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CU System briefs (04/20/2012)

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  • ETTRICK, Va. (4/23/12)--A Virginia State University (VSU) student was arrested and another is being sought by police in relation to the fatal shooting Tuesday of Tyrail W. Hughes, 20, of Petersburg, Va., in the parking lot of Virginia State University Credit Union. An 18-year-old passerby was also shot in the leg by stray bullet during the altercation between two groups of young men. Artarrius Jamar Stepter, 20, was charged with brandishing a firearm during the incident, which occurred at 4:20 p.m. Still at large is Ryan Christopher Simms, 19, who is being charged with murder, felonious assault and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Simms and Stepter are students at VSU (Richmond Times-Dispatch April 20) …
  • ROCKFORD, Ill. (4/23/12)--A former collections supervisor at Rock Valley FCU, Loves Park, Ill., was sentenced to nine years in prison for allegedly embezzling more than $122,000 from the credit union. Thomas A. Miles, 42, pleaded guilty in a plea bargain to stealing about 163 checks payable to members from October 2007 to August 2010. As supervisor, he oversaw funds received from delinquent loans and credited to members' accounts. He allegedly ordered tellers to cash the checks and issue money orders, which he deposited into a savings account at a bank. Then he would transfer the funds to his personal checking account at the credit union. In addition to the prison term, he was sentenced to three years of supervised release, with the first nine months under house arrest with electronic monitoring, and was ordered to pay more than $122,110 in restitution (WREX.com April 19) …
  • ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.(4/23/12)--The New Mexico Credit Union Education Foundation (NMCUEF) awarded $122,000 in scholarships to 122 students in New Mexico for the 2012-2013 school year. Each scholarship recipient was awarded $1,000. The NMCUEF program was formed through special legislation that allows credit unions to use abandoned funds for educational or charitable purposes. Since it was established in 1992, NMCUEF has presented 1,191 scholarships totaling $734,600 to students attending accredited vocational or technical schools, colleges or universities in New Mexico, according to the Credit Union Association of New Mexico …

J.D. Power Consumer satisfaction with bank fees drops

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WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. (4/23/12)--Consumers grew increasingly dissatisfied with retail banking fees in the past year, with a satisfaction index at 608, down significantly from 625 in 2011 and 656 in 2010, says  a new survey released Thursday by J.D. Power and Associates.

The 2012 U.S. Retail Banking Study, in its seventh year, indicated that overall retail banking customer satisfaction is stagnant, improving by one point in 2012--to 753 on a 1,000-point scale.  The study measured six factors of satisfaction:  account activities, account information, facility, fees, problem resolution and product offerings.

Monthly maintenance fees had the most significant impact on fees satisfaction this year--more so than in the 2011 and 2010 studies--while ATM and debit card fees had less negative impacts on fees satisfaction, said the study.

"The negative reaction to fees reflects customers' irritation about paying for something they didn't have to pay for in the past," said Michael Beird, director of banking services at J.D. Power and Associates. "It also reflects a lack of their complete understanding about what they're getting for those fees. Customers understand why they're being charged for ATM and debit card use, but are not clear on what they're getting for monthly maintenance fees, which drives the bigger drop in satisfaction with those fees."

The study noted improvements in satisfaction with facilities and routine transactions, and with reliability and ease of using ATMs, with the percentage of customers who use ATMs to make deposits more than doubling to 40% in 2012 from 19% in 2008.  Regional banks--defined by the survey as banks with $33 billion to $180 billion in deposits--saw the biggest drop in satisfaction, dropping to 759 from 760, when compare to small banks and big banks.

Big banks still lag other banks in overall satisfaction, but they have improved in reducing the number of problems customers experience and in problem resolution, especially at first contact, said Beird.

Although credit unions aren't included in the study, plenty of recent studies have reported that member/customer satisfaction with credit unions have topped bank customer satisfaction.  Examples include an American Customer Satisfaction Index survey ( News Now Dec. 13),  2011 Bank and Credit Union Satisfaction Survey by Prime Performance (News Now Dec. 8), a 2011 Customer Experience survey by Prime Performance (News Now March 9 ) and a loyalty survey by Temkin Group (News Now March 21).

May receives Texas league Hall of Fame award

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/23/12)--Harriet May, retiring CEO of El Paso-based GECU and immediate past chairman of the Credit Union National Association, received the Texas Credit Union League's prestigious Hall of Fame award last week.

May's 38-year credit union career began in the mid-70s when she became a teller at GECU.  She rose through the ranks, serving in various management and executive management positions until she became CEO in 1996, said the league (LoneStar Leaguer April 20).

Under May's leadership, GECU more than tripled in size. Today it has more than $1.8 billion in assets, with more than 720 employees serving more than 300,000 members, and is the largest independently owned financial institution in El Paso.

NCUA to WesCorp court Conservators can deny officials coverage

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LOS ANGELES (4/23/12)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has filed more documents in its negligence lawsuit against former Western Corporate FCU senior executives, telling a federal court in Los Angeles that , as the failed corporate's conservator, it has authority to deny the former executives indemnification and insurance coverage.

NCUA filed the documents April 18 in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Western Division, in response to counterclaims by the former WesCorp officials. 

The original suit named as defendants: Robert A. Siravo, former president/CEO; Thomas Swedburg, former vice president of human resources; Todd Lane, former chief financial officer; Robert J. Burrell, former chief investment officer; and Timothy T. Swidley, former risk officer. Swedburg and Sidley have settled their lawsuits (News Now April 16).

In its response, NCUA said that "defendants may not pursue a claim for indemnification against the NCUA because officers or directors of a failed institution may not obtain indemnification for actions brought against them by the institution's receiver, regardless of whether they might have had a right to indemnification by the financial institution had it not failed."

The agency noted in the documents that because the defendants were responsible for purchasing an insurance policy on behalf of Wes Corp and elected to purchase the policy that they did, then the executives "are barred from pursuing a claim against WesCorp's successor the NCUA based upon any alleged inadequacy in the insurance policy so purchased."

It also said that--without conceding any act of the NCUA caused damages to the three--it is entitled to offset and recoup against any judgment that may be entered favoring the executives.

NCUA sued the WesCorp senior executives to try to recoup $6.8 million in investment portfolio losses from mortgage backed securities, alleging the executives were negligent in monitoring the corporate's investments. NCUA also alleged a breach of fiduciary duty and fraud related to the investments that contributed to WesCorp's collapse.

In addition to their defense costs, damages and other court costs, the WesCorp executives had demanded that  NCUA indemnify them under Policy 21 adopted by WesCorp so current and former officials and employees could recover costs and attorney fees in case of a lawsuit.

NCUA said in the documents filed last week that it did not renew the policy when it expired.

Maximize HR investment with simpler human capital strategy

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SAN ANTONIO (4/23/12)--Understanding the overall health and readiness of a credit union's human capital and effectively communicating the value of employee benefits can help attract and retain talent and favorably impact the bottom line, attendees at the CUNA Human Resources/Training and Development Council Conference in San Antonio were told Friday.

CUNA Mutual Group's Mike Roche, employee benefits specialist, discussed the employee benefits concept of "Human Capital Management" and how it can help organizations enjoy a stable, talented and energized work force during the CUNA Human Resources/Training and Development Council Conference in San Antonio Friday. (Photo provided by CUNA Mutual Group)
Mike Roche, employee benefits specialist at CUNA Mutual Group, and Brad Pricer, CUNA Mutual human resources process leader, discussed the employee benefits concept of "Human Capital Management" and how it can help organizations enjoy a stable, talented and energized work force.

Human resources leaders in today's competitive marketplace are challenged by hard-to-reach bottom lines, job consolidation, technology changes, health care reform and a shrinking labor pool. Also, employees are often confused or not engaged when making benefits decisions. Roche cited a 2011 AFLAC Workforce Report that stated only 8% of workers strongly agreed they were fully engaged in making benefits decisions.

Simplifying human capital management acknowledges that your employees are not all the same, which forces you to provide them choices, Roche said. "It aids in analyzing work force strengths and vulnerabilities, and identifies opportunities and strategies to proactively manage employees," he added.

Roche suggested offering a good voluntary benefits program coupled with clear communications that articulate the personal benefit they receive. "These efforts will help your credit union attract and retain talent, which directly impacts the bottom line," he said.

Pricer said credit unions should get away from the traditional metric-based approach when analyzing the state of their human capital.

"Human capital is more than just the people in the organization; it includes an individual's ability, behavior, skills and tenure," Pricer explained. "The problem with using metrics to define and measure human capital is it doesn't necessarily create a clear picture of your current human capital state and how you should manipulate it going forward."

Too much time is spent identifying, measuring, and tracking human capital metrics. Instead, Pricer suggested creating a simplified approach to more easily define the strategy and identify needed resources. "This allows you to quickly explain human capital needs to C-level management or the board of directors and where resources should be targeted," he said.

Pricer discussed "heat mapping" as a means to quickly define and explain the state of a credit union's human capital.  Heat maps tell a concise story that can be told with just a few sheets of paper (or slides) instead of thick binders full of metrics.

Heat maps identify strengths and weaknesses within the technical functions of an organization by using a color-coded chart listing the different functional roles against the categories being measured within each role. Those categories should be: subject-matter expertise, capacity, and capability.

Pricer said creating a heat map offers numerous advantages that allow credit unions to: Put in place a succession-type plan at all levels;
  • Understand the overall health and readiness of the organization's human capital;
  • Engage the best employees to drive success;
  • Focus resources appropriately to improve the overall state of the credit union's human capital; and
  • Provide an easy explanation to C-level management and/or board of directors
"By employing a human capital strategy, your credit union can ease the challenges and burdens of tracking day-to-day human capital management and free up staff to pursue other initiatives to increase employee engagement and satisfaction," Pricer said. "Ultimately, this will help attract and retain key individuals."

Catalyst files preemptive patent lawsuit

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SHERMAN, Texas (4/23/12)--Catalyst Corporate FCU has filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Texas, seeking a declaratory judgment that it has not infringed on any processing patents, after it received a letter from a company representing an unknown "John Doe" patent holder threatening Catalyst with a lawsuit if it did not sign a confidentiality agreement.

Plano, Texas-based Catalyst filed the pre-emptive strike in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division. In the complaint, Catalyst said it received a letter and a "Proposal to Negotiate Patent License" on March  27 from IP Navigation Group,  also known as IPNav, a Dallas-based company that bills itself as a "leading global intellectual property advisory firm" that has "expertise in monetizing patents."

According to the complaint filed, IPNav claims that it focuses on "turning intangible assets into tangible profits" with its "monetization solutions," and that it "employs an aggressive approach to monetizing patents, which has resulted in the filing and litigating of a large number of patent infringement lawsuits."

The letter to Catalyst Corporate noted that an "analysis of your products shows that your company makes, uses, or sells products or services that would benefit from a license to [Doe's] patents." It demanded Catalyst sign a confidentiality agreement "as a predicate to IPNav identifying 'specific patents and provid[ing] information outlining the basis for the infringement claims against your products or services.'"

Catalyst claims the letter indicates that IPNav and Doe "are prepared to sue if Catalyst does not agree to their terms." The terms include provisions that would bar Catalyst from suing the firm, but not barring IPNav or Doe from filing a patent infringement lawsuit.

"Catalyst has been placed in the untenable position of being forced to choose between waiving its legal rights pursuant to the terms of the agreement or subjecting itself to an ongoing threat of litigation and unspecified allegations of infringement directed at the core of Catalyst's business. Catalyst refuses to make such a choice and, instead, asks this court to declare Catalyst's legal rights now in its home court."

The suit seeks a declaration that Catalyst "has not infringed and is not infringing, directly or indirectly, any valid claims of the asserted patents" and an order permanently enjoining IPNav, Doe, and their representatives from asserting that the corporate infringed on any valid patent claim.

Advances in technologies and processes such as remote deposit capture technology, payments processing, and online and mobile banking technologies have been targets of several patent infringement lawsuits. Credit unions and banks using both third-party service providers and in-house processes for their new technologies have been  threatened with litigation as a result.

Succession plans--Dont ignore development

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SAN ANTONIO (4/23/12)--Even if they have CEO succession plans in place, credit unions risk losing CEO replacements to other organizations if their plans do not have an executive development component that includes financial incentives to retain top talent, said CUNA Mutual Group's John Moreno Friday.

Credit union succession plans should include financial incentives to retain executive talent, said CUNA Mutual Group's John Moreno during a CUNA HR/TD Council Conference breakout session Friday. (Photo provided by CUNA Mutual Group)
He spoke during a CUNA Human Resources/Training and Development Council Conference breakout session in San Antonio.

Moreno, an executive benefits specialist with the insurer, said credit unions need to take a hard look at their succession plan and determine if they have a true succession plan or a "Break in Case of Emergency" plan.

The latter is an emergency CEO succession plan that prepares the credit union for the death or rapid, unexpected departure of the CEO. It's a short-term disaster recovery plan to keep the institution going until a new, permanent CEO is hired.

"The 'Break in Case of Emergency Plan' is important to have, but it shouldn't be the only plan," Moreno said. "Essentially, it is the proverbial sealed envelope in the board chairman's desk that names the next CEO. It's not adequate by itself."

A true succession plan doesn't just choose internal successors to a credit union's top executive positions; it prepares internal successors, which provides more stability and consistency with the organization's strategic plan. Moreno cited 2011 research from the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University that indicated CEOs hired as part of an organization's internal succession plan tend to stay longer and perform better--for less initial compensation--than the average new CEO.

"It's about building bench strength, to use a sports analogy, and involves staff development rather than replacement," Moreno said. "That requires nurturing and developing people, and it requires active involvement of the board of directors, chief executive and human resources functions."

But even with a true succession plan, credit unions can still lose potential internal CEO successors to competing organizations, including other credit unions. Linking executive development with financial incentives is critical, he added.

"A successful human resources pro is going to look to bring in talent by finding candidates who are already succeeding in other organizations," Moreno said. "Unless you also provide monetary incentives to keep your top talent at your credit union, you run the risk of having your staff poached by others."

That means creating "golden handcuffs" for top talent who could be a flight risk. Doing so makes their decision to leave the credit union difficult, if not costly. Plus, it makes it more expensive for the acquiring organization.

Moreno suggested aligning non-qualified deferred compensation arrangements with a sound succession and development plan. "Part of creating a sustainable ethic of succession is building in a cost, beyond salary, for competitors to acquire your next-in-line executives. A properly structured SERP (supplemental executive retirement plan) adds to a competitor's cost while creating a deferred compensation incentive for your executives to stay."

Executive salaries have increased commensurate with the size and complexity of credit unions over the years. However, tax regulations can limit credit unions' contributions to pension and defined-contribution retirement plans. Executives also face Social Security maximums and potential limitations on disability insurance and corporate-purchased life insurance.

As a result, highly paid executives can expect a much larger gap than other employees between their pre- and post-retirement income.

Moreno suggested considering multiple options for closing this gap. Among these were:

  • "Non-qualified" plans such as a section 457(f) plan. This plan is a promise of payment to the executive under agreed-upon circumstances, such as when the executive reaches retirement age or certain milestones--provided he or she stays with the credit union until that date.
  • A split-dollar life insurance program that can be used with, or instead of, non-qualified plans. This plan uses a combination of credit union-financed premiums, a permanent life insurance policy and the tax treatment of life insurance to provide benefits to executives in retirement.
Due to potential tax and legal risks inherent in a plan design, he advised working with a qualified attorney and experienced providers for any type of non-qualified deferred compensation plans. "As with your entire succession plan, review them regularly so the next time your credit union must replace a top executive, the right person is already on board."

Royce media highlight MBL bill

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MADISON, Wis. (4/23/12)--U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and several media outlets highlighted credit unions' push to pass a member business lending (MBL) bill--the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act--before the U.S. Senate this month.

"My bill provides small businesses access to credit they desperately seek by safely raising the member business lending cap set on credit unions," Royce, a sponsor of the bill, said in a featured column in flashreport.com, operated by GOP party official Jon Fleischman and read by politically versed people. "Many of our country's local businesses turn to financial institutions, which are often times credit unions. Nothing beats the peace of mind coming from the familiarity through proximity.

"A 'ma and pa' flower shop looking to expand into e-commerce--creating possible employment for delivery drivers and packers--would turn to their neighborhood institution first before anywhere else," he continued. "Why not give these credit unions, so heavily relied on by local small businesses, the ability to safely supply the demand for credit?"

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions are urging Congress to increase credit unions' MBL cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Doing so would 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, CUNA said.

The Baltimore Business Journal noted Friday that the bill "has become a flash point of contention between credit unions and banks."

The Journal added: "Many credit union CEOs say the legislation would boost jobs by providing another source of credit to small businesses that want to expand and hire more workers. Bankers, on the other hand, counter that credit unions are infringing on their turf and taking advantage of laws that give them an unfair advantage by exempting them from paying corporate income tax."

Raising the credit union MBL cap is good for consumers because it would boost lending by $201 million in Maryland in the first year alone, creating nearly 2,200 jobs, John Bratsakis, CEO of the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association, told the Journal.

SECU, based in Linthicum, Md., wants to issue more business loans, and there is sufficient member demand to support a raising of the cap, Rod Staatz, CEO of SECU, told the Journal.

Also, Rogue FCU (RFCU), a $542 million asset credit union, based in Medford, Ore., hopes to double its small-business lending by this time next year if the MBL bill becomes law (Mail Tribune April 20).

With no taxpayer dollars involved and capital sitting idle, it makes sense to deploy it, Gene Pellham, RFCU president/CEO, told the newspaper.

Heritage Community CU, a $198 million asset credit union based in Sacramento, Calif., has launched a business lending program, which will offer members business credit cards, commercial real estate loans, and loans for commercial vehicles and equipment  (Sacramento Business Journal April 20).

The credit union is joining a growing credit union movement to expand beyond consumer markets, the Journal noted.

HRTD elects officersWozniak is chair

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MADISON, Wis. (4/23/12)--Diane Wozniak, human resources manager for Tampa Bay FCU, has been elected as chair of the CUNA HR/TD council.

Suzanne Oliver, senior vice president of educational services and chief learning officer for Mountain America FCU in West Jordan, Utah, will become council vice chair. Robert Davis, senior vice president of human resources for VyStar CU in Jacksonville, Fla., will become the council secretary/treasurer.

Oliver also was was re-elected to the executive committee.

Newly elected to the executive committee is Cindy Swigert, chief human resources officer for United FCU in St. Joseph, Mich., who replaces outgoing committee member Kathy Spahr, human resources of training and development director for EECU in Jackson, Mich., who served a three-year term.

Norma Stein, vice president of human resources and learning and development for SchoolsFirst FCU in Santa Ana, Calif., replaces Michelle Greear, assistant vice president of training and career development for Technology CU, San Jose, Calif., who has stepped down from the committee.

The CUNA HR/TD Council executive committee also includes:

  • Robert Carmichael, senior vice president of human resources and training and development for Maine Savings FCU in Hampden, Maine;
  • Jeffrey Duke, organizational development and leadership manager for BECU in Seattle, Wash.;
  • Jennifer Godel, vice president of human resources and training and development and quality for Desert Schools FCU in Phoenix, Ariz.;
  • Jennifer Huggard, director of human resources and accounting for the Northwest Credit Union Association in Federal Way, Wash.; and
  • Roberta Smith, senior vice president of human resources and training for Missoula (Mont.) FCU.

CUs teach financial skills year round too

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PEWAUKEE, Wis. (4/23/12)--While financial literacy is being highlighted across the nation this month, the Wisconsin Credit Union League said credit unions provide financial literacy education throughout the year.

Here are examples of how credit unions teach money management in the state:

  • Youth-run, in-school credit unions. In-school branches teach young people the habit of saving. The branches are considered a "best practice" for youth financial education, said the league.
  • Savings programs. This week is National Credit Union Youth Week, sponsored by the Credit Union National Association. National Credit Union Youth Week invites younger members to save. Last year during Youth Week in Wisconsin alone, 2,950 young people deposited $465,992 into savings accounts.
  • Classroom learning. Credit unions provide the brass student program, which includes the lifestyle money magazine brass, free to Wisconsin high schools. Resources for students and teachers online support state teaching standards. A total of 405 teachers at 350 schools receive it for classroom use. Credit unions also provide free to schools the National Endowment for Financial Education's High School Financial Planning Program, a classroom course teaching personal finance basics.
  • "Experience" learning. Money Mission, offered by through the Credit Union National Assocation, is an online life simulation that challenges teens to balance their life along with their finances. Schools point students to Money Mission to engage their students in financial learning. The program is helping students in 48 states learn the fundamentals of personal finance and has awarded $20,000 in scholarships to college-bound students. This, along with day-long "reality" simulations at local schools, has engaged close to 15,000 students in financial decision-making.
  • Teacher education. Credit unions sponsor local teachers attending the National Institute for Financial & Economic Literacy, held annually in Madison, Wis. The Institute improves financial lessons for tens of thousands of Wisconsin students.
  • Free financial counseling. Credit unions provided almost 30,000 hours of this assistance in 2011 to prevent foreclosures and improve borrowers' creditworthiness. Referrals to classes improve access to checking accounts.
  • Presentations. Credit unions in Wisconsin delivered 5,460 presentations to 34,104 consumers in 2011 to improve their financial savvy on topics ranging from basic financial management to improving credit reports, home buying and more.
  • Events. Some credit unions support Money Conferences, events that teach low-income families financial basics. Other credit unions offer "savings challenges" involving cash prizes. And others offer classes during Money Smart Week.
This week, News Now will provide an update of how credit unions are educating their members during Financial Literacy Month, including National Credit Union Youth Week, April 23-28.

MnCUN honors pro volunteer of year

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (4/23/12)--The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) announced the recipients of its two most prestigious awards on April 14: the Outstanding Credit Union Volunteer of the Year and the Outstanding Credit Union Professional of the Year.

Dick Nesvold, right, SouthPoint FCU president/CEO, was presented Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) 2012 Professional of the Year by Mark Cummins, MnCUN president/CEO. Yvonne Condell was honored with the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award at the 2012 Minnesota Credit Union Network annual meeting. She is shown with Cummins.
(Photos provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Network)

Health care law changing how CUs offer coverage

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SAN ANTONIO (4/23/12)--Regardless how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or a specific provision mandating that individuals purchase coverage, the health care reform law is changing the way credit unions offer and fund employee health plans, said CUNA Mutual Group Friday at the the CUNA Human Resources and Training and Development Council Conference.

Brad Pricer, human resources process leader for CUNA Mutual Group, discusses how health care law is changing the way credit unions offer and fund employee health plans, at the CUNA Human Resources and Training and Development Council Conference in San Antonio Friday. (Photo provided by CUNA Mutual Group)
That shouldn't prohibit credit unions and leagues from tailoring their benefit offerings and the platforms used for those offerings, Brad Pricer, CUNA Mutual Group human resources process leader, told attendees in San Antonio. "The landscape is definitely changing, but credit unions will be able to take advantage of a post-health care reform environment while controlling costs and maintaining an 'employer of choice' strategy if they so choose," Pricer said.

Health care insurance exchanges are moving forward and will continue to do so regardless of the Supreme Court's decision, which is expected in June. Exchanges are meant to facilitate the purchase of health plans, making the process easier and more efficient.

Pricer said a common question he gets is whether credit unions will still need to sponsor health plans for employees due to the individual mandate (assuming it survives Supreme Court review). The answer is no, but they will have to pay a penalty under "play or pay" provisions. The penalty tax will apply to certain businesses that do not offer health insurance to their employees at certain levels of coverage and affordability, or do not offer it at all.

Employers will likely follow their peers when deciding whether to offer coverage after exchanges are established by Jan. 1, 2014.  A 2011 HighRoads Pulse Survey indicated 80% employers do not intend to drop health care coverage in 2014, but 65% said they would drop coverage if the majority of other companies in their industry did.

"Whether your credit union should continue to provide coverage comes down to whether the businesses you are competing with to attract and retain employees decide to offer coverage or not. If they do, and your credit union discontinues its plan, it will be more difficult to attract and retain talent," Pricer said.

Credit unions that want to continue to promote an employer of choice strategy in attracting and retaining employees by continuing to offer health insurance may need to look at new ways of purchasing that coverage through state-sponsored or private exchanges.

Pricer said purchasing through exchanges and employing a defined contribution approach to funding is gaining momentum. A shift to a defined contribution approach moves the risk of incurring high health-care costs from employers to employees and is similar to the previous shift with retirement plans, he added.

"Instead of providing a set of pre-defined health insurance benefits through one or two employer -sponsored plans, employers will provide a fixed amount of funding. Employees will use that amount in an employer-sponsored exchange to help pay for the level of coverage he or she deems appropriate."

While awaiting the Supreme Court decision, credit unions should not to ignore health care reform compliance requirements, Pricer advised. "In my opinion, it's highly unlikely that all of health care reform will be struck down even if the individual mandate falls."

Either way, credit unions' decision to offer health care coverage in the future will likely be driven by affordability and whether a credit union embraces the philosophy of being an employer of choice to recruit and retain the best available talent.

Pricer encouraged attendees to go to a special website for timelines, legislative briefs, model notices and forms. (Use the resource link.)