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Small businesses urge passage of MBL bill

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MADISON, Wis. (5/1/12)--Small businesses continue to write to news outlets, urging the passage of a bill in Congress that would raise credit unions' member business lending (MBL) limit to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%.

One of the latest example of small businesses stepping up to urge passage of Senate Bill 2231, the Credit Union Member Business bill, is featured in an Iowa newspaper, The Cedar Rapids Gazette, which on Sunday published, "Credit union came through when banks wouldn't," written by Robert H. Sternowski.

Sternowski, a former engineer and manager at Rockwell Collins, retired in 2003 after 34 years and started a small business in aerospace electronics. "We were strictly a 'bootstrap' startup: zero capital, three engineers, a rented store front, and used furniture and equipment," Sternowski wrote.  The company performed electronic design and prototype work for the government/military market. It grew. It received an opportunity to manufacture what it was designing, which would mean more profits, but it could not take the effort "unless we could get a loan or line of credit to finance the work for our orders.

"I went to the local banks--and was scoffed at by all. The reasons: You don't have 100% collateral, purchase orders are meaningless, the net worth of the company is too little, you are in the high-risk government business, and you have no track record. Basically every excuse in the book was thrown at me," Sternowski wrote. "All I wanted was a 90- to 120-day note in the amount of $300,000 to finance inventory and build costs for an approved blue-chip purchase order in hand."

He turned to Collins Community CU, where he had been a member for 30 years. "They were willing to work with me, listened, offered suggestions, and finally gave me the line of credit I desperately needed to pull off the manufacturing order. We completed that order, and that was our stepping stone for further growth. We are now 25 people and going strong in a new, larger facility."

Today he receives "cold calls from many of the local banks offering the moon in loans and services. They, of course, ask who our bank is, and when I tell them, they denigrate credit unions. I politely answer: I'm sorry, You made your own bed, now sleep in it. I already have a really good financial partner, and no one can prove to me otherwise."

Sternowski's op-ed piece was so powerful that he received an e-mail from another small business owner who read it, said the Iowa Credit Union League. The e-mailer said he too had been bounced around by the banks and that the next time he needs a loan, he'll go to a credit union.

Iowa newspapers have featured 11 op-eds, letters to the editors, and articles about the MBL issue since March 31, said the league. Many were from small businesses like Sternowski's supporting credit unions because of similar stories.

Illinois league awards announced (04/30/2012)

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (5/1/12)--The Illinois Credit Union League's (ICUL) 82nd Annual Convention provided a forum for recognizing several credit unions and individuals.

They included:

Desjardins Financial Education Awards. Scott CU, Collinsville, in both the youth and new adult categories, for credit unions with more than $500 million in assets.

Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Awards.  First-place winners were:

  • Streator (Ill.) Onized CU, $100 million to $200 million in assets. The credit union also placed second in the national competition.
  • GCS FCU, Granite City, $200 million to $500 million;
  • Scott CU, Collinsville, more than $500 million.
Illinois Hall of Fame Inductee. Jack Teausant, CEO of Financial Plus CU, Ottawa.

Illinois Credit Union Foundation Commemorative Awards. Donald Edwards, ICUL senior vice president, federal governmental affairs, was honored with a tribute award. Also, a repeat memorial scholarship in memory of George G. Burnett was recognized. The award was made possible with a gift from 1st Mid America CU, Bethalto.

Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Award. Only credit unions in the more than $250 million to $1 billion assets category competed this year. The first-place winner was Scott CU, Collinsville.

Also acknowledged were the many individuals, credit unions and chapters who contributed more than $364,000 to the Credit Union Political Action Council and who assisted the Illinois Credit Union Foundation in providing nearly $129,000 in grants and scholarships in 2011.

With a sports theme of "Get in the Game!" the ICUL Annual Convention saw more than 650 executives representing 120 credit unions attending.

Wash. DFI names Lacy-Roberts as CU division program manager

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (5/1/12)--The Washington State Division of Credit Unions has promoted Doug Lacy-Roberts to program manager, effective today.

Lacy-Roberts, who has been with the division for 12 years, will succeed Mike Delimont, who is retiring, said the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) (Anthem April 24).

Previously, Lacy-Roberts supervised six examiners and was instrumental in the division's examination and supervision program. He also worked for seven years as a credit specialist for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. during the savings and loan crisis in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The division is within the Washington Department of Financial Institutions and is directed by Linda Jekel, who said that Lacy-Roberts "has a reputation of being fair with credit unions and is a great resource for examiners."

First Carolina Corporate reports strong financials

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (5/1/12)--First Carolina Corporate CU in Greensboro, N.C., reported 2011 earnings of $5.2 million--more than twice its original budget projections.

Retained earnings were $8.4 million, for a ratio of 0.53%, which surpassed the National Credit Union Administration's (NCUA) October 2013 required threshold of 0.45%.

First Carolina also exceeded NCUA's requirement of total capital--4% by October 2011--at 5.20% at year-end 2011, based on 12-month rolling average assets. Calculated on December 2011's average assets alone, the ratio is 6.10%.

Year-end assets were $1.45 billion, compared with $1.918 billion in 2010. The drop was intentional, based on its capital restoration plan, said the corporate.

"Our strategy called for moving a portion of members' deposits off balance sheet, allowing us to maintain average assets at a target managed level of $1.5 billion," said David Brehmer, president/CEO of the corporate. "The off-balance-sheet funds are completely liquid and accessible on a daily basis, earning the same rate as if they were to stay on our balance sheet. Taken together, members' on- and off-balance-sheet deposits were flat in 2011."

Other initiatives in 2011 included First Carolina's new Private Label Student Loan Solution, provided through an exclusive arrangement with Campus Door, said Brehmer. The program gives credit unions an affordable, customizable way to help their members pay costs of higher education, said the corporate.

First Carolina focused on new product development and transitioning services from U.S. Central Bridge FCU to other platforms. First Carolina, which had previously planned to eliminate operational dependencies on U.S. Central, has nearly completed the process.

The corporate will hold its annual meeting in Pinehurst, N.C., in June, where it will elect board members and committee chairpersons.

CUs can tap into social media mobile access

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MADISON, Wis. (5/1/12)--Two recent reports by Corporate Insight and Infosys indicate the importance of social media and mobile banking, respectively, to financial services companies, including credit unions.  

: Posting photos from company-sponsored events;

5. Corporate Mascots: Using pin boards to highlight a mascot's proprietary imagery;  

6. Contests: Holding contest to monitor public sentiment; and  

7. Charitable Giving: Chronicling  philanthropy to accentuate a company's charitable initiatives.

Concerning mobile banking, an Infosys study released Thursday found 94% of survey respondents said conducting financial services operations on their mobile phone is easy (PRNewsWire April 26). 

Also, 77% think conducting financial transactions of mobile phone is more convenient than traditional forms of banking However, only 42% surveyed said mobile banking is reliable.

Other findings of the Infosys survey indicate:

  • Nearly half (45%) of consumers who do not use online banking believe that mobile banking is "experimental" or "dangerous," and more than a third (38%) say it is "scary."
  • While 60% of consumers who do not use mobile banking cite a lack of confidence in the protection of their personal or financial data as a top concern, nearly the same percentage  (55%) share private information when updating their Facebook status on smart phones.
  • Nearly 80% of all consumers like the mobile banking benefit of 24-hour access to their account, 48% are happy with the speed of service, and 46% are satisfied with ease of log in.
  • Reviewing data and balancing checking accounts are the most useful features of mobile banking (both cited by 71% of consumers), followed closely by having account accuracy with the same information from Web to mobile device (69%).
  • About 42% of consumers cite the ability to communicate with customer service as a useful benefit of mobile banking.
To read the reports, use the links.

Budet elected by acclamation to CUNA Board

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MADISON, Wis., and WASHINGTON (5/1/12)--Tony C. Budet, president of University FCU, Austin, Texas, has been elected by acclamation to the open Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Board seat in District 5, Class 5, CUNA announced Monday.

The seat was vacated when Harriet May, former CUNA Board chairman and former CEO of GECU, El Paso, Texas, announced her retirement.

Budet will begin his term immediately and will serve through the 2014 Annual General Meeting. District 5 is comprised of leagues in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

Global womens forum announces keynoters

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MADISON, Wis. (5/1/12)--The Global Women's Leadership Forum in Gdańsk, Poland, will convene on July 15 in conjunction with the World Credit Union Conference to address issues facing credit unions today, including finding ways to better differentiate credit unions from their competition and providing a greater understanding of international credit union development work.

Click to view larger image The Global Women's Leadership Forum will meet during the World Credit Union Conference in Gdańsk, Poland . Attendees gathered in Glasgow, Scotland last summer for the 2011 Global Women's Leadership Forum. (Photo provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
During the forum, participants will meet with branding expert Jiao Zhang, a partner with Attune LLC, a marketing research and strategy firm that focuses on return on investment; and international development professional Gabriela Zapata, consultant for the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor.

Zhang will explore how credit unions can do a better job with brand differentiation, while Zapata will provide an inside glimpse into international development and women's issues, specifically why the role of credit unions is crucial to both developed and developing countries.

Despite operating in different environments, women in the network face similar leadership challenges at their credit unions and together find insight and strategic solutions.

Prior to the event, on July 14 the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions will host a charity golf tournament benefiting the Global Women's Leadership Network at the Sierra Golf Club in Petkowice, Poland, hosted by presenting sponsor CO-OP Financial Services.

The Global Women's Leadership Network, co-founded by World Council of Credit Unions and the Canadian Co-operative Association, provides women the opportunity and resources to make a measureable difference in each other's lives, and in their credit unions and communities. The international network engages members with professional and personal development through social media and educational forums, and provides the tools for women to connect and seek confidential advice from their peers.

CU System briefs (04/30/2012)

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  • COLUMBIA, S.C. (5/1/12)--Ernest "Dizzy" Felkel of Hartsville, S.C., was named South Carolina Palmetto Protégé April 20 by the South Carolina Credit Union League.  Felkel will serve one year as statewide spokesperson for young adults and the opportunities credit unions provide them. Felkel, marketing and member education coordinator at SPC CU, Hartsville, will use social media and appearances at credit union events including chapter meetings and the fall league Leadership Conference to tout credit unions. He also will establish and lead a Young Professional Initiative group to foster peer development and the ongoing Palmetto Protégé Competition.  Other finalists for protégé were Patty Bivens, marketing manager, CPM FCU, North Charleston; Katie Matthews, member service representative, Secured Advantage FCU, Simpsonville; and Jay Montgomery, branch manager, SAFE FCU, Sumter …
  • FAIRBORN, Ohio (5/1/12)--Fairborn, Ohio-based Wright-Patt  CU (WPCU) has received approval from the state to expand its field of membership to include Hamilton County as a community group.  This will enable the $2.3 billion asset credit union to serve individuals who live, work, worship, and/or attend school in the county. WPCU has two locations in the area. The expansion will allow the credit union to better serve greater Cincinnati  and "represents our commitment to our growing membership in the area," said WPCU President/CEO Douglas Fecher …
  • MIAMI, Fla. (5/1/12)--A former Miami policewoman and former president of the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association has pleaded guilty in a U.S. District Court in Miami to embezzling at least $210,664 from the association's funds by making withdrawals from the group's credit union accounts .  Vernell Reynolds, 46, who served as president of the association from 2005 to 2010, faces 12-18 months in prison; an order to repay the amount stolen; and surrender of her law enforcement license (The Miami Herald April 25) …

Minn. FIC names 22 CU recipients of scholarships

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (5/1/12)--The Family Involvement Council (FIC), a committee of the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation (MNCUF), awarded $12,000 in scholarships to 22 individuals for the 2012-2013 school year.

The scholarship program is the focus of FIC's mission to provide financial awareness to families and to further the education of Minnesota credit union members. Scholarship applicants submit information about their extra-curricular activities and accomplishments, and an essay on an FIC-selected topic.

Two $1,000 Harvey Bakke scholarships and 20 $500 scholarships were awarded this year to college students in traditional (high school seniors entering college) and non-traditional categories.

"We had a great response to our scholarship program this year, and the insightful responses to the essay question made it tough to choose our winners," said Bridget Moeller, FIC Chair. "The quality of applicants we have each year makes it clear that credit union members in Minnesota care about their education and the credit unions they belong to."

The winners of the $1,000 scholarships were Bobbi Seibert of Members Cooperative CU, Cloquet, in the traditional category, and Ann Anderson of Affinity Plus FCU, St. Paul, in the non-traditional category.

The winners of the $500 scholarships were:

Traditional recipients                   
  • Stephanie Besst, Electrus CU, Brooklyn Center;                                       
  • Annamarie Brennhofer, SPIRE FCU, Falcon Heights;                                          
  • Megan Hallstrom, Minnco CU, Cambridge;                                                    
  • Bethany Leraas, Central Minnesota FCU, Melrose;                               
  • Elizabeth Peterson, US FCU, Burnsville;                                                         
  • Morgan Savage, Mayo EFCU, Rochester;                                                       
  • Renee Schminkey, Greater Minnesota CU, Mora;                           
  • Kristen Springman, Affinity Plus FCU, St. Paul;
  • Skyler Vold, SouthPoint FCU, Sleepy Eye; and                                  
  • Brandon Vuong, Richfield (Minn.) Bloomington CU.         

Non-traditional recipients   

  • Rachel Brixius, Central Minnesota FCU, Melrose;      
  • Angela Bury, General Mills FCU, Minnetonka;  
  • Katherine Ginkel, General Mills FCU;    
  • Eric Marshall, Great River FCU;
  • Lindsay Ortlip, Hiway FCU, Saint Clound;     
  • Alex Reid, Collegeville Community CU, Saint Joseph; 
  • Elise Riveness, Hiway FCU, St. Paul;             
  • Austin Ruud, TopLine FCU, Maple Grove;   
  • William Schultze, Minnesota Valley FCU, Mankato; and
  • Stefanie Skalicky, Greater Minnesota CU.

In their essays, applicants answered the question, "What impact has social media had on your financial decisions and how could credit unions use these tools to help you with your financial goals?"

Funds for the FIC's scholarship program are raised each year during the committee's silent auction, which is held during the Minnesota Credit Union Network's annual meeting and convention.

March mergers continue trend

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WASHINGTON (5/1/12)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) announced 21 mergers in March, citing six primary reasons for the consolidations.

Among the reasons cited for the mergers were expanded services, poor financial conditions, poor management, lack of sponsor support, lack of growth and loss of field of membership.

Credit Union National Association statistics show 14 mergers of affiliated credit unions took place in March, and a total of 54 mergers of affiliated credit unions had taken place year to date through March. That compares with 61 mergers of affiliated credit unions year-to-date in 2011.

NCUA approved the following mergers:

  • Anne Arundel Co. Employees CU, with $82 million assets, Millersville, Md., into $2.2 billion State Employees CU of Maryland, Linthicum, Md.
  • Sparks (Nev.) City Employees FCU, with $13 million assets, into $103 million asset Great Basin FCU, Reno, Nev.
  • Filene FCU,  with $19 million assets, Boston, into $621 million Webster First FCU, Worcester, Mass.
  • Connecticut Energy Employees FCU, with $3 million assets, Bridgeport, Conn., into $234 million asset Mutual Security FCU, Shelton, Conn.
  • Valleystone CU, with $65 million in assets, Willbraham, Mass., into $412 million asset Polish National CU, Chicopee, Mass.
  • Dixiecon FCU, with $227,000 in assets, Richmond, Va., into $28 million asset Hopewell (Va.) Chemical FCU.

  • McKinley Memorial FCU with $79 million in assets, Willow Grove, Pa., into $532 million asset Freedom CU, Warminster, Pa.
  • St. Agnes Hospital FCU, with $4 million in assets, Fresno, Calif., into $1.9 billion asset Educational Employees CU, also of Fresno.
  • Intext Employees FCU, with $1 million assets, Scranton, Pa., into $165 million asset NET FCU, also of Scranton.
  • Kingdom FCU, with $415,000 in assets, Norfolk, Va., into $375 million asset ABNB, Chesapeake, Va.
  • East Bay Postal FCU, with $8 million assets, Oakland, Calif., into $187 million asset Pacific Postal CU, San Jose, Calif.

  • Wilberforce University FCU, with $148,000 in assets, into $84 million asset Heartland FCU, Dayton, Ohio.
  • West Ohio United Methodist Conference CU, with $20 million in assets, Cincinnati, into $56 million asset, East Ohio Methodist CU, North Canton, Ohio.
  • Area West FCU, with $273,000 in assets, Houston, into $39 million Transtar FCU, also of Houston
  • HHA FCU, with $929,000 in assets, Houston, into $33 million $33 million asset Space City CU, also, of Houston.
  • Ely (Minn.) Steel workers CU, with $799,000 in assets, into $31 million asset Northridge Community CU, Hoyt Lakes, Minn.

  • Bilt-Well CU, with $922,000 in assets, Dubuque, Iowa, into $28 million asset Holy Ghost Parish CU, also of Dubuque.
  • Hometown CU, with $7 million in assets, Quincy, Ill., into $51 million asset United Community CU, also of Quincy.
  • Madison V.A. Employees' CU with $2 million in assets, Madison, Wis., into $120 million asset Dane County CU, also of Madison.
  • Tower CU, with $45 million in assets, Wausau, Wis., into $356 million asset Connexus CU, also of Wausau.
  • Metro CU with $30 million in assets, Superior, Wis., into $77 million asset Hermantown (Minn.) FCU.