber suspect nabbed

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WACO, Texas (10/2/08)--A robber pepper-sprayed a teller at 1st University CU before jumping over the counter to steal money from the Waco credit union Tuesday afternoon. Christopher Brinkly, 39, allegedly walked into the $12.5 million asset credit union and did not say anything to the teller before spraying her, police said (Tribune Herald Oct. 1). The robber stole an undisclosed amount of cash and fled the credit union. Brinkly was nabbed at a Waco intersection by police a short time later. The teller was treated at the scene by paramedics, Waco police told the paper.

INew York TimesI notes CUs federal insurance

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NEW YORK (10/2/08)--The New York Times recognized the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), which covers federally insured credit unions and most state-chartered credit unions, in an article Wednesday. “Navigating Troubled Times: Answers for Readers” invited readers to ask the newspaper questions about their finances. A member of Florida Telco CU, Jacksonville, asked the Times if his money is safe at the credit union. Another credit union member asked the newspaper if his shares, share drafts, certificates and deposits were safe in a credit union. The member noted that he has used credit unions for banking “because I like the small-town feel of them.” The newspaper responded: “The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), is the government agency that supervises federal credit unions. The NCUA runs an insurance fund--the NCUSIF--that is backed by the U.S. government.” The Times also noted that the fund covers individual credit union accounts up to $100,000 and joint accounts up to $200,000. The fund also provides $250,000 coverage for retirement accounts.

CU System briefs (10/01/2008)

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* LANCASTER, Pa. (10/2/08)--The Lancaster (Pa.) Consortium of Credit Unions (LCCC) participated in the Latino Fest and 29th Annual Puerto Rican Parade, Sept. 20. The theme for the event was “Unidos preservando nuestra cultura latino,” meaning “Together preserving our Latin culture.” The mission for the day was to bring awareness to the Latino community that credit unions care and want to be involved. Volunteers from LANCO FCU, Wheatland FCU, Lancaster Red Rose CU, Mennonite Financial FCU, Belco Community CU and Citadel FCU hosted a booth. Each credit union tended a prize wheel and gave out promotional items donated by the credit unions. Volunteers wearing LCCU T-shirts also participated in the parade and handed out candy along the parade route. The LCCU was awarded third place in the parade (Life is a Highway Oct.1) ... * SALT LAKE CITY (10/2/08)--Mountain America CU sponsored its fifth annual Swing for Kids Challenge--a golf tournament--raising $100,000 for Primary Children’s Medical Center. “This was our fifth Swing for Kids Challenge and it brought our total contribution to Primary Children’s to more than half a million dollars,” said Gordon Dames, Mountain America president /CEO. “When asked how we do it, I simply say that we have remarkable friends who support us in this effort. We can’t thank them enough.” Participants from the credit union movement included major sponsors Pemco Technologies and CO-OP Financial Services. Other sponsors included Credit Union Direct Lending; First Tech CU, Beaverton, Ore.; Member Business Lending LLC and Southwest Business Corp. …

Savings safe at CUs say two Wisconsin papers

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OSHKOSH and APPLETON, Wis. (10/2/08)--Several credit unions in Wisconsin are safe and sound in the face of the ongoing U.S. financial crisis, according to articles in two state newspapers. Citizens First CU, a $335.4 million asset, Oshkosh-based credit union, has been deluged by member calls checking to see if their money is safe (The Northwestern Sept. 30). The credit union tells members their accounts are indeed safe because Citizens does not invest in Wall Street, and that it has avoided investing in subprime mortgages and adheres to conservative lending practices, Carla Altepeter, Citizens president/CEO, told the paper. Following the same guidelines it always has, the credit union continues to lend to many of its 78,000 members, Altepeter added. Bailouts of Wachovia and Washington Mutual--rather than concerns about the congressional bailout vote--have fueled member calls seeking assurance of safety and soundness of their accounts at the $1.089 billion asset, Appleton-based Community First CU, said Cathie Tierney, president/CEO (postcrescent.com Oct.1). The $325 million asset, Kimberley-based Capital CU has not seen any member reaction in response to the country’s financial crisis because most think the federal government will remedy the situation, Alan Zierler, Capital president/CEO, told the paper. Some members had initial questions on safety and soundness, but Capital allayed any concerns by letting them know that most of the credit union’s mortgages are held locally and only 1% to 2% were sold to secondary markets, he added. The $145.2 million asset, Appleton-based Prospera CU has not seen any panic among its 15,000 members, Ken Eiden, CEO, told the paper. Prospera focuses on lending in the local Appleton area and its members understand that, he added.

Collier nominated for CUNA board seat

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (10/2/08)--Ron Collier, CEO of Indiana Members CU, Indianapolis, has submitted his nomination for the District 2, Class C Credit Union National Association (CUNA) board of directors position. The deadline for nominations for eight positions on CUNA’s board is Oct. 17. Already nominated are:
* Sandy Lingerfelt, Clinchfield FCU, Erwin, Tenn., for District 3, Class A; * Brett Thompson, Wisconsin Credit Union League, Pewaukee, Wis., for District 4, Class D; and * Winona Nava, Guadalupe CU, Santa Fe, N.M., for District 5, Class A.
The eight directors elected will take office Feb. 27, 2009, for three-year terms to expire at the adjournment of the 2012 CUNA Annual General Meeting. Positions up for election are:
* District 1, Class B; * District 2, Class C; * District 3, Class A; * District 3, Class D; * District 4, Class B; * District 4, Class D; * District 5, Class A; and * District 6, Class C.
Nominators must submit the appropriate forms and obtain consent of the candidate. Voting will begin Oct. 22 and will close on Dec. 19. For more information, use the resource links.

Freiburg to keynote CUNA Lending Council Conference

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MADISON, Wis. (10/2/08)--Author and speaker Kevin Freiburg will discuss how to step up to the leadership plate and choose to become a force for change during his keynote address at the 14th annual CUNA Lending Council Conference, Nov. 2-5 in Orlando, Fla. During “Boom! Seven Choices for Blowing the Doors Off Business-as-Usual,” Freiburg will illustrate how to create a culture of commitment and accountability, one choice at a time. Attendees will learn how to inspire people to assume responsibility for the success of the organization and how to build a reputation for being indispensable. Conference breakout sessions will tackle issues to help lending professionals succeed in current market conditions, including:
* The mortgage meltdown: tools and tactics; * Hot collection and bankruptcy topics in an economic downturn; * Underwriting risk for underbanked and underserved consumers; * Opportunities in mortgage lending; * To do or not to do: indirect vs. direct auto lending; * Home equity lending-risk strategies; * Open-end lending: Reg Z impacts to the credit union; * Mortgage lending strategies for today’s economic environment; * Hottest topics in lending compliance; * Reverse mortgages; and * Building members from indirect borrowers.
A luncheon on Nov. 3 will honor the winners of the Credit Union Excellence in Lending Awards, sponsored by CUNA Mutual Group and the CUNA Lending Council. On Nov. 2, attendees may choose to sign up for a golf tournament at Shingle Creek Golf Club or volunteer at Give Kids The World Village (GKTW) in Kissimmee, Fla. GKTW is a not-for-profit resort for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.