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CUNA Mutual receives top innovators tech award

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MADISON, Wis. (12/1/10)--CUNA Mutual Group received first place in the Insurance Networking News 2010 INNovators Awards, a distinctive designation intended to advance the spread of business and technology acumen in the insurance industry. The 2010 insurance company winners were determined to have led or contributed to a business application or project that uses innovation to successfully drive business impact, technical impact or the innovation itself. CUNA Mutual received first place in the Customer Experience category for its major redevelopment to, within its Consumer Lending Platform. The category honors insurance companies that develop front-office technologies and initiatives that successfully attract, retain and drive customer loyalty, satisfaction and retention. The other awarded categories include Core Systems: Back-office technologies and initiatives that drive bottom-line results; and Enterprise Systems: Enterprise-class technologies and initiatives that bridge cross-functional, operational boundaries. “Our INNovators are a testament to the industry’s ability to successfully develop and promote technology and business innovations across functional lines to create a win-win,” said Pat Speer, editor-in-chief of Insurance Networking News. “This year’s entries make it clear that insurers understand the importance of innovation as a key to competitive advantage.” “We are very honored to receive this prestigious award from Insurance Networking News for,” said Rick Roy, CUNA Mutual chief information officer and senior vice president. “As a company, we are very committed to credit unions by partnering to provide products that build for the future, while simultaneously delivering results today. is a great example of how we help our credit union customers improve their ability to generate new revenue streams and acquire up-and-coming markets, like Gen Y, through a very customer-centric delivery channel,” he added. The major redevelopment of improved credit unions’ ability to provide online lending services through a multi-channel loan platform that streamlines the lending process. More than 500 credit unions use, which processes 500,000 loan applications annually. This year’s winners were determined by a panel of industry experts, including INN staff editors and INN’s editorial advisory board members. The 2010 INNovators program was designed as an educational vehicle and, as such, Insurance Networking News will publish the winner’s stories its special January/February print edition. Videotaped interviews of winners also will appear online on Insurance Networking News’ INN TV channel.

Conserved Arrowhead CU closes eight branches

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Conserved Arrowhead CU closes eight branches SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (12/1/10)--Arrowhead CU, operating under National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) conservatorship since June, announced Tuesday it will close eight branches by the end of the year. The credit union said the reduction is intended as a continuation of its efforts toward “financial improvement.” The locations scheduled to close are six branches located inside Stater Bros. Markets in Loma Linda, Beaumont, Wildomar, 40th Street in San Bernardino, Summit in Fontana and Eagle Glen in Corona. In addition, the Mt.Vernon branch in San Bernardino and the Norco branch will also close. The San Bernardino, Calif.,-based credit union said the 11 of its branches that will remain open are located within minutes of those that scheduled to close, and 10 of the 11 will operate with expanded hours. Loans, direct deposits, transfers, debit cards and other account services used by its members will continue without interruption, the credit union said. Arrowhead CU will offer members in affected areas options to maintain their membership including assistance to find alternate locations, set up of electronic services, audio telephone banking, bank by mail, automatic payments and other programs designed for member convenience. NCUA assumed control of Arrowhead June 25 and fired four senior-level employees, include CEO Larry Sharp (News Now July 30). The $876-million-asset credit union had been placed into conservatorship due to declining financial condition. The employees were Sharp; Daniel Marciante, chief financial officer; Gene Shabinaw, senior vice president of lending; and Ray Messler, senior vice present of strategic development. Since it was placed under conservatorship by the NCUA, the credit union said its interim management has reduced operating expenses by more than 30%, compared with 2009, while reducing and eliminating some member fees, such as those for loan applications.

Kenyan center joins WOCCU to fight AIDS

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MADISON, Wis. (12/1/10)--The Busia Compassionate Centre in Busia, Kenya, with funding from World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), is helping combat the global HIV/AIDS epidemic by supporting orphans who have lost their parents to the disease or who are infected themselves. The observance of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 emphasizes the importance of universal access to treatment and human rights, something that many of Kenya's savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs), or credit unions, have been working to further for several years. “As trusted member-owned and operated financial cooperatives, SACCOs are instrumental in improving lives throughout the communities they serve,” said Pete Crear, president/CEO of WOCCU, which manages development programs that support SACCOs in Kenya and other African nations. “SACCOs educate and support their membership in an attempt to diminish the devastation of this terrible disease.”
Stella Egesa, founder and manager of the Busia Compassionate Centre in Kenya--which with funding from World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) is helping combat the global HIV/AIDS epidemic--tends to the newest addition to the orphanage family. (Photo provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
The 2010 World AIDS day theme--Universal Access and Human Rights--speaks directly to the efforts made by many of Kenya's SACCOs in helping combat the spread of the deadly disease. The theme also describes the work performed by Busia Compassionate Centre to help children who themselves have been orphaned due to parents who died from AIDS. WOCCU began working with Busia Compassionate Centre as part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded program in Kenya aimed at mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS on economic growth through credit union modernization. During the program, which ran from 2006 to 2010, many of the involved credit unions played active roles in providing HIV/AIDS prevention education to members and providing food produced by farmers who received credit union loans to orphanages that help AIDS-affected children. Program staff taught volunteers to plant food crops on the orphanage grounds, introduced irrigation, made renovations and worked with program credit unions to finance additional food and scholarships for older orphans to attend secondary school. WOCCU has since focused on providing the orphanage continued financial support through its affiliation with the worldwide credit union movement. Donations made to the Busia Compassionate Centre through the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions directly fund improvements to the home, making it a healthier place for the children to live. Donations also ensure that children living at the orphanage receive basic nutrition and provide scholarships for the children to go to school. “Educating members is one of the most important roles in which financial cooperatives serve the world over. Providing education and care to AIDS victims in Kenya is paramount to the commitment SACCOs have made to their members,” Crear said.

CU receives offer on historic train depot

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SAN ANTONIO (12/1/10)--Generations FCU (generations) in San Antonio announced that VIA Metropolitan Transit has offered to purchase the former International & Great Northern Depot--known as the MoPac Depot--a historic train depot located in downtown San Antonio. The depot, which currently houses the 70-year-old credit union’s administrative offices and its downtown branch, was originally completed in 1908. It fell into disrepair after the Missouri Pacific vacated the building in 1970, but was restored to its original grandeur by generations and returned to full use in 1988 (LoneStar Leaguer Nov. 24). “In 1986 we had the opportunity to purchase and renovate this extraordinary facility, saving a significant piece of San Antonio’s history,” said generations CEO Tim Haegelin. “Since that time, our organization has continued to grow and expand to the point where we require additional space to accommodate our employees and our systems that keep our credit union running every day, serving our members.” Designed by Harvey L. Page and built by James Stewart and Company, the building is 110 feet by 110 feet and features a large cathedral-style rotunda that is 88 feet high. Atop the dome’s exterior is a 200-pound statue of the International & Great Northern (IG&N) Railway mascot, an Indian. The Indian’s bow and arrow point in the direction of the IG&N’s home offices, which were located in St. Louis. “It’s a bittersweet moment for us as a credit union,” Haegelin said. “We poured our hearts into the restoration of this beautiful, historic building. However, the ability to return the depot to its original purpose, a hub of transportation that serves the citizens of this community, was an opportunity we felt we couldn’t pass up.” Generations FCU will continue to operate out of the depot building until the completed construction of its new downtown branch.

Hampel to IMarketplaceI radio Increase CU MBL to help economy

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MADISON, Wis. (12/1/10)--If the credit union member business lending (MBL) cap was raised, the needs of small businesses could be better met, Bill Hampel, chief economist for the Credit Union National Association, told Marketplace radio Monday. Hampel made his comments as one of several people interviewed in a segment about AFRA-SAG FCU in Burbank, Calif., because the credit union decided to ask some of its high-dollar depositors to consider withdrawing their funds. Hampel explained the credit union’s rationale for the request. “In normal times what they would do is, they would just take the funds that were not being loaned out and invest them,” Hampel told Marketplace. “But right now, interest rates on short-term investments are essentially very close to zero, so there's not much they can do with the money.” Asking members to withdraw money is unusual, because typically a credit union might lower interest rates to discourage customers from depositing too much, Hampel added. Credit unions have been working for years to be able to lend more money to small businesses, Marketplace noted. Federal regulatory reform regarding limits on credit unions’ MBL would help the economy, Hampel told Marketplace. “We feel that we should be allowed to have something more than 12% of our assets in business loans,” Hampel said. “And the bankers would prefer that we stay at this limit, even if some of them are unable to meet all of their small-business loan demands.” Credit unions are seeking to get the MBL cap lifted to 27.5% of total assets. To read the interview transcript or hear the audio file, use the link.

AEA FCU members say thank you

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YUMA, Ariz. (12/01/10)--AEA FCU was virtually wallpapered with handwritten “thank you” notes after it asked members and employees to write down what they were grateful for this Thanksgiving ( Nov. 29) The credit union placed note pads with the heading, “I am thankful for … ” at each teller window, with markers and tap for members share their thoughts and post them on the counter. The notes of gratitude ranged from the very specific--one member was thankful for Starbucks--to the more global and, perhaps, universal, such as freedom, families and faith. Members thought so much of the idea that they asked if they could take the note pads to their schools, churches and other local organizations. The $348 million asset, Yuma, Ariz.-based credit union showed its gratitude during November by donating a turkey to a local homeless shelter for each vehicle financed that was purchased through a local dealership. To read the article, use the link.

Shot fired during Nevada CU robbery

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HENDERSON, Nev. (12/01/10)--A shot was fired, but no one was injured during a robbery at a Silver State Schools CU branch in Henderson, Nev. on Monday. The FBI reports that a man in his 20s entered the branch at 12:13 p.m. and fired one shot between two of tellers, jumped the counter, and took an undisclosed amount of money. (Las Vegas Sun Nov. 29). Witnesses reported the suspect fled scene in an older, gold-colored Lincoln Continental with a white top that was driven by another man. The trunk was tied down with rope and there appeared to be faded shoe polish on the back window (KTNV Nov. 29). The suspect who fired the shot was described as about 5-feet-8-inches tall and 150 pounds, with his race unknown. The getaway driver is described as a Hispanic male standing about 5-feet-4-inches tall.

Hurricane season at end CUs stayed clear

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MADISON, Wis. (11/30/10)--The 2010 hurricane season--which ends today--lived up to last year's predictions of an active hurricane season. Twelve hurricanes formed in the Atlantic Ocean. However, none made landfall on U.S. soil, and the nation's credit unions managed to stay clear of the storms. Hurricane season lasts six months. An average season produces 10 named storms, with six hitting hurricane status and two becoming major hurricanes. This season, 19 named storms formed, with 12 becoming hurricanes. Five were major Category 3 or higher hurricanes, with winds of 111 mph, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Hurricane Center. Since the busy hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005, which yielded seven major hurricanes including Ivan and Katrina, credit unions have stepped up their business continuity plans, adjusted their disaster recovery procedures, and taken measures to mitigate fraud during the disasters. Six months ago, when the 2010 season began, credit unions were assuring members they had procedures in place. Although they have not had to use them, credit unions in other countries have. This season's tropical storms and hurricanes killed more than 250 people in the Caribbean and in Central America, according to the Associated Press. Colorado State University meteorologist William Gray told USA Today (Nov. 29) that the chance of seeing so many hurricanes in a single season and not having a landfall was 2% to 3%. Half of the hurricanes turned right and ended up in the Atlantic Ocean, and half went to the Caribbean Sea, he said. While the 2010 season is over, he already is predicting an active hurricane season for 2011. No doubt credit unions will dust off their back up plans and, once again, be prepared to use them.

iPhone app from MDDC foundation helps locate CUs

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COLUMBIA, Md. (11/30/10)--iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad users nationwide can identify and contact credit unions quickly through Credit Union Finder, a first-of-its-kind application from the Credit Union Foundation of Maryland and District of Columbia. The free application is available for download at the Apple App Store. The foundation developed the mobile application earlier this year with an Innovation Grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), graphics support from Visions, Ink, Inc., and data from credit unions nationwide. "Every week more credit unions are establishing mobile banking capabilities," said the Maryland/D.C. foundation. "Credit unions realize the value of mobile applications, especially to their younger members. The foundation wanted to help members find and contact your credit union through a mobile app and to help nonmembers find a credit union they could join." The app can search for credit unions near the user's location, search any site in the U.S. by ZIP code or city/state, or search by credit union name. Results are displayed as a list or on a map. Contact information and the credit union's Web address also are displayed. “What really makes this more than just a credit union search resource is the ability to tap into an iPhone’s GPS technology and find credit unions nearest your current location,” said Christopher Morris, NCUF director of communications. Since its launch, the app was downloaded more than 900 times. It has a 3 ½ star rating (out of five) from user reviews in the Apple App Store. A personal finance blog, “Get Rich Slowly,” featured the app and said it is "handy for folks who travel a lot." Securityplus FCU, Baltimore, set up a webpage for the app and promotes it to its members so they "have an easy and free means for our members to stay in touch with us,” according to Securityplus CEO Rick Williams. The Credit Union National Association and the American Association of Credit Union Leagues are developing a new consumer awareness website to debut early in 2011 that will include an enhanced nationwide credit union locator and a downloadable application, using technology from

JM Associates FCU sponsor team up on Smart Badge accounts

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (11/30/10)--JM Associates FCU, an $83 million asset financial institution in Jacksonville, Fla., has partnered with sponsor JM Family Enterprises Inc. to create “Smart Badge,” a new payment process for employees using smart-chip technology. The payment process allows JM Family’s employees to make purchases in the company’s on-site cafés and hair and nail salon with their identification (ID) security badges. Once employees create a Smart Badge account, they can add funds to their ID badges several ways. Credit union members may make cash deposits, transfer funds online using electronic services, or transfer funds directly from their JM Family Enterprises Inc. automatic payroll. Smart Badge is a no-transaction-fee joint program.

CUNA HRTD Council accepting awards entries

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MADISON, Wis. (11/30/10)--Entries are now being accepted for the 2011 HR/TD Excellence Awards, sponsored by the CUNA HR, Training & Development (HR/TD) Council. Recognition will be given in three major categories:
* Award for Employee Engagement--including human resources/training department programs related to internal communications, staff development, rewards and recognition, employee satisfaction, community involvement; * Award for HR/TD Management Practices--covering programs that include compensation and benefits, recruitment and retention, training design and implementation, and workforce diversity; and * Award for HR/TD Strategic Leadership--recognizing a senior HR/TD professional who has made significant contributions or taken an innovative approach in such areas as: innovative business solutions, change management, succession planning, culture building, learning development strategy and leadership development.
A panel of HR/TD peers will review entries and determine honorees, based upon criteria that include innovation, business outcomes/impact, sustainability, quality and integration. “The CUNA HR/TD Council leaders wanted to highlight truly excellent approaches to human resources, training and development programs,” said Jennifer Morse, executive committee chair and vice president of HR at Empower FCU in Syracuse, NY. “By creating the HR/TD Excellence Awards we look to both salute and showcase programs of merit and an outstanding individual.” All entries must be received by 5 p.m. CT, Jan. 14. Winners will be notified by March 1. Winners will receive industry recognition and a complementary registration to the 2011 CUNA HR/TD National Conference in San Francisco. Awards will be presented to winners at the conference.

Canadas Central 1 CU notes 65 income decline

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VANCOUVER, Canada (11/30/10)--Central 1 CU in Vancouver, Canada--which functions as a central bank and trade association for Canadian credit unions--has experienced a 65% net income drop in the past year. In a news release, Central 1 attributed the net income decline--to $30.9 million for the first nine months of this year from $88.7 million in the same period last year--to mark-to-market losses due to “continuing volatility” in financial markets ( Nov. 26). In 2009, Central 1 said it reaped the benefits from a rare combination of shrinking bond spreads and declining interest rates that culminated in robust mark-to-market gains that created record net income. The credit union’s assets dropped this year to $10 billion--a 2.9% year-over-year decline, while its return on equity was 7.4%, compared with 24.2% a year earlier. Central 1 has $70 billion in assets and serves 2.9 million members.

Aging membership means challenges ahead Mich. survey

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MADISON, Wis. (11/30/10)--The U.S. population is aging, and seniors are the country’s fastest growing demographic, which has implications for credit unions, says the Michigan Credit Union League. The U.S. is experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of people who live to old age, according to the Administration on Aging, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (Michigan Monitor Nov. 29). This phenomenon is creating challenges for Americans of all ages as they cope with Social Security, health care, housing, employment and other national issues that are important to an aging population. The average credit union member is 47 years old, up from 40 in just the past two decades, according to Credit Union National Association (CUNA) research quoted by the league. Given that the average adult credit union member has moved beyond his or her prime borrowing years of 25 to 44, credit unions should take notice as they plan for the future, said the league. That’s not to say that members over the age of 44 won’t use credit union loan services, but the number of services or types of loans they use are limited and considerably lower than what members use during their prime-borrowing years, according to the league's 2010 Consumer Study. Members older than age 60 use fewer online services due to their habits and preference for personal service and traditional mail, the study found. However, although fewer credit union members age 60 and above used online banking (52%)--compared to members 25 to 44 years old (68%) and those 45 to 60 (73%)--more seniors (44%) used online bill pay than the younger groups (43% for 25 to 44 year olds and 39% for 45 to 60 year olds). The senior group has a higher percentage of retirement plans (16% for those 60 and older, compared to 7% for the 25 to 44 age group and 11% for the 45 to 60 demographic) and credit cards (57% compared to young borrowers age 25 to 44--28%-- and 40% for those age 45 to 60. That implies that at a certain age, borrowers rely more on their credit cards or home-equity loans than on their own income, since many of them are either retired or not working, the league noted. For the aging population of credit unions, it is important to focus on money-saving loan solutions since these borrowers are typically on fixed incomes, said the league. It is important to show them how they can save for retirement and end up with having more, and not less, over the years. However, for the long-term, it would be necessary for credit unions to seek a balance between keeping aging members and attracting young adults and children to their membership because the future for credit unions is youth and young adults, the league concluded.

IBoston GlobeI editorial Banks need competition from CUs

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BOSTON (11/30/10)--Credit unions are a good option for U.S. consumers who are fed up with new or unexpected fees from large banks, according to an editorial in The Boston Globe (Nov. 26). Recent legislation such as the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act have cut into banks’ fee income--with one analyst estimating that U.S. banks have already lost about $6.3 billion in overdraft fees alone, the newspaper said. Therefore, banks are shifting their losses to customers in the form of increased or new fees ranging from ATM transactions to checking accounts, the paper said. “Credit unions, nonprofit cooperative financial institutions owned by their members, tend to offer lower fees and higher interest rates, at least for savings accounts,” the Globe said. “And while credit unions haven’t been immune to the economic tumult faced by the big banks and occasionally have fee increases of their own, they generally don’t feel the same pressure that big banks do to maximize short-term returns. “If consumers vote with their wallets, credit unions could apply some much-needed competitive pressure to the banking behemoths,” the newspaper added. To read the article, use the link.

WOCCU alliance to broaden remittance services

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MADISON, Wis. (11/30/10)--World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), through its for-profit subsidiary WOCCU Services Group (WSG), has joined with Pa-Go Mobile Inc. and mFunds Global Payment Solutions Inc. to broaden its delivery of remittance services to Latin America. The partnership is one of nine that WSG maintains through IRnet, its low-cost remittance service linking credit unions in the U.S. to those in eight countries. Initial trials with Pa-Go Mobile and mFunds will focus on remittances originating from the U.S., Mexico and Central America. They later will expand throughout Latin America and other parts of the world. “Since WOCCU began offering remittance services in 2001, we’ve looked for ways to offer lower-priced, transparent and reliable transfer options,” said Saul Wolf, WOCCU manager of remittance services. “The mobile, card and online solutions offered by mFunds and Pa-Go Mobile will provide significant value to our international credit union partners as well as their members.” In addition to their flexibility, Pa-Go Mobile and mFunds will offer access to services that many immigrants working in the U.S. already use. Transactions through these networks are more convenient and less expensive than the current agent-based money transmitter firms that dominate the market, WOCCU said. “This agreement will expand the reach of mFunds and Pa-Go Mobile’s bundled solution of prepaid cards, mobile and online infrastructure to deliver financial services to a much broader range of users, and at a far better price,” said Don Barbacovi, mFunds CEO. Since 2001, affiliates in nine countries have transferred roughly $3.5 billion in remittances, making IRnet one of the world’s largest non-bank remittance networks, WOCCU said. For 2010, WOCCU expects to top $500 million in remitted funds. “This is a step in the right direction for us, allowing our users to gain access to what will translate to more competitively priced remittances, which will now be in the palms of their hands, on their mobile phones,” said Tony Zaragoza, Pa-Go Mobile’s executive vice president.

CU System briefs (11/29/2010)

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* ORLANDO, Fla. (11/30/10)--A former employee of a bank and a credit union pleaded guilty two counts of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft after accessing member accounts at a Lake County, Fla., branches of Orlando-based Fairwinds CU and Royal Bank of Canada. Nazreen Mohammed, 47, faces a maximum term of 30 years in prison on the fraud accounts and a mandatory two-year consecutive sentence related to the identity theft. According to the plea agreement, Mohammed gained access to credit union accounts without authorization from April 17, 2009, through July 18, 2009. She allegedly created loans and withdrew funds from the accounts of elderly or deceased members, then transferred the proceeds into accounts of other members before eventually withdrawing them. She obtained $82,300 with the ruse, and attempted to attain more than $127,431. At the bank from Nov. 5, 2009, through Jan. 7, 2010, she allegedly used the ruse to attempt to steal at least $312,581, said a prosecutor's press release (Targeted News Service Nov. 22 … *
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (11/30/10)--The Huron Valley Chapter of credit unions got some face time with several incoming lawmakers at the chapter's legislative breakfast, said the Michigan Credit Union League (Michigan Monitor Nov. 29). Participating were Reps-elect Mark Ouimet (R-52), Rick Olson (R-55), Jeff Irwin (D-53), and David Rutledge (D-54), and Sen.-elect Bruce Caswell (R-16). Ouimet and Olson discussed their experience working in the financial services industry and their interest in healthy, local financial institutions. Caswell stressed the importance of personal financial responsibility, and Rutledge mentioned he would make the bipartisan "tough votes" needed to turn around the state's economy. Pictured are participants at the breakfast. (Photo provided by the Michigan Credit Union League) … * PORTLAND, Ore. (11/30/10)--OnPoint Community CU's Credit Union for Kids Auction raised a record $124,000 to benefit the Children's Miracle Network hospitals in the area. The funds will help support a professorship for Dr. Robert Steiner at Doernbecher Children's Hospital; a labor and delivery triage room at Sacred Heart Medical Center, and a HUGS infant security system at Rogue Valley Medical Center … * TEMPE, Ariz., and CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. (11/30/10)--Patriot FCU, based in Chambersburg, Pa., and Tempe, Ariz.-based LemmonTree Marketing Group have been recognized with an honorable mention in the design/website category in the 2010 MarCom Awards of the Association of Marketing & Communication Professionals. The competition attracted more than 5,000 entries. LemmonTree revamped and redesigned the $431 million asset credit union's website with online applications, easier navigation, faster flash downloads, and features such as online chat, podcasts and financial resources …

Holiday spending survey just in time for Black Friday

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MADISON, Wis. (11/29/10)--Holiday spending analysis and advice offered by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) were featured in media outlets around the world in the days leading up to Black Friday--the mother of all shopping days, when consumers need the advice the most. CUNA's analysis circulated through more than 111 broadcast stations affiliated with major networks--NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, CNN, CLTV, Bloomberg, NPR, Hearst TV, and CLTV in Chicago, among others--in at least 32 states and Washington, D.C., as of Wednesday. The broadcast reports aired in major cities such as New York City; Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Dallas and Houston, Texas; Orlando; San Francisco; Salt Lake City; Phoenix; Honolulu; and New Orleans, as well as smaller cities. Associated Press and Dow Jones and print media such as The Wall Street Journal also featured articles. The Journal quoted CUNA Senior Economist Mike Schenk, as did many of the reports. In its article, "Consumers Intend to Spend A Little More This Year: Report," Schenk said spending like will increase but "we expect the increase in holiday spending this season to be modest." Other media fast to cover the news were The Huffington Post, Consumer,, and, among others. CUNA expected that even more print media would pick up the story for their weekend editions. The advice was provided during CUNA's press conference with the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) on Nov. 22 in Washington, D.C. Nearly 20 media outlets covered the press conference, and the story quickly spread to global media outlets such as CNN International. Canadian press and press in the United Kingdom also picked up the story. The conference centered on good news for the economy: Roughly 10% of consumers responding to a recent CUNA/CFA survey said they would spend more this year, compared with 8% who said so last year. Schenk and Stephen Brobeck, director of CFA, noted that 23% of respondents saw an improvement in their finances this year, indicating an uptick in spending for the holidays. However, 41% of consumers surveyed said they will cut back spending, compared with 43% last year. They provided tips for consumers to better managing their holiday spending.

Iowa CUs thriving despite economy says report

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WATERLOO, Iowa (11/29/10)--Despite the recent economic downturn, Iowa credit unions have thrived, according to an Iowa Department of Commerce annual report published by the state’s Division of Credit Unions. Combined total assets of Iowa credit unions have grown by nearly 18% from 2008 through 2009 to $8.04 billion, the report said (Waterloo Courier Nov. 22). Credit unions collected more capital and put additional capital into circulation. The number of net loans also rose, the report indicated. Credit unions’ conservative economic policies helped them weather the economic downturn, Jim Niederhauser, director of credit union growth for the Iowa Credit Union League, told the newspaper. “I think it is that conservative approach that has allowed us to expand,” he added. Even with the recent growth, Iowa credit unions constitute less than 10% of all insured investments in the state, Niederhauser said. “Iowa credit unions have a 9.2% market share,” he said. “Our charge is to increase that.” The article also mentioned that Veridian CU in Waterloo, the state’s largest credit union by assets, grew its assets by $250 million to $1.22 billion in 2009. To read the article, use the link.

CUs can avoid work-schedule snafus during holidays

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (11/29/10)--Workplace scheduling for the holidays--and making sure everyone stays in the spirit of the season--can be a challenge. Here are some guidelines from for keeping the credit union adequately staffed during the holidays. (New Jersey Credit Union League The Weekly Exchange Nov. 15).
* Establish ground rules before the holiday season. Clearly spell out holiday work requirements and scheduling practices. Without a firm policy, employees may feel they are entitled to take time off whenever they feel like it. * Put your holiday policy in writing and distribute it to every employee. * Be careful when granting permission to roll over time to next year. Consider stipulating that only a limited amount of unused vacation time can be moved into the next year. * Specify blackout dates. Conflict can usually be avoided by communicating blackout dates, in which attendance is required of everyone, at the time of hiring and providing regular reminders. * Plan for conflict. Conflicts may arise if the number of employees requesting vacations exceeds the minimum coverage threshold. Establish a fair process for resolving such matters. * Consider a compressed workweek. Instead of scheduling five eight-hour days, give employees the option of working four 10-hour days. * Send them all home. If you can, consider closing for a week. * Respect diversity. Most religions have some sort of year-end celebration. Vacation policies should allow for some manager discretion. * Be flexible. Recognize that when dealing with people there are no absolutes. Time-off policies should allow for some manager discretion. * Keep it upbeat. Take a positive approach when discussing the time-off policy with employees. Emphasize the consideration that went into establishing a system that is fair and functional.

Pew study More students borrowing more for college

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MADISON, Wis. (11/29/10)--Undergraduate U.S. college student borrowing has increased dramatically in recent years, and credit unions are poised to help with several programs.
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Graduates who received a bachelor’s degree in 2008 borrowed 50% more--in inflation-adjusted dollars--than their counterparts who graduated in 1996. And graduates who earned an associate’s degree or undergraduate certificate in 2008 borrowed more than twice what their counterparts in 1996 had borrowed, according to a new analysis of National Center for Education Statistics data by the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project. Pew said increased borrowing by college students has been driven by three trends:
* More college students are borrowing. In 2008, 60% of all graduates had borrowed, compared with about half (52%) in 1996. * College students are borrowing more. Among 2008 graduates who borrowed, the average loan for bachelor’s degree recipients was more than $23,000, compared with slightly more than $17,000 in 1996. For associate’s degree and certificate recipients, the average loan increased to more than $12,600 from about $7,600 (all figures in 2008 dollars). * More college students are attending private for-profit schools, where levels and rates of borrowing are highest. Over the past decade, the private for-profit sector has expanded more rapidly than either the public or private not-for-profit sectors. In 2008, these institutions granted 18% of all undergraduate awards, up from 14% in 2003. Students who attend for-profit colleges are more likely to borrow, and they typically borrow larger amounts.
Credit unions have several programs available, including one from a CUNA Strategic Services provider, to help students and their families with financing the costs of college and to provide a way to attract younger members.
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Fynanz, Inc.--a CUNA Strategic Service provider--is a technology provider of custom private student lending programs and turnkey solutions. The company’s technology puts credit unions in the private student lending business without the need to purchase or install any software. The solution includes complete origination, underwriting, servicing and marketing. Fynanz also powers, a private lending marketplace. Since launching in 2008, Credit Union Student Choice has helped nearly 90 credit unions nationwide enter the private student lending market. The program will begin offering private consolidation and graduate business loan programs to its credit union clients in 2011, according to a company announcement earlier this month (News Now Nov. 5). CampusDoor, a provider of student loan solutions, systems and processing to lenders, offers Credit Union (CU) Student Help Smart Option Loans made by Sallie Mae. Through the program, students make payments while in school and graduate with less debt, compared with other longer-term private loan alternatives in which payments aren’t made until after graduation, the company said. For more information, use the links.

Filene study Consumers pay cards before mortgages

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MADISON, Wis. (11/29/10)--Consumers are paying off credit cards before their mortgages, according to the newest report from Filene Research Institute, indicating that the stigma once associated with foreclosure is disappearing.
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These findings come as credit unions throughout North America seek new ways to measure repayment risk. In the report, “Consumer Credit Delinquencies: Why do Some Choose Credit Cards Over Mortgages,” Professor Ethan Cohen-Cole, of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, demonstrates that the disappearing stigma of foreclosure is coupled with a rational consideration by consumers to maintain liquidity during tough financial times. The delinquency data indicate:
* A large percentage of consumers choose delinquency on mortgages or credit cards, but not both--and a large fraction of that group chooses delinquency on mortgages while continuing payment on credit cards; * Areas with large declines in home prices show stronger patterns of borrowers paying their cards first in an effort to protect liquidity; * Debt patterns before delinquency are dramatically different than before bankruptcy; and * The tendency to protect credit cards is strongest among those with the least available credit, including the young, those with low credit scores, those with low income, and minorities.
The findings could lead to new, member-friendly lending practices, according to the Filene Research Institute. For example, credit unions that provide lines of credit or credit cards to stressed borrowers may find some improvement in the performance of these loans in the event of a mortgage delinquency. For more information about the report, use the link.

SW Bridge Corp. committee recommends teaming with Ga. Central

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PLANO, Texas (11/29/10)--Southwest Bridge Corporate's Member Advisory Council's Executive Committee has reviewed six potential business models and will recommend its final business model to the full council on Tuesday. According to the committee's update on Southwest Bridge Corporate's website and the bridge corporate's newsletter, eFacts (Nov. 23), the final business model objectives are:
* Provide a full menu of services to reduce the impact on the bridge corporate's members; * Require a minimum level of capital by member credit unions; * Keep credit union ownership and control; * Ensure competitive pricing with high quality service; and * Maintain the capacity for ongoing aggregation.
The committee's final recommendation to the council will have four components:
* Consolidation with Georgia Central CU, likely by July 2011 with capital raised in May or June 2011. Governance would be determined primarily by the bridge corporate's members. The new board would select the new CEO. Headquarters and operations of the consolidated corporate would remain in Plano, Texas. * Capital formula of 0.25% of assets with a maximum cap of $750,000, a cap of $600,000 for credit unions between $240 million and $750 million in assets, and a proportional threshold for those with assets of $50 million on less. Use the resource link for more detail on the formula. The required capital would be perpetual, with no annual adjustment, and would be an investment that pays a dividend. * Continuation of all critical products offered, at the same pricing structure. These include payment and correspondent services, lines of credit, overnight PTA and Cash Management accounts, ALM, investment advisory, broker/dealer and SimpliCD. * Reduction of the consolidated balance sheet to between $2.5 billion and $3.2 billion to minimize the amount of required perpetual capital and ensure provision of sufficient lines of credit to meet settlement and access to contingency lines of credit. There will be a daily maximum cap on deposits in the PTA, but most credit unions will maintain full access. Southwest Bridge Corporate will assist credit unions with investing excess funds using a sweep account from PTA to various short-term investment options. The balance sheet will be managed with a significantly lower risk profile with strong liquidity. The reduced balance sheet does not impact other services, restrict product development initiatives or result in higher fees to credit unions.
The full Member Advisory Council will review the recommendation Tuesday, said Kerry Parker, chair of the executive committee and president/CEO of A* FCU, Austin, Texas. For more information, use the link.

CU System briefs (11/23/2010)

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* SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (11/24/10)--Kalamazoo, Mich.-based Consumers CU's South Haven branch has been voted the Best of South Haven Area 2010 in the Bank/Credit Union category by area citizens in a vote conducted annually by the South Haven Tribune. This is the third consecutive year the $348 million asset credit union has received the award … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (11/24/10)--Boeing Helicopters CU, based in Ridley Park, Pa., has named Philip Travaglini as its new CEO, to be effective Monday, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is Highway Nov. 23). Travaglini has experience as a financial executive with a banking bankground, said Guy Ferranti, president and board chairman at the $121.7 million asset credit union. Travaglini succeeds interim CEO Cheryl Altieri … * BOULDER CITY, Nev. (11/24/10)--William "Bill" Ferrence, CEO of Boulder Dam CU, died Sunday after a long illness. He was 67. Ferrence was manager of the Boulder City, Nev., $490.3 million asset credit union for nearly 36 years. Funeral arrangements are pending, according to the Boulder City Review (Nov. 22) …

Banks report six-fold increase in 3rd-quarter profits

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MADISON, Wis. (11/24/10)--Commercial banks and savings institutions insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) reported an aggregate profit of $14.5 billion in the third quarter of 2010, a $12.5 billion improvement from the $2 billion the industry earned in the third quarter of 2009. This could have good implications for credit unions, a Credit Union National Association (CUNA) economist said. This is the fifth consecutive quarter that bank earnings have registered a year-over-year increase, the FDIC said in Tuesday release. “In dollar terms, the profits are substantially higher than they were in the recent past,” Mike Schenk, CUNA vice president of economics and statistics, told News Now. “But total profits at banks have been severely depressed. For 2008 and 2009, banks essentially earned nothing. So the big increase in dollar terms was a big increase off a very small base. “And the earnings this year, while substantially a higher than 2008 and 2009 remain significantly lower than the earnings recorded before the start of the recession--and more importantly--substantially lower than the long-term norm,” he added. Bank return on investment, or ROA (net income as a percentage of average assets), was 0.81% in 2007, plummeted to 0.03% in 2008, and remained severely depressed at 0.07% in 2009, Schenk said. Annualized earnings in 2010 have rebounded to 0.56%. That level of earnings remains less than half the average earnings rate that banks recorded in the decade before the start of the recession, he added. Why are bank profits up? "Due to a marginally improving economy, the loss provisions are not as high as in the past,” Schenk explained. “Importantly, the decline in bank loan balances that have been obvious in the recent past look like they have largely abated; loan demand seems to be picking up. “So if that’s happening in the banking sector, that will likely happen in the credit union sector,” he continued. “We are expecting a release of National Credit Union Administration data within the next two weeks and would then be able to confirm whether this is actually happening.” The report does not say what percent of the new profits comes from new fees. Some banks have begun charging their customers new fees to counteract the costs of regulation, and have been criticized for doing so at a time consumers are struggling with the economy. “The industry continues making progress in recovering from the financial crisis. Credit performance has been improving, and we remain cautiously optimistic about the outlook,” said FDIC Chairman Sheila C. Bair. “Lower provisions for loan losses are driving bank earnings by allowing a larger share of revenues to reach the bottom line. “[However], at this point in the credit cycle, it is too early for institutions to be reducing reserves without strong evidence of sustainable, improving loan performance and reduced loss rates,” Bair added. “When it comes to the adequacy of reserves, institutions should always err on the side of caution.” The FDIC said the number of institutions on its “Problem List” rose from 829 to 860. However, the total assets of “problem” institutions declined from $403 billion to $379 billion. The number of “problem” institutions is the highest since March 31, 1993, when there were 928. Forty-one insured institutions failed during the third quarter, bringing the total number of failures for the first three quarters of the year to 127. In 2010, there have been 149 bank failures to date. Bank’s Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) balance also improved for the third consecutive quarter. The DIF balance--the net worth of the fund--improved from a negative $15.2 billion to a negative $8 billion during the third quarter. The improvement stemmed primarily from assessment revenues and from a reduction in the contingent loss reserve. This reserve, which covers the costs of expected failures, declined from $27.5 billion to $21.3 billion during the quarter. While part of the decline reflects the removal of amounts reserved for banks that failed, a part also reflects lower costs for future failures. The FDIC said its liquid resources--cash and marketable securities--remained strong. Liquid resources stood at $43.7 billion at the end of the third quarter, essentially unchanged from the second quarter. “While we expect demands on cash to continue, our projections indicate that our current resources are more than enough to resolve anticipated failures and meet outstanding obligations for banks that have already failed,” Bair said. Total insured deposits declined by 0.3% ($15 billion) during the quarter. “The industry has come a long way in cleaning up balance sheets, building capital, and adjusting to changes in financial markets and the economy. But the adjustments are not over, and this is no time for complacency,” Bair concluded. To read the FDIC release, use the link.

Mid-Atlantic Corporate Were ahead of the game

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MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (11/24/10)--A letter from Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU to its membership says it is "ahead of the game" in relation to changes occurring on the corporate credit union landscape. Mid-Atlantic President/CEO Jay Murray wrote in the letter sent to members last week than the corporate took a "proactive approach a year ago," by working independently to find the best service solutions for its members, according to an article in the New Jersey Credit Union League's newsletter (The Daily Exchange Nov. 23. "Today, we're ahead of the game with a plan in place that enables us to continue providing our members with the payment systems they need," Murray wrote on behalf of the Middletown, Pa.-based corporate. The letter noted that Mid-Atlantic is closely monitoring corporate stabilization developments at the national level and supports "cooperative efforts where they make sense," adding, "we are well-positioned to help our members succeed in the future." It also emphasized that the corporate:
* Remains fiscally sound and strong and is moving forward with its capitalization and membership plan, independent of other corporate actions; * Will not use members' capital investments in the corporate if the creation of a new payment-system credit union service organization proceeds; and * Operates independently from the U.S. Central Bridge Corporate for payment services. The corporate provides its own automated clearinghouse and bill payment programs and is in the process of moving automated settlements and international wires away from the bridge corporate's program.

WOCCU urges CUs to prep for International Year of Co-ops

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MADISON, Wis. (11/24/10)--World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) is urging credit unions to play a visible role during the United Nations’ International Year of Cooperatives (IYC) in 2012. The year-long initiative will begin with a kick-off at the end of October 2011 at the U.N.’s New York City headquarters. Under the theme, “Co-operative enterprises build a better world,” IYC is designed to raise public recognition of cooperatives’ socio-economic impact worldwide, especially among young adults whose personal values coincide with cooperative principles. Organizers hope the higher levels of public recognition will promote forming new cooperatives and foster legislative and regulatory environments conducive to cooperative formation and growth. “In the wake of the global economic recession, the cooperative model has again proven its worth,” said Pete Crear, WOCCU president/CEO. “The U.N.’s designation of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives is both an honor and an opportunity not only for credit unions, but for cooperatives of all types.” Organizers met at the U.N. earlier this month and are establishing an advisory group and a full-time New York-based U.N. secretariat responsible for managing the development and promotion of IYC activities. The committee will seek financial support from cooperatives and other stakeholders. An IYC logo is in development, with an unveiling expected in the first quarter of 2011. As a model of economic enterprise, cooperatives promote both democratic and human values, and a respect for the environment, said WOCCU. They are autonomous associations of people united voluntarily to meet common economic, social and cultural needs through jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprises. Cooperatives are driven by seven principles: voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; cooperation; and a concern for the community. “We’re encouraging credit unions and cooperatives everywhere to capitalize on the opportunity to raise awareness of the value cooperatives offer to their communities,” Crear said. “This is a rare opportunity for all of us in the business of serving members to gain a high level of global recognition, both for the benefit of our own institutions and for the cooperative movement worldwide.”

Self-Help builds 100th house to stabilize neighborhoods

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DURHAM, N.C. (11/24/10)--Anyone who loves movies remembers the line, “If you build it, they will come,” from “Field of Dreams.” Self-Help CU has a story that is just as inspiring, and its memorable line could be, “If we help them build it, they will stay.” Self-Help CU is currently in completing its 100th built or renovated home since 1996 (The Herald Sun Nov. 19). The program began 14 years ago when Self-Help CU became involved in the purchase of 30 homes in Durham, N.C. to help stabilize Walltown, a neighborhood near Duke University How has Self-Help CU been able to keep its home building program going for 14 years? Smart financing is one way. The credit union has established its own ventures fund for some of the higher-risk loans it takes on. The credit union also works through subsidy programs and a low-interest loan provided by Duke University. But just as importantly, the program works in neighborhoods that have a history, says Evan Covington-Chavez, real estate development director at the credit union. “We focus on neighborhoods that are already in existence,” Covington Chavez told News Now. “We’re not building subdivisions or getting rid of the old neighborhoods. These neighborhoods have stories to tell. People want to know who lived on the corner 20 years ago, or who lived across the street. That makes it more sustainable.” When the program was first established in Walltown, neighbors weren’t so sure they would be welcome to stick around and tell their stories. “We weren’t from the neighborhood,” Covington-Chavez explained. “It took a lot of community meetings and a lot of years to give people the confidences that we’re there to work with them and give them what they wanted to see in their neighborhood.” The program has since branched out to other neighborhoods. Covington-Chavez says the reason for that growth is because the concept makes sense. “From the beginning we knew we were doing responsible lending. Why not extend that and build houses that our members and people in our neighborhoods can afford?”

CUNA closed Thursday and Friday no INews NowI (11/23/2010)

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (11/24/10)--The Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wis., offices of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) will be closed Thursday and Friday in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. News Now will not publish a regular edition on Thursday and Friday. It will resume regular publication on Monday.

CUNA Council Forum meets Mendez is new chair

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MADISON, Wis. (11/24/10)--The Council Forum, the leadership group of the CUNA Councils, met in Washington, D.C., with Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney and CUNA's senior staff to discuss mid-term elections and the implications for credit unions and current legislative and regulatory priorities.
Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney, right, recognizes the Council Forum's outgoing chair, Nader Moghaddam, president/CEO of Financial Partners FCU, for his leadership of the CUNA Councils' leadership group.
Members of CUNA's Council Forum who visited the National Credit Union Administration recently were, from left: Dan Leclerc, Cheryl Sorenson, Pam Finch, Jennifer Morse, Suzanne Oliver, Robert Reh, Erin Mendez, Sean McDonald, David Rohn, Jennifer Lehn, Rudy Pereira, Bill Vogney, Anne Legg, Aaron Bresko, Nader Moghaddam, and Sue Douglas. (Photo provided by the CUNA Councils)
Erin Mendez, executive vice president and chief operations officer at Schools First FCU, Santa Ana, Calif., became chair of the group, succeeding Nader Moghaddam, president/CEO of Financial Partners FCU, Downey, Calif. Rudy Pereira, senior vice president operations and technology, Alliant CU, will serve as vice chair. During the two-day meeting, the forum met with the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Executive Director David Marquis, Deputy Director Larry Fazio, and Melinda Love, NCUA's head of Examination and Insurance. The Council Forum comprises two representatives from each of the six CUNA Councils, plus an elected chair and vice chair. CUNA Councils, the largest professional society for credit union executives, has nearly 5,000 members from credit unions nationwide. Additional Council Forum members include:
* CUNA CFO Council: Chair Pam Finch, chief financial officer (CFO), Mid-Minnesota FCU, Baxter, Minn., and Vice chair Dan Leclerc, senior vice president/CFO, Aventa CU, Colorado Springs, Colo.; * CUNA HR/TD Council: Chair Jennifer Morse, vice president HR/training, Empower FCU, Syracuse, N.Y., and Vice chair Suzanne Oliver, senior vice president educational services/chief learning officer, Mountain America FCU, West Jordan, Utah; * CUNA Lending Council: Chair Aaron Bresko, vice president lending, BECU, Tukwila, Wash., and Vice chair Bill Vogeney, senior vice president/chief lending officer, Ent FCU, Colorado Springs, Colo.; * CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council: Chair Anne Legg, vice president marketing, Cabrillo CU, San Diego, and Vice chair Sean McDonald, chief marketing officer, Liberty Savings FCU, Jersey City, N.J.; * CUNA Operations Sales & Service Council: Chair Jennifer Lehn, executive vice president, Numerica CU, Spokane Valley, Wash., and Vice chair Sue Douglas, senior vice president/chief operating officer, State Employees' CU, Raleigh, N.C.; and * CUNA Technology Council: Chair Pereira, and Vice chair Robert Reh, chief information officer, Nassau Financial FCU, Westbury, N.Y.

Mission SF FCU Travis CU receive Calif. foundation awards

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SAN FRANCISCO and VACAVILLE, Calif. (11/24/10)--Mission SF FCU in San Francisco and Travis CU in Vacaville, Calif., are the 2010 recipients of the Beacon Award from the Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation, the state foundation for credit unions in California and Nevada.
Richard Myles Johnson Foundation Beacon Award Finalists and Award Recipients are, from left: Brett Martinez (Redwood CU, finalist); Andy Anderson (Travis CU, award recipient); Margaret Libby (Mission SF FCU, award recipient); Patsy Van Ouwerkerk (Travis CU, award recipient); and Crystal Lyon (Silver State Schools CU, finalist). (Photo provided by the California Credit Union League)
The award was presented at the seventh annual Beacon Awards Gala Reception Nov. 14 in Anaheim, Calif. Mission SF FCU was honored in the under-$100-million-asset category for its Prize-linked Accounts for Youth (PLAY) program, which provides youth with a free savings account and a hands-on way to learn personal finance and build a savings habit. Five youth groups and about 50 youngsters participated in a pilot program earlier this year. The youth set a personal savings goal to buy something they want--such as a cell phone or school supplies--while learning the basics of finance. Travis CU was recognized in the more-than-$100-million-asset category for its collaboration with a coalition of community leaders to help foster youth succeed as independent adults. The credit union provided Solano County foster youth tools for financial responsibility through its Money Matters program. Money Matters helped 50 Solano County foster youth become more financially stable through training, and helping them open a personal savings account with oversight from mentors. The Beacon Award, the Foundation’s highest honor, recognizes promising or exemplary financial education programs or projects that provide information to the broader credit union community and the general public. The foundation is dedicated to providing community service grants to support credit union efforts in spreading the financial literacy message to young people.

N.Y.s young pros hold third crash meeting

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ALBANY, N.Y. (11/24/10)--Twenty-three young credit unions professionals, from 10 credit unions, including five members of the Credit Union Association of New York’s Young Professional Commission (YPC), gathered recently near Henrietta, N.Y., for the third “Crash” meet-up in the state. Crash ( is the brainchild of Brent Dixon, the young adult advisor at the Filene Research Institute. It provides young credit union professionals an opportunity to connect. The association’s YPC partnered with Crash to do just that.
Crash meet-up participants share a laugh during the open conversation segment for the event, which was coordinated by the Credit Union Association of New York. (Photos provided by the Credit Union Association of New York).
Francesca Iraci, marketing specialist at Gates Chili FCU, and a member of the Young Professional Commission, welcomes the group to the Crash meet-up recently at Lovin’ Cup coffee shop just outside Rochester in Henrietta, N.Y., for the third meet-up in the state. Iraci coordinated the event locally.
Crash meet-ups serve to bring young professionals together to learn, network and dialogue about how to attract young people to credit unions while spreading the word about the benefits of credit unions. They also discuss ways they can support each other. The first meet-up took place in Albany in August. Future meet-ups are being planned for Syracuse, Utica and Jamestown. Dixon, joined by Lisa Hochgraf, editor from Credit Union Executives Society (CUES), and Allison Barna, the association’s community development coordinator, joined the New York group. Dixon provided general information about Filene, the Credit Union National Association, World Council of Credit Unions and the Credit Union Development Educator program, as well as the Women’s Global Development Group. He mentioned the possibility of developing a speaker’s bureau of and for young credit union professionals. Hochgraf discussed CUES membership in the CUES NextGen group, the recent CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec and how credit union professionals want to hear the ideas of their younger cohorts. Participants agreed that technology is essential when reaching out to the younger demographic. They discussed their biggest barriers: resources, logistics, time, the “we’ve always done it this way” answer and a fear of being outside of the credit union’s comfort zone. “With each meet-up we throw, new people step up who want to throw one of their own. This tells me we’re on to something,” said Barna. “There’s a need that, until now, has not been met for young people in credit unions, and there's an army of young credit union people willing to help.” “As young professionals, we want to be involved and connected,” said Francesca Iraci, marketing specialist at Gates Chili FCU, Rochester, and a member of the YPC. She coordinated the event. At the Rochester meet-up, one thing was clear--the cooperative spirit is alive and well. Credit unions represented included: Boulevard FCU, Amherst; Focal Point FCU, Syracuse; Gates Chili FCU; Genesee Valley FCU, Geneseo; Oswego (N.Y.) County FCU; Pittsford (N.Y.) FCU; Reliant Community FCU, Sodus; St. Pius X Church FCU, Rochester; The Summit FCU, Rochester; and Rochester Ukrainian FCU. The commission was formed this year to develop strategies and practices that will assist the New York association and credit unions in recruiting young adults as employees and volunteers and in developing and promoting them into positions of leadership within the state credit union community. The commission includes about 30 credit union employees statewide, all 35 years of age or younger.

Holiday food shelves fuller thanks to CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (11/23/10)--Many families won't go hungry during the holidays, thanks to credit unions across the country who are giving back to their communities by stocking food pantries and providing turkeys, meals and more for Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day, staff from Belvoir FCU, a nearly $270 million asset credit union in Woodbridge, Va., will personally cater a smorgasbord of Thanksgiving dishes to 15 soldiers who can't take a leave during the holiday season to be with their families because of their training at Fort Belvoir. Belvoir Federal CEO Patricia Kimmel and Director of Branch Operations Judy MacDonald discovered last week the soldiers can't leave. "These soldiers sacrifice so much for their country, serving them a warm meal on Thanksgiving is the least we could do. We simply wanted to bring them a little piece of home," said Kimmel. Belvoir has nearly $270 million in assets. In Manchester, N.H., Bellwether Community CU will make Thanksgiving dinner possible for 150 families. Saturday it delivered about 2,000 pounds of turkeys to New Horizons food pantry, the 10th year it has made the annual contribution. With Bellwether's donation, New Horizons will create and distribute Thanksgiving food baskets to local families in need. Each basket will have a turkey and a variety of non-perishable items. The $327 million asset credit union's contribution doesn't end there. Each month, six to eight Bellwether employees help serve 200 meals in New Horizons' soup kitchen, said Mary Silva, food service manager there. "I am proud of our employees and directors for being leaders beyond our walls and helping local families in need," said Bellwether Community President/CEO Micahel L'Ecuyer in a press release. Since most international students at Rockland Community College in Suffern, N.Y., will be far away from their families during the holidays, Palisades FCU, Pearl River, N.Y., provided funds and volunteers as part of its sponsorship of the 23rd annual International Student Thanksgiving Luncheon last week at the college. More than 100 students, faculty, volunteers and community leaders attended the event, which helps international students learn about American customs and Thanksgiving traditions. Fifteen Western Michigan credit unions have joined together for their second year to support local hunger relief organizations (Michigan Monitor Nov. 22). They are collecting donations until Dec. 31. "The Credit Union Food Drive will make a huge difference in the lives of area families struggling during this difficult economic time," said Gail Kraft, executive director of Love Incorporated of Muskegon. Last year credit unions collected more than 6,500 pounds of food, and they plan to exceed that this year. Participants include: Community Schools CU, Family Financial CU, First General CU, HarborLight CU, Lakeshore FCU, Michigan Coastal CU, Muskegon Consumers Power Employees FCU, Muskegon Co-op FCU, Muskegon Governmental CU, SB FCU, Port City FCU, Service 1 FCU, Shoreline FCU, Tri-Cities CU and Wyandotte FCU. Three credit unions in Fond du Lac, Wis., are teaming up with other businesses on the area's Stock the Shelves campaign. Credit unions participating include CitizensFirst CU, Fond du Lac CU, and Marine CU. Total donations reached the $20,000 mark earlier this week and about 300 pounds of food have been collected so far. The campaign will end in two weeks. In Scappoose, Ore., Buddy Bear, a mascot of St. Helens Community FCU (SHCU), hit the streets Thursday to raise awareness for the Columbia Pacific Food Bank, which helps Columbia County families in need. SHCU and Auto Solution are hosting a food drive and fundraising event from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 at branch locations in Scappoose, St. Helens and Rainier. The goal is to raise $500 and three barrels of non-perishable food. And in Brewer, Maine, officials from the Maine Credit Union Campaign for Ending Hunger teamed up with Good Shepherd Food Bank last week to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Maine's Food Mobile, a truck that has delivered more than one million pounds of food to families in need since 3005 Last week's ceremony was held to coincide with Thanksgiving, according to the Maine Credit Union League. The credit unions' campaign also donated $1,600 to purchase 131 13-pound turkeys so the food pantry can "deliver them to families who need them," said Jon Paradise, the league's governmental and public affairs manager.

CU System briefs (11/22/2010)

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* MADISON, Wis. (11/23/10)--A "Right at Home" DVD and website from the Michigan Credit Union League & Affiliates received the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education's Outstanding Consumer Award at an annual awards luncheon Friday. The video and website connect struggling homeowner with the resources to avoid foreclosure. It was produced by CU Village, a Web design and multimedia subsidiary of the league, and made possible in part by funding from a National Credit Union Foundation Innovation Grant. The DVD and website feature information about 1) Budgeting for Any Situation, 2) Finding the Right Mortgage, and 3) Rebuilding Credit After Foreclosure … * GREEN BAY, Wis. (11/23/10)--Harold J. Elbe, 87, died Friday, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette (Nov. 22). He was former manager of Procter & Gambel (P&G) Green Bay CU, now $32 million asset Horizon Community CU, Green Bay, for 30 years until his retirement in 1986. He is survived by his wife, a daughter, one sister, and nieces and nephews. Funeral services are today at 3 p.m. CT at Lyndahl Funeral Home, Green Bay, with visitation from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. …

Regional compensation data available from CUNA

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MADISON, Wis. (11/23/10)--CEOs of credit unions in the East North Central Region (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin) earn a median base salary of $71,843, according to a new Credit Union National Association (CUNA) report.
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The report found a strong correlation between compensation, especially base salary, and credit union size. A credit union’s complexity of operations increases with its size, and CEOs are compensated accordingly. Among credit unions with $1 million or more and at least one full-time employee, the median base salary for CEOs is just more than $30,000, according to the CUNA 2010-2011 Complete Credit Union Staff Salary Survey East North Central Report. That figure increases to almost $400,000 among the largest credit unions. “Competition experts project that turnover will increase as the economy moves from recession to recovery,” said Beth Soltis, CUNA senior research analyst. “While turnover is expected among all positions, turnover among CEOs and hard-to-fill positions is expected to be particularly volatile. Analyzing compensation data from the credit union industry and in their geographic region will assist credit unions in providing appropriate and competitive compensation to attract and retain top talent.” The survey provides compensation data for 89 full-time and eight part-time positions at credit unions with $1 million or more in assets in the East North Central Region. The compensation data include: base salaries, incentives, bonuses, total cash compensation and salary ranges. The report, also available in Adobe PDF format, also contains job descriptions.

MCCU saves 13200 a year by going green

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CLOQUET, Minn. (11/23/10)--Changes in building and business practices in an effort to reach a zero net balance in carbon emissions have resulted in an annual savings of $13,200 at Members Cooperative CU (Duluth News Tribune Nov. 17). “We’ve discovered that making changes that are friendly to the environment are also friendly to our bottom line,” said Ralph Hamann, vice president and chief financial officer at the $288.5 million credit union. “We have more work to do, but we are on our way to becoming a carbon-neutral organization.” The Cloquet, Minn.-based credit union:
* Switched to a more efficient lighting at its Cloquet branch office (savings: $1,800 a year in electrical costs); * Switched from compressed-air keyboard cleaners to vacuum-style keyboard cleaners (savings: $800, plus harmful hydroflourocarbons aren’t released into the environment); and * Installed a sophisticated heating, ventilation and cooling system in the credit union’s 8,000-square-foot call center; the system pulls heat from the call center’s data servers and sends it to employees’ work stations, cutting heating costs to less than $150 per month in winter (savings: $10,000 per year).
Although Members Cooperative CU started making sustainable practices a priority in 2004, it boosted efforts this year after staff completed seven months of training with Sustainable Twin Ports, a nonprofit grassroots group dedicated to furthering sustainability through education, networking and action.

Connecticut league hosts healthcare CU roundtable

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MERIDEN, Conn. (11/23/10)--The Credit Union League of Connecticut held its first Connecticut Healthcare Credit Union Roundtable Nov. 16 to exchange information. Credit unions affiliated with the healthcare industry statewide gathered to provide support and ideas on ways they could improve service to members while developing growth and income opportunities. Topics included positioning credit unions in the healthcare industry, a comparison of healthcare credit unions versus the entire credit union industry, healthcare reform and its impact on the credit union’s role, opportunities and challenges credit unions will face going forward, the benefits and disadvantages of select employee group diversification, and cooperation with healthcare industry business providers. Participants also discussed the importance of branding and image with regard to healthcare industry providers and credit union members. “One thing is certain: healthcare credit unions realize they can advance and grow through shared business opportunities and an open exchange of information and ideas,” said Nick Moalli, league assistant vice president, credit union services, who facilitated the meeting. The group’s second session has been scheduled for January. League strategic partners will be invited to demonstrate how combining their efforts can help credit unions simplify operations, reduce costs, and deliver improved products and services.

Counterfeit checks reported by CUs in five states

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MADISON, Wis. (11/23/10)--Credit unions from New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, Iowa and California reported counterfeit checks scams, CUNA Mutual Group announced on Wednesday, according to the New Jersey Credit Union League (The Weekly Exchange Nov. 15). Some examples are:
* Money FCU, Syracuse, N.Y.--A nonmember of the credit union called to verify a $950 Money FCU official check received unsolicited in the mail; * Collins Community CU, Cedar Rapids, Iowa--Old credit union official checks were used for a mystery shopper scam; * Patriot FCU, Chambersburg, Pa.--Cashier’s checks were received in the mail accompanied by a letter from Manulife Financial advising the recipients that they were winners in the U.K. & North America Consumer Promotion draw organized for all customers of Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Kohl’s, Safeway, and other retailers; * Fibre FCU, Longview, Wash.--The payee of a credit union cashier’s check was altered, and the next day, the same check number and dollar amount were presented with a different payee; * SafeAmerica CU, Pleasanton, Calif.--The credit union has received several calls from banks asking to verify the validity of checks, as it appears to be part of a lottery scam; and * NBA CU, Bristol, Conn.--Counterfeit NBA CU checks are in circulation. The checks are being presented in New Jersey in the amounts of $4,850.20 to $8,850.20. The logo seems to have been copied and pasted onto the counterfeit check. The signature is not from an official signer. The check numbers range from 993281 to 993286.
Credit unions experiencing a loss can contact the CUNA Mutual Credit Union Protection Response Center at 800-637-2676 or click on the link below. In other activity related to counterfeit checks, the Virginia Credit Union League joined the battle to fight check fraud. The league is in a partnership with three other organizations in "Don't Become a Target," a program unveiled last week to educate consumers and financial institutions about bad check scams. The league is partnering with the Virginia Bankers Association and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) in handing out brochures created by the CFA about fake check scams and similar frauds to members who deposit check or money orders of $1,000 or more or to withdraw $1,000 or more.

N.J. CUs partner with fin lit coalition

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (11/23/10)--New Jersey’s credit unions have agreed to support the New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education (NJCFE) to advance financial literacy and education throughout the state and region. With help from the New Jersey Credit Union Foundation (NJCUF) and the New Jersey Credit Union League (NJCUL), credit unions have made a three-year sponsorship commitment, set to begin in 2011 (The Daily Exchange Nov. 22). The relationship will be formalized in a signing and check presentation ceremony at the upcoming NJCFE Membership Meeting scheduled for Dec. 17. “Financial literacy is one of the core missions of New Jersey credit unions,” said Paul Gentile, president/CEO of the league and secretary/treasurer of the foundation. “Credit unions operate in a cooperative environment, and our credit unions are proud to join together to fund this three-year commitment to NJCFE.” “New Jersey’s Credit Unions, Banking You Can Trust” will be lead sponsor in all events and the expanded relationship will bolster NJCFE’s statewide goal to improve the personal financial literacy of New Jersey’s citizens of all ages. Through the partnership, NJCFE said it will be able expand its outreach program. NJCFE also will be able to host:
* A spring and fall statewide conference for educators to develop new financial literacy education tools and learn of opportunities; * Financial showcases to spotlight a financial literacy curriculum statewide; * America Saves Week--a year-long program kicked off with a statewide public awareness week to encourage New Jersey citizens to save; * Financial Health Days--working with local organizations and schools to host financial health days where young people are given life scenarios to learn about money and budgeting; and * Website expansion for, a hub for financial literacy in New Jersey. With expanded resources, the website will begin offering services in multiple languages and further outreach.

Ceasedesist order vs. Manitoba-based CU in Saskatchewan

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REGINA, Saskatchewan (11/23/10)--A credit union based in Manitoba has been issued a "cease and desist" order for soliciting business in Saskatchewan but calls the order a mix-up ( Nov. 20). Sunova CU, of Selkirk, Man., was issued the order on Thursday by the Saskatchewan Financial Services Commission, which said the credit union was advertising in Saskatchewan under the name of Hubert Financial or The credit union doesn't have a provincial license to operate in Saskatchewan, the commission said. The credit union's website suggested the order is a mix-up. "While we can accommodate members and deposits from other provinces (and ensure their deposits are 100% guaranteed), the rules around how we can advertise our products and services get a little sticky," said a notice on the website. The credit union said it will refine its advertising to "ensure the working is A-OK with regulators from all provinces."

IArizona Daily StarI Some Tucsonans switching to CUs

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TUCSON, Ariz. (11/23/10)--Some credit unions and small banks in the Tucson, Ariz., area have used the financial crisis to encourage consumers to switch financial institutions from large banks, according to the Arizona Daily Star (Nov. 20). John Praytor, who lives in Sahuarita, Ariz., switched to Tucson FCU from Chase Bank when the bank continued to charge him after he paid off his home mortgage. His rationale was that the credit union is local and has a branch in Sahuarita, the newspaper said. By taking that action, Praytor followed the advice of activists who began the “Move Your Money” campaign in The Huffington Post a year ago. The campaign urges people to move their funds to smaller local institutions from large regional and national banks, the paper said. U.S. credit unions had an estimated 9.2% share of the household savings market at the end of 2008, and by September, that had risen to 10%, Pat Keefe, vice president of communications for the Credit Union National Association, told the paper. Credit unions’ slice of the consumer loan pie went to 9.3% in September--peaking at 9.6 % at the end of 2009--from 9.1% at the end of 2008, Keefe added. Because they have roots and a local presence, credit unions are “kind of like the banking from [the movie] ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,”’ Ray Lancaster, president of Pyramid FCU in Tucson, told the paper. By working hard to differentiate themselves from banks in light of the recent bad news about problems with big banks, credit unions have capitalized on “an opportunity to remind the customer of the difference” between them and banks, Michael Hudson, a consultant who runs the website, told the paper. To read the article, use the link.

Vermont survey points to aging CU directors

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (11/23/10)--The economy has caused regulators to shine a spotlight on accountability and knowledge among credit union board members, and a new survey of Vermont credit union directors brings home that point. The survey, by the Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU), found that most credit unions surveyed have an aging director population with no term limits and that few have a formal description of expectations or qualifications of their directors beyond what's cited in their bylaws (Newslines Express Nov. 19). Among the survey's findings:
* Number of directors: 50% have seven directors and one-third have nine; * Term limits: 83% reported no term limits; others are limited to two or three terms; * Director age; About half of credit unions' directors are in their 40s; one-third are in their 60s; * Director job description: 84% have no job description other than specified in the bylaws; * Nominating committee direction: 83% of nominating committees receive no particular direction; and * Other volunteer service: Credit unions are split on whether new directors typically come from other volunteer positions in the credit union.
The survey also found that credit unions seeking a mix of director criteria beyond bylaw minimums report a desire for a gender/race balance and specific experience in finance, or marketing or business. One credit union reported analyzing its board strengths and weaknesses to generate a list of gaps or needs to consider when seeking candidates. Credit unions that provide new director orientation provide, at a minimum, training in financial statements and confidentiality issues. Others with more formal orientation include a review of strategic plans, history, personal conduct and protocol, and in some instances use formalized board self-study training materials such as those provided by the Credit Union National Association.

Fed-hacking suspect who got CU access indicted

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. (11/22/10)--A Malaysian man has been indicted in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, N.Y., for allegedly hacking into the Federal Reserve's computers and accessing data from several entities, including credit unions and a credit union data processor. Lin Mun Poo, 32, was arrested after arriving in the U.S. on Oct. 12 and selling 30 active credit or debit cards to an undercover agent for $1,000. The indictment said he was in possession of more than 400,000 stolen credit and debit card numbers and noted he made a career of compromising computer servers at financial institutions, defense contractors and major corporations, and selling or trading the information ( Nov. 19). The computer network of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland was hacked in June and affected at least 10 computers. June Gales, a spokesman for the bank, said the hacking incident involved a computer used for testing that was not hooked up to the Fed's live production system (Bloomberg Businessweek Nov. 18). Gales maintained that no data was compromised. Prosecutors said Poo gained access to several institutions, including the Firemen's Association of the State of New York and Mercer County New Jersey Teachers by hacking into FedComp Inc., a Fairfax, Va.-based data processor serving credit unions. However, Derrick Smith, president of FedComp, told Bloomberg that FedComp has never had credit card information breached. He said inclusion of FedComp may be related to an incident in 2007 involving a test platform that took test data. Poo, who is also charged with hacking into a Department of Defense contractor's computer system, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

Four CDCUs receive N.Y. funds to boost small biz

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ALBANY, N.Y. (11/22/10)--Four community development credit unions (CDCUs) are among the 20 organizations receiving allocations from New York State's new Small Business Revolving Loan Fund, announced Gov. David A. Paterson and the Empire State Development (ESD) Thursday. The four credit union recipients are:
* Alternatives FCU, Ithaca, $1 million; * Bethex FCU, Bronx, $230,000; * Brooklyn FCU, $400,000 * Syracuse Cooperative FCU, $250,000.
"The funding allocations announced today are a major step in easing the small business capital crisis and promoting the growth and development of small businesses in New York," Paterson said. He noted the program "will provide the critical capital necessary to help businesses retain employees, create new jobs, and help grow our state economy." The fund will provide $50 million in loans to small businesses across the state over the next two years. The allocations will support microloans of $25,000 and below, and larger loans of up to $250,000 or above. The fund provides low-interest loan capital to alternative lenders--community development financial institutions, credit unions and small business lending consortia--to address the small business credit crisis and get millions of dollars into the hands of small businesses quickly. The Credit Union National Association and credit unions have supported federal legislation that would lift credit unions' member business lending cap to 27.5% from 12.25% so credit unions could help businesses by providing more than $10 million in loans and more than 100,000 in jobs.

CUs keep troops in mind for holidays

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MADISON, Wis. (11/22/10)--With a strong legacy of serving members of the military and their families, credit unions nationwide are thinking of U.S. troops when they share the holiday spirit. Here’s a look at how some credit unions are saying thank you to our soldiers worldwide.
SECU employees and member volunteers packed 5,000 gift boxes to send to deployed soldiers.
* State Employees CU staff and member volunteers gathered in Raleigh, N.C., on Nov. 6 to prepare and pack 5,000 holiday gift boxes for North Carolina National Guard and other North Carolina-based military soldiers deployed overseas. The gift boxes were packed with travel size items, including dental supplies, soap, shampoo, first aid items, travel games, socks and food. The items were collected in all 233 SECU branches statewide. With 180 people on hand, the boxes were filled within a couple hours. A U.S. Postal Service 18-wheeler soon arrived to take delivery of the boxes. Leigh Brady, senior vice president of education services at SECU, said the level of participation shows that the holiday spirit is contagious. “When SECU decided to initiate a statewide campaign, we had no idea that the volume of donations and volunteers would be so tremendous. We are elated with the results.” * Southpointe CU, St. Louis, is helping members prepare for their Thanksgiving dinner while supporting Homes for Our Troops--an effort to build specially adapted homes for severely disabled service members returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Southpointe CU is selling homemade pies for a $10 donation during November. Credit union employees are making the pies themselves, according to Member Service Manager Nancy Buehler. With only 10 employees, they may have their work cut out for them. “So far we have 31 orders,” Buehler told News Now Friday. “We know we’ll be busy, but it’s for a good cause. It’s fun for all of us.” * Belvoir FCU, Woodbridge, Va., is providing both members and non-members with the opportunity to visit any branch on select days or times to film a holiday message to send their loved ones this holiday season. The credit union has created a YouTube channel that includes all the messages. The credit union was organized in 1946 as Fort Belvoir FCU to serve the local military base. Since then, the credit union had expanded to serve a broader market in the Greater Washington DC area. * Like Belvoir, AmeriCU CU, Rome, N.Y., is offering military families an opportunity to send video messages to their deployed loved ones during the holiday season. The Rome, N.Y., credit union is partnering with WesCorp FCU and the Defense Credit Union Council to host Operation Best Wishes on Dec 7. * Southeast Ohio credit unions, including Atomic CU offices in Chillicothe, Waverly, Piketon and Welleston, and Chivaho FCU in Chillicothe, have begun their annual Sweats for Vets clothing drive to benefit local military veterans. Donations of new sweatshirts and pants will be accepted at Ohio Credit Union League participating sites. * Earthmover CU, Oswego, Ill., is accepting donations for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots Drive during the holiday season. Toys for Tots began in 1947 when Marine reservists from Los Angeles collected and distributed toys to 5,000 needy children.

Maine CUs meet with energy companies on energy financing

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WESTBROOK, Maine (11/22/10)--The Maine Credit Union League hosted a meeting on energy financing Nov. 15 with representatives from the Maine Green Energy Alliance (MGEA), the Efficiency Maine Trust (EMT), and representatives from credit unions in southern Maine. MGEA is a nonprofit organization that helps home owners make weatherization and energy efficiency improvements on their homes and receive tax credits from the federal government, as well as rebates from the Efficiency Maine Trust, which is responsible for Maine's energy efficiency and renewable energy programs (Maine Credit Union League’s Weekly Update Nov. 19). “[The meeting was] an opportunity to explore how credit unions can possibly partner with these two agencies to provide options for members looking to make their homes more energy efficient,” said league President John Murphy. “The visibility of Maine credit unions in working with the legislature and other agencies in the past few years to develop special loans and programs to help reduce energy costs for consumers was one of the reasons why MGEA and EMT reached out to us.” MGEA has selected a few communities to test its effectiveness. The league committed to work with MGEA to provide this information to credit unions that fall in those selected areas and into the hands of members interested in home energy improvements. Credit unions also gave an overview of what lending initiatives and programs for energy efficiency and weatherization they offer. The league will help facilitate the distribution of follow-up information to credit unions state-wide, Murphy said. “The state of Maine has a goal of weatherizing 100% of the housing stock by 2020, and the feedback from credit unions attending this meeting was to help in any way we can to assist in achieving this goal,” Murphy said. “The end result would be good for Maine and, most importantly, good for members.”

Wis. Young Pros Council gets CU orientation

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MADISON, Wis. (11/22/10)--The Wisconsin Credit Union League’s Young Professional Council met at the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Madison offices Thursday to learn more about the trade association and supporting organizations located on the CUNA campus that provide services and ideas to credit unions to help improve member service.
Click to view larger image Cheryl Erickson, left, league relations specialist with CUNA Mutual Group, provides a tour of the Credit Union National Association's campus to members of Wisconsin's Young Professionals Council. (Photo provided by the Wisconsin Credit Union League)
Speakers from CUNA, CUNA Mutual Group, the National Credit Union Foundation, World Council of Credit Unions and Filene Research Institute met with nearly 20 council members during the all-day meeting, which included a tour of the campus. “As a young professional, we don’t have as many opportunities to interact with industry leaders. It was great to get a statewide, national and global perspective of the credit union movement,” said Dan Winters, council member and lending supervisor/branch manager at Cooperative CU, Racine. The council consists of credit union staff ages 35 and younger from all areas of the state. Its goal is to promote its members' personal and professional growth, and strengthen the network of young credit union staff and volunteers in Wisconsin. “It was great to see the worldwide impact credit unions have and take a step back from our daily interactions with members to realize what credit unions, as an entire movement, do for their members and communities,” said Dominic Sloma, council member and operations leader at Best Advantage CU, Brillion. The council's next meeting is set for Jan. 26 in Madison and will coincide with the league's State Government Affairs Conference.

N.Y. association takes compliancelegal conference to Puerto Rico

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ALBANY, N.Y. (11/22/10)--The Credit Union Association of New York recently offered a Compliance and Legal Conference for Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Island credit unions in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Luis Lopez, CEO of Abraham Rosa Cooperativa, starts the Compliance and Legal Conference with introductions of Credit Union Association of New York Senior Vice President/General Counsel Michael Lanotte and Director of Compliance Michael Carter as presenters.
Michael Lanotte, senior vice president/general counsel for the Credit Union Association of New York, leads 44 representatives of the Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Croix credit union movements through the ins and outs of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (Photos provided by the Credit Union Association of New York)
The Nov. 4 event attracted 44 attendees from credit unions, consulting firms and other cooperativas. Michael Lanotte, the association’s general counsel and senior vice president of association services, and Michael Carter, the association’s director of compliance, led the conference. "When credit union entities come together as they did for this conference, everyone wins--especially the credit union movement," Lanotte said. "Its truly representative of the "people helping people' commitment credit unions have made thoughout the world." During the conference, Lanotte provided an overview of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and Carter offered an update on recently passed regulations. The pair also presented a compliance workshop, posing compliance scenarios and working through potential issues and solutions as a group. The conference was offered as part of the association’s ongoing partnership with Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands through the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) International Partnerships Program. The groups have partnered since 2005. This conference marked the fourth collaborative event. “The association’s partnership with Puerto Rican credit unions has been and will continue to be an active one,” Carter said. “The group has a Compliance Officers Association, which I look forward to working with to help provide up-to-date compliance information.” "It reflects the true cooperative nature of our industry and shows the value in sharing resources through this partnership," said Victor Miguel Corro, WOCUU senior manager of international partnerships. "I received such positive feedback from the credit unions in Puerto Rico."

CU System briefs (11/19/2010)

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* HONOLULU (11/22/10)--Noxious odors triggered an evacuation of 15 people Thursday morning from the Kapolei branch of Honolulu-based Hickam FCU and a neighboring business center, according to the Star-Advertiser (Nov. 18). The problem was pinpointed to an uninterrupted power supply device that was malfunctioning in the credit union. The incident occurred at about 10 a.m. One person reported nausea but no one required treatment, said the Honolulu Fire Department … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (11/22/10)--A segment of Pennsylvania Newsmakers featured Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation Executive Director Joe Wambach, right, and Chris Woods, center, foundation director and CEO of Keystone FCU, West Chester, discussing their recent mission trip to Haiti. Also pictured is the program's host, Dr. Terry Madonna, left. They talked about the disaster relief efforts in restoring family life for Haitians, and the remittance processing and facilities for credit unions. The segment began airing Sunday across the state and will continue through Saturday.(Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association) … * PALMER, Alaska (11/22/10)--Norma J. Benson, board chairman of the Matanuska Valley FCU in Palmer, Alaska, died Wednesday at Providence Hospital, Anchorage, said the $330 million asset credit union. She served as chairman for the past 30 years. Benson also was active in both the Alaska Credit Union League and the National Association of Credit Union Chairmen. For many years, she served as a member of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Awards Committee and was a regular attendee at CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference. A supporter of the World Council of Credit Unions, Benson was a member of a delegation from Alaska in the mid-1990s that worked to encourage credit union development in the Russian Far East …

PCUA notes working relationship with both parties leaders

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (11/19/10)--Pennsylvania State Senate Democrat and Republican caucuses held their leadership elections Wednesday. The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) notes that it is looking forward to continuing its existing working relationship with the newly-elected State Senate Democratic and Republican Leadership Team. Among those elected to the Senate Republican leadership are:
* President Pro Tempore: Joe Scarnati (Jefferson); * Majority Leader: Dominic Pileggi (Delaware); * Majority Whip: Pat Browne (Lehigh); * Caucus Secretary: Bob Robbins (Mercer); and * Majority Appropriations Chairman: Jake Corman (Centre).
The party's caucus administrator and caucus policy chair will be determined at a later date, PCUA said (Life is a Highway Nov. 18). Elected to the Senate Democratic leadership are:
* Minority Leader: Jay Costa (Allegheny); * Minority Whip: Mike O'Pake (Berks); * Caucus Secretary: Christine Tartaglione (Philadelphia); * Minority Appropriations Chairman: Vince Hughes (Philadelphia); * Caucus Chair: Anthony Williams (Philadelphia); * Caucus Administrator: Lisa Boscola (Northampton); and * Minority Policy Chair: Richard Kasunic (Fayette).
PCUA also has strong working relationships with the House leadership team, as well as with leaders at the federal level (News Now Nov. 18). "We are fortunate to have a good rapport with both the Republican and Democratic leaders," PCUA told News Now.

SE Corporate urges teamwork in IDisaster Recovery JournalI

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (11/19/10)--Credit union and other private sector business continuity planners should build relationships with public sector emergency operations planners, according to a Southeast Corporate FCU executive writing in the fall issue of Disaster Recovery Journal. Ken Schroeder, vice president of business continuity for Southeast Corporate was author of the article, "Building a Partnership." Business continuity planners need to establish this cooperation before a disaster occurs to be sure the company's disaster plan aligns with that of community emergency planners, he wrote. The article provided several suggestions for building partnerships, as well as disaster plan exercises. "I have found that I really improved my own planning process at Southeast Corporate through partnerships, and credit unions can benefit from these types of partnerships as well," said Schroeder. He cited the example of establishing a relationship with a local bomb squad in Tallahassee, Fla. "When I met with the bomb squad, I was able to develop new procedures that aligned to the services our county would provide to Southeast Corporate. Our disaster recovery team now knows what to expect from the bomb squad, and the bomb squad knows what to expect from us. If I had not formed this partnership, my previous disaster procedures would not have worked in the event of an actual bomb threat." Disaster Recovery Journal is a publication that serves private and public employees working in the disaster management field. To view the article, use the resource link.

Moodys assigns NCUA Guaranteed Notes Trust ratings

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NEW YORK (11/19/10)--Notes issued under the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Guaranteed Notes Trust for legacy asset securities in four corporate credit unions under conservatorship have been assigned ratings by Moody's Investors Service, the ratings agency announced Wednesday. Moody's assigned ratings of Aaa to $2.62 billion Senior 1-A notes that are due November 2017 and to more than $2.86 billion in Senior 11-A notes due November 2020. The trust was established to issue notes for roughly $6.11 billion in private label residential mortgage-backed securities from NCUA in its capacity as liquidating agency for U.S. Central FCU, Lenexa, Kan.; Western Corporate FCU, San Dimas Calif.; Members United Corporate FCU, Warrenville, Ill.; and Southwest Corporate FCU, Plano, Texas. The notes are part of NCUA's securitization program for legacy assets obtained in the corporates' conservatorships. Moody's said the ratings address the ultimate receipt of all required interest and principal payments, as provided by the notes' governing documents. "The ratings on the notes are based primarily on the guaranty provided by NCUA in its capacity as an agency of the executive branch of the U.S. government," Moody's said in its ratings rationale. "Accordingly, any change in the rating of the U.S. government will cause a change in the rating of the notes," it added. The service said it did not receive or take into account any third-party due diligence report on the underlying assets or financial instruments in the transaction.

S.C. CUs step up to fake-check campaign

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (11/19/10)--The South Carolina Credit Union League is in a partnership with three other organizations in "Don't Become a Target," a program unveiled Wednesday to educate consumers and financial institutions about bad check scams. The league is partnering with the South Carolina Bankers Association, the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA). South Carolina is one of 10 states that are rolling out the program (McClatchy Newspapers Nov. 18). “Because of the close relationship that credit unions have with their members, they’re committed to doing whatever they can to protect them from fraud. That’s why we’re excited to be a partner in this consumer education program,” Steve Fowler, president/CEO of the South Carolina Credit Union League, said in a joint press release. “Consumers and credit union personnel need to be able to recognize the warning signs of fraud in order to prevent it.” CFA also plans to conduct the program in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, New York, Tennessee, Virginia and the Los Angeles area in California, Susan Grant, CFA director of consumer protection, told News Now (Sept. 16). State credit union leagues/associations will be involved in the program in each of the states, she added. The two-year project will end in December 2011 and is being funded by a grant from an anonymous donor.

Wettrich officially named Ohio CUs deputy superintendent

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (11/19/10)--The Ohio Department of Commerce has officially named Mike Wettrich deputy superintendent for credit unions for the Ohio Division of Financial Institutions, according to the Ohio Credit Union League. Wettrich has held the position in an acting capacity since October 2009. Wettrich previously served as Ohio’s chief examiner for state-chartered credit unions (eLuminations Newsletter Nov. 17). “This is good news for credit unions, as Mike understands and appreciates the structure and philosophy of credit unions, and how they serve their members, and the progress of the credit union movement in Ohio,” said league President Paul Mercer. “He is accessible to state-chartered credit unions and continues to work with the league and credit unions on issues and concerns relating to regulation and examination.”

N.Y. Times blog notes CUs prize-linked savings efforts

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NEW YORK (11/19/10)--Credit unions’ efforts to promote personal savings and to reach the underserved were noted in a Thursday New York Times blog. The blog discusses the concept of prize-linked savings (PLS): “PLS is a kind of savings account that pools some of the interest from all depositors and pays out a big lottery prize every month or so. It combines the thrill of the lottery with the safety of a savings account. It’s sometimes called a ‘no-lose lottery,’ since a depositor is automatically entered into the lottery but can’t lose the original money she deposits.” The blog mentioned Michigan’s “Save to Win” program--the creation of Harvard professor Peter Tufano, which has been offered among several credit unions in the state. The program, by attaching a lottery prize to deposits, encourages people who would not normally be inclined to do so, to deposit money into a credit union and keep it there. For every $25 that goes into a certificate of deposit, a credit union member gets one chance at winning a weekly lottery and one entry for an annual grand prize of $100,000. The program recently paid out its first $100,000 prize to an 86-year-old woman who had deposited $75 in her account at Nu Union CU, Lansing, Mich. (News Now Feb. 5). To read the blog, use the link.

CU System briefs (11/18/2010)

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* ORLANDO, Fla. (11/19/10)--Amy Bretches, 49, a retired Orlando police officer, was sentenced to two years in prison for embezzling funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the city of Orlando. Bretches was convicted of two counts of money laundering. In July 2000, she opened an in the police department's name at Orlando FCU and registered the city as a FEMA recipient tied to the account (Orlando Sentinel Nov. 18 and Associated Press Nov. 17) … * LOS ANGELES (11/19/10)--Robert York has been appointed president/CEO of California Bear CU, based in Los Angeles. York has 13 years of credit union management experience and 18 years' experience in the financial services industry. For the past six years, he has been vice president of marketing and business development at the $108 million asset credit union. He is a 2010 graduate of Western CUNA Management School, where he won the Charlie Clark Award for most outstanding student in his class. He is involved in various credit union organizations … * BATON ROUGE, La. (11/19/10)--The board of the La Capitol FCU announced the selection of Michael Hooper as the credit union's new president/CEO. Hooper will succeed retiring President/CEO Susan Parry Leake, according to the Louisiana Credit Union League (eNews Nov. 17). Hooper has been with the credit union since 1993 and has served as chief financial officer and executive vice president there for the past 10 years. La Capitol is a $391 million asset credit union based in Baton Rouge … * BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (11/19/10)--America's First FCU, Birmingham, Ala., has named Bill Connor as its new president/CEO, effective March 1. He will take the helm over from David Adcock, who is retiring (The Birmingham News via Nov. 18). Adcock has served as CEO since 1996 and has been with America's First for 38 years. Connor, currently chief financial officer at America's First, has held that position since 1996. He has been with the credit union since 1980 and served in a number of positions. The nearly $1.1 billion asset credit union has 18 branches serving 110,000 members in eight counties as well as parts of two other counties … * AKRON, Ohio (11/19/10)--Former Ohio Credit Union League board member Hazel B. Pancoast Rohan, 79, died Nov. 10 in Stuart, Fla., according to the league (eLumination Newsletter Nov. 17 and Akron Beacon Journal Nov. 15). She was a former president and board member of MedPro FCU near Akron, Ohio. She served on the Summit Chapter of Credit Unions' board of directors and was chapter president from 1987 to 1993. Rohan instituted credit union amusement park ticket sales to replete the chapter's treasury, started the chapter's program committee to oversee event planning and content, and created its first marketing committee. Rohan was elected to the league board in 1993. She had lived in Florida since 1996 …

Michigan program involving CUs announces 6300 jobs

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LANSING, Mich. (11/19/10)--Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm has announced that companies will invest $420.6 million in the state, creating and retaining 6,293 jobs as part of an economic development program that involves Michigan credit unions. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is helping seven companies grow in the state by backing six redevelopment projects. More than 30 state credit unions have previously committed $43 million for small business loans in cooperation with the MEDC to form the Credit Union Small Business Financing Alliance (CUSBFA). Michigan Credit Union League Director of Public Affairs Glen Ray said programs such as CUSBFA helped the MEDC leverage the business-friendly environment to attract more companies to the state. “We’re playing a strong role in generating new jobs and new business in Michigan,” Ray told News Now. “Efforts like the one announced yesterday affect virtually everyone in the state. We’re very proud of the role credit unions play in those efforts.” The MEDC played a role in creating credit union-related jobs in Michigan this week. On Wednesday, the Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA), which is administered by the MEDC, announced that Member Driven Technologies (MDT), a technology service organization owned by five state credit unions was awarded a $557,000 state tax credit. The credit was awarded to encourage the company’s construction of a $6.4 million expansion and second data center. The project will create 101 jobs at MDT, and as many as 230 in the area through related business.

Ill. CUs continue dialogue with reg secretary

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (11/19/10)--Following a recent meeting of the Illinois Governor’s Board of Credit Union Advisors (GAB), credit unions from throughout Illinois were in the state Capitol Tuesday for an informal “meet and greet” to continue advancing issues of mutual interest and to share information about their initiatives and discuss shared concerns.
Click to view larger image Illinois credit unions were at the state Capitol Tuesday for an informal “meet and greet” to continue advancing issues of mutual interest and to share information about their own initiatives and discuss shared concerns. Pictured are, from left: Robert Meza, director, Illinois Division of Financial Institutions; Brent Adams, secretary, Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR); Susan Gold, chief of staff, IDFPR; Stephen Olson, executive vice president, general counsel and chief operating officer, Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL); Keith Sias, director, state governmental affairs, ICUL; and Farah Muscadin, legislative liaison, IDFPR. (Photo provided by the Illinois Credit Union League)
More than 20 people attended the meeting, including many credit union representatives, Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) Secretary Brent Adams, Division of Financial Institutions (DFI) Director Robert Meza, and other legislative, regulatory and legal staff from the agency, and the Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL). Called by Adams, the meeting aimed to provide an atmosphere of collaboration and transparency between the Illinois regulatory agency and state-chartered credit unions on mutual issues. Adams intends to maintain this level of dialogue on a going-forward basis through these types of functions and the formal meetings of the GAB, said ICUL. He mentioned that similar conferences were also scheduled with the state’s other banking groups this week. At the meeting, the IDFPR and ICUL staff previewed highlights of their legislative proposals for the upcoming spring state legislative session. While both parties are still finalizing details of these proposals, they agreed to continue efforts to maintain DFI as an independent credit union regulator under IDFPR. Adams and Meza indicated they would continue to oppose any effort to consolidate state credit union and bank regulatory functions within the same department or attempt to branch off as a separate agency for the supervision of depository institutions. Participants had the opportunity to openly discuss the preliminary initiatives, and operational and regulatory concerns. Credit unions are of particular interest to the IDFPR not only from the regulatory perspective, but also from the standpoint of how Illinois plays a leadership role in advancing the interests of state-chartered institutions. The state is home to the largest number of state-chartered credit unions in the nation with 297, ICUL said. “Dialogue among the credit unions, IDFPR, DFI and the league has become increasingly frequent and open. This is critically important,” said Stephen Olson, ICUL executive vice president, general counsel and chief operating officer. “During this very challenging business environment in which credit unions are currently operating, credit unions appreciate the opportunity to have direct access to the agency that handles their regulatory supervision.”

TMG Veridian invest in alternative payments service

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DES MOINES, Iowa (11/18/10)--The Members Group (TMG) and The Veridian Group have taken steps to ensure credit unions and community financial institutions have access to emerging payments technologies by investing $1 million in Dwolla, an online and mobile payment platform. The investment was made to fund the growth of the platform and to be able to offer the product to financial institutions. Dwolla allows cash payments to be transferred digitally between two users from more places, more quickly and at lower costs than most traditional services, said TMG and The Veridian Group. TMG will be the primary distribution channel for the Dwolla platform as a product offering to community-based financial institutions. Also, TMG will contribute development expertise, including counsel on processing and security procedures, to ensure success and compliance with financial industry regulations, the company said. Jeff Russell, TMG executive vice president, and Nick Evens, president of The Veridian Group, will continue to advise Dwolla leadership as members of Dwolla's board of directors. Government regulations and other factors have created an environment in which financial institutions must be innovative in providing different methods for consumers to move money through payments networks, Russell said, adding that the current economic climate has caused businesses to look for less expensive alternatives that still provide convenient transactions. Dwolla is a two-year-old, fully functional software platform that has processed millions in transactions, said Ben Milne, founder/ CEO of Dwolla. “Our recent capital investment from TMG and The Veridian Group creates a strategic business relationship worth more than money. The relationship validates our mission to craft a technology that empowers individuals and organizations to share and spend money while avoiding the high costs associated with many other payment systems.” The alternative payment platform will keep deposits, transactions and market share with its financial institution clients. The platform complements several of TMG’s recent product roll outs, including mobile banking.

PCUA has working relationship with state House Dems leaders

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (11/18/10)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) has a solid working relationship with the state's new House Democratic leaders, which the Democratic caucus chose Tuesday. PCUA congratulated the newly elected House Democratic Leadership Team and told its credit unions that it has "a solid working relationships with them and looks forward to continuing this rapport" (Life is a Highway Nov. 17). The new leaders are:
* Minority Leader: Frank Dermody, Allegheny; * Minority Whip: Mike Hanna, Clinton; * Caucus Chairman: Dan Frankel, Allegheny; * Caucus Secretary: Jennifer Mann, Lehigh; * Minority Policy Committee Chair: Mike Sturla, Lancaster ; * Caucus Administrator: Ron Buxton, Dauphin; and * Minority Appropriations Chairman: Joe Markosek, Allegheny.
State Senate leaders were being elected yesterday, PCUA said.

CUs contributions to auto sales noted by dealers

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DOTHAN, Ala. (11/18/10)--Credit unions are helping consumers purchase automobiles in the Dothan, Ala., area, according to a local newspaper. Auto sales “are trending upward in Dothan” with taxable sales reaching more than $181 million for fiscal 2010--up roughly $11 million from 2009, said the (Nov. 16). One dealer particularly mentioned credit unions. “The economy is coming back,” Jamie Snell, general sales manager for Dothan Chrysler Dodge Kia, told the newspaper. “This year has definitely been way better than last year. The banks have loosened up and started lending, and local credit unions stepped up and have been doing their part for sure. All dealers are getting help from the credit unions. The banks crunched down big-time during the crisis.” During the past three years, car sales at his lot dropped 30% to 40% below normal levels, Snell told the paper. People were not understanding that everyone has to purchase items for the economy to thrive, Snell added. Purchases were spotty, but now are becoming more consistent, with some months in 2010 being as good as any in years past, he added. To read the article, use the link.

Ala. Fla. CUs provide support in Costa Rica

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (11/18/10)--The League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) and five credit unions from Alabama and Florida spent a few days in Costa Rica last week addressing the government and working with credit unions to improve operations and other areas.
The League of Southeastern Credit Unions contingent meets with Luis Gerardo Villanueva Monge, president of the Asamblea Legislativa de la Republica de Costa Rica (center right) in Costa Rica last week. (Photos provided by The League of Southeastern Credit Unions)
The league--when it initially was known as the Alabama Credit Union League--has partnered with Costa Rica since 2005 through the World Council of Credit Unions’ International Partnerships Program. The participants included Joe Melbourne, CEO of CFE FCU in Lake Mary, Fla; Andy Price, general counsel for Florida Commerce CU in Tallahassee; David Southall, CEO of Innovations FCU in Panama City, Fla.; Gina Turner, assistant vice president of operations and branch administration at Alabama Teachers CU, Gadsden, Ala.; Peter Alvarez, Hispanic program manager for Redstone FCU in Huntsville, Ala.; and Laura Vann, LSCU vice president, cooperative initiatives.
The League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU), along with five credit unions, spent a few days in Costa Rica last week addressing the government, working with credit unions to improve operations and address areas where the credit union movement can improve in the country. Pictured are Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla Miranda (left) and David Southall CEO of Innovations FCU in Panama City Beach, Fla.
The LSCU contingent met with members of the government, including Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla Miranda and the equivalent of the Speaker of the House. Costa Rica has 76 credit unions with 600,000 members. However only 31 credit unions--those with $1 million or more in assets--are regulated. Credit unions also are the only “banking” segment without government deposit backing. State banks are backed by the government, while private banks have a fund of roughly $600,000 Costa Rica’s president thanked credit unions for their place in the economy. Chinchilla addressed the group in English and talked about how the country was trying to reduce its carbon footprint. She also talked about the effects Hurricane Tomas had on the country’s infrastructure. Price, fluent in Spanish, addressed a group of credit union CEOs, board members, and legislators as part of a panel discussion on deposit insurance. The panel discussion was held at the Assemblea Legislativa. More than 70 individuals attended.

Georgia members holiday spending plans reflect consumer trends

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ATLANTA, Ga. (11/18/10)--When it comes to holiday spending, it looks like it’s going to be the “same old, same old” in Georgia this year, with about half of the state’s credit union members indicating they will spend about what they did last year. Of nearly 6,000 credit union members surveyed statewide, 52.8% said they plan to spend about the same as last year during the holiday season, while 44.3% indicated that they plan to spend less, according to Georgia Credit Union Affiliates. Data from 39 credit unions statewide indicate that Georgia credit union members are leaning toward frugality, and are even increasing their account balances in some cases. During the first nine months of 2010, savings deposits grew by 6.3% and checking account balances increase by 11.4%. Most shoppers plan to spend modest amounts on gifts, with 43.9% of respondents saying they plan to spend between $100 and $500; 28.7% plan to spend between $500 and $1,000. The majority of respondents (77.8%) are planning to pay mostly or completely with cash, compared to 17.3% who plan to pay using a credit card. About 5% plan to use savings for their holiday spending.

Survey Southeastern CUs approve of LSCUs work

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. And TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (11/18/10)--Six months after consolidating credit unions in Alabama and Florida, the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) is delivering on its promise to be a more effective and efficient resource for its members, the league said. According to the results of the recent LSCU Member Survey, 87% of member credit unions that responded are satisfied with the new league. When asked if the league understands credit unions’ needs, 88% agreed. Also, three out of four credit unions surveyed say they get good value for their dues dollars, indicating the league is focused on the right areas, according to Patrick La Pine, LSCU president/CEO. The new league has focused on advocacy and information. “When the Alabama and Florida leagues consolidated, we knew the new LSCU would need to re-focus on the needs of credit unions,” La Pine said. “In less than one year, member credit unions are seeing a more personal LSCU that is spending more time in their credit unions, listening and responding to their needs. “The member results are consistent across asset sizes and between both states, proving that our members’ needs are being met,” he added. “We know we have more work to do as our credit unions are under a lot of financial and regulatory pressure right now and we need to continue to provide solutions to ease their burdens.”

New Jersey league exhibits at municipalities convention

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (11/18/10)--The New Jersey Credit Union League (NJCUL) is among the exhibitors this week at the New Jersey League of Municipalities Convention & Annual Meeting in Atlantic City. The convention is attended by more than 20,000 officials statewide and provides an opportunity to bring credit union messages to state and local lawmakers and policy leaders from around the state. Foremost among those messages is the need to amend the state’s 39-year-old Government Unit Depository to Protection Act (GUDPA), which gives banks a virtual monopoly on, and precludes local government entities from utilizing credit unions as, depositories, said the The Daily Exchange (Nov. 17). The municipalities league has adopted as one of its legislative priorities support for the pending bill to bring GUDPA into the 21st century. In May, state legislation that would create a New Jersey Banking Development District (BDD) Program was reported favorably from the state’s Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee (News Now May 11). Credit unions are included in the bill’s definition of “bank,” according to NJCUL. The league supported the bill, said Chris Abeel, NJCUL government affairs director. Beyond the league’s legislative agenda, the conference is invaluable from a business development standpoint, the NJCUL said. Visitors to the league booth receive “Find a Credit Union” cards, which direct them to the website. Several employers have requested information on how to offer their employees the opportunity to join a credit union, NJCUL said.

TULIP CU offers option to predatory lenders

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OLYMPIA, Wash (11/18/10)--TULIP Cooperative CU, Olympia, Wash., is challenging predatory lenders in its area, not with an alternative lending products, but with some old-fashioned credit union philosophy: people helping people. “We just work very hard to get people out of the payday cycle and into structured debt,” said Eric Bowman, the $2.2 million-asset credit union’s board chair. “We’ll make $250 loans just to get people into the loan cycle. We counsel our members. We sit down and work with them. Our goal is to get people back on the grid after being on the fringe of financial services. "The credit union has been in existence just seven years. We’re young; we honestly don’t have it down yet,” Bowman explained. “But we are always open to new strategies and ideas.” TULIP CU is a true community credit union whose members want to make a difference in each other’s lives, Bowman told News Now. “We have members who are small business owners, politicians, people with six-figure incomes and people on fixed incomes.” The core membership though, is comprised of those most in need; 77% are low income. TULIP CU members are currently being showcased in a new campaign of television, radio and print ads aimed to increase awareness of the credit union and its mission. To view the ads, use the link.

CU System briefs (11/17/2010)

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* MACON, Ga. (11/18/10)--A Macon police officer was injured after he lost control of his patrol car and struck a utility pole while responding to a burglary at Robins FCU (Macon Telegraph Nov. 17). Sgt. Kenny Smith sustained serious injuries and could not move after the accident, but police said the injuries are not life threatening. At the credit union's parking lot, a pick up truck rolling through the lot with its driver's door open crashed into a nearby building's wall. Two men fled when officers arrived. Police said the burglars were using a sledge hammer to try stealing the credit union's ATM. Robins FCU is a $1.36 billion asset credit union based in Warner Robins, Ga. … * ALEXANDRIA, Va. (11/18/10)--Two military financial institutions--USAA and Pentagon FCU--are teaming up in a marketing alliance to give troops better access to financial products. USAA, a bank, will offer access to its non-banking products such as investments and insurance through the credit union. USAA will offer its members new, lower-rate jumbo mortgage options, which Pentagon Federal will buy and service. Members of the credit union will have access to USAA's auto and home insurance, annuities, life insurance and investment products, with USAA as the credit union's preferred provider for those products (NavyTimes Nov. 17) … * HAMILTON, N.J. (11/18/10)--Marvin R. Jones, a longtime New Jersey credit union leader, has died at the age of 81, according to the New Jersey Credit Union League (The Daily Exchange Nov. 17). Jones was president of Dow Jones Employees FCU for 20 years and also was employed by Healthcare Employees FCU for three years. He is survived by his wife, two daughters and three grandchildren. A graveside service was held on Tuesday … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (11/18/10)--Robert Eiler, a credit union volunteer for 50 years, died Nov. 9, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway Nov. 17). He held volunteer leadership positions with Barta-Berks Community FCU of Reading, and was chairman of the board since 1997. His daughter, Sharon Glase, is president/CEO of the credit union …

Javelin Consumers heads in the sand on personal finance

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SAN FRANCISCO (11/17/10)--Although the "Great Recession" has caused belting tightening among millions of Americans, millions of others are monitoring their finances less than they did a year ago, says new research from Javelin Strategy & Research. Nearly one in five (19%) of consumers currently do not monitor or manage their personal finances. That's more than double the 8% who didn't manage their finances last year, said the San Francisco-based firm's report, "Personal Finance Management (Part 1): What Consumers Really Want from PFM," which was released Monday. "The prolonged economic downturn has made money tight in millions of American households and caused the rise of a nation of 'cautious consumers,'" said James Van Dyke, president/founder of Javelin. "But contrary to what many may think, millions of consumers are monitoring their finances less--not more," he said. "What you can't see can hurt you, and Americans need to pull their heads out of the sand." Personal finance tools "can help consumers regain control and confidence in challenging economic times," said the report. More than half of U.S. households maintain financial accounts at more than one financial institution, making management "a complex and often tedious chore when they seek to assess their current financial status. With increased financial products options and technology channels, personal finance management has never been more complex," the report added. It noted that banks and credit unions are in the best position to give consumers control over their finances by integrating PFM tools on the Web. Other key findings:
* The percentage of consumers who say they sometimes manage their finances by logging on to checking account balances slipped--to 46% in 2010 from 59% in 2009. * Online banking suffered as many consumers switched back to paper and pen to track their finances. * Consumers say their No. 1 need is to be able to see all their account balances and transactions in one place.
"Consumers want to be able to access multiple accounts in one view, in real-time, and on the go," said Mark Schwanhausser, senior analyst, multi-channel financial services. He said financial institutions "must seize this opportunity to redefine online and mobile banking and install PFM at the heart of the user experience so that consumers feel empowered, not overwhelmed, when it comes to managing their finances."

Despite economy Wisconsins big CUs have no losses

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PEWAUKEE, Wis. (11/17/10)--Although most of Wisconsin’s large credit unions saw their earnings dip during the first three quarters of 2010, none of them has lost money, according to the latest data from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Seven of the 10 biggest state-chartered credit unions had lower net income in the first nine months of 2010, said NCUA (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Nov. 15). Only Summit CU in Madison, Community First CU in Appleton, and Royal CU in Eau Claire saw increased net income in the first three quarters of the year, the newspaper said. "There's no doubt financial institutions of all kinds face more difficulty now in sustaining earnings," Brett Thompson, president/CEO of the Wisconsin Credit Union League, told News Now. "However, credit unions have clearly done what it takes to manage their bottom line while at the same time helping their member-owners weather the financial challenges they're facing. Credit unions' real success has been in how well they've done that for members. And in these economic times, members have discovered their credit unions were there when they needed them." Most of the state’s big credit unions increased their reserve allocations to account for any potential bad debt--an action that diminishes the net income for financial institutions, the paper said. “It’s the economy,” Suzanne Cowan, director of Wisconsin’s Office of Credit Unions, told the paper, adding “rates are so low [that] there’s not a lot of interest-rate margins, so that reduces the interest income that the credit unions earn.” Also, credit unions have to pay premiums this year to the NCUA’s National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, which insures credit unions if they fail, the paper said. In light of the struggling economy and low interest rates, “credit unions have done pretty well,” Cowan told the paper.

Filene study Adapt services to retain young adults

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MADISON, Wis. (11/17/10)--Attracting more Gen Y members is more than a marketing strategy for credit unions, it’s a matter of survival, according to a just-published report from the Filene Research Institute. While older consumers continue to be loyal to credit unions and small banks, by 2020 Gen Y will dominate the work force, comprising 40% of all workers--virtually all of them with borrowing needs, according to the 1,400-response survey, “Big, Small or Online? Young Adults’ Evolving Financial Presence.” Among the survey findings:
* 22% of Gen Y use an online bank as their primary financial institution; * 40% say a recommendation from friends or family played a role in their opening an account; * Gen Y places a premium on account features and interest rates--in the immediate term; and * Online bank customers say they have the best combination of the features and fees and that online services suits them best. The strength of this sentiment shows that “personal” service really means “suitable” service, said Filene. In the case of Gen Y, that service is often offered online.
Study author Rob Rubin, founder and CEO of Facilitas--the organization behind and BankSwitcher--said that the key to remaining viable in the long-term is to make Gen Y their No. 1 focus. The best way to do that is to make your online presence a priority. “Take honest stock of the competition from online banks and big banks alike,” Rubin said. “Only then can you double down on the services that will make your financial institutions the one of choice among Gen Y.” To read the study, use the link.

Unitus use of iPads to sign up accounts catches on

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PORTLAND, Ore. (11/17/10)--Unitus Community Credit Union, Portland, Ore., is using the Apple’s iPad to sign up new members--and the idea is also attracting attention from credit unions throughout the country.
Click to view larger image Brett Wooden, business development manager at Unitus Community CU, has used the Apple iPad to sign up new members. The award-winning idea has attracted interest from credit unions nationwide. (Photo provided by Unitus Community CU)
Brett Wooden, the $830 million-asset credit union’s business development manager, came upon the idea when he used his iPad in a meeting with a business member who didn’t have time to visit a branch. The iPad offered seamless access to the Unitus Community CU website and its personal financial management tools. Wooden said he thought so much of the iPad as a member service tool that he entered the idea in the REAL Solutions competition sponsored by the Credit Union Association of Oregon. The idea won the competition, and Wooden has since received e-mails and calls nationwide asking for more information about how to effectively serve members with the iPad. Most of the calls are from information technology (IT) managers who want to know how to integrate the iPad with their core systems and business development people interested in learning how to implement the device in the field, Wooden told News Now. The Unitus Community CU iPad is linked with its online member application, Wooden said. As for advice to those looking to take the iPad into the field, he points out it’s a good idea to move to a paperless marketing environment. “If you show up with paper brochures and rate sheets along with your iPad, it takes away from the cutting-edge feel of it,” he said.

CU System briefs (11/16/2010)

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* ST. LOUIS (11/17/10)--A suspect in an $11 million heist of ATM Solutions, an ATM-servicing business for banks and credit unions in several Midwestern states, is one of two men who have escaped from an eastern Missouri jail. John Wesley Jones, 36, is suspected of being one of four who ambushed security guards arriving for work in the Aug. 2 robbery but not officially charged with the robbery. Jones and Corey Durand Cross escaped around 3:30 a.m. Monday by climbing to the jail's roof before scaling down a 30-foot wall. Both men were in jail on weapons charges (Kansas City Star Nov. 16). Jones was arrested a day after the robbery with hundreds of thousands of dollars in the trunk of his car (River Front Times Nov. 15). The men are considered armed and dangerous, said authorities … * MADISON, Wis. (11/17/10)--Ron Jooss is the new assistant Web editor at the Credit Union National Association's News Now, effective Monday. Jooss previously served as an editor at the Credit Union Executives Society (CUES), Madison, Wis., where his duties primarily focused on Credit Union Management magazine as well as CUES’ online publications. At News Now, Jooss will cover credit union system news, products and services and Inside Washington as well as CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference … * FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (11/17/10)--The Texas Credit Union Foundation raised more than 87,800 at its 13th annual golf tournament to support its financial literacy programs and grants for community outreach, chapter programs and development education (LoneStar Leaguer Nov. 16). The next tournament will be Sept. 7, 2011. The full listing of sponsors is at the foundation's website … * KINGSTON, N.Y. (11/17/10)-- Mid-Hudson Valley FCU President/CEO William Spearman has been appointed by New York Gov. David Paterson to the Board of Trustees for Ulster County Community College (SUNY Ulster) ( Nov. 16). Spearman was chairman and treasurer of the College Foundation board. Mid-Hudson Valley FCU is a $698 million asset credit union based in Kingston, N.Y. SUNY Ulster has satellite campuses in Kingston and Highland … * DETROIT (11/17/10)-- Thomas Reinbolt, former president of the board of Detroit Marathon Employees FCU, died Nov. 9, according to the Michigan Credit Union League (Michigan Monitor Nov. 15). The credit union later merged with Downriver Community FCU. Gloria Butler, former CEO at the Marathon credit union, told the league that Reinbolt became the credit union's 1,000th member and was a great leader and humanitarian. He is survived by his wife, six children, 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild …

MnCUN CEOs article praises financial co-ops

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (11/17/10)--Focusing on credit unions’ cooperative roots, Minnesota Credit Union Network President/CEO Mark D. Cummins praised financial cooperatives in Monday’s Finance & Commerce newspaper, touting the cooperative characteristics that make credit unions unique and beneficial for consumers. Cummins is a regular columnist for the Twin Cities publication. The article, titled “Defining Credit Unions and the Cooperative Model,” defines how cooperatives differ from for-profit businesses. It informs readers of the strength of co-ops in the financial services industry, where more than 92 million consumers are member-owners of nearly 8,200 credit unions throughout the U.S.--including 1.5 million credit union members in Minnesota. “By working cooperatively, credit unions have successfully helped members around the world overcome financial challenges,” Cummins wrote, noting credit unions’ work to serve the underserved. “Credit unions offer financial counseling, provide foreclosure assistance, and make loans to the state’s small businesses, which are essential during this time of economic recovery.” Cummins also touted the credit union difference by noting the industry’s member-owned, democratically controlled structure. He referred to credit unions’ benefits--lower rates on loans, fewer fees, and higher savings rates--to consumers and encouraged readers to find a credit union they are eligible to join. To read the column, use the link.

CU System briefs (11/15/2010)

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* WASHINGTON (11/16/10)--Yolanda Powers, 31, of District of Columbia pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing $35,000 paid by the federal government as retirement benefits into her mother's credit union account after her mother's death. Between June 2008 and March 2009, 11 retirement annuity payments totaling more than $35,000 were deposited into the account of Carol Powers at NASA FCU, Upper Marlboro, Md. The daughter withdrew the funds using ATM withdrawals, check card transactions, checks written on the account, and telephonic transfers to a joint account. She faces up to 10 years in prison, but federal sentencing guidelines could reduce that to six to 12 months of home detention. Powers agreed to make restitution as part of the plea agreement. Sentencing has been set for Jan. 31 (Targeted News Service Nov. 12) … * POMPTON LAKES, N.J. (11/16/10)--New Jersey credit unions Friday brought a Financial Reality Fair to Pompton Lakes High School as part of the state's REAL Solutions initiative. Eighteen volunteers from throughout the state spent the day manning booths and interacting with more than 80 students to provide a hands-on experience completing a monthly budget. Five classes participated. New Jersey credit unions are hosting another fair today at Carteret (N.J.) High School, according to the New Jersey Credit Union League (The Daily Exchange Nov. 15) …

Americans expose sensitive info on social networks

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (11/16/10)--As consumers flock to theatres to see "The Social Network," millions more are unwittingly exposing their identities and potentially critical financial information on popular social networking sites, according to a survey commissioned by ID Analytics. The 2010 Social Network Fraud Survey of 1,013 U.S. adults was conducted this month via telephone by Harris Interactive on behalf of ID Analytics, which is a CUNA Strategic Services provider. According to the survey, more than 24 million Americans age 18 or older leave their social network profiles mostly public. Millions more expose identity information, including birthdate, birthplace and current and previous addresses. Nearly 70 million people on social networking sites share their birthplace on their profiles. Birthplace is one of the most common "security questions" asked by financial institutions to verify someone's identity, said ID Analytics. "People do not realize how they are exposing their identities and potentially sensitive financial information to fraudsters on social networking sites such as Facebook," said Thomas Oscherwitz, chief privacy officer for ID Analytics. Among the other common security questions posed by financial institutions to verify identities are a pet's name, their favorite book or music, or the color of their car. Consumers should realize that social networking sites provide fraudsters with a plethora of information that is ripe for the taking and take steps to protect themselves," said Oscherwitz. Other findings:
* Nearly 20 million Americans revealed their pets' names on their social networks. * Eighteen- to 34-year-olds are most likely to reveal personal information on the sites. ID Analytics cautioned about analyzing these results due to small base sizes. * Men and women on social networking sites share similar information about themselves. However, men are much more likely to share their current address than women are, and men are almost twice as likely to share photos of their car. Women are almost twice as likely to share pet names.
Consumers can check their risk of identity fraud at, a free online service that gives consumers insight into whether their personal identifiable information is being used for fraud in obtaining assets, goods or services.

Grant to CU helps low-income families secure autos

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ROANOKE, Va. (11/16/10)—Freedom First FCU in Roanoke, Va., used an innovation grant to partner with three agencies to provide affordable transportation to low-income people. Access to transportation determines where a family a lives, where its children go to school, and what jobs family members hold. Estimates say that families can increase their income by as much as 25% with access to reliable transportation. Freedom First FCU found that one in 12 households in its region were unable to reach their maximum potential because they lacked reliable transportation. With a $25,000 innovation grant this year from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), Freedom First FCU partnered with Total Action Against Poverty, New River Community Action and Enterprise Car Sales to implement the Responsible Rides Auto Loan Program to help provide affordable and dependable transportation to low-income individuals. “Freedom First FCU’s program is meeting a tremendous need in their community,” said Tom Candell NCUF deputy director, chief operating officer/chief financial officer. “It’s also a great example of partnership and ‘people helping people.’ This is one of the many ways that NCUF Innovation Grants are helping family members achieve their goals.” Loan rates for the program are 9.9% with a 60-month term that covers costs and increased risks. Pre-approved applicants are required to participate in financial education and car care maintenance classes. Qualified participants then work with the credit union to purchase vehicles for around $9,000 from Enterprise Car Sales, which provides cars below blue book value to insure equity in each deal. Responsible Auto Loan Program partners hope to make available 100 automobiles within the next two years. As of October, 42 loans had been approved--a 43% approval rate on applications that had little hope for approval just a year ago. NCUF Innovation Grants are made possible by supporters of the foundation and Community Investment Fund, a system of investments that help credit unions earn dividends while donating to national and state community development programs.

PCUA directors to be elected by asset classes

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (11/16/10)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association Board of Directors approved a change in its bylaws during its meeting last week to allow directors to be elected based on asset classes rather than by district. The change will be implemented in 2012. The number of directors will remain at nine, with three elected from credit unions with less than $30 million in assets, three from $30 million to $100 million in assets, and three from credit unions with greater than $100 million in assets (Life is a Highway Nov. 15). The new governance model will be phased in over the course of three years, beginning with the May 2012 election cycle. Also, the board approved a $10,000 contribution to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation: $5,000 from the association, and $5,000 from Pacul Services, Inc.

Study pinpoints what prompts a switch in FIs Free checking

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LOMBARD, Ill. (11/16/10)--Offering a free checking account is the top reason consumers say they would switch financial institutions, according to new research by Raddon Financial Group. Of consumers surveyed, 39% said they would switch if free checking changed. "Forget about deposit rates, loan rates, NSF (nonsufficient funds) fees, online banking, ATM or branch locations," said Raddon in its report. "Consumers indicated that they don't care about those things nearly as much as they value their free checking accounts. More precisely 39% of consumers indicated that they would switch financial institutions if you messed with their free checking." The study noted that the nation's biggest banks eliminated truly free checking accounts, but "each still offers consumers a way to get to 'free.' Whether it is through relationship- or channel-based activity, consumers are able to avoid service fees and retain their highly coveted free checking by giving the institution something in return. Requirements such as direct deposit, a minimum number of monthly debit card transactions or combined balance minimums are often easy for many consumers to meet." The research group, based in Lombard, Ill., noted that financial institutions that elect to keep their free checking product "may find themselves at a competitive advantage over their counterparts." Other changes that would prompt consumers to switch financial institutions include:
* Service quality, 35%; * Convenient branch locations, 29%; * Fair overdraft/NSF service charges, 20%; * Access to surcharge-free ATMs, 19%; * Convenient branch hours, 19%; * Deposit rates, 17%; * Online banking technology, 16%; * Large ATM network, 16%; * Overdraft coverage for checks, 14%; * Loan rates, 14%; * Overdraft coverage for ATM/debit, 13%; * Range of products/services, 11%; * Mobile banking technology, 6%; and * Other, 5%.

Dakotas elections mean CU advocates will be busy

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BISMARCK, N.D. (11/16/10)--The Credit Union Association of the Dakotas will have to become acquainted with new legislators because the elections earlier this month saw a shift in power in the U.S. Senate and House seats in North Dakota and South Dakota. Heading into the Nov. 2 election, Democrats held five of the six federal congressional seats in the two states--including three of four in the Senate and both at-large House seats. After election night, the Republicans picked up three seats--one Senate seat in North Dakota and the two lone at-large House seats in both states to take control of four of the six congressional seats. In the North Dakota state legislature, there will be 28 new legislators this session, the association said. Of the 28 new legislators, the association said it was able “to reach out and engage” 15 of the new lawmakers through legislative chapter meetings or credit union-sponsored events. In South Dakota, Republicans gained seven seats in the state senate for a 29-6 advantage. In the state house, Republicans gained three seats and will have a 49-21 edge in members. Although it was able to reach out to some candidates during the campaign season, the association said it will have to quickly provide other new legislators with information on important credit union matters and issues.

CU System briefs (11/12/2010)

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* GASTONIA, N.C. (11/15/10)--A man has been sentenced to life in prison for scaring to death an elderly woman whose home he hid in after a robbery attempt of a credit union. Larry Whitfield, 22, of Charlotte, N.C. and a co-defendant tried to rob a credit union in Gastonia in September 2009, according to court records. Prosecutors said Whitfield hid in the home of 79-year-old Mary Parnell and made her sit in a chair before he left the house. An autopsy showed she died of a heart attack that police say was prompted by the robbery suspect's presence. Whitfield was sentenced Wednesday in a federal court. He had been convicted of attempted bank robbery, various weapons charges and trying to avoid arrest for attempted bank robbery (Associated Press Newswires Nov. 11) … * MADISON, Wis.(11/15/10)--Michael Kerr, a staffer at Eagle Legacy CU, Arvada, Colo., won a $5,000 grant for his credit union at CUNA Mutual Group's first Online Discovery Conference on Nov. 3. He won the grant by earning points for participating in conference activities, including webinars, chat rooms, exhibit hall booths, message boards and a networking lounge. Kerr plans to donate the $5,000 to the Eagle Legacy Foundation, the credit union's scholarship program. Conference webinars and materials will be available online until Feb. 4. The Discovery Conference will be back in its face-to-face format next summer through CUNA Mutual's collaboration with the Credit Union National Association and its America's Credit Union Conference …

Three separate CU mergers completed

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MADISON, Wis. (11/15/10)--Three pairs of credit unions have announced separate mergers in California, Pennsylvania and Illinois. Dixie Cup Employees FCU, which served employees of the Dixie Consumer Products plant in Forks Township, Pa., merged into First Commonwealth FCU, Bethlehem, Pa., as of Nov. 1. Dixie Cup members voted to approve the merger at a special meeting Oct. 13. Dixie Cup has assets of 1.2 million and First Commonwealth had assets of $484 million (Life is a Highway Nov. 10). Palo Alto (Calif.) Community FCU, a $12 million credit union with 1,500 members, has merged into San Mateo CU, a $592.8 million asset credit union with about 72,300 members. The state Department of Financial Institutions announced the merger on Nov. 5. Palo Alto had posted a net loss of $66,000 for the year ending Sept. 30, an improvement over its $322,000 loss a year earlier (San Jose Business Journal Nov. 11). lst Northwest FCU, Freeport, Ill., merged Nov. 1 into First Northern CU, a $288.2 million asset credit union based in Chicago. First Northern CU will have a grand opening Thursday at its new Freeport branch. It also has branches in Chicago, Evanston and Rockford (Rockford Register Star (Nov. 12).

Corporates new CUSO to transition CU payment systems

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (11/15/10)--The corporate network said Friday it will create a credit union service organization (CUSO) to provide a path for the transition of the critical credit union payment systems. According to the Association of Corporate Credit Unions (ACCU), the new network solution will capitalize on various core services used by more than 7,200 credit unions. The services include products such as automated clearinghouse (ACH), national settlement (or automated settlement), international services, and custody/safekeeping, as well as services offered through subsidiaries of U.S. Central FCU. The concept will help ensure an orderly transition of existing contracts and distribution networks of each participating corporate into a new CUSO model, ACCU said. The CUSO will be jointly owned by corporates and other potential credit union system participants, and would work to maintain scale and greater efficiencies. The objective would be to minimize any impact or interruption to payment system services and delivery. Corporates are in agreement that the payment systems developed and operated by U.S. Central--systems both supported and distributed by the corporates--are an invaluable resource for the credit union network, ACCU said. "Consensus is that these systems are critical to keep intact, as they represent significant scale and offer a great example of industry collaboration," ACCU said in a press release. For more information, contact Larry Harmon, ACCU executive director, at In other actions, the National Credit Union Administration Friday announced the formal creation of bridge corporate credit unions to assume the operations of Members United Corporate of Warrenville, Ill., and Southwest Corporate of Plano, Texas.

State court halts CUs 1 purchase of 24 acres

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NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (11/15/10)--A Johnson County, Iowa, District Court judge Wednesday issued a temporary injunction to keep the city of North Liberty and a development group from buying land for a new University of Iowa Community CU headquarters. A group of individuals Tuesday requested the judge temporarily halt the plan to purchase the land, saying the city's incentive plan could result in higher taxes to pay off the city's bond on the property (Iowa City Press-Citizen Nov. 11). Last month, the city approved the purchase of 64 acres near Interstate 380 from owners North Liberty CC at a cost of $11 million for the economic development project (Iowa City Press-Citizen Nov. 10). Of the acquired land, 24 acres were to be transferred for $1 to the credit union by 380 Development Group. The credit union planned to build a 100,000-square-foot facility to house 400 employees. According to the Iowa City Area Development Group, the project would generate 400 direct jobs 230 indirect jobs and 324 induced jobs ( Nov. 10). By law, cities cannot sell or give away property for less than the assessed value, so the 380 Development Group was formed to support the transaction. The city would sell bonds to facilitate the land purchase and the credit union property would be designated as a TIF (tax increment financing) area with the taxes raised going to repay the bonds. The lawsuit said rezoning the land from multi-family to office and research park is illegal. A hearing has been set for Jan. 4 on the injunction.

Wis. payday loan rules could affect short-term loans

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MILWAUKEE (11/15/10)--Wisconsin credit unions are exempt from the state's new rules for payday lenders, and the Wisconsin Credit Union League will monitor the development of the rules, while some lenders say the rules could impact short-term loans by banks, credit unions and other lenders. An article on Milwaukee Magazine's website said lenders were criticizing the new rules against predatory lending, saying that the rules "could also restrict the ability of banks, credit unions and other lenders to make small, short-term loans" ( Nov. 12). The Wisconsin Financial Services Association, which represents the state's consumer finance industry, including sub-prime lenders, questioned the rules being drafted by the state Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) to carry out legislation passed earlier this year. However, the league told News Now that credit unions are exempt. "The new payday loan statute is plain on its face and not-for-profit credit unions are expressly exempted from these regulations," said Tom Liebe, vice president of government affairs at the league. "As the vast majority of Wisconsin credit unions already make small dollar loans to members in need, we will continue to monitor the rule development and take any action necessary to ensure credit unions can continue to meet those needs," he in an e-mail. Under the rules, no loan under $1,500 could have a term shorter than 90 days or an "open-end" credit plan where interest accumulates until the loan is paid off, said the article. The rules limit the number of customer checks a payday lender can hold for a loan to five. One rule requires payday loans to have uniform payments, while another prohibits payday lenders from entering into "open-end" credit plans with consumers. The law also caps the amount anyone in the state can borrow from a payday lender, including interest, at $1,500 and requires the DFI to set up an online database for lenders to check how many outstanding payday loans a customer has.

U.S. Central papers key in Corporate America lawsuit v. NCUA

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (11/15/10)--More than 750,000 pages of documents related to the decision-making process at the U.S. Central FCU before it was placed into conservatorship by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) are at the heart of a suit filed last week by the Alabama-based Corporate America CU against NCUA. Corporate America filed the complaint in a U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama in Birmingham on Nov. 10. It seeks documents that it hopes would shed light on the decisions made regarding member credit unions' paid-in capital by U.S. Central's volunteer board of directors and officials in 2008, as the nation's credit crisis heated up. Wednesday's complaint said Corporate America originally subpoenaed documents from U.S. Central on May 5 as part of its lawsuit against U.S. Central's former directors and officers. It sued the officials because U.S. Central was liquidated. However, the corporate was told by U.S. Central that its documents were in the possession of NCUA as its conservator and that the corporate would need to make the request under the Freedom of Information Act, the complaint said. The corporate narrowed its scope of documents requested on June 25 and issued a written request for documents, but on July 19 it received "a response from NCUA refusing to produce certain categories of requested documents" and saying that NCUA wanted a prior agreement from the corporate that the production of such documents would satisfy the agency's obligations. The corporate modified its request and has waited for a response and the documents for more than four months, the complaint said. The suit also claims NCUA produced more than 750,000 pages of documents and made others available for inspection and copying to counsel for the directors and officers named as defendants in the original litigation. The corporate is seeking an order to produce the documents and costs and expenses of the litigation. NCUA told News Now it cannot comment on pending litigation.

Texas league develops advocate training series

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (11/15/10)--The Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) has developed a “Navigator Series” of training sessions to help credit union legislative coordinators become stronger advocates in preparation for the 2011 legislative session. A TCUL release said the Navigator Series prepares legislative coordinators for a higher level of political involvement by combining information about the “nuts and bolts” of the political process with best practices for engaging members and employees in grassroots advocacy. Topics covered by the three-part series include:
* Navigating the Capitol by finding a route to important sites and understanding how bills are passed; * Navigating the relationship to effectively communicate the credit union’s role and concerns, handle meetings and learn best practices for employee and member involvement; and * Navigating the issues by reviewing key issues and players in the 2011 legislative session.
The first session was held early this month, while the second session will occur in December and the third will be in January. In the future, the first two portions of the Navigator Series will be aimed at new legislative coordinators, while the “navigating the issues” segment will be offered to all coordinators to prepare them for upcoming legislative sessions, the league said.

Oregon CUs share results of young adult outreach

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PORTLAND, Ore. (11/15/10)--Oregon credit unions are reaching out to young adults with iPads, a “second look” at loans that were initially denied and community partnerships that reach underserved markets. Those award-winning ideas were among the resourceful approaches to young adult outreach shared by 11 credit unions at a recent REAL Solutions workshop sponsored by the Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO). The majority of the Oregon credit unions participating in REAL Solutions began working on fresh approaches to reaching the young adult market in May 2010. Brent Dixon from the Filene Research Institute, Madison, Wis., used a series of webinars and workshops to coach credit union participants about the tools and mindset needed to reach young members. Three credit unions were recognized for innovative approaches that included:
* The iPad implementation project of Unitus Community CU, Portland, recognized as “best idea.” Two business development managers at Unitus use iPads to open accounts, make loans and sell services in the community. Since launching the iPad project, Unitus went from a monthly average of 67 new member accounts with a 3.33 cross-sell ratio to 102 new accounts with a 3.88 cross-sell ratio in August 2010. * The “second look” for loans that were initially denied for the target age group of 18 to 30 at Pacific Crest FCU, Klamath Falls, which was voted “most resourceful.” As a result of this culture shift in loan reviews, loans for this age group increased from 340 to 606 and balances increased from $2.7 million to $7.2 million. * The Mapping Your Future project at MaPs CU, Salem, which received a “wild card” award. The project uses community partnerships to bring financial services to underserved markets, particularly its Hispanic community. Five community partners and 10 financial educators will reach 100 Latino families to increase their financial capabilities.
Other outreach program participants were Point West CU, Portland; Northwest Resource FCU, Portland; Northwest Community CU, Springfield; Valley Health & Postal Employees CU, Salem; Wauna CU, Clatskanie; Rivermark CU, Beaverton; Rogue FCU, Medford; and Oregon Community CU, Eugene. REAL Solutions is a National Credit Union Foundation program that helps credit unions develop products and services to meet the needs of low wealth households.

Pennsylvania foundation board elects officers

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (11/15/10)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation board recently elected Chris Woods, CEO of Keystone FCU, West Chester, to serve as secretary (Life is a Highway Nov. 12). The board also re-elected two officers: Vice Chairman Dave Ackerman, CEO of USX FCU, Cranberry Township, and Treasurer Jeff DeBree, CEO of Penn East FCU, Scranton.
Enterprise Car Sales representatives (from left) Lisa Regalski, Tiffany Walenchok, Laura Heintzelman and Kaushika Kansara presented a $7,500 donation to Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation Executive Director Joe Wambach and Board Chair Diana Roberts. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association).
Enterprise Car Sales representatives opened the meeting by presenting a donation of $7,500. In other business:
* Board member Mary Beth Wilcher, CEO of Erie FCU, presented an update on the credit union’s financial education website (, which now includes six new videos. * Tricia Heisey, community development o fficer, Belco Community CU, reported on the progress of the credit union’s community financial education. * The foundation approved its budget for 2011 with a 2% increase in revenue, and will include a development educator scholarship.

NEW Corporates creating CUSO to transition CU payment systems

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (FILED 1:30 p.m. CT 11/15/10)--The corporate network will create a credit union service organization (CUSO) to provide a path for the transition of the critical credit union payment systems, according to the Association of Corporate Credit Unions (ACCU). The new network solution will capitalize on various core services used by more than 7,200 credit unions. The services include products such as automated clearinghouse (ACH), national settlement (or automated settlement), international services, and custody/safekeeping, as well as services offered through subsidiaries of U.S. Central FCU. The concept will help ensure an orderly transition of existing contracts and distribution networks of each participating corporate into a new CUSO model, ACCU said. The CUSO will be jointly owned by corporates and other potential credit union system participants, and would work to maintain scale and greater efficiencies. The objective would be to minimize any impact or interruption to payment system services and delivery. Corporates are in agreement that the payment systems developed and operated by U.S. Central--systems both supported and distributed by the corporates--are an invaluable resource for the credit union network, ACCU said. "Consensus is that these systems are critical to keep intact, as they represent significant scale and offer a great example of industry collaboration," ACCU said in a press release. For more information, contact Larry Harmon, ACCU executive director, at In other actions, the National Credit Union Administration today announced the creation of two new bridge corporate credit unions to assume the operations of Members United Corporate of Warrenville, Ill., and Southwest Corporate of Plano. Texas. More detail will be in Monday's News Now.

CU System Briefs (11/11/2010)

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* TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (11/12/10)--The trial of Eugene Telfair and Robert Nixon began Monday morning in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee, Fla. (Tallahassee Democrat Nov. 8). Telfair, a former credit union president at FAMU FCU, Tallahassee, and Nixon, the former director of Florida A&M University Institute on Urban Policy and Commerce--pleaded not guilty July 8 to stealing federal grant funds from the university (Tallahassee Democrat July 8). Nixon and Telfair were indicted July 7 on charges of conspiracy, theft from an organization receiving federal funds and embezzlement of funds instructed to a federally insured credit union. About $134,253 was stolen, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office (News Now July 9). In the opening day of testimony Monday, the credit union’s outside auditor said she found discrepancies in a grant account administered by the men, said the newspaper. Auditor Holly Hursey also testified that she found inconsistencies in financial documents, some of which were approved by Patricia Walker McGill, the former director of FAMU’s Institute on Urban Policy and Commerce, who in 2008 pleaded guilty to embezzling funds from federal grant programs …

Corporate One reaches milestone in Sallie Mae student loan program

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (11/12/10)--Corporate One FCU has received its 100th contract for Sallie Mae’s Smart Option Student Loan program from Jeep County FCU, Holland, Ohio. Corporate One FCU began offering the referral-based Smart Option Student Loan program in June 2010. A Corporate One release said credit unions’ “positive and overwhelming response” to the program reflects recent changes to the student loan system as well as the need for student loan solutions to offer to members paying for higher education. Smart Option loans are underwritten, funded and serviced by Sallie Mae, which also offers support and marketing materials. Participating credit unions provide referrals primarily through a website link. The Smart Option Student Loan allows students to make payments while in school so they can graduate with less debt and pay off loans earlier when compared to other private loan alternatives that delay payments until after graduation. The program is targeted at students and families seeking private student loans to help cover college costs after they have maximized scholarships, grants and federal assistance.

Pennsylvania CU MBL growing at brisk pace

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (11/12/10)--Credit union member business loans (MBLs) are growing at a brisk pace in Pennsylvania to help small businesses gain access to credit despite a tight economy. The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) recently told a local business journal that MBLs grew between 5.2 % and 6.7% each quarter during the past five quarters (Central Penn Business Journal Oct. 15). That compares to a national annual rate of 18% in 2008, 10% in 2009, and 7.7% through June of this year, according to Credit Union National Association figures quoted in the article. MBLs are defined as loans of more than $50,000 used for business or agriculture made without the backing of the U.S. government. Nationwide, CUNA figures show MBLs grew 7.7% in the first six months of 2010; 10% in 2009; and 18% in 2008. MBLs at Pennsylvania credit unions made up 3.1% of all loans in June, compared with 6.5% nationwide. The PCUA said Pennsylvania credit union MBL programs developed more slowly than in other states because Pennsylvania has a higher share of small credit unions. Fewer than 10% of the state’s small credit unions offer MBLs, compared with more than 60% of those with assets over $100 million. Members 1st FCU, Mechanicsburg, which has $1.8 billion in assets, is among the leaders in offering MBLs and ranks 10th in the nation in loan volume with more than 2,000 loans valued at $263 million. In comparison, $175 million asset AmeriChoice FCU, Mechanicsburg, makes about 100 MBLs annually with an average loan size of roughly $100,000. Everence FCU, Lancaster, formerly Mennonite Financial FCU, has assets of $110 million and a loan portfolio that typically ranges from $15 million to $17 million. The article highlighted a small businessman who owned a Hanover-area RV dealership and lost his bank financing--a victim of the current credit crunch that began in earnest in 2008. After having a dozen banks turn down his request for credit for inventory, the business owner saw a Members 1st sign advertising business lending. He soon got an appointment with the credit union and a line of credit, which since has been expanded and extended.

Public Service CU launches wide-ranging branding campaign

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DENVER (11/12/10)--Public Service CU asked members and employees to share their stories to create the “Together We’re Better” branding campaign launched recently with television, radio and print advertising. A Public Service CU release said the ads are designed to reach Colorado residents looking for a fair, local financial partner. The advertisements highlight members who relate how the $1 billion-plus asset credit union helped them as they bought their first house, sent a child to college or tackled financial challenges such as paying medical costs. Credit union employees are also featured as they share the tale of people who pooled financial resources during the Great Recession to help found credit unions and provide a way to help one another. Sonny Lubick, a three-year credit union employee and former football coach at Colorado State University, provides a familiar face for Colorado residents as he talks about his pride in working for an organization that cares about members, employees and the community.

Corporate Realignment Task Force meets with Corporate CUs

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ONTARIO, Calif. (11/12/10)--The Corporate Realignment Task Force (CRTF), which consists of 12 credit union leaders from eight western states, recently met with leaders of bridge (conserved) and non-conserved corporate credit unions. CRTF is actively engaged in identifying options that meet the tests of CRTF's Guiding Principles in continuing those services credit unions have been accustomed to receiving from corporate credit unions. CRFT’s guiding principles are: the need for an enduring system solution; the need for aggregation to achieve sufficient transaction volumes; and the need for a universal solution that will accommodate the needs of all types and sizes of credit unions, said the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues. States represented in the task force are California, Nevada, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Utah. The CRTF has recently met with leaders of large and complex corporates, mid-size and full-service corporates, and smaller, less-complex corporate credit unions. All have described their challenges in addressing changing requirements for corporate credit unions, and all have confirmed their willingness to participate in a consolidated system solution. “We appreciate the candid discussions the task force has had with key leaders in the corporate credit union system and are confident that solutions are emerging that will meet the task force's objectives of system solution, aggregation, and universal solution,” CRTF Chairman Jeff York said. “We believe the interests of credit unions will be well-served and that these solutions will be widely supported.” The task force has nearly concluded its “information-gathering” phase regarding options for structure and service, and will meet soon to agree on recommendations and an action plan to achieve the objectives. “There is adequate time to create and assemble the appropriate solutions, and to provide for an orderly transition, and credit unions will have the necessary time to review and understand these solutions,” York said. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Saturday will bring together several credit union stakeholders in an attempt to develop a system-wide plan for the future of corporate credit unions (News Now Nov. 8). The summit, which will take place in Chicago, will be strictly about dialogue, and will not attempt to “force outcomes,” CUNA Vice President of Communications Pat Keefe said. The summit will attempt to address the future role of corporate credit unions in providing key payments, settlement, liquidity, and investment advisory services to natural person credit unions. For more information, use the links.

Northwest CU Association is formed

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. and BEAVERTON, Ore. (11/12/10)—The memberships of the Credit Union Association of Oregon and the Washington Credit Union League voted “overwhelmingly” to affirm the creation of the combined Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA). The new association will begin operations on Jan. 1, 2011. “It’s been a very exciting, very busy few months preparing for the vote, and for moving forward as a regional organization,” said Washington Credit Union League Chairman Debie Keesee, president/CEO of Spokane Media FCU, when she announced the merger affirmation. “It’s gratifying to know that our efforts will benefit credit unions for decades to come.” “Both boards acknowledged that our memberships would be listening very carefully,” says Oregon Credit Union Association Chairman Gene Pelham, president/CEO of Rogue FCU. “We made the case to our credit unions and they responded. Now it is time to move forward into our next chapter.” As its first step, the Northwest Credit Union Association is introducing its new brand identity to the credit union community. Its three-color logo is "credit union centric" and "pays homage to the association’s northwest roots", according to the new association. “As we embrace the new organization, it is also our responsibility to reflect on what the last 75 or so years have meant to our region’s credit unions,” says Washington Credit Union League President/CEO John Annaloro. “Care and tradition went into building both organizations. We would be remiss to not honor that.” The Washington Credit Union League incorporated on Nov. 3, 1934, with a mandate to increase the number of credit unions in the state, improve credit union operating methods, and to help provide adequate credit union legislation. It currently serves 118 credit unions with 2.7 million members. The Credit Union Association of Oregon was incorporated in 1936 as
The Washington Credit Union League and the Credit Union Association of Oregon have merged. Credit Union Association of Oregon Board Chairman Gene Pelham (center left) and Washington Credit Union League Board Chairman Debie Keesee (center right), cut a ceremonial wedding cake representing the uniting of the trade associations. Washington Credit Union League President/CEO John Annaloro is on the far left, and Credit Union Association of Oregon President/CEO Troy Stang is on the far right.(NWCUL photo)
the Oregon Mutual Credit League representing the legislative, educational, and service needs of Oregon’s credit unions. Serving a peak of 265 credit unions in 1970, the association currently serves 85 credit unions with 1.5 million members. Operational priorities for the new Northwest Credit Union Association will focus on government affairs, regulatory relief, compliance services and putting the final touches on a joint educational calendar. During months of merger discussions, which included the formation of committees and conversations with the membership, both trade associations united in identifying objectives and strategies for the NWCUA. “I can say unequivocally that the Northwest Credit Union Association is future focused and is prepared to usher in a new era for our region’s credit unions,” says Credit Union Association of Oregon President/ CEO Troy Stang. “It’s an exciting time to build on the strengths for which our organizations have long been recognized.”

CU lending down slightly says Fed report

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MADISON, Wis. (11/12/10)--Credit unions held $224.9 million in total consumer credit as of September, down a little from the $226.5 million in credit reported in August, according to the most recent Federal Reserve Statistical Release on consumer credit, issued Nov. 5. Revolving credit constituted $35.3 million of the September total, with nonrevolving credit accounting for the remaining $189.6 million, the Fed reported. “The Federal Reserve reported that revolving consumer credit balances fell by $8.3 billion in September,” Steve Rick, senior economist for the Credit Union National Association, told News Now. “This corresponds to a $213 million drop--0.6%--in credit card balances at credit unions in the same month, the first drop since February. “Balances are falling for three reasons,” Rick added. “First, financial institutions are writing down loans and credit card defaults. Second, low consumer confidence has reduced the demand for new credit. And finally, tighter lending standards has reduced the supply of loans. We expect the deleveraging of U.S. households to play out over the next few quarters." Total consumer credit fell by 1.5%, revolving credit declined by 8.75%, and nonrevolving credit increased by 2.5% during the third quarter. Consumer credit rose by 1% in September, the Fed added. The Fed report includes credit card debt, auto loans and other debt not secured by real estate. It excludes home mortgages and home equity lines of credit. To read the Fed release, use the link.

WOCCU seeks nominations for Distinguished Service Award

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MADISON, Wis. (11/12/10)--The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) is calling for nominations for the Distinguished Service Award (DSA), the highest honor bestowed by the international credit union system. Nomination forms for individuals and organizations are due no later than March 25. Award presentations for 2011 will be made at WOCCU's World Credit Union Conference, July 24–27 in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom.
Click to view larger image The Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor bestowed by the international credit union system, is represented by the crystal bowls pictured here at the 2009 World Credit Union Conference held in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
The DSA honors the outstanding achievements of individuals and organizations within the global credit union movement whose activities have furthered WOCCU’s vision of “improving people's lives through credit unions.” WOCCU does not necessarily award the DSA every year but bestows the honor based on the viability and worthiness of candidates in the eyes of the awards committee. “We encourage the leaders of our member organizations to seek out candidates within their own credit union movements who have truly set themselves apart in regard to credit union service internationally,” said Dave Grace, WOCCU vice president of association services. “The Distinguished Service Award represents a rich history of service and dedication by those who have received the honor.” In the case of individuals, recipients may be WOCCU member organization officers, directors or representatives; international credit union pioneers; field technicians with a long and outstanding service record; or persons whose actions have benefitted global credit union development. WOCCU presents up to three individual awards in a single year. Institutional recipients may be organizations or agencies that have provided financial or technical assistance to develop international credit union movements and their service infrastructures over an extended period of time. WOCCU presents no more than one institutional award each year. Nominations must be made by a WOCCU member organization and are due no later than March 25. For more information, use the link.

UW CUs offer of free credit scores to members a hit

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MADISON, Wis. (11/10/10)--More than 29,000 members have taken advantage of UW CU’s free credit score service since it was introduced in September. UW CU, which has more than $1 billion in assets, launched My Credit Score to give members free access to personal credit scores through its online banking system. More than 6,000 members registered with the service in its first two weeks of operation. Through the end of October, 29,000 members had accessed the “My Score Portal” in the online banking system, while about 14,000 members were actively using the site’s tools to monitor their credit. A UW CU release said the response to its service illustrates how important personal credit information is to consumers. The UW CU service is available in a secure online environment without any type of fee, unlike companies that offer free credit checks but require consumers to share credit card information and subscribe to a monthly service as part of a “hidden” fee.

2010 ELLy Award winners announced

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MADISON, Wis. (11/10/10)--Exceptional credit union trainers and training programs were honored with ELLy awards in four categories during the 2010 CUNA Experience Learning Live! (ELL) conference. The Training Professional of the Year Award recognizes credit union professionals or training departments for outstanding contributions to the learning and performance development of credit union staff. Winners included:
* Award of merit: DCCU staff development team, DuPont Community CU, Waynesboro, Va. * Award of merit: Employee Department of Community America CU, Lenexa, Kan. * First place: Ken Kelly and Michelle Trekas of Red Canoe CU, Longview, Wash. * First place, Minh McKenzie of Community First CU, Appleton, Wis.
The WOW! Award recognizes credit unions for the best overall training curriculum or event. Winners included:
* Award of merit: Yolanda Riddle, Summit CU, Madison, Wis. * Award of merit: Cheryl Collins, Oregon Community CU, Eugene, Ore. * First place: Ken Kelly and Michelle Trekas, Red Canoe CU, Longview, Wash. * First Place: Minh McKenzie and Deb Stewart, Community First CU, Appleton, Wis.
The Training Champion Award recognizes senior management for their support and development of training initiatives. Winners included:
* Award of merit: Senior management team, First Community CU, Jamestown, ND. * Award of merit: Tammy Davis, senior vice president of training and human resources, The Golden 1 CU, Sacramento, Calif. * First place: Cathie Tierney, president and CEO, Community First CU, Appleton, Wis.
The eLearning Award goes to the credit union that has effectively incorporated technology into training. An award of merit was presented to the Training and Development Department of Apple FCU, Fairfax, Va. The 2010 CUNA Experience Learning Live! conference was held in late October.

Invest in America launches private offer with GM

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LIVONIA, Mich. (11/10/10)--General Motors (GM) will give $1,000 cash-back on select GM cars and trucks in a private offer to members at 240 credit unions through the "Invest in America" program. The cash-back offer runs through Jan. 3, 2011, and covers new 2010 or 2011 Chevrolet HHR, Impala or Silverado models as well as the Buick Lucerne and GMC Sierra. The private offer is provided in addition to any other public incentives. "Invest in America" is credit unions' auto-loan discount program with auto manufacturers General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Corp. The new cash-back offer is designed to help credit unions make loans and strengthen relationships with local dealers, a CU Village release said. Invest In America is provided by CU Village, which contracts with U.S.-based companies for exclusive discounts offered to members at Members can sign up for the program at the dealership by providing the private offer program code and the CU Member Discount authorization code from The cash-back offer is the first of several private incentives that GM will make available to participating credit unions this year.

iNews Nowi will not publish today

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MADISON, Wis. and WASHINGTON (11/11/10)--News Now will not publish its regular edition today, Nov. 11, which is a federal holiday in observance of Veterans Day. However, the Madison, Wis., and Washington, D.C., offices of the Credit Union National Association are open for business as usual. News Now will resume publication on Friday.

Ambac files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

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SAN FRANCISCO (11/10/10)--Ambac Financial Group Inc. Monday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after failing to raise additional capital, the bond insurer said. Several corporate credit unions have mortgage-related investments insured by Ambac and incurred losses during the financial crisis. Ambac will continue to operate as “debtor-in-possession” under the jurisdiction of the Bankruptcy Court (MarketWatch Nov. 10). The company also failed to reach an agreement on restructuring its debt with creditors. However, it has agreed to a non-binding term sheet that will allow it to further negotiate with the creditors and emerge from bankruptcy more quickly, it said, according to MarketWatch. As of June 30, the company had outstanding debt of $1.62 billion. Ambac, a bond insurer for mortgage-backed securities (MBS) whose losses have contributed to losses at several corporate credit unions, had been sued by a group of hedge funds trying to block transfers of funds from its bond-insurance unit to the holding company (News Now Sept. 2).

National CU Foundation launches monthly giving option

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MADISON, Wis. (11/10/10)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) recently launched a monthly giving option for donors. The monthly gifts can be made from either a checking account or debit/credit card. “We wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to support our critical programs and grants,” said Bucky Sebastian, NCUF executive director. “Once they fill out a quick form, donors can continually help consumers reach financial freedom in a convenient way. It’s a low-maintenance way of giving with a high impact.” Ninety-five cents of every dollar raised goes to support the foundation’s strategic programs and grants, which help credit unions provide widespread financial education, create greater access to affordable financial services, and empower more consumers to save, build assets, and own homes. NCUF programs and grants include:
* REAL Solutions--helping credit unions offer services that have proven successful for people of modest means and “low wealth”; * Credit Union Development Education--preserving credit unions’ uniqueness through training in credit union philosophy and cooperative principles; * Financial Education--sponsoring Biz Kid$, the award-winning financial education series on PBS stations underwritten by America’s credit unions; * CUAid ( disaster relief funds for credit union employees, volunteers and members; and * Innovation Grants--encouraging credit union innovations through grant-making.
For more information, use the link.

CUNA in media on credit card fees CU difference

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MADISON, Wis. (11/10/10)--Mike Schenk, vice president of economics and statistics for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), was quoted in two media outlets this week regarding bank’s credit card fees, and how credit unions are fundamentally different than banks. In the past, banks were making billions of dollars annually in fees and other charges when they issued credit cards, according to WalletPop (Nov. 8). Consumers often perceived these fees as sneaky hidden or even downright deceptive, which led to recent legislation--including the CARD Act, the Fed’s Regulations Z and other rules prohibiting many bank practices related to credit cards, WalletPop said. “What we’ve seen is with the passage of the CARD Act, essentially a lot of the nuisance fees have disappeared,” Mike Schenk, vice president of economics for the Credit Union National Association, told WalletPop. “Having said that, the issuers still need to make money on the cards they issue. They're thinking of new, creative ways to make up for the legislated losses.” Regarding the credit difference, their structure makes them fundamentally different than banks, Schenk told Yahoo! Finance Tuesday. Credit unions are "fundamentally different from banks because they are not-for-profit and member-owned," Schenk, told Yahoo! Finance. Because credit unions generally are “in the business of maximizing returns to members rather than shareholders,” they can often take operational discounts and offer services at a lower cost than many banks can, Schenk added. Today, those services include free checking. To read the articles, use the links.

INews NowI will not publish Thursday

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MADISON, Wis. and WASHINGTON (11/10/10)--News Now will not publish its regular edition on Thursday, a federal holiday, in observance of Veterans Day. However, the Madison, Wis., and Washington, D.C., offices of the Credit Union National Association will be open on Thursday for business as usual. News Now will resume publication on Friday.

Michigan CU league supports candidates that did well in elections

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LANSING, Mich. (11/9/10)--Candidates supported by the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) fared well in both Congressional and state races, with 86% of endorsed candidates winning election. MCUL-backed candidates included Republican Gov.-elect Rick Snyder and U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, (D-Bloomfield Township), who benefited from credit union radio advertisements (Michigan Monitor Nov. 8). Overall, 13 of 15 candidates for Congress supported by MCUL were successful, as were 98 of 114 endorsed candidates for state-level house and senate races. The MCUL reported that it boosted advocacy efforts in 2010 to significantly impact midterm elections and build credit union support during a “tumultuous time” at the state level.

Bayer Heritage FCU offering Black Friday sale

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PROCTOR, W. Va. (11/9/10)--Bayer Heritage FCU is opening at 5 a.m. on Nov. 26 to launch five hours of “doorbuster” special offers as part of its first Black Friday Sale. The $237 million-asset credit union wants to use the excitement surrounding the traditional “Black Friday” holiday gift-buying bonanza to get people excited about the special deals it is offering. “We want to be part of the excitement of early shopping and be there for our members at 5 a.m. when they head for stores to take advantage of special deals,” said Valerie Smith, marketing supervisor. “We want to get people talking and they have been.” The first 50 people to enter any of Bayer Heritage’s six full-time branches will get a free shopping tote bag. In addition, everyone age 18 or older who enters the branch during the five-hour special from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. will be served Christmas cookies and can enter to win a vacation package. Members can also take advantage of “five super deals” during the five-hour period, including:
* 0.5% annual percentage rate (APR) discounts on new loans, except mortgages; * $50 in cash for refinancing a loan from another financial institution; * 0.5% APR discount on the interest rate on a new Visa card; * 5% interest rate on a five-month certificate of deposit for a maximum of $500; and * $500 Visa “on-the-spot” cash advance for eligible members.
Smith said employees were eager to be part of the event despite the early start to their workday. The five-hour event includes an employee contest with prizes for wearing the “cheesiest” holiday sweater.

Filene report examines financial preferences of young adults

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MADISON, Wis. (11/9/10)--A new Filene Research Institute report examines the evolving financial preferences of online consumers and hones in on engaging and retaining young adults. Filene Researcher Ron Rubin used a 1,400-response survey to explore young consumers’ preferences for financial relationships, a Filene announcement said. The survey report emphasizes that “good service” means fully meeting young consumers’ needs online without requiring them to visit the branch or use another delivery channel. Key findings from Big, Small, or Online? Young Adults’ Evolving Financial Preferences include:
* Convenience is extremely important as a driver of financial institution choice. When paired with the difficulty of switching accounts, it keeps the majority of consumers in place. * High fees and uncompetitive interest rates turn off big bank customers, yet these factors alone are unlikely to drive many consumers away from the bank. Credit unions must learn to win over young consumers. * Gen Y will dominate the workforce by 2020, comprising 40% of the workforce. These Gen Y workers will be in an important borrowing phase of their lives.

Arizona Colorado and Wyoming CU leagues explore merger

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DENVER and PHOENIX (11/9/10)--The Arizona Credit Union League, Credit Union Association of Colorado and Credit Union Association of Wyoming have signed a letter-of-intent to merge. No timeline for the merger has been set. Each of the boards of directors agreed to pursue a three-state merger with a focus on how to best provide ongoing benefits and service to their member credit unions. The three organizations will work together and take the next few months to determine a final business plan, develop an organizational structure, and then seek approval of the three states’ memberships. “This is an exciting development that feels right for all credit unions involved,” said Mike Williams, chairman of the Credit Union Association of Colorado and president/CEO of Colorado CU in Littleton. “We believe that the strength that comes from this merger will create an organization that will be a lasting benefit to our credit unions. As we began our new CEO search, our board decided to explore all possible solutions that could be in the best interest of our credit unions. The prospects of this option are compelling.” “The need for a league is as important as ever,” said Bob Ramirez, Arizona Credit Union League chairman and president/CEO of Vantage West CU in Tucson. “The challenge is how best to achieve efficiencies and still provide what credit unions expect from their league. This merger will allow us to meet the needs of all sizes of credit unions.” Marsha Tynsky, Chairwoman of the Credit Union Association of Wyoming and President/CEO of Trona Valley Community FCU in Green River, agree. “Our members expect us to pursue ways to continue to provide them with high quality association services while looking for new ways to operate more efficiently and effectively,” she said. “The proposed merger will provide credit unions across the three states a chance to collaborate and share opportunities that ultimately help our members.” The Credit Union National Asscoation(CUNA) said it supports the intended merger. "CUNA is solidly in support of the path that the leaders of these state leagues have taken to explore this merger which will enhance efficiencies and services to member credit unions in all three states," said Bill Cheney, CUNA president/CEO. "Of course, this action is the first step and the final decision rests with the credit unions. CUNA strongly supports all initiatives which foster and strengthen our 3-tiered system--credit unions, leagues and CUNA." While no official timeline has been developed, a membership vote is required and could be scheduled for first quarter next year. If the merger is approved, Scott Earl, president/CEO of the Arizona league will become the CEO of the new entity. The Colorado Association has ownership of their building, therefore Denver has been selected as the location for the newly formed organization’s headquarters. Offices will continue to be staffed and maintained in Phoenix and Casper. “The work is just starting,” Earl said. “We will be forming committees to review funding and governance, and staff will be looking at how efficiencies can be achieved. However, ultimately the approval of the merger is in the hands of our member credit unions.”

World Council of CUs turns 40 years old today

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MADISON, Wis. (11/9/10)--World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) turns 40 years old today. The global credit union trade association and development agency was formally incorporated Nov. 9, 1970, in Madison, Wis. Its articles of incorporation state, however, that WOCCU’s operations “are principally to be conducted wherever credit unions are located.”
Click to view larger image Incorporated on Nov. 9, 1970, the World Council of Credit Unions begins its 40th year of serving the global credit union movement.
“Today is a milestone, not only for World Council but for the global credit union movement,” said WOCCU Chairman Barry Jolette, president/CEO of San Mateo CU in Redwood City, Calif. “The organization has spent four decades seeking ways to improve people's lives through credit unions, and the number of people WOCCU has touched and the number of ways those lives have improved are immeasurable.” WOCCU evolved from Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) World Extension Department, developed in the 1950s to attack usury, one of the greatest abuses in developing countries, on a global scale. During that era, international credit union development programs emphasized community and economic development. CUNA officials believed the department could work with private and government funding agencies to help credit unions foster the creation of modern economies in less developed countries. The work of this department, in conjunction with the efforts of cooperative systems in Australia, Canada and Europe, led to the organization of credit unions worldwide over the next two decades. “World Council’s 1970 incorporation was a vote of confidence among national credit union associations worldwide,” said Pete Crear, WOCCU president/CEO. “It was a benchmark in the history of the international movement and the culmination of a dream that had stirred enthusiasm in two generations of leaders.” WOCCU has implemented more than 275 technical assistance programs in 70 countries around the world. While its programs have largely focused on credit union building and strengthening, WOCCU has worked with credit unions in recent years to employ innovative rural outreach technologies, create an Islamic finance model for cooperatives in Afghanistan and develop agricultural finance programs that connect small farmers to markets. WOCCU's latest program in Mexico worked with 54 credit unions in 22 states to bring financial access to 200,000 people living in remote, marginalized areas of the country. WOCCU developed and trained credit union staff on a new service delivery approach whereby field officers travel to outlying communities once a month to bring credit union services to people who are normally at the mercy of usurious lenders or long, expensive trips into town to access savings and loans. Some of the credit unions now use personal digital assistants (PDAs) to perform transactions in the field, and rural businesses are installing point-of-sale devices to give members an opportunity to pay bills, buy mobile phone air time and access their accounts more frequently. WOCCU has also expanded its focus to include community development programs that address the role credit unions can play in meeting the needs of people with HIV/AIDS, orphans and those living in conflict-affected or disaster areas. Earlier this year, WOCCU mobilized the international credit union system to raise more than US$1 million in relief and rebuilding funds for Haiti. WOCCU used the donations to provide immediate aid and shelter to credit unions affected by the Jan. 12 earthquake and continues to work with the institutions on stabilization and reconstruction efforts. WOCCU began formal operations January 1, 1971, and will celebrate its 40th anniversary throughout 2011 with a variety of special events culminating at the 2011 World Credit Union Conference in Glasgow, U.K. For more information on the conference, use the link.

Bronx CDCU wins award for community impact

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SAN FRANCISCO (11/9/10)--Bethex FCU, a community development credit union (CDCU) and a certified community development financial institution (CDFI) serving the predominantly low-income South Bronx community in New York City, was presented with $25,000 from the Wachovia Wells Fargo NEXT Awards in recognition of its community impact. Bethex also is a certified community development financial institution (CDFI) under the U.S. Treasury Department’s CDFI Program.
Click to view larger image Lillian Bent, chairman of Bethex FCU in New York City, accepts the NEXT Award for Community Impact from a Wells Fargo representative. (Photo provided by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions)
The community-impact award was presented at a gala ceremony held Wednesday at the Opportunity Finance Network Conference in San Francisco, said the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. Launched in 2007, the Wachovia Wells Fargo NEXT Awards “provide low-interest loans and grants totaling $8.25 million each year to two premier CDFIs with a history of outstanding accomplishment, a bold and compelling vision, and extraordinary potential for growth, innovation, and impact.” Also, four $25,000 awards were given to CDFIs that demonstrate outstanding advocacy, community impact, innovation and financing. Chartered in 1970 to provide affordable credit and financial services, and financial education, to “welfare mothers,” the credit union has grown to become a nearly $16 million in assets financial institution serving over 6,000 low- and moderate-income members throughout the South Bronx, which according to the Census Bureau is the poorest Congressional District in the U.S. with more than 38% of the population and 49% of children living below the poverty line. Despite its relatively small size, Bethex FCU provides a full suite of services ranging from savings and checking accounts; debit cards and credit cards; personal, car, mortgage, and small business loans; and most recently, online banking with bill pay. “Bethex FCU is an institution that's near and dear to our hearts,” said Cliff Rosenthal, federation president/CEO. “The federation has worked with Bethex since its earliest days and we have provided them with low-cost capital investments, technical assistance, and staff training through our CDCU Institute. Bethex has been serving residents of the South Bronx for 40 years, and remains one of the only regulated financial institutions available to its community. They are an absolutely vital financial institution, and this award recognizes their decades of service to one of most low-income communities in the nation.” Lillian Bent, chairman of Bethex's board of directors, accepted the award on behalf of the CDCU. “We recently received a $750,000 grant from the CDFI Fund and $500,000 in secondary capital from Treasury's Community Development Capital Initiative, so this really feels like icing on the cake,” Bent said. This year's $5.5 million award was given to Boston Community Capital; the $2.5 million award was presented to Enterprise Cascadia, with the three other $25,000 awards going to Forward Community Investments (Advocacy); Appalachian Community Enterprises (Innovation); and Business Carolina (Financing). Since inception, several CDCUs have received NEXT Awards including $2.75 million to Latino Community CU in Durham, N.C.; $25,000 to ASI FCU in New Orleans in 2007; and $25,000 to Cooperative FCU in Syracuse, N.Y., in 2008. Alternatives FCU in Ithaca, N.Y., was one of three finalists in this year's competition for the $5.5 million award to organizations with more than $50 million in assets. The Wells Fargo Wachovia NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance were made possible by grant support from the Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation, and a major program-related investment from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

More state election analysis from leagues

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MADISON, Wis. (11/8/10)--Two more leagues--in Oregon and Vermont--have provided an analysis of their state-level election results from last week. The Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO) noted that Oregon's House will be split 30 Democrats and 30 Republicans, while the Oregon Senate will likely be 16-14 with Democratic control (Oregon Outlook Nov. 5). Democrat John Kitzhaber won the gubernatorial race against a former professional basketball player by one percentage point while Ted Wheeler, another candidate supported by credit unions, was elected state treasurer. Of the 16 races in the Oregon Senate, credit union-supported candidates won all but two races. Chuck Thompson beat credit union-supported Brent Barton for a seat vacated by Sen. Rick Metsger in District 26, and Sen. Alan Bates lost to Republican challenger Dave Dotterer in District 3. Of the 60 races for the Oregon House, credit-union supported candidates won all but two races. Mark Johnson beat incumbent Suzanne VanOrman and Jason Conger beat incumbent Judy Stiegler. Both incumbents had supported HB3700, the public funds bill, said CUAO. In Vermont, candidates supported by the Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU) fared well with 38 of 43 state legislators winning their races (Newslines Express Nov. 5). "Of particular note, Shap Smith will again be Speaker of the House and strong credit union supporter Ann Cummings will chair the Senate Financial Committee," said AVCU. Peter Shumlin will be Vermont's 81st governor, AVCU noted. "Although all three branches of Vermont Government are now controlled by a single party, AVCU's lobbying team believes there will not be major changes in statehouse attitudes towards financial institution or consumer issues compared to last year," said the association. "Although Democrats and Republicans shifted a few seats around in the House, its makeup will remain ostensibly the same with 94 Democrats, 48 Republicans, five Progressives and three Independents. The Senate remains solidly in the hands of Democrats, 22-8, although Republicans did pick up a net of one seat," AVCU said.

Maine CUs survey Bottom line improving

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PORTLAND, Maine (11/8/10)--Credit unions responding to the Maine Credit Union League's most recent online survey have reported three top trends in September: membership growth, consistent interchange income and improved bottom lines. Fifty six percent of the state's credit unions responded to the September trend survey. Delinquencies increased for 14% of respondents, while 43% saw no change and 43% saw a decrease (Weekly Update Nov. 5). Lending rose for 49%, stayed the same for 31%, and declined for 20% of credit unions surveyed. Of credit unions with a lending increase, 78% were in mortgages, 44% in auto loans, 17% in home equity lines of credit and 11% in member business loans. September's survey focus was on fuel or energy loans. About 65% of Maine credit unions responding reported they offer some kind of fuel or energy loans. For those offering these loans, the average rate was 4.75%, with the lowest rate offered at 0% by one credit union and the highest rate reported at 6%. Fifteen percent of credit unions surveyed offer other special energy program, mostly weatherization loans, the league said.

10-year-old fine after python bite at CU Halloween party

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WEST JORDAN, Utah (11/8/10)--Despite due diligence, things can go awry as one credit union learned when a 15-foot python bit a 10-year-old boy at its Halloween party Oct. 30 for employees and families. The boy, who is fine, is a nephew of an employee at Cyprus FCU, West Jordan, Utah. The snake is a 150-pound star of the animal show from Scales and Tails, a local company that had been in business 10 years and performed educational programs for large public schools. "We host an event every year for employees and their families and hire different acts, such as magicians and face painters, and this year we hired Scales and Tails," said Andrea Barlow, marketing director for Cyprus FCU in West Jordan, Utah. The event was held inside the credit union's corporate offices, in a training room. The $550 million asset credit union performed its due diligence on the company before hiring it. "We carefully reviewed the website of the company, learned who its clients were," she told News Now. "We made sure the company was licensed and insured, and we had them fax their insurance [document] to us, and we reviewed its references." The trainer worked for the local zoo and the company had a permit to have alligators and reptiles. "The kids loved the show. The trainer brought out all kinds of creepy, crawling things such as tarantulas. If it weren't for the incident with the snake, it would have been our best party ever," she added. The incident occurred at the end of the program. "The snake was the last to be brought out, and kids had lined up to pet it. It was just a fluke. It reared around and snapped at the neck and cheek of the boy. The boy thinks it bit him twice. It's hard to tell how many times because the snake had multiple teeth." The snake had no grip on him and was not squeezing. The trainer immediately dropped the python into its crate and announced there had been an incident and for people to move back. "There was no blood or mayhem," Barlow said. "We took him into another room, stopped the bleeding and took him to the emergency room, where he was X-rayed and received antibiotics. "The credit union sent him a big care package. He went trick or treating the next night, and is back playing football. He's not traumatized and says he'd continue hunting for snakes in his yard," she added. The snake is being monitored by a veterinarian to make sure it's not sick. "When snakes shed, they get glassy eyed and can't see well," Barlow said, adding that the python began shedding after the event. For other credit unions considering animal acts for children's parties, Barlow urged paying attention to due diligence. "Make sure you have first responder kits, first aid kits, and have contacts for media established…if anything doesn't feel right, pay attention to it."

Develop strategies to win Gen Y--Online Discovery

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MADISON, Wis. (11/8/10)--Generation Y, the second-largest generation ever, holds tremendous lending potential for credit unions. Yet banks are outperforming credit unions in reaching Gen Y. Shelly Vils, senior manager, credit union training for CUNA Mutual Group, shared that message with participants in CUNA Mutual’s Online Discovery Conference. Members of Gen Y, also known as “Millennials,” were born between 1982 and 2000, making them 10 to 28 years old. There are roughly 76 million members of Gen Y, compared to 77 million in the Baby Boom Generation, she said. Gen Y members are entering their prime borrowing years, Vils said, which positions them to replace Baby Boomers’ declining loan volume due to retirement. To attract Gen Y members, Vils said credit unions must understand their unique characteristics. Gen Y is the most diverse and best-educated generation in history, Vils said. They often carry heavy credit card and college debt, with 56% planning to live with their parents after college. They rely on friends and family for advice, with parents playing a key role in Gen Y decision-making. Other traits of Gen Y members:
* They will change jobs roughly every five years, so credit unions should reconsider loan policies related to job stability. * They are loyal to their financial institution. Once linked to the credit union by the right products and delivery channels, they are two times more likely to purchase additional products than Baby Boomers. * They are tech savvy and always “plugged in.” To reach Gen Y, replace traditional marketing channels and branch visits with tactics such as Facebook and Twitter posts and online seminars. * They are eager to learn and seek information online before buying. Credit unions can also consider holding seminars in places where young adults gather, rather than at the branch.

TCUF awards 49350 in fourth-quarter grants

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (11/8/10)--The Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF) announced it has distributed $49,350 in grants in the fourth quarter 2010, in addition to $137,240 awarded in the first quarter, $23,544 in the second, and $27,750 in the third, for a yearly total of $237,884. TCUF’s grants program included programs to benefit all Texans, and core programs such as credit union and chapter grants and financial literacy initiatives (LoneStar Leaguer Nov. 5). The foundation provided Harlingen (Texas) Area Teachers’ CU a financial literacy grant designated to co-sponsor the Stock Market Game with Harlingen’s local newspaper, The Valley Morning Star. TCUF said it believes it must empower students with the tools and resources to invest in their futures and become successful money managers. “The mission of [the game] is to provide financial literacy, academic education and enrichment for students,” said Vanessa Serna, marketing director of Harlingen Area Teachers’ CU. “The Stock Market Game is a 10-week Internet-based stock trading simulation offered in the fall and spring.” Additional grants include:
* Two Junior Achievement partnerships with credit unions; * Sponsorship of the Texas Credit Union League Chapter Leader’s Conference; * One chapter grant for the expenses to attend the Chapter Leader’s Conference; * Two scholarships to send credit union professionals to the National Credit Union Foundation’s Development Educator Program; * Ten scholarships to assist Project NEFE Network members with expenses for the TCUF’s In-Person Project NEFE Network meeting in Dallas. NEFE stands for National Endowment for Financial Education; * A grant to Coastal Community & Teachers CU, Corpus Christi, to sponsor the Raskal Reading Program, encouraging young children to read while promoting the importance of saving; * Support of Universal City-based Randolph Brooks FCU’s new Youth Advisory Board; * Collaboration with the El Paso Affordable Housing Credit Union Service Organization to deliver financial education workshops for persons with disabilities; * Assistance with implementing El Paso-based GECU’s new turnkey youth accounts program, Money Mammals; and * Two training and conference grants for credit union staff and volunteers.

IBankrateI blog CU members in good company financially

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MADISON, Wis. (11/8/10)--Consumers who conduct their financial transactions at credit unions have a more positive view of their personal finances than those who don’t, according to a recent survey. And that has prompted Bankrate to look at what causes the correlation between belonging to a credit union and being financially sound. “According to credit union data released from the Discover U.S. Spending Monitor in September, 38% of credit union members rate their personal finances as good or excellent, compared to 30% amongst noncredit union members surveyed,” said a blog posting on (Nov.4). “Just 17% of credit union members rate their finances as poor, while 29% of noncredit union members feel the same way. “Twenty-one percent of credit union members feel their finances are getting better compared to 19% of noncredit union members, a two-point difference,” the blog continued. “Both groups also differ when it comes to whether their personal financial situation is getting better or worse; 48% of credit union members feel their finances are worsening compared to 51% of noncredit union members, a three-point difference.” What causes the correlation between being financially sound and belonging to a credit union? The likely reason is that people who belong to credit unions tend to seek them out for more generous interest rates and lower loan rates, the blog said. Also, because credit unions generally lack the resources large banks have to build more branches and provide ubiquitous ATMs, consumers eschew convenience to conduct their financial business at credit unions, the blog added. “It follows then, that credit unions are attracting a consumer who is more proactive and diligent when it comes to financial matters, and one who is willing to do a little more legwork and sacrifice some convenience to get credit unions’ better deals,” the blog concludes. To read the blog, use the link.

CU System briefs (11/05/2010)

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* FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (11/8/10)--A new video from the Texas Credit Union League examines the passion, commitment and vision that made the Credit Union House, located in Washington, D.C., a reality. Credit Union House has served as a gathering place for leaders in the credit union movement and a key location for grassroots efforts, said the league (LoneStar Leaguer Nov. 5). To watch the video, use the link … * LATHRUP VILLAGE, Mich. (11/8/10)--Michigan First CU has added Michigan First Mobile, a new mobile banking service to its services that will enable members to check balances, view transaction history, transfer funds and pay bills from their mobile device anytime, anywhere. Members can access the service through their mobile browser, by texting, or by downloading a free application. The applications are available for Blackberry, iPhone, Android and other devices. It also offers a mobile locator service to help members on the go locate the nearest Michigan First branch, MoneyWorks Banking Center or an ATM through the CO-OP Financial Service Network … * PEARL RIVER, N.Y. (11/8/10)--Palisades FCU celebrated its 10,000th member recently when Miguel Hernandez, a quality assurance document specialist at Pfizer, walked into a branch on the Pfizer campus to open a savings account. The $160 million asset, 69-year old credit union presented Hernandez with an Apple iPad. "This credit union rocks," he said. "I look forward to banking with them for a very long time" … * AUGUSTA, Maine (11/8/10)--Maine credit unions Thursday launched
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
the Ninth Annual Maine Credit Unions' Ending Hunger Walking Tour at Maine State CU, Augusta. Brenda Davis, executive director of Cross Roads Ministries, a hunger agency based in Old Town, will walk the tour. Davis will walk 700 miles on foot and visit 79 credit unions in 72 communities to pick up their contributions to the campaign. Maine State CU was the top fundraising credit union for 2009, and Davis began her month-long journey there. The Augusta Food Bank received the first contribution of the 2010 tour. Credit unions will contribute nearly $30,000 through the tour, part of a larger credit union initiative that has collected more than $3.5 million in the past nine years. From left are: Jon Paradise of the Maine Credit Union League; Davis; a representative of the Augusta Food Bank; and Cindy Barnes of Maine State CU. (Photo provided by the Maine Credit Union League) … * TEMPE, Ariz. (11/8/10)--Bill Heier, a long-time volunteer at Tempe (Ariz.) Schools CU, died Oct. 29 in Tempe. He was 90. Heier was a member of the Black Sheep Squadron in the Royal Canadian Air Force, the squadron on which a television show starring Robert Conrad was based. He also was involved in the credit union industry in Arizona, and was instrumental in getting a federal charter for Citizens Union Bank to provide Arizona credit unions with access to electronic transfers within the U.S. banking system. A memorial service was held Saturday. He is survived by his wife, two sons, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren (The Arizona Republic Nov. 3) …

Conn. CUs discuss issues at banking dept. roundtable

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MERIDEN, Conn. (11/8/10)--More than 45 Connecticut credit unions were invited to participate in an informal two-day roundtable hosted by the Connecticut Department of Banking to address common issues on the minds of the state’s credit union leaders, according to the Credit Union League of Connecticut.
Click to view larger image Attending a recent roundtable hosted by the Connecticut Department of Banking to address credit union issues were, from left, Mary Ellen O’Neill, Connecticut Banking Department financial institutions manager; Howard Pitkin, Connecticut banking commissioner; Marcia Sarrazin, National Credit Union Administration Region 1 associate director of programs; and Tony Emerson, Credit Union League of Connecticut president/CEO. (Photo provided by the Credit Union League of Connecticut)
Some issues discussed included credit unions’ regulatory and compliance burdens, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) conservatorship of Constitution Corporate FCU in Wallingford, Conn., concerns about alternative capital and what the league and the Credit Union National Association are doing about it, NCUA assessments and legislative questions. Participants included Mary Ellen O’Neill, Banking Department financial institutions manager; Howard Pitkin, banking commissioner; Marcia Sarrazin, NCUA 1 associate director of programs; and Tony Emerson, league president/CEO. The roundtable was held in three sessions, with credit unions grouped by asset size, to form manageable gatherings and give attending credit unions an opportunity for specific and personal attention to questions and concerns. “This is your meeting,” said Pitkin, opening one session. “We are here to address your concerns, looking to see what is on your mind and what questions you have.” “This was an excellent opportunity for credit unions to communicate directly with regulators,” said Emerson. “We appreciate the efforts of Commissioner Pitkin, the banking department, and the NCUA to provide this information exchange on a personal level in a comfortable setting.”

Ill. Governors Advisory Board provides CU dialogue

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (11/5/10)--The Illinois Governor's Board of Credit Union Advisors (GAB), the state's only statutory committee focused directly on the credit union movement, met Oct. 28 in Chicago to discuss foreclosure environment, loan modifications and state-chartered credit union trends, among other topics. The seven-member GAB is appointed by the governor to consult with, advise and make recommendations to the governor and the director of the Division of Financial Institutions (DFI) on credit union matters. It also advises upon appointments and employment of personnel related to supervision and regulation of credit unions. The GAB is an opportunity for the Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL), state regulators and credit unions to enter a dialogue about critical current issues, said the league. At the meeting, Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) summarized its activities, including its focus on the state's foreclosure environment. DFI Acting Assistant Supervisor Brad Losch and David Anderson, acting problem case officer, presented a statistical summary of state-chartered credit union operating ratios and trends, with insight and guidance provided by DFI Director Robert Meza and Lindsay Hanson-Anderson, the governors's legislative director. Stephen Olson, ICUL executive vice president, general counsel and chief operating officer, provided a federal and state legislative and regulatory update to the group. After the formal presentations, the group focused on loan modifications and how state regulators evaluate credit unions during the examination process on the standards used in extending loans and altering payment terms. Meza asked the league to host educational sessions so credit unions can share information and best practices on this topic. The league said it plans to offer these in the next couple of months. The group also discussed funding for the IDFPR. The Credit Union Section of the DFI is supported by credit union regulatory fees, not the state's general revenue fund. The discussion indicated that potential restructuring of the super agency will be addressed during the 2011 spring legislative session of the Illinois General Assembly. Consensus was expressed that the GAB should submit a letter to the governor identifying the preservation of the independent credit union regulatory function as an important goal. Board member Bohdan Watral, CEO, Selfreliance Ukrainian American FCU, Chicago, expressed concern about the financial impact of these issues in light of corporate stabilization. He emphasized that "credit unions need to maintain their viability." "This was a very important and informative dialogue session," said GAB Chairman Peggy Cummins, CEO of Three Rivers Community CU, Mount Carmel. "I would really like to encourage credit unions to take more interest in these meetings." ICUL said the meetings are particularly beneficial since Illinois is home to the largest number of state-chartered credit unions in the nation--297--and is a leader in advancing the interests of state-chartered institutions. The meetings also provide ICUL an opportunity to highlight its legislative and regulatory agency on behalf of those credit unions. It works closely with IDFPR, through DFI, the league said, to help provide a favorable operating environment for its affiliates. "The open dialogue and positive working relationship we have experienced with the GAB and the DFI have been extremely productive, especially during this current, very challenging economic and regulatory environment for credit unions," said ICUL's Olson. "The GAB meetings provide a great venue to not only share critical information but also to have a dynamic, open dialogue among credit unions, the agency and ICUL to better understand mutual concerns." In addition to Cummins and Watral, GAB members include:
* Alice Clements, director, Consumers Cooperative CU, Waukegan; * Brian McDaniel, director, Argonne CU, Romeoville; * Helen Young, board member, CEFCU, Peoria; * Karen Woods, marketing manager, Decatur Earthmover CU, Decatur; and * Ray Rogers, internal auditor, DHCU Community CU, Moline.

Leagues assess election results in five states

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MADISON, Wis. (11/5/10)--Leagues across the nation are taking stock of state election results and assessing how the results may impact credit unions and how well candidates who were credit union friends fared. The Maine Credit Union League reported a 91% success rate, with 95 of 106 candidates endorsed by the league and credit unions winning their races. Seven endorsed candidates in the Maine House were still waiting results of their races. All four credit union board members running in the Maine House were victorious--Rep. Herb Clark, vice chair of Katahdin FCU, and Rep. Michael Lajoie, vice-chair at Lewiston Municipal FCU, were both re-elected, while Ken Fredette, board member at Sebasticook Valley FCU, and John Picciotti, chair at KSW FCU, won their House races. "Because of our strong bipartisan support of candidates from both parties, the league and Maine's credit unions are well-positioned when the new legislature convenes in January," said John Murphy, league president. "Despite all of the uncertainty with the elections, [the league and credit unions] had a very strong night at the ballot box," he added. "Having four credit union board members in the Maine House is a significant achievement." The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) noted that the Missouri Senate is now composed of eight Democrats and 26 Republicans while the Missouri House has 106 Republicans and 57 Democrats (The Missouri difference Nov. 3). Two Democratic incumbent credit union supporters in the Missouri Senate--Frank Barnitz and Wes Shoemyer--lost their races to former state representatives ,while five Democratic supporters in the state house--Vicki Lorenz Englund, Sam Komo, Jeff Roorda, Michael Frame and Luke Scavuzzo--lost their races. "We're fortunate to have supporters on both sides of the aisle in the General Assembly," said Peggy Nalls, MCUA senior vice president of public and legislative affairs. "In this election, we saw national issues affect local voting significantly more than we've experienced in the past 15 years. That benefited Republican challengers. Republicans remain in the majority in the Missouri Senate and House … just by a greater margin." The North Carolina Credit Union League noted that Republicans made great gains in the state House and Senate as the state faces another year of budget shortfalls running in the billions of dollars (Decision 2010: What's Next for Credit Unions? Nov. 3). For the first time since 1898, Republicans control the North Carolina Senate, said the league. "Although there is a new political landscape in both Washington and Raleigh, the [league] will continue to work with all lawmakers to ensure the needs of our state's credit unions and their members are met," said the league. As the state General Assembly and U.S. Congress begin their sessions, "league and [Credit Union National Association] staff will be discussing the interests of credit unions with both old friends and new faces alike." In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) noted Republicans were victorious on the state-level elections and will control the governor's office as well as both chambers of the state legislature. Attorney General Tom Corbett won the gubernatorial race by a vote of 54% to 45%, and Bucks County Commissioner Jim Cawley will take the lieutenant governor's spot (Life is a Highway Nov. 3). "The association, along with its outside lobbyist and member credit unions, had frequent communication with the Corbett campaign," said PCUA President/CEO Jim McCormack. "We hope to play a role in the transition, particularly with respect to the Department of Banking and financial services matters." In Ohio, Republicans gained 13 seats in the House of Representatives and will continue to control the Ohio Senate with a 23-10 majority. Long-time credit union champion State Rep. William G. Batchelder, who sponsored the recodification of the Ohio Credit Union Act and co-sponsored a public funds deposits measure in 1986, is expected to become Ohio House Speaker , said the Ohio Credit Union League's 2010 Election Insight Update (Nov. 3). In the Ohio Senate, Sen. Tom Niehaus is expected to be named the new Senate president. Niehaus has visited several credit unions and is always willing to discuss issues, said the league. The next legislative session will see at least 40 new members in the Ohio House . The league plans to host meetings to educate new members about credit unions and their legislative issues and priorities, and regular interactions will be continued with credit union friends still in office. "The 129th General Assembly will be presented with many challenges due to the continued stresses on Ohio's economy, a considerable state budget shortfall, high unemployment, and changes in the statewide offices and the General Assembly," said the league. "In turn, this will also present challenges for credit unions, as well as opportunities to participate in programs and initiatives regarding business lending, consumer lending, and financial education," it added. All the leagues in this story said they are taking measures to meet with the electees and leaders of both parties so they can educate about credit unions and their issues.

Small CU to merge with CBC FCU

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OXNARD, Calif. (11/5/10)--CBC FCU in Oxnard, Calif., announced it will merge with the small Civic Arts Plaza FCU in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The boards of the $349 million-asset CBC FCU and the $11 million asset Civic Arts Plaza FCU agreed to a deal Oct. 27 that will be completed Dec.1 (Ventura County Star Nov. 4). The merger is confirmed on CBC FCU’s website. Civic Arts Plaza FCU will become a branch of CBC FCU in east Ventura County, Kelly Baker, CBC vice president of business development, told the newspaper. CBC sought the merger at a time when small credit unions are struggling with rising loan delinquencies and assessments, Baker said. “It was just a good fit for us to expand our branches,” she told the paper.

CU System briefs (11/04/2010)

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* KANSAS CITY, Mo. (11/5/10)--Joyce Buchanan, 56, former branch manager of Media First CU (now First Financial CU), was sentenced to two years for embezzling nearly $400,000 from the Kansas City-based credit union, which serves employees of the Kansas City Star. U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wright also ordered Buchanan to pay $406,151 in restitution. Buchanan pleaded guilty in May to falsely representing to the credit union that she had made $198,553 in loans to members. Instead, she made the loans payable to herself in the form of cash and checks she wasn't entitled to receive. She also made $426,678 in loans to non-members in violation of the credit union's policy. Of those loans, $268,115 have defaulted. Most of the fraudulent loans were made to her son, who worked for First Financial Lending Group (States News Service (Nov. 3) … * PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (11/5/10)--A U.S. District Court judge in Philadelphia has sentenced Shannon R. Hamilton, 40, formerly of East Stroudsburg, Pa., to 151 months in prison for four bank robberies in Monroe County, Pa., between Dec. 9 and 29, and one credit union robbery--that of a Pinellas FCU branch in St. Petersburg, Fla.--on Jan. 6. Hamilton pleaded guilty to committing the robberies to obtain money to support a drug habit. He also was sentenced to three years' supervision after the prison term ends (States News Service Nov. 2) … * OMAHA, Neb. (11/5/10)--Jason D. McCain was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Omaha, Neb., to 100 months for a series of five robberies in Nebraska and Iowa, including the Dec. 16, 2008, robbery of Telco Triad Community CU in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The robberies occurred between March 1, 2007 and Dec. 24, 2009. McCain also was ordered to pay restitution totaling $71,129 and to serve three years of supervised release after his prison term. He was arrested in April and pleaded guilty on July 8 (States News Service Oct. 18) …

AVCU debuts fin lit concerts today

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (11/5/10)--Heritage Family CU in Rutland, Vt., and the Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU) will present Vermont’s first Concert for Financial Literacy today at the Stafford Technical Center in Rutland. Part of AVCU’s EconomyOfMe project, the Concert for Financial Literacy will feature musicians Scott McKenna and Nyke Van Wyk performing on the guitar and violin, while promoting financial literacy (Newslines Express Oct. 29). The concert will also kick off Heritage Family’s next step in the promotion of financial education at the Stafford Technical Center & Rutland High School. The credit union has worked with the center for more than a decade through Heritage Family’s student-run branch. It will enter the classroom to provide a starting point in financial education for every student. Earlier this year, Heritage Family launched, a website featuring articles, videos and more, with the purpose of educating teens. “A solid financial education as early as possible is so important for students being successful with their finances later on,” said Mark Grossarth, Heritage Family’s assistant vice president of marketing. “Now, we are looking forward to working with Stafford to help prepare every student, not just the ones involved with the student credit union, for the real world with an introduction to financial education and continued opportunities to increase their literacy.”

Diversify non-interest income sources--online speaker

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MADISON, Wis. (11/5/10)--Diversifying the revenue sources for non-interest income can help credit unions boost overall earnings, CUNA Mutual Group’s Bob Larson told participants of the Web-based Online Discovery Conference. Larson, a financial support consultant, said current market conditions and new regulations are hitting return on average assets. In addition, credit unions face shrinking auto loan portfolios and rising delinquencies and charge-offs, Larson said. Overcoming these challenges to profitability requires developing new and different sources of revenue, he said. Larson recommended creating an internal work group to scrutinize the credit union’s income statement and assess income-generating sources based on where they are in the product lifecycle and whether revenue can be enhanced. One option for creating higher revenue is increasing plastic card use to boost transaction income. Larson said cash-back and reward programs can work, but the cost must be justified by increased use. Another option is increasing “conversation fees,” a term used to describe the revenue generated by employee cross sales to members. Credit unions can generate revenue by selling credit insurance, guaranteed asset protection (GAP) policies, debt protection, mortgage-related products and other insurance products, he said. Selling these conversation-based products requires creating a consultative sales culture. Larson said that means sitting down with members, listening to their needs and then finding solutions. Strong communications must be backed by accountability and a tracking system. Finally, credit unions must recognize that building a consistent revenue stream from marketing insurance takes time. Currently, debit and credit card interchange fees and non-sufficient funds/courtesy pay fees together generate 58 cents of every $1 of interest income, he said.

Southwest Bridge Corporate offers shopping tool

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PLANO, Texas (11/5/10)--A new online tool, called the Resource Analyzer, will help credit unions determine the value of Southwest Bridge Corporate’s products and services, the corporate said. Southwest Corporate was placed into conservatorship by the National Credit Union Administration in September and was re-established as a bridge corporate. A Southwest Bridge Corporate task force was established and will make recommendations on the corporate’s future structure. The Resource Analyzer provides a detailed review of the features and benefits of seven key services: Settlement, Automatic Clearing House (ACH), Funds (Wire) Transfer, Line of Credit, Share Draft Processing, Remote Deposit, and Image Deposit Returns. One important function of the Resource Analyzer is to spotlight benefits that may be hard to find elsewhere, said the corporate (e-FACTS Nov. 2). Each service module categorizes questions and answers in a hide-and-reveal format under broad headings: General Considerations, Features, Implementation, Training, Service and Pricing. The Resource Analyzer is designed to give credit unions the ability to cut and paste the questions directly into a request-for-proposal (RFP) document. The corporate’s Resource Analyzer addresses several topics:
* The corporate’s providing an automatic advance from member credit union lines of credit to cover daylight overdrafts on settlement accounts; and * Its maintaining a Fedline Advantage connection on behalf of its members, saving individual credit unions the time and expense of dealing directly with the Federal Reserve.
For more information, use the link.

New MCUA president kicks off statewide meetings

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ST. LOUIS (11/5/10)--New Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) President/CEO Mike Beall this week kicked off a series of meetings with credit union presidents and managers across the state. Beall began his tenure as president/CEO on Monday. "Despite a tough environment, there is a lot that Missouri credit unions can do for hard-hit working families," he said (The Missouri difference Nov. 3). "I hope to meet with as many leaders as possible in the coming weeks. His first meeting with credit unions was Wednesday in Springfield. He will meet today with the Southeast Chapter Presidents/Managers in Sikeston. Other meetings will include:
* Monday: St. Louis Chapter Presidents/ Managers Continental Breakfast Meeting in St. Louis; * Tuesday: Northeast Chapter Presidents/Managers Lunch Meeting in Mexico and a Central Chapter Meeting in Jefferson City; * Wednesday: Northeast Chapter Meeting, Bevier; and * Nov. 16: St. Joseph Chapter Presidents/Managers Lunch Meeting, St. Joseph, and Kansas City Chapter Meeting, Kansas City.
Beall previously served as president/CEO of the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association. He replaces Rosie Holub, who retires in December.

CUs can sustain growth if they adapt to new normal

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MADISON, Wis. (11/5/10)--Credit unions can develop sustainable business models that adapt to the “new normal” of both current and future economic shifts, according to John Lass, CUNA Mutual Group’s senior vice president of strategy and business development. Speaking to participants in the Web-based Online Discovery Conference, Lass said it is vital for credit unions to develop long-term business models that adapt to the changing environment produced by the recession. Examining the macro-economic trends related to savings rates, household debt and interest rates is essential to see the big picture, Lass said. As spreads and return on assets (ROA) are challenged, credit unions must reconsider their dependence on interchange and overdraft fees, he said. Lass recommended that credit unions use the DuPont Sustainable Growth Model to help plan their future. The model provides a framework for measuring and breaking down return on equity. Lass said credit unions can pull six “levers” to manage their business. Revenue levers include spread and fee income, while expense levers include loan loss and operating income. There are also asset turnover and leverage levers. Credit unions must weigh which levers offer the greatest control as they seek to develop a harmonious approach to managing all six levers at once, Lass said.

Altura CU to merge Hemet Calif. branches

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IVERSIDE, Calif. (11/4/10)--Riverside, Calif.-based Altura CU will close a branch office in Hemet, Calif., on Jan. 12 and merge it with a second Hemet branch, said Mark Hawkins, the credit union's president/CEO. After Jan. 12, Altura will have 13 branch locations throughout Riverside County: four in the city of Riverside, two in Moreno Valley, two--including one that is all electronic--in Corona, and one each in Hemet, Indio, Murrieta, Rancho Mirage and Temecula. "The 'great recession' continues to linger in the Inland Empire, and although we are beginning to see signs of improvement, some challenges remain," said Hawkins. "We continue to look for ways to reduce our costs of operation, while causing the least amount of disruption to our members." Building leases will expire on three branch office locations in the next 90 days.. "An expiring lease is an easier way to reduce our expenses compared to some other options," he said. Hemet was chosen for closure because two branches were within three miles of each other. "This was a painful choice, but merging the Hemet branches is the least objectionable option for cutting our operating costs," he said. Staff from the two branches will be merged. However, five employees have been offered severance packages, outplacement services and Altura loan modification packages to assist them in the transition.

Southeastern CUs to debut 2011 image campaign

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (11/4/10)--The League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) will debut a statewide image campaign for credit unions in Alabama and Florida in the spring of 2011. Using a new credit union logo and tagline, “Credit Unions, We’re Giving Banking a Better Name,” the campaign will encompass a variety of media platforms including TV, radio, billboard, online ads, and public relations. There will be a landing website that will use social media to engage the member and incorporate peer-to-peer multimedia. The website will also include a credit union finder and financial literacy links. The campaign will focus on reaching Gen. X. Research shows that Gen X is smart, tech savvy and wants to control their money, not have someone else control it for them. The campaign message will show Gen. X that putting their money in a credit union will provide them with a better banking experience. To kick off fundraising for the $2.1 million campaign, the LSCU, through its League Service Corp. LEVERAGE, has contributed the first $100,000. The money will be used to develop the campaign's creative look. This will help ensure that the maximum amount raised from credit unions stays in their respective media markets for advertising. "Over the past year, many credit unions have told me that we need a cooperative message," said LSCU President/CEO Patrick La Pine. "The time has never been better to let potential members know the credit union difference. Our research shows that the credit union message is only reaching 50% of people in Alabama and Florida," he said, noting the campaign will grow membership for LSCU's member credit unions. Scout Branding Company from Birmingham, Ala., will handle the campaign's creative look. The LSCU has a Statewide Image Campaign Task Force made up of credit unions from the two states to help drive the creative look and the media buy. The campaign plans to debut in the spring 2011 across 14 media markets in Alabama and Florida.

NYC business loans up 45 in 2010

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NEW YORK (11/4/10)--A new study has found that small business loans in New York City are up 45% over last year, with more than $262 million in loans distributed during 2010. The study, released by U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), indicates the number of Small Business Administration (SBA) loans in the city grew 44%, from 655 loans in 2009 to 940 this year. The total amount provided by the SBA loans to small businesses in the city rose to more than $262 million from more than $180 million in 2009--about a 45% increase (Federal Information & News Dispatch Oct. 31). Every borough except Staten Island saw gains in small business lending. Lending in the Bronx increased the most--at 62%, with $9.9 million in additional funds in 2010. Manhattan businesses saw a 57% hike in number of loans received to 376 loans from last year's 239 loans. Weiner called the increase in loans to small businesses "extremely encouraging, because access to credit is vital to helping these businesses get back on their feet and putting Americans to work." Weiner's news release noted three measures in Congress involving small business legislation: The Recovery Act, which makes it easier for credit unions and banks to offer SBA loans to small businesses by increasing the loan guarantee amount to 90% from 75%; the Small Business Jobs Act, which reauthorized the Recovery Act's loan guarantee increase and freed up $30 billion for community banks to lend; and the HIRE Act, which provides a payroll tax holiday for businesses that hire unemployed workers. When Congress returns from the elections recess, the Credit Union National Association and credit unions will again pursue measures to raise credit unions' member business lending (MBL) cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25% to enable them to make more MBLs.

Boomers in new reality demand new strategies

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MADISON, Wis. (11/4/10)--Baby Boomers are facing a new reality in these turbulent times, and it would behoove credit unions to address the changing needs of the nation’s largest generation, attendees of CUNA Mutual Group’s Online Discovery Conference were told Wednesday. Jeff Hunt, consumer program manager at CUNA Mutual Group, presented strategies for dealing with the new mindset so credit unions can retain boomers as members long after retirement. Online Discovery, CUNA Mutual’s Web-based equivalent of a face-to-face conference, attracted more than 1,400 national and international credit union and league staff. The conference aims to help credit unions solve problems, face challenges and address opportunities. The turbulence of the last decade means boomers are dealing with a new reality, Hunt said. “There is a new mindset, but it is still unique to boomers. They have not become cynical or negative like other generations. They are still optimistic and have dreams, but they are simpler--and maybe better--dreams.” The boomers have had it rough so far in this century. From the dot-com bust to Sept. 11 to the current economic woes, the boomers have had their usually optimistic outlook tested. Members of all generations have been affected, but the impact of these events looms larger for boomers because they are quickly approaching retirement, he said. The oldest boomers will turn 65 and be eligible for Medicare in just two months. “Credit unions must act now or they could lose over five million members and $550 billion in assets as the boomers enter retirement if they leave credit unions like previous generations of retirees have done,” Hunt said. To retain these retirees, research suggests credit unions must evolve from being mainly lending institutions for mid-life borrowers to retirement companies that offer a full range of solutions to boomer members. Hunt provided six steps to help credit unions manage this transition:
* Use the credit union advantage. Trust in credit unions is at an all-time high, especially when compared to banks. Boomers approaching and in retirement need a trus partner because with time it gets more difficult to make up for financial mistakes. * Tell them what you can do. Stop being shy talking about what you offer retirees and how you can help them. They are readjusting their dreams; tell them how you can work together to achieve them. * Provide retirement expertise. Achieving the coveted position of the member’s retirement adviser requires every credit union employee to play a role, ensuring they work as a team to be successful. The credit union itself should be seen as the advisor, not just a person with that title. * Provide retiree products. To be considered a viable financial partner in retirement, endorse a full suite of retiree products, either by offering them yourself or finding a partner who can. * Make it easy to buy. Making things easier and simpler is boomer theme and a retiree need. Boomers desire options without complexity.

Empower FCU Providers FCU to merge Jan. 1

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (11/4/10)--Empower FCU and Providers FCU, both of Syracuse, will merge effective Jan. 1. The merger will add Providers’ $10 million in assets and 2,000 members to Empower’s more than $900 million in assets and over 95,000 members. The combined organization will operate as Empower FCU after the merger, which has been approved by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Empower said the merger will provide more services for Providers' members and another location for Empower's members.

Georgia survey Fewer members saving for holidays

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DULUTH, Ga. (11/4/10)--Four out of 10 Georgia residents who responded to the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates’ (GCUA) mid-year 2010 survey plan to spend less on the holidays this year. The finding that 43.4% of Georgia residents will spend less in 2010 echoes national statistics, with a study by America’s Research Group showing that 43% of American shoppers will spend less in fourth quarter 2010 than in the previous year, said GCUA. The 2010 GCUA study results also build on a similar 2009 GCUA survey that found that 51.7% of participants would spend less for the holidays last year.. Veda Hilton, president/CEO of Etowah Valley FCU, Cartersville, said fewer members are saving ahead for holiday shopping because they need their money to pay everyday living expenses. Hilton plans to advise members to avoid using credit cards for holiday shopping if possible. She recommends reining in spending by shortening the shopping list and making deliberate choices aimed at finding a specific item. If members need extra funds for the holidays, Hilton encourages them to go to a trusted source. That will help keep members from being lured into high-interest credit card debt or other high-interest loans that could create big problems when the New Year arrives.

U.S. Marine in Afghanistan touts CU difference

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (11/4/10)--A U.S. Marine serving in Afghanistan recently sent a flag and certificate to the Deseret First CU branch in South Jordan, Utah, to thank credit union staff for their help. Spc. J.D. Nelson, 21, a Utah Marine stationed in Afghanistan, also sent a letter thanking branch employees for their “support and kindness” in helping him obtain an auto loan, according to a release from Deseret First, which is based in Salt Lake City. The certificate attests that the flag was flown over Afghanistan aboard a Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron Two EA-6B Prowler in honor of Desert First's South Jordan Branch. Nelson’s letter noted that after receiving the loan, he moved all his accounts to Deseret First. That move has proved to be “the best decision for my money and me,” Nelson wrote, because the credit union is “always there when I need you.” Nelson’s mother delivered the flag to the branch.

Taylor elected chairman of CU Cooperative Branching

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HARAHAN, La. (11/4/10)--Rod Taylor, CEO of Barksdale FCU, Bossier City, La., has assumed the duties of chairman of the board of CU Cooperative Branching (CUCB) LLC, Louisiana's shared branching credit union service organization (CUSO). Taylor served as the credit union's executive vice president and chief operating officer for 16 years and was appointed its CEO in 2008, according to the Louisiana Credit Union League's eNews Nov. 3). The recent election took place due to the retirement of former chairperson Susan Leake, LaCapitol FCU, Baton Rouge. Reggie Gremillion, CEO of Wymar FCU, Geismar, has assumed the duties of board secretary, the position Taylor previously held. An election will be conducted at the next annual meeting of CUCB shareholders to fill Leake's board position. Other officers and board members include:
* Vice chairperson, Connie Kennelly, CEO, Tulane-Loyola FCU, New Orleans; * Treasurer, Darryl Long, CEO, Baton Rouge Telco FCU; * John Milazzo, CEO, Campus FCU, Baton Rouge; * Mark Rosa, CEO, Jefferson Financial CU, Metairie; * Clark Yelverton, CEO, CSE FCU, Lake Charles; and * Jeff Conrad, CEO, Pelican State CU, Baton Rouge.

Motion filed to dismiss suit vs. WesCorp

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LOS ANGELES (11/3/10)--Motions to dismiss the National Credit Union Administration's (NCUA) $6.8 billion lawsuit against directors and officials of Western Corporate FCU were filed Monday by a number of the defendants in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Los Angeles. In the lawsuit, NCUA, as conservator for WesCorp, claims that the former directors and officers of WesCorp did not carry out the duties of their offices with the required level of care in making certain investments before the recession hit the corporate system. In asking the court to reject the suit, the defendants cited a wide variety of grounds that they said supported dismissal at this early stage of the case. The motion filed by the largest group, which consists of all the former directors named in the case plus one former officer, argued that even if everything stated in the complaint was assumed to be true, there would still be no legal violation because the directors and officers made reasonable business judgments in good faith on the basis of the information available at the time. The motion also raises questions about NCUA's own role in the investment decisions made by WesCorp and raises other legal points. Motions filed by other parties support the group motion and also point to the lack of specific allegations in the complaint about those parties or their alleged legal violations. More briefs will be exchanged before the court holds oral argument on these matters, anticipated for Dec. 20. WesCorp was placed into conservatorship March 19, 2009.

Federation Attack vs. CDCI program unfounded

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NEW YORK (11/3/10)--The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (NFCDCU) is rejecting a new paper's hypothesis that political influence determined the U.S. Treasury's Community Development Capital Initiative (CDCI) investments in credit unions. The federation represented most of the 111 credit unions that applied for secondary capital loans through the CDCI program and developed "critical information that was omitted from [Assistant Professor Linus] Wilson's analysis" and that "does not support his conclusions." Wilson's analysis asserted that 48 out of 189 eligible credit unions were selected to receive Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) CDCI funds. The federation maintains the numbers are incorrect. At least 72 credit unions received final approval for CDCI secondary capital loans and at least 24 of these declined to accept the investment, said the federation. Wilson said there were 189 eligible credit unions at the start of September and that only CDFI certified credit unions were eligible for the TARP's CDCI. This is incorrect on two fronts, said the federation:
* Credit unions were eligible only if they were both CDFI certified and had an official low income credit union (LICU) designation from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Wilson's count included credit unions that are not LICUs and therefore aren't eligible for CDCI. * Wilson's analysis considered as "eligible" a number of credit unions that no longer exist and that have not been purged from the CDFI Fund certification list. The federation maintains that 135 credit unions eligible when the program began grew to 153 by the end of September. While this is short of the 189 considered eligible in Wilson's analysis, only 111 of the fully eligible credit unions actually applied for the CDCI loans, the federation said, citing NCUA figures.
"These two points alone destroy the foundation of Wilson's argument," said the federation in a news release. "Instead of political influence having driven the selection of 48 credit unions out of 189 eligible institutions, we see that at least 72 credit unions qualified and were approved for loans out of 111 eligible applicants." The federation also noted that Wilson said he does not know the identity of the credit unions that applied for TARP funds. That means he lacked a "control group that could be used to test his hypothesis, "particularly by the location of a credit union in a district represented by a member of the House Financial Services Committee (HFSC), the federation said. It tested the hypothesis against a control group and rejected Wilson's hypothesis. Having provided technical support to more than 100 credit unions during the process, including more than a dozen that did not receive funds, the federation looked at the percentages of credit unions located in districts represented by HFSC members and found:
* 7.1% of credit unions applying for CDCI investments were located in HFSC districts; * 6.9% of credit unions approved for the funds were located in these districts; and * 7.7% of credit unions rejected for CDCI investments were located in the districts.
"The location of a credit union in an HFSC member's district had absolutely no influence on the probability of being approved or rejected for a CDCI investment," said the federation. The federation said it isn't that the CDCI program invested too much in LICUs or in the wrong ones, but that the onerous application process, regulatory burden, fear of political attacks and other factors resulted in "relatively little being invested in the only group of financial institutions that are specifically committed to serving low-income individuals and communities." More than 100 credit unions were qualified to receive funding and an additional $100 million in capital could readily have been put to good use by LICUs, the federation said, adding that the CDCI program was a one-time event and the opportunity won't soon come again.

CU System briefs (11/02/2010)

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* MINNEAPOLIS (11/3/10)--A former credit union employee pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud in U.S. District Court for a scheme that netted $388,000 worth of parts from a computer parts manufacturer. Phillip Adrian Webb, formerly manager of network services for Postal CU, admitted in a plea agreement that he wrongly notified Cisco Systems Inc. that Postal CU had received defective parts so Cisco would send replacements (Targeted News Service Nov. 1). Webb would then sell the replacement parts online and keep the proceeds, while purchasing low-cost secondhand parts to return to Cisco. From June 1, 2007, through Oct. 11, 2009, Webb returned 55 parts to Cisco, but only 13 of those parts actually contained flaws, while the rest were secondhand replacements … * LANCASTER, Pa. (11/3/10)--Mennonite Financial FCU has changed its name to Everence FCU. The “Everence” name will provide a common identity for both the $119 million asset credit union and Mennonite Mutual Aid (MMA), Goshen, Ind. A joint press release from MMA and the credit union stated that sharing the name “Everence” will bring together entities that share a common mission of helping people integrate their faith and finances, including Everence Financial Advisers. The credit union was founded in 1945 by the Mennonite Church and stated that it intends to maintain its close relationship with the church … * ONTARIO, Calif. (11/3/10)--Two marketing campaigns produced by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues won honors at the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals’ 2010 MarCom Awards. The leagues’ Communications and Marketing Department received a Gold Award for its 2010 annual meeting and convention campaign, according to a press release from the leagues. An honorable mention was awarded to the leagues’ “1-2 Punch” campaign, which aimed to increase participation in the leagues’ payroll deduction program and its grassroots advocacy website, Connect for the Cause … * OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (11/3/10)--The WEOKIE Credit Union Foundation announced that it has awarded more than $327,000 to worthy causes since it was launched in 2006. The foundation promotes WEOKIE CU’s commitment to both social responsibility and educating the community to make sound financial choices. Foundation giving includes donations of more than $205,000 to other 501(c)(3) charities plus scholarships for more than $122,500 to high school seniors. Financial education is provided through the “MoneyTalks” financial education program for students in grades 2 through 12 …

Kansas City man charged in 7.2M fraud

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (11/3/10)--A Kansas City man was charged in federal court Oct. 27 for his role in a $7.2 million securities fraud scheme that victimized thousands of U.S. investors nationwide. Isreal Owen Hawkins was charged in a two-count criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., according to the U.S. Department of Justices’ Attorney’s office for the Western District of Missouri (US Fed News Oct. 28). “A federal criminal complaint alleges that Petro America was an empty facade of a business run by deception and false promises,” Beth Phillips, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, said in press release. “Petro’s founder is charged with defrauding unwary investors by selling them worthless stock in order to support his lavish lifestyle.” Hawkins is the president/CEO of Petro America Corp. A related civil forfeiture was filed against Petro America Oct. 22. The criminal complaint charges Hawkins with securities fraud and with structuring financial transactions to evade federal reporting requirements. Hawkins founded Petro America, which bills itself as a holding company for crude oil and gold mines--among other claimed assets--in 2007, said US Fed News. According to the affidavit, Hawkins and an unidentified co-conspirator visited Mazuma CU in Kansas City, Kan., several times each week. Sometimes they made large deposits of multiple checks into the company’s bank account. On most visits, they withdrew $7,500 to $9,800--often on consecutive days. In this manner, Hawkins obtained at least $537,515 in cash from Petro’s account at Mazuma. The affidavit also alleges that Hawkins structured currency withdrawals out of Petro America accounts at Bank of America and U.S. Bank.

Multiple factors lead to decline in CU lending

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MADISON, Wis. (11/3/10)--For the sixth month this year, credit union lending declined slightly with many factors coming into play, according to a Credit Union National Association (CUNA) economist’s analysis of CUNA’s monthly review of credit unions for September. “Only two loan categories recorded rising balances: used-auto loans and fixed-rate first mortgages,” Steve Rick, CUNA senior economist, told News Now.
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Credit union loans outstanding decreased 0.1% during September, compared with an increase of 0.3% during August. Fixed-rate mortgages led loan growth, rising 1.2%, followed by used-auto loans, which went up 0.8%. Adjustable-rate mortgages declined 0.1%, followed by unsecured personal loans (0.2%) and home equity loans (0.3%). Credit card loans and new-auto loans dropped 0.6% and 1%, respectively. Credit union loans in September totaled $582.2 billion, compared with $589.8 billion in September 2009. “The Federal Reserve recently reported similar loan behavior for all consumer credit providers,” Rick said. “For the year ending August 2010, consumer credit loan balances declined 3.1%. In the month of August, consumer credit outstanding fell $3.3 billion. Falling revolving-credit balances outweighed slightly rising non-revolving credit. “Multiple factors are responsible for the decline: tighter lending standards, low consumer confidence leading to weaker consumer loan demand, households’ desire to deleverage their balance sheet, and banks charging off/writing down loans and credit card defaults,” he continued. “We expect credit union loan balances to fall more than 1.5% in 2010, and increase 4% in 2011,” Rick added.
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Credit union savings balances increased 0.3% in September, compared with a 0.7% decrease during August. Individual retirement accounts led savings growth, rising 1%, followed by money market accounts and regular shares, which both went up 0.7%. One-year certificates and share drafts each fell 0.5%. Credit union savings in September totaled $797.4 billion--or $42.6 billion more than the $754.8 billion saved in September 2009. “Savings balances rose 0.3% in September, traditionally a slow month for savings growth,” Rick said. “However, with consumers in no mood to spend, saving and deleveraging is the only game in town.” Regarding asset quality, credit unions’ 60-plus-day delinquencies remained at 1.8% during September. The loan-to-savings ratio remained at 73% for the month. The liquidity ratio--the ratio of surplus funds maturing in less than one year to borrowings plus other liabilities--remained at 18%. The movement’s overall capital-to-asset ratio stayed at 10% in September. The total dollar amount of capital is $93 billion.

MBLs are rocket fuel of CUs says Virginia article

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MADISON, Wis. (11/3/10)--More credit unions are seeking to fill the member business lending (MBL) void being created as banks cut back on lending, according to a Virginia business publication. “More retail credit unions--seeing an excellent, higher-margin niche in business loans--want to fill that lending vacuum, since most of their members have all but halted demand for the traditional consumer loans that have defined the industry since the first U.S. credit union was established by French-speaking Canadian immigrants to Manchester, N.H., in 1908,” said an article titled “‘Rocket fuel’ for credit unions” in (Oct. 28). “They are paying down debts and salting away cash in case even tougher economic times are still ahead.” Demand for business loans in Virginia is strong as evidenced by MBL activity among the state’s credit unions, jumping 30% during a 12-month period ending last June 30, according to preliminary data from the Virginia Credit Union League, the publication said. “Business banking is the rocket fuel of the credit-union industry,” John Beiler, CEO of the Harrisonburg, Va.--based Park View FCU, told the publication. “I don’t advertise my business-lending program all that much; if I did [because of existing federal regulatory caps on business loans], I’d have to turn away about 99% of new customers.” The article also mentioned the University of Virginia Community CU in Charlottesville, Virginia CU in Richmond, and RF&P FCU in Richmond. After today’s elections, Congress will be back in session. The Credit Union National Association is continuing to work to get lawmakers to increase credit unions’ MBL cap to 27.5% of total assets from 12.25%. To read the article, use the link.

Northwest Community Unitus Community to share branch

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (11/3/10)--Northwest Community CU, Springfield, and Unitus Community CU, Portland, will share a Beaverton location as part of Oregon’s first “co-branded” branch shared by two credit unions. The previous Northwest Community branch in Beaverton was small and hard to find within a strip mall, according to Randy Breese, area manager of Northwest’s Beaverton and Oregon City branches. The previous branch location, which served 3,000 members, closed over the weekend. Northwest Community reopened on Monday by offering services at a full-service desk within a nearby Unitus Community branch building. The new location allows Northwest Community to offer Saturday banking to members in the greater Portland area for the first time. Staff and resources from the closed Northwest Community branch will be redeployed to an office in Oregon City, where they will become part of Northwest’s phone center network.

Chesterfield FCU offers short-term holiday loans

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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (11/3/10)--Chesterfield FCU will counter payday loans by repeating its Holiday Help Loan program for members during the 2010 holiday season. The small, short-term loans are available to members employed by the same employer or receiving retirement or disability benefits for at least two years. Loan amounts range from $300 to $1,000 for terms of four to nine months. A typical payday loan charges $114 in fees for a 14-day loan of $500, or the equivalent of 584% annual percentage rate (APR). Chesterfield’s APR for a $500 loan is 17.95% for a member with at least five years of consecutive employment. Monthly payments for this loan would be $87.82, with total interest charges of $26.54. The Holiday Help program will run from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31, with Chesterfield FCU setting aside $150,000 to fund the loans. Last year, 223 members took advantage of a Holiday Help Loan to save $16,500 in payday loan fees.

Tennessee CUs league join anti-fraud program

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (11/2/10)--About 23 credit unions and banks across Tennessee are participating in an anti-fraud program created to educate consumers and financial institutions about fake check scams. Under the program, credit unions and banks will distribute a "Don't Become a Target" brochure to consumers who deposit a check or money order totaling more than $1,000 or who withdraw $1,000 or more. The program is sponsored by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, the state's Department of Financial Institutions, the Tennessee Credit Union League, and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA). CFA created the brochure and is providing brochures to participating credit unions and banks at no cost. "Fake check scams are a serious problem for consumers," said Trish Patterson, vice president, education and information, at the league. "Credit unions want to do all they can to educate their members," she said. "Consumers and financial service personnel need to be able to recognize the warning signs of fraud in order to prevent it." The program is similar to programs in several other states. Tennessee credit unions participating so far include: Bowater Employee CU, Calhoun; City Employees CU, Knoxville; Trust Enrichment CU, Chattanooga; Foothills FCU, Louden; Healthcare Services CU, Chattanooga; HealthNet FCU, Cordova; iTrust FCU, Memphis; Kennedy VA Employees FCU, Memphis; and Northeast Community CU, Elizabethton.

Damage closes Members Cooperative CU branch

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DULUTH, Minn.(11/2/10)--Members Cooperative CU (MCCU) has closed permanently its Central Duluth, Minn., branch because of irreparable damage from a storm last week. Tammy Heikkinen, president/CEO of the $289 million asset credit union, said the branch has suffered from infrastructure issues for several years. Although MCCU addressed each problem as it rose, the storm on Oct. 26 created irreparable damage. "The recent rainstorm caused substantial water damage, to the point that the building is now beyond repair," Heikkinen said. "We will not risk the safety of our staff and our membership." No jobs are in jeopardy from the closure. Staff at the Central branch will be reassigned to other branches in Duluth, said a press release on MCCU's website. "We apologize for any inconvenience this closure may cause our members," said Heikkinen. Members can visit other Duluth locations in Spirit Valley and on Miller Hill, said Heikkinen. An ATM at Whole Foods Co-op, which was adjacent to the credit union's Central Duluth branch, also is available.

CUs MBL creates 25 jobs

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WYOMISSING, Pa. (11/2/10)--A credit union's member business loan (MBL) will help create 25 jobs in its area at a time when banks are lending less, according to the Reading (Pa.) Eagle (Oct. 31). Discovery FCU, based in Wyomissing, Pa., assisted a couple in expanding their restaurant business and creating 25 new jobs, according to Edwin L. Williams, president/CEO of the $134 million asset credit union. The Reading Eagle picked up the story about restaurant owners Joseph A. and Carol J. Nemec, who will open a Johnny & Hon's Smokehouse in the city later this month. The Nemecs own similarly named restaurants in Muhlenberg Township and Robesonia, and plan to hire 15 to 20 new employees during the winter, with the rest hired in the summer, said the article. The credit union had been making MBLs for less than a year and the loan to the Nemecs was the first loan it closed, Williams told the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). The Nemecs renovated a vacant floral shop that had been vacant for three years, he added. The Nemecs were so grateful to get the loan that they plan future loans with the credit union to refinance their other restaurants, said Williams. "Imagine what credit unions can do to create even more jobs in the lending cap were expanded," he said, referring to credit unions' push to increase their MBL cap to 27.5% from 12.25% of assets. In other business lending news, CBS News' "60 Minutes" featured an episode on Newton, Iowa, a heartland town hit hard by the recession. At one point a small business owner comments on his inability to get a loan from area banks. Lending to small businesses actually dropped by $13 billion or 2% during second quarter 2010, the segment said. "So three years after the beginning of the Great Recession, with interest rates the lowest have ever been in history, banks are lending less money to the engines that create jobs," said commentator Scott Pelley. One businessman, Dave McNeer, told Pelley he had gone to a bank, which "won't loan me a dime." The bank said to "come back when you have a couple of good years behind you. Really? 'Cause I won't need you then." Another business owner, Alan Yegge, told Pelley, "You know they'll offer money to you when you don't need it. But when you need it, you can't get it."

Fitch withdraws ratings of three more corporates

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CHICAGO (11/2/10)--Ratings organization Fitch says it has affirmed and then withdrawn its ratings for three corporate credit unions under conservatorship. The corporates--Constitution Corporate FCU, Members United Corporate FCU, and Southwest Corporate FCU--were placed into conservatorship by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Sept. 24. The NCUA's plans for legacy assets calls for liquidating the charters of the three corporates and re-establishing bridge corporate charters, which means Fitch no longer considers the ratings of the three corporates as relevant to the agency's coverage. NCUA plans to employ a "Good Bank/Bad Bank" model and transfer the operations and good assets and member share deposits into bridge corporates for Members United and Southwest, Fitch said. The conserved charters, which will retain the legacy assets, will become inactive and be placed into an asset management estate for liquidation, said the ratings company. NCUA is seeking a purchaser to assume operations, good assets and member share deposits for Constitution Corporate, while its conserved charter will retain the impaired assets. Since Constitution would become inactive under a purchase and assumption transaction, Fitch affirmed and withdrew its rating. In October, Fitch affirmed and withdrew ratings for U.S. Central Corporate FCU (now U.S. Central Bridge Corporate FCU) for similar reasons.

CUNA Mutual renovating its Iowa facility

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WAVERLY, Iowa (11/2/10)--CUNA Mutual Group is nearing the end of a multi-million renovation at its Waverly, Iowa, facility. The $12 million to $14 million overhaul of the 140,000 square-foot facility is mostly a behind-the-scenes endeavor, with the replacement of the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, which is more than 30 years old (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier Oct. 26). The building is worth the investment, Reid Koenig, CUNA Mutual vice president, customer operations, told the newspaper. “It’s a solidly built building,” Koenig added. “We thought it would make more sense to renovate than build new.” CUNA Mutual employs roughly 500 of its 4,000 employees at two Waverly offices. Some of the employees work at a 50,000 square-foot location that CUNA Mutual rents. The company will move all of its Waverly employees to its main facility in town once the renovation is complete, the paper said.

CUAO awards announced

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (11/2/10)--The Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO) honored outstanding credit unions, volunteers and professionals at its 2010 annual awards banquet during its recent annual meeting. Awards presented to volunteers and professionals included:
* Volunteer of the Year: Harold Welborn, SELCO Community CU, Eugene; * Professional of the Year: Helen Byrnes, Northwest Community CU, Springfield; * Top Classroom Presenter of the Year: Anissa Arthenayake, OSU FCU, Corvallis; * Heidemann Scholar: Teri Robinson, Pacific Northwest Ironworkers FCU, Portland; and * Young Credit Union Professional of the Year: Jennifer Stephens, Rogue FCU, Medford.
Awards were presented to credit unions to recognize organizations that make a difference in local communities. First-place winners of the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Recognition Award were:
* Linn-Co FCU, Lebanon, $50 million to $100 million asset category; * Mid-Oregon FCU, Bend, $100 million to $200 million; * Rogue FCU, $200 million to $500 million; and * OSU FCU, $500 million plus.
The Louise Herring Award for Philosophy in Action went to Rogue FCU. First-place winners of the Desjardins Youth Education Award were Mid-Oregon FCU in the $50 million to $150 million asset category and OSU FCU in the $500 million plus asset category. Awards for advocacy on behalf of the credit union movement were presented to both individuals and organizations. Advocacy awards included:
* Credit Union Advocacy Leadership Award: First Tech CU, Beaverton; * Congressional Legislator of the Year: U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader from Oregon’s 5th District; * State Legislator of the Year: Dave Hunt, Oregon House speaker (D-Clackamas County); * CU Advocate of the Year, Volunteer: Jan Uffelman, Mid Oregon FCU; and * CU Advocate of the Year, Professional: Ron Barrick, Advantis CU, Portland.

Top 10 INews NowI stories for October (11/01/2010)

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MADISON, Wis. (11/2/10)--Stories about interchange and compliance dominated October’s list of top 10 stories in News Now. Other stories that made the list were about International Credit Union Day and a husband/wife team convicted of stealing $200,000 from a credit union. October’s top stories are:
10. HELOC scam tapped $220,000 from member’s equity PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (10/20/10)--A lawsuit over coverage of $220,000 of home equity line of credit (HELOC) funds that went missing from a credit union member's account has provided some details on the methods used by international fraudsters in a dozen similar cases in the eastern section of the country. 9. ”Bridge’ corporates ready for business ALEXANDRIA, Va. (10/6/10)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) on Tuesday chartered the two bridge corporate credit unions to assume the operations of now conserved U.S. Central Corporate FCU (US Central) and Western Corporate FCU (WesCorp), completing another vital step in its corporate credit union resolution process. 8. FDIC proposal would broaden overdraft rule’s reach WASHINGTON (10/12/10)--The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) recently proposed rules that would make state-chartered banks under its jurisdiction go farther in incorporating consumer protections in their overdraft programs than the Federal Reserve's rules dictate. 7. St. Paul Croatian FCU fraud may cost NCUSIF $170M ALEXANDRIA, Va. (10/14/10)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) revealed today that St. Paul Croatian FCU was catapulted into a liquidation by fraudulent loans, some allegedly masked by the credit union's CEO. 6. Husband/wife team convicted of $200,000 CU theft WORCESTER, Mass. (10/28/10)--A husband and wife have be found guilty of stealing more than $200,000 in 2002 from the Wyman-Gordon FCU, now called W-G FCU, in Worcester, Mass., where the woman worked. 5. Payment protection disclosures cast bad light: CUNA WASHINGTON (10/21/10)--Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney this week said that CUNA and CUNA Mutual will be working with credit unions to oppose proposed changes to the Federal Reserve's Regulation Z that would require new disclosures for credit life, credit disability, debt cancellation and debt suspension. 4. Interchange rules unconstitutional, lawsuit charges WASHINGTON (10/12/10)—Decrying Sen. Richard Durbin's (D-Ill.) interchange fee legislation as "unconstitutional," TCF National Bank on Tuesday brought legal action against the Federal Reserve, the agency charged with implementing the law. 3. Compliance: CUNA lays out timeline for ADA-ATM compliance WASHINGTON (10/15/10)--By now, most credit unions have heard about the Department of Justice's (DOJ) update to the accessibility standards governing the construction and alteration of facilities covered by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). 2. Compliance Challenge: Watch for these NCUA examiner ‘red flags’ WASHINGTON (10/1/10)--With National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Chairman Debbie Matz earlier this month saying that the NCUA would likely redesign some aspects of its examination process to better interact with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), credit unions should be sure that they are up to date on NCUA examination practices. 1. Happy International CU Day WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (10/21/10)--It's finally here--the day in which credit unions take note of what they do and celebrate--while honoring those who have made contributions to the global financial cooperative movement.

Canadian Mexican CUs in partnership

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CORDOBA, Mexico (11/2/10)--Four executives from Servus CU in Alberta, Canada, recently visited Caja Yanga, a credit union in Cordoba, Mexico, to share information and reaffirm their participation in the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) International Partnerships program. The Canadian delegation learned about the Semilla Cooperativa or “cooperative seed” model used by Caja Yanga to provide rural
Click to view larger image Servus CU and Caja Yanga CU reaffirmed their international partnership in Mexico when a Spanish-language agreement was signed by (from left) Garth Warner, president/CEO of Servus CU, Alberta, Canada; Brian Branch, World Council of Credit Unions executive vice president and chief operating officer; Mario Humberto Valencia, chairman of Caja Yanga CU, Cordoba, Mexico; and Margarito Saavedra Morales, Caja Yanga general manager.
outreach in remote locations using technologies such as personal digital assistants (PDAs) and pocket-sized printers. The visitors viewed how these technologies can create a mobile branch by traveling to Potrero Nuevo, a rural mountainside community. The Canadian credit union may adopt similar remote technologies to serve members who lack mobility in Alberta, including the elderly and disabled. While in Mexico’s Veracruz state, the Canadian group provided training in governance, risk management and technology to Caja Yanga. Servus CU offered information technology consulting to follow up on the internship of two Caja Yanga staff in Edmonton earlier this year. A second internship in 2011 will send Caja Yanga staff to Edmonton to focus on money management and money laundering compliance.

Illinois chapters keep message before lawmakers

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (11/2/10)--Credit union chapter officials in Illinois have again banded together this fall to facilitate gatherings of credit union officials and lawmakers.
Click to view larger imageThe Illinois Credit Union League's (ICUL) chapter system holds "Chapter Legislative Appreciation" events because successful legislation rests largely in developing a good personal relationship with lawmakers in what has become a very competitive legislative environment, ICUL said. At a recent event are, from left, Illinois Rep. Jim Sacia (R-89, Freeport); Joe Green, chairman of the board, Cornerstone CU, Freeport; Illinois Sen. Tim Bevins (R-45, Dixon); Illinois Rep. Jerry Mitchell (R-90, Rock Falls); and Gail Clore, chapter legislative forum representative for the Northwest Illinois Chapter and CEO, Cornerstone CU. (Photo provided by the Illinois Credit Union League)
The Illinois Credit Union League’s (ICUL) chapter system holds “Chapter Legislative Appreciation” events because successful legislation rests largely in developing a good personal relationship with lawmakers in what has become a very competitive legislative environment, ICUL said. This year, the meetings continued to be held by more than half of the league’s chapters. “Chapter lawmaker appreciation events are just one example of the strong effort shown by our chapter network of political activists, especially our legislative forum representatives,” said Keith Sias, ICUL director of state governmental affairs. “These functions serve as excellent opportunities to better acquaint legislators with the credit union movement and build good will.” One of the most successful meetings this year was a joint effort between the Northwest Illinois and Rockford Area chapters in northern Illinois. In an area that spans eight mostly rural counties and is home to 23 credit unions, the event saw nearly 80 people attend plus several lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.), a member of the House Financial Services Committee. The keys to success include the strong relationships credit unions continually maintain with lawmakers, early planning, and a mutually beneficial and enjoyable meeting for everyone involved, the league said. “We actually started back in June by getting on the calendars of our key lawmakers first and then arranged the meeting to be convenient for them,” said Gail Clore, chapter legislative forum representative (LFR) for the Northwest Illinois Chapter and CEO of Cornerstone CU in Freeport. “From there, we planned for a top-notch event and prepared them for what they could expect in terms of dialogue during the meeting.” Another chapter that has good success is Kankakee Valley, the league said. In addition to having well-attended appreciation meetings, the credit unions there look for other opportunities to stay in front of their local lawmakers. “It is very important to also attend any events that are going on in support of the legislators in your area, letting them know you are there to support them also,” said Debbie Eilts, Kankakee Valley LFR. “That way, when you call for their support they know you and that you have supported them in the past.” However, the strong participation of these and 11 other events statewide was not manifest this year just because it is an election year. The same chapter effort has continued annually for the past 15 years. The purpose of the events is not for debate, but to provide groups of credit unions a forum to thank supportive lawmakers on a regular, public basis. “It is important to help keep the credit union philosophy and message regularly in front of our state as well as federal lawmakers, especially at the local level,” said Don Edwards, ICUL senior vice president of federal governmental affairs. “These events help to significantly augment our other political action activities, such as Hike the Hill, our annual state legislative day event in Springfield, district office visits, candidate interviews, and fundraising efforts,” he added.

Wegner Awards Dinner tickets now available

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MADISON, Wis. (11/2/10)--Tickets are now available for the 23rd Annual Herb Wegner Memorial Awards Dinner on Feb. 28 in Washington, D.C. The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) event will be held during the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA’s) 2011 Governmental Affairs Conference at the Grand Hyatt Washington. Individual tickets for the three-course dinner are $225, while tables of 10 are $2,120. The estimated value of the tax-deductible portion of each ticket is $75. Tickets are available online at Registrants can also download a printable form to be completed and sent via fax or U.S. mail. The deadline for ticket purchases is Jan. 28. Awards to be presented at the event include the Lifetime Achievement Award to Rudy Hanley, president/CEO of SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana, Calif.; the Individual Achievement Award to Dan Mica, former president/CEO of CUNA; and the Outstanding Organization Award to the National Youth Involvement Board.

Arizona Maxwell Herring Desjardins awards named

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PHOENIX (11/2/10)--The Arizona Credit Union League (ACUL) recently named the winners of its statewide Dora Maxwell, Louise Herring and Desjardins awards.
Arizona Credit Union League President/CEO Scott Earl (left) presented Tucson FCU's Desjardins Award to Jason Zeider, assistant vice president of marketing, and Susan Stansberry, president/CEO (Photos provided by Arizona Credit Union League).
First-place winners of the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Recognition Award were:
* Canyon State CU, Phoenix, $100 million to $200 million-asset category; * Credit Union West, Glendale, $200 million to $500 million; * Desert Schools FCU, Phoenix, $500 million plus; and * Valley of the Sun Chapter, credit union chapters.
There were two first-place winners of the Louise Herring Award for Philosophy In Action:
* Credit Union West, $100 million plus category; and * Desert Schools FCU, $500 million plus.
First place for the Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award went to Tucson FCU.
Accepting Desert Schools FCU's Dora Maxwell Award were (from left) Cathy Graham, assistant vice president of marketing; Emma Garcia, director of community development; Lori Sevensky, vice president credit services; and Robin Simmons, assistant vice president, mortgage servicing and loss mitigation.
Celebrating Canyon State CU’s Dora Maxwell Award were (from left) Pat Bodnar, senior vice president, Arizona Credit Union League; and Steve Dunham, president/CEO, and Lenore Froehlich, vice president of marketing, both of Canyon State CU.

CU System brief (11/01/2010)

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* SACRAMENTO, Calif. (11/2/10)--Donna Bland has been appointed president/CEO of Sacramento-based The Golden 1 CU, announced the credit union's board after its meeting Thursday. She has served as interim president/CEO since July 30. Bland has been with the more-than-$7-billion-asset credit union for 16 years as "an integral member of our management team and has contributed to the significant growth and progress of Golden 1," said board Chairman Pedro R. Reyes. She has more than 20 years' experience in the financial services industry …