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CU System briefs (03/28/2014)

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  • RALEIGH, N.C. (3/28/14)--Carolinas Credit Union League President/CEO John Radebaugh announced the league is forming a working group to review the National Credit Union Administration's risk-based capital proposal (In the Loop March 27). He noted that the "proposal will have a dramatic impact on credit unions, particularly in its current form. A coordinated effort is under way to ensure that the NCUA rethinks the proposal and makes significant changes before approving a final rule." Jeanne Couchois, league vice president regulatory/compliance counsel, will leadp the working group. Affiliated credit unions interested in participating should contact Couchois at jcouchois@carolinasleague.org or Dan Schline, senior vice president association services, dschline@carolinasleague.org, by Monday ...
     
  • NEW YORK (3/28/14)--Monday is the registration deadline for early-bird pricing for the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions' annual conference. The federation is celebrating its 40th anniversary at this year's conference, set for May 14-15 in Detroit. Preferred hotel pricing is available until April 7 ...
     
  • CARIBOU, Maine (3/28/14)--The County FCU, a $190 million-asset credit union based in Caribou, Maine, announced Ryan Ellsworth will be its new president/CEO, effective June 2. Currently executive vice president, Ellsworth will succeed Ken Hensler, who is retiring in July. The board conducted a national search for the position and received 43 candidates. Board Chairman Shawn Anderson said Ellsworth is well-known in the community and is "the consummate financial professional," adding, "He competed with highly qualified candidates on a national level, but in the end the best choice was one of our own" ...

Data security laws need state attention too, says Calif. league

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (3/28/14)--California credit union leaders are looking to apply pressure on state lawmakers to ratchet up security standards for merchants in safeguarding consumer financial information.

To double-down on that effort, members of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues are urging industry professionals to attend its 2014 Government Relations Rally in Sacramento, so legislators can hear their concerns loud and clear: that inequity exists in current data security laws.

 "As with all legislative pushes of this scope, it's important that we share our viewpoint on what a good solution looks like," Bob Arnould, league vice president of advocacy, told CU Weekly (March 26). "Without credit union input, there is a significant threat of faulty approaches being included in legislation meant to fix the data security problem."

The credit union advocacy and educational event will take place April 7-8.

The Credit Union National Association estimates that credit unions nationwide have thus far incurred costs of $30.6 million just for the Target breach alone, and reissued around 4.6 million credit and debit cards.

CUNA has asked the U.S. Congress to address data security concerning merchants, who aren't held to the same standards as credit unions and other financial institutions.

"Data breaches are more prevalent than ever, and California's laws need updating to better protect consumers when they swipe their cards," Arnould said.

CUNA Strategic Services elects board for 2014

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MADISON, Wis. (3/28/14)--The board of CUNA Strategic Services Inc. (CSS) elected its members and executive directors for 2014.
 
Rod Staatz, president/CEO, SECU, Linthicum, Md., was re-elected to a three-year term on the board. He was elected chairman of the board, replacing Dennis Pierce, president/CEO, CommunityAmerica CU, Lenexa, Kan. Pierce now serves as chairman of the Credit Union National Association and as an ex officio on the CSS board.
 
Scott Earl, president/CEO, Mountain West Credit Union Association, also was re-elected to a three-year term on the board and as vice chairman. Murray Williams, chief operating officer, Iowa Credit Union League, was appointed to serve a one-year term as the LSC Executive ex-officio.
 
Tony Budet, president/CEO, University FCU, Austin, Texas, is new to the CSS board, being elected for a three-year term. Other board members are:
  • Robert Cashman, president/CEO, Metro CU, Chelsea, Mass.;
  • Mark Cummins, president/CEO, Minnesota Credit Union Network;
  • Diana Dykstra, president/CEO, California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues;
  • Roger Heacock, president/CEO, Black Hills FCU, Rapid City, S.D.;
  • Bill Cheney, president/CEO, CUNA (ex officio); and
  • Wendell Lyons, president/ CEO, Kentucky Credit Union League, and chair, American Association of Credit Union Leagues (ex officio).
The executive committee consists of Staatz, chairman; Earl, vice chairman; Cummins, secretary; and Cashman, treasurer.
 
Outgoing board members were Pat Wesenberg, president, Central City CU, Marshfield, Wis.; Eric Gelly, executive vice president/chief operating officer, Carolinas Credit Union League; and Bill Mellin, president/CEO, Credit Union Association of New York.

Record $710K raised for CMNH in Calif., Nev.

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DANA POINT, Calif. (3/28/14)--The ninth annual California and Nevada Credit Unions for Kids Wine Auction raised a record $710,000 for the 11 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals in California and Nevada.
 
The sold-out event, which took place March 14 in Dana Point, Calif. drew more than 415 attendees and was supported by more than 150 credit unions, business partners and hospitals. More than $2.6 million has been raised by the Credit Unions for Kids Wine Auction since 2006.
 
Under the umbrella of Credit Unions for Kids, the credit union movement is the third-largest corporate contributor to CMN Hospitals, behind only Wal-Mart and Costco. Credit Unions for Kids has raised more than $110 million for CMN Hospitals since its inception in 1996.
 
"Through the efforts and generosity of our amazing sponsors, donors, and volunteers, we have once again surpassed all expectations by raising a record amount of money for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and the 11 Children's Hospitals in California and Nevada," said Jeff York, event chairman and president and CEO of CoastHills FCU.  "The remarkable success of the auction reflects credit unions' close relationship with and commitment to their local communities."   
 
With a Great Gatsby, Roaring Twenties theme, the evening included fine dining, dancing and both silent and live auctions.  Attendees had the opportunity to bid on more than 350 gift packages that included bottles of fine wine, vacations, sporting events and a collection of premium whiskeys. Charity auctioneer and comedian Sean Kelly entertained attendees and was the event's wine auctioneer.
 
"Our credit union partners have demonstrated remarkable generosity and unwavering commitment to our California and Nevada children's hospitals with their support of this year's wine auction," said Joe Dearborn, Credit Unions for Kids senior director. "It's a true testament to the credit union philosophy of people helping people. The Credit Unions for Kids Wine Auction is the largest single national fundraising event for Credit Unions for Kids."
 
Corporate sponsors of this year's event were CU Direct, the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, CO-OP Financial Services and CUNA Mutual Group.

Food bank honors Maine CUs with humanitarian award

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AUBURN, Maine (3/28/14)--For a statewide campaign to end hunger, Maine credit unions collectively will be awarded next week the JoAnn Pike Humanitarian Award, sponsored by the Maine-based Good Shepherd Food Bank.

Through the Maine Credit Unions League's Campaign for Ending Hunger, credit unions across the state have raised more than $5 million since 1990 to help end hunger in the state (Sun Journal March 26).

The 2013 campaign raised a record $513,000.

As one in four children in Maine are considered food insecure, league leaders know they're focusing their efforts in the right places.

"(It's) one of the most important issues that we are dealing with in Maine," said Jon Paradise, MCUL vice president of governmental and public affairs. "Maine's credit unions are committed to being a leader in doing whatever we can to help the nearly 15% of Mainers ... who are food insecure."

The league campaign also just announced an extension of its support with a multi-year commitment to aid Good Shepherd in its ongoing effort to end childhood hunger.

In addition to donating funds to food pantries, Maine-based credit unions also send funds to other statewide initiatives that strive to end hunger.

But the community support doesn't end there. They also raise funds to promote financial literacy and to support other organizations in Maine, such as the Red Cross, Special Olympics, according to the Sun Journal (March 26).  

Credit union employees in the state have given more than 293,000 hours volunteering, setting a record last year with 37,000 hours.

N.Y. state lawmakers stress importance of face-to-face visits

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ALBANY, N.Y. (3/28/14)--Opportunities for one-on-one time with lawmakers can be few and far between. That's why New York State legislators are encouraging credit union leaders to come to Albany April 28-30 for the Credit Union Association of New York's State Governmental Affairs Conference (The Point March 27).

Credit union leaders who attend will have many chances to sit down with the elected officials who represent them.

"Credit unions and credit union members are a key part of my constituency," said Sen. Joseph Griffo (R-Rome). "It's important for me to know what challenges they're facing and what I can do to help address those challenges. By spending face-to-face time together during events like the association's Governmental Affairs Conference, we can keep the dialogue open."

Assemblywoman Annette Robinson (D-Brooklyn), who chairs the Assembly's bank committee, said it's important for credit union leaders to share their "valuable insights," no matter if they relate to legislative reform or local community initiatives.

"Relationships are built on communication," added Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford). "So it's critical that we as elected representatives hear from our constituents. For groups like credit unions that have such a significant impact on their communities, participating in the political process is extremely important."

SEFCU part of N.Y. bridge loan program for women, minorities

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ALBANY, N.Y. (3/28/14)--SEFCU is one of five lenders--and the only credit union--participating in a statewide program that aims to expand access to short-term bridge loans for minority- and women-owned businesses in New York.
 
"This new loan program will provide small businesses and entrepreneurs--specifically those that are owned by women and minorities--the opportunity to compete for and execute state contracts by providing the working capital they need," said Michael Castellana, president/CEO of the $2.7 billion-asset credit union (The Point March 27).
 
Under the "Bridge to Success" program, Albany, N.Y.-based SEFCU and other lenders will make $20 million available in short-term, working capital loans to qualifying businesses.
 
Most loans made through the program will be for less than $200,000 and with terms of less than two years. The funds can be used to hire staff, buy materials or purchase equipment.
 
"We believe by providing these young companies, as well as seasoned ones, the necessary cash flow, they can compete and expand their business, boosting the economic vitality of our region," Castellana said.

Fla. wraps up state GAC with official visits

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (3/28/14)--The Florida Credit Union Association Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), held Tuesday and Wednesday, featured interaction with lawmakers, regulators, the media and award presentations.
 
The first day of the GAC was dedicated to visits with lawmakers (eSignal March 25 and March 26). The primary issues stressed by credit union representatives were public deposits, data security, financial literacy and regulatory relief. Forty-seven attendees made 27 visits with legislators that included Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Destin) and House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel), among others.
 
Click to view larger image From left, Sen. Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah) accepts the Florida Credit Union Association Lawmaker of the Year Award from Jared Ross, League of Southeastern Credit Unions senior vice president of association services.
Many lawmakers also attended a reception Tuesday evening.
 
Earlier in the day, the state GAC kicked off with a welcome from League of Southeastern Credit Unions President/CEO Patrick La Pine.  
 
Wednesday featured presentations by regulators, lawmakers, cabinet members, the media and award presentations. Sen. Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah) was honored as the LSCU Lawmaker of the Year. Garcia was a sponsor of a public deposits bill in 2013, and this year he partnered with two credit unions to offer financial literacy to Spanish-speaking citizens. Incoming Senate President, Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando), provided attendees with an overview of this year's legislation and applauded credit unions for the work they do in their communities.
 
Click to view larger image Florida credit union representatives visited House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) during the Florida Credit Union Association's Governmental Affairs Conference this week. From left, Art Wood, president/CEO, Railroad and Industrial FCU, Tampa; Mary Wood, LSCU board chairman and president/CEO of Florida West Coast CU, Brandon; Weatherford; Marie Peet, president/CEO, West Coast Federal Employees CU, Sarasota; Gary Vien, senior vice president, Suncoast CU, Tampa; and Kevin Johnson, executive vice president, Suncoast CU. (League of Southeastern Credit Unions photos)
National Credit Union Administration Region III Director Myra Toeppe and Florida Office of Financial Regulation Credit Unions Chief Bruce Ricca were among the speakers. Toeppe said interest-rate risk and cybersecurity are the NCUA's top priorities for 2014. She also discussed risk-based capital and encouraged credit unions to comment about the NCUA's proposed risk-based capital rule before the May 28 deadline.
 
Ricca described how 75% of Florida's credit unions were capitalized over 10%, while none were under 7%. He said his department would continue to encourage state examiners to work with credit unions on problems.
 
Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau Chief Steve Bosquet provided an overview of upcoming elections and what to expect in Florida's governor's race. He also said that the governor's race would be one of the races most watched by the national media.

Filene seeks CUs for Just4You testing panel

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MADISON, Wis. (3/28/14)--The Filene Research Institute is seeking three to five credit unions to participate in its Just4You member service program.
 
Developed by a team of Filene i3 innovators, Just4You provides member service representatives (MSRs) with six questions to help guide a member's experience and product selection.
 
The multiple-choice questions help MSRs identify a profile and the appropriate products and services for the member.
 
According to Filene, initial tests of Just4You showed one credit union saw an increase of members using three or more products to 13% from 4%. Another credit union more than doubled its rate of credit card acquisition by new members.
 
Deadline to apply for the panel is Wednesday.

Member experience at CUs high across channels

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MADISON, Wis. (3/27/14)--Credit unions continue to be heralded for their excellent service--in person and online, according to two recent surveys.
 
Credit unions ranked at the top of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) for website experience. ACSI's new survey measured more than 200 companies within 33 industry categories, and it found that credit unions had the highest satisfaction score of 86.
 
The national average website satisfaction index clocked in at 78.2, and consumer shipping and banks came in at just a tick mark shy of credit unions at 85. Social media was at the bottom of the list with a ranking of 68.
 
Two of the top three industries for website satisfaction--credit unions and consumer shipping--also do well in terms of overall customer satisfaction, ACSI said. The third-quarter 2013 score placed credit unions at 85 for member satisfaction.
 
Banks, however, have an overall customer satisfaction score of 78, which falls well below their website rating and credit unions' overall satisfaction rating.
 
Also, research firm Temkin Group found that credit unions earned an 81% rating for customer/member experience across 19 industries covering 268 companies. The term "a credit union" ranked higher than any branded bank with a proper name in the financial institution portion of the survey.
 
In fact this is the second year credit unions have been at the top of the Temkin Experience Ratings, which measure:
  • Functional: How well do experiences meet customers' needs?
  • Accessible: How easy is it for customers to do what they want to do?
  • Emotional: How do customers feel about the experiences?
Overall, credit unions tied for eighth place, coming in behind grocery stores such as H.E.B., Trader Joe's and Aldi, and fast-food restaurants Chick-fil-A and Sonic Drive-in. Credit unions are 10 points above the industry average for their category as well.

CU difference more than tax status: Minn. Business

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MINNEAPOLIS (3/27/14)-- Minnesota Business Magazine recently ran an article describing the "war" raging between credit unions and banks. The piece also highlighted the key differences between the two types of financial institutions.

While bank representatives were quoted heavily questioning the tax status of credit unions, credit union leaders like Pat Brekken, president of Richfield-Bloomington CU, Richfield, Minn., with $254 million in assets, spent his time explaining how credit unions differ from their banking counterparts--and why members who manage their money with credit unions hold an advantage.

"Banks, I believe, try to maximize profits for their shareholders," Brekken said in the March 26 article. "Profits of the bank are dispersed to the owners (stockholders) through dividends at year end. Credit unions try to maximize returns to their owners as well, which again are the entire membership, but do it...in the form of lower loan rates, higher savings rates or lower fees. This is how credit unions pay back their member owners."

Banks hold 91.3% of the market share of deposits in Minnesota, compared with 8.7% at credit unions.

Commercial lending is also dominated by banks because of the regulatory limits with which credit unions must contend. Credit unions are limited to 12.25% of total assets in member business loans and $100,000 unsecured lines of credit to any one business.

Brekken, who has regularly approached state legislators in Minnesota about increasing member business lending limits for credit unions, says one of the best things that could happen for businesses in his state would be to allow credit unions to lend to businesses at a higher rate.

"And credit unions are limited to 15% of capital as the largest amount they are able to lend to any one member, including businesses," Brekken told Minnesota Business Magazine.

The Credit Union National Association is pushing for the U.S. Congress to raise the member business lending cap to 27.5% of assets, from 12.25%, to allow credit unions to do even more to support the small business lending needs of their communities.

CUNA estimates the MBL cap change would help credit unions lend an additional $13 billion to small businesses in just the first year after the statutory change. The additional money, made available at no expense to taxpayers, would help small businesses create around 140,000 new jobs.

Despite banks' strong grip on the market in Minnesota, credit unions have made up ground of late, like many states throughout the country. According to Brekken, as people have become "fed up with the bailouts or the high fees and impersonal service of big banks," awareness of and membership at credit unions has increased.

Richfield-Bloomington, for example, experienced more than 10% net member growth in 2011.

Looking ahead, one key long-term strategy for credit unions centers on financial literacy. The recession demonstrated that many people don't know how to manage their money effectively.

"This realization reaffirmed credit unions' commitment to financial literacy, which is something that they've been doing for decades," said Mark Cummins, Minnesota Credit Union Network president/CEO. "In fact credit unions around the state provided more than 110,000 hours of formal and informal financial education to more than 37,600 consumers and members."

Ark. governor most recent to proclaim Fin. Lit. month

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (3/27/14)--All three states represented by the Cornerstone Credit Union League have now proclaimed April National Financial Literacy Month.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe signed his state's proclamation March 19, joining Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who both proclaimed that April 2014 be National Financial Literacy Month in their respective states recently as well.

National Financial Literacy Month is described as a time to "highlight the importance of financial literacy and to teach Americans to establish and maintain healthy financial habits."

"Whatever their income level, Arkansans can have a bright future if they take charge of their financial management skills today," Beebe said in the Arkansas proclamation. "Financial education plays a key role in helping our youth mature into responsible adults, and ultimately leads our adults to financial freedom."

Many credit unions, partner organizations and schools celebrate the month with promotional events and additional educational opportunities.

"At this time, I encourage all Texans to recognize the importance of saving, investing and having clear financial goals," Perry said. "Through the application of sound financial planning principles, we can live well now and in the future."

Maine CU ready to help workers after plant closes

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PITTSFIELD, Maine (3/27/14)--Sebasticook Valley FCU, with $78 million in assets, Pittsfield, Maine, has extended an offer of assistance to its membership after a business announced plans to shut down a local plant next year.
 
Last week, United Technologies Corp. (UTC) announced that it is closing its plant in Pittsfield, costing the state about 300 jobs ( The Washington Times March 19). The plant will close in March 2015. UTC provides technology products and services to the global aerospace and building systems industries.
 
Within days of the announcement, Sebasticook Valley FCU contacted affected members to offer support, such as loan restructuring or budgeting.
 
"We looked in our database to find members that were employed there and sent a letter out telling them if they needed anything or if they had any questions we would be here to help," President/CEO James Lemieux told News Now .
 
About 150 to 200 UTC employees are members of the credit union, Lemieux said.
 
A few members have already taken the credit union up on the offer, he said.
 
A local television station also ran a story about Sebasticook FCU's offer of support. To view the story, use the link.  

CU System briefs (03/27/2014)

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  • LYNCHBURG, Va. (3/27/14)-- The Virginia Credit Union League added a special session on risk-based capital during its upcoming annual meeting . The April 3 session will address the National Credit Union Administration's proposed risk-based capital rule with panelists from the Credit Union National Association--Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn and Chief Economist Bill Hampel. Those interested in attending the session do not have to be registered for the annual meeting, but the league is asking those who are interested to contact them at pr@vacul.org ( Current March 20) ...
  • PROVIDENCE, R.I. (3/27/14)-- Thirty-one teams representing 11 credit unions struck gold with record-breaking fundraising during the Special Olympics Rhode Island bowling tournament Tuesday ( Daily CU Scan March 26). The Credit Union Association of Rhode Island's annual "Strike for Gold" fundraiser brought in more than $20,000. Two teams from Warwick-based Greenwood CU took first in the alleys and in donations. The Rhode Island unified bowling team will represent the state at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games in New Jersey in June. Greenwood CU bowlers Jim Irving (left), Cassie Novicky, Joslyn Clemm and Joe Lajoie celebrate their tournament win with Special Olympics athletes and unified partners Jill Neubauer, Jim Tourgee, (back), Jim Tourgee, Maureen Newbauer and coach Joni Lonczak ( Credit Union Association of Rhode Island photo) ...
  • PALM BEACH, Fla. (3/27/14)-- Velocity Community CU, a $283 million-asset credit union in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., boosted the efforts of Jupiter (Fla.) Community High School to install artificial turf in its stadium . The credit union donated $100,000, bringing the total funds raised to $650,000 of the $800,000 needed. The school is renaming its stadium to Velocity Community CU Stadium for the next five years ( The Palm Beach Post March 26) ...
  • BILOXI, Miss. (3/27/14)-- The $4.8 million-asset Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) FCU, Jackson, will merge with Keesler FCU, Biloxi , effective Monday with accounts being converted by June 30 ( CU Connection March 26). All MDOT employees will be able to join the $2.1 billion-asset credit union, which will retain MDOT FCU's branch and employees in Jackson  . . .

New Orleans business students learn about CU careers

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NEW ORLEANS (3/27/14)--Louisiana credit union representatives Tuesday addressed more than 60 business students during the University of New Orleans' (UNO) College of Business Career Week.
 
The "Careers in Credit Unions" session helped students gain a better understanding of credit unions and possible career paths available within credit union system.
 
"This was a great opportunity to get in front of a young audience and deliver our message," said Chris Maurer, president/CEO of $23 million-asset UNO FCU, New Orleans ( eNews March 26). "It is a testament to our commitment to the future of the credit union movement."
 
Joining Maurer was Lacey Hyer, Louisiana Credit Union League vice president of communications and public relations; Kati Buchanan, vice president of operations at $28 million-asset NAS JRB FCU, New Orleans; and Armand Parvazi, a graduate student at UNO who is responsible for UNO FCU's marketing and business development. Parvazi is also employed with the Parvazi Consulting Firm.

High-tech design increases branch security

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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (3/27/14)--Union Square FCU's newest branch is driven by technology, merging security with a Starbucks-like service experience.
 
The $324 million-asset credit union's branch includes time locks, hand scanners and mini vaults--known as cash recyclers--between teller stations that allow for cashless drawers. Members are served in a casual, open area "cash bar" ( Times Record News March 24).
 
Financial service representatives also staff a technology center to assist members with digital banking channels.
 
The branch's retail and mortgage sides run virtually autonomously, so each can run independently during extended hours on weeknights and weekends--an added security feature.
 
Multifactor authentication is required to access the branch's safe deposit vault. Members with safe deposit accounts must enter a PIN, and then place their hand on a scanner before they are allowed to enter the room. They also have a key to open their specific box.
 
When cash is dropped off by couriers, a high-tech video and entry system monitors activity, with a "man trap" in the entry way to ensure only authorized personnel access the building.

Charter change opens Mo. counties to CU services

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ST. LOUIS (3/27/14)--With its recent charter change, Poplar Bluff (Mo.) FCU will be able to serve six counties in southeast Missouri--including three that do not have any credit union services at all.
 
The $41 million-asset credit union received approval for a rural district community charter from the National Credit Union Administration and can serve the low-income designated area.
 
"The region is essentially without credit unions," said Kirk Mondy, president/chief operating officer ( Missouri Difference March 24).
 
"Three of these counties have no credit unions at all. One county has one credit union beside us, and another has only a branch office from a Michigan-based credit union," he added.
 
Poplar Bluff FCU previously was a multi-SEG charter with Butler County at its center. Dunklin, Ripley and Wayne counties do not have any credit union services, while Stoddard County has one other credit present.
 
"This charter expansion fits hand-in-glove with our NCUA low-income credit union designation and with our recent (community development financial institution) certification," Mondy said.

Neb. league launches young professionals group Friday

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OMAHA, Neb. (3/27/14)--The Nebraska Credit Union League will kick off the creation of its Young Professionals for Credit Unions (YPCU) with a Friday gathering.
 
The informational meeting will be from 7 to 10 p.m. at GLO in Omaha. The group aims to engage young credit union professionals through a wide variety of networking opportunities, educational seminars and community events.
 
"The skills acquired with a membership with YPCU are paramount to the success we push our young professionals to strive for within their credit unions," said Matt Hill, YPCU advisory board chairman.
 
Committee participation gives members a chance to work in recruitment, networking, philanthropy, marketing and professional development.
 
In addition to its new website, YPCU has a Facebook page and Twitter account (@ypcune).

CUANY announces movement award winners

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ALBANY, N.Y. (3/27/14)--The Credit Union Association of New York (CUANY) announced this week the winners of four of its Recognition Awards, which honor credit unions for their work in fields such as community service, member service and youth financial education.

Winners will be honored April 29 at the CUANY Governmental Affairs Conference  ( The Point March 26). First-place winners now advance to their respective national competitions in the fall.

First-place winners for the 2014 Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award are:
  • Clarence Community & Schools FCU, for credit unions with $5 million-$20 million in assets;
  • Western New York FCU, West Seneca, $20 million-$50 million in assets;
  • CORE FCU, Syracuse, $50 million-$100 million in assets;
  • Hudson River Community CU, Corinth, $100 million-$200 million in assets;
  • Sidney FCU, $200 million-$500 million in assets;
  • AmeriCU CU, Rome, more than $500 million in assets; and
  • The Utica-Rome Chapter of Credit Unions.
The first-place winner of the 2014 Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Member Service Award is Visions FCU, Endicott, in the more than $250 million in assets category.

First-place honors for the 2014 Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award went to:
  • Clarence Community & Schools FCU, less than $50 million in assets;
  • CORE FCU, $50 million-$150 million in assets; and
  • Corning FCU, more than $500 million in assets.
Hudson River Community CU also is the first-place winner of the 2014 Desjardins Adult Financial Education Award in the $150 million-$500 million in assets category.

Winners of CUANY's individual recognition awards will be announced in the weeks ahead, including for the New York Credit Union Hall of Fame, outstanding volunteer, outstanding professional and outstanding young professional. All will be honored at the association's annual meeting and convention.

CU System Briefs (03/26/2014)

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  • LIVONIA, Mich. (3/26/14)-- Online applications are being accepted through March 31 for Michigan credit union professionals under 30 who are interested in receiving complimentary registration to attend the Michigan Credit Union League's 2014 Annual Convention and Exposition. The event takes place June 5-7 in Grand Rapids ...
  • EAST WINDSOR, N.J. (3/26/14)-- New Jersey Credit Union League member credit unions have until the close of business today, to register for the special town hall meeting with Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney on April 1. There is no cost to attend. Register by contacting Mary Zelinsky at mzelinsky@njcul.org or 800-792-8861, ext. 100 ...

CU helps mom avoid financial ruin

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BILLINGS, Mont. (3/26/14)--A series of personal disasters had pushed one Montana woman out to the financial brink, before the work of a local credit union helped pull her back and put her back onto stable ground ( Yellowstone Valley Woman March 24).

The riveting story grabbed the attention of the local media in Billings as well, as a full-length feature article was printed in the latest edition of the Yellowstone Valley Woman , which reaches about 80,000 people.

The misfortune for Kim Olivo began when her husband left her and her three children about 12 years ago. In addition to losing her husband, she also lost the job she held at a business the couple ran together.

Olivo would meet someone new after the divorce, but before the two could marry, the man died of cancer, leaving her and her children without the financial support a legal marriage might have provided. She was also left without the security of a job, as Olivo had left hers to take care of her sick fiancé.

As the tragedies mounted in her life, meanwhile, so too did the unpaid bills, and the mother of three's financial situation severely deteriorated. Olivo had amassed substantial credit card debt and, behind on mortgage payments, the bank threatened to foreclose on her house, forcing her to file for bankruptcy.

Back working a waitressing job she'd held in the past--in addition to painting and cleaning houses on nights and weekends--Olivo could not mend her hemorrhaging financial situation.

But her luck turned.

Before his passing, Olivo's fiancé had called on Billings (Mont.) FCU, with $108 million in assets, to take out a home equity loan. Remembering this, Olivo headed to Billings and attempted to secure a similar loan, which she hoped she could leverage for more affordable mortgage payments. 

"I looked through Kim's credit history and the only way I could help get her out of trouble was to call the credit card companies to see if they would settle for less," Tina Lorenz, Billings loan manager, told Yellowstone Valley Woman . "We could see what a worker Kim was and all she had been through. It was obvious her drive to do it was there, so we decided to give her a loan."

Olivo secured the home equity loan, and used the funds to pay off her credit cards, in addition to a pickup truck that her fiancé's family had allowed her to start paying off herself.

She then sold the truck, made some needed repairs on her home and, with a clean bill of financial health, was then able to begin putting money away instead of paying off credit card debt.

"Her credit improved and she was able to refinance the house with lower monthly payments, which allowed her to save," Lorenz said.

Now, thanks to Billings FCU, Olivo's credit has been repaired and she maintains a budget and a savings. She told Yellowstone she still waitresses, paints and cleans, but that she pays her bills now and puts away money.

"I work hard and I feel very blessed," she said. "It's such a relief."

Butler, Lewis named winners of Georgia Credit Union League Awards

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DULUTH, Ga. (3/26/14)--Georgia Credit Union Affiliates has named the winners of both its Lifetime Achievement and Eloise Woods Distinguished Service awards this week, the league's two highest honors.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Warren Butler, who during his 29 years of experience with credit unions served on several boards and committees--including a decade on the league's board of directors. He also served as CEO for Georgia United CU, Duluth, Ga., with $957 million in assets, for 10 years.

Named after Moses C. Davis, a Georgia credit union pioneer, the award honors a credit union leader who has overcome the common barriers to success.

"Like Mr. Davis, Warren Butler devoted a meaningful part of his career to identifiable change and lasting improvements for cooperative financial institutions," the release announcing the awards said.

The Eloise Woods Distinguished Service Award went to U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)--longtime friend of credit unions--who was one of the first legislators to support H.R. 1151, the 1998 law authorizing credit unions to have multiple common bonds among their memberships.

This year, Lewis also co-sponsored H.R. 688, the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Creation Act, which would provide credit unions with the authority to make additional member business loans.

The award is given to individuals who have worked to advance cooperative finance for the benefit of Georgia citizens.

New York Assembly passes prize-linked savings bill

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ALBANY, N.Y. (3/26/14)--A bill that would allow New York credit unions and other financial institutions to establish prize-linked savings accounts was passed by the New York State Assembly Monday.
 
The Credit Union Association of New York (CUANY) has actively advocated for the bill, A.9037, which was introduced by Annette Robinson (D-Metropolitan) earlier this month ( The Point March 25).
 
An identical version of the bill, S.6805, has been introduced in the state Senate by Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Metropolitan) and is waiting to be placed on the Senate Banks Committee agenda. CUANY is closely monitoring the bill's progress. If passed by the Senate, the two bills will be reconciled and sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be signed into law.
 
Similar legislation passed both houses of the state Legislature last year with strong bipartisan support before being vetoed by Cuomo, who requested language revisions. The association has worked closely with the governor's office and lawmakers to update the language and move the legislation forward.

Oregon Community CU CEO touts CUs for small businesses

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EUGENE, Ore. (3/26/14)--Mandy Jones, president/CEO of $1.2 billion-asset Oregon Community CU, Eugene, Ore., offered four reasons why credit unions are a better financial services choice for businesses in a recent blog post.
 
"My mentor was my dad, who owned a small business in Milwaukie, Oregon," Jones wrote. "He taught me the importance of businesses being involved in their community and the joy of making a difference in people's lives. He was not surprised when I chose to work in credit unions."
 
The benefits a credit union can provide to a small business, cited by Jones, include:
  • Credit unions can make special arrangements when times get tough. Jones said the focus is always clear at credit unions: Providing access to credit for people who could not seem to get it at the local bank. Even during the economic downturn, credit unions continued to make loans when banks turned small businesses away.
  • You actually own the place. "Credit unions are member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperatives," Jones said. "That means everyone who becomes a member owns a piece of the rock. No shareholders. No paid board of directors focused on profits. Every decision the credit union board and management makes takes members into consideration first."
  • Credit unions give back. In 2012, Oregon credit unions--for instance--returned $110 million to members in the form of lower loan rates, free checking, higher rates on savings and other benefits--an average of $152 per credit union household. "That's real money our members didn't spend to get access to vital services like credit and a safe place to keep savings," Jones wrote.
  • Credit unions are "the kindler, gentler financial institutions." Credit unions have built a reputation for giving back to their communities, Jones said. "Community service is in our DNA," she wrote. For example, Oregon Community CU is the single largest corporate scholarship sponsor at the University of Oregon. The credit union donated over half a million dollars, and its employees volunteered more than 2,000 hours in community service last year.
The Credit Union National Association is pressing the U.S. Congress to increase the member business lending cap to 27.5% of assets, from the current 12.25%-of-assets level so credit unions can do even more to support the small business lending needs of their communities.
 
CUNA estimates the MBL cap change would help credit unions lend an additional $13 billion to small businesses in just the first year after enactment of a statutory change. This money, which would be made available at no expense to taxpayers, would in turn help small businesses create around 140,000 new jobs.

Morgan resigns as Alabama CU administrator

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (3/26/14)--Alabama Credit Union Administration Administrator Larry Morgan has resigned, the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) reported Tuesday.
 
Morgan's last day of work was Monday ( eSignal March 25).
 
"The league has had a good working relationship with Larry and appreciate the job he did over the past three years," said Patrick La Pine, LSCU president/CEO. "His knowledge of credit unions was an asset as administrator. We will work with Governor Bentley to identify candidates to become the next administrator."
 
He was appointed the state's administrator by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley in February 2011. He assumed the post two months after he retired as CEO of APCO Employees CU in Birmingham. Morgan had led APCO for 38 years.
 
Alabama Credit Union Administration Assistant Administrator Lloyd Moore has been named interim administrator. Gov. Bentley will appoint a new administrator, however it could be after the November elections.

150 legislators take part in Maine Annual CU Day

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AUGUSTA, Maine (3/26/14)--It was one of the largest turnouts in years: Nearly 100 representatives of credit unions mixed and mingled with 150 members of the Maine Legislature during Maine's Annual Credit Union Day at the State House last week.
John Murphy, president of the Maine Credit Union League; Rep. Ken Fredette (R-Newport); House minority leader and a credit union board member; and Kyle Casburn, president/CEO of Seaboard FCU and a member of the league board, share a laugh at Credit Union Day at the State House in Augusta.

Hosted by the Maine Credit Union League at the Hall of Flags, more than 637,000 credit union members from all regions of the state were represented by the credit union folks on hand.  

"Credit Union Day at the State House is about relationships, and it provides an opportunity to connect local credit unions with their own legislators," said MCUL President/CEO John Murphy. "The feedback from legislators was one of appreciation.... It was nice to hear legislator after legislator remark how important credit unions are to their communities across the state."

The event also provided credit union leaders an opportunity to voice support for "patent troll" legislation which has already passed the state Senate. Credit unions and the state league now are looking for the measure in the House.

The bill would curb unfair and deceptive practices of Patent Assertion Entities--sometimes called "trolls"--and others that sue for patent rights, often in an attempt to force companies to settle out of court. The state bill would save credit unions and other businesses time and money deciphering and responding to patent troll demand letters. The Credit Union National Association supports similar legislation at the federal level.

Also at Credit Union Day, state legislators came together last week to pass a joint resolution that formally recognizes credit unions and their role in supporting consumers in Maine through the financial services they provide, including financial education and other philanthropic work.

Filene report: Sustainability can foster CU growth

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MADISON, Wis. (3/26/14)--By embracing sustainability, credit unions have an opportunity to attract and retain younger members, create innovative loan-growth opportunities and reduce the risk of losing market share to banks, a new report from the Filene Research Institute claims.
 
The report, "Improving Social and Environmental Sustainability: A Credit Union Assessment and Comparison," measured the overall impacts of nine credit unions in four key areas--governance, workers, community, and environment.
 
As consumer priorities evolve, it makes strategic sense for credit unions to double down on sustainability, because their governance and field-of- membership orientation already fulfills many of the items on the sustainability checklist, the report said.
 
Perhaps more importantly, credit unions that embrace and communicate their social or environmental sustainability initiatives can carve out a unique niche for themselves within their communities.
 
Credit unions already exhibit many sustainability traits. Those studied in the report outperformed sustainable banks in important categories--such as worker compensation and benefits, and enterprise-wide recycling. Credit unions have diverse employee bases, pay their workers at or above market rates, and ensure a certain amount of pay equity between executives and line staff, the report said.
 
However, credit unions do have room for improvement. Among the areas with the biggest opportunities to get better: giving preference to local suppliers, undertaking environmental assessments, and developing environmentally focused products.
 
Filene said its report was designed to spur a "what-gets-measured-gets-accomplished" movement toward increased social and environmental performance within the credit union system.
 
"Measuring impact can be a daunting task," the report said. "However, only through an initial measurement of impact can organizations realize opportunities for improvement."

Consumers have fewer reasons to visit branches, says Bankrate

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MADISON, Wis. (3/25/14)--The traditional branch may not be endangered, but it appears to be in a stage of transition as mobile applications and online banking become more pervasive, according to a Bankrate.com survey.
 
Half of all credit union members and bank customers had visited their local branch within the past 30 days for reasons other than using an ATM, according to the Bankrate survey, which was part of its March Financial Security Index. About one-fifth of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 visited brick-and-mortar branch within a week of the survey. Around 30% of people over age 30 visited a branch in that time frame.
 
But financial institutions have reported a reduction in foot traffic as new technologies wedge themselves between the consumer and the corner branch, according to Michael Goodson, head of management consulting with Accenture's North America banking practice. That development occurred faster than expected, Goodson said.
 
Consumers simply have fewer reasons to visit branches with the development of new technologies to fulfill their banking needs, said Ajay Nagarkatte, managing director of research at BAI.
 
"The number and location of bank branches, as well as their functionality, will continue to evolve, but clearly they're not going away," said Greg McBride, Bankrate.com's chief financial analyst.
 
Three in 10 Americans haven't visited a credit union or bank branch in at least six months, according to the Bankrate.com survey. And while there was some variation among different age groups, it was not as wide as expected. Among those under age 30, 42% have been to a branch within the last 30 days compared to 52% of those over age 50.
 
One in five retirees has not visited a branch in over a year. Fifty-three percent have done so in the past 30 days, slightly more than the 50% figure for the overall population.

CUs buck trend of social 'meh'-dia

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MADISON, Wis. (3/25/14)--Advocacy and crisis communications are two areas where credit unions use social media to their advantage--a strong contrast to the "annoying, boring or unhelpful" messages perceived by many consumers.
 
According to a recent survey by Carlisle and Gallagher Consulting Group, 87% of consumers said banks' use of social media was "annoying, boring or unhelpful," and more than half said it was ineffective.
 
Credit unions, however, have seen great success with the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" and #DontTaxTuesday campaign which generated more than 1.3 million messages and garnered a Grassroots Innovation Award from the Public Affairs Council.
 
In the April issue of Credit Union Magazine , credit unions share (pun intended) their stories of how their Facebook pages keep members informed during emergencies and how social media improves member service.
 
Service is a key indicator of social media. One-third of the respondents to the Carlisle and Gallagher survey said they would use social media to complain about service, and their platform of choice is Facebook.
 
Credit unions need to monitor all social media channels 24/7. "If we respond immediately--whether it's positive, negative or neutral--we're creating a positive member experience," digital marketing specialist Andrea Finn, Royal CU, Eau Claire, Wis., told Credit Union Magazine.
 
"In today's world of instant gratification, customer demands will continue to increase, and it is the financial institution's responsibility to anticipate and plan for the demand," said Carlisle and Gallagher's Patricia Sahm. Social media enables intimate yet public conversations between consumers and their financial institutions, she added.

New members find PCUA's 'iBelong' on Pandora, mobile

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (3/25/14)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) expanded its "iBelong" campaign to include Pandora advertising and mobile web design.
 
"In reviewing upcoming traffic for iBelong.org, we saw the site was being accessed by mobile devices 44% of the time," said Michael Wishnow, PCUA senior vice president ( Life is a Highway March 18).
 
"Given the variety of devices accessing the site, a responsive web design was critical to helping consumers find a credit union using the locator," he added.
 
The redesign detects the type of device that a consumer is using and renders a page that is easily read across smartphones, tablets and computer monitors.
 
This month, PCUA also launched a four-month pilot advertising program on Pandora Internet radio, which has 70% mobile usage. The ads use the campaign's radio spots and banner ads to lead listeners to iBelong.org and its online credit union locator.

Eat cupcakes in your jeans, raise money for fin. ed.

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MADISON, Wis. (3/25/14)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) is inviting credit union organizations to kick off  National Financial Literacy Month April 2 with "Financial Fitness Day" fundraiser.
 
The initiative will raise funds for NCUF and state credit union foundations in support of their financial education initiatives.
 
"Americans spend months getting their physical health into shape as part of their New Year's resolutions," said Danielle Brown, NCUF director of development and donor relations. "Kicking off National Financial Literacy Month in April, Financial Fitness Day is dedicated to helping members get their financial health in shape. Credit unions are perfectly suited to do so and we hope your organization will hold a fundraiser such as a casual day on April 2 to support these efforts."
 
To participate, credit union organizations can hold one or more of the following fundraisers on April 2:
  • Jeans or casual day for staff;
  • Bake sale--cookies, cupcakes, banana bread, you name it--for staff and/or members;
  • Deduct or donate a buck--Ask staff and/or members to consider a voluntary contribution of $1 or more either in cash as they complete their transaction and/or deducting from their checking or saving account as often as they choose.
The campaign website where donations can be made includes campaign resources such as additional fundraising ideas, sample newsletter articles, sign-up sheets, stickers, flyers, statement stuffers, wall pin-up templates, sample tweets and web buttons.

Donations made as part of the initiative will be split evenly between NCUF and the state credit union foundation, in which the donation was made.

R.I. CUs score with high school hoops sponsorship

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (3/25/14)--For most sports fans March is all about basketball, and for the past 20 years Rhode Island credit unions have been synonymous with high school hoops in the Ocean State. The credit unions of Rhode Island are the lead sponsor of the boys' and girls' Credit Union High School Basketball Championships, a tournament that determines which boys' and girls' high school basketball teams can call themselves state champions.
 
For the past 20 years, credit unions of Rhode Island have been the lead sponsor of the Credit Union High School Basketball Championships, a tournament that determines which boys' and girls' high school basketball teams can call themselves state champions. From left, Gary Furtado, president/CEO, Navigant CU, Smithfield; Ken Poyton, president/CEO, Postal Government Employees FCU, Providence; Ellen Ford, president/CEO, People's CU, Middletown; and Sukhi Bahal, senior business consultant, Alloya Corporate FCU, Warrenville, Ill. (Credit Union Association of Rhode Island photo)
Through the generosity of the state's credit unions, student-athletes have the opportunity to play what is often the game of their lifetimes at a tournament quality venue: the Ryan Center at the University of Rhode Island ( Daily CU Scan March 24).
 
This year the event took place with games at the Ryan Center March 21 and 22.
 
Alloya Corporate FCU, Warrenville, Ill., plays a central role in organizing the event from fundraising to volunteer coordination and event logistics. The credit unions of Rhode Island and the Credit Union Association of Rhode Island also provide volunteer and monetary support.
 
The support of the tournament is a reflection of the importance that the credit unions of Rhode Island place on supporting state youth.
 
The Rhode Island Interscholastic League, which is the governing body for high school student athletics, recognizes the support that it receives from Rhode Island credit union community, the league said. During the tournament, visitors to the Ryan Center see banners and signs recognizing the credit union sponsorship of the event.
 
Also, radio and TV announcers credit unions with announcement throughout the game broadcasts and credit union leaders help distribute trophies to the participants during the post-game ceremonies.

Look to fin. lit. programs to benefit employees

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MADISON, Wis. (3/25/14)--With their history of serving select employee groups, credit unions have long understood the correlation among financial literacy, employee productivity and a business' bottom line. WalletHub addressed that relationship in a recent article.
 
"When people know what to do with their money and wind up with a bit of money to save each month instead of an ever-larger balance, the prism through which they view their compensation is decidedly more positive," the March 24 article stated.
 
WalletHub asked university and industry experts in the fields of management, marketing, human resources and finance for tips on how to establish a personal finance employee training program.
 
"The most relevant economic literacy is not a training course, but an ongoing transparency of financial, marketing, and performance information shared with employees so they know how their personal choices impact business results," said Dave Ulrich, professor of management, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a partner with the RBL Group.
 
Financial literacy can also be offered as lunch-and-learn program with interactive question-and-answer formats, suggested Wayne F. Cascio, Robert H. Reynolds Chair in Global Leadership, University of Colorado, Boulder.
 
"There's an entire financial services industry that is always looking for new clients," said Julian K. Saint Clair, professor of marketing,  Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. "I'd bet good money that they would give seminars and provide educational materials free of cost in hopes of earning new business."
 
Community CU, Rockledge, Fla., offers 12 at-work financial literacy classes that can be presented during employees of local business during lunchtime.
 
Local Government FCU, Raleigh, N.C., provides free, on-site financial wellness seminars to any North Carolina local government unit.
 
Brandon Michaels, president/CEO at $490 million-asset Mazuma CU, Kansas City, Mo., also recently wrote an article about the link between corporate social responsibility and personal finance.
 
"Employees who are knowledgeable about their own finances feel more in control and are, therefore, less stressed, better able to work, and happier in general," Michaels wrote. "This boosts the bottom line for the employer."
 
To read Michaels' article in its entirety, use the link.

CU System briefs (03/25/2014)

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  • LIVONIA, Mich. (3/25/14)-- Credit union tax status and international wire transfers were two of the topics discussed during a visit by U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) to LAFCU , Lansing, Mich. Walberg, left, spoke with employees of the $560 million-asset credit union and representatives of the Michigan Credit Union League. According to the league's March 24 Monitor , Walberg noted that his daughter, who is a missionary in Uganda, depends on wire transfers. The increased regulatory burden on wire transfers has prompted some credit unions to stop providing the service to their members. The group also thanked Walberg for his support of the federal credit union tax exemption. (Michigan Credit Union League photo) ...
  • BELFAIR, Wash. (3/25/14)-- U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Port Angeles ) was a key proponent of getting prize-linked savings program legislation passed into law while a Washington state representative. On March 31, Kilmer will be at the Belfair branch of Peninsula Community FCU, $147 million in assets, when it launches its "Save to Win" program. The Shelton, Wash.-based credit union is the seventh in the state to offer prize-linked savings, where members receive chances to win prizes for making deposits in their savings accounts ...
  • APPLETON, Wis. (3/25/14)-- Two Wisconsin credit unions--Capital CU, $469 million, Kimberly, and Pioneer CU, $609 million, Green Bay, will merge in July. Operating under the name Capital CU, the credit union serve nearly 90,000 members in Wisconsin. None of its 360 employees will be laid off, and no branches will be closed ( Post-Crescent March 23). Together, the new credit union will have 24 branches in the Fox Cities and Green Bay markets. According to Tom Young, president, Pioneer CU, the credit unions will install a new data-processing system. "We're probably saving $2 million because we're buying one system vs. each of us buying our own," he noted ...
  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (3/25/14)-- Grace F. Meighen, founding member of Washington (Pa.) Area Teachers FCU, died March 18 ( Life is a Highway March 21). She was 94. Meighen was a longtime manager and board member of the $60 million-asset credit union. Washington Area Teachers FCU was chartered in 1959 by a group of 10 school employees with $5.25 each ...

CU System briefs (03/24/2014)

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  • MADISON, Wis. (3/24/14)-- The Filene Research Institute will hold a free webinar reintroducing The Cooperative Trust. Rebranded from the Crash Network to The Cooperative Trust in 2012, the grassroots community consists of young people who work in credit unions and cooperatives. The webinar, set for 11 a.m.-noon CT April 9, will cover the group's purpose, community, and Crash events ...
  • NEW YORK (3/24/14)--After 21 years as president of the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, Alfred DelliBovi announced he will resign April 1 ( National Mortgage News March 21). A former deputy secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, DelliBovi will be succeeded by Jose Ramon Gonzalez, who was named executive vice president in October. Gonzalez served as vice chairman of the bank's board from 2008 to 2013 ...
  • TACOMA, Wash. (3/21/14)-- The boards of Darigold FCU, Shoreline, Wash., and Sound CU, Tacoma, Wash., unanimously approved a merger agreement , which now will go before members and state and federal regulators. Donna Subera, president/CEO of the $5 million-asset credit union, cited technological services such as online and mobile banking and an expanded branch network as a reason for the merger. Once combined with $1.08 billion-asset Sound CU, the credit union will have 96,000 members and 21 branches throughout Pierce, Thurston and King counties in Washington . . .

Secret's out: Maine CU membership hits record

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WESTBROOK, Maine (3/24/14)--There is "plenty to smile about" a headline in the Maine Credit Union League's Weekly Update read last week.

The reason? A record-breaking year in 2013 for membership, and strong growth across the board for the state's credit unions.

"Over the years, I have often said that credit unions are the best kept secret in consumer financial services," said league President John Murphy. "It is evident that the secret is getting out and the message that credit unions offer the best value in financial services is being heard loud and clear."

Credit unions in Maine added 12,000 new members last year, a net increase of 1.9%, bringing total membership to a record 637,370 members for the state's 61 credit unions.

Membership at Maine's credit unions has jumped by more than 40,000 members since 2008.

As for financial growth, the state credit unions also posted a 4.3% spike in combined assets, up to $6.14 billion. Loan growth swelled by 7.1%, and savings bumped up 3.9% to $5.2 billion.

"Whether it be through the ability to obtain an affordable loan on a car or home, the use of the latest in mobile technology, or access to the largest surcharge-free ATM network in Maine ... there has never been a better time to be a credit union member in our state," Murphy said.

CU seeds services for Calif. farm workers

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SALINAS, Calif. (3/24/14)--Time and again, credit unions have proven they can mold their services around the needs of their members. Teachers, for example, may have their loan payments lowered in the summer by credit unions when they're not pulling in regular paychecks.

In a similar vein, a Salinas, Calif.-based credit union has started offering services to another type of member with non-traditional income schedules: farm workers ( The Salinas Californian March 20).

Recognizing that farm workers are employed seasonally, allUS CU, with $34 million in assets, will chop down loan payments after season-ending harvests--a time when many workers begin relying solely on government benefits.

"We can adjust loan payments around seasonal employment," Robin Ceralde, allUS loan manager, told The Salinas Californian . "We can lower the payments during the off-season, constructing a loan around their budgets."

But it's not only farm workers allUS has started to serve of late. Formerly the Monterey County Employees CU, the institution renamed itself last year and has now rolled out a plan to reach many underserved individuals in the area, including seniors and people with disabilities.

At a workshop held last week to discuss the new direction of the credit union, allUS President/CEO Patrick Redo cited several stark statistics illustrating how the financial industry is leaving out large chunks of the population.

More than 50% of black residents are considered unbanked or under-banked, he said, and 43% of Latinos have little contact with financial institutions. By contrast, only 18% of white residents experience similar circumstances.

The terms unbanked or under-banked refer to those who either don't have a bank account or may have meager savings accounts, but no checking account.

About 11,600 residents in Salinas are considered unbanked, Redo said.

For those who already use the credit union, meanwhile, allUS will host a "Banking 101" session in May, another valuable service in financial literacy the credit union provides its growing and diversifying membership.  

"We have heard clearly from our members and the community that they want to build better money habits, but often lack straightforward and accessible guidance," Redo told The Salinas Californian .

Conscience more important than C-suite for Millennial workers

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ALBANY, N.Y. (3/24/14)--When trying to retain Millennial workers, credit unions may want to consider conscientious coaching instead of corner offices.
 
In a guest column for the Credit Union Association of New York's The Point newsletter, Kate Czarnecki of Focal Point FCU, Syracuse, shared insights about what drives this new breed of employee (March 19).
 
Czarnecki, who is manager of marketing and member services of the $47 million-asset credit union, said it is important to think about succession planning and the next C-level executives.
 
In the meantime, credit unions have young, energetic employees "who simply want to be trained, coached and nurtured to become masters in their given skill sets," she noted.
 
To retain the generation of employees, credit unions should consider:
 
Sharing your vision and goals. A clear vision statement will help credit unions recruit and maintain a dedicated and passionate workforce. They want to know the "why" behind their work and how it affects the members the serve, she noted.
 
Letting them help. As an industry that puts a premium on "people helping people," credit unions are uniquely appealing to the Millennials who place a higher value on helping those in need (21%) vs. having a high-paying career (15%). "We share our stories with legislators, but it's important to share them with employees, too," Czarnecki said, adding, "They will feel valued and motivated."
 
Listening to them. Make a point to engage younger employees in conversations.
 
Bending and stretching. No, not yoga. Consider flexible work schedules or emphasize vacation time over salary to accommodate Millennnials' desire for work-life balance.
 
Supporting education and development. Let them know the credit union in interested in developing them as people and professionals. Offer opportunities to attend meetings, conferences and training sessions: "Your employees will become professionally well-rounded, and they will feel that you have a vested interest in their success," Czarnecki said.
 
"Reward their hard work in meaningful ways--and that doesn't always include a promotion or increased responsibility," she said, adding, "Chances are, you won't be disappointed."
 

3 honored at Utah league convention

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SALT LAKE CITY (3/21/14)--The Utah Credit Union Association (UCUA) honored three credit union professionals as its annual convention in Salt Lake City earlier this month.
 
The three were selected by UCUA's education committee.
 
Scott Weber, president/CEO, Box Elder County CU, Brigham City, received the Innovator Award for his work in training, employee benefits and incentives. At the $92 million-asset credit union, Weber implemented an idea log for employees to share their thoughts. Every idea is considered and receives a response ( Association Update March 19).
 
The Inspiration Award went to Roland Whitesides, vice president of collections, Deseret First CU, Salt Lake City, $431 million in assets. UCUA cited his passion for the credit union movement and his strong desire to help members who are struggling to make payments. He focuses on balancing the needs of the members with those of the credit union.
 
Over the past 16 years, Ilene Rollo has helped Moroni-based Utah Heritage CU increase its assets to nearly $50 million from $13 million. She received the Visionary Award for her work in expanding the credit union's geographical presence as well as products and services. Rollo will retire from the credit union movement this year.

Updated CU act headed for Ala. governor's desk

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (3/24/14)--Score a major win for Alabama credit unions, as a bill that will clean up and modernize the Alabama Credit Union Act got the green light from the state Senate last week.

It now only needs a signature from Gov. Robert Bentley for ratification.

"This much needed update to the Alabama Credit Union Act will benefit credit union members as soon as it is signed by the governor," said Patrick La Pine, president/CEO of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions ( eSignal March 21). "Credit unions thank Alabama legislative leadership for seeing the value in updating the act."

Sens. Slade Blackwell (R-Mountain Brook) and Roger Bedford (D-Russellville) spearheaded the effort to pass House Bill 165.

Language in the new bill includes limited liability for boards and directors; new expulsion policy for members of credit unions; new penalties for fraudulent use of the term "credit union;" more protection for credit unions on accounts created by minors; and stronger liability protection to $10,000 from $5,000 on accounts of deceased members.

The update, which makes changes to an act that's largely been untouched since its introduction,   governs all state-chartered credit unions.

Registration open for World Council's conference in Australia

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GOLD COAST, Australia (3/21/14)--The World Council of Credit Unions has announced that registration is now open for the 2014 World Credit Union Conference, which will be held in Gold Coast, Australia, on July 27-30.

Designed for high-level credit union leaders from around the globe, the event offers an array of programs focusing on subjects such as women leadership, young credit union professionals, small credit union sustainability and best practices in growth strategies.

For more information or to register, use the resource link.

Additional hot topics at the conference:
  • Fighting electronic cyberfraud
  • Driving financial performance
  • Building system payment platforms
  • Governance best practices
  • Global regulatory trends
  • Regulatory challenges to financial cooperatives/ credit unions
  • Expectations in payment trends

CU System briefs (03/21/2014)

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  • INDIANAPOLIS (3/21/14)--Kevin Ryan, president/CEO, Financial Center FCU, $496 million in assets, has been appointed to an open position on the board of the Indiana Credit Union League (ICUL). Ryan will represent credit unions in central and southern Indiana until the league's next annual meeting in October. Before joining the Indianapolis-based credit union in 2009, Ryan worked for CUNA Mutual Group, the ICUL Servicecorp and Indiana Corporate FCU, Indianapolis ...
     
  • MADISON, Wis. (3/21/14)--Filene Research Institute added three new credit union leaders to its administrative board of directors. Tracie Kenyon, president/CEO, Montana Credit Union Network; Maurice Smith, president/CEO, Local Government FCU, Raleigh, N.C., and Bob Trunzo, president/CEO, CUNA Mutual Group, are the new directors. Steve Suleski, senior vice president/chief governance officer, CUNA Mutual Group, joins Bill Hampel, chief economist, Credit Union National Association (CUNA), as an advisory member. Paul Kundert, CEO, UW CU, Madison, will continue as board chair. Smith was elected vice chair. Other directors include Treasurer Bill Cheney, president/CEO, CUNA; Jan Roche, president/CEO, State Department FCU, Alexandria, Va.; and Patricia Smith, president/CEO, Unitus Community CU, Portland, Ore. ...
     
  • ALBANY, N.Y. (3/21/14)--A heartwarming fundraiser in February by New York credit unions and the Credit Union Association of New York resulted in $8,250 for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. With the addition of Miracle Match funds from CO-OP Financial Services, the total February donation was more than $16,500 (The Point March 20). Under the theme "Brighten a Child's Heart," donations were prompted by a casual Valentine's Day and paper hearts displayed in credit union branches. Pictured are staff members from $38 million-asset Western New York FCU, West Seneca--one of the nearly 30 credit unions that participated. (Credit Union Association of New York photo) ...

Ohio public funds bill about choice, not taxes, says league

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (3/21/14)--Recent work by the Ohio Credit Union League to pass legislation that would allow credit unions to serve as public depositories and access loan programs through the Ohio Treasurer's office is being met with opposition from the state's bankers league, in addition to community bankers in the state (eLumination March 19).

The legislation, called HB 221: the Community Access and Local Government Choice Act, essentially would allow municipal or local governments to use credit unions to deposit and manage public funds.  

"This legislation is about local government choice, not taxes, and members of the committee understand that," said Patrick Harris, league director of legislative affairs.

Banking representatives used an Ohio House State and Local Government Committee hearing last week to voice their disagreement with the legislation, explaining that they "find the attempt to authorize credit unions to gather public deposits very offensive."

Further, community bankers used terms such as "expansive fields of membership," "mission creep," and "unfair tax advantage" and referred to several credit unions by name, saying that they should be subject to equal taxation and regulatory oversight as banks and thrifts.

The opposition was countered, however, when committee members asked those testifying about the value credit unions have in local communities, market-share dominance by banks, and the small impact this bill would have on the banking industry's bottom line.

"We will continue to work with the committee and the full Ohio General Assembly to ensure they understand how important this bill is to local governments, which want to be able to choose which financial institutions they do business with," Harris said.

Iowa report captures league advocacy success

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DES MOINES, Iowa (3/21/14)--The Iowa Credit Union League (ICUL) released its annual Year in Review report this week, highlighting the broad body of work the league accomplished in 2013.

Among other achievements, the review details the amount of growth Iowa credit unions realized, where the league had success in its legislative and advocacy work, and the efforts of the Iowa Credit Union Foundation.

With more than 1 million members, the credit unions in Iowa have $12 billion in shares and a market share of 12.4%, which is 3.5% higher than the national average.

"Through your due diligence and leadership, Iowa credit unions remain strong and healthy, reporting high capital levels, solid return on assets and low delinquency," said Tim Chapman, ICUL board chair, and Patrick Jury, league president/CEO. "We must continue to work collaboratively and innovate together so that we can better serve our members and remain relevant for years to come."

Highlights from 2013:
  • Finished second in the nation for both asset growth and loan growth at 6.6% and 13.6% respectively.
     
  • Boasted a 97% affiliation rate, with 92% of members saying they're "very satisfied" with overall ICUL membership value.
     
  • Held more than 30 live events in 2013 and answered at least 1,800 questions from Iowa credit unions through its PolicyWorks' regulatory department.
     
  • Secured $100,000 for the Iowa Credit Union Foundation's Credit Union Family Partnership Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) program, which provides matching savings to individuals and families with low incomes.
     
  • More than 350 credit union leaders attended the annual convention in September.
     
  • Realized an 83% increase in its grassroots advocacy database to 12,500 members.

Judges to hear request to move Target lawsuits to Minn.

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SAN DIEGO (3/21/14)--The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will hold a hearing session next week during which plaintiffs will make the case to move Target class action lawsuits to Minnesota.
 
Class action lawsuits have been filed across the country--including six by credit unions--in the wake of last year's data security breach at retail giant Target. About 40 million debit and credit card numbers were compromised as was the personal information of as 70 million customers.
 
The March 27 hearing by the panel of seven sitting federal judges will be in San Diego.
 
The plaintiffs can be roughly divided into two classes: the individual consumers who had their data compromised and the financial institutions that suffered hard dollar losses, said Robin Cook, assistant general counsel for special projects, Credit Union National Association.
 
The injuries are different, but they stem from the factual event, he noted. Financial institutions would be seeking compensation for the costs incurred after the breach. A CUNA survey estimated the breach cost credit unions about $30.6 million.
 
Minnesota is home of Target's headquarters and, as such, is a likely location for the case to be placed, should it be consolidated.
 
Additionally, Minnesota has state statutes that may be favorable to some of the plaintiffs. The statutes prohibit merchants or businesses from retaining magnetic strip information that was captured during a transaction.
 
If the information is retained and a breach occurs, the business also would have to reimburse financial institutions for the cost of reissuing cards, closing or reopening accounts, and notifying cardholders of the breach.
 
Another statute provides that businesses must disclose "in the most expedient time possible and without unreasonable delay" if a breach occurs.
 

Key CU bills get favorable reports in Mass.

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BOSTON (3/21/14)--The Massachusetts Credit Union League saw a flurry of activity in the Legislature this week, as several credit union-related bills were reported out with favorable recommendations by the state's Joint Committee on Financial Services.

House and Senate bills, many of which were specifically introduced by the league, concerned regional interstate credit union branching; bank-to-credit union conversion; and authorizing formation of credit union service organizations by the Massachusetts Credit Union Share Insurance Corporation (Daily CU Scan March 20).

Measures relating to mortgage foreclosures, mediation, public funds and additional public disclosures of salary and compensation for certain senior officials of credit unions were all placed into a study order for further review.

In previous activity, meanwhile, the committee also favorably released an amended bill that requires 20% of assets to be invested according to "the prudent man investment authority."

The full list of bills now to be heard by additional state committees include:
  • House Bill 962: Regional interstate credit union branching;
     
  • Senate Bill 478: Bank-to-credit union conversion;
     
  • House Bill 873: Repeals various outdated consumer loan sections in C. 171 and clarifies state and federal credit union merger authority;
     
  • House Bill 874: Reduces time period to 45 days from 90 days for parity regulations to be filed before the Legislature prior to becoming effective; and
     
  • House Bill 853: Authorizes the formation of credit union service organizations by the Massachusetts Credit Union Share Insurance Corp.

Expanded N.J. CU Advisory Council seeks delegates

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (3/21/14)--New Jersey's newly expanded Credit Union Advisory Council (CUAC) is seeking delegates to represent federally and state-chartered credit unions.
 
In January, Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation supported by the New Jersey Credit Union League that expands the CUAC to seven members from five and includes representation of federally chartered credit unions.
 
Members are nominated by the governor and must be confirmed by the state Senate.
 
The league is encouraging interested representatives to submit their resume to the league, which will then forward it to the appropriate state official. Credit union professionals also can apply directly online by searching "Credit Union Advisory Council" on the New Jersey boards, commissions and authorities website.
 
No fewer than four seats can be held by representatives of state-chartered credit unions, and federally chartered credit union representatives cannot hold less than two seats.

CMG honored as a most ethical company by Ethisphere

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MADISON, Wis. (3/21/14)--International think tank Ethisphere Institute recognized CUNA Mutual Group as one of the world's most ethical companies for its business ethics and social responsibility.
 
This is the second year that CUNA Mutual has made the list, which featured 143 companies this year, the likes of which included Accenture, Dell, Hasbro and General Electric.
 
"CUNA Mutual Group is not only committed to its communities, but to driving performance through leading business practices," said Ethisphere CEO Timothy Erblich.
 
The Ethisphere assessment looks at ethics and compliance; reputation, leadership and innovation; governance; corporate citizenship and responsibility; and culture of ethics.
 
"CUNA Mutual Group is committed to doing the right thing for our customers, employees and the communities in which we work," said Steve Koslow, CUNA Mutual senior vice president/chief ethics and compliance officer.
 
"Building a strong culture of ethics, compliance practices and corporate social responsibility is the way we do business," he added. "We will continue to make certain our business decisions are always made in the best interests of our customers, employees, communities and the environment."

NCUF seeks nominations for 4 new board seats

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MADISON, Wis. (3/21/14)--After adding four seats to its board of directors, the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) is now seeking nominations to fill the new positions.

"We encourage the credit union movement's best and brightest to submit nominations for the NCUF board and help us improve more people's financial lives through credit unions," said Laida Garcia, president/CEO, floridacentral CU, Tampa, Fla., and NCUF chair. The board expansion will "enhance our fundraising capabilities and further the foundation's impact," she added.

The foundation recently amended its bylaws to add the additional board positions.

Nominations can be submitted for individuals meeting one of the following criteria:
  • Credit union executive or director--an executive officer or director of a credit union;
     
  • System affiliate--a director or executive officer of an organization that is national in scope, that has as its primary purpose support of credit unions or some element of the credit union movement, that has a significant portion of its ownership or membership from the credit union system and that has demonstrated a commitment to the purposes of this corporation; or
     
  • At-large--a representative of an organization outside of the credit union system, such as a cooperative, that has demonstrated a commitment to the purposes of this corporation. Any at-large seat shall not be eligible to serve on the executive committee.
Applications must be received by April 25.

CU System briefs (03/20/2014)

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  • SALT LAKE CITY (3/20/14)--The Utah Credit Union Association held board and executive committee elections during its annual conference March 14-15 in Salt Lake City (Association Update March 19). Todd Adamson, president/CEO, Cyprus FCU, West Jordan, $630 million in assets, and Jim Hofeling, president/CEO, Jordan CU, Sandy, $227 million in assets, were re-elected to the board in the $100 million and over category. Re-elected in the at-large category was Dean Hirabayashi, president/CEO, National JACL CU, Salt Lake City, $31 million in assets. Board officers are: Chairman, Mike Milovich, president/CEO, Eastern Utah Community FCU, Price, $98 million in assets; vice chairman Adamson; and Randy Gally, president/CEO, Horizon Utah FCU, Farmington, $115 million in assets ...
     
  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (3/20/14)--Jack Barth, who retired from the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association as vice president of member services, died March 6 in Harrisburg, Pa. He was 83. Barth started with the league as a field representative in the Wilkes-Barre area, becoming director of field services in 1973 (Life is a Highway March 17). He retired in 1993 after 12 years as vice president of member services. Barth began his credit union career in 1957 as treasurer and manager of Reading (Pa.) Gas Employees FCU ...

Conn. league sees success with sales tax bill

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MERIDEN, Conn. (3/20/14)--The Credit Union League of Connecticut got what it was working toward, as a bill that would deliver sales and use tax exemptions to the state's credit unions moved closer to ratification this week.  

With a 13-4 vote, the state's Banks Committee voted out HB 5470. It was referred to the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee for its approval, the exact result the league was hoping for in order to streamline the bill's journey through the Legislature, according to a league press release.  

Connecticut league leaders have been at the forefront of the effort to drive this bill forward, but they also commend the support that's come from individual credit union leaders statewide.

The calls and emails from credit union advocates to state legislators on the committee, in addition to the support shown by the credit union CEOs who testified at the Bank Committee hearing, made an impact, the league emphasized.  

League leadership will continue to ask for support over the next week in contacting legislators on the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee as the bill heads in their direction. 

Nearly 200 turn out for Minn. CU Day at the Capitol

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (3/20/14)--A contingent of Minnesota credit union leaders, 200 strong, descended upon St. Paul last week for the Minnesota Credit Union Network's 2014 Credit Union Day at the Capitol event.
Minnesota Capitol reporters detail legislative stories they plan to cover this year at the Minnesota Credit Union Network's 2014 Credit Union Day at the Capitol event, held last week. (Minnesota Credit Union Network photo)

The day serves as an opportunity for credit union leaders and advocates to meet with lawmakers and attend educational sessions focused on the industry.

"Credit Union Day at the Capitol is a great opportunity for us to share our stories directly with elected officials," said Mara Humphrey, MCUN vice president of governmental affairs. "This event allows us to show them how credit unions directly benefit their constituents and all Minnesotans."

Minnesota Speaker of the House Paul Thissen (D-Minneapolis) and House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) headlined the event, each speaking about their priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

Education sessions highlighted grassroots advocacy for credit unions and pertinent 2014 legislative activity. "The Crew"--a networking group focused on credit union employees age 35 and younger--sat in with Rep. Joe Radinovich (D-Crosby) to learn about politics in general and the motivations people have to run for public office.

Radinovich also spoke about the efforts of credit unions, citing that they were "local, community institutions that are trusted."

Attendees heard from a panel of Capitol reporters as well. Each offered insight about issues they were following in the Minnesota Legislature and each spoke to connections they've had with credit unions.

Finally, advocates headed to the Capitol to meet with local legislators either to vocalize the benefits of credit unions in local communities or to relay the industry's opposition to a proposed bill that would require mandatory mediation in foreclosure proceedings.

Ind. CUs step up to provide 1,345 pairs of shoes

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INDIANAPOLIS and MARION, Ind. (3/20/14)--Nearly 1,000 kids in the Indianapolis area are walking around today in style thanks to the Indiana Credit Union League and the shoe drive it orchestrated leading up to the league's 2013 convention.
Click to view larger image Elaine Rinehart, Eli Lilly FCU, Indianapolis, was one of the volunteers who washed the feet of each recipient before they got their new shoes. (Indiana Credit Union League photo)

In all, the equivalent of 1,345 pairs of shoes were donated to Samaritan's Feet, an organization that works to distribute shoes to those in need, as a result of the shoe collections and fundraising.

"Indiana credit unions have partnered with Samaritan's Feet since 2010 when Samaritan's Feet Founder Manny Ohonme spoke at a league event," said league President John McKenzie. "Since that time, Indiana credit unions have helped provide more than 7,700 pairs of shoes to those individuals who need them the most."

With the help of Grant County Boys and Girls Club, about 45 volunteers from Marion-based credit unions Afena FCU, $57 million in assets; Fortress FCU, $15 million in assets; and Via CU, $298 million in assets, handed out new shoes and socks over a weekend in January.

A second shoe distribution took place March 8 at the Shepherd Community Center on the east side of Indianapolis where 360 pairs of shoes were distributed. Employees of Indianapolis-based credit unions Eli Lilly FCU, $1 billion in assets; Financial Center FCU, $496 million in assets; Indiana Members FCU, $1.4 billion in assets; and Via CU volunteered at the event.

The league again will collect shoes for Samaritan's Feet leading up to the 2014 convention in October.

Council honors marketing, biz professionals

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MADISON, Wis. (3/20/14)--During its annual conference last week, the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council Conference honored three credit union professionals for their accomplishments.
 
Kristen Mashburn, vice president of marketing, Listerhill CU, $628 million in assets, was named Marketing Professional of the Year. Mashburn's creative work and business strategy helped the Muscle Shoals, Ala.-based credit union increase its assets by 60% and double its brand recognition compared with peer financial institutions. This year, Mashburn and her team won three best in category awards and 11 Diamond Awards from the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council.
 
The Business Development Professional of the Year award went to Josh Allison, relationship development manager, Horizon CU, Spokane Valley, Wash. Allison's achievements with the $584 million-asset credit union include execution of school partner and select employee group engagement strategies, financial literacy, and weaving the credit union philosophy into those programs.
 
Amy McGraw, vice president of marketing, Tropical Financial CU, Miramar, Fla., $537 million in assets, was honored with the Volunteer of the Year award. The award recognizes the work done on behalf of the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council by its volunteers. McGraw serves on two committees, volunteers to facilitate sessions and contributes to the council's social media channels.
 
Winners will be featured in an upcoming issue of Credit Union Magazine.

CU's micro-funding puts venture capital spin on biz loans

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (3/20/14)--A Tennessee-based credit union has put a new twist on member business loans, though to some reality television viewers the concept might already be familiar.

Similar to the show "Shark Tank," where entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to a panel of potential investors, UT FCU, Knoxville, Tenn., has rolled out a program where people looking to launch a startup can present their idea, and if a panel of non-credit union advisers sign off, the $214 million-asset credit union will offer up funding to start the business.

Labeled micro-funding, the loans are smaller in size and usually carry longer payback terms to allow the businesses time to shore up their outfits.

Small or not, the funding goes a long way in supporting entrepreneurs who wouldn't normally have the means to launch their operations, said Jonathan Patrick, UT FCU senior vice president.

"There's plenty of people right now who are working in day jobs that have got a great idea, but they don't know where to start and they certainly don't have the $30,000 sitting in the bank to put into this idea to launch it in the first place," Patrick told ABC affiliate WATE 6.

In a three-step process, applicants apply online where they describe their business and lay out all the pertinent financial details and full business plan. The final step is the in-person pitch.

Those who receive the thumbs up and are awarded loans also receive connections to local resources who help the business owners get their operations off the ground. 

The program has only been available for several weeks, however the credit union has received a number of applications, according to the WATE 6 report.

Share of CU auto loans 'significant,' Schenk tells Automotive News

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DETROIT (3/20/14)--The increased presence of credit unions in the auto lending market caught the eye of industry publication Automotive News.
 
Credit unions' 36% share of total auto loans outstanding is "pretty significant" considering credit unions collectively control only about 7% of consumer financial assets, said Mike Schenk, vice president of economics and statistics for the Credit Union National Association.
 
In Wednesday's Q-an-A piece with author Jim Henry, Schenk noted better relationships with dealers and a larger membership base helped drive the increase in 2013.
 
However, the "third leg of the stool" is the democratically controlled structure of credit unions. "The deal the average consumer can get would be substantially better than they would get at commercial banks," Schenk noted.
 
In 2013, new-auto loans were the fastest-growing segment for credit unions, increasing 13% from a year prior. Credit unions have about $72 billion in loans outstanding for new autos. The used-auto portfolio had about $128 billion, a 10% increase from 2012.

CUNA marketing, biz development council unveils exec committee

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MADISON, Wis. (3/19/14)--The executive committee and its officers of the Credit Union National Association's Marketing and Business Development Council were unveiled at the council's annual conference in Orlando, Fla., last weekend.

With a nationwide network of more than 1,100 credit union leaders, the council serves as a resource for all CUNA members and their marketing and business development needs.

Michelle Hunter, senior vice president of marketing and development for CU of Southern California, Whittier, Calif., $711 million in assets, will stay on as council chair; while Kathryn Davis, senior vice president of marketing and human resources for Xceed Financial CU, El Segundo, Calif., $807 million in assets, will remain vice chair.

Andy Reed, manager of business development for $5.6 billion-asset American Airlines FCU, Fort Worth, Texas, will take the second vice-chair seat.

Brian Grytdal, vice president of marketing at Horizon CU, Spokane, Wash., $584 million in assets, was newly elected to the committee, replacing Sean McDonald, director of business development for Mid-State FCU, Carteret, N.J., $16 million in assets.

The CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council executive committee also includes:
  • Amy Davis, vice president of marketing, Red Canoe CU, Longview, Wash., $581 million in assets.
     
  • Nancy Hutchinson, senior vice president of marketing and business development, MPECU, Duluth, Minn., $85 million in assets.
     
  • Jason Lindstrom, chief marketing officer, Belvoir FCU, Woodbridge, Va., $311 million in assets.
     
  • Mia Perez, chief administrative officer, Louisiana FCU, La Place, La., $170 million in assets.
     
  • Hilary Reed, vice president of marketing, Bucks First FCU, Bristol, Pa., $84 million in assets.  
     
  • Amber Scott, vice president of marketing, 1st MidAmerica CU, Bethalto, Ill., $497 million in assets.
     
  • Debra Trautman, vice president of corporate marketing, Maine Credit Union League.

Prize-linked savings, parity bills intro'ed in N.Y. Legislature

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ALBANY, N.Y. (3/19/14)--Two pro-credit union bills recently made their way to the floors of the New York Legislature (The Point March 18).

The first bill, S.6805/A.9037, would allow credit unions--and other financial institutions--to offer members prize-linked savings accounts that would provide consumers with incentives to actively put away money.

The other bill is an extension of the state's "wild card" law, enacted in 2007, that allows state-chartered credit unions to apply for and exercise banking powers only federally chartered credit unions can now utilize, called S.6735/A.9057.

If passed, the law would be extended for an additional five years.

Versions of both bills were passed by the Legislature last year, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed each, citing concerns over some of the language used in the bills.

Leaders of the Credit Union Association of New York have been working with the governor's office over the past year to help clean up any issues with the bills, while continuing to drive them forward.

CU joins naturalization initiative to help Silicon Valley workers

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (3/19/14)--Technology CU, San Jose, Calif., joined three other Silicon Valley companies in partnering with the Bethlehem Project Monday to assist employees holding legal-immigrant status achieve citizenship.

The Bethlehem project, in its first year of work as a pilot program that funds services for immigrants pursuing naturalization, will connect the $1.7 billion-asset credit union--and the other participating businesses--with local providers of legal assistance and citizenship test preparation, which they then will offer on-site to their employees at no cost.  

Nokia, ABM and DTZ in Silicon Valley round out the rest of the companies in the program.

"Immigration has shaped the landscape of Silicon Valley for the last century, and it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future," said Barbara B. Kamm, Technology CU president/CEO. "It is one of the biggest influences on our businesses and economy, and one of the most important issues we face as a community."

Qualifying employees will receive a citizenship information session; free one-on-one citizen legal assistance; civics and English test preparation; and help submitting the N-400 citizen application.

About 385,000 legal immigrants who are eligible for citizenship live in Silicon Valley, according to a March 18 report by NPR.

Studies have shown "a clear economic advantage to becoming a citizen," the report said. "Immigrants who naturalize see at least a 5% hike in their wages and they can earn between 50% to 75% more than non-citizens."

So far, the Bethlehem Project has partnered with more than 50 businesses nationwide. This new San Jose-based program is funded by the New Americans Campaign, the Grove Foundation, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation.

Small-biz loan guarantee program available for Pa. CUs

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (3/19/14)--Credit unions are reminded that they can use the Pennsylvania Capital Access Program (PennCap) to guarantee their small business loans programs.
 
PennCap was established under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Economic Development Finance Authority (PEDFA) in 1994.  Now, as the need for credit unions to provide these types of loans grows to meet increased demand, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) investigated if the program would be valuable to credit unions, said Molly Snody, director of business advisory services.
 
Christina Mihalik, PCUA vice president of governmental affairs, coordinated meetings with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), which led to the league's discovery of the program and the fact that credit unions are allowed to participate. 
 
"Participating in PennCap would be a positive step forward for Pennsylvania credit unions and make us more recognizable as small business lenders," Snody added.
 
The reserve, owned and controlled by PEDFA, is designed to cover future losses from a portfolio of loans that are made through this program. Essentially, when a credit union signs up, $50,000 is set aside in a trust account managed by Mellon Bank. This $50,000 is held in trust as a reserve against future losses. Fees are collected at the onset of each program loan; they are collected from the borrower, the credit union and DCED, then added to the credit union's funds held in trust. 
 
The fees are combined with the initial $50,000 investment made by DCED.  If a program loan does go bad and the credit union suffers a loss, it can go to the trust to make up the loss, up to the aggregate amount held in trust for that credit union. "This is a loan portfolio risk mitigation tool that we found out is available to credit unions," Snody told News Now.
 
The program can be used for all ranges of loans, she said, so it fits credit unions of all sizes. The average member small business loan in Pennsylvania is $150,000, excluding microloans or those less than $50,000 granted to small businesses.
 
The Credit Union National Association strongly supports congressional efforts to increase the credit union member business lending cap to 27.5% of assets, up from the current 12.25% limit. It is estimated that credit unions would be able to lend an additional $13 billion to small businesses and help them create more than 146,000 new jobs in the first year after enactment, CUNA noted.

Deadlines nearing for Mich. league annual convention

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LIVONIA, Mich. (3/19/14)--Innovators and young credit union professionals are being sought for the Michigan Credit Union League's annual convention and exposition, set for June 5-7 in Grand Rapids.
 
This Friday is the deadline for the Innovation Competition, which highlights credit unions' creative and effective campaigns, initiatives, products or services. Credit unions should submit a 400-word essay or a video, three minutes or less, describing their innovation with a maximum of four supporting documents (Monitor March 17).
 
One winner will be selected from each asset group: Less than $50 million in assets; $50 million to $400 million in assets; and more than $400 million in assets. In addition to a $1,000 prize, all three winners and their innovations will be showcased at the June meeting.
 
The deadline for Crash Michigan applications is March 31. Up to 10 young credit union professionals will receive free registration to the annual conference. The Cooperative Trust, CUNA Mutual Group and the league are sponsoring credit union staffers under age 30 as Crashers in order to increase engagement and broaden the experience of the industry's future leaders.

CU loan balances outpace Ohio savings in 2013

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (3/19/14)--For the second straight year, loan balances at Ohio credit unions increased more than savings balances, according to a report on 2013 numbers from the Ohio Credit Union League.
 
Overall, credit union loan portfolios edged up 1.5% (6% annualized) in the final quarter of 2013 and jumped 9.9% in the 12 months ending December 2013. Savings balances, meanwhile, had a slight uptick of 0.6% (2.4% annualized) in the fourth quarter and 3% over the year.

Stronger economic and labor market conditions--Ohio added 26,000 jobs in 2013, according to the Census Bureau--resulted in across-the-board loan improvement.
 
In response to pent-up demand for vehicles, new auto loans surged 25.6% from a year prior, while used autos accounted for a 9.8% increase.
 
More importantly, the league's report noted, lending saw improvements in nearly every key category. Gains included first mortgage loans, 10.9%; personal unsecured loans, 8.6%; member business loans, 8.4%; and credit cards, 7.1%. 
 
Total membership for credit unions statewide increased by 3.04% in full-year 2013--the strongest annual increase in more than a decade--at a rate significantly higher than the state's population growth of 0.15%.
 

CU System briefs (03/18/2014)

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  • ALBANY, N.Y. (3/18/14)-- U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and Happauge, N.Y.-based Teachers FCU together presented a March 10 program to increase the awareness of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). Bishop shared how the $4.8 billion-asset credit union's VITA program can benefit working families and those who need assistance filing their tax returns ( The Point March 17) ...
  • PENSACOLA, Fla. (3/18/14)-- A new scholarship and a money management education program are among the beneficiaries of a $100,000 donation from Pen Air FCU to the University of West Florida College of Business ( Pensacola News Journal March 17). Part of the Pensacola, Fla.-based credit union's gift will establish the Pen Air FCU Betty M. Petree Endowment for business students. Petree, who is a director for the $1.2 billion-asset credit union, is a 2014 inductee into the Credit Union House Hall of Leaders. Funds also will go toward implementing the Pen Air FCU Financial Literacy Boot Camp ...
  • MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (3/18/14)-- The We Share a Common Thread Foundation, the charitable arm of $1 billion-asset Jeanne D'Arc CU, raised more than $35,000 at a March 8 fundraiser ( Daily CU Scan March 17). The funds support the Lowell, Mass., foundation in assisting patients battling life-threatening diseases, stocking local food pantries, sheltering the homeless and helping youths in need ...

Mortgages lead the pack for Neb. CU loan growth

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OMAHA, Neb. (3/18/14)--Nebraska credit unions watched loan growth thrive--along with shares, memberships and net worth--in 2013, according to data released by the National Credit Union Administration and reported by the Nebraska Credit Union League last week.

Over the past year, almost all categories of loans stepped up, with first mortgages leading the charge at a 10.3% increase.

Total loans jumped 6.2% over 2012 levels to $2.46 billion outstanding. Auto loans, which make up 47% of all loans for credit unions in Nebraska, increased by 6.3%.

"Nearly 460,000 Nebraska consumers have chosen to obtain their financial services from locally owned cooperative credit unions," said league President/CEO J. Scott Sullivan. "These positive growth trends underscore the value that members receive from their credit union membership."

Additional results:
  • Asset quality improved statewide, as delinquency fell 3 basis points to 92 at the end of 2013.
     
  • Credit unions added 11,541 new members during 2013, which is a 40% improvement over the number of new members reported the previous year.
     
  • Total net worth increased 4.8% to $401.3 million, and, because reserves ramped up faster than assets, the net-worth-to-assets ratio rose by 18 basis points to 10.7%.
     
  • Deposits grew by 2.3% to $3.19 billion.
     
  • The loan-to-share ratio climbed to 77.4%, up from 74.6%.

Mont. league launches blog for board members

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HELENA, Mont. (3/18/14)--Montana Credit Union League leaders have launched a weekly blog called "A Direct Line," a resource they hope will inform and engage Montana credit union board members on issues facing the industry.

"Your role as a director means you need to have a pulse on the industry and it is our job to help you find resources and discussions on hot topics without you spending a lot of unnecessary time," said Donya Parrish, MCUN vice president of dues supported services, in the blog's first post.

Board members can expect a "timely topic" written by Parrish or Tabitha Garvin, vice president of fee-based services, every Wednesday. The topic of the week also will be highlighted in the state association's President's Report .

Subjects the league plans to cover in the blog in the near future include enterprise risk management and the risk-based capital proposal. Parrish also says that guest columns or suggestions for blog topics are always welcome.

The first blog post covered credit union annual meetings, which are commonly held in the spring.

Bridge CU ships financial help to trucking students

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (3/18/14)--An Ohio-based credit union has partnered with a driving trade school to offer loans to students looking for certification as truck drivers.  

Together, Bridge CU, Columbus, Ohio, with $45 million in assets, and Roadmaster Drivers School of Ohio Inc. are able to fill two needs: To help prospective drivers pay for training, and to inject more employees into an industry hurting for manpower.  

"Companies are always telling us about their needs; they have driver spots that need filled," Jeff Whittington, Roadmaster school director, told the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. "This program will help us to place more students in those roles by offering the extra financial support they need."

Out of 5 million jobs in Ohio, more than 366,000 fall into the category of material moving, according to an article by Columbus Business First . By far in the Buckeye State, heavy- or tractor-truck drivers were the most advertised job postings as of August 2013.  

About 10% of the students enrolled at the driving school, or about 50 to 60 individuals, will use the Bridge financing this year. More than 70 people have already financed their training through Bridge since October, when the program was rolled out ( Columbus Business First March 14).

The cost of training at the school runs around $6,495, which covers about 160 hours of on-road and classroom work. Rates have been as low as 11.65% for students who've received financing thus far.

Bridge, formerly State Transportation Employees CU, has about 7,800 members.

'Caucus: New Jersey' highlights CU debt management expertise

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (3/18/14)--The New Jersey Credit Union League (NJCUL) and its "Banking You Can Trust" consumer awareness campaign has sponsored a debt-management panel discussion on the public television show "Caucus: New Jersey."


Lou Vetere, former NJCUL chair and president/CEO of Garden Savings FCU, Parsippany, N.J., with $280 million in assets, was among those on the four-person panel.

The other financial experts were Tiffany Aliche, author of "The One Week Budget;" Wanda Hardy, CEO, Financial Wellness Institute; and Barbara O'Neill, Rutgers Cooperative Extension specialist.

Topics centered on the debt cycle, credit card debt, strategies on how and when to save money, and the importance of retirement plans.

The "Caucus: New Jersey" program will air March 29 and March 30.

CUs shine in Council's Diamond, Excellence marketing awards

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MADISON, Wis. (3/18/14)--The CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council awarded seven Best of Show awards, including the Diamond Best of Show to Seattle-based BECU, during its annual conference last week in Orlando, Fla.
 
More than 1,130 entries were received for 29 categories. Seventy entries were named the best in their category, and 231 received Diamond Awards.
 
BECU, $11.9 billion in assets, won the Diamond Best in Show for its SHARE campaign, entered in the television (single and series) category. More than 50 members, both new and longtime, shared stories about their relationship and interactions with the Tukwila, Wash.-based credit union.
 
Other 2014 Best of Show honorees include:
  • "Color" for brilliant use of art: Widget Financial FCU, Erie, Pa., $252 million in assets, won for its new name, logo and brand campaign, "Launch."
  • "Cut" for most edgy: Financial Center CU, Stockton, Calif., $363 million in assets, was honored for  "Eye Candy"--targeted auto loan postcards with Internet meme-styling, holograms and a bike-riding Santa.
  • "Clarity" for most sentimental: Gesa CU, Richland, Wash., $1.2 billion in assets. The episodic nature of the wedding commercial series kept watchers waiting for the next installment of gesawedding.com .
  • "Carat" for greatest impact: Directions CU, Sylvania, Ohio, $565 million in assets. The credit union teamed up with two local TV stations to develop a "Don't Text and Drive" pledge contest aimed at local high schools.
Two credit unions garnered awards for best use of humor: Taleris CU, Cleveland, $70 million in assets, used funny dogs to explain the credit union difference, while ORNL FCU, Oak Ridge, Tenn., $1.4 billion in assets, gained social media traction with its holiday video.
 
"This year, categories and submission procedures were enhanced; combined with the matrix scoring system established in 2013, the caliber of entries showed impressive advancement," said Nancy Hutchinson, chair, CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council Diamond Awards Committee, and senior vice president of marketing/business development, MPECU, Duluth, Minn.
 
Excellence in Marketing and Business Development awards, which recognize outstanding new marketing and business development approaches, also were announced at the conference. Winners were selected based on strategy, process, application and results.
 
Awards went to:
  • FAA CU, Oklahoma City, $551 million in assets, for business development. Its credit score analysis program helped consumers evaluate their credit reports line by line in order to save money.
  • Service 1st FCU, Danville, Pa., $224 million in assets, for community outreach and/or political advocacy: It committed to raising $35,000 for three local charities--Janet Weis Children's Hospital, SUNCOM Industries Inc. and the Montour Area Recreation Commission.
     
  • American Airlines FCU, Fort Worth, Texas, $5.5 billion in assets, for its beta branded partner debit card, and Bellwether Community CU, Manchester, N.H., $387 million in assets, for its employee engagement with its new brand initiative.
For a complete list of CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council Awards, use the resource link.

CMN Hospitals benefit in 2013 with $406K from Va. CUs

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (3/18/14)--Virginia credit unions donated a record-breaking $406,236 to the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals in 2013, bringing their cumulative total to $2,086,236 to the credit union movement's charity of choice.

"Every child deserves the hope and healing of children's hospitals, and each year credit unions all across Virginia are sponsoring fundraisers, big and small, to support that goal," said Viki Frankenburger, committee chairwoman, Credit Unions Care Foundation of Virginia.

The Credit Unions Care Foundation of Virginia was formed in 2009 by Virginia's credit union system to coordinate credit unions' charitable giving, community development efforts and education initiatives.

In 2012, the system raised $214,191 for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

Additionally, the state's credit unions helped raise $483,000 for Children's National Medical Center, Washington, D.C., through their participation in the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run.

Fair Lending, repossession topics of CUNA Lending Compliance School

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MADISON, Wis. (3/18/14)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) announced the topics for its Lending Compliance School, set for Aug. 10-14 in Las Vegas.
 
CUNA Lending Compliance School provides compliance officers, lenders and other interested professionals the in-depth regulatory knowledge and industry updates to keep their credit unions compliant in every lending discipline.
 
"It takes a wide range of resources, personnel and proficiencies to keep a credit union lending operation in line with compliance standards," said Tracy Blaske, CUNA director of compliance education. "Attendees of this year's CUNA Lending Compliance School will leave knowing where they fit into their credit union's compliance equation and how best to apply their newfound regulatory know-how."
 
During the school's in-depth sessions, attendees will:
  • Build their personal compliance aptitude;
  • Receive updates on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau;
  • Dive into Fair Lending Compliance and all of its back-office implications; and
  • Gain access to valuable supplemental recorded sessions.
This year's comprehensive five-day curriculum will feature:
  • "Managing Hidden Fair Lending Risks," an intense eight-hour session on Fair Lending presented by David Reed;
  • "10 Cardinal Rules of Repossession," presented by Frank Drake;
  • "Advertising Your Loan Products," with PolicyWorks;
  • "Lending Fraud" with Barry Thompson; and
  • An ask-the-expert panel discussion.

Philippines CUs recovering with help of $260K from World Council relief

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MADISON, Wis. (3/17/14)--Immediately after Super Typhoon Haiyan destroyed communities throughout the Philippines, the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions--the World Council of Credit Unions' fundraising arm--activated a campaign that raised more than $260,000 from the global credit union community.
 
Click to view larger image VICTO National will help rebuild nine credit unions in the worst-affected region of Eastern Visayas through the Worldwide Foundation's grant. Pictured here is the typhoon's aftermath at Ormoc Vendors MPC. (World Council of Credit Unions photo)
Now, nearly four months after the storm, local credit unions have begun rebuilding their offices while thousands of credit union members struggle to access basic financial services.
 
Through the foundation's reconstruction grant, VICTO National Co-operative Federation and Development Center will coordinate the rebuilding of nine associated credit unions and their branches that were significantly damaged in the Eastern Visayas region--the Nov. 8 typhoon's worst-hit area. Funds will finance the purchase of rebuilding materials and institutional-capacity items such as office equipment, generators, computers and furniture.
 
"Thanks to partners like CUNA Mutual Group, Credit Union Foundation Australia and the Irish League of Credit Union's International Development Foundation, as well as contributing credit unions and individuals worldwide, World Council will reignite financial services for over 240,800 credit union members in an effort to help strengthen resiliency during this difficult time," said Brian Branch, World Council president/CEO.
 
World Council has led relief and rebuilding efforts for past international disasters including the 2006 Philippines landslide in Leyte, after which the foundation's relief efforts supported the administration of microloans to help credit union members and employees rebuild their homes and businesses. World Council's technical services team, including Peter Graves, senior vice president; and Luis Sasuman, consultant and former World Council employee, will monitor Typhoon Haiyan's reconstruction efforts.
 
There are 1,320 credit unions in the Philippines serving 4.3 million members, according to according to World Council's 2012 Statistical Report.

Marketing rock stars have 3 chords for success: CUNA Council

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MADISON, Wis. (3/17/14)--To achieve lasting success, credit union marketers and business developers must be more than good. They need to be "rock star" good, business performance expert Ryan Estis told CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference attendees last week in Orlando, Fla.
 
"When the world changes around us, we must change with it," Estis said. "A lot of what got us here today won't get us where we're going."
 
Click to view larger image Marketing executives must be prepared keep in step with the pace of change, business performance expert Ryan Estis told CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference attendees last week in Orlando, Fla. (CUNA photo)
Rock star marketers, Estis said, do three things consistently well:

1. Collaborate. "Success today is a team sport," he said, adding that collaboration builds high-trust, high-value organizations. Successful collaboration requires marketers and business developers to "master the art of active listening," Estis said, which involves asking insightful questions. "Without collaboration, people miss out on opportunities to build connections." The goal, he says is to "first understand, then be understood."
 
2. Serve as change agents by being open-minded, sharing best practices with others, embracing continuous learning--and learning to be uncomfortable. "When you're uncomfortable, that means you're growing and getting better," Estis said. "Ask yourself: 'Am I learning and getting a little better every day?'"
 
He advised conference attendees to become change agents by implementing and executing three new ideas in the next 30 days. "Use this moment to decide where you're going and take action."
 
3. Champion the organization's culture by connecting with its purpose and aligning their actions with its values. Doing so--and not doing so--has a direct impact on an organization's performance. "Culture is a catalyst," Estis says, "for either growth and success or a barrier to achieve goals."
 
 The Mayo Clinic is one organization where employees truly embrace the culture, which boils down to seven words: The needs of the patient come first.

Debt collection bill concerns Del. CUs

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DOVER, Del. (3/17/14)--Legislation has been introduced into the Delaware General Assembly that, while appearing to be consumer-friendly, has the potential to have unintended consequences that could negatively affect Delaware's credit unions, the Delaware Credit Union League said.
 
Delaware House Bill 230, the "Family Financial Protection Act," is designed to combat abuses in consumer debt collection that have risen from the growth of the debt-buying industry, robo-signing in debt collection and collection of stale debts.
 
"Delaware's credit unions are all about helping families, and have a long history and track record which supports this claim," said Pat Mahaney, Delaware league president (Together March 14).  "Credit unions have opened a lot of doors for Delawareans--car doors, home doors and school doors."
 
The proposals included in legislation were taken from a model statute first published by the National Consumer Law Center.
 
The proposal, if adopted, would severely limit debt collection activities and increase the exemptions to protect debtors' assets, virtually eliminating a creditor's ability to collect unsecured debt, such as credit cards, the league said.
 
The increased hurdles to collect debts, coupled with the shrinking of available assets for recovery, could suppress consumer lending, the league said. Large segments of the population, including seniors, students, first-time home buyers and subprime borrowers, could find credit more difficult to secure. Some member businesses could also find funding more difficult to secure.
 
Ultimately, consumers will pay the price of increased operating costs as credit availability tightens in response to the limited possibility of recovering "bad" loans, the league said.
 
The league is working with Credit Union National Association counsel and local counsel to ensure the legislation protects the interests of state credit unions.

HELOCs show potential for Ca., Nev. CUs, league economist says

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ONTARIO, Calif. (3/17/14)--California and Nevada credit unions may want to focus on real estate lending--particularly home equity lines of credit (HELOCs)--given the positive outlook for housing, according to the chief economist for the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues.
 
HELOCs and home equity loans is a stand-out sector, Dwight Johnston said, adding, "With the dramatic improvement in home prices in California and Nevada, the pool of eligible borrowers has increased exponentially. If jobs and wages continue rising, homeowners are more likely to borrow against their homes for improvement" (In the News March 11).
 
He cautioned, "This won't be similar to the boom days. Credit unions will have much more conservative loan-to-value maximums, but the growth potential is there."
 
HELOCs now make up only 12% of all credit union loans in California and Nevada, down from the 2006 level of 17.28% and 40% less than their peak of more than $35 million in 2008.
 
Nationally, home equity loans stood at 6.3% of all loans as of January, according to data from the Credit Union National Association, down slightly from 6.6% a year prior and 6.7% in 2012.

Johnston noted that the small step upward in the last quarter of 2013 "could be just the beginning." Compared with the peak number of 550,000, HELOCs came in at 48,000 in 2013. That in itself was a 48% increase from 2012, according to DataQuick.
 
"There is room to grow," Johnston said. For every mortgage loan a credit union made on a home purchase from 2008 or 2009 until early 2013, that credit union has a member who likely holds a significant amount of equity built in. "That's a great pool to tap into," he said.
 
Auto lending is solid but will roughly be equivalent to its 2013 level, Johnston said. Wage gains should lead to greater demand for credit cards and personal loans.
 
"I would also expect to see greater demand for personal loans," Johnston said. "This is borne out by a surge in person-to-person loans on various websites--loans that should be going to credit unions. But credit unions seem to have lost interest in the 'old-fashioned' loans. This might be the time to get reacquainted."
 

Treasurer visit caps Mo. advocacy meeting

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (3/17/14)--A visit from Missouri's state treasurer capped off the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) Annual Advocacy Meeting earlier this month, an event full of speakers who took time to discuss the most pressing issues facing the industry.

Clint Zweifel, Missouri treasurer, met with a dozen credit union leaders from throughout the state on the second day of the event, and lauded credit unions for their work helping consumers.

"We appreciate that the state treasurer took time out of his busy schedule to meet with credit union representatives," said Amy McLard, MCUA senior vice president of advocacy (Missouri Difference March 13). "We were able to discuss some of our concerns, to share our successes and reinforce our support for one of his legislative priorities in 2014 (prohibiting public employee retirement benefits from being transferred to pension advance companies)."

On the first day, attendees were treated to several talks from a variety of industry leaders, each covering a different issue concerning credit unions.

Ann Davidson, CUNA Mutual Group senior consultant, spoke about data breaches, explaining that criminals are now regularly looking to exploit non-face-to-face transactions, such as automated clearing house (ACH) and payment cards.

"There were a lot of data breaches last year, like Schnucks (based in Missouri)," Davidson said. "...and it's not stopping. The bad guys have found an open door. We have to be one step ahead of them."

Later, McLard led a session covering federal legislative issues for credit unions; and David Kent, director of state legislative affairs, spoke about state-level bills that could affect credit unions.

Envision's card rewards net $10k for students

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (3/17/14)--Envision CU, Tallahassee, Fla., will fill bellies with food all spring break this school year, thanks to the $10,000 it generated through its Swipe for Schools credit card rewards program.

The $10,000 donation, which will pay for students to buy one book and receive three meals per day for the entire 10-day spring break holiday, was presented last week to America's Second Harvest of the Big Bend, a Tallahassee-based food bank (Leon County Schools March 13).

Members of the $268 million-asset credit union earned five cents for the program for every purchase they made with VISA cards throughout the school year.

"We launched the Swipe for Schools program to provide our members with a way to make a meaningful contribution to the students in our community," said Envision President/CEO Darryl Worrell. "We're so honored to be able to send these meals and books home with these students over the holiday."

Envision plans to run the program again next year, due to this year's success. 

"Spring break can be a difficult time for many of our students," said Jackie Pons, Leon County Schools superintendent. "But thanks to Envision, these children will not go hungry."

CU System briefs (03/17/2014)

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  • Click to view larger image DEXSTA FCU's Erin Hogan, left, Christine Trincia, Daryl McEwen; David Clendaniel and Connie Sanders, Dover FCU; and DEXSTA FCU's George Fitzgerald, Kathy Murschell and Jerry King met with U.S. Rep. John Carney (D-Wilmington), center, during February's Hike the Hill. (Delaware Credit Union League photo)
    NEW CASTLE, Del. (3/17/14) --Thirty-three Delaware credit union advocates met with their congressional delegation during the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) last month. Connie Sanders, the GAC Crasher from Dover (Del.) FCU, updated U.S. Rep. John Carney (D-Wilmington) on credit union topics. According to the March 14 issue of Together, Carney appeared to be well-versed on the issues including the credit union tax status. The contingent also met briefly with Sen. Tom Carper (D-Wilmington) ...
  • MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (3/17/14)--The Massachusetts Credit Union League is hosting a seminar on elder financial abuse April 15 in Milford, Mass. The first session is the "Massachusetts Credit Union Reporting Project," which provides an outline for identifying and reporting abuse to appropriate parties (Daily CU Scan March 14). Other topics include scams, schemes, homeowner displacement and community outreach ...
  • WESTBROOK, Maine (3/17/14)--A severe winter storm caused the Maine Credit Union League to cancel its annual Maine Credit Union Day at the State House in Augusta last week. Registration is still open for the rescheduled meeting, set for 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday (Weekly Update March 14). Nearly 80 credit union representatives have registered. "It would be nice to get that number up to at least 100," said Jon Paradise, league vice president of governmental and public affairs. He added, "Having a credit union representative available from nearly every district when legislators visit our event has a powerful and positive impact"  ...
  • LOS ANGELES (3/17/14)-- Los Angeles Firemen's CU will change its name to Firefighters First CU, effective March 31. The $856 million-asset credit union sought a name that would honor its history of serving California's community of firefighters and their family members but reflect the nearly 270 fire departments it serves. It stressed that it is committed to exclusively serve full-time, paid, active and retired professional firefighters within the state of California ...
  • MONTPELIER, Vt. (3/17/14)--Robert Miller, a former deputy commissioner and commissioner of the Vermont Department of Economic Development, has been named the new CEO of Vermont State Employees CU, Montpelier. Currently, Miller is a managing director at Conning Inc., Hartford, Conn. He will start at the $618 million-asset credit union March 31. Miller worked at Citibank units before becoming the Director of Financial Services Development for the state of Vermont. He will succeed Steve Post, who is retiring after 23 years. Post will remain on as president until July 1 when Miller will take on the title of president/CEO ...
 

Canadian CU teams up with Filene for channel workshop

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MADISON, Wis. (3/17/14)--As technology continues to blossom, so will the number of channels through which consumers can access their financial institutions.

Keeping track and maintaining these channels--mobile banking, online services, ATMs--can spread credit unions thin, if they're not careful.

To help credit unions stay on top of this issue, Filene has partnered with Toronto-based Credit Union Central of Canada to host a one-day workshop to offer guidance on how financial institutions can track and make decisions about channel delivery.

The workshop will take place on April 14 in Montreal, Canada.

"Credit unions and banks are better off having five A+ channels than 20 mediocre ones," said Ben Rogers, Filene research director. "Through case studies and discussion, we'll look at the channel challenges faced by financial institutions and strategies for selecting the channels with the best fit now and several years down the road."

Attendees will be taught by Harvard Business School Professor and Filene Research Fellow Dennis Campbell to move away from simply thinking about the consumer experience and towards tracking it. Participants also will learn how to isolate and track "key member drivers" and how to use the resulting metrics to make decisions about channel delivery.

The one-day session will build on a previous channel delivery workshop that featured Campbell last year.

"His case studies from Commerce Bank and TD Canada Trust, along with his work with credit unions, show the importance of strategic decision-making and tradeoffs," Rogers said.

For more information or to register for the event, use the resource link.

CO-OP reveals THINK 14 speakers

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (3/14/14)--CO-OP Financial Services has announced the initial slate of speakers for THINK 14, to be held May 19-22 in New Orleans with the theme "It Starts with You."
 
"Consumer expectations of credit unions are higher than ever, driven by innovations in service, technology and branding," said Stan Hollen, CO-OP Financial Services president/CEO. "THINK 14 will bring our industry's leadership new ways to evolve, helping credit unions remain the world's finest financial institutions."
 
THINK 14 speakers scheduled to-date include:
  • Kate Feather, executive vice president of customer experience transformation group at PeopleMetrics; and strategic consultant to Christie's auction house and Coca-Cola;
  • Debbie Millman, president of the design division at Sterling Brands and author of six books, including "Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits;"
  • Mark Thompson, CEO/co-founder of Virgin Unite Mentors, Richard Branson's network for executive coaching and entrepreneurial innovation;
  • Gary Vaynerchuk, an investor and adviser to startups, and a Fortune 500 expert through his work as CEO of Vaynermedia, a social media marketing agency;
  • Tess Vigeland, THINK 14 Conference master of ceremonies, CEO of Tess Vigeland Productions, and former anchor for National Public Radio's "Marketplace" program; and
  • Randi Zuckerberg, former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and CEO of Zuckerberg Media.
Each general session will include a speaker on one specific credit union issue. Presentations will be followed by a case study and a roundtable "THINK It Out" discussion.

CU System briefs (03/14/2014)

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  • OKLAHOMA CITY (3/14/14)--An employee of Tinker FCU, Oklahoma City, was recognized during the credit union's annual employee celebration for her leadership during the May 20 tornado last year. For her service, branch manager Jan Davis received the Kitty Casey Service Champion trophy, named for the $3.1 billion-asset credit union's former senior vice president of operations. After the tornado destroyed the credit union's Moore branch, Davis stayed with the vault to ensure the safe deposit boxes were secure. More than 20 people took shelter in the vault of the Moore branch during the storm. Casey was on hand at the celebration to present the award...
  • MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (3/14/14)--To support a group of nurses who plan to run the Boston Marathon this year in honor of the victims of last year's infamous bombing--many of whom they treated themselves--Harvard University ECU, Cambridge, Mass., with $443 million assets, has donated $1,000 to their cause (Daily CU Scan March 13). The majority of the nurses, who work for the Blake 12 Intensive Care Unit, will run the marathon for the first time under the name "Team Blake." The nurses asked Paul Conners, branch manager for HUECU at Marlborough General Hospital, if they could open an account to begin their fundraising. When Conners relayed the effort on to CEO Gene Foley, the CEO was not only happy they were using the credit union, but he also decided to donate the first $1,000 to the fund...
  • ALBANY, N.Y. (3/14/14)--Larry Hitchcock, CEO of Rome (N.Y.) Teachers FCU, steps down today after 15 years at the $31 million-asset credit union (The Point March 13). Hitchcock has participated actively in statewide credit union events such as the Credit Union Association of New York's CEO Roundtable and Economic Forum during his time with the credit union. William J. Mellin, president/CEO of the state association, said, "Larry is a great example of the cooperative, 'people-helping-people' spirit that makes credit unions so inspiring" ...

Hidden River CEO asserts tax status 'warranted'

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POTTSVILLE, Pa. (3/14/14)--You won't find credit unions listed on any stock exchange. That was among the ways that John H. Murga, president/CEO of $109 million-asset Hidden River CU, Pottsville, Pa., distinguished credit unions from banks in an op-ed piece that appeared in the March 12 issue of the Republican Herald.
 
"Banks...have full access to the capital markets and may sell stock or debt (bonds) in order to raise the capital they need to fund growth," Murga wrote in his commentary, "Tax exemption status warranted."
 
Credit unions are democratically controlled, not-for-profit financial institutions, Murga explained. Unlike shareholders of corporations, member share equally in the credit union. "That's why you're called a member," Murga wrote. "You own it and have a voice in how things are run, no matter how much you have on deposit. There are no customers and certainly no stockholders. As an owner, your opinion matters every time you come through the front door."
 
Capital is returned to members as owners in the form of better rates on products and services, Murga wrote. At a bank, capital and profits are owned exclusively by stockholders.
 
A credit union's board of directors is made up entirely of volunteers elected by the membership. They are leaders who serve the interests of the members, help manage the credit union and are willing to commit hundreds of hours of sincere, dedicated service without pay, Murga noted.
 
It was also banks that asked Congress for taxpayer-funded bailouts during the 2008 financial crisis. "As a movement, we paid for any credit union losses from within the system and from amongst our fellow credit unions with not one cent of taxpayer funds," Murga wrote. "Banks believed then it was the taxpayers' turn to pay their 'fair share.'"

How Target missed security warning signs: Businessweek

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NEW YORK (3/14/14)--A team of security specialists. A $1.6 million malware detection tool. Compliance with payment card industry (PCI) standards. With these tools in place, retail giant Target still suffered one of the biggest data security breaches late last year.
 
According to a report in Thursday's Bloomberg Businessweek, Target didn't react to the red flags that went up--resulting in the compromise of more than 40 million credit and debit card numbers and 70 million addresses, phone numbers and other personally identifiable information.
 
The hackers' activity was detected Nov. 30 not only by the malware detection tool from FireEye but by security specialists in Bangalore. "Had the company's security team responded when it was supposed to, the theft that has since engulfed Target, touched as many as one in three American consumers, and led to an international manhunt for the hackers never would have happed at all," Businessweek wrote.  
 
The Target data breach cost credit unions an estimated $30.6 million, according to a survey by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), and future fraud could increase these costs. Credit unions are among the plaintiffs in more than 90 lawsuits that have been filed against Target.
 
In an email to Businessweek, Target Chairman/President/CEO Gregg Steinhafel stated, "Target was certified as meeting the standard for the payment card industry in September 2013. Nonetheless, we suffered a data breach ...  we have already taken significant steps, including beginning the overhaul of our information security structure and the acceleration of our transition to chip-enabled cards."
 
CUNA has asked Congress to address data security relative to merchants, who are not held to the same standards of security as financial institutions. In particular, CUNA suggests all payment system participants are held to comparable levels of federal data security requirements; those responsible for the data breach are responsible for the costs of helping consumers; and ensuring consumers know where their information was breached.
 
The stream of consumer data continues to flow from companies that hold the information of millions of people. Earlier this week, KrebsOnSecurity reported that 200 million consumer records held by Experian had been compromised (March 10).
 
The information was siphoned from Experian, one of the three major U.S. credit bureaus, through a company it had purchased in 2012. That company--Court Ventures--had an agreement to share consumer information with US Info Search and vice versa.
 
Through his connection with Court Ventures, Hieu Minh Ngo, a 24-year-old Vietnamese national, allegedly allowed customers of his identity-theft service to access the data.
 
In the transcript of Ngo's guilty plea in New Hampshire District Court, investigators found that his customers made about 3.1 million inquiries on American consumers over 18 months.
 
KrebsOnSecurity wrote, "At this point the government does not know how many U.S. citizens' [personally identifiable information] was compromised, although that information will be available in the near future," according to U.S. Attorney Arnold Huftalen.

Car loans surge at CUs as buyers reach for longer terms, leases

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MADISON, Wis. (3/14/14)--For new-car buyers conforming to the growing trend in auto sales, it might be six years--or 72 months of car payments--before they own their vehicles outright.

As USA Today reported Wednesday, consumers have been selecting lengthier lease terms at a higher clip lately, with six-year loans--or longer--jumping 19% in the fourth quarter, to about 20% of all new vehicle loans.

Just last month about one-third of all new vehicle sales fell into the long-term loan category of 72 months or longer.

"Longer-term loans, coupled with the current low-interest rate environment, increases the affordability of new vehicles for consumers," said J.D. Power in a statement to ABA Banking Journal. "This is resulting in strong demand for new vehicles and also record transaction prices."

Auto loans in general have surged at credit unions recently as well, according to Steve Rick, Credit Union National Association senior economist. While overall loans rose 6% last year, new car loans almost doubled that number at 11.4%.

Leasing also has ramped up, as 26.5% of new car transactions last month were leases, according to J.D. Power's Power Information Network.

One explanation for this new trend in buyer preference could be the rising costs of new cars. The average amount a customer actually paid for a new vehicle last month was $32,319--2% more than last year, according to numbers reported by Kelley Blue Book.

But while these longer-term loans repackage higher price tags into what seem like more affordable deals, in the end, the longer terms leave buyers paying much more for their new rides than they're worth.

Car dealers, meanwhile, are directing the attention of consumers to the monthly payments, rather than total cost, so they can sell the most expensive vehicles possible, Mike Sante, managing editor of Interest.com, told USA Today.

Sante recommends limiting loan terms to four years and saving enough cash to put 20% down on new vehicle purchases.

Loan progress 'encouraging' for Ala., Fla. CUs, La Pine says

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala., and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (3/14/14)--Alabama and Florida credit unions experienced "encouraging" loan growth in 2013, spurred by a $178 million increase in member business lending, the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) reported.
 
"When you look at the year as a whole, Alabama and Florida credit unions are truly serving their members and their communities," said LSCU President/CEO Patrick La Pine. "For the first time in years, Alabama and Florida credit unions are at the national growth rates and, in some cases, exceeding the growth rate in key areas like total loans and member business loans. This is especially encouraging in Florida where the Great Recession hit hard."
 
The MBL growth rate in Florida was nearly double from 2012 and nearly twice the national credit union average. Loans as a whole were strong in Florida. The state's 158 credit unions added $1.9 billion in new loans in 2013, $154 million of which were new MBLs.
 
The Credit Union National Association is pressing the U.S. Congress to increase the member business lending cap to 27.5% of assets, from the current 12.25%-of-assets level. CUNA estimates the MBL cap change would help credit unions lend an additional $13 billion to small businesses in just the first year after enactment. This money, which would be made available at no expense to taxpayers, would in turn help small businesses create around 140,000 new jobs.
 
Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) introduced H.R. 4226 Thursday--a bill that would exempt loans for one- to four-unit non-occupied dwellings from the credit union member business lending cap. (See related story in today's News Now.)
 
Florida had the eighth-highest median loan growth year over year in the U.S. MBL growth was more than 11%, year over year. Florida's net charge-off and delinquent loan rates continued to show improvement, LSCU said. Three years ago both were nearly triple the national credit union average, the league noted.
 
In Alabama, loan growth was steady but improved over 2012. Alabama's 120 credit unions added $385 million in new loans for the year, 24 million of which were new MBLs. Alabama's net charge-off rate and delinquent loan rates remain steady and continue the yearly trend of improving.
 
Collectively, Alabama and Florida's 278 credit unions added $2.2 billion in new assets, 161,000 new members and $2.28 billion in new loans last year.
 
Alabama credit unions welcomed 40,000 new members in 2013 for a record 1.878 million total members.
 
In Florida, credit unions welcomed 121,000 members for 4.716 million total members; just shy of a record. To put this trend into perspective, in three years Alabama and Florida credit unions have increased membership by 312,000 members.
 
To illustrate how credit unions are leaders in their communities, last year Alabama and Florida credit unions added more than 500 new jobs. In Florida, 468 new full-time positions were added at credit unions, while Alabama saw 74 new full-time employees added to payrolls.

CUNA Mutual funds Women's Global Leadership scholarship

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MADISON, Wis. (3/14/14)--With a $20,000 grant, CUNA Mutual Group will fund a scholarship offered through the World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) Women's Global Leadership Network.
 
The WOCCU Global Women's Leadership Network Scholarship aims to further the careers of emerging credit union leaders by supporting projects that solve a problem or meet a credit union and/or a community need.
 
Scholarship candidates who apply can submit their project description at www.CUwomen.org. Successful projects will address a credit union or community need and further the mission of the applicant's credit union. The application deadline is March 28.
 
Beyond the scholarship, CUNA Mutual Group has expanded its support of WOCCU initiatives and recently became the only diamond-level supporter of the organization.
 
"Our expanded support to a longtime partner like WOCCU is a natural extension of CUNA Mutual Group's commitment to credit unions worldwide," said Faye Patzner, CUNA Mutual Group executive vice president and chief administrative officer. 
 
Scholarship candidates will be selected to attend the 2014 Global Women's Leadership Forum and World Credit Union Conference in Australia, July 25-30.

NJCUL wraps up Reality Check conference

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (3/14/14)--The New Jersey Credit Union League wrapped up its three-day Credit Union Reality Check conference Wednesday.

The three-day program started by partnering three Creative You teams--Team Aspire, Greater Team Alliance and Team XCEL--with mentors from the Filene Research Institute to incubate their innovative ideas for New Jersey credit unions (The Daily Exchange March 11).

Bryan Eichenbaum, vice president, sales and lending, United Teletech Financial FCU (left); Beverly Zook, president/CEO, MoneyOne FCU; and Chris Chichester, president/CEO, Jersey Central FCU, took part in the lending panel moderated by Alex Sornoza, calling officer and vice president, sales and business development, Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, during the 2014 Credit Union Reality Check in Atlantic City, N.J. (New Jersey Credit Union League photo)
The three credit unions on the lending panel offered distinct takes on the environment. MoneyOne FCU, $104 million in assets, sticks to what it is good at and outsources what it needs to in order to provide options to its members, said Beverly Zook, president/CEO of the Largo, Md., credit union.

Jersey Central FCU, Cranford, has nearly 50% of its members borrowing from the $17 million-asset credit union, according to President/CEO Chris Chichester. Technological advancements are on the horizon for $317 million-asset United Teletech Financial FCU, Tinton Falls, N.J., said Bryan Eichenbaum, vice president of sales and lending.

All three agreed that there is a story behind every loan application, which highlighted the importance of the "people helping people" philosophy.

Other speakers and their topics included:
  • Author Mike Staver challenged credit unions to be courageous in their leadership and how to strike a balance between logic and "gut feelings."
     
  • Credit unions' priority should be how well they help members manage their financial lives, Aite Group analyst Ron Shevlin told Tuesday's audience. To do that, he said, credit unions must shift their data collection from demographics and attitudes to purchases and behaviors.
     
  • Howard Stoeckel, former president/CEO of the Pennsylvania-based Wawa convenience store chain, gave attendees a sneak peek at his new book, "The Wawa Way: How a Funny Name and Six Core Values Revolutionized Convenience."
     
  • Roger Tutterow, professor of economics at Mercer University, Macon, Ga., assured attendees that despite their doubts, the economy is improving. He tackled job growth, both statewide and nationally, oil prices and inflation trends.
     
  • The conference ended with this thought from executive coach Mike Neill: The service you provide your members will never be better than the service you provide to each other.

Community Promise FCU declares 1st year a success

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (3/14/14)--While 23 total loans over a 12-month stretch may not raise too many eyebrows, Community Promise FCU, Kalamazoo, Mich., still has labeled the past year a success.

Community Promise, a community development credit union striving to provide financial services to those typically not served by traditional financial institutions, celebrated its one-year anniversary last month.

The $520,000-asset organization will host its first annual meeting Saturday.

"I want the community to know we are here with a better financial alternative than people of low- and moderate-incomes have had," President/CEO Michael Ross told Second Wave (March 13).

The community-minded credit union was created to offer people in poor economic standing an alternative to check-cashing businesses, with a primary focus on promoting financial literacy.

Ross, who spends his evenings working at the credit union for $1 per year, will sit for hours with each loan applicant to assess his or her ability to repay a loan, work on developing a budget, and offer guidance to those who the credit union must turn down.

"If I can help one person improve her situation, I feel I have done something. And if that person pays off the loan from us, we have been successful," Ross told Second Wave.

For 23 people, so far, that success has been achieved.

Dr. James Houston, the first chair of the credit union's board, values adherence to the organization's mission and principles, and sees potential for growth as the organization rolls on. 

"I believe that Community Promise will be considered as a community treasure, as people in Kalamazoo realize the long term effect it is having, and will have, on the low-income citizens of our city," Houston told Second Wave.

Credit union organizations supporting Community Promise include: the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions; Educational Community CU, Kalamazoo; and First Community FCU, Parchment, Mich.

CU System briefs (03/13/2014)

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  • JACKSON, Miss. (3/13/14)--Nearly 40 individuals representing Mississippi credit unions meet with their congressional representatives during the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference last month. "I think our 2014 meetings were some of the best we have ever had," said Charles Elliott, president/CEO, Mississippi Credit Union Association (CU Connection March 12). "We discussed maintaining our tax exempt status, eliminating the requirement to send privacy notices to members unless there is a change in the credit unions' practices and the need for enhance security standards to prevent security breaches at retailers." U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Gulfport), left, meets with the Mississippi contingent (Mississippi Credit Union Association photo) ...
  • HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (3/13/14)--New Jersey credit unions are challenged to bust the March Madness bracket of New Jersey Credit Union League President/CEO Greg Michlig--all in the name of charity. Credit unions can enter up to three brackets each for a chance to win a $1,000 donation to the winner's charity of choice (Daily Exchange March 12). Submitted NCAA brackets will be judged against those of each credit union and of Michlig. Deadline to register is Saturday ...

Record no. of congressional members lace up for Cherry Blossom

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WASHINGTON (3/13/14)--A record-breaking number of congressmen and women have pledged support for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run this year, an annual event to raise money for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

So far, 210 members of Congress, representing 47 states, American Samoa, D.C. and Guam, have volunteered their support for the April 6 event, including 37 U.S. senators and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

The previous record for the race had been 189. The race is part of the broader Credit Union Miracle Day's Family of Races.

Charlie Mallon, president/CEO, Congressional FCU, Oakton, Va., and board vice chair of the Credit Union Miracle Day, praised the support the event received from the Hill.

"This race showcases the credit union philosophy of people-helping-people since one of our major goals is to raise funds for children's hospitals," Mallon said.

Credit Union Miracle Day, put together by 101 credit unions and 48 business partners and CUSOs, including lead partner PSCU, has donated more than $6 million to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals throughout the U.S. from its Credit Unions for Kid-arm.

Children's Miracle Network Hospitals ties together a number of premier children's hospitals across the country, who collectively treat 10 million critically ill children every year, regardless of their economic circumstances.
 
The other Miracle Day races this year include the Credit Union SacTown Ten-Mile Run in Sacramento, Calif., and a Freedom Run at Wiesbaden Army Garrison in Germany.

Cornerstone year-end numbers indicate favorable '14

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (3/13/14)--Credit unions across Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas witnessed growth in deposits, members, loans and assets in 2013, a Cornerstone Credit Union League year-end report found, potentially indicating good things to come in 2014.  

"With an economic upturn in 2014, credit unions in the region are heading into a good growth year," said Rick Grady, Cornerstone's vice president of research (Leaguer March 12).

Deposits in the region last year increased almost 6.1%, up to $82.6 billion. At banks, deposits grew 7.4% to $781.2 billion, according to Grady.

Memberships at credit unions grew by 370,000 individuals in 2013, hoisting up member numbers to 9.56 million throughout the region. That influx also ushered in more than $4.3 billion into deposit accounts.

Market share for credit unions, meanwhile, stayed relatively flat at 9.6% in 2013, Grady said. Credit unions operate 2,046 branches in the region with an average of $40.4 million in funds on deposits, while banks run 9,088 branches with average funds on deposit of $86 million. Out-of-state banks average $112.3 million in deposits per branch.

The disparity in market share also revealed itself in loan demands, with credit unions holding 9.6% and banks at 90.4%. Credit unions still increased loan demand 9.7%, up to $61.2 billion, in 2013.

Member assets in Cornerstone credit unions rose more than $5.1 billion last year, reaching $95.3 billion by year's end.

Despite modest job growth last year, credit union employment increased by 4.7%.

Student-run CUs touted at social studies conference

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (3/13/14)--More and more, school districts throughout the U.S. are emphasizing to their students the importance of personal financial literacy.
 
President Barack Obama's Council for Financial Capability of Young Americans, meanwhile, recently began work in encouraging young people to take stock in their financial futures as well (News Now March 11).
 
What better way to teach personal finance, than to have students run a financial institution of their own?
 
Credit unions are on top of it.
 
At a Minnesota Council on Social Studies conference earlier this month, representatives of the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation spoke about the importance and success of five student-run, in-school credit unions that have been established over the past few years, a growing trend not just in Minnesota but nationwide.
  
Student tellers at Poquessing Middle School, Feasterville-Trevose, Pa., will staff the school branch of Bucks First FCU two days per week during lunch. (Pennsylvania Credit Union Association photo)
For instance, Bucks First FCU, Bristol, Pa., and the Neshaminy School District partnered to open the first student-run credit union branch to be located in a Pennsylvania middle school (Life is a Highway Feb. 27).  The branch at Poquessing Middle School, Feasterville-Trevose, is part of the "Project Flipside" youth financial literacy program from the $83 million-asset credit union.
 
"Minnesota credit unions large and small have a commitment to financial education, and no two credit unions' efforts are exactly alike," said Kristina Wright, MCUF executive director. "The dedication by our credit unions that have established these first five in-school branches is spectacular, and it's a concept that I hope to see more of in the coming years."
 
The in-school branches that opened in Minnesota worked with credit unions such as St. Paul (Minn.) FCU, $124 million in assets; Postal FCU, $6.9 million in assets; and Cook (Minn.) Area Credit Union, $28 million in assets.
 
With the help of teachers, most of the branches are run by students and for students, offering myriad educational opportunities in financial literacy.
 
Wright led a breakout session during the conference called "Educational Benefits of Student-Run Credit Unions."
 
At the Minnesota Council on Social Studies conference, Tartan High School student Marc Buchmayer shared his experience of working at Postal CU's student-run branch in Oakdale, Minn. (Minnesota Credit Union Network photo)
There, she introduced the concept of student-run credit unions and provided resources and information on operational models, considerations and the many benefits of partnerships between schools and credit unions.
 
Participants also heard from educators who'd been directly involved in establishing student-run credit unions in the state, including Scott Pierce of Owatonna High School--the first to open a branch in Minnesota--and Craig Spreiter of Tartan High School, Oakdale.
 
"We felt that it would be a great tool to help students learn about financial literacy, and we could also incorporate it into classes," Pierce said. "The students that work at the credit union gain great experience, and the other students benefit as well through peer education and in dealing with other students."

Thomson named president at Idaho league

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BOISE, Idaho (3/13/14)--The Idaho Credit Union League named longtime league employee and interim leader Kathy Thomson to the president/CEO position.
 
The appointment of Thomson, who had been interim president/CEO since the November departure of Chris Johnson, was official Feb. 12.
 
"I truly believe in the power of credit unions to change their members' lives," Thomson said, adding, "...and I believe Idaho credit unions need the Idaho Credit Union League to do that."
 
Credit unions need to be able to focus on serving their members while the league focuses on supporting credit unions, she said.
 
The 2013 Quarterly U.S. Map Review from the National Credit Union Administration showed Idaho led the nation in loan and membership growth, clocking in with 16.7% and 8.1% gains respectively. Idaho also was home to the largest increase in shares and deposits nationwide. (See March 6 News Now: State data shows where strongest growth occurred.)
 
Thomson has served the league in a number of capacities since joining the staff in 1973. She is a Credit Union Development Educator and holds designations as a Certified League Executive and Certified Credit Union Executive.
 
"Kathy is a capable, devoted and hard-working professional," said Shane Berger, league board chair and president/CEO of $178 million-asset Beehive FCU, Rexburg. "We have great confidence that she will lead our trade association to future success."

Farber, Sinek join ACUC's San Francisco lineup

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MADISON, Wis. (3/13/14)--Two additional speakers--Steve Farber and Simon Sinek--have been added to the lineup for the Credit Union National Association's 2014 America's Credit Union Conference, set for June 29-July 3 in San Francisco.
 
Perhaps best known for his first book, "The Radical Leap: A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership," Farber embraces extreme leadership as one would approach an extreme sport: "Learn to love the fear and exhilaration that naturally comes with the territory." He recently expanded and updated the book, releasing it as "The Radical Leap Re-Energized: Doing What You Love in the Service of People Who Love What You Do."
 
Farber is the president of Extreme Leadership Inc. and founder of The Extreme Leadership Institute, both of which are devoted to cultivating and developing extreme leaders in business and other arenas. His other two books are "Greater Than Yourself: The Ultimate Lesson of True Leadership" and "The Radical Edge: Stoke Your Business, Amp Your Life and Change the World."
 
Sinek's concept of "Why" is the second-most-watched TED talk videos. His books, "Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't" and "Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action," address inspirational leadership.
 
"I imagine a world where people wake up every day inspired to go to work and return home at the end of the day feeling fulfilled by the work they do, feeling that they have contributed to something greater than themselves," he says.
 
Farber and Sinek join Marcus Luttrell, former Navy SEAL and author of "Lone Survivor" and "Service: A Navy SEAL at War and True Stories of American Heroism."
 
"Their insights, leadership and inspiration are sure to motivate attendees to drive positive change for their credit unions," said CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney.
 
CUNA also announced a Guess the Speaker contest for the fourth ACUC keynoter. Entrants who submit correct guesses by May 9 will be entered for one free registration for this year's conference.
 

CU advocates earn lifetime achievement awards from PCUA

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (3/13/14)--Kipp Stecher, retired CEO of $159 million-asset AmeriChoice FCU, Mechanicsburg, Pa., has been selected as the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association's 2014 Outstanding Credit Union Professional of the Year.

Charles Lantz, a board member at $109 million-asset Hidden River FCU, Pottsville, Pa., was named the association's 2014 Outstanding Credit Union Volunteer of the Year (Life is a Highway March 12).
 
Stecher retired at the end of 2013 after more than 30 years in the credit union movement. He started his career in 1979 as manager of IBM Pennsylvania Central FCU, with six employees and limited services. The credit union changed its name to AmeriChoice FCU, and converted its charter from a single select-employee group to a four-county community charter. AmeriChoice now has seven branches and 65 employees.
 
Stecher served on the board of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Service Centers Inc. and was vice chairman from 2005 to 2008.

Lantz has served on the board of Hidden River FCU for more than 40 years. His credit union volunteer experience began in 1970 when he was asked to fill a vacancy on the board of the Schuylkill County School Employees CU. He has served as board president/chairman since 1984.
 
He was involved in the Anthracite Chapter of Credit Unions and served as chapter president.
 
The Lifetime Achievement Awards will be presented during the closing banquet at the PCUA's annual convention, May 20, in Atlantic City, N.J.

Bert Hash honored with AACUC Crear achievement award

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BALTIMORE (3/13/14)--Bert J. Hash Jr., president/CEO of Municipal Employees CU (MECU) of Baltimore, has been named the 2014 Pete Crear Lifetime Achievement Award recipient by the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC).
 
Hash was selected because of his commitment to the credit union philosophy and dedication to moving the credit union world forward at the local, regional, national and international levels, AACUC said.
 
Hash has led MECU of Baltimore for more than 15 years. During that time, the credit union increased to more than 100,000 members and $1.2 billion in assets from more than 50,000 members and $435 million in assets.
 
He is a past chairman and vice chairman of the AACUC board of directors.
 
Hash is a champion for causes not only in the Baltimore area, but outside of the U.S. During the Haiti earthquake crisis, not only did the MECU help as an organization, but Hash and his wife, Joan, provided personal support to the cause. Hash has also been instrumental in spearheading the Capital Credit Union in Scotland partnership.
 
In 2013, he led MECU's purchase of Advance Bank operations. The credit union-bank acquisition was the first of its kind in Maryland.
 
The award will be presented to Hash at a dinner in his honor Aug. 1 during the 16th Annual AACUC Conference in Memphis, Tenn.

CU System briefs (03/12/2014)

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  • MADISON, Wis. (3/12/14)--Friday is the deadline for youth to apply for positions on the Googolplex editorial board. Googolplex is the Credit Union National Association's microsite that teaches money management skills to three age groups: Grades 4-5; grades 6-8; and grades 9-12. Students serve as board members from June 1 to May 31, 2015. Participating on the board allows students to learn more about finances while playing games online, reading stories and developing writing skills--all while getting paid. To request an application or obtain more information, e-mail Laurel Purves, Googolplex youth editorial board liaison ...
  • BISMARCK, N.D. (3/12/14)--The North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) recognized First Community CU, Jamestown, N.D., as a champion of affordable housing during the recent Statewide Housing Conference. Awards went to the $471 million-asset credit union and Mary Radenz, loan officer. "North Dakota has experienced dramatic changes in recent years, and the Housing Finance Agency's challenge to provide safe, decent and affordable housing for every North Dakotan has grown substantially," said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring (The Memo March 11). NDHFA's lender awards are based on participation in its homeownership programs and involvement in locally sponsored affordable housing projects and events ...
  • SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (3/12/14)--The San Rafael Chamber of Commerce honored Redwood CU, Santa Rosa, Calif., as large business of the year for its contributions to community and nonprofit organizations. "We believe (the credit union) plays a vital role in job creation and the vitality of local economies," said Brett Martinez, president/CEO of the $2.27 billion-asset credit union. "The recognition by the San Rafael Chamber is an affirmation that we are making a difference." The credit union supports a wide variety of community efforts including small business lending and financial literacy ...  
 

CEOs confident about CU climate in '14, survey says

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AUSTIN, Texas (3/12/14)--Credit union CEOs are feeling more optimistic going into 2014, according to a recent survey by Abound Resources.
 
The consulting firm found that 48% of CEOs stated they feel either "somewhat" or "very" optimistic--an attitude bolstered by ongoing credit union profitability, said President/CEO Brad Smith.
 
"Even with a tough interest-rate environment, credit unions have reason to be optimistic," he said, adding, "In our conversations with credit union CEOs, the majority realize that they can do even more to position their credit union to rise above economic and regulatory challenges and remain profitable and relevant in 2014 and beyond."
 
CEOs are firmly committed to consumer lending as a critical part of their growth strategy. In 2013, 88% of CEOs cited consumer lending as a growth priority. This year, it's a resounding 94%, the report said.
 
Membership growth remains a focus, with 25% of CEOs calling it a top priority, up from 17% in 2013. This aligns with the increasing average age of a credit union member and credit unions' desire to add younger members.

TMG gives $10K to NCUF from GAC promo

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DES MOINES, Iowa (3/12/14)--The Members Group (TMG) and its sister companies will make a $10,000 donation to the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), the Des Moines, Iowa-based payments processor announced Tuesday.
 
Click to view larger image Attendees who visited The Members Group's exhibit hall booth at the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington Feb. 23-27 were asked to fill out a "Make a Difference" card with an example of how they've made a difference in the lives of others. In honor of the "Make a Difference" project, The Members Group and its sister companies pledged to donate $10,000 to the National Credit Union Foundation. (The Members Group photo)
The gift is the result of a campaign TMG conducted by the Des Moines, Iowa-based payments processor from its booth at the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) Feb. 23-27 in Washington, D.C.
 
Joined by Hispanic market solutions company Coopera, credit union regulatory firm PolicyWorks and credit card agent issuer TMG Financial Services, TMG hosted its "Make a Difference" project at GAC. Attendees who visited the booth were asked to fill out a "Make a Difference" card with an example of how they've made a difference in the lives of others.
 
In honor of the Make a Difference project participants and their contributions, the sister companies and their parent organization, Affiliates Management Company, pledged to donate to NCUF.
 
"As a group, all of our sister companies decided to take a minimalist approach to our GAC booth display to keep the focus on our shared mission, which is to ensure the vitality of credit unions by improving the financial lives of consumers," said Georgann Smith, TMG vice president of marketing. "By simply doing good for others, organizations like ours can have a tremendous, positive impact on the credit union movement."
 
In addition to the in-booth story collection project, the sister companies sent representatives into the conference crowd with pre-loaded gift cards. They were instructed to hand out the gift cards to anyone they wished, explaining that the idea was to do good for others without an expectation of anything in return.
 
The response was inspiring, according to TMG's Vice President of Product Ryan Anderson, who passed out cards to strangers in line for coffee. "I watched several people 'pay it forward' by handing the card off to someone behind them in line," he said.

Filene report: Risk-weighted capital standards 'compelling' for policymakers

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MADISON, Wis. (3/12/14)--The adoption of appropriate risk-weighted capital adequacy standards would put banks and credit unions on the same safety-and-soundness footing, making such standards a "compelling" consideration for policymakers, according to a new report from the Filene Research Institute.
 
The Credit Union National Association supports risk-based capital but has strong concerns that there's a multi-billion-dollar price tag of additional capital for credit unions attached to the National Credit Union Administration's proposed risk-based capital (RBC) rule. For risk-based capital to be implemented correctly, CUNA asserts, it must be part of overall capital and prompt corrective action reform---changes that will require congressional action.
 
The Filene report says that allowing credit unions to access alternative capital would bolster their stability during times of stress and strengthen their ability to grow in both good and bad times, according to the report, "Credit Union Capital Adequacy: What's New and What's Next?"
 
The paper outlines the mismatch between credit unions and investor-owned banks, focusing on the implications of Basel III capital guidelines, prompt corrective action (PCA), and the structure challenges of maintaining the principle of member ownership in the face of outside capital.
 
With risk-weighted capital adequacy standards, simple credit unions could stick with a leverage-only requirement, while those with more complicated balance sheets could opt for risk-weighted reporting, the report said.
 
For U.S. lawmakers, the case to revise the current regime is compelling, the paper said. Alternative capital would moderate draconian PCA requirements by providing an alternative to jacking up income or shrinking assets. The Government Accountability Office (GAO), the research arm of the U.S. Congress, concluded in 2004 that it was too early to recommend changes to credit union PCA, but the financial crisis showed that the risks posed by credit unions do not warrant more stringent PCA triggers.
 
The newly released U.S. final capital rule for banks should be catalyst for alternative capital reforms, the paper advised. A streamlined approach for credit unions that mirrors the rule, and related Basel III requirements, would support a safer, more resilient credit union system.
 
Where credit unions can issue alternative capital instruments, it is possible to balance the interests of member-ownership with those of outside, the paper said. Credit unions would be safer and more flexible with additional access to capital.
 
To download the paper, use the link.

GCUA puts 'Idol' spin on value of members' votes

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DULUTH, Ga. (3/12/14)--In a video encouraging credit union members to make their votes count in Nov. 4 elections, Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) spoofs the irony that Americans are more engaged in "American Idol" voting than taking part in governmental elections.
 
The video supports ElectionWatch 2014, a nonpartisan political program designed by the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates to encourage credit union members to "Be Counted." and "Vote!" in city, state and congressional elections this year.
 
In the video, "Government Idol" contestants vie for the approval of actors portraying former Idol judges Randy "The Dog" Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell, as anxious would-be voters watch the show on their TVs at home. With the judges' collective nod, the contestants win a ticket to the capital.
 
In between performances, a series of messages is displayed: "Every year, important legislation is introduced that could drastically impact the way your credit union helps you.
 
"Now that's something to get excited about.
 
"If credit union people don't vote, credit union people don't count."
 
GCUA's ElectionWatch 2014 offers current information on the candidates, issues and special events so that members can become more informed of the political process and how it can affect their everyday lives.
 
To watch the video, use the link.

Schnucks' data breach takes $1M toll on Mo. CUs

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ST. LOUIS (3/12/14)--The data breach that bit St. Louis-based Schnucks supermarkets last April has dealt at least a $1 million blow to Missouri credit unions, a Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) survey found.

When MCUA leaders attended the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington last month, they made sure to relay the financial implications of the breach to elected officials.

"Being able to provide members of Congress with hard numbers about the impact of the Schnucks data breach on credit unions in Missouri had a real impact during GAC," said Amy McLard, MCUA senior vice president of advocacy. "This puts a cost and effect on how data breaches impact their constituents."

CUNA has repeatedly encouraged members of the U.S. Congress to address inconsistent rules that require credit unions and other financial institutions to follow high security standards while holding merchants to different standards. CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney has also called on the House Financial Services Committee to hold hearings on the last year's Target data security breach. In addition to new payment security standards, merchants must also be held accountable for the damages that breaches to their systems cause financial institutions and consumers.

Credit unions who responded to the Missouri survey--28 in all--spent about $246,000 to replace compromised cards as a result of the incident. At least 67,900 credit and debit cards total had to be replaced, and the cost to reimburse members for fraudulent charges totaled about $643,000.

Not all credit unions who responded answered each survey question. About 2.4 million credit and debit card numbers were stolen at the time.  

To help MCUA accurately illustrate the total impact, Missouri credit unions that have not responded to the survey and that suffered losses because of the Schnucks breach are encouraged to contact McLard at amclard@mcua.org or 314-542-1370.

Iowa CUs 2nd nationwide in loan, asset growth

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DES MOINES, Iowa (3/12/14)--Iowa credit unions ranked second in the nation in annual loan and annual asset growth, according to numbers released by the National Credit Union Administration.
 
The Iowa Credit Union League pointed out that the state's credit union loans and leases increased 13.6% to $8.2 billion in 2013, compared with 8% nationwide. (See March 4 News Now: 2013 financials show continued positive trends at CUs.)
 
"Iowa credit unions are strong and healthy, and continue to be leaders in the industry," said Pat Jury, league president/CEO. "Our positive growth in credit union membership, loans and deposits affirms that Iowa consumers desire to conduct business with not-for-profit financial cooperatives."
 
Total assets at Iowa credit unions increased by 6.6% compared with the year prior, clocking in at $11.8 billion. Nationally, federally insured credit unions' total assets trended up by $5.3 billion in the fourth quarter.
 
They experienced 6.6% growth in share and deposits to $10.2 billion compared with the national share and deposit growth of 3.7%.
 
Membership at Iowa credit unions ticked upward by 1.2% to 1,015,287, with 12,463 members added since December 2012. Nationally, membership in federally insured credit unions grew 2.6%.
 
The Des Moines Register noted the state's credit unions were led Veridian CU, Waterloo, and the University of Iowa Community CU, North Liberty (March 11). Veridian CU reported total assets increased 3.6% to $2.43 billion during 2013. Membership ended the year at 178,888 members, with a 3.9% growth rate.
 
Meanwhile, the University of Iowa Community CU noted assets bumped up by 20% to $2.16 billion in 2013, and membership came in with a 9.1% increase to 11,706 members.

Entries being accepted for league Blockbuster Awards

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MADISON, Wis. (3/12/14)--Entries are now being accepted for the 2014 Credit Union National Association Blockbuster Awards, an event that recognizes the outstanding marketing, advertising and publication efforts of state leagues and league service corporations promoting the credit union movement.
 
All submissions for 2013 work must include an entry form, the corresponding entry materials and the appropriate fee payment.
 
This year's program also features several new rules: Entries can now be submitted digitally; the program has been streamlined with several adjustments to categories; and the name of the program has been changed from the Pro & Blockbuster Awards to the Blockbuster Awards.
 
The awards will be presented during the GAPS/Communicators Conference June 16-18 at the Marriott Marquis in Washington.
 
The deadline to submit entries is April 18. Winners will be notified in May and honored at an event held at the conference.
 
For all specific submission guidelines, categories and information, use the resource link.

14 CUs ready to test 'Borrow & Save' program

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NEW YORK (3/11/14)--The "Borrow & Save" program, a small-dollar loan product for low- and moderate-income consumers, has reached capacity with 14 credit unions nationwide.
 
"Borrow & Save," a product of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, is one of five products in the Filene Research Institute's accessible financial services incubator funded by the Ford Foundation.
 
"Credit unions have a long history as being the proving ground for consumer-centric, innovative financial products," said Cynthia Campbell, Filene's director of Innovation Labs. "Partnering with the federation to test 'Borrow & Save's' viability with mainstream financial institutions was a natural fit, since their experience in working with low- to moderate-income consumers is extensive."
 
"Borrow & Save" increases members' economic security by providing an affordable small-dollar loan with payment terms that make sense for the member, giving them an alternative to predatory lenders. A built-in savings component also enables members to self-fund their emergencies instead of borrowing money to handle them.
 
"The large number of credit unions interested in participating in the 'Borrow & Save' pilot reflects the need among low-income consumers for affordable loans that provide a safe alternative to predatory lenders," said Cathie Mahon, federation president/CEO. "'Borrow & Save's' unique mandatory savings help consumers strengthen their financial condition by building credit and developing a cushion against future emergencies." 
 
Credit unions that will test the 'Borrow & Save' product include:
  • 1199 SEIU FCU, New York;
  • Carter FCU, Springhill, La.;
  • Communicating Arts CU, Detroit;
  • Credit Union 1, Anchorage, Alaska;
  • Freedom First CU, Roanoke, Va.;
  • Guadalupe CU, Santa Fe, N.M.;
  • Hope CU, Jackson, Miss.;
  • Lake Trust CU, Lansing, Mich.;
  • North Side Community CU, Chicago;
  • Peninsula Community FCU, Shelton, Wash.;
  • Seasons FCU, Middletown, Conn.;
  • SkyOne FCU, Hawthorne, Calif.;
  • Southwest 66 CU, Odessa, Texas; and
  • Urban Upbound FCU, Long Island City, N.Y.

Consumers moving faster to mobile bill pay then providers, Fiserv says

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BROOKFIELD, Wis. (3/11/14)--Billing companies are having a difficult time keeping up with the swelling popularity of mobile bill-pay services, according to results of Fiserv's annual Mobile Bill Pay Benchmark study.

The study, released last week, found that while more than one in four consumers are signing on to billing websites to pay bills, only 15% of billers have put together mobile billing and payment strategies--a critical investment to accommodate the fast-growing demand for Mobile Billing Presentment and Payment (MBPP) services.

"Our research indicates explosive growth of mobile bill payments," said Robert Craig, senior vice president of biller solutions, Fiserv. "Billers have an opportunity to take advantage of this change by offering a consistent, simple and innovative user experience, which can improve customer satisfaction and lower service costs.

"Billers will benefit by delivering a true omni-channel billing and payment strategy to consumers, including a strong mobile presence," he added.

Part of the problem for billers, it seems, stems from a lack of information technology resources. The survey found that 64% of billers couldn't determine whether homepage visits came from mobile devices, and one-third couldn't track which services or activities customers navigated to when they accessed their sites.

More and more, however, billers are acknowledging the value that these services provide. In 2013, 95% of billers viewed MBPP as a way to improve customer service, which is a 36% increase from the previous year.

The survey also revealed a 56% jump from 2012 in billers who are looking at MBPP services to drive e-bill adoption. Further, 69% of those surveyed said cost savings were behind their company's interest in the service.

CUs offering citizenship loans for immigrants

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MADISON, Wis. (3/11/14)--Helping immigrants obtain citizenship status is one of the ways credit unions fulfill the people-helping-people philosophy in the new millennium.
 
A 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center found that not being able to afford the cost to apply for citizenship was among the top two reasons immigrants cited for not applying for citizenship. Only not being able to speak English well enough was cited more often.
 
The current cost for a citizenship application is $680, up from $225 in 1999. Increasingly, credit unions are helping immigrants overcome this obstacle by offering citizenship application loans.
 
Coopera, a Des Moines, Iowa-based company that works with credit unions to serve the Hispanic market, recommends that its clients offer loans to help members through the citizenship process, said Miriam De Dios, Coopera president/CEO.
 
"If you look at the whole immigration process, there are folks who are going through different phases of it every day," De Dios told News Now. "It's something that I went through personally, and it's costly. When we talk to our client credit unions we know it's a need. They offer loans, and we try to work with them to make them as relevant to the process as possible."
 
De Dios recommends that credit unions work with other community agencies that offer additional expertise, such as legal counsel and assistance working through the immigration process. "There's all sorts of community organizations that are helping folks better understand this process. Credit unions can team up with them and add in the financial education component of this," she added.
 
Promise CU, with $5 million in assets, Houston, began offering citizenship loans after piloting the program in 2012.
 
"It's a way to ease the process," Randy Martinez, Promise CU president/CEO, told News Now.
 
The $455 loan includes a $75 application fee. Applicants must contribute $300 of their own money. The loan carries a 12-month term with a 5% interest rate. Monthly payments are about $38, Martinez said.
 
Promise CU also partners with Neighborhood Centers Inc., a nonprofit network of community centers in the Houston area that works with immigrants. Several times a year, Neighborhood Centers holds citizenship forums that include attorneys and volunteers to assist with paperwork. Promise CU representatives provide financial advice, including assistance with the loan application process, Martinez said.
 
Second FCU, Chicago, a division of Self-Help FCU, a $558 million-asset credit union in Durham, N.C., offers loans that range from $680 to $4,000 to cover citizenship application fees and legal costs (Medill Reports Feb. 26).
 
The citizenship loans have repayment term from 12 to 24 months with an interest rate of 12%. Applicants must have established legal residency and earn at least $500 monthly.
 
Community Trust CU, Modesto, Calif., another division of Self-Help FCU, began offering citizenship application loans last month (The Bakersfield Californian Feb. 16). Loan amounts can be up to $1000 for an individual or $4000 for a family. Borrowers carry a 12% interest rate, or less if the principal is paid off before the funds are disbursed.
 
The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees are launching the Northwest Area Immigrant Asset-Building Initiative to promote citizenship, integration and financial security for immigrant communities across the Northwest region.
 
With support from the Northwest Area Foundation, the initiative will select two to three pilot sites where credit union products and services will be integrated with immigrant legal and social services to provide comprehensive solutions for immigrants seeking to naturalize and build credit and assets.

Grantees will be announced in April. The 12-month pilot is scheduled to in June.

'Better Choice' equals $27M in better savings for members

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (3/11/14)--More than 87,000 short-term loans have been issued in Pennsylvania through the "Credit Union Better Choice" since the program was launched in 2006---saving borrowers more than $27 million over using a traditional payday lending product, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) reported.
 
"For more than seven years, Better Choice loans have been meeting the emergency loan needs of credit union members," said Patrick Conway, PCUA president/CEO. "The continued growth in the volume of loans demonstrates the ongoing need for this program.

"'Better Choice' is an example of the people-helping-people philosophy of the credit union movement and demonstrates our difference from for-profit financial providers," he said, adding, "I encourage Pennsylvanians who are not using a credit union to consider switching to one for all of their financial needs."
 
The "Credit Union Better Choice" loan is a payday lending alternative product where credit unions offer borrowers a 90-day loan with a $500 limit. Reasons cited for loan purpose have included Christmas gifts, taxes, car repairs, heating fuel and funeral expenses.
 
The "Credit Union Better Choice" was developed through a collaboration of the PCUA, Pennsylvania Treasury Department and the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities.
 
Currently, 65 credit unions with 178 locations offer "Credit Union Better Choice" loans across Pennsylvania. During 2013, 11,178 loans totaling more than $5.5 million were issued, PCUA reported. Borrowers also placed more than $551,710--10% of the loan total--into savings accounts.
 
A typical $500 payday loan costs consumers $15 for every $100 borrowed for two weeks, or about $450 over 90 days. A $500 "Credit Union Better Choice" loan costs consumers roughly $42.50 for 90 days. At the end of the loan term, the consumer has $50 in a savings account.
 
Pennsylvania consumers saved an average of 80 cents in loan fees and costs for every dollar borrowed through a "Credit Union Better Choice" loan rather than through a typical loan from a payday lender. That translates into more than $27 million consumers kept in their pockets by using the loans.

Maine's elder abuse training set for Wednesday

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AUGUSTA, Maine (3/11/14)--A Maine-based program to train credit union personnel on how to prevent and identify different types of elder abuse will take place Wednesday at the Augusta Civic Center in Augusta.

The event, developed by the Maine Credit Union League (MCUL) and the Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention, was rescheduled from last month due to inclement weather. Registration is still open.

The program, titled "Preventing Financial Exploitation of the Elderly: The Role of Financial Institutions," is a free, three-hour training session and is available to all credit union staff.

"Credit unions are all too familiar with our senior members falling victim to financial fraud, either through 'foreign lottery' types of scams or theft by family or caregivers," league board member Kyle Casburn, president/CEO of $109 million-asset Seaboard FCU, Bucksport, told News Now Jan. 23. "Credit unions have an opportunity to use our collective resources to educate our members on fraud and provide tips on monitoring our loved one's accounts."

The training will help employees identify red flags and signs of financial exploitation with older members; determine when it's appropriate to report an incident to Adult Protective Services or other agencies; and decide when to refer members to community-based resources.

Speakers will include Jaye Martin, executive director, Legal Services for the Elderly; John Barr, deputy superintendent, Bureau of Financial Institutions; Doreen McDaniel, director, Adult Protective Services; Jessica Maurer, executive director, Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging; and Judith Shaw, administrator, Maine Office of Securities.

To register, use the resource link, or email serlandson@mainecul.org.

Desert Schools FCU's golf tourney raises $341K for CMNH

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PHOENIX (3/11/14)--Better than a birdie or even a hole-in-one, the results from Desert Schools FCU's 16th annual golf tournament resulted in $341,000 for the Children's Miracle Network Hospital in Phoenix.
 
The recipient--Phoenix Children's Hospital--will use the funds for its "1 Darn Cool School," which provides educational resources to children undergoing long-term treatment (Phoenix Business Journal March 7).
 
The hospital--Arizona's only member of the Children's Miracle Network--covers more than 70 pediatric specialties for inpatient, outpatient, trauma, emergency and urgent care.
 
The Phoenix-based credit union started the golf event in 1998 and has raised more than $2.4 million for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.
 
Desert Schools FCU also is celebrating its 75th anniversary with its "Shine On" program that includes more than $1 million in donations to various community groups.
 
"Our partners, our customers, and our friends in the community help to make these donations possible all year long," the credit union's Executive Vice President Ron Amstutz told the paper.

N.H. CUs welcome state legislators

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MANCHESTER, N.H. (3/11/14)--Last week, the New Hampshire Credit Union League (NHCUL) hosted its annual legislative reception with state legislative and regulatory delegates.
 
St. Mary's Bank CU President/CEO Ronald Covey, left, and Business Development Officer and Director of Community Outreach Thomas Champagne speak with State. Sen. David Boutin (R-Hooksett) during the New Hampshire legislative reception. (Daily CU Scan photo)
Thirty credit union representatives met with members of New Hampshire Senate, House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee, and the New Hampshire Banking Department (Daily CU Scan March 10).
 
Paul Gentile, NHCUL president/CEO, gave a status update on the state's credit unions, which experienced 10.39% loan growth and an increase in membership of 4.7%. He also noted that New Hampshire's credit unions have excellent credit quality with a delinquency rate of 0.5%.
 
State Sen. Lou D'Allesandro (D-Concord) praised the credit unions for playing a vital role in the economic viability of the state. D'Allesandro, who currently is board chair for $141 million-asset Members First CU of NH, told the group about his personal experience buying a home. The help he received from Manchester-based Telephone Workers' CU (now Bellwether Community CU) is an example of the personal touch that credit unions need to maintain, he said.
 
During the two-hour event, Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) told the group that "New Hampshire's credit unions are great and important to the state of New Hampshire in helping the local economy grow."
 
He added, "Small businesses also need help, and credit unions play a significant role in assisting them."

CU System briefs (03/11/2014)

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  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (3/11/14)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) presented Jim McCormack, retired president/CEO, center, with his Herb Wegner Lifetime Achievement Award Friday (Life is a Highway March 10). McCormack was unable to attend the award ceremony in Washington, D.C., in February so PCUA President/CEO Patrick Conway, Senior Vice President Michael Wishnow and Chair Maria LaVelle had accepted the award on his behalf. During his visit, McCormack told the staff that this award is not his alone. "This award belongs to all of you and to everyone who has worked in the Pennsylvania credit union movement," McCormack said ...
  • ALBANY, N.Y. (3/11/14)--Former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato will be a featured speaker at the Credit Union Association of New York's 2014 State Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC). The former three-term senator served as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. New York's GAC will be April 28-30 in Albany (The Point March 10) ...
  • HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (3/11/14)--Three of the 11 winners of Island FCU's high school scholarship program will be awarded $10,000 this year. The others will receive one-time payments of $2,500, for a total of $50,000 for the class of 2014. Since 1992, the $948 million-asset credit union has awarded more than 250 scholarships totaling worth $340,000. Eligible students must be high school seniors accepted into a full-time undergraduate program and have an active account with the Hauppauge, N.Y.-based credit union ...

'Vishing' scams making the rounds again

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MADISON, Wis. (3/11/14)--Some credit unions are reporting that their members are being targeted with phone calls and voice messages that claim their debit or credit cards have been compromised.
 
The scam, called "vishing," includes automated messages that prompt the members to enter confidential information such as the card number and PIN.
 
Fort Atkinson (Wis.) Community CU was targeted last week, according to Sue Johnson, senior vice president of the $196 million-asset credit union (WMTV-15 March 7).
 
The credit union's fraud department reacted quickly, resulting in only a few members being affected. Even those affected have no liability for the fraud losses, stressed Johnson.
 
Financial Builders FCU, $70 million in assets, also reported fraud incidents. The Kokomo, Ind., Police Department said scammers are falsely representing the credit union, purportedly informing members that their cards have been deactivated (Kokomo Perspective March 10).
 
The police also told consumers that if they did provide their information to these callers, they should call their credit union or other financial institution in order to protect their card.
 
Johnson reminded consumers that financial institutions will never ask for this type of confidential information over the phone.

CU System briefs (03/10/2014)

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  • MADISON, Wis. (3/10/14)-- Tom Sakash has joined News Now , CUNA's daily online news service, as web assistant editor. From 2011 to 2013, Sakash was the city beat reporter for The Davis (Calif.) Enterprise . In addition to studying journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he earned his bachelor's degree in Spanish from Carthage College, Kenosha, Wis. Sakash will be based in the Madison, Wis., office. ...
     
  • ANN ARBOR, Mich., and JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (3/10/14)-- University of Michigan CU, Ann Arbor, $518 million in assets, and $20 million-asset Eastern Michigan University CU, Ypsilanti, completed a merger agreement after seven months of negotiations ( The Ann Arbor News March 7). The merger provides, among other services, mobile banking and deposit, instant issue debit and credit cards for Eastern Michigan University CU and, for University of Michigan CU members, the convenience of a branch in Ypsilanti, said Jeff Schillag, vice president of marketing and community relations, University of Michigan CU. In Florida, two Jacksonville credit unions announced board approval to merge. First Florida CU, $408 million in assets, and State Employees CU, $299 million in assets, will merge pending member and regulator approval. ( The Florida Times-Union March 6). First Florida CU will have access to a credit card program, while State Employees CU will gain a financial management platform. ...
     
  • Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation Executive Director Joe Wambach (center) poses with students after reading a book. (Pennsylvania Credit Union Association photo)
    HARRISBURG, Pa. (3/10/14)-- The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) and $2.5 billion-asset Members 1st FCU, Mechanicsburg, helped turn the pages during the Harrisburg School District's 500 Men Reading Week event ( Life is a Highway March 5). George Nahodil, executive vice president of marketing, Members 1st FCU; Mike Wishnow, senior vice president of communications and public relations, PCUA; and Joe Wambach, executive director, Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation, read at three different schools. The program, which recruits 500 men to read to elementary students, is being implemented in Westmoreland and Beaver counties thanks to WEST-AIRCOMM FCU, Beaver, $192 million in assets, and Westmoreland Community FCU, Greensburg, $54 million in assets. ...
     
  • HOOVER, Ala. (3/10/14)-- Alabama Telco CU, Hoover, Ala., launched its Save Up CD program in February ( eSignal March 7). The CD requires a minimum deposit of $500, compared with the traditional $1,000, and has a fixed rate for its 12-month term. "We designed our Save Up CD for those looking to learn how to save, build confidence in their investments and enjoy a little flexibility with their funds," said Stanton Davis, vice president of marketing for the $595 million-asset credit union. ...

Bethpage FCU small-biz survey grabs media attention

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BETHPAGE, N.Y. (3/10/14)--A credit union-sponsored survey taking the temperature of the small business climate in Long Island drummed up a bit of media attention this week.

Survey results, unveiled Thursday by Bethpage (N.Y.) FCU, with $5.4 billion in assets, were picked up by Long Island Newsday and CBS' New York affiliate, WCBS-AM 880 .

More than 600 Long Island small business executives--who oversee outfits with annual revenues of less than $10 million--were polled. Bethpage FCU's Business Banking Group worked with Stony Brook University's Center for Survey Research to conduct the poll ( Long Island Exchange March 6).

Subjects ranged from confidence levels in national political leaders to expectations for business growth in 2014.

Perhaps most notably, despite broad concern for the direction of the national economy, many business owners watched their operations expand and their sales build in 2013.

Among those queried, 36% said their businesses grew in 2013, compared with 26% in the year prior; 35% expect their businesses to grow over the next six months; and 41% predict that year-end 2013 sales will surpass that of 2012, which is a 10% improvement from the previous poll. 

Only 12% of business executives, meanwhile, believed that government officials in the nation's capital would energize the national business climate this year, while 62% said they instead have confidence in Long Island business leaders.

Verity CU's bike loans pick up social speed

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SEATTLE (3/10/14)--Credit unions are known to cater services to their memberships. That's why it was no surprise when Verity CU, based out of bicycle-loving Seattle, rolled out a new loan program just for bike riders.
 
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
But while Verity, with $422 million in assets, isn't the first credit union to offer a bicycle loan program, the way the organization advertised the new service in 2013 was perhaps unique.
 
Using the social media service CafeGive Social--a social marketing app company--Verity launched its loan campaign with a photo contest called "Roll On Seattle," which asked community members to send in snapshots of their favorite bikes.
 
The response was instantaneous, according to CafeGive's website. With a $250 gift card to the winner as an incentive to enter, Verity increased its number of Facebook "likes" by 68%.
 
That's 68% more people who learned the details of the loan program, which includes no payment for 90 days and loan amounts ranging from $500 to $7,500.
 
Verity also donated $5 for the first 100 entries to Bikeworks Seattle, a nonprofit that supports sustainability initiatives, bicycle education and safety.

CU's fin. lit. course makes the grade at Harvard

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (3/10/14)--For the third consecutive year, Harvard University Employees CU, Cambridge, Mass., offered Harvard undergraduates a financial literacy class designed to provide them with an understanding of personal financial management.
 
The optional class, called "Personal Financial Management," ran three days with a four-hour session each day. Students received a carefully targeted curriculum of consumer credit, credit scoring, personal budgeting, financial goal setting, planning, insurance, taxes, the financial marketplace and investing.
 
"Historically, it has primarily been the responsibility of parents to teach their children the basics of personal financial management," said Gene Foley, president/CEO of the $442 million-asset credit union. "The problem with that is the financial products now offered in the 21st century are not the same as the ones that parents grew up with."
 
The goal of the "survey course" curriculum was to present the knowledge most critical for undergraduates to understand and apply now in their personal financial life.
 
Less than 20% of college students receive any kind of formal personal financial education--a knowledge gap that leaves serious potential for financial missteps in college and beyond, according to Tom Murphy, the credit union's director of student services,
 
"Though most students have been using and managing money since before they were in kindergarten, a significant portion of their financial education has been self-taught," Murphy said. "We live in an increasingly complex financial world, and the better we prepare them now for that reality, the more successful they'll be when they come face-to-face with it."
 
The first day of the program provided students with the foundation to develop a solid financial plan. Using case studies, students reviewed the fundamentals for proper financial planning and use of credit.
 
The second day included a panel on investing with recent graduates from Harvard Business School (HBS), the College and Harvard Law School. The final day of the program covered wealth management, insurance and taxes.

Wis. league takes CU difference to the airwaves

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MADISON, Wis. (3/10/14)--Christine Henzig, Wisconsin Credit Union League director of communications, explained why credit unions are the financial institution of choice for consumers in a recent interview on WIBA-AM 1310's " Ask the Experts" program.
 
The foundation of the credit union difference is a cooperative ownership structure, Henzig explained. "Unlike banks that are owned by shareholders--a small group of shareholders that are in it to earn profits--credit unions are owned by the depositors," Henzig said. "As a credit union member...you are the owner."
 
Because of that structure, any profits beyond required reserves, go back to members in the form of better pricing on financial services. "That's a great deal for consumers," she said.
 
Henzig said there's a common misperception that credit unions are hard to join.  Although credit unions began with a common membership bond as a form of collateral protection, today they offer much broader terms of membership. "There are some restrictions as to which credit union you can join, but there's always going to be a credit union you can join," Henzig said.
 
She suggested consumers log on to aSmarterChoice.org to find a credit union that fits their needs. aSmarterChoice  is the consumer website created by the Credit Union Natoinal Association and its affiliated state credit union associations., such as WCUL.
 
Credit unions offer typically the same services that banks do--checking, saving, auto loans, mortgages, small business loans, student loans and investment products---in addition to 30,000 no-fee ATMs through CO-OP ATM Network.
 
The credit union system is built on collaboration, Henzig said, adding,"Other financial institutions don't collaborate the way credit unions do. Because our depositors own us we want to do them a good turn. If we don't have the service at one credit union, we'll send them to another credit union, because we know they will get good service."
 
Wisconsin credit unions members saved $100 million in fees and better rates over banks in 2013, including $57 million in lower loan rates, and $24 million in lower and fewer fees.
 
"That's $100 to $200 a household," Henzig said. "That's pretty significant."
 
About 40% of Wisconsin residents--2.4 million consumers--are credit union members, Henzig said. In 2013, nine in 10 Wisconsin credit unions provided free checking, offered loans of $1,000 or less, and adjusted loan terms to help members facing financial hardship due to unemployment, furloughs or temporary job loss.
 
To listen to the entire interview, use the link.

Community outreach, fin. lit. get $88K in Cornerstone grants

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (3/10/14)--The Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation has awarded 41 grants totaling more than $88,000 to support credit unions and credit union chapters in their community outreach and financial literacy efforts and the professional development of staff and volunteers.
 
Staci Zale, foundation associate director and grants manager, thanked credit unions for their support of the foundation. "By awarding these grants, we are simply paying it forward," she said.
 
Twenty-one of the grants awarded were for professional development. Sixteen were community outreach grants to support activities such as Junior Achievement and Financial Fitness of Greater Austin and Financial Fitness of Greater Dallas, the Cornerstone Credit Union League reported ( Leaguer March 7).
 
Four credit union chapters also received grants. The grants helped the chapters host reality fairs and bring speakers to their chapter meetings.
 
The foundation is once again collaborating with the Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Greater Dallas to host 100 financial education webinars in April for National Financial Literacy Month.

Carolinas league meets new NCUA director

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ATLANTA, Ga. (3/10/14)--Leadership of the Carolinas Credit Union League (CCUL) met its new National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) representative, Region III Director Myra Toeppe, last week in Atlanta.

Toeppe was named director in September, replacing Herb Yolles, who retired at the end of 2013 after 35 years of service with the NCUA. Before joining NCUA, Toeppe worked for nearly 25 years in financial services regulation, including stints with the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta.

CCUL leaders also met with Dave Hibshman, assistant regional director of programs.

"With last year's retirement of Herb Yolles, the leadership team at Region III has changed," said John Radebaugh, CCUL president/CEO ( In the Loop March 5). "We appreciated their time and the opportunity to share the concerns of some credit unions in the Carolinas."

Radebaugh traveled with Dan Schline, CCUL senior vice president of association services, and Jeanne Couchois, vice president, regulatory/compliance counsel, to meet the new representatives.

"We view regulatory advocacy as (a) core function of the league," Schline said. "Developing relationships with regulators and having an ongoing dialogue about how rules and regulations are impacting credit unions in the Carolinas is central to that process."

CUReach courts young professionals in Ill.

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (3/10/14)--It's not only today's work that's critical to the credit union movement. The industry also must keep an eye leveled toward the future.
 
The Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL) has launched CU*Reach, a program that will immerse young professionals into the world of credit unions and prepare them for a future in the industry.   
 
"CU*Reach is a great opportunity for professional development, as well as a chance for young professionals to recognize their potential within the credit union movement," said Jennifer Riebold, a member of the Illinois Youth Involvement Council's Young Professionals Advisory Committee, the group developing this initiative.
 
The program offers opportunities in networking, mentoring, education, leadership development and community involvement. The committee in charge of the campaign also plans to put together local and statewide specific programs.
 
Organizers have built CU*Reach to serve individuals ages 40 and under; however ICUL representatives say there are plenty of opportunities for those over the age of 40 to get involved through the league's CU*Reach Champion program.
 

Toledo Blade columnist hails Nueva Esperanza

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TOLEDO, Ohio (3/7/14)--In his March 3 column, the Toledo Blade's Keith Burris praised upstart community development credit union Nueva Esperanza Community CU for making a difference in the local Hispanic community.
 
Nueva Esperanza, organized under the leadership of former Toledo alderman Adam Martinez, opened for business in 2011. "Now Nueva Esperanza has 450 members, a loan portfolio of about a half a million dollars, and $1.4 million in [assets]," Burris wrote.
 
Nueva Esperanza Community CU was also among 35 low-income credit unions to receive $21 million in funds through the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) in September ( News Now Sept. 25)
 
"What does it do for people? A few car loans," Burris added. "Citizenship loans--so a person can go through the naturalization process. That costs $5,000 to $7,000. Mostly, this credit union makes very down-to-earth dreams come true. Like a man who started his own landscaping business with a loan of $5,000. Or a man who borrowed $4,000 to put a furnace in his home. He had been heating the place with space heaters and could not sleep at night because he feared for the safety of his children."
 
Sue Cuevas, a former bank branch manager, is Nuevas Esperanza Community CU's CEO. Cuevas, the daughter of a minister, told Burris she left her job at the bank to help people. "It's how she was raised," Burris wrote.
 
Burris compared the work that Nueva Esperanza Community CU does for local Hispanics to civil rights work. "It's about initiatives that can really change life for people of modest means," he wrote. "The new civil rights movement is economic and pragmatic."

CU System briefs (03/07/2014)

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  • CLEVELAND, Ohio (3/7/14)--Another man has been charged in connection with the 2010 collapse of St. Paul Croatian FCU, Eastlake, Ohio--one of the most costly failures in credit union history. Sako Satka of Lakewood, Ohio, was indicted Wednesday on charges of conspiracy, bank fraud and bank bribery. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Ohio, Satka allegedly paid bribes and kickbacks to CEO Anthony Raguz to use his position at the credit union to approve loans worth more than $4.4 million to Satka, his businesses and associates from 1999 to 2004. Satka is one of nearly two dozen players who allegedly conspired with Raguz to defraud the credit union through loan schemes. Raguz is serving a 14-year prison term for accepting bribes, kickbacks and gifts in exchange for loans. He allegedly issued more than 1,000 fraudulent loans totaling more than $70 million to about 300 accountholders and accepted more than $1 million in bribes. The collapse cost the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund more than $170 million ( News Now 11/27/12). ...
  • MADISON, Wis. (3/7/14)-- Discount pricing ends today on clothing and promotional products for National Credit Union Youth Week , scheduled for April 20-26. This year's theme is "Catch the $ave Wave." Credit unions also can register for the National Youth Saving Challenge , held in conjunction with Youth Week. Both events are hosted by the Credit Union National Association and focus on encouraging youth to learn about money and set savings goals. Last year more than 117,000 youth deposited $25.2 million into credit union savings accounts--with 6,173 of them being new accounts. ...
  • WORCESTER, Mass. (3/7/14)-- DCU for Kids, the charitable foundation of Marlborough, Mass.-based Digital FCU, sponsored the second annual statewide Bullying Prevention and Education Conference in Worcester ( Daily CU Scan March 6). More than 300 education, juvenile justice and law enforcement professionals attended the Feb. 27 event. The Bullying Prevention and Education Conference is part of DCU for Kids' ongoing initiatives to address the serious concerns of bullying. "Through the efforts of B.R.A.C.E. (Bullying Remediation and Court Education) Project partners and this conference," said John LaHair, public relations manager for the $5.2 billion-asset credit union, "we are cooperatively taking steps that will help prevent bullying and create a climate in our schools and our communities in which all children can feel safe." ...
  • EAST WINDSOR, N.J. (3/7/14)-- Shawn Gilfedder, president/CEO, McGraw-Hill FCU, recently addressed the fifth annual Workforce Planning and Analytics Conference , hosted by Human Capital Institute, in Alexandria, Va. Gilfedder was on the docket alongside Robert Reich, former Department of Labor secretary, and industry leaders from Time Warner, ConAgra and Monster Worldwide. Gilfedder said his goal was to reinforce that human resources executives and the responsibilities they have for people-related programs--"particularly financial wellness of employees"--are vital for success. ...
  • COLUMBUS, Ohio (3/7/14)-- Credit union pioneer and founder of Bellevue (Ohio) Terminal FCU,  Ivan Garman, died Feb. 7. He was 85. Garman was president of the credit union, now known as Firelands FCU, for 45 years until his retirement in 1993 ( eLumination March 5). Garman served as a director for the Lake Erie Chapter of Credit Unions and chair of the Ohio Credit Union League. He was a charter member and incorporator of Corporate One FCU, Columbus. According to his obituary in The Bellevue Gazette (Feb. 13), Garman was a "national delegate representing Ohio in the testimony before the Federal House Banking Committee in support of a bill to establish a National Credit Union banking system." ...

Power of GAC Hill visits still resonating

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MADISON, Wis. (3/7/14)--Stories of successful visits with Congressional delegates--and welcome news of the preservation of credit unions' tax status--continue to reverberate in the days after the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Government Affairs Conference (GAC).
 
Click to view larger image U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister (R-Swartz), left, greets Glen Beard, board chair, Alexandria (La.) Municipal Employees CU, and board chair, Louisiana Credit Union League. ( eNews photo)
More than 4,400 people attended the annual advocacy conference Feb. 23-27 in Washington, D.C. Nearly 60 Louisiana credit union professionals and volunteers attended the GAC.

"I commend our members for being actively involved with the political process and interacting with legislators at events such as the CUNA GAC," said Anne Cochran, president/CEO, Louisiana Credit Union League. "Louisiana credit unions make it a top priority to educate members of Congress on the benefits of being a credit union member, and I applaud them for that."
 
More than 80 Ohioans met with 17 of the state's 18 Congressional delegates. During their meetings, they reinforced the message: "Support legislation that allows credit unions to better serve their members" ( eLumination March 5).  Access to supplemental capital, member small business lending and merchant data security were hot topics.
 
Click to view larger image Back row: Bernie Winne, Boston Firefighters CU (left); Bob and Ed Foley, Liberty Bay CU; Mike Maloney, Members Plus CU; Gene Leahy, Marty Quinn, Steve White and P.J. Foley, Liberty Bay CU. Front row: Christopher Stockbridge, City of Boston CU (left); U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Boston); Paul Gentile, Massachusetts Credit Union League; Gerry Burm, Liberty Bay CU; and Bob Walsh, City of Boston CU. ( Daily CU Scan photo)
"We had a successful day on the Hill," said Patrick Harris, director of legislative affairs, Ohio Credit Union League. "We secured at least one new co-sponsorship, and built upon existing relationships with our members of Congress and their staffs. We made an impact."
 
The Cornerstone Credit Union League, which represents credit unions in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, had 197 attendees who met with 44 members of Congress or their staff, including U.S. Reps. Markwayne Mullin (R-Tulsa), Jeb Hensarling (R-Dallas), Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin), Randy Neugebauer (R-Lubbock), Pete Gallego (D-Alpine), Texas Sens. John Cornyn (R) and Ted Cruz (R), Arkansas Sens. John Boozman (R) and Mark Pryor (D) and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.).

GAC Crashers from the Cornerstone league also shared their experiences. " I gained exposure to the political engagement and advocacy with increased buy-in to explain the credit union story," said Noel Sanger, marketing vice president,United FCU, Fort Smith, Ark. ( Leaguer March 6). Sanger was joined by Joe y Griffith, compliance officer, Communication FCU, Oklahoma City, Okla. , and Josh Atkinson, risk specialist, United Community CU, Houston, who said, "It was comforting knowing that there are others who are young and passionate like me, and being around generationally similar and passionate individuals really helped me realize that we have a bright future ahead of us."
 
Click to view larger image Minnesota credit union advocates met with Sen. Al Franken (D). (Minnesota Credit Union Network photo)
Nearly 100 credit union delegates from across Minnesota delivered the message that "credit unions are doing great things every day that impact the lives of everyday Minnesotans--including the 1.6 million who are credit union members," said Mara Humphrey, vice president of governmental affairs, Minnesota Credit Union Network.
 
"But when we leave Capitol Hill, our work doesn't end. We need to continue to engage on issues," Humphrey said. "It is essential that legislators understand what you do and the value that you bring to your members and your communities."
 
North Carolina's credit union advocates met with Sen. Kay Hagan (D) for an early coffee meeting before heading out for full day of appointments that ended with a visit with longtime credit union friend and Rep. Howard Coble (R-Greensboro).
 
A giant tower of "Don't Tax My Credit Union" postcards greeted the Minnesota contingent when they visited the D.C. office of Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Crosby).
The South Carolina contingent met with Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R-Lancaster), Joe Wilson (R-Charleston), Jeff Duncan (R-Greenville) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) among others ( In the Loop March 5).
 
During Maine's annual credit union breakfast, Sen. Angus King (I) said, "Let us know how new regulations are impacting you and your members.  I believe that regulations are too burdensome and are being proposed without considering the costs vs. the benefits.  More of that needs to be done because it is hurting your operations."
 
Pennsylvania credit union leaders visits the offices of all 18 of their Congressional representatives and both their senators. One of the main topics of discussion was data security breaches and the costs incurred by credit unions in their aftermath ( Life is a Highway  Feb. 27).

"Hearing personal stories from credit union representatives allows for Congress to relate to our issues and understand our role in the communities we serve," the Credit Union League of Connecticut reported ( Weekly Update March 4). Thirty-eight individuals from Connecticut visited their delegation on the Hill.

Member business services topic of CUNA lending conference

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MADISON, Wis. (3/7/14)--The Credit Union National Association announced this week the four business member services subjects it will cover during July's Business Lending and Services Conference.  

Credit union leaders looking to dive into the business member market will receive guidance on establishing a program; managing a business-lending program; cultivating a commercial credit card culture; and assembling a competitive business product portfolio.

The conference will take place July 21-22 in Madison, Wis.

"This conference was developed to make sure attendees have all the facts on business lending and services before they make a major decision for their businesses," said Kathy Smith, CUNA instructional design manager. "Rather than telling attendees how their business should work, we assemble a picture of what a member business services program would look like within their credit union, and let them decide from there."

Participants in attendance will hear from individuals who recently decided whether to add business member services to their organizations. They'll also have the chance to ask experts about any advantages and drawbacks.

By the end of the conference, those who attend will leave with a firm understanding of the market, insights on what business owners want in a financial institution, in-depth data on the current competition and access to potential product offerings.

Attendees also will have a grasp on whether their credit unions have the financial means, the expertise and potential gain to break into the market.

CU's cashless branch featured in crime prevention TV report

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (3/7/14)--Columbus, Ohio's WBNS-TV recently featured Wright-Patt CU's cashless branch environment as a potential deterrent to robberies.
 
The Ohio Credit Union League connected WBNS-TV reporter Angela An with the $2.7 billion-asset Fairborn, Ohio-based credit union.
 
The Columbus area has experienced an increase in financial institution robberies, with more than 550 robberies reported in the last decade, An reported. Some financial institutions were robbed more than 10 times.
 
Wright-Patt CU recently opened a cashless branch equipped with personal teller machines, which look and operate much like ATMs, but members interact with a credit union representative through remote video.
 
"There's no need for cash drawers, and when members conduct their transactions, the money goes into a secure vault into the machine that the employees in the location do not have access to," Tammy Jones, Wright-Patt CU market leader, told WBNS-TV .
 
Without accessible cash, credit union employees feel safer, Wright-Patt CU member representatives told An.  
 
Wright-Patt CU is planning to open at least five more member branches with PTMs in Central Ohio in the next few years.
 
To read the full article and watch the video, use the links.

Partnership treats CMN Hospitals with Biz Kid$ DVDs

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MADISON, Wis. (3/7/14)--Credit Unions for Kids and the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) are partnering to enhance the financial education opportunities for patients and families at every Children's Miracle Network (CMN) Hospital nationwide.
 
Click to view larger image Credit unions and leagues can now sponsor a box set of "Biz Kid$" DVDs for their local CMN Hospital for $300. Donations will help patients suchs Tony Signorelli, the Children's Miracle Network's "Miracle Child" from Oregon, who is holding the eight-DVD set of the TV show "Biz Kid$." Signorelli was born with Dandy-Walker syndrome and Liddle's syndrome, both of which are extremely rare. Dandy-Walker syndrome is a congenital brain malformation that causes intracranial pressure. Liddle's syndrome involves abnormal kidney function when too much sodium is reabsorbed and too much potassium is lost. (Photo provided by National Credit Union Foundation)
Credit unions and leagues can now sponsor a box set of 65 episodes of "Biz Kid$" on DVDs for their local CMN Hospital for $300. If box sets are purchased by March 15, donations to the hospitals will be during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month.
 
Under the umbrella of Credit Unions for Kids, the credit union movement is the third-largest corporate contributor to CMN Hospitals, behind only Wal-Mart and Costco. Credit Unions for Kids has raised more than $110 million for CMN Hospitals since its inception in 1996.
 
Biz Kid$ is a financial literacy initiative of the NCUF that includes an award-winning TV series, free classroom curriculum, outreach activities, a website and a monthly online newsletter targeting children 9 to 16 years old.
 
"We hope the donation of the 'Biz Kid$'" program will develop an even deeper credit union/hospital relationship where credit unions not only support the financial needs of the hospital but also the financial needs of the patient families," said Danielle Brown, NCUF director of development and donor relations.
 
Each eight-disc set of "Biz Kid$" for the CMN Hospitals donation program has been specially created with room for a credit union or league to customize the DVD box set with its logo or URL.
 
Each participating credit union or league that sponsors a "Biz Kid$" DVD box set by March 15 will be included in CU4Kids and NCUF press releases touting the initiative and receive acknowledgement on the NCUF and CU4Kids websites. Sponsors will also receive thanks via Twitter by @CU4Kids and appear in a "thank you" ad running in credit union trade publications.
 
"In addition to being valuable for the kids and their families, we strongly believe this initiative will be beneficial for credit unions as well," said Felicity Guerin, Credit Unions for Kids development manager for the American Association of Credit Union Leagues.

Ga. CUs report 6% increase in loans in 2013

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DULUTH, Ga. (3/7/14)--Total lending numbers edged savings for Georgia credit unions in 2013, according to a Georgia Credit Union Affiliates report, potentially signaling brighter days ahead for the state's economy ( Paying Attention Feb. 24).

Collectively, the state's 138 credit unions enjoyed a 6% increase in total lending over the 12-month stretch. Total savings balances, meanwhile, crept up 2.81%.

Both automobile loans and housing drove the lending gains, with new- and used-car loans climbing 11.2% and 7% respectively, while first- and second-mortgage loans rose by 5.9% and 2.3%.  

"Family finances have been squeezed for a long time," said GCUA President/CEO Mike Mercer. "We're pleased to see more people participating in the recovering economy, moving past the uncertainty of the great recession (and) having the confidence to engage in household formation activities and in upgrading their vehicles."

Credit card balances at the Peach State's credit unions experienced a 2.9% increase, unsecured loans rose 6.7% and transaction account balances climbed 7.12%.

At the same time, credit quality improved with credit union member bankruptcy filings dropping by almost 25%.

The 2013 report also found:
  • Regular savings account balances increased by 7.72%;
  • Money market account balances grew 5.38%;
  • IRA/Keogh account balances decreased 1.57%;
  • Transaction account balances increased 7.12%; and
  • Georgia credit union membership grew by 2.57%.

Specialty accounts guide members' savings goals

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MADISON, Wis. (3/6/14)--A CreditCards.com article highlights how credit unions are helping members save for big expenses through savings clubs.
 
Savings club accounts, a spin-off on the traditional Christmas Club accounts, help members set aside money on a monthly basis, and then withdraw it at a certain time.
 
Some banks offer savings clubs, but consumers are more likely to find them at credit unions, because the accounts aren't designed to generate profits, Ben Rogers, research director at the Filene Research Institute, told CreditCards.com . Because credit unions are not-for-profit and owned by their members, they're more likely to offer savings clubs, he explained.
 
Credit unions offer savings clubs for almost every major expense--tax payments, fuel bills, vacations, weddings, to name a few.
 
"Putting a little aside for any kind of big expense makes a lot of sense," Mike Schenk, vice president of economics and statistics with the Credit Union National Association, told CreditCards.com .
 
The club's also offer a great way to develop a savings habit, said Wes Strickland, senior vice president of marketing at Grow Financial FCU, Tampa, Fla.
 
And by saving, consumers avoid racking up credit card charges or digging into emergency savings to cover costs, the article reported.
 
Because some club accounts have specific terms, it's important that consumers understand account requirements. For example, deposits are often required at regular intervals, such as once a month, and withdrawals may only be allowed at a certain time or the account will be subject to closure or interest could be forfeited. Those restrictions help account holders stick to their savings plan.

Utah CU Foundation gives more than $44k to schools

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SALT LAKE CITY (3/6/14)--Nearly two dozen schools across Utah were awarded grant funding recently thanks to the 100% for Kids Credit Union Education Foundation, an organization formed by the Utah Credit Union Association to help schools expand and enhance in-house programs and resources.  
 
This quarter, the foundation spread more than $44,000 among 13 districts and 21 schools. The funding will pay for supplies for core curriculum, according to Liz White, the foundation's director.
 
"We review several grant applications each quarter, looking for those that will impact the greatest number of students in the greatest possible way," White said.
 
Thanks to Granite FCU, Salt Lake City, one school received a double-dose of help.
 
Newly constructed Neil Armstrong Academy, a school just outside of Salt Lake City that emphasizes "STEM" curriculum--or science, technology engineering and math skills--received $2,500 for books, science equipment, musical instruments and iPads from 100% for Kids.
 
Granite decided to match that amount.
 
"As a credit union firmly rooted in education, Granite jumped at the opportunity to assist the Neil Armstrong Academy and their unique approach to learning," said Garrett Laws, marketing manager for the $338 million-asset credit union.
 
Thus far, 100% for Kids has donated more than $5 million to Utah schools. The funding is given directly to teachers for use in their classrooms.

Global Women's Leadership Network offering scholarships

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MADISON, Wis. (3/6/14)--The Global Women's Leadership Network, a World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) initiative that addresses the contributions and needs of women credit union leaders worldwide, is offering scholarships to support education and networking opportunities.
 
The scholarship champions emerging women credit union leaders through access to a network of credit union professional expertise. The application deadline is March 28.
 
The scholarship will support candidates' projects that further the vision and mission of the network.
 
"Our objective is to advance credit union women in leadership roles throughout our global community," said Brian Branch, World Council president/CEO.
 
Applications should include a project description. Successful projects will focus on solving a problem or meeting a need within the applicant's credit union or community. Examples include strengthening the capacity of women leaders in the organization and expanding financial services to underserved community members.
 
Selected candidates will attend the 2014 Global Women's Leadership Forum and World Credit Union Conference, which will take place in Gold Coast, Australia, July 25-30. During the 2014 Leadership Forum, selected candidates will present their projects to network members, who will vote on which candidates will receive network support for the implementation of their projects. Those chosen will carry out their project from August 2014 through June 2015 and will return to the 2015 Global Women's Leadership Forum in Denver to present their project results.
 
To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must be female emerging leaders in the global credit union movement, which include young professionals and leaders from a developing credit union movement. Successful candidates must demonstrate the ability to effectively implement their proposed projects and suggest appropriate engagement from the network, such as volunteers and training internships.

Scholarships are made possible through funding provided by annual network membership donations and sponsorships, such as that provided by CUNA Mutual Group, a founding level supporter of the network.

La Pine gives Palm Beach Post legislative update

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (3/6/14)--Patrick La Pine, president/CEO of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU), provided an overview of Florida credit unions' state legislative agenda in a March 4 Palm Beach Post op-ed piece.
 
La Pine addressed four issues in his commentary: Public deposits, data security, financial literacy and the Florida Credit Union Act.
 
Last year, Florida legislators did not consider proposed bills that would have granted credit unions the ability to accept public deposits. "As the 2014 session gets under way, the credit union association is committed to vigorously advocating for any proposal that would bring Florida in line with 33 other states that allow credit unions to accept public deposits and spur competition among eligible public depositories," La Pine wrote.
 
In the wake of the Target data breach, Florida credit unions are also committed to advocating for reform laws on data security and protection of personal information, La Pine said. "The association intends to advocate for legislation that would work to protect card issuers and financial institutions from data breaches that may result from negligent retailers that fail to maintain security protocols to access devices," La Pine wrote. "The association also supports any effort to require retailers to notify consumers if and when any data breach incident has occurred."
 
The league also seeks to improve Chapter 657, the Florida Credit Union Act, to help reduce over-regulation and maintain the safety and soundness of all credit unions, La Pine wrote.
 
Regarding financial literacy, LSCU supports legislation in both the Florida House and Senate that would require high school students to earn a half-credit in financial literacy to qualify for graduation.
 
To read the full commentary, use the link.

CUNA FUSE program adds professional designation

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MADISON, Wis. (3/6/14)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) FUSE program now offers a professional designation for business development professionals--Credit Union Business Development Professional (CUBDP).
 
Attendees of the CUNA FUSE: Branch Operations & Business Development School, set for Aug. 18-21 in San Diego, can earn the CUBDP designation.
 
CUNA FUSE was developed to encourage communication and cooperation between credit union branch operations and business development areas.
 
The school makes a point "to establish a dialogue between attendees in different fields so that everyone leaves better prepared to build beneficial relationships with--and establish cohesion among--their employees back home," said Kathy Smith, CUNA instructional design manager.

Wash. CU leads charge against poverty with 'Life on the Edge'

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BREMERTON, Wash. (3/6/14)--A Washington-based credit union is about to take the next step in its community-focused fight against poverty.
 
In less than a week, Kitsap CU, Bremerton, Wash., will host the second installment of its program "Life on the Edge," which addresses local poverty ( Anthem March 4).
 
The first event, held in May 2012, brought poverty into the light for individual community members by simulating real-life examples of problems that the impoverished face every day.  
 
"People left the event more compassionate, ready to listen first, to gain more understanding," said Cathy Brorson, Kitsap CU's outreach coordinator . Brorson spearheads the project for the $961 million-asset credit union.  
 
This second all-day event, scheduled for Wednesday, will dig deeper into the area's issues with poverty. Those in attendance will be asked to identify priorities and think about programs that could "sustain change."
 
"For example, how do we successfully marry the structure of regulation with the precarious, emotional needs of someone in poverty at a moment of crisis?" Brorson said in a Q&A with Anthem.
 
Brorson plans to package the input and ideas into a report, which she hopes will help guide the direction of the locally sponsored Poverty Alleviation Project. The project will invest $1 million into the community's effort to fight poverty.
 
The event also will feature a "State of Housing" address given by Kitsap County Commissioner Linda Streissguth, a resource fair and a panel discussion centered on issues those entrenched in poverty often face.
 
About 9% of residents in Kitsap County and 19% of Bremerton residents live in poverty. Last year, 4.5% of Bremerton School District students were considered homeless.

Bankrate.com: CUs help members reconstruct credit scores

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NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. (3/5/14)--Credit scores carry a lot of weight with lenders when they're considering the credit risk of potential borrowers. A shaky FICO score can negatively impact loan fees, in turn making borrowing burdensome for consumers.
 
With this in mind, credit unions are offering myriad ways to help their members build up or rectify those all-important scores, a recent article in Bankrate.com noted.  
 
Through low-cost secured loan programs, free credit counseling and online debt management courses, credit unions are enabling members to establish credit, or in many cases rebuild what they lost when the economy fell apart in 2008.   
 
Bankrate.com's March 3 article featured four ways credit unions across the country are helping boost their members' credit.
 
First, credit unions are offering up credit-builder loans.
 
Rather than handing over cash upfront, per traditional loans, credit unions such as Digital FCU, Marlborough, Mass., will instead tuck the loan into a savings account.
 
Members gradually pay off the loan, which in turn improves their payment history, and subsequently their credit scores should improve. Once the loan has been paid off in full, the $5.25 billion-asset credit union gives them the funds, in addition to any interest that's accrued.
 
Many credit unions such as Charlotte (N.C.) Metro FCU, with $289 million in assets, are offering free credit counseling to their members.
 
Members who have used such programs often watch their credit scores climb, according to Susan Coughlin, electronic delivery and member retention manager for Charlotte Metro.
 
"The counseling helps create a more financially healthy member," Coughlin told Bankrate.com.
 
SAC FCU, Bellevue, Neb., with $694 million in assets, offers the third type of program highlighted in the article: Free online services. SAC FCU maintains a blog on credit repair, which is available to anyone, and consumers can download an e-book that details the basics of fixing credit.
 
Lastly, the article suggests looking into establishing credit with secured credit cards, a service that many credit unions provide. The service works by allowing members to use cash as collateral for the credit card, and the cash becomes the credit line for the account.

CU System Briefs

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  • NEW YORK (3/5/14)--The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions' 2014 Annual Conference will be held May 14-16 in Detroit. The conference, co-hosted by Detroit-based $31 million-asset Communicating Arts CU and the Michigan Credit Union League, will celebrate credit unions' commitment to expanding financial inclusion to families, new immigrants, young people, seniors and an ever-growing number of Americans seeking alternatives to mainstream banks. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan will offer opening remarks. Communicating Arts CU will host a site visit to its Highland Park branch followed by a bus tour that will include housing financed by the credit union and development projects financed by Detroit native Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans ...
     
  • MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (3/5/14)--During January, Central One FCU, headquartered in Shrewsbury, Mass., surprised both members and non-members alike by giving away free money through its five ATMs, the Massachusetts Credit Union League reported (Daily Scan March 4). One hundred $50 bill vouchers were included in the credit union's various ATMs in place of $20 bills. Random ATM users received the vouchers in place of $20 bills. The recipient then redeemed the voucher at the branch for the extra money ...
     
  • BISMARCK, N.D. (3/5/14)--Western Cooperative CU, with $318 million in assets, Williston, N.D., has donated $50,000 to St. Joseph's Hospital and Health Center to support the construction of a new health center and medical office building, the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas reported (The Memo March 4) ...
     
  • MADISON, Wis. (3/5/14)--Credit union staff can vote for this year's theme for International Credit Union Day, which will be Oct. 16. The team will submit the two themes with the most votes to the World Committee for consideration. The poll is open through Saturday. The U.S. will be part of the world committee that selects a theme and design, which will be revealed in May ...

Filene initiates Innovation Immersion for CUSOs, leagues

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MADISON, Wis. (3/5/14)--More and more, credit unions are grappling with external market forces such as competition, fluid consumer preferences and economic imperatives.
 
To remain agile and competitive in the face of these forces, industry leaders believe that the member-owned financial institutions--in addition to the credit union service organizations and state leagues-- must continue to pursue innovation.
 
Filene Research Institute recently launched a new Innovation Immersion program to help those service organizations and leagues accomplish just that.
 
"By trying new approaches to consumer finance, credit unions can better prepare themselves for a changing financial marketplace while improving their members' financial lives," said Tansley Stearns, impact director at Filene, in a press release.
 
The program is a one-day, experimental-learning session that Filene has built to ignite a culture of innovation within the credit union organizations and leagues who participate. A free webinar introducing the program will be April 2 and April 8.
 
So far, more than 10 credit unions and leagues have attended the program.
 
"The Innovation Immersion helped our leadership team to continue building innovation into our culture," said Brett Thompson, president/ CEO of the Wisconsin Credit Union League. "The methodologies and practical approach not only sparked ideas during our one-day session, but will help us to grow a culture of innovation that ensures ideas and innovation are a part of who we are as a league well into the future."

Two CUs purchase banks in Wis., Ala.

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NEW BERLIN, Wis., and DOTHAN, Ala. (3/5/14)--Two credit unions are in the final stages of acquiring bank operations, continuing what might be seen as a recent credit union trend.
 
Landmark CU, New Berlin, Wis., Monday announced the completion of its planned acquisition of Hartford, Wis.-based Hartford Savings Bank.
 
With the acquisition, $2.3 billion-asset Landmark CU adds 8,800 new members and $155 million in assets.
 
Landmark will also assume Hartford Savings Bank branch locations in Hartford, Juneau and Hubertus, Wis., and now serves its members through 32 branches in southeastern Wisconsin. In addition to a wider branch network, former Hartford Savings Bank customers will also have access to a greater range of financial services, James Reichart, Landmark CU vice president of marketing, told News Now.
 
In another credit union-bank acquisition, Dothan, Ala.-based $255-million Five Star CU's purchase of $21 million asset Flint River National Bank in Camilla, Ga., has been approved by the Alabama Credit Union Administration, pending approval from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), Robert A. Steensma, Five Star president/CEO told News Now.
 
Five Star has also received a field of membership expansion approval, pending NCUA approval, from the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance, to operate in Mitchell County, Ga., where Flint River National Bank is located, Steensma said.
 
Although Mitchell County is served by four banks, Five Star will be the only credit union offering services in the county, Steensma said. "Unless something changes, we will be the only financial institution in the county that offers free checking," Steensma told News Now.
 
The deal has been approved by Flint River shareholders, Steensma said.
 
Three other credit unions have acquired bank operations since 2011. Municipal Employees CU of Baltimore will took over operations of Advance Bank in December (News Now Dec. 4). GFA FCU, Gardner, Mass., acquired Monadnock Community Bank in December 2012. United FCU, based in St. Joseph, Mich., purchased Griffith (Ind.) Savings Bank in December 2011.

Cash isn't king when buying cars, survey says

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (3/5/14)--A consumer survey recently conducted by the Texas-based Cornerstone Credit Union League revealed that a meager 4% of car-buyers among those polled had saved up and paid for their new wheels in cash.
 
Instead, almost 80% of the participating consumers borrowed money from financial institutions to pay for their vehicles, the league's Year-End 2013 Consumer Survey found (Leaguer March 3).
 
Meanwhile, 14% of the car-buyers financed their purchases directly through auto dealerships, which came in as the second most popular financing method.
 
The survey polled nearly 140 consumers--99% of which were members of credit unions.
 
In addition to illustrating how people approach financing their vehicle purchases, the survey also shed some light on where people actually bought their new rides.
 
Most commonly, it seems, consumers are zooming off to new-car dealerships. The survey found that 62% of the car-buyers bought their vehicles from new-car retailers, while 32% headed to used-car dealerships to buy their cars.
 
Only 3% bought vehicles through credit union auto-buying services, which can help prospective car-buyers connect with local credit unions to finance their purchases.
 
The year-end consumer survey also highlighted problems families have sticking to their general household budgets, despite the fact that the large majority of them find budgeting important.
 
Of the 143 consumers polled, 79% said keeping a household budget is important, but only 5% said they spend within the amount they've targeted.
 
The greatest challenge, two-thirds of the consumers said, was overcoming "unexpected expenses," while 22% said poor planning was to blame.

KCUA picks 3 for Money Possible: Destroy Debt

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WICHITA, Kan. (3/5/14)--The Kansas Credit Union Association has selected three families to take part in the Money Possible: Destroy Debt campaign, its consumer financial literacy program.
 
Loosely based on the "Biggest Loser" TV show, KCUA's campaign will follow Kansas credit union members as they work with the Consumer Credit Counseling Service to destroy their household debt and learn smart money management skills.
 
"By following our members through their challenges and successes, the campaign can be a learning experience for everyone, not just our participants," said Melissa Baptista, KCUA research and development director. "Many consumers have more debt than they'd like, are worried about their retirement options, or just want to ease the stress of their financial situation. By watching others, just like them, we can help those who may be in the same financial situation as our participants."
 
Participants include:
  • Raquel. In her 30s, married and a mother of two young children, her goal is to pay down payday loans, and learn to save.
  • Lisa and Bryan. In their 40s, Lisa and Bryan want to save for retirement. They have three older children. They need to learn to say "no" and live within their means.
  • Fredica. A divorced mother of four in her 50s, Fredica wants to control impulse spending and save enough to buy a house.
The Money Possible campaign will use weekly television segments on KAKE-TV ABC to follow the families. Fifteen-second "Tip of the Week" spots also will air several times a week. Updates will be posted on the MoneyPossible.org blog. The campaign can also be followed on social media with the hashtag #MoneyPossible.

URM card breach costs NW CUs $687,000

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SEATAC, Wash. (3/5/14)--Before the Target data security breach hit, credit unions in the Spokane, Wash., area were dealing with the aftereffects of a grocery-store chain breach--one that cost them $687,000.
 
The Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) surveyed credit unions about the November 2013 breach linked to Spokane, Wash.-based URM Stores Inc. (News Now Dec. 18).
 
The average affected credit union incurred more than $62,500 in total losses--a number that was noted in the March 4 edition of The Spokesman-Review. The URM breach caused severe losses to local financial institutions, said Debie Keesee, CEO, Spokane (Wash.) Media FCU. "The URM impact was much more concentrated in this area than Target," Keesee told The Spokesman-Review.
 
"Whether it's a Target or a non-Target, credit unions are covering the costs," Lynn Heider, NWCUA vice president of public relations and communications, told News Now.
 
NWCUA prepared a fact sheet to take to the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference to inform the Washington state delegation about the costs incurred.
 
Combined with the results from CUNA's Target data security breach, which reported $30.6 million in losses nationwide, the fact sheet "armed us with really good eye-opening data that shows how much damage these breaches do," Heider added.
 
The fact sheet also called for stronger data security standards for retailers; required reimbursement of costs incurred by credit unions after a breach; and the ability for credit unions to share the name of the merchant where the breach occurred.
 
CUNA also is pressing Congress to address the shared responsibility that retailers and credit unions have in protecting consumers' data.

CUs keep providing free checking as banks bail out

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MADISON, Wis. (3/4/14)--Two new studies indicate that free checking remains a mainstay at credit unions while banks continue to charge increasing fees on checking accounts. Also, free checking at banks continues to decrease.
 
Bankrate's 2014 Credit Union Checking Survey found that 72% of the nation's 50 largest credit unions offer a free checking account, which means there are no monthly service fees or point-of-sale transaction fees associated with the account.
 
In contrast, the percentage of free checking accounts at banks fell to 38% in 2013 from 76% in 2009, according to Bankrate's data.
 
The Bankrate checking survey was also covered in a March 3 CNNMoney article. Use the link.
 
Even credit unions that don't offer free checking provide ways for members to avoid monthly fees. For instance, Alaska USA FCU in Anchorage, Alaska, waives its $5 monthly service fee if a member signs up for direct deposit. Factoring in these kinds of waivers, which also include signing up for e-statements or maintaining a minimum balance, the number of free checking accounts jumps to 96%, Bankrate reported.
 
Meanwhile, checking account fees were on the rise as free checking accounts at banks continued to disappear, the latest MoneyRates.com Bank Fees Survey found. Checking accounts got more expensive in the second half of 2013, based on a number of factors measured by the survey.
 
Monthly service fees, overdraft fees and ATM fees all climbed during the period. Also, the proportion of free checking accounts dropped below 30% for the first time in the survey's history.
 
The average overdraft fee at banks rose by 43 cents, to $32.03, MoneyRates.com said. Customers who use an ATM outside their own bank's network can potentially get hit by two fees: One from their own bank, and one from the bank that owns the ATM. Both of these types of fees climbed in the latter half of 2013, with the out-of-network fees banks charge their own customers rising by 8 cents to $1.45, while the average fee banks charge for non-customers using their ATMs rose by 7 cents, to $2.55.

Tax-reform plan leads Top 10 for Feb. News Now

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MADISON, Wis. (3/4/14)--A Feb. 26 article announcing that the specific credit union tax status is left untouched in a tax reform plan released by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) was the most read News Now article in February.
 
Camp's plan initially appeared to subject federal credit unions to a tax on 'unrelated business activities" (UBIT) for the first time. Another News Now story, in which senior staff members of House Ways and Means Committee clarified that it is not the committee's intention to impart any additional taxes on federal credit unions, including UBIT, was also among the Top 10 requested articles.
 
The second most-requested article announced the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) will not charge a Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund (TCCUSF) assessment in 2014. The agency said the positive news is the result of a $1.4 billion settlement with JP Morgan and the continued improvement in the performance of the legacy assets underlying the NCUA Guaranteed Notes program.
 
The complete Top 10 list for the month includes:
 
10. Tax committee staff clarifies: No intention to impose additional tax on CUs--including UBIT

WASHINGTON (2/26/14)--It is not the intention of the House Ways and Means Committee to impart any additional taxes on federal credit unions, the committee staff clarified in response to inquiries by NCUA. The exchange occurred just hours after House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) unveiled his tax code reform plan.
 
9. Matz says merchants must be subject to same data security standards as CUs

WASHINGTON (2/24/14)--The data breach at Target is the story of a double standard "that is neither healthy nor fair," NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz said today at the 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference. "While financial institutions are required by law to protect sensitive personal information, data protection standards for retailers are too often simply not adequate," Matz added.
 
8. CUNA announces star-studded media panel at the GAC

WASHINGTON (2/12/14)--The Credit Union National Association has just announced a new feature for this year's Governmental Affairs Conference. The program will include a new media panel session featuring accomplished journalists who will discuss in-depth how credit unions can better communicate their message to the media.
 
7. CUNA warns CFPB data collection could increase consumer exposure to ID theft

WASHINGTON (2/11/14)--Consumer Financial Protection Bureau data collection practices could increase the risk of identity theft and fraud for consumers, CUNA has warned.
 
6. As Congress continues data breach scrutiny, CUNA, partners correct merchant distortions

WASHINGTON (2/6/14)--Saying "it's time to stop the blame game and be part of the solution," the CUNA and partner financial services associations corrected some distortions circulated by merchants in a Wednesday communication to members of the U.S. Congress.
 
5. CU financials continue positive trend, NCUA reports
 
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (2/20/14)--The recent trend of positive financial results for the credit union system continued today, with the NCUA reporting continued declines in the number of CAMEL code 3, 4 and 5 credit unions.
 
4. NCUA risk-based capital plan could cut CU capital buffers by billions: CUNA

WASHINGTON (2/10/14)--The NCUA's proposed risk-based capital rule could prove costly for many credit unions, forcing them to increase their capital levels by a net $7.3 billion to maintain their current margins above the proposed "well capitalized" thresholds.
 
3. Internet domain name just for CUs is on its way

WASHINGTON (2/26/14)--A new Internet domain name just for credit unions, .creditunion (dot credit union), is just about a reality.
 
2. NCUA confirms: No TCCUSF assessment in '14--and less likely after

WASHINGTON (2/12/14)--There will be no TCCUSF assessment charged in 2014, the National Credit Union Administration has confirmed. And, credit unions are much less likely to be charged another TCCUSF assessment going forward.

1. Tax plan preserves tax exemption, but raises concern in other key area

WASHINGTON (2/26/14)--The specific credit union tax status is left untouched in a tax reform plan released today by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), but the plan does raise some additional tax issues that are of concern to CUNA.

GAC impact noted by Sunday Washington Post

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WASHINGTON (3/4/14)--The impact 4,400 credit union advocates--in town for CUNA's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference--had on Washington's political scene was the topic of a March 2 Washington Post Capital Business article.

"Thousands of credit union representatives came to Washington last week to rally Congress to preserve a long-standing tax exemption for credit unions," reported the article, headlined "Credit unions descend on Washington in hopes of preserving tax exemption."
 
The article goes on to explain that the credit union tax status was left untouched in a tax reform plan released by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.).
 
"Our top issue has been preserving the credit union tax exemptions, which have been in place since 1917," Bill Cheney, CUNA president/CEO, said in the article. "This is not some new-fangled, late-breaking tax loophole. This has been around a very long time."
 
The article describes how lawmakers from several states took the podium at the conference to defend the credit union tax status.
 
"Credit unions aren't banks, and it doesn't make sense to tax them like they are," Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) was quoted in the article.
 
Another issue of concern for credit unions is data security. Most fraudulent costs--including the cost of reissuing credit cards and answering members' questions--are covered by credit unions and banks, Cheney told the Post .
 
To read the entire article, use the link.

Autos boost CU lending, CUNA estimates say

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MADISON, Wis. (3/4/14)--Credit unions continue to bolster their loan balances, particularly with auto lending, according to the monthly credit union estimates report released by the Credit Union National Association Monday.
 
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"Auto lending was robust with new auto loan balances rising 1.8% and used auto balances up 0.8%--more than twice as fast as reported last year," CUNA Senior Economist Steve Rick told News Now .
 
He added that credit unions reported strong loan growth in January with loan balances rising 0.5%, faster than the 0.1% reported in January 2013. Adjustable-rate mortgages also grew rapidly at 2.9% in the first month of the year as the difference between fixed-rate and adjustable rates increased.
 
Declining loan products were other mortgages (-1.6%), credit cards (-1.5%) and fixed-rate first mortgages (-0.6%).
 
The National Credit Union Administration's year-end call report numbers show strong loan activity, also led by auto loans. (See related story: CUs' 2013 financials show continued positive trends.)
 
Rick said credit quality improved in the last few months as the loan delinquency rate fell to 0.95% of total loans in January 2014, down from 1.12% one year earlier.
 
"The year-over-year decline was caused by the dollar amount of delinquent loans falling by -8.8% while total loan balances increasing by 7.3%," he said, adding that credit union loan delinquency rates are slowly approaching their historical long-run average of 0.75% of total loans. 
 
"We forecast the loan delinquency rate to continue to decline throughout 2014 before reaching 0.85% by January 2015," Rick told News Now .
 
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Credit union savings balances increased 1.2% in January compared with a 0.1% decrease in December. Share drafts led with a 4.6% pace.
 
The capital ratio remained at 10.5%, which has been holding steady since last January.  Credit unions hold a total dollar amount of capital of $115.5 billion.
 
The loan-to-savings ratio declined to 69.8% in January from 70.3% in December.
 
Total credit union membership grew 0.2% during January, putting credit unions over the 99-million mark.

CO-OP announces finalists for THINK '14

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (3/4/14)--Three credit union employees will compete for a $10,000 grand prize in CO-OP Financial Services' CO-OP THINK Prize 14 competition.
 
"This is the fourth year of the CO-OP THINK Prize, and this year we have the greatest depth of ideas in competition history," said Stan Hollen, CO-OP Financial Services president/CEO. "The entries can take any form and these ideas--emphasizing technology to educational marketing, including to the very young--reflect the diverse creative thinking we are seeking to inspire."
 
The winner will be announced May 21 at the THINK 14 Conference, set for May 19-22 in New Orleans.
 
The three finalists and their business plan titles are:
  • Sanam Kazi, project coordinator, $377 million-asset Chicago Patrolmen's FCU, "Customizable Website for Financial Education to Credit Union Members;"
  • Christopher Whalen, marketing and e-services specialist, $401 million-asset Connex CU, North Haven, Conn., "Mobile One: A Complete Financial Solution;" and
  • Brett Wooden, senior vice president, marketing and information technology, $191 million-asset Cy-Fair FCU, Houston, "Embrace a Child's Imagination to Develop Financial Literacy."
The three finalists were selected from 20 semifinalists by judges from CO-OP Financial Services and Filene Research Institute. The contestants submitted business plans for ideas to help the credit union movement compete successfully in today's financial services market.
 
Scoring of the winning entry will be based on the critique of judges from CO-OP Financial Services and Filene Research Institute; online voting by credit union employees at www.co-opthink.org; and on-site voting by registered THINK 14 Conference attendees. MasterCard is presenting the $10,000 grand prize.
 
Details on the entries by the three finalists can be viewed online. Use the link.

CU lien priority under threat in Mo. legislature

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (3/4/14)--The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) is working to prevent predatory tax-lien transfer bills from progressing past committee status in the state legislature.
 
The bills, each of which have been introduced in the House and Senate, would allow a third-party company that paid off delinquent property taxes on behalf of the owner to have lien priority ( Missouri Difference Feb. 27). The property-tax lender would get priority over the mortgage-holding financial institution should the owner become delinquent.
 
The companies look for homeowners who are delinquent on their property taxes and approach them with the premise they are helping them save their homes. The interest rates are high and the financial institutions are shoved to the back of the line should a foreclosure occur ( Forbes Jan. 1, 2013)  
 
Texas is the primary home of tax lenders, and the practice has become so predatory and widespread that its legislature is trying to better regulate it
 
"These loans are dangerous for consumers," said David Kent, MCUA director of state legislative affairs. "What many people don't understand is credit unions will work with members to protect their financial well-being and most importantly, to try and keep them in their home--even if they fall behind on their tax payments," he told News Now.

Women's financial struggles focus of Rep. Moore's address

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WASHINGTON (3/3/14)--Credit unions have a fundamental role in economic empowerment, said House Financial Services Committee member Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) during the Global Women's Leadership Network breakfast last week during the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference.
U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) spoke about women's economic struggles during her speech to the Global Women's Leadership Network meeting during CUNA's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference. (World Council of Credit Unions photo)

Moore, who spoke to representatives from 21 states, commended credit unions for their service to low-income communities and women, in particular.
 
Her ties to credit unions come from being a victim herself of predatory lenders and her volunteer activities, she said. As a member of Volunteers in Service to America, Moore helped organize Cream City Community Development CU in Milwaukee in the early 1980s.
 
These reflections were a highlight of the program, said Pat Wesenberg, president/CEO, Central City CU, Marshfield, Wis., and former board chair, CUNA. Wesenberg said she appreciated hearing how important Moore's credit union was in providing financial products and services to help her through very difficult times.
 
The Global Women's Leadership Network is a World Council of Credit Unions program to advance women in credit union leadership.
 
"We have had success in increasing the women membership in credit unions around the world," said Brian Branch, World Council president/CEO, adding that the network's next initiative is increasing the participation of women in credit union management and board leadership.

CU breaks down FICO scores for Sikorsky employees

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STRATFORD, Conn. (3/3/14)--Employees of Sikorsky Aircraft had the opportunity to learn about credit scores straight from their credit union--Sikorsky Financial CU--during a recent lunch-and-learn session.
 
The Stratford, Conn.-based credit union advised 20 people in attendance and another 50 who dialed in from around the country about how FICO scores affect loan rates and what members can do to improve their scores.
 
In addition to branches located in Connecticut, the $677 million-asset credit union has branches in its three factories--Stratford and Bridgeport, Conn., and West Palm Beach, Fla. Sikorsky Aircraft is best known for its helicopters used for military operations.
 
Building and maintaining a credit score can help members save money with lower rates for auto loans or mortgages, said lending manager Bryan Flores.
 
"I had so many questions on my FICO score answered today," said Temi Akingboye, an employee at the Stratford plant.

Schools turn to Okla. CUs for personal fin. requirement

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (3/3/14)--The Oklahoma Class of 2014 has an added high school graduation requirement this year--a Passport to Financial Literacy. Credit unions are expanding their already solid personal finance education programs to schools to help students meet the requirement and graduate.
 
The Passport to Financial Literacy Act passed in 2007, and effective in May, Oklahoma's seniors must earn a passport in order to graduate from high school. To earn it, they must show "satisfactory knowledge and satisfactory completion" of all 14 areas:
  • Earning an income;
     
  • Understanding state and federal taxes;
     
  • Banking and financial services;
     
  • Balancing a checkbook;
     
  • Savings and investing;
     
  • Planning for retirement;
     
  • Understanding loans and borrowing money, including predatory lending and payday loans;
     
  • Understanding interest, credit card debt, and online commerce;
     
  • Identity fraud and theft;
     
  • Rights and responsibilities of renting or buying a home;
     
  • Understanding insurance;
     
  • Understanding the financial impact and consequences of gambling;
     
  • Bankruptcy; and
     
  • Charitable giving.
Some schools are scrambling to meet the additional curriculum requirement, and that's where credit unions come in, said Cody Buchholz, assistant vice president of financial empowerment at Tinker FCU, Oklahoma City.
 
"We've built a reputation to help teachers with this subject matter," he told News Now. Because the requirement isn't tied to a specific personal financial literacy course, it is being folded into classes such as government, math or life skills.
 
The $3.1 billion-asset credit union is partnering with 66 schools and is a primary sponsor of MoneyIsOK.com, a project of the Oklahoma Council of Economic Education.
 
Last year, Tinker FCU reached 19,000 people under age 25 with its various workshops. Its financial empowerment team has dedicated educators who teach in the community as well as staff volunteers. "It's part of our member give-back," Buchholz said.
 
The Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation provides free resources on its website and train-the-trainer sessions for curriculum from the National Endowment for Financial Education and Biz Kid$, said Executive Director Courtney Moran. "We try to make it as easy as possible for our credit unions to do what they need to do to provide that education," Moran told News Now .

Leagues capture GAC Hill visit highlights

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WASHINGTON (3/3/14)--State credit union leagues were ebullient in sharing their experiences at the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference, particularly after the release of a draft tax reform proposal that maintained credit unions' tax status.
 
Representatives from Rhode Island met with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D) during CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference. Joseph Lajoie, Greenwood CU (left); Ken Poyton, Postal Government Employees FCU; Ellen Ford, The Peoples CU; David Suvall, Rhode Island CU; Randy Sacilotto, Navigant CU; Robert Falso, Westerly Community CU; Gary Furtado, Navigant CU; Sen. Whitehouse; Paul Gentile, Credit Union Association of Rhode Island; George Charette, Pawtucket CU; Steven White, Westerly Community CU; and Ken Saunders, Community and Teachers CU. (Daily CU Scan photo)
"Learning that the discussion draft of the tax bill left any mention of taxing credit unions out was great news!" exclaimed Don Cohenour, president/CEO Missouri Credit Union Association ( Missouri Difference Feb. 27).
 
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) released a comprehensive tax reform discussion draft, leaving the credit union tax status untouched (See News Now : CUNA letter thanks Camp for helping CUs follow their mission.)
 
"We need to remember that this success is due to the constant attention of CUNA staff and every state league that is active in advocacy," Cohenour said. Credit union staff, volunteers also were lauded for their advocacy. "As consumers and voters, they got and held the attention of the writers of this discussion draft that we are a force to be reckoned with," he said.
 
Delegates from Camp's home state of Michigan met with his legislative director Adam Pradko Wednesday ( Monitor Feb. 26). Michigan Credit Union League President/CEO Dave Adams said, "We should ready ourselves to give thanks to our Michigan delegation who played such an important role in helping to preserve our critically important tax exempt status."
 
During MCUL's legislative lunch, Pradko accepted the league's federal legislative staffer of the year award on behalf of Ryan Tarrant, Camp's constituent relations representative. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) also attended the luncheon and received the league's award for federal legislator of the year.
 
Forty attendees from Kansas met with all six members of the state's Congressional delegation Wednesday and discussed comprehensive tax reform, merchant data breaches, and member business lending.
 
New York credit union advocates met with Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island), who recently co-sponsored the supplemental capital bill. (Credit Union Association of New York photo)
Stephanie Carl, marketing and public relations supervisor, Corning (N.Y.) FCU, was part of the New York credit union contingent. "It's clear that we have some very solid relationships with our New York legislators and their staff, and that they respect the work we do," she said ( The Point Feb. 28).
 
Credit Union Association of New York President/CEO William Mellin said, "We saw this week just how large of an impact we can have on the legislative process by continually working together."
 
"With a record number of credit union advocates, it was standing room only in many of the offices," said Jennifer Wagner, senior vice president for advocacy, Northwest Credit Union Association ( Anthem Feb. 28). "Our tax status was preserved in Rep. Camp's comprehensive tax reform proposal. Reps. (Denny) Heck and (Derek) Kilmer delivered powerful speeches from the main stage at the GAC. It was a great day to be a Northwest credit union advocate."
 
Montana credit unions were able to meet with their three Congressional delegates, including Sen. John Walsh (D), who was sworn in Feb. 11. It was the first GAC experience for Walsh, who took the seat of Max Baucus, now ambassador to China. Walsh is so new that the credit union visits accounted for two of his first five Twitter posts.
 
Joe Bergeron, president/CEO, Association of Vermont Credit Unions, released a post-conference video that collected the reactions of Vermont attendees ( NewsLines Express Feb. 28).  Art Woolf, a first-time attendee and director from New England FCU, Williston, was impressed by the exhibit hall--filled with a record number of vendors. "I was fascinated about how the credit union industry works and the behind-the-scenes companies that are helping make it work," he said.