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CU System briefs (04/06/2011)

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* NAPERVILLE, Ill. (4/7/11)--Nearly 750 executives representing 110 credit unions are expected to attend today's kick-off of the Illinois Credit Union League's 81st Annual Convention, which runs through Saturday in Chicago. This year's 70s' theme is "Get Your Groove On!" Keynote speaker Mike Rayburn, guitarist and stand-up comedian, will present a musical and motivational address, "What if?" The Exhibit Hall will feature more than 80 vendors. The event includes more than 20 educational sessions, including a pre-convention workshop. Saturday's closing session will feature Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney, in his first formal visit to Illinois credit unions … * NORWOOD, Mass. (4/7/11)--Stephen Shinnick, a former vice principal at Coakley Middle School, Norwood, Mass., was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for stealing more than $250,000 over a period of years and causing the failure of Norwood School Employee FCU. Shinnick, who was treasurer at the credit union, pleaded guilty to larceny over a period of years. He is to serve six months of the term with the balance suspended for five years, and pay restitution. According to the court documents, he had a gambling problem and used credit union funds to pay more than $164,516 in personal bills, to issue checks payable to himself totaling $130,402 and to pay his children a total of $13,000. The credit union ceased operating in June 2009 and was merged into Rockland (Mass.) CU ( April 5) … * SAN DIEGO (4/7/11)--A San Diego couple was charged with commercial burglary after stealing toys for a holiday toy drive from a Ronald McDonald donation box in the lobby of a branch of North Island CU on Dec. 16. Timoteo Orque, 49, and Rowena Orque, 33, allegedly left the credit union with about $200 in toys and gave them to their children. They were traced through an automobile caught on a surveillance camera and arrested Monday (Los Angeles Times April 5) … * ALBANY, N.Y. (4/7/11)--Sunmark FCU, based in Latham, N.Y., is teaming with All Over Albany to offer grants to microbusinesses and start-ups. The Sunmark Grants program is open to small and new businesses as well as Capital District musicians and artists. They will compete for a $1,500 award and free consulting in the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce's Entrepreneur Boot Camp. Deadline for submissions is April 20. The award recipient will be announced May 16 (The Daily Gazette April 6) … * LANSING, Mich. (4/7/11)--The name of Auto Body CU, a $150 million asset credit union based in Lansing, Mich., has been changed to Astera CU, according to the credit union's website. It changed its name Monday to reflect the variety of select employee groups in its field of membership, said the Lansing State Journal (April 5). Astera serves about 20,000 members with five branches … * SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (4/7/11)--The Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL) has promoted Keith Sias to vice president, state governmental affairs, and Patrick Smith to vice president, communications and regulatory affairs. Both operate from ICUL's Springfield office. Sias joined ICUL in March 1993 and served as a lobbyist representing credit unions before the Illinois General Assembly. He is responsible for analyzing and tracking legislative issues for credit unions, educating them about legislative/regulatory issues, and overseeing state operations of the Credit Union Political Action Council. Before joining ICUL, he was legislative liaison to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, Chicago, and a policy analyst for the Illinois House legislative staff. Smith joined ICUL in October 2004 as director of strategic services. His responsibilities have crossed corporate and department lines of ICUL and ICUL Service Corp. Smith provided consulting services to member credit unions on regulatory, compliance and technical issues, and developed corrective plans to address operational challenges. He previously worked for the Illinois Department of Financial Institutions, Credit Union Division, for 17 years, as an examiner, downstate assistant supervisor and supervisor of the division …

Five cost-effective ways to thwart robberies

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INDIANAPOLIS (4/7/11)--The lingering recession has some individuals looking for new ways to make money, and a few venture down the wrong path, taking desperate measures such as robbing credit unions and banks. To mitigate that activity, shared branching vendor Credit Union Centers has come up with five cost-effective ways to help secure credit union branches from violent crimes. Among the things a credit can do for less than $2,500, says the Indianapolis-based company, are:
* Train staff to look up and verbally acknowledge everyone who walks in the door. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) lists an alert staff as a top defense against robbery. Robbers will often "case" a facility before the robbery. Staffers are more likely to identify this activity if they are alert to each visitor. If necessary, install a low volume door chime (about $150 installed) that alerts staff when someone enters the building. * Make your lobby design a robber deterrent. Place physical barriers such as check writing stands or queuing lines between the entrance and teller area to prevent a robber from making a straight line from the entrance to the teller and vice versa. By using existing branch components, this can normally be accomplished at no cost, said Credit Union Centers. * Install time delay locks on vault cash storage. Robbers want to get in and out in a hurry. A time delay lock (about $850 installed) requires staff to wait five to 15 minutes after entering the lock combination to access vault cash. Signage posted on the vault door identifies the lack of immediate access to the area. Robbers generally will not wait for the necessary time to expire. Although time delay locks won't prevent a robbery, they reduce the chance of a large loss associated with vault-cash theft. The delay in access requires adjustment by staff and management, but with planning, operations generally do not suffer from the lag time. * Review images on security equipment and make adjustments, if necessary. Adjust security cameras so each teller window is covered by at least one camera--with the head of a member standing at the teller window filling a minimum 15% of the image. Lenses should be focused for sufficient image quality for positive identification of facial features.
"Security cameras and lenses have improved in quality and reduced in price over the last several years," said Dan Davis, executive vice president/chief financial officer of Credit Union Centers. "If your current equipment cannot be adjusted to provide quality images, strategically replacing a few cameras or simply upgrading the lenses on your existing equipment is a very affordable option." Consider installing a pinhole camera (about $650 installed) at eye level within the doorframe of the entry exit door. Robbers will often hide their face from an exposed camera over the teller line, but they are usually looking straight ahead as they exit the branch.
* Make branch security a priority for all staff. Schedule quarterly security meetings for branch staff and review before-, during- and after-robbery procedures. A well-trained staff with fresh information will help when an actual robbery occurs. Networking with the police and other local financial institutions to share procedures and details of robbery activity will help refine internal practices and alert staff of recent local robbery activity.
Davis said that 10 shared branch network branches in Indiana were prone to robbery the past couple of years as the recession intensified. Adding something like a $150 door chime that sounds off each time a member walks into a branch is a cost-effective start, he said. Credit Union Centers trained employees at the affected 10 branches to be alert and notice who's entering the branch--and even say hello. "It's all about paying attention," he said. "If a robber is watching the branch for any amount of time, they won't go near it because of how alert everybody is. They will go somewhere else." As a result of the company's security efforts, robberies at the affected branches the past year were reduced to one. Images from the branch surveillance system and physical descriptions provided by alert staff allowed police to apprehend the robbers quickly. "We realize credit unions and most other organizations during this challenging economic times are on a tight budget, so we implemented some common sense and cost-effective ideas that not only promoted security but fostered great member service as well," Davis said. "Getting to know your members, greeting them at the door, and looking up when they walk into a branch shows members and possible criminals that you're alert."

Cherry Blossom Run success a collaborative effort

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WASHINGTON (4/7/11)--Over the past 10 years, more than 90 credit unions from 30 states have been a part of the annual Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, indicating its success is a truly collaborative effort in raising funds to benefit Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.
Click to view larger image Officials from Credit Union Miracle Day (CUMD) present their 2011 donation of $578,000 to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals on behalf of Credit Unions for Kids. The donation brings their 10-year total to more than $5 million. From left are CUMD officials: Jan Roche, State Department FCU, treasurer; Juri Valdov, chairman; Teresa Mann, The Partnership CU, vice chairman; and Sara Turner, Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association, executive director. (Photo provided by Credit Union Miracle Day Inc.)
The 39th annual run Sunday attracted more than 15,000 runners--roughly 7,000 of them credit union members--who competed in the event around the monuments of Washington, D.C. and raised $578,000 to bring the funds donated by credit unions over the 10 years to more than $5 million. More than 700 employees from area credit unions such as State Department FCU, Navy FCU and Northwest FCU volunteered that day. "Thanks to the tremendous support of our lead partner, PSCU Financial Services, once again, we are able to donate 100% of the funds raised to Children's Miracle Network affiliated hospitals across the country," said Juri Valdov, chairman of the title sponsor group, Credit Union Miracle Day Inc. (CUMD). "Thanks to partners such as PSCU Financial Services, the run has been a success on every level." Valdov reported that 91 members of Congress from 34 states were Honorary Race Chairs--more than twice the number as last year. Nearly 700 Hill runners participated in the run. During a kickoff press conference at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Valdov announced that credit unions had signed on to sponsor the race through 2016. CUMD is a partnership of credit unions, credit union service organizations, and partner organizations that have joined under the umbrella Credit Unions for Kids to support Children's Miracle Network Hospitals by sponsoring the run. In addition to PSCU Financial Services, which underwrote the administrative costs of the run, CUNA Mutual Group underwrote the development of CUMD's Facebook pages and helped get credit union support across the country. One hundred percent of the funds raised by credit unions go to their local Children's Miracle Network Hospital. The effort supports 170 hospitals across the country.

AmeriChoice uses grant for youth fin lit outreach

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MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (4/7/11)--AmeriChoice FCU, Mechanicsburg, Pa., is on track to reach more than 10,000 school students this school year, after receiving a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) in 2010 for its financial literacy youth outreach program. The credit union partnered with schools throughout South Central Pennsylvania to teach financial literacy in a three-phase process that takes the credit union message, philosophy, and offerings to the community. The phases include classroom financial literacy presentations, student branch outreach including a new teen club account, and concerts for financial literacy. “AmeriChoice FCU is making a big difference in many young people’s lives thanks to its outreach efforts,” said Christopher Morris, NCUF director of communications. “What’s also impressive is that it is reaching not only students, but school staff, parents, and community partners as well. Serving as a financial resource as well as a financial institution will enable AmeriChoice FCU to truly build relationships for life.”
Click to view larger image AmeriChoice FCU Financial Literacy Manager Kim Dietrich, far left, is shown with students from Cedar Cliff High School Colt’s student branch on their training day at the credit union. The students also toured the credit union and met its senior management team.
Financial literacy has been an ongoing initiative for AmeriChoice FCU for the past six years. It expanded its program to include additional schools, curriculum, and components such as concerts for financial literacy and curriculum integration. The curriculum integration incorporates the four Pennsylvania Career Education and Work Standards: career awareness and preparation, career acquisition, career retention and advancement, and entrepreneurship. All the components are addressed throughout each phase of AmeriChoice FCU’s program. In the classroom financial literacy phase, the credit union's financial literacy manager, Kim Dietrich, works with teachers to integrate financial literacy in area schools' curriculum and teach students. AmeriChoice FCU partnered with the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) to provide financial education materials targeted high schools and college. It has continuously provided NEFE materials to teachers in South Central Pennsylvania. Over the past six years, it has sent 6,500 student workbooks to over 100 teachers at 20 educational facilities. It reached more than 10,000 students through the lessons last year and is on track to do the same for the 2010-2011 school year. Instruction focuses on the credit union difference and philosophy, savings, budgeting, and credit management. In the second phase, reaching youth through student branches and a teen club, students who run the branches come up with innovative marketing techniques to attract fellow students. Among the ideas implemented: video announcements with account incentives, informational tables at school events and activities, and posters to communicate the credit union’s brand message.
Click to view larger image Musicians perform for students at one of AmeriChoice FCU’s concerts for financial literacy. (Photos provided by the National Credit Union Foundation)
Last year, AmeriChoice FCU launched the MyChoice Teen Club Account to help students learn the terminology and options in the financial industry. The club's quarterly newsletter helps 1,200 teens understand the differences between credit unions and banks, how to get and why they need credit, and how to maintain a well-managed checking account with a debit card. New products allow teens to conveniently access their accounts. With home banking and mobile banking, teens are learning how to transfer money and view account balances before overdrawing their account. They also can use resources such as to track their spending habits. Music also plays a role in bringing the financial literacy message to students. AmeriChoice FCU partners with area school districts, music departments, entrepreneurship/business classes and Eloquent Online to perform concerts for financial literacy for students and staff. Performers are selected from the school’s talent show and professional musicians who talk to students about experiences in managing finances and why it is important to be financially literate today. A PowerPoint presentation with financial literacy statistics runs during the concert. Students who work for the credit union branch help promote the concert and participate by throwing out concert t-shirts and signing up new members at the end of the concert. NCUF Innovation Grants are made possible by foundation supporters and the Community Investment Fund, which enables credit unions to earn dividends while donating to national and state community development programs.

Expanded FOM approved for Missouri highway CU

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (4/7/11)--The Missouri Division of Credit Unions approved a community charter to expand the field of membership (FOM) for District 4 Highway Employees CU in Lees Summit, Mo. The credit union is one of 10 credit unions who are losing their locations in Missouri Department of Transportations (MoDOT) facilities. The expanded FOM will allow all those who reside or work in Jackson County, Mo.--whose estimated population is 705,708, according to a 2009 U.S. Census Bureau estimate--to join the credit union (Missouri Division of Credit Unions Electronic Bulletin March 10). It was determined that the credit union is well-capitalized, following the most recent supervisory examination report by the National Credit Union Administration. The $13.2 million-asset credit union was one of 10 credit that the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission decided to sever ties with, after the commission approved a staff recommendation in March 2010, according to the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) (News Now March 12, 2010). The credit unions were told Jan. 21, 2010, that they would be required to vacate their locations by Sept. 30, 2010. They would no longer be able to process payroll and benefits through MoDOT after that date. Credit union employees were on MoDOT’s salary and benefits plan, but credit unions fully reimbursed MoDOT for those costs, MCUA said at the time. Following pressure from MCUA, state lawmakers and the Missouri Division of Credit Unions, the final proposal offered to the Highway Commission for approval extended the move-out date to Dec. 31, 2012, and included waiving billing for salary and benefits for one quarter--totaling about $325,000 for the credit unions. However, the credit unions were asked to begin paying rent on their space in MoDOT facilities beginning Jan. 1, 2011. The commission ratified MoDOT staff’s recommendation.

Three programs highlight member savings

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MADISON, Wis. (4/7/11)--Credit unions from Hawaii to New York are helping their members change their lives through the power of saving.
Click to view larger image Amazing Savers is a savings challenge developed by Redwood CU, Santa Rosa, Calif. Participating families will compete to win $10,000 by working to improve their financial lives.
In Hawaii, the Kids Savings Project is the brainchild of Dr. Michael Cheang, assistant professor at University of Hawaii-Manoa Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, who was concerned about the need for children to start the savings habit early in life. Cheang secured grants from the Hawaii Community Foundation and partnered with the University of Hawaii FCU to begin the pilot project in 2008. Today, the project works through nine credit unions in Hawaii and 18 schools to teach mostly low-income kids the power of saving. Since its inception, more than 1,100 students saved over $115,000 through the Kids Savings Project. In the program, children set their own savings goals. Credit unions give each saver a piggy bank and other items to make the saving fun. Credit union staffs visit their partner schools regularly for deposit days--some make the experience fun with banners, recognition, and prizes. The project shows that giving children the tools and resources they need to start a savings habit is life changing and dispels the myth that low-income children cannot save money, said a press release from Cheang and the Hawaii Credit Union League. A second program, from Redwood CU , Santa Rosa, Calif., is a savings challenge designed to transform the lives of entire families. Redwood CU recently selected local families as five contestants for its Amazing Savers contest. The five teams will compete to win $10,000 by transforming their finances in 2011. The contestants are:
* Blue Team: Angela and Tom Campbell from Sebastopol, local business owners working to provide for their teenage sons’ educations, support their live-in mother and save for a stable retirement; * Green Team: Cecilia and Juan Flores and their young son from Santa Rosa, seeking to create a livable budget and save money to create a sound future; * Red Team: Priscilla and Dawid Jaworski from Santa Rosa, a young couple with a toddler seeking ways to save and invest to take care of their growing family; * Purple Team: Jennifer Lynch from Corte Madera, a teacher who struggled with job loss, but is looking for ways to budget wisely and build savings now that she has found full-time employment; and * Orange Team: Sharon Van Patten from Ukiah, a single mother raising three daughters while she worked to earn her degree, and who wants to model good money management for her children.
Each Amazing Savers team will meet regularly with an RCU financial coach who will help them create budgets, reduce debt, and transform their finances so that they can save more and improve their financial future. Followers of the contest can cast their vote online for the team they believe has made the most progress. At the end of the year, the team with the greatest overall improvement to their finances will win $10,000 toward the family’s financial goals. A third example of credit unions helping members save is Ticonderoga (N.Y.) FCU, which is celebrating Youth Savings Month in April by offering any TFCU member under the age of 18 the chance to win one of three $50 U.S. Savings Bonds and $100. Children and parents also can visit credit union branches or the Ticonderoga FCU website to obtain financial education materials. The Credit Union National Association is sponsoring the National Savings Challenge this month and National Credit Union Youth Week, April 17-23. For more information, use the link.

Robins FCU acquires Park Community assets accounts

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WARNER ROBINS, Ga. (4/7/11)--Robins FCU in Warner Robins, Ga., has acquired the Middle Georgia assets and accounts of Park Community FCU, based in Louisville, Ky. The acquisition was effective March 31, according to Robins FCU (Macon Telegraph April 2). The $465 million asset Park Community had two branches in Macon, Ga. One was shut down because Robins FCU has a nearby branch, Megan Allen, Robins FCU marketing assistant, told the newspaper. All employees at the Macon locations of Park Community were either retained or offered jobs at other Robins FCU offices, Allen told the paper. The acquisition gives Robins FCU about 1,800 new members and $15 million in assets, John Rhea, Robins FCU president/CEO, told the paper.

FBI reports 396 CU robberies in 2010

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WASHINGTON (4/7/11)--Robberies occurred at 396 U.S. credit unions last year, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) 2010 Bank Crime Statistics report released Tuesday. Credit unions also experienced 11 burglaries, one act of larceny and zero extortions, the report said. Between Jan.1 and Dec. 31, there were 5,546 robberies, 74 burglaries, eight larcenies, and 13 extortions of financial institutions reported to law enforcement. The total 5,628 reported violations represent a decrease from 2009, during which 6,065 violations of the Federal Bank Robbery and Incidental Crimes Statute were reported. The types of financial institutions offices victimized in 2010 by these crimes were: 1,095 branch offices, 34 main offices, 11 stores, and six remote facilities/other. Other highlights of the report include:
* Of the 5,628 total reported bank robberies, burglaries, and larcenies, loot was taken in 5,102 incidents (91%). Three of the 13 reported bank extortions also succeeded in getting loot. * The total amount taken was valued at more than $43 million--$42.5 million of it in cash. More than $8 million was recovered and returned to the financial institutions. * The most common methods of operation included: demand note (3,142 incidents); oral demand (3,096 incidents); firearm used (1,445 incidents); and use of a weapon threatened (2,461 incidents). In the extortions, perpetrators used or threatened to use explosive devices during five incidents and made threats by telephone in eight incidents. * Acts of violence were committed during 236, or 4%, of the holdups. Seventy-one instances involved the discharge of firearms, 145 involved assaults, one instance involved an explosive device, and 31 instances included hostage situations. No acts of violence occurred during the three reported bank extortions. * Violent acts resulted in 106 injuries, 16 deaths, and 90 persons taken hostage. None of these occurred during the extortions. * Most violations occurred on Friday. Regardless of the day of the week, violations between the hours of 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. were the most common. * The Southern region of the U.S had the highest number of incidents.
The statistics were recorded as of March 16. Not all bank crimes are reported to the FBI. The report is not a complete statistical compilation of all bank crimes that occurred in the U.S. To view the full report, use the link.

Filene seeks CUs to pilot tax refund savings project

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MADISON, Wis. (4/7/11)--The Filene Research Institute has formed a coalition of credit unions to establish savings groups for low-income individuals in their communities. The coalition is planning for 2012 tax time. Because The Saver’s Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the refunds that taxpayers receive are all major contributors to the savings mix, Filene convenes the group to help taxpayers preserve as much of their refund as possible. The project, partially funded by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), seeks to help members save for the future. The project originated as a Filene i3 (Ideas, Innovation, Implementation) initiative called Savings Exchange. The i3 team collaborated with Kim Pate of the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) and included Jackie Edwards, Connexus CU, Wausau, Wis.; Tamela Meade, American Airlines CU, Fort Worth, Texas; Jon Reske, UMass Five College FCU, Hadley, Mass.; and Alison Wolf, FAA CU, Oklahoma City, Okla. Project consultants are John Hoffmire and Craig Wilson from Progress Through Business, a national nonprofit organization that works with underserved communities. Hoffmire also is director of the Center on Business and Poverty, which is part of the Puelicher Center on Banking Education at the Wisconsin School of Business, UW-Madison. Filene recommends the program for credit unions active in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, paid tax services, and with the Investor Education In Your Workplace program, which is sponsored by the Investor Protection Trust and supported by NCUF. Tax time is essential for savers, because the average refund for a family is $1,400, said Filene. This is one of the largest bundles of income that many people receive in a year. Also, for low- and middle-income taxpayers, a saver’s credit of up to $1,000 ($2,000 for couples) is available if they contribute to retirement savings plans. Filene is recruiting more credit unions to participate. For more information, use the link.

American Heritage provides food for Kenyan orphanage

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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (4/7/11)--Philadelphia-based American Heritage FCU's board of directors has voted to pay for one year's supply of food to feed 67 orphans in Kenya.
Busia orphanage worker Pascalia Wanjala in Kenya shows off the bicycle she received from American Heritage FCU CEO Bruce Foulke and his family. The bike helps her meet the needs of children at the orphanage and helped prompt the donation of a year's supply of food for 67 children by the credit union's board. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association) .
The board made the decision after hearing how workers at an orphanage had to go around the community each night to collect food to feed the kids. Bruce Foulke, CEO of the $1 billion asset credit union, had learned that the Busia orphanage in Kenya needed a bicycle to collect food for the children and so workers could get around in the community. His family bought a bicycle through the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) (Life is a Highway April 6). After receiving the bicycle, Pascalia Wanjala, who works with the orphanage, told WOCCU how much she appreciated it and how it helps her to get around more efficiently. When the credit union's board heard about her daily food collection efforts on behalf of the children, it decided to step in and provide a year's supply of food. Foulke is planning a trip to Kenya in December to work at the orphanage, said PCUA.