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SECU launches controlled-spending accountcard

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RALEIGH, N.C. (4/7/10)--State Employees' CU, Raleigh, N.C., is offering members a new account/card option to help them manage their spending--a Cash Points Global (CPG) account. Cash Points Global is a controlled spending account with electronic-only access through the card. It has no checks or paper statements. Transactions are limited to the available funds in the account, so there is no risk of nonsufficient fund or overdraft fees, said SECU. The card is ideal for travelers, frequent online shoppers, students and those without a traditional checking account, said the $19.6 billion asset credit union in a press release. The CPG account/card--with a $1 per month fee that is routed to the SECU Foundation, the credit union's charitable giving arm--can be used anywhere a Visa logo is displayed and at any of SECU's 1,100 Cash Points ATMs. Leanne Phelps, senior vice president of SECU's card and record services, said the credit union opened more than 700 CPG accounts before announcing the service to its membership, which indicates a "strong positive response" to the product.

Canadian island loses its only FI with CU shuttered

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DEER ISLAND, N.B. (4/7/10)--Residents of a small island in the Bay of Fundy off the coast of New Brunswick have lost their only financial institution after a credit union was shuttered Thursday when it couldn't recover from fraud. The Deer Island Credit Union had been on the island for 28 years but had not recovered from losing $1.7 million to fraud during several years. It had recovered $1.3 million of the stolen funds, but the credit union had difficulty staying profitable, said the credit union's regulator, the Risk Management Agency (CBC News April 6). It will be merged with the Charlotte County CU in St. George so residents can make their financial transactions in St. George or St. Stephen. That means the 1,000 Deer Island residents must take a 20-minute ferry trip to the mainland and then drive another 20 minutes to the credit union. Two employees have been transferred to the mainland branch. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the fraud case is closed. An employee suspected of the thefts was never charged and has since died, said CBC News. This isn't the first time residents of a Bay of Fundy island lost their credit union. Last year, Campobello Island's credit union shut down and residents had to endure a 200-kilometre round trip drive that crossed the Canadian-U.S. border four times, said the article.

Georgia CU members benefits reflect nations trend

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ATLANTA (4/7/10)--Georgia credit union members saved almost $130 million in 2009 from higher interest rates on savings accounts, fewer fees on credit cards and lower interest rates on loans, according to the latest tracking index from Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA). The state’s statistics reflect the national trend, said the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). Georgia credit unions last year provided almost $130 million in direct benefits to the state’s 1.8 million credit union members--or $74 per member and $141 per member household--compared with other Georgia banking institutions. Also, interest rates for a number of loan options remained lower in 2009 for credit union members (PRNewswire April 6). CUNA’s Economics and Statistics department estimates that credit unions provided nearly $7.3 billion in direct financial benefits to the nation’s roughly 90 million members during the 12 months ending in December. These benefits are equivalent to an average of $81 per member or $154 per member household. Credit union per-member and per-household benefits are substantial, CUNA said. The total benefits provided are divided across all members--or all member households--even those who conduct very little financial business with credit unions. High-use or loyal members households that use a broad range of credit union services save much more on average, CUNA said. The Georgia Credit Union Benefits Index--based on data collected during December 2009--is the latest installment of an ongoing report updated on a semiannual basis. The report--which uses data compiled from more than 160 Georgia credit unions and banking institutions from Datatrac, a rate survey firm--serves as a metric to help Georgia consumers make more informed personal financial decisions. “Credit union usage continues to translate into substantial savings for Georgians,” said Michael Mercer, GCUA president/CEO. “Many Georgia consumers are switching to credit unions because savings are funneled back directly to our members, providing a direct and positive impact to their wallets. The index also reinforces that the total financial benefit of being part of a credit union is even more substantial to members who use them for multiple financial needs.” The Georgia report also found that:
* Credit unions granted more than 352,000 loans to Georgians in 2009, compared with 368,000 in 2008; * Loans granted totaled more than $4.3 billion in 2009, compared with $4 billion in 2008; * While the number of loans granted decreased from 2008 to 2009, the average loan amount was slightly higher in 2009--$12,235 in 2009, compared with $11,029 in 2008; * The majority of loans generated by credit unions were for consumer purchases, especially for used vehicles, but also for new vehicles, home mortgages, home equity lines of credit and credit cards; * Lower average interest rates on loans issued by Georgia credit unions saved members a total of $53.3 million compared with bank rates; * Higher interest rates on savings products yielded $42.2 million to credit union members’ accounts compared with banks. * Fewer and lower fees for credit union members totaled $34.3 million in savings benefits compared with banks.
For more CUNA information, use the link.

CU System briefs (04/06/2010)

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* WASHINGTON (4/7/10)--Those who can't travel to the 38th Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run Sunday can go online at about 7:15 a.m. to watch the opening ceremonies, the elite women runners and the elite male runners take off, and the winners crossing the finish line. The organizers arranged for a live video streaming at the start/finish line so viewers can catch a glimpse of their friends and co-workers among the 15,000 runners. Viewers can support the race's fundraising by buying a commemorative running t-shirt, "Snuggle Up for Kids." Proceeds will go to the Children's Miracle Network hospitals. For more information about the run use the link ... * SAN DIMAS, Calif. (4/7/10)--Western Corporate FCU (WesCorp) Senior Vice President of Pacific Operations Rand Yamasaki will depart WesCorp on April 23 for a position as executive vice president and chief financial officer of Aloha Pacific FCU, based in Honolulu. Yamasaki served as president/CEO of Pacific Corporate FCU from January 1998 to December 2003. He also has held senior management positions with Hawaii State FCU, Honolulu City and County Employees FCU, and Honolulu Police FCU since 1982. Yamasaki also taught credit union accounting courses for 13 years for the Hawaii Credit Union League and provided expertise in strategic planning, asset-liability management and board governance. At the $620 million-plus asset Aloha Pacific, Yamasaki will be responsible for the finance, information technology, electronic services and support services divisions. WesCorp President/CEO Philip Perkins said WesCorp will begin a search for a successor to oversee its Pacific operations ... * LANSING, Mich. (4/7/10)--Berrien Teachers' CU, headquartered in Saint Joseph, Mich., and Otsego Paperworkers CU, Otsego, Mich., a $2.2 million asset credit union, plan to merge, pending approval from regulators, said the Michigan Credit Union League. Members of the Otsego Paperworkers CU voted in support of the merger, said Berrien Teachers' CU CEO Scott McFarland. The merger will result in a $280 million asset credit unions with more than 26,000 members, serving Allegan, Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties (Michigan Monitor April 4) ... * FREMONT, Ohio (4/7/10)--A woman has been charged with embezzling about $101,000 from Fremont (Ohio) FCU. Michelle M. Wehring, 36, is being charged with the embezzlement, which occurred between roughly June 15, 2005, and Sept. 8, 2008, according to the U.S. Attorney's office for the Northern District of Ohio (Targeted News Service March 25). No other information was released ... * ALBANY, N.Y. (4/7/10)--The Credit Union Association of New York will award $13,500 to 20 college-bound students as part of its annual Scholarship Program. Each applicant must be a member of a participating New York credit unions. This year, the 10-year-old program will award five $1,000 scholarships and 15 scholarships of $500 each. Ninety-six credit unions participated, submitting 1,593 applications. The winners came from 12 of the association's 14 chapters. Many chapters and credit unions also are awarding their own scholarships in conjunction with the association's programs. Winners of the $1,000 scholarships are: Alexis Glennon, Arlington Heights, Ill., member of Quorum FCU; Adam James Stewart, Barton, N.Y., member of Visions FCU; Julia Catherine Calagiovanni, Syracuse, member of Empower FCU; John David Mihovics, Nanuet, member of Palisades FCU; and Sharon Elizabeth Hartzell, Binghamton, member of Visions FCU ... * PITTSFIELD, Mass. (4/7/10)--Greylock FCU and its employees raised $106,613--a record--during the credit union's annual United Way drive. Employees raised $76,613 through pledges, raffles, flower sale, bingo night and other functions--a 9.5% increase over last year. Their contributions were added to the corporate support total of $30,000. Greylock partnered with Johnson Ford Lincoln Mercury Nissan to donate a car raffled off in support of United Way. The raffle winner was Mayor James Ruberto, who chose the cash option, and in honor of his late wife Ellen Ruberto, split the money between Berkshire United Way and The Colonial Theatre. From left are Gary Johnson of Johnson Ford; Kristine Hazzard of Berkshire United Way; Mayor James Ruberto; and Angelo Stracuzzi, president of Greylock FCU. (Photo provided by Greylock FCU) ...

CUs help youth prepare for a secure future

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MADISON, Wis. (4/7/10)--President Barack Obama and several governors Monday proclaimed April as Financial Literacy Month. However, credit unions nationwide already are active in at least one financial literacy area--helping youth prepare for a secure financial future.
Click to view larger image Kim Watson (right) of The County FCU, Caribou, Maine, helps a student with his food budget at the Financial Fitness--A Money Management Experience in Limestone, Maine. The event was coordinated by the Aroostook Chapter of Credit Unions. High school juniors from throughout Aroostook County participated. (Photo provided by the Maine Credit Union League)
Business Development Manager Adriana Brunner (right) at San Diego-based Point Loma CU’s San Marcos branch poses with GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) members at an outreach program. (Photo provided by Point Loma CU)
Some examples are:
* The Aroostook Chapter of Credit Unions in Maine held its third annual Financial Fitness Money Management Experience at the Loring Job Corps Center in Limestone, Maine, March 30. Nearly 350 students attended, leaving with a better understanding of the financial challenges that they may face in the future, said the Maine Credit Union League. The day’s interactive “game of life” builds awareness for youth education and for credit unions’ dedication to financial literacy in their communities. The Financial Fitness Money Management Experience is a half-day event during which students check in and receive a scenario packet of their life at age 22, which includes their occupation, income and credit history. From there, students map out their financial future from financing their housing to purchasing food and clothing. * San Marcos High School students received an inside look at how the financial services industry operates during a Job Shadow Day program at San Diego-based Point Loma CU’s local branch in San Marcos, Calif. The tour was organized by Palomar College as part of its GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) outreach. California’s GEAR UP program enables low-income students to develop the skills necessary to succeed in college. Palomar College partners with local businesses to introduce middle and high school students to career options. * San Mateo CU (SMCU), Redwood City, Calif., is sponsoring April as Youth Month to commemorate this year’s National Credit Union Youth Week, April 18 to 24. The celebration will be marked by several special events and promotions. The theme of the festivities, “Get in the Savings Game,” has been developed by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) to teach children of all ages the value and rewards of saving money. In keeping with the sports concept, children can select a prize from basketballs to soccer balls to footballs, softballs and playground balls--for every five deposits they make into an SMCU youth savings account. SMCU also will feature a 12-month add-on youth certificate of deposit with a 1.25% annual percentage yield. After the initial purchase date, additional funds may be deposited with the same interest rate. * Rome, N.Y.-based AmeriCU branches throughout its eight-county area Thursday kicked off the first, official day of the month-long celebration of the annual Credit Union Youth Month. For the third year in a row, AmeriCU has expanded CUNA’s Youth Week to a month-long celebration, giving its staff more time to interact with the youth who come to learn about financial education and literacy. AmeriCU representatives will emphasize the importance of youth earning, spending, saving and managing their own money. Featured are prizes, literacy workshops and games to engage youth ages 5-18 with appropriate, age-related tips on how and why saving money is important, or why they should keep saving if they already save.

CUNA fuses branch managers biz developer schools

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MADISON, Wis. (4/7/10)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is fusing its Branch Management Institute and Business Development School into one event--CUNA FUSE 2010: An Institute for Branch Managers and Business Development School. The new fused school will meet Oct. 25-28 in Nashville, Tenn. CUNA FUSE 2010 will offer business development, branch management and leadership topics. The closing general session will help attendees create a personal action plan to implement when they return to their credit unions. “Over the last few years we have seen an increase in the number of branch managers taking on business development responsibilities and attending our Business Development School,” said Meghann Dawson, CUNA instructional design manager. “The same is true for business development professionals attending our Branch Management Institute. Aligning the two programs to address the evolving responsibilities of both professions is the best solution in helping them achieve their goals and exceed expectations.” Featured sessions include:
* Branch Management and Business Development: Partnering for Success; * Communicating with Impact and Influence: Building Your Business and Team; and * Transferring What You’ve Learned to What You’ll Do.
For more information, use the link.

CUNA Mutual increased claims payments 40 in 2009

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MADISON, Wis. (4/7/10)--CUNA Mutual Group added new Credit Union Protection coverage options and increased claims payments to credit unions covered by its Bond program by more than 40% in 2009, a league webinar audience was told Wednesday. About 60 executives and front-line staff from credit union leagues and league service corporations received product enhancement updates, reviewed risk trends and participated in a question and answer session with CU Protection product leaders. "It’s a very difficult economy, and we recognize that credit unions are faced with increased loss exposures," said Chad Nitschke, vice president of CU Protection. "In addition to paying more claims, we also made enhancements to our products to help credit unions control their losses from new and ever-growing risks." Paid claims were up in 2009. "In fact, Bond benefits paid to customers exceeded premiums by 27%," Nitschke said. Credit unions filed nearly 8,000 CU Protection claims last year. A breakdown::
* Bond--3,000; * Management & Professional Liability (MPL)--1,200; * Property & Business Liability/Workers’ Compensation--3,000; and * Business Auto--700.
Lender Liability was the fastest-growing loss area with a 19% increase, while Directors, Volunteers and Employee (DVE) claims increased by more than 100%. Nitschke said four of the most notable CU Protection product enhancements in 2009 included:
* Plastic Card Claims Automation with FIS and CO-OP Financial Services; * Introduction of Management Umbrella coverage within MPL; * Identity Theft coverage for credit union directors within MPL; and * Fraudulent Mortgage Loan Documentation coverage.
Nitschke reported more customers than ever are staying with CUNA Mutual, and more are moving to CUNA Mutual from competitors. CU Protection premium retention was 98.4%, the highest in recent history and well above industry averages, which run 75% to 85%. "In addition, more than four times as many customers returned to CUNA Mutual in 2009 after being with a competitor, compared to historical averages," Nitschke said. "We enjoyed very positive results for earning customers' business in 2009, and that momentum seemed to continue in the first two months of 2010.” Participants received updates from product heads and a summary of CUNA Mutual’s Risk Management Services and advocacy efforts. These activities include founding membership in the Credit Union Risk Council and lobbying activities to enact legislation for plastic card payment industry change. A.M. Best affirmed CUNA Mutual Group's “A” (Excellent) financial strength rating, which applies to CUNA Mutual's principal companies: CUNA Mutual Insurance Society, a life and health insurer, and CUMIS Insurance Society Inc., a property and casualty subsidiary, which provides the CU Protection products. The “A” rating is the third highest rating of 16 categories of ratings A.M. Best issues.