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North Island CU to close three branches

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SAN DIEGO (4/22/09)--North Island CU, San Diego, plans to close three branches next month as part of a plan to reduce expenses by 26%. The branches scheduled to close are Vista, Carlsbad, and Clairemont Square. Clairemont will be combined with the Kearny Mesa branch, which is about four miles away. The lease for the Clairemont branch’s space was set to expire next month, Kelli Beck, North Island vice president of marketing, told News Now. Clairemont will close May 15, Carlsbad will close May 22 and Vista will close May 29. Staff who work at the three locations will be laid off. Members who use those branches can bank online or visit the Mira Mesa or Scripps-Poway branches, Beck said. North Island experienced positive net income January and February, and plans to have positive income again in April. The credit union also adds about 750 to 800 members per month, Beck said. North Island has $1.5 billion in assets and 98,000 members.

CU rewards members by planting trees

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DENVER (4/22/09)--Bellco CU has partnered with PayItGreen, which will reward members who use online banking by planting a tree in their honor. “Bellco CU and its employees are committed to constantly identifying positive ways in which we can preserve the environment,” said Laura Higgins, Bellco director of marketing. Consumers who receive electronic bills and statements and who pay electronically can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 171 pounds annually, a savings equivalent of:
* Planting two tree seedlings and allowing them to grow for 10 years; * Preserving 24 square feet of forestland; and * Avoiding emissions by not driving 169 miles or consuming 8.8 gallons of gas.
Using electronic bill pay also can guard against identity theft. About 85% of identity theft cases are due to “offline” transactions such as lost checkbooks or stolen bills and statements, Bellco said. Partnering with PayItGreen is just one effort the credit union has undertaken to become more environmentally friendly. Bellco has a comprehensive recycling program, renovated its Greenwood Village branch with motion senor light switches, owns two Priuses, and distributed free compact fluorescent bulbs to employees. It also has 36,000 members who use e-statements instead of paper, the credit union said. Bellco, headquartered in Greenwood Village, Colo., has $2 billion in assets.

Oregon association testifies for financial education

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (4/22/09)--Two bills related to financial literacy were heard simultaneously in the Oregon Capitol during the week of April 13. The Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO), along with Carlyn Roy, executive vice president and chief operating officer of OSU FCU, Corvallis, provided testimony in support of the legislation. The bills--Senate Bill 441 and Senate Bill 501--were up for a hearing in the Oregon Senate Education Committee. In March, CUAO and Roy provided testimony in support of SB 501 which would add “finances” to essential learning skills and requires school district to provide curriculum in finances. During the hearing, concerns were raised by the Department of Education and the school lobby. State Sen. Rick Metsger (D-26) introduced an amendment to SB 441 which would basically eliminate the bill, and create a new one with new language. The new bill would define “finances” to mean “curriculum designed to achieve financial literacy and to give students personal financial management skills by teaching the basic principles involved with earning, spending, savings and investing money.” The amendments would require that of the three credits of social sciences needed to obtain an Oregon high school diploma, one-half credit would be in “finances.” In essence, the amendments would add financial education requirements back into the high school diploma requirements. “We support Senator Metsger’s efforts to push Financial Education, and we were pleased to provide testimony during the hearing in support of his amendment to SB441,” said Pamela Leavitt, CUAO senior vice president of governmental affairs and public relations.

Invest in America approaching 100000 vehicles sold

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LANSING, Mich. (4/22/09)--The Invest in America credit union member auto discount program is approaching 100,000 in vehicles sold, according to the Michigan Credit Union League. The nearly 100,000 vehicles represent sales through the first three months of 2009. More than 1,300 credit unions nationwide have adopted the program since its inception last fall and have brought $2.1 billion in revenue to General Motors (GM) and Chrysler through the sale of 85,847 vehicles, the league said. About 80% of vehicles sold through Invest in America have been financed through credit unions. This equates to about $1.27 billion in new auto loans, which has raised the credit union market share to 25%, up from 14% this time last year. Credit unions hold about $85 billion in new car loans nationwide. They write about $23 billion in auto loans per year--and about $8.5 billion of that amount finances GM and Chrysler autos. Chrysler is offering $500 rebates on select vehicles which also will be layered on top of its Employee Pricing. GM continues to offer supplier pricing combined with the new “GM Total Confidence” program; the most comprehensive customer protection plan in the industry. GM has also extended its “Invest in America “contract through Dec. 31. CUcorp, the Michigan league’s service corporation and the automakers are working toward extending the “Invest in America” program as a long-term relationship while offering these short-term, special promotions exclusively for credit union members. “The partnership between America’s credit unions and the domestic automakers has been impressive,” said David Adams, CEO of CUcorp. “GM indicated how much the program means to its business by extending the partnership through the end of the year. Chrysler continues to say their credit union rebates are the best deal they offer.” “Credit union members are an increasingly important part of our customer base, and we’re very pleased with the results we’ve seen with ‘Invest in America,’” added Jim Bunnell, GM executive director.

MnCUN elects five incumbents to board

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (4/22/09)--The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) elected five incumbent representatives to its board of directors during its annual meeting April 17-18. The representatives are:
* Chuck Albrecht, Mid-Minnesota FCU, Baxter; * Jim Carrier, Buckbee-Mears Employees CU, St. Paul; * Nick Meyer, Minnesota Valley FCU, Mankato; * Patrick Pierce, City and County CU, St. Paul; and * Harry Carter, TopLine FCU, Maple Grove.
The board also re-elected table officers for 2009:
* Chairman Carter; * Vice Chairman Kyle Markland, Affinity Plus FCU, St. Paul; and * Treasury/Secretary Pierce.
Kris Mecham, Credit Union National Association chairman, spoke to attendees of the Minnesota Credit Union Network’s annual meeting April 17-18. He encouraged credit unions to act cooperatively to get through tough economic times. (Photo provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Network)
The annual meeting also featured guest speakers Keith Morton, National Credit Union Administration Region IV director, and Kris Mecham, Credit Union National Association board chair. Morton pledged to provide credit unions with open and direct information about the Corporate Stabilization Program. He urged credit unions to promote confidence in the system among, communities, volunteers and employees. “By working together in collaboration, we can get through these tough times,” Morton said. “However, we need to act cooperatively to get through this. “Consumer confidence in credit unions has never been greater--seize that recognition,” Mecham added.

Study Satisfaction with online services improves

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (4/22/09)--Credit unions considering online financial services may want to take note of a recent study that measured satisfaction with online financial institutions--including credit unions, banks, credit card websites and investment websites. Customer satisfaction improved during the past year, even as the financial sector of the economy deteriorated, according to a report from ForeSee Results and Forbes.com released Tuesday (BusinessWire April 21). The 2009 Online Financial Services Study--which employs the methodology of the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI)--is the fifth report since the inaugural study in 2003, and shows that despite a weak economy, bank bailouts and tighter credit, financial institutions are using their websites to increase customer loyalty, account activity and positive word of mouth. “It’s not an easy environment for financial institutions to do business. Given all the problems that these companies are having, we might expect satisfaction to slip,” said Larry Freed, president/CEO of ForeSee Results. “But the basic blocking and tackling that these companies are doing online is proving effective. “They don’t need to reinvent the wheel or their website strategy just because the economy is in crisis,” he added. “Focusing on the right fundamentals makes a big difference to the customer experience over time. And it turns out that online satisfaction actually has huge implications for the whole industry.” The improvement for online satisfaction is good news for financial institutions because websites have a large impact on multi-channel operations and future financial success, the study said. Satisfied online customers are more profitable, more loyal, and more likely to engage in positive word of mouth. Highly satisfied customers are significantly more likely than less-satisfied customers to purchase additional services and open more accounts, increasing share of wallet. Also, highly satisfied customers are more likely to increase engagement with the website for information or transactions, introducing cost savings by establishing a user preference for the most efficient service channel. Online financial services companies still have room for improvement. The research identified site performance and functionality as areas where credit unions and banks could maximize return on investment. Functionality and portfolio management are priority areas for investment websites to improve satisfaction, while improving transaction processes and bill-payment features are top priorities for credit card websites.

CU System briefs (04/21/2009)

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* ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (4/22/09)--The Credit Union Association of New Mexico (CUANM) announced that it has added two new employees: Carey Shorty and Devon Van Hecke. Shorty is the Association Services assistant and will provide clerical assistance and support to staff. Van Hecke joined the CUANM Youth Marketing Team as an operations specialist and staff writer ... * EULESS, Texas (4/22/09)--A man who had one of his arms in a sling and walked with a limp robbed Omni American CU after slipping a note to the teller. He told the teller that he had a gun (Fort Worth Star-Telegram April 20). The man took an undisclosed amount of cash. Police are not sure if the man was disabled or was pretending to be injured, the newspaper said ... * SAN ANTONIO (4/22/09)--San Antonio CU (SACU) reported that it saved more than 1,250 trees by shredding almost 148,000 pounds of paper during a four-hour shred day event held at nine of its branches. More than 2,400 people took advantage of the free service and donated more than $3,500 to benefit San Antonio’s Dress for Success program. Dress for Success is an organization that helps women gain skills to re-enter the workforce. SACU has $2.7 billion in assets ...

Colorado Texas CUs announce merger

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SAN ANTONIO and AURORA, Colo. (4/22/09)--Officials of the San Antonio-based Security Service FCU (SSFCU) announced Monday that it merged with Aurora Catholic Federal CU (ACFCU). Approved by the National Credit Union Administration, the merger became effective March 31. The ACFCU board of directors voted to join operations with SSFCU to provide improved and expanded products and services that would be more accessible to its members in its field of membership--parishioners of Catholic parishes, and schools and organizations that serve Catholic parishioners in Aurora. The ACFCU board concluded that Security Service’s products and services, service delivery channels, and locations would provide its members improved access to financial tools and growth opportunities. SSFCU’s field of membership includes the Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Corpus Christi Catholic dioceses. SSFCU has more than $5 billion in assets and more than 680,000 members. As a result of the merger, Security Service gained an additional $13.7 million in assets and more than 2,200 members. Security Service also gained a service center with the addition of the former ACFCU location in Aurora, its sixth location in the Denver area. The credit union operates 13 other Colorado locations, including Denver, Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Fountain. Security Service has operations in South Texas with 32 service centers in and around San Antonio and other South Texas areas, including Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande Valley.

West Virginia league elects new officers

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (4/22/09)--The West Virginia Credit Union League elected Tom Walker as chairman of its board of directors. The elections were conducted following the league's 73rd annual meeting held Saturday in Charleston, W.Va. Walker is a director of Universal FCU in Huntington. He is a 40-year veteran of the credit union movement serving as a volunteer director, and is a retired CUNA Mutual sales representative where he served for 28 years. Other officers elected included:
* First Vice Chairman, Dave Van Middlesworth, Eastern Panhandle FCU, Martinsburg; * Second Vice Chairman, Donna Gordon, Mercer Co. WV FCU, Bluefield; * Treasurer, Doris Cunningham, Members Choice WV FCU, Charleston; and * Secretary, Mike Tucker, West Virginia Central CU, Parkersburg.
Also at the meeting, Kenneth Truax, First Choice Community FCU, Weirton, received the league’s highest annual recognition of a volunteer, the William Bryan Hawkins Award. Receiving the Pacesetter Award was Charlene Gaither, Eastern Panhandle FCU. The award symbolizes excellence among paid credit union staff in West Virginia.