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Puerto Ricos co-op committee holds hearings on insurance

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SAN JUAN, P.R. (12/20/10)--The Cooperative Committee of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Representatives held hearings Thursday on circumstances surrounding the resignation of the president of the Public Corporation for the Supervision and Insurance of Puerto Rican Cooperatives (COSSEC), a regulatory oversight group for cooperatives, including credit unions. The committee met for four hours Thursday, during which time it heard from Jose Gonzalez Torres, the former president of COSSEC, who indicated he was pressured to act favorably toward various requests and forced out of COSSEC when he resisted (El Nuevo Dia Dec. 17). COSSEC has a new acting president: Carmen Yolanda Pagan, said news reports. The issue stems from high delinquencies in Puerto Rico and what measures credit unions and the agency are taking to mitigate losses. Puerto Rican credit unions are facing high delinquencies and were looking into ways to sell some credit union loans to a nonfinancial institution. Some call the matter a "bailout," and Gonzalez Torres blocked the sale, said local newspapers reports (El Neuvo Dia and The Daily Sun Dec. 8). Delinquencies continue to rise in Puerto Rican credit unions, but their delinquencies aren't as deep as those at the country's banks, according to information provided by the economics and statistics department at the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). The Puerto Rican legislature is probing what is going on in COSSEC and credit unions. Proceedings surrounding the dismissal of Gonzalez Torres likely won't become public, sources familiar with the matter told News Now. COSSEC's mission is to guarantee the continuity and permanence of Puerto Rico's cooperatives, via regulatory and supervisory duties, and to protect members and depositors through effective use of human and technical resources, said the Sun. Two years ago, a new government agency, the Commission for Cooperative Development (CDCoop) was formed. It is represented on the COSSEC board and allegedly is involved in the situation, although reports did not indicate what the involvement entailed. Credit unions must get COSSEC approval to open new branches and some turf issues among the cooperatives have spilled into the COSSEC board, the reports said. Integration of Financial Services Coop (Integra Coop) had sought approval for $200 million in funding to buy toxic loans from local cooperatives, but the funding agency said it had not approved the loan, according to Sen. Soto Villanueva, who initiated the government's probe (The Sun.

Two arrested for attempted murder at CUs ATM

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (12/20/10)--Two suspects have been arrested and charged with attempted murder after someone shot at a man Thursday night at an ATM outside Sunstate FCU's Alachua, Fla., branch. Derae Jenkins, 18, and Richard Addison, 24, Gainesville, were arrested, and a third man was still at large, said Alachua police (Gainesville Sun and North Florida Herald Dec. 17). The shooting occurred at 11:15 p.m. Thursday. The victim told police he had withdrawn cash from the credit union's ATM, returned to his car and was leaning forward to start the engine when a gunshot shattered the driver's side window of the car. Police said someone was trying to kill the man. He was not hit, but drove to the police department. The man said he saw a white Ford Explorer in the shadows of a neighboring business. When police arrived at the scene of the shooting, the Explorer was still sitting there, and three men jumped out and fled. Addison was caught as he fled, and Jenkins was arrested later. Police found a gun inside the vehicle, which had been reported stolen two days earlier.

CU System briefs (12/17/2010)

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* NAPERVILLE, Ill. (12/20/10)--Thirty representatives of the
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Decatur, Ill., chapter and credit unions are getting acquainted with newly elected members of the 97th Illinois General Assembly. They met Tuesday at a "meet and greet" luncheon with Illinois State Rep.-elect Adam Brown (R-101), who will be one of nearly 25 new members of the next assembly beginning Jan. 12. Also attending were incumbent state lawmakers, Sen,. Kyle McCarter (R-51) and Rep. Bill Mitchell (R-87). "This event was held because we were eager to reach out to our new lawmaker and provide him with an introduction to credit unions," said Karen Woods, chapter legislative forum representative. "This was the beginning of building a relationship with him so he is familiar with us when considering legislation related to financial services and specifically credit unions." Keith Sias, Illinois Credit Union League director of state governmental affairs noted that "the chapters are an important link in the league's on-going efforts to show the importance of credit unions in the financial marketplace." From left are McCarter; Mitchell; Woods; Sias; Larry Preston, vice president, Staley CU, Decatur; Brown; Dawn Strohl, chairman, Decatur Area Chapter, and Karen Brown, CEO, Staley CU. (Photo provided by the Illinois Credit Union League) … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (12/20/10)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) and three state-chartered credit union leaders had lunch Thursday with outgoing state Secretary of Banking Steve Kaplan to thank him for his support of credit unions during his term. They discussed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Credit Union Better Choice, Internet activities of payday lenders; regulatory restructuring process; and maintaining dual state and federal chartering options during the economic crisis. From left are PCUA President/CEO Jim McCormack; Lonny Maurer, CEO, Belco Community CU; Debbie Peters, CEO, Incol CU; Kaplan; and John King, chief operating officer, Freedom CU. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association) … * GREENSBORO, N.C. (12/20/10)--Congresswoman-elect Renee Ellmers (R N.C.) and staff member Steve Howell visited Coastal FCU's -Garner, N.C., branch Dec. 10 to learn more about credit unions and share her legislative priorities. Coastal CEO Larry Wilson and Chief Operating Officer Chuck Purvis shared information about Coastal and about the credit union difference. North Carolina Credit Union League's Dan Schline, senior vice president of association services, and Mickey Fanney, director of political affairs, spoke with Ellmers about key legislative issues facing credit unions as the 112th Congress prepares to convene. Ellmers' message centered on supporting small businesses and community-based financial institutions like credit unions through smaller government and less regulation. Ellmers, center, is shown with two branch staffers. (Photo provided by the North Carolina Credit Union League) … * TUMWATER, Wash. (12/20/10)--O Bee CU President/CEO Bruce Cramer will retire at the end of the month, after nearly 25 years at the credit union. He joined O Bee in 1986 after spending eight years as CEO of a Teamsters credit union in Portland, Ore. During his tenure O Bee grew to $130 million in assets from $20 million. James Collins, previously the credit union's chief financial officer will succeed Cramer. A profile about Cramer was featured in The Olympian (Dec. 17) …

Kimbell named Vermont BISHCA commissioner

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (12/20/10)--Vermont Governor-elect Peter Shumlin named Steve Kimbell as commissioner of Vermont’s Banking, Insurance, Securities and Healthcare Administration (BISHCA), said the Association of Vermont Credit Unions. BISHCA houses state-chartered credit unions’ regulatory agency. Recently retired, Kimbell has headed the state legislative practice of Montpelier firm Kimbell, Storrow, Buckley & Hughes, which is affiliated with Vermont's largest governmental and public relations firm, Kimbell Sherman Ellis, LLP (Newsline Express Dec. 17) Kimbell served as Gov. Madeleine Kunin’s planning director in the mid-1980s, formulating and implementing her legislative program. Prior to working for Kunin, he practiced law with Vermont Legal Aid. Kimbell will succeed current commissioner Michael Bertrand, who was appointed earlier this year by outgoing Gov. Jim Douglas.

Maine CUs sign up for Gen Y program

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PORTLAND, Maine (12/20/10)--Statewide cooperation and collaboration among Maine’s credit unions have made a difference in its Statewide Awareness Program during the past few years, and especially will do so in 2011 with a new targeted program reaching young adults, said the Maine Credit Union League. “With credit unions’ commitments through a voluntary funding campaign that supplements the Statewide Awareness funding, we have reached our goal to fund the licensing rights and spokesperson for Young & Free Maine,” said John Murphy, league president, in the league’s newsletter, Weekly Update (Dec. 17). “We are very thankful to Maine credit unions that have provided additional support to the expanded campaign,” he added. “There has never been this excitement for a statewide campaign, and it is a very positive marketing initiative for the New Year and, hopefully, a more positive financial services environment.” To date, nearly 75% of the state’s credit unions have responded with financial support of the national program slated to start next April and rollout at the Maine league’s 2011 Annual Meeting and Convention. The Young & Free program, developed by Currency Marketing, reaches people 25 and under by hiring a spokesperson in that age bracket to develop relationships between Gen Y and credit unions, the league said. At least two other credit union associations--Missouri and Mississippi--and other credit unions have signed on with similar Young and Free programs. The program’s spokesperson will create videos, blog, and tweet financial tips and advice directed at Gen Y, while promoting Maine’s credit unions. The spokesperson also will attend select Maine credit union events and post pictures and videos. The spokesperson will have expertise in social media and will provide Maine’s credit unions with an opportunity to learn and use online media. All data will be tracked and shared with credit unions, said the league. So far, 47 Maine credit unions have contributed to the campaign, the league said.

N.J. league fin. ed. coalition announce partnership

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HAMILTON, N.J. (12/20/10)--New Jersey credit unions have made a three-year sponsorship commitment, beginning in 2011, to support the New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education (NJCFE) to advance financial literacy and education throughout the state and the region.
Members of the New Jersey Credit Union Coalition for Financial Education are, from left: Beth Degnan, Affinity FCU; Eileen Crean, Members 1st of N.J. FCU; Tracy Sussmann, MidState FCU; Ann South, Novartis FCU; Paul Gentile, New Jersey Credit Union League; Maryanne Evanko, New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education; Shawn Gilfedder, McGraw Hill FCU; and Sam Ingram, McGraw Hill FCU. (Photo provided by New Jersey Credit Union League.)
“Financial literacy is one of the core missions of New Jersey credit unions,” said Paul Gentile, president/CEO of the New Jersey Credit Union League and treasurer for the New Jersey Credit Union Foundation (The Daily Exchange Dec. 17). “In these tough economic times, it’s never been more important to provide quality financial literacy programs. With the new state mandate for financial curriculum coming, we wanted to act now to do our part,” he added. “[The coalition] and the citizens of New Jersey are very fortunate to have the leadership and advocacy that comes from credit unions at the helm of our state’s financial sector,” said NJCFE President Maryanne Evanko.

CUNA offers Board Financial Literacy Certificate

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MADISON, Wis. (12/20/10)--In response to a recently issued National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) requirement regarding board financial literacy, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is helping credit unions prepare by offering a board financial literacy certificate. To offer flexibility in fulfilling the NCUA requirement, CUNA offers several options for obtaining the certificate. An entire board of directors may complete the certificate at once or it may be earned on an individual basis. To earn the CUNA Board Financial Literacy Certificate, directors must fulfill one of four options:
* Attend the CUNA CU Finance for Non-Financial Managers & Volunteers eSchool, May 4 through June 15; * Attend the CUNA CU Finance for Non-Financial Managers & Volunteers School, April 3-6, in Nashville, Tenn.; * Complete six self-study CUNA Volunteer Achievement Program courses; or * Book an in-house training session. A subject-matter expert will be available to travel to credit unions for a two-day presentation of a targeted financial literacy curriculum. For further information, contact, or call 800-356-9655, ext. 4261.
Upon completion, participants must pass appropriate assessment(s) to earn the certificate. Also, CUNA is preparing an audio conference for January that will give credit unions an overview of the new NCUA rule and suggested training options on how to meet rule’s requirements. The recent requirement issued by the NCUA imposes a new financial literacy rule. The mandatory level of financial literacy will depend upon each individual credit union’s complexity. This rule was issued as a result of an increasingly complex financial industry landscape. Also, credit union losses and an escalation of sophistication of credit union finances have created heightened concern over direct fiduciary responsibility. The NCUA would like to ensure that credit union directors have a sufficient working knowledge of their credit union’s financials going forward. The significant points of the rule require directors to have:
* At least a working familiarity with basic finance and accounting practices; * The ability to read and understand their credit union’s balance sheet and income statement; and * The knowledge to ask, as appropriate, substantive questions of management and internal and external auditors.
For more information about the certificate and the new requirement, use the link. For questions, contact 800-356-9655, ext. 4249 or

Fundraising events are serious fun

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MADISON, Wis. (12/20/10)--While cause marketing is serious business, the events that support it involve fun and creativity. There are many creative fundraising ideas from credit unions involved with CUs for Kids. For example, each year employees from Rivermark Community CU, Beaverton, Ore., partner with the Safeway Bread Plant in Clackamas to produce and package thousands of pounds of cookie dough for its Dough for Doernbecher drive. The credit union sells sugar-cookie dough for $5 a five-pound bag and chocolate-chip cookie dough for $7.50 per five-pound bag. All ingredients are donated, and all proceeds benefit Doernbecher Children's Hospital. In its 26th year, the event raised over $50,000 for the local children's hospital in 2009. Since 2006, iQ CU, Vancouver, Wash., and Fibre FCU, Longview, Wash., have sponsored a credit union charity mortorcycle ride to benefit Doernbecher Children’s Hospital The event began in 2006 and raised $16,000. This year, 130 riders took part, and they raised more than $32,000. “Our hope is that it continues to grow, and becomes a premiere event in the area,” said Brad Wood, information systems manager at iQ Credit Union. Cascade Community CU, Roseburg, Ore., is conducting its fifth annual Christmas tree auction to benefit Credit Unions for Kids. Each employee is provided with a tree ranging from 18 inches to 4 feet in height and $25 for decorations. Most employees choose a theme and solicit additional gifts from local businesses. As of Thursday, the event had garnered $4,600 in bids with one day left; and a dollar for dollar Co-Op Miracle Match grant from CO-OP Financial Services will potentially total nearly $10,000. For the past 10 years, Cascade Community CU also has hosted a one-day rummage sale to benefit Credit Unions for Kids. Members can reserve a space to sell their valuables for $25, or $35 for a covered space. As the credit union tells its prospective sellers: “We provide the space. We provide the advertising. You provide the treasures.” The credit union also sells hot dogs and Pepsi has donated beverages for the event. Last year the event raised about $1,200. Cascade Community CU also offers its an annual “We Will Rock You” raffle for a truck load of gravel. (Yes, gravel) The promotion began when a credit union employee suggested the idea because she knew someone who worked at a local gravel company. The raffle has been a big hit with members with homes needing the gravel for landscaping. Casey Buller, vice president of marketing at the credit union, said the event raises about $2,000 annually for Credit Unions for Kids. “It just goes to show that a raffle prize doesn’t have to be a car or expensive getaway,” said Buller. “People want something functional too, something they can use.” In the Midwest, deer hunting is as much a Fall tradition as Halloween and Thanksgiving. The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation uses that tradition to help others with its Credit Union for Kids Big Buck competition. The event is a team competition. The credit union team with the highest number of total antler points for the top five deer is the winner. The first place credit union/organization receives a traveling trophy and makes a $200 donation to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. (Editor’s note: This is part three of a series of articles News Now is featuring on credit unions and cause marketing.)

Operations Council white paper addresses CRM strategies

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MADISON, Wis. (12/20/10)--Data have become essential raw material for American business, almost on a par with capital and labor, according to “CRM Strategies,” a white paper sponsored by CUNA’s Operations, Sales and Service Council. It is hard to pinpoint precisely when the digital transformation took place, but it had its tipping point in Y2K when organizations rebuilt technology architectures and prepared for a meltdown that failed to materialize. The preparation for Y2K underscored the notion that financial institutions have more information on their customers than does any other industry. This data wealth is a tremendous advantage for those organizations that use and analyze information wisely. Those institutions--typically large credit unions and banks--that use data wisely often succeed in besting their competitors and will likely continue to do so in the near future, the paper said. “CRM Strategies” examines the elements credit union can consider in developing a customer relationship management (CRM) strategy. Credit unions that have achieved a high degree of competence in this process are profiled as well. CRM is a sales and service culture enabled by technology, according to the paper. The operative phrase is “enabled by technology.” CRM is not a technology solution but a cultural and a people transformation; it is in its true essence a state of mind--held by management and staff--that puts the member first in all interactions, the paper added. The benefit for tellers and other end users is when a member’s entire relationship with the organization is displayed on one screen or is one or two clicks away. However, most financial institutions do not use it efficiently. Marketing decisions are based on looking backwards to past behaviors and placing consumers into demographic groups or subgroups. Demographic data has its place and worth, but it doesn’t provide insight into the frequency of use by the member of their channel and product preferences, and it does not use these or other variables to ascribe value to its consumers. To the member, the CRM process is invisible and seamless but the effect can be profound. Members need only tell their story once, instead of in each new call. This is part of an evolution that the financial services industry is undergoing where a marriage of data, financial relationships and predictive analytics are making assumptions of potential buyers and their future behaviors, the paper concludes. For more information, use the link.