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CU System Briefs (04/29/2013)

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  • OLD BRIDGE, N.J. (4/29/13)--The New Jersey Credit Union Foundation held its third annual Casino Night and Texas Hold 'Em Tournament Thursday night, according to the New Jersey Credit Union League (The Daily Exchange April 26). The fundraising event attracted 65 credit union leaders, such as the folks pictured here, and raised more than $17,000 to support the foundation's mission of providing financial literacy awareness and supporting small credit union initiatives. Texas Hold 'Em Tournament winners were: Francis James, United Teletech Financial FCU, first place; Stephen DiGioia, Symbionce Financial Solutions LLC, second place; and Michele Weiss, Liberty Savings FCU, third place. Midstate FCU member Meredith Puccio was this year's 50/50 Raffle winner. (Photo provided by the New Jersey Credit Union League) ...
  • PEWAUKEE, Wis. (4/29/13)--Jim Drogue, the Wisconsin Credit Union League's senior vice president of credit union development and fundraising, will retire May 15 after a 37-year career with credit unions. Drogue spent nearly 24 years in lending and management at the former Commonwealth CU (now Summit CU) in Madison. He joined the league in 2001 as senior consultant, assisting credit unions statewide with their operations. In 2004, as vice president of credit union development at the league, he worked with Wisconsin credit unions to voluntarily launch REAL Solutions in partnership with Madison-based Filene Research Institute. Today, as the signature program of the National Credit Union Foundation, REAL Solutions involves credit unions in 40 states and helps members nationwide save roughly $6 billion in annual benefits."Jim's work has improved and helped quantify the value that consumers derive by owning the financial institution where they borrow and save," said league President/CEO Brett Thompson. "We wish him the best as well as thanks on behalf of the many consumers whose pocketbooks are healthier thanks to his leadership."...

NWCUA Finds CU 'Branding' Opportunity In Fundraising

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (4/29/13)--The Northwest Credit Union Association is

Click to view larger image Northwest Credit Union Association President/CEO Troy Stang (left) takes Credit Union National Association Executive Vice President of Strategic Communications and Engagement Paul Gentile on a tour of Doernbecher Children's Hospital, in Portland, Ore., to show the level of support credit unions have provided in fundraising efforts and the recognition given those efforts by the hospital. (Photo provided by the Northwest Credit Union Association)
working closely with six regional children's hospitals and its regional Credit Unions for Kids (CU4Kids) ambassador boards, comprised of credit union CEOs in the area, to set goals, establish best practices and develop fundraisers for the hospitals.

The league established a model for the fundraising approach based on its successful efforts on behalf of Doernbecher Children's Hospital, in Portland, Ore. One of the successes the league hopes to repeat is the credit union "branding" opportunity achieved at Doernbecher, where the Credit Union for Kids logo is incorporated into the hospital's signage (see photo).

Kasey Rockwell, director of outreach programs for the NWCUA, said the league and its member credit unions "consider it an honor" to work on behalf of the children's hospitals in the area.  The medical teams, she says, "do so much to improve the lives of sick and injured kids, and the lives of their family members. Helping them is one of the best ways we can think of to live up to the credit union motto of  'people helping people.'"

Rockwell reports that last year the league effort raised $884,311 for the six regional hospitals.  She explained that the CU4Kids ambassadors communicate to credit unions in their region about upcoming events and progress on fundraising goals.

Since efforts began in 1986--credit unions have raised more than $10 million for Doernbecher alone.

Hospital representative H. Stacy Nicholson, M.D., has said, "Credit unions are vital to OHSU Doernbecher's fundraising efforts--their impact is profound. Since 1986, they have funded hospital construction, endowed faculty positions and provided research and program support to a variety of pediatric programs. Their support is critical to our providing the best possible care for patients in Oregon and southwest Washington."

The league also has created a Credit Unions for Kids interactive website on the NWCUA site. It features contact information, a place for credit unions to post fundraisers and fundraising results, share fundraising ideas, and much more.

Use the resource links for more information.

NC CUs' Help Noted In NBC Poverty Series, National Journal

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DURHAM, N.C. (4/29/13)--Two North Carolina credit unions' efforts to assist people in poverty were featured in a recent NBC News series about poverty, with one of them also featured in a National Journal article about lifting workers into the middle class.

Latino Community CU in Durham, N.C., which was opened partly to help counter a local burglary problem, assisted Sabino Fuentes-Sanchez in overcoming his distrust of financial institutions (NBC News April 22).

Fuentes-Sanchez, who at one time had hidden $25,000 in cash in several locations throughout his home, eventually was down to $500 because his wife's cancer treatments depleted most of his savings. Before she died, she convinced him to open an account at the $115 million asset credit union, NBC News said.

Now with money in the credit union, he saves for his five children and avoids the temptation to spend all his money, said Fuentes-Sanchez.

NBC News also told the story of Kim James, who slid in and out of homelessness for several years, while battling addiction problems. She lived in a halfway house in Durham and knew that if she wanted to move into her own apartment, she would have to find a way to save money for a security deposit.

When James landed a part-time job in January, Duke University student Janet Xiao, part of a group called the Community Empowerment Fund, helped James set up an account with Self-Help CU in Durham. Within a few months, James had deposited enough money in her credit union account to pay a security deposit and the first month's rent for an apartment, NBC News said. Once James has saved enough to purchase a bed, she will move in.

Latino Community CU also was mentioned Thursday in NationalJournal.com for helping launch Paula Carde's family construction business in a suburb of Raleigh, N.C., in 2011. Carde, her father and brother--all Chilean immigrants--were turned down by three banks because the business was so new, that none of the banks were willing to loan the family enough to get the business started.

Latino Community--which serves an underserved population that most banks pass over--was the only financial institution that took a chance on the Carde family business, National Journal said.

To read the articles use the links.

Results Of CUNA's Student Borrowing Survey Make an Impression

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MADISON, Wis. (4/29/13)--Credit Union National Association's Student Borrowing Survey, which found half of high school seniors have no idea what college will cost, has been duly noted by bankruptcy lawyers, accountants and economic education groups, who are citing CUNA's results as one more reason for financial education.

San Diego bankruptcy attorneys at the Golden State Law Group, which represents businesses and individuals in financial difficulty, in a press release cited most of the survey's findings, saying they "find the results of this survey troubling, as it indicates that not enough people who are going to take out student loans are aware of the true nature of these obligations. Student loan debt is generally not a type of debt that can be discharged in a bankruptcy case in the absence of relatively rare circumstances."

The law firm, seeing a business opportunity, encouraged people struggling with student loan debt to contact it for a free initial consultation.

The accounting industry is also taking note, with articles in CP PracticeAdvisor.com (April 22) and accountingweb.com (April 25). Both cite the survey.

The Council for Economic Education (CEE), which hopes to implement a National Standards for Financial Literacy as a framework for content and skills it believes should be contained in K-12 personal finance curriculum, said that personal finance isn't being taught enough in U.S. schools ( accountingweb.com).

CEE's survey found  that 46 states include personal finance in their K-12 standards but only 36 require the standards to be taught.  It also found that:

  • Fourteen states offer a high school course on personal finance;
  • Thirteen states require taking a course on personal finance before one can graduate; and
  • Five states have tests on personal finance or financial literacy.
The article refers to the CUNA survey findings that indicate more awareness is needed and quotes CUNA Executive Vice President of Strategic Communications and Engagement Paul Gentile.

"These troubling findings suggest not just a lack of awareness of college cost or how debt works but also a lack of basic financial knowledge," he said. "The results suggest that some students could be challenged in managing basic expenses or using such payment tools as credit cards in a consistently responsible manner as they enter adulthood."

CUNA's press release about its survey was also reported, verbatim, in CPAPracticeAdvisor and Manufacturing Close-Up (April 25).  Earlier last week, several news outlets covered CUNA's findings. They included the Huffington Post, Sacramento Bee and KTEN.com in Texas and Oklahoma.

To recap the CUNA survey's key findings:

  • 83% of students surveyed did not know the rates and 77% didn't know the duration of their expected or existing college loans;
  • 74% of those aspiring to attend college said they will need a combination of federal and private loans, family money and jobs to support their tuition; and
  • 25% expect to take out two or more student loans; 13%, one loan; and 60% could not estimate how many they would need.

CU's 'Harlem Shake' Video Hits Intended Audience

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WICHITA, Kan. (4/29/13)--A credit union's video of folks in the lobby getting down and doing the "Harlem Shake" is hitting its intended audience and has attracted the attention of local media as well as 2,446 (as of Friday) YouTube viewers.

Credit Union of America, a $502.1 million asset Wichita, Kan., in what a local reporter called a "decidedly un-credit-union-like video," is targeting a young adult audience, roughly teens to early 30s, Glenda Burkett, vice president of marketing and business development at CUA, told Wichita Business Journal Online (April 25).

The "Harlem Shake" refers to an electronica song that became an Internet hit when groups of people began gathering in strange costumes and videotaping their group dancing to the song, then posting their videos online.

The video features people in a CUA lobby, who hear the music and start dancing. The video of their dancing is interspersed with short messages--information from the credit union's annual meeting in March--set to Musack elevator music.  The video appeals to the younger set, who get a kick out of the extreme and the absurd, said Burkett.  

The video was the brainchild of CUA Marketing Specialist Amanda Gish. Production costs were minimal. The dancers were CUA staff and board members who provided their own costumes, the studio was a branch lobby,  and Burkett was behind the video camera.  Cox Communications helped with editing the video. The credit union spent $5,000 by giving out $10 iTunes cards to the video's first 500 viewers.

To view the video, use the link.

CUNA Designates First Certified Marketing Execs

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Click to view larger image Nine credit union marketing professionals recently earned the Credit Union Certified Marketing Executive (CUCME) designation, said the Credit Union National Association. Pictured from left are Angela Meehan, Andrea Lepper, Mark Arnold (instructor), Maria Johnson, Kathy Palumbo, Matt Brophy, Randy Schultz (instructor), Lynn Roth, Michelle Broderick.  Not pictured are Janet Buckalew and Karen Owens. (Photo provided by CUNA)
MADISON, Wis. (4/29/13)--Nine credit union marketing professionals are the first to earn the Credit Union Certified Marketing Executive (CUCME) designation, said the Credit Union National Association.

"It was a great experience watching our first group of credit union marketers earn the CUCME designation," said Meghann Dawson, instruction design manager for CUNA Marketing Management School. "Their hard work and dedication to the coursework, class participation and testing made it clear that they are ready to make a huge impact in their marketing efforts at their credit union."

The certification demonstrates skill in proven core competencies, including: strategic marketing, public relations, retail marketing, advertising management, product and services roll-out, market research, persuasive communication, problem solving and leadership skills.

The new designation can be earned by attending all three years of CUNA Marketing Management School (MMS) curriculum and passing an exam each year. Since the CUCME is new, MMS attendees who completed all three years before 2013 can earn their CUCME by attending a designation boot camp before the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council Conference.

The first CUCME designees are:

  • Michelle Broderick, Cumberland County FCU, Falmouth, Maine;
  • Matt Brophy, Seven Seventeen CU Inc., Warren, Ohio;
  • Janet Buckalew, Pacific Crest FCU, Klamath Falls, Ore.;
  • Maria Johnson, Collins Community CU, Cedar Rapids, Iowa;
  • Andrea Lepper, Superior Choice CU, Superior, Wis.;
  • Angela Meehan, Park Side FCU, Whitefish, Mont.:
  • Karen Owens, First CU, Chandler, Ariz.;
  • Kathy Palumbo, Capital Educators FCU, Meridian, Idaho; and
  • Lynn Roth, DuTrac Community CU, Dubuque, Iowa.
CUNA Marketing Management School's three-year curriculum was developed in collaboration with the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council. It provides credit union marketing professionals key skill sets for marketing growth, and a comprehensive overview of the current marketing environment and the personal drive needed to improve and optimize their credit union's marketing efforts.

CUNA estimates that an additional 40 contacts will be certified within the next few years.

To learn more, use the link.

Research: Consumers Want FI Access, Personalization

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (4/29/13)--What do consumers want from their financial institution?  Credit unions take note: They want personalization to help simplify managing finances over multiple channels and they consider three attributes as key. They also don't mind providing private information to get what they want.

Consumers surveyed identified availability (63%), competence (65%) and efficiency (68%) as key attributes in interacting with a financial institution (FI) or financial adviser, said the 2013 Cisco Customer Experience Report, which surveyed 1,514 banking customers and 405 bank managers in 10 countries.

They indicated they would be willing to exchange more details about their financial habits and have FIs as more active advisers in exchange for:

  • Greater protection from identity theft, 83%;
  • Increased savings, 80%;
  • Personalized service, 78%; and
  • Greater simplicity in managing finances, 56%.
Fifty-four percent wanted automated systems for financial advice or recommendations, and 59% would be more comfortable with location-sensitive recommendations delivered to a mobile device, said the San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco.

Most (71%) were comfortable with the increasing use of virtual communications in addition to in-person financial conversations.

In the U.S., consumers surveyed wanted:

  • More simplified personal financial services, 69%;
  • More identity theft security, 77%;
  • Advice for increasing savings, 73%;
  • More financial education, 67%; and
  • An assessment of their financial status compared with other clients, 47%.
Bank managers surveyed had predicted the consumers' desire for these services would be roughly 20% higher than the actual results.

Of consumers were willing to share private information with FIs, 53% said they would provide a fingerprint or other biometrics to verify transactions and protect against identity theft, while 60% would trade information for simplified money management. However, 57% did not want their FI to share personal information outside the FI--even if it improved quality of service in other areas.

Other findings related to U.S. consumers:

  • 63%  were comfortable communicating with their FI with technology such as texting, e-mail or video (instead of in-person);
  • 48% would be comfortable securing a loan or mortgage using technology like video to communicate with their FI;
  • 21% would favor a smartphone for video conversation with FIs, while 79% preferred a laptop or desktop computer; and
  • 46% would open an account at a completely virtual FI if it offered the best or more secure services.

CUNA Mutual, Union Reach Tentative Agreement On Contract

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MADISON, Wis. (4/29/13)--CUNA Mutual Group and the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 39, which represents about 700 office workers at CUNA Mutual, have reached a tentative agreement on a three-year contract.

The agreement covers three years, from April 1, 2013,  through March 31, 2016. The company and the union have been negotiating since mid-February. The original contract, which expired March 31, was extended several times before the tentative agreement was reached Thursday.

It is now up to the union membership to vote on the agreement.

"We are very pleased that the company's and union's frank discussions resulted in a tentative agreement that each of us strongly supports," said Rick Uhlmann, senior manager, media relations at CUNA Mutual Group. "We believe it reflects the most important issues on both sides."

Maine League Testifies On Fin Lit, Manufactured Homes Bills

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PORTLAND, Maine (4/29/13)--The Maine Credit Union League testified  recently in favor of two bills before state legislature--one to promote the financial literacy of high school students and one to clarify when a manufactured home becomes residential real property.

L.D. 843 would amend the system of learning to require each student in the state to study and become proficient in personal finance. On April 19, league Director of Governmental Affairs Quincy Hentzel testified before the Education Committee, explaining the long history of leadership and support that Maine's credit unions have provided for financial literacy (Weekly Update April 26).

"For nearly two decades, the Maine Credit Union League and a number of Maine's credit unions have had an active role in helping to build awareness and understanding about money management and personal finance with thousands of Maine children," Hentzel said. "We believe that by educating children about money management and personal finance, they are much more likely to become savvy consumers as adults."

She highlighted the success of Financial Fitness Fairs coordinated by the state's credit unions. During the 2012-2013 school year, credit unions are coordinating nearly 25 fairs that will reach nearly 5,000 high school students.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Matt Pouliot attended and volunteered at one fair in Augusta and was "very impressed and enthusiastic about the fairs," the league said.

Last Tuesday, the league testified in support of the manufactured housing bill, L.D. 854, which the league worked on and helped draft.

Ryan Poulin, president/CEO of New Dimensions FCU, Waterville, testifyied on behalf of Maine's credit unions. The Federal Home Loan Bank informed the state's lenders last year that they could not collateralize FHLB loans with mortgage loans collateralized by mobile homes that were titled but not permanently fixed to property.

"This legislation specifically states that if manufactured housing has not been issued a certificate of title, it is considered real property when it is permanently affixed to real property that is owned by the owner of the manufactured housing," he said. "Manufactured housing is an affordable housing option that we want to be sure we can continue to provide financing for to our members."

A work session on the bill is set for Tuesday. No date has been set for a work session on the financial literacy bill.

Pennsylvania Report Shows Need For Financial Education

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/29/13)--More financial education is needed in Pennsylvania's public schools, according to a report from a Pennsylvania Task Force on Economic Education and Personal Financial Literacy Education.  

Mike Wishnow, Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) senior vice president of communications and public relations, served on the task force (Life is a Highway April 26).

"I'd like to commend the task force for its hard work and strong recommendations to increase financial education for all Pennsylvania school children," said Jim McCormack, PCUA president/CEO. "Pennsylvania's credit unions have been actively engaged in financial education with their members, in schools, and in communities for the past several decades."

More consistency is needed in financial education within Pennsylvania's 500 school districts through personal finance graduation requirements, funding for standard curriculums and teacher training, and curriculum guidelines, the report suggested.

The task force spent 14 months studying research, best practices and trends in financial education to make the recommendations on how to improve financial education in the state's schools.

Maine CUs Celebrate Volunteer Week With a Record

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WESTBROOK, Maine (4/29/13)--Maine's credit unions volunteered a record-setting 41,536 hours in 2012--a 19% increase over 2011.

The figures were released in celebration of National Volunteer Week last week.

The Maine Credit Union League coordinates statewide tracking of volunteer time contributed by credit unions through its nationally recognized Credit Unions Share for ME program. 

"By their nature and structure, credit unions are about cooperating and helping others, whether it's members or the community," said John Murphy, league president. "From local staff to a volunteer unpaid board of directors, Maine credit unions give back to their communities on a daily basis--not because they have to, but because it is the right thing to do." 

Based on figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which calculates the value of one hour volunteered in Maine at $17.03, the value of the time volunteered by Maine's credit unions equaled $707,358 in 2012.

The league's 11-year-old program has received several awards and recognition for quantifying the community service efforts of the state's credit unions. Since 2002, the program has documented more than 260,000 volunteer hours by credit union staff and directors.

More than 2,000 individuals, including staff and board members, volunteered in their communities last year, the league said. An average of 374 credit union staff and directors collectively volunteered an average of 3,461 hours each month in 2012.

One of the new aspects of credit union volunteer efforts this year was to encourage younger members to volunteer. The league's Young and Free Maine program for the 18- to 25-year-old demographic began spotlighting volunteer and community-related activities of young adults living and working in Maine each month on its Young and Free Maine website.

League To Reach Out To New Commerce Director

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (4/26/13)--The Ohio Credit Union League plans to reach out to the state's new director of commerce, Andre Porter, to begin gauging his understanding of credit unions and their unique role in the financial services industry.

Gov. John Kasich appointed Porter, who served as a member of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, to the position earlier this month, said the league (eLumination Newsletter April 17). Porter is also a former attorney.

The Ohio Division of Financial Institutions, which regulates state-chartered credit unions, is part of the Department of Commerce.

CU System Briefs (04/26/2013)

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  • LUBBOCK, Texas (4/26/13)--Jeffrey B. Hensley, 42, of Lubbock, Texas, has been arrested as a suspect in three local robberies, including the Feb. 13 holdup at Alliance FCU in Lubbock.  Hensley has been charged with one count of credit union robbery. He is also a suspect in robberies on Sept. 14 of First United Bank and Dec. 18 of PlainsCapital Bank. In all three robberies, the holdup man slipped a threatening note to tellers and fled with cash (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal April 25)  If convicted, Hensley faces up to 20 years in prison (Associated Press via San Francisco Chronicle April 25) ...
  • WESTBURY, N.Y. (4/26/13)--NEFCU is celebrating its 75th anniversary by reaching the $2 billion milestone in assets. The Westbury, N.Y.-based credit union began in 1938 as Valley Stream Teachers FCU with nine members and $45 in deposits and served employees of Valley Stream Schools and their families. Today it serves more than 150,000 members. It took nearly 70 years to reach the $1 billion asset mark and six years to double those assets. "While we recognize that many aspects of our business will change, through it all, our mission has and will continue to remain the same--to ensure than our membership and their families achieve financial success," said Edward P. Paternostro, NEFCU president/CEO. In celebration, NEFCU is offering Long Islanders a home equity line of credit with an 0.75% annual percentage rate (APR) for six months and personal loans for $500 to $20,000 with terms from six to 60 months at rates as low as 6.75% APR. It also is offering $75 to those who open a free checking account with direct deposit ...
  • BASKING RIDGE, N.J. (4/26/13)--Beth Degnan, assistant vice president of external affairs and financial education for Affinity FCU, Basking Ridge, N.J., has been appointed to the New Jersey Coalition of Financial Education (NJCFE) Board of Directors. NJCFE Chair Maryanne Evanko made the appointment during the coalition's Annual Membership Meeting in Hamilton Square, N.J., said the New Jersey Credit Union League (The Daily Exchange April 25) ...

CUs Educate With 'a Giggle' During Youth Week

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MADISON, Wis. (4/25/13)--Credit unions are in mustache and mystery mode this week in celebration of the National Credit Union Youth Week theme, Savings Sleuth: Solve the Mystery.

"This year we certainly are pulling out the playful, even silly, side of Youth Week--but that's our secret weapon," said Joanne Sepich, Credit Union National Association Youth Week coordinator. "With a wink, a smile, and a giggle, credit unions are introducing basic money management skills to children of all ages this week."

Among the ways credit unions and credit union organizations celebrated youth and saving this week:

  • Savings Safari Club members (kids 12 and under) and Xtreme Teen Savers Club members (ages 13 to 18) at Belco Community CU, Harrisburg, Pa., are treated to free giveaways, prizes and refreshments when they visit one of the credit union's branches. With every deposit of $10 or more into their youth club account during April, kids receive an entry to win an Apple iPad mini. If Belco meets its National Youth Saving Challenge goal, the credit union will donate $1,000 to the Ronald McDonald House.
  • Click to view larger image IRCO Community FCU of Phillipsburg, N.J., is celebrating Youth Week with a Mystery Scavenger Hunt. Kids Club members were provided a detective kit and a clue list to find coins. When they deposit the correct coins into their Kids Club account, they are entered in a drawing for movie tickets. They also can get their photos taken as a detective, complete with moustache, hat and trench coat. (Photo provided by New Jersey Credit Union League)
    CUNA staff celebrated Youth Week with a "Name that 'Stache" contest in which employees were asked to identify colleagues wearing mustaches. Employees also were provided with finger 'stache tattoos, treats, and snapshots of credit union Youth Week celebrations nationwide.
  • The Michigan Credit Union League's 10th Annual Financial Literacy Legislative Challenge pairs lawmakers with credit unions in their communities to schedule joint youth financial education events during National Financial Literacy Month in April. The challenge is a cooperative effort to build relationships between Michigan legislators and their constituents in the credit union community while teaching youth money management skills (Michigan Monitor April 15).
  • At Freedom CU, Warminster, Pa., members can take part in the credit union's "Savings Sleuth Scavenger Hunt" by answering a Freedom trivia question each day. The credit union posts the questions on its website and Facebook page. Twenty-five young people who answer all five questions correctly by the end of the week will be randomly selected to win $50 each.
  • Click to view larger image Employees of Rivers Edge Community CU in Allen Park, Mich. donned mustaches and organized a slate of events for National Credit Union Youth Week. They also assisted a local Reading is Fundamental Program. The credit union distributed identification kits, ran a penny-counting contest and offered incentives for new accounts. (Photo provided by Rivers Edge Community CU)
    Employees of Fremont (Ohio) FCU visited local second-grade classrooms to help children understand the difference between wants and needs and discuss the ways kids can earn money. The classes will have the opportunity to tour two of the credit union's branches.
  • Employees of Meadville (Pa.) Area FCU will be dressed today for Clown Day and serve popcorn and refreshments, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association said (Life is a Highway April 24). Throughout the week, children who make a deposit of $5 or more into their youth account will receive one entry into a weekend drawing. Any youth account opened during Youth Week will receive an introductory prize.
  • Lebanon (Pa.) FCU will host a meet and greet Saturday with 14-year-old Amber Britto, who drives the No. 43A car at local and area racetracks. Amber will have her "slingshot" car on display (Life is a Highway April 25).
  • Click to view larger image Nearly 100 students from Alief Hastings Ninth Grade Center High School, Houston, attended a REAL Solutions Financial Reality Fair sponsored by People's Trust FCU, and the People's Trust Foundation, the Texas Credit Union League said (Lone Star Leaguer April 22). The fair is made available for free to Texas REAL Solutions credit unions as a result of donations from the league, Texas Credit Union Foundation, the Friends of Consumer Freedom and the National Credit Union Foundation. (Photo provided by the Texas Credit Union League)
    The Dunn County News published an opinion-editorial by WESTconsin CU, Menomonie, Wis., describing credit union's Youth Week activities. In the editorial, the credit union also offered "clues" to help children save. WESTconsin CU hosted on-site and off-site financial literacy activities within the communities it serves. The credit union offered games, learning activities and treats. To read the editorial, use the link.
  • Achieva CU, Largo, Fla., posted a video of its Youth Week activities. Use the link.
National Credit Union Youth Week was created by CUNA so credit unions nationwide could focus on the financial needs of young people and provide financial literacy education. It teaches the benefits of saving and goal setting, and invites youth to open savings accounts at their credit union and make deposits throughout the year.

CUNA also conducts the National Youth Saving Challenge throughout April. The challenge rewards 10 savers with $100 cash prizes.

Connecticut House OKs Savings Raffles

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HARTFORD, Conn. (4/26/13)--The Connecticut of House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday that would allow the state's credit unions and community banks to offer savings promotions raffles, under certain conditions.

House Bill 5564 now goes to the state Senate for consideration (Associated Press April 25).

The Credit Union League of Connecticut supported the bill, Kelly Fuhlbrigge, league vice president of government relations, told News Now. "We lobbied in support of the bill and submitted testimony as well," she said.

"We are committed to educating our members, and potential members, to become better educated consumers of financial services," Anthony L. Emerson, president/CEO of the league, told News Now. "We support this bill because it embodies the mission of credit unions to help and educate our members."

The league sent out a release to state member credit unions Wednesday. It read: " ... the state House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 5564, An Act Encouraging Increased Savings Deposits. This bill, if also passed by the Senate and then signed into law by the governor, would encourage individuals who are age 18 or older, who don't normally save money, to begin making or to increase the frequency of their deposits into a savings account or other savings program offered by a Connecticut credit union or community bank through a lottery type program.

"This bill was based on a National Credit Union Foundation program and promotes savings by allowing credit unions and community banks, who choose to provide this program, yet another vehicle through which they can reach out and educate members on the importance of saving," the league added.

House Bill 5564 stipulates that participating credit unions and community banks would have to disclose the terms and conditions of the raffle and maintain records that could be audited, if necessary, said the AP. Only financial institutions that have secure finances, as determined by the state's banking commissioner, could offer raffles.

Participants who deposit a minimum amount in a savings account or program would have the chance to win designated prizes, the AP added.

Several other states, including Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina and Washington, offer savings raffle programs (News Now March 28).

Study: Finance Industry Top Hacker Target

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NEW YORK  (4/26/13)--Financial organizations were the top target of cybercriminals in 2012, with 37% of data breaches, according to Verizon's 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report.

Finance led the overall incident count, but once ATM skimming incidents were filtered from the mix, the finance sector dropped to just above the middle of the pack, said the New York-based Verizon.

The report comes just as the Credit Union National Association is warning credit unions about a potential denial of distributed service attack expected in May. (See News Now story, "CUNA Warns Of Potential Denial Of Service Attack.")

Ninety-two percent of last year's breaches were perpetrated by outsiders, and 14% by insiders. That finding has been consistent through each year of the study but bucks the general opinion that insiders commit more fraud, said the report.

"All in all, 2012 reminded us that breaches are a multi-faceted problem, and any one-dimensional attempt to describe them fails to adequately capture their complexity," said the company.

During 2012, Verizon analyzed more than 47,000 reported security incidents and 621 confirmed data breaches. Since its study began nine years ago, it has reviewed 2,500 data breaches and 1.1 billion compromised records.

Last year's breaches were in a number of forms: 52% engaged in some form of hacking; 76% network intrusions exploiting weak or stolen credential; 40% malicious software (malware); 35% physical attacks; 29% social tactics; and 13% privilege misuse or abuse. The first three decreased since the 2012 study covering 2011's breaches. Physical attacks and social tactics increased.

Certain commonalities existed among the breaches. Seventy-five percent of the breaches were for financial motives, 71% targeted user devices; 54% compromised servers; 75% were considered opportunistic attacks; 78% of initial intrusions were rated as low difficulty; 69% were discovered by external parties; and 66% took months or longer to discover.

What can credit unions and others do to mitigate breach activity? The report made eight suggestions:

  1. Eliminate unnecessary data and keep tabs on what's left.
  1. Ensure essential controls are met and regularly check them.
  1. Collect, analyze and share incident data to create a rich data source to drive security program effectiveness.
  1. Collect, analyze and share tactical threat intelligence--especially indicators of compromise--that can aid defense and detection.
  1. Without deemphasizing prevention, focus on better and faster detection through a blend of people, processes and technology.
  1. Regularly measure data such as number of compromised systems and mean time to detection in networks, and use them to drive security practices.
  1. Evaluate the threat landscape to prioritize a treatment strategy. Avoid the one-size-fits-all security approach.
  1. If you are a target of espionage, don't underestimate the tenacity of the adversary or the intelligence and tools at your disposal.

CUNA Warns Of Potential Denial of Service Attack

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MADISON, Wis. (4/26/13)--With the increasing prevalence of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) cyberattacks, the Credit Union National Association is alerting credit unions to "chatter" that has been detected about a potential widespread attack that could be planned for May 7.

"It is not possible to assess the veracity of the threat at this time, but it is important that credit unions be aware and prepared at all times.  Also, some of the largest credit unions are included in a list of targets for the purported May attack so heightened awareness is warranted," said CUNA Vice President of Information Technology Tom Nohelty Thursday.

DDoS attacks are attempts to disrupt or suspend online service by saturating a target's network with external communication requests to overload its server.

If a credit union is subject to an attack, Nohelty explains, it will see a "very large spike" in Internet traffic to its website from one or more IP addresses and their website will become unresponsive. Proactive measures a credit union can take include:

  • Alerting its network team to actively monitor in-bound Internet traffic that day.  The team should be prepared to block traffic from specific IP addresses in an effort to maintain their website's ability to respond to normal business requests;
  • Consider alerting members about the Internet threat for May 7 and asking members to execute critical online banking business on a different day or come into the credit union office;
  • Educating call center staff on the symptoms of a denial of service attack so they can better serve the members and notify their network teams if an attack is underway.  The call center staff should be prepared with alternatives to serve the members.
The National Credit Union Administration stepped into Washington's cybersecurity discussions earlier this year and identified policies and procedures to guard against DDoS attacks in a new credit union risk alert (13-Risk-01). The alert notes that the sophistication of such attacks require the vigilance of credit unions offering Internet-based financial services. (See resource link to read NCUA tips on mitigating issues presented by DDoS attacks.)

Also of note, the CUNA Technology Council is offering a free May1 webinar entitled, "Mitigating and Responding to a Distributed Denial of Service Attack."  Speakers Bill Podborny, chief security officer of Alliant CU in Chicago, and Glen Roberts, information security researcher of University FCU in Austin, Texas, will lead the session, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. (CT).

Ohio League State Award Winners Announced

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (4/26/13)--The Ohio Credit Union League announced  its 2013 Leadership Recognition Awards earlier this month.

Stan Barnes, CEO of Canton School Employees SE FCU in Canton, was named Professional of the Year (eLumination Newsletter April 3).

Other first-place award-winners were:

  • Atomic CU, Piketon---Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award;
  • BMI FCU, Dublin--Desjardins Adult Financial Education Award;
  • Faith Community United CU, Cleveland, and Kemba CU, West Chester--Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award;
  • State Transportation Employees, Columbus;  Day Air CU, Kettering; and the Central Ohio Chapter--Louise Herring Philosophy-in-Action Member Service Award; and
  • Fiberglass FCU, Newark--Cutting Edge Marketing Brilliance Award for non-agency entries.

CUAD's CU Social Good Teams With CU4Kids

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BISMARCK, N.D. (4/26/13)--CU Social Good, the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas' (CUAD) new website, is linked with the Credit Unions for Kids (CU4Kids) website and features stories about the fundraising activities credit unions do for their local Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. 

The collaboration is designed to bring attention to both CU Social Good and the CU4Kids organization. The CU Social Good website now has a category for CU4Kids stories. The CU4Kids website will link back to CU Social Good for its Fundraising Highlights link. 

"The support Credit Unions for Kids gives to children's hospitals is truly remarkable" said Robbie Thompson, CUAD president CEO. "Hopefully these stories will encourage even more in our industry to support this great organization."

CU Social Good was launched in January. The website has already posted more than 700 stories about credit unions charitable donations, fundraising activities, volunteer work, financial literacy efforts and scholarships. 

CU4Kids is a nonprofit collaboration of credit unions, chapters, leagues/associations and business partners nationwide engaged in fundraising activities to benefit 170 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Credit unions are the third-largest corporate sponsor of the hospitals. 

"As the stories on CU Social Good clearly display, credit unions are truly about 'people helping people,' and we are proud and honored to benefit from their generosity and commitment to their communities," said Joe Dearborn, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals senior director of corporate partnerships.

Illinois, Louisiana Leagues Tell Why CUs Are Tax Exempt

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MADISON, Wis. (4/26/13)--The Illinois and Louisiana Credit Union Leagues and Alabama CU weighed in on the tax status battle to tell why credit unions are tax exempt in two publications Wednesday.

Illinois Credit Union League President/CEO Daniel Plauda, in an opinion-editorial in Wednesday's State Journal-Register, noted banking associations' media campaign to pursue taxing credit unions.

"Stripping credit unions of their tax-exempt status won't deliver the revenue Illinois needs," Plauda said. "Worse, such a move would pick the pockets of almost three million state residents who rely on credit unions to provide them with affordable financial services."

Credit unions are member-owned, democratically run financial cooperatives; they typically offer loans with lower interest rates than those at for-profit banks and pay higher interest on savings accounts, he said.

"As not-for-profit, member-owned entities, credit unions are exempt from federal and state income taxes," Plauda wrote, noting credit unions "pay property, sales and payroll taxes." All excess revenue is returned to the member through better rates and more affordable services. As new bank fees have proliferated, Americans "have moved to credit unions in droves." For the full article, use the link.

Banks are fighting credit union's tax-exempt status while forgetting about the growing sector of banks operating as Subchapter S organizations, said the Louisiana Credit Union League and Tuscaloosa Ala.-based Alabama CU in Wednesday's Credit Unions Online.com. Use the link to access the article.

Banks should examine their complaints and take the tax issue off the table, said Connie Major, Louisiana league executive vice president, noting  Subchapter S organizations "aren't paying as much taxes either." Competition drives a healthy marketplace, Major said. She urged banks "to consider converting to a volunteer board. Credit unions and banks operate through an entirely different model where banks are for profit and have stock holders--we're just completely different from one another."

Banks bring up the tax issue virtually any time credit unions seek additional powers such as trying to raise their member business lending cap, said Alabama CU President/CEO Steve Swofford. "Banks believe that by threatening the loss of the tax exemption they can force credit unions to operate under laws passed over 50 years ago," he said, adding they use any federal or state government fiscal crisis as an opportunity to raise the issue. The amount of money that would result from taxing credit unions "is truly minimal."

Protecting credit unions' tax exempt status is the top priority of the Credit Union National Association. To help credit unions talk about the value of credit union membership and why credit unions are tax exempt, CUNA has created a Tax Status Advocacy Toolkit, which contains newsletter articles, radio and print ads, credit union data, state-level updates on tax issues, member communication pieces and more.

Members who understand the value of their membership will stand to defend the tax exemption of credit unions, maintains CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said. For more information, use the link.

CUNA Experience Learning Live! Advisory Committee Announced

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MADISON, Wis. (4/25/13)--The Credit Union National Association has named four credit union professionals to serve on the CUNA Experience Learning Live! Advisory Committee.

"These four members were selected from an incredible group of applicants," said Marlo Foltz, CUNA director of blended learning. "They will be the minds behind the operations and opportunities available at this year's conference."

This year's Advisory Committee members include:

  • Ellen Davis, Gerber FCU, Fremont, Mich.;
  • Melody Fenton, Warren FCU, Cheyenne, Wyo.;
  • Patricia Leach, Achieva CU, Dunedin, Fla.; and
  • M.J. Smyzer, West Community CU, O'Fallon, Mo.
CUNA Experience Learning Live!, which meets Oct. 20-23 in Seattle, is a conference for credit union learning and development professionals. It joins training industry leaders with credit union professionals to share insights and best practices.

The committee will play an integral part in producing session topics, networking opportunities and community awareness. It works until the conference has ended, hosting events, introducing speakers and contributing to the overall on-site experience.

CU System Briefs (04/25/2013)

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  • BISMARCK, N.D. (4/25/13)--Felicity Guerin, development manager of Credit Unions for Kids at the Credit Union National Association, was the call-in guest for the first half hour of the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas Legislative Today radio hour Tuesday night. She shared information about fundraising for a local Children's Miracle Network Hospital, noting credit unions in the Dakotas have raised more than $100,000 for the cause. Dakota credit unions' involvement in CU4Kids jumped the past two years, with 35 credit unions actively supporting the program today. Participation in the Dakotas grew three times faster than any other state last year, she said.  Also, Jeff Olson, CUAD vice president of advocacy and awareness, appeared live and shared information about CUAD's CU Social Good website, dedicated to sharing good things credit unions do for people and their communities every day. In March, the new site had 1,100 website views; so far in April, 1,400 views have been recorded (The Memo April 24) ...
  • DES MOINES, Iowa (4/25/13)--The Iowa Credit Union Foundation awarded $5,750 in scholarships to six Iowa students through the 2013 Warren A. Morrow Memorial Scholarship program.  Four scholarships went to high school students and two to post-high school students. The program received a record 485 applications. Each entrant was required to complete an entry form and write a 500-word essay on the question, "Given the fragile state of  our national economy, with record unemployment and deficits, describe how having an emergency savings account is more crucial than ever. How might someone utilize their credit union to focus on saving?"  First place high school winner of $1,500 is Brandon Walls of Du Trac Community CU, Dubuque. First-place post-high school winner of $1,000 was Samantha Gaffney of Veridian CU, Waterloo ...

CNBS International Internship Progresses

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (4/25/13)--A 12-month internship hosted by CNBS has provided Christopher Hamera, a third-year economics student from Africa University in Zimbabwe, an opportunity to learn about credit unions.

Christopher Hamera, a third-year economics student from Africa University in Zimbabwe, is serving a 12-month internship hosted by CNBS, an investment adviser that serves credit unions nationwide. (Photo provided by CNBS)
CNBS is an Overland Park, Kan.-based investment adviser serving credit unions nationwide.

Two days after arriving in the U.S. on Feb. 18 Hamera flew to Washington, D.C., to attend the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC). Jeff Carpenter, CUNA vice president of membership development, arranged a tour of CUNA's Washington, D.C., offices for Hamera during the GAC.

"It was a wonderful experience," Hamera said of the GAC. "I met so many people from credit unions across the U.S. I learned a great deal about America's credit unions, and also the political system, hearing from so many credit union leaders and government officials. It was a good opportunity to learn about the important role credit unions play in the U.S. economy, and I hope to be able to use my experience here to benefit the SACCO system in Malawi."

Malawi, the fifth-poorest country in the world, has a system of 26 credit unions called Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations (SACCOs). Sylvester Kadzola, the president of the Malawian SACCO trade organization, the Malawi Union of Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations (MUSCCO), serves on the board of directors of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU).

"CUNA and WOCCU have been supportive of and helpful to the internship," said Brian Hague, CNBS president/CEO.

Hamera was originally scheduled to arrive in the U.S. in January. "The first challenge was getting Christopher here," Hague said. "We thought we had his visa application process taken care of last summer; but when he went to the embassy to pick it up the week before Christmas, we ran into a snag."

Hague had to re-submit the 35-page application form, followed by a 115-page response to a request for further information, and the visa was approved shortly thereafter.

The four-leg, 35-hour international flight was another first for Hamera, who had never flown before.

Since February, Hamera has been at CNBS, learning more about the credit union movement, and investment and risk management. He completed a week of in-house training, which Hague said was based on coursework from CNBS' Institute Series. Hamera is involved in various projects, including a market peer comparison, assisting in CNBS' accounting department, and preparing daily market information summaries.

Ky Congressman Pledges Support On Tax Status

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (4/25/13)--
U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, center,  (R-Ky.)  recently met with Kentucky Credit Union League's Debbie Painter, executive vice president, and Wendell Lyons, president, to learn more about the regulatory burden on credit unions. Barr reiterated his support for the credit union tax exemption and pledged to work toward regulatory relief, said the league. (Photo provided by the Kentucky Credit Union League)
U.S. Rep Andy Barr (R-Ky.) invited the Kentucky Credit Union League earlier this month for a dialogue on regulatory relief and pledged his support for credit unions' tax-exempt status, said the league.

Barr met with league President Wendell Lyons and Executive Vice President Debbie Painter to discuss the impact of the regulatory burden on credit unions (By The Way April). The meeting was held just before the April 10 House Financial Services subcommittee hearing on examining credit union regulatory burdens.

"It provided a great opportunity to discuss credit unions in great detail," said the league, which provided the congressman more in-depth information about structure, governance, share insurance, liquidity, federal charter and state charter, and community/multiple select employee groups/single sponsors, and "operations from the inside out."

Other issues discussed included intermittence and mortgage rules that are impacting credit unions' ability to serve their members. Barr also had questions about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the National Credit Union Administration and the Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions and their role regulating credit unions.

"Congressman Barr pledged his support for our tax exemption and to work toward regulatory relief," the league's newsletter said. "In addition, he expressed his appreciation and support for the cooperative nature for financial institutions."

The Credit Union National Association has made preserving the tax exemption its top priority.

Barr also used information provided by the league about examples of the negative effect of current rules implemented by the Dodd -Frank Act in his question and comment time during the subcommittee hearing.  Use the link for archived webcast of the hearing.

Connecticut League CEO To Lead FCU

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FITCHBURG, Mass. (4/25/13)--Anthony "Tony" Emerson, president/CEO of The Credit Union League of Connecticut, has been tapped by IC FCU in Fitchburg, Mass., as its new CEO. Emerson will replace retiring CEO Tony Cali.

Emerson, president of the league since March of 2008, said he will remain with the league through June 14 and will start his new position at the $475 million asset credit union on June 17.

"After an extensive national search process and many strong potential candidates, the board feels Tony has the skills and leadership capabilities to take IC FCU to the next level of growth," said IC FCU Board Chairman Ken Stone.

Emerson served as vice president of finance/accounting/operations for Maine Savings FCU, Hampden, Maine, from 2003 to 2008.  He began his credit union career in 2001 at Penobscot County FCU, Old Town, Maine, after serving as an executive with a world-wide manufacturing firm and several years as a contracting officer in the Air Force. He has served on various boards, steering and league committees, and as chapter president for a two-year term.

He has earned degrees in contract law, logistics management and accounting, a master of business administration, and a doctorate in international business, and graduated with high honors from the Academy of Military Science.  He also has consulted the past five years on business strategy and strategic management.

"The board, staff and members are all loyal and dedicated to the success of the credit union," said Emerson. "I look forward to working with all of them well into the future to ensure the continued growth and prosperity of the credit union."

GoBankingRates: CUs' Savings Rates Top Local And Big Banks

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (4/25/13)--Credit unions have proved again that they are the better value by topping a new savings rate survey with the best rates. A GoBankingRates survey found that local savings account rates are five times higher than the rates of savings accounts from the 10 biggest banks.

"Depositors on the hunt for better savings opportunities may want to leave their big banks for local alternatives," said GoBankingRates in a press release, noting that the difference in rates between big and local was "staggering."

Credit unions' average savings rate was 0.21% annual percentage yield (APY), the survey found. Local community banks' rate averaged at 0.19% APY, while the big banks averaged 0.04%.

Wall Street banks in the study included J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, U.S. Bancorp, Bank of New York Mellon, NSBC North America Holdings and PNC Financial Services Group. Only Goldman Sachs Group broke the 0.1% benchmark in savings rates.

"This suggests that depositors have a good chance of finding competitive saving account rates among local financial institutions--credit unions or banks--over big national banks," said Casey Bond, managing editor of GoBanking Rates.

Overall, local institutions--credit unions and community banks combined--averaged a 0.20% APY. The survey assessed 3,510 local savings account in GoBankingRates' database.

Providing member value is one of the measures of success toward achieving the strategic vision of Americans choosing credit unions as their best financial institutions. Today consumers save about $6 billion by using the better rates and lower fees of credit unions, according to Credit Union National Association statistics.  For more information about the strategic vision and how to get there, click on the Unite for Good link.

ICU Foundation Awards $52,000 In First-round Grants

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WASHINGTON (4/25/13)--One chapter and 24 credit unions received grants totaling $51,885 to support their Community Service, Marketing and Business Development, and Small Credit Union Development (SCUD) efforts from the Illinois Credit Union Foundation (ICUF) during the first quarter of 2013.

The foundation awarded seven Community Service Grants totalling $3,750 to assist and reward chapters or credit unions that actively support and invest in their local communities. Credit unions and chapters were eligible by hosting an established event, creating an event or volunteering at an already established event.

The Marketing and Business Development grants, totaling $15,500, were awarded to four credit unions. Created in 2006, this grant's objective is to help credit unions with assets up to $30 million to expand their outreach. The maximum grant is $5,000 per credit union per year.

The Small Credit Union Development grants, totaling $32,635, were awarded to 12 credit unions and one chapter. This grant aids small credit unions with purchasing computers, hardware, software, equipment, upgrades and other operational needs. 

ICUF has awarded more than $2.4 million in grants since it was established in 1978.

Illinois credit unions and chapters are still eligible for two more grant request deadlines in 2013--July 31 and Oct. 31. They can apply by downloading a grant request form via the league's website.

Kansas CUs Honor Leaders At Annual Meeting

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Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (center) attended the Governmental Affairs Luncheon Saturday at the 2013 Kansas Credit Union Association's Annual Meeting and Convention in Topeka and addressed questions from credit union staff and volunteers. He is pictured with John Beverlin, left, president/CEO, Mainstreet CU, Lenexa, and Marla Marsh, right, KCUA president/CEO.
WICHITA, Kan. (4/25/13)--The 2013 Kansas Credit Union Association's Annual Meeting and Convention in Topeka last weekend honored five leaders for their contributions to the credit union movement.

The meeting celebrated 78 years of service by KCUA, with the theme "The power of one can make a difference."

"We are proud of the contributions our credit unions make to their communities every day and our theme was a way to illustrate the people helping people philosophy," said Marla Marsh, president/CEO of KCUA. "One person can make a difference, but it's the collaboration and cooperative spirit of many that has changed the financial lives of millions of credit union members."

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback attended the Governmental Affairs Luncheon Saturday and addressed questions from credit union staff and volunteers. Other notable speakers included Lt. Col. Rob Darling, who recounted his first-hand experience witnessing crisis leadership in response to the 911 terrorist attacks. John Tippets shared an inspirational story of survival in Alaska.

Gary Winkler, center, former co-president, Quest CU, Topeka, was presented the Kansa Credit Union Hall of Fame Award for being a leader, advocate and mentor in the Kansas credit union movement, by Jim Holt (left), president/CEO, Mid American CU, Wichita, and Marla Marsh right, KCUA president /CEO, during the 2013 Kansas Credit Union Association's Annual Meeting and Convention. (Photos provided by the Kansas Credit Union Association)

Four credit union leaders were honored at the event:

  • Karen Hamit, CEO, Credit Union of Dodge City (Kan.), received the Henry Peterson Professional of the Year Award, honoring her leadership within the Kansas credit union community.
  • Jim Peebler, Supervisory Committee chair, TECU CU, Wichita, received the John Michener Volunteer of the Year award for his contribution and devotion as a volunteer, both to credit unions and the greater community.
  • Gary Winkler, former co-president, Quest CU, Topeka, was indicted into the KCUA Hall of Fame for his dedication and passion as a leader, advocate and mentor in the Kansas credit union movement.
  • Jane Hammil, chief administrative officer, Credit Union of America, Wichita, received the Political Involvement Award, recognizing her effort and involvement in educating state and national policymakers on the credit union difference.
At the association's business meeting, Don Homan, Frontier Community CU, Leavenworth, was elected to the volunteer seat on the KCUA board of directors.

KCUA board members continuing their terms include:

  • Chairman: Jim Holt, president/CEO,  Mid American CU, Wichita;
  • Vice Chair: Homan;
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Vickie Hurt, president, Quest CU, Topeka;
  • Rick Blue, president/CEO, White Eagle CU, Augusta;
  • Denise Bonner, manager, Wakarusa Valley CU, Lawrence;
  • Larry Damm, president/CEO, Cessna Employees CU, Wichita;
  • Rosa Saenz, senior vice president, Golden Plains CU, Garden City; and
  • Garth Strand, president/CEO, Hutchinson (Kan.) CU.
Shared Financial Solutions board members continuing their terms include:

  • Chairman: Holt;
  • Vice Chair: John Beverlin, president/CEO,  Mainstreet CU, Lenexa;
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Hurt;
  • Rick Blue, president/CEO, White Eagle CU, Augusta;
  • Chuck Bullock, president, TECU CU, Wichita;
  • Brenda Kliewer, manager, McPherson CO-OP CU, McPherson; and
  • LaRae Kraemer, president, Kansas State University FCU, Manhattan.

Speaker: 2014 a Watershed Year For Health Care Reform Compliance

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ANAHEIM, Calif.  (4/25/13)--Next year will be a "watershed" time for employers to meet mandates and deadlines related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), two speakers told a CUNA Human Resources and Training and Development Council Conference audience Tuesday in Ahaheim, Calif. Credit unions still have significant work to do to ensure they comply with the law, they said.

Annette Bechtold, senior vice president of regulatory affairs and reform initiatives, Digital Benefit Advisors, and Brad Pricer, senior manager, Employee Benefits Product Management, CUNA Mutual Group, outline health care reform compliance dates related to the Affordable Care Act for attendees at the CUNA HR/TD Council Conference Tuesday in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo provided by CUNA Mutual Group)
Citing the Credit Union National Association's 2012-2013 Credit Union Staff Survey for Human Resources Planning, Brad Pricer, CUNA Mutual Group senior manager, Employee Benefits Product Management, said just 31% of credit unions surveyed are ready for ACA requirements in 2013 and 2014.

"The Department of Labor is now beginning to audit businesses for ACA compliance," Pricer added. "Credit unions should be working with their broker or consultant to stay on top of required mandates."

Pricer co-presented with Annette Bechtold, senior vice president of regulatory affairs and reform initiatives with Digital Benefit Advisors (DBA). CUNA Mutual and DBA announced in February they were working together to provide resources, expertise and education to help credit unions navigate the complexities of ACA and employee benefits strategy.

About 14% of credit unions surveyed are prepared for 2013 ACA requirements. However, 26% indicated they are either not prepared but have a timeline for beginning preparations, or weren't starting preparations until after 2012, Pricer said.

Bechtold reviewed the most critical ACA elements employers must comply with in 2013 and 2014. They include:

  • Ensuring compliance with ACA's nondiscrimination rules regarding favoring highly compensated employees in benefits offered;
  • Understanding whether the health coverage offered to employees is sufficient to avoid penalties where applicable;
  • Ensuring health plans contain all mandated plan requirements; and
  • Meeting reporting requirements.
"It's important credit unions understand what effect 'Play or Pay' penalties have on them if they don't offer certain levels of coverage deemed affordable under health care reform," Bechtold said.

Most credit unions will continue offering health care coverage to employees even after the ACA is fully implemented, Pricer said. "How they offer that coverage will likely change," he added. "They might choose to fund it through a defined contribution approach, or purchase coverage through public or private exchanges."

Health care reform presents credit unions opportunities for potentially funding their health plan offerings, Pricer said. Credit unions may find this allows them to better plan health care costs year over year, while still remaining an employer of choice.

"Ultimately, the decision to offer health care coverage will be driven by affordability and whether it embraces the philosophy of being an employer of choice to recruit and retain the best available talent," Pricer said.

Mass League Recommends Fund For Boston Victims

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MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (4/25/13)--The Massachusetts Credit Union League has made a recommendation that credit unions wanting to help victims of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings give to a particular charity--The One Fund-Boston.

"This effort is well-organized, totally focused on the victims of the bombing, and has tremendous oversight and accountability," said the league's website Wednesday (E-Weekly  April 24).

"With their characteristic generosity and concern for others, the credit unions of Massachusetts have been quick to react to the suffering that resulted from the bombings that took place at this year's Boston Marathon," the league said. "A number of credit unions have reached out to the league to see if there was a particular charity or fundraising effort that the credit unions of Massachusetts are supporting."

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino announced the formation of The One-Fund-Boston Inc., which is set up to collect online donations. The website onefundboston.org also provides information for those wishing to contribute by check, the league said.

The fund, as of Wednesday afternoon, had raised nearly $23 million, with more than $6.9 million in public donations and more than $16 million in corporate donations.

CU System Briefs (04/24/2013)

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  • FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/24/13)--Texas Partners FCU, Killeen, Texas, has opened an account, "West, TX Relief Fund," to accept monetary donations for  victims of last week's fertilizer plant explosion in West, said the Texas Credit Union League (LoneStar Leaguer April 23).  To enable long-distance giving as well as donations via debit or credit card, the $130.4 million asset credit union has joined with Projekt Karma, a locally created crowdfunding online platform. Texas Partners began accepting monetary donations last Thursday at this website. It also is selling World's Finest Chocolate, and collecting non-perishable food and household items to benefit the residents of West. The campaign will run through the end of the month ...
  • ST. PAUL, Minn. (4/24/13)--Roger McClure, a 36-year board member at Postal CU, Woodbury, Minn., was recently honored with the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation's Credit Union Builder Award. The distinction recognizes those who have dedicated time and energy to building the credit union movement. McClure, who was first elected to PCU's board in 1977, will retire his post on April 28.  He has served on a variety of board committees and as committee chair throughout his tenure with the credit union ...
  • SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (4/24/13)--BluCurrent CU President/CEO Steve Pierson has announced he will retire after 38 years' service, effective June 30.  Pierson is only the second president in the credit union's 84-year history.  The $143 million asset credit union's board also announced that BluCurrent Vice President Craig Tabor, will succeed as president/CEO on Pierson's retirement. Pierson joined the credit union in 1975, when it was called Postal Federal Employees CU. He became president/CEO in 1977. At the time, the credit union had one branch, $8 million assets and served roughly 3,500 members, mostly employees of the U.S. Postal Service. Today it has more than $148 million assets and six locations serving nearly 20,000 members. Tabor has more than 23 years of credit union experience. Before joining BluCurrent's management team in 2004, he was an area manager for Ent FCU, Colorado Springs, Colo., and vice president of operations for Qualtrust CU, San Angelo, Texas. He is active in the Springfield Chapter of Credit Unions and the Missouri Credit Union Association ...

NEW: Connecticut League's Emerson Named CEO Of IC FCU

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FITCHBURG, Mass. (FILED 12:38 p.m. ET 4/24/13)--IC FCU in Fitchburg, Mass., has tapped Anthony "Tony" Emerson, president/CEO of The Credit Union League of Connecticut, as its new CEO, to replace retiring CEO Tony Cali.

Emerson, president of the league since March of 2008, said he will remain with the league through June 14 and will start his new position at the $475 million asset credit union on June 17.

"After an extensive national search process and many strong potential candidates, the board feels Tony has the skills and leadership capabilities to take IC FCU to the next level of growth," said IC FCU Board Chairman Ken Stone.

Emerson served as vice president of finance/accounting/operations for Maine Savings FCU, Hampden, Maine, from 2003 to 2008.  He began his credit union career in 2001 at Penobscot County FCU, Old Town, Maine, after serving as an executive with a world-wide manufacturing firm and several years as a contracting officer in the Air Force. He has served on various boards, steering and league committees, and as chapter president for a two-year term.

He has earned degrees in contract law, logistics management and accounting, a master of business administration, and a doctorate in international business, and graduated with high honors from the Academy of Military Science.  He also has consulted the past five years on business strategy and strategic management.

"The board, staff and members are all loyal and dedicated to the success of the credit union," said Emerson. "I look forward to working with all of them well into the future to ensure the continued growth and prosperity of the credit union."

CU's Mad City Money Hosts Scholarship Competition

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About 120 high school students participated in a Mad City Money scholarship competition hosted April 20 by Cardinal Community CU in Mentor, Ohio. The winner earned a $1,200 scholarship from the credit union. (Photo provided by Cardinal Community CU)
MENTOR, Ohio (4/24/13)--Cardinal Community CU in Mentor, Ohio, hosted a Mad City Money scholarship competition Saturday, and the winner earned a $1,200 scholarship from the $171 million asset credit union.

Mad City Money is the equivalent of a life-sized board game that allows young people to deal with real-world financial situations--in a setting that provides information on occupations, salaries, credit card debt, student loan debt and medical insurance payments (mentorpatch.com April 19).

Similar to the board game Life, Mad City Money allows high school students to assume the role of an adult in the futuristic Mad City. Provided with jobs, families, income and debt, participants visit merchants and choose clothing, daycare, food, household necessities, housing and other needs and wants while creating and working within a budget. The game was created by the Credit Union National Association.

Roughly 120 students participated in the event.

In the course of the competition, students make mistakes and endure their consequences "in a realistic but safe environment," Christine Blake, Cardinal Community president/CEO, told mentorpatch.

The experience allows students to formulate a basic-budgeting understanding, Blake added, noting that nearly 350 students were taught those concepts last year through the Mad City Money program.

CUNA Mutual: Employee Benefits' Future 'Clear As Mud'

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (4/24/13)--Their presentation was titled, "Employee Benefits Evolution: The Future is Clear," but two presenters speaking Monday at the CUNA Human Resources and Training and Development Council Conference said "clear as mud" might be a better description in predicting the future of employee benefits in the U.S.

Mike Evert, employee benefits product manager with CUNA Mutual Group, and David Martin, managing principal, credit union services with Digital Benefit Advisors, agreed there is nothing clear about the future of employee benefits--and health care coverage in particular.

CUNA Mutual Group and DBA announced in February they were working together to provide compliance resources, expertise to help credit unions navigate the complexities of the Affordable Care Act, and deliver wellness services and enhanced employee education.

Per capita health care spending in 2010 was $8,402 per person, which translates into $2.6 trillion or 17.9% of the nation's total economic activity, or gross domestic product, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In 1960, that amount was just $147 per person, and 5.2% of GDP.

"The availability and cost of health care coverage will play a significant role in employees' decisions on where they choose to work," Martin said.

"How health care premiums get paid is evolving," he added. One trend is a shift toward a defined contribution approach in medical insurance. This transformation will be similar to a previous shift from defined benefits to defined contribution retirement plans. How healthcare coverage is purchased will transform dramatically in the coming years.

"Fewer of us will have access through our employers, causing us to seek coverage via a public or private exchange," Martin said. "Employers who continue to offer coverage will participate in or build an exchange themselves."

Consumer-driven health care plans (CDHPs) are also growing more popular, Martin added. A CDHP is a health insurance plan with lower premiums and features higher deductibles and co-insurance than traditional health plans. The plans incorporate tax-advantaged tools that benefit the consumer and leverage increased personal accountability when purchasing medical services.

"However, a CDHP can't solve the problem alone," Martin said. "Greater emphasis on medical cost transparency is imperative. We can't ask for personal accountability when health care providers aren't willing to share their fees. To sum it up, regardless of what efforts are taken, it will get ugly before it gets better."

Oregon, Washington CUs Commit To Financial Ed

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (4/24/13)--While National Credit Union Youth Week celebrates youth and savings, it also is a time to recognize credit unions for their year-round activities in providing financial literacy assistance to America's youth. Providing financial literacy education is part of everyday business for many Oregon and Washington credit unions.

Oregon and Washington credit union educators are highly regarded resources for teachers and community organizations trying to fill the gaps between the state education requirements, and the needs of students, said the Northwest Credit Union Association.

For example, in Oregon, Corvallis-based OSU FCU shared financial education with nearly 14,000 students last year. Educators from SELCO Community CU in Eugene reached 7,000 students. Also in Eugene, Oregon Community CU contributed $114,000 in financial outreach grants and scholarships last year. Portland-based OnPoint Community CU contributed $2.3 million to local schools and nonprofits in 2012 and provided free financial counseling to students and adults.

In Washington, TwinStar CU, Lacey, educated 4,159 students through financial education outreach last year. Kitsap CU, Bremerton, taught more than 3,000 students. Spokane Teachers CU, Liberty Lake, also helped more than 3,000 teens, young adults and college students improve their money-management skills.

Spokane, Wash.-based Horizon CU won a national award for its "Piggy Bank Hunt," a financial literacy treasure hunt for middle school students last year. Its model has been adapted nationally.

At least five Oregon credit unions have branches located inside schools. They are:

  • Marion and Polk Schools CU, Salem;
  • Northwest Community, Eugene;
  • Rogue FCU, Medford;
  • SELCO Community CU, and;
  • St. Helens (Ore.) Community CU.
At least eight Washington credit unions have in-school branches at Washington high schools. They are:

  • Gesa CU, Richland;
  • iQ CU, Vancouver;
  • Kitsap CU;
  • Sno Falls CU, Snoqualmie;
  • Solarity CU, Yakima;
  • TwinStar CU; and
  • White River CU, Enumclaw.

North Dakota To Be Second State Requiring Electronic Lien Filing

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BISMARCK, N.D. (4/24/13)--House Bill 1136, a bill in the North Dakota Legislature that would  require credit unions and others to file liens and security interests electronically, should become law by the end of the week, says the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas.

That means North Dakota will be the second state to mandate electronic lien filing. Colorado is the first. South Dakota also is primarily electronic, but that is not mandated, said Jeff Olson, CUAD vice president of advocacy and awareness (The Memo April 23).

HB 1136, which was supported by CUAD in both its original form and with approved amendments, has passed the House and Senate.  "Now that it has passed the Senate, the Senate president will sign, then it is back to the House for the speaker to sign, then to the governor," Olson told News Now. It "should be signed into law late this week," he said.

"We were at the table in the development of the proposed recommendations that were included in the final bill," Olson wrote in a legislative update in The Memo. "Credit unions and other financial institutions will also be included in the final development of the Central Indexing System (CIS) software development."

The bill makes three changes. It:

  • Mandates the electronic filing of all lien documents into the CIS, which would allow for the unlimited listing of collateral.
  • Reinstates the SSN/FIN as a unique identifier for searching for debtor information. North Dakota is one of two states that use both numbers. However, national paper lien forms don't require these numbers, which meant national forms would be rejected in North Dakota. Electronic lien filing would eliminate the national paper forms and the problem with the numbers, which are useful especially in agricultural liens.
  • Creates an upfront filing fee for the initial lien document and eliminates the fee for searching and retrieval of the document. The upfront fee eliminates more than 35 fees and subscription charges. Under the bill, those services will be available at no extra cost.
The bill's passage will allow the Secretary of State to develop one software program to accommodate the electronic filing of all lien documents, rather than developing a system to accommodate both paper and electronic filings, required under current law.  The bill has no fiscal impact because the agency already appropriated for the new system, said CUAD.

The bill moved quickly. This week the joint House and Senate Judiciary Committee concurred on proposed amendments. The House adopted the Conference Committee report Monday by a voice vote on the floor, with concurrences from the Senate floor Tuesday morning, 42-3.

Texas CUs On College Costs: Be Prepared, Do Research

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/24/13)--College costs are expensive, so parents and students need to be prepared and do research. Credits unions should be ready for members' questions on the matter and help guide them, according to a Texas Credit Union League Blog Talk Radio broadcast Tuesday.

The show, "Your Money, Your Matters," featured Linda Birt, relationship coordinator with People's Trust FCU in Houston. The show was hosted by radio personalities Linda Webb-Manon and Rick Grady of the Texas Credit Union League, and Todd Mark, Consumer Credit Counseling Services. They discussed the importance of planning and budgeting for college and taking advantage of available grant and scholarship dollars.

"College is expensive," Mark said. "Even at a state college, the costs are $15,000 to $20,000 per year."  The show's panelists talked about statistics indicating that between 2008 and 2010, college tuition nationally increased 15%--fueled by budget cuts.

Limited budgets often impact college choices at the last minute, the panelists said. "It happens all the time--parents don't know about costs," Birt said. "It's never too early to learn about college costs. There are so many college scholarships available. Start [researching them] early. Get the child involved as early as possible; it is then more meaningful to them."

A key point is to understand the difference between federal government loans and private student loans, Birt added. Private loans have variable interest rates. Those interest rates are not tax deductible, the loans cannot be consolidated or deferred, and students sometimes have to make payments on the loans while still in school, she explained. "There are so many types of grants and scholarships out there, private loans should be a last choice," Birt said.

"Resources are out there, you need to network and find them," she added, noting that credit unions and employers are a great source for scholarships."   

If students choose to study specific fields, organizations in those fields will provide scholarships for certain costs, Mark said. To find scholarship money use the Internet and ask your librarian. "They have catalogues of this material," he explained. "Also ask high school guidance counselors."

When asking for money, meeting deadlines is crucial, Birt said. It also is important for parents and students to understand the obligations of repayment and to keep up with loan payments, she added.

The Credit Union National Association is lobbying the federal government to allow student loans of a longer duration than the current 15-year standard because most borrowers are taking out more loans for larger amounts (News Now April 17).

Earlier this month, CUNA released the result of its first annual High School Student Borrowing Survey. It found that nearly half of high school seniors don't know how much they will need for college costs. (See also News Now story "CU Advantage Noted in Fox, Huffpo Coverage").

Eighty-three percent did not know the interest rates for student loans, and 77% didn't know the duration of their existing or anticipated college loans, CUNA added.

Four CUs Have New Monikers

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MADISON, Wis. (4/24/13)--Four credit unions--in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Oregon and Louisiana--are sporting new names, the result of rebranding efforts to attract a wider range of members.

Widget FCU, or Widget Financial, based in Erie, Pa. is Erie General Electric FCU's new name.. Originally created 77 years ago to serve employees at Erie's General Electric Transportation plant, the $260 million asset credit union now offers financial services to those living in Erie and Crawford counties.

On Jan. 13, the GE Corporate Office informed EGEFCU  it must stop using the GE mark and eliminate General Electric from its name. Several credit unions bearing the GE name received similar letters across the U.S.

"We actually began the process to change our name about two years ago, so receiving this letter from GE was no surprise and only reinforced our name change announcement in 2013," said Gail Cook, president/CEO of Widget Financial. The new name is a tribute to GE Transportation (widGET) and  the region, which produces widgets.  The name also is familiar in service industries including technology, manufacturing, education and health care.

Nymeo FCU, Fredrick, Md., is the new moniker for the former COMSTAR FCU. Nymeo is "a new way to look at money," says the $234 million asset credit union, which was founded in 1933 by a small group of Bureau of Standards employees as the Standards CU.  It changed its name in 1989 to COMSTAR to reflect growing membership in the Combined Science, Technology and Research areas and merged with Monocacy FCU in 2002.  "As we move forward, we believe our new identity as Nymeo will allows us to change the way we do business and ensure  not only that we'll be here in the next 80 years--but that we will be a strong and viable institution," said its site.

Northwest Resources FCU, Portland, Ore., will change its name to Trailhead CU, with the tag line "Small Enough to Know Better,"  effective June 3. As one of nine credit unions in Oregon with "Northwest" in its name, the $92 million asset Trailhead wanted to better distinguish itself in the marketplace. "We pride ourselves in opening new paths and financial opportunities for our members," said Northwest Resources President/CEO Jim McCarthy. "Both the new name and brand reflect this philosophy as well as the Northwest region and Portland's treasured urban and natural trails."

Shell New Orleans FCU, in New Orleans, is now Xplore FCU. The $112.2 million asset credit union hopes the new name will attract a wider base of members. It has had a community charter since 2007, but many still believe the credit union serves only Shell employees. The new brand is a nod to its roots serving workers in the oil and gas exploration and production industry while better positioning it to grow and diversify, it said  (New Orleans CityBusiness April 9).

Missouri Corporate CEO DeGroodt To Retire In July

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ST. LOUIS (4/24/13)--Dennis DeGroodt will retire as president/CEO of $1.2 billion asset Missouri Corporate CU in St. Louis, effective July 31, the corporate announced Tuesday.

Kathleen "Kitty" Gray, Missouri Corporate's chief financial officer (CFO), will succeed DeGroodt.

DeGroodt has served as president/CEO of the corporate since 1997 and has been involved in the credit union system since 1978.  He was a director of Missouri State Employees CU, president of Wetterau Employees CU, vice president of operations of Missouri Corporate and vice president of U.S. Central FCU, before entering his present position. From 1994 to 1997 he ran his own consulting firm for credit unions, Dennis DeGroodt and Associates LLC.

He has also served on the boards of the Missouri Credit Union Association and the National Credit Union Foundation.

Gray has been CFO at Missouri Corporate since 1999, after a career in accounting with KPMG Peat Marwick and Rubin Brown in Clayton, Mo.

Missouri Corporate serves 157 credit unions in Missouri, Oklahoma, Illinois and North Dakota.

Washington Governor Signs Board Compensation Bill

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (4/24/13)--Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Monday signed Senate Bill 5302, which will allow credit unions to offer board compensation and other updates to the state Credit Union Act. The changes will take effect July 28.

Click to view larger image Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, seated, is flanked by representatives of credit unions and the Northwest Credit Union Association supporting Senate Bill 5302, updating the Washington Credit Union Act. Inslee signed the bill into law Monday. (Photo provided by the Northwest Credit Union Association)
The updates were identified by the Washington Model Act Subcommittee and are designed to advance the charter and operating environment for credit unions in the state, said the Northwest Credit Union Association, which worked on drafting the bill and backed the bill (Anthem April 23).

NWCUA's regulatory and compliance teams will disseminate information on any rulemaking by the Washington Department of Financial Institutions, said Mark Minickiello, vice president of legislative affairs.

"It's inspiring to see what we can accomplish when we commit to advocacy and build good relationships with our lawmakers," he said. "It's an ongoing process, but as the results from this past year demonstrate, when credit unions get involved in advocacy, great things can happen."

April 28 is the last day allowed for the 105-day regular legislative session. NWCUA pointed out there are three budgets--operating, capital, and transportation--to negotiate and pass before that deadline.

Inslee is the second state governor within a month to sign into law a measure allowing credit unions to compensate board members. Last month Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed a law that  allows state-chartered credit unions to compensate board members or reimburse any lost wages from time spent serving their credit union (News Now March 29).

Key measures of the new law:

  • Creates more flexibility for credit unions investing in real property by allowing up to six years for use of unimproved property or three years for improved property;
  • Allows credit unions to invest in mutual funds made up of securities already otherwise permitted for credit union investment;
  • Clarifies that a credit union need not divest itself of an investment if permissible when made and the nature of the investment changes making it impermissible;
  • Removes the requirement that a credit union board meet monthly and allows for a minimum of six meetings per year, one at least quarterly;
  • Gives credit unions greater flexibility in the timing requirements of calling a special membership meeting, by extending the notice from no longer than 30 days, to no longer than 90 days;
  • Removes the prohibition on board and committee compensation and gives the state regulator authority to conduct rulemaking concerning reasonable director compensation; and
  • Changes the merger vote requirement to a simple majority vote from the current two-thirds majority requirement.

HR/TD Council Announces Exec Committee

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MADISON, Wis. (4/23/13)--The CUNA HR/TD Council announced its executive committee and officers for 2013 during 19th annual conference, taking place through Wednesday in Anaheim, Calif.

Council officers include:

  • Chair--Suzanne Oliver, senior vice president of educational services and governmental affairs, Mountain America FCU, West Jordan, Utah;
  • Vice chair--Robert Davis, senior vice president of human resources, VyStar CU, Jacksonville, Fla.; and
  • Secretary/treasurer--Cindy Swigert, chief human resources officer, United FCU, St. Joseph, Mich.
Robert Carmichael, senior vice president of human resources and training and development for Maine Savings FCU in Hampden, Maine, was re-elected as an incumbent.

Two new members were elected to the executive committee. They include:

  • Lisa Baron, senior vice president of human resources and talent management, Baxter CU, Vernon Hills, Ill.; and
  • Linda Steger, vice president of human resources, NRL FCU, Oxon Hill, Md.
The new members replace outgoing executive committee members Jennifer Godel, senior vice president and chief human resources officer, Desert Schools FCU, Phoenix, and Diane Wozniak, vice president of human resources, Tampa Bay FCU, Tampa, Fla.

The CUNA HR/TD Council executive committee also includes:

  • Jeffrey Duke, innovation program manager, BECU, Seattle;
  • Jennifer Huggard, assistant vice president of talent, Northwest Credit Union Association; and
  • Roberta Smith, senior vice president of human resources, Missoula (Mont.) FCU.

CU System Briefs (04/23/2013)

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  • OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA. (4/23/13)--
    Click to view larger image Click for larger view
    To honor a $1 million gift to Children's Hospital Foundation from Oklahoma City Credit Unions for Kids-Boomer Sooner Chapter, the second floor of the OU Children's Physicians Building, owned and operated by University Hospitals Authority and Trust, will permanently bear the Credit Unions for Kids name (see photo).  The $1 million gift was pledged over five years. The gift brings the chapter's donations since 1997 to more than $2 million, ranking the chapter as 10th in the nation. A floor dedication and check presentation ceremony was held  March 15 on the second floor of the Children's Atrium in the Children's Hospital. "Credit Unions for Kids has made such a long-term contribution and created such a sustaining impact on the well-being of the children of our community," said Dr. Terrence Stull, CMRI Patricia Price Browne Distinguished Chair ...
  • CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (4/23/13)--Dolores Cox, who was a grassroots leader in the growth of Texas credit unions, died Friday after a heart attack. She was 80 years old. Cox managed Harte-Hanks FCU in the 1970s and later became president/CEO of Homeport FCU, a $15 million asset credit union based in Corpus Christi, Texas. She was active in the Texas Credit Union League. Cox is survived by her husband of 60 years, two sisters, six daughters, 25 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren (Corpus Christi Caller Times April 20) ...

City Shifts Payment Processing To CU

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MONROE, Mich. (4/23/13)--Monroe County Community CU in Monroe, Mich., has received a $35,000 contract from the city to perform the city's payments processing functions.

That means people paying bills such as water bills, parking tickets, recreation program fees and other payments--whether by mail, in person or electronically--will be directed to the credit union's branch in City Hall, instead of the nearby city clerk-treasurer's office (Monroe News April 20).

The city said it could save up to $15,000 a year by having the credit union perform the function. MCCCU will process the funds, credit them through the city computer network and deposit them into the city's account at Fifth Third Bank.

The arrangement was created after a cashier moved from the treasurer/clerk's office to a vacant position in he city's building department.  Under the one year contract, the credit union receives 50 cents for each payment it processes. The city typically processes up to 70,000 payments during a year.

Mergers At Nearly One-a-day Pace

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MADISON, Wis. (4/23/13)--Mergers of credit unions have occurred at a pace of nearly one a day the past year, according to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) .

Buddy Gill, senior adviser to NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz, made the statement during a discussion of the "New NCUA" at a recent meeting with credit unions hosted by the Northwest Credit Union Association in Portland, Ore. (Anthem Recap April 19).

Most are the mergers are voluntary mergers, he said. He indicated that cumulative regulatory burdens may play a significant role in the decision of small credit unions to merge to achieve economies of scale to be competitive, reported NWCUA.

"Regulatory burdens are costing small financial institutions money and time that could be better spent providing benefits to the member," said John Trull, NWCUA director of regulatory advocacy. "The NCUA recognizes this, but other regulatory agencies impacting credit unions may not," Trull added.

In the past couple of weeks, nine states reported credit unions either applying to merge or getting approval to merge.  Among them:

California: Community First CU, Santa Rosa, with $150 million assets and 15,627 members, has applied to the California Department of Financial Institutions for approval to merge with Health Care Professionals of Napa FCU, Napa.

Hawaii: Two Honolulu based credit unions, TheoDavies FCU and $157 million asset Hawaii Central FCU, merged April 2. HCFCU now serves more than 14,000 members with more than $170 million in assets.

Idaho: Potelco United CU, Pocatello, will merge with an unnamed Boise area credit union on June 1 and take on the name Connections CU (Idaho State Journal  April 20).

Illinois: Carbondale-based SIU CU, with $254.5 million assets, completed its merger with $6.8 million asset Southeastern Electric Employees CU on April 1. The merger adds 1,100 members to SIU CU's 31,000 and adds one branch to total six branches.

Massachusetts: North Shore Manufacturers FCU, with $5 million assets in Beverly, Mass., will become a branch of $1 billion Hanscom FCU, Hanscom AFB, Mass.  A second merger, between Worcester-based  AllCom CU with $58 million assets and Worcester Postal CU, $9.8 million assets, is to be completed July 1 (Banker & Tradesman April 9).

Minnesota: Park Schools CU, with 8.5 million assets in St. Louis Park, Minn., merged April 1 with $132 million asset United Educators CU, Apple Valley, Minn.  Park Schools served 1,314 members; United Educators served 12,976 members.

Pennsylvania: Two Chambersburg credit unions--Community of Healthcare Employees CU with $7 million assets and Patriot FCU with $441.9 million assets--plan to merge June 1, pending member and regulatory approval (SNL Bank and Thrift Daily April 2).

Utah: In Ogden, $61 million asset SummitOne FCU will merge with $187 million asset Wasatch Peakes FCU on July 1. SummitOne employees approved the merger earlier this month.

Wisconsin:  Price CU, Prentice, a $31 million asset credit union with 5,974 members, will merge April 30 with Heritage CU, Madison, with $225 million in assets and 22,751 members.

Ga., Wis. CUs Saved Members Millions In 2012

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PEWAUKEE, Wis. and ATLANTA (4/23/13)--Georgia and Wisconsin credit unions saved consumers millions of dollars in 2012, according to reports from the states' respective leagues.

Georgia credit unions saved state consumers $130 million last year by offering lower interest rates, according to a new report from Georgia Credit Union Affiliates.

"Credit unions consistently offer consumers better value than banks," said Mike Mercer, GCUA president/CEO. "With back-to-back years of membership growth, Georgia credit unions continued to provide members with lower interest rates, higher savings rates and fewer fees than banks last year."

Membership at Georgia credit unions increased 2.3% in 2012, following 3.3% growth in 2011.

The average interest rate for a 60-month new car loan in 2012 at Georgia credit unions was 3.06%, compared with 4.92% at the state's banks. Members saved an average $252 per year if they financed a 60-month loan for a new $25,000 vehicle through a credit union instead of a bank.

The average interest rate at Georgia credit unions for a 48-month used car loan was 3.2% in 2012--2.23 points lower than the average used car loan interest at banks (5.43%).

On average, credit union households saved $130, according to the latest Georgia Credit Union Member Benefits Index. Georgia credit union members saved $69 more last year than bank customers.

The index, based on data collected during the 12 months ending December 2012, is the latest installment in an ongoing series of reports updated on a semiannual basis. Compiled by the Credit Union National Association, the report leverages information compiled from banking institutions and the state's 139 credit unions.

Wisconsin credit unions have saved consumers more than $1 billion since the start of the recent recession in 2007, according to the Wisconsin Credit Union League.

Wisconsin credit union also saved members $110 per year per household because of more competitive pricing on financial services overall. Those who use a credit union extensively receive total financial benefits much greater, the league said

Credit union members saved $1,150 in interest to finance a new car compared with using a bank, the Wisconsin league said. That is based on a $25,000 vehicle with funds borrowed for five years, with a savings of $230 per year in interest.

Wisconsin credit unions offer an interest rate that's almost one percent lower than banks for a typical "gold" credit card. Credit unions' late payment fee on a credit card is about $10 less than what banks charge, the league said.

The savings underscores the value of credit union membership, said CUNA, which is urging credit unions to Unite for Good in achieving a strategic vision where Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner. Fostering service excellence, removing barriers and raising awareness are three goals. Consumers can find more information about credit unions at aSmarterChoice.org.

CUNA To USNews: Five Reasons To Shop For CU Car Loan

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MADISON, Wis. (4/23/13)--Among all the reasons to shop at a credit union for car loans, five in particular stand out, Mike Schenk, senior economist at the Credit Union National Association, told U.S. News and World Report Monday.

In the article, "My Money: 5 Reasons to Shop at a Credit Union for Car Loans," Schenk said consumers are better off choosing a credit union over a commercial bank for a new- or used-car loan because:

1.  You have a better chance of having your loan approved. A credit union might be "more likely to listen to your story than a commercial bank," if you have mediocre credit or have had credit problems in the past, Schenk said.

2. You obtain lower rates. A five-year term is the most common loan term for a new or used car, and credit union rates usually are much lower than the average rate at a competitor bank.

3. You get personalized service. Because credit unions are non-profit organizations and try to provide members with high-quality customer service, members have a more personable experience at a credit union because credit unions are run by volunteer boards.

4. You have availability of educational resources. Nearly all credit union branches have a dedicated education and resource center, where members can learn more about financing options and how to make the best decisions when assessing the value of their car purchase.

5. Credit unions use a non-sales approach. Credit unions work for their members and aren't driven to sell you anything that equates to extra money in their pocket. All profits go back to members in the form of lower rates on other financial products, such as savings and loans. Commercial banks often grant their lenders bonuses or other compensation for approved loans.

Maine CU-Backed Student Loan Bill Now Law

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PORTLAND, Maine (4/23/13)--The Maine Credit Union League-backed student loan bill is now law, according to the league.

The act, which authorizes insurance on student loans, and unanimously passed the Maine Senate and passed the Maine House 142-1, became law April 16. The law permits the Finance Authority of Maine to offer loan insurance on supplemental student loans and likely will allow more credit unions to provide student loans to consumers (Weekly Update April 19).

Earlier this month, the Credit Union National Association released the result of its first annual High School Student Borrowing Survey (News Now April 17). The survey has been picked up by some national media, including Bankrate.com and The Wall Street Journal.

The CUNA survey found that nearly half of high school seniors don't know how much they will need for college costs, CUNA said. 

Eighty-three percent did not know the interest rates for student loans, and 77% didn't know the duration of their existing or anticipated college loans, CUNA said.

CUNA is lobbying the federal government to allow student loans of a longer duration than the current 15-year standard because most borrowers are taking out more loans for larger amounts.

In other Maine legislative action, the state Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee voted LD 1195 "Ought Not to Pass." The bill would prohibit employers from obtaining consumer reports that contain information regarding creditworthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, debts, check-writing experience or insurability of an employee or prospective employee. The Maine League provided testimony in opposition to the bill.

N.Y. CUs Build State Legislative Support

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Click to view larger image New York State Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-115), right, visited with credit union advocates at the Credit Union Association of New York's State Governmental Affairs Conference April 16-17 in Albany.
ALBANY, N.Y. (4/23/13)--The Credit Union Association of New York's State Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) held in Albany April 16-17 placed an emphasis on legislative advocacy, CUANY said.

As a result of credit union advocacy during the GAC, two lawmakers have introduced bills that would provide credit unions with access to municipal deposits. State Sen. Joseph Robach (R-Rochester) introduced S. 4672, which would allow New York credit unions to accept and secure deposits from municipal corporations. State Assemblywoman Inez Baron (D-Metropolitan) introduced A. 6740, a bill that would permit state-chartered credit unions and thrifts to accept state and local government deposits.

Click to view larger image Credit union advocates met with New York State Sen. Hugh Farley (R-Schenectady), center, at the Credit Union Association of New York's State Governmental Affairs Conference last week. (Photos provided by the Credit Union Association of New York)
"I am always truly inspired by the articulate, compelling voice our advocates bring to credit union issues, and when that voice is brought directly to our representatives, we can make a real difference," said William Mellin, CUANY president/CEO. "Credit union leaders shared great stories about the difference they're making in their communities, as well as the challenges they and their members are facing."

More than 100 credit union leaders statewide gathered for the conference and two days of meetings with state legislators. They made nearly 100 office visits to state representatives. At those meetings, credit union advocates rallied support for legislation that will make New York's credit unions even stronger and benefit New York consumers and communities statewide, CUANY said.

Credit union leaders met with key officials, such as Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (Westchester-Rockland) and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Rochester/Central), along with legislators from districts statewide.

The group advocated for legislation addressing municipal deposits, increased robbery penalties, ATM disclosure reform and state-charter enhancements. Several legislators committed to supporting the bills as co-sponsors, CUANY said.

During their visits, credit union representatives shared the 2012 MORE report, which includes more than 1,500 examples of New York credit union outreach.

N.C.'s First African American CU Established 95 Years Ago

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LANDIS, N.C. (4/23/13)--The first African American credit union in North Carolina was formed by 23 farmers on April 19, 1918, more than 95 years ago, according to an article posted by the North Carolina Credit Union League on its website.

Thomas Patterson, an African American farmer in Rowan County and 22 others joined in Landis, N.C., to organize the former Piedmont CU with $126 as an experiment. "The experiment was so successful that three other [credit ] unions were organized in different parts of the county," Patterson wrote in 1920. Nine others were formed in a second county that year, and a vibrant system of community development credit unions would emerge in the state, said the North Carolina Credit Union League.

By Dec. 31, 1919, the credit union had 82 members and total resources of $1,347.93, including $205.15 on deposit,  payment on shares of $934.78, $663.25 in loans to 10 borrowers, $100 borrowed from banks, and $675.98 cash on reserve in banks.

Although the credit union no longer exists--it is not the same Piedmont CU that is now located in Statesville-- there is a clear account of the credit union written in 1920 by Patterson, and posted on the league's website.

In it, Patterson described what a credit union is, how it is conducted, its structure, savings  and loans to members to conduct the business of farming. The money borrowed was used in one of three ways: to buy supplies to carry the farmer over the cropping season; to buy fertilizers; and to help tide farmers over who were making improvements to their homes.

Patterson answered the question "why deal with a credit union rather than a bank" by citing these reasons:

"Few banks care to lend money in sums less than $100. Then the prospective borrower must produce at least two real-estate owners known to the banker to go on his note, or the records of the parties must be looked up before the loan can be made. This causes delay. In most cases a bonus of 4% is charged, which, added to the legal rate, makes the interest, to begin with, at least 14%." He noted that a credit union charges 6% interest for the actual time he has the loan.

A credit union "teaches thrift and gives its members a certain kind of importance that they never possessed before ...What is one's interest is the interest of all, the communities working harmoniously together. Nothing has contributed more to this spirit of good will than have the credit unions," Patterson wrote. To view the full article, use the link.

HarborOne Member Vote Certified By NCUA

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BROCKTON, Mass. (4/23/13)--The National Credit Union Administration has notified Brockton, Mass.-based HarborOne CU that its procedures to convert to a mutual savings bank have complied with the agency's conversion regulations.

The $1.9 billion asset HarborOne also announced Monday the Massachusetts Division of Banks had approved the membership vote results, which were in favor of the conversion.  About 62% of voting members of HarborOne cast ballots in favor of the change in March. About  21% of eligible voters voted.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has officially accepted HarborOne's application to convert, and the credit union now awaits for approval of FDIC insurance before it can complete the conversion process.

Although members have a prerogative to do what they believe is in the best interest of their credit union, said the Credit Union National Association, they are best served by the not-for-profit, cooperatively owned and member-directed ownership structure of credit unions.  CUNA emphasized it is important for members to be fully informed about any conversion proposal and its implications before any conversion.

At the time the vote was announced, the Massachusetts Credit Union League noted that any conversion should be approached from the viewpoint of the members of the credit union, but added that HarborOne members unfortunately seemed to have accepted the argument that the operational advantages outweighed their rights and privileges as members.

SC League Names Palmetto Protege

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Click to view larger image SCCUL President/CEO Steve Fowler, left,  presents the 2013 SC Palmetto Protege award to Will Crosswell, business development officer at Florence, S.C.-based Palmetto First FCU. Croswell will serve as statewide spokesperson for young adults and the opportunities credit unions provide them. (Photo provided by the South Carolina Credit Union League)
COLUMBIA, S.C. (4/22/13)--Will Crosswell of Florence, S.C., was named "Palmetto Protege" on April 12 during the South Carolina Credit Union League 2013 Annual Meeting. In that capacity, he will serve for one year as statewide spokesperson for young adults and the opportunities credit unions provide them.

Crosswell, who is the business development officer at Palmetto First FCU, Florence, will act through social media and appearances at credit union events, including chapter meetings and the fall SCCUL Leadership Conference.

He also will lead the CU Forward group to foster peer development and the ongoing Palmetto Protege Competition.

As protege, he received first choice of developmental scholarships and has chosen to attend the 2013 National Youth Involvement Board Annual Conference, July 30-Aug. 2 in San Diego, Calif.

Croswell thanked the league "for this program that allows regions from across the state to showcase their young professional talent. Through this program, they have elevated our presence within the movement and helped solidify our place as leaders of today and not just the leaders of tomorrow."

Crosswell achieved the honor with a combination of scores on a standard exam and on his presentation during the general session at the SCCUL Annual Meeting. All candidates' presentations of no more than five minutes were judged by the panel of FCCCU CU Development Director Wanda Downs, credit union consultant Todd Harms, and CCUF President John McGrail.

N Mexico Foundation Awards $106,000 In Scholarships

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.  (4/22/13)--The New Mexico Credit Union Education Foundation will award $106,000 in scholarships to New Mexico high school and college students for the 2013-2014 school year.

The scholarships will be distributed in $1,000 increments to 106 students for accredited vocational or technical schools and colleges and universities in New Mexico.

The NMCUEF, administered by the Credit Union Association of New Mexico, is a scholarship program formed through special legislation that allows credit unions to use abandoned funds for educational or charitable purposes.

Since it was established in 1992, the NMCUEF has presented 1,297 scholarships for a total of $840,600 to students attending the accredited schools in the state.

Ramirez Elected Mountain West CU Assn Chairman

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PHOENIX (4/22/13)--The Mountain West Credit Union Association elected officers and presented awards during its 2013 annual convention attended by 525 credit union representatives, guests and vendors, in Phoenix April 4-6.

Robert Ramirez, president/CEO of Vantage West CU, Tucson, Ariz., was elected board chairman, succeeding Mike Williams, president/CEO of Colorado CU, Littleton, Colo.  Other officers are:

  • Vice chair: Susan Frank, president/CEO, Desert Schools FCU, Phoenix;
  • Treasurer: John Uchida, president/CEO, Space Age FCU, Aurora, Colo.; and
  • Secretary: Jim Yates, president/CEO, First Education FCU, Cheyenne, Wyo.
Newly elected board members include Doug Ferraro, president/CEO of Bellco CU, Greenwood Village, Colo., and Dan Kester, president/CEO of Sooper CU, Denver.

Three board members were re-elected: Frank; Dan Desmond, president/CEO, TruWest CU, Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Walt Marx, president/CEO of College CU of Greeley, Greeley, Colo.

MWCUA also announced its Volunteer of the Year was Dale Rutt, board member and past chairman, Sooper CU. The 2013 Professional of the Year was Mark Lau, president/CEO of Denver  (Colo.)  Fire Department FCU.

Colorado CU was named Advocacy Team of the Year, and Ana Corona, branch manager, ATA FCU, Yuma, Ariz., was named MWCA's Legislative and Political Coordinator of the Year.

MWCUA and the Arizona Youth Involvement Network also sponsored the conference's young professionals program, with 18 young professionals participating in convention activities and mentoring sessions with Williams; Frank; Uchida;  LC Williams ,board chair of Space Age FCU; and Chris Kemm, vice president, political affairs at MWCUA.

The convention theme was "What's Next: Taking the Future Head On," a topic addressed by keynote speakers Michael Rogers, a technology pioneer, novelist and journalist, and Jack Shaw, business technologies expert.

CU System Briefs (04/22/2013)

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  • FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/22/13)--The Texas 12, a young credit union professional (YP) initiative last year by the Texas Credit Union League, has launched a websiteas a central repository of news and information for upwardly mobile YPs. Visitors will learn how to become a designated YP and a YP chapter delegate. The site features a blog, forum, photos of the group's past activities and a calendar of activities. "Attracting and retaining young professionals to our movement is a priority of TCUL," Mike Delker, league senior vice president, told the LoneStar Leaguer  (April 16). "Through initiatives such as the website, the Texas 12 is playing a key role in helping us accomplish this," he said ...
  • WEST JORDAN, Utah (4/22/13)--Mountain America CU donated $50 for every three-point shot made by the Utah Jazz pro basketball team during the 2012-2013 season, resulting in the presentation of $25,000 to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation to support the Huntsman Cancer Institute.  The West Jordan, Utah, $3.37 billion asset credit union has donated more than $125,000 to the foundation during the past decade. The check was presented during halftime at the final Utah Jazz regular season home game.  Mountain America also recently donated more than $35,000 to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Shriners Hospitals for Children from money raised by employees through candy sales, lunch fundraisers, an auction and other activities ...
  • MIAMI LAKES, Fla. (4/22/13)--Fernando Reyes, former JetStream FCU vice president of lending, died Friday after a long battle with cancer. JetStream is a $152 million asset credit union based in Miami Lakes, Fla. Reyes joined the JetStream team and served in the vice president position for 13 years, from 1998 to 2011, when he retired. Prior to 1998, he had a three-decade career in financial services. Reyes "was a credit union champion who passed the torch on to his son, Jace Reyes, a lifelong credit union employee who currently serves as CEO of Miami Postal Service CU," said JetStream in a press release ...

Catalyst Corporate Re-elects Hodges As Chairman

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DULUTH, Ga. (4/22/13)--Lin Hodges was re-elected board chairman of Catalyst Corporate FCU in Duluth, Ga., Catalyst announced at its annual meeting earlier this month in San Diego.

Hodges is president/CEO of Associated CU in Norcross, Ga. 

Other board officers for the coming year are:

  • Vice Chairman: Rod Taylor, Barksdale FCU, Bossier City, La.;
  • Secretary: Ayn Talley, Houston Police FCU, Houston; and
  • Treasurer: Rick Hein, OSU FCU, Corvallis, Ore.
Elected to three-year terms on the 11-member board were:

  • Bill Before, STCU, Liberty Lake, Wash.;
  • Syed Dinar, Texas Bay Area CU, Houston; and
  • John Papagno, Alive CU, Jacksonville, Fla.
Elected to a one-year term was Trevor Tokishi, Valley Isle Community FCU, Kahului, Hawaii.

Catalyst Corporate serves nearly 1,300 member credit unions in 21 states.

Harriet May To Receive Federation's Top Award

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NEW YORK (4/22/13)--Harriet May, former CEO of Government Employees CU, El Paso, Texas, is the 2013 recipient of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions' Annie Vamper "Helping Hands" Award. 

The award is the highest honor presented by the federation. It was established in remembrance of Annie Wilma Vamper, the federation's late associate director and celebrates Vamper's lifelong dedication to the community development credit union movement. 

"Harriet embodies the spirit of the Annie Vamper award, having dedicated her career to serving low-income individuals and families in her own community," said Cathie Mahon, federation president/CEO. "She continues this work on a national level sharing her mission, vision and know-how with credit unions all over the country."

May, a former chairman of the Credit Union National Association, will receive her award at a special ceremony June 7, during the federation's 2013 Annual Conference in Baltimore,

May began working at Government Employees CU in 1974 and was promoted to CEO in 1996. During her tenure, May helped GECU double its asset size to more than $1.8 billion with more than 300,000 members. Under her leadership, GECU deployed about $125 million into the community each year.

In 2008, she received the National Credit Union Foundation's Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Individual Achievement during CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference. May was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the World Council of Credit Unions in 2009 and 2010. She also was recognized for her leadership in supporting the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. in 2010.

Mass League Prepares For Aid As Manhunt Closes CUs

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BOSTON and MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (4/22/13)--Massachusetts credit unions were among the businesses closed Friday while authorities conducted a manhunt for one of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers, said the Massachusetts Credit Union League, which is preparing a recommendation about credit union assistance to victims.

Credit unions are responding to the events, said Rob Kimmett, senior vice president of public relations and marketing at the league. "Credit unions are responding with their characteristic concern and generosity," he told News Now.

"Many have reached out to the league for recommendation regarding how they can help," he said. "The league's Credit Union Hope is preparing a recommendation, which will be shared with the Massachusetts credit union community early this week."

Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston police requested that businesses--including credit unions--close Friday in these cities and surrounding areas: Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Watertown and Waltham.

"Credit unions with offices in those communities have notices on their websites that they are closed in the interest of safety and security and in compliance with the instructions of the police," Kimmett said.

Watertown, where the suspects engaged in a shootout with police Thursday night that left one suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, dead, has one credit union: Watertown Municipal Employees CU on Main Street. 

The suspect's brother, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, of Cambridge was still at large Friday evening when authorities lifted their "stay indoors" request. However, he was captured later hiding in a boat and was in serious condition in a Boston hospita as of Saturday. Police had told residents to stay inside throughout the day Friday because they were concerned the two suspects may have had accomplices.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) FCU, located in Cambridge on the MIT campus was closed Friday, according to MITFCU's website. It directed members to a shared branching member call center, ATMs, and its e-Branch.

Harvard University Employees CU, Cambridge, also was closed for the business day Friday "due to recent public safety developments," its website said.

The website of 600 Atlantic FCU, the former Federal Reserve Boston Employees CU, located in Boston, said it was closed Friday, and the City of Boston CU noted Friday that "all branches are currently closed."

Boston Firefighters CU is collecting donations for Boston's First Responders Fund for the victims of the Boston Marathon attacks, which killed three people and injured 170 April 15. Contributions can be made on its  website or by sending a check to:

Boston's First Responders Fund

c/o Boston Firefighters Credit Union

60 Hallet St.

Dorchester, MA 02124

Officials in at least one state--Pennsylvania--are warning potential contributers to be cautious in charitable giving related to the attacks. Pennsylvania's Secretary of State Carol Aichele told that state's residents that no charities related to the tragedy have applied to solicit donations in that state. Residents should not give personal information over the phone or online unless they are familiar with the organization (Life is a Highway April 19).

CUs Mark Earth Day With Variety Of Events

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MADISON, Wis. (4/22/13)--Credit unions today are marking Earth Day's 43rd anniversary with activities such as planting trees, cleaning up highways, offering document-shredding events, promoting tree-saving electronic statements and educating youth about the environment.

Earth Day is devoted to events worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection and to learn about the natural environment.

Living up to its name, Grow Financial FCU, based in Tampa, Fla.,  will celebrate today in collaboration with the Tampa Bay Times theme, "Let's Grow Together" by giving away Florida Slash Pine saplings to anyone visiting its 20 branches. The trees are limited to five per household. Recipients are told to either plant them in the back yard or contact Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful for locations on where to plant them.

"It helps to lower greenhouse gas emissions and they provide a habitat for a variety of other plans and animals," Grow Financial said. 

"Grow Financial is committed to participating in activities that show our appreciation for the natural beauty of our planet and our commitment to combatting environmental pollution," said Bob Fisher, president/CEO.

Meritrust CU, with $893 million assets  in Wichita, Kan., will sponsor an event Thursday at the Sedgwick County Zoo forlocal students. "The event features a planet-friendly fair that promotes environmental education and citizenship in our community,"said the credit union's website. Roughly 6,000 students from grades three through five will visit the zoo and walk through exhibits hosted by local businesses and centering on an Earth Day theme.  The exhibits will feature interactive, on-the-spot educational displays on topics such as recycling, pollution, endangered species, emergency preparedness, and weather.

Many credit unions are offering free Shred Days so the community can go green by shredding documents for recycling. Two examples: CommonWealth One FCU, a $307 million asset credit union in Alexandria, Va., will offer a Shred Day Sunday, and $7.96 billion asset, Sacramento, Calif.-based Golden 1 CU conducted its biannual shredding event Saturday.

The Golden 1 CU's event permitted up to five bankers' boxes of documents per household. Last year's event shredded more than 139,000 pounds of documents for 2,700 individuals. Since it began hosting the shred days, Golden 1has helped recycle more than one million documents.

Bucks First FCU, Bristol, Pa., with $83 million assets,  sponsored two events: free shredding Saturday at Bucks County Technical School and a cleanup event at Silver Lake Nature Center School.

Spokane (Wash.) Teachers CU is encouraging members to switch to paper-saving electronic account statements. For each new e-account opened between today and June 30, the $1.7 billion asset credit union will donate money to plant a tree along Deep Creek, Coulee Creek and Hangman Creek, and in northern Idaho. The Lands Council hopes to plant 5,000 trees through Project SUSTAIN, and the credit union aims to plant 1,000 of those trees.  About 400 Inland Northwest High School students will help plant the trees and will learn about conservation and sustainability.

Some credit unions provide tips to youth about conservation. Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Redwood CU, for example, discusses Earth Day and ways to be a "Super Earth Saver" in its Jr. Ranger Review, its quarterly kids' newsletter. Its advice: Reduce the amount of garbage you create, reuse what you can, and recycle cans, bottles, paper and plastic. Turn off lights if you're the last to leave a room. And know what you want before you open the refrigerator.

CUNA Mutual Warns CUSOs Of Perfect Storm For Lawsuits

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LAS VEGAS (4/22/13)--Credit union service organizations expanding their fee-based services to increase revenues must recognize that such expansion also creates increased risk exposure to professional and cyberliability, a CUNA Mutual Group speaker told a National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations Annual Conference breakout session Thursday.

"The current economy has people looking for any reason to sue," said Jim Hunt, CUNA Mutual Group staff underwriting specialist. "Directors and officers of CUSOs must understand the financial and reputational impact a loss will have on their CUSO."

Professional liability could arise from neglect or an act, omission, error, breach of duty, misstatement or misleading statement made by directors, officers or employees of a CUSO. "Even a seemingly small, inadvertent error or unintentional oversight can result in costly legal action against your credit union or CUSO," Hunt said.

Likewise, as CUSOs expand e-commerce activities and become responsible for safeguarding more confidential data, so does the risk of cyberattack, data breaches and viruses. Hunt said types of cyberexposures include:

  • Privacy rights violations: Unauthorized disclosure of confidential information;
  • Damages to a third party's data;
  • Social media errors;
  • Human errors; and
  • First-party losses, such as public relations and security breach expenses.
Between 2009 and 2011, the financial services industry was the No. 1 targeted business sector with 37% of records exposed and an average cost per breach of $3.7 million, according to an October 2012 NetDiligence study of 137 cyberliability and data breach events.

"Data security breaches can occur from situations that your chief information officer has absolutely no control over, such as improper disposal of data, lost or stolen electronic assets or rogue employees," Hunt said. "One data breach could wipe out your CUSO, if you're not protected."

To avoid these exposures and related losses, CUSOs should ask themselves about their fee-based services, their potential risks, and steps to take to minimize them, Hunt said. They include examining processes and arrangements with third-party vendors.

Hunt advised CUSOs to obtain professional liability and cyber liability insurance coverage as part of their overall protection strategy.

Youth Week Kicks Off

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MADISON, Wis. (4/22/13)--Credit unions nationwide are celebrating children and the benefits of financial education during National Credit Youth Week, which began Sunday and ends Saturday.

The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association asked its member credit unions if they're planning to celebrate the week (Life is a Highway April 18). The responses:

  • Yes--(66.7%);
  • No--(25.6%); and
  • Don't know--(7.7%).
Activities Pennsylvania credit unions have planned to celebrate include:

DEXSTA FCU, Wilmington, Del., had added a student branch at Wilmington's Bayard Middle School. From left, first row, a student; Kerry Waugh, student school champion at Bayard School; a student; DEXSTA staffers Jerry King, president/CEO; Mary Brien-Duch, vice president finance; and Craig Perry, member service representative. Top row, from left are DEXSTA's Patrick Rhodes, operations manager; Joe Walsh, vice president, lending; and Nyeshia Coates, phone center floating-members service representative. (Photo provided by Delaware Credit Union League)
  • Use Youth Week theme decorations/apparel--(57.7%);
  • Offer incentives for savings deposits--(53.9%);
  • Offer refreshments in branches--(50%);
  • Participate in National Youth Saving Challenge--(42.3%);
  • Hold special events/contests for youth Club(s)--(42.3%);
  • Host financial education sessions for students-- (11.5%);
  • Host in-school branch activities for youth week--(11.5%); and
  • Other--(19.2%).
Among the other ways credit unions are celebrating youth during April:

Click to view larger image Generations FCU provided financial education classes at five area colleges. (Photo provided by Generations FCU)
  • FORUM CU, Fishers, Ind., will celebrate at all branch locations this week. FORUM's events will include activities, giveaways, prizes, and two enter-to-win contests with prizes, including Toys R Us and Apple gift cards. FORUM will deposit $5 into any new children's account opened during the week. It also will deposit $10 into any free Student Survival student checking account that is opened.
  • Generations FCU, San Antonio, partnered with all five of the San Antonio-area Alamo Colleges to bring financial education classes to their campuses.  Generations FCU will teach dozens of financial education classes to hundreds of students at Palo Alto College, San Antonio College, St. Philip's College, Northeast Lakeview College, and Northwest Vista College.  Topics presented in the classes include budgeting, money management, credit reports and paying back student loans.
  • DEXSTA FCU, Wilmington, Del., added a student branch at Wilmington's Bayard Middle School, the Delaware Credit Union League said (Together April 15) The branch, located in the cafeteria, will be open to serve students and staff at the school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. DEXSTA staff will be joined by student tellers to serve new members.
National Credit Union Youth Week was created by CUNA so credit unions nationwide could focus on the financial needs of young people and provide financial literacy education. It teaches the benefits of saving and goal setting, and invites youth to open savings accounts at their credit union and make deposits throughout the year.

CUNA also conducts the National Youth Saving Challenge throughout April. The challenge rewards 10 savers with $100 cash prizes.

No CUs Impacted By Texas Explosion

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/22/13)--The credit union community in Central Texas was not impacted by the fertilizer plant explosion that caused massive damage in the town of West, Texas, said the Texas Credit Union Foundation.

TCUF Executive Director Courtney Moral called every credit union in the Central Texas Chapter to assess whether they or their employees had experienced any damage from Wednesday night's explosion (LoneStar Leaguer April 19).

Moran reached all but a few and noted they did not seem to have been impacted. "Certainly this is good news for our credit union community in Central Texas; however, our heartfelt sympathy goes out to all those who have suffered loss," Moran said.

The explosion killed at least 12 people with 60 others unaccounted for, injured 160 people, and destroyed at least 150 homes, USA Today said Friday.

TCUF will not activate its disaster relief fund at this time but said it if discovers a credit union employee had been affected, it would be poised to help.

Credit unions wanting to help the victims should consider donating to agencies such as American Red Cross or donating blood, said Moran.

The Texas Credit Union League held a jeans day Friday to raise funds for victims of the West explosion and the bombings in Boston.

Texas Partners FCU in Killeen, Genco FCU in Waco, and Generations FCU in San Antonio are collecting monetary donations for the West community or for American Red Cross.  Texas Partners is also accepting non-perishable food items and selling chocolate to benefit the relief area. Generations is partnering with KENS 5 for its KENS Cares program to benefit the Red Cross efforts in West.

CU Bill Passes NC Banking Committee

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RALEIGH, N.C. (4/22/13)--The North Carolina House Banking Committee held its first hearing on HB 515 last week and passed it through the committee. The bill would amend the state's credit union statutes, said the North Carolina Credit Union League.

"It is a bi-partisan bill with no known opposition, so the bill should move through the committee process swiftly," said Lauren Whaley, NCCUL's director of legislative and regulatory affairs (The Weekly Conversation April 19).

After the bill passed Thursday afternoon, with few questions and almost no debate, it was referred to the Judiciary Committee. HB 515 involves modernizing changes to payable on death accounts, joint accounts and dealing with minors.

The bill was introduced by John Bell (R-10), Larry Hall (D-29), Andy Wells (R-96) and Jonathan Jordan (R-93) after an overhaul of the North Carolina banking statutes by the Office of the Commissioner of Banks in 2011, the league said.

"With the input and feedback of credit unions over the last two years, the league reviewed the credit union statutes in North Carolina and listed several areas that would enhance the value of the credit union charter in North Carolina," Whaley explained. "The league is grateful for the cooperative process that helped us identify key areas that would be of most benefit."

If the Judiciary Committee hearing proceeds positively, HB 515 would then be referred to the House for a vote. The North Carolina Senate would then take up the bill. A time has not been set yet for the bill to be heard in that committee, NCCUL said.

Illinois League Elects Officers, Board

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (4/22/13)--Several elections by the Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL) and affiliated organizations took place at the league's 83rd Annual Convention last week in Naperville, including the seating of four board incumbents re-elected to three-year terms.

Click to view larger image Four directors were sworn in at the Illinois Credit Union League's Annual Convention last week. From left, are: Secretary/treasurer Peggy Cummins, CEO, Three Rivers Community CU, Mt. Carmel; Chairman Geri Burek, CEO of South Division CU, Evergreen Park; Dennis Schaefer, CEO, SIU CU, Carbondale; and Sean Rathjen, CEO, Consumers Cooperative CU, Waukegan. Leading the oath is Vice Chairman Pete Paulson, left, CEO, Corporate America Family CU, Elgin. (Photo provided by the Illinois Credit Union League) 
Re-elected officers were:

  • Chairman Geraldine Burek, CEO of South Division CU, Evergreen Park. Burek also will serve as ICUL Service Corp. (LSC) chairman.
  • Vice chairman Pete Paulson, CEO, Corporate America Family CU, Elgin, who also continues as LSC vice chairman.
  • Secretary/treasurer Peggy Cummins, CEO, Three Rivers Community CU, Mt. Carmel.
Directors re-elected to three-year terms included Sean Rathjen, CEO, Consumers Cooperative CU, Waukegan, and Dennis Schaefer, CEO, SIU CU, Carbondale.

The full ICUL board of directors is:

  • District 1: Cummins; Kerry Fearn, CEO, Area Educational CU, Mattoon; Alan Meyer, executive vice president/chief operating officer, 1st MidAmerica CU, Bethalto; and Schaefer.
  • District 2: Janet Francoeur, CEO, Riverside Community CU, Kankakee;Burek; Tim O'Donnell, executive vice president, Financial Plus CU, Ottawa; and Carl Sorgatz, Great Lakes CU, Naperville.
  • District 3: Karen Jurasek, CEO, Generations CU, Rockford; Patrick Basler, CEO, First Financial CU, Skokie; Rathjen; and Paulson.
The Illinois Credit Union Foundation (ICUF) re-elected its officers to one-year terms. They included:

  • Chairman: David Mooney, CEO, Alliant CU, Chicago;
  • Vice Chairman: Tom Pierce, CEO, Midwest Operating Engineers CU, Countryside; and
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Michael Lee, president, Midwest region, Alloya Corporate FCU, Warrenville.
Three ICUF board members were also re-elected to three-year terms: Cummins; John Fiore, CEO, Motorola Employees CU, Schaumburg; and Greg Worthen, director of lending, 1st MidAmerica CU, Bethalto.

The league's Credit Union Political Action Committee elected officers to one-year terms:

  • Chairman: Brenda Crane, chief operating officer, Credit Union 1, Rantoul;
  • Vice Chairman: Pete Fauth, vice president/CFO, Financial Plus CU, Ottawa;
  • Treasurer: Brian Cedergren, CEO, Abri CU, Romeoville; and
  • Secretary: RaeAnn Love, CEO, Commonwealth CU, Bourbonnais.
New directors elected to replace retiring ones are Kristine Kowalski, vice president of marketing for Kane County Teachers CU, Elgin; and Jim Pigott, Chicago Patrolmen's FCU, Chicago.

The Illinois Youth Involvement Council re-elected its executive committee:

  • Chairman: Jeri Hanson, president, Danville Consolidated CU, Danville;
  • Vice Chairman: Wednesday Medlen, business development/membership officer, Community Plus FCU, Rantoul; and
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Susan Bentley, business development coordinator, Advantage One CU, Morrison.
ICUL's three-day convention concluded Saturday. More than 650 executives representing 120 credit unions attended.

CU System Briefs (04/19/2013)

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  • PALO ALTO, Calif. (4/19/13)--Police have arrested a man suspected of robbing a Palo Alto, Calif., branch of Provident CU Saturday. The man was convicted last year of running from police after driving onto a street sealed off for President Barack Obama's motorcade. Eddie Darrell Boyce Jr., 50, was arrested Tuesday morning, the Palo Alto Police Department said. A man matching Boyce's description allegedly handed a note to a teller demanding cash at the branch Saturday morning. The man warned that he had a gun, but no weapon was seen. Police arrived within a minute of receiving the call at 9:05 a.m. but the man escaped with an undisclosed sum of money. Boyce was identified from a surveillance image ...
  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/19/13)--Diana L. Roberts, president/CEO of Hummelstown, Pa.-based Hershey FCU,  will retire in July after more than 31 years' service, reports the Pennsylvania  Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway April 18). Paul Wagner, an HFCU employee since 2005 and current vice president of operations and lending, will succeed her. In 1982, Roberts joined HFCU, which had $2.2 million in assets and served 1,675 members. Today the $58 million asset HFCU serves more than 7,000 members with three branches. She has served on PCUA's board of directors since 1982, including as chairman from 2007 to 2009. She was chairman of Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation board in 2009-2011 and is an ex officio, Roberts also served as a Credit Union National Association director from 1997 to 2008 and was inducted into the national Credit Union House Hall of Leaders in 2010. Wagner has 35 years of experience in financial services industry, including with banks and another credit union ...
  • SALEM, Ore. (4/19/13)--Larry Queen, former president/CEO of  State Employees' CU in Salem Ore., died April 12 in Salem (Statesman Journal April 17).  He was 70. Queen and his wife of 40 years, Lynda Queen, worked side by side growing the small credit union, which he considered his proudest achievement.  His passion of helping people and achieving his fullest potential of a job well-done was fulfilled through the credit union's successful merger with First Tech FCU just before his retirement in 2008. He is survived by his wife, a son, two daughters, nine grandchildren and a great grandson. Funeral arrangements are being made through Howell Edwards Doerksen Funeral Home. A memorial service will be Saturday at 2:30 p.m. PT at South Salem Church of the Nazarene ...

Texas Foundation Ready To Assist In Explosion Aftermath

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/19/13)--The Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF) is ready to help credit unions and their employees impacted by Wednesday night's explosion at a fertilizer plant in the town of West.  And a credit union in nearby Waco has begun accepting donations for the American Red Cross to assist victims.

GENCO FCU, one of 16 credit unions in Waco, which is about 20 miles from West, said on its website it is accepting donations at all of its branches for the citizens of West. The $238 million asset credit union established an account for the American Red Cross for monetary donations. It is also asking those with nonmonetary donations to drop the items off at branches in Lorena, Lacy Lakeview, Valley Mills Drive, and Woodway.

TCUF is assessing the situation to determine the scope of damage--if any--that credit unions and their staff might have experienced. If it is determined that the damage is widespread, TCUF will activate its disaster relief fund.

"In times of crisis, the foundation is here to help our credit unions and their staff get back on their feet so that they in turn can be there for their members," said TCUF Executive Director Courtney Moran Thursday.

"Already I received countless e-mails and phone calls from credit unions across the state wanting to know how they can help," said Moran.  "It's so gratifying to know that we serve in a movement where people really care about each other."

According to news reports, a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant devastated West, north of Waco, causing multiple casualties and leaving people trapped and buildings on fire.  Officials have said more than 160 people had been treated for injuries at various hospitals. The number of dead was still unconfirmed as of News Now's press deadline.  Emergency personnel continued to search for survivors Thursday from the explosion.

West is a town of 2,800 people, according to the Waco Tribune (April 18). Gov. Rick Perry declared McLennan County a disaster area, saying that the tragedy has hit about every family in the town. Seventy homes were damaged, as well as a number of businesses.  The blast was felt 50 miles away, said CNN.   

TCUF said it will notify credit unions if its disaster relief fund is activated.

International CU Regulators Issue Governance Guidelines

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SAN DIEGO (4/19/13)--The International Credit Union Regulators' Network (ICURN) this week issued a new guiding principles document, Enhancing Governance of Cooperative Financial Institutions at the ICURN Annual Conference in San Diego.

Click to view larger image Forty-eight credit union regulators from 23 countries attended the International Credit Union Regulators' Network Annual Conference in San Diego this week. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
"Cooperative financial institution governance is in many respects the most important line of defense in terms of maintaining safety and soundness, and cooperative financial institutions globally face similar governance challenges," said Andy Poprawa, ICURN chairman and CEO of the Deposit Insurance Corp. of Ontario, Canada.

"These new guiding principles will help many institutions and their boards understand better their responsibilities and give a road map on how to manage an institution so that it serves its members' needs to the greatest extent possible," he added.

The ICURN guidance incorporates 17 elements considered desirable in facilitating effective governance of cooperative financial institutions, including credit unions and savings and credit cooperative organizations.

The elements include:

  • Directors' responsibilities and minimum qualifications;
  • Oversight of senior management;
  • Senior managers' roles in maintaining safe and sound institutions;
  • Effective internal controls;
  • Compensation;
  • Transparency and disclosure to members; and
  • The role of regulators in monitoring cooperatives' corporate governance and taking remedial action when appropriate.
The document builds on prior ICURN guidance on cooperative financial institutions supervision. In September 2011, ICURN issued Guiding Principles for Effective Prudential Supervision of Cooperative Financial Institutions, which incorporated 21 principles conducive to developing an effective supervisory system for financial cooperatives.

At this year's ICURN Annual Conference, 48 regulators from 23 countries in Africa, Asia, North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and Oceania participated. The National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors and the California Department of Financial Institutions hosted the conference.

ICURN is an independent international network of cooperative financial institution regulators that promotes the guidance given by the leaders of the Group of 20 nations for greater international coordination among financial services regulators.

The network facilitates the sharing of information and positions of common interest among financial cooperatives, initiates research on financial cooperatives and their oversight, identifies best practices and provides direct access to a forum for thought leaders worldwide on issues critical to sound cooperative financial institutions regulation. The World Council of Credit Unions serves as the ICURN secretariat.

For more information about ICURN, visit use the link.

Pa CUs Well-capitalized At Year-end 2012

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/19/13)--The percentage of Pennsylvania credit unions deemed well-capitalized--with Prompt Corrective Action net worth above 7%--stood at 96.6%, slightly higher than the national average of 96.3%, reported the fourth quarter 2012 Pennsylvania Credit Union Profile.

The rise in overall loan balances for the fourth quarter was driven by credit cards and mortgage loans, and the increase was slightly higher than national averages, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association. Loan balances the past year increased 4.4%--the fastest pace in three years (Life Is a Highway April 15).

Pennsylvania credit unions reported slightly higher fourth-quarter loan-delinquency numbers. However, relative to Pennsylvania banks, credit union delinquency rates of 1.13% are below the bank-reported rate of 1.7% for the period, PCUA said.

Pennsylvania credit unions' fourth-quarter membership growth was slow, but remained strong with an overall 2% increase in 2012,  PCUA said. Net memberships grew by 73,000 in 2012 to reach nearly 3.73 million.

Home Finance Write-offs Drop 23% In First Quarter

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ATLANTA (4/19/13)--U.S. home finance balances written off in the first quarter totaled  $43.1 billion, a decrease of  nearly 23% from first quarter 2012 ($55.4 billion), according to the Equifax March National Consumer Credit Trends Report. That reflects a five-year low.

Write-offs, also known as severe derogatories, include loans that completed the foreclosure process and transitioned to real-estate owned (REO) by banks, entered bankruptcy, or were otherwise charged off by the lender.

"Overall home finance balances decreased to $8.38 trillion in March 2013 from $8.64 trillion the same time a year ago," said Equifax Chief Economist Amy Crews Cutts. "The decline is due to write-offs from foreclosures as well as from consumers paying down balances when refinancing, known as cash-in refinancing, shortening terms when they refinance their loans or making extra principle payments each month for faster amortization; some have even paid-off their mortgages entirely.

"The share had been running 50-50 until recently when it has shifted to a 60-40 split with write-offs dominating," she added. "This shift is important as increased home purchases are finally leading to more demand for mortgage credit and may soon stop the decline in mortgage debt outstanding."

Year-over-year change in home finance write-off rates from March 2012 to March 2013 were:

  • Home equity revolving: Declined 44.1%;
  • Home equity installment: Dropped 32.9%; and
  • First mortgage: Fell 17.6%.
Year-over-year change in home finance severely delinquent balances during the period were:

  • Home equity revolving: Decreased more than 29% (to $9.7 billion from $13.6 billion);
  • Home equity installment: Fell nearly 26% (to $4.9 billion from $6.6 billion); and
  • First mortgage: Dropped nearly 25% (to $355 billion from $477 billion).

Maine CUs Helped Thousands Stay Warm, On Budget

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PORTLAND, Maine (4/19/13)--Helping Maine's consumers afford to heat their homes in a rising-price environment has become an annual part of operations for many credit unions in the state, says the Maine Credit Union League.

During the 2011-2012 heating season, more than two-thirds of Maine's credit unions, looking out for their members' best interest, offered some kind of special heating and/or fuel loan to members. Combined, they offered more than $5 million in loans designated to help members heat their homes this past winter.

The average rate on the loans was 4.1% annual percentage rate. Some credit unions offered 0% financing for loans for heating oil.

"The rise in energy prices continues to challenge thousands of Maine consumers, and credit unions are doing all that we can to help so consumers do not have to choose between other essentials and staying warm," said John Murphy, league president.

The assistance underscores the value of credit unions' focus on their members in terms of service excellence, said the Credit Union National Association, which is urging credit unions to Unite for Good in achieving a strategic vision where Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner. Fostering service excellence is one of three broad goals being advanced in realizing the vision. Removing barriers and raising awareness are the other two goals. Consumers can find more information about credit unions at aSmarterChoice.org.

On Feb. 21, Maine energy officials in Augusta noted the statewide average cash price for No. 2 heating oil was $3.85 per gallon, up two cents from the previous week (Associated Press via Yahoo! News). The average kerosene price also increased two cents to $4.32 per gallon, and propane rose four cents, to $2.78 a gallon. The government's Energy Information Administration attributed the increase to a significant increase in crude oil prices, coupled with unexpected refinery outages in January.

On April 9, the publications reported that the cost of  oil rose above $94 a barrel, an increase of 84 cents per barrel. Oil was up $1.50 in two days, or $2 a barrel from the forecast issued in March.

CUs First FIs In Canada To Offer Remote Deposits

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VANCOUVER, B.C. (4/19/13)--Credit unions will be the first Canadian financial institutions to offer remote deposit capture.

Through Credit 1 Central in Vancouver, three credit unions--Meridian CU, St. Catharines, Ont.; Affinity CU, Saskatoon, Sask.; and Westminster (B.C.) Savings CU--will offer Deposit Anywhere as part of their mobile banking application.

"We are constantly developing new, innovative ways for credit unions to meet the changing needs of their members," said Oscar van der Meer, chief technology officer at Central 1, the trade association and financial facility for credit unions in British Columbia and Ontario. "We help them keep in the lead of the rapidly developing financial services market."

Members of the credit unions can use the camera in their mobile device to snap an image of the check they want to deposit and use their mobile banking app to deposit the item electronically.

Deposit Anywhere will be broadly available for credit unions to begin implementation in June.

British CUs Win Gov't Grant To Combat Payday Lenders

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LONDON (4/19/13)--The British government has awarded US$58.1 million to the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd. (ABCUL) to enhance access to credit unions as an alternative to payday lenders and provide greater access for more people to credit unions.

The money will be spent on modernizing credit unions with new computer systems and an infrastructure so they can offer a wider range of products and services to more consumers, said ABCUL (Financial Times April 16).

A June feasibility study indicated that modernizing Britain's credit unions and helping the sector become financially sustainable would allow credit unions to help more than one million people by giving them access to banking products, debt advice and affordable loans, said the Department for Works and Pensions (FTAdviser.com April 18).

Currently about seven million people are trapped by payday lenders in high-interest credit, with some being charged more than 6,000% in interest on short-term loans.

Mark Lyonette, CEO of ABCUL, noted that centralizing and streamlining day-to-day tasks with modern access channels will make credit unions more attractive for many people. ABCUL said it aims for credit unions to attract up to one million more members by 2019 (Credit Today.com April 17).

The government estimated the expansion project could save consumers up to US$1.5 billion.

Louisiana League Hosts Young Professionals Workshop

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HARAHAN, La. (4/19/13)--Eighty-five employees from 25 credit unions attended the Louisiana Credit Union League's second Young Professionals Network (YPN) Workshop April 13 in Lafayette, La. Attendance increased 25% from the first year of the event, LCUL said.

Click to view larger image The Louisiana Credit Union League's second Young Professionals Network Workshop April 13 attracted 85 credit union employees--a 25% increase from last year's inaugural event. (Photo provided by Louisiana Credit Union League.)
"Young professionals are the future of our industry," said Ronaldo Hardy, chairman of the YPN Steering Committee. "To have 85 people willing to give up their Saturday is a testament to the strength of the credit union movement."

A full day of sessions and networking opportunities began with a presentation from Kathi Gill, CEO of Neighbors FCU, Baton Rouge. Gill shared her career experiences as it progressed from teller and to leader of one of the state's largest credit unions.

Matt Monge, chief culture officer at Mazuma CU, Kansas City, Mo., facilitated a networking session, then gave a keynote presentation on the culture of credit unions and how it relates to young professionals.

Other session topics included credit union advocacy, a review of league resources, lending, marketing and leadership.

To increase young credit union professionals' involvement in political advocacy, LCUL and the YPN awarded two scholarships to attend the League's Governmental Affairs Conference in Baton Rouge, May 14-15. The league will cover registration costs and the YPN will cover accommodations. All YPN workshop attendees were eligible for the drawing.

SECU Opens One Millionth Checking Account

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RALEIGH, N.C. (4/18/13)--State Employees' CU (SECU), Raleigh, N.C., has opened its one millionth checking account.

SECU checking offers daily interest, a no-minimum balance requirement, and overdraft prevention options.

Members can choose to donate the account's $1 monthly maintenance fee to the SECU Foundation in support of North Carolina education, housing, healthcare and human services initiatives. About 99% of members choose this option, the credit union said.    

The Financial Benefits of Membership in State Employees' Credit Union of North Carolina in 2011, a  report written by Dr. William E. Jackson III, estimated checking benefits provided to SECU members through higher interest and lower non-sufficient funds charges totaled more than $200 million.

CU System Briefs (04/18/2013)

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  • MADISON, Wis. (4/18/13)--A man who allegedly wore a furry "Bucky Badger" hat and used a "Star Wars" toy as a weapon during a robbery of a Madison, Wis.-based credit union got his wish and was sentenced to two years in prison (Wisconsin State Journal April 17). Randall Hubatch, 50, was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to the Jan. 11 robbery of Summit CU. Hubatch allegedly told authorities he wore the distinctive headgear so he would get caught and serve prison time because he had a $250,000 student loan debt after graduating from the University of Wisconsin law school. A UW custodian for 13 years, he never practiced law because he suffered from several health conditions ...
  • FAIRBORN, Ohio (4/18/13)--Wright-Patt CU, based in Fairborn, Ohio, near Dayton, announced it will return to the Columbus, Ohio, market later this year. WPCU has hired Tammy Jones, recent vice president of operations and chief operations officer at Credit Union of Ohio, as Columbus Market Leader. WPCU already serves nearly 4,000 members in the Columbus area and the state's Division of Financial Institutions approved its field of membership an expansion of its field of membership to include Franklin County. WPCU had two locations in Columbus during the 1990s as a result of mergers and closed them in 2000 when resources were stretched thin and the locations were not convenient. WPCU President/CEO Doug Fecher said the credit union looked at its growth, reviewed options and "we let the market dictate our expansion plans." He noted Columbus is WPCU's most requested area by members for expansion. It will open its 25th member center in Springboro in late May. In March it relocated its Springfield branch from a strip mall to a free-standing location ...
  • WOODBRIDGE, Va. (4/18/13)--Belvoir FCU surpassed the more than $300 million in assets milestone at the end of first quarter, the Woodbridge, Va.-based credit union announced. Belvoir Federal was established in 1946 and has served the Fort Belvoir Installation and surrounding communities for 67 years. It has five branches in Virginia, four of which are located on Fort Belvoir. "With our continued growth, both in members and asset size, we look forward to helping our members achieve their financial fitness goals for many years to come," said Patricia Kimmel, president/CEO of Belvoir Federal  ...

NEW: TCUF Assessing Situation After Explosion in Central Texas

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/18/13, UPDATED 11:12 a.m. ET)--The Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF) says it is poised to help those credit unions and their employees impacted by the explosion at a fertilizer plant in the town of West.

"In times of crisis, the foundation is here to help our credit unions and their staff get back on their feet so that they in turn can be there for their members," said TCUF Executive Director Courtney Moran this morning.

Moran noted that TCUF is currently assessing the situation to determine the scope of damage--if any--credit unions and their staff might have experienced. If it is determined that the damage is widespread, TCUF will activate its disaster relief fund.

"Already I received countless emails and phone calls from credit unions across the state wanting to know how they can help," said Moran.  "It's so gratifying to know that we serve in a movement where people really care about each other."

According to news reports, a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant has devastated West, north of Waco, causing multiple casualties and leaving people trapped and buildings on fire.

Officials have said more than 160 people had been treated for injuries at various hospitals.  Emergency personnel continue to search for survivors from last night's explosion.

TCUF will notify credit unions if and when the disaster relief fund is activated.

NC State Assembly Hearing On CU Bill Today

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RALEIGH, N.C. (4/18/13)--The North Carolina House Banking Committee is holding its first hearing today on HB 515, which would amend the state's credit union statutes, according to the North Carolina Credit Union League.

The bill was introduced by John Bell (R-10), Larry Hall (D-29), Andy Wells (R-96) and Jonathan Jordan (R-93) (The Weekly Conversation April 17).

"It is a bi-partisan bill with no known opposition, so the bill should move through the committee swiftly," said Lauren Whaley, NCCUL's director of legislative and regulatory affairs.

The bill follows the overhaul of the North Carolina banking statutes by the Office of the Commissioner of Banks in 2011, NCCUL said. HB 515 involves modernizing changes to payable on death accounts, joint accounts, and dealing with minors.

"With the input and feedback of credit unions over the last two years, the league reviewed the credit union statutes in North Carolina and listed several areas that would enhance the value of the credit union charter in North Carolina," Whaley explained. "The league is grateful for the cooperative process that helped us identify key areas that would be of most benefit."

Should the committee hearing go as planned, HB515 would then be referred to a Judiciary Committee before the House takes a vote. The North Carolina Senate would then take up the bill.

Mich GAC: Make Your Voices Heard

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LANSING, Mich. (4/18/13)--The Michigan Credit Union League Governmental Affairs Conference offered attendees a simple message: Make your voices heard with state and national legislators.

Click to view larger image State Sen. Bert Johnson (D-Detroit) talks with Michigan Credit Union League President/CEO Dave Adams at the legislative luncheon during the Michigan Credit Union League's Governmental Affairs Conference.
MCUL CEO David Adams stressed the importance of advocacy during his remarks to open the conference. Adams also celebrated the successes achieved by the credit union system during the past year (Michigan Monitor April 15).

More than 125 attendees met with state legislators during the annual legislative luncheon.

Most GAC attendees already know the importance of interacting with legislators and regulators, Richard Gose, Credit Union National Association senior vice president of political affairs, said during his presentation.

Among the major political issues under discussion in Washington are tax reform and identifying revenue to help reduce the federal budget deficit, Gose said. He said credit unions must be vigilant to protect the federal tax exemption.

Preserving the credit union tax status remains CUNA's top legislative priority, and CUNA has emphasized that credit unions must work collaboratively to communicate the importance of that status to their members.

Click to view larger imageMichigan Credit Union League President/CEO Dave Adams presents Sen. Mike Green (R-Mayville) with the league's State Lawmaker of the Year award. (Photos provided by the Michigan Credit Union League.)
CUNA has designed a members-only toolkit to help credit unions connect with their members and educate the public about credit unions. The tax toolkit webpage features free materials such as radio ads, print ads, newsletter articles, state-level updates, materials to use in advocacy efforts with federal and state lawmakers. For more, use the resource link.

CUNA research has shown that when credit union members understand the value of membership, they will work with credit unions to defend their tax status. The more consumers and legislators know about credit unions "the better and stronger we are," Gose said.

For more on CUNA's tax toolkit, use the resource link.

Political activism is about "protecting your jobs and our members," said Lon Bone, vice president of public relations and community involvement at Genisys CU, Auburn Hills, Mich., during a panel on political activism. Bone, a member of MCUL's political action committee board, said he doesn't consider whether politicians are Republican or Democrat, but how they vote on credit union issues. He suggested CEOs recruit board members who are passionate about political activism.

Steve Dedene, manager of Credit Union ONE, Ferndale, said that he sends out a credit union factsheet whenever a new lawmaker visits one of his service areas.

Kieran Marion, MCUL vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs, presented an overview of the league's top priorities, including state foreclosure reform and reducing urban blight.

Credit unions play a critical role in Michigan's economic recovery, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette told attendees. Schuette stressed the importance of the credit unions within Michigan's economic infrastructure. "I understand the importance of credit unions," he said.

Sen. Mike Green (R-Mayville) was named MCUL Lawmaker of the Year and Matt Blakely, legislative director for state Rep. Peter Pettalia (R-Presque Isle) was named MCUL Staffer of the Year.

CU Enhancement, Director-Pay Bill Clears Washington Legislature

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (4/18/13)--The Washington State House late last week passed  a Northwest Credit Union Association-initiated bill to enhance the credit union charter in the state's Credit Union Act, including allowing compensation of directors.

Washington is the second state this year, after Tennessee, to change its law to permit compensation of credit union directors.

Senate Bill 5302 passed the House floor on a 94-0 vote, with four excused, said NWCUA.  The bill will go to Gov. Jay Inslee for signature. If he doesn't sign it, the law takes effect July 28 (Anthem April 16).

The bill results from recommendations by NWCUA's Washington State Model Act Subcommittee and includes these changes:

  • Creates more flexibility for credit unions investing in real property by allowing up to six years for use of unimproved property or three years for improved property;
  • Allows credit unions to invest in mutual funds made up of securities already otherwise permitted for credit union investment;
  • Clarifies that a credit union need not divest itself of an investment if permissible when made and the nature of the investment changes making it impermissible;
  • Removes the requirement that a credit union board meet monthly and allows for a minimum of six meetings per year, one at least quarterly;
  • Gives credit unions greater flexibility in the timing requirements of calling a special membership meeting, by extending the notice from no longer than 30 days, to no longer than 90 days;
  • Removes the prohibition on board and committee compensation and gives the state regulator authority to conduct rulemaking concerning reasonable director compensation; and
  • Changes the merger vote requirement to a simple majority vote from the current two-thirds majority requirement.

Oregon Senate Passes CU Act Update Bill

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SALEM Ore. (4/18/13)--A bill to update the Oregon Credit Union Act passed in the state Senate Monday, 29-0. The Northwest Credit Union Association backed the bill.

Senate Bill 520 now will be considered in the state House. After its first reading, it will be assigned to a committee (Anthem April 16).

Recommendations by NWCUA's Oregon State Model Act Subcommittee resulted in the legislation. Members of the subcommittee met several times in 2012, comparing the Oregon Act to other credit union charters and recommending several upgrades. NWCUA also sought input from the state Division of Finance and Corporate Securities.

SB 520 will:

  • Broaden Oregon's parity authority by allowing Oregon credit unions to invoke parity with out-of-state credit unions and streamline the process for invoking parity with federally chartered credit unions;
  • Clarify the role of the supervisory committee in governance-related matters;
  • Extend additional liability protection to credit union directors and officers;
  • Remove the wording in Oregon law that requires the board to "perform other duties as the members of the credit union from time to time direct and perform or authorize any action not inconsistent with this chapter and not specifically reserved by the bylaws for the members";
  • Remove duplicative and unnecessary language in Oregon law that permits a credit union to employ a chief operating officer/president and a security officer;
  • Make the declaring of dividends a power that can be delegated under Oregon law; and
  • Increase the limit of loans made to one borrower to the larger of $100,000 or 15% of a credit union's equity.
Educating lawmakers and taxpayers about three anti-credit union bills supported by the Oregon Bankers' Association was another key focus for credit unions this session, said NWCUA. Two of those measures have died in committee. HB 2484 would have imposed expensive and time-consuming business-lending-reporting requirements that detail service to people with low and moderate incomes, NWCUA said. HB 2485 would have required extensive community-reinvestment reporting to state regulators. Neither bill was scheduled for a hearing.

A third bill, HB 2486, calls for a corporate excise tax on some of the state's largest credit unions. Because that measure is still pending through the end of the session, NWCUA leadership, credit union advocates and their members have continued to emphasize the positive impact of the tax exemption--real, tangible benefits returned to members in the form of lower fees and better loan rates.

Dykstra, Guatemala CUs Discuss Governance, Strategy

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ONTARIO, Calif. (4/18/13)--Diana Dykstra, president/CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, conducted a workshop last week on governance and strategy with the board of directors of FENACOAC, Guatemala's national credit union trade association.  

Click to view larger image During an April 8 visit to Guatemala, California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues President/ CEO Diana Dykstra (center) met the full board and senior staff of FENACOAC, Guatemala's national credit union trade association, to discuss planning and strategy. (Photo provided by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues)

During the April 8 visit to the Central American country, Dykstra, FENACOAC CEO Oswaldo Oliva, and Victor Miguel Corro, vice president of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions for the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), also visited with the Superintendency of Banks, Guatemala's credit union regulator,  to advocate for credit union regulation.

"The level of cooperation between FENACOAC and the California and Nevada Credit Union leagues has helped propel the federation's board of directors and their initiatives," Oliva said.

The leagues have partnered with FENACOAC since 2009 as part of  WOCCU's International Partnerships Program, which connects developed and emerging credit union movements in collaborative and mutually beneficial partnerships. For more information, use the link.

Dykstra met with FENACOAC's full board and senior staff to discuss planning, strategy and how to forge a vision of the future in an organization. She emphasized the difference between board and staff responsibilities.

Oliva, Dykstra and Corro visited with the technical staff from the Superintendency of Banks. Dykstra described how the industry in the U.S. is regulated. The technical staff is working on a draft for a credit union law in Guatemala. The superintendency had asked for help in getting case studies for countries in which credit unions are successfully regulated and where the risk is well- managed. To see the studies, use the link.

Guatemala's MICOOPE system--implemented in 2008--comprises 25 credit unions that adopted a unified brand to help with public awareness, ease of transactions nationwide and growing credit union membership. The system has 1.2 million members. MICOOPE is self-regulated, with FENACOAC acting as the monitoring agent.

Members of the technical staff of the Superintendency of Banks and MICOOPE will meet with the California Department of Financial Institutions later this year.

CUs Report Business Wins In Filene Social Pilot

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MADISON, Wis. (4/18/13)--Growing active social media engagement among employees on social platforms is instrumental in gaining business results for credit unions, according to research from Filene Research Institute's QUEsocial pilot program.

More than half of the program's participating credit unions and 97% of the most engaged users reported business wins, which Filene defined as "new members and loans, leads and expanded reach into their communities, among other things."

"As social networks are more and more a part of our daily lives, enabling employees to tap their social networks on the credit union's behalf is an efficient way to grow membership, deepen relationships and participate actively in their communities," said Tansley Stearns, Filene's Impact director. "Higher social media engagement and active participation leads to stronger business results."

Filene's pilot was launched last year with Chicago-based technology company QUEsocial to offer credit unions social media tools and resources to take social business beyond marketing and put it into their employees' hands. The pilot involves a portal that combines e-learning, content delivery, gamification and analytics.

One credit union said it used social media to recruit, engage its audiences, and generate leads. It currently is closing three leads it developed during the pilot.

Roughly 36 credit unions and 120 individuals are participating in the pilot, which runs through April.

Filene's post-pilot program will feature more curated content specific to human resources, marketing, sales and business services, plus Canadian-specific content. It also will have enhanced training modules, gaming integration and back-end technology.  Filene will host webinars on April 23 or 24 about the program. Use the links for more information.

Texas, Iowa Surveys: Rainy Day Accounts Not Enough

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DES MOINES, Iowa and FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/18/13)--Consumers in Iowa and Texas are setting aside some funds for a rainy day, but not enough to cover expenses over the long term, according to surveys recently conducted by leagues in both states.

Nearly 60% of Iowans surveyed by the Iowa Credit Union League said they have a savings account designated for emergencies. However, 28.9% indicated their savings will not cover one month of essential expenses.

About half of the survey respondents said they find it difficult to save for emergency purposes. Less than 48% of Iowans indicated they used their savings to purchase a non-emergency item within the past 12 months.

"Living paycheck to paycheck is not ideal, but it is a reality for many consumers," said Emily Caropreso, director of communications and marketing at the Iowa league.  "We need to better show how establishing a saving regimen, no matter how large or small, is an essential step in circumventing serious financial troubles."

In Texas, 79.8% of participants in a survey conducted by the Texas Credit Union League have a savings account designated for unexpected expenses. However, in the event of a job loss, the survey found only 10% could cover essential expenses for six to 12 months. Also, 36% indicated they could cover essential expenses for zero to three months.

About 57% of the Texas survey participants say have used their savings in the past 12 months to purchase non-emergency items.

A nationwide study of family finances by several government agencies indicated only 38% of adults have established an "emergency fund" to fall back on during tough times, the Iowa league said.

Illinois League Kicks Off Annual Convention Today

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (4/18/13)--More than 650 executives representing 120 credit unions are expected to attend the Illinois Credit Union League's 83rd Annual Convention starting today. The event runs through Saturday.

With a travel theme of "Passport to Success!" the convention returns for a second year to Schaumburg.

Keynoter Mark Sievewright, president of Fiserv Inc.'s credit union solutions, will discuss "How the Future of Credit Unions Will Evolve in the Next 20 Years." He also will present a breakout session, "Competing to Win:  Seven Strategies for Seven Trends in U.S. Financial Services."

The annual convention also includes 22 educational opportunities, including a session with Bill Hampel, Credit Union National Association chief economist.

During the keynote and awards ceremony, several recipients of the Illinois Credit Union Foundation's Commemorative Memorial and Tribute Awards will be recognized, including recently retired long-time league staff members Donald Edwards and Con O'Mahoney.

The closing session Saturday will feature comedy magician Fred Schafer, with "How to Have a Power Packed Productive and Profitable Day in Your Credit Union--Every Day!" 

Other features for this year's convention will include:

  • Credit union "crashers." ICUL is again welcoming young credit union professionals to be part of the annual convention. The initiative is a spinoff of the league's inaugural effort to attract young professionals to the convention last year in partnership with The Cooperative Trust (formerly The Crash Network).
  • Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits. Many of ICUL's convention sessions, as well as its annual schedule of more than 60 "QuickBites," telecourses, and in-person sessions, are CPE eligible.

CU System Briefs (04/17/2013)

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  • LOCKPORT, N.Y. (4/17/13)--A woman who frequently conducted business at a branch of Lockport, N.Y.-based Cornerstone Community FCU was arrested Monday and charged with third-degree robbery April 10 at the credit union. Dale L. Swain, 55, had filed a claim against the credit union after falling in its parking lot (The Buffalo News April 15). The robbery occurred at 3:30 p.m. when a woman handed a teller three notes demanding cash and fled with the money to a red Chevrolet Cavalier. The male driver was found later that day and questioned. Swain was immediately identified after the robbery by credit union staff …
  • FORT WAYNE, Ind. (4/17/13)--Two men and a woman were arrested by Fort Wayne, Ind., police shortly after a robbery at Power One FCU Monday morning left one credit union employee with facial injuries (Journal Gazette April 16). Two men, one with a handgun, ambushed the employee as she arrived at work before 9 a.m.. One pushed her into the credit union and knocked her to the floor, injuring her face. He then approached another employee and collected an undisclosed amount of cash while the injured employee locked herself in a room and called 911. Police arrested Trey Jackson, 25, who allegedly had a handgun, after a short chase. They later arrested DeAngelo Copeland, 36, and Nicole Andrews, 35, in a car three miles south of the credit union. Andrews was allegedly the getaway driver, said police. All three suspects are from Fort Wayne and have been charged with bank robbery. The injured employee was treated at the hospital …

Getting Creative With Fin Lit Month Education

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MADISON, Wis. (4/17/13)--Credit unions and credit union organizations nationwide are using their imaginations to inspire members to adopt good financial habits as part of April's Financial Literacy Month.

This article is the second of a two-part series that provides examples of how credit unions are educating their members during Financial Literacy Month.

To assist with that outreach, the Credit Union National Association offers two national events designed to educate young members and their families on the benefits of financial literacy: National Credit Union Youth Week, April 21-27, and the National Youth Saving Challenge. The events teach the benefits of saving and goal setting and invite youth to open savings accounts at their credit union and make deposits throughout the year.

This year's theme, "Savings Sleuth: Solve the Mystery" employs mystery and mustaches to capture children's imagination.

The National Youth Saving Challenge, held throughout April, rewards 10 savers with $100 cash prizes.

"We have nearly 250 credit unions registered for the National Youth Saving Challenge, ready to welcome youth wanting to 'stache their cash," said Joanne Sepich, CUNA Youth Week and Saving Challenge Coordinator. "Even more credit unions are prepared to show youth fun ways to manage their money during Youth Week. Puzzles, contests, and plenty of mustaches are on order for the big week. It's a big win for us all when we help a child set a goal and save to achieve it."

Among the ways credit unions nationwide are celebrating:

  • Corning (N.Y.) CU is hosting or is involved in more than a dozen financial literacy presentations and events in April. Events hosted by the credit union include an accounting internship, a career panel at a local high school, a loan education seminar, student observation sessions, a financial planning seminar, and overviews of CUNA's Mad City Money.
  • Connexus CU, Wausau, Wis., is offering children 12 and under a chance to become Saving Sleuths by finding special savings-related clues at two of its branches. Each child who finds all five clues is entered to win the Super Savings Sleuth Grand Prize.
  • Tinker FCU, Oklahoma City, Okla., took the SaveAbles Kids Club to Science Museum Oklahoma for its annual spring break event. More than 2,000 children came to the SaveAbles Kids Club area, where they learned about saving money and created a savings container with stickers and markers.
  • Consumers CU, Waukegan, Ill., will host a free "Your Credit Score," workshop April 25. The seminar will cover how to improve a credit score, the negative impact of a low credit score and some of the factors used to calculate credit scores.
  • Throughout April, the 18 branches of Intouch CU, Plano, Texas, will display a piggy bank stuffed with cash that kids can enter to win either by turning in a five-question financial quiz or a completed coloring sheet featuring the credit union's mascot, Chip. ITCU will offer its employees a month of Friday "Jeans Days" as a fundraiser for the National Credit Union Foundation and Texas Credit Union Foundation.
  • The Texas Credit Union League will host a Financial Fitness Day, April 23, sponsored by CUNA Mutual Group. The day will include Olympic events such as javelin (pencil throwing), desk-chair racing, target shooting (with Sharpies) and tug of war.
  • The Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Greater Dallas has provided 56 financial education webinars to consumers in April, thanks to a grant from the Texas Credit Union Foundation.  An additional 44 webinars will be offered by the end of April.

Raising awareness about credit unions is one of the steps in CUNA's, leagues' and credit unions' Unite for Good campaign toward achieving the vision of Americans choosing credit unions as their best financial institution. As that awareness grows, members will turn to aSmarterChoice and Unite for Good websites to locate credit unions they can join and find out more.

Give and Take Author Adam Grant ACUC's Fourth Keynoter

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MADISON, Wis. (4/17/13)--Adam Grant, an award-winning professor, researcher and author, has been announced as the fourth keynote speaker at the 2013 America's Credit Union Conference, June 30-July 3 at the Hilton New York in New York City.

"Grant has been all over the media lately, including The Today Show, The Washington Post, The New York Times and Fast Company, to discuss his revolutionary thinking about the positives of being a 'giver' in business," said Todd Spiczenski, vice president of the Credit Union National Association Center for Professional Development. "I have no doubt that his research results and positive message about how doing good can get you ahead will make a profound connection with credit union professionals."

Grant is the youngest-tenured and highest-rated professor at Wharton, where he teaches organizational psychology--the study of workplace dynamics. He was named one of the world's 40-best business professors under age 40 and has received the Excellence in Teaching Award for every class he has taught.

Grant has presented solutions for leaders of organizations including Google, the National Football League, IBM, Merck, the World Economic Forum, Goldman Sachs, Estee Lauder and the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force. He wrote a new book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, and was recently profiled in a New York Times Magazine cover story, "Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead?"

CUNA announced the other three ACUC keynoters earlier. They are:

  • Lyn Howard, director of creation for Cirque du Soleil, whose presentation and book, "The Spark: Igniting the Creative Fire that Lives Within Us All," draw on her experience as former president and chief operating officer of Cirque's creative content division, where she helped create Cirque masterworks. Her presentations help audiences explore the nature and origins of creativity.
  • Lt. Col. Robert Darling, retired White House military officer and author of a book about developments in the White House during the terrorist attacks on Sept, 1, 2001. Darling's book, 24 Hours Inside the President's Bunker, 9/11/01: The White House, chronicles a minute-by-minute account of that day's events. Darling now is president of the Military Officers Association of America Heritage Chapter in Quantico, Va., and vice president for business development for Zenetex, an information technology service-management company in Herndon, Va.
  • Malcolm Gladwell, staff writer for The New Yorker magazine and author of four New York Times best-selling books. They include The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Outliers: The Story of Success, and What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures. He often writes about applications of research and new ideas in the social sciences, making frequent use of academic work in sociology, psychology and social psychology.
For more information, use the link.

Marathon's CU Participants, Volunteers Unhurt

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BOSTON (4/17/13)--Credit unions, thankful that none of their participants were injured in Monday's Boston Marathon terrorist attack, turned Tuesday to making decisions on future credit union events, setting up funds to assist victims and families, and expressing their shock at the turn of events.

The two explosions killed three people and injured more than 144 people at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in the worst attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.

Nine credit union running teams participated, representing Credit Unions Kids at Heart, which teams runners with patient partners from Boston Children's Hospital, said Burlington, Mass.-based EasCorp. They ran with a fundraising goal of $100,000 for the 2013 Boston Marathon season.

"Following the tragedy at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, we want you to know that all of the Credit Unions Kids at Heart runners, their patient partners and families are safe and sound, and bound for home if they are not already there," said EasCorp on its website. "We are nonetheless sorrowed by this senseless turn of events, and our prayers are for those who were injured or killed."

Runners and their partners and sponsors included: 

Kerri Comolli, running for Seamus Slattery, 12, and  Igor Ivno, running for Matt Bridges, 9, both sponsored by Marlborough, Mass.-based Digital FCU; Austin Braithwait, running for Timmy Stevens, 20, and Sue Sonia, running for Cameron Murray, 4, both sponsored by EasCorp; Jay Johnson, running for Davis Randall, 10, sponsored by Callahan & Associates Inc.;

Kris Biagiotti, running for her daughter Kayla Biagiotti, 18, sponsored by Money One FCU, Largo, Md.; Ray Phillips, running for Andy Martin, 17, sponsored by Hanscom FCU, Hanscom AFB, Mass.; and Nicole Bedard, running for Everett Chase, 9, sponsored by Jeanne d'Arc CU, Lowell, Mass.; and Tim Burch, running for Kyle Reilly, 13, NASA FCU, Bowie, Md.

It was the first Boston Marathon race for Comolli, Johnson, Sonia, and Ivno.

The Massachusetts Credit Union League also expressed relief that credit union participants were safe. "The people of Massachusetts are still coming to grips with the horrendous events that took such a terrible toll on the peaceful crowd gathered to celebrate a great Boston tradition," said the league's website Tuesday. "This terrible attack saddens us tremendously, but it also strengthens our resolve to move forward and demonstrate our collective humanity.

"It is with relief that we learned that the many fine and generous people who were raising money for Children's Hospital as part of EasCorp's Credit Unions for Kids team, and those [who] were supporting them at the race, were unhurt," the league added. "Their kindness and the spirit of giving that they brought to the marathon exemplifies the values that are needed to triumph over the treachery and evil that violated our great Patriot's Day tradition."

The event is not deterring other credit union fundraising marathons and races.  In Smithfield, R.I., the Navigant CU Running Festival Half Marathon and 5K scheduled for May 5 will go on. Race Director Charles Breagy told GoLocalProv.com (April 15), "This is America. No one is going to push us around." He expects runners to be ready to race and said he will work with every town and police group involved in the race route. "We'll take every precaution."

In Kalamazoo, Mich., Consumers CU noted its 4th Annual Consumers Sunburst Run will take place Saturday, with a moment of silence observed. A portion of the race's proceeds will be donated to the victims.

"Yesterday's terrible tragedy at the Boston Marathon shook the running community throughout the world," said the $430 million asset credit union. "What should have been a life-affirming celebratory event ended in confusion, sadness and anger."  It noted the many acts of kindness after the bombing. "Runners finished the race and continued running to area hospitals to donate blood.  Bostonians offered stranded runners and their families places to stay. Restaurants provided runners and locals with free food."

The Boston Firefighters CU is accepting donations to the Boston First Responder's Fund, formed by the Boston Fire Fighters Local 718, according to the credit union's website.  The fund, which will donate 100% of the proceeds to victims and their families, was announced Tuesday on CNN and the Associated Press.

Also announced was a $50,000 reward offered by the union and the Boston Police Patrolman's Association and the Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society for information leading to arrests in the bombing.

General Electric Asks CU To Remove GE From Name

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ERIE, Pa. (4/17/13)--Erie General Electric FCU in Erie, Pa., is removing "General Electric" from its name through a request from GE that resulted in a mutual agreement.

A group of GE employees formed the credit union in 1936 because they wanted to pool their savings and gain access to loans (The Associated Press April 16).

However, the credit union never was affiliated with GE. That is why the company--whose GE Transportation locomotive business is a large Erie-area employer--wants the name removed, reported The Erie Times-News (April 16).

The $256 million asset credit union has worked for the past 18 months to prepare for the name change that will be announced Friday at its annual meeting.

Credit union officials said the name change will help correct the misperception that only GE employees can join the credit union, according to AP.

The credit union plans to make the new name effective May 1.

Survey: 50% Of High School Seniors Don't Know Student Loan Costs

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WASHINGTON (4/17/13)--Nearly half of high school seniors in the U.S. don't know how much money they will need for college, and even more don't understand basic student loan terms, according to the Credit Union National Association's first annual High School Student Borrowing Survey.

Most students (70%) are confident they will receive a high-paying job upon graduating, CUNA found.  That indicates they are willing to pay the cost of college tuition even if they don't understand how the borrowing will affect their financial futures. Of the 847 17- and 18-year-olds polled nationally, 83% did not know the rates and 77% didn't know the duration of their expected or existing college loans.

"These troubling findings suggest not just a lack of awareness of college cost or how debt works but also a lack of basic financial knowledge," said Paul Gentile, CUNA executive vice president, strategic communications and engagement. "The results suggest that some students could be challenged in managing basic expenses or using such payment tools as credit cards in a consistently responsible manner as they enter adulthood."

Even if students relied on parents to arrange financing, it's still important for students themselves to have a basic understanding of the level and type of college debt they are taking on, Gentile added.

The findings are of particular concern, he said, because 74% of aspiring college attendees say they will need a combination of federal and private loans, family money and jobs to support their tuition. About 20% reported that family will pay their tuition outright, 5.8% will use federal loans and grants alone, and 2.01%  will rely on private loans and grants.

Twenty-five percent expect to take out two or more student loans, while 13% expect one loan, and 60% couldn't estimate how many they would need.

Given the new reality of more loans at larger amounts for most borrowers, CUNA is lobbying the government to allow student loans of longer duration than the current 15-year standard.

"The 15-year standard student loan made sense in years past when the total debt taken out was much lower," Gentile said. "College is a lifetime investment. The value of a longer term is you can better structure the loan to allow for smaller payments in the early work years. That is typically when most borrowers struggle as their careers are just beginning. Once their careers pick up, they are better able to manage the debt, so a longer term helps marry up those two realities."

Of those who knew what they will owe after graduation, 15% said they will owe $10,000 or less; 22%, $11,000-$50,000; and 13%, more than $50,000.

Credit unions offer better  interest terms due to their mutual, member-owned business model.  Credit union private student loans also perform better than other student loans, with default rates at about 1.6%, compared with less than 6% for all private student loans and more than 12% for federal loans.

Deadline Extended For Internships In Costa Rica

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MADISON, Wis. (4/17/13)--The deadline for applications for U.S. credit union professionals to apply for a two-week credit union internship in Costa Rica has been extended to April 30, said the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU).

The internships are for June 9-22 and are through WOCCU's International Credit Union Leadership Program. WOCCU is looking for 12 candidates to participate in the scholarship program.

Those eligible to apply include staff or board members from credit unions, leagues, corporate credit unions, the Credit Union National Association, CUNA Mutual Group and credit union service organizations. World Council employees or board members are not eligible.

In the program, participants will learn how another country's credit unions reach underserved populations and support communities through member education and special projects, and learn about ways to better serve an increasingly diverse membership, including youth, businesses, low-income and Hispanic members.

Other criteria applicants must meet:

  • Demonstrate personal commitment and ability to significantly influence the credit union;
  • Show leadership and entrepreneurial skills and demonstrate how personal initiative has contributed to the credit union's development;
  • Exhibit the potential to advance the national or international credit union system through initiatives that would help development of applicant's community;
  • Be available to travel on the specific dates in the program;
  • Have a career trajectory within the credit union industry; and
  • Have intermediate Spanish-language skills (ideal but not necessary).
The program provides each participant with credit union placement, lodging with a host family, meals and communication stipends, local transportation and traveler's insurance. Sponsoring U.S. credit unions must cover airfare of roughly $950.  For details, use the link.

CU House's 2013 Board Elected

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WASHINGTON (4/17/13)--The Credit Union House announced the results of its board elections, held in conjunction with the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington D.C.

Click to view larger image The Credit Union House board of directors are, from left, Scott Earl, president/CEO of the Mountain West Credit Union Association; Secretary Sylvia Lyon, president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of New Mexico; Chairman Dick Ensweiler, president/CEO, Texas Credit Union League; President Bill Cheney, president/CEO, Credit Union National Association; and Treasurer Patrick La Pine, president/CEO, League of Southeastern Credit Unions. Not pictured is Vice Chairman Brett Thompson, president/CEO, Wisconsin Credit Union League. (Photo provided by the Credit Union House)
Sylvia Lyon, president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of New Mexico and Scott Earl, president/CEO of the Mountain West Credit Union Association, were elected to fill two board vacancies.

Bill Cheney, president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association, continues to serve as president of the Credit Union House.

Board officers include:

  • Chairman--Dick Ensweiler, president/CEO, Texas Credit Union League;
  • Vice chairman--Brett Thompson, president/CEO, Wisconsin Credit Union League;
  • Treasurer--Patrick La Pine, president/CEO, League of Southeastern Credit Unions; and
  • Secretary--Lyon.
Charles Elliott, president/CEO of the Mississippi Credit Union Association, stepped down as board chair. Elliot completed his board term.

William Mellin, president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of New York, also completed his term.

Credit Union House hosted 15 events attended by roughly 600 guests in the first quarter, largely in connection with CUNA's GAC.

Credit Union House is a townhouse in Washington, D.C., owned by every state credit union trade association and the American Association of Credit Union Leagues. It serves as a credit union coordination center on Capitol Hill and is considered a symbol of the strength and permanence of the credit union movement on the national scene.

CU System Briefs (04/16/2013)

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  • WILMINGTON, Del. (4/16/13)--Christine Marie Kaczmarczyk, age 73, a former CEO of Dexsta FCU here, died April 10 at her home. Kaczmarczyk retired from Dexsta as CEO in 2005 after 36 years of service to the credit union. During her time at the helm, the credit union experienced significant growth and Kaczmarczyk expressed pride in her associates, co-workers and in the credit union network. A burial service will be held at 10 a.m. (ET), Wednesday, at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 301 N. Bancroft Parkway, Wilmington, Del. …

2013 Diamond Award Winners Honored by Council

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MADISON, Wis. (4/16/13)--First Entertainment CU was recognized with the "Diamond Best of Show"--the highest "Best of Show" award--in the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council's Diamond Awards competition during the council's 20th annual conference, March 24-27 in Anaheim, Calif.

"This year's Diamond Awards featured the best of the best in marketing and business development in the credit union industry," said Nancy C. Hutchinson, chair of the council Diamond Awards. "This year we endorsed a new matrix scoring system along with a redesign on the actual Diamond Awards. The members of the council were awestruck at the new design of the Diamond Awards."

Entered in the Brand Awareness category, Hollywood, Calif.-based First Entertainment CU created three commercials to highlight the difference between the credit union and a bank--a key component of its brand.

Each commercial emphasized the location on the studio lot and focused on a product or service. By the end of the commercial's run, the spots will have been seen by more than 50,000 viewers.

This year's awards competition received more than 1,100 entries. Judges awarded six entries as Best of Show, along with 88 Category's Best and 207 Diamond Awards.

Other Best of Show honorees included:

  • Color Award for Best Use of Art--Operating Engineers Local Union 3 FCU in Livermore, Calif., for its entry in the Plastic Access Card Design category. OE FCU rebranded and redesigned it credit and debit cards to be inclusive of all labor organizations. The cards incorporate a bold, rugged look, with a new color palette and allow members to upload a custom photo or choose from a catalog of images that include the new OE FCU branded choices.
  • Best Use of Humor--First Entertainment CU in Hollywood, Calif., for its "Don't feed the goat, No Dead Leaves, Terms and Conditions" ad campaign. First Entertainment CU used light-hearted TV ads featuring a well-known character actor to highlight the differences between the credit union and a bank.
  • Cut Award for Most Edgy--University of Kentucky FCU in Lexington, Ky., for its Complete Campaign. The credit union's campaign created awareness of the value and benefit it offers to members in a fun, not-so-traditional way. It did this through billboards, print and online ads, postcards and staff buttons directing visitors to its lipstickonabank.com microsite, which touted the credit union as a better option than traditional banks.
  • Clarity Award for Most Sentimental--Travis CU in Vacaville, Calif., for its Annual Report. Travis CU's annual report theme of "Looking Bank. Reaching Forward." captured the credit union's beginnings and showed members how it has grown over the decades while remaining committed to the vision of its founding members.
  • Carat Award for Greatest Impact--Woodstone CU in Federal Way, Wash., for its Awareness Campaign. As attitudes toward big banks declined, Woodstone CU created a campaign to differentiate itself in a heavily "over-banked" market.
For a complete list of awardees, use the link.

Leagues Defend CU Tax Exemption, Urge MBL Cap Increase

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MADISON, Wis. (4/16/13)--League presidents in Louisiana, Oregon and New York took to the media to defend credit unions' tax exemption or urge Congress to raise credit unions' member business lending (MBL) cap. Both are key issues on the Credit Union National Association's legislative priority list.

Credit unions do pay their taxes, said Louisiana Credit Union League President/CEO Anne Cochran, in a Sunday letter in The Advocate responding to a Louisiana Bankers Association attack on credit unions' tax-exempt status.

"Banks struggle with the reasoning behind why credit unions are tax-exempt," Cochran wrote. "Credit unions do pay federal, state and local taxes as any business, such as employment and property taxes. Credit unions are exempt from paying corporate income taxes because earnings are returned to their members, who are taxpayers themselves. They are not shareholders in for-profit businesses like banks.

"Additionally, credit unions are regulated extensively by state and federal government," she continued. "We follow many of the same guidelines as bankers do. Unlike banks, credit unions always have and always will exist to help people, not make a profit. We give back in ways that bankers don't," she said, adding that members enjoy lower loan rates, higher savings rates and superior service.

Troy Stang, president/CEO of the Northwest Credit Union Association, wrote in the Portland (Ore.) Tribune Thursday, "Bankers bristle at the realization that a not-for-profit financial alternative remains an important buffer for consumers to the high fees, higher loan rates and lower return on savings that are cornerstones of the banking industry's for-profit model."

"While credit unions continue to focus on serving their communities, the Oregon Bankers Association has joined its national Wall Street counterparts in trying to stifle credit unions," Stang said, noting banks control more than 90% of all assets in the U.S.

"The bank lobby is the man-behind-the-curtain introducing legislation to impose additional taxes and regulatory burdens on credit unions," Stang said. "They want to saddle credit unions with regulatory burdens such as paperwork itemizing the very civic and community investments that have benefited credit union members for decades."

He also noted that "it is the structure, not the size of credit unions, that makes them different. Profit-hungry banks are structured to generate payments to stockholders. Not-for-profit credit unions exist for one purpose: to provide value to their members."

Credit Union Association of New York President/CEO Bill Mellin and CUNA Executive Vice President of Governmental Affairs John Magill were  interviewed in The Street Thursday about credit unions' seeking an increase in the MBL cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25% .  They noted that raising the MBL cap would create jobs and provide lending opportunities for small businesses without costing the taxpayer a dime.  CUNA estimates 158,000 new jobs and $14.5 billion in small business loans could be generated by raising the cap.

For the full articles, use the link.

NEW: CU Participants At Boston Marathon Are Safe

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BOSTON (FILED at 12:25 p.m.  4/16/13)--While credit unions maintained a presence at yesterday's Boston Marathon, no credit union representatives were reported injured as a result of the explosions that tore through the finish line of the race on Monday, killing at least two people and injuring dozens more.

Several credit union representatives were participating and volunteering in the historic marathon as part of the Credit Union Kids at Heart fund raising for Children's Hospital through Eascorp. All of the runners were identified and determined to be safe.

Federal officials said authorities were questioning a Saudi national who was taken to the hospital with injuries from the scene (Los Angeles Times April  15). Authorities were also seeking a Penske truck leaving the scene.

CU Hero Of The Year Voting Under Way

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MADISON, Wis. (4/16/13)--Voting is underway for Credit Union Magazine's 2013 Credit Union Hero of the Year.

The annual award honors individuals who exemplify the credit union philosophy of "people helping people," and who have made an extra effort to extend credit union service within their communities.

The year's candidates, nominated by Credit Union Magazine readers, are:

  • Warren Morrow (posthumous), founder of Coopera, a full-service Hispanic market-solution company, Des Moines, Iowa;
  • Lily Newfarmer, CEO of Tarrant County CU,  Fort Worth, Texas;
  • Anabela Pereira, CEO of Pioneer Valley CU, Springfield, Mass.; and
  • Scott Prior, president/CEO of Connection CU, Silverdale, Wash.
Voting ends May 17. Use the link to learn more about the candidates and to cast a vote.

This year's winner, or a representative, will be honored at the Credit Union National Association's America's Credit Union Conference in New York City, June 30 to July 3.

Catalyst Annual Meeting Reviews Corporate's First Year

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PLANO, Texas (4/16/13)--Catalyst Corporate FCU in Plano, Texas, outlined its new business plan in 2011 and quickly attained its preliminary goals, President/CEO Kathy Garner told attendees at the corporate's second annual meeting April 9 in San Diego.

Garner cited examples in her review of the corporate's 2012 activities and financial performance:

  • Two consolidations. In July and October, Catalyst Corporate welcomed members of the former Western Bridge Corporate and FirstCorp.
  • Membership growth. During 2012, Catalyst Corporate increased its membership to nearly 1,300 capitalizing credit unions, up from roughly 900 members at inception. Catalyst Corporate has members in 21 states.
  • Financial achievement. Last year, Catalyst Corporate exceeded its projections for financial performance and efficiency, with net income of $13.9 million and under-budget operating expenses. The corporate's coverage ratio was in line with its 88% target--meaning 88% of expenses were covered by fee income. That degree of efficiency has the effect of reducing reliance on the balance sheet, Garner said.
  • Stability. By year-end 2012, Catalyst Corporate recorded about $160 million in perpetual contributed capital and a leverage ratio of 7.75%, exceeding the National Credit Union Administration's requirement of 5% to be considered "well-capitalized." The corporate also is ahead of plan on achieving its 2013 retained-earnings ratio target of 86 basis points, compared with the 45 basis points NCUA requires by October 2013.
Deepening member relationships and establishing more meaningful member feedback had been a goal since Garner became CEO in March 2012, she noted. To accomplish that goal, Garner and her management team attended credit union events and met with the Catalyst Councils--three regional groups founded to channel member feedback into Catalyst Corporate's planning efforts--and by conducting member surveys, she said.

Catalyst Corporate also committed to transparency in 2012, Garner said. The organization published financial results throughout the year and a "score card" that charted its progress toward achieving its business plan goals. In late 2012, the corporate fine-tuned the information available in the Due Diligence section of its website and rolled it into one comprehensive Due Diligence Report, which is now updated and published quarterly.

Catalyst members elected to three-year terms on its board of directors were:

  • Bill Before, STCU, Liberty Lake, Wash.;
  • Syed Dinar, Texas Bay Area CU, Houston;
  • Lin Hodges, Associated CU, Norcross, Ga.; and
  • John Papagno, Alive CU, Jacksonville, Fla.
Trevor Tokishi, Valley Isle Community FCU, Kahului, Hawaii, was elected to a one-year board term.

Fla Public Deposits Bill Still Alive In Committee

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (4/16/13)--Legislation that would allow Florida credit unions to accept public deposits is still alive in a Florida Senate committee awaiting action, said the League of Southeastern Credit Unions.

"There is a possibility it could get a hearing this year in the Banking and Insurance Committee," Mike Bridges, LSCU vice president of communications, told News Now. "The Florida legislature will be in session for three more weeks. While our public deposits bill has not been heard yet in committee, we still hope that it will pass this year.

"It still remains one of our top priorities," he added. "The league has made a strong push to educate consumers and municipalities on the issue. We have gotten great press coverage across the state. If it does not pass this year, our job is to continue to build this momentum and educate even more after session ends."  

House Bill 251, sponsored by State Rep. Bill Hager (R-Boca Raton), and Senate Bill 918, sponsored by State Sen. Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah), look to reverse the state law's mandate that public entities--such as fire and sheriff departments, schools and libraries--use only banks.

Credit unions have the same public depository requirements as for-profit banks. They also must offer the same protections to members and have the same accountability standards. However, because state law renders credit unions ineligible to receive these funds, Florida credit unions are forced to turn down deposit requests from local government entities, said the league.

If enacted, the legislation would provide local elected officials depository choice and allow credit unions to bring competition to public deposits for better returns and economic benefits to Florida's taxpayers, LSCU said.

Court To Consider Dismissal Of WesCorp Exec Case After Settlement

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LOS ANGELES (4/16/13)--Papers were filed Monday in a federal court in Los Angeles that would end the last negligence lawsuit against a Western Corporate FCU executive by the National Credit Union Administration as well as a countersuit by the executive, in light of a settlement in the case.

NCUA, as liquidating agent for WesCorp, had sued several executives, including Todd M. Lane, former chief financial officer at WesCorp, about their roles in the corporate's investment in residential mortgage-backed securities. Losses from those securities contributed to the conservatorship and liquidation of the corporate.

The joint motion calls for U.S. District Judge George H. Wu Monday to dismiss with prejudice all claims and counterclaims between NCUA and Lane.  It had been announced in January that they had reached a tentative settlement, subject to approval of NCUA's counsel and board (News Now Jan. 7).

Other former WesCorp employees sued by NCUA had settled their cases earlier.  They included Robert Siravo, former WesCorp CEO, Thomas Swedberg, former human resources director; Bob Burrell, chief investment officer; and Timothy Sidley, former chief risk officer. NCUA has since issued cease and desist orders, prohibiting them from participating in any affairs of a federally insured credit union.

New Survey: CUNA Tracking Training Trends

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MADISON, Wis. (4/16/13)--Like their counterparts in the corporate world, credit unions report that they are increasing their training dollars, according to a new Credit Union National Association State of the Credit Union Training Industry Survey.

In 2012, the amount budgeted for education specific expenses (conferences, training materials, online training) averaged $46,574, while education-related expenses (travel, meals, lodging and so forth) averaged $30,592. That compares with $42,101 and $27,697, respectively, spent on these in 2011.

These averages grow as assets increase, ranging from $20,000 among credit unions with assets of less than $100 million to nearly $150,000 among those with assets of $1 billion or more.

CUNA surveyed more than 100 credit union training professionals about their budgets, training challenges and methods. The survey forecasts consistent or increasing training budgets, with less than 10% of credit unions surveyed planning any cutbacks.

Credit unions' training results largely mirror those found in national corporate world surveys by the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD), said Marlo Foltz, CUNA's director of blended learning.

One finding: Executive management teams and volunteer boards adopt tablet training, but that trend has not seeped to nonmanagement staff yet. "Nonmanagement staff is still heavy in the face-to-face training," Foltz said.

"Credit unions are slower in adopting online and blended training," she said. "That's likely because more credit union trainers come up through the ranks. Their experience is with one-on-one, face-to-face course skills training. Now, more trainers are coming from outside with experience in the education industry and who have experience with instructional design."

She noted similarities in the studies about the barriers to adopting blending learning. ASTD found that for corporations, the main barriers to adopting blended lending are budgets, a lack of understanding from senior management leaders, and a lack of an information technology (IT) structure. In CUNA's survey, credit unions' top barriers were budgets, security and a lack of IT infrastructure.

CUNA has made several adjustments in its learning programs. It will:

  • Continue meeting the needs of executives and boards by offering tablet-ready instruction;
  • Provide more tools so credit unions can create their own training programs;
  • Partner with course authoring tools for CUNA CPD Online subscribers;
  • Offer a Blended Learning white paper from CUNA Councils;
  • Expand Take-Charge Ideas for Trainers Webinar Series; and
  • Develop in-depth topics for CUNA HR/TD Council Conference and CUNA Experience Learning Live!
CUNA Experience Learning Live! in October will focus on how trainers can measure their success with training metrics so they can take actual numbers to their boards to show the value of the training to the bottom line and focus on the business of training, Foltz told News Now.

"Nationally, and in credit union-specific industries, the training outlook for 2014 is a positive one," Foltz said.  "Credit unions will offer more training, and devote more of their budgets to training," she added, noting that the improving economy is a factor in the training growth.

For more information, use the links.

Donna Gordon Elected West Virginia League Chairman

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (4/16/13)--Donna Gordon, manager of Mercer County WV Teachers FCU, Bluefield, W. Va., has been elected chairman of the West Virginia Credit Union League board of directors.

The elections were conducted following the league's 77th annual meeting Saturday in Morgantown, W.Va.

Other board officers elected include:

  • First Vice Chairman--Carol Johnson, CWV Tel FCU, Clarksburg;
  • Second Vice Chairman--Lynne Teets, Whetelco FCU, Wheeling;
  • Treasurer--Mike Tucker, WV Central CU, Parkersburg; and
  • Secretary--Joetta Heck, Kemba Charleston FCU, Dunbar. 
Heck received the William Bryan Hawkins Award, the league's highest volunteer honor.

Receiving the Pacesetter Award was John Peterman, First Choice America Community FCU, Weirton. The award symbolizes excellence among paid credit union staff in West Virginia.

Longest Serving CU Volunteer Leaves After 70 Years

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (4/16/13)--Elizabeth N. "Sis" Hamilton was just a teen in 1943, when she became the secretary of the board of directors at Tri-City Telco CU, now Summit CU.  After 70 years of service, Hamilton--the longest-serving credit union volunteer in U.S. history--has decided not to seek re-election to the board.

Hamilton was the manager and CEO of Greensboro, N.C., based Summit CU for 55 years, before retiring in 2003.  During that time, she managed as many as five other credit unions while running Summit, which has $138.8 million in assets, with roughly 24,000 members.

A trailblazer, Hamilton held volunteer leadership roles locally and nationally. She spent 25 years on the North Carolina Credit Union League Board as its first female member, 21 years on the Credit Union National Association Board, and 12 years on the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors Council Board.

Her career gained her accolades in the industry, including the 2003 prestigious Order of Longleaf Pine and the 2007 Larry Johnson Order of Merit Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest award presented to North Carolina credit union leaders. In 2012, Hamilton was named North Carolina Credit Union Volunteer of the Year.

Cavazos Named Chair Of Texas CU Commission

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AUSTIN, Texas (4/16/13)--Texas Gov. Rick Perry has named Manuel "Manny" Cavazos IV of Austin, Texas, chair of the Texas Credit Union Commission, and has appointed three members to the commission for terms that expire Feb. 15, 2019.

The commission supervises the department, which regulates all credit unions organized and chartered under the laws of the state of Texas, according to a release from Perry's office.

Cavazos is an attorney and certified public accountant (CPA) in private practice and rancher. He is a member of the Texas Society of CPAs, American Bar Association, American Immigration Lawyers Association, California State Bar, and National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.

New Credit Union Commission members are:

  • Allyson "Missy" Morrow of San Benito, CEO of the Harlingen (Texas) Area Teachers' CU. She is secretary for District 10 of the Texas Credit Union League, a board member of the Texas Credit Union Foundation, and a member and past board member of the Magic Valley Chapter of Credit Unions.
  • Barbara "Kay" Stewart of Daingerfield, president/CEO of the North East Texas CU in Lone Star. She is a board member of the Texas Credit Union League.
  • Vik Vad of Austin, a licensed real estate broker and president of Om Capital Management Inc. He is a member of the Austin Board of Realtors and a volunteer for the Capital Area Food Bank.
The appointments are subject to State Senate confirmation.

Maine League Backs ATV Bill, Opposes Privacy/Data Bills

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PORTLAND, Maine (4/16/13)--The Maine Credit Union League supports a state bill to require titling for all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), snowmobiles and watercraft, but opposes two separate bills regarding privacy protection and personal data.

The league helped to draft language for L.D. 1190--regarding ATVs, snowmobiles and watercraft. The lead sponsor of the bill is Rep. Ray Wallace, who chairs the supervisory committee at Maine Highlands FCU in Dexter (Weekly Update April 12).

"For many years, the issue of titling ATVs, snowmobiles and boats has been the No. 1 requested piece of legislation from credit unions" in the state, said league President John Murphy.

The league coordinated testimony Thursday by credit union representatives before the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee in support of the bill. Adam Sheehan, executive vice president at Maine Highlands FCU, Dexter, and Roland Poirier, president/CEO of Otis FCU, Jay, testified in support of the bill.

"Titling recreational vehicles would assure consumers that their seller is the true owner," Sheehan explained. In addition, "the lender would be assured that their borrower is the true owner and therefore authorized to pledge the recreational vehicle or device as collateral for a loan.

"This would likely enable lenders to not only make more of these types of loans, thus benefiting the economy, but also offer these loans at lower rates as a result of the titling provision which benefits the consumer," he added.

The league testified April 8 in opposition to L.D. 1195-- a bill that would prevent employers from obtaining consumer reports with information about an individual's credit and financial state. Quincy Hentzel, league director of  governmental affairs, testified before the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee, that the bill "could have significant, negative ramifications, especially in the financial services industry.

"Without having the benefit of knowledge about a potential employee's financial standing and a clear understanding of their credit history, a credit union could be putting its reputation, its organization and its relationships in jeopardy," Hentzel explained. "The impact of hiring an employee who is financially irresponsible could be as damaging to a credit union as hiring a person with a criminal history, which is information that is accessible."  

The league also attended the work session for L.D. 158--which seeks further protection for consumers' personal data. The league testified in opposition to the bill at the public hearing, citing the lack of an exemption for financial institutions. The committee voted the bill 7-5 Ought Not To Pass, and it will go to the full legislature for consideration.

Fin Lit Month 'Big Win' For CUs, Young Consumers

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MADISON, Wis. (4/15/13)--While credit unions make financial literacy a priority throughout the year, they are moving through April by celebrating April as Financial Literacy Month,  with special events to highlight the educational services they offer their members.

This article is the first of a two-part series that provides examples of the many ways credit unions are celebrating how they reach out to members.

The Credit Union National Association has created two events that help credit unions spotlight their financial education activities.

National Credit Union Youth Week, April 21-27, was created by CUNA so credit unions nationwide could focus on the financial needs of young people and provide financial literacy education. The event focuses on teaching the benefits of saving and goal setting, and invites youth to open savings accounts at their credit union and make deposits throughout the year.

This year's theme, "Savings Sleuth: Solve the Mystery" employs mystery and mustaches to engage youth.  Because National Credit Union Youth Week occurs during Financial Literacy Month, credit unions can extend their youth activities throughout April.  CUNA conducts the National Youth Saving Challenge throughout April. The challenge rewards 10 savers with $100 cash prizes.

CUNA conducts the National Youth Saving Challenge throughout April. The challenge rewards 10 savers with $100 cash prizes.Among the ways credit unions nationwide are celebrating Financial Literacy Month and National Credit Union Youth Week:

• As Gov. Tom Corbett signed a proclamation declaring April as Financial Education Month in Pennsylvania, he recognized the efforts of credit unions participating in National Credit Union Youth Week and in visiting schools and teaching young people basic principles of saving and spending;

• The Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick, also issued a proclamation  declaring April to be Youth Financial Literacy Month in his state. Credit unions launched a Reality Fair at Roxbury Community College, an event designed to help students gauge where they are and what they're doing in terms of financial decisions;

• As a kick-off to in Minnesota, Postal CU, Oakdale, invited Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman to tour its student credit union branch at Tartan High School, and observe peer-to-peer financial education in action.

  • Baycel FCU, Bay City, Texas, celebrated the National Credit Union Youth Week mustache theme, "Savings Sleuth: Solve the Mystery" at its high school branch. (Photo provided by Baycel FCU)
     

    • At its high school branch, Baycel FCU, Bay City, Texas, provided every account holder with a mustache on the wall. When students make a deposit they get a sticker. The student with the most stickers at the end of April will win a prize;

    • Florida State Employees FCU, Pensacola, Fla., has embedded the new music video from The Disclosures—featuring the credit union music duo's newest original composition, this one singing the praises of saving--on its website. Use the link to view the video; and also,

    • Hudson River Community CU, Corinth, N.Y., is running a promotion in which youth members who complete and return a weekly quiz sheet are rewarded with a $5 deposit into their savings account;

    Financial Literacy Month comes at a time when CUNA, the leagues and credit unions are rallying to Unite for Good to secure their key strategic vision for the credit union system: "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."

    CUNA, credit unions and leagues are taking steps to remove barriers, raise awareness, and foster service excellence as part of their collaborative efforts in working toward that goal. As that awareness grows, members will turn to CUNA's consumer website  aSmarterChoice and to the Unite for Good website to find out more. see the resource links.

Calif/ Nevada Leagues Hire Eight Top Staffers

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ONTARIO, Calif. (4/15/13)--The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues recently welcomed eight new staff members, including Sharon Lindeman in the newly created position of vice president of regulatory advocacy.

Lindeman joined the leagues in mid-March after 21 years of serving in compliance capacities at SchoolsFirst FCU in Santa Ana, Calif. In her new role, she will create and maintain effective relationships with regulators; build upon the timeliness of providing regulatory information to member credit unions; and spearhead the ongoing development of PowerComment, a new online forum to provide members a platform to review proposed rules, ask questions of league staff or fellow credit unions, and submit personalized comment letters.

Linda Hanson's role as vice president of strategic planning and project management--another newly created position--is to maximize the value of the leagues to member credit unions by suggesting changes or improvements to current business plans as well as policies and procedures. She also will assist in the development and design of new products that support the leagues' business strategies. Prior to coming to the leagues, Hanson worked as vice president of strategic planning at SchoolsFirst FCU. 

Rick Stanton--the leagues' new senior business analyst--works in innovation and strategy, conducting analysis related to the launching and evaluation of business lines, and ongoing relationships with the leagues' strategic partners. He has more than 23 years of experience in financial institutions, including seven years leading the business development department and product management correspondent services at WesCorp.

Cindy Tullues has joined the leagues as senior marketing and member communications writer. Tullues will work on marketing campaigns for the trade associations' events and programs, as well as member credit unions. She will serve as assistant editor for the Credit Union Digest publication. She worked as a public relations account executive for DGWB Advertising and Communication firm in Santa Ana, Calif., prior to coming to the leagues.

Donald Bridinger has joined the leagues as Web developer. His duties include assisting in the design, building and maintenance of the league's websites and applications; assisting in developing policies, procedures, and long-range plans for the leagues' electronic communications network; and working on Web-based applications and mobile-device technology. Prior to joining the leagues, Bridinger was an information technology manager with United Oil Co. for several years.

Also, with the recent transfer of ownership of CURoots to the leagues, Compliance Specialist Jovilyn Herrick, Manager of Compliance Phillip Gutierrez and Manager of Audit Jerry Carter now are leagues employees.

Filene Report Explores Design Thinking

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MADISON, Wis. (4/15/13)--A new report from the Filene Research Institute describes how a group of young credit union professionals used design thinking to spark innovation and introduce a new type of credit union account.

The "TruAccount," currently in development, would allow up to five friends to add equally to a joint savings account through automatic payroll distributions. When the account reaches a minimum threshold--say of $500--someone in the circle may use the funds to take out a secured loan.

The Filene report describes design thinking as the process by which designers, researchers, and practitioners come together to find practical and creative solutions to problems of human understanding. The process puts people at the center of the design and development process.

In June 2012, Julie Norvaisas, a design researcher and strategist, led a design-thinking workshop that kicked off a week organized by the Cooperative Trust, the Filene Research Institute's young professionals network.The group of 15 young credit union professionals from across the country gathered to "Crash the Credit Union National Association's America's Credit Union Conference" with the purpose of learning about and applying design thinking to address problem of serving un- and underbanked consumers.

At the end of the week, the Crashers developed a product concept called "the TruAccount."

The Filene report notes that design thinking can be applied to any business, but it is particularly critical for credit unions to understand members more deeply for a few key reasons:

  • The knowledge gap: The distance between how credit unions think about financial services and how most consumers understand and experience the financial realm is likely vast.
  • The emotional gap: While it all seems quite rational to credit union manager, managing finances can be emotionally charged and confusing for most people. As a result, many consumers do a poor job managing their finances.
  • The credit union mission: Credit unions are different from other financial institutions--a difference manifested by standing with the consumer rather than against them. In that light, adopting a design thinking mind-set is an emerging capability credit unions that need to develop to remain competitive and relevant.

Global Women's Leadership Forum Set for July 13-14

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MADISON, Wis. (4/15/13)--The Global Women's Leadership Network has opened online registration for the fifth annual Global Women's Leadership Forum, an exclusive event for network members, July 13-14, prior to the 2013 World Credit Union Conference in Ottawa, Canada.

"The purpose of the Global Women's Leadership Network is to support women achieving management and leadership positions in the global credit union movement," said Brian Branch, World Council president /CEO. "The Global Women's Leadership Forum provides members the opportunity to network with colleagues from very diverse backgrounds and expertise within and outside the industry. The forum brought together 70 women leaders from around the world at last year's event, and we expect a much larger gathering this year in Ottawa."

Participants at this year's forum will hear from Sheryl WuDunn, the first Asian-American Pulitzer Prize winner and co-author of New York Times best-seller "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide," which inspired a PBS television series and international women's rights movement.

The Global Women's Leadership Forum, which serves as the Global Women's Leadership Network's flagship event, will also offer several opportunities for members to share ideas and learn from their credit union counterparts around the globe. Educational and international networking events will include:

  • Worldwide Foundation Golf Tournament (July 13, separate fee and registration apply);
  • Global Women's Networking Reception (July 13);
  • Global Women's Leadership Forum Workshop (July 14, members only);
  • International Sister Society Meeting (members only); and
  • Networking Lounge (throughout the conference, members only).
To register for the forum, use the link.

The Global Women's Leadership Network, a World Council of Credit Unions program, is the world's only peer-to-peer credit union women's leadership organization that connects women worldwide to engage in personal and professional growth, international credit union development and peer networking and support.

HVFCU Takes To Videos To Recruit Employees

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POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y.  (4/15/13)--Hudson Valley FCU in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., has released six new videos on its YouTube channel to give prospective employees a look at the credit union, careers available and its benefit programs.

"Recruiting employees that fit within our culture is important," said Diane Allenbaugh, Hudson Valley vice president of human resources and organizational development. "These videos can give interested candidates a good idea of how our staff work and socialize with each other. They give us a new way to communicate our values to potential hires."

The credit union created the series of videos with staff, who discuss their benefits, career development and specific jobs within HVFCU. The credit union worked with local producers at Road Runner Productions in LaGrange, N.Y., to make the videos.

The videos feature more than 20 different HVFCU staff members, from senior management to branch managers and staff, as well as staff from support areas such as marketing and accounting. They cover topics ranging from branch and call center jobs, to benefits, wellness and career development.

With about $3.7 billion in assets, HVFCU serves its more than 267,000 members through branches in four counties.

To see the videos, use the link.

CUANY Announces Recognition Award Winners

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ALBANY, N.Y. (4/15/13)--The Credit Union Association of New York announced the winners of three annual recognition awards: the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award; the Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Member Service Award; and the Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award.

Each of the credit unions will be honored June 15 at CUANY's Annual Meeting & Convention, and first-place winners will advance to their respective national competitions this fall.

First-place winners of the 2013 Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award, given to credit unions that strengthen local institutions that undertake programs that materially improve the lives of nonmembers through community outreach programs, include:

  • Clarence (N.Y.) Community & Schools FCU, $5 million to $20 million in assets;
  • Horizons FCU, Binghamton, $50 million to $100 million; and
  • CFCU Community CU, Ithaca, more than $500 million.
First-place winners of the 2013 Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Member Service Award, given to credit unions that demonstrate, in an extraordinary way, the practical application of the credit union philosophy, include:

  • Clarence Community & Schools FCU, less than $50 million in assets; and
  • Visions FCU, Endwell, more than $250 million.
First-place winners of the 2013 Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award, given to credit unions that demonstrate a significant commitment to youth financial education, include:

  • Clarence Community & Schools FCU, less than $50 million in assets;
  • CORE FCU, East Syracuse, N.Y., $50 million to $150 million; and
  • Teachers FCU, Smithtown, more than $500 million.

Vermont CU Day Attracts Legislators, CU Leaders

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (4/15/13)--The Association of Vermont Credit Unions CU Day at the statehouse in Montpelier Wednesday drew a large crowd of credit union leaders and state legislators, AVCU said. 

AVCU President Joe Bergeron said of the event that there is "nothing more important than putting a credit union executive or volunteer face-to-face with their elected official" (NewsLines Express April 12).

"Whether in Montpelier or in Washington, I cannot stress enough to managers and board members how important it is to take an active role in protecting the future of your credit union by getting involved with government relations," he added.

"It's not just a 'big credit union' thing, it's an 'every credit union' thing, regardless of how many or how few members or assets your credit union has," Bergeron said.

So far this year, Vermont has not witnessed much activity on credit union-related legislation in the statehouse. However, AVCU's lobbying team continues its vigilance, monitoring operations at the state legislature.  

Bergeron explained that it is because of AVCU's attentiveness, enhanced by the contribution of credit union leaders who attend the annual CU Day, that Vermont's credit unions enjoy a lasting and very positive image among legislators.

"They see and hear from me and our lobbyists all the time," Bergeron said.

Vermont credit union leaders met with several legislative leaders and committee chairs, as well as two representatives from the Department of Financial Regulation (DFR), Deputy Commissioner Tom Candon and his boss, new DFR Commissioner Susan Donegan.

It was the first opportunity credit union leaders had to meet with Donegan in a group setting, since her appointment as commissioner was announced in November.

The AVCU statehouse helps to raise awareness of credit unions, which is a key tenet of the strategic vision that Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney debuted at CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference. "Uniting for Good" to raise awareness, remove barriers and foster service excellence will achieve a vision of "Americans choosing credit unions as their best financial partner."

CUANY Lending School Hosts Virgin Island Professionals

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ALBANY, N.Y. (4/12/13)--The Credit Union Association of New York's 2013 Lending School demonstrated the cooperative nature of the credit union movement, with three attendees travelling from the U.S. Virgin Islands to Albany, N.Y. to participate in the event.

From left, Kerri Bess of Mid-Island FCU, Richard Schrader of Frederiksted FCU and Barbara McIntosh, also from Mid-Island FCU, travelled from the U.S. Virgin Islands to Albany, N.Y., to participate in the Credit Union Association of New York's 2013 Lending School. (Photo provided by Credit Union Association of New York)
Virgin Island credit union professionals Kerri Bess and Barbara McIntosh of Mid-Island FCU, St. Croix, V.I,  and Richard Schrader of Frederiksted (V.I) FCU, joined credit union representatives from throughout New York to gain a better understanding of the lending market.

"This session reassured me that we're going in the right direction, but there are also better ways we can approach things," said Bess. "In the Virgin Islands, we don't have that formal training. When we go back, we'll be right on top of those loans and go above and beyond to make sure our members get the loans they deserve."

Mid-Island FCU and Frederiksted FCU, along with other credit unions in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico--are partners with CUANY in the World Council of Credit Unions' International Partnerships Program.

Led by instructor Brett Christensen and presenters Jim Holt of CU Student Choice and Bob Nealon of CU Direct, the workshop focused on numerous aspects of credit union lending, including opportunities in private student lending, insights on auto lending trends and best practices, loan interview and sales skills, and the macro-economic lending environment.

Filene Study Offers New Tool To Improve Deposits

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MADISON, Wis. (4/12/13)--A new report from the Filene Research Institute uses a new tool to investigate how credit union managers can account for their members' use of competing financial institutions in translating high member-satisfaction levels into improved share of wallet.

"The traditional approach for identifying opportunities can be thought of as trying to find the answer to, 'What can we do to make you happier?'" wrote the report's author Lerzan Aksoy, associate professor of marketing at Fordham University. "Managers also need to understand exactly why [members] use each of the brands that they do.

"[Members] have legitimate reasons for using multiple brands in a category. Therefore, efforts designed to improve share of wallet that do not address precisely why your [members] also use your competitors are doomed."

Satisfaction and net promoter scores (NPS) explain less than 10% of the variation in members' share of deposits, according to the report, "Linking Member Satisfaction to Share of Deposits: Applying the Wallet Allocation Rule in Credit Unions."

This in large part explains why, although credit unions hold the highest satisfaction levels for any industry tracked by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, the share of deposits held by credit unions lags that of their bank competitors, the report said.

The key distinction of this approach is that instead of relying on the absolute satisfaction score or NPS, the Wallet Allocation Rule focuses on two critical factors in linking these metrics to share of deposits:

  • The relative rank that this score represents compared with the other financial institutions that members also use; and
  • The number of different financial institutions that members use.
Using the rule, managers cannot evaluate their credit unions without taking the competition into account.

Getting credit union members to move their deposits from banks will require directly addressing the reasons they use other financial institutions, Aksoy said.

Of those members who use more than one financial institution, each has on average about $25,414 in deposits going to competing institutions, the report said.

Texas CU Foundation Initiative Helps Families Save

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/12/13)--The Texas Credit Union Foundation--with the participation of two Texas credit unions--is helping the state's families build a more solid financial foundation through the Opportunity Savings Project.

Opportunity Texas is a joint initiative of the Center for Public Policy Priorities and RAISE Texas. Through the initiative, two tax-time savings programs are available, including the Opportunity Savings Project--operated in partnership with TCUF (LoneStar Leaguer April 11).

"The goal of this initiative is simply to encourage better savings habits," said Staci Zale, TCUF associate director. "By getting into the habit of saving a little bit each month, consumers will be in a better financial position to manage unexpected expenses."

Raise Texas and Opportunity Texas gave a $10,000 grant to the Opportunity Savings Project and TCUF matched that grant, bringing the total to $20,000, Zale said. TCUF is working with Border FCU in Del Rio and Coastal Community CU in Galveston on the project. Both credit unions participate in the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

TCUF is offering a matched savings account to filers at VITA sites operated by Border FCU and Coastal Community CU. Filers at the credit unions' VITA sites are encouraged to open and deposit a portion of their refund into their credit union savings account and build savings in the account over a one-year period. Just for signing up, filers receive between a $25-50 gift card.

Next January, if the participant has a higher balance in their account than their initial deposit, participants will receive a 1:1 match on their net savings, up to $100, TCUF said.

The VITA program offers free tax help to low- to moderate-income individuals who cannot prepare their own tax returns. There are 514 VITA sites in Texas, according to the IRS. The agency is continuing to expand its partnerships with nonprofit and community organizations performing tax preparation services for low-income and elderly taxpayers.

The project is similar to an individual development account, in which an individual of modest means would set a savings goal that would be matched if they met their goal. The project is reportedly one of the largest active savings projects in Texas this tax season, TCUF said.

Virginia CUs Launch Statewide Awareness Campaign

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (4/12/13)--Virginia credit unions have launched a statewide awareness campaign to educate consumers about the many benefits of banking at not-for-profit credit unions. The campaign is being coordinated by the Virginia Credit Union League.

Click to view larger imageA statewide awareness campaign coordinated by the Virginia Credit Union League seeks to educate consumers about the benefits of banking at credit unions. Research shows consumers feel they are taking a "hit" from the economy and are suffering the impact of higher prices and rising fees. The creative team took the idea of feeling hit to a literal level and designed a video to reflect this feeling, featuring a George Washington character who represents money, physically taunting the main character. (Photo provided by the Virginia Credit Union League)
"This is a bold, innovative strategy for credit unions in Virginia," said Rick Pillow, president of the Virginia league. "We tend to be more conservative in our advertising approach, but this campaign has more edge and seeks to leverage the might of social media. I am proud of our credit unions for respecting the consumer research and for their commitment to this non-traditional campaign." 

This social media campaign targets consumers ages 18 to 35, providing information about the direct benefits of credit unions and encouraging consumers to join one to fulfill their financial needs.

Consumer research was conducted to determine the strategy and message of the campaign.  Research shows consumers feel they are taking a "hit" from the economy and are suffering the impact of higher prices and rising fees. The creative team took the idea of feeling hit to a literal level and designed a video to reflect that feeling. The video features a George Washington character, who represents money, physically taunting the main character.

The humorous video showcases the direct benefits of credit unions, including that credit unions offer better rates and have fewer and less-costly fees. 

Funding for the awareness campaign came from financial contributions of 50 Virginia-based credit unions, the league and several sponsors. The campaign will not rely on costly, traditional advertising such as television and radio, instead seeking to leverage the power of social media. The benefits of a social media campaign include the ability to reach a large number of people on a smaller budget and unmatched measurement and tracking capabilities, said the Virginia league. 

The video directs consumers to a newly launched website where they can learn about the benefits of credit unions, as well as search for a credit union they may be able to join. Use the link to the website and video.

All Virginia credit unions will benefit from the collaborative campaign, and credit unions providing financial support receive special recognition on the website through banner advertisements and the credit union search feature, said the Virginia league.

Credit Union Reality Check Explores Competitive Collaboration

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ATLANTIC CITY. N.J. (4/12/13)--"Competitive collaboration" is the next generation growth strategy for credit unions, Lisa Renner, co-founder and managing principal of the Renner Group, told participants at the Credit Union Reality Check conference Tuesday in Atlantic City.

Credit unions must identify their challenges and seek out other like-minded organizations, speaker Lisa Renner, co-founder and managing principal of the Renner Group, told participants at the New Jersey Credit Union League's Credit Union Reality Check conference Tuesday in Atlantic City. (Photo provided by News Jersey Credit Union League)
The conference, held Monday through Wednesday in Atlantic City, is designed take attendees out of their comfort zones--in pursuit of inspiration and insight (The Daily Exchange April 9).

Paul Gentile, Credit Union National Association executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement, served as master of ceremonies for the conference. "The great thing about Reality Check is that it is built on interaction among attendees and they are interacting about bold and critical issues facing credit unions," said Gentile.

Credit unions must identify their challenges and find others who share those issues, Renner said. Each organization must understand what assets it brings to the table, ask the right questions, and don't let the "buts" get in the way.

Building trust between partners takes time--it doesn't happen overnight, Renner said. It starts by finding like-minded partners.

The conference's first speaker, Max Wolff, chief economist and senior analyst of GreenCrest Capital, opened the conference with a presentation on the proliferation of mobile technology in the financial industry. The future market leaders will be nimble, mobile, partners in the cloud that use big data and innovate to succeed, Wolff said.

In another session, Tom Farin, president, Farin and Associates, gave a step-by-step process to apply pricing techniques. He suggested showed examples of pricing models as a way of evaluating the profitability of cash flows and adjusting risks and costs.

Al Brantley, a consumer compliance policy and outreach officer in the Office of Consumer Protection at the National Credit Union Association, provided a compliance overview. He discussed new rules, developments within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and reducing the regulatory burden on credit unions.

In his session, attorney Jonathan Bowman challenged participants to use the information shared during the conference to develop solutions to the challenges their organization are facing. Splitting the crowd up in groups, Bowman asked each group to come up with tangible takeaways from the conference. Among the suggestions groups came up with were growth strategies and ideas to increase productivity.

This is the fourth year of Credit Union Reality Check. Use the link to learn more.

Southeastern CU League Shares Expertise With Costa Rican Fellows

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala., and TALAHASSEE, Fla. (4/12/13)--The League of Southeastern Credit Unions and Affiliates will be hosting emerging leaders from Costa Rica during the next month.

The participants are part of the U.S. Department of State's Professional Fellows Program, which brings worldwide emerging leaders to the U.S. for intensive fellowships to broaden their professional expertise.

"We've hosted Costa Rican credit unions in the past and we've also had our credit unions go to Costa Rica," said LSCU President/CEO Patrick La Pine. "However, this program will begin to give these Costa Rican credit union leaders real experiences in U.S. credit unions. The experiences will be invaluable as future credit union leaders."

Southeastern credit unions will host eight credit union leaders from Costa Rica. The program participants have been placed in credit unions in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa in Alabama, and Orlando, Tampa, Panama City and Miami in Florida. One Fellow will spend time with LSCU before heading to South Florida to complete her time in the program. LSCU has had an international partnership with Costa Rica, through the World Council of Credit Unions, since 2005.

The program supports international cooperation and builds networks of people and organizations working on critical issues worldwide. The LSCU program facilitates idea exchanges, promotes foreign-language skill development, enhances cultural diversity and improves problem-solving skills as they relate to credit union development and management. Also, the program focuses on helping credit unions find new ways to attract younger members.

At the conclusion of their fellowships, participants will gather in Washington, D.C., to take part in the Professional Fellows Congress, May 8-10. The Congress provides a forum for participants to discuss best practices with other young leaders in their profession, and to develop concrete projects and networks that they can implement upon their return home.

LSCU is one of 17 U.S.-based non-profit organizations and universities chosen to host foreign professionals. From 2011 through 2013, participants from more than 50 countries and territories worldwide will take part in the program.

Ohio League Applauds Removal Of Sales Tax Expansion From Bill

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (4/12/13)--The Ohio House Finance and Appropriations Committee this week released a substitute budget bill that removed the state sales tax overhaul proposed by Gov. John Kasich.

"We are glad they realized the burden that expanding the sales tax would not only put on credit unions, but on others in the state as well," said John Kozlowski, general counsel for the Ohio Credit Union League, told News Now Thursday.

Kasich's biennium budget would have expanded the products and services subject to sales tax and lowered the overall sales tax rate to 5% from 5.5% (Toledo Blade April 10.)

Sub Bill 59 would kill the plan to expand the sales tax base to professional services and would keep state sales tax rate at 5.5%. The tax proposal still includes an "immediate and permanent" 7% income tax reduction.

Under the tax expansion proposed by the governor, all credit unions that provide or charge fees for services would have been required to collect and remit sales taxes for some services they provide to members.  These include "bank service fees," debt counseling, investment services, and sale of amusement park tickets and entertainment books.  Credit unions would also have been considered "vendors" and would have been required to obtain a vendor's license, plus collect and remit sales taxes to the state for these services. 

"They are still not done in the tax area," John Kozlowski said of the state lawmakers. "We still have to be vigilant as we go forward."

The Ohio House is expected to vote on a final bill next week, Kozlowski said.  The Senate begins hearings next week, with a vote to follow, possibly in two weeks, he added.

Ark CU League Members Vote 'Yes' to Cornerstone

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.(4/12/13)--Arkansas Credit Union League member credit unions unanimously voted Thursday in favor of a single cooperative organization--the Cornerstone Credit Union League. The league will represent the interests of member credit unions in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, according to the Texas Credit Union League.

Arkansas credit union delegates cast their votes during their Annual Meeting and Convention in Hot Springs, Ark.

"A unanimous vote sends a strong message--our credit unions are progressive and forward-thinking," said Reta Kahley, ACUL president/CEO. "Our credit unions appreciate the tremendous amount of effort and research that has gone into this, and they trust that collaboratively we will build an even stronger organization that they will find tremendous value in."

If member delegates from all three states approve, the Cornerstone Credit Union League will become official July 1.

Texas credit unions approved the consolidation April 3. If Oklahoma credit unions vote yes in May, an initial board of directors will assume positions on the consolidated league with three directors from Arkansas, three directors from Oklahoma, and 12 directors from Texas.

"This is an exciting time for credit unions in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas," said ACUL Board Chair Dwayne Ashcraft. "We are embarking on a future that will offer tremendous opportunities for our movement, and, perhaps most importantly, for the millions of consumers who trust our credit unions for their financial service needs."  

For a directory of the initial board of directors, use the link.

CU System Briefs (04/11/2013)

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  • NEW ORLEANS (4/11/13)--Shell New Orleans FCU changed its name to Xplore FCU, effective last Monday. The management team and officials said the name change is the best way to reach out to all people eligible for membership. Although it has had a community charter since 2007, a common misconception remains--that membership is still exclusive to Shell Oil employees. The new name, Xplore Federal CU, pays tribute to the founders--the employees of Shell who continue to make the community a great place to live and work, said the credit union. A few of the expanded services the credit union will offer in 2013 are remote deposit capture, institution-to-institution transfers, and an iPad app, to allow members to access home banking  ...
  • STRATFORD, Conn. (4/11/13)--Sikorsky Financial CU in Stratford, Conn., has named Vincent Ciambriello as the new president/CEO of the $682 million asset credit union (Stratford Star April 6). The appointment by Sikorsky's board is effective immediately. Ciambriello most recently was Sikorsky's executive vice president and chief operations officer. During the past year, he served as acting president after Thomas J. Williams retired, following 45 years of service to the credit union …
  • PHILADELPHIA ( 4/11/13)--Tom Swierzy, president/CEO of Sb1 FCU, Philadelphia, has announced he will retire in mid-July, after more than 31 years serving the credit union, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway April 9).  Under his leadership, the credit union has grown to more than 31,000 members and $600 million in assets and offers full services, including checking, savings, consumer lending, home loans and electronic banking. Sb1 FCU's board has created a search committee and retained D. Hilton Associates Inc. to assist with assessing candidates …
  • RICHMOND, Va. ( 4/11/13)-- Susan J. Adams, CEO Of Entrust Financial CU, Richmond, Va., died April 8 after battling cancer. She was 59 (Richmond Times-Dispatch April 9).  Adams served as CEO of the $70 million asset Entrust Financial for 24 years and had worked with the credit union industry for 36 years.  She served as board secretary at PSCU Financial Services and was on the boards of the Richmond Chapter of Credit Unions, Virginia Credit Union League, and Virginia Corporate FCU. Adams also served as a Virginia national delegate to the Credit Union National Association.  "Susan's influence will be felt for years to come, both at Entrust Financial CU and throughout the industry," said Entrust Financial Board Chairman Cheri Spence.  Lisa Lambrecht, vice president of accounting and risk management, will continue as interim CEO

North Dakota Senate Flunks Financial Education Bill

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BISMARCK, N.D. (4/11/13)--As credit unions celebrate financial literacy month throughout April, it is disappointing that North Dakota House Bill 1217--a bill related to providing instruction in personal finance in middle schools--was defeated in the State Senate this week on a 45-2 vote, according to the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas.

The defeat was due in part to the Senate Education committee unanimously reporting back the bill as "Do not Pass." That is in contrast to the North Dakota House where it received overwhelming support on a 90-2 vote, said Jeff Olson, CUAD vice president of advocacy and awareness (The Memo April 9).

"CUAD testified in support of it," Olson told News Now. "Basically the same bill was passed two years ago for grades 10, 11 and 12. It's mind-boggling that it got opposition in the Senate after the manner that it got passed in the House."

The bill is now dead, he added. The Senate said financial education already is being taught in schools and there is no need for the new mandated legislation, he said. Also, since so many other curricula issues--such as bullying, nutrition, sex education, drugs and alcohol, AIDs and suicide--are already mandated, the Senate did not want to continue adding more mandated curricula, a Senate Education Committee member told Olson.  

The bill mandated inclusion of concepts of personal finance in the curriculum of grades seven and eight, calling on each school district to "develop a curriculum for personal finance in consultation with the department of career and technical education." 

The curriculum was to include:

  • Checkbook mechanics--including writing checks, balancing and statement reconciliation;
  • Saving for larger purchases;
  • Credit--including credit card use, interest and fees;
  • Earning power--including jobs for teenagers;
  • Taxation and paycheck withholdings;
  • Making a budget and living within it; and
  • Consumer rights and responsibilities.
The instruction would have been provided by a regular classroom teacher.

April Mergers Progress Across US

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MADISON, Wis. (4/11/13)--Credit unions in more than a dozen states recently announced mergers or their intent to merge.

The consolidations occur for a variety of reasons. The most common reason is smaller credit unions seeking to collaborate and pool their resources to ensure a greater variety of services for members ,while other credit unions seek a larger membership footprint or growth in a specific community.

News Now will track the mergers and report them in a series of articles.  Among the mergers:

  • Great Lakes CU, North Chicago, Ill., and  Hawthorne  CU, Naperville and Bolingbrook, will merge to share a larger economies of scale.  As a result, GLCU will have assets of $630 million and serve more than 52,000 members in Lake, McHenry, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Will, and parts of Cook Counties in Illinois and Kenosha County in Wisconsin.
  • Two Indianapolis-based credit unions--Horizon One FCU with $63 million in assets and Finance Center FCU with $430.8 million assets--merged as of April 1. Finance Center FCU will have more than 57,000 members (SNL Bank and Thrift Daily March 26).
  • Williamstown, Mass.-based, $1.6 million asset Williams College Employee FCU has merged with $1.13 billion asset Greylock FCU, Pittsfield, Mass., effective April 1.  WCEFCU's Williamstown branch was closed March 29, and its members will be served by Greylock's Williamstown branch.  WCEFCU said  that in the current financial environment, it was challenging to achieve the growth necessary to provide products and services members want (The Transcript April 6).
  • The  $112 million asset ArrowPointe FCU, headquartered in Catawba, S.C., has merged with  $29.1 million asset 1st Patriots FCU in Rock Hill.  The combined credit union, operating under ArrowPointe's name, has $142 million in assets and more than 15,000 members served with seven branches and 12 ATMs.  1st Patriots' members now have access to these previously unavailable services: scholarships, student loans, land loans, extended operating hours, loyalty discounts, more ATMs, an option to change a PIN at an ATM, lower credit card rates and a credit card rewards program.
  • Pathways Financial CU, Columbus, Ohio, completed its merger with Burgess & Niple Employees CU April 1. Pathways Financial, with $188 million in assets and 25,000 members, was formed on Aug. 1, 2012, as the result of an unprecedented three-way merger by Members First, Powerco and Western credit unions, which continue to use their trade names.  Burgess & Niple Employees CU has 280 members and $2.5 million in assets.
  • Bethlehem (Pa.) Teachers FCU has merged with Bethlehem Municipal Employees FCU, effective April 1.  Bethlehem Teachers FCU has nearly 4,000 members and $40 million in assets, while Bethlehem Municipal Employees FCU has 1,418 members and more than $6 million in assets.

Massachusetts, Dakota CUs Receive Homebuyer Grants

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MADISON, Wis. (4/11/13)--Credit unions in Massachusetts and South Dakota received Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) grants to assist with redevelopment projects in their local communities.

For the second consecutive year, Leominster (Mass.) CU received a $150,000 grant through the FHLB's Equity Builder Program, said the Massachusetts Credit Union League (Values and Visions March 29).

To qualify, buyers must meet Equity Builder Program qualifications criteria, which include income limits.

"For many first time buyers, this assistance means the difference between whether or not they can fulfill their dream of becoming homeowners," said Brenda Bujnevicie, Leominster CU vice president of real estate operation. "This year, the additional funds and the increase from $10,000 to $15,000 maximum per applicant, means we can help even more first time homebuyers than we did last year."

Sentinel FCU, Box Elder, S.D., received a $120,000 grant that will partially fund the NeighborWorks Dakota Home Resources owner-occupied rehab project in the western part of the state.  

NeighborWorks Dakota Home Resources has seen a cut in funding during the past year, but an increase in client needs--especially those living in manufactured housing. The grant will help fill a gap in funding.

The grant was a portion of the $2 million in new funding the FHLB Des Moines granted through its affordable housing program.

Judge Dismisses Part Of NCUA's Suit Vs Credit Suisse

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (4/11/13)--Some of the National Credit Union Administration's claims in its $590 million lawsuit against Credit Suisse over residential mortgage backed securities sold to three corporate credit unions were dismissed Monday by a federal judge in Kansas City, Kan.

U.S. District Judge John W. Lungstrum dismissed NCUA's claims on 12 of the 20 certificates sold to U.S. Central FCU, Western Corporate FCU, and Southwest Corporate FCU. However, he denied Credit Suisse's motion to dismiss on the other eight certificates. Credit Suisse Securities was the underwriter or seller of the certificates.

The claims centered on whether NCUA filed the lawsuit in time according to an extender statute, which extends the time a party has to file its lawsuit, and whether the extension applied to the parties' tolling agreement that expired on Sept. 12, 2012.

"Plaintiff did not file this suit within three years after its appointment as conservator for WesCorp and U.S. Central on March 20, 2009. Accordingly, plaintiff's claims on behalf of those credit unions are timely only if the extender statute's three-year limitations period was tolled in some manner."  The court agreed the extender statute's limitations period is not subject to tolling by agreement on 12 certificates.

The judge denied the motion to dismiss the federal claims regarding a tolling agreement in eight certificates, citing split decisions among other courts on the tolling issue. "In light of these splits of authority, the court cannot say as a matter of law, on the present record, that plaintiff may not avail itself of American Pipe tolling with respect to these eight certificates." 

NCUA's claims were filed on 12 certificates bought by WesCorp from Oct. 27, 2005 to June 4, 2007; seven bought by U.S. Central from Sept. 22, 2006 to March 8, 2007; and one certificate bought by Southwest Corporate on June 14, 2006.

NCUA argued that the three-year extender statute limitations ran from the dates of its appointment as conservator and liquidating agent for the credit unions, which were March 20, 2009 and Oct. 1, 2010 for WesCorp and U.S. Central, and Sept. 24, 2010 and Oct. 30, 2010 for Southwest.

Judge Lungstrum noted his agreement with the a July 25, 2012,  ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard D. Rogers in Topeka, Kan., in NCUA v. RBS Securities, a consolidation of two cases that also make the extender statute and tolling agreement arguments.

Monday's decision rejected Credit Suisse's venue arguments, noting Credit Suisse conducted numerous transactions worth hundreds of millions of dollars with U.S. Central, based in nearby Lenexa, Kan., and rejected its arguments about the extent of facts needed to plead in the case, as well as some interpretations of the extender statute.

SacTown Race Raises $182,160 For Hospitals

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (4/11/13)--The second annual Credit Union SacTown Ten-Mile Run--held Sunday in downtown Sacramento, Calif.--raised $182,160 for Children's Miracle Network hospitals in California and Nevada. The event was sponsored by CU Miracle Day Inc. along with 59 credit unions and credit union businesses, including the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues.

Sunday's 2013 SacTown Ten-Mile Run kicked off with a news conference Friday at UC-Davis Children's Hospital in Sacramento, Calif. California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues President/CEO Diana Dykstra and SacTown 10 Committee Chairman John Pamer, CEO of Concord, Calif.-based Diablo Valley FCU, presented Children's Miracle Network with a check for the $483,000 raised nationwide for children's hospitals. The run raised more than $180,000 for Children's Miracle Network hospitals. (Photo provided by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues)
"We are quickly building momentum in only our second year," said SacTown 10 Committee Chairman John Pamer, CEO of Concord, Calif.-based Diablo Valley FCU. "We saw a significant increase in runners, credit union volunteers, legislative participation, and donations to Children's Miracle Network hospitals." He noted that "the difference those who participated helped make for the kids will last long after the banners come down."

The run, also designed to increase national awareness of credit unions, took place the same day as the 41st Annual Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten-Mile Run in Washington D.C., followed by Credit Union Freedom Runs for troops overseas. The "Family of Races" raised $483,000 for Children's Miracle Network hospitals nationwide.

Nearly 1,700 runners--including more than 700 credit union employees and members--participated in the Sacramento race, which started and finished in front of the State Capitol, with a $15,000-prize purse awarded. More than 200 credit union staff and members worked the event as volunteers.

Of the 161 congressional honorary race chairs from 39 states who registered to compete in the family of races, 19 were from California and Nevada, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada).

The event began with a craft day and news conference Friday at UC Davis Children's Hospital in Sacramento. There, California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues President/CEO Diana Dykstra and Pamer presented Children's Miracle Network with a check representing the $483,000 raised for children's hospitals.

Exams Discussed At NCUA Region V Meeting With CUs

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TEMPE, Ariz. (4/11/13)--The Northwest Credit Union Association and league presidents from across Region V joined other credit union leaders at the National Credit Union Administration regional office in Tempe, Ariz., Tuesday to discuss mutual concerns and advocate for changes. The meeting was part of a broad plan to modify the examination process for all credit unions, according to NWCUA.

Regional Director Liz Whitehead said exam examiners will be given guidance on how to use documents of resolution (DORs), examiner findings, and supplementary facts, and how to offer informal discussion items and general recommendations (Anthem Recap April 5).

Whitehead told advocates that DORs will be used only for issues that have the potential to cause the failure of the credit union. That clarification should significantly reduce how often they are used, said NWCUA Director of Regulatory Advocacy John Trull. The initiative will begin soon, and by year's end, credit unions can expect to see a more consistent approach, he added.

The region's credit unions also reported a combined 21% drop in the number of CAMEL 3, 4, and 5 credit unions for the year ending Dec. 31. Management is a leading indicator of how a credit union will do in challenging economic times, said Associate Regional Director Cherie Freed.

Gayle Gustafson, lending leader at Rivermark Community CU in Beaverton, Ore., and chair of the NWCUA's Regulatory Advisory Committee, asked what the regional office was doing to encourage innovation and risk-taking among credit unions. Region V senior management responded that examiners want to see that the credit union has done its due diligence and that it understands the risks associated with any new program.

A credit union should have policies and procedures in place that limit exposure and be able to answer examiners' questions related to risk. If an examiner expresses concerns, credit unions are encouraged to push back and ask for an explanation of the examiner's concerns, said Region V senior management.

"I remember a couple of years back when problems with troubled debt restructuring were the only topic of conversation," said Troy Stang, NWCUA president/CEO. "Now it has been addressed, and didn't even come up at the Region V meeting. These dialogues have led to beneficial changes. Next year, the overused Documents of Resolution will be a thing of the past." 

CO-OP Fin Services Dividend Up 73%

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (4/11/13)--CO-OP Financial Services will return $25.9 million in patronage dividends to its shareholder credit unions for fiscal year 2012, a 73% increase in patronage over the $15 million it returned to shareholders in 2011.

With this year's dividend, CO-OP has returned $254.2 million to shareholders since becoming a credit union-owned cooperative in 1996.

"The substantial increase in patronage for 2012 compared to the previous year is partly attributable to the success of the series of mergers, acquisitions and partnerships we entered at the end of 2011," said Stan Hollen, CO-OP Financial Services president/CEO. "Throughout 2012, we have been dedicated to making sure those investments contribute to a bright future for our movement."

CO-OP combined shared branching operations with Financial Service Centers Cooperative Inc. (FSCC) of Ontario, Calif.; purchased the online and mobile bill pay services of Corporate Network eCom LLC of Lenexa, Kan.; and partnered with The Members Group (TMG) of Des Moines, Iowa, on credit processing and other payment products.

The closing of the FSCC merger and eCom acquisition, and the completion of CO-OP's strategic investment in TMG, took place within 61 days--from Dec. 31, 2011, to Feb. 29, 2012.

CU System Briefs (04/10/2013)

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  • WASHNGTON (4/10/13)--Olympian Janet Bawcom of Flagstaff, Ariz., ran 10 miles in 53.28 to set the single-sex American record at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten-Mile Run Sunday. In the process, she claimed her third consecutive USA Women's 10-Mile Championship. She beat the old record of 54.38 set by the late Sally Meyerhoff in the 2009 Cherry Blossom race. Kenyan Daniel Salel won the men's race in 46:06 in a close race against defending champion Allan Kiprono, also of Kenya. In the overall women's race, Kenyan Caroline Rotich claimed a three-second victory over Ethiopian Belaynesh Oljira  …
  • FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (4/10/13)--The Northwest Credit Union Association has hired Kim Vu as vice president of community investment and social impact. Vu also was appointed executive director of the Northwest Credit Union Foundation (Anthem Recap April 5). The appointment is effective April 22. Both areas are under the direct guidance and supervision of Denise Gabel, NWCUA chief operating officer.  Vu is currently vice president, social impact, innovation and community relationships at the $1.7 billion asset Technology CU, San Jose, Calif. …
  • MADISON, Wis.  (4/10/13)--Georgia Maxwell has been named executive assistant at the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.  Her wide range of experience in the public and private sectors includes serving five years as director of government affairs for the Wisconsin Credit Union League and more than a decade as a legislative staff member, including serving as chief of staff for then-Rep. Luther Olsen. She most recently served as executive assistant of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.Maxwell will work with the state legislature, Congress, business leaders and stakeholder groups to advance policies that advance DFI's mission. Wisconsin's Office of Credit Unions is a division in DFI …

Wis, Minn High Schoolers At Co-op Leadership Conference

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (4/10/13)--Members of the Minnesota Family Involvement Council educated high school students about credit unions last month at the Cooperative Network's "Co-ops YES!" Youth Leadership Conference in Eau Claire, Wis.

More than 100 high school students from Minnesota and Wisconsin attended the Cooperative Network's 2013 Youth Leadership Conference. The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation funded scholarships for students' attendance. Conference programming on cooperative careers was provided by the Minnesota Family Involvement Council. (Photo provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation)
About 100 attendees learned about the role and operation of cooperatives, leadership skills and problem-solving techniques.

The council is a Minnesota Credit Union Foundation committee focused on financial education. A grant from the foundation provided scholarship funding for three students to attend the conference.

The FIC provides financial awareness solutions, including an annual college scholarship program. This is the fourth year that council members have spoken at the Youth Leadership Conference. Speakers included Bridget Moeller of Greater Minnesota CU, Mora, Minn.; Amanda Kissner of Wakota FCU, South St. Paul, Minn.; and Andrea Molnau of United Educators CU, Apple Valley, Minn.

During the FIC's session, "Credit Unions: A Financial Cooperative, A Career," presenters outlined the difference between credit unions and other financial institutions, talked about credit unions' philosophy of "people helping people," and discussed credit union social responsibility programs and partnerships.

The presenters also talked about credit union careers and took questions from the audience.

NerdWallet Features 'Above And Beyond' Youth Week Activities

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NEW YORK (4/10/13)--When National Credit Union Youth Week begins April 21, many credit unions will have special activities aligned with the week's mustached Savings Sleuth theme and the Credit Union National' Association's National Youth Saving Challenge. Some "are going above and beyond to celebrate" the week, says an article in Monday's NerdWallet.

NerdWallet lists eight credit union's celebrations, tells why they are favorites, and says, "We hope these awesome events inspire you to check out your neighborhood credit union during Youth Week."

The credit unions are:

  • Central Communications CU, Kansas City, Mo.  It offers games, prizes, snakes and beverages, and offers a 4% annual percentage yield year-long certificate of deposit.
  • Frontier Community CU, Leavenworth, Kan.  Kids can join the Kids' Club and have a chance to win $50 in quarterly drawings by opening an account with a $5 deposit. They can claim a special prize on their birthday, too.
  • Fulda Area FCU, Fulda, Minn.  Kids can bowl to win door prizes and a possible bowling trophy at Oxford Bowl. They can also complete online Collect the Clues packet for treats.
  • Heritage Community CU, Rancho Cordova, Calif.  Teens stopping by to open a checking account will get a $10 iTunes gift card. Junior Savers Club members opening a savings account will get a piggy bank with $5 inside.
  • Hudson River Community CU, Corinth, N.Y.  Kids can participate in a mustache identification contest throughout April. For each game worksheet they complete, the credit union will  'stache $5 into their savings account.
  • Kellogg Community FCU, Battle Creek, Mich.  Teens can take the financial literacy quiz for a chance to win $20.
  • PenAir FCU, Pensacola, Fla. Young savers can stay "Young & Fit" by bringing their Penny Savers to branches for the Money Moves savings game with music, movement and money. Teens and tweens  have Jump into Savings, an interactive presentation  about saving, budgeting, and credit union benefits.
  • Valley Communities CU, Mosinee, Wis.  It challenges kids to hook up with their inner Shakespeare and write a better money poem than this one: "Put your cash in a savings account, and soon you'll have a large amount."

For the details of each credit union's program, use the link.

Credit unions participating in Youth Week activities are among those rallying to make youth more aware of the value of credit unions at an early age--a first step in developing members who use the credit union as their primary financial institution.

These are just a few of the efforts credit unions collaborate on in moving forward to Unite for Good and help achieve CUNA's strategic vision: Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner.

For materials to help celebrate youth week, use the link.

LaCorp, Credit Suisse Settle Decade-old Securities Suit

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METAIRIE, La. (4/10/13)--The Louisiana Corporate CU has agreed to a settlement with Credit Suisse in its decade-old lawsuit over the National Century Financial Enterprises asset-backed securities fraud.

Credit Suisse was the last remaining defendant in the case, which involved two civil actions filed in 2002 against a number of defendants.

"This settlement for nearly $600,000 after legal fees came after years of strenuous litigation and brings the total recovery to 98% of Louisiana Corporate's original investment amount," said Davoid Savoie, LaCorp president/CEO. Contingent legal fees totaled 10%--a much lower contingent rate than in recent settlements of asset-backed securities.

"We filed our actions promptly--within a few months of the losses--and pursued them vigorously. I'm delighted with this outcome because our member credit unions are the ultimate beneficiaries," Savoie said.

LaCorp's attorneys and certified public accounting firm had estimated that at least 80% of the fraud losses would be recouped through National Century's liquidation. However, LaCorp was required to write down 80% of the bond as other than temporary impairment (OTTI). By following generally accepted accounting principles, it recorded recoveries of previous write-downs as a credit to income, used to bolster LaCorp's retained income.

"Our efforts have resulted in a stronger corporate for our members," Savoie said. "Our board philosophy has always been that investment losses, like loan losses at natural-person credit unions, should not be shrugged off as 'water under the bridge.' We decided to make every reasonable effort to recover the funds if competent legal and accounting professionals believed it to be feasible."

Other plaintiffs sharing the settlement include PIMCO, Dreyfus Mutual Funds, Wachovia and numerous Arizona municipal entities.

"OTTI 'estimates' are produced in a highly complex and technical manner," said LaCorp's legal counsel, R. Patrick Vance, partner with the New Orleans law firm Jones Walker and head of its Business & Commercial Litigation Practice Group. "Like all estimates, they are predictions of the future and can vary widely. Based on the current method/protocol for determining OTTI, they may prove to be overstated when all the chips have fallen."

In LaCorp's case, initial OTTI mandates of 80% were off by 78%.

Oklahoma League, CU Take On Banks Over Tax Exemption

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (4/10/13)--The financial services industry seems to be the only industry where profit-driven companies target their not-for-profit competitors, Matthew Stratton, vice president of marketing for Tinker FCU, told The Oklahoman in an April 9 article.

In fact, bank attacks against credit unions' not-for-profit tax status is like for-profit health clubs criticizing the YMCA's nonprofit status, Stratton said. The $2.9 billion credit union is based in Oklahoma City and, like all credit unions, is a member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperative.  That unique structure is at the root of credit unions' federal tax exemption.

The Oklahoma Bankers Association is targeting the tax status of Tinker FCU and all other state credit unions.

Preserving the credit union tax status is the Credit Union National Association's top legislative priority, and CUNA has emphasized that credit unions must work collaboratively to communicate the importance of that status to policy makers and to their members.

Credit unions use income to pay dividends and offer loans and products at better rates to members, while a bank's profits go to increase the wealth of its shareholders, said Gary Jones, president of the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma, who also was quoted in the article.  And, as Stratton pointed out,  credit union members pay taxes on dividends they receive from a credit union.

Many Oklahoma banks are organized as S corporations, a status that allows them to avoid paying federal income taxes at the corporate level, Jones also noted.

Wiemert Elected Connecticut League Chairman

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MERIDEN, Conn. (4/10/13)--Keith Wiemert, president/CEO of Seasons FCU, Middletown, Conn., is the new chairman of Credit Union League of Connecticut.

Wiemert and a full slate of board officers were elected at the league's 79th Annual Meeting held April 3 in Plantsville, Conn.

Wiemert has served on a variety of committees and held various positions, most recently as vice chairman. He is also active in the league's International Partnership Committee and is currently chairman of the board's Governance Committee.

Other officers on the league board include:

  • Vice Chairman--Michael Hinchey, president/CEO, Wepawaug-Flagg FCU, Hamden;
  • Treasurer--Stuart Phillips, CEO, United Business & Industry FCU, Plainville; and
  • Secretary--John E. Keet Jr., CEO, Personal Care America FCU, Trumbull.

Idaho League Names Johnson As New Leader

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BOISE, Idaho (4/9/13)--The Idaho Credit Union League Board of Directors has named its new league/president, effective June 3. Chris Johnson will replace Alan Cameron, who is retiring June 30.

Johnson most recently was associated with The Collingwood Group as an independent consultant providing legal expertise to the group's mortgage purchase and servicing clients as well as compliance consulting services.

"I am a strongly committed advocate for credit unions," he said, adding that the league position "provides an attractive opportunity to support and advance the credit union movement in the Gem State."

Johnson served as vice president of state governmental affairs at the Credit Union National Associatio from2006 to 2010.  He also formerly worked for Freddie Mac as managing association general counsel, lending legal and advocacy support to Freddie Mac's mortgage purchase and servicing functions. He also managed the mortgage law department's staff and budget.

"I and the entire board are confident that Chris Johnson has the talent, skill and experience to build upon the foundation of service excellence the league has established under the leadership of Alan Cameron and to lead us into the future," said Brent Neibaur, CEO of Advantage Plus FCU, Pocatello, and chair of the Idaho league.

aSmarterChoice's March Stats Best Of Quarter

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WASHINGTON (4/10/13)--Consumers continue to seek out credit unions, if the first quarter  statistics of aSmarterChoice.org--the go-to website for consumers and media to learn about credit unions and to find credit unions they can join--are any indication.

During first quarter, the site drew nearly 60,000 visits and nearly 51,000 total number of searches. 

"March was our biggest month of the first quarter" in terms of visits and searches on the site, said Jill Stevenson, consumer website coordinator for the Credit Union National Association.

Number of visits for March totaled nearly 22,000, while number of searches on the site totaled nearly 20,000.  That compares with more than 20,000 visits and 17,021 searches in January.

Compared to first quarter one year ago, total searches during first quarter 2013 on the site are down about 20%--which is expected, says CUNA. A year ago, credit unions were still basking in the afterglow of steep membership increases they saw during the period surrounding Bank Transfer Day in fourth quarter 2011 and first quarter of 2012.

"Still, we are encouraged by the March numbers and working to sustain the performance," Stevenson said.

The sustained interest in credit unions comes at a time when CUNA, the leagues and credit unions are rallying to Unite for Good to secure their key strategic vision for the credit union system: "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."

CUNA, credit unions and leagues are taking steps to remove barriers, raise awareness, and foster service excellence as part of their collaborative efforts in working toward that goal. As that awareness grows, members will turn to aSmarterChoice and Unite for Good websites to find out more.

aSmarterChoice is a joint project of CUNA and the American Association of Credit Union Leagues. The site provides a comprehensive credit union locator that includes every credit union in the U.S. Consumers can go on the site, answer a few simple questions about where they live, work or worship, and find credit unions nearby that they can join. For more detail, use the links.

CUNA Mutual Wins Virtual Communication Excellence Award

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SAN FRANCISCO (4/9/13)--CUNA Mutual Group's Online Discovery Conference has received a national ON24 Virtual Communication Excellence Award from The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and ON24.

CUNA Mutual's conference is one 10 national winners. Its award was for "Best User Experience"  for its innovative use of ON24 technology to move its annual Discovery credit union customer conference online.  By doing so, the Madison, Wis.-based CUNA Mutual saved $1.5 million and improved the results of the conference, with the overall attendee satisfaction rate exceeding 90%, said ON24.

"Our clients have recognized that virtual communication is a key to success in today's changing global economy," said ON24 CEO Sharat Sharan. "The award winners are organizations that push the boundaries of virtual communication and define best practices for the industry."

Winners in other categories included the Merck and Co., Rosetta Stone, AARP, Institute of Management Accountants, PricewaterhouseCoopers, SAP Store, Marketo, Xylem,  and athenahealth.  The fourth annual awards cover a range of last year's webcasts, virtual events and virtual briefing centers based on ON24's platform.

CMI teaches marketers how to own their media channels. ON24 provides webcasting and virtual communications solutions.

CU System Briefs (04/09/2013)

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  • WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (4/9/13)--A man allegedly used a stolen Excavator to steal an ATM  from Allegacy FCU in Winston-Salem, N.C., early Monday morning, police said. It appeared the man stole the Excavator from a construction site about 200 yards from the ATM, police said (WFMYNews April 8). The suspect drove the stolen equipment to the ATM and knocked the machine over with Excavator's claw. Then he used the Excavator to pick up ATM--which weighed more than 2,000 pounds--and placed it into a waiting vehicle. Police described the suspect as a white man driving a black Crown Victoria with tinted windows …
  • CODY, Wyo. (4/9/13)--
    Click to view larger image Click for larger view
    Valley FCU of Montana handed over the keys and title to a school bus it owned to the Boys and Girls Club in Cody, Wyo. The Billings, Mt.-based, $185 million asset credit union was originally going to sell the vehicle but decided instead to donate it. "We thought a better thing would be donating it to a good cause," said CEO Mike Silvers.  From left are:  credit union Executive Vice President Jean DeVerniero; Tina Bernard and Maggie Gayman of the Boys and Girls Club; Silvers; and credit union Branch Manager Jeff Parsons.  Bernard said the club didn't have a bus last year and had to share with the Boys and Girls Club in Powell. "We are deeply thankful," she added. (Photo provided by the Montana Credit Union Network) …
  • ABERDEEN, Md. (4/9/13)--
    Click to view larger image Click for larger view
    Aberdeen (Md.) Proving Ground FCU reached its 100,000th member milestone on April 1, when Michael Willis joined the $948 million asset credit union and open an account there.  Willis, pictured here, received a $100 Visa Gift Card as a congratulatory award.  During 2012, APGFCU's membership grew by 4.3% over 2011. The credit union is ranked No. 1, as of Feb. 28, in deposit market share among financial institutions in Harford County, it said. APGFCU attributed its success to its long-term loyal members, talented employees and dedicated volunteers.  Financial literacy education, wealth management counseling, community events, and a wide range of informative seminars are the cornerstones of the credit union's first 75 years, it said. (Photo provided by Aberdeen Proving Ground FCU) …

BizKid$ Earns Parents' Choice Gold Award

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MADISON, Wis. (4/9/13)--Biz Kid$, the credit union-funded public television series that teaches kids about money management and entrepreneurship, has received a Parents' Choice Gold Award.

The Parents' Choice Gold Awards are presented to media judged for quality and appeal in their genre. Criteria include the highest production standards, universal human values and a unique, individual quality that pushes the product a notch above others.

Fewer than 20% of the products submitted to the Parents' Choice Awards program receive any commendation. This is the first time Biz Kid$ has won the Gold Award. Last year, Biz Kid$ received its first Parents' Choice Silver Award.

"Thanks to credit unions, Biz Kid$--the series, its corresponding curriculum and its website--empowers young consumers to build financial independence and opportunity," said Danielle Brown, National Credit Union Foundation Biz Kid$ Program coordinatior. "Winning this award validates the quality and value of the Biz Kid$ program."

The Parents' Choice Awards is the nation's oldest nonprofit program created to recognize quality children's media.

In its five seasons, Biz Kid$ has received 10 Emmy nominations--winning once in 2009--and rang the closing bell ceremonies at both the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ Exchange for three years in conjunction with National Financial Literacy Month.

In 2009, Biz Kid$ won the Environmental Media Award for Outstanding Children's Television Series. In 2010, it earned a Silver Telly Award for Outstanding Children's Financial Literacy Programming as well as the credit union industry's most prestigious honor, the Herb Wegner Award for Outstanding Program.

Maine CUs Report Milestone Growth In 2012

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PORTLAND, Maine (4/9/13)--More consumers in Maine established or strengthened their relationship with a credit union, pushing Maine's credit unions to milestone growth during 2012, said the Maine Credit Union League.

"For the 12-month period ending Dec. 31, Maine's 61 credit unions experienced solid growth in all measurement categories, including members, assets, savings and loan," the league reported in its Weekly Update (April 5).

Assets increased by nearly $275 million or 4.9% to $5.88 billion, said the league. Loans outstanding increased $227 million or 6.2% over year-end 2011. Savings grew 5.4% to a record $5.04 billion.

Membership was up 1.4%, a net gain of nearly 8,500 new members and bringing total membership in the state to a record 625,500 members.  The league noted that a merger of Shaw's Employees FCU with an out-of-state credit union during 2012 impacted member growth statistics in the state. Excluding that credit union from the annual growth calculation would bring the state's membership gain to 2%.

"These figures reflect the significant changes in consumer attitudes and preferences over the past few years with consumers turning to Maine's credit unions in growing numbers," said league President John Murphy.

"Consumers with existing credit union relationships are utilizing additional products and services as well, which is solidifying the increasing number of consumers that use their credit union as their primary financial institution," Murphy said.

The Credit Union National Association is urging credit unions to "Unite For Good" in rallying toward a strategic vision for the future of credit unions, where "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."

One of the key measures of success in achieving that vision is raising the number of members who consider their credit union to be their primary financial institution, said CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney, when he outlined the vision for credit unions during CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference in March.

That can be done through: removing barriers, raising awareness and fostering service excellence. For more information, use the links to Unite For Good.org and aSmarterChoice.org.

Santos Appointed Director Of Wis Office of CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (4/9/13)--Kim Santos has been appointed director of the Office of Credit Unions at the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, succeeding Ginger Larson, who retires in June.

Santos, a 20-year-employee at the Office of Credit Unions, most recently served as deputy director.

Larson announced last week she would retire in June after 17 years with the office, including nine as director. She has served as director since January 2011 and also held the position of director from 1996 to 2003.

"Ginger Larson was well-respected throughout the credit union movement in Wisconsin and will be missed," said Brett Thompson, president/CEO of the Wisconsin Credit Union League.

"Kim Santos has worked closely with Wisconsin credit unions for many years and will no doubt continue building strong relationships with credit unions to ensure continued safety and soundness of the 186 member-owned credit unions in our state," Thompson added.

Larson has been active in the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors, serving as a board member and trustee of the National Institute for State Credit Union Examination, chairman of the Accreditation Auditing Working Group Committee and member of the NASCUS Audit Committee.

"Kim will make an outstanding director of the Office of Credit Unions," said DFI Secretary Peter Bildsten, adding that DFI appreciated Larson's accomplishments and "wish her nothing but the best in retirement."

Oregon CUs Launch Public Funds Collateralization Program

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (4/9/13)--Oregon credit unions last week launched a new Credit Union Public Funds Collateralization Program that will allow qualified credit unions in the state to accept public funds deposits exceeding federal insurance limits for the first time in history, said the Northwest Credit Union Association.

NWCUA and Oregon credit unions worked to establish a collateralization pool that will protect deposits above the $250,000 insurance level provided by the National Credit Union Administration (Anthem Recap April 5).

Credit unions in the program will protect higher deposits by posting securities as collateral against any uninsured public funds balances. If there's a loss, the state can recover public funds by selling the collateral, said NWCUA.

"It makes sense for local governments to move some of their money from Wall Street to Main Street," said John Trull, NWCUA director of regulatory advocacy, in the article.

Ten credit unions established the collateralization pool. They are:

  • Unitus Community CU, Portland;
  • Pacific Crest FCU, Klamath Falls;
  • OSU FCU, Corvallis;
  • OnPoint Community CU, Portland;
  • Advantis CU, Portland;
  • MaPs CU, Salem;
  • Northwest Community CU, Eugene;
  • Old West FCU, John Day;
  • Wauna FCU, Clatskanie; and
  • Oregon Community CU, Springfield.
Some had already accepted public funds deposits up to the insurance limit, said NWCUA.

Five cities--Beaverton, Corvallis, Independence, Klamath Falls and Portland-- have signed letters pledging to deposit funds in excess of $250,000 in one or more of the credit unions.

The amount each credit union must use as collateral will depend on its uninsured public funds balance, which it must report either weekly or monthly to the State Treasury. State Treasurer Ted Wheeler's office has said the minimum collateral requirement can range from 10% to 110% of uninsured public funds deposits, depending on the credit union's capitalization level and the number of credit unions participating in the program.

CUNA Council Recognizes Three Marketing/BD Execs

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MADISON, Wis. (4/9/13)--Three credit union executives--Lesley Carrell, Lisa Nicholas and Andy Reed--were honored for their credit union marketing and business development achievements at the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council (CMBDC) Conference March 24-27 in Anaheim, Calif.

Carrell, senior vice president, marketing for Fibre FCU, Longview, Wash., was named the 2013 Hall of Fame inductee. Since 1990, Carrell has served on senior management teams at four credit unions. She joined Fibre FCU to create a marketing and business development team and oversee strategic planning, market research, brand development and execution of strategies.

Carrell served on the Asset Liability Committee at all four credit unions and helped each win Dora Maxwell Awards for Social Responsibility. A founding council member, she served on its executive committee member in 1995-2000 and 2007-2010. She chaired the Diamond Awards,  was chief awards judge three years, serves on the Education Committee, and participated in the Filene Institute's i3 innovation group 2005-2007.

Nicholas, vice president of marketing for Amplify FCU, Austin Texas, received the Marketing Professional of the Year Award for her results-oriented strategies to market credit union products, services and rates consistently and effectively. In 2012, her efforts exceeded every goal in Amplify FCU's business plan, helping generate $85 million in loan growth, increase membership by 4,430 and open 4,055 new checking accounts. A speaker at league leadership and development conferences and chapter board member, Nicholas' credit union awards include the Dora Maxwell award.

Reed, manager of business development for American Airlines FCU, Fort Worth, Texas, was presented the Business Development Professional of the Year Award. He helped American Airlines FCU grow to over 239,000 members, 40 branches nationwide and more than $5.6 billion assets. Reed manages 15 business development employees and relationships with more than 1,200 established TIP accounts, including 27 strategic partners with multiple locations. He manages the Coordinator ambassador program, and served on the executive committees of the league's Marketing and Business Development Council and CMBDC since 2008.

Winners will be featured in Credit Union Magazine.

NCBA Honors Pelican State CU's Jeff Conrad

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WASHINGTON (4/9/13)--The National Cooperative Business Association recognized Jeff Conrad, president/CEO of Pelican State CU, for his efforts in helping his entire staff become certified as Community Development Certified Financial Counselors.

NCBA President/CEO Mike Beall presented Conrad with a plaque recognizing Pelican State as the first credit union nationwide to have its entire staff become CDCFC-certified.  

The CDCFC program is certified by NCBA to serve consumers of low-income.

Conrad initiated the program at $200 million asset Pelican State CU, Baton Rouge, La., because the credit scores of his membership had dropped--leaving many ineligible for loans for which they formerly qualified.

"Credit unions need the tools to help them provide a hand up--not a hand out--for their members," Beall said. "We want to make sure individuals have a fair opportunity today to help their families. Looking at Pelican State's recent accomplishments with its certification training through the leadership of Jeff Conrad, we believe they are a perfect example of how credit unions can help support their members financially--which ultimately will build wealth in their communities for better lives overall."

Beall also proposed a special toast to Helen Godfrey-Smith, president/CEO of $90 million asset Shreveport (La.) FCU. Beall cited Shreveport FCU's partnership with the League of Southern Cooperatives and the credit union's Healthy Farm Financing program, a small-business lending program to low-income land owners in the Mississippi Delta.

"I'll wake up tomorrow and know that it's another opportunity to make a difference in the lives of other people, and that's what it's all about," Godfrey-Smith said.

To view videos of the presentations, use the links.

Gentile To MSNBC: Consumers Waking Up To Power of CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (4/9/13)--"People are really waking up to the powers of credit unions," Paul Gentile, Credit Union National Association executive vice president, strategic communications and engagement, said during an appearance Sunday on MSNBC's Your Business.

"Last year two million people opened accounts at credit unions," Gentile said. "There's a credit union for everyone."

Gentile directed viewers to aSmarterChoice.org to find a credit union they are eligible to join.

Gentile explained the structural difference between credit unions and banks. "As a credit union member, you're an owner of that institution," he said. "Unlike banks we don't have shareholders to please. We don't have to drive big profits. It's a different model; it's a cooperative model. We're not-for-profit financial cooperatives."

Through that cooperative structure, credit unions can offer lower rates on products and services than banks can, Gentile said. And they are lending. While banks tightened credit during the recent recession, credit unions increased lending, he added.

Credit unions also continued lending to their small-business members, Gentile said. "Our average business loan is about $215,000," Gentile said. "A lot of times those are loans the banks just don't want to touch," he added. "They're just not profitable enough for them. But we'll do those loans."

Among the reasons credit unions make those loans is because they know their members better than banks know their customers, Gentile said. "We will take more time with them and understand the fundamentals about what is driving the need for credit and liquidity," Gentile said. "At banks they run a risk score before even talking to you. We have lots of stories where people have been turned down by banks and they get a small $60,000 loan [from a credit union] that has turned into a big business."

CUNA and credit unions are urging Congress to pass legislation to raise credit unions' member business lending cap (MBL) to 27.5% of total assets, up from 12.25%. Doing so would generate $14.5 billion available for MBLs--and increase jobs by 158,000 in the first year without costing the taxpayer, according to statistics from CUNA.

Wis DFI: FIs' Health 'Good News For Wisconsin Economy'

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MADISON, Wis. (4/8/13)--Wisconsin's state-chartered credit unions and banks are a bright spot in the state's economy and are well-positioned to help fuel the state's economic growth, according to Peter Bildsten, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.

He cited two improvements in the financial institutions the past two years:  earnings have rebounded, with credit unions' net income growing 81% in 2012 over 2011, and banks' earnings up 53%; and capital is back to pre-recession levels with credit unions' net worth  as of Dec. 31 at  10.25%--"the best in five years"--and banks at their highest in decade--at 11.12%.

"Banks and credit unions are a key component of the state's private-sector economic engine," Bildsten said in a press release. "These institutions make loans to help businesses expand and create more jobs. They help drive the real-estate market by originating mortgages, allowing people to achieve the dream of owning their own home. They provide products and services that give consumers access to credit and allow them to better manage their money."

The institutions "are eager to lend," he said. "Loan standards have changed somewhat since the recession, but that is not necessarily bad. In order to survive, banks and credit unions have to make loans, but in order to thrive, they must make good loans."

Credit unions in the state and throughout the country are working so that they can continue helping the economy through making loans to small businesses. The Credit Union National Association, the state leagues, and credit unions are urging Congress to raise credit unions member business lending cap from the current 12.25% of assets to 27.5% of assets.

This would enable credit unions to make more small business loans and inject $14.5 billion in new loans into the economy, says CUNA.  It also would help generate 158,000 new jobs the first year the raise would go into effect.

CU System Briefs (04/08/2013)

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  • FORT WAYNE, Ind. (4/8/13)--Fort Wayne-based Pinnacle CU said Friday it was working to reopen its Hobson Road branch, which was the target of a robbery Wednesday night. A teller who left work after 5 p.m. Wednesday was abducted by a man with a gun. He forced her inside her home, bound her wrists, then tied up a family member who arrived later. A second gunman joined them, and they waited until dark. The men took the teller and the family member to the credit union. One stayed with the relative in the car, while the other accompanied the teller inside and forced her to open the vault. The men got away with an undisclosed amount of cash (News-Sentinel, WISHTV.com and Indiana News Center April 4) …
  • MERIDEN, Conn.  (4/8/13)--Credit Union League of Connecticut President/CEO Tony Emerson, left, poses with Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney after Cheney addressed 250 attendees at the league's 79th Annual Meeting Wednesday in Plantsville, Conn. Cheney reviewed regulatory and government issues as well as challenges and improvements in the industry, pointing out there is much work to be done. Buddy Gill, senior adviser to National Credit Union Administration Chairman Debbie Matz, discussed changes to federal regulations and analyzed economic, political and banking competition issues that influence regulatory decisions.  Harriet May, former CUNA Board chair, examined what is behind the credit union philosophy and how its presence in financial services can engender progress toward a "more perfect" industry for consumers.  (Photo provided by the Credit Union League of Connecticut) …
  • MADISON, Wis. (4/8/13)--St. Petersburg, Fla.-based PSCU, a longtime supporter of the Filene Research Institute, has renewed its Platinum-level Sponsorship for 2013 as one of four Filene Chairman's Benefactor members. PSCU is principal sponsor of Filene's innovation work, most notably its i3 innovation group. The credit union has been a Chairman's Benefactor since 2004. "Even in the face of the Great Recession, PSCU maintained its strong support," said Mark Meyer, Filene CEO. "PSCU's own strategic focus on innovation matches ours so closely."  PSCU's lifetime contributions to Filene place it among the institute's top three overall donors. It has participated in dozens of Filene initiatives, including the inaugural Crash the GAC young professional meeting, innovation field trips to Finovate in New York and San Francisco, Filene's 30 Under 30 young professional group, and its CU Tomorrow and COOL Solutions research devoted to attracting young adult members and employees …

League Launches 'Banking You Can Trust' Ads

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (4/8/13)--The New Jersey Credit Union League launched its Banking You Can Trust member testimonial television commercials on cable stations throughout the state Thursday.

The commercials, featuring credit union members telling their stories about how credit unions have helped them, are part of the Banking You Can Trust cooperative advertising campaign the league launched in 2009 (The Daily Exchange April 3).

The league is also updating its radio, Web and print ads, which will be released this month..

The TV ads can be viewed on YouTube. Use the link

The ads will run on both Comcast and Cablevision.

Court Orders S&P To Provide Documents For RBS Lawsuit

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NEW YORK (4/8/13)--A federal court in New York City Thursday ordered, as part of an agreement, Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC to produce all documents related to residential mortgage backed securities (RMBS) that are at the heart of CUNA Mutual Group's $72 million lawsuit against RBS Securities.

U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, in a memorandum and order that recited an agreement the parties made with the court in a conference call, ordered the ratings agency to produce:

  • All documents in S&P's electronic "deals files" for each of the 11 RMBS certificates that were issued by RBS Securities and rated by S&P; and
  • All documents reflecting any efforts by RBS to coerce or pressure S&P with respect to the securities deals and all documents reflecting S&P's response.
"We are pleased with the court's decision to order S&P's to produce records related to the $72 million of failed mortgage-backed securities CUNA Mutual Group bought from RBS Securities," said Phil Tschudy, CUNA Mutual Group media relations manager.

"As we previously stated, we consider the documents to be highly relevant to our claims against RBS as they relate to the question of RBS' role in S&P's rating of the mortgage-backed securities at issue in the litigation against RBS," he told News Now.

S&P had alleged in a motion last week that the subpoena for documents was a fishing expedition, but CUNA Mutual Group responded the documents were "highly relevant" to its claims regarding the RMBS.

CUNA Mutual's lawsuit against RMBS, which is before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, Madison, seeks recission and alleges unjust enrichment for more than $70 million in investments made in 15 certificates from 10 RMBS offerings from 2002 to 2007.  Investors learned later that the securities were backed by defective, improperly written loans.

The suit, which was filed by CMFG Life Insurance Co., CUMIS Insurance Society Inc. and Members Life Insurance Co., maintains the products sold were misrepresented.  

S&P is also being sued by the Department of Justice over its role in reviewing and inflating the value of the RMBS pools that collapsed. Some of those were sold to CUNA Mutual and to corporate credit unions (News Now March 11).

Maine Legislature Passes League's Student Lending Bill

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PORTLAND, Maine (4/8/13)--The Maine Legislature overwhelmingly has passed a Maine Credit Union League-backed bill that would authorize providing loan insurance on supplemental student loans.

Credit unions and the league "worked cooperatively with others to help draft and pass this legislation," said league President John Murphy (Weekly Update April 5).

Murphy noted that "all of the hard work resulted in legislation that had strong bi-partisan support, and will enable more credit unions to provide a sound student lending product to consumers. Having the financial education component included reinforces our strong advocacy in this area."

The bill modifies the Finance Authority of Maine's Higher Education (FAME) Loan Program to specify that FAME may provide the insurance and renames it the Higher Education Loan and Loan Insurance Program. It also includes a financial education requirement that students must satisfy as a condition for receiving the loan.

The votes in the state House and Senate occurred last week, and the bill has been sent to Gov. Paul LePage for signature. If he signs it, the bill will become effective immediately as emergency legislation, said the league. A signature means the bill will become effective immediately as emergency legislation, said the league.

On a national level, the Credit Union National Association is developing a working group to address credit union student loan issues with the National Credit Union Administration and the  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has received thousands of complaints related to student loans, according CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney, writing in last week's The Cheney Report.  Only one of the 3,525 student loan-related complaints in CFPB's  complaint database is against a credit union.

Tomalin To Head Up CUNA Madison Operation, Succeeds Franklin

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MADISON, Wis. (4/8/13)--Jill Tomalin has been named executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Credit Union National Association's Madison, Wis., operations, the association announced today. She succeeds John Franklin, who retired from CUNA last month.

A 13-year veteran of CUNA, Tomalin will oversee all of CUNA's Madison-based operations revolving around meetings and conferences, information technology, training and development and vendor sales. She will also oversee the CUNA Councils, and CUNA Strategic Services, the CUNA/league-owned subsidiary offering products and services to credit unions.

"Jill's long experience in the credit union system, combined with her talents and conceptual vision, furnish her with unique insights to the challenges of this position and the needs of credit unions across the country," said CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney.

"She's committed herself to credit unions; this promotion gives her even greater opportunities to further share that commitment."

Most recently senior vice president of Association Services, Tomalin joined CUNA in 2000 as director of educational resources. Prior to that, she served in management roles for the Texas Credit Union League and Credit Union Executives Society.

Tomalin earned a BA and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a credit union development educator and a certified league executive.

NerdWallet: CUs May Have The Answer In Debt Relief

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NEW YORK (4/8/13)--Consumer debt is climbing--the latest Federal Reserve figures say debt is at nearly $2.8 trillion--but NerdWallet says consumers can get debt relief from credit unions. 

"Many credit unions understand their members' debt problems and they want to help solve them," NerdWallet wrote in a blog entitled "Credit Union Debt Relief Programs."

"We've found credit unions nationwide that offer debt relief solutions ranging from debt management tools to free financial counseling, all in service to the improvement of your personal finances. Visit the nearest credit union branch to find the debt relief program that works best for you," said the blog.

The website lists 10 credit unions with special programs to help members:

  • Arsenal CU, Arnold, Mo.;
  • CommonWealth One FCU, Alexandria, Va.;
  • Consumers CU, Kalamazoo, Mich.
  • First CU, Chandler, Ariz.;
  • Icon CU, Boise, Idaho;
  • San Mateo CU, Redwood City,Calif.;
  • PrimeWay FCU, Houston;
  • United Advantage NW FCU, Portland, Ore.;
  • Xceed Financial CU, El Segundo, Calif.; and
  • UniWyo FCU, Laramie, Wyo.

The article devotes a paragraph to each credit union's specific programs. For the full article, use the link.

Councils' Paper Discusses Three Factors Impacting Branches

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MADISON, Wis. (4/8/13)--Economics, technology and changing consumer behavior are changing the look, feel and function of the credit union branch, according to a new white paper from the CUNA Technology Council and the CUNA Operations, Sales & Service Council.

The paper, "Is Technology Causing Branches to Close but Service to Thrive," includes interviews of credit union professionals and analysts and an examination of relevant research.

Among the conclusions the paper makes:

  • The branch is not going away, but it is evolving from processing basic transactions to a venue for problem solving, handling complicated transactions, as well as acting as an educational, sales and service center.
  • The branch is a focal point and educational center for small business lending, which is built on relationships, not transactions.
  • Consumers want human interaction along with technology in their financial services.
  • Declining fee income and margins, as well as regulatory pressures and increasing costs, will cause a rethinking of the business model and branch development.
  • The economics of alternatives to building a branch are compelling--it costs an estimated $1 million to $2 million to build a branch with five to eight employees, at a cost of $350,000 to $400,000 annually to operate.
  • Branch expenses tend to be higher than alternative channel costs. Existing members, though, often use more services with the addition of online channels.
  • Online members are more actively engaged with the credit union and cost more to serve than those who aren't.
To access the paper, use the link.

CUs Provide Dose Of Reality In Three States

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MADISON, Wis. (3/8/13)--Credit unions in Connecticut, New Jersey and California recently provided high school and college students with a sample of everyday financial life by hosting reality fairs.

Among the booths at a reality fair in Connecticut was EZ Loans, representing high-cost credit providers who try to tempt students to overspend. (Photo provided by Connecticut Credit Union League)
The reality fairs helped credit unions kick off April as Financial Literacy Month.

More than 550 students from 22 high schools in Connecticut spent the morning of March 26 learning the challenge of living within a budget at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain. Students chose their careers in advance of the fair, researching starting salaries and how much additional school is required to begin their chosen professions, the Credit Union League of Connecticut said. Each student received a personalized budget worksheet based on their individual goals.

New Jersey City University students stop by the stations manned by credit union volunteers to make monthly purchases during a reality fair hosted by Liberty Savings FCU, Jersey City, N.J . (Photo provided by New Jersey Credit Union League)
Representatives from 25 Connecticut credit unions and 15 local businesses volunteered at the fair.

Among the booths at the fair was EZ Loans, which represented high-cost credit. "Those guys over there [EZ Loans] told me they were helping me, but I had to get a part-time job just to pay the money back," one student said. "I was doing okay until I talked to them."

The fairs were indeed a dose of reality for the students. "This is harder than I expected," said one participant.

In New Jersey, Liberty Savings FCU, Jersey City, sponsored a reality fair manned by about 30 credit union volunteers for New Jersey City University students, the New Jersey Credit Union League said (The Daily Exchange April 3).

Khemarak Chor speaks with Leticia Mata, Orange County's CU assistant vice president of community education and development, about finances during a Bite of Reality held at St. Mary's Hospital in Long Beach, Calif. (Photo provided by California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues)
The program, initially developed for high school students, was modified for the university's mostly non-traditional student population. The median age of a freshman there is 26 years old.

Students had the option to provide their credit score, rent payment, number of dependents, anticipated student loan balance and checking and savings account balances upon graduation. Their personal financial information was then entered into their customized budget worksheets.

Credit union volunteers also received help from the school's FLEX (Financial Literacy Expert) team, who helped modify the program for the school and helped with registration.

In California, more than 40 teens from the Long Beach area participated in Bite of Reality, a hands-on simulation program offered by the Richard Myles Johnson Foundation and the California and Nevada Youth Involvement Network, which supports financial education for young people in Nevada and California

The event was held at St. Mary's Hospital, Long Beach, and hosted by the RMJ Foundation, the Long Beach branch of Orange County's CU and St. Mary's social education group, EM3.

Students received an occupation, salary, spouse and family, student loan debt, credit card debt and medical insurance payments. They visited stations to "purchase" housing, transportation, food, clothing, household necessities, day care and more. A "credit union" assisted with financial needs. Students were also challenged with unexpected expenses and windfalls.

Decline In Volunteerism Presents Recruiting Challenges

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/8/13)--Volunteerism is on the decline across industries. As a result, credit unions must do a better job of "selling" volunteer opportunities, a breakout session speaker said last week at the Texas Credit Union League's Governmental Affairs Conference and Member Meeting & Expo.

Volunteering has points that credit union must promote to potential board volunteers, Jason Boles of Fans Created Inc., said during a breakout session last week at the Texas Governmental Affairs Conference and Member Meeting & Expo. (Photo provided by the Texas Credit Union League)
"Let's be honest," said Jason Boles of Fans Created Inc. (LoneStar Leaguer April 5). "The credit union volunteer role is not traditionally sexy. It's a tough sell." 

Recruiting volunteers, especially from younger generations, is a challenge faced by many credit unions, Boles said.  But it can be done. 

Credit unions must know who they are looking for by identifying required skills, knowledge and experience, developing a director "perfect profile," and writing a detailed job description of the position.

He encouraged attendees to open up the search beyond friends, colleagues and the credit union's original sponsor group. 

Volunteering has a number of selling points that Boles encouraged credit unions to promote to potential volunteers. Those selling points include:

  • The ability to network with other professionals;
  • The opportunity to grow their resume and expand their knowledge;
  • The opportunity to lead and/or enhance their leadership experience; and
  • The ability to truly make a difference.
Boles encouraged credit unions to create diversity within their board rooms to avoid doing "more of the same" and "getting the same results." Diversity must go beyond race and age, he said. When seeking diversity on the board, credit unions must consider diversity in skill sets, life stages and education, he said.

Robbery Suspect Killed During Getaway, CU Closes Branch

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WICHITA, Kan. (4/5/13)--A man who allegedly ambushed Credit Union of America employees as they arrived for work Wednesday in Wichita, Kan.,  and robbed the credit union, died of a self-inflicted gunshot during a shootout with a sheriff's deputy, said the Wichita Police Department.

The robbery accelerated Credit Union of America's decision to close the branch permanently, the credit union told The Wichita Eagle (April 4).

CEO Bob Thurman told the newspaper that the credit union was already providing limited  drive-through services. Although the decision to close the branch is not directly related to the robbery, the robbery acted as catalyst for speeding up a decision about the branch. A combination of slowing activity and the added expense to providing security at the location factored in the decision.

Police said Horace L. Gwyn, 26, was fleeing the credit union when a deputy arrived on the scene and gave chase (KAKE.com April 3 and April 4). 

Early reports had indicated the deputy had shot and killed Gwyn, but new information released Thursday morning indicated that the suspect fired a shot at the deputy as he ran, then put the gun up to his head and fired. Meanwhile, the deputy was returning fire and hit Gwyn in the back (KSN.com and The Wichita Eagle April 3).

The incident occurred at 7: 22 a.m. Gwyn allegedly waited and ambushed employees as they arrived for work and forced them inside.  Police said he hit one teller over the eye with a gun and shoved the other.  Both received minor injuries.  The deputy, who was nearby, responded to a silent alarm.

Potential Board Chosen For Proposed Cornerstone League

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/5/13)--The proposed Cornerstone Credit Union League, which would consolidate the Texas Credit Union League, the Arkansas Credit Union League and the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma, Thursday announced its planned board of directors.

Members of the board include:

Southeast Texas Region 1:

  • Less than $50 million in assets: James S. Tuggle, Transtar FCU, Houston;
  • $50 million to $250 million: Kenny Harrington, MemberSource CU, Houston; and
  • More than $250 million: Paul Withey, Texas Bay Area CU, Houston.
South Central Texas Region 2:

  • Less than $50 in assets: Carol Murray, Express-News FCU, San Antonio;
  • $50 million to $250 million: JoBetsy Tyler, First Central CU, Waco; and
  • More than $250: Paul A. Trylko, Amplify FCU, Austin.
West Texas Region 3:

  • Less than $50 million in assets: Nancy M. Croix Stroud, First Class American CU, Fort Worth;
  • $50 million to $250 million: Robert Peterson, One Source FCU, El Paso; and
  • More than $250 million: James L. Boyd, Abilene (Texas) Teachers FCU.
Oklahoma Region 4:

  • Less than $50 million in assets: Jason Boesch, Oklahoma RE&T Employees CU, Oklahoma City;
  • $50 million to $500 million: Genia Wilson, Oklahoma Central CU, Tulsa; and
  • More than $500 million: Michael Kloiber, Tinker FCU, Oklahoma City.
Arkansas Region 5:

  • Less than $35 million in assets: Windy Campbell, Electric Cooperatives FCU, Little Rock;
  • $35 million to $100 million: Dwayne Ashcraft, Arkansas Superior FCU, Warren; and
  • More than $100 million: Allen Brown, Mil-Way FCU, Texarkana.
Northeast Texas Region 6:

  • Less than $50 million in assets: Z. Suzanne Chism, Texas Health Resources CU, Dallas;
  • $50 million to $250 million: Kay Stewart, North East Texas CU, Lone Star; and
  • More than $250 million: Jim Brisendine, Resource One CU, Dallas.
Members of the Texas Credit Union League voted 109-5 in favor of a single cooperative organization on Wednesday.

Member credit unions of the Arkansas league will vote on the measure April 11. The Oklahoma association's members' vote will be during its annual conference May 13-15. Delegates voting from all three states must vote yes on the measure for it to become official.

Utah Governor Signs Surcharge-Ban Bill

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SALT LAKE CITY (4/5/13)--Utah became the 11th state to prohibit merchants from imposing a surcharge on credit/debit card and other transactions--at least temporarily. Gov. Gary Herbert signed Senate Bill 67 into law on Monday.

The law will expire after one year, at which time the issue will go back before the legislature, according to S.B. 67's sponsor, Republican state Sen. Curtis Bramble (American Banker April 4).   The legislation will maintain the status quo, while state lawmakers take a closer look at the issue.

In addition to the 11 states with bills banning surcharges already on the books, 17 others are considering similar measures in their legislatures.

The Credit Union National Association and state leagues are monitoring the bills' progress, noting that any surcharge on card transactions would impact all financial institutions, including credit unions, as well as consumers and credit union members.

The bills were prompted by a surcharge provision in a $7.2 billion antitrust lawsuit settlement between merchants and Visa, MasterCard and their banks. The provision became effective Jan. 27. It permits merchants to charge a "checkout fee" equal to what the merchant pays to accept the card. That fee is typically 1.5% to 3% in the U.S., but is not to exceed 4%. Prior to the settlement, 10 states had laws banning surcharges.

The 11 states with surcharge bans on the books include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, and now Utah. However, Maine has a proposal that would ease its surcharge ban.

Bills to block surcharges are either being considered or have been introduced in these states: Arkansas, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and West Virginia.

National Farmers Union Urges Reg Relief After CU Input

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WASHINGTON (4/4/13)--The National Farmers Union (NFU), with input from the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas, is urging Congress to create a mortgage law exemption for locally controlled financial institutions serving rural and underserved areas, to provide relief from excessive regulations aimed at Wall Street banks.

Credit unions were instrumental in bringing the resolution to state-level Farmers Union organizations in North Dakota and South Dakota, which passed it as part of their policy making and took it to NFU, a Washington, D.C.-based farm organization similar to the American Farm Bureau except it focuses on cooperatives and family farmers.

NFU passed a Special Order of Business during its annual meeting in March to "lift it out [among other policy issues] to the eyes of the delegates as one issue that is particularly important," said NFU President Roger Johnson.

"The issue gets to local lending and is a function of what is happening with Dodd-Frank regulations," Johnson told News Now.  NFU "supported the act to reign in big banks that caused the big collapse. In the process of emerging the net, cast to deal with big banks that manipulated mortgages and led to the bubble, some rules are indiscriminately clamping down on small lenders and impacting credit unions."

Credit unions originate home mortgages, "but that was never where the problem was," he said, adding, national regulations should "contain exceptions for small lenders."

Local farmers unions and credit unions in North Dakota have had a strong relationship for many years, and NFU would "be delighted to work with" credit unions, he said.

"This is an important issue," CUAD President/CEO Robbie Thompson, told News Now, noting that the Credit Union National Association worked with CUAD in drafting the resolution language. "It's a significant development, because entities outside the credit union industry are concerned about overregulation of financial institutions and small businesses in small communities."

The resolution started with North Dakota credit unions concerned that people could not get credit in rural areas. Large credit unions that serve small communities can "afford to do compliance," said Thompson. "But small credit unions will have to make decisions about whether they can offer loans."

Lisbon (N.D.) Farmers Union CU, with nearly $5 million in assets, used to make one to four home-owner mortgage loans a year, said Daniel Wagner, chief financial officer and manager. Wagner helped bring the issue to CUAD's attention and was instrumental in getting the NFU resolution. "We've been regulated out of that type of loan," he said.

The credit union, a five-star rated credit union in Bauer Financial quarterly reports for years, discontinued the loans because it worried about making a mistake. A $10,000 penalty for a $30,000 mortgage loan is significant for a small asset credit union. The credit union, which has 1.5 employees, was told it needed three full-time compliance officers to ensure compliance with regulations.

It had to turn down two families for $30,000 mortgage loans last year. "Big banks don't run  to make these loans, so these families will have a hard time getting financed," he said.

Although regulators such as the National Credit Union Administration and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently took actions regarding rural institutions and mortgage exemptions, "we'd like them to be expanded," said CUAD's Thompson.

"This presents an opportunity to bring other groups not just in the credit union industry to understand that excessive regulations can harm rural communities and access to credit," Thompson said.  "Hopefully this is a beginning."

NFU's Special Order noted excessive regulations "had the unintended consequences of discouraging home lending in rural and underserved areas by locally owned and/or locally controlled financial institutions." It called for Congress to create exemptions "from recently enacted laws and rules regarding mortgage escrow for high-interest loans, mortgage insurance requirements, appraisal requirements, mortgage licensing and registration, and ability to pay/qualifying mortgages."

State is Auditing Ohio CUs on Sales/Use Tax

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (4/5/13)--The Sales and Use Tax Division of the Ohio Department of Taxation is auditing several Ohio credit unions regarding payment of sales and use tax, the Ohio Credit Union League said.

The state auditors are looking for expenses and products and services that have not been assessed sales tax (eLumination Newsletter April 3).

"This is not singling out credit unions," John Kozlowski, the Ohio league general counsel told News Now. "The state conducts these type of audits on both for profit and non-profit entities on an annual basis."

Services performed by out-of-state vendors could possibly be subject to further taxes. "For example, this could apply to companies that conduct business over the Internet and do not have their nexus in Ohio," Kozlowski said.

To help credit unions facing audits, the league has added an education session to its InVest48 conference agenda. The session "State Charters: Planning for and Surviving a Sales Tax Audit," will be held April 24.

League staff continues to meet with legislators and the state tax commissioner's office about the effects of the proposed expansion of the state sales tax. Gov. John Kasich's biennium budget would expand the products and services subject to sales tax and lower the overall rate to 5% from 5.5%.

Some tax provisions may be separated from the budget bill; however, Gov. Kasich and some legislators remain committed to funding an income tax cut for state residents, the league said.  

A sub-bill is expected to be introduced in next week, Kozlowski said.

In March, the league sent two letters to key legislators and has provided written testimony, sharing credit unions' concerns and highlighting how the proposed changes could hamper credit unions' ability to serve their members and impact the state-charter system (News Now March 22).

MECU To Acquire Bank in Baltimore

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BALTIMORE (4/5/13)--Municipal Employees CU of Baltimore announced Thursday it has agreed to buy the $61 million asset Advance Bank, also of Baltimore.

The agreement is subject to regulatory approvals and expected to close in the fourth quarter, MECU said.

"Advance has served its community well for over 50 years, and we look forward to building on that relationship and to bringing expanded products, services and convenience to its members," said Bert Hash, CEO of MECU.

MECU, with $1.2 billion in assets, will acquire all loans, investments, real estate, accrued interest receivables and other banking-related assets of Advance Bank. The credit union will also assume the bank's deposits, Federal Home Loan Bank advances, and accrued interest payable.

Advance Bank has two branches.

MECU's purchase of Advance is the fourth credit union acquisition of a bank since 2011.  The National Credit Union Administration approved New Berlin, Wis.-based Landmark CU's request to purchase and assume Hartford Savings Bank last month (News Now March 18).

GFA FCU, Gardner, Mass., acquired Monadnock Community Bank in December (News Now Dec. 12). United FCU, based in St. Joseph, Mich., purchased Griffith (Ind.) Savings Bank in December 2011 (News Now Dec. 15, 2011).

Lt Gov To Texas GAC: CUs Will Keep State Tax Exemption

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/5/13)--Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst told the state's credit unions Wednesday that as long as he is in office, their state tax exemption  would continue.

Dewhurst, a staunch supporter of credit unions in the state, made the comments at the Texas Credit Union League's Texas Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), said the league (LoneStar Leaguer April 3).

Credit unions' tax-exemption is a top priority on the federal scene, as well as the state scene. The Credit Union National Association has made protecting and defending the federal tax exemption as its No. 1 legislative priority for 2013.

League President/CEO Dick Ensweiler and Executive Vice President Tom Haider kicked off the event with a legislative briefing after a buffet breakfast.

In addition to Dewhurst, speakers included Reps. Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio) and Dan  Flynn (R-Van), and Harold Feeney, commissioner of the Texas Credit Union Department.

Rep. Flynn presented a special recognition proclamation to Jeff Huffman, the league's vice president of governmental affairs, for his years of valuable and ethical service as a lobbyist, said the league.

Prior to the afternoon Capitol visits with legislators,  Haider and a panel that included Huffman and Suzanne Yashewski, senior vice president of regulatory compliance and legal affairs, gave an indepth analysis of eight primary issues credit unions are watching with the state's 83rd Legislature.

The Texas GAC was help in conjunction with TCUL's Member Meeting & Expo, which runs through today.

Alloya/CenCorp Merger OK'd By CenCorp Members

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WARRENVILLE, Ill., and SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (4/5/13)--Members of $1.4 billion Central Corporate CU  Thursday afternoon voted overwhelmingly to merge with $1.4 billion Alloya Corporate FCU. The vote was 190 to 8.

The merger received approval from the National Credit Union Administration on March 17. CenCorp and Alloya said the merger will take effect April 30. 

"This merger adds 300 members to Alloya's current membership, plus significant scale," noted Charles W. Furbee, Alloya's current CEO. "Alloya is well-positioned for continuing success."

"We are excited about the synergies that the merger brings," said William A. Walby, current CEO of CenCorp. Walby will become Alloya's CEO after the merger. "Members saw additional value in combining two strong credit union-owned organizations to deliver their financial and correspondent service needs into the future."

As the synergies are realized, the annual expenses of the combined corporate are expected to drop several million dollars, while products and features will be added. The increased scale will create additional opportunities, said the corporates. 

The combined corporate will conduct business in 10 core states, providing investment, financial, lending and correspondent services to more than 1,400 member-owner credit unions. Headquartered in Warrenville, Ill., Alloya also will conduct major operations from offices in Southfield, Mich., and Albany, N.Y.

For more information use the link.

CU System Briefs (04/04/2013)

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  • AUSTIN, Texas (4/4/13)--Texas Governor Rick Perry Monday signed a proclamation declaring April as Financial Literacy Month, according to the Texas Credit Union League (LoneStar Leaguer April 3). "The issuance of this proclamation brings greater awareness to the problem of financial illiteracy in our state and in our country," said Texas Credit Union Foundation Executive Director Courtney Moran. "Furthermore, it helps promote the importance of getting involved in the financial education of our youth as well as adults," she added.  The governor's proclamation said, "Sound financial management is an important skill for all Texans.Whether saving for money for a home, college education or retirement, budgeting and successful financial planning are crucial to reaching our goals." The proclamation continued, "Through careful money management, Texans of all income brackets can add to their economic security and create a better quality of life. We can achieve financial stability and independence by establishing realistic and comprehensive plans that identify financial weaknesses and build on financial strengths." He urged all Texans to "recognize the importance of saving, investing and having clear financial goals. Through the application of sound financial planning principles, we can live well now and in the future." …
  • MAPLE GROVE, Minn. (4/4/13)--Topline FCU President/CEO Harry Carter announced he will retire at the end of 2013, said the $340 million asset, Maple Grove, Minn.-based credit union.  Tom Smith, Topline's executive vice president and chief operating officer, will succeed Carter. Smith has more than 21 years as an executive in the financial services industry. He joined the credit union in 2009 as vice president and chief lending officer. Carter has been active in the credit union industry for 22 years, including serving as chair of the Minnesota Credit Union Network Board of Directors. Prior to joining Topline in 1999, Carter held senior officer roles at a large Minneapolis advertising agency, a large Michigan bank, and another large Minnesota credit union …

NEW: CenCorp Members Vote To Merge With Alloya Corporate

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WARRENVILLE, Ill., and SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (Filed 2:15 p.m. CDT 4/4/13)--The members of $1.4 billion Central Corporate CU (CenCorp) today voted overwhelmingly in favor of its proposed merger with $1.4 billion Alloya Corporate FCU.

The vote was 190 to 8. This follows the National Credit Union Administration's approval of the merger on March 14. The effective date of the merger is April 30.

"This merger adds 300 members to Alloya's current membership, plus significant scale," noted Charles W. Furbee, Alloya's current CEO. "Alloya is well-positioned for continuing success."

"We are excited about the synergies that the merger brings," stated William A. Walby, current CEO of CenCorp. Walby will be Alloya's CEO after the merger. "Members saw additional value in combining two strong credit union-owned organizations to deliver their financial and correspondent service needs into the future."

As the synergies are realized, the annual expenses of the combined corporate are expected to fall by several million dollars, while adding products and features. The increased scale will create additional opportunities, said the corporates.

The combined corporate will conduct business in 10 core states, providing investment, financial, lending and correspondent services to more than 1,400 member-owner credit unions. Headquartered in Warrenville, Ill., Alloya will also conduct major operations from offices in Southfield, Mich., and Albany, N.Y.

For more information use the link.

Texas CUs Vote Yes On League Consolidation

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AUSTIN, Texas (4/4/13)--Member credit unions of the Texas Credit Union League voted overwhelming in favor of a single cooperative organization, the Cornerstone Credit Union League, which, if passed by two other states, would consolidate TCUL, the Arkansas Credit Union League, and the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma.

"A tremendous amount of work, research, and consideration has gone into this measure," TCUL President/CEO Dick Ensweiler said. "I applaud our member credit unions for recognizing and respecting the power of collaboration."

Member credit unions of the Arkansas league will vote on the measure April 11. The Oklahoma association's members' vote will be during its annual conference May 13-15. Delegates voting from all three states must vote yes on the measure for it to become official.

Texas credit union delegates cast their favorable votes Wednesday afternoon during TCUL's special member business meeting in Austin, which was held in conjunction with its Texas Governmental Affairs Conference and Member Meeting & Expo. The conference continues through Friday.

"This is an exciting time for our movement, and the first step toward the realization of the Cornerstone Credit Union League," said Paul Trylko, president/CEO of Amplify FCU and chair of  TCUL's board of directors. "We have an extraordinary amount of talent and passion in all three organizations, and I'm confident in the future of the Cornerstone Credit Union League."

If credit unions in Arkansas and Oklahoma vote yes, an initial board of directors will assume positions as the combined league's board, with three directors from Arkansas, three from Oklahoma, and 12 from Texas. The new league would then become official on July 1.

The three leagues, which have worked together closely over the years, signed an agreement to consolidate on Jan. 3.

Media Stories Relate Reasons For CU Growth

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NEW YORK (4/4/13)--Low costs are cited as a primary reason many consumers switch to credit unions in two articles that originally appeared in Bankrate.com and were picked up Tuesday in FOX Business.

Consumers are turning to credit unions for one reason above all others: lower cost, says Charles F. Beaucamp, assistant professor of finance at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, in "Lower Costs Drive Credit Union Growth."  He offers a brief history of credit unions, explains how they differ from banks, and looks at the pros and cons of using credit unions for savings.

"The major difference between banks and credit unions is their respective organizational structures," Beaucamp said. "Owned by equity investors, banks are organized as for-profit entities that serve both the individual and business communities," he said, adding credit unions are organized as not-for-profit financial cooperatives owned by their depositor members.

"The recent growth in credit union membership can be traced to a large migration of clients from larger banks over to credit unions," he said. "This has not been so much a backlash against banks, but simply consumers searching for lower-cost alternatives to traditional banks."

The article noted many banks instituted fees, "thus driving up the costs to consumers. On the other hand, credit unions have not experienced these cost increases and have leveraged their not-for-profit operating structures to offer competitive rates."

In "What Can You Gain by Ditching Your Large Bank," Bankrate.com says banks and low interest rates are pushing consumers to look for alternative ways to bank. "Banks have steadily increased fees in the past two years," the article said, citing a Bankrate Checking Survey, which found 72% of America's largest credit unions offer free checking, compared with 39% of banks. Banks dropped to 39% from 45% in 2011 and 76% in 2009, it said.

More than 5.6 million Americans recently closed their bank account, with 214,000 opening new accounts at a credit union, said Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers."Two of the best alternatives to banks for keeping your money in a place where it also can gain a return are credit unions and money market mutual funds," he said.

"Many consumers believe that if you join a credit union, you have to give up access and convenience, but that is no longer the case," said Boeing Employees' CU (BECU) spokesman Todd Pietzsch in the article. "At BECU and most credit unions, you will find similar services to a bank. And as credit unions work together in a cooperative ATM network, members have access to over 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs throughout the country," Pietzsch said.

To view the articles, use the links.

Patent Lawsuits To Be Consolidated

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WILMINGTON, Del. (4/4/13)--The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has ruled to consolidate eight ATM patent infringement lawsuits filed against financial institutions and small businesses brought by a single patent holder, Automated Transactions LLC (ATL).

Monday's decision rejected ATL's request to keep the cases separate, and is seen as a blow to ATL. The cases will be consolidated before Judge Sue Robinson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, who has previously ruled one of ATL's patents is invalid.

ATL, which says it owns 13 ATM patents, has sent demand letters to a number of financial institutions, including credit unions and community banks, as well as small businesses in a number of states. The letters offer a license to its patents and threaten litigation if an agreement is not reached.

ATL lost similar litigation last year against IYG Holding Co., the major shareholder of 7-Eleven, when a Federal Circuit Appeals Court ruled 7-Eleven did not infringe ATL's patents and that seven of the 13 patents were invalid because they claimed technology that is not patentable.

The Credit Union National Association is "aware of ATL's demands against ATM owners, including credit unions and other small financial institutions, and is actively monitoring these cases," said Robin Cook, CUNA's assistant general counsel for special projects.

The cases being transferred involve five banks in Delaware, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and two Vermont credit unions, but the panel noted as many as 28 actions with potential tag-along actions in 10 other districts could become involved.

The two Vermont credit unions--New England FCU, a $916 million asset credit union based in Williston, and Heritage Family FCU, with $335 million assets in Rutland--support the motion to transfer their cases, said the panel's transfer order.

In transferring the cases, the panel disagreed with ATL's arguments that the cases had too few common elements because defendants use a variety of ATMs. The panel noted the potential actions and tag along actions, and said "centralization will allow a single judge to preside over discovery relating to the 13 related patents at issue and should aid the consistent construction of the patents' claims."

The eight actions address "common questions of fact," the panel said. Also, consolidation would be convenient for parties and witnesses, and "promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation."

Institutions whose cases were consolidated include IYG Holding Co., Trustco Bank (Delaware), Southbridge Savings Bank (Massachusetts), Mascoma Savings Bank (New Hampshire) and Northfield Savings Bank (Vermont).

Top 10 News Now Stories For March

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MADISON, Wis. (4/4/13)--An article about HarborOne CU's membership vote to convert the $1.9 billion asset Brockton, Mass., credit union to a mutual cooperative bank charter was the most-read News Now article in March.

The top 10 articles for the month include:

10. Overdraft Bill Addresses Problems That Don't Exist At CUs

WASHINGTON (3/21/13)--A bill introduced this week that would cap overdraft fees is "legislation that seems to address a problem that doesn't exist in the credit union system," according to the Credit Union National Association.

9. Brown, Moran Introduce Privacy Notice Bill In Senate

WASHINGTON (3/21/13)--Legislation to end the redundancy of privacy notices was just introduced in the Senate. The bill (S. 635) diverges slightly from the language of a similar bill passed recently in the House. For instance, the Senate bill would require credit unions and other financial institutions to make their privacy policy always accessible in some form in order to qualify for the bill's exemption from sending annual privacy notices.

8. Privacy Notice Bill Could See House Vote Next Week

WASHINGTON (3/8/13)--H.R. 749, the Eliminate Privacy Notice Confusion Act, is scheduled for a full U.S. House Tuesday. The House just announced that the item is on its suspension calendar for that day.

7. Improving Loan Losses, New Auto Loan Growth Fuel Strong CU Earnings

MADISON, Wis. (3/5/13)--The National Credit Union Administration's just-released 2012 credit union data confirm that the trends the Credit Union National Association had reported on throughout 2012 continued in fourth quarter, and that 2012--from almost every vantage point--was the best year for credit unions since before the start of the Great Recession in 2007, according to a CUNA economist.

6. CUs To Furloughees: 'Be Assured, We've Got Your Back'

MADISON, Wis. (3/4/13)--In a stellar example of credit unions putting members' interests above the bottom line, credit unions across the U.S. are rallying to assist members with furloughs that began at midnight Friday after the federal government's stalemate on wide-ranging budget cuts, called sequestration.

5. Indirect Auto Lenders Put On Notice By CFPB

WASHINGTON (3/22/13)--The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday reminded indirect auto lenders of their compliance responsibilities under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

4. NCUA Seeks Comment On Fixed-Asset Rule Clarifications

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (3/14/13)--At what was a very brief meeting this morning, the National Credit Union Administration has just voted to seek comments on a proposal that clarifies and reorganizes portions of its rule addressing federal credit union ownership of fixed assets.  Comments will be due 60 days after the plan is published in the Federal Register.

3. NCUA Releases FCU Fair Lending Letter

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (3/19/13)--The National Credit Union Administration's criteria for conducting a fair lending exam or off-site supervision contact are addressed in a new letter to credit unions () released today.

2. NCUA Liquidates I.C.E. FCU

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (3/15/13)--I.C.E. FCU, Inglewood, Calif., has been liquidated by the National Credit Union Administration.

1. HarborOne Members Vote To Convert To Bank

BROCKTON, Mass. (3/18/13)--Members of HarborOne CU in Brockton, Mass., have voted to convert the $1.9 billion asset credit union to a mutual cooperative bank charter.

Marketing/BD Council Announces Exec Committee

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MADISON, Wis. (4/4/13)--The CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council announced its executive committee and officers during the council's 20th annual conference, March 24-27 in Anaheim, Calif.

Michelle Hunter, senior vice president marketing and development for Credit Union of Southern California in Brea, Calif. was elected council chair. Kathryn Davis, senior vice president of marketing and human resources for Xceed Financial CU in El Segundo, Calif. will become vice chair, and Andy Reed, manager of business development for American Airlines FCU in Fort Worth, Texas will serve as secretary/treasurer.

Newly elected to the executive committee is Jason Lindstrom, chief marketing officer for Belvoir FCU in Woodbridge, Va.

The CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council executive committee also includes:

  • Amy Davis, vice president of marketing, Red Canoe CU, Longview, Wash.;
  • Nancy Hutchinson, senior vice president of marketing and business development, Minnesota Power Employees CU, Duluth, Minn.;
  • Sean McDonald, director of business development, Mid-State FCU, Carteret, N.J.;
  • Mia Perez, chief administrative officer, Louisiana FCU, La Place, La.;
  • Hilary Reed, vice president of marketing, Bucks First FCU, Bristol, Pa.;
  • Amber Scott, vice president of marketing, 1st MidAmerica CU, Bethalto, Ill.; and
  • Debra Trautman, manager of marketing for the Maine Credit Union League.

Delaware League Reports Mergers' Impact On State

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NEW CASTLE, Del. (4/4/13)--Since the year 2000, Delaware has seen the merger of almost 20 credit unions.

The most recent merger of two Delaware credit unions occurred in mid-March, with $5 million Preferred Financial FCU, Wilmington, merging into $44 million Eagle One FCU, Philadelphia. This month Eagle One will acquire $9 million Lancaster (Pa.) Postal Employees FCU, the Delaware Credit Union League said (DELCU News Spring/Summer 2013).

Reasons for the mergers cited by the league include:

  • Member demand for additional services. For merging credit unions, the ability to provide expanded services to members was most frequently cited reason for joining with another credit union, the league said.
  • Financial constraints of small credit unions during a sluggish economy. Nancy Gregory, CEO of Preferred Financial Federal CU, cited this as one reason for her credit unionʼs merger with Eagle One FCU.
  • Compliance costs. Compliance is a fixed cost, regardless of a credit union's size, Bill Hampel, Credit Union National Association senior vice president of research and chief economist, told the league. Small credit unions may feel the need to merge with larger institutions to manage the additional paperwork, Hampel said.
  • Field of membership erosion due to industry trends, company decline or aging membership. When the Chrysler plant in Newark closed, Delpart FCU, which served Chrysler employees, merged with American Spirit FCU, also of Newark.
  • Lack of interest in volunteer positions. The board of Hercules FCU, Wilmington, decided to pursue a merger with $116 million Community Powered FCU, Bear, rather than look for a successor for its retiring CEO. The credit union also had difficult time finding new volunteers to fill board and committee positions.

FHLB San Francisco Awards CUs $920K In Housing Grants

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SAN FRANCISCO (4/4/13)--The Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) of San Francisco has awarded six credit unions $920,000 in first-time homebuyer grants.

Workforce Initiative Subsidy for Homeownership (WISH) and Idea Development and Empowerment Account (IDEA) match $3 for every $1 contributed by the homebuyer, up to a maximum grant of $15,000, and are made available through participating FHLB members to households earning up to 80% of area median income.

The funds can be used for down payment and closing costs, which can be significant barriers to homeownership. Both programs require participants to complete a homebuyer counseling program.

The funds were part of $10 million in grants allocated by FHLB of San Francisco to 27 of its member financial institutions.

Credit unions receiving WISH grants include:

  • CoastHills FCU, Lompoc, Calif.; $60,000 grant;
  • Meriwest CU, San Jose, Calif.; $300,000;
  • Star One CU, Sunnyvale, Calif., $60,000;
  • Travis CU, Vacaville, Calif., $60,000;
  • TruWest CU, Tempe, Ariz., $250,000; and
  • Yolo FCU, Woodland, Calif., $100,000.
Credit unions receiving IDEA grants include:

  • CoastHills FCU, $15,000;
  • Meriwest CU, $30,000; and
  • Travis CU, $15,000.
WISH grants are targeted to working families and individuals transitioning from renting to owning. The program can complement or supplement local, state, and federal homeownership programs.

The IDEA program is directed at homebuyers who saved for the purchase of a first home through an individual development account, or participate in their local housing authority's Family Self-Sufficiency homeownership program, or participate in a lease-to-own program administered by a nonprofit or government entity.

News Now Links Restored

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Due to technical difficulties, there was a delay in the News Now headlines email this morning and the links to the stories were not functioning.  All has been restored.  News Now regrets any inconvenience.

210 CUs To Participate In Youth Week Saving Challenge

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MADISON, Wis. (4/3/13)--About 210 credit unions have signed up to participate in the Credit Union National Association's National Youth Saving Challenge.

The challenge, held throughout April, aims to get young members into the savings habit. It rewards 10 savers with $100 cash prizes. Last April, 241 credit unions joined the Saving Challenge and engaged 125,867 youth, who deposited a collective $21.3 million in their credit union savings accounts, including 7,300 new member accounts.

Credit unions can still participate in the challenge. While about half participate the entire month, others track deposits for a week or two.

National Credit Union Youth Week is April 21-27. The week was designated by CUNA so credit unions nationwide could focus on the financial needs of young people and provide financial literacy education. The event focuses on teaching the benefits of saving and goal setting, and invites youth to open savings accounts at their credit union and make deposits throughout the year.

This year's theme, "Savings Sleuth: Solve the Mystery" employs mystery and mustaches to engage youth.

National Credit Union Youth Week promotional materials, resources and giveaways are available from the CUNA website. Use the link. Detective-themed National Credit Union Youth Week T-shirts are also available.

Justice Dept Opposes Moving S&P Lawsuits To Federal Court

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HARTFORD, Conn. (4/3/13)--The Department of Justice Friday said it opposes ratings agency Standard & Poor's request to move lawsuits filed against it by state attorneys general in various state courts into a single federal court in Connecticut. The lawsuits allege S&P committed fraud in rating residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs).

The suits were filed simultaneously on Feb. 5 by attorneys general in 17 states and the District of Columbia, as well as by the Justice Department in a federal court in California, against the McGraw-Hill Cos. Inc. and S&P's Financial Services LLC, which is owned by McGraw-Hill. The suit in California involves RMBS and CDOs sold to Western Corporate FCU.

S&P filed a motion March 25 in U.S. District Court in Hartford, Conn., asking it to take over the suit brought by Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and the other states. S&P does not argue taking over the federal case involving WesCorp.  The Credit Union National Association is monitoring all the cases involving credit unions.

In its motion, S&P contends that state law claims can be moved to the federal court because state-court consideration of those claims would "disrupt and supplant" the regulation of S&P by the Securities & Exchange Commission under the Credit Rating Agency Reform Act of 2006, and would  require "evaluation and adjudication of the scope and nature" of the act's regulatory scheme.

The Justice Department filed Friday a statement of interest supporting the states' claim with the court in Hartford. "There is no necessary federal component to the state-law claims, and hence no basis for S&P's assertion that the state cases fall within the 'special and small category' of cases in which removal may be appropriate," it noted. It made three arguments:

  • The states assert only state-law causes of action;
  • The states' right to relief does not necessarily depend on resolution of a substantial question of federal law; and
  • S&P's asserted preemption and First Amendment defenses do not provide a basis for removal.

CUNA Reports Better CU Financials For February

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MADISON, Wis. (4/3/13)--Credit unions reported better financial performance numbers in the first two months of 2013, when compared with a similar period in 2012, according to a Credit Union National Association senior economist's analysis of CUNA's Monthly Credit Union Estimates for February.

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"Loan balances are currently rising at a 5% annual rate, compared to a 4% pace last year," said Steve Rick, CUNA senior economist. "We expect loan growth to accelerate to 5.5% for the full year, up from 4.8% in 2012.  New-auto and used-auto loans are leading the way with growth over the last 12 months of 10.9% and 8.7%, respectfully," he told News Now.

According to the monthly estimates, credit unions' loans in February declined 0.1% from January--to $615.4  billion. That compares with February 2012's total of $586.1 billion in loans, a 1.7% decrease from January 2012.

February saw an increase in new-auto loans, up 1% over January; used-auto loans, up 0.4%, and adjustable-rate mortgages, up 0.3%. Loans that declined included unsecured personal loans and credit cards, down 1.2% each; home-equity loans, down 0.9%;  and fixed-rate first mortgages, down 0.1%.

"The credit quality of the loan portfolio has also improved over the last year," Rick said. "The credit union loan delinquency rate declined to 1.11% in February, down from 1.49% one year earlier, as the dollar amount of delinquent loan balances fell 22% and the total dollar amount of loans rose 5%," he said.

Credit unions' 60-plus day delinquency rate remained at 1% during February, the same as in January, said the estimates report.

"Credit unions also posted better earnings in the first couple of months of 2013," Rick added. "Net income as a percent of average assets (return on assets) rose to 71 basis points from 65 bps during the first two months of each year.  Higher fee income and lower provision for loan loss expense were factors driving the improvement."

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Savings at credit unions in February totaled $914.6 billion, compared with $861.6 billion for the same month in 2012. Savings balances grew 2% since January. Leading that growth were share drafts, which increased 7.3%; regular shares, up 3.6%; money market accounts, up 0.8%; and one-year certificates, which rose 0.4%.  Individual retirement accounts declined 1.8% from January to February.

With savings outpacing loans, credit unions' average loan-to-savings ratio decreased to 67.3% from 68.7% in January. The liquidity ratio, or the ratio of surplus funds maturing in less than one year to borrowings plus other liabilities, was 20% in February.

Credit union membership increased 0.3% in February--to 96.4 million members. That compares with a 0.2% increase for the period a year earlier.

Credit unions' capital-to-asset ratio during the month remained at 10%, with $110 billion in total capital.

"Looking ahead, we expect improved economic growth in 2013 due to improving housing, energy and durable goods sectors," Rick told News Now. "With this backdrop, credit union operating results should generally reflect modest improvement in 2013."

CUNA White Paper: Buy-in Critical For Blended Learning

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MADISON, Wis. (4/3/13)--Among the critical factors for the success of a blended learning program is buy-in from all levels of the credit union, according to a new white paper from the CUNA HR/TD Council.

"Finding the Right Blend: Learning Solutions for Credit Unions," includes research on the effectiveness of blended learning when compared with face-to-face, instructor-led training and with online learning. In the paper, credit union professionals weigh in on why blended learning works best for their organizations and offer suggestions on how to develop effective blended training programs.

Blended learning is commonly defined as education that combines face-to-face classroom methods with computer-mediated activities. Two-way communication with all stakeholders is critical for the success of a blending learning program, according the paper.

At Sioux Falls (S.D.) FCU, continuous learning is communicated as a priority on employees' first day, said Don Vaughn, training and development specialist for the $200 million asset credit union. "We tell all new employees that training is mandatory, that 'we are investing in you to help you become the best you can become,'" Vaughn said.

"All of our managers, including our CEO, participate in the training program, so all employees see the importance of training," Vaughn added. "It has become a part of our culture."

The credit union works hard to meet specific goals, including:

  • Keep the training relevant to employees' job roles;
  • Provide follow-up coaching from supervisors;
  • Apply proven adult learning theory components; and
  • Incorporate fun activities.
To download the paper, use the link.

Gibardi Named Chairman of NJ CU Advisory Council

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TRENTON, N.J. (4/3/13)--John C. Gibardi has been elected chairman of the New Jersey Credit Union Advisory Council.

Gibardi is a New Jersey state-chartered credit union member and president/CEO of Entertainment Industries FCU, which is based in New York City and has offices in Elizabeth, N.J., and Lyndhurst, N.J. He will serve a one-year term as chair.

The New Jersey State Legislature created the council in 1984 as a vehicle for credit unions to advise state government on credit union-related issues. Members are nominated by the governor and must be confirmed by the State Senate.

Gibardi, who serves on the Credit Union Association of New York board, is one of five CUAC members. He began his five-year term in 2008.

'Thank My Piggy Bank' Fin Ed Song Unveiled

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MADISON, Wis. (4/3/13)--Kicking off National Financial Literacy Month and in advance of National Credit Union Youth Week April 21-27, the credit union music duo The Disclosures have released a new song and music video to teach kids about money.

Credit union music duo The Disclosures have released a new song and video for National Financial Literacy Month and National Credit Union Youth Week, April 21-27. (Photo provided by The Disclosures) "Thank My Piggy Bank" introduces children to the basic concept of saving. It is the first single from The Disclosures' forthcoming financial education album for kids due to be released later this year.

"Financial education is a key part of what credit unions are all about and it's embedded in their structure," said band member Christopher Morris, whose day job is as director of communications with the National Credit Union Foundation. "As Youth Week approaches, we hope this song and video proves useful for credit union organizations to leverage in their outreach."

"Thank My Piggy Bank" is available on most digital music stores including iTunes, Amazon, and CDbaby. The video is available for viewing and embedding on YouTube.  Use the link.

They released their first album in 2011 entitled "(Hey, We're) The Disclosures"--composed of songs that focus on credit union history and philosophy. Since then, Morris and fellow Disclosure Chad Helminak, Web and member development strategist for the Wisconsin Credit Union League, have presented educational sessions and music performances to credit unions, chapters, trade associations and vendors nationwide.

For their next project, The Disclosures will address an area that where consumers often have problems: personal finance. The pop/rock album will entirely focus on youth financial education.

CU System Briefs (04/02/2013)

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  • WYOMING, Mich. (4/2/13)--Three Grand Rapids, Mich., area men were arrested and alleged to have obtained overblown auto loans in a scam that defrauded several financial institutions of at least $200,000, area police say. The men, who were unidentified in the report, allegedly approached credit unions and banks for vehicle loans--sometimes securing three loans on the same car. The men are expected to be charged in district court with conducting criminal enterprises, said Stan Lis, supervisor of the Grand Rapids area Combined Auto Theft Unit. Forging titles was the essence of the operation. The suspects, all in their early 20s, allegedly erased lien-holder information on titles and then obtained more loans on the same car, often for five or six times the auto's value--for about $14,000 in some instances. Nine area financial institutions were defrauded of funds in the case, he added. The scam happened during three months, beginning in mid-December (mlive.com March 29) …
  • CANTON, Ohio (4/2/13)--A man was believed kidnapped and forced Friday to rob the Canton School Employees FCU in Canton, Ohio, with $163 million in assets, area police said. A man in line gave a teller a note demanding money and claimed two men , one armed with a gun, were waiting in a car in the parking lot.  Police said they received a report of a robbery in progress. The man "had been kidnapped and forced into the attempted robbery," police reports said. "All suspects" were arrested after police arrived on the scene, the reports indicated (The Repository March 31) ...
  • ENDICOTT, N.Y. (4/2/13)--Frank E. Berrish, who has served as president/CEO of Visions  FCU, in Endicott,  N.Y., for the past 37 years,  has announced his retirement, effective May 1, according to the credit union's website. Under Berrish's leadership, the credit union grew from a three-branch, $25 million asset credit union serving only IBM employees and their families, to a $3.2 billion asset credit union with 31 branches throughout parts of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, serving 158,000 employees. He was a major advocate for credit unions and represented credit unions on the Federal Reserve Board Thrift Institutions' Advisory Council ...

CUNA Shares User Guide To News Now Enhancements

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MADISON, Wis. (4/2/13)--The Credit Union National Association has added enhancements to several popular functions for News Now readers on CUNA's new, improved website at cuna.org. These are in addition to the changes introduced last month when the redesigned website launched with a variety of new features.

Some readers have reported display issues on their computers, and these are an easy fix, said CUNA's Web Services staff. Display issues resulted from two situations, said Integrations Analyst Joseph Harvey: Outdated browsers or a "compatibility mode" setting. To ensure your displays read correctly:

  • Have Internet Explorer (IE) 8 or above as your browser.  If you have IE 7 or below, you will need to update your browser by going to the Microsoft website and following the instructions.
  • If you are still having problems, your IE may have been set for "compatability mode," which does not work as well on newer versions. Check your address bar. If the icon that displays as a piece of paper being ripped in half is lit up, the browser's "compatibility mode" is on, and you should turn it off. Use the link for more information.
Now, when readers click into News Now either from headlines on the home page, the Stay Informed button, or from News Now's daily e-mailed headlines, they will:

  • Have access to the day's full issue in a single click by using the red "Full Issue" button on the menu at the left. Readers also can print the entire issue from this button. They also can continue printing individual stories or sections of stories.
  • Be able to subscribe to News Now's free daily e-mail headlines or to its RSS feed by using the "subscribe" and "RSS" buttons at the top right corner of the page, just under the gray tool bar.
  • See new labels for expanding the view of a story from headline and brief summary to the complete story.  "View Full Section" now provides a full view of each story in the section, while  "Section Story List" offers the list of stories in that section at a glance.
  • See an expanded headline lineup in the News Now's e-mail version, with links to each story as well as a link to the overall headlines page on the site.
  • Read up-to-the-minute tweets on LiveWire, both on the home page, and in the right hand column of each News Now page.
CUNA is also working to improve News Now's Archives Section and issues with some links. Watch for future developments in the Archives section, as well as in other areas of the site. Readers can provide feedback by contacting newsnow@cuna.coop.

Seven Selected As Under-40 CU4Kids Advocates

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WASHINGTON (4/2/13)--Seven credit union leaders have been elected to the Young Leaders for Kids (YL4Kids) Board, a group of dynamic under age-40 leaders passionate about Credit Unions for Kids (CU4Kids).

The board, which consists of  young leaders from credit unions, leagues and industry partners, benefits a broad from spectrum of talent, experience, perspective and reach in the credit union movement. Its purpose is the create, grow and inspire CU4Kids enthusiasts among the next generation of credit union leaders.

New YL4Kids Board members, selected from more than 40 applicants, are:

  • Janna Bergstedt, First Community CU, Jamestown, N.D.;
  • Andrew Johnson, Members 1st FCU, Mechanicsburg, Pa.;
  • Jenna Oestman, Liberty First CU, Lincoln, Neb.;
  • Andrea Rusnak, CO-OP Financial Services, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.;
  • Chris Lederer, FairLease, Dallas, Texas;
  • Noel Sanger, United FCU, St. Joseph, Mich.; and
  • Carol Silva, SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana, Calif.
"The Young Leaders for Kids Board had a huge impact in 2012, focusing on Miracle Jeans Day and helping almost double credit union participation in this fundraiser, which raised over $300,000 for the kids last year," said Felicity Guerin, CU4Kids liaison for the American Association of Credit Union Leagues.

Guerin noted also that the "group is in the early stages of developing a new "kids helping kids" fundraiser targeted at youth members, which will incorporate a financial literacy aspect. " The board will "share more about this in the coming months," she added.

CU4 Kids is the credit union fundraising group for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

For more information about Young Leaders for Kids, use the link.

Oregon Parity Bill Committee Vote Set For Friday

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SALEM, Ore. (4/2/13)--A parity bill to update the Oregon Credit Union Act, sponsored by the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA), is scheduled for a vote Friday in the State Senate General Government, Consumer, and Small Business Protection Committee.

The bill was heard March 20 in committee (NWCUA's The Memo March 29). After gathering input from regulators at the Division of Finance and Corporate Securities, the proposed changes in Senate Bill 520 would:

  • Broaden Oregon's parity authority to allow the state's credit unions to invoke parity with out-of-state credit unions and streamline the process for invoking parity with federally chartered credit unions;
  • Clarify the role of the supervisory committee in governance-related matters;
  • Extend additional liability protection to credit union directors and officers;
  • Remove the wording in Oregon law that requires the board to "perform other duties as the members of the credit union from time to time, direct and perform or authorize any action not inconsistent with this chapter and not specifically reserved by the bylaws for the members";
  • Remove any duplicative and unnecessary language in Oregon law that permits a credit union to employ a chief operating officer/president and a security officer;
  • Make the declaring of dividends a power capable of being delegated under Oregon law; and
  • Increase the limit of loans to one borrower, to the larger of $100,000 or 15% of a credit union's equity.

Surcharge Bans Continue to Gain Momentum

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MADISON, Wis. (4/2/13)--The number of states considering bans on imposing a surcharge on credit/debit cards is gaining momentum. At least 18 states are considering such proposals, with one measure reaching a governor's desk. That's in addition to 10 states with laws already on their books.

The Credit Union National Association and state leagues continue to monitor the bills, introduced since a $7.2 billion antitrust lawsuit settlement that merchants negotiated with Visa, MasterCard and banks.  The settlement allows merchants to charge a checkout fee equal to what the merchant pays to accept the card--typically 1.5% to 3% in the U.S. and not to exceed 4%.  The surcharge provision became effective Jan. 27, and does not affect debit cards (News Now Feb. 11).

CUNA's state legislative staff is tracking the state developments, saying that any surcharge on card transactions would have an impact on all financial institutions, including credit unions, as well as their members.

If the state proposals should become law in the states, surcharges would be banned in 28 states. Ten states already had laws on the books when the settlement occurred. Since News Now's Feb. 11 story, seven states introduced or began drafting bills banning merchants from charging "checkout" fees on card transactions.

The newest states are: Arkansas, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, and New Mexico. A seventh state, Mississippi, introduced a limited ban on surcharges on credit cards issued by the state (American Banker March 28). They join proposals in Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia.

Utah Senate Bill 67, sponsored by Sen. Curtis S. Bramble (R-Provo), passed the state legislature on March 22, and is on the desk of Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, according to the state legislature's website.

It would "prohibit sellers from imposing a surcharge on a transaction paid for with a financial transaction card." The bill defines "financial transaction card" as "any card, code or other means of access to a person's account issued to a person that allows the person to obtain, purchase, or receive any of the following:  goods; services; money; or anything else of value." The card includes a credit card, credit plate, bank services card, banking card, a check guarantee card, a debit card, a telephone credit card, and "a device for access."

In Arkansas, S.B.291 would prohibit collection of credit card surcharges from a buyer if the card is "used for an extension of credit instead of cash, a check, or other means of payment."

In Michigan, S.B. 240, introduced by Republican Sen. Jim Marleau, and House Bill 4255, introduced by Republican Rep. Jeff Farrington, would prohibit credit card surcharges. The bills have not advanced, according to michiganpolicy.com (March 14).

Ten states that had laws on the books before the antitrust settlement, are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas (News Now Jan. 29). Maine has a bill that would ease is existing ban on credit card surcharges, according to the Banker.

Hackers Charge $10K In Grocery Chain Breach

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ST. LOUIS (4/2/13)--Schnucks Markets, a privately held chain of more than 90 supermarkets in St. Louis and the Midwest, is looking into a widespread credit card security breach in which one customer was hit with $10,000 in fraudulent charges.

Credit unions and banks say they are ready to help members and customers correct their account balances after the breach (KTVI March 27 and fox2now.com March 29).

Reports from financial institutions indicate new claims by cardholders who used their cards at Schnucks are filed every day, said KTVI. Costs to financial institutions range from $10,000 to $60,000--and that figure could rise, KTVI added.

Last week, consumers throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area reported their credit cards and debit cards were used to buy expensive items in other U.S. cities and Canada. It is assumed that Schnucks is the common element in the breaches, KTVI said. However, one police source said the department has other breach cases, too.

The store is searching for the hacker by working with a forensics expert, KTVI said.

Fin Lit Survey: Lack Of Savings Tops Financial Concerns

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WASHINGTON (4/2/13)--More than half of Americans worry about how little they have in savings, according to results of the 2013 Financial Literacy Survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association (NBPCA).

The survey results provide credit unions with an opportunity to build trust through financial outreach programs during April, which is Financial Literacy Month.

In its seventh year, the survey annually provides data and trending around Americans' attitudes and behaviors related to personal finance.

"While consumers moving out of recession mode and becoming more comfortable with spending is positive for the nation's economy, they need to be mindful of the fact that increasing spending without a safety net in the form of savings could have a negative impact on their personal economy," said Susan C. Keating, NFCC president/CEO.   

Respondents were asked which areas of personal finance currently worry them the most and were allowed to select multiple responses. Top areas of concern included:

  • Savings. Overall, 57% indicated they are worried over a lack of savings, including 43% who worry they do not having enough "rainy day" savings for an emergency, and 38% concerned about retiring without having enough money set aside. 
  • Financial obligations. Twenty-six percent were worried about servicing their debt commitments, including paying credit card debt (13%), repaying student loan debt (8%), making monthly vehicle payments (7%), and paying off existing medical debt (6%).
  • Health insurance. One in four U.S. adults (25%) worry about health insurance--either not being able to afford it (19%) and/or not having any (17%).
  • Credit. While 19% were worried about their credit score and/or lack of access of credit overall, 16% were anxious about their score, with 9% concerned over their lack of credit access.
  • Job loss. About 18% indicated fear of job loss as a major concern.
  • Foreclosure. Four percent of Americans are worried over losing their homes to foreclosure. The small percentage is a positive signal for the housing industry and the economy as a whole, said NFCC.
The good news is that 20% of U.S. adults indicated they do not have any financial worries, a strong sign of consumer confidence, NFCC said.

One-fourth Of Consumers With Checking Accounts Have Overdrafts

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LAKE BLUFF, Ill. (4/2/13)--Consumers' use of overdrafts is increasing. More than one-fourth of people with a consumer checking account--about 38 million people--are frequent overdrafts users, said a new report.

Credit unions provide overdraft services as a service to their members and they charge less for the service than banks.  The survey, by Lake Bluff, Ill.,-based Moebs Services, a financial research firm, found that fees for services were lower at credit unions than at banks.

The average charge for an overdrawn account of $40 was $30 at banks, but $27 at credit unions. When depository size is taken into account, "the difference can be significant," said Michael Moebs, author of the study.

Overdraft revenue at banks, credit unions and thrift institutions totaled $32 billion last year, up $400 million or 1.3% from 2011, said the study.  Still, it was less than in 2008, when revenue from overdrafts totaled $35.4 billion, or in 2009, when it was $37.1 billion. Overdraft revenue during the first quarter of last year fell to an 11-year low.

Frequent overdraft users are divided into about 20 million consumers who use payday lenders and 18 million who use credit unions and banks. Payday lenders have dropped their overdraft fees, due to competition, said Moebs.

The increase in overdrafts will continue. At the rate of growth for the past nine months, overdraft revenue could be at an all-time high by the end of 2016, Moebs said.  "It's clear that overdrafts are going to be with us for a long, long time."

Stepping Stones Community Marks First Anniversary

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NEW CASTLE, Del. (4/2/13)--Stepping Stones Community FCU, Wilmington, Del., the first credit union chartered in Delaware since 1984, celebrated the one-year anniversary of its grand opening March 16.

Alice Smith, Delaware Credit Union League communications director, interviewed Rashmi Rangan, executive director of the Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council Inc. (DRAC); Jacqueline McDonald, Stepping Stones Community FCU volunteer manager; Theresa Hasson, Stepping Stones Community FCU board chair; and Blanche Jackson, volunteer and mentor (DELCU News Spring/Summer 2013).

With 148 members and $1.3 million in assets as of Jan. 31, Stepping Stones Community FCU is "only a few miles into a thousand-mile journey," Rangan told the league. Nearly 90 of the members are of modest means and about 50 have never held a bank account, Rangan said.

Rangan expressed her gratitude for the support of Delaware State Police FCU. She called Jackson, who serves as executive vice president of $119 million Georgetown, Del. credit union, Stepping Stone Community's "emergency hotline." Delaware State Police FCU also helped Stepping Stone Community FCU with its business plan and security needs, Rangan said.

Teaching its members money management and saving skills are the primary goals of Stepping Stone Community FCU, McDonald told the league. Through assistance from DRAC, the credit union offers credit, tax and housing clinics.

The credit union offers two loan types. One is secured by a share account for up to $2,000. The second is an unsecured product for $500.

The credit union also used the National Credit Union Administration's Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives to facilitate its strategic planning sessions, Hasson said.  As part of the this process, Stepping Stone Community FCU is exploring participation in NCUA grant programs and the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund.

Resolution, New Time Highlight Maine CU Day At State House

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AUGUSTA, Maine (4/1/13)--The passing of a joint legislative resolution recognizing the value of Maine's credit unions, and a revamped lunch-time format highlighted Maine Credit Union Day at the State House in Augusta, said the Maine Credit Union League.

Underscored by one of the largest turnouts of credit union representatives and legislators in recent years, credit unions statewide were represented, and legisla­tors appreciated speaking with representatives from their local credit unions, the league said  (Weekly Update March 29).

"The value of building and strengthening relation­ships between local credit unions and their legislators is significant," said league President John Murphy. "It re­ally reinforces how community-oriented and locally focused Maine's credit unions are to legislators."

As part of Credit Union Day, the Maine House and Senate passed a Joint Resolution recognizing Maine's credit unions and the economic benefit they provide to Maine con­sumers. "Maine consumers save $38 million annually by using a credit union, as a result of lower and fewer fees on products and services, lower interest rates on loans and higher interest rates on savings," the resolution stated.

"We have a number of im­portant issues we are involved with this session so having such a large pres­ence at this event reinforces the strength and high level of involvement of Maine's credit unions in the legislative process," Murphy said.

In a switch from previous Credit Union Days, the league's Governmental Affairs Team opted to change the time of the event from a breakfast activity to lunchtime to better accommodate the session schedule of the legislature and to make it more convenient for credit unions.

Missouri CUs Begin Ad Campaign 'Bank On MOre'

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ST. LOUIS (4/1/13)--Missouri credit unions have united to launch an eight-month advertising campaign to inform consumers they have a better option when choosing a financial institution--a credit union. The Bank on MOre campaign educates consumers about both the distinctions and similarities among credit unions and banks.

The campaign, developed by the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) on behalf of 50 participating credit unions, launched March 25 with statewide coverage in radio, print, digital, out-of-home and social media. It includes messages such as "MOre Bank. Less Piggy" and "Your Street. Not Wall Street," and raises awareness that banking at a local credit union is a better choice both for consumers and their communities.

"Research indicated we needed to highlight the credit union differences in philosophy and community and dispel the myths that it's hard to join a credit union, and that credit unions are less convenient than banks," says Don Cohenour, MCUA president/CEO. "It was a tall order, but we are up to the task."

MCUA conducted survey research on consumer attitudes toward credit unions before developing the campaign. Results indicated that if consumers have a better understanding of three key concepts--nearly all consumers in Missouri are eligible to join a credit union, credit unions offer the same range of financial services as traditional banks and credit unions are very competitive in terms of loan rates and financial benefits--consumers are more likely to switch to a credit union.

MCUA hired APCO Worldwide in Washington, D.C., to develop and manage the campaign. APCO specializes in movement marketing and campaigns.

The campaign also features online advertising and is weighted heavily on social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.

"This campaign is set to reach six million Missourians and tell them they have a better choice when it comes to their bank accounts," said Judy Hadsall, president/CEO of CU Community CU in Springfield, Mo. "We joined the campaign because credit unions are the best kept secret in financial services for consumers and it's about time Missourians hear that from us."

CUs Focus On Financial Literacy 12 Months a Year

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MADISON, Wis. (4/1/13)--While Financial Literacy Month provides an opportunity for credit unions to highlight their financial education efforts, many credit unions are dedicated to helping their members achieve financial fitness 12 months a year.

Since 2009 the Credit Union League of Connecticut has worked with state credit unions to host Financial Reality Fairs. The league began the Reality Fair initiative through the National Credit Union Foundation's REAL Solutions program.

In the Reality Fair concept, students experience financial challenges similar to what they will face when they start life on their own. Students identify their career choice and starting salaries, then complete a budget sheet requiring them to live within their monthly salary while paying for basics such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing and food. Expenditures such as entertainment and travel are factored in as well.

In 2012, the Connecticut league reached its 10,000th student through Reality Fairs.

The Reality Fairs have benefits beyond financial literacy, said Barbara Bass, vice president of education and human resource development for the league. "It raises the level of knowledge of credit unions in the state and creates a venue for credit unions to work cooperatively," Bass said.

Community Financial CU, Plymouth, Mich., offers financial literacy in its communities and local school districts through student-run branches. The credit union currently operates 37 student-run branches. It also reached 16,000 students through classroom presentations in 2012.

"We have a community charter, and our board is committed to supporting the families in our communities," said Natalie McLaughlin, senior education partnership coordinator at $511 million asset Community Financial CU. "Our board decided this was the best way to reach the most kids and prepare them to handle their money in a responsible manner."

A focal point of Centennial, Colo.-based Arapahoe CU's financial education program is classroom presentations. In 2012, the credit union made more than 200 presentations, reaching roughly 8,000 students. The presentations cover topics like checking account management, budgeting, identity theft, credit and online banking.

The presentations have an impact on students, Julie McLean, director of financial education at Arapahoe told News Now. "I recently made a presentation in one of our underserved areas," McLean said. "Most of the kids were using payday lending services. We signed a lot of those kids up to be credit unions members. That's the kind of effect these programs can have."

Financial Literacy Month Kicks Off, Financially Fit Day Is Wednesday

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MADISON, Wis. (4/1/13)--Financial literacy is no April Fool's joke. Credit unions are taking this week's kickoff of National Financial Literacy Month seriously, with activities aimed at educating about finances and reemphasizing the value of credit unions.

One of the first events, Financially Fit Day, will occur Wednesday, when credit unions can raise funds to support financial education. Credit unions can raise funds Wednesday and/ or throughout the month, said the National Credit Union Foundation. The initiative is part of NCUF's "Credit Unions Support Financial Education: Leading the Way to Financial Freedom" campaign. Credit unions will find ideas for activities in a toolkit at the campaign website.

"Holding a casual day on Wednesday is a simple way for credit union organizations to make an impact on state and national financial education efforts," said NCUF Director of Communications Christopher Morris.

Credit unions also will be participating in two annual national efforts sponsored by the Credit Union National Association:  National Credit Union Youth Week, April 21-27,  and the National Youth Saving Challenge.

Slip on a mustache for the "Savings Sleuth--Solve the Mystery" theme and help youth solve the mystery of how to save for meaningful purchases. The challenge prompts savings habits in youth and rewards 10 participants with cash prizes.  CUNA's resources include campaign materials such as financial education content, items to reward young members and apparel for credit union staff.

Maine credit unions will offer four Financial Fitness-Money Management Experience events this week. "In four days, nearly 1,000 students will participate in one of the fairs, which is unprecedented," said Jon Paradise, governmental and public affairs manager at the Maine Credit Union League. The fairs and hosts are:

  • Today, Maine Education CU, at Cony High School, Augusta;
  • Tuesday, the Alex Ferguson Chapter at Lake Region High School, Naples;
  • Wednesday, PeoplesChoice CU at Marshwood High School, Eliot; and
  • Thursday,  Norm Nolette and Jeanette G. Morin Chapters at schools in Lewiston.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a proclamation declaring April 20-27 as Money Smart Week. The Rockford Chapter of  Credit Unions (RACCU) has expanded its annual Money Smart Week (MSW), which it sponsored for five years, into the Northern Illinois Money Smart Week, April 20-27.

It will "reach people of all ages and walks of life with financial education and literacy in more  northern Illinois counties, including Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson and Winnebago, " said Lorna Cole, MSW marketing committee co-chair and director of marketing for Rockford-based MembersAlliance CU.

This year's MSW has more than 100 local partner organizations--20% more than last year--and will offer more than 160 free educational classes. Last year at least 5,400 people attended classes. Sessions by RACCU and its credit unions include:

  • April 20:  A Mad City teen reality fair at the Rockford Library and a Spring Fun and Safety Day at Rock Valley CU;
  • April 22: "College 101--Explore YOUR Options" and "Financial Aid & FAFSA--What You Need to Know," co-hosted by Generations CU, and "Getting the Credit You Deserve," co-hosted by Rock Valley CU;
  • April 23:  "How to Stretch a Buck," co-sponsored by Rock Valley CU, and "A Complete Financial Guide For Those Born Between 1960-1980: The Road Map," co-sponsored by MembersAlliance CU;
  • April 24: "Buying a Home? Ask The Experts About Credit, Financing, Realtors and More," co-sponsored by MembersAlliance CU;
  • April 26:  "ID Theft, Don't Be A Victim," co-sponsored by Rock Valley CU; and
  • April 27: "Teen Xtreme Credit Class," co-sponsored by MembersAlliance CU.
What is your credit union doing to promote financial literacy this month? Let News Now know by sending your information to newsnow@cuna.coop.

Several Leagues, CUs Announce Funds Raised For Kids' Hospitals

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ST. PAUL, Minn., and DANA Point, Calif. (4/1/13)--Credit unions in California, Nevada, Minnesota, and Wisconsin reported fundraising for the Credit Unions for Kids efforts to benefit Children's Miracle Network Hospitals in their states.

Click to view larger image The eighth annual California and Nevada Credit Unions for Kids Wine Auction in Dana Point, Calif., raised a record $500,000 for 11 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals in California and Nevada. The auction event drew more than 360 attendees from 78 credit unions, business partners and hospitals. (Photo provided by Credit Unions for Kids) The eighth annual California and Nevada Credit Unions for Kids Wine Auction, Dana Point, Calif., raised a record $500,000 for 11 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals in California and Nevada. The sold-out March 22 event drew more than 360 attendees from 78 credit unions, business partners and hospitals. The event has raised more than $1.9 million since 2006.

The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation presented a check for nearly $204,495 to Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare. From left: Dave Engler, Minnesota Credit Unions for Kids (MnCU4Kids) co-chair; Mark D. Cummins, Minnesota Credit Union Foundation president; Marlo Hirl, MnCU4Kids co-chair; and Becky DeRosia, development associate for Gillette Children's. (Photo provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation) "Our credit union partners once again demonstrated their remarkable generosity and unwavering commitment to our California and Nevada children's hospitals with their support of this year's wine auction," said Joe Dearborn, senior director, Credit Unions for Kids. "It's a true testament to the credit union philosophy of people helping people."

Click to view larger imageMembers and employees of Landmark CU, New Berlin, Wis. raised $36,618 for Children's Hospital Foundation through its Credit Unions for Kids Chain of Hearts program. Landmark CEO Jay Magulski presents the check to Liz Girsch, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. (Photo provided by Landmark CU) MnCU4Kids is a committee of the foundation and part of a collaboration of credit unions and their organizations and partners raising funds through a variety of activities for Children's Miracle Network-affiliated hospitals.

Among credit unions announcing their individual efforts on behalf of CU4 Kids was New Berlin, Wis., Landmark CU. Hundreds of its members and 530 employees raised $36,618 for Children's Hospital Foundation by selling $1 "links" and $10 "hearts" during its CU4Kids Chain of Hearts campaign. That was a 13% increase over last year.

Filene i3 Program Seeks Recruits

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MADISON, Wis. (4/1/13)--Filene Research Institute's i3 program is recruiting creative people in North American credit unions to create new products, services, business models and processes that transform the financial lives of consumers. 

Thirteen percent of participants in the innovation program end up becoming credit union CEOs, and the future of credit unions depends on its success, Filene said.

"To move credit unions forward and truly improve outcomes for members, communities and the cooperative finance movement, we have to build an environment fertile for creative collisions," said Filene Innovation Director Matt Davis. "A key ingredient to making this happen is making sure bright, creative people with a 'let's roll up our sleeves and get this done' attitude are able to meet, play and build with people like them." 

Ideas created in the i3 program have gone on to change state laws, improve the financial lives of millions of consumers, save millions of dollars for credit unions and drive new members to the credit union system, Filene said. More than 20 former i3ers have been promoted to CEO of a credit union or system organization. 

Candidates must be executives at credit unions or credit union service organizations that have not reached the CEO level, but are considered as a leader or future leader in the credit union system. Ten to 15 candidates will be selected for a two-year term, which requires:

  • Commitment and support of their credit union's CEO or manager to be involved in the program;
  • Commitment to pilot at least two i3 ideas;
  • Commitment to attend two national meetings per year and cover the travel costs; and
  • Participation in regular group work and meetings beyond the national meetings.
Applicants must be employees of credit unions that are Filene members, complete an application form, take an online 100-question behavioral/entrepreneurial assessment and take a short grit [long-term persistence] test. The application process opens May 1 and closes at midnight June 1.

For more information, use the link.

PCUA To Honor Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/1/13)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association has announced its 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award Winners are Dave Ackerman and Dr. Ross McFarland.

Ackerman, CEO of USX FCU in Pittsburgh, has been named PCUA's Professional of the Year. He has served in the credit union movement for 25 years, 14 of them in his position as CEO.  He serves as vice chairman of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation Board and is chairman of the foundation's Grants Committee.

McFarland, treasurer of Tri County Area FCU, Pottstown, is the 2013 Volunteer of the Year, PCUA said.  He has served 34 years in various volunteer positions at credit unions and has been treasurer for 18 years.  McFarland has been a member of the board of the Montgomery Chapter of Credit Unions for more than two decades and is active in its fundraising projects and other programs. He participated in the 1991 Operation Grassroots rally and the 1998 campaign for H.R. 1151, the Campaign for Consumer Choice.  He also led the way to open a student branch at Pottsgrove High School.

They will be presented the awards May 18 during PCUA's Annual Convention in Hershey.