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Oregon CUs successful in supplemental legislative session

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (2/29/08)--Oregon's credit unions saw success on several mortgage lending and identity theft bills before a historic one-month supplemental session of the Oregon Legislative Assembly, which adjourned Feb. 22. According to the Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO), the supplemental session was called to test whether the state would benefit from annual legislative sessions. It traditionally meets every other year. Two CUAO-supported mortgage lending bills were passed, and a third opposed by credit unions did not make it through the session. The mortgage lending bills were products of the Governor's Task Force on Mortgage Lending. CUAO had a seat on the task force and participated in drafting and passing the bills. House Bill 360 will help Oregon families facing foreclosure by cracking down on mortgage "rescue" scams by "foreclosure consultants." Senate Bill 1064 places restrictions on mortgage loan originators and requires mortgage bankers and brokers to file an annual report about their activities. House Bill 3603--which would have put an expiration date on "prepayment penalties" that creditors must pay if they want to refinance or pay off their loan early--did not make it through the session. Credit unions and other lenders opposed the bill, partly because it would have applied only to state-chartered credit unions and it created redundant rules. Also passed was an identity theft bill, Senate Bill 1080, which requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to verify both an individual's Social Security number and proof of Oregon residency before the agency issues a driver's license. "We are pleased with the results of this session and feel that the bills of importance to Oregon credit unions were addressed," said Pamela Leavitt, CUAO senior vice president for governmental affairs and public relations. "The fact that credit unions are increasingly being proactively approached to provide input to the legislative process is a great sign that our lawmakers understand the impact that credit unions have in their communities," she added.

Louisiana CUs report solid growth in 2007

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HARAHAN, La. (2/29/08)--Louisiana credit unions reported strong growth for 2007, according to the Louisiana Credit Union League. Credit unions experienced 5.7% loan growth, 4.4% share growth, and a 0.9% increase in membership, to 1.1 million members as of December 2007 (eNews Feb. 27). Assets increased 4.5%, to $6.72 billion from $6.43 billion. Though the number of credit unions declined to 236 from 242, branches increased to 419 from 405, and employees increased to 3,470 from 3,366. The league also reported that:
* Credit unions’ loan-to-share ratio increased to 73.3% for 2007, compared to a national average of 83.3%; * Net income declined 9.5%. This was driven by credit unions giving more back to their members and higher costs of funds (a 24% increase for 2007); * Regular share growth declined 4.1%; * Money market shares increased 9.6%; and * Individual retirement accounts grew 9%.

CU System briefs (02/28/2008)

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* HARRISBURG, Pa. (2/29/08)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) has announced its 2008 Lifetime Achievement Awards recipients. Judi Supplee, president/CEO of Keystone FCU, Downingtown, is the William W. Pratt Professional of the Year. Kathy Linn, board chair of Service 1st FCU, Danville, is the Joseph A. Moore Volunteer of the Year. They will be honored at a banquet May 3 during PCUA's annual convention in Pittsburgh (Life is a Highway Feb. 27) … * SUITLAND, Md. (2/29/08)--Andrews FCU introduced a new AndrewSaver program to coincide with this week's nationwide America Saves and Military Saves programs. The ongoing savings vehicle provides resources to make saving easier and encourages members to set a goal with a monthly commitment to save. The account requires $5 to open, and earns dividends with a balance of $25. AndrewSaver has no monthly or minimum balance fees for 12 months, provides a Five Steps to Greater Savings guide, provides the America Saver quarterly newsletter, and gives access to free financial counseling and seminars from the $801 million asset credit union's member education department … * ALEXANDRIA, Va., and WASHINGTON (2/29/08)--HEW FCU celebrated Black History Month by sponsoring, with Young America Works Public Charter High School, the Aviation Instructional Program Dedication Ceremony honoring Gen. Daniel "Chappie" James Jr., the first African-America to become a four star general. The dedication of the school's aviation program was Feb. 26 at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. Featured guests of honor included Former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Ret. Gen. Daniel "Danny" James III, and members of the Original Tuskegee Airmen … * LENEXA, Kan. (2/29/08)--After 36 years in the credit union industry, Mike Patrick, chief operating officer (COO) of CommunityAmerica CU will retire. Patrick will complete his day-to-day responsibilities in April and serve as an adviser until June 30. He previously was vice president of the Credit Union of Johnson County for 13 years, and served as president/CEO of Yellow Financial Employees CU from 1985 to 1998. Yellow Financial was renamed CommunityAmerica CU in 1996. He became COO when it merged with Members America CU in 1998. Patrick is a former director of the Credit Union National Association, and a former chairman of the Kansas Credit Union Association, the Kansas Corporate CU and the Kansas Credit Union Council. He currently serves on the supervisory committee of Kansas Corporate CU …

CUs at political conventions join vet-housing efforts

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ST. PAUL, Minn., and ARVADA, Colo. (2/29/08)--Credit unions in Minnesota, Colorado and Wyoming will join the Credit Union National Association during the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in constructing specially adapted homes for two servicemen wounded while serving in Iraq.
U.S. Army SSG Travis Strong will move into a home in the Denver area as part of the Homes for Troops program. (Photo provided by CUNA)
The Democratic National Convention will be held in Denver Aug. 25-28. The Republican National Convention is slated for Sept. 1-4 in St. Paul. The Credit Union Associations of Colorado and Wyoming are partnering with Homes for Our Troops and the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) to construct a new home for Staff Sgt. Travis Strong, a former Coloradoan who is a double amputee and currently rehabilitating in San Diego. Minnesota credit unions will team up with Homes for Our Troops and the Committee on Arrangements for the 2008 Republican National Convention initiative, which will build a home in St. Paul for Sgt. Marcus Kuboy, 30, who was injured in an explosion while patrolling the outskirts of Fallujah. His home will be the first in Minnesota to be built by Homes for Our Troops. Credit unions are the driving force behind the Minnesota initiative and are responsible for raising the funds for the service project. "I am thrilled that credit unions have the opportunity to be so instrumental in a project of this magnitude, contributing time and money to honor a Minnesota soldier who fought for our freedom," said Mark D. Cummins, president/CEO of the Minnesota Credit Union Network. "While the convention will come and go, the construction of this new home for Sgt. Kuboy will be a long-lasting reminder of the gratitude and generosity of Minnesota credit union members for years to come." John Dill, president/CEO of the Credit Union Associations of Colorado and Wyoming, said, "Colorado and Wyoming's credit unions--which represent 1.7 million members--are pleased to have the opportunity to work with Homes for Our Troops to provide this tangible 'leave behind' for our community, state, region and most importantly, for a very deserving serviceman after the convention is over." Fundraising and volunteer recruitment are underway in both states. In Minnesota, contributions can be made through the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation. Individuals and organizations interested in participating should contact Mara Humphrey at the Minnesota Credit Union Network at mhumphrey@mncun.org. In Colorado, individuals and organizations interested in donating or participating in the project should contact Chris Kemm, grassroots manager, Credit Union Association of Colorado, at 720-479-3345 or 800-477-1697, ext. 3345, or via e-mail at ckemm@colocu.com.

MCUA co-hosts personal finance instructors training

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (2/29/080--The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) and several other organizations co-hosted a training session to introduce financial educators to the new National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) High School Financial Planning Program (HSFPP).
Katie Tate, training specialist with the Missouri Credit Union Association, reviews the curriculum for the National Endowment of Financial Education's revised High School Financial Planning Program for financial educators in Kansas City, Mo. (Photo provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association)
Forty financial educators attended the session in Kansas City Feb. 15. Five Missouri credit union employees from St. Louis Community CU; United CU in Mexico, Mo.; and United Consumers CU in Independence participated. "This was our first opportunity to really see the HSFPP materials and understand how well they cover the curriculum," said Heather DeMint, marketing manager at United CU. HSFPP's curriculum teaches young people the fundamentals of money management. Katie Tate, MCUA training specialist who was one of the presenters, said the session gave credit union staff attending "an opportunity to make connections with Missouri teachers so they can get into more classrooms to help spread the credit union difference." Other co-hosts were Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Kansas City School District Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, University of Missouri Cooperative Extension and University of Missouri's Kansas City Center for Economic Education. Additional HSFPP training sessions will be July 17 in St. Louis and Dec. 30 in Columbia.

Leap Day promo has members leaping

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (2/29/08)--The number 29 could be a lucky number today for members of the eight branches of Premier FCU in North Carolina, and that’s no “leap” of faith.
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The $99 million asset, Greensboro, N.C.-based credit union is holding a “Leapin’ Lizards! My Credit Union Gave me $29” promotion throughout today in honor of the Leap Year day, which occurs once every four years on Feb. 29. Every 29th member entering the credit union’s eight North Carolina locations will be given $29 throughout the day. Premier’s single South Carolina location is closed today, so the credit union will track ATM usage there and pay every 29th user of the machine $29. Winning members in the branches will be greeted at the door with confetti and balloons, and presented with a sticker that identifies them as a winner. The $29 prize will be paid at the teller line. “We wanted to do something fun for Leap Year, so we started brainstorming some different ideas,” said Lori Thompson, Premier executive vice president and chief operating officer. The event should be “a fun way to get our members talking about us for the Leap Year. After all, word of mouth is the best kind of marketing,” she added. Given average branch traffic on Fridays, the credit union expects to pay out a total of about $2,900 for the day. “We figure it’s a great way to give back to our members and generate a little excitement for the day,” Thompson said. Premier distributed fliers this week, announcing the day-long event, featuring a graphic of a leapin’ lizard and a poem.

WOCCU launches second Hispanic marketing immersion effort

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MADISON, Wis. (2/29/08)--Credit union staff and executives can now register for an opportunity to learn about Mexican culture and also work with Mexican credit unions during the World Council of Credit Unions’ 2008 Hispanic Marketing Immersion Program. The program commences Sept. 20 in Morelia, in central Mexico. Participants can choose a one- or two-week session priced at $1,600 and $2,600, respectively. During the program, they will live with a Mexican host family who will provide meals and a private room. The immersion program begins each day with four hours of Spanish language instruction, according to skill level. Participants also will work an internship at Caja Morelia-Valladolid or Caja Alianza, where they will learn daily Mexican credit union operations and study marketing strategies. Attendees also can attend the second annual U.S.-Mexico Marketing Workshop, which is included with the program cost. The workshop, scheduled for Sept. 26, will provide marketing information on the four largest Mexican credit unions. For more information, use the link.

CUNA Councils New look big presence at GAC

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MADISON, Wis. (2/29/08)--The CUNA Councils will unveil their new look at the Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) March 2-6 in Washington, D.C., and also will sponsor a new kickoff event. The councils are sponsoring Sunday evening’s concert, where attendees can network and watch the band America perform. “The CUNA Councils chose to sponsor a major GAC event because we recognize the importance of encouraging all credit union professionals to be politically engaged and demonstrate the strength and power of America’s 90 million members,” said Nader Moghaddam, vice chair of the CUNA Council Forum.
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At the GAC, the councils also will unveil their updated logos, graphics and Web site features. “The new designs reflect the progressive growth and professional nature of the organization and provide a better visual linkage among the individual management disciplines, reinforcing the face that they’re part of a connected community of executives,” said David Rohn, CUNA Councils vice president. Nearly 5,000 executives make up the councils, which are focused on finance; human resources; training and development; lending; marketing and business development; operations, sales and service; and technology. For more information, use the link.

Michigan CUs regulator educate about avoiding foreclosure

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LANSING, Mich.(2/29/08)--Michigan credit unions and the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Services (OFIS) are striving to educate consumers on ways to avoid losing their homes. The state has the third-highest foreclosure rate in the U.S. Though credit unions and other financial institutions that emphasize responsible lending have not contributed to the housing and mortgage crisis, they are working to keep homebuyers from entering into mortgage agreements that should not be made in the first place, regardless of their lender. “Consumers should always look to a trusted financial services partner for help with major financial decisions,” said David Adam, president/CEO of he Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL). “Credit unions generally will give basic advice to those who need help, and OFIS and other state agencies also have resources for borrowers with questions. In all cases, when facing a loan default, borrowers always should contact their lender for assistance.” Credit unions offer members the opportunity to talk one-on-one about their loans. This gives the members the opportunity to possibly have their loan rewritten or modified to meet their needs, MCUL said. Michigan credit unions and the state also offer seminars on whether refinancing is an option or on how to buy a home in today’s market. “Consumers armed with good information before they get to the closing table are less likely to enter a situation that could result in foreclosure down the road,” said Ken Ross, OFIS commissioner. “Homeowners unable to make ends meet should talk to their lender before payments are missed--ask if a loan modification is possible.”

Members plan to offer candidates for First Basin board

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ODESSA, Texas (2/29/08)--Members who opposed First Basin CU’s attempt to convert to a mutual savings bank are seeking information about the credit union’s next board election. “We have a couple of members who want to run,” said Letty Morales, who founded Save First Basin, the group opposing the conversion. First Basin hasn’t told the members yet when the elections are or how many seats will be available. Morales said members have sent the credit union two requests. “We’re at a standstill,” she said. “It’s kind of strange they haven’t gotten back to us.” First Basin suspended its Feb. 21 vote on the proposed charter change “for a number of reasons,” wrote CEO Shem Culpepper in a letter to members. He noted that “numerous false statements” have been circulating about the conversion, and that the board wants to retain its one-member, one-vote structure. The board also is evaluating whether it can reward members with a cash payment if it converts, he wrote.

Utah CU bill advances to House

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SALT LAKE CITY (2/29/08)--A bill that would result in some legislative changes to ease restrictions on Utah's state-chartered credit unions passed the state Senate Thursday, but still must pass the state House. “It just passed,” Scott Simpson, president of the Utah League of Credit Unions, told News Now by cell phone from the Utah Senate floor Thursday morning. “The substance of the bill hasn’t changed. There was just one amendment regarding a technical change.” Senate Bill 296, sponsored by State Sen. Curt Bramble (R-Provo), would create several changes to the state charter. It would:
* Increase the amount a credit union can loan to its members to 4% of assets from the current 1%; * Eliminate a requirement that borrowers must be members of a credit union for six months before receiving a business loan, and make them eligible immediately after joining; and * Maintain the current $250,000 cap on business loans, but allow the cap to increase with inflation--pegged to the Consumer Price Index--beginning May 5 with an increase each year on Jan. 1 (Deseret Morning News Feb. 22).
Originally, credit unions wanted the business loan cap to be raised to 10% of a credit union's capital and surplus, and the $250,000 business lending cap to be lifted to 12.25% of a credit union's loan portfolio--similar to the cap for federally chartered credit unions. The league and the Utah Bankers Association (UBA) have promised Bramble and leaders of both houses of the state legislature not to return to the legislature seeking changes to the law for five years, the newspaper said. While not supporting the change for credit unions in the bill, the UBA pledged not to oppose the bill, as part of the compromise solution, Howard Headlee, UBA president, told the paper.

StretchPay saved CU members 3 million plus in 07

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DUBLIN, Ohio (2/29/08)--StretchPay, a credit union alternative to traditional payday lending, saved members of 31 credit unions more than $3 million in 2007. Credit unions in Ohio, Maryland, Michigan and the District of Columbia made 64,400 StretchPay salary advance loans last year, totaling nearly $25 million. They accumulated $476,000 in fees and $187,000 in interest at an annual percentage rate (APR) of 18%, according to the Ohio Credit Union League. Members borrowing the same amount at traditional payday lenders, which typically charge $15 per $100 borrowed and up to 391% APR, would have paid more than $3.7 million in interest and fees, said the league. StretchPay is a lower-cost alternative for consumers in need of small cash advances for short terms. A credit union charges an interest rate of 18% APR, along with an annual fee of $35, for a $250 Stretch Pay loan. The entire balance must be repaid by the borrower within 30 days before the member can take a new advance. Some credit unions also offer $500 StretchPay loans at 18% APR, with an annual fee of $70. “Our goal is to get our members on a path to economic prosperity,” said Bill Burke, CEO of Day Air CU and chairman of Credit Union Outreach Solutions Inc., which offers the StretchPay program. “We helped our members keep more than $3 million in fees and interest. The free financial counseling and education help them make wise, long-term financial decisions.” In addition to the loan, members who take part in StretchPay receive financial education and counseling from the credit unions to help them break free of the payday lending cycle. Credit unions also report loan payments to the credit bureaus, allowing Stretch Pay consumers to build upon their credit standing.