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Harland Clarke Diversity Council in Top 25

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SAN ANTONIO (5/2/11)--The Harland Clarke Diversity Council was named as one of the top 25 in the U.S. for 2011 by the Association of Diversity Councils. Harland Clarke, a payments solutions, marketing services and securities solutions provider, is a CUNA Strategic Services provider. The annual award recognizes organizational diversity processes that demonstrate results in their work force, workplace and marketplace. Harland Clarke was selected because of its achievements in aligning the company’s diversity management principles with its business objectives, expanding relationships to attract more diverse employee applicants and suppliers and implementing learning communities to enhance employee engagement.

Mortgage CUSO implements GCC Servicing Solutions

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SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (4/29/11)--Neighborhood Mortgage Solutions, a Frankenmurth, Mich.-based credit union service organization (CUSO), has implemented the G/Teller interface of the G/SERV loan service platform from GCC Servicing Systems. Neighborhood Mortgage Solutions, which provides mortgage services to about 30 credit unions, decided to implement G/Teller to offer credit unions the option of accepting mortgage payments at the teller window. Giving members the option to make payments at the branch provides convenience for the members and offers cross-selling opportunities for the credit union, according to GCC Servicing Systems. G/Teller helps the CUSO combine data from several disparate systems into one location, avoiding the need to build individual interfaces with each credit union’s platform. G/Teller also provides tellers with access to specific loan-level data to answer member questions on topics such as payment history and escrow and tax status. “No matter how many advances are made to online and mobile financial services, there will always be a segment of credit union members that prefer walking into a branch. G/Teller was created to better serve this group by empowering tellers with the data and technology needed to quickly and easily address their mortgage needs in the branch,” said Glenn Liebowitz, GCC president.

FSCC cuts prices on shared mobile banking

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ONTARIO, Calif. (4/29/11)--Shared-branching network Financial Service Centers Cooperative Inc. (FSCC) will reduce the price of MyCUAnywhere text banking transaction pricing beginning Monday. MyCUAnywhere transactions will be reduced to 35 cents per transaction. “The rapid acceptance of the product is what is making this price reduction possible so soon after the product launch,” said Bonnie Kramer, FSCC executive vice president. “We launched just over a month ago and member acceptance has been well beyond our projections.” FSCC credit unions pay no set-up fees, no monthly maintenance fees and no minimum monthly usage fees for MyCUAnywhere. Credit unions only pay per-member transaction. Because there is no FSCC branding on the service, a credit union can adopt the service as its own. MyCUAnywhere uses secure, short message service/text banking technology to access account information, including balances, transaction history, loan status and funds transfer. There are more than 292 million cell phones in use in the U.S., of which 98% have texting capability, according to Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association. Last year, 1.81 trillion texts were sent.

VSofts core processing solution ready for CUs

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ATLANTA (4/28/11)--VSoft Corp. is offering its core processing solution to credit unions. CoreSoft allows financial institutions to replace legacy systems with technology that delivers real-time transactions across multiple channels. CoreSoft is available as an in-house, outsourced or cloud solution. UCF FCU, Orlando, Fla., is among the first credit unions to select CoreSoft as its core processing solution. UCF FCU will employ the outsourced environment provided by VSoft’s data center in Davenport, Iowa. In addition to CoreSoft, UCF FCU will implement VSoft’s suite of remote deposit capture solutions, including mobile capture, and item processing and imaging products. “Bank customers have experienced great success with CoreSoft, and we anticipate equal benefits for our credit union customers,” said Murthy Veeraghanta, chairman/CEO of VSoft Corp.

Technology topic of third Discovery Webinar

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MADISON, Wis. (4/28/11)--CUNA Mutual Group will offer a free Webinar on emerging technology trends and their implications for credit unions and their members. Rick Roy, CUNA Mutual senior vice president and chief information officer, will present “Technology Trends and Strategies for Credit Unions” at 12:15 p.m. CT on May 24 as part of CUNA Mutual’s continuing Discovery Webinar series. Roy will cover mobility and consumerization of information technology, cloud computing, security and privacy, and the staffing implications of these key trends. Registration is open until May 24.

CO-OP Financial partners with Calif. and Nev. Leagues

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (4/27/11)--The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues will market member access and convenience products and services from CO-OP Financial Services under a new partnership announced Tuesday. The leagues are promoting CO-OP's complete line of products, including network, e-commerce, payment processing, shared branching and call center services. As part of the agreement, CO-OP will support industry education initiatives by the leagues. The partnership "means that members of participating credit unions can not only take advantage of surcharge-free ATMs via CO-OP Network, but other products such as CO-OP Mobile, which allows members to handle transactions via their cell phones and other devices," said Sylvia Fath, senior vice president, business services for the leagues. Fath noted that CO-OP contributes much to the credit union movement. It subsidizes surcharge-free ATMs at 7-Eleven and other retail stores. It also contributes to credit union charities and causes. It sponsors league Shapiro credit unions to attend the Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference, and contributes to the National Credit Union Foundation and to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals via its CO-OP Miracle Match program, she said. "The leagues are important partners in our shared goal to make sure credit unions can compete with banks in terms of offering their members convenient access to their accounts anywhere, anytime," said Ritch Ellis, vice president, sales of CO-OP Financial Services.

CUNA Mutual offers Straight Talk online info

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MADISON, Wis. (4/27/11)--CUNA Mutual Group is offering a new Web-based resource that offers a transparent look at how the bond provider prices its coverages, makes adjustments and pays claims and the insurance-buying patterns of peer credit unions. “The ‘Straight Talk’ program has one goal--to provide credit unions with a transparent look into the Credit Union Protection division,” said Chad Nitschke, CUNA Mutual vice president of commercial products. “Credit unions are going through perhaps the most difficult period in their history,” Nitschke added. “We realize our customers don’t always agree with some of our decisions, but our intent is to make decisions that are in the best interests of all our collective policy owners.” The site features “You Be the Judge,” which demonstrates the fine line between insurable and uninsurable risks. After reading a scenario with talking points that influence decisions to approve or deny a claim, readers can cast their vote and then learn the verdict. Other Straight Talk features are:
* The Watercooler--CUNA Mutual product leaders and risk managers will present articles, ideas, trends and data designed to help credit unions remain financially secure. * Board.edu—The feature contains a series of short, focused question-and-answer videos to help credit union board members get information on risks relevant to their credit union’s success and their personal liability. The videos are less than 10 minutes and can be viewed individually, making them ideal for board meetings. * Peer Data--This tool allows credit unions to see what credit unions in their peer group are purchasing, and outlines limit and deductible levels for 13 different coverages. * Risk Management Services--This section features updates on new and emerging risks, including access to risk alerts, white papers, Webinars, online assessments, and a link to “Meet Your Risk Manager.”
Straight Talk is based on customer input. A group of 10 credit union policy owners nationwide that make up CUNA Mutual’s Credit Union Protection Advisory Panel not only tested and validated the concept, but two of the features, Peer Data and Board.edu, were original ideas from the group.

Open Solutions launches on-demand services

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GLASTONBURY, Conn. (4/27/11)--Enterprise technology provider Open Solutions Inc., has launched a package of on-demand services through its global operations center (GOC) for its clients, including credit unions. GOC is a computing facility that provides single-source processing for an institution’s core system and ancillary solutions, such as item processing, loan origination, relationship management, financial accounting and Internet banking. Open Solutions’ GOC provides a hardware and software environment and technical expertise for financial institutions that prefer a shared, fully managed environment. This allows on-demand clients to reduce costs, address complex regulatory requirements, access scalable computing resources, and focus on their primary business rather than their information technology infrastructure. Open Solutions consolidates each on-demand client’s technology systems under one roof. The GOC frees clients from the expense of replacing outdated and obsolete technology and provides scalability. Certified professionals in banking, regulation, security, infrastructure, disaster recovery, networking, database administration and operations staff the GOC. The company also has a new strategic partnership with HEIT, a provider of cloud-delivered managed services for community financial institutions. HEIT provides server, desktop, printer and internal network performance monitoring and management services.

iPay paper is on small-biz bill pay

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ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (4/26/11)--Payment solutions provider iPay Technologies has released a white paper on leveraging small-business bill payment as a value-added service. Bill payment is essential to effective cash flow management for every small business, and any financial institution that can help make this task easier and more efficient for a business is a valued partner, according to iPay, a division of Jack Henry and Associations. Specific content presented in “Bill Pay for Small Business is Big Business” includes the market opportunity and relevance for instituting small business-specific online bill pay and implementing a successful business plan to better serve and retain small business customers. There are likely 5.9 million small businesses that are currently ready to adopt online bill pay, according to data released by the U.S. Small Business Administration,. Many small businesses are also willing to change financial institutions to enjoy a business-centric online bill pay suite. Small businesses find value in services that impact tighter cash flow management, more flexible payroll and greater back office efficiencies because it provides them added daily control and convenience, iPay said.

Check accessibility at Diebold ATM center

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NORTH CANTON, Ohio (4/26/11)--ATM manufacturer Diebold is offering an online resource center to help credit unions comply with the new accessibility standards for ATMs as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Diebold is a CUNA Strategic Services provider. The U.S. Department of Justice has issued a final ruling on accessibility standards for ATMs under the ADA. New standards include, but are not limited to, voice guidance requirements, Braille signage and input controls for visually-impaired individuals. The final rule was published in the Federal Register on Sept. 15; the 2010 ADA standards took effect March 15, 2011, and have a March 15, 2012, compliance date. During the interim period, an ATM owner must comply with either the 1991 ADA Standards or the 2010 ADA Standards for new construction and alterations, said the North Canton, Ohio-based Diebold. Starting March 15, 2012, ATM owners must comply with the 2010 ADA Standards for new construction and alterations. Diebold recommends that each credit union evaluate its installed base, consults with its legal advisors and develops a compliance plan based on its own ATM deployment strategy, financial position and tolerance for risk.

CUs seek cash-management strategies

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WASHINGTON (4/25/11)--The Trust for Credit Unions’ Ultra-Short Duration Portfolio is a cash management tool that uses short-term, liquid investments to increase yield and improve balance sheets. The portfolio targets nine-month Treasury bills and seeks current income and low volatility by investing in obligations authorized under the Federal Credit Union Act. “Daily pricing, next-day settlement, and no minimums or maximums are just a few of the benefits that make the Trust for Credit Unions’ funds attractive options for credit unions looking to optimize their investment portfolios without sacrificing liquidity,” said Jon Jeffreys, executive vice president of Callahan Credit Union Financial Services Limited Partnership (CUFSLP), the funds’ administrator. CUFSLP is a partnership of 39 credit unions with Callahan Financial Services, the fund’s distributor, serving as the general partner. The Trust for Credit Unions was created in 1987 by credit union leaders seeking more investment options as liquidity swelled. During its 23 years, the trust has served more than 500 credit union investors with total fund balances peaking at $4.1 billion The trust’s three funds--Money Market Portfolio, Ultra-Short Duration Portfolio, and Short Duration Portfolio--have durations ranging from overnight to two years to meet credit unions’ liquidity needs. Investors can redeem shares as needed with daily pricing. Unlike individual government bonds or other securities purchased directly, selling shares of the trust portfolios requires one trade--professional managers decide what securities to sell to handle any redemption requests, CUFSLP said. The funds are also “no load,” with no front- or back-end sales charges.

Succession planning paper offered by HRTD Council

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MADISON, Wis. (4/22/11)--CEO succession planning and transition is the topic of a new white paper released by the CUNA HR/TD Council. "CEO Succession Planning and Transition" incorporates survey results from Heidrick and Struggles and Stanford University's Rock Center. The paper provides guidance for developing a comprehensive, multi-dimensional, and proactive succession plan. In today's rapidly changing business environment, a credit union needs to be a high performance organization to compete successfully," writes author Jim Cardwell, CEO of Cardwell Leadership, Westlake, Ohio. Among the insights Cardwell provides:
* A definition of succession planning; * Best practices on the succession management process; * A succession planning process; * The roles for the board, CEO and human resources in the succession planning process; and * The importance of an effective post-selection transition.
Worksheets include "Assessing Your Credit Union's Bench" and "A Development Plan Roadmap." CUNA Council members can obtain complimentary copies of this and more than 200 white papers; non-members can purchase the white papers for $50 per copy.

CSS renews alliance with Perimeter E-Security

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MILFORD, Conn. and MADISON, Wis. (4/21/11)--Perimeter E-Security, a provider of information security and secure messaging services, has renewed its strategic alliance with CUNA Strategic Services (CSS). “The credit union conundrum is clear,” said Tim Harvey, CEO of Perimeter E-Security. “They have to address the same regulatory and security challenges as major financial institutions with significantly limited internal resources. We’re grateful for CSS’ continued support of Perimeter. Since we comply with the same rigorous industry oversight as credit unions, we’re best served to deliver security and messaging solutions that meet the complex compliance needs and threats facing smaller financial institutions.” Perimeter’s centralized architecture offers pre-integrated technology with complete redundancy and continuous upgrades, complemented with a 24/7 engineering staff. “Perimeter delivers the most comprehensive compliance, security and messaging services, providing state-of-the-art, yet affordable, solutions for credit unions of all sizes,” said Wes Millar, senior vice president of CSS. “Since 2006, we have recognized Perimeter as the clear choice for credit unions with its proven track record in the financial services industry.” Perimeter protects over a half-trillion dollars in assets for more than 6,000 customers, including 500 credit unions. With 80 petabytes of managed archives, the company also filters 50 million e-mails and handles 240 million security events every day.

Second Discovery webinar addressed lending opportunities

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MADISON, Wis. (4/21/11)--Current economic and regulatory conditions provide credit unions both positive and challenging trends, but opportunities for loan growth exist, CUNA Mutual Vice President of Lending Dan Kaiser told more than 1,150 registrants during the second Discovery Webinar of the 2011 series. Kaiser’s presentation, “The Road Ahead: Making the Most of Every Lending Opportunity,” provided a blend of lending and marketplace trends that impact credit unions and their members. “Consumers are understandably jittery,” said Kaiser, describing the Jitters Index, which measures home-centric economic concerns, including taxes, living expenses and the instability of employment and investment data. But the numbers also indicate a slow recovery of home prices, employment and auto loans. “We’re beginning to see a rebound in vehicle sales, which is good news for lending and for consumers,” Kaiser said. “The trends are predicting an upturn in loans starting this year, but extending over the next few years." With six of every 10 American adults using wireless Internet services, mobile banking use is expected to increase. According to Pew Research, 27.4 million Americans actively use mobile banking, and that figure is predicted to double in the next two years. “Mobile banking is clearly taking over the online channel,” said Kaiser, adding credit unions should embrace mobile technology to attract members. Other free 2011 Discovery events:
* May 24--“Technology Strategies and Trends,” presented by Rick Roy, CUNA Mutual senior vice president and chief information officer; * June 18-21--Seventeen Discovery sessions, which will be offered at CUNA's America's Credit Union Conference;

* July 19--Regulation double-feature, presented by Bill Klewin, CUNA Mutual associate general counsel and director of lending compliance, and Brad Pricer, CUNA Mutual employee benefits product manager; and * Oct. 4--Second Annual Online Discovery Conference.

CUSO launches CU Rx risk management services

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JACKSON, Mich. (4/21/11)--CP Financial Services LLC, a credit union service organization (CUSO) of $323-million-asset CP FCU, Jackson, Mich., has launched CU Rx, a new risk management and compliance service created to exclusively serve credit unions, and a companion website. CU Rx offers review and audit services with risk management, fraud, compliance, and regulatory best practices solutions. It also offers credit unions an alternative to hiring legal firms or accounting firm auditors to complete audits by providing lower cost expertise. “We know from personal experience it’s difficult for credit union executives to find the time necessary to go through the process of a quarterly or annual risk management review process,” said CU Rx President John Crist, who also serves as president/CEO of CP FCU. “It’s no secret that keeping up with new regulations or changes is a tough chore, but it’s critical for the protection and health of any credit union’s reputation and operational success.” After CU Rx conducts a review and audit, the CUSO produces a risk matrix exposing the client’s vulnerabilities and areas of non-compliance. The CU Rx staff evaluate the credit union’s existing policies and controls from the identified risks, and look for control weaknesses. The final recommendation includes strategies and tactics for improving those policies, procedures and controls. Training also is offered to ensure the credit union’s staff understand compliance on specific regulations and best practices, and to avoid the risks or issues that surfaced in the review process. “From the review process forward, our primary focus is to help each client improve their specific risk management and compliance capabilities,” said Chrissy Siders, vice president of operations for CU Rx. “Customizing the solutions that evolve from the review and audit process is one important way CU Rx delivers that help; it’s not a cookie cutter approach. We show them how to adapt and comply so that the compliance or regulatory best practices fit within their operations. Residual benefits include their time and personnel resources are freed up, and they become much better prepared for annual reviews with National Credit Union Administration and state examiners.”

My CU Services teams with ProfitStars on payments

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MONETT, Mo. (4/20/11)--MY CU Services LLC, a credit union service organization of Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU, has partnered with ProfitStars to begin offering ACH Manager and OnNet payments solutions. Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU will offer the solutions to its 800 credit union members, as will MY CU Services to its corporate credit union partners. “Credit unions require competitive payment automation solutions at an affordable price, and ProfitStars is the stable, experienced provider that can deliver on those criteria,” said Drew Kishbaugh, president/CEO at MY CU Services. “Providing its ACH Manager and OnNet solutions to corporate credit unions can further operational efficiencies and performance throughout the industry.” Using ProfitStars’ ACH Manager, credit unions can automate processing of outgoing and incoming automated clearinghouse (ACH) files as an application service provider-hosted solution. OnNet solutions deliver configurable online processes for managing payments, settlement, clearing electronic data workflow, and communications between correspondent organizations and their respondents, the Federal Reserve and other end points. “MY CU Services is bringing ProfitStars’ payment solutions to the market forefront, supporting corporate credit unions with strong, reliable technologies to impact their growth and stability,” said David Foss, president of ProfitStars, a division of Jack Henry & Associates.

CUNA Marketing Management School develops certification

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MADISON, Wis. (4/19/11)--CUNA Marketing Management School has announced a new certification for training the industry's marketers in areas that matter most to credit unions, said the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). The Credit Union Certified Marketing Executive (CU-CME) designation was created to help professionals understand the core competencies for effective marketing at the credit union level. It was developed based on research and input from top credit union marketers. “The marketing function is much more than planning the annual golf tournament,” Anne Legg, CU-CME advisor said, pointing out that today’s marketers must be skilled in branding, strategy, research, measurement, innovation and leadership--the essential core competencies. The competency-driven training is tailored to today’s marketplace and includes a testing component. “The testing required serves as proof that these marketers have acquired the knowledge and skills to make a significant impact to their credit union,” said Meghann Dawson, instructional design manager for CUNA. To receive the CU-CME, credit union marketers must attend all three years of CUNA’s Marketing Management School and pass a comprehensive exam at the end of each term. The first track, Marketing 101–The Basics, will be held on May 16-20. CUNA Marketing Management School will also include keynote speaker Robin “The RockStar Speaker” Creasman, who delivers the message that all people have the ability to “stand out like a rock star” and move from average to awesome by tapping power within themselves. For more information on the CU-CME designation, use the link.

Partnership launches international payment solution

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WASHINGTON (4/19/11)--Two payments companies have teamed up to provide foreign payments for U.S. financial institutions. Financial institutions using Fundtech’s PAYplus USA for domestic wire transfers will be able connect to the international wire payments platform offered by Travelex, a cross-border payments specialist. The partnership is designed to allow their financial institutions clients, including credit unions, to grow non-interest revenue streams, so they can concentrate on core business activities. “As the demand for international payments increases, offering integrated and complete international payments capabilities is an important enhancement,” said Anthony Salamone, vice president of U.S. payment product management for Fundtech, a global transactions solution provider.

Callahan focusing on small CUs

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WASHINGTON (4/18/11)--Callahan & Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based research and consulting firm, is sharpening its focus on smaller institutions. “There’s no doubt that smaller credit unions are key players in helping to move our industry forward--and their stories and lessons learned can offer ideas to help others succeed,” said Alix Patterson, chief operating officer at Callahan. “These are the issues and topics that resonate with a vast majority of credit unions across the country.” Credit unions with less than $100 million in assets make up 81% of credit unions. Callahan & Associates, through its role in analyzing industry trends and performance, is sharing success stories and business strategies from this sector in its publications, videos and online resources. For example, Sayre, Pa.-based Guthrie FCU is featured in this quarter’s Credit Union Strategic Performance publication. Guthrie FCU, which has 6,700 members, often invests in technology and implements initiatives typically associated with larger institutions. “The stories of smaller credit unions can educate and inspire a large segment of our industry,” said Patterson.

FedComp offers cloud computing options

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FAIRFAX, Va. (4/18/11)--FedComp, a provider of data processing and information technology (IT) solutions for credit unions, is offering private cloud computing options for its core processing data clients. Cloud computing offers secure remote hositng of critical computer programs and applications, taking over such issues as server management, operating system management, data storage and archiving and related security. It also offers the flexibility and customization of in-house systems. With the solution, FedComp offers three core system deployments--service bureau, in-house and cloud--including services such as core data processing, Web service, systems integration, managed network and IT security services.

Diebold to build new headquarters

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NORTH CANTON, Ohio (4/15/11)--ATM manufacturer Diebold has announced plans to build its new headquarters in the Akron/Canton, Ohio, area. Diebold is a CUNA Strategic Services provider. The plans call for Diebold to combine five of its existing locations into a single corporate campus, with the consolidated facility to house 1,500 of the company’s northeast Ohio-area employees. Diebold is considering sites in the area for the facility and is in negotiation with property owners. To keep Diebold in Ohio, the state committed about $56 million in tax credits, loans and other incentives. Pending approval by state and local government boards, Diebold will receive about $100 million in total related incentives from state and local entities. To qualify for the incentives, Diebold will retain about 1,500 jobs in Ohio for at least 18 years. The company expects to spend about $100 million on the facility consolidation project, roughly equal to the total value of the planned incentive package. Diebold employs about 2,000 employees in Ohio with an annual payroll of about $125 million. The company and its employees paid more than $12 million in local and state taxes last year. Diebold will have an annual economic impact on Ohio of about $480 million during each of the next five years, according to third-party research commissioned by the company.

Tennessee league expands partnership with CO-OP

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (4/14/11)--CO-OP Financial Services and the Tennessee Credit Union League have expanded their 15-year marketing partnership to provide more services to 240 credit unions affiliated with the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based league. The Tennessee league through its marketing subsidiary, CU Services Inc., will add three services from the CO-OP payment processing line: CO-OP Signature Debit Processing, CO-OP ATM/PIN POS Debit Processing and CO-OP ATM Terminal Driving for management of ATM terminals and programs. Since 1996, the league has marketed CO-OP Shared Branching, a nationwide network of 4,200 credit union branches. It is also a representative of CO-OP Network, which has 28,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide, 9,000 of which take deposits. CO-OP Financial Services has more than 3,000 credit unions clients nationwide, including 50 in Tennessee.

Diamond CU uses loyalty program to grow auto loans

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BOCA RATON, Fla. (4/14/11)--Through Transact Information Services’ Loyalty Assurance program, Diamond CU is leveraging credit inquiry data to strengthen member relationships and build its auto loan portfolio. Recently launched as a cross-selling solution for credit unions, Loyalty Assurance uses credit inquiries to identify members shopping for products, including auto loans, credit cards, mortgages and installment loans, within a credit union's portfolio. The program identifies cross-selling candidates in near real time. “The best indicator of a member who is truly in the market for a financial product or service is a credit inquiry on his or her credit report,” said Ben Waldshan, president of Tranzact Information Services. “Waldshan when members consent to have their credit histories pulled, it’s a near certainty they are prospects for loan product. Loyalty Assurance flags this activity within 24 hours, giving credit unions a cross-selling opportunity at a critical moment in the buying process. In three months, Diamond CU, a $358million assets, Pottstown, Pa.-based credit union, generated $277,000 in auto loan originations through Loyalty Assurance. A consistent and timely follow-up process has been key to Diamond’s initial success with the Loyalty Assurance program, according to Lori Levengood, vice president of lending. “We reach out to our members as soon as we are alerted that an auto loan inquiry has been posted to their credit report, using a combination of outbound calls, direct mail and e-mail, Levengood said. “Understanding that we have a short window of time to capitalize on these auto recapture opportunities, we reach out as quickly as possible to ensure we maximize the number of loans we are able to close. The credit union has contacted about 35% of the members identified through the program, converting 11% into auto loan sales, according to Levengood. Loyalty Assurance also prescreens members for credit worthiness, a process that can improve conversion rates, according to Waldshan. “Leveraging our multi-bureau prescreen credit marketing platform, we can ensure members with credit inquiries also meet a credit union’s specific qualification parameters,” Waldshan said. “For example, credit unions can establish both minimum and maximum credit score thresholds as part of their member qualification process … allowing them to zero in on the ideal candidates for their most competitive and/or profitable products.” Diamond CU has has cross-sold other products and services using the data pulled with Loyalty Assurance, including credit cards and signature loans. “Once we have pulled our members’ credit reports, we can review their overall financial situation to identify additional products and services that will meet their needs,” said Levengood. Tranzact Information Services offers credit unions a complimentary analysis that details historical credit inquiry activity within their membership. Outlining the number and type of inquiries, in addition to the number of members who would meet the qualification parameters, this free evaluation offers credit unions insight into the cross-selling opportunities that exist within their membership.

Tactics for difficult times presented at leader workshop

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (4/13/11)--Entertained and educated by a slate of speakers selected to support the theme, “Real Issues, Real Answers,” more than 450 attendees participated in PSCU Financial Services’ 2011 Senior Leadership Workshop & Member Forum April 6-8 in San Antonio, Texas. Peter Orszag, a member of President Obama’s cabinet and former director of the Office of Management and Budget (2009–2010), discussed budget-related issues and the U.S. and Chinese economies. The current agreement to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year illustrates the compromises that will have to be made by both parties, he said. “Democrats must agree to extensive cuts in spending while Republicans must drop their opposition to federal funding for organizations that deal with morally charged issues such as abortion,” he said. Orszag said the U.S. has the advantages of a diverse labor force, rich natural resources and the ability to develop and implement new ideas and new technologies. “If the Congress can implement a long-term plan to gradually decrease the deficit, the U.S. will be in a good position to retain its hold as the world’s leading economy,” he added. Even in the best case scenario, the gap between the U.S. and Chinese economies can be expected to narrow over time, Orszag added. Steven Levitt, bestselling author of “Freakonomics” and “SuperFreakonomics” and a tenured professor at the University of Chicago’s Economics Department told attendees that it’s dangerous for credit unions to conduct marketing promotions without testing or tracking results. Levitt consulted with a large electronics company that spent billions annually on marketing for seven years but did not track results for its TV or newspaper flyer campaigns. Marketing managers were not eager to report inefficiencies because it would impact their position with the company. “It’s important to provide incentives for managers to evaluate results and ensure that marketing efforts produce an acceptable return on assets,” Levitt said. Chris McWilton, president of U.S. markets for Mastercard Worldwide, recommended that credit unions equip consumers with Web-based tools for electronic tracking and budgeting for card purchases. “Members can use the tools to see how much they are spending in key areas, such as gas, groceries, restaurants and retailers,” McWilton said. “They can also set spending budgets by category and see at a glance whether they met or exceeded their goals. This one-stop management tool motivates members to make a credit union’s card platforms their primary choice.” Erik Qualman, social media/technology expert and author of “Socialnomics” advised credit unions not to view social media as a technology play, but as a tool to build relationships. “Social media is a new form of word-of-mouth communication that can generate consumer interest in credit unions or other businesses,” he said. “Social media is an avenue that should be monitored because it’s a great way for credit unions to listen to what others are saying about them, to interact with members or prospects, to resolve any problems and ultimately to build a stronger member relationship.” Topics of best-practice breakout sessions included successful tactics for improving credit, debit and prepaid cards, establishing risk management goals, promoting e-commerce platforms, dealing with the interchange proposal and maximizing call center effectiveness.

CUNA Mutual Transamerica Life offer four annuities

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MADISON, Wis. (4/13/11)--CUNA Mutual Group and Transamerica Life Insurance Co. are partnering to offer four variable annuities to credit union members under CUNA Mutual’s Members product brand. The variable annuities will be launched under the names Members Landmark, Members Liberty, Members Extra and Members Freedom, and will provide a broad suite of retirement solutions for credit union members. “Each Members Variable Annuity will have its own unique features,” said Kevin Thompson, senior vice president of asset accumulation products at CUNA Mutual. The annuities will replace existing Members Variable Annuity products, Thompson said. There will be no impact to existing Members annuity contract holders. CUNA Mutual has offered annuities since the 1980s. The relationship with Transamerica will complement the company’s existing “all-weather” portfolio of fixed, index and single premium immediate annuities. “Annuities are increasingly being recognized as an important income-generation tool for those in retirement,” said Bob Buckingham, CUNA Mutual vice president and annuity product manager. “These annuities will enhance our product suite that will benefit members of credit unions nationwide as they save for and live in retirement.” Transamerica, an Aegon company, has existed since the early 1900s and is rated A+ (superior) for financial strength, the second highest rating out of 16, by A.M. Best as of July 2010. “We are impressed with CUNA Mutual’s commitment to credit unions and their members,” said Tom Swank, president/CEO of Transamerica Capital Management. “They bring a great deal of knowledge, expertise and professionalism to this new relationship.” The newly branded Members Variable Annuities are expected to be available in most states by May 2.

Diebold offering free ATM security seminars

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NORTH CANTON, Ohio and LONDON (4/12/11)--Diebold is presenting a series of half-day seminars on ATM security risks and the steps credit unions can take to mitigate them. Diebold is a CUNA Strategic Services provider. Among the topics to be covered during the seminars are ATM card skimming; physical attacks against ATMs; ATM malware attacks, payment-card industry compliance and protecting against ATM data breaches. Dates and locations for the seminars are:
* April 14, Kansas City, Mo.; * April 15, Lexington, Ky.; * April 19, Anchorage, Alaska; * April 21, Portland, Ore.; * April 26, Livonia, Mich.; * April 27, Flint, Mich.; and * April 28, Kalamazoo, Mich.;
To learn more and register, use the link. In other ATM news, the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA) has a published a best practices guide about decommissioning ATMs at the end of their seven- to 10-year lifespan. The manual describes four risk scenarios for ATM owners when the initial lifespan of an ATM ends. “We want to avoid situations where an ATM ends up on eBay or in the hands of a criminal who can perform reverse engineering on the machine,” said Mike Lee, CEO of ATMIA. The guide covers such topics as best practices for protecting consumer data at ATM decommissioning, how to handle secondhand ATMs properly and liability issues with ATM disposal.

E-Scan launches new portal

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MADISON, Wis. (4/11/11)--E-Scan, an online research and advice portal from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), has added a collection of white papers and reports. The Industry Research feature includes studies in:
* Alternative capital; * Demographics; * Fraud and security; * Lending; * Operations; * Payment systems; and * Retirement planning;
The ‘virtual library” will be continually populated with additional research and updated information, CUNA said. E-Scan combines business intelligence, market insights, and thought leadership with interactive and innovative benchmarking and analytical tools. For more information, use the link.

PCUA renews partnership with JMFA

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HARRISBURG, Pa.(4/11/11)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association has renewed its agreement with John M. Floyd & Associates (JMFA) to be the association’s preferred provider for overdraft privilege services. Corinne Sherman, association vice president for fee services, said JMFA’s expertise in regulatory compliance and its experience in providing performance and profitability programs and services were the determining factors in the decision to renew the agreement. “In today’s environment, Pennsylvania credit unions must be able to offer affordable products and services to their members while maintaining awareness of regulatory expectations and consumer protection,” she said. “JMFA recognizes this and has built a reputation of providing a 100% compliance-guaranteed program, along with excellent customer service and support that its clients can depend upon each and every day.” JMFA Overdraft Privilege is an automated, fully compliant overdraft solution designed to increase credit union non-interest income and reduce staff time spent handling and processing insufficient-fund items. Also, the program provides credit union members with a safety net that covers their transactions if they overdraw their accounts.

Lending Insights offers new consulting services

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ONTARIO, Calif. (4/8/11)--Lending Insights, a provider of analytical tools and business intelligence solutions for credit unions and the flagship brand for CU Direct Corp., announced new consulting services to help credit unions improve loan portfolio performance. The consulting services help credit unions better understand their lending programs, establish policies and procedures to meet regulatory requirements, and help advance their programs and improve overall lending performance. "With new state and federal regulations in place, the continued uncertainty of today's economy, and a very competitive lending marketplace, we identified a growing need for comprehensive consulting services that help credit unions navigate the many hurdles they're facing, and to provide a road map for loan growth," said Mike James, chief operating officer at Lending Insights. The services address:
* Loan profitability and pricing review by credit tier; * Loan portfolio performance review; * Detailed lending peer comparison; * Risk mitigation program development; * Underwriting effectiveness and streamline study; * Lending program and strategy development; * Financial model development; and * Training.
Lending Insights also provides credit unions with online monitoring and reporting tools to help credit unions manage their loan portfolios and meet regulatory compliance requirements. Its Lending Performance Management System tracks performance and trends against a credit union's goals and provides branch management tools, full drill-down capabilities to assess performance by portfolio segments, and market intelligence tools to benchmark performance against that of other lenders.

CUNA CFO Council Conference set for May 15-18

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MADISON, Wis. (4/8/11)--The 17th annual CUNA CFO Council Conference, May 15-18, in San Diego offers finance professionals an opportunity to share success stories and find new solutions with a nationwide network of experts and peers. “In this economic environment, it is imperative we all stay abreast of regulatory and asset-liability management (ALM) strategy changes,” said Brandon Michaels, chair of the CFO Council Conference committee and chief financial officer at Mazuma CU in Kansas City, Mo. “This conference offers specific sessions geared toward elevating senior finance professionals’ knowledge in these areas, as well as vitally important networking opportunities.” Featured sessions include:
* Investment strategies; * Financial Accounting Standards Board update; * Troubled-debt restructuring reporting and tracking; * Interchange; * ALM modeling; * Mergers; * Multi-dimensional loan portfolio analysis; and * Credit union industry update.
The conference agenda was developed by the CUNA CFO Council conference committee (in partnership with council staff), made up of volunteer council members from credit unions.

Jack Henry expands internet banking solutions

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MONETT, Mo. (4/7/11)--Jack Henry & Associates, Inc. a provider of computer systems and electronic payment solutions, has rolled out My NetTeller, an online banking solutions that allows credit union members to create customized dashboard-style landing pages of their most commonly used functions. The company also provided an update on its OurCashFlow online financial management (OFM) solution, which is integrated with NetTeller online banking platform. With My NetTeller accountholders drag and drop widgets to create a dashboard-style view of online banking features such as funds transfers, electronic bill payments, and transaction downloads. Since My NetTeller was introduced in August 2010, it has been implemented by 125 financial institutions and is now supporting more than 3,500 end-users. OurCashFlow is the OFM solution available through Jack Henry & Associates' strategic partnership with Lodo Software, Inc. OFM transforms financial institutions’ websites into financial management hubs through which consumers and small businesses can access and manage their finances on consolidated dashboards. OurCashFlow automatically categorizes financial transactions; supports internal and external account aggregation; tracks budgets, spending habits, and savings goals; and generates user-defined alerts. Since the availability of OurCashFlow was announced in July 2010, it has been purchased by 13 financial institutions and is now supporting more than 200 end-users. “Today, consumers and small businesses need to manage their finances more efficiently and effectively, and they are expecting their financial institutions to provide the tools to help them do so,” said Tony Wormington, president of Jack Henry & Associates. “My NetTeller and OurCashFlow provide the easy-to-use, fully featured, and proven tools accountholders need for real-time financial management and highly personalized banking experiences. We believe My NetTeller and OurCashFlow are essential additions to our Internet banking platform and to our clients’ online offerings.”

Synergent marks 40 years of serving CUs

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PORTLAND, Maine. (4/7/11)--Synergent, a subsidiary of the Maine Credit Union League, is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2011. The organization was founded in 1971 as the Maine Credit Union League Service Corp. as a form-ordering service for Maine credit unions. Forms were originally ordered through the Credit Union National Association, and then shipped to credit unions. To expedite the process, the league established relationships with local print shops and housed the forms at league headquarters. Eventually, the forms were produced in house, saving credit unions time and money and helping them grow, Synergent said. “As an organization founded to provide service and support to credit unions, forty years later, service remains the focus of our cooperate culture,” said John Murphy, president/CEO of Synergent. “Synergent is owned by credit unions, and serves only credit unions. As credit unions have grown and improved their member services, so have we to meet these needs.” In 1974, the Maine Credit Union League Services Corp. formed a cooperatively owned data processing center. From meeting the core processing needs of one credit union to continually advancing to greater hardware capacity and keeping up with industry changes, Synergent now operates in a high-tech environment featuring 24/7 security and data-usage monitoring. Synergent also offers card and check processing services, shared branching and direct marketing services. Offering these services requires a continuous evolution. For example, the ATM industry has advanced to accommodate the digital capture of check, pushing images out to merchants and members, and now, mobile capture. Check processing has evolved from using film for check capture, to providing images through sorters, to branch item capture. As it began offering its services outside of Maine, the organization changed its name to Synergent in 2000 to reflect the expanded service area and the synergy of various divisions working together. In honor of its 40th anniversary, and to reflect the organization’s focus on technology, Synergent is introducing an updated logo, featuring a streamlined, technology-inspired design.

TMG paper discusses reloadable prepaid cards for biz

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DES MOINES, Iowa (4/6/11)--TMG has released a white paper on how community financial institutions, including credit unions, can use reloadable prepaid cards to reach a wider network of consumers through their business clients. “One business owner represents an entire community of potential cardholders,” writes Konrad Christensen in the new white paper, “Getting Down to Business: How Financial Institutions Can Attract and Retain Business Clients with Reloadable Cards.” “Most small to mid-sized companies are linked to hundreds of customers, employees, partner firms and suppliers--each representing a group of prospective reloadable card users.” Credit unions can “touch” consumers through existing or new business members--who have existing relationships with those consumers--rather than expending resources on a hit-and-miss process of marketing to consumers without prior relationships, Christensen said. Reloadable prepaid cards as an alternative to payroll checks is one of the uses Christensen explores in the white paper. Beyond the benefits of providing a progressive, convenient service to business members, using the reloadable cards as payroll give the issuing financial institution access to consumers it may not otherwise reached, he said. A credit union service organization, TMG’s core products include credit, debit, ATM and prepaid solutions, and online reporting, item processing, ACH, ALM and printing services.

CMG MI to provide homebuyer education for WHEDA

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SAN FRANCISCO (4/6/11)--CMG Mortgage Insurance Co. (CMG MI) has launched a homebuyer education program for Wisconsin credit unions offering low-down-payment home loans through the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA). The program is free to credit unions and their members applying for WHEDA loans. WHEDA works with lenders, developers, local government, nonprofits and community groups to provide low-cost, fixed interest rate mortgages to low- and moderate-income families and individuals. WHEDA requires borrowers to complete a homebuyer education program as part of the application process. To assist Wisconsin credit unions in meeting this requirement, CMG MI has joined with The Housing Education Program, a division of Consumer Credit Counseling Services. “The Housing Education Program’s curriculum is innovative in its focus on the elements that drive long-term success as homeowners, even providing a customized written action plan to members completing the program,” said Joe Dillon, senior vice president and general manager of CMG MI. “Working together, we have crafted a phone counseling process that is both accessible and relevant. In addition, as long as the member remains in the home, this program makes housing specialists and credit counselors available free of charge.” While the mortgage is being processed and underwritten, the member can begin the homebuyer education modules and the budget worksheet. When the credit union receives a CMG MI mortgage insurance certificate, the member can call to set up the pre-closing counseling appointment. A joint venture between CUNA Mutual Insurance Society and PMI Mortgage Insurance Co., CMG Mortgage Insurance Co. provides private mortgage guaranty insurance to protect credit unions against potential losses if a borrower defaults.

CheckAlt webinars to discuss CUs social media

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LOS ANGELES (4/5/11)--CheckAlt Payment Solutions Remote Deposit Capture is offering a series of webinars with credit union executives to discuss how credit unions can leverage social media tools such as LinkedIn to grow their memberships and better market their services. The first webinar, hosted by CheckAlt CEO and co-chairman Shai Stern, will be held Friday at 9:30 a.m. PT. Stern said CheckAlt has built strong relationships through social media. “We have had tremendous success connecting with people via LinkedIn,” Stern said. “We do believe that when people communicate via social communities people know who they are dealing with. They aren't just getting an e-mail from an unknown stranger. They actually can associate a name to a face, know who they are corresponding with, and they can easily connect with them. “Credit unions are at a stage right now where communicating with their members, especially their business members, about their products, services, and benefits is the key to continued success,” Stern added.

TMG sets client conference for July

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DES MOINES, Iowa (4/4/11)--TMG (The Members Group) has set the agenda for its 2011 Client Conference July 11-13 in Sonoma, Calif. This year's theme is "Changing Times. Changing Visions. Advancing the Future." The conference--tailored to financial institutions interested in enhancing their credit, debit and prepaid card programs--will kick off July 11 with a golf event, evening reception and keynote speaker Kelly McDonald of McDonald Marketing. McDonald will give a 90-minute presentation on how to keep members rushing back for more, then sign copies of her new book, How to Market to People Not Like You. July 12 events will include a presentation on alternative payments by Dwolla founder Bel Milne and Jeff Russell, TMG executive vice president; a Debit Interchange Panel discussing the impact of new regulations on community-based financial institutions; a presentation by First Data on how rewards can be used to drive loyalty in a challenging environment; and important compliance topics presented by Andrea Stritzke of PolicyWorks. July 13 speakers include Jeffry Pilcher of The Financial Brand, who will discuss social media, and a representative from Visa, who will share insight on the credit card environment. TMG also will present tools and solutions to keep up with today's card market competition, and TMG fraud expert Karen Postma will host a fraud workshop offering interactive analysis of attending financial institutions' fraud trends.

Calif.Nev. league partner Autoland in turnaround year

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ONTARIO, Calif. (4/4/11)--2010 was a turnaround year for the Chatsworth, Calif.-based Autoland, a partner of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues. Autoland's financials improved 93% from the previous year and 2011 looks better, said the leagues, which partnered with the auto-buying service last year to help credit union members in both states bypass the hassle of car-buying and to drive loan business to the credit union. Autoland consultants engage members to discuss vehicles and options, research and locate the car, negotiate the price on behalf of the member, take care of trade-ins, coordinate the loan either directly through the credit union or through an indirect channel such as CUDL, and deliver the car to the member's home, work, or nearest credit union branch. The past few years' economic downturn led Autoland to explore other business models. However, it concluded that its high-touch "concierge" model of the past 40 years "truly differentiated" it from others in the industry and delivered the most value for credit union partners and their members, said Marcia Francisco, Autoland senior vice president of marketing and business development. It defined best practices from its most successful relationships and worked to integrate those in all of its partnerships. "Our partners responded," said Francisco, noting the company had successful business development efforts with a team of "brand evangelists" promoting it. "We believe Autoland is positioned for an excellent year in 2011, thanks to its partnership with the leagues. And we were recently endorsed by the NorthWest Credit Union Association as a business partner," she added. In the past six months, Autoland netted eight new credit union partners and has opened two additional in-house locations at credit unions.