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CU System briefs (11/21/2011)

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  • SAN ANTONIO (11/22/11)--San Antonio-based SACU honored retiring CEO Jeffrey H. Farver Nov. 19 by presenting a $100,000 Jeffrey H. Farver Endowed
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    Scholarship, which will benefit students at Alamo Colleges. The gift represents one of the largest endowed scholarships in operation at the Alamo Colleges Foundation. Farver led the credit union for the past 21 years. Out of town guests for the event included Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney; Harriet May, CUNA Board chair and president/CEO of Government Employees CU of El Paso; and Richard Ensweiler, president/CEO of the Texas Credit Union League. From left are: Frank Burk, SACU Board chairman; Jim Eskin of the foundation;  Farver; and Randy Smith of the foundation. (Photo provided by SACU) …
  • ROCHESTER, N.H. (11/22/11)--Rochester, N.H.,-based Holy Rosary CU (HRCU) closed its first home loan in conjunction with The Housing Partnership (THP), a
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    not-for-profit affordable housing developer based in Portsmouth, N.H., on Nov. 3. The property, purchased by the Mercedes family as their first home, is one of five properties acquired and rehabilitated by THP using federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds provided by the city.  Bill Cormier of Hourihane, Cormier  & Associates approached the credit union to work with THP to offer the homes for sale.  The NSP program is operated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is administered by the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority.  From left are: Jack Peduzzi, senior project manager, THP; Marty Chapman, executive director of THP; new homeowners Mr. and Mrs. Felix Mercedes; Cormier; and Julie Coakley, HRCU assistant vice president of lending and business development. (Photo provided by Holy Rosary CU) …
  • FORT WAYNE, Ind. (11/22/11)--An alert member foiled a robbery at Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Freedom Financial FCU by elbowing the suspect and knocking him down. When the unarmed suspect fled, the member followed and obtained the license plate number of the alleged getaway van. Police later arrested Michael Boester, 34, and Molly Hutmacher, 23, for attempted robbery. Hutmacher also faces a charge of neglect of a dependent.  A two-year -old who was in the van with the couple when police arrested them as they arrived home was placed with family. Police lauded the quick-acting member but cautioned residents to consider the consequences before trying to stop a crime in progress  (Associated Press via abclocal.go/com and The Journal Gazette Nov. 19) …

Six CUs on IDetroit Free PressI top workplaces list

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LANSING, Mich. (11/22/11)--Six credit unions have made the Detroit Free Press top workplaces list, according to the Michigan Credit Union League.

The annual ranking honors 100 employers based on a survey that gathers and analyzes employees' opinions on topics such as pay and benefits, working conditions and general direction a company is headed. Workplace Dynamics of Exton, Pa., designed and conducted the survey (Michigan Monitor Nov. 21).

Employee satisfaction, work-life balance and the potential for strong growth are some of the terms being used to describe the workplaces.

Four credit unions were among the 35 top "Midsize" companies selected.  They include:

  • Michigan State University FCU, East Lansing;
  • DFCU Financial CU, Dearborn;
  • Michigan First CU, Lathrup Village;  and
  • Genisys CU, Pontiac.
E&A CU, Port Huron, was among the 40 "Small" companies honored.

Community Choice CU, Farmington Hills, was selected in a new category called "National Standard," which describes 32 companies that did not score high enough to make the top 100 workplaces but met the standards of a national benchmark.

Iowa foundation announces scholarship program

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DES MOINES, Iowa (11/22/11)--The Iowa Credit Union Foundation (ICUF) announced the start of its 2012 Family Involvement Board Scholarship program, which will award $5,750 in scholarships to six Iowa students. Two scholarship programs are available through the program.

The first is a scholarship for high school seniors with a projected graduation date of 2012. That competition will award a total of $3,750. The first-place prize is $1,500; second place is $1,000; third place is $750; and fourth place is $500.

The second program is a post-high school scholarship, which is open to any person who is entering or attending an accredited undergraduate, graduate or vocational program. Two $1,000 scholarships will be awarded in this category.

Applicants must complete an entry form found on the ICUF website and are required to answer a question in 500 words or less. Essay questions try to encourage learning about the credit union movement and its mission.

CUNA Council paper addresses online marketing tactics

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MADISON, Wis. (11/22/11)--With technology at their fingertips virtually all the time, consumers have different expectations about how their financial institutions communicate with them, according to a new white paper from the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council. 

Simply state, technology has put consumers in control, and they decide when and how they want to be contacted, Mark Arnold explained in "Online Marketing Tactics."

It's up to credit unions to adapt to the new rules by learning their members' preferences and appealing to them in a way that gets their attention.

"Digital media is unfamiliar territory for a lot of credit unions," Arnold writes. "It doesn't change the fact that whatever credit union marketers implement has to support their brand and promote the credit union. Whatever campaign they put together--online or traditional--it should have the three core elements of any campaign: target, offer and message. Making the online strategy what it is--a smaller piece of a much larger puzzle--helps align it with the overall business goals."

The white paper:

  • Shares current technology trends;
  • Examines online marketing elements worth considering;
  • Discusses the essentials of an online marketing strategy;
  • Provides tips on implementing online marketing tactics; and
  • Reinforces the concept that using online marketing tactics has the potential to reach more people and produce better results for less money.

Be a CU Super Saver is 2012 Youth Week theme

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MADISON, Wis. (11/22/11)--Credit union staff and youth nationwide chose "Be a Credit Union Super Saver" as the 2012 theme for National Credit Union Youth Week, which will be celebrated April 22-28.

The "Super Saver" theme draws upon the powers of superheroes that also apply to saving at a credit union, such as plotting a savings plan and acting it out, protecting and monitoring money and drawing upon resources at the credit union in order to be strong savers and smart spenders.

Balcaitis said the superheroes theme can work in multiple ways. "It not only encourages them to be Super Savers, but it can be a great opportunity for credit unions to demonstrate how they are superheroes in their own communities," she said.

In keeping with the Super Saver theme, the 2012 Youth Week poster employs comic book-inspired design and bright primary colors. The poster and related artwork will be available online in January. For updates on Youth Week, credit union staff may sign up for a free e-newsletter.

Harvard students pull BofA accounts move to CU

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (11/22/11)--A group of Harvard University students Saturday closed their financial accounts with Bank of America Corp. (BofA) and then opened new ones at Harvard University Employees CU (HUECU) in Cambridge, Mass.

"We were contacted by a group of students from Harvard Divinity School who decided that, in the spirit of Bank Transfer Day, they wanted to divest from Bank of America," Tom Montilli, the credit union's vice president of marketing, told News Now. "They organized a small group of about 12 students and told us the credit union was one of two community institutions it chose [to which they wanted to transfer their funds].

"The students asked to meet with HUECU Saturday morning and talk to us about credit unions," Montilli added. "Afterwards, they went over as a group to BofA to close their accounts, and then came to the credit union to open new ones."

The Harvard students had asked the credit union to stay open until 3 p.m. Saturday to accommodate their account transfers.

The students also sent an open letter to BofA's Cambridge branch to explain their divestment decision and rationale behind it.

"Your company, which controls over two trillion dollars in assets, was deemed too big to fail by the U.S. government, and we agree with this sentiment," the letter reads. "You are too big to fail. Too many people rely on you to exist so that they don't lose their mortgages, their life savings, and their livelihood. For this reason, the American taxpayers supplied your company with billions in government bailout money.

"We expected change for the better," the letter continues. "What we got was business as usual. That year your company yielded billions in profits, and your CEOs pocketed millions of dollars in bonuses. You foreclosed on more mortgages than any other American bank, and did not pay taxes despite a $10 billion profit."

To read the letter, use the link.

Although there is no way HUECU can determine what account openings  occurred directly from the  "divestment day" activities, the credit union has seen the number of checking  accounts opened during the past month grow to three times the amount opened in the same period last year, Montilli said.

Illinois small CUs group begins regional workshops

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NAPERVILLE Ill. (11/22/11)--The Illinois Credit Union League's (ICUL) Small Asset Size (SAS) Advisory Group launched its new "Lunch and Learn" workshop series last week for credit unions with less than  $25 million in assets to help them with compliance, regulatory topics and networking.

Joni Senkpeil, director of small credit union development for the Illinois Credit Union League, leads a Lunch and Learn workshop in Rosemont, Illinois Nov. 17. The workshop series aims to help credit unions with less than $25 million in assets with compliance, regulatory topics and networking. (Photo provided by the Illinois Credit Union League)
The first two workshops were held in Rockford and Rosemont. Four additional meetings are scheduled for western, central and southern Illinois between Nov. 28 and Dec. 2.

"If there's one thing that stands out in our industry, it's the ease in which small credit unions share and learn from each other and the value that comes from this unique quality that our industry possesses," said Joni Senkpeil, ICUL director of small credit union development.

"These meetings represent the first stage of what we hope will be a stepping stone to an ongoing program that will bring our small credit unions together and enhance the environment in which our small credit unions will flourish," she added.

SAS workgroups statewide have four priorities for action:

  • Reduce the regulatory and compliance burden. Small credit unions have identified regulatory compliance as a barrier to running an effective day-to-day operation.  Assistance in this area will include "Hot Topic" multi-chapter events, enhancing and expanding the online small credit union resource center available through the league's website, e-mail updates, and developing a centralized clearinghouse of common vendors.
  • Promote collaboration. Small credit unions will benefit from joining together on products and services, ideas and projects, said the league. The advisory group will help to build partnerships, establish peer networks, provide credit union mentoring, and coordinate a "market place" to catalog the availability of low-cost or no-cost furniture and equipment.
  • Enhance communication. Opening an ongoing dialogue within the small credit union community is essential to the effective implementation of programs. Initiatives, such as small credit union workgroups, "Hot Topics" conference calls, information sharing, and alternate communication methods such as the ICUL's small-credit union listserv will be facilitated.
  • Increase competitiveness. The advisory group believes adopting plans to reach non-members will bring increased unity, growth and stability. SAS credit unions will receive help promoting their Web presence, participating in the Illinois REAL Solutions program, using a marketing toolkit, and strengthening their niche in the marketplace.

Seattle and Portland Ore. plan to move funds to CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (11/22/11)--Seattle and Portland, Ore., are considering moving public funds to credit unions from banks in response to Bank Transfer Day and the Occupy movement.

By a 9-0 vote, the Seattle City Council adopted a 12-part resolution Nov. 14 "to review its banking and investment practices to ensure that public funds are invested in responsible financial institutions that support our community."

The resolution was sponsored by council members Nic Licata and Mike O'Brien, who both announced they were joining credit unions on Bank Transfer Day, according to the Northwest Credit Union Association (Anthem Nov. 15.)

The resolution presents opportunities for partnership on common issues before the state legislature, according to Mark Minickiello, league vice president of legislative affairs.

"The resolution ties the city of Seattle to issues of public funds and member business lending--two issues that credit unions have an interest in," Minickiello told newspaper.

Portland Mayor Sam Adams said Wednesday he would pursue moving some of Portland's public funds to credit unions after being challenged to do so by mayoral candidate and state Rep. Jefferson Smith (D) (OregonLive.com Nov. 21).

Portland has millions of dollars deposited with Wells Fargo, a target of Occupy protesters.

The topic was introduced at a Portland City Council meeting by city resident Todd Olson, who said transferring funds would address the "gross inequity" that led to the Occupy protest in Portland.

Redwood CU awards family 10000 in savings contest

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SANTA ROSA, Calif. (11/22/11)--Team Jaworski is the winner of the $10,000 grand prize in Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Redwood CU's year-long Amazing Savers contest.

Members of the Jaworski family, who saved enough to purchase their first home, captured the $10,000 grand prize in Redwood CU's Amazing Savers' contest. Here, the Jaworskis (center) celebrate the announcement. (Photo provided by Redwood CU)
RCU's Amazing Savers contest followed five teams of RCU members throughout 2011 as they worked closely with financial coaches from the credit union to improve their finances by budgeting, refinancing, reducing debt and investing.

Over the course of the contest, the Jaworski family made the most financial improvements by increasing their savings enough to purchase their first home, start a college fund for their young son, pay off their auto loan and improve their credit score.

All five teams made significant financial transformations throughout the contest, including:

  • Team Campbell improved its cashflow, started an emergency fund, purchased a more economical fuel-efficient vehicle, and improved the family's credit score.
  • Team Flores reduced debt by refinancing its auto loan to a 4.74% annual percentage rate from 7.5%, started a savings plan and improved the family's credit score.
  • Team Lynch reduced her credit card interest rate by 22%, improved her credit score, saved enough money to live independently, and is teaching her students the foundation of good money habits.
  • Team Van Patten saved nearly $400 a month by refinancing its debt and improved its credit score. Mother Sharon is teaching her daughters good money habits for their future.
Runner-up teams were awarded $1,000 each for their hard work and achievements during the contest.

The contestants' financial transformation progress was chronicled online through contestant and coach blogs. The credit union's web site also offered tips, tools and guidance for anyone who wished to improve their finances.

Redwood CU offers free financial coaching to any member seeking to improve their financial situation.