MADISON, Wis. (12/21/12)--The heavy snowstorm that came here Wednesday night and lingered, along with blizzard conditions, have closed the Madison, Wis., office of the Credit Union National Association for a second day today, although some staff are working remotely from their homes. The Washington, D.C., office is open.
ATLANTA (12/21/12)--Consumer credit originated year-to-date through September increased nearly 30%--to $675 billion, according to Equifax's National Consumer Credit Trends Report.That compares with $523 billion for the same period in 2010.
Credit originations today are below the 2006-2007 pre-recession levels of about $1 trillion by about one-third, said Equifax.
Balances on credit originated the past two years represent roughly 32% of outstanding balances, but are less than 6% of total delinquent balances. This reflects better underwriting and more responsible consumer payment behavior, said the Atlanta-based credit reporting bureau.
Write-offs dropped more than 53%--to $70.9 billion year-to-date through November-- after peaking at $151.8 billion for the same period in 2009.
"Consumer spending is being supported by gradually opening credit markets, with higher new limits on accounts, a graduate upward trend in non-mortgage consumer debt outstanding, and also consistently low utilization rates," said Equifax Chief Economist Amy Crews Cutts.
"Meanwhile, consumer finance delinquency rates, not including home loans, have returned to pre-recession levels--all signs that the consumer-led recovery is gaining strength heading into 2013," she said.
Equifax noted that auto loans originated through September totaled 16.4 million, a more than 11% increase from the period a year ago and the highest in five years. The total number of outstanding loans--58 million through November--is at its highest level in 37 months. Auto loan balances also continued rising, totaling $775.7 billion in November, a 45-month peak. Auto loan amounts originated through September totaled $318.2 billion, more than 33% more than the $210.2 billion during the same period in 2009.
Total retail credit card limits through November were at $345 billion, the most in 30 months. Originations year-to-date through September totaled $25.6 million, a four-year high. Credit limits for new card originations through September totaled $47.5 billion. That's more than 17% more than 3010's $39.4 billion.
Bank credit card limits opened year-to-date through September rose nearly 44% to $132.2 billion from $87.8 billion during the same period in 2010, said Equifax. New bank card accounts totaled 29 million, the highest for that period since 2008.Write-off rates for November rose 20% from a year earlier, said Equifax.
PLANO, Texas (12/21/12)--Analysts are predicting that Apple will sell 25 million to 30 million iPads and the smaller iPad minis this holiday season. Another 95 million units are projected to sell in 2013. That's good news for credit unions using Catalyst Corporate FCU's mobile banking service, because the corporate is rolling out its mobile banking app for iPad--just in time for Christmas.
"Mobile banking has been tremendously popular on smartphones," said Karen Coble, vice president of sales for Catalyst Corporate. "The larger screen on the iPad makes conducting financial business on a mobile device even easier."
Catalyst Corporate's mobile banking app is quick-to-market, Coble said, allowing new and existing iPad users to connect to a credit union's mobile solutions in weeks instead of months from now.
The downloadable iPad app offers all the same features as Catalyst Corporate's smartphone app, Coble said. Users can: check account balances, view transaction history, make internal transfers, pay bills, locate ATMs/branches, share social media content and--with Catalyst Corporate's Mobile Capture-- make deposits.
Catalyst Corporate's app integrates directly with a credit union's core system to provide real-time data. It is customizable, can readily incorporate unique branding, and provides capabilities for in-app marketing, messaging and member satisfaction surveys. The iPad app is supported by strong visuals, consistent with the iPad's design, and offers increased finger scrolling and drag-and-drop account panes for smooth navigation, according to Robb Gaynor, chief product officer at Malauzai Software Inc., Catalyst Corporate's mobile banking app-development partner.
"We expect about 50% of our current production customers to opt for the iPad app," said Gaynor. "For credit unions that already have existing iPhone apps, the iPad app can be implemented in about 60 days" and requires minimal additional design and branding input.
Mobile banking enrollment will only continue to grow with the introduction of the new iPad app, Gaynor said. The app will appeal not only to consumers who access the Internet exclusively through their iPad, but also to individuals already using the app on their iPhone and who want to add it to a second device.
Malauzai, which tracks average logins, session duration, feature utilization and enrollment levels of mobile banking users to arrive at a monthly "mobile engagement index," notes differences in usage between smartphone and tablet users.
"According to our research, iPad users are showing greater engagement than their iPhone counterparts when they access mobile banking. Their sessions are longer and they are doing more while in those sessions," Gaynor said.
Catalyst Corporate launched its mobile banking app for Apple iOS and Android smartphones in January 2012.
BOSTON (12/21/12)--One in five credit unions and banks are "Twitter quitters," just going through the motions on tweeting and not really creating a relationship with their member/customers, says a recent report that analyzes consumers and how they follow their bank or credit union on Twitter.
Boston-based Aite Group said its research indicates that many financial institutions are just going through the motions on their Twitter accounts. They tweet about things that are irrelevant to their followers, or they simply repeat what they send through their other channels of communication.
The report is based on a second quarter 2012 survey of 1,115 U.S. consumers. It analyzes the tweeting approaches of banks with large follower bases and evaluates the demographics, behaviors and attitudes of consumers who follow their primary financial institution on Twitter.
It found that 50% of consumers surveyed use Twitter but don't follow their primary financial institution. Only 9% communicate with their credit union or bank using Twitter. Forty-one percent still don't use Twitter.
Aite said it believes that the ineffectiveness of Twitter as a bank marketing channel is caused by banks' lack of understanding regarding who follows their tweets.
"With so few customers following their primary financial institution on Twitter, banks and credit unions are deceiving themselves if they think their tweeting activity is meaningfully impacting the quality of their member/customer relationships," said Ron Shevlin, Aite senior analyst and author of the report.
"Institutions that want to reach a larger percentage of customers and have a measurable impact on their consumer relationships must focus their Twitter strategies on the management of their customers' financial lives in areas like shopping deals and personal financial information," Shevlin said, in Aite's press release.
The 9% who follow their credit union or bank on Twitter are "financial management junkies" and not the typical customers, he told American Banker. Of this group, 65% seek recommendations about which financial products are best. That compares with 15% of non-Twitter followers. Roughly 27% want their institution's assistance with money management, while another 35% said they should consider using their bank or credit union to help them manage finances.
The report noted that banks and credit unions averaged 2,000 followers and tweeted roughly four times a day. Twenty-one percent abandoned their Twitter accounts.
It recommended tailoring content of tweets to the audience, focusing on personal financial management tips, developing a schedule for tweets, boosting the number of tweets a day, and integrating tweets with other personal finance management channels such as mobile banking.
The report, "What Bank Marketers Should DoWith Twitter," presents statistics and strategies of several large banks on their use of Twitter as a marketing tool.
MADISON, Wis. (12/21/12)--Since the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) announced three weeks ago that copies of the book "Money Rules: The Simple Path to Lifelong Security" are available, more than 35,000 copies have been distributed to credit union members and employees through NCUF's special initiative.
"Money Rules," by bestselling personal finance author Jean Chatzky, contains rules that if followed allow readers to enjoy a lifetime of financial security and to eliminate their stress about money.
Through NCUF's special initiative, credit union organizations can receive the book for a substantially reduced rate (via a donation to NCUF). Large quantities of the book have been requested by both credit unions and state credit union associations such as SchoolsFirst FCU in Santa Ana, Calif., and the Montana Credit Union Network.
When an organization requests 1,000 or more copies of the book, the donor organization's name will be included on a sticker on the front cover. Each book already comes with "Compliments of: NCUF" printed on the cover. All of the books from NCUF are sent to credit union organizations on a non-returnable basis, for promotional purposes only and not for resale.
An award-winning journalist and best-selling author, Jean Chatzky is the financial editor for NBC's Today, the host of Money Matters with Jean Chatzky on RLTV, and director of education for SavvyMoney. She will be a keynote speaker at the Credit Union National Association's upcoming 2013 Governmental Affairs Conference.
For the full press release, which has information on how to get copies, how to preview the book, and information about Chatzky, use the link.
MADAWSKA, Maine (12/21/12)--
The 2014 World Acadian Congress Commemorative (WAC2014) License Plate, to be distributed by Maine's credit unions, was unveiled Wednesday. Officials at the unveiling include, from left: Emlien Nadeau, WAC2014 president; Jason Parent, WAC2014 Maine international president; David Rossignol, Maine Credit Union League board chairman; John Martin, former state representative and bill sponsor; State Rep. Ken Theriault, bill co-sponsor; and Sen. Troy Jackson, bill co-sponsor. (Photo provided by the Maine Credit Union League)
Officials from Maine credit unions, the state of Maine, and the World Acadian Congress 2014 Wednesday unveiled the design of a new commemorative license plate to mark the 2014 World Acadian Congress/Congres Mondial Acadien (CMA). Maine credit unions are the official distribution source for the plates.
The event took place at NorState FCU in Madawaska. The plates will benefit the congress, which is jointly held in Aroostock County, part of New Brunswick and part of Quebec, and the Maine Credit Unions' Campaign for Ending Hunger.
This is the first time since the U.S. celebrated its Bicentennial in 1976 that the state has issued a commemorative license plate to mark a significant event, said the Maine Credit Union League.
"The fact this is the first such license plate that our state issues in nearly four decades speaks volumes about our recognition as the outstanding contributions of the Acadian people here in the St. John Valley and of Franco-Americans throughout our great state," said Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers.
The congress, held every five years, draws more than 50,000 visitors from 44 countries and has an economic impact that exceeds $50 million, said the league.
Maine efforts to prepare for the event were boosted at the license plate unveiling ceremony. David Rossignol, board chair of the league and president/CEO of Norstate FCU, announced the plates would go on sale beginning yesterday at all participating Maine credit unions.
Rossignol also announced that the first partnership of its kind between Maine credit unions and an event with statewide impact would also help residents in need. For every plate sold at any participating credit union, $1 of the proceeds will support the credit unions' ending-hunger campaign.
"Many Maine credit unions had their beginnings in communities across Maine that have a strong connection to the French Acadian and Franco-American heritage and culture," said John Murphy, league president, calling it a "natural partnership."
The plate is different from other commemorative plates; it does not have any numbers or letters on its face and cannot replace legal license plates. The plate was initiated by State Rep. John Martin of Eagle Lake, the lead sponsor of the bill, which was co-sponsored by then-Senate President Kevin Raye of Washington County; Sen. Troy Jackson, Aroostook County; Rep. Bernard Ayotte, Caswell; and Rep. Ken Theriault, Madawaska.
State legislation allows the plate to be placed over the existing legal plate on the front of a vehicle. The commemorative plate expires in December 2015.
- ONTARIO, Calif. (12/21/12)--The Richard Myles Johnson Foundation (RMJ), the state foundation for credit unions in California and Nevada, announced the names of its new board members starting with Jim Updike, president/CEO Honda FCU in Torrance, Calif., as its new board chairman. Shelly Berryman, vice president of membership development and advocacy at SchoolsFirst FCU in Santa Ana, and Todd Lane, chief financial officer at California Coast CU Union in San Diego, were named vice chairman and secretary/treasurer, respectively. The Richard Myles Johnson Foundation was established in 1958 as the California Filene Foundation and it supports the financial education efforts of credit unions in California and Nevada, with a special focus on youth financial education. Also new to the RMJ board are Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, president/CEO of Travis CU in Vacaville, Calif., and Jon Hernandez, president/CEO of CalCom FCU, of Torrance, Mattel FCU, of El Segundo, and City of Downey FCU. Immediate past-Chairman Carl Stewart, president/CEO of Water and Power Community CU in Los Angeles, served on the board for 10 years and as chairman since 2008 before reaching term limits this year. Also exiting because of term limits after serving for 10 years is Mike Gomez, president/CEO of Fiscal CU of Glendale …
- BISMARCK, N.D. (12/21/12)--After pleading guilty in federal court to embezzlement and misapplication from a credit union, long-time credit union employee Georgia Schwartz of Glen Ullin, N.D., was ordered to pay back more than $130,000 to Western Cooperative CU, formerly known as Glen Ullin CU (Associated Press Dec. 19). Prosecutors claimed that the theft occurred over 22 years and was concealed by Schwartz, who allegedly maintained two sets of records. In addition to restitution, the federal judge ordered Schwartz, 59, to serve three years of supervised release, with one day in custody credited toward the total. The former credit union employee also was ordered to forfeit two homes she owned …
MADISON, Wis. (12/21/12)--As the year-end approaches, credit unions continue to offer assistance to those affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Since Hurricane Sandy hit East Coast Oct. 29, Polish & Slavic FCU (PSFCU), Brooklyn, N.Y., has turned much of its efforts toward assisting those hardest hit, while also scrambling to repair its first branch on Staten Island, which was scheduled to open a week after the storm. Tens of thousands of PSFCU's members reside and work in or near the most heavily damaged areas affected by Hurricane Sandy,
Most of PSFCU's New York area branches were out of service for as long as five days as a result of power outages following the hurricane. The grand opening celebration of the credit union's new Staten Island branch was scheduled for Nov. 5, but was postponed due to damages from the hurricane. The credit union was able to repair the facility quickly, and it officially opened Dec. 15.
Immediately after the hurricane hit, PSFCU began collecting and dispensing necessary clothing and other items for hurricane victims.
The credit union distributed batteries, warm clothing, blankets and other necessities to the victims of Hurricane Sandy through local church parishes and community organizations. The PSFCU website also provided information in both English and Polish on how to file the proper applications for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance.
During the power outages that paralyzed many communities in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, PSFCU set up charging stations at all open branches, and created a dedicated room inside its Clifton (N.J.) branch for children who were without power to do their homework. The credit union's mobile branch also moved from location to location where branches were inoperable so members could access their accounts.
"The destruction wrought by this storm was incomprehensible to all who witnessed it; and so many of our members were hit hardest," said Marzena Wierzbowska , PSFCU board chair. "But this is what a community-based credit union does: it reaches deep into the neighborhoods and families in which it serves, and does everything in its power to lift those who need help the most. We're proud of what we're able to do for our members, but there's still much work to be done."
Bethpage (N.Y.) FCU helped raised $104,000 to date for the United Way of Long Island through the Bethpage Disaster Relief Fund, formed in November to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy.
The money raised includes Bethpage FCU member donations and donations from local businesses, which were matched by the credit union.
Bethpage FCU also made a $25,000 donation to the American Red Cross and made available special emergency loans and lines of credit to help new and existing Bethpage members rebuild and repair. Loans available include storm emergency home equity loans, cash advance loans, auto loans and special home equity loans for properties in a current federally declared disaster area.
Also, FEMA has extended for an extra month the deadline to register for Sandy-related disaster assistance, according to the New Jersey Credit Union League (The Daily Exchange Dec. 19). The traditional, 60-day window was extended due to the extent of damage, the agency said. Survivors have until Jan. 30 to register for assistance.
FEMA disaster assistance can cover rental assistance, essential home repairs, property loss and other serious needs not covered by insurance, the agency noted.
CUNA closed Monday and Tuesday, no News Now
WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (12/21/12)--The Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wis., offices of the Credit Union National Association will be closed Monday and Tuesday in observance of the holidays.
News Now will not publish regular editions on those dates, but will resume regular publication on Wednesday.
CUNA's Madison office, like many credit unions in the Midwest, will be closed today. It also closed Thursday because of heavy snow and blizzard conditions, but some staff worked remotely from home. The area got about 18 inches of snow Thursday. CUNA Mutual Group and the Wisconsin Credit Union House also closed.