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CU System Briefs (04/10/2013)

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  • WASHNGTON (4/10/13)--Olympian Janet Bawcom of Flagstaff, Ariz., ran 10 miles in 53.28 to set the single-sex American record at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten-Mile Run Sunday. In the process, she claimed her third consecutive USA Women's 10-Mile Championship. She beat the old record of 54.38 set by the late Sally Meyerhoff in the 2009 Cherry Blossom race. Kenyan Daniel Salel won the men's race in 46:06 in a close race against defending champion Allan Kiprono, also of Kenya. In the overall women's race, Kenyan Caroline Rotich claimed a three-second victory over Ethiopian Belaynesh Oljira  …
  • FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (4/10/13)--The Northwest Credit Union Association has hired Kim Vu as vice president of community investment and social impact. Vu also was appointed executive director of the Northwest Credit Union Foundation (Anthem Recap April 5). The appointment is effective April 22. Both areas are under the direct guidance and supervision of Denise Gabel, NWCUA chief operating officer.  Vu is currently vice president, social impact, innovation and community relationships at the $1.7 billion asset Technology CU, San Jose, Calif. …
  • MADISON, Wis.  (4/10/13)--Georgia Maxwell has been named executive assistant at the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.  Her wide range of experience in the public and private sectors includes serving five years as director of government affairs for the Wisconsin Credit Union League and more than a decade as a legislative staff member, including serving as chief of staff for then-Rep. Luther Olsen. She most recently served as executive assistant of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.Maxwell will work with the state legislature, Congress, business leaders and stakeholder groups to advance policies that advance DFI's mission. Wisconsin's Office of Credit Unions is a division in DFI …

Oklahoma League, CU Take On Banks Over Tax Exemption

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (4/10/13)--The financial services industry seems to be the only industry where profit-driven companies target their not-for-profit competitors, Matthew Stratton, vice president of marketing for Tinker FCU, told The Oklahoman in an April 9 article.

In fact, bank attacks against credit unions' not-for-profit tax status is like for-profit health clubs criticizing the YMCA's nonprofit status, Stratton said. The $2.9 billion credit union is based in Oklahoma City and, like all credit unions, is a member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperative.  That unique structure is at the root of credit unions' federal tax exemption.

The Oklahoma Bankers Association is targeting the tax status of Tinker FCU and all other state credit unions.

Preserving the credit union tax status is the Credit Union National Association's top legislative priority, and CUNA has emphasized that credit unions must work collaboratively to communicate the importance of that status to policy makers and to their members.

Credit unions use income to pay dividends and offer loans and products at better rates to members, while a bank's profits go to increase the wealth of its shareholders, said Gary Jones, president of the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma, who also was quoted in the article.  And, as Stratton pointed out,  credit union members pay taxes on dividends they receive from a credit union.

Many Oklahoma banks are organized as S corporations, a status that allows them to avoid paying federal income taxes at the corporate level, Jones also noted.

LaCorp, Credit Suisse Settle Decade-old Securities Suit

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METAIRIE, La. (4/10/13)--The Louisiana Corporate CU has agreed to a settlement with Credit Suisse in its decade-old lawsuit over the National Century Financial Enterprises asset-backed securities fraud.

Credit Suisse was the last remaining defendant in the case, which involved two civil actions filed in 2002 against a number of defendants.

"This settlement for nearly $600,000 after legal fees came after years of strenuous litigation and brings the total recovery to 98% of Louisiana Corporate's original investment amount," said Davoid Savoie, LaCorp president/CEO. Contingent legal fees totaled 10%--a much lower contingent rate than in recent settlements of asset-backed securities.

"We filed our actions promptly--within a few months of the losses--and pursued them vigorously. I'm delighted with this outcome because our member credit unions are the ultimate beneficiaries," Savoie said.

LaCorp's attorneys and certified public accounting firm had estimated that at least 80% of the fraud losses would be recouped through National Century's liquidation. However, LaCorp was required to write down 80% of the bond as other than temporary impairment (OTTI). By following generally accepted accounting principles, it recorded recoveries of previous write-downs as a credit to income, used to bolster LaCorp's retained income.

"Our efforts have resulted in a stronger corporate for our members," Savoie said. "Our board philosophy has always been that investment losses, like loan losses at natural-person credit unions, should not be shrugged off as 'water under the bridge.' We decided to make every reasonable effort to recover the funds if competent legal and accounting professionals believed it to be feasible."

Other plaintiffs sharing the settlement include PIMCO, Dreyfus Mutual Funds, Wachovia and numerous Arizona municipal entities.

"OTTI 'estimates' are produced in a highly complex and technical manner," said LaCorp's legal counsel, R. Patrick Vance, partner with the New Orleans law firm Jones Walker and head of its Business & Commercial Litigation Practice Group. "Like all estimates, they are predictions of the future and can vary widely. Based on the current method/protocol for determining OTTI, they may prove to be overstated when all the chips have fallen."

In LaCorp's case, initial OTTI mandates of 80% were off by 78%.

Wiemert Elected Connecticut League Chairman

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MERIDEN, Conn. (4/10/13)--Keith Wiemert, president/CEO of Seasons FCU, Middletown, Conn., is the new chairman of Credit Union League of Connecticut.

Wiemert and a full slate of board officers were elected at the league's 79th Annual Meeting held April 3 in Plantsville, Conn.

Wiemert has served on a variety of committees and held various positions, most recently as vice chairman. He is also active in the league's International Partnership Committee and is currently chairman of the board's Governance Committee.

Other officers on the league board include:

  • Vice Chairman--Michael Hinchey, president/CEO, Wepawaug-Flagg FCU, Hamden;
  • Treasurer--Stuart Phillips, CEO, United Business & Industry FCU, Plainville; and
  • Secretary--John E. Keet Jr., CEO, Personal Care America FCU, Trumbull.

NerdWallet Features 'Above And Beyond' Youth Week Activities

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NEW YORK (4/10/13)--When National Credit Union Youth Week begins April 21, many credit unions will have special activities aligned with the week's mustached Savings Sleuth theme and the Credit Union National' Association's National Youth Saving Challenge. Some "are going above and beyond to celebrate" the week, says an article in Monday's NerdWallet.

NerdWallet lists eight credit union's celebrations, tells why they are favorites, and says, "We hope these awesome events inspire you to check out your neighborhood credit union during Youth Week."

The credit unions are:

  • Central Communications CU, Kansas City, Mo.  It offers games, prizes, snakes and beverages, and offers a 4% annual percentage yield year-long certificate of deposit.
  • Frontier Community CU, Leavenworth, Kan.  Kids can join the Kids' Club and have a chance to win $50 in quarterly drawings by opening an account with a $5 deposit. They can claim a special prize on their birthday, too.
  • Fulda Area FCU, Fulda, Minn.  Kids can bowl to win door prizes and a possible bowling trophy at Oxford Bowl. They can also complete online Collect the Clues packet for treats.
  • Heritage Community CU, Rancho Cordova, Calif.  Teens stopping by to open a checking account will get a $10 iTunes gift card. Junior Savers Club members opening a savings account will get a piggy bank with $5 inside.
  • Hudson River Community CU, Corinth, N.Y.  Kids can participate in a mustache identification contest throughout April. For each game worksheet they complete, the credit union will  'stache $5 into their savings account.
  • Kellogg Community FCU, Battle Creek, Mich.  Teens can take the financial literacy quiz for a chance to win $20.
  • PenAir FCU, Pensacola, Fla. Young savers can stay "Young & Fit" by bringing their Penny Savers to branches for the Money Moves savings game with music, movement and money. Teens and tweens  have Jump into Savings, an interactive presentation  about saving, budgeting, and credit union benefits.
  • Valley Communities CU, Mosinee, Wis.  It challenges kids to hook up with their inner Shakespeare and write a better money poem than this one: "Put your cash in a savings account, and soon you'll have a large amount."

For the details of each credit union's program, use the link.

Credit unions participating in Youth Week activities are among those rallying to make youth more aware of the value of credit unions at an early age--a first step in developing members who use the credit union as their primary financial institution.

These are just a few of the efforts credit unions collaborate on in moving forward to Unite for Good and help achieve CUNA's strategic vision: Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner.

For materials to help celebrate youth week, use the link.

Idaho League Names Johnson As New Leader

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BOISE, Idaho (4/9/13)--The Idaho Credit Union League Board of Directors has named its new league/president, effective June 3. Chris Johnson will replace Alan Cameron, who is retiring June 30.

Johnson most recently was associated with The Collingwood Group as an independent consultant providing legal expertise to the group's mortgage purchase and servicing clients as well as compliance consulting services.

"I am a strongly committed advocate for credit unions," he said, adding that the league position "provides an attractive opportunity to support and advance the credit union movement in the Gem State."

Johnson served as vice president of state governmental affairs at the Credit Union National Associatio from2006 to 2010.  He also formerly worked for Freddie Mac as managing association general counsel, lending legal and advocacy support to Freddie Mac's mortgage purchase and servicing functions. He also managed the mortgage law department's staff and budget.

"I and the entire board are confident that Chris Johnson has the talent, skill and experience to build upon the foundation of service excellence the league has established under the leadership of Alan Cameron and to lead us into the future," said Brent Neibaur, CEO of Advantage Plus FCU, Pocatello, and chair of the Idaho league.

aSmarterChoice's March Stats Best Of Quarter

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WASHINGTON (4/10/13)--Consumers continue to seek out credit unions, if the first quarter  statistics of aSmarterChoice.org--the go-to website for consumers and media to learn about credit unions and to find credit unions they can join--are any indication.

During first quarter, the site drew nearly 60,000 visits and nearly 51,000 total number of searches. 

"March was our biggest month of the first quarter" in terms of visits and searches on the site, said Jill Stevenson, consumer website coordinator for the Credit Union National Association.

Number of visits for March totaled nearly 22,000, while number of searches on the site totaled nearly 20,000.  That compares with more than 20,000 visits and 17,021 searches in January.

Compared to first quarter one year ago, total searches during first quarter 2013 on the site are down about 20%--which is expected, says CUNA. A year ago, credit unions were still basking in the afterglow of steep membership increases they saw during the period surrounding Bank Transfer Day in fourth quarter 2011 and first quarter of 2012.

"Still, we are encouraged by the March numbers and working to sustain the performance," Stevenson said.

The sustained interest in credit unions comes at a time when CUNA, the leagues and credit unions are rallying to Unite for Good to secure their key strategic vision for the credit union system: "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."

CUNA, credit unions and leagues are taking steps to remove barriers, raise awareness, and foster service excellence as part of their collaborative efforts in working toward that goal. As that awareness grows, members will turn to aSmarterChoice and Unite for Good websites to find out more.

aSmarterChoice is a joint project of CUNA and the American Association of Credit Union Leagues. The site provides a comprehensive credit union locator that includes every credit union in the U.S. Consumers can go on the site, answer a few simple questions about where they live, work or worship, and find credit unions nearby that they can join. For more detail, use the links.

Wis, Minn High Schoolers At Co-op Leadership Conference

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (4/10/13)--Members of the Minnesota Family Involvement Council educated high school students about credit unions last month at the Cooperative Network's "Co-ops YES!" Youth Leadership Conference in Eau Claire, Wis.

More than 100 high school students from Minnesota and Wisconsin attended the Cooperative Network's 2013 Youth Leadership Conference. The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation funded scholarships for students' attendance. Conference programming on cooperative careers was provided by the Minnesota Family Involvement Council. (Photo provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation)
About 100 attendees learned about the role and operation of cooperatives, leadership skills and problem-solving techniques.

The council is a Minnesota Credit Union Foundation committee focused on financial education. A grant from the foundation provided scholarship funding for three students to attend the conference.

The FIC provides financial awareness solutions, including an annual college scholarship program. This is the fourth year that council members have spoken at the Youth Leadership Conference. Speakers included Bridget Moeller of Greater Minnesota CU, Mora, Minn.; Amanda Kissner of Wakota FCU, South St. Paul, Minn.; and Andrea Molnau of United Educators CU, Apple Valley, Minn.

During the FIC's session, "Credit Unions: A Financial Cooperative, A Career," presenters outlined the difference between credit unions and other financial institutions, talked about credit unions' philosophy of "people helping people," and discussed credit union social responsibility programs and partnerships.

The presenters also talked about credit union careers and took questions from the audience.