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CU System Briefs (04/18/2013)

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  • MADISON, Wis. (4/18/13)--A man who allegedly wore a furry "Bucky Badger" hat and used a "Star Wars" toy as a weapon during a robbery of a Madison, Wis.-based credit union got his wish and was sentenced to two years in prison (Wisconsin State Journal April 17). Randall Hubatch, 50, was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to the Jan. 11 robbery of Summit CU. Hubatch allegedly told authorities he wore the distinctive headgear so he would get caught and serve prison time because he had a $250,000 student loan debt after graduating from the University of Wisconsin law school. A UW custodian for 13 years, he never practiced law because he suffered from several health conditions ...
  • FAIRBORN, Ohio (4/18/13)--Wright-Patt CU, based in Fairborn, Ohio, near Dayton, announced it will return to the Columbus, Ohio, market later this year. WPCU has hired Tammy Jones, recent vice president of operations and chief operations officer at Credit Union of Ohio, as Columbus Market Leader. WPCU already serves nearly 4,000 members in the Columbus area and the state's Division of Financial Institutions approved its field of membership an expansion of its field of membership to include Franklin County. WPCU had two locations in Columbus during the 1990s as a result of mergers and closed them in 2000 when resources were stretched thin and the locations were not convenient. WPCU President/CEO Doug Fecher said the credit union looked at its growth, reviewed options and "we let the market dictate our expansion plans." He noted Columbus is WPCU's most requested area by members for expansion. It will open its 25th member center in Springboro in late May. In March it relocated its Springfield branch from a strip mall to a free-standing location ...
  • WOODBRIDGE, Va. (4/18/13)--Belvoir FCU surpassed the more than $300 million in assets milestone at the end of first quarter, the Woodbridge, Va.-based credit union announced. Belvoir Federal was established in 1946 and has served the Fort Belvoir Installation and surrounding communities for 67 years. It has five branches in Virginia, four of which are located on Fort Belvoir. "With our continued growth, both in members and asset size, we look forward to helping our members achieve their financial fitness goals for many years to come," said Patricia Kimmel, president/CEO of Belvoir Federal  ...

NEW: TCUF Assessing Situation After Explosion in Central Texas

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/18/13, UPDATED 11:12 a.m. ET)--The Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF) says it is poised to help those credit unions and their employees impacted by the explosion at a fertilizer plant in the town of West.

"In times of crisis, the foundation is here to help our credit unions and their staff get back on their feet so that they in turn can be there for their members," said TCUF Executive Director Courtney Moran this morning.

Moran noted that TCUF is currently assessing the situation to determine the scope of damage--if any--credit unions and their staff might have experienced. If it is determined that the damage is widespread, TCUF will activate its disaster relief fund.

"Already I received countless emails and phone calls from credit unions across the state wanting to know how they can help," said Moran.  "It's so gratifying to know that we serve in a movement where people really care about each other."

According to news reports, a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant has devastated West, north of Waco, causing multiple casualties and leaving people trapped and buildings on fire.

Officials have said more than 160 people had been treated for injuries at various hospitals.  Emergency personnel continue to search for survivors from last night's explosion.

TCUF will notify credit unions if and when the disaster relief fund is activated.

CU Enhancement, Director-Pay Bill Clears Washington Legislature

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (4/18/13)--The Washington State House late last week passed  a Northwest Credit Union Association-initiated bill to enhance the credit union charter in the state's Credit Union Act, including allowing compensation of directors.

Washington is the second state this year, after Tennessee, to change its law to permit compensation of credit union directors.

Senate Bill 5302 passed the House floor on a 94-0 vote, with four excused, said NWCUA.  The bill will go to Gov. Jay Inslee for signature. If he doesn't sign it, the law takes effect July 28 (Anthem April 16).

The bill results from recommendations by NWCUA's Washington State Model Act Subcommittee and includes these changes:

  • Creates more flexibility for credit unions investing in real property by allowing up to six years for use of unimproved property or three years for improved property;
  • Allows credit unions to invest in mutual funds made up of securities already otherwise permitted for credit union investment;
  • Clarifies that a credit union need not divest itself of an investment if permissible when made and the nature of the investment changes making it impermissible;
  • Removes the requirement that a credit union board meet monthly and allows for a minimum of six meetings per year, one at least quarterly;
  • Gives credit unions greater flexibility in the timing requirements of calling a special membership meeting, by extending the notice from no longer than 30 days, to no longer than 90 days;
  • Removes the prohibition on board and committee compensation and gives the state regulator authority to conduct rulemaking concerning reasonable director compensation; and
  • Changes the merger vote requirement to a simple majority vote from the current two-thirds majority requirement.

SECU Opens One Millionth Checking Account

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RALEIGH, N.C. (4/18/13)--State Employees' CU (SECU), Raleigh, N.C., has opened its one millionth checking account.

SECU checking offers daily interest, a no-minimum balance requirement, and overdraft prevention options.

Members can choose to donate the account's $1 monthly maintenance fee to the SECU Foundation in support of North Carolina education, housing, healthcare and human services initiatives. About 99% of members choose this option, the credit union said.    

The Financial Benefits of Membership in State Employees' Credit Union of North Carolina in 2011, a  report written by Dr. William E. Jackson III, estimated checking benefits provided to SECU members through higher interest and lower non-sufficient funds charges totaled more than $200 million.

Mich GAC: Make Your Voices Heard

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LANSING, Mich. (4/18/13)--The Michigan Credit Union League Governmental Affairs Conference offered attendees a simple message: Make your voices heard with state and national legislators.

Click to view larger image State Sen. Bert Johnson (D-Detroit) talks with Michigan Credit Union League President/CEO Dave Adams at the legislative luncheon during the Michigan Credit Union League's Governmental Affairs Conference.
MCUL CEO David Adams stressed the importance of advocacy during his remarks to open the conference. Adams also celebrated the successes achieved by the credit union system during the past year (Michigan Monitor April 15).

More than 125 attendees met with state legislators during the annual legislative luncheon.

Most GAC attendees already know the importance of interacting with legislators and regulators, Richard Gose, Credit Union National Association senior vice president of political affairs, said during his presentation.

Among the major political issues under discussion in Washington are tax reform and identifying revenue to help reduce the federal budget deficit, Gose said. He said credit unions must be vigilant to protect the federal tax exemption.

Preserving the credit union tax status remains CUNA's top legislative priority, and CUNA has emphasized that credit unions must work collaboratively to communicate the importance of that status to their members.

Click to view larger imageMichigan Credit Union League President/CEO Dave Adams presents Sen. Mike Green (R-Mayville) with the league's State Lawmaker of the Year award. (Photos provided by the Michigan Credit Union League.)
CUNA has designed a members-only toolkit to help credit unions connect with their members and educate the public about credit unions. The tax toolkit webpage features free materials such as radio ads, print ads, newsletter articles, state-level updates, materials to use in advocacy efforts with federal and state lawmakers. For more, use the resource link.

CUNA research has shown that when credit union members understand the value of membership, they will work with credit unions to defend their tax status. The more consumers and legislators know about credit unions "the better and stronger we are," Gose said.

For more on CUNA's tax toolkit, use the resource link.

Political activism is about "protecting your jobs and our members," said Lon Bone, vice president of public relations and community involvement at Genisys CU, Auburn Hills, Mich., during a panel on political activism. Bone, a member of MCUL's political action committee board, said he doesn't consider whether politicians are Republican or Democrat, but how they vote on credit union issues. He suggested CEOs recruit board members who are passionate about political activism.

Steve Dedene, manager of Credit Union ONE, Ferndale, said that he sends out a credit union factsheet whenever a new lawmaker visits one of his service areas.

Kieran Marion, MCUL vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs, presented an overview of the league's top priorities, including state foreclosure reform and reducing urban blight.

Credit unions play a critical role in Michigan's economic recovery, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette told attendees. Schuette stressed the importance of the credit unions within Michigan's economic infrastructure. "I understand the importance of credit unions," he said.

Sen. Mike Green (R-Mayville) was named MCUL Lawmaker of the Year and Matt Blakely, legislative director for state Rep. Peter Pettalia (R-Presque Isle) was named MCUL Staffer of the Year.

Texas, Iowa Surveys: Rainy Day Accounts Not Enough

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DES MOINES, Iowa and FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/18/13)--Consumers in Iowa and Texas are setting aside some funds for a rainy day, but not enough to cover expenses over the long term, according to surveys recently conducted by leagues in both states.

Nearly 60% of Iowans surveyed by the Iowa Credit Union League said they have a savings account designated for emergencies. However, 28.9% indicated their savings will not cover one month of essential expenses.

About half of the survey respondents said they find it difficult to save for emergency purposes. Less than 48% of Iowans indicated they used their savings to purchase a non-emergency item within the past 12 months.

"Living paycheck to paycheck is not ideal, but it is a reality for many consumers," said Emily Caropreso, director of communications and marketing at the Iowa league.  "We need to better show how establishing a saving regimen, no matter how large or small, is an essential step in circumventing serious financial troubles."

In Texas, 79.8% of participants in a survey conducted by the Texas Credit Union League have a savings account designated for unexpected expenses. However, in the event of a job loss, the survey found only 10% could cover essential expenses for six to 12 months. Also, 36% indicated they could cover essential expenses for zero to three months.

About 57% of the Texas survey participants say have used their savings in the past 12 months to purchase non-emergency items.

A nationwide study of family finances by several government agencies indicated only 38% of adults have established an "emergency fund" to fall back on during tough times, the Iowa league said.

Illinois League Kicks Off Annual Convention Today

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (4/18/13)--More than 650 executives representing 120 credit unions are expected to attend the Illinois Credit Union League's 83rd Annual Convention starting today. The event runs through Saturday.

With a travel theme of "Passport to Success!" the convention returns for a second year to Schaumburg.

Keynoter Mark Sievewright, president of Fiserv Inc.'s credit union solutions, will discuss "How the Future of Credit Unions Will Evolve in the Next 20 Years." He also will present a breakout session, "Competing to Win:  Seven Strategies for Seven Trends in U.S. Financial Services."

The annual convention also includes 22 educational opportunities, including a session with Bill Hampel, Credit Union National Association chief economist.

During the keynote and awards ceremony, several recipients of the Illinois Credit Union Foundation's Commemorative Memorial and Tribute Awards will be recognized, including recently retired long-time league staff members Donald Edwards and Con O'Mahoney.

The closing session Saturday will feature comedy magician Fred Schafer, with "How to Have a Power Packed Productive and Profitable Day in Your Credit Union--Every Day!" 

Other features for this year's convention will include:

  • Credit union "crashers." ICUL is again welcoming young credit union professionals to be part of the annual convention. The initiative is a spinoff of the league's inaugural effort to attract young professionals to the convention last year in partnership with The Cooperative Trust (formerly The Crash Network).
  • Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits. Many of ICUL's convention sessions, as well as its annual schedule of more than 60 "QuickBites," telecourses, and in-person sessions, are CPE eligible.

NC State Assembly Hearing On CU Bill Today

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RALEIGH, N.C. (4/18/13)--The North Carolina House Banking Committee is holding its first hearing today on HB 515, which would amend the state's credit union statutes, according to the North Carolina Credit Union League.

The bill was introduced by John Bell (R-10), Larry Hall (D-29), Andy Wells (R-96) and Jonathan Jordan (R-93) (The Weekly Conversation April 17).

"It is a bi-partisan bill with no known opposition, so the bill should move through the committee swiftly," said Lauren Whaley, NCCUL's director of legislative and regulatory affairs.

The bill follows the overhaul of the North Carolina banking statutes by the Office of the Commissioner of Banks in 2011, NCCUL said. HB 515 involves modernizing changes to payable on death accounts, joint accounts, and dealing with minors.

"With the input and feedback of credit unions over the last two years, the league reviewed the credit union statutes in North Carolina and listed several areas that would enhance the value of the credit union charter in North Carolina," Whaley explained. "The league is grateful for the cooperative process that helped us identify key areas that would be of most benefit."

Should the committee hearing go as planned, HB515 would then be referred to a Judiciary Committee before the House takes a vote. The North Carolina Senate would then take up the bill.

CUs Report Business Wins In Filene Social Pilot

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MADISON, Wis. (4/18/13)--Growing active social media engagement among employees on social platforms is instrumental in gaining business results for credit unions, according to research from Filene Research Institute's QUEsocial pilot program.

More than half of the program's participating credit unions and 97% of the most engaged users reported business wins, which Filene defined as "new members and loans, leads and expanded reach into their communities, among other things."

"As social networks are more and more a part of our daily lives, enabling employees to tap their social networks on the credit union's behalf is an efficient way to grow membership, deepen relationships and participate actively in their communities," said Tansley Stearns, Filene's Impact director. "Higher social media engagement and active participation leads to stronger business results."

Filene's pilot was launched last year with Chicago-based technology company QUEsocial to offer credit unions social media tools and resources to take social business beyond marketing and put it into their employees' hands. The pilot involves a portal that combines e-learning, content delivery, gamification and analytics.

One credit union said it used social media to recruit, engage its audiences, and generate leads. It currently is closing three leads it developed during the pilot.

Roughly 36 credit unions and 120 individuals are participating in the pilot, which runs through April.

Filene's post-pilot program will feature more curated content specific to human resources, marketing, sales and business services, plus Canadian-specific content. It also will have enhanced training modules, gaming integration and back-end technology.  Filene will host webinars on April 23 or 24 about the program. Use the links for more information.

Dykstra, Guatemala CUs Discuss Governance, Strategy

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ONTARIO, Calif. (4/18/13)--Diana Dykstra, president/CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, conducted a workshop last week on governance and strategy with the board of directors of FENACOAC, Guatemala's national credit union trade association.  

Click to view larger image During an April 8 visit to Guatemala, California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues President/ CEO Diana Dykstra (center) met the full board and senior staff of FENACOAC, Guatemala's national credit union trade association, to discuss planning and strategy. (Photo provided by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues)

During the April 8 visit to the Central American country, Dykstra, FENACOAC CEO Oswaldo Oliva, and Victor Miguel Corro, vice president of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions for the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), also visited with the Superintendency of Banks, Guatemala's credit union regulator,  to advocate for credit union regulation.

"The level of cooperation between FENACOAC and the California and Nevada Credit Union leagues has helped propel the federation's board of directors and their initiatives," Oliva said.

The leagues have partnered with FENACOAC since 2009 as part of  WOCCU's International Partnerships Program, which connects developed and emerging credit union movements in collaborative and mutually beneficial partnerships. For more information, use the link.

Dykstra met with FENACOAC's full board and senior staff to discuss planning, strategy and how to forge a vision of the future in an organization. She emphasized the difference between board and staff responsibilities.

Oliva, Dykstra and Corro visited with the technical staff from the Superintendency of Banks. Dykstra described how the industry in the U.S. is regulated. The technical staff is working on a draft for a credit union law in Guatemala. The superintendency had asked for help in getting case studies for countries in which credit unions are successfully regulated and where the risk is well- managed. To see the studies, use the link.

Guatemala's MICOOPE system--implemented in 2008--comprises 25 credit unions that adopted a unified brand to help with public awareness, ease of transactions nationwide and growing credit union membership. The system has 1.2 million members. MICOOPE is self-regulated, with FENACOAC acting as the monitoring agent.

Members of the technical staff of the Superintendency of Banks and MICOOPE will meet with the California Department of Financial Institutions later this year.

Oregon Senate Passes CU Act Update Bill

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SALEM Ore. (4/18/13)--A bill to update the Oregon Credit Union Act passed in the state Senate Monday, 29-0. The Northwest Credit Union Association backed the bill.

Senate Bill 520 now will be considered in the state House. After its first reading, it will be assigned to a committee (Anthem April 16).

Recommendations by NWCUA's Oregon State Model Act Subcommittee resulted in the legislation. Members of the subcommittee met several times in 2012, comparing the Oregon Act to other credit union charters and recommending several upgrades. NWCUA also sought input from the state Division of Finance and Corporate Securities.

SB 520 will:

  • Broaden Oregon's parity authority by allowing Oregon credit unions to invoke parity with out-of-state credit unions and streamline the process for invoking parity with federally chartered credit unions;
  • Clarify the role of the supervisory committee in governance-related matters;
  • Extend additional liability protection to credit union directors and officers;
  • Remove the wording in Oregon law that requires the board to "perform other duties as the members of the credit union from time to time direct and perform or authorize any action not inconsistent with this chapter and not specifically reserved by the bylaws for the members";
  • Remove duplicative and unnecessary language in Oregon law that permits a credit union to employ a chief operating officer/president and a security officer;
  • Make the declaring of dividends a power that can be delegated under Oregon law; and
  • Increase the limit of loans made to one borrower to the larger of $100,000 or 15% of a credit union's equity.
Educating lawmakers and taxpayers about three anti-credit union bills supported by the Oregon Bankers' Association was another key focus for credit unions this session, said NWCUA. Two of those measures have died in committee. HB 2484 would have imposed expensive and time-consuming business-lending-reporting requirements that detail service to people with low and moderate incomes, NWCUA said. HB 2485 would have required extensive community-reinvestment reporting to state regulators. Neither bill was scheduled for a hearing.

A third bill, HB 2486, calls for a corporate excise tax on some of the state's largest credit unions. Because that measure is still pending through the end of the session, NWCUA leadership, credit union advocates and their members have continued to emphasize the positive impact of the tax exemption--real, tangible benefits returned to members in the form of lower fees and better loan rates.