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CU CEOs letter notes CUs difference in credit climate

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (12/12/08)--A credit union CEO’s letter to the editor at a Virginia newspaper points out a difference between credit unions and banks at a time of credit crisis. The letter, from Chris Anuswith, president/CEO of $35.8 million asset Guardian FCU in Portsmouth, Va., was published Thursday in the Virginian Pilot. In it, Anuswith points out an “interesting juxtaposition” of articles on the front page of the newspaper’s Dec. 6 business section. On article discussed credit unions stepping up to make consumer loans when other financial institutions won’t, he said. Next to it, a second article reported about two local banks in line for infusion funds from the Treasury. “On a daily basis we hear the drumbeat about the impact of the credit crunch,” Anuswith wrote. “Isn’t it interesting that credit unions continue to lend based entirely on their own resources while the banks apparently aren’t or won’t without government and taxpayer help?” he asked. For the full letter, use the resource link.

ITimeI reports on NCUAs corporate CU plan

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NEW YORK (12/12/08)--Time magazine’s website Wednesday featured an article about the National Credit Union Administration’s (NCUA) plan to assist corporate credit unions during the nation’s credit crisis. It noted that in January, NCUA will tap a $41.5 billion in funds approved by Congress to boost liquidity. For the full article, use the link.

National media report CUs deal with GM

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MADISON, Wis. (12/12/08)--National media coverage has resulted from Wednesday’s announcement that credit unions in four Midwestern states are teaming up with General Motors Corp. (GM) to offer low-cost auto loans. Articles were published about the “Invest in America” plan in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, and U.S. News & World Report. Automotive industry publications Automotive News, Automobile Magazine and Cars.com reported the incentive. That’s just for starters. Both the Washington Post and the The New York Times steered articles about other topics—namely GM’s financing company, GMAC, hitting a roadblock in its effort to transition into a bank holding company--to the topic of credit unions and GM’s incentive plan. Some media welcomed the positive news. For example, the “Rankings and Reviews” section of U.S. News & World Report (Dec. 11) reported, “We’ve had nothing but bad news to report about the state of the automotive credit industry for months, but this morning we’ve got something good to report. If you live in the Midwest and need a new car, try joining a credit union. They’ve got new money to lend.” Many had positive headlines about credit unions. “Credit unions come to Aid of Troubled Automakers,” reported Consumer Affairs (Dec. 10). “GM looks to credit unions to help finance new vehicles,” said Automotive News (Dec. 11). “Looking for a new car? Credit unions, GM team up to offer,” wrote The Flint Journal (Dec. 10). “Credit Unions to Offer Deals to Spur Auto Sales” appeared in The Wall Street Journal (Dec. 10). The story also hit newspapers globally. Global Insight Daily Analysis reported on it, as did The Toronto Star in Canada. Newspapers and broadcast media in the four states involved—Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana—also covered the announcement. News Now spotted articles in The Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Lansing State Journal, The Flint Journal, Toledo Blade, and Crain’s Cleveland (Ohio) Business. Many picked up the article from Associated Press and Dow Jones Newswire. For more details about the program, use the www.lovemycreditunion.org resource link or refer to the News Now article (Dec. 11).

AlabamaFlorida leagues announce plan to consolidate

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala., and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (12/12/08)--The boards of the Alabama and Florida Credit Union Leagues have voted to submit a consolidation plan of their organizations to a vote by their memberships. If approved, the consolidated entity--called the League of Southern Credit Unions (LSCU)-- would represent 332 credit unions with a combined assets of $55 billion. The Alabama league board voted Monday and the Florida league board Tuesday to propose the consolidation. League members will vote in March at specially called membership meetings. Credit Union National Association President/CEO Dan Mica congratulated the leadership of both leagues. “This proposed consolidation has the potential for serving the credit unions of Alabama and Florida with a more efficient system offering an even stronger array of services,” he said, adding that “over the long run, there is the promise of additional innovative programs and services that will give their member credit unions a more competitive posture in the markets that they serve. “I know that the credit unions in the both states will make the best decision for their members and their future in considering blending these two great leagues into the new LSCU,” Mica added. The league boards fully support the creation of LSCU, said Rich Helber, Florida league chairman, and Steve Swofford, Alabama league chairman. Both said the combination would give credit unions a bigger voice in the political deliberations in Montgomery, Ala.; Tallahassee, Fla.; and Washington, D.C., while providing members a wider selection of business services. It also would create efficiencies of $1 million or more per year, they said. For the past five months, the leagues have undergone a due diligence process that included financial audits, a review of dues structures, and a market analysis of existing and potential new products. The decision was confirmed by an external accounting firm--Carr, Riggs and Ingram--which concluded the consolidation would benefit both leagues from a financial and tax standpoint. The consolidation was partly driven by external factors such as the meltdown on Wall Street, according to Alabama league President/CEO Gary Wolter. “We are faced with what could be the most sweeping financial regulation since the 1930s, and the consolidation would make it possible to expand and strengthen the localized advocacy programs for both leagues,” he said. “As every day passes and the economic landscape narrows, it becomes more and more imperative that we enhance our advocacy capabilities to continue our fight against the well-funded banking lobby,” Wolter said. The consolidation also would create opportunities for additional, expanded league programs and services that would “enable member credit unions to be more competitive, he said. The next steps in the process entail communicating the plan’s details via town meetings and face-to-face meetings with individual credit unions in both states. The leagues set a goal of touching every credit union member in their respective states in January and February to prepare for the vote in March. “In this time of economic turmoil and the continuing reduction of the numbers of credit unions, an extraordinary opportunity exists in Alabama and Florida to create a new model for future delivery of services and even stronger localized advocacy programs,” said Florida league President/CEO Guy M. Hood. He noted the leagues made a thorough analysis of the opportunity and “the benefits to both leagues were apparent.” Alabama and Florida credit unions have “a long history of close working relationships,” and the creation of LSCU, if approved, “will provide an even greater opportunity for member credit unions to grow, prosper and impact the credit union movement,” Hood added. Long-time league presidents Wolter and Hood have both announced upcoming retirements.

SunCorpWesCorp merger still pending

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WESTMINSTER, Colo. and SAN DIMAS, Calif. (12/12/08)--An application for a merger of SunCorp CU into Western Corporate FCU (WesCorp) that was submitted in December 2007 was retracted in January 2008, but remains poised to be formally resubmitted. Westminster, Colo.-based SunCorp, along with San Dimas, Calif.-based WesCorp and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) collectively agreed to put the merger application on standby to wait for the market to stabilize, the two corporates told News Now. “We’re still anticipating a positive outcome from NCUA,” said Dennis Toda, vice president of enterprise strategies for WesCorp. “NCUA is aware of our desire to pursue the merger. We remain ready to favorably submit the application. “We continue to maintain and refine the application and are poised for formal submission at a mutually agreed upon time with NCUA,” he added. “The boards and members of both corporates are committed to the merger,” Mark Schieffer, SunCorp chief investment officer, said. “The broader market dislocation is what is resulting in the merger still being in a pending state. “WesCorp and SunCorp are still working together on the process,” he added. “Members know we are still committed. It’s just that the world was turned upside down by financial developments.”

CCUE designations awarded to 34 execs

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MADISON, Wis. (12/12/08)--Certified Credit Union Executive (CCUE) designations were awarded in November to 34 individuals from 12 states, bringing the total designations nationwide to 2,615, according to the Credit Union National Association. CCUE, instituted in 1975, is designed for managers and those aspiring to credit union leadership. It teaches advanced credit union management and operations techniques. Twelve individuals also earned the Certified Financial Services Professional (CFSP) designation. CFSP began in 1999 as a designation targeted at educating credit union professionals specializing in financial services. The Certified Executive Program (CEP) awarded specialty certifications to 17 credit union professionals. These certifications require in-depth courses in compliance, lending, financial management, marketing and human resources. CEP is recommended for college credit by the American Council on Education. The classes and materials are tailored to those working within the Credit Union System. For a full list of CCUE recipients, use the link.

Financial planners to see new renewal requirements

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GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. (12/12/08)--Credit unions may want to note new requirements announced Wednesday for individuals with certified financial planner or other designations from the College for Financial Planning. Starting in spring 2009, anyone holding one of the college’s professional designations must complete continuing education, adhere to revised ethical standards and pay a renewal fee every two years to continue using the marks. The changes result from the college’s efforts to strengthen the credibility of its designations and the financial professionals who hold them, and stay ahead of a shifting regulatory environment, said the college. “The new requirements enhance the investment students have made in their professional education,” said John Sears, College for Financial Planning president. “The requirements will help assure the public that financial professionals using our designations are continually expanding their knowledge and adhering to a strict code of ethics.” The continuing education requirement comprises 16 hours of education that, in some cases, can be fulfilled by courses offered by financial firms, the college said. The college provides degree, non-degree and continuing professional education programs to professionals nationwide. It also offers the certified financial planner certification. More than 50,000 professionals nationwide have earned the designation.

29 freshman legislators attend Missouri CU breakfast

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (12/12/08)--Missouri credit union representatives statewide traveled to Jefferson City to meet with newly elected legislators on Dec. 9. Nearly 30 state representatives attended the credit union breakfast as part of a freshman orientation bus tour, according to the Missouri Credit Union Association (The Missouri difference Dec. 10). “Some of the new lawmakers aren’t familiar with credit unions,” said Rolla (Mo.) FCU President/CEO Janet Honse. “It was great to have one-on-one time with the lawmakers before they are confronted with all the new responsibilities in January.”
Missouri State Rep. Shelley Kenney, left, (R-156), talks with Rosie Holub, president/CEO of the Missouri Credit Union Association, at a credit union breakfast as part of a state freshman legislator orientation bus tour. (Photo provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association)
“It was great meeting the legislators in an informal setting,” said Serri Helm, Kansas City-based CommunityAmerica vice president of corporate affairs and general counsel. “Visiting with them over breakfast provided a wonderful opportunity to learn more about their personal interests, careers, and passions--allowing us to build a relationship and hopefully a foundation of trust for future conversations,” Helm added. Roughly 29 Missouri state representatives attended, and 16 credit unions participated.

CUs on the Tube Missouri Homes for Our Troops

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ST. LOUIS (12/12/08)--A video featuring Army Specialist Scott West and the Missouri Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) is available online, says the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA). MCUA, which posted the video on its website, will make copies and distribute it to all credit unions in Missouri so they can display it in their lobby, and show it at boards’ annual meetings and in the community, said Amy McLard, vice president, public and legislative affairs with MCUA. “They can use it in any way to get the message across,” she told News Now. Missouri’s credit unions have teamed up with HFOT—a nonprofit group that builds specially adapted homes for severely disabled members of the military—on a home for West, a resident of Branson. West lost his legs below the knee in Iraq when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded beneath the humvee he was driving. He spotted the IED and jerked the vehicle to the right. As a result, it exploded underneath him, instead of his fellow soldiers. The video and a radio public service announcement (PSA) were created by HFOT. “We’re providing the PSAs to credit unions who may have radio stations they typically work with,” McLard said. MCUA’s website has a link to the video. The fundraising goal is $100,000 for the project. “We’ve had a phenomenal response from credit unions,” McLard said. “One credit union—HealthCare Family CU of the St. Louis area—decided to forego its annual holiday party and donate the funds.” “A lot of credit unions are responding in the face of a tough economic year,” she added. “We just got a contractor, and we have an architect. Now we need to finalize the land, and then it will be a race against Mother Nature as to when there will be a groundbreaking,” she said. “As soon as we get all the ducks in a row, then we can set a groundbreaking date.”

CU System briefs (12/11/2008)

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* EDMONDS, Wash. (12/12/08)—Former Herb Wegner Memorial Award recipient Carol Schillios and volunteers from the Fabric for Life Foundation have opened Fabric of Life, an outlet for projects made by indigenous Africans, in Edmonds, Wash.. The project trains women in a skill and sells the results to generate financial resources and provide shoppers with an education. In a video about the project, Schillios says the store is about changing lives and giving people access to resources to develop their skills. Schillios was a 2007 recipient of the Wegner award, presented by the National Credit Union Foundation. (Video provided by Western Corporate FCU) … * RALEIGH, N.C. (12/12/08)—State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) employees, via the SECU Foundation, donated more than $57,000 for the 2008 State Employees Combined Campaign (SECC), a giving campaign that makes donations to charities. The donations represent an 8% increase over donations in 2007, said the credit union. SECU members, also via the foundation, supported the campaign by funding publication costs of the SECC resource guild distributed to more than 250l000 active and retired state employees across North Carolina. That support is the second year of a three-year commitment representing total funding of nearly $200,000, said SECU …