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Fin Lit Month 'Big Win' For CUs, Young Consumers

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MADISON, Wis. (4/15/13)--While credit unions make financial literacy a priority throughout the year, they are moving through April by celebrating April as Financial Literacy Month,  with special events to highlight the educational services they offer their members.

This article is the first of a two-part series that provides examples of the many ways credit unions are celebrating how they reach out to members.

The Credit Union National Association has created two events that help credit unions spotlight their financial education activities.

National Credit Union Youth Week, April 21-27, was created by CUNA so credit unions nationwide could focus on the financial needs of young people and provide financial literacy education. The event focuses on teaching the benefits of saving and goal setting, and invites youth to open savings accounts at their credit union and make deposits throughout the year.

This year's theme, "Savings Sleuth: Solve the Mystery" employs mystery and mustaches to engage youth.  Because National Credit Union Youth Week occurs during Financial Literacy Month, credit unions can extend their youth activities throughout April.  CUNA conducts the National Youth Saving Challenge throughout April. The challenge rewards 10 savers with $100 cash prizes.

CUNA conducts the National Youth Saving Challenge throughout April. The challenge rewards 10 savers with $100 cash prizes.Among the ways credit unions nationwide are celebrating Financial Literacy Month and National Credit Union Youth Week:

• As Gov. Tom Corbett signed a proclamation declaring April as Financial Education Month in Pennsylvania, he recognized the efforts of credit unions participating in National Credit Union Youth Week and in visiting schools and teaching young people basic principles of saving and spending;

• The Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick, also issued a proclamation  declaring April to be Youth Financial Literacy Month in his state. Credit unions launched a Reality Fair at Roxbury Community College, an event designed to help students gauge where they are and what they're doing in terms of financial decisions;

• As a kick-off to in Minnesota, Postal CU, Oakdale, invited Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman to tour its student credit union branch at Tartan High School, and observe peer-to-peer financial education in action.

  • Baycel FCU, Bay City, Texas, celebrated the National Credit Union Youth Week mustache theme, "Savings Sleuth: Solve the Mystery" at its high school branch. (Photo provided by Baycel FCU)

    • At its high school branch, Baycel FCU, Bay City, Texas, provided every account holder with a mustache on the wall. When students make a deposit they get a sticker. The student with the most stickers at the end of April will win a prize;

    • Florida State Employees FCU, Pensacola, Fla., has embedded the new music video from The Disclosures—featuring the credit union music duo's newest original composition, this one singing the praises of saving--on its website. Use the link to view the video; and also,

    • Hudson River Community CU, Corinth, N.Y., is running a promotion in which youth members who complete and return a weekly quiz sheet are rewarded with a $5 deposit into their savings account;

    Financial Literacy Month 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 CUNA's consumer website  aSmarterChoice and to the Unite for Good website to find out more. see the resource links.

CUANY Announces Recognition Award Winners

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ALBANY, N.Y. (4/15/13)--The Credit Union Association of New York announced the winners of three annual recognition awards: the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award; the Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Member Service Award; and the Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award.

Each of the credit unions will be honored June 15 at CUANY's Annual Meeting & Convention, and first-place winners will advance to their respective national competitions this fall.

First-place winners of the 2013 Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award, given to credit unions that strengthen local institutions that undertake programs that materially improve the lives of nonmembers through community outreach programs, include:

  • Clarence (N.Y.) Community & Schools FCU, $5 million to $20 million in assets;
  • Horizons FCU, Binghamton, $50 million to $100 million; and
  • CFCU Community CU, Ithaca, more than $500 million.
First-place winners of the 2013 Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Member Service Award, given to credit unions that demonstrate, in an extraordinary way, the practical application of the credit union philosophy, include:

  • Clarence Community & Schools FCU, less than $50 million in assets; and
  • Visions FCU, Endwell, more than $250 million.
First-place winners of the 2013 Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award, given to credit unions that demonstrate a significant commitment to youth financial education, include:

  • Clarence Community & Schools FCU, less than $50 million in assets;
  • CORE FCU, East Syracuse, N.Y., $50 million to $150 million; and
  • Teachers FCU, Smithtown, more than $500 million.

Filene Report Explores Design Thinking

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MADISON, Wis. (4/15/13)--A new report from the Filene Research Institute describes how a group of young credit union professionals used design thinking to spark innovation and introduce a new type of credit union account.

The "TruAccount," currently in development, would allow up to five friends to add equally to a joint savings account through automatic payroll distributions. When the account reaches a minimum threshold--say of $500--someone in the circle may use the funds to take out a secured loan.

The Filene report describes design thinking as the process by which designers, researchers, and practitioners come together to find practical and creative solutions to problems of human understanding. The process puts people at the center of the design and development process.

In June 2012, Julie Norvaisas, a design researcher and strategist, led a design-thinking workshop that kicked off a week organized by the Cooperative Trust, the Filene Research Institute's young professionals network.The group of 15 young credit union professionals from across the country gathered to "Crash the Credit Union National Association's America's Credit Union Conference" with the purpose of learning about and applying design thinking to address problem of serving un- and underbanked consumers.

At the end of the week, the Crashers developed a product concept called "the TruAccount."

The Filene report notes that design thinking can be applied to any business, but it is particularly critical for credit unions to understand members more deeply for a few key reasons:

  • The knowledge gap: The distance between how credit unions think about financial services and how most consumers understand and experience the financial realm is likely vast.
  • The emotional gap: While it all seems quite rational to credit union manager, managing finances can be emotionally charged and confusing for most people. As a result, many consumers do a poor job managing their finances.
  • The credit union mission: Credit unions are different from other financial institutions--a difference manifested by standing with the consumer rather than against them. In that light, adopting a design thinking mind-set is an emerging capability credit unions that need to develop to remain competitive and relevant.

HVFCU Takes To Videos To Recruit Employees

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POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y.  (4/15/13)--Hudson Valley FCU in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., has released six new videos on its YouTube channel to give prospective employees a look at the credit union, careers available and its benefit programs.

"Recruiting employees that fit within our culture is important," said Diane Allenbaugh, Hudson Valley vice president of human resources and organizational development. "These videos can give interested candidates a good idea of how our staff work and socialize with each other. They give us a new way to communicate our values to potential hires."

The credit union created the series of videos with staff, who discuss their benefits, career development and specific jobs within HVFCU. The credit union worked with local producers at Road Runner Productions in LaGrange, N.Y., to make the videos.

The videos feature more than 20 different HVFCU staff members, from senior management to branch managers and staff, as well as staff from support areas such as marketing and accounting. They cover topics ranging from branch and call center jobs, to benefits, wellness and career development.

With about $3.7 billion in assets, HVFCU serves its more than 267,000 members through branches in four counties.

To see the videos, use the link.

Global Women's Leadership Forum Set for July 13-14

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MADISON, Wis. (4/15/13)--The Global Women's Leadership Network has opened online registration for the fifth annual Global Women's Leadership Forum, an exclusive event for network members, July 13-14, prior to the 2013 World Credit Union Conference in Ottawa, Canada.

"The purpose of the Global Women's Leadership Network is to support women achieving management and leadership positions in the global credit union movement," said Brian Branch, World Council president /CEO. "The Global Women's Leadership Forum provides members the opportunity to network with colleagues from very diverse backgrounds and expertise within and outside the industry. The forum brought together 70 women leaders from around the world at last year's event, and we expect a much larger gathering this year in Ottawa."

Participants at this year's forum will hear from Sheryl WuDunn, the first Asian-American Pulitzer Prize winner and co-author of New York Times best-seller "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide," which inspired a PBS television series and international women's rights movement.

The Global Women's Leadership Forum, which serves as the Global Women's Leadership Network's flagship event, will also offer several opportunities for members to share ideas and learn from their credit union counterparts around the globe. Educational and international networking events will include:

  • Worldwide Foundation Golf Tournament (July 13, separate fee and registration apply);
  • Global Women's Networking Reception (July 13);
  • Global Women's Leadership Forum Workshop (July 14, members only);
  • International Sister Society Meeting (members only); and
  • Networking Lounge (throughout the conference, members only).
To register for the forum, use the link.

The Global Women's Leadership Network, a World Council of Credit Unions program, is the world's only peer-to-peer credit union women's leadership organization that connects women worldwide to engage in personal and professional growth, international credit union development and peer networking and support.

Vermont CU Day Attracts Legislators, CU Leaders

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (4/15/13)--The Association of Vermont Credit Unions CU Day at the statehouse in Montpelier Wednesday drew a large crowd of credit union leaders and state legislators, AVCU said. 

AVCU President Joe Bergeron said of the event that there is "nothing more important than putting a credit union executive or volunteer face-to-face with their elected official" (NewsLines Express April 12).

"Whether in Montpelier or in Washington, I cannot stress enough to managers and board members how important it is to take an active role in protecting the future of your credit union by getting involved with government relations," he added.

"It's not just a 'big credit union' thing, it's an 'every credit union' thing, regardless of how many or how few members or assets your credit union has," Bergeron said.

So far this year, Vermont has not witnessed much activity on credit union-related legislation in the statehouse. However, AVCU's lobbying team continues its vigilance, monitoring operations at the state legislature.  

Bergeron explained that it is because of AVCU's attentiveness, enhanced by the contribution of credit union leaders who attend the annual CU Day, that Vermont's credit unions enjoy a lasting and very positive image among legislators.

"They see and hear from me and our lobbyists all the time," Bergeron said.

Vermont credit union leaders met with several legislative leaders and committee chairs, as well as two representatives from the Department of Financial Regulation (DFR), Deputy Commissioner Tom Candon and his boss, new DFR Commissioner Susan Donegan.

It was the first opportunity credit union leaders had to meet with Donegan in a group setting, since her appointment as commissioner was announced in November.

The AVCU statehouse helps to raise awareness of credit unions, which is a key tenet of the strategic vision that Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney debuted at CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference. "Uniting for Good" to raise awareness, remove barriers and foster service excellence will achieve a vision of "Americans choosing credit unions as their best financial partner."

Calif/ Nevada Leagues Hire Eight Top Staffers

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ONTARIO, Calif. (4/15/13)--The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues recently welcomed eight new staff members, including Sharon Lindeman in the newly created position of vice president of regulatory advocacy.

Lindeman joined the leagues in mid-March after 21 years of serving in compliance capacities at SchoolsFirst FCU in Santa Ana, Calif. In her new role, she will create and maintain effective relationships with regulators; build upon the timeliness of providing regulatory information to member credit unions; and spearhead the ongoing development of PowerComment, a new online forum to provide members a platform to review proposed rules, ask questions of league staff or fellow credit unions, and submit personalized comment letters.

Linda Hanson's role as vice president of strategic planning and project management--another newly created position--is to maximize the value of the leagues to member credit unions by suggesting changes or improvements to current business plans as well as policies and procedures. She also will assist in the development and design of new products that support the leagues' business strategies. Prior to coming to the leagues, Hanson worked as vice president of strategic planning at SchoolsFirst FCU. 

Rick Stanton--the leagues' new senior business analyst--works in innovation and strategy, conducting analysis related to the launching and evaluation of business lines, and ongoing relationships with the leagues' strategic partners. He has more than 23 years of experience in financial institutions, including seven years leading the business development department and product management correspondent services at WesCorp.

Cindy Tullues has joined the leagues as senior marketing and member communications writer. Tullues will work on marketing campaigns for the trade associations' events and programs, as well as member credit unions. She will serve as assistant editor for the Credit Union Digest publication. She worked as a public relations account executive for DGWB Advertising and Communication firm in Santa Ana, Calif., prior to coming to the leagues.

Donald Bridinger has joined the leagues as Web developer. His duties include assisting in the design, building and maintenance of the league's websites and applications; assisting in developing policies, procedures, and long-range plans for the leagues' electronic communications network; and working on Web-based applications and mobile-device technology. Prior to joining the leagues, Bridinger was an information technology manager with United Oil Co. for several years.

Also, with the recent transfer of ownership of CURoots to the leagues, Compliance Specialist Jovilyn Herrick, Manager of Compliance Phillip Gutierrez and Manager of Audit Jerry Carter now are leagues employees.