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Egan presented AACULs Farley Award

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MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (3/7/11)--Daniel F. Egan Jr. is this year's recipient of the American Association of Credit Union Leagues' (AACUL) Eugene H. Farley League Leadership Award. Egan is president of the Massachusetts Credit Union League, New Hampshire Credit Union League and the Credit Union Association of Rhode Island (e-Weekly March 4). AACUL bestows the award annually on a league staff person who:
* Demonstrates superior results both organizationally and financially; * Is a visionary leader at the state level; * Develops services and/or programs for member credit unions; * Focuses on cooperation within the credit union system; * Displays personal values of commitment to purpose, service to others, and integrity; and * Substantially participates as a leader and "co-operator" at the national level.
Egan was presented the award Feb. 26. The award is endowed by a contribution from Dr. Richard Heins, former CUNA Mutual CEO. League presidents make nominations and members of the Farley Award Committee, comprised of past award winners, serve as judges.

Googolplex grand prize photo award goes to AA CU member

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FORT WORTH, Texas (3/7/11)--A 14-year-old member of American Airlines FCU (AA CU) is this year's winner of the Googolplex Grand Prize photo contest. The member, Kenna of Tacoma, Wash., submitted her winning photo "Dandelion Wishes" in the "True Friends" theme. Describing the photo, she said she and her best friend "planned to take a photo of blowing wish-weeds, but she could never blow hard enough to get her seeds off the stem." Kenna captured the moment, adding, "All of my seeds were floating in the air and hers didn't go anywhere." Googolplex, a Credit Union National Association (CUNA) lifestage online magazine for youth, comprises three customizable sizes for elementary, middle and high school students. It offers a themed photo contest for the high school site, C-Note, which culminates with a $1,000 grand prize every year. Kenna submitted her photo through AA CU, which offers its young members resources and advice about how best to learn and plan their finances. "Teaching our younger member-owners the importance of financial responsibility is crucial to our future and we're glad to see Kenna has a strong financial base with which to begin planning for her own future," said AA CU President/CEO Angie Owens. CUNA's editors choose contest themes based on suggestions from a nationwide teen panel of student editors. C-Note invites photo entries by publicizing the contest in subscriber e-mails and on the front page of C-Note. Every seven weeks a contestant wins $100. Once a year, all winning photos from the past 12 months are open to a public vote. The winner receives $1,000. "The current C-Note photo contest theme is 'Messy Rooms.' This should be an easy theme for anyone, regardless of age," said Rena Crispin, managing editor of Googolplex

Bank customers still dont trust banks

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LONDON (3/7/11)--Despite efforts by banks to woo back consumer confidence from the financial industry crisis, 44% of retail banking customers around the world said their trust in the banking industry decreased in the past 12 months. For the U.S., customer confidence levels were lower: 55% of customers surveyed by Ernst & Young said they have less confidence than a year ago. The company conducted a global survey of 20,500 retail banking customers to gauge what drives their relationship with banks. Credit unions, while not part of the study, will note the report advises banks that the keys to success will be brand management, personalized services and efficient pricing--something credit unions already do. Levels of confidence are lower in regions hard hit by the economy, such as the U.S., the report said. The United Kingdom had the largest drop in confidence (63%). "In developed markets, customer confidence and trust in financial institutions has been severely damaged by the economic crisis, and our findings show that it remains under threat," said Pierre Pilorge, Ernst & Young's financial services customer leader. "Emerging market economies suffered less from the credit crisis and recession and so their banks have seen trust endure. In order to get back on track the survey clearly illustrates that banks in developed nations must rebuild customer confidence, enhance the customer experience and stem customer attrition." Other findings:
* Macroeconomic factors had the most negative impact (53%) on customer confidence. Brand strength was cited as a key factor driving customer satisfaction worldwide. * Attrition levels are highest in Europe, with 39% having switched banks in the past. Leading factors in the switch were service quality (48%) and price (43%). Also cited were product offerings, branch proximity and lack of trust. * Finding a way to effectively deliver a personal service to customers will be a key success factor in the years ahead. While internet banking (83%), ATMs (79%), and branches (79%) are touch-points customers are most satisfied with today, satisfaction with call centers in consistently weaker (44%). * Banks need to reconnect with their customer base by improving the customer experience across their operations. Some are experimenting with new tools such as mobile banking, but there is demand across all channels--including call centers and branches--for greater personalization and attentiveness.
"The banking industry in developed markets has witnessed a significant shift in confidence, and never before have loyalty and personal customer attention been such critical issues," said Ernst & Young. "Customers are demanding more personalized service if they are to remain loyal. The successful institutions of the future will be those who offer customer-focused innovative services. Those that do will be able to differentiate their organization and drive for growth," Pilorge said. The Ernst & Young report is entitled A New Era of Customer Expectation.

Small CU roundtable was deciding factor for some GAC attendees

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WASHINGTON (3/7/11)--For some attendees, the first-ever Credit Union National Association (CUNA) small credit union roundtable was more than a way to begin the Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC)--it was the primary reason they came to Washington last week. Sherrie Brooks was one of them. As CEO of $17 million Tennessee Employees CU, Brooks wears many hats. She said she needs a good reason to justify being out of the office for a week--and to convince her board on the necessity of investing a relatively large amount of money on traveling to a conference. “It really has to be geared towards something that will help your credit union,” Brooks said. When she saw that CUNA was having a small credit union roundtable, "it was the deciding factor.” While credit unions at the GAC shared virtually the same concerns--the proposed interchange rule, member business lending, supplemental capital, and protecting credit unions’ tax exempt status--240 registered small credit union roundtable attendees had their own subset of concerns, with topics like compliance, collaboration, succession and regulation dominating the four-hour session. Brooks indicated she doesn’t have a large network to discuss her decisions with on an everyday basis. “This was a re-enforcement of the thought processes I have on some things, like taking advantage of the way the economy is right now. A lot of the credit card companies raised their rate to 21%, so I did a promotion with 6.9% fixed. My credit card portfolio increased 125%. That decision was re-enforced today.” She also believes collaboration offers small credit unions opportunities to extend the services they offer. “About five years ago, I shared a loan officer with another credit union,” she said. Under the umbrella of a larger credit union, she offers her members financial counseling at no cost to her credit union. Just as important, Brooks said she learned about resources and ideas she was not aware of previously, such as League InfoSight, an online compliance resource created by the Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio and Texas Credit Union leagues in 2003. The small credit union roundtable was also the reason Melissa Marquez, CEO of $10 million Genesee Co-op FCU, Rochester, N.Y, attended the GAC. “I just felt like I had to be here,” Marquez said. “These people are my closest colleagues. We all have the same concerns. And everyone is so willing to share ideas. It’s been very inspiring.” Marquez said compliance was her top concern, but she also learned how collaboration could be used as a valuable tool to grow her credit union. Like Brooks, Marquez said it wasn’t an easy decision to go to Washington. But she was determined to make the most of her time and bring her small credit union message directly to the U.S. Congress. While it can be hard to justify the conference and travel cost, "especially at the end of the month” when the credit union closes its books, Marquez added, "but while I’m here I’m going to hike the Hill.”

Hampel to AOLIWalletpopI How to tell CU is sound

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MADISON, Wis. (3/7/11)--Bill Hampel, chief economist at the Credit Union National Association, last week told readers of AOL’s Walletpop how to determine if a credit union is financially sound. Because many readers and financial experts have suggested that consumers join credit unions as an alternative to rising fees and fewer perks at many large banks, Walletpop asked Hampel what prospective credit union members should look for when considering a credit union. “The main thing is to check for deposit insurance,” he advised. “Ninety-nine percent are insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) which is equivalent to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) insurance for a bank.” NCUA insurance protects credit union deposit accounts up to $250,000. Also, prospective members can ask about a credit union’s capital ratio, Hampel told Walletpop. According to their capital ratios, 96% of all credit unions fit or exceed the criteria for being well-capitalized, recent research indicates, Walletpop said. Also, Bankrate has an online tool that helps people evaluate the health of any U.S. credit union. Credit unions’ culture plays a major role in keeping them financially fit, Hampel said. “No credit union CEO or board member has any stock options, so they have a reduced incentive to take the risks that would make those stock options worth a lot of money,” he added. “They operate at a much lower risk level, and executives don’t get much of a reward for taking on risk.” To read the article, use the link.

Rep. Peters named Mich. legislator of the year

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WASHINGTON (3/7/11)--The Michigan Credit Union League has presented Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) with its “Legislator of the Year” award for his ongoing support of credit unions in Michigan. “The No. 1 issue in Michigan is creating jobs, and our credit unions have been on the front lines of helping consumers and small businesses get access to credit during the economic downturn,” said Peters in a press release from his office. “I’ve been working to clean up Wall Street and strengthen Michigan’s economy, and I’m proud that my work has been able to help Michigan’s credit unions continue to support our small businesses,” Peters added. “Gary’s hard work on legislation like Wall Street reform and the Small Business Jobs Act showed that he understands the crucial role that Michigan’s credit unions play in creating jobs, ”Michigan Credit Union League & Affiliates CEO David Adams said. Credit unions are an important source of lending for small businesses in Michigan, said the press release. The financial collapse and the long-term recession in Michigan’s economy have made it much harder for small firms to secure funds from Wall Street banks. Credit unions and other community based lenders have helped to keep credit flowing to small businesses across the state, allowing them to continue operating and creating jobs. Peters helped to pass the Small Business Jobs Act, which included legislation he authored that provides funding to states for a loan portfolio insurance program that makes it easier for credit unions and community banks to make small-business loans. Peters is also a strong supporter of legislation that would allow credit unions to offer expanded business lending opportunities to their members, said the congressman’s office.

CUNAs Youth Saving Challenge grows to 139 CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (3/7/11)--The 2011 National Youth Saving Challenge sponsored by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is gaining steady momentum, CUNA said. The number of participating credit unions has grown to more than 100, and is expected to increase. Last year’s Saving Challenge saw nearly 350 credit unions join it. Held in conjunction with National Credit Union Youth Week throughout April, the Saving Challenge puts the spotlight on youth in a contest tracking deposits. Last year, nearly 170,000 young members deposited $24.8 million into their savings accounts during the month, and more than 10,000 opened new accounts. The 139 credit unions joining the Saving Challenge have set a goal to take in more than $4 million in deposits from about 32,000 youth in April. The challenge’s popularity comes from its fun, flexible approach to encouraging young people to develop good savings habits, CUNA said. CUNA provides resources, promotional materials and products, and celebration ideas, but individual credit unions build their own celebrations using the unique service commitment that defines the credit union movement. Jean Tatar at St. Pius X FCU in Rochester, N.Y., works with schools each week to teach youth about making deposits and earning rewards. Students can meet with credit union staff and ask questions. “It is so important to educate our youth on finances, especially in this economy,” Tatar said. The Saving Challenge also permits credit unions to set their own goals and run the contest during a timeframe that fits their community calendar. Daviess County Teachers FCU in Owensboro, Ky., has had success with Youth Week, meeting and exceeding its Saving Challenge goals each year since 2005. Involvement in both Youth Week and Saving Challenge activities has been met with enthusiasm from young savers, said the credit union. “We feel it’s the best opportunity for teaching our young members the importance of ‘paying yourself first,’” said Lauren Mayhew, marketing director at Daviess County Teachers FCU and north central region coordinator for the National Youth Involvement Board. “Our youth never cease to amaze me with their enthusiasm for saving at their credit union.” For this year’s program, CUNA has added a mentoring service designed to link up credit union staff new to the Saving Challenge with individuals who have already planned, hosted and completed many celebrations. The mentors want to share their success stories and answer any questions. For more information, use the link. Mentor Lani Fritz, from Michael Baker Jr. FCU, in Moon Township, Pa., believes in the value of Youth Week and its role in promoting financial literacy. Joining the National Youth Saving Challenge sends a strong message to young people and their parents, and cultivates longstanding relationships between credit unions and their members, she added. “We care very much about teaching our youth that every penny they discipline themselves to save, counts to us as well,” Fritz said.

Women serving on boards improve corporate success

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WASHINGTON (3/7/11)--Companies with women serving on their boards of directors enjoy greater economic and business success than those without women on the boards. That revelation was made at the Global Women's Leadership Network breakfast Tuesday at the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC).
Click to view larger image U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) told participants at Tuesday's Global Women's Leadership Network breakfast that companies with women on their board enjoy a greater rate of financial success.
The network, a part of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), gathered at the National Museum for Women in the Arts. U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Debbie Matz, National Credit Union Administration board chair, addressed 64 women credit union leaders about critical issues and the importance of women supporting one another's professional development. Boards of directors of companies that have women on them have a 65% higher return on investment capital, while 53% have a higher return on equity, and 42% have higher sales than those with fewer women in charge," said Speier. "Women's leadership skills are truly different, and women lead differently. It's a more consensus-driven form of leadership, which often produces better results, yet women represent only 15% of Fortune 500 executives." Speier discussed the importance of women leaders recognizing and supporting the strength of their female staffers and encouraged leaders to "femtor" them, rather than mentor them. With men and women supporting each other in the workplace, enterprises and economies will flourish because they will gain access to the full slate of human resources available, she added.
Click to view larger image World Council of Credit Unions Chair Barry Jolette makes a point with National Credit Union Administration Chair Debbie Matz at the Global Women's Leadership Network breakfast. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
In addition to network members, breakfast attendees included Barry Jolette, WOCCU board chair and president/CEO of San Mateo CU, Redwood City, Calif., and Manuel Rabines, WOCCU first vice chair and CEO of Federación Nacional de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito del Perú (FENACREP), WOCCU's member organization in Peru. Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer, cited a recent example of how network members have capitalized on advantages offered by the group. At a previous network event, member Dolores Rivera Ramirez of Mexico's Caja Zongolica shared how the credit union used PDA (personal digital assistant) technology to bring credit union services to its rural members. The idea resonated with Roxy Ostrem from Ventura County CU, Ventura, Calif., who initiated a similar program to reach out to local agricultural workers who lacked access to financial services. "Dolores set out to improve people's lives by bringing the credit union to where they lived and worked, and the idea resonated with Roxy," Branch said. "The Global Women's Leadership Network is about providing women with resources and opportunities that make similar differences in the lives of each other, their credit union members and their communities." The GAC breakfast was the network's first event of the year. This year's Global Women's Leadership Forum will be held with WOCCU's World Credit Union Conference, July 24-27 in Glasgow, Scotland. For more information use the link. The second annual Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions Golf Tournament benefitting the network will take place on July 28 at the Carrick Course on Loch Lomond, Scotland. The tournament is presented by CO-OP Financial Services and will raise funds to help alleviate poverty through the empowerment of women worldwide. Last year's tournament raised US$60,000 to support WOCCU's global development programs. For more information, visit the link. "In the fight against poverty, both here and abroad, women in credit unions are often on the front lines, driving innovation to help millions of people who would otherwise be left behind by the financial system," said Sue Mitchell, network chair and president/CEO of Mitchell, Stankovic and Associates, a credit union consulting firm. "Access to affordable financial services can be life-changing, providing the building blocks for all of us to raise healthier families and stronger communities, and forge a more stable nation."