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Oregon association reports CUs soundness at Rogue FCU

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MEDFORD, Ore. (4/30/09)--Oregon's credit unions have seen growing deposits and membership as a result of the nation's best-known banks running aground financially last year. During Rogue FCU's 52nd Annual Meeting April 21 in Medford, Credit Union Association of Oregon CEO Troy Stang noted that Oregon's credit unions during 2008 experienced 2% growth statewide, most of it in the last two quarters, according to a press release from the credit union. Rogue FCU also benefited from the flight from banks. "As members moved more and more of their funds to a safe, local alternative, we saw deposits grow 5.44% or by almost $19 million in 2008," Rogue Federal President/CEO Gene Pelham reported. Pelham assured members that the credit union is well-positioned for the economic difficulties faced in the community. It has more than $38 million in reserves and a net worth ratio of 9.36%, Pelham said. Rogue Federal has more than $439 million in assets and $339 million in its loan portfolio.

Georgia affiliates CUs had 12000 more loans in 08

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COLUMBUS, Ga. (4/30/09)--Consumers don't have to wait until banks ease credit to get a loan in Georgia. There are plenty of credit unions who can meet their needs, says an article in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (April 29). A report released by the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates Tuesday shows the state's 170 credit unions approved 12,000 more loans in 2008, than in 2007. The number of loans approved rose to 360,000 from 348,000, said the paper. In 2008, the credit unions combined loaned $4 billion, down from $4.1 billion the year before. The average loan amount dipped to $11,029 from $11,874. Eric Jenkins, senior vice president of growth services at the affiliates, told the newspaper that during 2008, credit unions have few mortgage applications and car loans and more personal consumer loans. MEA FCU, Columbus, noted that it saw smaller loans last year, but more of them. Members are reluctant to borrow because of fears about jobs, said CEO Polly Bell. The credit union's capital-reserve level is at 18%. In the state, credit unions' average capital reserve rate stands at 14%, well above the 7% minimum required by regulators.

CUNA Mutual flu alert stresses continuity planning

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MADISON, Wis. (4/30/09)--CUNA Mutual Group sent a RISK Alert Tuesday to its policyholders about the swine flu, emphasizing the importance of business continuity planning and disaster plans. "News of the recent Swine Flu outbreak in Mexico and several U.S. cities raises the issue of our industry's preparedness for a pandemic flu," said the alert. "Distinct from many disaster scenarios, the primary concern during a flu pandemic is not for the loss of equipment, operating infrastructure or facilities, but rather for your employees' health and their ability to support your credit union's operations," it said. "It's important to ask, 'Does our business continuity and disaster plan include a pandemic flu response?'" said the alert. It provided these guidelines:
* Review your business continuity/disaster plan to determine the impact long-term illnesses would have on your operations; update your disaster plan accordingly. *Appoint a pandemic leader and/or team with defined roles and responsibilities. * Identify critical functions and employees essential to required operations by location.
* Cross-train employees from multiple locations with minimal face-to-face contact to be able to fill these critical roles.
* Determine which functions could be performed remotely and enable secure access. * Review personnel policies for sick leave compensation and return-to-work procedures. * Share information from public health officials and health care providers including the signs and symptoms of a specific disease outbreak and recommend prevention and control actions.
* Educate your employees about proper health/hygiene procedures. * Encourage good health habits including eating a balanced diet, exercising daily, and getting sufficient rest.
* Collaborate with authorities and leverage their expertise to understand potential threats; invite them to participate in your planning process.
The guidelines are mean to be a sample of activities needed to properly prepare for a pandemic flu. (Editor's Note: CUNA Strategic Services provider Agility Recovery Solutions is sponsoring a "Pandemic Planning--What Steps Can We Take to Prepare?" webinar today at 3 p.m. ET. For more information, use the Agility/CSS resource link.)

18 CUs deliver fin ed during Money Smart Colorado Week

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DENVER (4/30/09)--Eighteen credit unions in Colorado demonstrated their commitment to financial education and community involvement during Colorado’s Money Smart Week. Beginning with a proclamation signed by Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, Money Smart Week Colorado was held last week and offered state residents free events and programs aimed at increasing financial education at all age levels. Nearly half (35 of 84) of the educational events offered statewide were planned and hosted by Colorado credit unions. “Coloradoans saw more credit unions participating in the state’s Money Smart Week than any other financial industry group,” said John Dill, president/CEO, Credit Union Association of Colorado. “Supporting this important financial literacy program is one of the many ways Colorado credit unions invest in our local communities.” The week is aimed at building Coloradoans’ financial knowledge, enabling them to confidently and wisely manage their personal finances. The week is sponsored by Jump$tart Colorado, a non-profit financial education coalition, and is supported by credit unions and other financial institutions, businesses, schools, libraries, non-for-profits, government agencies and local media.

Michigan foreclosure expert testifies in state Senate

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LANSING, Mich. (4/30/09)--In his second appearance before the Michigan Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee, Robert Manning, Ph.D., from the Rochester Institute of Technology, shared findings in his continuing work on Michigan’s foreclosure crisis and pointed out the opportunity for credit unions as a solution.
Robert Manning, Ph.D., briefed the Michigan Credit Union League's Governmental Affairs Conference Wednesday on his research about the foreclosure crisis in Michigan. He also briefed the Michigan Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee on the research, conducted for the Filene Research Institute and commissioned by the Michigan Credit Union Foundation. (Photo provided by the Michigan Credit Union League)
Dr. Manning's presentation Wednesday focused on solutions that work in the shared interests of lenders and borrowers and that would ultimately create new confidence in the mortgage system. “For homeowners, the most important step is to be able to build wealth through increasing the equity in their home,” Manning said. “Vital for all involved parties is rebuilding trust in the homeownership system--specifically that home values are not inflated and the ratings on mortgage-backed securities and other securities are valid. There is an opportunity for credit unions and borrowers to benefit through a shared equity program.” Much of the talk focused on problems that will persist if housing prices continue to operate with a soft floor, meaning that instability in the system will leave both homeowners and mortgage lenders without a sense of the true value of their property. Manning recommends a compromise that redistributes the incentives to keep financial institutions and mortgage holders invested in maintaining the property. He uses a shared-equity approach to spread the risk and incentive between the lender and borrower. Senators, including committee chair Sen. Randy Richarville (R-Monroe), were engaged in the presentation and lent their support to continuing the dialogue between legislators, financial institutions and homeowners. The group agreed that the situation would not solve itself in the short-term, and that the best solutions would involve stabilizing housing prices and giving all parties incentives to avoid foreclosure. Among the points he made are that credit unions are much more likely that other financial institutions to hold mortgages rather than selling them on the secondary market, and that credit unions can be leaders by taking advantage of shared equity, a program that avoids large write-downs that accompany foreclosures and cramdowns and that significantly reduce the principal of a loan. The Filene Research Institute study conducted by Dr. Manning was commissioned by the Michigan Credit Union Foundation. The study is entitled "Keeping People in Their Homes: Policy Recommendations for the Foreclosure Crisis in Michigan."

Corporates Members Health Network ceases operations

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WARRENVILLE, Ill. (4/30/09)--Members Health Network, a stand-alone subsidiary of Members United Corporate FCU, ceased operations as of Monday, the corporate announced on its website. The action has no significant impact on the corporate and does not affect the corporate's ability to serve its member credit unions, the corporate said. Members Health was launched in June 2007 to help credit unions attract Health Savings Accounts to their balance sheets. "Unfortunately, many start-up companies fail to attract enough business during their formative periods," said the corporate. "Oftentimes, market conditions change significantly, causing the best business plans to fail. That was the case for Members Health Network." In February, the corporate said it would not contribute new capital to the subsidiary but would seek credit union ownership to attract member involvement and new capital. However, the subsidiary was unsuccessful in gaining supporters, which the corporate said "is understandable given the costs surrounding the corporate stabilization plan and the uncertainties of a weakened economy." Members Health Network operated as a separate company from the corporate.

Collaboration studied in latest Filene report

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MADISON, Wis. (4/30/09)--Credit unions may be pressed to consider a shift in their operations at a time of turbulence in the financial services industry. The most recent Filene Research Institute report suggests an entirely new model of operation may ultimately emerge. One component of such a shift could be greater collaboration. In “A Road Map for Credit Union Back-Office Collaboration,” Filene examines the potential for a shared back-office utility that would be owned, operated, and governed by several credit unions. Author Michael Taylor, SchellingPoint LLC, developed a road map for large-scale back-office credit union collaboration. Taylor interviewed more than 150 senior executives in small, medium and large credit unions, and consultants, vendors, and credit union trade association executives. His road map has three steps:
* Make the business case: Areas such as compliance, card services, and bulk purchases are prime candidates for collaboration; * Design the collaboration: Consider the various collaborative business model elements, including the right organizational structure and models to scale a collaborative venture; and * Conduct the collaboration: Some interviewees are already engaged in a collaborative credit union venture. The most common issues to arise are partner competency concerns, metrics and measures of success, the fostering and maintaining of partner relationships, and specific technology barriers and enablers.
“This report gives credit unions a tool with which to document the success and failure of existing collaborative ventures through effective case study development,” said Filene Chief Research Officer George Hofheimer. “It also helps them develop business metrics that tie their collaborative efforts to improvement of the member experience and cost savings. And it helps them increase the role of operational excellence. A balance between member service and efficiency needs to be struck, and collaboration may hold the key,” Hofheimer added. He suggested that initial collaborative efforts focus on processes that can be standardized to help multiple credit unions achieve a common, shared goal. The first step of any collaboration, he said, begins with a small step. “This study suggests that large-scale collaboration may be one of the actions necessary to assure long-term survival,” he added. For more information, use the link.

KCUA launches REAL Deal bestows awards

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WICHITA, Kan. (4/30/09)--Kansas credit unions were introduced to the national theme, “Credit Unions are the REAL Deal” at the 74th Annual Meeting and Convention of the Kansas Credit Union Association (KCUA).
Click to view larger image Kansas credit union volunteers assisted Easter Seals Capper Foundation in setting up for its annual fundraising event.
Each participant learned the four pillars of the REAL Deal Outreach Program and the value of expanding their own outreach efforts. REAL Deal was developed by state credit union leagues, the Credit Union National Association and the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) to leverage NCUF’s REAL Solutions program. The program works through state credit union leagues to help them offer services that have proved successful for people of modest means and low wealth. “Our founders took seriously the responsibility of not just creating another bank, but an alternative that would deliver a real deal for consumers,” said Marla S. Marsh, KCUA president/CEO. “The simplicity of an organization run not only for the people it serves, but also by the people it serves creates immeasurable value, especially in today’s marketplace. We have an enormous opportunity to show America the true value of credit unions.”
Eric Bruce accepts the Hall of Fame honor on behalf of his father, Dale Bruce, at the Kansas Credit Union Association awards banquet. (Photos provided by the Kansas Credit Union Association)
In the spirit of the REAL Deal, 20 attendees volunteered for KCUA’s designated charity activity, helping prepare for the Easter Seals Capper Foundation annual fundraiser, “An Evening as a Child.” “Without the members of the KCUA, our event truly could not run as seamlessly as it does,” said Julie Smhra, marketing coordinator for the foundation. In addition to volunteering, KCUA gave awards to three credit union activists for their contribution to the credit union movement. Dale Bruce was honored posthumously as an inductee to the Kansas Credit Union Hall of Fame for his lifetime of contributions to the Kansas movement. Bruce helped credit unions understand the Truth and Lending requirements, and he helped create and implement a system of open-end lending that simplified borrowing for many credit union members. William “Mike” Lackey, chairman of the board of directors of CU 1 of Kansas, was awarded the John Michener Volunteer of the Year Award. During the previous year, he supported innovative changes with a new core computer system, the remodeling of CU 1’s main office in Topeka, and new facility updates in each of the credit union’s branches. Roy Doonan, Credit Union of America, Wichita, was presented the Political Involvement Award for his commitment to Kansas credit unions during the 2008 legislative session and election cycle.

EasCorp conducts conference elects board

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BURLINGTON, Mass. (4/30/09)--Eastern Corporate FCU (EasCorp) provided stories of innovation and insights on how today's economic troubles came about, and elected new board officers at its Partnership Conference and 31st Annual Meeting April 7 in Boston. Keynoters sharing perspectives on how to navigate the financial industry's difficult waters were entrepreneur Arkadi Kuhlmann, president/CEO of ING DIRECT; and economist Robert Litan, vice president for research and policy for Kauffman Foundation. Kuhlmann explained how he led ING DIRECT to become the nation's largest online bank, with 20 million customers worldwide. His key? Developing the company to be a "rebel with a cause," he said. "To do well, you have to think of customers and their beliefs. A company with a cause that turns itself into a self-actualizing brand has a spiritual dimension." Dr. Litan, author and co-author of 25 books and more than 200 articles on government policies affecting financial institutions--including the just-released The Great Squeeze-- lent context to the current financial crisis. "The gasoline that fired this enormous recession was excessive leverage. Everybody had borrowed too much--consumers…Wall Street…the banking system…. And now we're in the middle of a forest fire." The way to get out: "The Fed has giant water hoses," he said. During EasCorp's annual meeting, President Jane Melchionda noted that the current uncertain economy provided a unique backdrop for EasCorp's conference. "Market turmoil isn't new to credit unions--we came into our own during the Great Depression. Now, in the midst of modern upheaval, credit unions will continue to fulfill the mission of helping people of average means with their financial needs. This event provides an opportunity to reaffirm and celebrate what makes our partnership work," she said. EasCorp also elected its 2009 board of directors. Re-elected to three-year terms were Leonard Broderick, president/CEO of Tremont CU, Braintree, Mass., and John Young, president/CEO of New Hampshire FCU, Concord. Other board members are:
* Audrey Phinney, president/ CEO, Bridgewater (Mass.) CU; * James Regan, president/CEO, Digital FCU, Marlborough, Mass.; * Joseph Bean, president/CEO, Hingham (Mass.) FCU; * David Sprague, president/CEO, Hanscom FCU, Bedford, Mass.; and * Stewart Steele, Quincy (Mass.) CU.
Nearly 200 guests representing 84 credit unions attended. The conference was held at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

Ohio league honors three at ZENITH09

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (4/30/09)--Leaders, ideas and cooperative philosophies within the Ohio Credit Union movement were recognized by more than 500 credit union leaders during Ohio’s credit union convention, ZENITH09, last week in Cleveland.
Click to view larger image Claude Clark Political Inspiration Award winner in the individual category Catherine Herring, CEO of Communicating Arts CU, Cincinnati, thanks her board, which considers political advocacy a core responsibility. “Don’t let inexperience prevent you from spending a day at the Statehouse or in Congress,” she said.
Click to view larger image Gary Soukenik, CEO of Seven Seventeen CU, Warren, accepted the Claude Clark Political Inspiration Award in the credit union category. He noted, “numerous legislative issues at both the state and federal levels that impact credit unions’ ability to serve their members. It is clear that we must not only maintain, but step up our efforts to fight for the interests of credit union members throughout Ohio and across the country.”
Click to view larger image Member Development Specialist, Tricia Hale, Ohio University CU, Athens, accepted the Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award on behalf of her credit union. “It is truly rewarding to help the students in our area understand the importance of financial education,” Hale said. (Photos provided by the Ohio Credit Union League)
Catherine Herring, CEO of Communicating Arts CU, Cincinnati, and Gary Soukenik, CEO of Seven Seventeen CU, Warren, received Claude Clark Political Inspiration Awards in the individual and credit union categories, respectively. Ohio University CU, Athens, received the Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award and the Western Buckeye and Cincinnati Chapters each received a Spectacular Chapter Award. Herring was chosen as the 2009 individual recipient for her life-long dedication to credit union advocacy before local, state and federal elected officials. Ohio University CU was recognized for leadership on youth financial literacy. The credit union has worked to inform teachers, school officials, elected officials, the media, and the public about the lack of youth financial education by offering programs like Mad City Money, Bobcat Savings Club, and CU Succeed Teen. After the 75th Ohio Credit Union League annual meeting, the winners of the 2008 Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility and Cutting Edge Marketing Brilliance Awards were announced. They are:
* Kent (Ohio) CU, which helped coordinate a fundraiser called “Hats Off to Hattie,” which raised $4,700 for the Hattie Larlham Foundation, a local non-profit organization for those affected by mental retardation and developmental disabilities; * AurGroup Financial CU, Fairfield, which raised $2,500 for the Butler County Special Olympics by selling Sweets and Hearts (candy and paper hearts) to Fairfield High School students; * Members First CU, Columbus, which created an Owners’ Manual, accentuating the benefits of credit union membership, and differentiating the credit union from for-profit institutions; and * AurGroup Financial CU, which created the Convergence Program, combining classroom presentations with Web-based learning and one-on-one consulting to help the community better understand credit.

Kansas association officers installed rebates dues

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WICHITA, Kan. (4/30/09)--The Kansas Credit Union Association (KCUA) installed four incumbent board members and two new board members, and presented its membership with a 10% dues rebate during its 74th Annual Business Meeting held Friday and Saturday in Topeka, Kan.
U.S. Rep Lynn Jenkins, (R-Kan.), addressed credit unions at the Kansas Credit Union Association annual business meeting held Friday and Saturday. (Photos provided by the Kansas Credit Union Association)
Before the start of the meeting, U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, (R-Kan.) shared insight into the issues before the House Financial Services Committee and expressed her gratitude for the continued support of the credit union movement in Kansas and nationally. In light of the National Credit Union Administration’s recent action to conserve U.S. Central FCU and Western Corporate FCU (WesCorp), the KCUA board of directors presented the membership with a 10% dues rebate to help mitigate the financial impact to Kansas credit unions. “Although Kansas credit unions have seen increases in deposit and loan growth as consumers looked for a trusted financial partner, credit unions now face challenges arising from an economic crisis they did not create,” said K. Erich Schaefer, departing chairman of the KCUA board of directors. “We want to help support each Kansas credit union’s efforts to meet member needs during these trying times.” The following incumbents were re-elected to serve a two-year term on the KCUA board:
* Jim Holt, CEO, Mid American CU, Wichita; * Richard Montgomery, president, Farmway CU, Beloit; * Robert Reeves, board chairman, Kansas State University FCU, Manhattan; and * Jessica Stormann, business development manager, Kansas Super Chief CU, Topeka.
The association also installed two new directors during the annual business meeting:
* John Beverlin, CEO, CU of Johnson County, Lenexa; and * Don Napell, president, Farmers CU, Hays.
The board elected three people to serve on the executive committee:
* Chairman Larry Damm, manager of Cessna Employees CU, Wichita; * Vice-chairman Don Homan, volunteer for Frontier Community CU, Leavenworth; and * Secretary/Treasurer Erich Schaefer, president of Golden Plains CU, Garden City.