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Marketing council conference attracts record attendees

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NEW ORLEANS (3/9/12)--A record number of credit union marketers--nearly 450--are attending the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference in New Orleans, said David Rohn, vice president of CUNA Councils.

The conference began Wednesday and ends Saturday. Wednesday's preconference sessions covered topics such as: advanced sales techniques, creating a compelling marketing plan, social media tactics and an "apprentice workshop," where attendees visited a nonprofit restaurant that provides life skills and job training to at-risk youth.

At an orientation for first-time attendees, several CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Executive Committee members encouraged newcomers to tap fellow council members for ideas.

"Networking is huge," said Nancy Hutchinson, senior vice president of marketing and business development for Minnesota Power Employees CU in Duluth, describing someone she'd met 10 years ago with whom she still maintains contact. "Network with the people around you and learn from them," she added.

"Most of us have no people, no budget, and no time," noted Amy Davis, vice president of marketing for Red Canoe CU, Longview, Wash. "But we take back what we learn here and do something with it."

"Share your story so we can steal your ideas," said Sean McDonald, director of business development for Mid-State FCU in Cateret, N.J., and council chair. The former banker added that he loves the spirit of credit unions, which includes working together.

Columbia CU growth rate above nations

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VANCOUVER, Wash. (3/9/12)--Despite a lagging economy that caused some Vancouver, Wash.-area financial institutions to struggle, Columbia CU posted growth that was above the national averages for 2011, said the credit union.

The $815 million asset credit union saw increases in assets, loans and income over the previous year, and passed national averages in categories such as savings and checking growth, loan originations and membership, said a press release from the $815 million asset credit union.

Columbia's savings accounts and checking accounts each increased 24%, compared with the 11.3% savings and  2.2% checking national growth. Its loan originations for the year rose at nearly twice the national rate, with member business lending  (MBL) originations growing 128% over its MBLs in 2010.

Like many of the nation's credit unions, Columbia's membership rose, with its highest yearly levels in October and November. It posted a net increase of 7.4% over 2010.  The credit union attributed its growth to the additional media attention generated by Bank Transfer Day and an increased awareness of local financial institutions.

"We're actively seeking ways to welcome new members and show them how a Columbia membership can benefit their finances," said Columbia President/CEO Steve Kenny. He attributed Columbia's growth largely to "the underlying credit union principle of 'people helping people,'" and noted that one of Columbia's core values is "making life better."

Additional milestones for 2011 included:

  • Loan growth. Columbia ranked as the No. 1 Clark County vehicle lender. It also surpassed Chase and US Bank in mortgage lending, ranking as the No. 1 mortgage lender in November and No. 2 in December.
  • Deposit growth. The credit union was the top Clark County deposit holder, surpassing the largest deposit holder--Chase Bank--by $20 million.
  • Capital strength.  Columbia maintained capital levels over 9% for the past five years, well above the 7% regulators define as "well-capitalized."
  • Community support.  Management staff volunteered more than 1,200 hours to local organizations and helped raise nearly $2.9 million for area nonprofits.  It received the 2011 Nonprofit Excellence Award for Corporate Community Support for helping nonprofits.

Mad City Money gives students financial realities

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LONG BEACH, Calif. (3/9/12)--Eighty-five California high school students participating in the Upward Bound Program experienced real world responsibility during a Mad City Money financial simulation Feb.18 at California State University of Long Beach.

"I learned to put things you need in front of things you want," commented one student, as Kinecta FCU volunteers introduced 85 California high school students to the real world of budgeting in the Mad City Money simulation held Feb. 18 at California State University of Long Beach. (Photo provided by CUNA)
Mad City Money is a simulation game created by the Credit Union National Association where students are "transported" into Mad City. They must manage all of their financial responsibilities on their own. Participants are given jobs and yearly salaries and are then allowed to buy cars, feed their families and make the types of financial decisions adults make every day.

The event was sponsored by Kinecta FCU, a $3.12 billion asset credit union in Manhattan Beach, Calif., and the Upward Bound Program, a federal program that serves high school students from low-income families and provides opportunities to pursue higher education.

"In a society where the first principles of money management have been taken out of so many classrooms, Mad City Money gives students a chance to make mistakes and have a 'do over' in a fun and forgiving environment," said Latrice McGlothin, Kinecta community programs manager.

For many students, the two-hour simulation was an exercise in trial and error. "Don't live outside of your budget," one student advised after taking part in Mad City Money. Another stated, "The real world is not a game." One student was taken aback by the amount of debt one can accumulate so quickly. "I should have taken time to see all of what I needed to purchase before I started," he said. As in ordinary life, expenses in Mad City tended to add up.

"Financial workshops like Mad City Money are paramount in helping students experience life lessons without the pain that can come along with the dramatic events in the real world," McGlothin said. "I'm confident that the mistakes our students made in the simulation will become the smart choices they make tomorrow."

CUs remain on top in 2011 customer satisfaction survey

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MADISON, Wis. (3/9/12)--Credit unions top the list of U.S. financial institutions when it comes to member/customer satisfaction, according to a new survey released Thursday.

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Members/customers claim they were more satisfied last year in their interactions with credit union and bank call center representatives than in 2010, according to the 2011Customer Experience with Call Center Representatives Survey by Prime Performance, which advises credit unions and banks on improving the client experience.

Based on a recent interaction with a call center representative, credit union members rate their overall satisfaction with a net score of 83%. The comparable score for small banks (banks with less than 300 branches) is 79% The industry average is 70%. Falling below that are: large banks (300 to 4,000 branches), 66%; Chase, 62%; Wells Fargo, 61%; and Bank of America, 56%.

A net satisfaction score is the percent of satisfied customers minus the percent of dissatisfied ones. A score of 100% is perfect.

"In face-to-face interactions, customers are more satisfied with the service they receive in all bank categories," said Jim S. Miller, Prime Performance president. "On the phone, satisfaction with service is up for credit unions, small banks and large banks, but not for the three mega-banks: Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo."

The industry average net satisfaction score increased 3% from 2010. Credit unions increased 2%. Large banks experienced the greatest increase at 5%, followed by small banks--4%.The net scores at Bank of America and Wells Fargo dropped by 2% each. Chase saw a drop of 1%.

Satisfaction increased the most among Gen X customers (born between 1965 and 1980), up 7%, followed by Gen Y (born after 1980), up 5%. Satisfaction among boomers and older customers (born before 1965) remained flat. The greatest increase in satisfaction was 8% over 2010 for customers earning more than $100,000 per year.

The survey was conducted in August and September with more than 8,000 members/customers who had recently been assisted by a representative at a credit union, small bank, large bank or one of the three mega-banks--Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo.

For a full copy of the report, use the link.

California Coast CUs mobile banking gains traction

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SAN DIEGO (3/9/12)--Less than six months after rolling out its new mobile banking service, San Diego-based California Coast CU already has more than 11,000 members--nearly 10% of its membership--enlisted in the service.

"Our members are rapidly adopting this new technology because it clearly provides much greater freedom and convenience," said Kevin Landel, senior vice president of information services at $1.5 billion asset California Coast CU. "The credit union took great care in selecting one of the industry's most versatile and secure mobile banking apps for our members."

While there are numerous mobile banking apps currently in use, features and capabilities can vary significantly, Landel said. In addition to standard features such as the ability to check account balances, view transaction histories and transfer funds between accounts, the new banking app available to California Coast members offers a few extra perks.

Cal Coast members enlisted in mobile banking can pay bills online, graphically track and display spending habits, locate a branch or the nearest surcharge-free ATMs and access the credit union's website.

Even though mobile banking was marketed through various channels, the major growth came from marketing in our online banking channel and through multiple e-mail campaigns," said Tracy Fournier, California Coast's senior online marketer. As an example, the initial e-mail communication generated a 96.3% increase in adoption.  

"Smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices are quickly gaining ground on personal computers as the preferred path to accessing the Internet," Landel added.

CUNA DSEF debut consumer protection video for NCPW

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MADISON, Wis. (3/9/12)--In recognition of National Consumer Protection Week, the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) is providing links on its website to online resources created by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

One video is designed to help small-business owners recognize specific types of fraud.

Six scams businesses should watch out for include:

1. Directory scams;

2. Supply scams;

3. Overpayment scams;

4. Data breaches;

5. Award scams; and

6. Phishing e-mails.

DSEF also linked to three online short courses designed by CUNA with audio and visual materials to help consumers reach their financial goals. The topics of the courses are breaking the debt cycle, saving for retirement and budget basics.

To access the resources, use the links.

Texas league elects directors for 2012

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (3/9/12)--The mail balloting has been completed for the Texas Credit Union League's (TCUL) director elections in its South Central Region Asset Category Two and South East Region Asset Category Three.

The other 10 directorships had one candidate; so no further voting was required.

The 12 directors were elected under a new TCUL board structure, composed of four regions with three asset categories in each region.

Directors for the North East Region include:

  • Z. Suzanne Chism, Texas Health Resources CU, Dallas, Asset Category One;
  • Kay Stewart, North East Texas CU, Lone Star, Asset Category Two; and
  • Jim Brisendine, Resource One CU, Dallas, Asset Category Three.
South East Region:
  • James S. Tuggle, Transtar FCU, Houston, Asset Category One;
  • Kenny Harrington, MemberSource CU, Houston, Asset Category Two; and
  • Paul Withey, Texas Bay Area CU, Houston, Asset Category Three.
South Central Region: 
  • Carol Murray, Express-News FCU, San Antonio, Asset Category One;
  • JoBetsy Tyler, First Central CU, Waco, Asset Category Two; and
  • Tony C. Budet, University FCU, Austin, Asset Category Three.
 West Region:
  • Nancy Croix Stroud, First Class American CU, Fort Worth, Asset Category One;
  • Art Hornell, The People's FCU, Amarillo, Asset Category Two; and
  • Jim Minge, Texas Trust CU, Mansfield, Asset Category Three.
Under the new governance, the 12 elected directors take office upon the adjournment of the TCUL Annual Membership Meeting on April 18.

A trend CUs nab various best workplace awards

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MADISON, Wis. (3/9/12)--Many know that credit unions are good places to work, but several credit unions in the past couple of months have earned recognition with various "best workplace" awards. It could be the making of a trend.

It's natural for employees to feel good about the People Helping People philosophy at their credit unions, but these workplace awards look at more than philosophy in assessing the work environment.  Most awards are presented after considering specific criteria.

The workplace awards result from feedback from the employees themselves. They don't include lists such as best financial institution and best credit union or most popular financial institution.

Here are the latest credit unions recognized for their work environment:

  • Rogue FCU, a $541 million asset credit union in Medford, Ore., was listed in Oregon Business Magazine's annual "100 Best Companies to Work For" in the large company (more than 100 employees) .  Rogue has 193 employees. More than 14,000 employees from 263 companies participated in the survey, which considered work environment, management and communications, decision-making and trust, career development and learning; and benefits and compensation (Mail March 8).
  • Eli Lilly FCU (ELFCU), a $900 million asset credit union in Indianapolis, Ind., was one of two credit unions honored in "Best Places to Work in Indiana" by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. The top companies were determined through employer reports and comprehensive employee surveys. Winners are selected in two asset size categories: small to medium companies with 15 to 249 U.S. employees, and large companies with more 250 or more employees nationwide.  Eli Lilly FCU also was one of two credit unions recognized internationally by the American Society for Training & Development's (ASTD) BEST Award, the training industry's most prestigious recognition. (See Summit CU entry for more details on that award.)
  • Financial Center (Finance Center FCU), a $415 million asset credit union in Indianapolis, was the other credit union listed in the "Best Places to Work in Indiana.  "Being named as one of the best places to work in Indiana is important for the future of Financial Center because it is our ability to retain quality staff that makes the difference when serving member," said Kevin Ryan, Financial Center president/CEO.
  • A+ FCU, Austin, Texas, was selected as a 2011 Top Workplace by the Austin-American Statesman, the second consecutive year the $857.5 million asset credit union has appeared on the list.  "Our inward focus gives us an immense external advantage," said Kerry A.S. Parker, CEO. "Happy employees strive to provide exceptional service, which leads to satisfied members.  A+ employees go the extra mile to build and develop their own skill sets as well as financial partnerships with the community." Workplace Dynamics, which conducted the survey, considered direction, execution, pay and benefits, career opportunities, management and working conditions.  A+ received especially high ratings in career opportunities.
  • Unity One CU, Fort Worth, Texas, was named one of the Best Companies to Work for in Texas 2012 by the Best Companies Group last month.  The survey of employees focused on eight areas: leadership and planning, corporate culture and communications, role satisfaction, work environment, relationship with supervisor, training and development, pay and benefits, and overall engagement.  The credit union scored especially high on strategic planning, fair compensation, flexibility, cross-training and an attractive benefits package, said CEO Gary Williams.  "This honor confirms that when you hire the right people and try to reward them personally, professionally and financially, great things can happen," he added.
  • Summit CU, Madison, Wis., with $1.671 billion assets, was one of two credit unions to receive the ASTA BEST award, ranking No. 8 out of 32 international award winners.  The awards recognize organizations that demonstrate enterprise-wide success through employee learning and development each year. The recognition is based on Summit's overall commitment to and investment in employee learning, and proactive partnership in each individual's professional growth and development. "Whether it is internal Web-based learning, instructor-led learning, job shadowing, or external educational options, our employees have access to continuous, customized learning," said Kim Sponem, Summit CEO/president. "We believe that by providing employees with world-class training and encouraging ongoing professional development, we are positively impacting not only Summit's productivity and efficiency, but our overall culture as well.  By extension, we demonstrate our commitment to our members and provide them with the best service possible."

CU System briefs (03/08/2012)

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  • HARRISBURG, Pa.  (3/9/12)--Keystone FCU, based in West Chester, Pa., has formed a South Chester County Advisory Group of several members of the Hispanic community to help the $80 million asset credit union support the Hispanic community and learn more about its needs, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) (Life is a Highway March 8).  "Many people are unaware of the benefits of being a member in a credit union, and we want to change that" in the Hispanic community in Avondale and New Garden, said Christine Woods, president/CEO. "We offer a variety of financial services to our members and want to make sure we're delivering what the community wants and needs," she told PCUA. The credit union's Avondale branch has bilingual staff to serve members there …
  • COLUMBUS, Ohio (3/9/12)--Credit Union of Ohio, based in Columbus, announced the winners of its fourth annual video scholarship competition Tuesday on the Ohio State University (OSU) campus. Eight OSU students received scholarships. The competition, themed "Think Bucks, Go Nuts,"  asked undergrads to use a video format to show how they manage their money and what they do with extra cash, as well as explain how the credit union can help.  Winning the $5,000 first place was a team of three OSU students, Avathar Brar, Ryan Carlton and Joseph Magro, who submitted the video, "Pay It Forward." Each member of the team received about $1,660.  The $1,500 second prize went to team members Sage Boggs, John Werenecke, Katie Drown, Rachel Rustemeyer and Stephen Doughten. They each received $500.  The videos can be viewed at the credit union's Facebook page … 
  • INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (3/9/12)--Eli Lilly FCU (ELFCU) has teamed up with personal finance expert and author Peter Dunn, known as Pete the Planner, to launch a contest focused on helping individuals change the direction of their lives. The contest is inspired by Dunn's principles from his book 60 Days to Change: A Daily How-To Guide with Actionable Tips for Improving Your Financial Life.  The 500 contest participants--both members and nonmembers--will receive a free copy of the book if they commit to the 60-day program and report back with a written or video essay explaining the changes they realized in their financial lives. The contest runs from April 2 to May 31 and focuses on debt reduction, wealth accumulation and daily savings.  Contestants get access to Pete the Planner and his expertise via weekly e-mails and exclusive Q&Q sessions on ELFCU's Facebook and Twitter pages.  ELFCU and Dunn will award three winners $1,000 each to support their continued journey to permanent financial change. A dual contest will be held for credit union employees …
  • MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (3/9/12)--MY CU Services LLC, Mid Atlantic Corporate  FCU's payment services credit union service organization (CUSO), has hired Howard Stein as chief operating officer. Stein most recently served as senior vice president, chief information officer and director of operations at Graystone Bank, now part of Susquehanna Bank in Lancaster, Pa. While there, he served as division leader for operations, information technology and the bank's call center. Drew Kishbaugh, MY CU Services president/CEO, noted that the CUSO is seeing volumes and activity grow as more credit unions begin using the company's payment services program. Stein's priorities will be to grow the CUSO's existing payment services and develop new products and services, Kishbaugh said …