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Texas leagues Adopt-A-Family program deadline Friday

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (12/3/08)--The Texas Credit Union League's Adopt-A-Family program has a waiting list of donors eager to help spread holiday cheer to Southeast Texas credit union employees affected by Hurricane Ike and who are still displaced from their homes. Friday is the deadline for completing an online application for assistance through the league's "Adopt-A-Family" program. The program launched two months ago, with the league appealing to those experiencing personal hardship from the hurricane. To date, more than 10 employees have been added to an "angel" tree and all have been adopted. The Texas Credit Union Foundation has awarded more than 900 emergency grants to credit union employees in the affected area, but it says other families likely could benefit from the "Adopt-A-Family" program. To be eligible, one must be a credit union employee, have at least one child and have suffered tremendous personal loss, said the league's LoneStar Leaguer (Dec. 2). To protect adoptees' privacy, adopters will receive only first names of the employee and children, the children's ages, the family's wish list, and the name and address of the place of employment.

Date set for Texas Sunset Commission hearing

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (12/3/08)--During its next hearing Dec. 15-16, the Texas Sunset Commission will make its final consideration of staff's recommendation to continue the Texas Credit Union Department (TCUD). The department is listed on the schedule for Dec. 16, said the Texas Credit Union League (Life is a Highway Dec. 2). During a preliminary hearing on Sept. 23, the commission staff recommended that TCUD continue operating for 12 years. A bill to continue TCUD must pass the legislature before the department can continue supervising credit unions. Two other issues recommended by the commission staff are of concern to the league. They are: allowing the commissioner to impose fines on credit unions and removing the option of the TCUD to continue consolidated filings of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from 990 form the statute. The league is working with the commission on credit union concerns regarding these recommendations.

SECU offers housing assistance through agency

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RALEIGH, N.C. (12/3/08)--State Employees' CU (SECU) members, through the SECU Foundation, are teaming up with the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) to provide 0% construction financing for supportive housing through local non-profits. NCHFA provides permanent financing to help non-profits build housing for persons with disabilities and special needs. SECU Foundation's loans will generate savings averaging about $50,000 per project. Permanent financing previously committed to the project will repay each construction loan. This allows the funds to be recycled and available for future housing projects, said SECU Foundation. The initial housing facilities will be located in eight counties and will represent housing for a variety of disabled and homeless individuals and families in North Carolina, including initiatives to address domestic violence and substance abuse. "The SECU Foundation's partnership with NCHFA will allow SECU members to assist many North Carolinians who are desperately in need of housing. 'People Helping People' is the philosophy our foundation was founded upon and these join housing projects embody the spirit of this philosophy, said foundation Board Chairman David King. "Individually it can be difficult to make a difference, but collectively, SECU members can accomplish great things in our state." According to NCHFA Chairman Lucius S. Jones, the partnership is the first of its kind. SECU Foundation's investment "makes it much easier for local organizations to produce housing for people with disabilities and special needs. People around the state will benefit from their initiative," Jones said.

Washington CUs create jobs expand access in 3Q

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (12/3/08)--As Wall Street collapsed and Washington banks received access to more than $700 billion from the government, the state's credit unions remained bailout free, created jobs and expanded access to affordable financial services during third quarter 2008. For the three months ending in September, the state’s credit unions added 469 new jobs, increasing total credit union employment over June by 6.2% to 7,593 full- and part-time employees. During the same period, they also added 17 new branches, expanding access to affordable financial services for the state’s 6.5 million consumers. “Washington’s credit unions were formed during tough times to withstand, and even thrive during tough times,” says Washington Credit Union League President/CEO John Annaloro. “To experience this growth in the face of a massive economic pullback reaffirms the strength of the credit union movement.” Year over year, from September 2007 to September 2008, the state’s growing rank of 2.5 million members increased savings in their share accounts by more than $2 billion (9.5%). Total deposits in Washington-based credit unions now stand at more than $23 billion. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) estimates that Washington credit unions provide nearly $321 million annually in direct financial benefits to members--equivalent to $130 per member or $248 per member household. “In addition, every Washingtonian benefits indirectly from the competition provided to banks from credit unions,” says Annaloro. “And, credit unions have never received a single dollar of public bailout money to provide this competition. We do it gladly and can say with pride that America’s credit unions have been bailout free for all of the 100 years they’ve been in existence,” he added. The same is not true for America’s banks, the league said. The estimated price tag for the subprime banking crisis of 2007-08 is $1.8 trillion, which includes last week’s announcement of an additional $800 billion government bailout plan. The current crisis is eclipsed as a single expenditure only by the $3.2 trillion (adjusted for inflation) Americans spent on World War II, said the league. “It’s a pretty simple equation,” says Annaloro. “Banks take money out of the taxpayer’s pocket; credit unions put money into the taxpayer’s pocket.” And it appears as though that trend will continue. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in its most recent quarterly report said there are currently 171 problem banks. This is the highest number since 1995 and represents $115.6 billion in assets, the league said.

CU loans and savings both up in October

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MADISON, Wis. (12/3/08)--The U.S. entered a recession in December 2007 that continues to this day, the National Bureau of Economic Research reported Monday. So far this year, credit union members have responded to the recession as expected by increasing their savings balances, said Steve Rick, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) senior economist.
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October’s statistics show that with payday falling on the last day of the month, credit union savings balances increased 1.5% to $695 billion from $685 billion in September, according to the CUNA monthly sample of credit unions. Share balances increased 6.6% during the first 10 months of 2008. Share drafts increased 7.2% while one-year certificates grew 1.5%, and individual retirement accounts rose 1.2%. Regular share and money market accounts declined 0.3% and 0.03%, respectively. “During the first 10 months of 2008, credit union savings balances rose 6.6%, faster than the 3.7% reported for the similar period in 2007,” Rick said. “Regular share balances rose 5% so far this year, up from a 5.2% drop for the similar period in 2007. Recessionary fears are encouraging members to increase their ‘precautionary’ regular share balances,” he told News Now. Money market account balances rose 13.5% for the period, up from 8.9% for the similar period last year, he added. “Low market interest rates are encouraging members to increase their ‘speculative' money market account balances,” Rick said. “Members are placing their investment funds in liquid money market accounts rather than illiquid low-rate share certificates. “Members are speculating that market interest rates are nearing their bottom and will move investment funds back to certificates of deposit once interest rates head back up,” Rick said. “With this recession expected to last for another six to 12 months, credit unions should expect both regular share and money market account growth to increase in 2009, while share certificate balances to actually decline.”
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Credit union loans outstanding increased 0.5% in October from September, and 6.6% over the first 10 months of 2008, compared with increases of 0.7% and 5.6% during the same period last year. Home equity loans led loan growth with a 1.4% increase, followed by a 1.1% rise in adjustable-rate mortgages, a 0.6% increase in used-auto loans, and a 0.4% increase in fixed-rate first mortgages. Unsecured personal loans declined 1.2%, followed by a 0.3% decline in new-auto loans, and 0.2% decline in credit card loans. Fixed-rate first mortgages and adjustable-rate mortgages had the highest year-to-date increases, rising 15.4% and 11.8%, respectively. With savings growth outpacing loan growth, the loan-to-savings ratio decreased to 83.4% in October from 84.3% in September. The liquidity ratio--the ratio of surplus funds maturing in less than one year to borrowings plus other liabilities--grew to 15.7% in October from 14.7% in September. Credit unions’ 60-plus-day delinquencies remained constant at 1.1%. The movement’s overall capital-to-asset ratio remains at 11%, with the total dollar amount capital at $90 billion, according to CUNA’s sample.

WOCCU issues call for 2009 WYCUP nominations

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MADISON, Wis. (12/3/08)--World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) has issued a call for nominations for the WOCCU Young Credit Union People (WYCUP) Scholarship Program. The deadline for nominations is June 15. WOCCU is committed to ensuring the future sustainability of the international credit union system by recognizing and promoting its next generation of leaders, WOCCU said. The WYCUP Scholarship Program seeks individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of their credit unions, regional or national credit union systems, and who have demonstrated the potential to employ their talents at the international level.
Click to view larger image World Council of Credit Unions Chairman Melvin Edwards, left, and President/CEO Pete Crear, third from left, congratulate 2008 WYCUP winners, from left: Joe Agro, Anna Corona, Rafal Sokolowski, Nicholas May and Rachel Milan at the 2008 World Credit Union Conference in Hong Kong. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
WOCCU encouraged credit unions and credit union organizations that are WOCCU members to nominate their next generation of credit union leaders to compete for the WYCUP Scholarship. “My experience at the WOCCU Conference in Hong Kong was inspiring,“ said 2008 WYCUP Award winner Anna Corona from AEA FCU, Yuma, Ariz. “It was amazing to be around other young professionals who share the same passion for credit unions and strongly believe in the credit union philosophy of People Helping People.“ To be eligible for the scholarship, nominees must:
* Be sponsored by their credit union or credit union organization to attend WOCCU's 2009 World Credit Union Conference in Barcelona in July; * Be 35 years of age or younger on Jan. 1, 2009; and * Submit a completed nomination form with all supporting materials to WOCCU by June 15, 2009.
The WOCCU Scholarship, which consists of an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2010 World Credit Union Conference, will be awarded to five recipients at 2009 Barcelona conference. All WYCUP nominees, regardless of award status, will be formally recognized in Barcelona and invited to take part in events organized specifically for participants under age 35, including a networking session. Conference registrants age 35 and under also qualify for a discounted registration fee regardless of whether they compete for the scholarship. For more information on the WYCUP Scholarship program and to download a nomination form, use the resource link. For more information on the WYCUP program, contact Liliana Tangwall, credit union analyst, at ltangwall@woccu.org or 608-395-2043.

Auto dealers petition court on CU deal with regulator

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MADISON, Wis. (12/3/08)--The Wisconsin Automobile and Truck Dealers Association has filed a court petition to overturn an agreement a credit union had with the state regulator that allowed 18 months for the credit union to divest its auto sales business. The petition was filed Nov. 12 in Dane County Circuit Court and names as defendants the Wisconsin Office of Credit Unions (OCU); the state Credit Union Review Board; Racine, Wis.-based Educators CU (ECU); and ECU Financial Services (The Journal Times Dec. 2). The credit union owns Educators Auto & Lease, which is a division of ECU Financial Services. It provides used-car sales, new- and used-car leases, and new-car referral services (News Now Nov. 4). At issue is the OCU's decision to settle a dispute brought by the association against Educators CU's auto dealership by offering the 18-month grace period to divest the business. The newest petition asks for a court judgment that the agency did not have the authority to offer ECU the deal. Wisconsin Department of Justice spokesman Bill Cosh told the newspaper that the attorney general's office will defend the other agency in court. The situation was sparked by a complaint from an unknown local auto dealer about Educators CU's auto sales. The dealers association filed a complaint saying the credit union charter does not allow credit unions to offer auto sales service (News Now Nov. 4). OCU initially ruled that the state's credit union law allows credit unions to own only auto leasing services,--not retail car sales. The credit union appealed that ruling. Educators CU told News Now in November, when the deal to divest was made, that it had 18 months to have the law clarified or to divest the business to a third-party. A credit union spokesman told the local newspaper last week that the credit union will pursue both getting the law changes and divestiture. The court case centers on the question: if auto dealers can offer financing along with a vehicle, can a financial institutions sell cars along with the financing? The $900 million asset credit union's prices for cars averaged $3,000 to $5,000 below sticker price, said the article.

CUs in Florida Wisconsin halt foreclosure for holidays

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla., and MADISON, Wis. (12/3/08)--Florida credit unions and a credit union in Wisconsin are suspending foreclosures over the holiday season in attempts to give people time to find a way to stay in their homes. Florida credit unions and bankers said Monday they will suspend foreclosures for the next 45 days (The Miami Herald Dec. 1). Florida Gov. Charlie Crist announced the halt in foreclosures at a press conference with the Florida Credit Union League and Florida Bankers Association. He could not say how many consumers this move would help. Following the lead of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which announced Thursday they will suspend foreclosures until Jan. 9, Black Hawk Community CU, a $303 million asset, Janesville, Wis.-based credit union, announced it would have a moratorium on foreclosures over the holidays--for the next six weeks (15 WMTV Nov. 25). The rationale for the moratorium is that new programs geared to helping people stay in their homes could be announced in the next couple weeks, Lyle Wermund, spokesman for Black Hawk, told the TV station. The programs might lower interest rates, extend terms and even forgive debt, Wermund added.

First Techs U-Turn Challenge prize is 10000

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (12/3/08)--First Tech CU is running a promotion in which households seeking to make a “U-turn” in their financial lives can participate in the First Tech U-Turn Challenge and compete for a $10,000 grand prize. The prize goes to the household that achieves the most financial success in four pre-determined categories: debt reduction, savings increase, overall net-worth increase, and overall level of participation. The First Tech-selected households will participate in the challenge through 2009, documenting their financial successes and challenges on their blogs posted on the challenge website. Participating households will be assigned a team of First Tech financial experts, who will help them get on track to achieve a better financial life and potentially win the competition. The First Tech team will focus on every aspect of a household’s financial situation, including budgeting, managing credit, home buying, paying for college, planning for retirement, insuring for the future and more. First Tech is a $1.849 billion asset, Beaverton, Ore.-based credit union.

Morrow Ingram named presidentCEO of Oklahoma league

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TULSA, Okla. (12/3/08)--The Oklahoma Credit Union League Board of Directors has named Debra J. "D.J." Morrow Ingram as president/CEO. Morrow Ingram has served as the interim president/CEO since June 2007. "D.J. performed well as the interim president/CEO these past 18 months under some very difficult circumstances," said Michael D. Kloiber, board chair. "The continuation of this leadership was deemed an important reason for the board's decision. "We are now positioned to complete the move to our new office in the Oklahoma Credit Union House in Oklahoma City and the partnership agreement with the Texas Credit Union League." Under D.J.'s leadership, we look forward to a very successful transition," Kloiber added. Calling it a privilege to work with the Oklahoma credit union movement, Morrow Ingram said, "I look forward to the many opportunities ahead for the Oklahoma Credit Union League and its members, and am committed to promoting continued growth and development of Oklahoma credit unions through innovative products and services, education and advocacy." Morrow Ingram joined the league in February 2006 to oversee the league's advocacy efforts. She had previously worked for the league as government relations director in the late '90s. An attorney, she has 28 years experience in media and public relations, marketing, corporate communications, government and community relations, and association management. Her prior employment includes positions with the Tulsa Area United Way, Sunoco Inc., Oklahoma Bankers Association and Security Bank and Trust in Ponca City. She is a former assistant attorney general for the state of Kansas.

CUNA Board members safety editorial in IKansas City StarI

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KANSAS CITY (12/3/08)--Credit unions are a safe course to take in the troubled waters that constitute today’s world of finance, a Credit Union National Association Board member wrote in an editorial published Tuesday in The Kansas City Star. “When faced with choices, close to home is usually a safe course,” wrote Dennis Pierce, CEO of the $1.689 billion asset, Lenexa, Kan.-based CommunityAmerica CU. “In the financial services industry, credit unions are about as close as you can get to home. “Credit unions were formed by people with common interests, who pooled funds to help each other,” Pierce added. “Friends and neighbors banded together for mutual financial benefit. And credit union membership is much more open than in the early part of the 20th century, meaning Kansas Citians have more options than they may know in the way of credit unions. “It’s worth noting that the credit union principle has worked for nearly a century, and it’s even more relevant today, especially amid one of the biggest financial crises in U.S. history,” he continued. “It’s a long way from Wall Street to Main Street. When seeking safety, keeping your money close to home, in the company of the money of your friends and neighbors, is a good choice in these times,” Pierce concluded.

CU System briefs (12/02/2008)

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* FAIRBORN, Ohio (12/3/08)--Wright-Patt CU is paying out a special patronage dividend totaling more than $3 million to its membership, its board announced Monday. The dividend will be paid on Jan. 15 and will be distributed to more than 160,000 members. "In a year when earnings are stronger than needed to pay for operations and maintain healthy reserves, the board of directors feels that money should be paid back to the members," said Doug Fecher, president/CEO. The dividends will range from at least $5 to several hundred dollars … * MERIDEN, Conn. (12/3/08)--Members CU and the Stamford, Conn., chapter of credit unions provided a dose of reality to about 90 students at Greenwich High School Nov. 19 with their "Making Ends Meet," a REAL Solutions Financial Reality Fair. The one-day financial decision-making simulation teaches basic personal finance management skills such as having a job, meeting living expenses, and trying for luxury items. Members CU CEO Kathy Chartier asked the students if they knew the difference between a bank and a credit union. After a moment's hesitation, one student responded, "Well, it's more for the people. You know, like 'power to the people!'" Here, financial counseling station advisers review students' life station choices and expenses, and offer possible reconsiderations. (Photo provided by the Credit Union League of Connecticut) … * MADISON, Wis. (12/3/08)--Chuck Hamilton has joined CUNA Mutual Group as senior vice president of business finance, announced the company Tuesday. Hamilton will provide leadership to the company's business finance teams, which include product, sales, customer operations and asset management. He has served in several strategic business finance and oversight roles in insurance and financial services companies for most of his 29-year career, including several years as chief financial officer for North American operations for Willis, an insurance broker …