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ICUL Service Corp. Members United combine check processing

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WARRENVILLE, Ill. (12/13/07)--ICUL Service Corp. and Members United Corporate FCU have consolidated their check-processing programs, effective Monday. The combined program is owned and operated by Members United. The service corporation had provided share draft item-processing services to Illinois credit unions as Service Corp. Item Processing (SCIP). SCIP served about 175 credit unions in the Seventh Fed District (Chicago). Eighth Fed District (St. Louis) credit unions are not affected by the consolidation. "The primary reason for this consolidation was to provide the highest possible value to member credit unions for their share draft processing needs," said David Preter, president of Members United. "It's an economies-of-scale business, and our combined large scale helps us keep costs down. This allows credit unions to continue to offer a competitive share draft product to their members," Preter said. Members United, headquartered in Warrenville, Ill., is a $12.7 billion asset corporate that serves nearly 2,300 credit unions nationwide.

Washington state regulators OK CUs to convert MasterCard stock

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (12/13/07)--Washington state’s credit union regulators Monday gave the OK for state-chartered credit unions to convert their nonmarketable Class A shares in MasterCard Inc. to Class B shares. Class B shares can be sold on the open market. According to Linda Jekel, director of credit unions at the Washington Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), credit unions may continue to hold the stock, even though state law prohibits credit union from owning equity, because they obtained the shares in an unusual IPO. MasterCard requires financial institution shareholders who received Class B shares in its May 2006 initial public offering (IPO), to convert to Class A shares. Although they can convert shares already owned, credit unions may not buy or sell additional MasterCard shares on the market. Jekel said examiners may require a credit union to divest the shares if they decide the stock is not safe and sound. Washington state-chartered credit unions can be approved to hold MasterCard Inc. Class B shares by applying with DFI, Jekel told News Now. “DFI will approve Washington state-chartered credit unions to hold MasterCard stock because they have received it, not as a purchase, but rather from a business decision made by MasterCard,” she explained.

Meadowland CUs personal service marks 50 years

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SHEBOYGAN FALLS, Wis. (12/13/07)--Meadowland CU of Sheboygan Falls is celebrating its 50th anniversary. While the 1,851-member credit union offers products competitive with larger financial institutions, it maintains a history of personal service, reports the Sheboygan Press (Dec. 9). Kathy Zimbal, a member of Meadowland, said “it’s awesome” that tellers know her by name. Most members feel like they belong at Meadowland when the staff knows who they are, said Chris Kuitert, secretary of the credit union’s board of directors. Allan Kraus, Meadowland president/CEO, who has been with the credit union for two years, also is committed to personal service. He individually meets with members who have questions. Kraus, 48, has 20 years’ experience working in financial institutions. It’s rare to find a place where members can “sit down and talk to the president,” he told the newspaper. Meadowland also has an ATM machine, shared with Kohler CU. Next year, the credit union will offer online bill pay and individual retirement accounts, providing its members “everything the big boys offer,” Kraus told the newspaper. The credit union also has a branch at Sheboygan Falls High School, which serves faculty and students. Meadowland’s high school branch also promotes financial education. Meadowland has $7.25 million in assets. Its loans, assets and savings have seen double-digit growth this year, Kraus told the newspaper. Meadowland CU was created in 1957 to serve employees of Bemis Manufacturing Co. It expanded its charter about 10 years ago to include anyone living or working in Sheboygan County. The charter has brought in 400 new members within the past decade, said the article.

Utah regulator appointed to NASCUS Board

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ARLINGTON, Va. (12/13/07)--Orla Beth Peck, supervisor of credit unions for the Utah Department of Financial Institutions, has been appointed to the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors board of directors. She was appointed Dec. 5 by Georgia regulator and NASCUS Chairman George Reynolds. In 1981, Peck began her 26-year career with the Utah agency as a credit union examiner. Since 1992, she has served as credit union supervisor. She is the chairman of NASCUS Performance Standards Committee and the National Institute for State Credit Examination Board of Trustees--NASCUS’ educational foundation. Peck also is the treasurer of the Utah Jump $tart Coalition for Financial Literacy. Peck will fill an unexpired term left by the resignation of Beth Dooley. Dooley recently left the California Department of Financial Institutions to become president/CEO at Educational Employees CU in Fresno, Calif. Peck’s term will end September 2008.

Corporate advises CUs to look to longer-term CDs

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MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (12/13/07)--In the wake of Tuesday’s Federal Reserve decision to cut the Fed Funds rate by a quarter percent to 4.25%, a corporate investment officer indicated that there was general dissatisfaction in the market with the move, but added that credit unions should look to longer-term certificates of deposit (CDs) to bolster their financial future. Brad C. Stewart, vice president/chief investments officer at Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU in Middletown, Pa., told the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association that the investment markets were disappointed that the Fed Funds rate cut wasn’t bigger (Life Is A Highway Dec. 12). Stewart advised credit unions to:
* Look into a longer term (one to-two-year) CD, since current CD rates are higher than overnight rates, which should decline heading into the new year; and * Follow your investment policy, and review it regularly. It’s not necessary to change it, but now is a good time to examine the safety, liquidity and yield principles behind members’ current policies.
Credit unions usually are slow to re-price rates to their members on both sides of the balance sheet, Stewart added. He said he anticipates lower interest rates throughout 2008 and urged credit unions to examine their current interest-rate mix for 2008.

CU System briefs (12/12/2007)

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* TROY, Mich. (12/13/07)--Fourteen Detroit area credit unions and banks put competition aside to help the Gleaners Community Food Bank overcome a shortfall in donations. Together, the financial institutions are offering more than 226 branches to collect donations during December. Their goal is to raise $500,000 to help fight hunger in southeastern Michigan. Credit unions participating include: Bi County PTC FCU, Detroit Edison CU, FME FCU, Lakes Community CU, Michigan Catholic CU, Oakland Catholic CU, Northwood CU, Oakland County CU, and Peoples Trust CU (PRNewswire Dec. 10) … * DOVER, Del. (12/13/07)--Dover FCU recently held the official grand opening of its new corporate center, located in a remodeled call center building on the shores of Silver Lake. Dover FCU is the Delaware's largest credit union, with $220 million in assets. The corporate center is the cornerstone to expanding beyond the current 35,500 members, said Russell L. McCready, board chairman. Dover FCU was formed by civilian workers at Dover Air Force Base, and now serves companies in Delaware and Maryland, along with the military and their families from the base and the Dover Air National Guard. The credit union plans to open locations in Milford, Camden, and New Castle, Del., in the next few years. Attending the grand opening were (from left): David Clendaniel, president/CEO; Delaware State Rep. Nancy Wagner; McCready; Martin Talmud, Dover FCU board member; and Col. Randal L. Bright, Commander 512th Airlift Wing. (Photo provided by Dover FCU) … * FORT WORTH, Texas (12/13/07)--American Airlines FCU in Forth Worth has given away another new vehicle to a credit union member as part of the 2007 Road to Success Sweepstakes, which ended Nov. 30. Spencer Deaton, 23, was the final grand prize winner--the fifth winner since the sweepstakes began--of a 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser. Deaton opened his account at the credit union as a teenager and attended a local college with an education loan from the credit union. He entered the contest for the vehicle online at the urging of his father, another credit union member. From left are: American Airlines FCU CEO John Tippets, and the Deaton family: Drew, Spencer, Charlene and Fulton Deaton. (Photo provided by American Airlines FCU) … * WINNIPEG, Manitoba (12/13/07)--Emelda Marie Cuddy, a former budding pop star known as Marie Reimer, has been charged with robbing six Winnipeg credit unions. Cuddy, 24, a native of Belize, was at one time about to release a CD (National Post Dec. 12). Police said more than $35,000 was stolen from six Winnipeg credit unions between July and December. In the robberies, the suspect concealed her face and wielded a weapon on two occasions. Cuddy was arrested Dec. 7, as she attempted to cross the border into the U.S. She faces charges of four counts of robbery, two counts of robbery with a weapon, and six counts of wearing a disguise to commit a crime … * HUBER HEIGHTS, Ohio (12/13/07)--Juackine Wilson, 37, of Akron, Ohio, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for robbing the Wright-Patt CU branch in Huber Heights on Aug. 25, 2003. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rose handed down the sentence Nov. 30. In August, Wilson pleaded guilty to one count of bank robbery. In the robbery, he demanded the teller empty both credit union cash drawers, said the U.S. Department of Justice (State News Service Dec. 3). No weapon was used in the heist. Wilson also was ordered to pay restitution to the credit union. He will serve three years of supervised release at the conclusion of his 10-year prison term …

CUNA expert to IPC WorldI Avoid HDTV 0 financing

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SAN FRANCISCO (12/13/07)--Consumers thinking about buying a high-definition television (HDTV) under a 0% financing or a retail store credit card deal during the holidays should think again, according to Jim Hanson, vice president of the Credit Union National Association’s Center for Personal Finance. Hanson was interviewed by PC World for an article published Dec. 11 about HDTV buying tips. The article stated that many retail stores offer deals on HDTVs over the holidays. Hanson suggested that most people should avoid store gimmicks--such as 0% financing or a certain percentage off when opening a retail store credit card. Store credit cards have low limits and high fees, Hanson said. Consumers interested in buying high-priced items should look into low-interest credit cards from a credit union. “It boils down to simple elementary advice that never changes,” Hanson told PC World. “Cash is always best. If you need a special promotion to buy an HDTV, you can’t afford it.” Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, author of Zero Debt for College Grads, echoed Hanson’s thoughts. People who qualify for 0% financing often think they can afford to buy expensive items, but credit card companies do not look out for consumers’ best interests, she told the magazine. Also, some consumers are required to pay interest if they can’t pay off an HDTV during a promotional period, she said.

Study CUs gained majority of auto customers who refinanced

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WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. (12/13/07)--Credit unions acquired the majority of consumers who refinanced their initial vehicle contracts in 2007, according to J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Consumer Financing Satisfaction Survey, released Tuesday. Credit unions gained 51% of "captive" customers and 58% of banking customers who refinanced, said the firm. In 2007, roughly 2% of new-vehicle financing customers refinanced their indirect loan, resulting in $4 billion in originations. The most common reason for refinancing--provided by 83% of refinancing customers surveyed--is to find a more competitive interest rate. The survey, in its 12th year, measures customer satisfaction with new-vehicle financing process on four factors: provider offering, application/approval process, payment/billing process, and customer contact experience. BMW Financial Services, Ford Credit, Honda Financial Services and Lexus Financial Services each ranked highest in satisfying customers with certain aspects of the new-vehicle financing process. Credit unions were not among institutions ranked in the survey. The percentage of consumers using the Internet to research finance options has declined since 2004. However, among consumers using the Internet for research, those who submitted an online application increased. According to Richard Howse, director of the automotive finance practice at J.D. Power, "Fewer casual shoppers are using the Internet simply to browse for information about their financing options. Instead, more serious and Internet-savvy customers are using this channel to access specific information about their finance options and then proceeding to apply online for a loan." He noted the trend suggests that "customers are feeling more comfortable with sharing their personal information online via these provider channels and may also prefer the convenience aspects that the Internet brings."

Vermont Peru CUs sign partnership agreement

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RUTLAND, Vt. (12/13/07)--In a show of mutual support, a partnership agreement was signed Tuesday between Heritage Family CU, Rutland, Vt., and Cooperativa de Ahorro y Credito ABACO, Lima, Peru.
Ron Hance, seated, CEO of Heritage Family CU, and Rocio Miyashiro Kiyan, right, CEO of Cooperativa de Ahorro y Credito ABACO, sign their credit unions' partnership agreement Tuesday. Also present are, standing from left: Victor Corro, World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) International Partnerships manager, and Manuel Rabines Ripalda, CEO of Federacio Nacional de Cooperatives de Ahorro y Credito del Peru and WOCCU board member. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions).
The credit-union-to-credit-union (CU2CU) partnership is a byproduct of the partnership between the Association of Vermont Credit Unions and the Federacion Nacional de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Credito del Peru (FENACREP). That partnership was signed in May in Lima, and is part of the World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) International Partnership Program. The arrangement will enable the Peruvian credit union to work closely with its Vermont counterpart to the mutual benefit of both parties. Rocio Miyashiro Kiyan, CEO of ABACO, and Manual Rabines, CEO of FENACREP and member of the WOCCU board of directors, traveled to Vermont Tuesday for the event. Kiyan and Ron Hance, president/CEO of Heritage Family CU and a WOCCU board member, formally signed the agreement pledging support on behalf of each credit union. The relationship evolved from a trip Hance and other credit union and association staff took to Peru in May. The challenges faced by Peruvian credit unions were similar to those that had earlier faced U.S. credit unions, Hance said. The three-day meeting led to plans for helping the relationship evolve into one of mutual service, said Hance. An employee exchange program will be a central part of the partnership. The partnership "pulls the two cooperatives together to help one another,” said Hance. “This is a good forum for all involved and will lead to highly valued friendships between the two countries’ credit union communities.” While in Vermont, Rabines and Kiyan were invited by the Rutland Chamber of Commerce to speak on public access television. They also visited several of Heritage Family CU’s branches, including a student-run, in-school branch, and attended an Association of Vermont Credit Unions board meeting in Burlington. WOCCU’s International Partnership Program supports 26 partnerships between U.S. credit union leagues and their counterparts in other countries.