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Trade publisher Telling the CU difference is key to survival

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (4/18/08)--Communicating the credit union difference is the key to credit union survival, a trade publisher told attendees of the Minnesota Credit Union Network’s Annual Meeting and Convention April 11-12. Frank Diekmann, publisher of the Credit Union Journal also told credit union professionals and volunteers about events occurring in the credit union industry and political arena. “Credit unions have done a poor job of talking about themselves to the public at large,” Diekmann said. “Credit unions represent a value, and it’s a value that transcends time. You need to remember that and tell people that.” While branding is important, a credit union’s brand is its members’ stories and people’s perceptions of the credit union--not a logo or color scheme, Diekmann emphasized. Members must constantly be reminded that they are members, and they should be educated on what that means, he continued. It is essential for the industry to communicate the fundamentals of credit unions not only to members, but also to consumers, elected officials and the media, Diekmann added. Larry Jacobs, political pundit at the University of Minnesota, also addressed the convention group. Before beginning his presentation about nomination politics, Jacobs complimented credit unions, saying “the ability of our communities to be economically viable requires our credit unions.”

CU System briefs (04/17/2008)

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* WASHINGTON (4/18/08)--Alastair Shore, senior vice president and chief underwriter for credit union insurer CUNA Mutual Group, Wednesday addressed the House Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises, chaired by U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) On behalf of CUNA Mutual, the American Insurance Association and the American Council of Life Insurers, Shore said the groups strongly support Optional Federal Chartering (OFC) for insurance companies as the best alternative for modernizing and reforming the current state-based insurance regulatory system. OFC would complement, not replace the state model, he testified. "We strongly support a single authority for insurers that choose to be regulated at the federal level, while maintaining the state-based regulatory system for insurers that choose to remain state-regulated," said Shore. He said the current system "reflects a regulatory approach rooted in the 19th century that includes stifling regulatory regimes and has contributed to the outflow of risk-bearing capital to jurisdictions with more rational and efficient regulatory systems." (Photo provided by CUNA Mutual Group) … * FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/18/08)--Hal Thomas, retired CEO of Community Resource CU, Baytown, was inducted Wednesday into the Texas Credit Union Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Texas Credit Union League's Annual Meeting and Expo in Houston (LoneStar Leaguer April 17). Thomas began his credit union career in 1964 as CEO of Exxon Baytown CU and retired in 2007 as CEO of Community Resource CU. He is a past director of the league and of the Credit Union National Association, and past president of the Houston Chapter of Credit Unions. He also served a six-year term as a member of the Texas Credit Union Department Commission … * WICHITA, Kan. (4/18/08)--Boeing Wichita CU (BWCU) President/CEO Gary Regoli has accepted the position of president/CEO at Clearwater, Fla.-based Achieva CU. His last day at the $519 million asset BWCU--Kansas' largest credit union--will be May 15 (Wichita Business Journal April 16). Wade Bruendl, chief operations officer, has been named interim president/CEO and a search for Regoli's replacement has begun. Regoli took the position at the $618 million asset Achieva because it was an opportunity to return home, he said in a press release. He spent 20 years in Florida before joining BWCU. He will start at Achieve on June 2 … * BELLEVUE, Neb. (4/18/08)--SAC FCU has formed a task force to provide financial education to cash-based consumers in the community who may be using predatory lenders. The task force aims to help them minimize expenses by developing a basic understanding of financial services and fees, and learning the importance of protecting their identity. The task force developed a curriculum and has begun teaching classes at the NAF Multicultural Human Development Corp. with students from English as a Second Language courses. Shown here are, from left, Roberto Reyes, branch manager of the credit union's South Omaha branch; Gail DeBoer, SAC FCU president; and a student participating in the program. (Photo provided by SAC FCU) …

Filene CUs can become Gen Y-ers lifelong partner

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/18/08)--Credit unions are positioned to help younger generations achieve success and become their lifelong financial partner, George Hofheimer, chief research officer for the Filene Research Institute, told the Texas Credit Union League (TCUL). Hofheimer spoke at the TCUL’s 74th Annual Meeting and Expo in Houston this week. He led a panel discussion with Generation Y and credit union staff members who shared their ideas about attracting the younger generation (LoneStar Leaguer April 17). “Credit unions are about serving those younger generations and meeting their needs,” Hofheimer said. While people need to network, young adults “do it differently,” said Hofheimer. Trey Reeme, director of channel integration for Texas Dow Employees CU, Lake Jackson, agreed. He told how young people view information on the Web through social networking sites such as Facebook. Credit unions should adapt to these trends because they will be important in the future, Reeme said. “Mobile business is coming but branches aren’t dead,” he said. “Integration will be key.” Filene is planning a series of monthly releases, Business Briefs, that can be downloaded from The briefs describe the issues young adults face and will be available soon, Hofheimer added.

Pa. Supreme Court hears Belco Community charter case

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/18/08)--Oral arguments concerning Belco Community CU’s conversion to a community charter were presented to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Wednesday. Belco, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA), the Pennsylvania Department of Banking, and bank parties presented arguments regarding the $277.5 million asset, Harrisburg, Pa.-based Belco’s conversion to a community charter to serve seven counties located in central Pennsylvania (Life is a Highway April 17). In November 2006, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that the state’s Department of Banking committed an error when it declined to grant bank parties a hearing regarding Belco’s charter. Wednesday’s arguments were the final step in the appeal process, said the PCUA. “We asked the court to focus on Belco’s rights and privileges pursuant to the Credit Union Code,” said Rick Wargo, PCUA executive vice president and general counsel. “The banks insist they have rights to comment and intervene in credit union matters. We educated the court that credit unions have express rights and that the legislature laid out specific procedures for doing business before the department. “The court will have to examine the record before it and strike a balance between these competing interests,” he added. No timetable has been set for a decision, PCUA said. In March, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the community charter notices of Freedom CU, Warminster, and Trumark Financial CU, Trevose. The credit union community also is awaiting a decision from the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, PCUA said. The federal case challenged a series of decisions in which the National Credit Union Administration granted community charters to Members 1st FCU, Mechanicsburg; New Cumberland (Pa.) FCU, and AmeriChoice FCU, Mechanicsburg.

Iowa foundation receives 342000 grant for IDA program

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DES MOINES, Iowa (4/18/08)--Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced that the state Department of Health and Human Services awarded the Iowa Credit Union Foundation $342,080 to help fund the Credit Union Family Partnership Individual Development Account (IDA) program. The IDA program will provide lower-income Iowans an incentive to develop savings habits as they pursue homeownership, higher education, or the start-up or expansion of a small business. The goal is to help low-income families because economically self-sufficient. “We are thrilled to have received this federal grant that will help us launch the first credit union supported IDA program in the state,” said Marybeth Foster, foundation executive director. “Our program will provide members with an opportunity to acquire long-term financial stability.” Twelve credit unions were chosen by the foundation’s IDA committee in March to pilot the program, which launches this summer (See News Now April 17 for a list). “We anticipate more Iowa credit unions will participate in the future,” Foster said. “This is a flagship program of the foundation and we look forward to growing this initiative.”

CUs on the Tube CU tells members stories in TV ads

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ATLANTA (4/18/08)--Credit unions looking for broadcast advertising ideas may want to refer to television ads produced for Delta Community CU, Atlanta. Delta Community’s ads tell the stories of their members through testimonials. The featured members talk about why the credit union is so important to them and how it fits into their lives. The members include a cosmetic artist, twin sisters and a triathlete. Delta Community has $2.5 billion in assets. To watch the ads, use the link.

Celebration of 100 years of Americas CUs planned

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WASHINGTON (4/18/08)--The celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the American credit union movement is the focus of a new team composed of Credit Union System organizations announced Thursday. The “Credit Union Action at 100” (CUAT100) team is made up of representatives of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL), America’s Credit Union Museum and CUNA Mutual Group. CUAT100 is charged with focusing on a variety of measures to ensure that the 100th anniversary of the American credit union movement is properly--and respectfully--marked and recognized. The team will focus on publicity and media outreach plans, marketing materials for credit unions and state leagues, creation of a historical website, and recognition events tied into major meetings, such as the 2009 America’s Credit Union Conference and Exposition, which will be held June 21-24 in Boston, in coordination with the Massachusetts Credit Union League. Members of the CUAT 100 are:
* Mark Wolff, CUNA senior vice president, communications; * Jill Tomalin, CUNA senior vice president, association services; * Rob Kimmett, senior vice president, marketing and public relations for the Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island credit union leagues; * Chris Roe, CUNA Mutual Group senior vice president, government and industry affairs; and * Peggy Powell, executive director, America’s Credit Union Museum.
The team will tap the resources of staff within their organizations, as well as reach out to additional groups within the movement during the course of its planning. “Credit unions were a groundbreaking concept and continue to shake the earth today with outstanding service to consumers,” Wolff said. “For 100 years, people have shown how--working cooperatively--they can pool their resources to help one another and take control of their own financial futures. “Today, credit unions remain true to their original mission while pursuing innovations that will help us keep pace with the 21st century needs of our members.” CUAT100 will take measures to highlight the credit union movement’s noble past, vibrant present and promising future in celebratory events and activities, Wolff added.

Exec Book Series a feature at Americas CU Conference

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MADISON, Wis. (4/18/08)--Credit union executives and CEOs can attend an education and networking series designed around industry issues during the America’s Credit Union Conference and Expo June 29-July 2 in New York City. The event is presented by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). The Executive Book Series allows registrants to network with other credit union executives and attend sessions with industry experts. Attendees receive copies of each of the eight books feature in the three-session series. Session 1: June 30--Tuned in will uncover the extraordinary opportunities that lead to business breakthroughs. David Meerman Scott, viral-marketing strategist and author of "The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing, and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly" will explain how getting tuned into members will help create the products and services that members want. Attendees will receive Scott’s book and “Last Man Down: A Firefighter's Story of Survival and Escape from the World Trade Center” by Richard Piccioto and Daniel Paisner. Session 2: July 1--Redwoods will help attendees spread their roots and coach your team to success. They will learn to develop team/alliance strategies that drive better team performance and profitability with “Redwoods” author Mark Adams. Books attendees will receive include “Contented Cows Moove Faster: How Good Leaders Get People to Put More Oomph! Into Their Work” by Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden; CUNA’s 2007-2008 Credit Union Environmental Scan Report (E-Scan) and Adams’ book. Session 3: July 1--Creating thinking hacks will be presented by Scott Berkun, author of “The Myths of Innovation.” Based on research into history’s greatest creative thinkers, Berkun will offer a simple framework to bring out creative thinking talents. Participants receive Berkun’s book plus “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Dan and Chip Heath, and “The Radical Leap: A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership” by Steve Farber. To attend the sessions, add the Executive Book Series to conference registration. For more information, use the link.