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NWCUA Joining a CU a good start for New Year

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. and BEAVERTON, Ore. (12/30/11)--Thousands of consumers got an early start to a financial healthy 2012 by joining credit unions in the weeks leading up to Bank Transfer Day (BTD) Nov. 5.

BTD activities likely garnered 450,000 net new members (new members minus attrition--those who move or closed accounts) in September and October, according to estimates from the Credit Union National Association (News Now Dec. 13).

While joining a credit union is a good start, credit unions can advise their members about four additional ways to become more fiscally fit in 2012: managing their credit cards effectively, shopping for cars and better interest rates, taking advantage of historically low mortgage rates and being realistic when selling a home, according to the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA).

Manage credit cards effectively. Everyone uses plastic. The key to effective credit card management is to create a monthly budget and stick to it. Members with cards high rates from other financial institutions may consider switching to a credit union that offers a card with a lower rate.

The influx of deposits at credit unions will prompt some to offer beginning-of-the-year balance-transfer promotions that allow members to reduce their interest rate, potentially saving the consumer hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest payments.

Shop sales for the best auto rates and promos. Many consumers have been putting off swapping out their old cars for a newer model. The new year will be a great time to take advantage of better than reasonable auto financing at credit unions, said NWCUA. For the same reason many will offer great credit card balance transfer promotions, credit unions will roll out a number of new- and used-auto financing promotions.

Loan pre-approval can be an advantage for members who enjoy shopping for cars on their own. Credit unions can encourage their members to pre-qualify for loans before they begin car shopping to avoid unnecessary hassles.

Members with cars financed through other financial institutions might consider transferring remaining loan balances to lower rate loans with a credit union. According to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), as five-year new-car loans at banks were carrying an average interest rate of 5.1% in September, credit unions were quoting 3.73%.

Take advantage of historically low mortgage rates. Members who are homeowners and have not refinanced in the past two years may be able to save money by refinancing with a credit union.

Credit unions should offer two tips to homeowners who are considering refinancing:

  1. Refinance only to the amount of current indebtedness; and
  2. Consider reducing the loan term to 20 or 15 years for a more attractive rate.
Be realistic when selling a home. Home prices are dropping, which makes it easy to cling to a price from a previous appraisal. No one wants to admit they are losing money, but sellers will come out ahead if they price their homes to current market conditions, rather than continuing to pay expenses as their homes wither on the market for months, or even years.

Even if they do find a willing buyer sellers should be made aware that, the home must appraise at the sale price or the sale will fail. Reality should be the seller's guide.

Credit unions can stress there are always benefits to being a credit union member and help their members learn what benefits they are eligible for and how to take advantage of them.

CO-OP Wisconsin providers partner on network payment processing

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (12/30/11)--CO-OP Financial Services, W.C.U.L. Services Corp. and Wisconsin Credit Union Shared Service Centers Inc. (WCUSSC) have created a partnership to market CO-OP Network and Payment Processing services.

W.C.U.L. of Pewaukee, Wis., and WCUSSC of Greenfield, Wis., will market CO-OP products to more than 210 Wisconsin-based credit unions, with more than 2.2 million members.

WCUSSC already offers CO-OP Shared Branching, CO-OP Member Center and CO-OP E-Commerce Solutions. With the new agreement, W.C.U.L. and WCUSSC will also promote CO-OP Network and CO-OP Payment Processing services.

Member of participating credit unions can access 28,000 surcharge-free CO-OP Networks ATMs nationwide, 9,000 of which take deposits

Collections in post-recession topic of CUNA Council paper

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MADISON, Wis. (12/30/11)--The economic fallout from the Great Recession continues to impact credit union member households and add urgency to the work of credit union collections departments, according to a new CUNA Lending Council white paper.

"Collections in a Post-Recession Environment" is based on information gathered from lending and collections leaders at six credit unions as well as two experts from companies that provide outsourced collections services for financial institutions.

The white paper explores how credit unions can update procedures, use technology, engage members early in the collections process, design loan modifications and take other steps to refine collections.

Credit unions also report that a segment of members who have delinquent loans in the post-recession environment are from formerly affluent households and may still have relatively high credit scores. These households were able to use their assets to cope with financial demands as they adjusted to being unemployed or underemployed. But as assets are exhausted and members are unable to find jobs, they fall behind on payments, their loans enter collection and they may file for bankruptcy.

SchoolsFirst FCU, an $8.3 billion asset credit union in Santa Ana, Calif., takes advantage of technology and call center tools to increase productivity, the paper said. An automated dialer boosts the number of outbound calls made by collections specialists, while phone system metrics measure their productivity. Workflow management software guides staffing to ensure employees are available to handle members' inbound calls. Collections' ability to meet member needs is measured through member satisfaction surveys.

The challenging post-recession environment offers an opportunity for collections to prove its worth to the credit union, according to Jessica Anderson, collections manager at $400 million 121 Financial CU Jacksonville, Fla.

"Collections has always been on the back burner," Anderson added. "We know it makes a difference, but we've never seen the true impact of collections' successes or losses until we've reached these economic times."

LendingTools ViewPointe to offer corporate CU settlement

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WICHITA, Kan., and NEW YORK (12/30/11)--LendingTools and Viewpointe have signed an agreement to jointly provide a new settlement option for the corporate credit union industry.

The partnership will help fill the void created by last week's announcement that the National Credit Union Administration had not found a buyer for major portions of U.S. Central and will be shutting down the failed corporate.

The service will integrate the net settlement of wholesale payment service originators with corporate credit unions and their member natural person credit unions.

Lending Tools' payments technology and Viewpointe's aggregate net settlement will provide corporate credit unions and their service providers an alternative to legacy direct settlement options, the companies said.

They expect the new settlement option will be ready for testing in the first quarter of 2012.

CUNA closed Monday no INews NowI (12/29/2011)

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (12/30/11)--The Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wis., offices of the Credit Union National Association will be closed Monday in observance of the New Year's holiday.

News Now will not publish an issue Monday but will resume regular publication on Tuesday.

Ohio CUs among strongest in nation says 3Q report

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (12/30/11)--Ohio credit unions' financial performance during third quarter continued to stay among the strongest in the nation, said the Ohio Credit Union League in a recent newsletter.

The state's credit unions' performance--especially in annual growth for assets, shares and loans--exceeded national averages, according to the Ohio Credit Union Quarterly Performance Summary for third quarter (eLumination Newsletter Dec. 28).

Among the highlights:

  • Consumer loan originations were up more than 20% for the first nine months of 2011, with Ohio credit unions originating $2.6 billion in consumer loans for an 11% increase in the amount originated.
  • Share balances increased at a slightly faster growth rate than the national average.
  • Delinquencies declined by 11 basis points during the past 12 months to a delinquency rate of 1.23%, which is below the national average of 1.6%.
  • Capital levels at Ohio credit unions remained at 11.6% of assets--a higher level than the state's banks and thrifts, as well as credit unions and banks nationwide, said the report.

Catalyst Corporate sets town hall meeting schedule

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PLANO, Texas (12/30/11)--Catalyst Corporate FCU announced Thursday the schedule for  town hall meetings it will conduct in January and February to help credit unions transition from Western Bridge Corporate FCU during 2012.

Catalyst Corporate was selected by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to acquire Western Bridge Corporate's operations earlier this month.  NCUA's decision put into place a plan for a non-disruptive, low-cost transition, said Catalyst in a press release. Interested credit unions can attend one of 20 free town hall sessions in six states.

"We are eager to meet credit union leaders one-on-one, and help put a face on Catalyst Corporate," said Dianne Addington, president/CEO of the corporate, who also noted Catalyst Corporate executives will present the session and respond to individual credit union concerns.

The meetings will:

  • Provide information about the Catalyst Corporate business model;
  • Explain the capital investment necessary to join;
  • Review products and services available;
  • Outline transition timeframes; and
  • Answer questions.
The meetings are open to credit union executives and board members.  In California, the corporate will conduct the meetings  in: San Diego, Long Beach, Anaheim,  Burbank, Pomona, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Fresno and Bakersfield.

Other meetings will be in:

  • Portland, Ore.;
  • Tacoma, Seattle and Spokane, Wash.;
  • Las Vegas, Nev.;
  • Honolulu and Lahaina, Hawaii; and
  • Boise and Pocatello, Idaho.
For the complete schedule or to register, use the link. Additional updates on the transition are located on the special Western Bridge Member region of Catalyst Corporate's website. The updates include the 2012 Strategic Business and Capital Plan, a sample Perpetual Contributed Capital offering memorandum and Subscription Agreement; and upated Frequently Asked Questions.