MADISON, Wis. (12/2/08)--From The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch to the Los Angeles Times, from TheStreet.com to the Plattsburgh (N.Y.) Press Republic to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the word is that despite the economy, credit unions have money to lend. The newspapers all published reports in the past week about credit unions offering loans at a time when credit has dried up elsewhere. The Columbus Dispatch Sunday noted that "as many financial institutions have struggled, credit unions promote themselves as a safe alternative to 'regular' banks." In the article, Ohio Credit Union League President Paul Mercer said that despite what people read about other parts of the financial industry, "we're in a good position and have money to lend." The article outlined the history, philosophy and expansion of credit unions, discussed their tax exemption and featured three Columbus area credit union executives: Brett Shearer, a board member of the State Transportation Employees CU; Gerald Guy, CEO of Kemba Financial CU; and James Riederer, CEO of CME FCU. TheStreet.com Friday advised that "if you need a loan, consider skipping your local bank and checking out your neighborhood credit union." Author Peter McDougall learned from Credit Union National Association senior economist Mike Schenk that credit unions' loan growth is increasing. Loan growth during recessions in the '80s and '90s were around 3%. "We're more than double that today," Schenk says, adding there is "still a lot of lending going on. McDougall wrote that credit unions may be the best bet because they have different management, offer the same loans but with better rates, have kept their standards relatively steady and avoided the subprime mortgage woes, and offer broader memberships today. The Plattsburgh Press Republic Sunday noted that area credit unions and community banks "didn't listen to the siren's song" that produced problems for many financial institutions. "Credit unions and community banks still have liquidity and adequate money to lend," said the publication. Last Thursday's Los Angeles Times discussed falling mortgage rates and how many borrowers still will have trouble qualifying for a mortgage loan in today's tighter underwriting standards because they bought homes during the real estate bubble and now owe more on their homes than the homes are worth. The article quotes California Credit Union League economist Terrin Griffiths, who expects refinance activity to increase, but not dramatically. Many are trying to get out of adjustable-rate mortgages that are resetting to higher rates next year. And the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Nov. 25) featured BECU (formerly Boeing Employees CU), which is feeling the pinch of the economic downturn through declining earnings, rising delinquencies and higher provisions to reserve for future loan losses. Even with the downturn, BECU is "decently profitable." Loan delinquencies, while double year-ago delinquencies, are still less than 1% of the credit union's total portfolio. BECU is still providing loans, with 2008 mortgage originations already topping $1 billion for the year. Its CEO, Gary Oakland, advocated the Credit Union Homeowners Affordability Relief Program to help stabilize housing markets and provide confidence. The credit union has a debt relief program for members and could assist more under the program. For the full articles, use the resource links.
INDIANAPOLIS (12/2/08)--Indiana Credit Union League's ignite initiative is making progress, and innovations begun at the start of the year by the ignite working group are ready to be implemented in credit unions, says the league. Several Indiana credit unions have committed to offering the innovations, and working-group members are seeking additional credit unions to adopt them, the league said. "To stay in touch with all that is happening with ignite, we have established a website, www.ignitecu.org," said Doug True, league director and leadership team member, and senior vice president technovation at FORUM CU and president of FORUM Solutions. The site serves as an information center for ignite projects and as a social networking site. The credit union community nationwide can join the network to keep up with the developments, True said. One credit union that has adopted an ignite innovation is Lafayette-based Purdue Employees FCU, whose CEO Bob Falk, is a member of the ignite leadership team. Purdue is implementing DriveUp Savings, which allows borrowers to open a matching-rate savings account at the same time they close on their auto loan. "This product has merit not just for our members, but for credit union members everywhere who need a little extra incentive to save money," Falk said. "All the ignite innovations are open source, meaning that there is no cost to a credit union wanting to use the ideas," said Nan Morrow, vice president of corporate development at Centra CU, Columbus, Ind., and a member of the ignite leadership team. "Any of the ideas an be adapted or modified to fit the needs of any credit union wanting to use them, so while the working groups have provided templates for implementation, the specific implementation plans can be as individual as the credit unions using them," Morrow said. "The leadership team and the working groups have done a remarkable amount of work in the year since ignite was introduced," said league President John McKenzie. "In addition to the efforts of the leadership team to make ignite so successful from the very beginning, the recent addition of the new website developed by Doug True is a tremendous enhancement." The working groups made presentations at the league's convention in September. They summarized two sets of projects: Connect U and CU Through Life, and DriveUp savings and FYI Savings--For Young Individuals. Connect U and CU Through Life are Web-based approaches that allow current and potential members to network, exchange information, seek advice and make the credit union's website an information hub and peer-to-peer resource. Connect U is a social networking site credit unions can use to communicate with and engage 18- to 34-year-old members and prospective members so they can share ideas and learn from each other. CU Through Life is a modern-day, Internet version of the "party line," where multiple conversations can occur on common situations affecting different stages of members' lives. DriveUp Savings and FYI Savings are savings-focused, with one tied to a vehicle loan/savings product combination that offers the same rate, and the other set up similar to a 401(k) plan for young people, with funds used for major life events after age 18. In the DriveUp Savings product, members open a savings account, such as a certificate, at the same time they close their auto loan. The loan officer and member agree on a monthly contribution amount and through automated electronic transfers, the DriveUp Savings is funded at the same time the auto loan payment is made. More information can be found at the link. FYI Savings is designed for credit unions to help their youngest members learn the basics of saving money. For more information, use the link. The ignite initiative is a joint venture between the Indiana league and three Indiana credit union representatives associated with the Filene Research Institutes i3 program. The three representatives are True, Falk and Morrow.
MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (12/2/08)--Massachusetts' credit unions saw growth in assets, deposits, loans, and membership during third quarter, according to data compiled from reports released last week by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). The 226 credit unions in the state hold roughly $26 billion in assets. The Massachusetts Credit Union League's newsletter (E-Weekly Nov. 26) said NCUA reported that the state's credit unions had 5.95% aggregate growth in assets--to $26 billion from $24.6 billion at the first of the year. The national growth rate was 5.7%. Savings for the state's credit unions are up by 3% since January, compared with a national savings growth of 5%. Some of the funds may have been deposited by new credit union members. Massachusetts credit unions added roughly 54,000 new members in 2008, a 2.2% increase to date. Loans outstanding at Massachusetts credit unions grew by more than 6%, or $1.1 billion, since January. That is more than the national overall loan growth of 5.6%.
COLUMBIA, Md. (12/2/08)--The fall 2008 Safety and Soundness media campaign for Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Western Maryland credit unions ended Nov. 23, according to the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association (I>Focus Newsletter Dec. 1). The campaign statistics indicate:
* 632 ads were broadcast on 12 top-rated radio stations in the Baltimore, Washington metro and Western Maryland media markets. About 3.5 million consumers heard the ads a minimum of 14 times; * 65 metro bus ads reached 2.6 million consumers in the Baltimore and Washington metro markets and were seen a minimum of eight times; * With the radio and transit ads, 95% of the target audience (3.85 million consumers) heard and/or saw the ads a minimum of 16 times; and * A Google ad words and search engine optimization plan was implemented to drive consumers to the WhatsInItForMe.org website. On the site, consumers can learn more about the safety of credit unions and locate one to join. The final report is being prepared, the association said.
Many credit unions participated in the campaign by using the metro bus ad artwork and safety and soundness articles on their websites and in newsletters, statement stuffers and emails. The association encouraged credit unions to continue to feature the messages on communications to their members. Forty-four credit unions contributed to the Community Outreach Fund that made the campaign possible.
BEAVERTON, Ore. (12/2/08)--The Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO) seated its new board of directors at its recent Annual Business Meeting. Gene Pelham, president/CEO of Rogue FCU, Medford, was elected to serve as board chairman, representing District 2. Shirley Cate, president/CEO of Providence Health System FCU, Portland, and the previous board chair, will remain on the board representing District 3. Also returning are:
* Bill Anderson, president, Mid Oregon FCU, Bend, District 2, serving as treasurer; * Cameron Dickey, vice president of retail sales and service, Advantis CU, Milwaukie, District 3, vice chair; * Kevin Cole, COO, MaPS CU, Salem, District 5, secretary; and * Bob Newcomb, president, SELCO Community CU, Eugene, District 4.
Newly elected to the CUAO board are:
* Stan Baron, president/CEO, Chetco FCU, Harbor, District 4; * Steve Canfield, executive vice president, NW Preferred FCU, Tigard, District 1; * Rob Stuart, president/CEO, OnPoint Community CU, Portland, District 1, and * Jean Wheat-Palm, president/CEO, Valley Health and Postal Employees CU, Salem, District 5.
DURHAM, N.C. (12/2/08)--Martin Eakes, the CEO of Self-Help CU and the Center for Responsible Lending, was robbed and severely beaten by four men in a parking garage as he left his Durham, N.C., office Nov 24. He suffered multiple bruises to the head and face, a gash to his forehead that required 15 stitches and a torn bicep that likely will require surgery (The Herald-Sun Nov. 30). The incident occurred at about 8 p.m. as he was about to enter the parking garage used by employees of Self-Help. The men delivered between 20 and 30 blows, targeting Eakes' head and face. They took his wallet and cell phone. Eakes told the publication he did not know the men or whether they were waiting for him in particular. The city-owned parking garage, located in Durham's center city, has generated several complaints about safety. Eakes and the Center for Responsible Lending are strong advocates in the fight against predatory payday lending tactics in North Carolina. The center helped pass the nation's first anti-predatory mortgage lending law in 1999. Eakes has received national attention from a variety of media, including Forbes.com and The Wall Street Journal about the center's lending philosophy.
NEW YORK (12/2/08)--Cliff Rosenthal, CEO of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, will be presented the second annual Ned Gramlich Lifetime Achievement Award for Responsible Lending by the Opportunity Finance Network (OFN). He will be presented with the industry's highest award, named for the late Federal Reserve Board Gov. Edward "Ned" Gramlich, on Dec. 10th at the OFN Conference in Albuquerque, N.M. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke, in congratulating Rosenthal, said, "Cliff has dedicated an illustrious career to expanding economic opportunities for lower-income households and communities. His considerable contributions toward this end exemplify Ned's legacy as an advocate for policies and practices that help families at the lower levels of the income scale improve their financial well-being." OFN President/CEO Mark Pinsky said Rosenthal "is a leader among leaders in a critical segment of the financial services industry. The award honors one person each year who achieves remarkable susscess in promoting and implementing responsible financial services for low-income and low-wealth people. Rosenthal's achievements include:
* Growing the community development credit union (CDCU) sector to more than 200 institutions in 46 states managing more than $4 billion and serving more than one million people; * Inspiring the federal CDFI Fund in the U.S. Treasury Department, which has made almost $1 billion in equity and debt investments into CDCUs and other types of community development financial institutions (CDFI); * Creating and leading the New York State CDFI Coalition to a major victory--the creation of a New York State CDFI Fund; * Building the successful Community Development Investment Program at the federation, which provided more than $60 million in financing to more than 150 CDCUs nationwide; and * Founding the CDCU Institute, a professional development program for staff and officials at CDCUs.
WASHINGTON (12/2/08)--Thomas Glatt Sr. has been named the first CEO of the new REALTORS FCU (RFCU), effective Dec. 15, the credit union's board of directors announced Monday. A 20-year veteran of the credit union movement, Glatt is currently CEO of Continental FCU, Tempe, Ariz., which serves airline industry employees. He also served in executive positions with OnPoint Community CU (formerly Portland Teachers CU), Portland, Ore.; First Financial FCU, West Covina, Calif; and 66 FCU of Philips Petroleum, Bartlesville, Okla. For 16 years, he headed a credit union consultancy that advised some of the nation's largest credit unions. He also has been a member of the boards at USA FCU, San Diego, and Kaiperm FCU, Oakland, Calif. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is providing the credit union as a member benefit, said NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokers in Dallas-Ft. Worth. He noted the new credit union is tailored to the work habits and lifestyles of realtors, most of whom are independent contractors compensated by commissions. According to NAR CEO Dale Stinton, the new credit union will be open 24/7 and is Internet-based. RFCU is scheduled to open for business in mid-2009. Those eligible to become members of the credit union include: realtors and their families; NAR's institutes, societies and councils; NAR staff; and the staffs of state and local boards and associations. NAR clients, such as home buyers and home sellers, are not eligible.
* BARRE, Vt. (12/2/08)--Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas (center) and other local and state dignitaries were on hand Nov. 10 for the ribbon
cutting ceremony of Granite Hills CU's new 4,800 square foot facility in Barre. Douglas spoke for a few minutes about the state of the economy and how encouraging it is that Granite Hills CU is successfully providing a viable financial resource to the community, said the Association of Vermont Credit Unions (Newslines Express
Dec. 1). The facility has two drive-up lanes, a 24-hour drive-up ATM and a night depository. The $29 million asset credit union continues to have a branch in a National Life Building in Barre. (Photo provided by the Association of Vermont Credit Unions) … * BALTIMORE (12/2/08)--MECU of Baltimore has signed a partnership agreement with Capital CU of Edinburgh, Scotland, to work together
for the betterment of their memberships. Capital CU Board President John Cormack and CEO Marlene Shiels have visited Maryland credit unions twice in the past several years, spending time with MECU leaders and staff each time. Both credit unions started out serving municipal workers and have strong commitments to their communities. Through the partnership, they will share ideas and initiatives; identify mutual ways for each to grow and better serve members; enhance the knowledge base of their boards and staff; and increase international brotherhood among credit unions, they said. From left are: Bert J. Hash Jr., president/CEO of MECU; Herman Williams Jr., MECU board chairman; Shiels; and Cormack. (Photo provided by MECU) …