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Austin chapter receives CUs for Kids Leadership Award

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (5/1/09)--The Austin Chapter of Credit Unions was awarded the Credit Unions for Kids Leadership Award for outstanding service to the Children's Miracle Network by CO-OP Financial Services during its THINK 09 conference. CO-OP President/CEO Stan Hollen presented the award to chapter President Kelly Atkinson of University FCU. The chapter's credit unions raised nearly $350,000 in 2008 for the Dell Children's Medical Center. The chapter raised $170,000 at an auction party and golf tournament in October, which qualified it for an additional $25,000 from CO-OP's Miracle Match program. In June, Austin credit unions held a raffle and raised another $150,000. CO-OP matched $520,000 in financial support for Credit Unions for Kids last year, said Hollen. In 2008, CO-OP and its member credit unions raised $250,000 with the Miracle Match program. In the program, CO-OP matches up to $1 million in funds raised by credit unions each year. Since 2008, CO-OP and 70 participating credit unions have presented $1.5 million to Children's Miracle Network through the Miracle Match program. This year, more than 110 credit unions are participating in the program. Collectively, credit unions are the third-largest contributor to Children's Miracle Network, raising more than $9 million in 2008.

Sarasota Coastal ends merger talks with MidFlorida

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SARASOTA, Fla., and LAKELAND, Fla. (5/1/09)--Two Florida credit unions--Sarasota Coastal CU of Sarasota and MidFlorida FCU of Lakeland--say they have ended their merger talks. The $235 million asset Sarasota Coastal and the $1.283 billion asset MidFlorida had announced April 8 they were in merger talks. They had expected a regulatory review to be completed by Thursday and had aimed for a merger completion by June 30 (NewsChief.com and Herald Tribune April 29). Under the merger proposal, MidFlorida was to keep its name and Sarasota was to operate as Sarasota Coastal CU. Sarasota President Tom Randle was to become MidFlorida senior vice president of government affairs. MidFlorida did not state a reason in its announcement. Kevin Jones, president/CEO of MidFlorida, told NewsChief.com that he credit union's board had decided to move forward from converting its charter from federal to state to allow it greater flexibility in expanding. Randal told the Herald-Tribune that Sarasota Coastal called off the merger when MidFlorida failed to seat two Sarasota directors on its board.

More info available on disaster pandemic planning

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MADISON, Wis. (5/1/09)--With the cases of swine flu increasing and hurricane season beginning in less than a month, News Now has compiled an updated list of links for credit unions to access information related to disaster recovery and planning and pandemic planning. Overall disaster preparedness:
* Overall Disaster preparedness. This includes pandemic information and a link to the National Credit Union Foundation Disaster Relief Fund.
Pandemic planning:
* CUNA's Disaster Preparedness: Pandemic Information. Includes websites for governmental information, information for individuals and families, prevention posters, business guides, financial services industry advice, pandemic resources and pandemic flu fact sheets. * CUNA Technology Council "Pandemic Planning" white paper provides credit unions with information on social distancing, addressing absenteeism, hygiene matters, connecting with employees, equipping leaders for crisis communication, supporting telecommuting and alternative work arrangements, notifying members about operations and remote options, testing the plan, and links to pandemic Web sites, resources and bibliography. Complimentary to CUNA Council members, non-members pay $50. * CUNA Councils' Disaster/Pandemic Planning White Paper Package. Five white papers contain information on Pandemic Planning; Business Continuity Planning, Trends and Planning; Disaster Preparedness Training; Disaster Communications; and The Lessons of Disaster Recovery. Complimentary to CUNA Council members. Non-members pay $149.
CUNA Strategic Service providers:
* SunGard Systems/CUNA Strategic Service. Business continuity planning software and consulting. * AgilityRecovery Solutions/CUNA Strategic Service. Agility provides business recovery and continuity solutions for credit unions.
Regulatory:
* National Credit Union Administration. *Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance. Provides information on how to go about applying for a disaster loan, available disaster assistance programs, and disaster recovery plans. * RESCU--Relief Effort and Support for Credit Unions. The credit union movement's effort to prepare for and respond to large-scale natural and man-made emergencies and business interruptions.
Credit unions looking for assistance:
* CUAid. Individuals can make donations through this website to benefit credit union employees and members affected by disaster. CUAid is a program with the National Credit Union Foundation. One hundred percent of the donations go to help credit union members and employees in need. * National Credit Union Foundation.
Other links:
* CUNA Mutual Group. CUNA Mutual provides risk alerts and information for policyholders.

Irelands CU movement posts solid 2008 financials

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BELFAST, Ireland (5/1/09)--Ireland credit unions posted solid 2008 financial results, but warned that declining investment values could hurt their performance in 2009. Affiliated credit unions recorded overall growth in assets, loans and membership in 2008, said the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU), which represents 508 credit unions in Ireland (The Belfast Telegraph April 16). Member loans rose for the second year in a row---up 6.7%. In Northern Ireland the average loan was up 6.8% from the previous year, while in Ireland the average loan rose 8.7%. Total credit union assets grew 0.2%, meaning the overall loan-to-asset ratio at the end of 2008 was 50.7%, up from 47.8% a year earlier. Member savings remained stable, the ILCU said. However, Kieron Brennan, chief executive of the ILCU, told the newspaper the economic downturn and writedowns in global investment values will have a negative impact on credit union dividends in the year ahead. “In keeping with accounting procedure and best practice, each individual credit union will have to recognize the current value of its investment assets on its annual financial accounts,” Brennan told the paper. “What it will mean in accounting terms is that the trading surplus for a number of credit unions will be reduced for the 2009 financial year ending in September, and there will be a number that will be unable to pay a dividend next year. “This should not be taken as an indication of any serious problems in the movement generally, rather it is an indication of the very rigid prudential structure in which the movement operates,” he added. “The movement remains financially robust despite its exposure in that area, and the Registrar of Credit Unions has confirmed that fact.”

Loans assets spike at Ohio CUs in 08

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (5/1/09)--Ohio’s 412 credit unions continued to lend amidst a national credit crunch and made significant gains in assets last year, according to a 2008 year-end report by the Ohio Credit Union League. In 2008, loan growth increased more than 7.4%, compared with a negative loan growth in 2007 and an increase in growth of nearly 5% in 2006. Assets grew by nearly 7.4% over the same time period, compared with 1.4% in 2007 and 4.9% in 2006. The loan growth posted by Ohio credit unions was nearly 0.75% higher than the national credit union average. Ohio credit union mortgage originations in 2008 rose 29.2% despite a weak housing market, which saw home sales fall 13.1% in the state. While auto sales also continued to slow, outstanding auto loans at Ohio credit unions bucked the trend, posting a 4.8% growth in 2008. “It is apparent that more and more Ohioans have turned to not-for-profit financial institutions for lending as other institutions reduced credit,” said Paul Mercer, president of the league. “Our cooperative approach to financial services allows us to weather economic decline. Credit unions are safe, sound and secure, and our capitalization levels are nearly double the regulatory requirement.” Capital levels at Ohio credit unions remain strong, with the average net worth-to-assets ratio at more than 12.1%--higher than the national average of 10.9%. Credit unions with a ratio at or above 7% are considered well-capitalized. Loan delinquencies rose slightly in 2008 to 1.32%, still below the national average of 1.37% and well below the national bank average of 2.01%. Membership in Ohio credit unions declined -.03%, with the total number of credit union members in Ohio at more than 2.6 million. Year-end data from 2007 and 2006 shows similar membership growth, declining 2.8% and 1.3%, respectively. The stagnant membership growth is attributed to an increase in credit union mergers--19 in Ohio in 2008--and slower population growth. The average credit union in Ohio has more than 6,300 members, nearly $45 million in assets, and more than $28 million in loans. Ohio credit unions employ more than 6,800 Ohioans, who receive more than $138.5 million in annual compensation combined.

Iowa Discovering Untapped Markets meets next week

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DES MOINES, Iowa (5/1/09)--The third annual Discovering Untapped Markets Conference to help Iowa credit unions examine how financial education can be used to reach underserved communities will be held Tuesday and Wednesday in Des Moines. The program features Sharon Lechter, financial education advocate and co-author of the best-seller Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and the Rich Dad series. Lechter will share her views on teaching children and adults to take control of their personal finances. “Many people need accurate information about personal finance, and we are very excited to hear our experts’ insight and knowledge first hand,” said Marybeth Foster, executive director of the Iowa Credit Union Foundation. “The goal is to have our attendees take away some new ideas and tools for their credit union to implement.” Also, a panel of financial experts will discuss “Youth Financial Education and the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy Report” and conduct sessions on how to reach underserved groups such as the disabled and immigrants. Ferzana Hashmi of Hashmi Law Firm in Des Moines and Coopera Consulting will discuss the U.S. naturalization process to help participants better understand the experience that many unbanked Hispanics and other immigrants go through. Coopera Consulting’s presenter “will demonstrate the importance of personal finance and reaching out to untapped and underserved markets in Iowa to help credit unions create loyalty among these audiences,” said Warren Morrow of Coopera Consulting.

Make most of CU advantage Russian CUs told

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SOCHI, Russia (5/1/09)--Russian credit unions suffering the effects of the global economic crisis can learn from problems that plagued financial institutions in the U.S., said a delegation of U.S. credit union executives last week at the Third Russian Credit Union Forum.
Click to view larger image Speaking at the Russian CU League annual general meeting were, from left, Rod Taylor, president/CEO, Barksdale FCU, Bossier City, La.; Anne Cochran, president/CEO of the Louisiana Credit Union League; and Eric Richard, executive vice president and general counsel of the Credit Union National Association. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
The delegation included Anne Cochran, president/CEO of the Louisiana Credit Union League and member of the World Council of Credit Unions' board; Eric Richard, executive vice president and general counsel of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), and Rod Taylor, president/CEO of Barksdale FCU, Bossier City, La.. The three-day forum was sponsored by the Russian Credit Union League (RCUL) and took place at Sochi, a city on the Black Sea. "This is a tough time for U.S. credit unions, as it is for financial institutions worldwide," said Cochran, "If we in this room have any advantage over our competitors, it is that we represent financial institutions that are member-owned and member-operated." The Louisiana league has partnered with the Russian league in WOCCU's International Partnerships Program since September 2007. In addition to updating attendees about WOCCU, Cochran spoke about good governance and the importance of strong supervisory oversight.
CUNA's Eric Richard described U.S. credit union challenges to 160 credit union leaders attending the Russian Credit Union League annual general meeting.
"U.S. credit unions face a complicated situation," CUNA's Richard told the forum attendees. "We did not contribute to the current crisis, but we are suffering collateral damage from it." He noted that in the U.S., CUNA has been "urging credit unions to take a calm and restrained approach to the situation." Richard also outlined in detail the struggle U.S. credit unions currently face and drew parallels between the U.S. and Russian situations. Taylor addressed the importance of capital and the value of member ownership. Other session topics included: developing a cooperative network, managing diversity, and accounting and taxation issues facing cooperative systems. The three delegates expressed cautious optimism about the strength and stability of credit unions, noting signs that an economic turnaround may be forthcoming. "Patience and wisdom are the orders of the day," Richard said. "We are just beginning to see some small signs of possible recovery in the economy. Our goal is to hang on as the environment improves." Cochran agreed. "It is my hope that through our combined strength, credit unions will continue serving members well no matter what economic issues come to bear on the global credit union movement." More than 160 credit union leaders from Russia and several neighboring countries attended the forum, which covered subjects such as external regulation and self-regulation, legislation, accounting, taxation and governance in crisis situations. Before the forum, Cochran met with Vadim Kalinichev, RCUL CEO, to help the league develop strategies to face new challenges. RCUL, a member organization of WOCCU, offers services such as loan and savings insurance, and regional credit union association development. It has 160 credit union members and eight credit union association members that collectively serve more than 268,000 members.

Americas CU Conference adds pressing-issues sessions

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MADISON, Wis. (5/1/09)--With so many fast-changing legislative, regulatory and economic issues now on credit unions' front burners, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has added a new slate of sessions to the already packed America's Credit Union Conference and Expo, scheduled for June 21-24 in Boston. "This is one of the most difficult years most professionals will ever have to face in a lifetime of credit union involvement," said Dan Mica, CUNA president/CEO. "The issues seem to change almost daily, and the information needed to be proactive is in a constant state of change, which is why we felt it was important to add these sessions to help prepare credit unions for the balance of this year and next," he added. New breakout sessions will include:
* Critical issues update with CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica; * Legislative/regulatory update--covers key credit union policy issues including spreading out credit unions' costs associated with the corporate credit union network, bankruptcy, regulatory restructuring, and interchange fee income; * TARP 101--analyzes the Treasury Department's Troubled Asset Relief Program for banks and its impact on credit unions; * Net worth restoration plan primer--explores the issues behind developing a restoration plan and what it means in terms of restoring net worth; * Facing up to problems in the Credit Union System--examines the future of corporate credit unions, the National Credit Union Administration's approach to assisting them, and the effect on credit unions; * "How to" on the Obama mortgage modification plan; and * New examination issues.
For more information or to register for the America's Credit Union Conference and Expo, use the resource link.