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Greylock FCUs quarter results shows strong growth

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. (11/14/08)--Greylock FCU has added more than 2,500 members so far this year and reached $1.1 billion in assets, according to the Pittsfield, Mass.-based credit union's third quarter results for 2008. In the past 12 months, total loans at the credit union grew by 18% to $895 million and total share deposits grew 12% to $870 million. "Our ability to not only survive the current financial crisis but to actually grow ahead of our goals speaks volumes to the trust that Berkshire County families and businesses place in Greylock," said President Angelo Stracuzzi. "They know that we have never and will never engage in subprime lending practices, and that we are not subject to the whims of Wall Street," he added. Stracuzzi noted the credit union's earnings are strong because the credit union is "totally focused on relationships. If we take care of our members, and efficiently put their money to work right here in the community, the earnings take care of themselves." Data from Callahan & Associates, a national credit unions research firm, indicated that Greylock is 60% more efficient than its peer financial institutions at generating income per employee. In addition to hitting the $1.1 billion asset landmark, the credit union saw:
* Strong capital reserves at $90 million; * Loan reserves exceeding $8 million; * Third-quarter earnings at $1.6 million; and * Year-to-date earnings at $5.1 million.
Stracuzzi said the good results will enable the credit union to run a new Visa promotion for the holidays. Any purchase made with the credit union's Visa card between now and Dec. 31 will receive 0% until the balance is paid off. "We know the economy is tough and many families are feeling the pinch this year as they plan for the holidays," he said.

Connecticut league sends interns to TrinidadTobago

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MERIDEN, Conn. (11/14/08)--The Credit Union League of Connecticut (CULC) has entered into a partnership agreement with the Cooperative Credit Union League of Trinidad and Tobago that involves an internship program between the two leagues. The International Partnerships Development Committee of CULC recently selected Patti Prendergast, vice president of marketing and membership development at Stamford (Conn.) FCU, and Fred Brown, director of marketing and member development at Northeast Family FCU, Manchester, to participate in its Internship Exchange Program with the Trinidad and Tobago league. Interns spend two weeks learning, sharing information, and comparing procedures with the host credit union. Prendergast interned at Tranquility CU located in Port of Spain, Trinidad, where she worked with the education/marketing committee and staff to establish a strategic marketing plan. “This was a truly unique experience to work at a credit union in another country,” Prendergast said. “I was inspired by the enthusiasm and dedication of the people in the credit union movement.” Brown interned in the marketing department at Eastern CU in La Joya, Trinidad. “Working with Eastern CU, I saw firsthand just how strong the credit union movement is in Trinidad and Tobago and how far we--the U.S.--have to go,” Brown said. The International Partnerships Development Committee--which is affiliated with the World Council of Credit Unions--works cooperatively to build an interconnected, international credit union system to serve credit unions and their members.

Security not a tech issue but a biz issue

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NEW YORK (11/14/08)--Security vulnerabilities often are not directly a technology issue, but a business issue, according to two IBM security executives. “There is no silver bullet, and the worst enemy is a lack of awareness,” said Phil McHugh, IBM ISS security executive, and Guy Denton, IBM ISS executive consultant, during a recent webinar that focused on security challenges faced by financial services providers. Risks can be data-driven, business-driven, or event-driven. Data-driven problems include viruses, worms, and disk failure. Business-driven problems include application outages, network problems and lack of governance. Event-driven problems stem from terrorism, natural disasters, power failures, fires or a pandemic, the webinar said. Increased collaboration among businesses also poses risks, McHugh said. Credit unions that want to guard against risks can undergo assessments. Vulnerability assessments provide penetration testing to see if vulnerabilities exist, and information security assessments comprehensively evaluate organizations’ information policies, procedures, controls and mechanisms. Five other initiatives that financial services providers are undergoing to prevent risks are:
* Access and identity management; * Security regulatory compliance; * Security training and awareness; * Governance for security, including frameworks; and * Disaster recovery and business continuity.
The webinar also noted security issues with Web 2.0, which is a catch-all term to describe sites that are more than static pages. The key enabler with Web 2.0 pages is the Asynchronous Javascript and XML--or AJAX. Traditional security approaches don’t work in Web 2.0, but credit unions can implement risk-based, enterprise-wide security programs to mitigate Web. 2.0’s applications with an integrated framework approach, McHugh and Denton said.

Debit card use is up says another survey

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NEW YORK (11/14/08)--Debit card use is expected to climb 13% in 2008, to $1.2 trillion, according to the Nilson Report. The trend will impact credit unions in more ways than one. The steep increase in debit use compares with a 3% increase in credit card transactions, totaling $1.9 trillion. Mastercard and Visa reported a 17.5% hike in debit card transactions, compared with 7.45% for credit card transactions during 2007, said Nilson (San Antonio Express-News Nov. 11). Visa Inc. says debit card use could surpass credit card use this year. Roughly 58.9% of credit unions overall offer debit cards, according to the Credit Union National Association's Credit Union Service Profile for December 2007. But among credit unions with $50 million or more in assets, debit cards are offered by 96% to 99.6% of credit unions, depending on the asset category, said the profile. There's still plenty of room to grow debit card use. Larger credit unions that offer debit cards can work on getting a larger debit penetration in their membership. Smaller credit unions may be hard put to offer the sophisticated debit services unless they collaborate with third parties. Also noting the increasing debit card usage is SAS, which makes software that tracks consumer purchase. Members and other consumers already are using their debit cards, SAS told the Express-News. Some members are using debit as a budgetary measure as card companies place more restrictions on card use in the tightening economy. Leslie Baldwin, a member of Security Services FCU in San Antonio, told the newspaper that her family cut up its credit cards and is using cash and her credit union debit card, PayPal and online bill paying services. The trick is to keep track of the expenditures on debit. According to the Consumer Federation of America, consumers paid $17.5 billion a year for unauthorized overdraft loans that stemmed from not keeping track of their debit card purchases. Overdraft fees at the nation's largest banks averaged almost $35 last year. Business Week (Oct. 29) reported that banks are scrambling to boost the profitability of their debit cards. It notes that overdraft fees have evolved. Banks used to deny credit to consumers who don't have enough funds in their accounts. Now most large banks approve the debits but charge a fee if the debit "bounces." They've also made it easier to prompt penalties. Consumers no longer have a "float" between the charge date and when they deposit money into the account. "Banks have turned this into a major source of revenue," CFA told the publication.

Pennsylvania CU supporter Lt. Gov. Knoll dies

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (11/14/08)--Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell Wednesday announced the death of Catherine Baker Knoll, the state’s first female lieutenant governor, and a friend and supporter of credit unions. Knoll died at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C., where she was undergoing physical therapy following treatment for neuroendocrine cancer, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) (Life is a Highway Nov. 13). Knoll was a friend of credit unions and supportive of their efforts, PCUA said. During a celebration for the swearing in of U.S. Sen. Bob Casey in January 2007, PCUA staff met Knoll, who was wearing the Credit Union Little Guy pin. The pins were distributed at a train station and throughout Washington by Credit Union National Association staffers. Knoll served eight years as state treasurer. She was sworn in on Jan. 21, 2003, as Pennsylvania’s 30th lieutenant governor, and the first woman elected to the post.

ABCUL Ten ways to survive recession with CU

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MADISON, Wis. (11/14/08)--The Association of British Credit Unions (ABCUL) has compiled its Top Ten Tips for how members can get through tough economic times, especially with the holidays on the horizon ( Nov. 13). Credit unions in the U.S. can adapt ABCUL’s suggestions and promote to their members:
* Flexible savings products--Credit unions offer a range of flexible and accessible savings accounts. Members can save according to their needs. Tell members that even saving a small amount each week will add significant savings; * Lower loan costs--If members need to borrow money, credit unions have some of the best deals available. Early repayment of a loan from a credit union results in no penalties. Borrowers pay interest only for the amount of time they are in possession of the loan money; * Debit cards--Members can use them with merchants and to withdraw cash from ATMs. Users can set up direct debit payments with utility bills, for example, to save money; * Rewards cards--Many credit unions offer rewards cards that add value each time they are used; * Christmas savings clubs--This is a safe way to save for the holiday season; * Mortgages--With access to mortgages from banks getting harder to obtain, credit unions are in a good position to offer their competitively priced mortgages; * Life insurance--When members take out a credit union product, this is built in at no extra cost, meaning loans are written off if there is a member death. This may vary in the U.S.; * Money management advice--Members should be made aware that many credit unions offer free advice and useful information on managing finances; * Deposit guarantee--Member deposits are issued up to $250,000 through the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund; and * Local ownership--Credit unions are owned by members, not stockholders.

Iowa league testifies at presidents fin-lit forum

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DES MOINES, Iowa (11/14/08)--Iowa Credit Union League (ICUL) testified that credit unions are increasing financial literacy among their members during a financial literacy forum hosted by members of
Jeff Russell of The Members Group provides testimony on behalf of the Iowa Credit Union League during a financial literacy forum hosted by the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy. The Members Group is a credit union service organization owned by the league.
Carrie Schwab Pomerantz, daughter of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy Chair Charles Schwab, was the keynote speaker at the council’s forum on financial literacy in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photos provided by the Iowa Credit Union League)
the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy. Iowa credit unions are holding financial seminars, developing in-school branches, participating in Money Smart Week Iowa and sponsoring the television show BizKid$, which teaches children about money. “Iowa credit unions are advocates for increasing financial literacy, not only among our members but our broader communities,” said Patrick Jury, ICUL president/CEO. “We will continue to pledge our support of financial education and making a difference in the lives of our members.” Jeff Russell of The Members Group (TMG) provided the testimony for ICUL. TMG is a credit union service organization that is owned by ICUL. Russell shared information about the Iowa Credit Union Foundation’s individual development account program that matches the savings of working families so they can purchase long-term financial assets such as a home, business or education. He also noted ICUL’s subsidiary company, Coopera Consulting, which was created to help credit unions nationwide reach out to Hispanics. Coopera has helped credit unions open accounts for previously unbanked Hispanics and has started them on a path to savings, asset building and greater financial literacy, he said. More than 100 financial education leaders in Iowa attended the forum to discuss financial literacy efforts in the state. The forum was sponsored by the ICU, Greater Iowa CU, and the Iowa State University College of Business and College of Human Sciences. Council members heard testimony from the ICUL, Iowa Society for Human Resource Management, the Iowa Department of Human Services, the Iowa Jump$tart Coalition and the 21st Century Skill Committee. The President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy was created in January by President Bush to help Americans with finances.

CU System briefs (11/13/2008)

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (11/14/08)--More than 41 volunteers from Alabama and Mississippi credit unions attending the Alabama Credit Union League's fall Development Conference in Biloxi, Miss., participated in a building project for the Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. They worked on six houses, each in the initial stages of framing, in Long Beach, Miss. According to Leah Witmer of the Habitat organization, "They played a critical role in helping 29 hardworking families move one step closer to homeownership and long-term financial stability. We absolutely couldn't have made so much progress without these volunteers." The league provided breakfast and lunch and "Build on our Mission"-themed T-shirts. Pictured are some of the volunteers. (Photo provided by the Alabama Credit Union League) … * NORTH POLE (11/14/08)--A man dressed in a black motocross helmet, a black jacket and dark bunny boots robbed a branch of Alaska USA FCU at the North Pole Wednesday afternoon. Police are investigating whether the robbery is connected to a bomb threat called in to a nearby middle school. The branch is located in a Carrs/Safeway grocery store. Police shut down the school and sealed off entrances at the shopping center but allowed shoppers to leave. An undisclosed amount was taken (Fort Mill Times Nov. 13) … * JACKSON, Miss. (11/14/08)--Two well-dressed gunmen held up the Mississippi DHS FCU in Jackson Wednesday morning ( Nov. 13). The robbery is the 14th in the city this year and the second time the credit union has been robbed this year. The men robbed two tellers, who were not injured. No members were in the credit union at the time. Authorities have not determined whether this robbery is related to a robbery by two men of the credit union on May 9. A school next door was locked down after the incident … * BAY CITY, Mich. (11/14/08)--Jeremy L. Coberley has been named president/CEO of FinancialEdge Community CU. The appointment was effective Sept. 24, announced Timothy Green, board chairman. Coberley was formerly vice president of operations at the $55 million asset credit union and had been a member of its management team since 2002. He has more than 10 years' experience with the credit union industry. The credit union, based in Bay City, serves the communities of Bay, Sagninaw, Midland and Arenac Counties in Michigan … * GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (11/14/08)--Ronald Tran, 45, former general manager of Plainwell Community FCU, Plainwell, Mich., pleaded guilty Wednesday to defrauding the credit union of about $1.3 million over four years until 2004. He pleaded guilty to two counts of financial institution fraud, four counts of embezzlement from a credit union, and four counts of money laundering. Investigators said he issued loans under false information and used his position to misapply funds of the credit union for his own use. Sentencing is set for Feb. 23. Tran faces a maximum penalty of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million on the embezzlement charges, plus up to 20 years and a fine of $500,000 for the money-laundering charges ( Nov. 13) … * TULSA, Okla. (11/14/08)--Cynthia Jan Harris, a former assistant manager for Mayes County FCU, pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $1.6 million from the $24.5 million asset, Pryor, Okla.-based credit union. Harris admitted to stealing the money from June 2000 through July 2007. She made phony deposits into existing credit union accounts and then used checks to withdraw funds. She faces a four-to-five-year prison term (Associated Press Newswires Nov. 7) … * WEST MONROE, La. (11/14/08)--Forest Kraft FCU, based in West Monroe, has changed its name to Centric FCU, as of Nov. 1. The change stems from the $74 million asset credit union’s “desire to further distinguish itself in the financial institution marketplace,” the credit union said in a press release. “Our intent in becoming Centric FCU is to better reflect who we are,” said Centric CEO Chris Craighead. “Since expanding our membership several years ago, we have grown beyond our original membership" …