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CUs Get Into Holiday Spirit Nationwide

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MADISON, Wis. (12/6/13)--Small or large, near or far, credit union efforts to spread the message of "people helping people" grow even stronger during the holidays.

Click to view larger image Larry Jackson, president/COO of CU Companies, New Brighton, Minn., shows the final total of the interstate food drive among three credit union service organizations. Houston-based CU Alliance and CU Community in Oak Ridge, Tenn., challenged CU Companies, and local food pantries were the winners. (Photo provided by CU Companies)
A Minnesota credit union service organization (CUSO) led the charge in an interstate fight against hunger. CU Companies, New Brighton, Minn., went up against the team of Houston-based CU Alliance and CU Community in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The challenge? Who could collect the most food during a month-long food drive.

This is the ninth year for the food drive challenge between CU Alliance and CU Companies. This year, CU Community joined forces with CU Alliance to even the number of employees participating. The end result was 7,661 items, distributed among the CUSOs' respective community food pantries. "Bringing our CUSOs together to help our individual communities in an extension of our intentions to help each other fill a need in the financial realm," said Adrian Dominguez, CU Alliance president/CEO.
  • In Austin, Texas, a 76-year-old widow will benefit from the connection made between a credit union employee and the community. Jenny Voigt, an employee at Amplify CU, volunteers for Family Eldercare, a program that helps elderly who have limited resources. Family Eldercare, and by extension the credit union, were selected as part of the Austin American-Statesman's Season for Caring campaign (Dec. 2). The $626 million-asset credit union has adopted families in past Seasons of Caring. Because of Voigt's relationship with Ethel Black through Eldercare, Voigt made a case for the credit union to help her specifically.  Now, the credit union is working to help make Black's home safer, with repairs to uneven flooring, ceiling and fencing.
  • A pediatric unit in Yakima, Wash.,  got a new set of wheels thanks to Solarity CU. The $499 million-asset credit union presented $22,000 and a wagon filled with toys to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital. The unit will use the Radio Flyer wagon for field trips, and the toys will help make children's stays a little brighter (KIMATV.com Dec. 3).
  • Three Wisconsin credit unions are among the sponsors for the Oshkosh Celebration of Lights along the shores of Lake Winnebago. Visitors will drive through the display of twinkling lights for free on four evenings this holiday season (Oshkosh Northwestern Nov. 24). The 2013 Community Nights sponsors are Community First CU, Appleton, $1.8 billion assets; Fox Communities CU, Appleton, $947 million assets; and Winnebago Community CU, Oshkosh, $78 million assets.
  • Alabama Telco CU, Hoover, Ala., is working with the Cell Phones for Soldiers group this holiday season. Members started donating used cell phones before the program was officially launched , according to Stanton Davis, vice president of the $606 million-asset credit union (The Birmingham News Nov. 17). Proceeds from the recycling program go to the purchase of 60-minute pre-paid phone cards that go to service members.
Credit unions can share their stories about demonstrating the credit union difference on the Unite for Good website.

Missouri Gears Up for Next State Leg Session

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ST. LOUIS (12/6/13)--Although the Missouri General Assembly doesn't go into session until Jan. 8, the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) already is preparing for what the new year will bring.
 
One of the biggest concerns is a potential change in legislation regarding the Financial Institution Data Match program, which tracks parents who are delinquent in child support payments, according to Amy McLard, association senior vice president of advocacy.
 
When the program was implemented in 2001, financial institutions were encouraged to participate but were not penalized if they didn't. It's anticipated that 2014 legislation will set penalties for non-compliant financial institutions, McLard said.
 
Many credit unions across the state already are working with the Division of Child Support Enforcement program, but "we want to make sure all credit unions have that process in place," she told News Now.
 
"Efforts to fully implement this program in advance of legislation will demonstrate credit unions' willingness to work towards compliance with the agency and lawmakers," said MCUA President/CEO Don Cohenour  (Missouri Difference Dec. 4).
 
Because 2014 is an election year, MCUA will monitor initiative petitions--one of which would potentially limit who could contribute to political actions committees, McLard said. "We want to make sure nothing that goes on a ballot would limit credit unions' opportunity to be part of the political process," she added.
 
There may not be any credit union-specific legislation on the horizon yet, given that legislators just started pre-filing bills Dec. 1. Whatever comes up, the association will be on the watch, McLard said, adding, "We work really hard because we work in the best interest of the consumer."

Minnesota CU Membership Tops 1.6M

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (12/6/13)--Nearly 30% of Minnesota residents are credit union members after the state's cooperative financial institutions increased membership by nearly 16,000 in the third quarter of 2013, reaching an all-time high of 1.6 million.
 
The membership growth in the third quarter--a growth rate of 1%--continues a trend that began during the financial crisis, when consumers took action and moved to credit unions in their dissatisfaction with large banks.
 
"Minnesota consumers and businesses continue to choose credit unions as their primary financial institution--much as they choose other local, community-focused businesses," said Mark D. Cummins, Minnesota Credit Union Network president/CEO. "By making the switch, consumers are demonstrating their trust for credit unions rather than banks and selecting a financial institution that is aligned with their values."
 
Bank fees ignited the grassroots movement Bank Transfer Day, Nov. 5, 2011, which helped prompt a gain of 2.2 million new member accounts at credit unions (News Now Sept. 30).
 
"These results show that we have been successful and that consumers are choosing credit unions more and more as their trusted financial partner," said Cummins. "As the trade association for Minnesota's credit unions, our strategy focuses on advocating for and creating an environment where credit unions can compete and grow their market share."

Filene: How Much Do 'Your People Helping People' Know

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MADISON, Wis. (12/6/13)--Credit unions measure a lot of data. Knowledge management--employee expertise--is not among the data they are particularly adept at quantifying, but that should change, according to a Filene Research Institute Report.
 
Linking employee knowledge to individual and organizational performance can improve the bottom line, according to the report: "Knowledge Transfer Review: The Case of Credit Unions."
 
Filene and Credit Union Central of Canada contracted with the Institute for Intellectual Capital Research in Ontario to conduct a research study focusing on knowledge transfer in the credit union system. The study collected data from eight credit unions in Canada and seven in the U.S. ranging from $350 million to $3.5 billion in assets.
 
Just as it's advisable to track loan delinquencies among similar credit unions, credit unions can measure knowledge management best practices and compare them with benchmarking groups, according to the study.
 
Choosing the right metrics and then measuring them over time is the only way to turn haphazard knowledge management into deliberate knowledge management, the study said.
 
While some credit unions only sporadically practice knowledge management, virtually all credit unions have sufficient information technology infrastructure in place to implement a knowledge management system.
 
Credit unions may never spend as much time on knowledge management as they do on loan portfolios, capital ratios or net income, the report acknowledges. But neglecting those measures has consequences and allows good employees to drift away and bad employees to slip by.
 
The study offers models, metrics and benchmarking reports that participating credit unions used to measure employee knowledge.
 
Use the resource link for more information on the report.

Suncoast Schools FCU Members Approve Switch To State Charter

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TAMPA, Fla. (12/6/13)--Members of $5.4 billion-asset Suncoast Schools FCU, Florida's largest credit union, approved a proposal to convert from a federal to a state charter in a preliminary vote Thursday afternoon.
 
In a special meeting held yesterday, 77% of the voting membership approved the charter change.
 
Suncoast Schools FCU President/CEO Tom Dorety told News Now a desire for a more "simplified field of membership" as the reason for the charter change.
 
The change has been approved by both the National Credit Union Administration and the state regulator, Dorety said.
 
"We are the largest community financial institution headquartered on the west coast of Florida," Dorety told News Now. "Under the federal charter, we have expanded through select employee groups, immediate family members, but the membership is not very simple. Our bylaws have about 100 pages naming our field of membership. Under the state charter, we will switch to a community charter in all of counties in which we operate today. It is a far simpler way for us to operate."
 
Suncoast serves 15 Florida counties, Dorety said. He anticipated that the credit union "will probably pick up" two additional counties, but does not have immediate plans for further expansion.
 
"We are focused on the west coast of Florida," Dorety said. "Through our foundation we give more to support public education than any other private organization in the 15 counties we serve, and we will continue to expand on that."
 
If the charter change is approved, the credit union will change its name to Suncoast CU, effective Jan. 1.
 

VolCorp and Kentucky Corporate FCU to Merge

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. and LOUISVILLE, Ky. (12/6/13)--Volunteer Corporate CU (VolCorp) and Kentucky Corporate FCU (Kentucky Corporate) have announced plans to merge.
 
VolCorp, based in Nashville, Tenn., will be the surviving entity and will maintain a presence in Kentucky with operations and staff at Kentucky Corporate's current base in Louisville, Ky.
 
"VolCorp is financially strong, enjoys strong member support, and is located close to Kentucky Corporate's current location in Louisville," said Kentucky Corporate Board Chairman Alan Butler. "We believe this merger will provide our members with a broad range of services to help them provide value-added services to their members."
 
The merger must be approved by members and regulators.
 
VolCorp President/CEO Rich Veach cited the benefits the merger would create for members of both corporate credit unions. "Moving forward, this merger will allow us to broaden our product offering and provide us the ability to continue paying a premium dividend on the capital investment in VolCorp," he added.