Archive Links

Consumer Archive
CU System Archive
Market Archive
Products Archive
Washington Archive

CU System Archive

CU System

CU System briefs (03/04/2008)

 Permanent link
* MADISON, Wis. (3/5/08)--Early bird discounts have been extended through March 21 for CUNA Mutual Group's 2008 Discovery Conference, which will be held June 18-21 in Hollywood, Fla. at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa. The event will offer more than 45 learning sessions and keynote presentations by Marcus Buckingham and Peter Sheahan. Those registering by March 21 will receive a rate of $1,000--a $250 discount. Additional savings are available for three or more credit union attendees from a single organization … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (3/5/08)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association board of directors has agreed to adopt REAL Solutions, the National Credit Union Foundation's program to help credit unions provide products to help working families with real needs (Life is a Highway March 3) … * LATHAM, N.Y. (3/5/08)--The New York State Credit Union League, Sunmark FCU and Suffolk FCU have donated $3,000 to The Children's Hospital at Albany Medical Center. The proceeds are part of the league's "Credit Unions Care for Kids" 2007 campaign, a statewide community involvement program. From left are Brenna Griswold, certified child life specialist for The Children's Hospital, league President/CEO William J. Mellin, and Rich Meddaugh, public relations specialist from Sunmark FCU.(Photo provided by the New York State Credit Union League) … * ARVADA, Colo. (3/5/08)--The Credit Union Associations of Colorado and Wyoming are congratulating Chris Kemm, manager of grassroots advocacy, who was named to the Sixth Annual 2007 National All-Showalter Team, comprised of political involvement professionals from across the country. Kemm was honored in the "Passion" category, which showcases the best grassroots and political action committee leaders who love what they do and go to work with a sense of mission and belief in their cause. According to Amy Showalter, president of The Showalter Group, "A grassroots program without a passionate leader is simply a communications network. I have always believed that grassroots volunteers 'catch' the attitude conveyed by the grassroots leaders. Chris displays an attitude of possibility and excellence, which creates excitement and action among his volunteers" … * HARAHAN, La. (3/5/08)--Kimberly London-Plant has joined the Louisiana Credit Union League as senior support specialist in the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)/ATM department, effective March 1. London-Plant has more than 15 years' financial services experience. Prior to joining the league, she was branch manager for Neighbors FCU in Baton Rouge. She will assist credit unions with EFT/ATM implementations and issues as well as product support, said the league …

WOCCU sets co-op learning tours to Ecuador

 Permanent link
MADISON, Wis. (3/5/08)--World Council of Credit Unions has announced the dates for its 2008 Cooperative Learning Tours to Ecuador.
Steve Stapp (right), chief financial officer, Redwood CU, Santa Rosa, Calif., shares a light moment with a girl in Ecuador during last year’s Cooperative Learning Tour. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
Participants can experience the credit union difference during week-long guided tours of the South American country’s credit union movement April 6-13 and Oct. 12-19. The Sunday-to Sunday tours will give participants the opportunity to visit Latin American credit unions and discover the difference they make in the lives of their members. Ecuador’s credit unions are more technologically progressive than many of those in neighboring countries, using wireless messaging and mobile phones text messaging to conduct remote transaction, said WOCCU. At the same time, the credit unions serve members at the most basic levels. In addition to visiting multiple Ecuador credit unions, tour members will participate in “think tank” sessions focused on membership growth, micro-entrepreneurial activities, managing remittances, rural community development, reaching out to Hispanic members and other credit union topics. Cooperative Learning Tour participants pay $1,990 for a single room or $1,790 for a shared room, which includes seven nights’ accommodations in four- and five-star hotels, local transportation, most meals and admission to tourist venues scheduled as part of the tour. Participants are responsible for their own airfare to and from Quito--Ecuador’s capital. For more information, use the link.

Colorado woman sentenced to life in CU employees murder

 Permanent link
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (3/5/08)--A Colorado jury found Shawna Nelson guilty of first-degree murder for shooting and killing a Colorado State Employees CU employee. Nelson was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for the murder of Heather Garraus as Garraus left work at the credit union’s Greeley, Colo., branch Jan. 23, 2007 (Greeley Tribune March 4). Nelson shot Garraus “execution style” forcing Garraus onto her knees before shooting her in the head in credit union’s parking lot. Nelson had an affair with Garraus’ husband and was jealous, prosecutors said.

Wisconsin amendment has CRA reports from large CUs

 Permanent link
MADISON, Wis. (3/5/08)--A banker-backed amendment singling out "large, nontraditional Wisconsin credit unions" as targets for requirements to document their efforts in serving lower-income populations has been introduced in the Wisconsin legislature. The Wisconsin Credit Union League was preparing a response at News Now's press time. The amendment exempts credit unions with $100 million or less in assets--roughly 85% of Wisconsin credit unions--from the community reinvestment requirements that were included in Assembly Bill (AB) 897, recently introduced by Rep. Mark Gottlieb (R-Port Washington). The remaining credit unions would be required to document their activities, the Wisconsin Bankers Association said in a press release. The rest of the press release was filled with the banker rhetoric against credit unions and their tax-exempt status as member-owned, democratically controlled cooperatives. For the full release and for more information on the original bill, use the resource links.

Consumer Protection Week CUs do their part

 Permanent link
MADISON, Wis. (3/5/08)--It's National Consumer Protection Week--a good time for credit unions to remind themselves, and others, about all they do to protect their members and consumers in general. Credit unions are at the forefront of the payday loan alternative movement to protect consumers from exorbitant lenders' fees, they've initiated laws to protect consumers from merchants' lax data storage that results in compromised data and identity theft, they've helped consumers avoid foreclosures on their homes, and they are a force in educating youth about financial management. Payday loan alternatives are springing up all over the country, and many are from credit unions. They include programs such as Better Choice in Pennsylvania and StretchPay in Ohio and several other states. Even one credit union can make a difference. North Carolina's State Employees' CU, for example, has a low-cost payday alternative program with a savings component that helped 100,000 members with no previous savings to accumulate more than $13.2 million in savings (News Now March 4). Credit unions have supported a number of bills in Congress and in the states that provide protection of consumer data or consumers' identity. In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed into law the Plastic Card Security Act in May, which was the "No. 1 priority" of the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) on behalf of the state's credit unions and their members. MnCUN helped draft the bill, which makes merchants who mishandle consumers' data responsible for data breach costs. Other states are advancing similar laws. Wisconsin and Washington credit unions are backing similar bills (News Now Feb. 27 and Feb. 19). The California Credit Union League has pledged to renew it efforts to pass a data protection bill after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s veto Oct. 13 of a league-backed bill to protect consumers from the effects of data breaches (News Now Oct. 16). Credit unions have helped members through the subprime mortgage crisis, by offering affordable mortgage loans, such as the Home Loan Payment Relief (HLPR), by offering first time homebuyers seminars and educational sessions, and by helping consumers who got into trouble with a loan elsewhere straighten out their debts. Credit unions are a prime partner in educating today's youth with the National Endowment for Financial Education's High School Financial Planning Program and providing youth the tools to protect themselves with better financial decisions in the future. The simple existence of credit unions keeps other financial institutions' fees and rates in line, protecting not only their own members but the customers of other financial institutions.

CUNA Mutual financials strong in a volatile economy

 Permanent link
MADISON, Wis. (3/5/08)--The financial performance during 2007 for CUNA Mutual Group was strong with most major financials gaining, according to a report issued by the company. That is significant in today's volatile economy. Net income for the company during 2007 totaled $201 million, or 11.4% more than the $180.4 million in net income the year before. 2007 revenues rose 8.8% to $3.1 billion from 2006's $2.85 billion; and the company's operating gain totaled $221 million, up from $178.1 million in 2006, said CUNA Mutual. Assets declined slightly, to $15.1 billion from $15.3 billion in 2006, and the company's total surplus reached $1.79 billion, down from $1.87 billion the year before. That is largely due to a drop in the investments markets, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Holley told The Wisconsin State Journal" (March 3). The strong performance in 2007 was attributable to several factors, said Rick Uhlmann, senior manager, media relations at CUNA Mutual. "We had a potent performance across several business lines, including debt cancellation, credit insurance, international and crop insurance--as well as no significant catastrophe losses in 2007," Uhlmann said. The company is two-thirds of its way through its three-year restructuring transformation process. "CUNA Mutual is achieving the returns needed to continue our transformation so we can drive improvement in product development and ultimately bring more value to our policyholders," he added. "Also in 2007, CUNA Mutual paid a record $1.47 billion in benefits to credit unions (claims paid, dividends and interest credited) and individual member policyholders," said Uhlmann. "In addition, we paid $265 million in credit union reimbursements and experience refunds to credit unions in 2007." In comparison, benefits for 2006 totaled $1.41 billion. "Our return on equity was 12.6% in 2007 for a three-year average of 11%, which ranks among the top tier of mutual insurers nationwide," Uhlmann said. In 2006, the operating return on equity was 11.4%. In January, A.M. Best affirmed CUNA Mutual's financial strength by assigning an "A" (Excellent) rating and a "Stable" outlook. Fitch Ratings, in its most recent review in October, affirmed the company's financial strength at "AA-" (Very Strong), also with a "Stable" outlook.