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CUNA Experience Learning Live! Advisory Committee Announced

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MADISON, Wis. (4/25/13)--The Credit Union National Association has named four credit union professionals to serve on the CUNA Experience Learning Live! Advisory Committee.

"These four members were selected from an incredible group of applicants," said Marlo Foltz, CUNA director of blended learning. "They will be the minds behind the operations and opportunities available at this year's conference."

This year's Advisory Committee members include:

  • Ellen Davis, Gerber FCU, Fremont, Mich.;
  • Melody Fenton, Warren FCU, Cheyenne, Wyo.;
  • Patricia Leach, Achieva CU, Dunedin, Fla.; and
  • M.J. Smyzer, West Community CU, O'Fallon, Mo.
CUNA Experience Learning Live!, which meets Oct. 20-23 in Seattle, is a conference for credit union learning and development professionals. It joins training industry leaders with credit union professionals to share insights and best practices.

The committee will play an integral part in producing session topics, networking opportunities and community awareness. It works until the conference has ended, hosting events, introducing speakers and contributing to the overall on-site experience.

CU System Briefs (04/25/2013)

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  • BISMARCK, N.D. (4/25/13)--Felicity Guerin, development manager of Credit Unions for Kids at the Credit Union National Association, was the call-in guest for the first half hour of the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas Legislative Today radio hour Tuesday night. She shared information about fundraising for a local Children's Miracle Network Hospital, noting credit unions in the Dakotas have raised more than $100,000 for the cause. Dakota credit unions' involvement in CU4Kids jumped the past two years, with 35 credit unions actively supporting the program today. Participation in the Dakotas grew three times faster than any other state last year, she said.  Also, Jeff Olson, CUAD vice president of advocacy and awareness, appeared live and shared information about CUAD's CU Social Good website, dedicated to sharing good things credit unions do for people and their communities every day. In March, the new site had 1,100 website views; so far in April, 1,400 views have been recorded (The Memo April 24) ...
  • DES MOINES, Iowa (4/25/13)--The Iowa Credit Union Foundation awarded $5,750 in scholarships to six Iowa students through the 2013 Warren A. Morrow Memorial Scholarship program.  Four scholarships went to high school students and two to post-high school students. The program received a record 485 applications. Each entrant was required to complete an entry form and write a 500-word essay on the question, "Given the fragile state of  our national economy, with record unemployment and deficits, describe how having an emergency savings account is more crucial than ever. How might someone utilize their credit union to focus on saving?"  First place high school winner of $1,500 is Brandon Walls of Du Trac Community CU, Dubuque. First-place post-high school winner of $1,000 was Samantha Gaffney of Veridian CU, Waterloo ...

GoBankingRates: CUs' Savings Rates Top Local And Big Banks

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (4/25/13)--Credit unions have proved again that they are the better value by topping a new savings rate survey with the best rates. A GoBankingRates survey found that local savings account rates are five times higher than the rates of savings accounts from the 10 biggest banks.

"Depositors on the hunt for better savings opportunities may want to leave their big banks for local alternatives," said GoBankingRates in a press release, noting that the difference in rates between big and local was "staggering."

Credit unions' average savings rate was 0.21% annual percentage yield (APY), the survey found. Local community banks' rate averaged at 0.19% APY, while the big banks averaged 0.04%.

Wall Street banks in the study included J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, U.S. Bancorp, Bank of New York Mellon, NSBC North America Holdings and PNC Financial Services Group. Only Goldman Sachs Group broke the 0.1% benchmark in savings rates.

"This suggests that depositors have a good chance of finding competitive saving account rates among local financial institutions--credit unions or banks--over big national banks," said Casey Bond, managing editor of GoBanking Rates.

Overall, local institutions--credit unions and community banks combined--averaged a 0.20% APY. The survey assessed 3,510 local savings account in GoBankingRates' database.

Providing member value is one of the measures of success toward achieving the strategic vision of Americans choosing credit unions as their best financial institutions. Today consumers save about $6 billion by using the better rates and lower fees of credit unions, according to Credit Union National Association statistics.  For more information about the strategic vision and how to get there, click on the Unite for Good link.

Speaker: 2014 a Watershed Year For Health Care Reform Compliance

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ANAHEIM, Calif.  (4/25/13)--Next year will be a "watershed" time for employers to meet mandates and deadlines related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), two speakers told a CUNA Human Resources and Training and Development Council Conference audience Tuesday in Ahaheim, Calif. Credit unions still have significant work to do to ensure they comply with the law, they said.

Annette Bechtold, senior vice president of regulatory affairs and reform initiatives, Digital Benefit Advisors, and Brad Pricer, senior manager, Employee Benefits Product Management, CUNA Mutual Group, outline health care reform compliance dates related to the Affordable Care Act for attendees at the CUNA HR/TD Council Conference Tuesday in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo provided by CUNA Mutual Group)
Citing the Credit Union National Association's 2012-2013 Credit Union Staff Survey for Human Resources Planning, Brad Pricer, CUNA Mutual Group senior manager, Employee Benefits Product Management, said just 31% of credit unions surveyed are ready for ACA requirements in 2013 and 2014.

"The Department of Labor is now beginning to audit businesses for ACA compliance," Pricer added. "Credit unions should be working with their broker or consultant to stay on top of required mandates."

Pricer co-presented with Annette Bechtold, senior vice president of regulatory affairs and reform initiatives with Digital Benefit Advisors (DBA). CUNA Mutual and DBA announced in February they were working together to provide resources, expertise and education to help credit unions navigate the complexities of ACA and employee benefits strategy.

About 14% of credit unions surveyed are prepared for 2013 ACA requirements. However, 26% indicated they are either not prepared but have a timeline for beginning preparations, or weren't starting preparations until after 2012, Pricer said.

Bechtold reviewed the most critical ACA elements employers must comply with in 2013 and 2014. They include:

  • Ensuring compliance with ACA's nondiscrimination rules regarding favoring highly compensated employees in benefits offered;
  • Understanding whether the health coverage offered to employees is sufficient to avoid penalties where applicable;
  • Ensuring health plans contain all mandated plan requirements; and
  • Meeting reporting requirements.
"It's important credit unions understand what effect 'Play or Pay' penalties have on them if they don't offer certain levels of coverage deemed affordable under health care reform," Bechtold said.

Most credit unions will continue offering health care coverage to employees even after the ACA is fully implemented, Pricer said. "How they offer that coverage will likely change," he added. "They might choose to fund it through a defined contribution approach, or purchase coverage through public or private exchanges."

Health care reform presents credit unions opportunities for potentially funding their health plan offerings, Pricer said. Credit unions may find this allows them to better plan health care costs year over year, while still remaining an employer of choice.

"Ultimately, the decision to offer health care coverage will be driven by affordability and whether it embraces the philosophy of being an employer of choice to recruit and retain the best available talent," Pricer said.

ICU Foundation Awards $52,000 In First-round Grants

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WASHINGTON (4/25/13)--One chapter and 24 credit unions received grants totaling $51,885 to support their Community Service, Marketing and Business Development, and Small Credit Union Development (SCUD) efforts from the Illinois Credit Union Foundation (ICUF) during the first quarter of 2013.

The foundation awarded seven Community Service Grants totalling $3,750 to assist and reward chapters or credit unions that actively support and invest in their local communities. Credit unions and chapters were eligible by hosting an established event, creating an event or volunteering at an already established event.

The Marketing and Business Development grants, totaling $15,500, were awarded to four credit unions. Created in 2006, this grant's objective is to help credit unions with assets up to $30 million to expand their outreach. The maximum grant is $5,000 per credit union per year.

The Small Credit Union Development grants, totaling $32,635, were awarded to 12 credit unions and one chapter. This grant aids small credit unions with purchasing computers, hardware, software, equipment, upgrades and other operational needs. 

ICUF has awarded more than $2.4 million in grants since it was established in 1978.

Illinois credit unions and chapters are still eligible for two more grant request deadlines in 2013--July 31 and Oct. 31. They can apply by downloading a grant request form via the league's website.

Mass League Recommends Fund For Boston Victims

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MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (4/25/13)--The Massachusetts Credit Union League has made a recommendation that credit unions wanting to help victims of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings give to a particular charity--The One Fund-Boston.

"This effort is well-organized, totally focused on the victims of the bombing, and has tremendous oversight and accountability," said the league's website Wednesday (E-Weekly  April 24).

"With their characteristic generosity and concern for others, the credit unions of Massachusetts have been quick to react to the suffering that resulted from the bombings that took place at this year's Boston Marathon," the league said. "A number of credit unions have reached out to the league to see if there was a particular charity or fundraising effort that the credit unions of Massachusetts are supporting."

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino announced the formation of The One-Fund-Boston Inc., which is set up to collect online donations. The website onefundboston.org also provides information for those wishing to contribute by check, the league said.

The fund, as of Wednesday afternoon, had raised nearly $23 million, with more than $6.9 million in public donations and more than $16 million in corporate donations.

Ky Congressman Pledges Support On Tax Status

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (4/25/13)--
U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, center,  (R-Ky.)  recently met with Kentucky Credit Union League's Debbie Painter, executive vice president, and Wendell Lyons, president, to learn more about the regulatory burden on credit unions. Barr reiterated his support for the credit union tax exemption and pledged to work toward regulatory relief, said the league. (Photo provided by the Kentucky Credit Union League)
U.S. Rep Andy Barr (R-Ky.) invited the Kentucky Credit Union League earlier this month for a dialogue on regulatory relief and pledged his support for credit unions' tax-exempt status, said the league.

Barr met with league President Wendell Lyons and Executive Vice President Debbie Painter to discuss the impact of the regulatory burden on credit unions (By The Way April). The meeting was held just before the April 10 House Financial Services subcommittee hearing on examining credit union regulatory burdens.

"It provided a great opportunity to discuss credit unions in great detail," said the league, which provided the congressman more in-depth information about structure, governance, share insurance, liquidity, federal charter and state charter, and community/multiple select employee groups/single sponsors, and "operations from the inside out."

Other issues discussed included intermittence and mortgage rules that are impacting credit unions' ability to serve their members. Barr also had questions about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the National Credit Union Administration and the Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions and their role regulating credit unions.

"Congressman Barr pledged his support for our tax exemption and to work toward regulatory relief," the league's newsletter said. "In addition, he expressed his appreciation and support for the cooperative nature for financial institutions."

The Credit Union National Association has made preserving the tax exemption its top priority.

Barr also used information provided by the league about examples of the negative effect of current rules implemented by the Dodd -Frank Act in his question and comment time during the subcommittee hearing.  Use the link for archived webcast of the hearing.

CNBS International Internship Progresses

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (4/25/13)--A 12-month internship hosted by CNBS has provided Christopher Hamera, a third-year economics student from Africa University in Zimbabwe, an opportunity to learn about credit unions.

Christopher Hamera, a third-year economics student from Africa University in Zimbabwe, is serving a 12-month internship hosted by CNBS, an investment adviser that serves credit unions nationwide. (Photo provided by CNBS)
CNBS is an Overland Park, Kan.-based investment adviser serving credit unions nationwide.

Two days after arriving in the U.S. on Feb. 18 Hamera flew to Washington, D.C., to attend the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC). Jeff Carpenter, CUNA vice president of membership development, arranged a tour of CUNA's Washington, D.C., offices for Hamera during the GAC.

"It was a wonderful experience," Hamera said of the GAC. "I met so many people from credit unions across the U.S. I learned a great deal about America's credit unions, and also the political system, hearing from so many credit union leaders and government officials. It was a good opportunity to learn about the important role credit unions play in the U.S. economy, and I hope to be able to use my experience here to benefit the SACCO system in Malawi."

Malawi, the fifth-poorest country in the world, has a system of 26 credit unions called Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations (SACCOs). Sylvester Kadzola, the president of the Malawian SACCO trade organization, the Malawi Union of Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations (MUSCCO), serves on the board of directors of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU).

"CUNA and WOCCU have been supportive of and helpful to the internship," said Brian Hague, CNBS president/CEO.

Hamera was originally scheduled to arrive in the U.S. in January. "The first challenge was getting Christopher here," Hague said. "We thought we had his visa application process taken care of last summer; but when he went to the embassy to pick it up the week before Christmas, we ran into a snag."

Hague had to re-submit the 35-page application form, followed by a 115-page response to a request for further information, and the visa was approved shortly thereafter.

The four-leg, 35-hour international flight was another first for Hamera, who had never flown before.

Since February, Hamera has been at CNBS, learning more about the credit union movement, and investment and risk management. He completed a week of in-house training, which Hague said was based on coursework from CNBS' Institute Series. Hamera is involved in various projects, including a market peer comparison, assisting in CNBS' accounting department, and preparing daily market information summaries.

Kansas CUs Honor Leaders At Annual Meeting

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Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (center) attended the Governmental Affairs Luncheon Saturday at the 2013 Kansas Credit Union Association's Annual Meeting and Convention in Topeka and addressed questions from credit union staff and volunteers. He is pictured with John Beverlin, left, president/CEO, Mainstreet CU, Lenexa, and Marla Marsh, right, KCUA president/CEO.
WICHITA, Kan. (4/25/13)--The 2013 Kansas Credit Union Association's Annual Meeting and Convention in Topeka last weekend honored five leaders for their contributions to the credit union movement.

The meeting celebrated 78 years of service by KCUA, with the theme "The power of one can make a difference."

"We are proud of the contributions our credit unions make to their communities every day and our theme was a way to illustrate the people helping people philosophy," said Marla Marsh, president/CEO of KCUA. "One person can make a difference, but it's the collaboration and cooperative spirit of many that has changed the financial lives of millions of credit union members."

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback attended the Governmental Affairs Luncheon Saturday and addressed questions from credit union staff and volunteers. Other notable speakers included Lt. Col. Rob Darling, who recounted his first-hand experience witnessing crisis leadership in response to the 911 terrorist attacks. John Tippets shared an inspirational story of survival in Alaska.

Gary Winkler, center, former co-president, Quest CU, Topeka, was presented the Kansa Credit Union Hall of Fame Award for being a leader, advocate and mentor in the Kansas credit union movement, by Jim Holt (left), president/CEO, Mid American CU, Wichita, and Marla Marsh right, KCUA president /CEO, during the 2013 Kansas Credit Union Association's Annual Meeting and Convention. (Photos provided by the Kansas Credit Union Association)

Four credit union leaders were honored at the event:

  • Karen Hamit, CEO, Credit Union of Dodge City (Kan.), received the Henry Peterson Professional of the Year Award, honoring her leadership within the Kansas credit union community.
  • Jim Peebler, Supervisory Committee chair, TECU CU, Wichita, received the John Michener Volunteer of the Year award for his contribution and devotion as a volunteer, both to credit unions and the greater community.
  • Gary Winkler, former co-president, Quest CU, Topeka, was indicted into the KCUA Hall of Fame for his dedication and passion as a leader, advocate and mentor in the Kansas credit union movement.
  • Jane Hammil, chief administrative officer, Credit Union of America, Wichita, received the Political Involvement Award, recognizing her effort and involvement in educating state and national policymakers on the credit union difference.
At the association's business meeting, Don Homan, Frontier Community CU, Leavenworth, was elected to the volunteer seat on the KCUA board of directors.

KCUA board members continuing their terms include:

  • Chairman: Jim Holt, president/CEO,  Mid American CU, Wichita;
  • Vice Chair: Homan;
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Vickie Hurt, president, Quest CU, Topeka;
  • Rick Blue, president/CEO, White Eagle CU, Augusta;
  • Denise Bonner, manager, Wakarusa Valley CU, Lawrence;
  • Larry Damm, president/CEO, Cessna Employees CU, Wichita;
  • Rosa Saenz, senior vice president, Golden Plains CU, Garden City; and
  • Garth Strand, president/CEO, Hutchinson (Kan.) CU.
Shared Financial Solutions board members continuing their terms include:

  • Chairman: Holt;
  • Vice Chair: John Beverlin, president/CEO,  Mainstreet CU, Lenexa;
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Hurt;
  • Rick Blue, president/CEO, White Eagle CU, Augusta;
  • Chuck Bullock, president, TECU CU, Wichita;
  • Brenda Kliewer, manager, McPherson CO-OP CU, McPherson; and
  • LaRae Kraemer, president, Kansas State University FCU, Manhattan.

Connecticut League CEO To Lead FCU

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FITCHBURG, Mass. (4/25/13)--Anthony "Tony" Emerson, president/CEO of The Credit Union League of Connecticut, has been tapped by IC FCU in Fitchburg, Mass., as its new CEO. Emerson will replace retiring CEO Tony Cali.

Emerson, president of the league since March of 2008, said he will remain with the league through June 14 and will start his new position at the $475 million asset credit union on June 17.

"After an extensive national search process and many strong potential candidates, the board feels Tony has the skills and leadership capabilities to take IC FCU to the next level of growth," said IC FCU Board Chairman Ken Stone.

Emerson served as vice president of finance/accounting/operations for Maine Savings FCU, Hampden, Maine, from 2003 to 2008.  He began his credit union career in 2001 at Penobscot County FCU, Old Town, Maine, after serving as an executive with a world-wide manufacturing firm and several years as a contracting officer in the Air Force. He has served on various boards, steering and league committees, and as chapter president for a two-year term.

He has earned degrees in contract law, logistics management and accounting, a master of business administration, and a doctorate in international business, and graduated with high honors from the Academy of Military Science.  He also has consulted the past five years on business strategy and strategic management.

"The board, staff and members are all loyal and dedicated to the success of the credit union," said Emerson. "I look forward to working with all of them well into the future to ensure the continued growth and prosperity of the credit union."