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Irish CU commission report calls for restructuring

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DUBLIN, Ire. (4/19/12)--Ireland's Commission on Credit Unions Wednesday announced its final report, which recommends the credit union movement there undergo a four-year voluntary restructuring process that would include mergers and transfers.

Under the recommendation, a new Restructuring Board would facilitate the process by giving funding to approved credit unions to ensure they have enough money and to upgrade their systems (Irish Examiner and Irish Times April 18).

A tiered regulatory framework would be phased in with less onerus requirements on smaller credit unions, said the commission, whose recommendations were announced in a press conference by Commission Chairman Prof. Donal McKillop.

An operating work team would act as a catalyst, identifying strong credit unions that could act as anchors for other amalgamated credit unions. The decision to engage in the process would be up to each credit union, McKillop said.

He pointed out that 60% of Ireland's population is in a credit union, but the movement had not developed to the extent that it had in the U.S., Canada and Australia. He said he envisioned a long-term consolidation process within the movement. 

Most of the 51 credit unions that had insufficient funds for the required reserves level at the end of 2011 were smaller credit unions.

The Irish Credit Union League (ICUL) said members of smaller credit unions will particularly benefit from the restructuring.

ICUL CEO Kieron Brennan noted smaller credit unions that currently keep limited opening hours and services could offer a broader range of services and hours under the restructuring.

Legislation incorporating the commission's recommendations will be published in late June.

New LCUL member biz council announces 50 members

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HARAHAN, La. (4/19/12)--The Louisiana Credit Union League's new Member Business Services Council (MBSC), which was launched in January, already has 50 members, the league announced.

The MBSC was developed through collaborative efforts of the league and serves credit union professionals in the state who offer member business services such as business lending or are considering offering the services (eNews April 18).

Members are paid staff from affiliated credit unions, credit union service organizations, other credit union-related organizations, and the league.

Since January, the council, under the direction of its Advisory Committee, has developed a members-only website with articles, regulatory guidance, sample documents and other resources, and a members-only e-mail listserv

It also has hosted a webinar with Dennis Dollar on "Is Business the Business of Credit Unions?" and organized a face-to-face workshop, "Growing Your CU Business Services: Coaching Strategies for Sales & Service Success." The workshop will be presented this week in Baton Rouge by Kevin Neufeld of Fusion Performance Group and David Kovacs of Servus CU.

Jenkins to receive AACUC lifetime achievement award

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MADISON, Wis. (4/19/12)--Shirley Jenkins, a long-time active supporter and advocate in the credit union industry, was named the 2012 Pete Crear Lifetime Achievement Award-winner by the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC).

The award is presented annually to recognize a credit union professional or volunteer whose career best embodies the AACUC's mission to "increase the global credit union movement's strength by adding the focused perspective and energy of credit union volunteers and professionals of African-American and African descent."

Jenkins serves as board secretary/legislative chair at the $1.66 billion asset Municipal CU (MCU) in New York City.

In 1983, she was elected to the MCU board of directors, and later became the first female president in the history of MCU.

She was inducted into the Credit Union Association of New York's Hall of Fame in 2005 for her work in promoting the credit union movement locally, nationally and internationally.

Jenkins was a founding member of AACUC and served as vice chair of its board of directors.  

Jenkins will receive the award at a dinner Aug. 3 during the 14th Annual AACUC Conference in Charleston, S.C.

Tech Council paper looks at online account access

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MADISON, Wis. (4/19/12)--Credit unions that seek to meet members' needs for electronic account access must keep pace with the emergence of the mobile lifestyle, according to a new CUNA Technology Council white paper.

The paper explores the mobile lifestyle, in which consumers shift from one electronic device to another as they move from place to place and task to task. Industry experts say credit unions who fail to meet the needs of these members may risk losing their relationships with members.

The report identifies account access options that credit unions should be prepared to offer now and in the near future. Online banking is already an essential service, for example, while mobile banking is likely to become a necessity soon, says the paper.

The experts who shared their opinions and research in the white paper predict that game-changing technology will continue to emerge, which means credit unions cannot afford to become complacent.

Daniel Steere, director of consumer insights at Fiserv, Brookfield, Wis., said Fiserv research into consumer behavior reflects broad trends in three categories that impact the financial sector, especially financial institutions. They are:

  1. Consumer electronic behavior is evolving. "Think about the proliferation of devices: iPhones, iPads, smartphones, tablets, PCs, plasma screen televisions," Steere said. "That's driving so much new and different consumer behavior." As consumers explore their electronic options, their behavior is likely to continue to be shaped by the capabilities of their devices.
  1. Internet connectivity is becoming inescapable. "There's a blurring of lines between being online and being offline," Steere said. "There's going to come a point in time where you're never really offline. Everyone is going to be connected to something that's connected to the Internet."
  1. Societal trends and electronic connections are changing human interactions. Conversations are changing from face-to-face, handshake encounters to electronic interactions through Skype, texting, video chat, Web conferences and other electronic conversations. Digital relationships can become as important as friendships that rely on person-to-person contact. Credit unions need to monitor these "macro trends" as they ponder their products and their connectivity.

CUs in full swing for financial literacy month

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MADISON, Wis. (4/19/12)--Credit unions and credit union organizations nationwide are doing their part to teach their members the value of good financial habits as part of April's Financial Literacy Month.

responses, offering incentives for savings deposits was the most popular selection, followed by Youth Week/Month special activities, and Youth Clubs. The results were:

  • Offer incentives for savings deposits: 61.4%;
  • Hold Youth Week/Month special activities: 59.1%;
  • Sponsor youth club(s): 56.8%;
  • Provide youth newsletter/Webpage: 54.5%;
  • Host financial education sessions for students: 40.9%;
  • Offer student loans: 38.6%;
  • Participate in National Youth Saving Challenge: 34.1%;
  • Sponsor in-school student branch: 18.2%; and
  • Other: 22.7%.
National Credit Union Youth Week and the National Youth Saving Challenge are two events sponsored by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) in celebration of National Financial Literacy Month.

Credit Union Youth Week is next week, April 22-28. This year's theme is "Be a Credit Union Super Saver."

The Student Life team at Generations FCU, San Antonio, hosted 71 students from San Antonio's Churchill High School for a Financial Scavenger Hunt through the credit union's historic downtown branch. (Photo provided by the Texas Credit Union League)
National Youth Saving Challenge is held during the entire month of April. Last year nearly 146,000 young members deposited $28.5 million into their saving accounts during National Youth Saving Week---with 9,058 new accounts.

Lafayette (La.) Schools' FCU incorporated the Youth Week "Super Savers" theme throughout its branches. With the help of adult marketing postcard art from CUNA, the credit union developed a statement insert promoting its youth rewards savings account to parents and grandparents. Lafayette youth savings account members received a youth week invitation and blank super-hero mask to decorate. The credit union is offering a free coin counter machine, rewards for saving and giving away T-shirts for deposits of $25 or more. Kids can have their photos in costumes holding old-school cloth coin bags. Some of the credit union's front line staff also is wearing own super hero capes.

The Greater Chautauqua FCU, Falconer, N.Y., is again hosting its annual April Youth Month Challenge. The financial institution has about 1,000 child members who can participate in the contest, according to  Kelly Haaksma, Greater Chautauqua FCU chief executive officer. Young members can take three fitness, savings, reading and community challenge activities. Once the children complete the challenges, they will be eligible to enter a drawing for an Xbox 360 with Kinect or a Playstation Vita. In total, there are more than $2,000 in cash and prizes, such as an iPod Touch, bicycles and passes to a Splash Lagoon water park.

In recognition of Financial Literacy Month, Extra CU, Warren, Mich., is offering interactive discussions on understanding credit reports and money management for college bound students during April.

The Student Life team at Generations FCU hosted 71 students from San Antonio's Churchill High School for a financial scavenger hunt through the credit union's historic downtown branch. Students got a behind-the-scenes view of the day-to-day operations of the credit union, working with frontline tellers, visiting the vault and drive-thru teller pod and meeting with Tim F. Haegelin, Generations FCU president/CEO (Texas Credit Union League LoneStar Leaguer April 17).

Generations FCU also will partner with every college in the Alamo Community Colleges district to bring financial literacy classes to their students. MyGenLife will teach more than 25 classes during April at San Antonio College, Palo Alto College, Northeast Lakeview College, St. Philip's College and Northwest Vista College.

In recognition of Financial Literacy Month, Emery FCU, Cincinnati, launched MyMoney, its own financial literacy program. Emery's National Financial Literacy Month celebration--and ongoing MyMoney program--will address financial literacy for adults and children through videos, online and offline content, and workshops and seminars.

Cheney provides national insights at MnCUN meeting

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (4/19/12)--Offering a national perspective on the credit union movement's current issues, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney provided Minnesota credit unions insight into successes and opportunities during the Minnesota Credit Union Network's (MnCUN's) annual meeting April 13-14 in Bloomington.

Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney speaks at the Minnesota Credit Union Network's annual meeting April 13-14.
Speaking on topics including membership growth, member business lending (MBL) legislation, supplemental capital, and growing regulatory burden, Cheney encouraged attendees to remain engaged credit union champions and advocates.

Credit unions experienced tremendous growth in 2011 and have an opportunity to further distinguish themselves in communities nationwide and on Capitol Hill, Cheney noted. He explained that credit unions' legislative initiatives now are more aggressive and focused on furthering the issues important to the movement, regardless of potential backlash from the banking industry.

"For too long, we let the bankers set the tone," Cheney said. "We're not going to do that anymore."

Cheney outlined how MBL legislation would distinguish credit unions as a strong political force to be respected. Legislation being considered in the U.S. Senate would raise credit unions' MBL cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. The bill would allow credit unions to provide more capital to small businesses nationwide.

"MBL isn't a bank versus credit union issue. It's about small businesses. The passage of this legislation is important--even if your credit union has never made a business loan and never plans to make a business loan," Cheney said.

During the Minnesota Credit Union Network's (MnCUN) annual meeting, Bill Cheney (left), Credit Union National Association president/CEO, provided career insight, wisdom and advice to young credit union professionals who are a part of MnCUN's Crew group. (Photos provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Network)
CUNA and credit unions are urging Congress to increase the MBL cap to open up more opportunity to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers.

Cheney also outlined CUNA's efforts to lessen credit unions' compliance burden by representing their interests in conversations with several regulatory agencies, including the National Credit Union Administration and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Throughout the weekend, Cheney participated in conference events focused on further developing Minnesota credit union professionals and volunteers. During a luncheon on Friday, he sat on a panel of cooperative leaders who discussed how credit unions and cooperatives can more effectively work together.

Cheney stressed the importance of cooperatives developing mutually beneficial relationships that help members. He also cited CUNA's involvement with the National Cooperative Business Association and how their activities help further the development of the cooperative movement.

Also, Cheney provided wisdom, advice and insight to young professionals during a Crew event held in conjunction with MnCUN's annual meeting. The Crew is Minnesota's informal networking group for credit union professionals age 35 and younger looking to grow in their career. Cheney was part of a network of experienced credit union professionals who answered Crew members' questions and provided insight into how young adults can develop and advance their careers.

CU System briefs (04/18/2012)

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  • GREAT FALLS, Mont. (4/19/12)--A Montana man was charged Sunday with the multiple thefts of roughly 530 pounds of change, which he allegedly deposited in a credit union and a bank.  Kyle W. Voss, 24, allegedly burglarized the same home four times within a two-week period, from March 30 to April 13, according to court documents (Great Falls Tribune April 17).  The first break-in netted about $3,000 in quarters and half dollars the homeowner had kept in coffee cans, plastic jars and medicine bottles. In the second break-in, nothing was stolen but the burglar had reopened the coins' hiding places. In the third break-in, on April 12, the burglar took a five-gallon bucket filled with pennies and two large glass jars of nickels, worth about $700 and weighing about 260 pounds, and two hand trucks to transport the load down the street.  Voss then allegedly took 120-pound buckets of pennies to deposit in Wells Fargo and Russell Country FCU, Great Falls.  He was caught after the homeowner installed a motion sensing camera that helped in identifying a suspect, said Cascade County Sheriff's office …
  • FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/19/12)--Two Texan mayors--from Amarillo and San Antonio-- will join other city officials in the state to sign an International Year of Cooperatives (IYC) proclamation signifying the critical role credit unions play in their communities. The Texas Credit Union League said Amarillo Mayor Paul Harpole is expected to sign the proclamation on May 22 and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro is expected to sign it May 24.  League President/CEO Dick Ensweiler will speak at the Amarillo Chapter meeting May 22 and attend the signing. "The proclamation will help raise awareness and understanding of the cooperative nature of credit unions and what that means to consumers--more personalized service, competitive fees and interest rates, as well as the ability to elect their all-volunteer board of directors--no matter how much they have in checking and savings," Ensweiler said. IYC's theme is "Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World."  Mayors of eight other cities have signed or will soon sign the proclamation in Corpus Christi, Del Rio, El Paso, Fort Worth, Galveston, Houston, Kingsville and Tyler (LoneStar Leaguer April 13) …
  • HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (4/19/12)--The New Jersey Credit Union League is going digital with its state awards program this year. It will accept applications only via the Web (e-mail, YouTube video and so one) and will conduct judging for the state awards through an online platform that will ask all credit unions to cast their votes for the best. In the past,  a league awards committee made of up credit union leaders chose the award winners.  This year, each league member credit union will be able to view all materials and cast a vote for the winner.  Deadline for entries is the close of business on July 13 (The Daily Exchange April 18) …
  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/19/12)--Pennsylvania credit unions and staff from the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) met Tuesday with State Rep. Scott Perry (R-York), a candidate for Congress in the 4th District, at PCUA's headquarters. (Life is a Highway April 18). PCUA President/CEO Jim McCormack and the others briefed Perry, a long-time credit union member, on federal issues and legislation of concern to credit unions.  PCUA said Perry expressed sympathy over credit union regulatory concerns and shared his support of the credit union tax exemption and member business lending. Pictured are, from left:  Nate Muniz, PSECU, Harrisburg; Tim Ames, Heritage Valley FCU, York; Perry; Diana Roberts, Hershey FCU, Hummelstown; and PCUA's McCormack.  (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association) …