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Mich. regulator adds 'S' to CAMEL for state-chartered CUs

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LANSING, Mich. (4/29/14)--The Michigan financial services regulator has let state-chartered credit unions know that as of April 10 his department has adopted a modified CAMELS rating system--one that includes the "sensitivity to market" or "S" component.

The regulator specifically noted, however, that while the "S" rating will now be separately reported, supervisory expectations for credit unions' management of market risk remain the same.

In a letter to directors and management of Michigan state-chartered credit unions, John J. Kolhoff noted that "OCU believes the implementation of the distinct 'S' rating is prudent at this time."

The CAMELS system is a supervisory ranking structure meant to reflect a financial institution's overall condition.  Federal regulators will assign a financial institution a CAMELS 1 ranking for the best overall condition, down to a CAMELS 5 for the worst. The acronym stands for capital adequacy, assets, management capability, earnings, liquidity (or liability management), and for Michigan and some other regulators, sensitivity (especially to interest rate risk).

Kolhoff said the sensitivity component addresses the degree to which interest rate changes can impact a credit union's earnings or net worth and its adoption reflects a recognition of the "increasing balance sheet complexity within the industry." It also ensures, the letter says, improved assessment and supervisory communication regarding IRR and liquidity exposure and management.
 
Michigan Credit Union League & Affiliates CEO David Adams said of the state regulator's change, "Interest rate risk exposure is something that credit unions and their regulators are keenly aware of and appropriately concerned about. While it is not surprising that a progressive regulator would want to emphasize this risk category, the MCUL is hopeful that both state and federal regulators apply appropriate balance as they require activities and metrics that demonstrate interest rate risk mitigation."
 
Included with the letter to credit unions, the OCU included the CAMELS Rating Determinations portion of its Policies and Procedures Manual.

Motley Fool advises dissatisfied consumers: Join a CU

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (4/29/14)--For consumers who are dissatisfied with their bank, the Motley Fool website offers five benefits of belonging to a financial cooperative--also known as a credit union.
 
"There's no denying that many of the nation's banks are disappointing their customers, whether through high fees, poor lending availability, or bad service reputations," the April 27 article noted.
 
Here are the Fool's five benefits of joining a credit union:
  1. No nickel and diming. Credit unions' not-for-profit model means members are the beneficiaries of any fiduciary gains through bonus dividends or reinvestments into the operations. "This injection of funds allows credit unions to operate at lower costs than traditional banks, leading to lower account costs and fees," the article noted.
  1. Great rates. Reinvestment of profits also means better loan and savings rates, where credit unions commonly beat the top banks. In fact, Motley Fool cited the Credit Union National Association's comparison of credit union and bank rates for many most-used products.
  1. "People helping people." The credit union difference--the philosophy of "people helping people"--is reflected in consumer satisfaction ratings. "Since the health and stability of any given credit union is dependent upon the financial health of its members, every cooperative has incentive to treat customers right and make sure their needs are met," the article noted. "Members are a part of the credit union community, not just an account number."
  1. Flexibility. Credit unions typically look at an individual holistically, giving extra member service to someone who may not fit a rigid set of numbers such as a credit score.
  1. Simplification. A bank's whirlwind of choices may unsettle a new account holder. Credit unions, by keeping it simple, "help members avoid difficult requirements and restrictions frequently experienced by even the most basic accounts at a megabank," Motley Fool said. Credit unions continue to offer free checking as well.
 
Quite simply, the article said, "Credit unions offer plenty of benefits that the nation's big banks can't touch."

CU System briefs (04/29/2014)

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  • LIVE OAK, Texas (4/29/14)--Sandra Reeh was recently named board chair--the first woman in the position--at Randolph-Brooks FCU, Live Oak, Texas. According to the $5.7 billion-asset credit union, she also has the distinction of being the foremost female credit union chairperson in the state because Randolph-Brooks is the state's second-largest financial cooperative. Reeh has been a member of the board since 1993 and vice chair since 2006. She succeeds Col. (Ret.) Harry M. Edwards, who has retired ...
     
  • EVERETT, Wash. (4/29/14)--Alaska USA FCU, a $5.4 billion-asset credit union in Anchorage, Alaska, has distributed $41,000 in grants. The funds went to 44 nonprofit organizations in communities that Alaska USA serves (Anchorage Daily News April 24). "As a responsible member of the communities we serve, the grant program allows us to support nonprofits that need funding," said President/CEO William Eckhardt.  To be eligible, organizations must provide services directly to individuals, be within Alaska USA's field of membership and have been 501(c)(3) organizations for at least three years ...
     
  • MONTPELIER, Vt., and TUCSON, Ariz. (4/29/14)--Vermont State Employees CU, Montpelier, with $618 million in assets, and PMH CU, Bennington, with $3.8 million in assets, are proposing a merger to their respective memberships (Barre Montpelier Times Argus April 28). If the merger is approved by the memberships and regulators, both credit unions would benefit. VSECU members would have a physical branch to use in Bennington, while PMH CU members would gain access to online banking, mobile banking, mortgages and credit cards. The Arizona Daily Star reported Monday that Tombstone (Ariz.) FCU, with $8.2 million in assets, will merge into Vantage West CU, a $1.2 billion-asset credit union in Tucson, effective Thursday. Tombstone serves about 2,000 members at its sole branch, which will be updated through the merger effort ...

Greylock FCU part of financing for transit authority

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. (4/29/14)--Greylock FCU, Pittsfield, Mass., is one of the four Berkshire County financial institutions coming together to offer financing to potential builders of new rail cars for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).
 
"This is one way the business community can provide a unified welcome to the companies bidding on the MBTA project," said Marilyn Sperling, president/CEO of the $1 billion-asset credit union (iBerkshires.com April 28). "Securing 200 or more jobs for this region would be a huge win for the entire community, and we want to do our part to make it happen."
 
Greylock FCU joins Berkshire Bank, Pittsfield, Mass.; MountainOne, North Adams, Mass.; and the Pittsfield (Mass.) Cooperative Bank to offer "a competitive financial package to the bidder," the paper said.
 
Berkshire County is only one of the areas interested in hosting the manufacturing of 226 new vehicles for two of MBTA's lines, with an option to build 58 additional cars (Berkshire Eagle April 22). Pittsfield and the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority have been lobbying for the William Stanley Business Park to house the construction.
 
Pittsfield Mayor Daniel Bianchi said, "The plan shows strong commitment to economic development in our region and the importance of the rail car project in particular."
 
Bids are due May 15, with a bid expected to be awarded in December. The $1 billion contract stipulates that the final assembly of the rail cars must be performed in the commonwealth of Massachusetts.
 

Pa. officially launches PennCap program

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/29/14)--Officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Friday unveiled the Pennsylvania Capital Access Program (PennCAP) for credit unions.
 
The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association's Molly Snody, director of business advisory services, and Christina Mihalik, vice president of governmental affairs, were on hand for the announcement.
 
"This is a great tool to help credit unions make loans to those borderline small business borrowers and potentially boost the Pennsylvania economy," said Pat Conway, PCUA president/CEO (Life is a Highway April 28).
 
The reserve, owned and controlled by Pennsylvania Economic Development Finance Authority, is designed to cover future losses from a portfolio of loans that are made through this program. (See News Now March 19: Small-biz loan guarantee program available for Pa. CUs.)
 
Loans funded by PennCAP must be used for the purchase of land, building, equipment or working capital. There is no minimum loan amount, but they are capped at $75,000.

CMG exec: Ethical standards drive business results

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (4/29/14)--Having a strong ethical culture is not only the right thing to do for an organization, it also drives business performance and improves the bottom line, the head of CUNA Mutual Group's ethics and compliance area told a CUNA HR/TD Council Conference audience Monday.
 
Click to view larger image CUNA Mutual Group's Steve Koslow makes a point during his ethics presentation at the CUNA HR/TD Council Conference Monday. (CUNA Mutual photo)
"Research over the past 10 years shows a positive correlation between business performance and companies with high integrity," said Steve Koslow, CUNA Mutual senior vice president of chief ethics and compliance officer.
 
A study conducted by the Compliance and Ethics Leadership Council showed a strong connection between the health of corporate culture and total shareholder return, Koslow said.
 
"This relationship suggests the expanding influence and impact of culture over the long term," Koslow said. "While a healthy culture can drive stronger business performance, a weak ethics culture could hinder business performance. As consumers become more aware of this positive relationship between company integrity and shareholder return, you can expect their investment dollars will gravitate to more ethical companies."
 
An ethical culture also increases loyalty with employees, members and vendors. "It helps keep employees more engaged and aligned with company values, which can increase productivity," Koslow said.
 
Citing data from corporate regulatory and culture consultant LRN and public relations firm Edelman, Koslow said a strong ethics program can help credit unions:
  • Attract top talent. Ninety-four percent of employees surveyed by LRN stated it is "critical" or "important" that the company they work for is ethical.
  • Retain good, engaged employees. According to LRN, 36% of employees left a job because they disagreed with the company's ethical standards for doing business. 
  • Create a positive reputation. This attracts loyal customers and better suppliers. Eighty-five percent of customers surveyed in Edelman's Trust Barometer indicated they will go out of their way to buy from a company they trust.
CUNA Mutual Group has seen the benefits of having a strong ethical culture. Despite U.S. economic challenges over the years, the insurer has consistently delivered strong financial results and attributes some of the success to its culture, Koslow added.
 
For the second straight year, CUNA Mutual Group has been recognized as one of the world's most ethical companies by the Ethisphere Institute, an independent international think tank that rates companies' business ethics and social responsibility practices. The company has also been recognized as one of the "Best Companies to Work For" by Greater Madison (Wis.) InBusiness magazine.
 
"A reputation of trust is critical to maintain and grow your customer base, especially for a business like ours, which sells a promise to pay in the future," Koslow said.

Gov. to address more than 125 CU advocates in Ill. today

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (4/29/14)--Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a staunch supporter of credit unions, headlines the Illinois Credit Union League's annual Legislative Day event today.

More than 125 credit unions leaders from throughout the state will be on hand to hear the governor's address, "The Role of Credit Unions in the Economy," among the other scheduled events and speakers.  

The event begins at 9 a.m. to offer attendees enough time to meet with state legislators earlier in the day. Participants also are encouraged to visit the league's office in Springfield for a meet-and-greet session with new ICUL President/CEO Sean Hession between Capitol visits.

Other happenings during the event include:
  • Trey Hawkins, vice president of political affairs, the Credit Union National Association, will refute bank-driven taxation pleas during the "Debunking the Taxation Argument" session;
  • Steve Olson, ICUL executive vice president and general counsel, will brief attendees on critical credit union and legislative issues;
  • Judy Baar Topinka, Illinois comptroller, will discuss the important role of credit unions in the financial marketplace as the statewide constitutional officer luncheon speaker; and
     
  • All 177 lawmakers from both political parties have been invited to a reception for further credit union networking to cap off the event.

Dakotas' program: Be SMART about CU difference

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BISMARCK, N.D. (4/29/14)--The Credit Union Association of the Dakotas will implement a credit union awareness and advocacy training program developed specifically for credit union employees.

The Staff Member Awareness and Response Training (SMART) program is designed to cultivate a more pro-credit union relationship with lawmakers, local community leaders and the media through improved staff knowledge of credit unions and awareness of credit union advocacy (Memo April 28).

SMART is a credit union specific "boot camp and spokesperson training" workshop for credit union leaders, management and in-house training and public relations staff.  The program is designed to "train the trainers" to articulate and carry the credit union message to staff, volunteers, members, lawmakers and local community leaders. 

The workshop is designed to help members master credit union difference talking points and messaging techniques and to accurately respond to bank taxation arguments.

The training is designed and presented by CUAD leadership in an effort to teach, educate and train league member leadership teams and give them the confidence to be successful advocates externally and internally within their respective credit unions and communities.

SMART participants will be able to train other credit union employees about the values and benefits of credit unions and help promote the member activation program within each credit union.

Kan. CUs finish strong in 2013

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WICHITA, Kan. (4/29/14)--Kansas credit unions continue to gain post-recession momentum with a strong end to 2013, as loan growth surpassed share growth in the fourth quarter and consumer loans drove loan portfolios, according to report released by the Kansas Credit Union Association .

Click to view larger image (Kansas Credit Union Association graphic)
Loan growth overall increased 9% last year, exceeding the national average of 7.9% (Vision April 25).

Auto loans and first mortgages both experienced the strongest growth last year, climbing 11% and 9.2% respectively. Credit card loans also posted a strong year, jumping 8.4% year-over-year.

Membership expanded 2.2%, or by about 14,000 members, up to 642,343 statewide. Kansas credit unions added 1 1/2 times more members in 2013 than in 2012.

Loan originations rose 3.6% for the year, topping $2 billion at Kansas credit unions, while delinquency rates--at 0.93%--came in lower than all other lending institutions in the state, including banks.

The average member relationship, or the combined outstanding loan and share balances per member, excluding business loans, ticked up 4.3% by the end of 2013 as well. 

Other takeaways:
  • Consumer loan originations climbed 8.5% in 2013 up to $1.5 billion at year-end;
     
  • The net interest margin at Kansas credit unions posted another strong year in 2013 at 3.23%, well above the national average of 2.81%; and
     
  • Total income at Kansas credit unions increased by 6 basis points from 2012 levels.

Media taps Maine league for XP, ATM advice

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WESTBROOK, Maine (4/28/14)--News outlets in southwestern Maine called on the expertise of a Maine Credit Union League representative recently to offer insight on what impact Microsoft's discontinuation of service on Windows XP would have on ATMs, which commonly run on the obsolete operating system.

Among other input, Rebekah Higgins, league assistant vice president of card services, explained that credit unions in Maine had mobilized to upgrade ATMs several years ago ( Weekly Update April 25).

"There is no impact to members having access to ATMs, as credit unions have been preparing for this for quite a while," Higgins told WGME-13 . "While there is a significant cost of upgrading ATMs, many credit unions are investing in ATMs with enhanced features and convenience.

"Many credit unions view this as an investment in technology that allows plenty of opportunities for growth and enhancements in the future, so this is a positive thing for members."

ATMs that have not been upgraded will still be supported, and expects them to continue to be patched by Microsoft until 2016,  Higgins added.

"The real concerns for consumers should be on their own personal computers that use the Windows XP system because they are no longer supported and, therefore, are more vulnerable," Higgins said.

CU System briefs (04/28/2014)

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  • WESTBROOK, Maine (4/28/14)-- Two Maine Credit Union League chapters elected directors to the league board ( Weekly Update April 25).  The Alexander Ferguson Chapter re-elected Tucker Cole, president/CEO, Evergreen CU, Portland, with $220 million in assets, to a three-year term. The Kennebec Valley Chapter re-elected Richard Lachance, president/CEO, Maine Education CU, Augusta, with $32 million in assets, for a three-year term as well. Lachance also is board vice chair ...
     
  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/28/14)-- Marily Hoover, operations coordinator at $60 million-asset Washington (Pa.) Area Teachers FCU, celebrated her completion of the Boston Marathon last week ( Life is a Highway April 25). It was the third such accomplishment by Hoover who said, "This was by far the most meaningful of my marathons. Given the tragic events of 2013 I felt privileged to be back in Boston participating and showing the world what 'Boston Strong' really means." (Pennsylvania Credit Union Association photo) ...
     
  • ANCHORAGE, Alaska (4/28/14)-- St. Francis Health Center, Topeka, Kan., and t he Children's Hospital at Providence, Anchorage, Alaska, are the latest Children's Miracle Network Hospitals  to receive a "Biz Kid$" DVD box sets ( Vision April 25 and Anchorage Daily News April 24). The Topeka Credit Union Foundation and the Alaska Credit Union League donated the financial education TV series as part of the National Credit Union Foundation and Credit Unions for Kids initiative to get the DVD box sets in all 170 CMN Hospitals by the end of April, which is National Financial Literacy Month ...
     
  • ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (4/28/14)-- Lea Community FCU, Hobbs, N.M., with $45 million in assets, and Estacado CU, Lovington, N.M., with $13 million in assets, completed their merger this month . The new credit union will operate under the Estacado FCU name. The merger is one where the smaller firm was in a stronger financial position than the larger one, said Mark Roddenberry, president/CEO of the new credit union ( Albuquerque Business First April 25). Estacado CU had the advantages of higher income, higher capital and a 36% growth rate, Roddenberry noted, adding, "It was, 'We need you and you need us, and together we are really strong" ...

Bergeron on hand for Vt. payday lender settlement

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COLCHESTER, Vt. (4/28/14)--In light of a $1 million settlement with four predatory lending companies, Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell is turning to the state's credit unions to help slow abuse by unlicensed lenders.
 
Joe Bergeron, president/CEO of the Association of Vermont Credit Unions, was on hand during last week's press conference where Sorrell announced the settlement and made the plea to financial institutions to halt unlicensed lenders that offer illegal short-term, high-interest loans via the Internet.
 
"Here's another instance where the small state of Vermont is a national leader in taking action to protect consumers from the lure of easy money from these online loan sharks," Bergeron told Newslines Express (April 25).  "Credit unions, regulators and legislators all have a common interest, and are working in concert, to safeguard Vermont consumers from being victimized," he added.
                                 
The settlement resulted in at least $1 million in potential refunds and loan forgiveness to more than 1,600 Vermonters and $90,000 to the state.
 
Bergeron shared Sorrell's request with credit union CEOs that they are to report any transactions related to the 81 known unlicensed lenders on the attorney general's list, assist members seeking help or guidance concerning unwanted or suspicious transactions and to notify the attorney general's office of any unlicensed lender activity reported by members.
 

Scarborough helps navigate credit score waters for newspaper series

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MOBILE, Ala. (4/28/14)--Kathy Scarborough, chief communications officer with $272 million Navigator CU, Pascagoula, Miss., served as the sole source for a seven-day series on credit scores run by Mobile (Ala.) Press-Register last week.
 
Among the topics Scarborough broke down in the "Credit Score Scoop" series included:
  • Credit score do's and don'ts;
  • What you need to know about your credit score;
  • Anatomy of a credit score;
  • What can hurt a credit score;
  • How not to fall prey to predatory lending practices;
  • Four tips for improving your credit score; and
  • How to check and maintain your credit score.
Scarborough said consumers can never underestimate the power of forging and maintaining a strong and personal relationship with the decision makers at their financial institution.
 
The easiest way to do this is by always maintaining a strong payment history, she said.
 
"If you always pay your credit union or bank, they will consider future consumer loans for you with lower interest rates and will always do what they can to help you in a time of need," Scarborough said.
 
To read the articles, use the resource links.

CU to provide safe landing for laid-off employees

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WICHITA, Kan. (4/28/14)--Cessna Employees CU has extended assistance to its membership after its sponsor's parent company laid off 575 workers.
 
Cessna Aircraft and Beechcraft Corp. employees received 60-day layoff notices last week from Textron Aviation, Cessna's parent ( Wichita Eagle April 24).
 
The announcement was not unexpected, or unprecedented, Larry Damm, president/CEO of the Wichita, Kan.-based credit union with $221 million in assets, told News Now .
 
"We really are attuned to the sponsor company family," Damm said. "We have direct ties to the company. Cessna Aircraft is as cooperative as they can be when information like this hits, so we are cooperative as we can be. We work with our members on an individual basis. That quite frankly has helped us have a high degree of member loyalty."

In March, Textron acquired Beechcraft Corp. and formed Textron Aviation, combining the two historic airplane companies under one business. Company officials have said the consolidation would bring job reductions as they integrate support functions.
 
During the recent recession, the general aviation industry was also hit with mass layoffs, Damm said. "In 2008, Cessna had 15,000 employees," Damm told News Now . "Over the next two years, its payroll dropped to 6,000 employees."  
 
Then, and now, the credit union worked with its members to see them through the hard financial times--and maintain their membership with the credit union.

The soon-to-be laid-off workers are not without hope. Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas reported that four large employers have inquired about Textron workers ( KWCH-12 April 24).

What big data can do for a CU: CMG

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MADISON, Wis. (4/28/14)--Predictive analytics have changed the game for such heavyweights as Match.com, Netflix, Best Buy, and the NBA and credit unions have begun to harness the power of predictions, too, Simon Gao, vice president of consumer analytics for CUNA Mutual Group says in an article in the Credit Union National Association's E-Scan , an online research and advice portal.
 
Gao said predictive analytics  is in a sense more precise in determining patterns' for individual's future actions than forecasting is because it sifts through the mountains of consumer behavior data that has become available in recent years to determine those patterns rather than measuring data in the aggregate.
 
Predictive analysis allows credit unions to improve targeted mailings, route online advertising through favorable IP addresses,
Click to view larger image Simon Gao, vice president of consumer analytics for CUNA Mutual Group, says "big data" is not a "crystal ball" but rather is an additional tool in the decision-making arsenal of businesses. (CMG Photo)
,and even determine proper levels of call center staffing for the inevitable peaks and valleys.
 
"It's not a crystal ball--it's not going to change things overnight," Gao said. "But's an additional tool that businesses can use to impact their decisions."
 
Consider this, Gao suggested:
  • Netflix initially provided DVDs only through the mail. Predictive analytics enabled the company to tailor suggestions for movies to its customers and the resultant streaming delivery channel eventually put its rival, Blockbuster, out of business.
  • Match.com says it has a 95% success rate at determining whether a relationship will stick based on just 10 data points.
  • Best Buy determined that 7% of its customers accounted for 43% of purchases. Not only can the company cater offers to its most loyal buyers, it can predict which potential customers' behavior mimic that of the 7%.
  • And some NBA teams have found success using predictive analytics to set the best personnel matchups against a given opponent and finesse game plans.
The E-Scan article is based on remarks by Gao during a breakout session at the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations' annual conference in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and were first carried by CUNA's Credit Union Magazine .

Longtime saver rewarded during tax week

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DALLAS (4/28/14)--Neighborhood CU, Dallas, rewarded one of its members for excellent savings habits--and celebrated National Financial Literacy Month at the same time--with a $10,000 check.

Shaneque Green was greeted at the doors of her workplace Friday morning by representatives from the $332 million-asset credit union and a $10,000 oversized check with her name on it.

Neighborhood CU Senior Vice President Carolyn Jordan informed Green that her name had been drawn from the credit union's Prize Savings Account holders for demonstrating commendable saving habits.

The credit union created the Prize Savings Account to encourage more people to save money and plan for their future by rewarding good saving habits with prize drawings throughout the year.

Green has been a Neighborhood CU member for more than 17 years. She joined the credit union in high school to open her first account because her mother was a member.

She's kept her account with the credit union because of benefits such as lower fees and better interest rates on savings and loans. Since joining, she's trusted the credit union with her checking and savings accounts, mortgage and several auto loans.

"I moved all of my money over to the credit union because I had been with big banks before and there were always issues of some sort, and you guys just never turned me down," Green said.

When asked what she might do with the unexpected cash, Green said she didn't have specific plans but that her family and friends probably have a few suggestions.

ISU FCU commits to helping staff 'Feel Great in 8'

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POCATELLO, Idaho (4/28/14)--By challenging employees to start living healthy lifestyles, Idaho State University FCU, Pocatello, made a positive effect on its workplace environment.
 
Robert Taylor, president/CEO of the $139 million-asset credit union, encouraged employees to get on the fitness bandwagon with a program called "Feel Great in 8."
 
By the time the eight weeks ended in March, the 25 participants lost a total of 153 pounds. Information Technology Manager Mike Carlton, who lost 37 pounds, said the program was all about keeping himself motivated.
 
Participants shared their goals and accomplishments through the social network app Yammer and tracked their calories and activity through MyFitnessPal.
 
Taylor insisted, "Yammer was one of the key parts to the success of the challenge. Being able to banter and ask questions within the company was extremely helpful for everyone."
 
He also said the program made him realize how many calories he consumed daily.
 
Taylor said the program was so effective that the credit union has launched a second round of the "Feel Great in 8" challenge.

Times Union honors Mellin, CU leadership in workplace

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ALBANY, N.Y. (4/28/14)--Credit Union Association of New York (CUANY) President/CEO Bill Mellin was honored for his leadership by the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union 's Top Workplaces survey.
 
The rankings are based solely on surveys completed by employees about their company.
 
Mellin received the leadership award in the medium-size company category for earning the highest score on a survey that focused on employee confidence in the organization's leadership.
 
"This recognition underscores the association's commitment to empowering our employees on both a personal and professional level," he said. "The personal award is certainly gratifying, but knowing that we have a team of professionals who love their jobs and take pride in serving the credit union movement is even more validating."
 
That is also reflected in the No. 2 ranking of CUANY in the medium-size company category, which covers businesses with 150 to 499 employees.
 
Capital Communication (CAP COM) FCU received the No. 1 spot in the medium-size company category. This is the third year the $1 billion-asset credit union has been on the list.

Filene adds 7 CEOs to research council

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MADISON, Wis. (4/25/14)--The Filene Research Institute has added seven new credit union CEOs as members of its research council.
 
The Filene Research Council, which consists of 35 credit union executives who play integral roles in advancing the credit union movement, helps plan Filene's research projects. Their credit unions often pilot Filene projects and provide insights into the credit union system to researchers.
 
"The research council has played a crucial role in charting the future of cooperative finance since Filene's beginnings 25 years ago," said CEO Mark Meyer. "Under their guidance, we're committed to delivering research that not only addresses credit unions' and financial consumers' current needs but also identifies emerging issues before they become urgent."
 
The new members are:
  • Joseph Brancucci, president/CEO, GTE Financial, Tampa, Fla., with $1.6 billion in assets;
  • Robert Chavez, president/CEO, Sandia Laboratory FCU, Albuquerque, N.M., with $2 billion in assets;
  • Mitchell Chilcott, CEO, North Peace Savings and CU, Fort St. John, British Columbia, Canada, with $353 million in assets;
  • Ralph Luimes, president/CEO, Hald-Nor Community CU Ltd., Caledonia, Ontario, Canada, with $125 million in assets;
  • Kent Oram, president/CEO, Idaho Central CU, Pocatello, Idaho, with $1.5 billion in assets;
  • Gary Perez, president/CEO, USC CU, Los Angeles, with $378 million in assets; and
  • Chuck Purvis, president/CEO, Coastal FCU, Raleigh N.C., with $2.2 billion in assets.
 

CU System briefs (04/25/2014)

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  • MADISON, Wis. (4/25/14)-- Vancity CU, Vancouver, Canada, is providing funding to the World Council of Credit Unions' Worldwide Foundation to support phase three of its Build the Brand series . The financial support will help cover virtual conferences, social media and in-person events to showcase innovative digital payment solutions and services and explore how they can improve member experience. In 2012, phase one explored how the credit union difference was conveyed in the U.S., Canada and Australia. Phase two followed up with developing strategies to reach younger members through social media ...
     
  • EVANSVILLE, Ind. (4/25/14)-- Evansville (Ind.) Teachers FCU awarded $50,000 in scholarship funds Wednesday to graduating high school students from Indiana and Kentucky ( TristateHomepage.com April 23). The $920 million-asset credit union distributed 10 scholarships worth $5,000 each in honor of past president Ted Hitch. The program has given more than $300,000 to about 170 students since 1993 ...
     
  • LOUISVILLE, Ky. (4/25/14)-- Huston Reinle, who has been with Autotruck Financial CU, Louisville, Ky., for 43 years, will retire as president/CEO April 30 . Beginning his career as a teller, Reinle was named president in 1983 and led the credit union's expansion to $101 million in assets and more than 15,000 members. Reinle also served on the board for the Kentucky Credit Union League (KCUL), Kentucky Corporate FCU and the Credit Union National Association. Autotruck Financial announced, effective May 1, Jim Thompson would become the credit union's fourth-ever president . Thompson began his credit union career with KCUL and most recently served as president/CEO of Kentucky Corporate FCU, Louisville ...
     
  • BUTTE, Mont., and LONGVIEW, Wash. (4/25/14)--The board of EDTECH FCU, a $69 million-asset credit union in Butte, Mont., voted to merge with Horizon CU, Spokane, Wash., with $584 million in assets and 18 branches . The merger needs regulator and membership approval, which if occurs, will result in one credit union by Oct. 31. All 12 EDTECH employees would keep their jobs in Butte should the merger be approved ( Montana Standard April 24). President Tom Kiely said he would retire when the merger is finalized, and his wife, Judy Kiely, would serve as a regional manager. On Wednesday, in Longview, Wash., the membership of Cowlitz CU, with $41 million in assets, approved the credit union's proposed merger with Red Canoe CU, with $581 million in assets . The merger is expected to be finalized May 1, according to Red Canoe ...

Local schools would benefit from CU's rewards card

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LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (4/25/14)--A New Mexico-based credit union wants to team up with its local school district to offer members an easy way to donate to public schools.

Los Alamos Schools CU, with $16 million in assets and about 700 members, recently pitched an idea to the Los Alamos Public Schools board for a credit card that would offer members the choice of donating 25 cents to the district's foundation every time a purchase was made with the card ( Los Alamos Monitor April 22).

The foundation supports grants, programs and scholarships associated with Los Alamos Public Schools. Members of the credit union consist of past and present employees of the school district.

"We want to feature the school district as the primary benefactor of this card," said CEO Matt Schmidt. "So therefore, I'm seeking your approval of the logo."

With unanimous support from the school board, should the program come to fruition, the card's face will feature the locally famous yellow-and-green "Hilltopper" logo, the mascot for the high school.

The card donation program, Schmidt said, would further demonstrate the credit union's ties to the community, and to the local economy.

"We wanted something that was going to be hyper-local, and something that was going to give back . . . to the school community," Schmidt said. The CEO is looking to organize a similar program that also would benefit small businesses in town.

Cardholders would have the choice to opt in or out of the program once it's up and running, according to Schmidt.

Los Alamos Schools CU is looking into matching the donations made by its members through the program on an annual basis, though the member-owned financial institution's board has yet to vote on the idea.

If all goes according to plan, the credit union will kick off the campaign one month prior to this coming school year.

IRS identity theft fraud scheme thwarted by CU tip

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PITTSBURGH (4/25/14)--For more than seven years, an identity theft and fraud ring captured up to $10 million in income tax refunds by using false tax returns. It might have gone on longer had an employee at a Pennsylvania credit union not noticed duplicate phone numbers on two different accounts in 2012.
 
An employee of $252 million-asset Widget Financial FCU, Erie, Pa., found the discrepancies in December 2012, which in turn, led to notifying the FBI and unraveling a global network of fraud.

"It's gratifying to know our procedures have uncovered something," Chief Marketing Officer Trent Mason told The Tribune-Review (April 23).
 
On Wednesday, the FBI announced it had indicted five people who allegedly used the personal identification of 2,400 people to file for $21 million in false federal tax refunds, receiving about $10 million from the IRS in accounts fraudulently opened in victim's names.
 
U.S. Attorney General David Hickton said the fraud was "on a scale that's unprecedented here" ( Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 24). The five were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
 
According to the indictment filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, fraudulent Form 1040s were drafted in the names of individuals whose identity had been stolen. Bank accounts also were fraudulently opened and were the depositories for the fraudulent federal tax refunds. The indictment noted that credit cards were falsely obtained with the stolen information as well.
 
The 13-count indictment named Saburi Adeyemi, 56, Memphis, Tenn.; Doherty Kushimo, 52, Providence, R.I.; Adebola Mejule, 54, Hempstead, N.Y. , and Queens, N.Y., residents Abiodun Bakre, 49, and Adetunji Gbadegshi, 57.

St. Louis, CU partner to deliver affordable auto loans

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ST. LOUIS (4/25/14)--The foremost task for those trying to climb the social and economic ladders is to land a good, steady job.

Dorothy Bell, chief marketing officer, St. Louis Community CU, left; Michael Holmes, executive director, St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment/SLATE); Mayor Francis Slay; Gerald Brooks, chairman, and Patrick Adams, president/CEO, St. Louis Community CU. (City of St.. Louis photo)
For the economically disadvantaged, that goal can prove arduous, especially if access to a reliable mode of transportation is limited, or non-existent.

To tear down this hurdle, St. Louis Community CU, together with the city of St. Louis, has developed a program that delivers affordable auto loans to qualified clients of certain workforce agencies in the St. Louis area ( Missouri Difference April 16).

Called the "Sure Rides Auto Loan program," the initiative will open up doors for those stuck in long-term unemployment or who possess diminished personal credit; the same folks who often have a difficult time securing loans for automobiles.

"We understand that some individuals may be credit challenged, which leaves them shut out from receiving car loans when they need them most," said Steve Dilley, senior vice president and chief lending officer for the $229 million-asset credit union. "St. Louis Community CU is choosing to put the consumer first by becoming part of the solution and helping as many people as possible."

The credit union has partnered with the city's job training agency--called the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment--Family Workforce Centers of America, Employment Connection and the Urban League to run this program, which they believe will create "pathways out of poverty through stable employment."

The Sure Ride loan program is funded by a grant from the U.S. Treasury. As a community development financial institution, the credit union can secure grant funding to develop outreach programs that serve the community.

"People who don't have good credit, or who may not have a job, will have a tougher time building a better life for themselves," said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. "St. Louis Community CU is helping our residents gain access to reliable transportation, which is a good step toward upward mobility, better job opportunities and financial stability."

For eligibility requirements or more information about the auto loan program, use the link.

Earlier this week, the National Credit Union Foundation and the Filene Research Institute announced a nonprime auto loan program at 14 credit unions. (See Wednesday's News Now : NCUF, Filene non-prime auto loan program gives hope on wheels.)

Propane loan program open to Wis. CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (4/25/14)--Through a new guaranteed loan program, Wisconsin credit unions can help families struggling to pay their propane bills, the Wisconsin Credit Union League reported Thursday.
 
The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) has launched its Consumer Heating Assistance Guarantee Program to assist state residents who are having difficulty paying their propane bills due to this past winter's high propane prices ( The League News April 24).
 
WHEDA-backed loans are available for 120 days following the law's March 27 enactment. Those who qualify can apply for loans through July 25.  

Loans are guaranteed for 50% of the amount, and terms cannot exceed two years. The maximum loan amount is $2,500. The interest rate is set by the lender, with rates capped at 18%.
 
The Consumer Heating Assistance Guarantee Program will pay an additional 3.5% of the principal to reduce the interest rate by 3.5% or 1.75% for a one-year and two-year note, respectively.
 
 Qualified applicants must:
  • Be Wisconsin residents;
  • Have a household income no higher than 200% of the median income in their county;
  • Be ineligible for conventional financing; and
  • Have a reasonable ability to repay the loan.
Credit unions that wish to make loans as part of the program must complete a master guarantee agreement for WHEDA's Consumer Heating Assistance Guarantee Program and comply with the program guidelines. WHEDA's website contains a current list of participating lenders.

Final mudslide relief total from NW CUs: $108K

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SEATAC, Wash. (4/25/14)--In response to the destructive mudslide that devastated a Northern Washington community, leveling dozens of homes and leaving 41 people dead, credit unions raised a final total of $108,300 for relief efforts.

The fundraising efforts were led by the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA), which took in $65,600 from its credit unions, their members and business partners from throughout the country.

"The support and leadership of credit unions has been inspiring," said Troy Stang, NWCUA president/CEO. "Not only did they write checks, but they also reached out with a 'people-helping-people' message that resonated deeply with their members. The response has been overwhelming."

The money, which will be used for housing, supplies and other immediate needs, already has been pouring into the United Way of Snohomish County, the American Red Cross and other local relief agencies, according to Gary Stein, spokesperson for the NWCUA.

Credit unions from across the region and U.S. supported relief efforts in various ways, including through donation-matching programs and setting up funds for individual victims. (See News Now April 14: NW mudslide relief efforts top $100K.)

NWCUA representatives and other credit union leaders will present the $65,634.15 check to the United Way Tuesday.

The mudslide occurred March 22 about 55 miles northeast of Seattle. At least 41 people were killed, and an estimated $10 million in damage was caused. Two people remain missing.

Cornerstone honors CU leaders at annual meeting

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/25/14)--The induction of Tim Haegelin into the Cornerstone Credit Union League's Hall of Fame highlighted the individual awards presentation at the league's annual meeting this week.
 
Click to view larger image Cornerstone Credit Union League President/CEO Dick Ensweiler left, congratulates Tim Haegelin, retired president/CEO of Generations FCU, San Antonio, on Haegelin's induction into the league's Hall of Fame. Joining Ensweiler and Haegelin is Kenny Harrington, league vice chairman and president/CEO, MemberSource CU, Houston. (Cornerstone Credit Union League photo)
The recently retired Haegelin joined Generations FCU, San Antonio, in 1980 as associate manager, and was named president/CEO in 1984. During his 28-year tenure as president/CEO, Generations FCU expanded to more than $435 million in assets from $37 million ( Leaguer April 24).
 
Throughout his career, Haegelin was involved in numerous credit union organizations, including the Texas Credit Union League (now the Cornerstone Credit Union League), the Texas Credit Union Foundation (now the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation), the Filene Research Institute and the Austin Chapter of Credit Unions. He is also one of the co-founders of the Credit Unions for Kids initiative.
 
Earlier this year, Haegelin was honored as one of three recipients of the 2014 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement.
 
Mark Kelly, president/CEO of Oklahoma Employees CU, with $418 million in assets, Oklahoma City, was named the CCUL professional of the year. Kelly is active in his local league chapter and was a Boomer Sooner Chapter officer for many years. He is a founding member of the Oklahoma Credit Union Service Center and serves on its board of directors. He was a director on the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma's board of directors. Kelly serves on the Oklahoma Credit Union Political Action Committee and has been a board member for the Oklahoma Consumer Credit Commission. Currently, Kelly serves on the CCUL's Oklahoma Government Affairs subcommittee.
 
Carol Gaylord, president/CEO of $47 million-asset Coastal Community FCU, Galveston, Texas, was honored as the league's achiever of the year. In 1982 Gaylord was hired as the third employee of the credit union, then known as City of Galveston FCU. She started as a bookkeeper at the credit union, which had $3 million in assets. In 1985, she was promoted to office operations supervisor. In 2006, she was promoted to her current position. Most recently, she helped Coastal Community FCU rebuild its main branch after it was destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008.
 
Kriston Crow, chairman of the board for Southwest 66 CU, Odessa, Texas, was named the league's volunteer of the year. Crow has served as board chair at the credit union for several years, and his visionary leadership has reportedly changed the culture of both the board and the $82 million-asset credit union.

Wash. 'Save to Win' awards $15K for 1st anniversary

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PORTLAND, Ore. (4/25/14)--Three Washington credit union members were rewarded Tuesday with celebrations in their honor and checks for $5,000 each--the biggest prizes yet in "Save to Win," the state's year-old, prize-linked savings program, the Northwest Credit Union Association reported.
 
Karen Salado, a member of TwinStar CU, Lacey, was one of three $5,000 winners in Washington's "Save to Win program. (Northwest Credit Union Association photo)
Karen Salado and Anne Mickatavage members $882 million-asset TwinStar CU, Lacey, and Gertrude "Pat" Nelson, a member of $174 million-asset North Coast CU, Bellingham, were randomly selected in a computerized drawing ( Anthem April 24).
 
For Salado, who has been a regular saver since she was 15, the news was especially surprising: She'd opened a "Save to Win" account only weeks before the drawing. "When I was first married, right off the bat we would put $25 a week in savings and even now I always pay myself first," Salado said.
 
Under the "Save to Win" concept, credit unions create a kind of lottery in which players can win cash prizes just by saving money--and make it impossible for them to lose a dime, the NWCUA reported. All of the money members deposit in the 12-month certificate program stays in their accounts, because the prize pool is funded by other credit union resources. Strategic Link, the NWCUA's wholly owned subsidiary, funds the prize pool.
 
As members build their assets, they're also eligible to win--each $25 deposit earns an entry into monthly and annual drawings, and members can earn up to 10 chances to win every month.
 
Nelson has been a member of North Coast CU for 27 years. She started her "Save to Win" account to save money to remodel her kitchen, and her winnings are going right back into her account to continue her savings toward that goal. "I'm putting this money back into the account until I have enough to do everything I want," she said. "New countertops, new paint, new floors. My new kitchen is getting closer and closer."
 
Mickatavage has not yet decided what to do with her winnings--but she screamed when she learned she had won. An engineer, she said "Save to Win" helped her become a regular saver. "I know it's important," she said.
 
Earlier this month, Washington credit unions celebrated the one-year anniversary of their right to offer prize-linked saving accounts. Through February, 834 members had opened "Save to Win" accounts at Washington credit unions, with total deposits of nearly $785,000. The average amount saved per account is about $940.

CU System briefs (04/24/2014)

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  • PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (4/24/14)--Service CU, with $2.3 billion in assets, joined the New Hampshire Military Youth and Family Program April 15 for "Purple Up" day, which supports children of military service members deployed overseas (Daily CU Scan April 23). Staff wore purple shirts and ribbons as part of the "Purple Up! for Military Kids" program that thanks military youth for their strength and sacrifices. "We all owe a debt of gratitude to the children of our military service members," said Gordon Simmons, president/CEO of the Portsmouth, N.H., credit union (Daily CU Scan photo) ...
  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/24/14)--The Harrisburg and York chapters of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association presented box sets of the "Biz Kid$" TV show to Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital at Penn State Hershey Medical Center Tuesday (Life is a Highway April 23). All five of the Children's Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals in Pennsylvania have now received the financial literacy TV program. The National Credit Union Foundation and Credit Unions for Kids are aiming to get the DVD box sets in all 170 CMN Hospitals by the end of April, which is National Financial Literacy Month ...
  • TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (4/24/14)--Army Aviation Center FCU, Daleville, Ala., announced Bobby Michael is its new president/CEO, replacing Jim Mitchell, who retired after 29 years at the $1.1 billion-asset credit union (eSignal April 23). Michael has been with $55 million-asset CORE CU, Statesboro, Ga., for nine years, most recently as president/CEO. "His high degree of creativity will be critical in finding new ways to serve our membership and meet their financial needs," said Charles Mingus, board chairman ...

Mobile or online banking? Both equal loyalty, says E-Scan

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MADISON, Wis. (4/24/14)--The quest for primary financial institution (PFI) status that credit unions covet with their members is dependent on a few "sticky" products that blend convenience with necessity. Until recently, online banking was a surefire loyalty builder. Now, mobile banking appears to be gaining ground, according to 2013-2014 CUNA Member and Nonmember Survey results.
 
"Nearly 50% of credit union members used their credit union's online banking options in 2013--up from 32% four years earlier," wrote John Haller, the Credit Union National Association's director of corporate and market research, in the April CUNA E-Scan research report. And among the much-coveted segment of young adult members ages 18 to 34, that figure is 65%. But online banking's influence is likely waning. Recent trends suggest using online banking to build stronger financial ties between member and credit union is no longer a "sure thing."
 
Credit union members are banking with multiple financial service providers, and online banking only gets one tab on the member's Web browser, making it less likely than in the past that members choose credit unions as their primary financial institution, Haller writes.
 
Mobile banking might be more likely to attract PFI status, however. Member usage of mobile banking at credit unions more than doubled--to 18% in 2013 from 8% in 2011, CUNA research showed. Reach among members ages 18 to 34 is even higher at 30%. Notably, fewer members who use mobile banking at their credit union also use it with a bank.

Mass. latest to examine Experian data breach

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BOSTON (4/24/14)--Yet another state has launched a probe into a data breach involving the credit-reporting company Experian Plc, an incident that led to the exposure of about 200 million Social Security numbers.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced this week that her office has opened an investigation into U.S. Info Search, the data broker whose data-sharing agreement with a company Experian purchased in 2012 was compromised, leading to the fraudulent acts (Boston Business Journal April 22).

Illinois and Connecticut, who also have spearheaded a multistate investigation into the Target data breach where more than 40 million payment card numbers and 70 million other pieces of information were stolen, as well as Iowa and North Carolina are reportedly looking into the breach.

Credit unions have paid more than $30 million in costs related to the Target breach, according to the Credit Union National Association. Leaders continue to push lawmakers in Washington D.C. to address the disparity in data-security requirements between financial institutions and the under-regulated merchants.

While the details of who may have been at fault for the Experian data breach are still uncertain, authorities have charged the individual who distributed the sensitive information.

Last month a Vietnamese man pled guilty to federal charges in New Hampshire of operating a website that allegedly illegally offered clients access to personal information such as Social Security numbers.

Hieu Ngo, the man charged with orchestrating the operation, allegedly sold access to the information, which was to be used to commit identity theft or financial fraud, according to Boston Business Journal.

Allegedly, Ngo was able to access the information because of a "reciprocal data-sharing agreement" between Court Ventures--a U.S.-based company with which he had an account--and U.S. Info Search, both of which are now under investigation by the Massachusetts Attorney General.

That data agreement somehow allowed Ngo access to a database full of hundreds of millions of pieces of personal information.

More than 3 million queries by at least 1,300 people allegedly were made to the database using Ngo's account during an 18-month period of time.

Experian has been pulled into this case because in March 2012 it bought Court Ventures, which allowed Ngo and his account to access the personal information for at least 10 months after the purchase.

The leading credit score reporting company says its credit card databases were not infiltrated, however.

"While this is an unfortunate and isolated issue, Experian has devoted its full attention to the matter and continues to fully cooperate with investigators to uncover the facts," Michael Troncale, spokesperson for Experian, said in a statement emailed to Bloomberg.com (April 22).

CU CEO part of Minn. elder fin. abuse press conference

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MINNEAPOLIS (4/24/14)--Minnesota's Department of Commerce recently released first-of-its-kind guidance on privacy laws regarding elder financial abuse, and a credit union CEO was on stage for Tuesday's news conference on the subject. 
 
"It was an honor to be chosen and to be a part of it," Terri Maloney, president/CEO of Catholic United Financial CU, St. Paul, with $18 million in assets, told News Now.
 
Maloney joined Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman; Hubert "Skip" Humphrey, assistant director, Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Will Phillips, state director, AARP; Matt Bostrom, Ramsey County sheriff; and Peggy Hiestand-Harri, whose elderly mother was a victim of fraud.
 
"We know that senior citizens, and the Baby Boomers who have a great amount of wealth, have a big target on their backs," Rothman told the audience at the Lyngblomsten Care Center (Pioneer Press April 23).
 
During the press conference, Rothman shared the Commerce Department's guidance that allows financial institutions to disclose nonpublic personal information--for the purpose of reporting suspected financial abuse of older adults--to local, state or federal agencies. This is an exception to privacy guidelines in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.
 
Maloney was quoted in Wednesday's Star Tribune about the importance financial institutions play in protecting seniors from scams and fraud. "If we spot something that looks fishy, we can work with law enforcement to make sure that our members, and their money, are safe," she said. "We have the authority and the ability to act."
 
She told News Now that she sees how her employees watch over certain members and make sure they know the credit union is taking care of them.
 
Victims are not aware of the approaches that a con artist will take, Maloney said. Suspicious activities that tellers look out for include frequent large cash withdrawals, attempts to wire large sums of money, trepidation about discussing financial matters or a sudden change in who manages the member's account.

SmartAsset blog: 4 reasons to switch to a CU

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MADISON, Wis. (4/24/14)--Highlighting their many distinct advantages over banks, SmartAsset.com, a blog dedicated to providing information on all things financial, published a post Tuesday titled "4 Reasons to Make the Switch to a Credit Union."

While many banks are inflating fees to offset losses associated with the economic slowdown, the blog post's author, Rebecca Lake, wrote that more U.S. consumers have turned to credit unions to fulfill their financial needs (SmartAsset.com April 22).

Lake suggests several reasons why those who might be looking for a new place to manage their finances should consider a credit union.

First, Lake says, credit unions often charge fewer fees.

"Big banks and small banks alike are based on a corporate structure, with shareholders receiving a sizable slice of the pie," Lake said. "Credit unions, on the other hand, are considered to be member-owned, which means they're not responsible to shareholders.
As a result, any profits are passed on to members in the form of lower fees."

Typically, monthly maintenance, overdraft and minimum balances fees will be lower at a credit union, she added.

Next, Lake cites better interest rates as a reason to make the switch to a credit union. The best deal on interest rates for products such as mortgages, car loans or lines of credit are likely found at credit unions, once again thanks to the not-for-profit structure.

"The average rate for a three-year car loan in September was 2.78% for credit unions vs. 4.18% for banks," Lake said, quoting numbers from the National Credit Union Administration.

Lake also points to the ease of dealing with a credit union when trying to secure a loan, especially compared with big banks. Credit unions tend to be more flexible when making loan decisions, she said, and member-owned institutions are more likely to consider the larger financial picture rather than focusing on a single factor.

Finally, Lake discusses the benefits of the personalized service offered at credit unions, citing this as one of the most appealing aspects of switching to the member-owned institutions.

Said Lake: "The bigger the bank, the easier it is to get lost in the shuffle, but credit unions pride themselves on the quality of customer service they provide."

CU Magazine wants your vote for CU Hero

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MADISON, Wis. (4/24/14)--Voting for Credit Union Magazine's 2014 Credit Union Hero of the Year is open until May 1.
 
The annual award honors individuals who exemplify the "people helping people" philosophy and who have gone above and beyond to expand credit union services in their communities. Candidates are nominated by Credit Union Magazine readers.
 
This year's nominees are:
  • William Armstrong, co-founder and board member, Northeast Community CU, Elizabethton, Tenn., is a "pillar of wisdom and knowledge" for the $99 million-asset credit union, according to CEO Kathy Campbell.
  • Dan Morrisey, CEO/treasurer of $2 million-asset Queen of Peace Arlington (Va.) FCU, spends his retirement keeping track of the onslaught of regulations that his small credit union faces.
  • William "Bill" Rissel, president/CEO, Fort Knox FCU, Radcliff, Ky. Rissel, who is retiring this year, has seen success beyond the doors of the $1.2 billion-asset credit union.
  • Joni Senkpeil, director of small credit union development, Illinois Credit Union League, started the Small Asset Size Credit Union Advisory Group. Senkpeil has developed a network of resources for small credit unions.
The winner will be honored at the Credit Union National Association's America's Credit Union Conference, set for June 29 to July 3 in San Francisco.

'Who do you love?' CU asks: Nonprofits are the answer

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SEATAC, Wash. (4/24/14)--For four years, Spokane (Wash.) Teachers CU has asked the community to vote online to determine which nonprofits should receive donations from the $1.8 billion-asset credit union.
 
This year, when Spokane Teachers asked, "Who do you love?" online and social media participation skyrocketed. Community members nominated 4,080 eligible nonprofits--a 383% increase over the 845 candidates in 2013, according to communications specialist Jonathan Manfredonia (Anthem April 22).
 
Facebook and other social media played heavily in the nomination and voting process, with one nominee snagging more than 2,000 shares promoting the contest through its Facebook cover photo.

KREM-TV 2 partnered with the credit union and put the call out for nominations during its morning news program.
 
Spokane Teachers also optimized the contest for smartphones and mobile devices.
 
The credit union saw a 317% increase in votes, to 6,676 this year from 1,600; and a 105% increase in Web page visits to 21,573 compared with 10,535 in 2013.
  
Of 10 finalists, the winners were:
  • KYRS-FM, a local community radio station, $2.500;
  • Double J Dog Ranch, a sanctuary for disabled dogs, $1,500; and
  • Camp STIX Diabetes Programs, a summer camp for children with Type 1 diabetes, $1,000.
Once the winners were announced on KREM-TV 2, the news spread throughout social media.

Manfredonia noted that the "Who do you love?" promotion was successful and engaging, and that the credit union hopes to increase participation next year.

CommunityAmerica helps members build savings safety net

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LENEXA, Kan. (4/24/14)--As a way to help its members develop ever-important emergency savings, $1.8 billion-asset CommunityAmerica CU is offering an interest rate nearly 34 times higher than the national average on one of its savings accounts.
 
The High Interest Savings Account at Lenexa, Kan.-based CommunityAmerica CU pays nearly 4% interest on the first $1,500 deposited (Kansas City Business Journal April 22).
 
The high rate serves the organization's not-for-profit cooperative structure and focus on financial literacy, said Rob Persaud, CommunityAmerica senior vice president of marketing.
 
The higher interest rate serves as a great differentiator for the credit union, Persaud said. "You just don't see anything like this high-interest savings account anywhere," Persaud told the Kansas City Business Journal. "But the nice thing about this is many of the people who join to be a part of this end up with free checking, where many of them came from banks that didn't offer free checking. It's a huge complaint consumers have that a basic account like checking isn't offered free, but we offer that here."
 
The program has helped the credit union gain new members, Persaud said. The credit union sees the high savings rate as a marketing expense that benefits its membership financially, Persaud said. That's a great fit for CommunityAmerica CU's not-for-profit structure, because management is not accountable to shareholders, but rather directly to its membership.
 
Therefore, the credit union focuses on building relationships with members. "That's where we feel we can also bring value, whether it's your mortgage, your auto loan, your home equity loan or a credit card," Persaud told the Journal.

CU System brief

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  • MADISON, Wis. (4/23/14)--There is still an opportunity for state leagues and league service corporations to submit their best efforts in marketing, advertising or publications to the Credit Union National Association Blockbuster Awards. The deadline has been moved to this Friday. Entries can now be submitted digitally. Awards will be handed out during the GAPS/Communicators Conference June 16-18 at the Marriott Marquis in Washington. Winners will be notified in May ...

NCUF, Filene non-prime auto loan program gives hope on wheels

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MADISON, Wis. (4/23/14)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), in partnership with Filene Research Institute, announced this week that a product incubator for its Non-Prime Auto Loans is full, with 14 credit unions across the country participating.
 
Non-Prime Auto Loans, an NCUF product, is one of five products in the Filene Research Institute's accessible financial services incubator funded by the Ford Foundation.
 
"Credit unions have a long history as being the proving ground for consumer-centric, innovative financial products," said Cynthia Campbell, director of innovation labs at Filene. "Partnering with the NCUF to test the viability of non-prime auto loans with mainstream financial institutions was a natural fit since their experience in working with low- to moderate-income consumers is extensive."
 
One of the 14 participating credt unions--Seasons FCU, Middletown, Conn.--has offered subprime auto loans since 2011. The $137 million-asset credit union joined the NCUF-Filene incubator initiative to share its experiences and learn from other credit unions, according to Senior Vice President Betsy Sommers.

One lesson Seasons FCU has already learned: Done right, subprime auto lending can change members' lives. Members give priority to their car loans because they use their vehicles for essential daily tasks such as getting to work and taking children to school, Sommers told News Now.

But unlike many subprime lenders, Seasons FCU takes a holistic approach to its relationship with its borrowers, according to Jeff Rindfleisch, vice president of financial services. "We really believe in developing a deeper relationship with the member," Rindfleisch told News Now. "We look at if they have direct deposit with us, if they have a debit card with us. If we're approving or denying a loan it's based on the relationship the loan officer has with that member."

"In a lot of cases when a member is struggling, they are more likely to go to the loan officer proactively," Rindfleisch continued. "We view it as a partnership. So it's about us getting the member into a car that makes sense at a payment that makes sense, and really being there to consult and advise the member."

The NCUF-Filene initiative comes at a time when obtaining a vehicle may soon become more difficult for subprime loan candidates. A new study by financial tracking firm Moody's shows that U.S. subprime auto lenders are "exercising more caution," especially when it comes to higher-risk customers (NBC News April 22). Less competition from non-traditional subprime lenders decreases the need for independent finance companies to lend to subprime candidates, said Peter McNally, Moody's vice president senior analyst.
 
The other 13 participating credit unions are:
  • CALCOE FCU, Yakima, Wash., with $23 million in assets;
  • Cy-Fair FCU, Houston, with $191 million in assets;
  • Denver Community CU, with $256 million in assets;
  • EECU, Fort Worth, Texas, with $1.5 billion in assets;
  • Freedom First CU, Roanoke, Va., with $315 million in assets;
  • Laramie Plains Community FCU, Laramie, Wyo., with $38 million in assets;
  • Missoula (Mont.) FCU, with $383 million in assets;
  • SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana, Calif., with $9.8 billion in assets;
  • Shreveport (La.) FCU, with $99 million in assets;
  • Soo Co-op CU, Sault Ste Marie, Mich., with $147 million in assets;
  • Summit CU, Madison, Wis., with $1.9 billion in assets;
  • University FCU, Austin, Texas,with $1.6 billion in assets; and
  • US FCU, Burnsville, Minn.,with $928 million in assets.

CUs field major, minor savings for members

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SAN FRANCISCO (4/23/14)--The crack of the bat, the squeak of shoes on the hardwood, hot dogs and grilled onions, the roar of the crowd--the sights, sounds and smells of a professional sporting event. It's an experience unlike any other.  

Like a towering fly ball over the right-field fence, the cost for families to attend these games seems to climb higher and higher every year.

The average ticket to a Major League Baseball game, for example, rose 2% this season to $27.93, the biggest jump in five years. In some cases, such as for New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox games, average prices have ballooned to more than $50 a pop (NerdWallet.com April 16).

To help members and their families snag tickets to these games at more affordable prices, credit unions throughout the country are offering discount deals, making those unmatched family trips to the ball park much more possible.

Here are some examples:
  • Tarrant County CU, Fort Worth, Texas, with $71 million in assets, is offering discounted tickets to Texas Rangers baseball games that can be purchased online. Tarrant also serves up other promotions, like cheaper movie tickets, entertainment passbooks and discounted tickets to theme parks.
     
  • Space Coast CU, Melbourne, Fla., with $3.1 billion in assets, hands out marked-down Miami Marlins tickets, available through the credit union's website. Members also have access to discounted tickets for Tampa Bay Buccaneers football, Miami Heat basketball and Tampa Bay Lightning hockey games throughout their respective seasons. Non-sports-related deals offered by the credit union include reduced admission to the Florida Aquarium and other area attractions.
     
  • Spire FCU, Falcon Heights, Minn., with $607 million in assets, works with the St. Paul Saints, a minor league baseball team, to bring members discounted ticket packages that include a ticket, meal, baseball cap and more.
     
  • Agriculture FCU, Washington, D.C., with $240 million in assets, tees up member discounts through its website for Washington Capitals hockey and Washington Wizards basketball games.
     
  • Blue Cross Texas CU, Richardson, Texas, with $38 million in assets, also offers its members discounted tickets to Texas Rangers games.  
     
  • Sun FCU, Maumee, Ohio, with $442 million in assets, delivers deals to its members on tickets to see the Toledo Mud Hens, a minor league baseball club. Tickets can be purchased on the credit union's website.

Registration open for CUNA collections, bankruptcy school

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MADISON, Wis. (4/23/14)--Registration is open for the CUNA Collections and Bankruptcy School, Sept. 22-25, in San Antonio.

CUNA Collections and Bankruptcy School offers collections professionals the knowledge and skill sets to run a collections department and solve issues from delinquencies to bankruptcy. Starting with the nuts and bolts of collections, the program moves through practices, legality and eventually, specific nuanced details of management.
 
"This school provides for every level of experience, from new-hire collections personnel to veteran managers," said Kathy Smith, CUNA instructional design manager. "No matter what an attendee's skill level coming in, they leave CUNA Collections and Bankruptcy School with the know-how to oversee a credit union's collections department and help it thrive."
 
This year's sessions include:
  • "Innovative Strategies for Helping Members Face Today's Financial Challenges" with Mark Lynch, a field coach with the National Credit Union Foundation's REAL Solutions program;
  • Best practices roundtable, hosted by Harry Strausser, president of the Remit Corp. and Interact Training and Development; and
  • "Putting Insights into Action," presented by David Reed, a partner in the law firm of Reed and Jolly, PLLC, and founder of CUDoctor, a full-service credit union consulting practice.
CUNA offers Collections and Bankruptcy School in two levels, introduction and advanced, to further meet the needs of every attendee.
 
For more information about CUNA Collections and Bankruptcy School and to register, use the link.

Today is deadline for CFO Council Crasher hopefuls

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MADISON, Wis. (4/23/14)--Today marks the final day that young people can apply for the first "Crash the CFO Council Conference."

The conference, set for May 18-21 in Las Vegas, is geared toward young credit union professionals who are interested in learning about credit union finance and planning.

The CUNA CFO Council and the Cooperative Trust will co-host the event. Successful applicants will be announced next week.

This gives young professionals the opportunity to attend an event with 400-500 credit union financial experts, said Suzanne Weinstein, CFO Council vice chair and CFO of Orlando (Fla.) FCU, with $180 million in assets.

Every Crasher will receive full registration from the CFO Council, in addition to a year's membership and up to $1,000 to cover travel expenses.

Focusing on the future of finances within credit unions, the conference will offer attendees a deeper insight into the world of credit union finance and planning, while also providing young professionals an opportunity to meet and learn from industry leaders and current CFOs. 

The Cooperative Trust, a grassroots community of young people who work in credit unions, will run a program parallel to the main event that will offer mentoring sessions with industry leaders.

Past sessions have featured representatives of the National Credit Union Foundation, the Credit Union National Association, the National Credit Union Administration, Filene Research Institute and CUNA Mutual Group.

Crashers will get a chance to look beyond the mission of credit unions and into their functions and operations during the event, said James Marshall, Cooperative Trust leader.

CUNA discounting education programs for CUs under $50M

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MADISON, Wis. (4/23/14)--The Credit Union National Association announced credit unions with less than $50 million in assets now will receive preferred rates on select educational materials.
 
Small credit unions will receive a $50 discount off all live and recorded webinars and $200 off all live and recorded eSchools.
 
CUNA's training webinars, audio conferences and eSchools feature experts whose expertise ranges from compliance and regulatory issues to the industry's most pressing economic topics.
 
Every CUNA webinar, audio conference and eSchool includes tailored training, resources for beyond the class, and interactivity with peers and experts.
 
For more information, use the link.

As a CU member, it's easy being green

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MADISON, Wis. (4/23/14)--On Tuesday, credit unions focused their Earth Day messages by offering members solutions to be more environmentally responsible.
 
Spokane Teachers CU, Liberty Lake, Wash., put the word out that for every member who switches to e-statements until June 30, the $1.8 million-asset credit union will cover the cost to plant one tree along Deep, Coulee and Hangman creeks. The campaign, which was noted in Tuesday's Spokesman-Review, caught the attention of Twitter account holders.
 
Click to view larger image (PayItGreen.org graphic)
Other credit unions shared their eco-efforts not with printed press releases but with their Twitter and Facebook accounts. Reliant Community CU, a $364 million-asset credit union in Sodus, N.Y., broke down its energy-saving practices of putting timers on its lights and its diligent participation in industrial recycling tweet by tweet.
 
Capitol CU, a $124 million-asset credit union in Austin, Texas, shared tips from PayItGreen.org in its Go Green to Get Green campaign. E-statements are one way members can quickly make a difference in the amount of paper they receive. Paperless statements and billing are cost- and tree-saving.

When possible, members should look at auto-bill payment programs that mean fewer checks to write each month, according to the April 22 blog post on Credit.com. Even small acts such as saying, "No," to receipts at ATMs and checkout counters can make a difference.
 
Many credit unions hold true to the green theme throughout the year. Redwood CU, a $2.2 billion-asset credit union in Santa Rosa, Calif., has a sustainability committee that meets regularly to guide and promote environmental awareness. Its administrative offices are Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design certified, and it offers lower loan rates on qualified hybrid vehicles.
 
Redwood CU volunteers Wrynn Reynoso, left, and Brittany Gaddis plant a tree during the credit union's fifth annual Re-Leaf Day at Laguna de Santa Rosa, Calif. (Redwood CU photo)
Recently, 21 Redwood CU employees and family members joined community volunteers to plant more than 600 trees and shrubs along a degraded habitat near the freshwater wetlands of Laguna de Santa Rosa.
 
Credit unions also help keep thousands of pounds of paper out of landfills by holding shred days for their communities. Last year, Arizona State CU, Phoenix, sliced and diced more than 48,000 pounds of information-sensitive documents, and the $1.6 million-asset credit union has seven events scheduled for 2014.
 
Shred events help prevent identity theft by securely disposing of personal information, but, said Kristyn Dix, vice president of operations, Kemba CU, "We're recycling, and we're making a difference in our world" (WLWT-TV 5 April 19). The $564 million-asset credit union collected more than 200,000 pounds of paper and documents during Saturday's shred event. All of the paper is recycled, saving more than 3,200 trees.

CU Social Good marks more than 2,000 'Unite for Good' stories

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BISMARCK, N.D. (4/23/14)--CU Social Good, a campaign by the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (CUAD), marked a milestone of collecting more than 2,000 stories of the good work that credit unions do in their communities.
 
"We are encouraged by the positive response we have received from so many unique credit unions," said Robbie Thompson, CUAD president. "Credit unions give back to their local communities in an amazing variety of creative and generous ways, but we don't always do a great job of telling these stories."
 
In just over a year, credit unions from 41 states and Canada have shared their stories on the CU Social Good website, noting everything food pantry donations in Michigan to building bikes for kids in Texas. Categories include charities, community work, Credit Unions for Kids, financial literacy and education, scholarships and environmental sustainability.
 
In addition to sharing their stories and photos, credit unions can receive good news in their email in-boxes by subscribing to CU Social Good's weekly newsletter.

Former banker named Ala. CU examiner

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (4/22/14)--Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley named former banker Sarah Moore to replace former Alabama Credit Union Administrator Larry Morgan, the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU)  confirmed Monday.

"The league worked with the Alabama governor's office following Larry Morgan's resignation," Patrick La Pine, LSCU president/CEO, told News Now . "We met with the governor's office and provided a couple of names of potential candidates. Sarah Moore's appointment was a surprise to us.

"However, we reached out to her right away and have a meeting [today] to learn more about her goals as she transitions into her administrator role," La Pine said, adding, "We will also work quickly to put her in front of Alabama credit unions to begin building a relationship with her."

Moore previously served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of the Colonial BancGroup, based in Montgomery, Ala., which was seized by federal regulators in 2009. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. approved the sale of Colonial's $20 billion in deposits and about $22 billion of its assets to BB&T Corp ( Associated Press Aug. 14, 2009).

Colonial was a major lender to developers in Florida and Nevada and was hit hard by the collapse of the real estate market in those states. The bank ran into problems after it was revealed that it had bought $1 billion in mortgages from Taylor, Bean & Whitaker that Taylor Bean did not own.

Moore most recently served as managing director at The Renaissance Companies Inc., according to her LinkedIn profile.

CU System briefs (04/22/2014)

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  • BEAVERTON, Ore. (4/22/14)-- The Northwest Credit Union Association is seeking nominations for its Directors' Awards program by May 16. Categories include: credit union director of the year; advocate of the year; spirit of community; distinguished impact; and credit union commitment to board excellence. Winners will be honored at the league's Directors' Conference June 6-8 in Vancouver, Wash. ...
     
  • DOVER, Ohio (4/22/14)-- A $10,000 donation from Dover-Phila FCU will help ensure that the community pool in Newcomerstown, Ohio, will be able to be open for the summer ( Times Reporter April 20). Village officials said the pool needed at least $16,000 to cover repairs and maintenance in order to open the weekend after Memorial Day. The "Save Our Pool" committee has received more than $18,000 in donations. The $370 million-asset credit union has had a branch in Newcomerstown since 2003 ...
     
  • SAN DIEGO (4/22/14)--A paper note asking for money apparently was too passe for a suspect who robbed a branch of $436 million-asset Point Loma CU, San Diego ( ABC-10 April 19). The suspect typed out a demand message on his cellphone, displayed it to the teller and left the credit union with an undisclosed amount of money Friday . Typically, these types of robberies are committed using pieces of paper on which the robber writes a demand for money and do not include a display of weapons ...

Credit debt more shameful than excess pounds: NFCC

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WASHINGTON (4/22/14)--When asked what aspect of their lives they would be most embarrassed to admit, the highest number of respondents at 37% indicated it was their credit card debt, according to a National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) online poll.
 
Coming in a strong second, 30% of respondents indicated they would be embarrassed to admit their credit score. Those results seem to prescribe a financial planning and education opportunity for credit unions.
 
People were given five categories from which to choose. In addition to credit card debt, the options included age, weight, bank balance, credit score or none. 
 
"Since consumers revealed that the two facts they'd be most embarrassed to admit are related to credit, it is obvious that they are not comfortable with how they are currently managing their money," said Gail Cunningham, NFCC spokesperson. "The good news is that there are solutions available for those who want to take charge of their financial future. Since April is Financial Literacy Month, now is the ideal time for people to address their financial concerns."
 
Excessive credit card debt should be seen as a warning sign that a person is in the financial danger zone, said NFCC. Although credit cards may appear to be the solution to a financial shortfall, charging beyond what can be repaid each month can quickly get out of control. Debts that cannot be responsibly managed may lead to late payments resulting in fees being added onto the balance and can sometimes take years to repay. Such activity is likely to negatively impact a person's credit report and potentially result in a lower credit score.
 
Typically one of the highest weighted elements of a credit scoring model is the credit utilization ratio which considers how much a person owes vs. his or her available line of credit. Although lenders each have their own criteria for evaluating credit worthiness, it is smart to not utilize more than 30% of available credit.

Auto sales lead the way for Cornerstone CUs' Q1 growth

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/22/14)--Continued strength in car and light truck sales during the first quarter this year is an encouraging sign for many credit unions in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, according to a Catalyst Strategic Solutions expert.
 
Chief Strategist Brian Turner said for the second-straight year, Q1's stronger auto sales were matched by strong share growth.
 
"Regionally, Texas credit unions saw loans increase about 9.3%, Oklahoma credit union loans rose by 12% and Arkansas credit union loans were up 5.9%," Turner told Leaguer (April 21). "This trend appears to be continuing during the first part of 2014 although it is expected to slow during the rest of the year."
 
Turner noted that the region's economy and housing base are stabilizing, adding, "This means average home prices are less volatile, wage growth is stronger and unemployment is lower in our core area. Five of the top 10 metropolitan money centers in financial performance reside in our core area."
 
Mortgage originations are expected to decline this year, challenging credit unions to produce enough consumer loans to see overall loan growth over the year, Turner said.
 
"But unlike 2013, the '94 percenters' should see their loan demand increase as consumer spending behavior returns due to our strong employment sector, stable housing market and corporate diversity," he added.
 

Filene: CUs can be young adults' partner on retirement path

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MADISON, Wis. (4/22/14)--It's no secret that younger generations will likely have more trouble adequately preparing themselves financially for retirement. Prospects for a sufficient pool of Social Security dollars, given recent trends in demographics, seem bleak.

Spurred by the idea that credit unions must help their members tackle even the most difficult financial challenges, such as these, the Filene Research Institute recently looked into how younger generations are planning for their respective financial futures.

What researchers found was that fewer and fewer young people are taking steps to save for retirement, but that credit unions can begin reversing this trend by promoting retirement planning education programs aimed specifically at younger generations. 

"This is not necessarily a marketing or sales campaign," researchers wrote in the paper, "but a program that will engage the next generation of retirees at a younger age."

The paper highlights the types of retirement products available both in the U.S. and the U.K.; whether and how young people are using those products; and ways credit unions can get involved in the retirement planning process.

Researchers interviewed several people under age 35 for the paper and found, rather uniformly, that these individuals aren't taking advantage of employer or personal pension plans largely because they don't know how they work.

Credit unions could step in here, researchers said, because many institutions already build financial education into their current operations. 

The paper also argues that collective pensions, a product that primarily relies on cooperation between participants, would fit perfectly within the credit union's financial cooperative philosophy.

"As members from multiple credit unions save in this cooperative retirement fund, their collective bargaining power allows for further investment, lower risk, and average higher returns," the paper said.

The popularity of such a program could create the need for a retirement credit union service organization as well, researchers said.

Mich. CUs are new tools for skilled trades toolbox

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LIVONIA, Mich. (4/22/14)--The Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) has signed on to a partnership looking to close the widening skills gap in Michigan, a trend that has long tripped up the state's job market and economy.

With skilled trade occupations finally on the rise after almost a decade of decline, state leaders are concerned the trades industry might stumble if the number of skilled workers in Michigan falls short of the demand.

To bridge that gap, in collaboration with U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Iron Mountain) and the Michigan Workforce Development Agency, MCUL is developing a multi-tooled program that will inform students about available career and technical training for the growing number of trade jobs in the state.   

"Our partnership with Congressmen Benishek on this initiative has resulted in the development of timely information on the availability of skilled trades jobs that will be useful across Michigan," said league president/CEO David Adams ( Monitor April 21).

Geared towards teens and young adults, materials include lesson plans and a guidebook that outlines salary expectations, forecasted job growth and training sources for 24 high-demand trade jobs in Michigan. The materials are produced for credit unions, schools, parents and the general public.

Students can also explore various occupations with the program. MCUL is encouraging credit unions to link their websites to the materials.

To access the guide and lesson plans, use the resource link.

Personal service, local focus make small companies desirable

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SAN FRANCISCO (4/22/14)--Businesses that are local and have a personal touch--both key characteristics of credit unions--are favored by consumers when they select a company to do business with, according to a recent survey.
 
In its April 7 daily survey, the market research firm Ask Your Target Market captured the preferences of consumers and the buy-local trend.

Fifty-six percent of respondents said they pick a small local business vs. a big-box store because they feel it helps the local economy, just like credit unions keep their loans and deposits local ( AYTM.com April 8).
 
The personalized experiences that consumers receive came in at No. 2, with 53% attributing their local shopping habits to the customer-focused touch.
 
According to eMarketer , a 2013 study by Web.com and Toluna found that 86% considered customer focus and face-to-face interaction to be the top two reasons shoppers preferred small businesses. These "personalized, customer-focused environments" are drawing in consumers, eMarketer noted (April 21).

CU System briefs (04/21/2014)

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  • WESTBROOK, Maine (4/21/14)--The Maine Credit Union League announced the results of its 2013 CUs' Share for ME program, which tracks volunteer hours worked by credit unions. Forty credit unions worked for good causes for more than 37,000 hours--the second-highest total for the state's credit unions (Weekly Update April 18) ...
     
  • HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (4/21/14)--The University of Connecticut may have taken both the men's and women's NCAA college basketball titles, but NJ Gateway FCU, Monmouth Junction, N.J., took the prize for the New Jersey Credit Union League's March Madness Charity Pool (Daily Exchange April 18). The $26 million-asset credit union won $1,000 for the charity of its choice. Others credit unions bested league president/CEO Greg Michlig to receive free or reduced education sessions from the league ...
     
  • Cindy Lund, mortgage loan underwriter, Bank of North Dakota, left, and Town and Country CU financial services officers Brenda Ryan and Lisa Lysne. (Credit Union Association of the Dakotas photo)
    BISMARCK, N.D. (4/21/14)--Town and Country CU, a $324 million-asset credit union in Minot, N.D., received a Rebuilders Loan Award from the Bank of North Dakota (Memo April 18). The award recognized the credit union's efforts to rebuild the community after the 2011 Souris River flood, which forced more than 11,000 residents from their homes. Town and Country helped 224 members get financing through the bank's Rebuilders Loan program. "Helping members in their greatest time of need is a role that credit unions are privileged to fulfill. The Bank of North Dakota helped our members access low-interest financing, and I'm proud that we were able to help more than 200 members," said President/CEO Darrell Olson . . .

Ohio CUs ready to 'March for a Million'

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DUBLIN, Ohio (4/21/14)--Credit unions in Ohio have set a lofty goal this year in their campaign to raise money for Ohio Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, and they're hoping the eighth annual "Marching Miles for Miracle Kids" will push them over the top.

Aiming for $1 million, the Ohio Credit Unions for Kids steering committee has once again launched the statewide campaign that organizes 5K races in communities in all of Ohio's CMN Hospital markets.

Registration fees for the races are passed along to the fundraising effort.

"We look forward to this fundraising effort every year," said Jaime Crooks, chair of the steering committee and marketing director at Ohio HealthCare FCU, Dublin. "We're on a mission to build on our efforts and make each year even more successful. This is an amazing collaborative effort among Ohio's credit unions and partners. If we each do our part we can have an unbelievable impact on our hospitals and local communities."

More than 6,000 people participated in the first event in the series, held April 12 in Youngstown, Ohio.

The Marching Miles campaign also featured a silent auction earlier this month at the Ohio Credit Union League's inVest48 conference, where credit union professionals and others bid on more than 40 donated items.

The event raised $6,000, which was matched by CUNA Mutual Group and American Share Insurance, bringing the total raised to $18,000.   

For more information about Marching Miles fundraising efforts, use the resource link.

Judge squashes 'Banana Lady' skit suit

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CHICAGO (4/21/14)--The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week squashed a copyright infringement suit filed by a woman who wears a banana suit to deliver telegrams and perform at social functions. Among the defendants in the case were the Credit Union National Association and several credit unions.
 
Click to view larger image This photo of "Banana Lady" Catherine Conrad was included in 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner opinion. The court tossed out a copyright infringement suit filed by a Conrad against CUNA and several credit unions. (7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals photo)
In an opinion dripping with sarcasm that also included an image of the plaintiff in her banana suit and a link to her performing on YouTube, Judge Richard Posner suggested that a Wisconsin federal court should consider blocking Catherine Conrad from filing additional lawsuits until she fully pays her "litigation debts." Posner also said Conrad abused "the legal process by incessant filing of frivolous lawsuits" (ABA Journal April 15).
 
Conrad claimed her copyright was violated by defendants who hired her to deliver "a singing telegram" dressed as a banana at a trade association event. According to Conrad, the defendants failed to inform audience members until after her performance that they could not take pictures for anything other than personal use. Conrad has copyrights on photos and sculptures of herself in a banana costume, which the court assumed to be valid, and she registered a copyright on her banana costume.
 
But the 7th Circuit Court's three-judge panel agreed with a federal judge in Wisconsin that Conrad's suit had no merit.
 
"She has also registered a copyright on the costume itself, but there is doubt (not necessary for us to resolve) about the validity of that copyright because banana costumes quite similar to hers are, we are surprised to discover, a common consumer product," Posner wrote.
 
Posner also remarked on Conrad's "abuse of the legal process" noting the suit was at least the eighth case Conrad had filed in federal court since 2009, and she has filed at least nine cases in state court just since 2011. She has failed to pay legal fees and licensing fees in several of the cases.
 
To read Posner's opinion, use the link.

Mass. league stresses CU-community ties during public funds hearing

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BOSTON (4/21/14)--The Massachusetts Joint Committee on Financial Services hosted a public hearing last week to discuss a bill that could open the door for state- and federally chartered credit unions to become public funds depositories (Daily CU Scan April 17).

Sen. Michael Rodrigues, who has sponsored S.B. 479, or An Act Relative to Public Funds, made remarks during the session about how the legislation would benefit public agencies.

Specifically, Rodrigues (D-Westport) said the law would allow "for flexibility in depository arrangements of public funds and encourage competition for funds, thus driving better rates of return on public monies optimizing economic benefits for citizens."

Massachusetts Credit Union League President Paul Gentile offered both written and oral testimony to support the legislation during the hearing.

Gentile emphasized that because of the close relationships credit unions have with their communities, local public officials often approach them seeking an alternative to deposit public funds.

Deposits made in credit unions are also made in locally owned and governed cooperatives, Gentile said. And those cooperatives are headquartered and make loans in the communities where they reside.

About 50% of Massachusetts bank deposits are made in banks outside of the state, the league president added. Meanwhile, more than 30 state legislatures have approved laws that permit credit unions to act as public depositories, including nearby Maine and Rhode Island.

Surf's up for National CU Youth Week

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MADISON, Wis. (4/21/14)--Grab your surfboard and sunscreen today and get ready to "Catch the $ave Wave" at credit unions during National Credit Union Youth Week.
 
Set within National Financial Literacy Month, this is the 13th Youth Week sponsored by the Credit Union National Association. CUNA encourages credit unions and their members to tweet pictures and success stories using #CUYouthWeek.
 
Kearney (Neb.) FCU, with $34 million in assets, is hosting a beach party, complete with photo booth, grass skirts, beach chairs, leis and giveaways. Each child who signs up for a new youth account receives a prize package.
 
Mountain CU, Waynesville, N.C., is asking members to vote for what movie they want to see at Friday's Kids' Outdoor Movie Night by visiting the $156 million-asset credit union's Facebook page to vote for "Finding Nemo" (current leader), "Soul Surfer," "Rio" or "Surf's Up."
 
Elena Neyman, left, Samantha Horstman and Karena Thomas prepare for a tidal wave of interest in National Credit Union Youth Week at Catholic FCU, Saginaw, Mich. (Catholic FCU photo)
This week, $667 million-asset Interra CU, Goshen, Ind., is hosting a kids' picnic. Kids can participate in essay and coloring contests, answering the question, "What are you saving for?" The winners will receive money toward their unique goal.
 
Keesler FCU, Biloxi, Miss., with $2.1 billion in assets, gets a lot of mileage out of Youth Week. "We promote Youth Week/Month via our annual membership meeting, Facebook, our website, a teacher email list, drive-up flyers, and at every event we have through April," said Terri Gonzalez, financial education manager. "I give Youth Week promotional items as prizes at every financial session I host and also promote the CUNA $100 cash giveaway as part of the Saving Challenge." Each branch gets creative with their props, too.
 
On Saturday, Michigan State University FCU, a $2.5 billion-asset credit union in East Lansing, is inviting members and the community to its Kids' Day, where they can see zoo animals and science exhibits. Young members get a free pair of shades when they visit the credit union this week.
 
Envista CU, Topeka, Kan., with $247 million in assets, is making a splash with its promotion: any young member who makes a deposit during Youth Week will have a chance to win six Schlitterbahn Waterpark passes.
 
According to The Point, as of April 14, the following New York credit unions had registered to "Catch the $ave Wave:" Buffalo Metropolitan FCU, $85 million in assets; CFCU Community CU, Ithaca, $871 million in assets; First Heritage FCU, Painted Post, $385 million in assets; First New York FCU, Albany, $257 million in assets; Greater Chautauqua FCU, Falconer, $55 million in assets; Greater Niagara FCU, Niagara Falls, $38 million in assets; Hudson River Community CU, Corinth, $179 million in assets; Hudson Valley FCU, Poughkeepsie, $3.8 billion in assets; Lower East Side Peoples FCU, New York, $36 million in asset; Nassau Financial FCU, Westbury, $393 million in assets; Niagara's Choice FCU, Niagara Falls, $130 million in assets; Niagara Regional FCU, North Tonawanda, $25 million in assets; School Systems FCU, Troy, $72 million in assets; Sidney FCU, $370 million in assets; St. Pius X Church FCU, Rochester, $71 million in assets; Ticonderoga FCU, $89 million in assets; UFirst FCU, Plattsburgh, $54 million in assets; Utica Gas and Electric EFCU, New Hartford, $56 million in assets; and Western New York FCU, West Seneca, $38 million in assets.
 
This week also is the National Youth Saving Challenge, hosted by CUNA and sponsored by GreenPath Debt Solutions. The challenge encourages young members to set goals and save to reach them.  "We're grateful for generous sponsorship funds from GreenPath Debt Solutions this year which allowed us to increase the number of $100 cash prizes given to participating youth to 25 from 10," said Jan Garkey, CUNA's Youth Week coordinator. To be eligible for the drawing, participating credit unions must submit Saving Challenge results by May 14, with cash prizes awarded after May 16.
 

Grassroots key to passage of Maine's patent 'troll' law

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WESTBROOK, Maine (4/21/14)--In a victory for state credit unions earned on the strength of their grassroots efforts, Maine's patent "troll" bill became law last week.
 
L.D. 1660, An Act Regarding Bad Faith Assertions of Patent Infringement, will become effective 90 days after the Legislature adjourns (Weekly Update April 18). The bill's passage required grassroots efforts and advocacy from the Maine Credit Union League and credit unions to House members communicating the importance of  passing the bill's Majority Report, which was identified as the version with the best chance to become law.
 
Patent law reform to address "trolls" is a significant issue for credit unions and is seeing a lot of attention from lawmakers on both the federal and state levels.
 
Without actually inventing anything or adding to innovation, patent trolls buy up patents in order to extract fees--or legal settlements--from other companies that may use that technology. Small companies such as credit unions find themselves between a rock and a hard place: paying what amounts to extorted fees may be cheaper than fighting the trolls in court.
 
After state credit union advocates and the members of the league's governmental affairs team made hundreds of calls and scheduled multiple meetings with legislators, the House voted to accept the version passed unanimously by the Senate.
 
"It was truly a team effort, and a remarkable demonstration of the importance of getting involved. Achieving this outcome represents a significant victory for credit unions in reducing and preventing frivolous and costly bad faith patent assertions," said league President John Murphy. "We appreciate everyone's hard work on this effort including a number of legislators who stood up and spoke in support of this bill and the credit union position."
 
Lawmakers who Murphy cited for their support include:
  • House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport), who is a board member at $78 million-asset Sebasticook Valley FCU, Pittsfield;
  • Rep. Mike Lajoie (D-Lewiston), board chair, $19 million-asset Lewiston Municipal FCU;
  • Rep. Henry Beck (D-Waterville and Oakland); and
  • Assistant Majority Leader Sen. Anne Haskell (D-Portland and Haskell).

CU System briefs (04/18/2014)

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  • SEATAC, Wash. (4/18/14)--Financial institutions should seek legal advice, assess their staffing capability and anti-money-laundering expertise, consider the practicalities of handling more cash than usual, and think about the possible reputational risks involved before deciding to provide banking services to marijuana businesses, Scott Jarvis, director of Washington's Department of Financial Institutions, and Linda Jekel, DFI's director of credit unions, said at the Northwest Credit Union Association's (NWCUA) Leadership Symposium in Portland, Ore., the NWCUA reported on its blog. Guidance issued earlier this year by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) does not change federal law, Jarvis and Jekel said. But "there is a difference between a law and a decision whether to enforce it," they said. The DFI noted that its position on basic banking services for Liquor Control Board-licensed marijuana producers, processors and retailers is a public safety priority to prevent large amounts of cash being subject to armed robbery and money laundering for racketeering purposes ...
     
  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/18/14)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association has agreed to be a supporter of the 2014 Reinventing Older Communities Conference: Bridging Growth and Opportunity, presented by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia (Life is a Highway April 17). The national conference will be held May 12-14 at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel. More than 450 professionals from financial institutions and community development programs will attend. Credit unions can attend sessions such as "Oh, How the Housing Market Has Changed;" "Entrepreneurs Reinventing Cities;" "Innovations to Promote Financial Inclusion;" New Partners, New Roles;" "Innovations in Funding and Financing" and "New Lending Opportunities in the Changed Mortgage Market." Speakers include representatives of the Federal Reserve, Harvard University, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Brookings Institution, Ford Foundation and Moven  ...

     
  • ALBANY, N.Y. (4/18/14)--State Sen. Terry Gipson (D-Rhinebeck) met with members of the Credit Union Association of New York's Catskill-Hudson Chapter Tuesday. The group discussed prize-linked savings accounts, the importance of strong state credit union charters, municipal deposits and the significant role of community development financial institutions (The Point April 17). Gipson encouraged attendees to continue to advocate on behalf of New York's credit unions as the league readies for its upcoming state Governmental Affairs Conference. "The senator expressed his strong support for credit unions and indicated that he would support many of these bills when they are brought before the Senate," said Rick Mantey, chapter president and president/CEO of Ulster FCU, Kingston, with $104 million in assets. From left, Lisa Morris, director of marketing, Hudson Valley FCU, Poughkeepsie, with $3.6 billion in assets; Ron Flaherty, president/CEO, TEG FCU, Poughkeepsie, with $200 million in assets; Mantey; Gipson; Michelle McCourt, president/CEO, Bridgeway FCU, Poughkeepsie, with $74 million in assets; Mike Ciriello, president/CEO, Hudson Heritage FCU, Middletown, with $301 million in assets; and Kathy Ferrusi, senior community relations coordinator, Hudson Valley FCU. (Credit Union Association of New York photo) ...
     
  • JACKSON, Miss. (4/18/14)--Mississippi FCU, a $94 million-asset credit union in Jackson, announced its replacement for outgoing president Marilyn Hobson (CU Connection April 16). Hobson will retire this summer after 20 years at the credit union. Mike Lightsey, who has been a credit union member for nearly 30 years, was appointed by the board to be the new president. Lightsey has been on the board for 13 years, including three stints as board chairman. He recently retired as chief financial officer from the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson ...

KCUA notes 2013 success at 79th annual meeting

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WICHITA, Kan. (4/18/14)--The Kansas Credit Union Association (KCUA) celebrated inspiration, creativity and innovation at its 79th annual meeting and convention last weekend in Wichita.
 
 The following honors were awarded:

Henry Peterson Professional of the Year James Holt, president/CEO, MidAmerican CU, Wichita, center, with Don Homan, board chair, Kansas Credit Union Association, and Marla Marsh, KCUA president/CEO. (Kansas Credit Union Association photo)
  • Henry Peterson Professional of the Year: James Holt, president/CEO, MidAmerican CU, Wichita, with $219 million in assets;
     
  • John Michener Volunteer of the Year: Ronald Kelley (posthumously), Catholics United CU, Hutchinson, with $173,000 in assets;
     
  • Political Involvement Award: Greg Winkler, president/CEO, Educational CU, Topeka, with $185 million in assets;
     
  • KCUA Hall of Fame: John Michener (1894-1986), co-founder and president of the Kansas Credit Union League, and founder of Wichita City Teachers CU; and Henry Peterson (1893-1984), co-founder of the Kansas Credit Union League, founder of CU of Dodge City and organizer of more than 200 credit unions in Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado.

Angie Reed, marketing/business development manager, Kansas State University FCU, Manhattan, won the KCUA innovation contest for credit unions that have created, inspired or innovated in their communities. The $65 million-asset credit union partnered with Flint Hills Community Clinic, a volunteer-supported clinic that serves low income and uninsured people in Riley County. The credit union's efforts increased awareness of the clinic and raised more than $8,500.
 
Bill Cheney, president/CEO, Credit Union National Association, and U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Wichita) were invited speakers.

The executive committee and board members were elected at the business meeting:

  • Chair: Don Homan, Frontier Community CU, Leavenworth;
  • Vice chair: John Beverlin, president/CEO, Mainstreet CU, Lenexa; and
  • Secretary/treasurer: Vickie Hurt, president, Quest CU, Topeka.

Other board members are Garth Strand, president/CEO, Hutchinson CU, ; James Nastars, president/CEO, Meritrust CU, Wichita; Jim Holt, president/CEO, MidAmerican CU, Wichita; Denise Bonner, manager, Wakarusa Valley CU, Lawrence; Brenda Kliewer, manager, McPherson CO-OP CU; and Rosa Saenz, senior vice president, Golden Plains CU, Garden City.
 
Homan also is chair of Shared Financial Solutions' board.
 
Tied to its annual meeting, KCUA shared its 2013 annual report that noted the league offered more than 190 training opportunities, provided nearly $9,400 in scholarships, launched a redesigned website, created an Innovation and Implementation Lab, and recognized 137 credit union staff and volunteers who earned 497 certifications from CUNA's self-study programs.

Weokie CU battens down hatches with new storm shelters

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OKLAHOMA CITY (4/18/14)--An Oklahoma-based credit union hasn't only promised to keep its members' money safe, it's also pledged to keep the members themselves safe as well (The Journal Record April 11).

The board of directors at Weokie CU, Oklahoma City, with $929 million in assets, recently voted to install storm shelters at nearly all of the credit union's branches to protect members in an area quite vulnerable to tornadoes.

Brent Taylor, Weokie president, said the idea to build the shelters was spurred by the events of last May when a tornado ripped apart a Tinker FCU branch building, while eight credit union members and 14 employees took cover inside the safe deposit box vault.

Tinker, with $3.1 billion in assets, is also based out of Oklahoma City.

"The board was pleased that we were doing that type of work to provide protection for our staff and customers," Taylor told The Journal Record. "Based on what I saw last year, all the devastation in Moore, it really makes you think: What's going to happen with your team if something like that comes through?"

Taylor wouldn't divulge how much it will cost the credit union to fix its Oklahoma City area branches with the shelters.

Nine of the branches that will receive the renovations will have doors upgraded to meet storm shelter standards, while the credit union's two smaller "express" locations with drive-thru lanes will be equipped with above-ground storm shelters.

Weokie leaders had considered building the shelters in spaces separate from the safe deposit boxes and cash safes, but ultimately they decided the vault would be the most appropriate place.

"We won't turn people away in a storm situation," Taylor said in The Journal Record. "We won't lock the doors."

Mass. commissioner urges comment on RBC proposal

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BOSTON (4/18/14)--Massachusetts Banking Commissioner David Cotney advised the state's credit unions to comment on new regulations, including the National Credit Union Administration's risk-based net worth proposal.
 
Metro-Boston and Tri-County North Chapters of the Massachusetts Credit Union League held a question-and-answer session with Cotney Wednesday.
 
The session was moderated by Massachusetts Credit Union League President Paul Gentile (Daily CU Scan April 17).
 
The Massachusetts Banking Division has asked NCUA to extend the comment period for the risk-based net worth proposal beyond the May 28 deadline, Cotney said. The division will send its comments as part of a broader comment letter filed by the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors.

The Credit Union National Association and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions Thursday jointly sent a letter to the NCUA urging an extension for the risk-based net worth proposal comment period (See related story: CUNA, NAFCU jointly repeat urging for RBC comment extension).
 
Regarding last week's Heartbleed incident, Cotney noted that each individual credit union must make its own decision on how and whether to notify members, but he cautioned that going forward more security issues are likely. He suggested that credit unions develop guidelines so they don't overwhelm members by alerting them to every attack. 
 
Cotney said four Massachusetts mutual savings banks have filed applications to convert to stock-owned--the most applications the division has received since the early 1980s.  He also encouraged credit unions to evaluate whether they can become low-income designated, as it has a number of advantages.
 
The meeting raised $700 for the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless.

Low-income CU financially empowers N.Y. neighborhood

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LONG ISLAND CITY, N.Y. (4/18/14)--The credit cycle, especially for the impoverished, can pull people and their finances down into what seems like an inescapable abyss.

One New York-based organization, with its very own credit union, has decided to replace that downward cycle with a system of its own, one that is helping some of the most economically disadvantage climb out of those deep holes (NY1.com April 17).

The cycle is orchestrated by Urban Upbound, a nonprofit based out of Long Island City, that aims to position residents of public housing neighborhoods to achieve economic mobility and self-sufficiency, and to break the cycle of poverty.

To accomplish this, the organization bundles together and offers residents five types of services, including financial counseling, employment services, youth development and college access, community revitalization, and finally financial services through Urban Upbound FCU, Long Island City, N.Y., with $780,000 in assets.

Together, the programs teach residents how to improve their financial health, help them secure employment and advise them on how to manage their income once they've landed that new job, among other services. 

"And it makes sense," says Lenese Vergara, director of the Urban Upbound Workforce Development Program. "We're seeing more and more employers are checking credit, screening our candidates because of their credit."

Often, residents with rougher credit scores start at the organization's Financial Empowerment Center, where they receive free one-on-one counseling on how to budget and reduce debt.

From there, the individuals are sent just around the corner to Upbound FCU, where they can apply for a credit consolidation loan; a program that already has demonstrated tangible results.

"(Members' scores can rise) 100 points higher in just one month, just from that one loan from the credit union," Robin Wilson, director of the Urban Upbound Financial Fitness Program, told NY1.com, adding that people aren't able to access that kind of product through a mainstream bank.

With improved credit, then, the individuals are rerouted back to the workforce development program, which has found hundreds of people new places of employment.

"Our average wage is about $11 an hour, so that's excellent for the people we are working with, with only a high school diploma," Vergara said.

The next step in the cycle directs the residents back to the credit union where they not only can obtain checking and savings services--often an unreachable goal for the impoverished in this community, as 30% of the residents are unbanked--but they also can learn how to manage their income through the free one-on-one consultation.

Thanks to the availability of the credit union, the residents can avoid check-cashing outfits, which often charge high fees for their services, while also learning healthy financial habits.

"In a six-block radius, there is no financial institution around," said Ash Exantus, Urban Upbound FCU CEO. "Most people are used to going to the check-cashing place. They don't go to the check-cashing place because they want to. They were going to check-cashing places because they had to.

"We want to see elevation, and as we see the city around us and the tide rising, all small ships have the capacity to rise together, and that's what we want to see," Exantus said.

Mercer: Ohio CUs need to be tougher to sell a powerful idea

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (4/18/14)--While Ohio credit unions are doing an "amazing" job in serving their memberships, they must market better to sell their "beautiful, powerful idea," Ohio Credit Union League President Paul Mercer told the annual Invest 48 audience last week.
 
Mercer noted that Ohio credit unions had gained less than 2% market share in the state in 19 years, to 7.6% in 2013 from 5.9% in 1994 (eLumination April 16). "That's not good enough," Mercer said. The cooperative credit union model is an ideal fit for consumers, communities and small businesses, he noted. "You are places where people do matter more than money, and when people understand that, we will win more market share," he added.
 
A briefing with State Rep. Lou Terhar (R-Cincinnati), co-sponsor of House Bill 221, which would give credit unions authority to serve as public depositories and access loan programs through the Ohio Treasurer's office, was attended by more than 80 credit union representatives. In subsequent meetings with legislators, credit union officials urged lawmakers to support the legislation. Many legislators said they supported credit unions and would vote for the bill. Others expressed reservations, which provides league staff an opportunity to follow up.
 
Ohio Department of Commerce Director Andre Porter outlined three major concerns for credit unions to navigate in today's economic environment. First, credit unions must continue to plan and manage the risk associated with their changing loan portfolios. Porter also encouraged credit unions to find more ways to participate in today's digital age. He also said that succession planning is critical to keeping the industry strong in the long term. As a regulator, Porter pledged that his department is "here to help with these challenges."
 
Changes to the OCUL's board structure and code of regulations were approved by affiliated credit unions at the league's annual meeting. Thirty-three percent of eligible credit unions voted, and 95% favored the changes, which take effect Jan. 1. The key changes included:

  • A decrease in the size of the league board to nine directors, with a seat dedicated to small ($0-$50 million in assets), medium ($50 million to $250 million), and large ($250 million or more) categories and the others elected at-large;
     
  • "Interlocking" seats reduced to maximize the number of credit union leaders engaged in league leadership;
     
  • Officers streamlined to three positions--chair, vice chair and secretary/treasurer;
     
  • Uniform director eligibility requirements and customized qualifications;
     
  • League board empowered to direct the governance and oversight of the organization and its affiliates;
     
  • Committee structure designed to foster effectiveness and expand engagement opportunities; and
     
  • Board Succession Planning Committee leveraged to proactively monitor representational interests and recruit high-quality candidates.

Ky. latest state to enact data breach protection

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WASHINGTON (4/18/14)--As the Credit Union National Association continues to work on data security issues at the federal level, states are making progress with laws to protect and inform consumers about data security.
 
Last week, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear signed H.B. 232 into law, making Kentucky the 47th state to enact data breach notification legislation. With Beshear's signature, there are only three states left--Alabama, New Mexico and South Dakota--that do not have laws requiring companies to inform consumers about data breaches.
 
Under Kentucky's new law, companies that conduct business in the state and maintain consumer data of state residents are required to disclose data breaches involving the unauthorized acquisition of residents' unencrypted computerized data. Companies are required to disclose the breach in the "most expedient time possible" and "without unreasonable delay." Additionally, companies are required to notify consumer reporting agencies and credit bureaus if the breach affects more than 1,000 individuals.
 
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad recently signed S.F. 2259 into law, which amended the state's Personal Information Security Breach Protection statute (JD Supra April 17). It requires written notice be provided to the Iowa Attorney General's office regarding a breach of security affecting 500 or more Iowa residents no later than five business days after notice of the breach. It also expands the term "breach of security" to include unauthorized acquisition of personal information "maintained by a person in any medium, including on paper, that was transferred by the person to that medium from computerized form."
 
A dozen more states have pending legislation that would amend and enhance existing state laws regarding security breaches.
 
During its recent Government Relations Rally, the California Credit Union League focused on the Consumer Data Breach Protection Act (See Wednesday's News Now: Card, member protection headline Calif. league rally.) A.B. 1710 has similar notification and retailer liability provisions to Iowa and Kentucky's newly enacted laws, but it adds mandatory credit monitoring services for those affected and civil penalties of up to $500 per violation or $3,000 for a willful or reckless violation (National Law Review April 17).
 
The Credit Union National Association found that credit unions incurred $30.6 million in costs directly related to last year's Target data security breach--not including fraud costs--and is pressing federal lawmakers to address data security relative to merchants, who are not held to the same standards of security as credit union and other financial institutions.
 
One of the reasons why the pre-trial activities for the Target class action lawsuits have been consolidated in Minnesota is because of state statutes that prohibit merchants or businesses from retaining magnetic-strip information captured during a transaction, require reimbursement to financial institutions for reissuing cards, and communicate "in the most expedient time possible and without unreasonable delay" if a breach occurs.

CU System briefs (04/17/2014)

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  • TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (4/17/14)--Payment-service credit union service organization CU24 awarded five $1,000 grants to help employees of postal-service credit unions attend the National Council of Postal Credit Unions (NCPCU) Conference, held this week in New Orleans. NCPCU member credit unions with less than $60 million in assets were eligible to apply. "I want to thank CU24 for making it possible for me to be able to come together with my fellow managers at the annual conference to see how they are dealing with the many compliance issues and effects of the downsizing of America's postal service," said Marcia Marino, CEO of $15 million-asset My Postal CU, Pontiac, Mich. From left, Anthony Mondello, regional sales manager, CU24; Rose Gagnon, manager, Virginia Beach Postal FCU, Virginia Beach, Va., with $7 million in assets; Karen Anderson, president/CEO, Postal Family FCU, Fargo, N.D., with $20 million in assets; Linda Childs, president/CEO, TNConnect CU, Knoxville, Tenn., with $45 million in assets; Katie Nelson, CEO, Mississippi Postal Employees FCU, Jackson, Miss., with $60 million in assets; Marino; and James Gukeisen, product manager, CU 24. (CU24 photo) ...
  • SANTA CRUZ, Calif., and HONOLULU (4/17/14)--The boards of Santa Cruz (Calif.) County Employees CU, with $26 million in assets, and Bay FCU, Capitola, Calif., with $687 million in assets, have approved the merger of the two credit unions. "The regulatory environment has changed to the point that it is costly and difficult for small credit unions ... to compete," Trey Dunbar, president/CEO, Santa Cruz County Employees CU, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel (April 15). Next the credit unions will file merger applications with the National Credit Union Administration and the state of California Division of Business Oversight. Members of $2 million-asset Dole Wahiawa (Hawaii) FCU have voted to merge with Hawaii State FCU, a $1.3 billion-asset credit union in Honolulu. The smaller credit union, which serves employees of Dole Plantation among others, will close its Wahiawa branch at the end of April (Pacific Business News April 15) ...
  • LOUISVILLE, Ky. (4/17/14)--Robert "Bob" Fischer, 86, died April 13 in Louisville, Ky. (The Courier-Journal April 16). Fischer, who was an accountant for 40 years with Reynolds Metals Co., served as a board member and president of RALE FCU, a $6 million-asset credit union in Louisville. Fischer also was a volunteer tax preparer for the elderly ...

Chartway FCU pledges $200K to Toby's Dream

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (4/17/14)--The We Promise Foundation, the charitable arm of $1.9 billion-asset Chartway FCU, announced it has given a $200,000 grant to Toby's Dream Foundation.

The contribution from the Virginia Beach, Va., credit union will help Toby's Dream Foundation fulfill the wishes of about 50 children in the Great Hampton Roads and eastern shore areas of Virginia.

Click to view larger image Front row, from left: Toby's Dream Foundation beneficiaries Sophia, Madelyn and Abbi and John Blum, chairman, We Promise Foundation; back row, from left,  Karen Lane, executive director, Chartway FCU; Joan Steele, executive director, Toby's Dream Foundation; and Beth O'Toole, vice president of operations, Chartway FCU. (Chartway FCU photo)

We Promise has been "a pivotal partner by providing funding for children battling various types of cancer, rare syndromes, and even those waiting for life-giving transplants," said Joan Steele, executive director of Toby's Dream.

The latest grant brings We Promise's financial contribution to Toby's Dream Foundation to $425,000. Last year, Chartway FCU raised more than $890,000 to make dreams come true for children battling life-threatening illnesses. We Promise is gearing up to hold its two largest events shortly--its ninth Annual Diamonds in the Sky Gala Sept. 10 and its 16th Annual Charity Golf Classic Sept. 11.

Since 2009, Toby's Dream Foundation has helped more than 250 children--110 of which were helped by the We Promise Foundation--who have life-threatening illnesses experience their most fantastic dreams.

 

PCUA hails new assessment model for state-chartered CUs

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/17/14)--After receiving guidance from the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, the state Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) this week approved the Department of Banking and Securities' new annual assessment regulation for state-chartered credit unions.
 
The regulation will streamline reporting and billing requirements by eliminating examination based billing (Life is a Highway April 16). The department operates independent of the state's general fund, the league reported. The assessment will provide the department adequate and sustainable funding, which will insulate credit unions and other stakeholders from uncertainties that can arise during the budget process.
 
"The association played a vital role in shaping the new fee structure, securing a much more equitable process," said Patrick Conway, PCUA president/CEO. "The funding mechanism will be an assessment-only model. State-chartered credit unions won't have the surprise of examiner time and expenses as the new model is implemented."

Pull out the plastic this ICU Day, help CUs for Kids

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SALT LAKE CITY (4/17/14)--Spend a little money and earn a chunk of change for a worthy cause.

That's the idea behind a brand-new, one-day campaign that will raise money for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals nationwide, while simultaneously helping celebrate International Credit Union Day.

On Oct. 16, the big day, every time a member of a participating credit union swipes his or her credit union-issued credit or debit card, the credit union will donate 25 cents, or another predetermined amount, to a local Children's Miracle Network Hospital.

The event, called "Shop for Miracles," is sponsored by the Credit Union National Association, the World Council of Credit Unions and Credit Unions for Kids, which announced the program Wednesday.

Credit unions throughout California and Nevada organized a pilot campaign for this program in 2013, and a mere 21 credit unions were able to raise $185,000, including $30,000 in matching funds from CO-OP Financial Services' Miracle Match program.

"Redwood CU's 230,000 members did a wonderful job of supporting the Credit Unions for Kids donation program tied to last year's International Credit Union Day," said Brett Martinez, president/CEO of the $2.3 billion-asset, Santa Rosa-based credit union. "The one-day campaign raised just over $27,000."

Martinez's credit union advertised the campaign online, in newsletters, with local print ads, and through email and social media, and Redwood saw a 38% increase in member-card transactions that day.

CO-OP Financial Services announced Wednesday it will support the national "Shop for Miracles" campaign by again matching funds dollar-for-dollar up to $10,000 with credit unions that successfully apply for the effort. The deadline to submit an application is Sept. 30.

"In 2014, credit unions across the country have the opportunity to support their local children's hospital and be engaged in their communities in a very meaningful way," said Stan Hollen, CO-OP Financial Services president/CEO.

In June, credit unions can begin accessing more information about International Credit Union Day and the "Shop for Miracles" campaign by visiting www.cu4kids.org.

Thanks to the Credit Unions for Kids campaign, credit unions are the third-largest contributor to CMN Hospitals, behind only Wal-Mart and Costco. Credit Unions for Kids has raised more than $110 million for CMN Hospitals since its inception in 1996.

CBSI's Niemann at NACUSO: 'New normal for retirement'

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (4/17/14)--The collision of economics, demographics, and longevity is raising credit union member concerns on income sustainability during retirement, a CUNA Brokerage Services Inc. speaker told a National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO) annual conference audience Tuesday.
 
"Credit unions are on the verge of facing major membership changes," said Hendrix Niemann, managing director of wealth management for CBSI, during a breakout session at NACUSO's annual conference. "Millennials are set to emerge as credit unions' dominant demographic by 2025, and Baby Boomers are starting to enter retirement, while both groups face a challenging recovery."
 
Today, the average 65-year-old male has a 50% probability of living to be 85 years old with the average 65-year-old female living to be 87, which makes the average length of retirement at least 21 years. And, if the person is part of a couple, there is a 50% probability one of them will live to be 91, which makes the average length of retirement jump to 26 years, Niemann said.
 
"Many people don't realize it, but we've entered a new normal for retirement," he added. "The golden age of retirement is not coming back. Many credit union members think it will, but it's not coming back."
 
Retirement, for those in retirement or about to retire, may be a lot different than they thought it would be, Niemann said. "There's a very real and valid fear among retirees that they will outlive their assets or run out of money because their nest egg is simply not large enough, particularly because they have not saved for out-of-pocket health care costs in retirement that are not covered by Medicare."
 
Niemann told his audience they can expect these fears to escalate among members as credit unions' membership grows older. "Members need credit unions more today than ever before, but they just don't know it yet," said Niemann. "Most Baby Boomers don't have a retirement income plan or a plan for funding long-term care. That's where the credit union fits in. Credit unions have a major role to play in educating their members about these issues and helping them navigate the new normal environment."

The Baby Boomers are the largest generation in U.S. history ever to retire--and the vast majority of them have not saved enough for retirement, Niemann explained. As they realize this, many seniors are postponing retirement or re-entering the workforce.
 
"The Boomers are relying on social safety net programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, that were never designed or intended for a large contingent of beneficiaries who will probably live 25 or 30 years--or more--in retirement," said Niemann. "Those programs, under their current models, will be unable to pay the benefits seniors believe they are entitled to," he added.
 
Today, there are 30 million fewer people in Generation X than in the Baby Boomer generation, which means 30 million fewer people paying into the retirement system for this massive retiring population.
 
"The Millennial generation (Gen Y) is as big as the Baby Boomer generation, but they are far behind their Boomer parents in launching their careers, largely because of a massive and still-growing student debt burden, which now tops $1 trillion," said Niemann. "Ironically, their ability to pay into the system is also being hampered by their own parents, who are blocking their children's path up the economic ladder because of their own need to continue working."
 
The effects of these demographic trends are exacerbated by the fundamental changes to the U.S. economy that have come about since the 2008 financial crisis and the start of the "new normal" economy we're currently in, he added.
 
Niemann concluded his session by encouraging credit unions to help members, old and young, navigate these changes by starting the conversation. "Don't wait for members to come to you," he advised. "Reach out to them. Ask members to visualize their future, and then help them figure out a realistic retirement plan. Credit unions have the knowledge, expertise, and resources to help members navigate these changes, but they can't delay. They must start today."

Black Hills FCU opens full branch on reservation

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (4/17/14)--Black Hills FCU, Rapid City, S.D., officially opened the doors of its first stand-alone facility on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation April 9.

Click to view larger image Roger Heacock, president/CEO of Black Hills FCU, cuts the ribbon at the opening of the credit union's new member service center located on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  BHFCU management and members of the community of Eagle Butte gathered for the event April 9. (Credit Union Association of the Dakotas photo)

Since Sept 2012, when it merged with CR Community First FCU, the $984 million-asset Black Hills FCU operated from an office in the basement of the Cheyenne River Housing Authority building.
 
"BHFCU merged with CR Community First to ensure credit union financial services would remain available in an area where they are desperately needed," said Roger Heacock, Black Hills FCU president/CEO (Memo April 16). "We are a not-for-profit financial cooperative, owned by our members with the mission to educate, advocate and serve our members' financial needs. There are few places more in need of our services than right here on the Cheyenne River Reservation."
 
From the new branch, Black Hills FCU serves residents of Dewey and Ziebach Counties--two of the most impoverished counties in the U.S. Both are encompassed by the reservation. Although the fourth largest reservation in the nation, Cheyenne River is home to just 8,000 residents.
 
"We now serve more than 500 members from our Cheyenne River Member Service Center, people who truly need and value credit union services," said Carol Brown, Black Hills FCU vice president of marketing and business development. "The small steps here are exciting--we have adults who have never used financial services coming in and opening their first account. We are able to provide the education and guidance to help them get started on a healthier financial path."

Rewards accounts attractive to Gen Y, says Kasasa

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AUSTIN, Texas (4/17/14)--So-called "Gen Y" adults search for mobile tools, rewards programs and cash-back options more than older generations when selecting a financial institution, a Kasasa study released Wednesday found.

Nearly 80% of 18- to 34-year-olds polled said mobile banking is at least "somewhat important" when choosing a bank, according to the survey (MarketWired.com April 16).

About 85% of the same demographic said customizable rewards are at least somewhat important as well, compared with 73% of those between the ages of 35 and 54.

Further, 88% said cash-back programs were at least somewhat important, compared with 74% in the 35-to-54 category and 67% in the 55-and-up category.

Commissioned by BancVue, the Consumer Banking Insights Study surveyed more than 1,000 adults ages 18 and up.

"Attracting younger customers with rewards checking accounts and mobile offerings can help community banks and credit unions increase profits ... by way of heightened, non-interest income and increased account holder engagement and retention," said BancVue CEO Gabe Krajicek.

Also important to Gen Y adults seems to be a recognizable brand name, with 81% of respondents saying that a brand name is at least somewhat important, compared with 68% of those ages 35 to 54.

"Gen Y adults are more likely to respond to brand-name offerings," Krajicek said. "With social media, endless searchable options and new non-bank players entering the banking space, the notion that the customer is king has never been more true than it is now."

Despite 72% of Gen Y adults responding that banking locally is at least somewhat important, about 25% who have checking accounts say they don't use a "community financial institution" because they don't believe a community bank or credit union will offer the same benefits they're getting at their current bank.

And 30% said they don't manage their funds at a credit union or community bank because they've never thought about it, suggesting that community financial institutions need to improve at least their marketing efforts to attract the next generation of consumers (BancVue.com April 16).

Small Ark. CU offers loan growth advice

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FORT SMITH, Ark. (4/17/14)--With economic activity starting to sizzle, at least one small Arkansas-based credit union has been leveraging the upward trend into gains in loan growth, while also sharing its secrets for success.  

With consumer borrowing up $16.5 billion in February, and auto and student loans gaining $18.9 billion as well--the largest one-month leap since February of last year--River Town FCU, Fort Smith, Ark., with $14 million in assets, is trying to capitalize on the recent economic surge (Leaguer April 16).

It appears to be succeeding.

"Since the economic recession, consumers have felt a little uneasy about taking on more debt," said Tim Bowers, River Town loan manager. "But it seems they are feeling more secure in their ability to manage new debt. Since January of this year, we've seen steady loan growth."

River Town offers several loan products, such as credit cards, signature loans, home equity, recreational vehicle and motorcycle loans.

For mortgage lending, the Arkansas-based credit union uses CU Members Mortgage, a business partner of Credit Union Resources.

But of all loan products, Bowers told Leaguer, the member-owned institution has seen the strongest improvements in auto lending.

"People have been driving their cars for longer because they haven't wanted to take on new debt," Bowers said. "However, that's starting to change as people are biting the bullet and trading in their aged and high-mileage vehicles for new or pre-owned vehicles with less mileage. As a result we're seeing a greater demand for auto loans."

Meanwhile, not only has Bowers pushed River Town to take advantage of the healing economy, he's also offering up ways other credit unions can cash in.

To maximize products and services, Bowers advises credit unions:

  • Offer competitive loan rates, particularly for high credit-score members, as "even loyal members are rate shoppers," Bowers said.
     
  • Cross-sell products. "We identify the needs of our membership and take advantage of opportunities to educate them on the appropriate products and services to meet their financial needs," Bowers told Leaguer.
     
  • Step up loan promotion and marketing efforts.
     
  • Recapture auto loans. "Even if you didn't get the loan the first time around, that doesn't mean you can't get their business," Bowers said. "I might be working with the member on another loan product, and if while reviewing their credit report I learn they have an auto loan elsewhere, I'm going to try and compete for that loan."

CUs, league win reg relief as Wis. gov. signs CU bill

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MADISON, Wis. (4/17/14)--Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a package of credit union regulatory reforms into law Wednesday--action that will ease regulatory burden for the state's credit unions and remove barriers they face when serving their memberships.

Senate Bill 520 will modify a dozen credit union regulations, including those concerning permitted investments and incidental powers.

"We applaud the Legislature for passing and the governor for signing these common-sense reforms that let credit unions spend less time unraveling regulatory requirements and more time providing consumers and communities with services that have consistently earned them recognition for their social responsibility," said Brett Thompson, president/CEO of the Wisconsin Credit Union League (WCUL).

The bill, developed by credit union leaders and lawmakers in the state, including lead authors in the Assembly Rep. Dave Craig (R-Big Bend) and Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh), unanimously passed in both the Senate and Assembly.

The law also was crafted with the help of both the director of the Office of Credit Unions and staff from the WCUL.

"Wisconsin's lawmakers and the governor have again shown that they understand, appreciate and support credit unions across the state by adopting reforms that facilitate credit unions' continued service to their 2.4 million member-owners," said Tom Liebe, league vice president of governmental affairs.

The legislation was initiated through dialogue held in the State Assembly Financial Institutions Committee's "Right to Rules" review process.

State credit union leaders have called development of the law a case-study in good-faith public/private collaboration, according to a WCUL press release.

Students' new biz scores sweet Biz Kid$ win

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/16/14)--Beacon FCU, La Porte, Texas, and its partnering school, Hamshire-Fannett Middle School are the winners of the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation's "BizKid$" Entrepreneur Contest.
 
"Biz Kid$" is the Emmy Award-winning and credit union-funded public television series that teaches young people about money management and entrepreneurship.
 
In January, the foundation, in partnership with the Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Greater Dallas (CCCS), conducted a training session with classroom teachers, principals, superintendents and counselors ( Leaguer April 15).  The one-day training was broken down into two parts: personal financial education training conducted by CCCS, and "BizKid$ Train the Trainer" conducted by the foundation. 
 
Each school then selected a team who would work with their partner credit union to come up with a business plan, and then present those plans to an impartial panel of judges. Beacon FCU, with $129 million in assets, and Hamshire-Fannett Middle School, Beaumont, won for their "Yum Yum Shop" school-sponsored concession stand.
 
Beacon FCU was one of three credit unions to participate in the pilot program, which was funded by a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation.
 
Other credit unions that participated in the pilot included $444 million-asset FivePoint CU, Nederland, Texas, and $47 million-asset Dallas CU. FivePoint CU collaborated with Horace Mann Junior High, Baytown, and Dallas CU with Francisco "Pancho" Medrano Middle School, Dallas. All three credit unions selected up to three teachers each to work with for the pilot program.
 
"Drawing on each other's strengths, all three schools came up with creative and detailed business plans," said Courtney Moran, foundation executive director. "I'm confident that this experience made an impression on students, and having gone through this exercise, they have a better sense of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. And perhaps more importantly, they understand how important it is as a consumer, and small business owner, to have that credit union relationship."
 
As the winner, the Hamshire-Fannett Middle School class will receive:
  • Breakfast at Cracker Barrel;
  • T-shirts indicating they are all BizKid$;
  • A tablecloth personalized with the Yum Yum Shop logo;
  • A celebratory banner for the classroom;
  • Certificates; and
  • Trophies.                   
Educator Tammie Terrell was to receive a $500 gift card to Office Depot, but she will share with her students by either opening a Beacon FCU savings account or certificate of deposit with $100 for each student. Beacon FCU will receive a $1,500 grant to purchase "BizKid$" box set DVDs, which it will donate to libraries, schools and after-school programs.
 
In May, participants will come together at the Cornerstone Credit Union League's headquarters in Farmers Branch, Texas, to discuss the pilot program, take part in a retirement fair and play Money Habitudes, a game that helps people talk about money, understand financial psychology and explain their money personality type.

CU System briefs (04/16/2014)

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  • AUGUSTA, Maine (4/16/14)-- The search is on for a new "Spokester" in Maine, a creative, tech-savvy individual who can represent Generation Y, ages 18 to 25, and connect them to the credit union movement. Under the umbrella of the Maine Credit Union League's Young and Free Maine program , this young person for one year will develop entertaining educational content, tips and tools to help peers manage their own finances. Applications must be submitted between April 2 and May 19. "As (outgoing Spokester Lauren Reeves') eventful career comes to an end, we're looking for someone who's creative, energetic and outgoing, someone who can use social media to connect with their peers, get involved in the community and continue to share all that Maine's credit unions have to offer this generation," said league President John Murphy ...
     
  •  MADISON, Wis. (4/16/14)--The deadline to submit the best efforts by individual credit unions in marketing, advertising or publication is fast approaching. Entries for this year's Credit Union National Association Blockbuster Awards are due Friday. Kill it in advertising in 2013? Orchestrate a dynamic Twitter campaign? Let the credit union world know. Participants can pick from 14 different categories to enter, including one "Best of Show" award. Known as the highest honor for communications in the credit union industry nationwide, the awards will be handed out during the GAPS/ Communicators Conference June 16-18 at the Marriott Marquis in Washington. Winners will be notified in May ... 
     
  • MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (4/16/14)-- A team of high school students from Milton, Mass, is on its way to the LifeSmarts National Competition in Orlando, Fla., April 26-29 ( Daily CU Scan April 15). The group won the state's LifeSmarts Coalition, presented by the Jump$tart Coalition. The Massachusetts Credit Union League and its CU Effects financial literacy program are sponsoring the team as it makes its way to the finals. LifeSmarts is an educational competition that tests middle school and high school students on real-life consumer issues through online quizzes and live competition (Massachusetts Credit Union League photo) . . .

CUNA site safe from Heartbleed security flaw

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MADISON, Wis. (4/16/14)--The Credit Union National Association's information technology team assures that CUNA's customer-facing websites are not impacted by the Heartbleed security issue that has been reported in News Now and the general press.
 
CUNA Vice President of IT Tom Nohelty said Tuesday that CUNA is applying all Heartbleed patches to applicable systems, even to environments not currently using the Open Secure Socket Layer (OpenSSL) technology at issue with the Heartbleed "bug."
 
"This extra measure will prevent any future problems if we choose to implement OpenSSL at a later time," Nohelty explained.
 
The Heartbleed threat is a flaw in the OpenSSL technology that is used to establish secure links between servers and users. Although CUNA and many credit unions have been able to assure their web users in the face of the security threat, Heartbleed has reportedly exposed millions of usernames, passwords and other information.
 
In general, Nohelty said, CUNA would recommend that all users of its website change their passwords on a routine basis to protect themselves and their personal data as these kinds of security issues will continue to present themselves.

Card, member protection headline Calif. league rally

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (4/16/14)--The collective voice of California credit unions was heard loud and clear in Sacramento April 7-8, as industry leaders from throughout the state took part in the California Credit Union League's (CCUL) 2014 Government Relations Rally.

More than 75 participants traveled to the state capitol to meet and build relationships with the state's lawmakers ( In the News April 15).

Among other issues, card security and consumer protection headlined discussions between industry leaders and legislators during the event, as, of course, problems with data breaches persist.

"It's important for the credit union industry to come together and be a stronger voice for consumers," said Donna Bland, CEO, The Golden 1 CU, Sacramento, with $8.2 billion in assets. "I would hope that today's issue regarding card security would be common ground for all financial institutions. It's not a political issue, it's about consumer protection."

Several bills, including those concerned with the 2015 Europay-Mastercard-Visa (EMV) chip deadline for card issuers and retailers; personal privacy protection; tax credits; and the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) loan payments, also received considerable attention.

"If we don't show up, we could face the unintended consequences of bad legislation," said John Cassidy, CEO, Sierra Central CU, Yuba City, with $671 million in assets. "Our capacity of communicating our message to legislators has never been better, but it needs to continue to grow. Engaging with lawmakers is the way to accomplish this."

"It's crucial you are here and tell your story," added Jan Owen, California Department of Business Oversight commissioner, before the event kicked off ( In the News April 14).

Deputy Commissioner of Credit Unions Erick Orellana, in a session co-hosted with Owen, spoke about the financial health of state-licensed credit unions.

While the state-licensed credit unions carry a bit more risk than the average California credit union, Orellana said, they continue to be stable and strong. Financial data keeps improving as well, he said.

Have Bankziety? Minn. league prescribes a cure

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (4/16/14)--Wedding season is around the corner, and if your wallet has the wedding bell blues, it may need a visit to the Minnesota Credit Union Network's (MnCUN) Bankziety website.
 
The average wedding budget skirted a record-high $30,000 in 2013, according to wedding website TheKnot.com , which surveyed 13,000 brides and grooms married last year, and MnCUN's consumer education website has tips for this year's newlyweds in waiting.
 
Bankziety's "wedding planning woes" section offers tips to get off on the right foot while walking down the aisle:
  • Make a list of short- and long-term needs and wants. Is there a new car or house in the future? Set a savings goal to cover a down payment.
  • Build an emergency fund, pronto.
  • Develop and stick to a budget that includes financial goals. Make sure to revisit it to reassess the goals' status.
Consumers can check their symptoms of house-buying headaches, baby budget blues and retirement restlessness--all of which can be cured with a helpful credit union that Bankziety can help locate.
 
MnCUN's website defines Bankziety as "uneasiness, distress or mental apprehension, usually over an impending interaction with a bank; anticipated financial stress; concern over banking fees and rates."
 
The refreshed site, which was launched two years ago, also features stories from members who have been "cured" of using banks.
 
"Today's uncertain economic times have left many consumers confused about who they can trust when it comes to their money, but Minnesota credit unions have the cure for their Bankziety," said league president/CEO Mark Cummins.

'Overwhelming' response to N.J. CUs' 'trust' billboard

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (4/16/14)--The New Jersey Credit Union League reported an "overwhelming" response to a recent billboard campaign that supported the "Banking You Can Trust" credit union awareness website.  

 
A New Jersey Credit Union League billboard campaign displayed the $47,589,899 dollar figure that New Jersey credit unions saved New Jersey residents in 2013 and a unique URL tracked back to the Banking You Can Trust site with an explanation of the number. The campaign helped attract a record 6,000 unique visitors and more than 11,000 page views to the Banking You Can Trust website in the first quarter (New Jersey Credit Union League photo)

The "Banking You Can Trust" website attracted a record 6,000 unique visitors and more than 11,000 page views in the first quarter. More than 56% of the traffic can be attributed back to a secretive billboard campaign the league ran through its Banking You Can Trust advertising program.
 
The billboard campaign was simple, displaying just the $47,589,899 figure that New Jersey credit unions saved New Jersey residents in 2013 and a unique URL, www.whyitsimportant.com. The URL tracked back to the "Banking You Can Trust" site with an explanation of the number.
 
During the process of understanding the billboard, 24.5% of visitors searched for a credit union during their visit to the site. Visitors through the campaign also spent significantly longer on the site, over four minutes, compared with visitors from all other advertising outlets.
 
"We kept the billboard campaign a secret so we could analyze the impact and success of the campaign without too many credit union folks visiting the site upon launch," said Candice Nigro, the league's director of marketing and communications ( Daily Exchange April 15). "The campaign began running over Super Bowl weekend and will continue through 2014, but we will change the message throughout."
 
April numbers are already looking strong for the campaign with almost 60% of visitors coming from the billboards.

 

CUs on tap for panel at May 21 National Savings Forum

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WASHINGTON (4/16/14)--The Consumer Federation of America's National Savings Forum will feature credit union representatives on its panel discussions.
 
The forum, set for May 21 in Washington, D.C., includes updates from the America Saves program.
 
Bill Myers, director of the Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives at the National Credit Union Administration, will moderate the session on business models for the low- to moderate-income market. Credit unions will be represented by:
  • George Hofheimer, chief research and innovation officer, Filene Research Institute;
  • Cathie Mahon, president/CEO, Federation of Community Development Credit Unions;
  • Paul Phillips, president/CEO, Freedom First FCU, Roanoke, Va.; and
  • Rick Wieczorek, president/CEO, Mid-Atlantic FCU, Germantown, Md.
Gigi Hyland, director of the National Credit Union Foundation, will moderate the panel on how public policy fosters savings from youth to retirement.
 
The National Savings Forum is presented by the Consumer Federation of America, Aspen Institute, Initiative on Financial Security, Credit Union National Association, Investment Company Institute, National Credit Union Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Mobile payments to jump 40% globally: Juniper

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HAMPSHIRE, U.K. (4/16/14)--The value of payments completed through mobile devices worldwide will reach around $507 billion this year, a rise of nearly 40% year-over-year, according to a new report from Juniper Research.
 
The growth will be driven by purchases of physical goods, according to the report, "Mobile Payment Strategies: Remote, Contactless and Money Transfer 2014-2018." Average transaction sizes made with tablets are already exceeding those via desktop PCs in many markets. While spending on smartphones is increasing sharply, their primary function in retail lies search-and-discovery devices, with the final purchase being made on the tablet.
 
Meanwhile, the scale of digital transactions received a boost through mobile ticketing applications, with metro and transit authorities in Europe and North America that have already deployed services experiencing high levels of adoption.
 
However, the report observed that progress in contactless mobile payments had been slow, with few commercial launches. Nevertheless, it argued that the prognosis for the medium term was brighter, following the emergence of cloud-based solutions which offer the opportunity for reduced time to market for near-field communication solutions.

Jazz shoot, score $31K for Mountain America cancer charity

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SALT LAKE CITY (4/15/14)--When the Utah Jazz drained a three-pointer this NBA season, they weren't just lighting up the scoreboard, they were also lighting it up for a Utah-based charity.

Through a partnership with Mountain America CU, West Jordan, Utah, the Huntsman Cancer Foundation earned more than $25,000 this year, or $50 for every three-pointer made by a player on the Jazz.

It was the fifth consecutive year the $3.6 billion-asset credit union partnered with the Jazz to put on this benefit.

With 523 made baskets from beyond the arc, Mountain America awarded the foundation a grand total of $26,150 during halftime of the Jazz's game against the Portland Trailblazers Friday.

"Both Mountain America Credit Union and the Utah Jazz have been steadfast supporters of cancer research at Huntsman Cancer Institute," said David Huntsman, Huntsman Cancer Foundation president.

The foundation also received an additional $5,000 donation at Friday's game from the "Pass It Along" program, another partnership between the Utah Jazz and Mountain America where fans can nominate charities for which they'd like to raise money.  

All organizations picked for the "Pass It Along" program were treated with a special visit from the entire Jazz team, tickets to an upcoming game and in-arena recognition, in addition to the monetary contributions.

Huntsman Cancer Foundation, one of the six organizations picked for the program, was formed in 1995 to ensure the financial future of cutting-edge research at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, based out of Salt Lake City.

Mountain America has donated more than $100,000 to the organization over the last 10 years.

CUs tally up Money Smart Week events

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MADISON, Wis. (4/15/14)--Money Smart Week ended Saturday, and credit unions are tallying up the experiences they provided to their members and communities.
 
Gov. Rick Snyder reads "The Berenstain Bears' Trouble with Money" at the Detroit Public Library Campbell branch. (Michigan Credit Union League photo)
In Detroit, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was a guest reader at the Campbell branch of the Detroit Public Library ( Michigan Monitor April 14). In addition to reading "The Berenstain Bears' Trouble with Money," Snyder shared his financial advice with the young audience.
 
"Do you have a budget today? Do you know how to manage your money?" Snyder asked.
 
The Michigan Credit Union League donated 3,300 copies of the children's book. Village Community CU, Dearborn, with $18 million in assets, helped out at the governor's reading, while Vibe CU, Novi, with $416 million in assets, participated at the Berkley (Mich.) Public Library.
 
League Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer Ken Ross said, "Money Smart Week is a great time to take a step back from the day to day and to really focus on developing those skills that are necessary to use your money wisely in order to be a successful consumer."
 
In Missouri, Nikhil Krishmam of Fenton, Kyle Reading of O'Fallon and Chloe Momphard of Troy each earned a 2014 Money Smart Kid Essay scholarship April 4. The contest was sponsored in part by Vantage CU, a $705 million-asset credit union in Bridgeton, Mo. Scholarship amounts ranged from $500 to $2,000.
 
"This contest allows area students to demonstrate the skills they are learning and offers encouragement us that this generation will be wiser consumers throughout their lives," said Rachel Parrent, Vantage community engagement manager and Money Smart Kid Essay committee chair.
 
More than a dozen areas are participating in this year's essay contest, according to the Money Smart Week website.
 
The "10 Steps to Financial Success" seminar, sponsored by Land of Lincoln CU, Decatur, with $188 million in assets, helped Jennifer Coventry set her savings goals ( Herald-Review April 12). She liked the idea of an emergency fund in case she needed repairs in her home. "I also want to continue learning about how to save for different things like vacation since I haven't taken a vacation in 13 years," she told the Herald-Review .
 
Land of Lincoln CU's Karalee Misner, business development manager, and Melissa Hesse, loan officer, coordinated the seminar. Misner said people have negative connotations with the terms "budget" and "financial management." She noted, "Instead of being apprehensive about a lifestyle change, they should be in the mindset of 'How can I make my money work for me?'"

SEC charges Indiana man for fake CU scheme

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INDIANAPOLIS (4/15/14)--An Indianapolis man was charged last week with conducting "Internet offering fraud" by forming two fake credit unions that promised investors high rates of return, but only stole millions of dollars from them.

On Friday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed action charging Timothy J. Coughlin, 63, and the two entities "Oxford International Credit Union" and "Oxford International Cooperative Union" that turned out to be fake credit unions allegedly created by Coughlin for the purpose of swindling millions from investors through a multi-layered Ponzi scheme.

The SEC's complaint first alleges that Coughlin, through a faux credit union, collected deposits from more than 5,000 investors, totaling more than $12.8 million between June 2007 and December 2009.

Coughlin allegedly took the money to pay for personal expenses, unrelated business expenses and to return money to previous investors, as is the common pattern for traditional Ponzi schemes.

About 3,300 of the investors live in the U.S., with victims hailing from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to an SEC press release.

The fraud went deeper.

To mislead investors, the defendant allegedly reported fake earnings online showing that deposits had been pulling in substantial returns. One occasion listed in the press release cited fake interest rates posted as high as 47% per trading day, or a 356% annual rate of return.

The complaint also alleges that Coughlin formed a second credit union that conducted similarly false and misleading actions to the first entity from 2008 through December 2011.

Coughlin misappropriated nearly $6 million through this operation, again allegedly spending millions on personal expenditures or to pay previous investors attempting to withdraw funds from the fake accounts, according to the release.  

About $4.4 million went to pay back the investors who made the withdrawals.

Eventually, Coughlin began refusing withdrawal requests, defending his refusal with a story that the Internal Revenue Service had frozen both of the organizations' accounts.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia lodged a parallel criminal complaint Monday against Coughlin that charges a number of infringements and seeks "disgorgement of all ill-gotten gains with prejudgment interest, civil penalties, conduct-based injunctions, and an officer-and-director bar" from the defendant.

A warrant has been issued for Coughlin's arrest, according to Monday's Indianapolis Business Journal.

Mazuma CU wants its members to 'bank happy'

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KANSAS CITY, MO. (4/15/14)--Kansas City, Mo.-based Mazuma CU last week unveiled its new brand, built around the theme, "Bank Happy."
 
In addition to a new logo, color scheme, website and social media strategy/campaign, the brand launch features TV and radio commercials.
 
In promoting the new brand, the $470 million-asset credit union said it isn't changing the way it serves its members, but it is promising to lighten up its approach to serving members compared with other financial institutions.
 
"Credit unions are different from banks; they are not for profit, not for charity, but for service," Brandon Michaels, Mazuma CU president/CEO, said. "And part of that service means that members leave us a little happier than when they came."
 
In a video promoting the new brand, Mazuma promises it will provide financial services with a sense of fun that goes beyond a polite thank you.
 
The credit union insists that it will still have the same great service and dedication to keeping its Member's money safe and secure. The difference will be in how they do it: Mazuma t-shirts instead of ties, fist bumps instead of handshakes, jokes instead of forced pleasantries
 
"We believe we can still be awesome caretakers of our members' money and not be a total bore about it," Mazuma Brand Manager Andy Dickhut said. "We believe we owe our members a smile. That's going to be our goal every day."
 
The new website offers locally shot photography and a scrolling format. The credit union also launched its new blog, mazumafy.com, which takes a fun, light-hearted approach to community service, pop culture and financial advice.
 
Mazuma's first-ever TV commercial began airing on local television stations April 9. The spot is centered on a semi-spokesperson, Mazuma Mike, a lovable idiot who has good intentions but unfortunate luck. In the commercial, Mike spoofs credit union values with hilarious results.
 
Mazuma partnered with Lenexa, Kan.-based Beyond Marketing LLC to help develop many aspects of the new brand, including the website, Mazuma Mike campaign, promotional materials and blog.

CUs' strong deposit rates keep beating banks': GOBanking

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LOS ANGELES (4/15/14)--Credit unions continue to offer strong interest rates on deposit products, shutting out banks once again and staying high above the national averages, according to a recent survey by GOBankingRates .
 
Across the board, credit unions were ahead of banks with numbers such as:
  • Savings: Credit unions, 0.14% annual percentage yield (APY) vs. banks, 0.11%;
  • Checking: Credit unions, 0.31% vs. banks, 0.20%; and
  • Money market: Credit unions, 0.19% vs banks, 0.15%.
Certificate of deposit rates at credit unions ranged from 0.08% higher than banks for a six-month CD all the way to 0.29% higher for a 60-month CD. 
 
GOBankingRates surveyed interest rates for more than 26,700 deposit accounts offered by banks and credit unions in the U.S. as of April 1, with an assumed deposit of $10,000. It did not include rates for online-only financial institutions.
 
"Our goal is to encourage our members to use GLCU as their primary financial institution," John Skul, assistant vice president of marketing, Great Lakes CU, North Chicago, Ill., told GOBankingRates (April 9). "Offering them a fantastic rate is a win-win for both GLCU and our members--they receive a great interest rate on their checking account and we benefit when they meet the criteria to receive the great rate," he added.
 
The top 10 credit unions and their products are:
  • Alabama Telco CU, Birmingham, Ala. The $595 million-asset credit union's Centsible Savings account works like a "keep the change" savings program and has 3% APY.
     
  • Great Lakes CU. The Ultimate Checking account from the $643 million-asset credit union is a rewards account with 3% APY and up to a $5 ATM rebate per month.
     
  • Gulf Coast Community FCU, Gulfport, Miss. The $80 million-asset credit union offers the Kasasa cash checking account, which earns 3% APY on balances up to $25,000.
     
  • Lake Michigan CU, Grand Rapids, Mich. The Max checking account from the $3 billion-asset credit union pays 3% APY on balances up to $15,000, with no fees and no minimum balance requirements.
     
  • Meridian Trust FCU, Cheyenne, Wyo. The $283 million-asset credit union's MaxRewards checking account pays up to 3% APY and charges no maintenance fees.
     
  • Partner Colorado CU, Arvada, Colo. The high-interest checking account from the $260 million-asset credit union is a straightforward high-yield account that pays 3% APY as long as account holders complete 20 signature-based debit card transactions, receive e-statements and use online or mobile banking.
     
  • UniWyo FCU, Laramie, Wyo. The maximum interest rate--currently 2.99% APY--is paid on balances up to $15,000 at the $247 million-asset credit union.
     
  • DuPont Community CU, Waynesboro, Va. The $890 million-asset credit union offers 2.78% APY on its Grow Green checking account when 15 debit transactions are performed each month with an amount of at least $250.
     
  • IC FCU, Fitchburg, Mass. Intelligent Checking from the $523 million-asset credit union is a high-yield checking account with no monthly fees. Balances up to $15,000 earn 2.59% APY.
     
  • University of Iowa Community CU, North Liberty, Iowa. The $2.1 billion-asset credit union's Rewards checking account offers 2.5% APY on balances of $0 to $19,999.
 

SECU foundation gives Biz Kid$ to all Ala., Fla. CMNHs

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala., and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (4/15/14)--The Southeastern Credit Union Foundation, an affiliate of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions and Affiliates, is donating a box set of the Emmy Award-winning "Biz Kid$" DVDs for all nine Children's Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals in Alabama and Florida.
 
The program is a joint initiative of Credit Unions for Kids and the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), which aims to provide all 163 CMN Hospitals with a box set of "Biz Kid$" by the end of April, which is National Financial Literacy Month.
 
"'Biz Kid$' has proven to be a great teaching tool," said league president/CEO Patrick La Pine. "By donating these box sets, we're giving kids a chance to understand their finances at an early age. The series does a great job of bringing a complicated subject to the kids' level and making it fun. In turn, they will be on the path to a better financial future."
 
Last month, CO-OP Financial Services announced it will pay $150 of the $300 DVD set, which credit unions are purchasing through NCUF and donating to their local CMN Hospitals.
 
The following CMN Hospitals will receive a box set:
  • Children's Hospital of Alabama, Birmingham, Ala.;
  • University of South Alabama Children's and Women's Hospital, Mobile, Ala.;
  • Shands Children's Hospital at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.;
  • University of Florida and Shands of Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Fla.;
  • Wolfson Children's Hospital, Jacksonville;
  • Miami Children's Hospital, Miami;
  • Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Orlando, Fla.;
  • Sacred Heart Foundation, Pensacola, Fla.; and
  • All Children's Hospital, St. Petersburg, Fla.
 
"Biz Kid$" is the Emmy Award-winning and credit union-funded public television series that teaches young people about money management and entrepreneurship.

Hash to retire from MECU, Martin in the wings

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BALTIMORE (4/15/14)--Bert J. Hash Jr., president/CEO, MECU of Baltimore Inc., will retire in June, the credit union announced Monday.

Gary J. Martin, MECU's senior vice president and chief lending officer, has been named to replace Hash. 

During Hash's 17-year tenure, MECU expanded to 11 branches in the Baltimore metropolitan area from one, and increased assets to more than $1.3 billion from $400 million.

MECU employees regularly volunteer with nonprofits in the community, and board members often join them. 

Last year, MECU completed the purchase and assumption of Advance Bank, a federally chartered mutual savings bank located in Baltimore--the first time a credit union has acquired a bank in Maryland ( News Now Nov. 1).

Martin joined MECU in 1972 as a loan officer.

"The board had a number of specific qualities they wanted in the new CEO," said Herman Williams Jr., MECU board chair. "We were looking for vision and continued implementation of new technology affecting financial services, but of utmost importance to the entire board was a commitment to MECU's culture of giving back to the community. The board felt that Gary Martin brought together all these qualities."

McFadden featured at Booker's economic forum

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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (4/15/14)--U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) included a New Jersey credit union leader in his women's small business owners forum at Rutgers University last Friday.
 
Chris Abeel, director of government affairs, New Jersey Credit Union League, left, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Linda McFadden, league chair and president/CEO, XCEL FCU, Bloomfield, at Booker's forum for women and small businesses. (New Jersey Credit Union League photo)
Linda McFadden, president/CEO, XCEL FCU, a $151 million-asset credit union in Bloomfield, was a panelist for the "Access to Capital" breakout session ( Daily Exchange April 14).
 
Credit unions' benefits for small business owners were highlighted by McFadden, who is the chair of the New Jersey Credit Union League, and by moderator Elayne McClaine, director, Small Business Development Center, Rutgers University.
 
McClaine noted that "credit unions are a good place to start on the road to becoming bankable," while McFadden added it's because credit unions treat everyone on a one-to-one basis.
 
About 200 women business owners attended Booker's forum, which included lawmakers, financial institutions and Small Business Administration officials.

CU System briefs (04/14/2014)

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  • "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" host Terry Madonna, left, Pennsylvania Credit Union Association President/CEO Patrick Conway and Senior Vice President Mike Wishnow.
    HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/14/14)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association focused on National Financial Literacy Month during its latest monthly segment of "Pennsylvania Newsmakers," hosted by Terry Madonna ( Life is a Highway April 11). PCUA President/CEO Patrick Conway and Senior Vice President Mike Wishnow talked about credit union contributions to financial education in schools and communities. They also reviewed last year's report from the state's Task Force for Economic Education and Financial Literacy, which tackled increased financial education in schools, teacher training and a personal finance course requirement for high school graduates. "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" will air tonight, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday on TV stations in the Philadelphia, Altoona and Pittsburgh areas (Pennsylvania Credit Union Association photo) ...
     
  • MANCHESTER, N.H. (4/14/14)-- Members First CU of New Hampshire, Manchester, committed $15,000 to the Palace Theatre's Second Century capital campaign ( Daily CU Scan April 11). On hand for the announcement were Peter Ramsey, president, Palace Theatre; Colleen Murray, director, Members First CU; and State Sen. Lou D'Allesandro (D-Manchester). A plaque commemorating the $141 million-asset credit union's donation was placed in the theater's alcove. The Manchester arts venue was built in 1914 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places ...
     
  • SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (4/14/14)-- Heritage Trust FCU, a $475 million-asset credit union in Summerville, S.C.. announced the results of two of its recent fundraising campaigns--a combined total of more than $18,000 . Its "Shamrocks against Dystrophy" fundraiser brought in more than $6,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in March.  The four-week drive resulted in enough money to send eight children to summer programs at Camp Ebenezer. Heritage Trust hosted its 10th annual charity golf tournament to benefit the American Cancer Society, which raised $12,000. More than 50 players joined local business and industry leaders for the event, the proceeds which will be presented at the April 25 Relay for Life event ...
     
  • BETHALTO and ALTON, Ill. (4/14/14)-- 1st MidAmerica CU, Bethalto, Ill., $497 million in assets, and Laclede Community CU, Alton, Ill., $63 million in assets, announced their merger, effective May 31 . The board and membership of Laclede Community CU approved the merger April 8. 1st America will be the continuing credit union, and employees of both credit unions will continue their work with 1st MidAmerica. Two of the existing Laclede Community branches will remain open . . .

La. electronic-doc bill sent to House

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HARAHAN, La. (4/14/14)--The Louisiana House Commerce Committee Tuesday approved a bill that would help relieve the burden of maintaining paper records for state credit unions.
 
Although the practice of electronic document storage is widely accepted in the U.S., current Louisiana law restricts financial institution reliance on electronic storage of certain records, the Louisiana Credit Union League (LCUL) reported.
 
House Bill 661 will be sent to the House of Representatives for a vote this week.
 
The bill was drafted by LCUL, Adams & Reese, and the Trimmier Law Firm, with input from the Louisiana Bankers Association. Steve Webb, chief operating officer, Neighbors FCU, a $632 million-asset credit union in Baton Rouge, testified on behalf of Louisiana credit unions in front of the House Commerce Committee in Baton Rouge April 8. 
 
The bill would:
  • Allow financial institutions to choose whether to rely on traditional paper records or digitally reproduced records;
  • Enhance confidence in digital record storage, retention and file integrity;
  • Give certain reproductions of records the same legal status as paper records;
  • Allow financial institutions to take advantage of scanning advances of the 21st century;
  • Decrease costs for financial institutions and consumers by eliminating the expense of retention of paper documents; and
  • Require that reproductions are certified by a representative of a financial institution.
"If passed, this legislation has the potential to benefit all credit unions in Louisiana," said Connie Major, league executive vice president.

NW mudslide relief efforts top $100K

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SEATAC, Wash. (4/14/14)--In all, Northwest credit unions and the Northwest Credit Union Association have raised more than $102,000 to help aid the victims and their families affected by the mudslide that tragically hit a community just north of Seattle last month.
Qualstar CU member Ty Suddarth was running errands when the Oso mudslide hit; however his partner, Amanda Skorjanc, and their baby, Duke, were both home and sustained critical injuries. (Northwest Credit Union Association photo)

The Northwest Credit Union Foundation spearheaded the effort, bringing in about $65,000 in donations, but many other individuals and credit unions also contributed.

For example, a fund has been started at Qualstar CU, Redmond, Wash., $345 million in assets, to help Ty Suddarth, his partner, Amanda Skorjanc, and their baby, Duke, who lost their home along with all of their possessions in the mudslide March 22.

Suddarth had been out running errands when the slide occurred, but Skorjanc and Duke were still home. They survived, but both suffered critical injuries and remain at Harborview Medical Center for treatment.

Qualstar has been building up a fund to help the family pay for new clothes, household items and medical expenses, and as of last week the fund had reached nearly $19,500, with an ultimate goal of $30,000.

BECU, $11.9 billion in assets, meanwhile, through its employee giving program, launched a two-for-one match for any donation over $25.

Credit union employees have donated $11,858, and BECU has offered up $23,716 in matching dollars through that effort, bringing their total up to $35,574. The Tukwila-based credit union will deliver checks to the Red Cross and United Way of Snohomish County Tuesday.

Spokane Teachers CU, Liberty Lake, Wash., $1.8 billion in assets, has raised $2,105 as of April 9 through its "Oso Strong!" campaign. The funds will be donated to the Red Cross in the Spokane area as well.  

The foundation also received $5,000 donations each from OSU FCU, Corvallis, Ore., $830 million in assets; Washington State ECU, Olympia, Wash., $1.9 billion in assets; and Alaska USA FCU, Anchorage, Alaska, $5.4 billion in assets.

Clackamas FCU, Milwaukie, Ore., $253 million in assets, and First Tech FCU, Mountain View, Calif.,  $6.5 billion in assets, each contributed $2,500.

About a dozen $1,000 donations from credit unions throughout the Northwest also were sent.  

The grand total for donations will likely continue to balloon as well, said Gary Stein of Northwest Credit Union Association, who is still waiting for checks from more than a dozen credit unions in the region.

GESA CU, Richland, Wash., $1.3 billion in assets, also plans to match community members' donations, dollar-for-dollar, up to $10,000, but Stein hasn't yet seen the total.

"Credit unions exist to help people, and we are committed to doing what we can to help," said GESA CU President/CEO Don Miller ( Anthem April 8). "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones, the families who have lost homes, and the first responders who are still working to find survivors."

CUs' fin. ed. efforts earn national kudos

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SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (4/14/14)--The Institute for Financial Literacy (IFL) recognized credit unions' commitment to financial education with three of its Excellence in Financial Literacy Education (EIFLE) awards.

EIFLE awards promote the effective delivery of consumer financial products, services and education. IFL's mission is to promote effective financial education and counseling. It sets the national standards for adult financial literacy education and administers the Center for Consumer Financial Research.

A+ FCU, a $1 billion-asset credit union in Austin, Texas, was honored for its youth financial camps for their success in teaching children income planning and money management.
 
"As a credit union founded by educators nearly 65 years ago, it is part of our culture to provide financial literacy education to the communities we serve," said CEO Kerry A.S. Parker. The programs have reached more than 400 students in the Greater Austin area.

In the category of education program of the year, income and careers for children, IFL honored America's Credit Union Museum's CU 4 Reality financial education program. Forty-one credit unions and leagues use the program that takes hands-on approach with practical application of budgeting.

Ingrid Adade, financial education officer at $633 million-asset Leominster CU, Boston, was named educator of the year. Adade gives financial education presentations to all ages, including elementary-age students who are visited by "Grandma Moneybags" and college students who learn about financial well-being and career development during her "Finding Easy Street" seminar. Additionally, she was named a credit union hero by Banker and Tradesman (9/18/13).

Ala. CUs to receive 3rd-straight shared branching dividend

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BIRMHINGHAM, Ala. (4/14/14)--Credit unions participating in the Credit Union Service Centers (CUSC) of Alabama will receive patronage rebates and dividends for the third year in a row this year, the credit union service organization announced Thursday.

Any program issuers or acquirers will receive patronage rebates from CUSC through revenue generated by total transactions over 2013, or 60% of the organization's income, before taxes. Participating credit unions also will receive a 10% dividend of net income.

"Shared branching is a great way to earn income and also increase your value to your membership," said Patrick La Pine, CUSC chairman. "Seventy percent of 2013 net income before taxes is being returned to credit unions. The CUSC network would not be as strong as it is without participating credit unions. To be able to offer a rebate and patronage dividend for three years shows that shared branching works."

Credit unions also received a boost in income for their involvement in the shared-branch cooperative last year, as CUSC reduced the transaction fee structure by 10 cents. 

With 25 new credit unions in the mix in 2013, the network now features 151 service providers, all of which can now be identified with the cooperative's new logo.  

The network allows credit unions throughout Alabama, across the nation and abroad to share facilities and provide even more services and access to their memberships.

Through the co-op, members have access to their account in more than 5,000 locations.

Parents approach saving for college wrong: Sallie Mae

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NEWARK, Del. (4/14/14)--Parents may be saving more for college this year than last--overall savings are up 7%--but the most-common vehicle they use to set aside the funds isn't the most effective.
 
According to Sallie Mae's fourth survey, "How America Saves for College 2014," 51% of families have established college savings funds. Retirement remains the dominant area for savings--53% of the savings are tucked away for retirement--and college savings come in 10%.
 
The report is based on Ipsos' nationally representative survey of 2,020 parents of children under age 18 conducted in November and December 2013 by Sallie Mae, a financial services provider specializing in education.
 
The average college savings account holds $15,346, up 30% from the 2013 survey. Forty-five percent of parents use a general savings account and checking accounts are at 27%.
 
Perhaps lesser known are the college-specific savings accounts such as 529 plans (29%), prepaid state college plans (14%) and Coverdell education savings accounts (13%).
 
The college-specific plans are the best vehicle, said Kimberly Foss, founder/president of Empyrion Wealth Management, Roseville, Calif. ( MarketWatch April 10). "There aren't many reasons not to use it," she said. Tax-deferred investments in 529 plans are distributed tax-free at the federal level, and 34 states plus Washington, D.C., offer state income-tax deductions for the plans.

General savings accounts can't compete with the benefits of a 529 plans, Foss said, adding that 529 plans are treated favorably by colleges' financial aid offices.
 
Parents also should look into prepaid college tuition plans if they think their child will go to an in-state school. Only 14% of parents use these plans, according to Sallie Mae.
 
However, of the parents who are saving for their own retirement, 30% expect to break into that piggy bank to cover college costs. Foss discourages this plan. "Your kids can always find some way to get loans for school, but no one but you is going to finance your retirement," she told MarketWatch.

CU System briefs (04/11/2014)

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  • SYRACUSE, N.Y. (4/11/14)--CORE FCU, East Syracuse, N.Y., will mark $1 million in student deposits with a scholarship drawing Monday (The Post-Standard April 9). The $80 million-asset credit union will draw one student's name from young members who have made deposits in the past eight weeks. The student will win a $2,500 scholarship, an iPad mini and a $250 donation to the student's charity of choice. CORE FCU opened the first student-run credit union in central New York at East Syracuse-Minoa High School nine years ago. Nearly 700 students are involved in its in-school banking program in the East Syracuse, Minoa, Morrisville and Eaton school districts, along with four area Catholic schools ...
     
  • KALAMAZOO, Mich. (4/11/14)--The Kalamazoo (Mich.) City Commission voted to accept the more than $7,000 donation from Kalsee CU to purchase eight bulletproof vests for the city's K-9 force (Western Herald April 9). To raise the money, the $141 million-asset credit union broke a Guinness World Record for most coins--869--tossed in a bucket in one minute. Police Chief Jeff Hadley of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety said the donation gives officers and dogs up-to-date technology ...
     
  • Click to view larger image From left, Gen. Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe; Col. Frank Gonzales; Senior Airman Kelvin Magee; Josh Barrett, branch manager, Andrews FCU; Capt. Raymond Sealey; Senior Master Sgt. Shantell Frierson; Tech. Sgt. David Carlson; Staff Sgt. Richard Wilkins; Senior Airman Bryan Calenda; Lt. Gen. Mark Schissler, deputy chairman, NATO Military Committee; Staff Sgt. Alexander Arnobit; and Roger Barrett (Andrews FCU photo)
    SUITLAND, Md. (4/11/14)--Andrews FCU, Suitland, Md., sponsored the U.S. Air Force awards dinner at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium. The event awarded the top promotable grade officers, senior non-commissioned officers, non-commissioned officers and airmen of the SHAPE/Chievres community. "They do great things every day that go unheralded, so this small example is just the tip of the iceberg of their potential and accomplishments," said Josh Barrett, Chievres branch manager of the $1 billion-asset credit union. The winners proceed to the European competition in Ramstein, Germany  ...

Va. league names Farley, Kirsch award winners

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (4/11/14)--The Virginia Credit Union League announced the recipients of its individual awards at the league's 80th annual meeting in Williamsburg.
 
Cliff DeMars, a volunteer from the $121 million-asset Blue Eagle CU, Roanoke, Va., was awarded the league's highest honor, the James P. Kirsch Lifetime Achievement Award.
 
The James P. Kirsch Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes those individuals who have unselfishly devoted their time and energy to ensuring a brighter, better future for credit unions.
 
DeMars has served on the Virginia league's board of directors since 2002 and served as league chair from 2006 to 2008. He is also a member of the board of directors for the Credit Unions Care Foundation of Virginia, a charitable organization founded by Virginia's credit unions in 2009 to coordinate credit unions' charitable, financial education, and community service work.
 
Alison DeTuncq, president/CEO of the $655 million-asset University of Virginia Community CU, Charlottesville, Va., was awarded the Eugene H. Farley Jr. Award of Excellence.
 
The award is presented to a credit union professional or volunteer official in recognition of his or her outstanding contributions to an individual credit union or to the credit union movement. In particular, the award seeks to recognize achievements that exemplify credit unions' people-helping-people" philosophy.
 
UVA Community CU made headlines recently for participation in its local energy-efficiency advocate nonprofit--the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP). An alliance comprised of local governments, energy and water utilities, the University of Virginia, Piedmont Virginia Community College and other stakeholders, LEAP's operation is part of a national initiative to improve the energy efficiency of homes and buildings in an effort to create jobs, save money, lessen dependence on foreign oil and improve air quality.
 
DeTuncq is the only Virginia-based director on the board of Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU, Middletown, Pa. She is also a member of the league's Partnership Committee, which works jointly with the World Council of Credit Unions to aid the growing credit union system in the Baltic nation of Estonia.

N.Y. membership growth fastest in 17 years, says league

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ALBANY N.Y. (4/11/14)--New York credit union year-end numbers are in, and they're big.

Credit unions in the Empire State reeled in one of their strongest years since the economic downturn in 2008, and also outpaced credit unions nationally, according to the 2013 New York Credit Union Year-End Profile.

Out of all the areas where the state's credit unions saw growth, gains in membership were perhaps most notable.

According to the Credit Union Association of New York, which compiled the numbers, annual membership jumped 4.5%, or by 216,000 new members, the largest increase in 17 years.

This upswing, pushing total membership to 4.9 million in New York, trumped the national average of 2.5% for credit union growth in membership in 2013.

"These numbers show that New York consumers continue to take note of the outstanding financial services, low fees and high returns offered by the state's credit unions," CUANY President/CEO William J. Mellin said. "Beyond providing over $300 million in direct financial benefits to members each year, credit unions are making a difference in communities across our great state."

Assets at credit unions in New York jumped by 4.6%, loan growth snapped higher by 6.8% and member business lending leapt by 13.9%.

Shares increased by 4.4%, and year-end capital levels sat at 11% of assets, the highest since 2008.

All categories outperformed national averages.

Inflation bigger worry than debt for parents, survey finds

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BALTIMORE (4/11/14)--The rising price of products and services topped the list of issues parents worry about when thinking about family finances, the much-discussed T. Rowe Price's "Parent, Kids and Money Survey" found recently.

Click to view larger image Click for larger view
Nearly three-quarters of parents worry about inflation, while only 53% of those polled said they're concerned about taking on too much debt.

No matter where their concerns lie, the large majority of parents said they're concerned about setting a good example for their kids in terms of managing finances, at 69%.

Many parents, though, doubt their abilities to set that good example.

The survey, in its sixth year running, found that 28% of parents don't believe they handle money well and so they shouldn't be the ones teaching their kids about managing finances, while 87% agreed it was appropriate for children to learn about money in school.  

Further, 22% of parents said they carry balances on their credit cards all the time, and 74% said they're reluctant to talk to their kids about money. 

As for the survey's college-related findings, parents "mistakenly" prioritize saving for college over retirement at a rate of 52%, while 28% of parents say college costs keep them up at night.

Additional findings:
  • Nearly 50% of parents admit to bribing kids with money to encourage good behavior, while 30% admit to borrowing money from their kids' piggy banks.
     
  • Children go to their moms before their dads with financial questions, with moms being approached 58% of the time compared with 39% for dad. Meanwhile, 70% of dads say household financial responsibility belongs to them, while 66% of moms claim responsibility for household finances.
     
  • Sixty-five percent of kids whose parents are saving for college believe they will "definitely" attend college, while 38% of kids whose parents don't save say they will definitely go. 
For the full list of survey results use the resource link.

CUs assure members in face of Heartbleed, receive threat guidance

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MADISON, Wis. (4/11/14)--When the Heartbleed security flaw made news earlier this week, credit unions moved swiftly to inform members of the steps they had taken to protect their online banking credentials.
 
The Heartbleed bug--a flaw in the Open Secure Socket Layer (OpenSSL) technology used to establish secure links between servers and users--exposed millions of usernames, passwords and other information.
 
Undetected for more than two years, the bug affects two-thirds of encrypted websites. 
 
Many credit unions reassured members via email or on their websites if their online systems did not use OpenSSL, if their third-party providers were up-to-date or if they had taken the appropriate measures to secure their sites.
 
Additionally, credit unions shared tips with their members to make their Internet use safer, encouraging them to check the security of other sites they use and to be proactive in password and virus protection.
 
Curtis Sutton, First Class American CU, Fort Worth, Texas, said it's important that credit unions make sure their anti-virus software is up-to-date and that they have intrusion detection on their network (Leaguer April 10). The IT/network manager at the $45 million-asset credit union also said firewalls need to be up-to-date, and security certificates must be current and valid.
 
CUNA Mutual Group distributed a Risk Alert to its bond policyholders advising the following risk-mitigation steps:
  • Credit unions should take immediate steps to identify all critical systems that may be impacted by the Heartbleed security flaw. Security patches made available by vendors should be installed immediately.
     
  • If the online banking server is impacted, credit unions should notify members to change their username and password after the vulnerability has been patched.
     
  • Notify members to closely monitor their accounts and to alert the credit union immediately if unauthorized transactions are detected.
The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) announced Thursday that it expects financial institutions to incorporate patches on systems and services, applications and appliances using OpenSSL and upgrade systems as soon as possible to address the Heartbleed vulnerability.
 
Specifically, FFIEC pointed to replacing private keys and X.509 encryption certificates after applying the patch for each service that uses OpenSSL. It also suggested requiring users and administrators to change passwords after applying the patch.
 
Consumers may be weary of the constant drumbeat about their online security and why it's still a problem for companies and consumers. Steve Kirsch, founder/CEO of OneID, offered, "The real reason we keep having password breaches is because Internet companies don't care enough about consumers' security. They continue to use old practices that are continually being breached. Websites believe that the tools and technology they have in place are secure enough already."
 
Kirsch's company, which is a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider, enables online transactions by linking individuals with their unique digital identity, eliminating usernames, passwords or site-specific accounts.

Consumer mobile use explodes

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BANGLORE, India (4/11/14)--Recent research from GOBankingRates shows that credit unions are keeping pace with banks in providing mobile banking options to their members (News Now April 4). If credit unions needed any more convincing, new data from MobStac, a Banglore, India-based mobile commerce solution provider, shows that consumer mobile adoption is only gaining more traction.
 
Statistics from MobStac reveal how mobile is becoming more embedded in the everyday lives of consumers. Among MobStac's findings:
  • In 2013, U.S. mobile commerce sales grew 63% to $34.2 billion.
  • Seventy-eight percent of smartphone users access retail sites through a mobile app.
  • Traffic from mobile devices accounted for nearly 40% of total online shopping visits on Black Friday and Black Monday in 2013.
  • Fifty-one percent of Facebook referrals for publishers come from mobile.
  • At the end of 2013, 74% of U.S. mobile phone users owned a smartphone, and 55% owned a tablet.
  • By 2015, 81% of all U.S. cellphone users will have smartphones.
  • The number of mobile commerce retail sales is expected to rise to $61 million for tablets and $25 billion for smartphones and other mobile devices by 2016.
  • Sixty-two percent of smartphone users have bought physical goods through their mobile devices in the last six months.
  • Mobile is estimated to account for 25% of all U.S. online sales by 2017.
  • Forty-one percent of shoppers said they redeemed mobile coupons at a department store and 39% mentioned clothing stores.
  • Fifty-seven percent of smartphone users visit the company's site or app while in-store.
  • Forty percent of mobile consumers turn to a competitor's website after a bad mobile experience.
  • In 2013, revenue attributable to mobile apps was $26 billion--up 70% from $18 billion in 2012.

N.M. league awards $125K in scholarships

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (4/11/14)--The New Mexico Credit Union Education Foundation just made 125 students very happy, awarding each with $1,000 through its 2014-15 scholarship program, worth a total of $125,000.  

The foundation, the charitable arm for the Credit Union Association of New Mexico, received more than 300 applications for the awards for this school year.

Applicants must live in New Mexico and meet certain requirements, including minimum grade-point average and full-time enrollment.

The scholarships are given to students attending accredited vocational or technical schools, colleges or universities in New Mexico. The program is funded by special legislation that allows credit unions to repurpose abandoned funds for educational or charitable purposes.

Since 1992, the league has handed out 1,422 scholarships, totaling nearly $1 million in scholarship dollars.

Need money smarts? There's an app for that

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MADISON, Wis. (4/11/14)--Literacy implies understanding, and what better way for credit unions to celebrate April as National Financial Literacy Month than to introduce their members to technology that will help them understand their finances.
 
Bloomberg outlined several apps and websites that help consumers get a better handle on their spending and saving habits:
  • The website StickK helps consumers motivate themselves to meet their financial goals. Consumers put up money that they can meet their financial goals. If they fail, the money goes to charity. For even more motivation, the funds can be committed to a political organization the consumer is against.
  • Opower analyzes energy usage data to provide end-users with information on their consumption and personalized recommendations on how to cut their bills. Opower even advises consumers how much energy they are using in comparison to their neighbors and offers suggestions for saving.
  • The Level Money app provides a constantly updated view of how much disposable cash consumers have, after taking into account savings goals and bills. This keeps consumers from making impulse buys but also provides them with spending money.
  • The app Lift employs coaching, community and data to help consumers succeed. Users can create their own plans, and cheer each other on.
  • Check is an app that organizes bills and provides an alert when it's time to pay them.
  • Mint.com aggregates a consumer's financial accounts into one place and offers tools for setting a budget and tracking goals. The personal finance website also offers social networking.
  • WalletAI uses artificial intelligence to provide insight on spending habits and to offer financial advice. That advice might include warning you not to spend more than $20 per day or to opt for a regular coffee instead of a latte at the coffee shop.
  • LearnVest offers a seven-step plan for money management. For a monthly fee, the site offers each member access to a financial planner.
  • Betterment is an investing website that caters to each investor's level of risk. The site maximizes earning by investing in index funds.

La. league wraps up state GAC

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HARAHAN, La. (4/10/14)--The Louisiana Credit Union League finished its two-day state Governmental Affairs Conference Wednesday.
 
Credit union advocates meet with their state congressional delegates during the Louisiana Credit Union League's Governmental Affairs Conference in Baton Rouge. (Louisiana Credit Union League photo)
Tuesday morning's sessions included a "Day in the Life of a Legislator" by former Rep. Juan LaFonta, who represented Orleans Parish from 2005 to 2012; Rick Metsger, board member, National Credit Union Administration; and local attorney Rob Rieger ( eNews April 9).
 
During the afternoon, attendees met with their local legislators, and more than 30 lawmakers visited with credit union advocates during Tuesday's evening reception.
 
Wednesday featured J.D. Fields, deputy chief examiner, Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions; economist Loren Scott; Ryan Donovan, senior vice president of legislative affairs, Credit Union National Association; and Jeff Brooks, partner in charge, Adams and Reese LLC.
 
The league also welcomed five young credit union professionals to "crash" the state GAC. "Getting young professionals involved in credit union advocacy is crucial," said Whitney Thompson who worked with the league staff on the project. Thompson, a marketing specialist with $106 million-asset Aneca FCU, Shreveport, attended this year's CUNA GAC as a "crasher."

NASCUS reaccredits Calif.'s Dept. of Business Oversight

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ARLINGTON, Va. (4/10/14)--The National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) recently approved the reaccreditation of the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO).

The DBO, which is led by Commissioner Jan Lynn Owen and Deputy Commissioner of Credit Unions Erick Orellana, supervises 146 credit unions with combined assets of roughly $79.3 billion. The DBO was formed on July 1, 2013, through the consolidation of the former Department of Financial Institutions and the former Department of Corporations.

NASCUS accreditation is valid for five years, subject to annual review. The annual review process allows the accredited agency and the NASCUS Performance Standards Committee to measure progress and improvement.

To earn accreditation, an agency's qualifications are evaluated by an accreditation review team, which examines the agency's accreditation application and supporting documents, and conducts an on-site review of agency programs and performance. The California department was first accredited by NASCUS in 1999.

CU System briefs (04/10/2014)

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  • WICHITA, Kan. (4/10/14)--The Kansas Credit Union Association and the state's credit unions raised $109,894 for the three Children's Miracle Network Hospitals in 2013 ( Vision April 7). From casual days to coin drives, 1,800 credit union employees and more than 640,000 members helped support KU Medical Center, Kansas City; St. Francis Health Center, Topeka; and Via Christi Hospitals, Wichita ...
     
  • GREENVILLE, S.C. (4/10/14)-- The board of the former Piedmont Chapter of Credit Unions in South Carolina recently approved its new name of Upstate Chapter of Credit Unions ( In the Loop April 9). The name change clarifies chapter coverage areas in North Carolina and South Carolina's merged league. Metro Charlotte, N.C., is served by the Piedmont Chapter of Credit Unions, and the North Piedmont Chapter serves greater Greensboro, N.C. "Upstate is the most common name of our multi-county area, and there is not a region known as the 'Upstate' in North Carolina, so it made the most logical sense," said Upstate Chapter President Alan Berry, president/CEO, Greenville (S.C.) Heritage FCU ...
     
  • PANAMA CITY, Fla. (4/10/14)-- Tyndall FCU, $1.13 billion in assets, announced the election of Lucy Lewis as board chair -- the first woman to serve in the position for the Panama City, Fla., credit union. She joined the board in 2004 and has served as treasurer and vice chair in the past three years. Lewis currently is on the executive committee and has led the board's ALCO/investment and nominating committees. "Having a female board chairman, I believe, will provide a very strong alliance with our members," President/CEO Jim Warren, said adding that Lewis has a "steadfast commitment" to the credit union's mission and values  ...

Hanscom FCU supports Team Andy in Boston Marathon

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HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (4/10/14)--For most participants, a marathon is an individual event, a test of an athlete's will against distance and time. For Ray Phillips and Andy Martin, the Boston Marathon represents an inspiring partnership that is no less a test of strength and perseverance.
 
Click to view larger image Andy Martin Jr., left, and Ray Phillips have been a Boston Marathon team for 15 years as part of the Credit Unions Kids at Heart program. This year, Martin will compete in the race, using a custom racing wheelchair purchased by Hanscom FCU, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. (Massachusetts Credit Union League photo)
For the 15th year, Ray Phillips, a board member at $1 billion-asset Hanscom FCU, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., and Andy Martin, who was born with spina bifida and is paralyzed below the waist, will take part in the annual spring race to support the "Credit Unions of Massachusetts Have Kids at Heart" program activities to raise funds on behalf of Boston Children's Hospital ( Daily CU Scan April 7).
 
The Credit Unions Kids at Heart program is a group of credit unions that collectively raise funds for the hospital and other organizations benefitting children. Each year, runners sponsored by credit unions are paired with a patient-partner child receiving care at Boston Children's Hospital. Runners and patient partners often build lifelong relationships that extend beyond the marathon season.
 
In 2000, Phillips and Martin, who was then 4 years old, teamed up for the first time after meeting at the Children's Hospital marathon team kickoff reception. 
 
"I left the reception feeling quite inspired by Andy's positive spirit, and I decided that since he would be carrying me during the race via his inspiration, it would only be appropriate to reciprocate and carry him part of the way so we could cross the finish line together," Phillips wrote on the Team Andy website. "So we planned on meeting at the final turn in the marathon, at the corner of Hereford and Boylston Streets, 600 yards from the finish line."
 
After the race, Phillips and Martin promised each other that they would cross the finish line at every Boston Marathon together until Martin could take part in the race as a wheelchair entrant, when he turned 18, in 2014. Both of them, true to their word, returned for the next 14 years.

This year, Martin will compete in the race, using a custom racing wheelchair purchased by Hanscom FCU.
 
Martin's preparation for the race required a real commitment, Phillips said.
 
"Andy's commitment to fulfilling his goal has become stronger and stronger," Phillips wrote. "It has been a long journey, and Andy has overcome a number of obstacles and setbacks along the way, but he has shown steadfast determination in pursuit of achieving his lifelong goal."
 
After completing two marathons last fall, the Boston Athletic Association approved Martin as a wheelchair entrant in the 2014 Boston Marathon.   
 
Phillips wrote that he's "just happy to be along for the ride."

"When Andy completes the Boston Marathon in April 2014, it will not just be the completion of a 15-year journey that started for him as a 4-year-old in 2000," he continued. "I expect that the achievement of his lifelong marathon goal will act as a springboard in providing Andy with the self-confidence to aim high in pursuing and achieving future goals along his path."

Heartbleed bug could threaten website security

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WASHINGTON (4/10/14)--As was widely reported in the news media Wednesday, any organization with a website should become educated about a new and stealthy invader--the Heartbleed bug--to determine if it is a threat to their operation.

As described by CNNMoney , the bug leaks information by creating a hole in the software that "the vast majority" of websites use to turn consumers' personal information into more secure strings of random numbers and letters.

Consumers are often advised to look for a padlock image in the address bar of a website with whom they are sharing information. That's a step that website users have been able to easily take to make sure their information is secure--or at least more secure.

However, CNNMoney said now if you see this padlock image it confirms that there's a "good chance" that site is using the encryption software that can be exploited by the Heartbleed bug.

According to several news reports, the bug:
  • Exposes usernames and passwords;
  • Compromises a user's web session in a way that allows another person to pose as that user--no password required; and
  • Enables fraudsters to pose as a legitimate website and bait users into revealing personal information.
SilverSky, a provider of cloud-based managed security solutions and a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider, has contacted customers with a message regarding Heartbleed, calling it a "vulnerability in the OpenSSL encryption standard."

SilverSky recommends that everyone using OpenSSL patch and update to the latest version.

Also, CUNA Mutual Group is developing a risk alert for credit unions on the Heartbleed bug. Watch News Now for that alert.

Mo. CU members save $87M, says 'Show-Me Scorecard'

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ST. LOUIS (4/10/14)--Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) leaders have been telling state and federal lawmakers a story recently, and while the story comes in different forms, it always ends the same: Credit unions offer myriad advantages to those who manage their finances with them.

Click to view larger image Click for larger view
One way Missouri league leaders tell the credit union story is with a brochure that highlights all the ways credit unions benefit their members.  

The "Show-Me Scorecard," which features responses from 53 credit unions across the state, covers information such as total savings for credit union members; youth and adult financial education efforts; community contributions such as scholarships and charitable work; and credit union testimonials ( Missouri Difference April 9).

Total savings for credit union members, thanks to lower loan rates, lower fees and higher savings, totaled $87 million over what they would have paid at banks in 2013.

The league shares its story on a website where legislators and consumers can access information about the state's member-owned institutions. The site features weekly financial tips and stories about how credit unions support both their communities and their members, among other things.

MCUA also has maintained a presence in social media, and continues to ask credit unions and their members to share stories about positive experiences and events at credit unions.

The league encourages credit unions to share data regarding the financial benefits of credit unions, such as loan-rate savings or low interest rates that credit union members enjoy as well.

The story goes on.

Ala. governor signs CU act improvements

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (4/10/14)--Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley Monday signed into law House Bill 165, an update to the Alabama Credit Union Act.
 
"The Alabama Credit Union Act was a law that really needed to be updated," Patrick La Pine, president/CEO of the League of Southeast Credit Unions told News Now. "It will allow Alabama credit unions to operate more efficiently and effectively in today's changing regulatory environment. Our credit unions worked together to educate our lawmakers on the much needed changes. It's a good win for credit unions in the state."
 
Sens. Slade Blackwell (R-Mountain Brook) and Roger Bedford (D-Russellville) spearheaded the effort to pass HB 165 ( News Now March 24).
 
Language in the new bill includes limited liability for boards and directors; new expulsion policy for members of credit unions; new penalties for fraudulent use of the term "credit union;" more protection for credit unions on accounts created by minors; and stronger liability protection to $10,000 from $5,000 on accounts of deceased members.
 
The update, which makes changes to an act that's largely been untouched since its introduction,  governs all state-chartered credit unions.
 
The law is effective May 1. A signed copy is available on the Secretary of State's website, and the Alabama Credit Union Association is currently working with the governor's office to schedule a bill-signing ceremony.

Campus presence gives Bethpage edge for student fin. ed.

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BROOKVILLE, N.Y. (4/10/14)--Bethpage (N.Y.) FCU recently received a bid to open a new branch on Long Island University's campus, continuing a trend of financial institutions looking to reach college students early on.  

But it likely wasn't only the basic financial services provided by the $5.4 billion-asset credit union that earned it admission onto the campus.

The credit union's ability to deliver financial education appeared to resonate with officials at the Brookville, N.Y., university as well.

"A big part of this for the president, when we were negotiating this deal, was 'what are we going to do for the students?'" Linda Armyn, Bethpage senior vice president of corporate strategy, told Long Island Business News in Wednesday's article. "Would we hire students to work in the branch as a learning tool? Sponsor student events? It was all about the students."
 
With work experience emphasized at the university, Bethpage will employ students. The credit union also plans to become involved in campus events and co-sponsor financial literacy classes and summer sports camps.
 
"This was a new opportunity for us to go in, work with the student body, staff and faculty and try to create synergy between both organizations," Armyn told Long Island Business News .  
 
Kimberly Cline, Long Island University president, was quoted in the article saying the school is "honored to partner" with the community-minded Long Island financial institution.

CUs among best places to work in Texas

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/10/14)--Five credit unions were included in the recently released 2014 "Best Companies to Work for in Texas" rankings.

The rankings, created in 2006 to recognize the best places of employment in Texas, only feature 100 different companies. The awards program is a project of Texas Monthly , the Texas Association of Business, Texas Society for Human Resource Management and Best Companies Group.

Among the top 100 were Randolph-Brooks FCU, Live Oak, with $5.7 billion in assets; North East Texas CU, Lone Star, with $128 million in assets; and Smart Financial CU, Houston, with $561 million in assets. Vienna, Va.-based Navy FCU, $55 billion in assets, also made it on the list with its 12 locations in Texas.  

DATCU, Denton, with $688 million in assets, was the highest-ranked credit union of the four, earning fourth in the medium-employer category.

Randolph-Brooks made the list for the fifth straight year.

"By providing a positive environment for our employees, we ensure that they're able to provide the best possible service to our members," said Christopher O'Connor, Randolph-Brooks FCU president/CEO. "We're committed to making RBFCU the best financial institution in Texas, as well as making it a great place to build a career."

Network develops female CU leaders in Kan., Mo.

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ST. LOUIS (4/10/14)--Established nearly five years ago, the Women's Association of Credit Union Leaders (WACUL) offers both support and networking resources for female credit union leaders in Kansas and Missouri.
 
WACUL was founded by Lisa Ginter, chief operating officer of $1.8 million-asset CommunityAmerica CU, Lenexa, Kan., and Glenna Osborn, president of $42 million-asset Missouri Central CU, Lee's Summit, Mo. ( Missouri Difference April 8). 
 
"WACUL is a powerful networking forum that allows women leaders to learn, grow, and exchange ideas for purposes of development," said Ginter. "The greatest takeaway from this type of group is the friendships that get formed. Women in leadership positions are growing, and this provides an avenue to form bonds and learn at the same time."
 
Ginter and Osborn said the fellowship benefits not only the women, but also their credit unions. For example, WACUL assisted one of its members in paying league dues to the Missouri Credit Union Association, a gesture that ensured that that credit union had access to the tools and resources to best serve its credit union members and community.  
 
The first official WACUL meeting was held June 24, 2010. The organization now includes 28 members.
 
"It's not the intention of WACUL to separate women from men," said Osborn. "Men hold pivotal leadership roles in the industry as well--leaders from both genders are needed to create a healthy corporate environment. Rather, WACUL's meetings are tailored to speak to female professionals and help them develop stronger executive skills."

Millennials shift away from car ownership

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NEW YORK (4/10/14)--To generations that idolized the car culture of "American Graffiti" or "Dazed and Confused," it's hard to comprehend why a young person wouldn't want a car.
 
New interests and priorities have shifted the attitude of the Millennial generation--those age 18 to 34--away from cars. Cars are on the shoulder, while "must-have personal technology products take up the fast lane," said a March 26 Fast Company article.
 
Fewer new cars are purchased by this market--from 2007 to 2011, the number fell almost 30%. At 80 million strong and with $200 billion in purchasing power, it's a market that automakers and loan providers need to reach. Credit unions make a lot of auto loans--as of February, 31% of their loans fell into the new- or used-car category, according to numbers from the Credit Union National Association.
 
Economic conditions are part of the issue--weak job market, student loan debt--but Fast Company 's survey of college millennial consumers (CMCs) found that the freedom factor of a car has been replaced by technology.
 
The tech gadget is more highly valued than transportation or owning a car. "Think about it: while CMCs are likely to share a car and a ride, there's no way they would ever share their phone," the article noted.
 
Without the physical need to get together--why hang out at the mall when you can Skype or chat in-game?--Millennials make connections online for every facet of their lives.
 
Without a need to get somewhere, older teens are putting off getting their driver's license. According to a 2013 survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 44% of teens obtain their driver's license within 12 months of the legal age for their state, and just over half--54%--have their licenses by the time they turn 18. Without a license, the inclination to become a driver--and car owner--drops.
 
But by looking at CMCs' preferences for practical, accessible and environmentally friendly modes of transportation, the article noted, both automakers and financial institutions may find models that fit everyone to a T.

CUNA board leadership roundtable registration open

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MADISON, Wis. (4/9/14)--Registration is now open for an event that features one of the most important conversations about credit unions of the year: the 2014 Credit Union National Association National Credit Union Roundtable for Board Leadership.

Scheduled for Aug. 15-17 in Boston, leaders from the largest credit unions throughout the country will participate in the three-day forum to address and discuss the most important issues facing credit unions today.

"The idea is to prompt impactful conversations among influencers with the clout to initiate large-scale change," said Todd Spiczenski, senior vice president, Center for Professional Development at CUNA.

This year's event will bring facilitated discussions, networking opportunities, and sessions presented by credit union CEOs, board chairs, economists and other industry experts.

A pre-conference Chairman's Workshop is also available.

Session and discussion topics for the roundtable include:
  • "The Future for Digital Banking and Payments," Mark Sievewright, president, Credit Union Solutions at Fiserv;
     
  • "How Social Capital Strengthens Credit Union Performance," Tony Budet and Jerry Davis, president/CEO and board chair, respectively, of University FCU, Austin, Texas, with $1.7 billion in assets;
     
  • "The Evolution of the Canadian Cooperative Financial Model," Suzanne Gendron, founder of the Desjardins Foundation;
     
  • "Economic Update," CUNA Senior Economist Bill Hampel; and
     
  • "State of the Credit Union Industry," Dennis Pierce, president/CEO, CommunityAmerica CU, Lenexa, Kan., with $1.9 billion in assets, and CUNA board chairman.
For additional information or to register for the event use the resource link.

CU System briefs (04/09/2014)

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  • MANCHESTER, N.H. (4/9/14)--New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan designated April as Financial Literacy for Youth Month (Daily CU Scan April 8). The proclamation recognized the "concerned professionals of New Hampshire Jump$tart who volunteer their time and energy to promote financial education for New Hampshire's youth to meet these educational goals." The New Hampshire Jump$tart Coalition focuses on building young people's financial management skills. Among the group's sponsors are Bellwether Community CU, Manchester, $387 million in assets; Members First CU of New Hampshire, Manchester, $141 million in assets; New Hampshire FCU, Concord, $237 million in assets; Northeast CU, Portsmouth, $944 million in assets ; and St. Mary's Bank,  Manchester, $771 million in assets ... 
     
  • BASKING RIDGE, N.J. (4/9/14)--Affinity FCU CEO John Fenton and Senior Vice President/Chief Strategy Officer Joe Herbst challenged each other to a no-shave Mo-VEMBER to raise money for the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (Chatham Patch April 7). Employees at the $2.2 billion-asset credit union in Basking Ridge, N.J., chose a team and made pledges to see which exec could go the longest without shaving. The winning whiskers resulted in a $5,000 presentation to Dr. Eric Singer in support of the institute's free, prostate-cancer screening program ...
     
  • BEAVERTON, Ore., and SAN ANTONIO (4/9/14)--Amy Nelson is now president/CEO of Point West CU, a $91 million-asset credit union in Portland, Ore. Nelson, who was chief operating officer/co-CEO, succeeds Nick Hodson, chief financial officer/co-CEO (Anthem April 8). Hodson is moving to Rivermark Community CU, a $569 million-asset credit union in Beaverton, Ore., April 30. Meanwhile, iQ CU President/CEO Roger Michaelis made his retirement date official. The leader of the Vancouver, Wash., credit union will retire in October after 29 years at the $503 million-asset credit union. iQ CU also is undergoing a merger with Lacamas Community CU,  Camas, $196 million in assets, this year. In related iQ CU news, its former chief operating officer, Ed Turk, will be the president/CEO of Heritage Community CU, Sacramento, Calif., $194 million in assets. Effective June 2, Turk will replace Celeste Martinez, who is retiring after 40 years in the credit union movement (Sacramento Business Journal April 8).  In San Antonio, Alamo FCU has named John Kirk interim chief executive officer (San Antonio Express-News April 2). Kirk, who was chief operating officer at the $43 million-asset credit union, replaces Max Villaronga. Villaronga moved to El Paso (Texas) Area Teachers FCU, $486 million in assets, where he is succeeding retiring president/CEO Claudia Green ...

Ga. CUs saved members $124 million in 2013

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ATLANTA (4/9/14)--With the help of lower loan rates, higher saving rates and lower fees, members of Georgia credit unions chopped $124 million off of what they would have paid had they purchased these services from banks in 2013.

This according to the Member Benefits Index (MBI), released Tuesday by Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA).

"Credit unions are literally structured to serve members," said GCUA President/CEO Mike Mercer. "There are no stockholders ... Credit unions' only purpose is to deliver value to their members, and they do it in all kinds of ways."

For a 60-month new car loan in 2013, Georgia credit unions boasted a 2.81% interest rate compared with 3.61% at the state's banks, according to the MBI. For pre-owned cars, the average 48-month loan carried a 3.05% interest rate at the member-owned institutions, compared with 4.33% at banks in 2013.

These lower rates, among other reasons, appear to be grabbing the attention of Georgia consumers, as credit unions statewide saw a 2.2% increase in membership last year. The state now hosts nearly 2 million credit union members.

Additional credit union advantages in Georgia:
  • Classic credit card interest rate, 11.46% at credit unions vs. 15.75% at banks;
     
  • Gold credit card interest rate, 10.38% at credit unions vs. 11.08% at banks;
     
  • Credit card late fees, $24.56 at credit unions vs. $34.18 at banks; and
     
  • Mortgage closing costs, $1,151 at credit unions vs. $1,361 at banks.

Utah experiences consistent growth across loan lines

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SALT LAKE CITY (4/9/14)--Utah credit unions reported 16.5% growth in loan originations during 2013, more than double the national credit union average of 6.2% for the year, according to the Utah Credit Union Association.
 
Overall, loan growth outpaced share growth, and consumer loans were the focal point of the loan portfolio, the league said (Association Update April 7).
 
Auto loans grew at the fastest pace at 11.1%, with both new and used auto loans increasing. First mortgage loans also posted strong annual growth, increasing 8.4%.
 
Total loan originations at Utah credit unions in 2013 increased 16.5% annually to top $10.5 billion. The increase in loan originations was primarily driven by the growth in consumer loan, which rose by $1.5 billion from 2012.
 
The average member relationship--the outstanding combined loan and share balances per member, excluding business loans--increased, up 1.8% annually to $13,188 at the end of 2013.
 
Utah credit unions' net interest margin of 2.92% was higher than the national average of 2.81%.
 
Credit unions in Utah added 69,507 members during 2013, an annual growth rate of 3.8%.

Reality fairs fun, effective fin. ed. efforts

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MADISON, Wis. (4/9/14)--Interactive reality fairs are not only effective ways to introduce financial education to students, they also are great ways for credit unions to get media coverage for their financial education efforts.
 
April's National Financial Literacy Month is a popular tie-in for credit unions to highlight their reality fairs to the community.
 
Nicole Craw prepares to spin the "Wheel of Reality" during Sikorsky Financial CU's Financial Reality Fair at Stratford (Conn.) High School. The $675 million-asset credit union is holding a number of life and budget simulations throughout the spring. (Sikorsky Financial CU photo)
The New Hampshire Union Leader covered the New Hampshire Credit Union League's CU 4 Reality Fair at America's Credit Union Museum (April 7). Students from Souhegan High School, Amherst, N.H., picked their career of choice and worked with a presumed salary for each occupation. They then created a budget to account for food, rent, transportation and, maybe, a pet.
 
Participants quickly came to the realization that "everything costs a lot of money," as freshman Chris Day told the Union Leader.
 
About 150 eighth-grade students at Thomas Wallace Middle School, Vineland, N.J., had their Financial Reality Fair experiences captured by The Daily Journal. Teens' swipe-and-pay spending pattern means they need to think about the long-range ramifications of their decisions, Bay Atlantic FCU President/CEO Gail Marino told the paper (March 31).
 
Muscatine (Iowa) High School students took part in a Mad City Money simulation, sponsored by $49 million-asset Members Community CU. Credit union employees, including CEO Tim Chapman as car salesman, staffed different life stages for the students--housing, transportation, family.
 
Students at Norwin Area High School, North Huntingdon, Pa., have their budgets reviewed during Norwin Teachers FCU's Reality Fair last week. (Pennsylvania Credit Union Association photo)
Even the best budget could be busted by the "fickle finger of fate"--such as an unexpected $285 expense--or temptation dangled by the Mad City Mall and Fun Station. Eighteen-year-old Tanner Howell said he was challenged by how to treat his fictional spouse. "Your first thought is to be cheap, but you don't wanna go cheap because if you have a wife, you want to treat her right," he told the Muscatine Journal (April 7).
 
Last week, $22 million-asset Norwin Teachers FCU, Irwin, Pa., held a Reality Fair for 125 students at Norwin Area High School (Life is a Highway April 8). It was the third Reality Fair coordinated through the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation this year.  Local businesses and Norwin Teachers FCU; Lesco FCU, Latrobe, $62 million in assets; and Westmoreland Community FCU, Greenburg, $54 million in assets, provided volunteers for the event. Norwin Teachers FCU encouraged participating students to open accounts at the school's branch.

ABC News consumer advocate taps CU's 'Project Money'

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MADISON, Wis. (4/9/14)--A savings competition coordinated by a Wisconsin-based credit union was pegged this week by an ABC News consumer correspondent as a great example of how consumers can achieve their savings goals.

Summit CU, Madison, Wis., with $1.96 billion in assets, for several years has been running "Project Money," a competition that pushes members to find out how much they can pare down debt and pump up savings.

A financial coach at Summit encouraged a couple participating in the seven-month competition to separate out their individual savings goals, rather than lumping them all together, to reach their desired levels of savings, and the author of the April 8 ABC News piece found the idea quite familiar.

"When I was a kid, my parents both carried wallets that had multiple compartments," said Elisabeth Leamy, ABC News' consumer correspondent. "The cash in each compartment was for a different expense ... The idea was to budget a maximum amount for each category and never borrow from one category to pay for another. This simple, methodical strategy helped them become the financially sound people they are today."

Summit's financial coach suggested a similar strategy to the couple, to drop money into different "buckets" and keep each individual savings goals separate, and the plan paid off.

By opening up 10 different savings accounts--which they managed on the credit union's website, slipping set amounts of cash into the different "buckets"--the couple tamped down their debts by nearly $30,000 and inflated their savings by $14,400.  

"In the past, our biggest challenge wasn't developing a budget, it was sticking to it," Stacey Steinmetz, one of the participants, told ABC News, adding, "No going back to the old ways of making a budget and falling off the horse."

Leamy, a 20-year consumer advocate for ABC, added that credit unions often provide a variety of free financial coaching and included a link to aSmarterChoice.org to help consumers find a credit union to join.

Conn. honors professional, volunteer commitment

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MERIDEN, Conn. (4/9/14)--At its 80th annual business meeting, the Credit Union League of Connecticut celebrated the excellence in professionalism and volunteerism in its credit unions.
 
Keith Wiemert, president/CEO, Seasons FCU, Middletown, was named professional of the year. In 2013, Wiemert balanced the roles of president/CEO of his $137 million-asset credit union and interim CEO of the league (Weekly Update April 8).
 
The league's volunteer of the year is Hank Petroskey, board chair, United Shoreline FCU, Branford. "A model for the credit union community," the league noted, Petroskey has been on the board of the $30 million-asset credit union since 2000. He also has been a league director and is a current board member for the Financial Reality Fair Foundation.
 
For his leadership in furthering credit unions' legislative agenda, Mike Hinchey, Wepawaug-Flagg FCU, Hamden, received the political action award. Hinchey, who is president/CEO of the $80 million-asset credit union, testified in front of state committees and led fundraising efforts for Credit Union Legislative Action Council.
 
Three Connecticut credit unions won 2013 marketing excellence awards. Hartford Healthcare FCU, $31 million in assets, won for its "Skating through the Holidays" small loan program. Loan Program that provided small loans to help members get through the holiday season. General Electric Employees FCU, Milford, $180 million in assets, was recognized for its youth art program that tied young members to the credit union's new brand. North Haven-based Connex CU, $399 million in assets, won for its consumer-education-focused television advertising.

Cy Fair FCU commits $500K to school district

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HOUSTON (4/9/14)--Cy Fair FCU (CFFCU) announced two major commitments benefiting its local school district, part of its new "Community, Only Better" initiative.

The $191 million-asset Houston credit union pledged $500,000 in direct financial support to the Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District (CFISD) in the next 10 years and 1,000 volunteer hours by CFFCU employees during the 2014 calendar year.

CFFCU President Cameron Dickey formalized the announcement, made during the credit union's annual meeting, by presenting a $500,000 pledge check to Mark Henry, CFISD superintendent; Marie Holmes, Cy-Fair Educational Foundation (CFEF) executive director; and Leslie Martone, Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce president (Cypress Creek Mirror April 7).

"When we spend money, we're spending money our members have entrusted to us, so the projects we pick, the investments we make and the volunteer hours we contribute must reflect the core values that have been instilled in us by you as our members and by our founders," Dickey said.

Dickey cited the credit union's roots with CFISD--the credit union was founded by district educators in 1956--as the main reason for continuing to give back.

CFFCU gave roughly $15,000 to the district last year through the Adopt-a-School program, Future Farmers of America, classroom makeovers and annual service banquets.

Additionally, CFFCU members gave about $20,000 to the CFEF last year to contribute toward college scholarships for district graduating seniors.

Dickey said the 1,000 volunteer hours--all paid time for CFFCU employees--will go toward school efforts such as CFISD's mentoring program, Bus Buddies, community cleanup projects and fundraisers.

Interactive ATMs: Smaller footprint, wider reach

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MADISON, Wis. (4/9/14)--Two recent newspaper articles describe how credit unions are among the financial institutions using interactive tellers to reach wider range of consumers with fewer resources, including less physical space.
 
Interactive tellers are a combination of high tech and high touch. They use real-time video technology to connect consumers with live member service representatives working from remote call centers.

They allow credit unions to serve members with live tellers from remote locations. Financial institutions can perform more transactions with fewer employees. "These interactive tellers are perfect for rural communities and less populated areas," Patrick Jury, president/CEO of the Iowa Credit Union League, told the USA TODAY in an article published Monday.
 
Diebold, a CUNA Strategic Services provider, is among the companies that offer interactive tellers.  One of the Diebold devices is in use at the $16 million asset Family Community CU in Davenport, Iowa.
 
An April 7 El Paso Inc. article describes how $2 billion-asset GECU is using interactive tellers to drive its smaller branch model. Over time the credit unions will close larger branch buildings and open small, satellite locations with real, human tellers available through interactive tellers.
 
Many of GECU's 312,000 members are already familiar with the system because the credit union already uses interactive tellers at four of its branches.
 
The interactive tellers also allow the credit union to  be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
 
To read the articles, use the links.

CU System briefs (04/08/2014)

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  • WASHINGTON (4/8/14)--Credit Union Miracle Day, an organization that sponsors a series of races to raise funds for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, presented a $487,000 donation to the group after Sunday's races. The money was raised through two popular races on the East and West coasts: the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run with 15,000 runners in Washington, D.C., (top photo) and the SacTown Ten Mile Run with more than 2,000 runners in Sacramento, Calif. Of the total amount, $111,781 was raised online by 282 credit union members, runners, their families and friends. "We are extremely grateful for everyone's commitment to making this amazing donation to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals nationwide a reality," said Theresa Mann, Credit Union Miracle Day chair and president/CEO, The Partnership FCU, Arlington, Va., with $146 million in assets. This year's donation brings the 13-year total of race funds donated to more than $6 million nationwide (Credit Union Miracle Day photos) ...
     
  • ST. LOUIS (4/8/14)--Young and Free St. Louis, a program offered by Vantage CU, Bridgeton, Mo., $705 million in assets, to help address the financial needs of those ages 18 to 25, named DeAnna Angline its new spokesperson. Anglin, 24, who works for the Missouri College Advising Corps, will serve as the voice of her age group, attending regional events and creating unique content for the Young and Free St. Louis website. Anglin (right) will be a paid spokesperson for one year. She replaces Caressa Davis, who helped surprise Anglin with the news of her selection at Sullivan High School last week (Vantage CU photo) ...
     
  • LAWRENCE, Kan. (4/8/14)--A man suspected of holding up a Lawrence, Kan.-based credit union was arrested in Omaha, Neb, Saturday after escaping the scene of the robbery in a taxi. Antonio P. Gaitan, 35, from Kansas City, entered Truity CU just after 11 a.m. Saturday, demanded cash from the teller and fled in a taxi waiting outside the credit union. After a 200-mile drive to Omaha, Neb., the cab driver let Gaitan out at a bus station, where authorities stopped him and took him into custody (The Kansas City Star April 6) ...
     
  • TRENTON, N.J. (4/8/14)--A New Jersey-based tennis academy was awarded $20,000 by McGraw Hill FCU, East Windsor, N.J., in March to help fund an after-school youth program that will teach young people sport and life lessons. The funding was donated by The VOICE Foundation, the $310 million-asset credit union's charitable foundation, during the National Junior Tennis and Learning of Trenton's 21st annual gala March 29. The NJTLT will use the funds to provide students from third to fifth grades 45 minutes of tennis instruction and 45 minutes of math, literacy, nutrition and life skills curriculum (NJ.com April 7) ...

Grow Financial offers 'more' to members with new campaign

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TAMPA (4/8/14)--A Tampa-based credit union has put together a new marketing campaign to demonstrate how it offers "more" to its members: More products, more member services, more everything.

Called "The World of More," Grow Financial FCU, Tampa, Fla., with $1.9 billion in assets, has launched the initiative with a website to illustrate--through light-hearted videos and member testimonials--the various ways that Grow provides "more" (The Herald April 3).

People also can use the new site, www.moreinreturn.com, to compete for things they generally would like "more" of.

From tangible items such as food or smart devices, to the intangibles of more relaxation or family time, the credit union has been granting these "more" wishes since December.

So far, Grow has delivered 22 "more moments," including one in February where credit union employees arrived at a member's place of employment with a trunk full of items to help her relax, including a gift card to a local spa.

"BlueGrace Logistics was excited when Grow Financial contacted us to let us know one of our employees was a winner of the 'World of More' campaign," Natalie Lane, BlueGrace director of marketing, told The Herald. "It was great to collaborate with another Tampa Bay business on the delivery and bring a smile to everyone's face."

Grow Financial also announced its Earth Day celebration, its second collaboration with the Tampa Bay Times called "Let's Grow Together" (Business Wire April 7).

In honor of Earth Day, the credit union will give away free red maple tree saplings to those who visit any of the institution's 21 Tampa Bay area branches on April 21 and 22.

Consolidated Target breach lawsuits headed for Minn.

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SAN DIEGO (4/8/14)--The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation determined data security breach class action lawsuits against Target Corp. will be consolidated in the District of Minnesota for the purposes of discovery and pre-trial motions.
 
In the transfer order, the panel noted, "On the basis of the papers filed and hearing session held, we find that these actions involve common questions of fact, and that centralization in the District of Minnesota will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation."
 
More than 100 lawsuits have been filed on behalf of consumers, whose information was compromised, and financial institutions, which had to cover costs of reissuing cards and reimbursing consumers. The retail giant revealed Dec. 19 that about 40 million debit and credit card numbers were compromised as was the personal information of as many as 70 million customers.
 
Thirty-three actions from 18 districts will be moved to Minnesota. Another 71 related actions are pending in 35 districts and are potential "tag-along" actions, the panel said.
 
"Centralization will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, including with respect to class certification; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary," the panel said. Actual trials may still take place in various jurisdictions.
 
Also, Target's headquarters are located in the district, and 25 actions and potential "tag-along" actions are pending in the district before U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson. Target itself supported centralizing the proceedings in Minnesota.
 
Last week, plaintiffs' attorneys from Minnesota, California, Colorado, Illinois and Louisiana brought their arguments before the panel regarding jurisdiction consolidation (News Now April 1).
 
The Credit Union National Association found that credit unions incurred $30.6 million in costs directly related to the breach--not including fraud costs--and is pressing federal lawmakers to address data security relative to merchants, who are not held to the same standards of security as credit union and other financial institutions.

Mich. CUs, lawmakers connect for youth fin. ed.

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LIVONIA, Mich. (4/8/14)--Not only has Michigan branded April as National Financial Literacy Month, but thanks to the Michigan Credit Union League, the state's lawmakers have passed a resolution recognizing the month as Youth Financial Literacy Month as well. 

The Senate resolution was introduced by Sen. Jim Marleau (R-Lake Orion) and the House resolution was tapped by Rep. Kevin Cotter (R-Mount Pleasant) (Michigan Monitor April 7).

Parents, schools, businesses, community organizations and governmental units have been called upon to observe the month with the appropriate programs and activities.

State lawmakers, meanwhile, also have eyes to extend financial education beyond Michigan's youth. Many legislators have committed to hosting or partnering with events scheduled for the MCUL's Financial Literacy Legislative Challenge, which aims to hand financial skills to students of all ages.

The challenge, in its 12th year running, has nearly 40 presentations or financial literacy events between legislators and credit unions planned for the month.

The state league also was granted its request this month to have Mike Callton (R-Nashville), chair of the House Financial Services Committee, host a hearing on youth financial literacy.

In the midst of Money Smart Week, which runs through Saturday, MCUL has started delivering donated books to families as part of its "Money Smart Kids Read" program.

On behalf of credit unions statewide, families receive the books during story time events held at libraries throughout Michigan. Children who attend will receive a free copy of "The Berenstain Bears' Trouble with Money," and adults will receive a copy of Jean Chatzky's "Money Rules."

Military members served well by specialized CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (4/8/14)--A March 24 article in the Army Times described how credit unions that specialize in the U.S. military go beyond the call of duty in serving their memberships.
 
Because credit unions are owned by members, they return their profits back to their memberships in the form of more favorable interest rates, the article noted.
 
"For example, a five-year car loan for $15,000 at the national credit union average of 2.61% would cost a total of $1,016.32 in interest; the same loan at the banks' average rate of 3.82% would cost $1,501.86 in interest, according to calculations using Bankrate.com," the article said. "You'd pay $485.54 less with the average credit union rate."
 
Virtually all military members are eligible to join some credit union. The Defense Credit Union Council comprises 207 credit unions operating on 212 military installations, council President Roland "Arty" Arteaga, a retired Army colonel, told the Army Times.
 
When the military was hit with budget cutbacks under sequestration last year, credit unions stepped up with programs to help problems for those affected, ranging from delayed payments to low-interest loans, Arteaga said.
 
Defense credit unions, like most credit unions, understand the needs of their members, because they were created by their members, noted Brad Smith, vice president for strategic development of $685 million-asset Pacific Marine CU, Oceanside, Calif.
 
In another example of a defense credit union reaching out to serve the needs of its members, $310 million-asset Belvoir FCU, Woodbridge, Va., offered a class on establishing a budget and preparing for a deployment (Belvior Eagle March 26).

Changing bases or preparing for a deployment can be stressful, said Shannon Tackett, Belvoir FCU financial coach. "We want them to have the tools to make the process smoother," she added.
 

Ill. league bestows education, philosophy awards

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (4/8/14)--The Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL) recognized organizations and individuals, including the presentation of education and philosophy awards, during its 84th annual convention.
 
Terry Brahm, CEO of $465 million-asset DHCU Community CU, Moline, and Dan Plauda, ICUL president/CEO, were inducted into the league's Hall of Fame.
 
Plauda, former ICUL director Earnise Muse and Jack Teausant, CEO of $219 million-asset Financial Plus CU, Ottawa, received Illinois Credit Union Foundation Commemorative awards.
 
Michelle Caldwell, marketing director, Community Trust CU, Gurnee, and Christine Dickover, chairman, Chicago Metro Chapter of Credit Unions, were honored with Spirit of Service Awards.

The league also announced the statewide winners of the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility, Louise Herring Philosophy in Action and Alphonse Desjardins Financial Education awards.
 
The Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service award winners by asset size include:
  • $50 million to $100 million, Rock Valley CU, Loves Park;
  • $100 million to $200 million, Streator (Ill.) Onized CU; 
  • $200 million to $500 million, GCS FCU, Granite City; and
  • $500 million to $1 billion, Great Lakes CU, North Chicago.
Louise Herring Award for Philosophy in Action Award winners included:
  • $50 million to $250 million, Gateway Metro FCU, Swansea; and
  • $250 million to $1 billion, Scott CU, Edwardsville.
Great Lakes CU and Scott CU shared the first-place award for the Alphonse Desjardins Youth Financial Award in the more than $500 million-asset category.
 
Financial Plus CU and NuMark CU, Joliet, shared the first-place honor for the Alphonse Desjardins Adult Financial Award in the $150 million to $500 million in assets category.

Haynes honored with Vamper Helping Hands award

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NEW YORK (4/8/14)--A Cleveland credit union pioneer is the recipient of the 2014 Annie Vamper Helping Hands Award from the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.
 
Rita L. Haynes, former CEO, Faith Community United CU, is being recognized for her "tireless work over the past 50 years to promote financial inclusion," federation President/CEO Cathie Mahon said. "Her example of how community development credit unions provide safe and affordable financial services to Americans of modest means is an example to all of us."
 
Haynes served as director, manager, treasurer and CEO of the $12 million-asset credit union until her retirement in 2011. She is a founding member of the Ohio Credit Union Foundation and won numerous awards for her dedication to community development.
 
She was a key player in the creation of the community development financial institution (CDFI) fund. Her credit union launched individual development accounts, Small Business Administration lending, a payday loan alternative among other specially designed services for its membership.
 
The award, which is the federation's highest honor for community development credit union staff and volunteers, is named after Annie Vamper, whose career included credit unions, the National Credit Union Administration, state economic development agencies and the federation.
 
Haynes will receive her award during the federation's annual conference May 16 in Detroit.

Biz Kid$ campaign a success for Pa. CMNHs

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/8/14)--Thanks to the support of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association chapters and credit unions, all five Children's Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals in Pennsylvania will receive "Biz Kid$" DVD box sets.

The program is a joint initiative of Credit Unions for Kids and the National Credit Union Foundation, which aims to provide all 163 CMN Hospitals with a box set of "Biz Kid$" by the end of April, which is National Financial Literacy Month.
 
Last month, CO-OP Financial Services announced it will pay $150 of the $300 DVD set, which credit unions are purchasing through NCUF and donating to their local CMN Hospitals. 
 
Contributions made by Pennsylvania chapters and credit unions include
  • Pittsburgh Chapter and $823 million-asset Clearview FCU, Moon Township--Two sets to the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh;
  • $98 million-asset Erie Community CU--St. Vincent Health Center, Erie;
  • York Chapter--Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Hershey;
  • Philadelphia Chapter--The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; and
  • Northeast Pennsylvania Chapter--The Janet Weis Children's Hospital at Geisinger, Danville.
 "Biz Kid$" is the Emmy Award-winning and credit union-funded public television series that teaches young people about money management and entrepreneurship.

Ill. league elects board, executive directors

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (4/7/14)--The Illinois Credit Union League swore in its new board chairman and announced the results of its board elections during its 84th annual conference last week in Schaumburg, Ill.
 
Pete Paulson, Corporate America Family CU, Elgin, left, is sworn in as chair of the Illinois Credit Union League board by former chair, Geri Burek, CEO, South Division CU, Evergreen Park. (Illinois Credit Union League photo)
Pete Paulson, CEO, Corporate America Family CU, was sworn in as the 40th chairman. Paulson, who leads the $571 million-asset credit union in Elgin, is from the Fox Valley Chapter of Credit Unions. He has been on the league board since 2003 and in the credit union movement for nearly 30 years. Paulson also will serve as the league service corporation chair.
 
The rest of the executive committee is:
  • Vice chairman: Alan Meyer, CEO, 1st MidAmerica CU, $497 million in assets, Bethalto, who was elected to a three-year term on the board; and
  • Secretary/treasurer: Sean Rathjen, CEO, Consumers CU, $584 million in assets, Waukegan.
During the conference, the Illinois Credit Union Foundation held its annual meeting and re-elected officers to one-year terms. The executive directors are:
  • Chair: Tom Pierce, CEO, Midwest Operating Engineers CU, $47 million in assets, Countryside;
  • Vice chair: Michael Lee, CEO, Kane County Teachers CU, $184 million in assets, Elgin; and
  • Secretary/treasurer: Tom Lex, CEO, Heartland CU, $230 million in assets, Springfield.
Officers for the Illinois Credit Union Political Action Committee are:
  • Chair:  Brenda Crane, COO, Credit Union 1, $745 million in assets, Rantoul;
  • Vice chair: Pete Fauth, vice president/CFO, Financial Plus CU, $219 million in assets, Ottawa;
  • Treasurer: Brian Cedergren, CEO, Abri CU,  $302 million in assets, Romeoville; and
  • Secretary: RaeAnn Love, CEO, Commonwealth CU, $68 million in assets, Bourbonnais.
Also at the convention, the Illinois Youth Involvement Council elected its executive committee:
  • Chair: Wednesday Medlen, business development/ membership officer, Community Plus FCU, $68 million in assets, Rantoul;
  • Vice chair: Susan Bentley, business development coordinator, Advantage One CU, $20 million in assets, Morrison; and
  • Secretary/treasurer: Jackie Hoonjan, CEO, Valley Bell CU, $14 million in assets, Elgin.


 

Many reasons behind recent CU mergers

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MADISON, Wis. (4/7/14)--Credit unions have a number of reasons behind deciding to merge: It can be as simple as wanting to provide more services to its members, or it can be prompted by changes at the senior management level.
 
In Iowa, $1.1 billion-asset Dupaco Community CU, Dubuque, and $78 million-asset Iowa Community CU, Cedar Falls, completed their merger, which was announced in August 2013. All former Iowa Community branches opened under the Dupaco name April 2. The decision to merge was prompted by the impending retirement of Mark Heth, who had been CEO of Iowa Community CU since 1986.
 
Last week, MidAmerican CU, a $219 million-asset credit union in Wichita, Kan., announced it would merge with Jayhawk FCU, $1.5 million in assets, Lawrence ( The Wichita Eagle April 2). Jayhawk FCU's field of membership was limited to its sponsor group, the Lawrence Paper Co., and its subsidiaries Perry Manufacturing, Jayhawk Boxes or Brad Systems.
 
Matteawan FCU, Beacon, N.Y., merged with $3.8 billion-asset Hudson Valley FCU, Poughkeepsie, effective April 1. The $24 million-asset credit union has served Fishkill and Green Haven Correctional Facilities' offices, as well as other select employees groups.
 
Also in New York state, $5.6 million-asset Union Settlement FCU, New York, became a division of Lower East Side People's FCU April 1, according to a release. New York-based Lower East Side People's FCU, $36 million in assets, will continue to operate Union Settlement's branch.
 
In Ohio, River Valley CU, $226 million in assets, Miamisburg, is merging with FirstDay Financial FCU, an $83 million-asset credit union in Dayton. The merger means the 28,000 combined membership will have access to eight branch locations. Lee Spivey, president/CEO of FirstDay will serve as senior vice president of risk management, while River Valley CU's John Bowen will be president/CEO of the merged institution ( Dayton Daily News April 2).
 
Community Driven CU, Ypsilanti, Mich., is asking its members to vote on a proposed merger April 23. The $58 million-asset credit union announced its intent to merge with Peoples Trust CU, a $183 million-asset credit union in Southfield, Mich.

New fin. lit. campaign rolled out in Mass., N.H., R.I.

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MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (4/7/14)--Riding the wave of National Financial Literacy Month, the Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island credit union leagues have spearheaded a new campaign that knots together the financial literacy work credit unions have undertaken throughout their respective states.

Called "Enhancing and Fostering Financial Education and Capability Together," or the CU Effect, the leagues are developing a website for the program, which will serve as a resource for credit unions developing financial education curriculum.

The site also will offer an ability to track Reality Fairs and CU 4 Reality Financial Education Fairs, and provide a forum for credit unions to post what services they're delivering to their memberships, schools and communities.

Additional curriculum will be provided by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s MoneySmarts, the National Endowment for Financial Education, and the National Credit Union Foundation's REAL Solutions and Biz Kid$ programs.

Michael Rubin, author of "Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck" and "The Savings Solution," is the scheduled speaker for CU Effect's fall meeting.

'We Own Our Bank,' Cal., Nev. leagues declare

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (4/7/14)--The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues have launched WeOwnOurBank.com, an online and social media credit union awareness initiative.
 
The initiative's Facebook page, Twitter account (@WeOwnOurBank) and website feature content that is focused on consumer issues. Besides resources, new and budget-loan calculators, WeOwnOurBank.com urges consumers to invest in their community by becoming a member of their local credit union.
 
"We look forward to helping generate interest in how credit unions can be the answer to so many consumers who are searching for a trusted financial partner--one they can take ownership in and rely on," said Diana Dykstra, president/CEO of the leagues.
 
Information will also be posted on the "Unite For Good" work that credit unions do in their communities, along with facts to help individuals and families make a smarter choice when considering their primary financial institution. Viewers are also urged to visit aSmarterChoice.org to find a local credit union they can join.
 
The leagues are encouraging those responsible for social media at California and Nevada credit unions to assist the WeOwnOurBank.com effort by following the initiative's Twitter feeds and Facebook posts and re-tweeting and sharing posts.

Maine House passes patent troll bill

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WESTBROOK, Maine (4/7/14)--Supported by strong lobbying efforts from the Maine Credit Union League, the Maine House of Representatives Friday passed legislation to protect credit unions from so-called patent trolls by a 105-28 vote.

The outcome of LD 1660, An Act Regarding Bad Faith Assertions of Patent Infringement, was put in doubt after the state Senate previously passed the majority report unanimously, but the House passed the bill with the minority report last week ( Weekly Update April 4).

The league issued its final call to action after the House vote, urging those House members who voted in favor of the minority report to reconsider their votes. While the minority report contained the protections from bad-faith patent assertions sought by the league and credit unions, the measure would have likely been vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage and potentially not have sustained an override, the league said.

The difference between the reports was the inclusion of an exemption for pharmaceuticals in the majority report, an exemption that would have little or no impact in Maine but was nevertheless opposed by a number of House members. As a result, the league mobilized grassroots action by credit unions to communicate the importance of the legislation, and why passing the bill with the majority report was necessary.

League President John Murphy called the successful outcome "a team effort that was very important to credit unions. Patent trolls are a serious threat for Maine's credit unions with our current challenge alone already costing credit unions tens of thousands of dollars.

"We wouldn't have achieved success with the legislation without the outstanding efforts of our governmental affairs and lobbying team, the immediate and strong response from our member credit unions to their local legislators and the leadership of Sen. Anne Haskell (D-Portland and Westbrook) and other members of our state legislature," Murphy added.
 
LD 1660 has now been sent to back to the Senate and will go to the governor from there.

The Credit Union National Association and credit unions continue to work with lawmakers on both the state and national levels on patent reform. Effective protections for the end users of technologies like ATMs must be a part of any patent reform legislation enacted into law, CUNA wrote in a Thursday joint trade association letter to members of Congress ( News Now April 4).
 
The letter was sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and all other committee members in advance of Tuesday's expected markup of the CUNA-backed Patent Transparency and Improvements Act of 2013 (S. 1720).
 
Effective protections, the letter said, would include clarifying that depository institutions are included under the definition of "covered customer" as defined in the Federal Reserve Act.

Opportunity abounds for CUs in newest payments channels

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REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (4/7/14)--Mobile banking has gained traction with consumers, and there is plenty of opportunity for credit unions to capture significant market share, according to research from Redwood City, Calif.-based data analyst Rocket Fuel.
 
In a study of 750 financial services consumers 18 and older who own at least one credit card and who have at least expressed an interest in mobile banking, just over half (59%) of consumers have used a mobile app for online banking or financial services, with the majority doing so to check an account balance or pay bills.
 
Despite the hype of person-to-person (P2P) payments, the adoption of money transfer (15%) and virtual wallet services (7%) remain low.
 
Other findings from the report:
  • About 35% of adults will be in the market for a new credit card within the next six months. Consumers who make $150,000 or more are 50% more likely to switch credit cards than people who make $50,000 per year.
  • Just under half of consumers (46%) who have had their current primary credit card for three years or less report first hearing about their current primary credit card online, compared with 34% who heard about the card offline.
  • Consumers convert on weekends, late at night. Consumers are significantly more likely to convert on financial services campaigns on Saturdays and Sundays, and are most likely to convert late at night, with conversion rates peaking between midnight and 6 a.m.
  • "Learn more" is an effective call-to-action. Among calls to action for credit card and financial services ads, "Learn more" drives the highest conversion rates by a considerable margin, as does content mentioning a special or limited-time offer, regardless of the benefit.

CUNA backs Fin. Lit. Month with $1-per-course donation

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MADISON, Wis. (4/7/14)--The Credit Union National Association announced for every print and online CUNA course purchased by credit unions this month, it will donate $1 to the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) to support its financial education efforts.
 
"We're making the most of Financial Literacy Month this April by letting our training give back," said Marlo Foltz, CUNA assistant vice president of blended learning. "We invite credit unions to join us in furthering our guiding purpose of  'People helping people' by taking part in the education opportunities available."
 
CUNA has pledged to donate up to $5,000 via course purchases in the month of April. More than 600 courses are available in print or online formats.
 
"We work to help credit unions make a tangible difference in people's lives, and contributions like these make our work possible," said NCUF Executive Director Gigi Hyland. "With the support of CUNA and credit unions this April, we'll be able to make an even bigger impact in credit unions' communities nationwide throughout 2014."

Additionally, CUNA's Madison staff participated in Financial Fitness Day April 2. The casual day raised more than $475 for NCUF and the Wisconsin Credit Union Foundation.

CU mission attracts more members in Mich.

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LANSING, Mich. (4/7/14)--The popularity of credit unions in Michigan continues to surge. In 2013, almost 80,000 new consumers opted to manage their finances at credit unions, seeking out lower loan rates, fewer and lower fees and superior member service ( The Burton View April 3).

That's an average of 215 per day in a state where 47% of the population, or 4.6 million people, already hold memberships at credit unions.

"Credit unions are owned by their members, which means that the institutions are committed to offering members the highest quality services at the lowest possible price," said Dave Adams, Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) CEO. "We continue to work to build awareness so that more Michiganders will know and understand the difference we offer compared to big banks."

Credit union members in Michigan last year saved $226 million thanks to their involvement in the credit union community, according to the Community Reinvestment Report from the MCUL ( News Now Feb. 27).

The report revealed members saved $49 million in lower or fewer fees, blocked $153 million in lower interest rates on loans and earned $23 million in interest rates on savings.

"Credit unions take pride in embracing a lending philosophy that strives to support communities and members and keep money local," Adams said, adding, "This philosophy, and the willingness to lend money despite a rough economic picture, is at the heart of what makes credit unions different from banks."

Meanwhile, among all popular loan products found at Michigan credit unions, student loans have been particularly attractive, as loan growth jumped 32% last year across the state.

"Credit unions are well known for the mission of helping members with all of their financial challenges," Dennis Hanson, CEO, Dow Chemical Employees CU, Midland, Mich., with $1.4 billion in assets, told The Burton View . "And college loans are clearly an important challenge." 

Credit unions also appear to have cornered the market on indirect auto loans. With a 5.3% increase from 2012, credit unions now see 41.9% of indirect auto loans come through their doors; not to mention that auto loans carry interest rates averaging 1.39% less than banks, according to numbers compiled by the Credit Union National Association.

Vt. state legislative visits an 'every CU thing'

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (4/7/14)--Credit union leaders in Vermont rubbed shoulders with legislators last week during the Association of Vermont Credit Unions' 2014 Credit Union Day at the Statehouse.

Commissioner Susan Donegan, left, shares the concerns of the Department of Financial Regulation to representatives of the Association of Vermont Credit Unions, including lead lobbyist Adam Necrason. (Association of Vermont Credit Unions photo)
Within the scheduled sessions during the daylong event, those in attendance had ample opportunity to lock in critical face-time with state legislators.

"Statehouse Day gives executives and board members from credit unions of all sizes the opportunity to take an active role in protecting our future through government relations," league president Joe Bergeron said. "It's not just a 'big credit union' thing, it's an 'every credit union' thing."

The day began with a session in which legislators learned about credit unions across Vermont. The credit union leaders, then, received a private briefing from the league's lobbying team.

Finally, those in attendance heard from their elected officials, who discussed what was on the horizon for the 2014 legislative session.

Sen. Tim Ashe (D-Burlington), Finance Committee chair; Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell (D-Windsor); House Speaker Shap Smith (D-Morristown); and Rep. William Botzow (D-Bennington) all spoke during the event.   

The lineup also included Susan Donegan, Department of Financial Regulation commissioner, who spoke about the issues her department is facing.

The day wrapped up with a legislator appreciation reception.

"They see and hear from me and our lobbyists all the time," Bergeron said. "But there is nothing more important than putting a credit union executive or volunteer face-to-face with their elected officials."

First-time car buyers learn how their 'Ride Rules'

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SAN ANTONIO (4/7/14)--Generations FCU has launched a first-time car buyers program designed to help members get a good deal on a vehicle and build credit history at the same time.
 
Prior to funding, participants in the "My Ride Rules" program are required to provide proof of three months of employment history, be at least 18 years of age, have no previous auto loan credit and show proof of insurance. A co-signer is not required.
 
The $437 million-asset-San Antonio-based credit union also requires applicants to complete an online course on car ownership and purchasing. The online financial literacy course is roughly 15 minutes in length.
 
"Introducing a fixed-rate monthly payment enables that first-time buyer to establish a history of monthly budgeting and paying off a loan," said Clay Thomson, Generations FCU chief lending officer.  "It provides them with successful building blocks and, perhaps most importantly, provides them the confidence to build credit independently as they begin to go out and establish themselves in today's challenging economic environment."
 
The credit union introduced "My Ride Rules" as a one-time promotion in March 2013. Because of its success, Generations FCU made it a permanent product. To participate in "My Ride Rules," first-time buyers cannot have negative financial history, and their payments cannot exceed 20% of monthly gross income. The loan maximum is $25,000, and the term is for 60 months. Refinance options are available for first-time auto loans with other financial institutions.
 
"Our goal as a credit union is to be a financial advocate for our members, to help them navigate what can sometimes be a tricky path to success," Thompson said. "This program provides first-time buyers with the tools they need to not only get a fair deal on that first car, but also how to be successful in paying it off."

Registration open for CUNA volunteer certification school

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MADISON, Wis. (4/4/14)--Future credit union leaders take note: Registration for the Credit Union National Association's annual volunteer training and recognition program--CUNA Volunteer Certification School--is now open.

The program, which will equip participants with the essential skills and know-how necessary to tackle leadership responsibilities for a credit union, will take place Sept. 21-26 in Vancouver, B.C.

"The certification is not only about volunteers proving their worth to their credit unions, fellow leaders and members, but proving it to themselves as well," said Kevin Smith, CUNA director of learning events. "Each year, attendees leave with the bolstered confidence--not to mention the certified aptitude--to step up in their role and guide their credit unions effectively."

The week will feature curriculum centered on governance, safety and soundness, CEO oversight, strategic planning, and board operations and development.

By the end of the week, attendees will have the opportunity to earn the Certified Credit Union Volunteer designation.

For additional information or to register, use the resource link.

CU System briefs (04/04/2014)

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  • SPOKANE, Wash. (4/4/14)--Spokane (Wash.) FCU has named one of its $1,500 scholarships in honor of a serviceman who was killed in eastern Afghanistan during his third tour with the U.S. Army in the Middle East. Spokane-native Michael Stiltz, 26, was a member of the $127 million-asset credit union. "This is the first time we've offered a scholarship in someone's name or memory," said Susan Cerutti-Jensen, Spokane FCU marketing director (The Spokesman-Review April 3). Stiltz was killed by indirect fire in November 2012. He was posthumously promoted to staff sergeant, and received the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the NATO Medal, the Purple Heart and Bronze Star ...
     
  • HARAHAN, La. (4/4/13)--Alcorn State University (ASU), Lorman, Miss., awarded its cooperative of the year award to Shreveport (La.) FCU and its president/CEO, Helen Godfrey-Smith. The $99 million-asset credit union was honored for its work with the ASU Extension Program to combat "food deserts"--areas where residents have little or no access to affordable, fresh produce--in the Mississippi Delta region (eNews April 2). The grand opening of the Frank Wilbourn Farmer's Market in the midst of the Quitman County food desert is one of its success stories. Under the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, the ASU Extension Program and Shreveport FCU worked to provide loans to small-crop farmers to expand the production, distribution and sale of healthy foods in the Mississippi Delta ...

N.J. league seeks 80 'Banking You Can Trust' examples

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (4/4/14)--With 80 years serving New Jersey credit unions in the books, the New Jersey Credit Union League wants to commemorate its 80th anniversary by highlighting the various ways the state's credit unions serve their members.

To accomplish this, the league is asking member credit unions to provide examples of how they have represented the league's motto, "Banking You Can Trust," through its "80 for 80" program.

Credit union submissions can range from helping a family avoid foreclosure to helping a high school student pay for college to helping a small business open its doors.

The league is also asking for credit unions to submit scholarships, reality fairs or any other community events that they've orchestrated.

"Consider all that your credit union has done this year and has yet to do," a press release announcing the program said. "You can even send in information on a future event for 2014."

All photos, which are also encouraged, and stories will be featured at the league's 80th annual meeting and convention Sept. 21-23 in Atlantic City, N.J.

For examples of efforts credit unions already have submitted, visit the league's website. Send examples to news@njcul.org.

Fla., Ohio CUs called to action for state bills

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla., and COLUMBUS, Ohio (4/4/14)--Leagues in Florida and Ohio are calling on their member credit unions to contact their state legislators to move forward bills on financial education and public fund deposits.
 
The League of Southeastern Credit Unions is urging credit unions to support Senate Bill 212 that would require a half-credit in personal financial literacy as a requirement for high school graduation (eSignal April 3). Topics include basic principles of money management, balancing a checkbook, insurance, savings and investing, among others.
 
The league's governmental affairs team has been working with state Sen. Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange) to promote the importance of financial literacy--something credit unions consistently provide to their communities.
 
The bill currently has 10 co-sponsors, and the league is asking credit unions to submit letters via its LSCU Action Center to the Senate Subcommittee on Education Appropriations.
 
In Ohio, the Community Access and Local Government Choice Act, House Bill 221, is facing opposition from bankers. Currently in the House of Representatives, the legislation opens up credit unions as public fund depositories for local governments.
 
The Ohio Bankers League is asking legislators to vote against HB 221, saying credit unions are "not sophisticated enough to hold public deposits" (eLumination April 2). The legislation, however, is in response to requests from local governments that want to work with credit unions.
 
The Ohio Credit Union League encourages credit unions to visit The Rallying Point to get four talking points, then call or write their state representatives.
 
Credit union advocates also are advised to sign up for Tuesday's legislative visits during the league's inVest48 conference.

CU acts of kindness random, but not rare

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MADISON, Wis. (4/4/14)--Credit union organizations continue to demonstrate their willingness to give back to their communities with random acts of kindness and other gestures of support and goodwill.
 
First U.S. Community CU, with $253 million in assets, Sacramento, Calif., is turning Rocklin, Calif. into the City of Random Acts of Kindness, aka "The City of #RAKlin." A Street Team outfitted in bright yellow T-shirts will shower unsuspecting community members with random acts of kindness starting Monday (Placer County Online April 2). 
 
"This is all about spreading community kindness," said Jordan Duncan, First U.S. Community CU Rocklin branch manager. "We believe we're the kinder credit union, and we're out to prove it."
 
First U.S. Community CU is encouraging people who receive acts of kindness to post about their experience on Facebook or Twitter using #RAKlin. The credit union also urges residents to conduct their own random acts of kindness and post them using #RAKlin. As a reward, those who post using #RAKlin during the promotional period will be entered to win prizes that include gift cards to local businesses.
 
Throughout April and May, InTouch CU, $810 million in assets, Plano, Texas, will collect donations for Cell Phones for Soldiers, which earns funds by recycling cell phones. CPFS takes those funds and purchases prepaid international calling cards for soldiers to connect with their loved ones back at home.
 
InTouch CU is also matching donations made at the credit union with a $1 donation per cell phone and an equal dollar match of any monetary donations up to a total of $40,000.
 
The Massachusetts Credit Union League's Credit Union Community Hope Initiative undertakes its annual book drive this month (Daily CU Scan April 2). Last year, working with the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, 38 credit unions collected 12,653 children's books and distributed them to nonprofit agencies in cities and communities throughout the state. Since 2001, Massachusetts credit unions donated more than 252,600 books. This year, 43 Massachusetts credit unions along with the league are participating in the book drive.

Watch out, banks: Large CUs keep pace in mobile services

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LOS ANGELES (4/4/14)--Wipe out the image of doddering credit unions when it comes to mobile services. The largest credit unions are keeping up with the banks in this important service area, according to GOBankingRates.
 
The personal finance site assessed the 50 largest credit unions by assets in the U.S. and found nearly all have the same features as what consumers expect from banks.
 
"Big banks need to watch out," said Jennifer Calonia, GOBankingRates senior editor. "Customers who were once hesitant about credit unions are now realizing the technological advances these institutions provide at a huge value."
 
She added, "It's the intimate customer service experience their parents praised, fused with the innovations younger generations crave--a one-two punch."
 
At 36%, the most popular feature cited by the 1,500 respondents was the ability to make balance inquiries, followed by an ATM/branch locator at 19%.
 
The other three most-desired mobile banking solutions are money transfers, remote check deposit and account activity alerts.
 
The Federal Reserve Board recently reported that the number of consumers who used mobile banking rose 5% to 33% in 2013, and 51% of smartphone owners used mobile banking applications (News Now March 26).
 
"Members expect to connect with their financial institution anytime and anywhere," Sonya McDonald of Randolph-Brooks FCU, Live Oak, Texas, told GOBankingRates, adding, "They want to be able to access their money when it's convenient to them and through the channels that are most convenient to them."
 
The vice president of planning and market development at the $5.7 billion-asset credit union said, "With the proliferation of smartphone and tablet use, consumers want to be able to use their devices to access everything, and their financial institution is no exception."
 
Forty-two of the top 50 credit unions provided all five services: balance inquiries, ATM/branch locator, money transfers, account activity alert and remote check deposit.

GTE makes each step count with 'Get Fit' fin. ed.

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TAMPA, Fla. (4/4/14)--A Florida-based credit union recently launched a pilot program that has its members moving their feet. The idea behind it is simple: The healthier the member, the healthier his or her finances.

Called "Get Fit," GTE Financial, Tampa, $1.6 billion in assets, encourages members to track their steps daily using a smartphone app and then redeem their totals for rewards, such as special coupons to local businesses or cash.

"In January and February, our members logged 78.7 million steps, or about 39,350 miles," said Joe Brancucci, GTE Financial CEO (In the News March 31). "We're also trying to attract a younger set of members with this. So far, they think it's the coolest thing since sliced bread."  

The program, based on a project researchers have dubbed Jumiya--or "union" in Swahili--was originally conceived by the California-based Singularity University and tested in credit unions across the U.S. and Canada. Six California-based credit unions, along with 41 others nationwide, funded the study, and Filene Research Institute managed the overall project.

Results showed that when individuals are healthier, they're less likely to slide into delinquency, default or bankruptcy.

Specifically, Jumiya revealed that healthy behavior leads to good financial outcomes; non-healthy behavior leads to poor financial outcomes. It found 62% of individual bankruptcies are linked to medical debts, and that the team in charge of the project could predict consumer financial health based on medical health data with 80% certainty.

"This could be attractive for a number of credit unions, but it would probably have to fit within a credit union's overall alignment and strategy," said Nader Moghaddam, CEO of Financial Partners CU, Downey, Calif., with $859 million in assets. "At our credit union, we're certainly exploring possible implementation."

While the pilot program is scheduled to end in September, without any guarantees of permanent adoption, Brancucci says, either way, this type of effort makes the Tampa-based credit union a better one.  

"In the long run, our goal is to continue to promote and facilitate the impact of financial and physical fitness on individuals," he said.

Ohio league will honor award winners at inVest48

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (4/4/14)--During its inVest48 conference next week in Columbus, the Ohio Credit Union League will honor award winners for credit union dedication and education.
 
Jeff Green, CEO, GROhio Community CU, $8 million in assets, is the 2014 professional of the year. Green is being honored for 14 years of leadership at a small, "self-described blue collar" credit union in Mansfield that serves a predominantly low- to moderate-income membership (eLumination April 2). Green is a vocal proponent of the difference small credit unions can make in members' lives, the league said.
 
The volunteer of the year award will go to Jack Wilster, board chairman, Seven Seventeen CU, Warren. Wilster has been a volunteer at the $804 million-asset credit union since 1987. He chairs the league's volunteer leadership committee and is a member of the Credit Union National Association's national volunteer committee.
 
The league also will honor the statewide winners of the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility, Louise Herring Philosophy in Action and Alphonse Desjardins Financial Education awards.
 
The Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service award winners by asset size include:
  • Less than $50 million, Classic FCU, Amelia; and
  • $500 million to $1 billion, Telhio, Columbus.
Louise Herring Award for Philosophy in Action Award winners include:
  • Less than $50 million, Brewster FCU, Brewster, and Bridge CU, Columbus; and
  • $250 million to $1 billion, BMI FCU, Dublin.
First-place awards for the Alphonse Desjardins Youth Financial Award went to:
  • $50 million to $150 million, Community Star CU, Elyria; and
  • $150 million to $500 million, Atomic CU, Piketon.
Credit Union of Ohio, Hilliard, received a first-place award for the Alphonse Desjardins Adult Financial Award in the $50 million to $150 million asset category.
 
Atomic CU and Ohio University CU, Athens, received Cutting Edge marketing awards for agency and non-agency entries, respectively.

University students, CU to develop Filene's MyDime loan app

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MADISON, Wis. (4/4/14)--Filene Research Institute, University of Michigan CU and the University of Michigan are teaming up to design a mobile loan application for financial consumers.
 
The application expands on MyDime, an idea that gives members flexibility in structuring their loans introduced by a team of credit union executives in Filene's i3 innovation program.
 
As part of the University of Michigan's Mobile@Michigan program, computer science students, University of Michigan CU employees and the Filene i3 MyDime team will work together to develop the mobile application.
 
"University of Michigan CU serves the students, faculty and staff at the University of Michigan," said Andrea Mosher, vice president of lending at the $518 million-asset credit union in Ann Arbor. "The opportunity to work with computer science students and others over a one-year period through the university's Mobile@Michigan program felt like a great direction to take with the development of MyDime, as we needed tech-savvy talent with access to resources to create our mobile application."
 
With MyDime, members can adjust the length of their loan terms or pinpoint exact monthly payments to see how certain loan terms fit in their budgets and affect their credit. The new mobile application will help borrowers customize and apply for loans across multiple credit unions at the same time in a shopping experience similar to Amazon.
 
The Filene i3 team selected students to work on this program based on resumes and recommendations of a faculty adviser. The team and its student counterparts will meet on a regular basis.
 
"Our Filene i3 team benefits by leveraging the minds and skills of bright students to develop a relevant financial product," Mosher said. "Students get the opportunity to work with organizations in internship roles to develop something that may eventually be commercialized while earning credits toward their degree. This unique partnership will be the greatest factor in the success of our concept."

Wash. 'Save to Win' nets $785K in 1st year

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PORTLAND, Ore. (4/4/14)--Washington credit unions are celebrating the one-year anniversary of their right to offer prize-linked saving accounts with some gaudy numbers. Through February, 834 members had opened "Save to Win" accounts at Washington credit unions, with total deposits of nearly $785,000. The average saved per account is about $940.
 
"Creating solid financial management behaviors in households across our nation and in the Northwest is critically important to the financial stability of every family," said Troy Stang, Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) president/CEO. "The concept of linking savings with the chance of winning prizes has proven successful in several other well-developed nations around the globe, and studies in this country have proven the same."
 
Under the "Save to Win" concept, credit unions create a kind of lottery in which players can win cash prizes just by saving money--and make it impossible for them to lose a dime, the NWCUA reported (Anthem April 1). All of the money members deposit in the 12-month certificate program stays in their accounts, because the prize pool is funded by other credit union resources. Strategic Link, the NWCUA's wholly owned subsidiary, funds the prize pool.
 
As members build their assets, they're also eligible to win--each $25 deposit earns an entry into monthly and annual drawings, and members can earn up to 10 chances to win every month.
 
Typically, the monthly drawings award multiple $50 prizes. But on April 14, three $5,000 monthly prizes will be awarded in Washington. And later this month, the winner of the state's first $5,000 annual prize will be announced.
 
The Michigan Credit Union League brought the concept to the U.S. in 2009; Nebraska and North Carolina soon added their own programs. Six Washington credit unions signed on when the program debuted in April 2013:
  • Connection CU, Silverdale, $25 million in assets;
  • Express CU, Seattle, $10 million in assets;
  • Fibre FCU, Longview, $755 million in assets;
  • North Coast CU, Bellingham, $174 million in assets;
  • O Bee CU, Tumwater, $178 million in assets; and
  • TwinStar CU, Olympia, $882 million in assets.
This week, Peninsula Community FCU, Shelton, Wash., became the seventh Washington participant, launching its "Save to Win" program at a celebratory breakfast in Belfair attended by U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.). Kilmer was a state senator when he sponsored the Washington legislation that cleared the way for "Save to Win" in 2011.
 
A bill that would allow financial institutions in New York to establish prize-linked savings accounts cleared that state's Assembly last week, and an identical version of the bill has been introduced in the state Senate. Legislation authorizing a work group to study the possibility of allowing prize-linked savings accounts under authority of the Oregon State Lottery failed to gain support in the just-concluded legislative session in Salem, but Pam Leavitt, the NWCUA's policy adviser for legislative affairs, said she expects the issue to come up again in 2015.

CU System briefs (04/03/2014)

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  • MADISON, Wis.  (4/3/14)--For National Financial Literacy Month, "musicians with a mission" The Disclosures released a free download of their song "The Secret to Being Rich" and an accompanying video . The song is the title track from their second album, which focuses on financial education for kids. "This is one of our more serious songs for kids, but we think it's also one of our best because it contains a message that gets lost in a lot of financial literacy instruction--that money is important, but it's not everything," said Christopher Morris.  Disclosures band member. "The Secret to Being Rich" is available on iTunes, Amazon and CDBaby.com  ...
     
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    SYRACUSE, N.Y. (4/3/14)-- U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) praised the financial literacy efforts of New York credit unions, which he described as important partners of the middle class , during a recent visit to Empower FCU's headquarters in Syracuse, N.Y. ( The Point April 2). Maffei also said he would ensure credit union concerns are considered in any housing reform legislation and urged the group to continue its "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign. Attendees included the Credit Union Association of New York; Empower FCU; ACMG FCU, Solvay; AmeriCU CU, Rome; Auburn Community FCU, Auburn; Cooperative FCU, Syracuse; CORE FCU, East Syracuse; Edge FCU, Liverpool; Focal Point FCU, Syracuse; MONEY FCU, Syracuse; Oswego County FCU, Oswego; SECNY FCU, Syracuse; SEFCU, Albany; The Summit FCU, Rochester; Visions FCU, Endicott; and Westar FCU, Camillus (Credit Union Association of New York photo) ...
     
  • SAN ANTONIO, Texas, and ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (4/3/14)--The board of Security Service FCU, San Antonio, Texas, named Jim Laffoon as president/CEO ( San Antonio Business Journal April 1). Laffoon, who has been president since 2012, adds the CEO title from David Reynolds, who retired in March from the $7.6 billion-asset credit union. Laffoon has been with the credit union for 25 years. In Albuquerque, N.M., Robert Chavez has replaced retired president/CEO Chris Jillson at Sandia Laboratory FCU . Chavez has been executive vice president/chief operating officer of the $2 billion-asset credit union since 2002 and has been on the board of the Credit Union Association of New Mexico. Jillson retired Feb. 28 after 30 years with the credit union ...

LSCU member CUs receive 8.7% dues rebate

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala., and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (4/3/14)--The League of Southeastern Credit Unions and Affiliates (LSCU) announced it will distribute an 8.7% dues rebate to member credit unions in Alabama and Florida.
 
"For the second year in a row we have forwarded part of our success on to our member credit unions through a dues rebate," said league President/CEO Patrick La Pine, adding, "This shows that attending our educational events or doing business with LEVERAGE directly correlates to the level of service the league can provide."
 
The league said the rebate is the result of a strong financial year for itself and LEVERAGE, the league service corporation.
 
Eligible credit unions will receive the rebate as a check at the end of April.
 
In 2013, LSCU distributed a 10% dues rebate--the first ever offered in Alabama or Florida--worth about $310,000.

Isabelle named to Boston Federal Reserve Advisory Council

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BOSTON (4/3/14)--The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston announced that Bernard P. Isabelle, president/CEO, Vermont FCU, Burlington, Vt., is among latest appointees to the First District's Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council (CDIAC).
 
Isabelle, who leads the $394 million-asset credit union, joins two other credit union representatives on the council. Edward Danek Jr., president/CEO, Hartford (Conn.) FCU, with $80 million in assets; and Michael L'Ecuyer, president/CEO, Bellwether Community CU, Manchester, N.H., with $387 million in assets, also serve on the body.
 
The CDIAC represents banks, thrifts and credit unions of various asset sizes within the First District. It provides input on economic and banking conditions, regulatory policies and payment issues. Appointees typically serve three-year terms.
 
Last month, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco named David Doss, president/CEO of $1.47 billion-asset Arizona State CU, Phoenix, as one of the latest appointees to 12th District's CDIAC.

Bank overdraft fees at record highs, CUs' remain lower

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WASHINGTON (4/3/14)--As deposits dwindle and low interest rates on mortgages sap income, more and more banks are pumping up overdraft fees on checking accounts in an attempt to refill their coffers.
 
In fact, the median fee for overdrawing a checking account at a bank hit a record-high of $30 in 2013, according to an April 2 article in The Wall Street Journal .
 
Calabasas, Calif.-based Informa Research Services puts the average checking account overdraft fee for banks at $30.70, while credit unions sit at an average charge of $27.74.
 
The disparity between credit unions and banks only widens when looking at the larger institutions.
 
Banks with assets greater than $50 billion, or the "Big Banks," carry median overdraft fees of $35, while the largest credit unions--with more than $5 billion in assets--charge a median price of $25, which is 29% lower than banks, according to Mike Moebs, economist/CEO of Moebs Services, the research firm quoted by The Wall Street Journal.
 
"The best place to have your checking account to avoid fees is at a community bank or credit union," Moebs said in a press release.
 
Lower overdraft fees aren't the only place where credit unions are leading their banking counterparts in checking. As was widely reported last month, credit unions continue to offer free checking far more regularly than banks.
 
A survey conducted by Bankrate.com found that 72% of the 50 largest credit unions in the country boast free checking accounts, while the number of banks offering free checking dropped to 38% in 2013 ( News Now March 4).

CU loan growth continues, say CUNA Monthly Estimates

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MADISON, Wis. (4/3/14)--Credit union loans outstanding increased in February, as year-over-year loan balances rose significantly, according to Credit Union National Association's monthly sample of credit unions.
 
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Loan balances rose 0.6% through February compared with -0.1% in the period one year earlier.  Year-over-year loan balances are up a very strong 8%, the fastest pace since 2005.
 
"Credit union loan growth was strong in the first two months of 2014, as members were out shopping for new and used cars and buying houses with adjustable-rate mortgages," Steve Rick, CUNA senior economist, told News Now .
 
Adjustable rate mortgages led loan growth, rising 1.6%, followed by new auto loans (0.7%), used auto loans (0.6%), and home equity loans (0.1%). On the decline were credit card loans (-1.7%), unsecured personal loans (-1.3%), other mortgages (-0.2%), and fixed-rate first mortgages (-0.01%).
 
"Loan asset quality continues to improve as the national average delinquent loan-to-total loans ratio fell to 0.96% in February, down from 1.08% in February 2013," Rick said. 

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"This decline was due to a 3.6% fall in the dollar amount of delinquent loans as well as the aforementioned 8% rise in total loans.  We expect the delinquency rate to continue its decline throughout 2014, reaching 0.85% by the end of the year."
 
Savings balances grew 2.2% in February and 3.4% year-to-date because the month ended on a Friday payday.  Share drafts (7.8%), regular shares (3.5%), money market accounts (0.7%), and one-year certificates (0.2%)  all increased during February.
 
"This boost in assets had the knock-on effect of reducing the national average equity-to-asset ratio from 10.5% in January to 10.4% in February," Rick said.
 
Total credit union membership grew 0.4% during February 2014 for a total of 99 million.

Experian: Most Millennials familiar with co-signing

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COSTA MESA, Fla. (4/3/14)--A big step in a young person's personal finance journey is obtaining credit--and that step represents an educational opportunity for credit unions. Fortunately, Millenials appear to be onboard when it comes to taking responsible first steps in making credit decisions, according to a new survey.
 
Nine in 10 Millennials are familiar with co-signing, and nearly two thirds used a co-signer in the past, according to a new survey from Experian Consumer Services. In addition, results show that Millennials look to their parents to co-sign on their behalf.
 
Three in four Millennials report they would ask their parents to co-sign for them in the future, and 77% say their parents likely would agree. Even though they feel confident they could keep their accounts in good standing, 87% of respondents say they would consider how their financial actions might impact their co-signer's credit.
 
"In today's market, young adults will likely need a co-signer at some point and will turn to their parents for help," said Ken Chaplin, senior vice president of marketing for Experian Consumer Services. "Since the co-signer guarantees the person for whom they are co-signing will repay the debt on time and in full, it's important that both parties understand repayment expectations and communicate guidelines so they can be confident in their credit decisions."
 
Survey results indicate that two in three Millennials needed a co-signer in the past, which most often was for college loans (35%) or residential leases (32%). Other reasons Millennials need a co-signer include car loans (19%); legal agreements for credit cards (17%); car leases (11%); or home loans (6%).
 
Of respondents who reported having used a co-signer for a loan or a lease, the majority handle the responsibility of credit well, paying off their account in good standing or keeping it active in good standing. The net total of contracts reported in bad standing due to late payments, with missed payments or in default is 8%.

Illinois kicks off 84th annual convention

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (4/3/14)--For the next three days, credit union executives representing 112 credit unions throughout Illinois will take part in the Illinois Credit Union League's 84th annual convention, where the league's new CEO, Sean Hession, will be formally introduced.

Punctuated with a keynote address from Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney, the event will feature speakers, award ceremonies honoring the work of individual credit unions, and opportunities for credit union leaders to attend educational workshops and meet with vendors.

 "We hope that the convention will meet its goal of addressing the needs of our credit unions and providing great opportunities to help them come out as 'winners' in our ever-competitive financial services marketplace," said Geri Burek, league board chair and president/CEO, South Division CU, Evergreen Park.

On Friday, Hession will be introduced as the new league president/CEO. He is replacing current president Dan Plauda, who will retire in June after 37 years with the league.

Pete Paulson, president/CEO, Corporate America Family CU, Elgin, will be sworn in as the league's new chairman.

The convention runs from today until Saturday in Schaumburg, Ill. The theme this year will be the Monopoly-inspired "Play to Win!"

Additional highlights of the event:
  • Young professional credit union "bashers" will be welcomed to attract young people to the credit union movement.
     
  • Attendees will be able to participate digitally at the event through a mobile website that's been created to provide smartphone-accessible information; attendees can scan a convention QR code or enter the convention's URL directly to access the website.

Economics, investments conference features CUNA experts

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MADISON, Wis. (4/3/14)--Economic experts from the Credit Union National Association will share their expertise at the three-day CUNA Economics & Investments Conference. Registration is now open for the Aug. 17-20 conference in Boston.  
 
The program is focused on building personal awareness and confidence so attendees have a strong grasp on today's financial environment and how to approach future investments.
 
"Our economists have years of study and savvy," said Kevin Smith, CUNA director of learning events. "The investment choices credit unions make, especially in our current economy, will resonate for years to come, so we want to help them make the right ones."
 
Conference topics include national economic trends, asset-liability management techniques, mortgage market environment and investment strategies.

CU System briefs (04/02/2014)

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  • NEW CASTLE, Del. (4/2/14)--The Delaware Credit Union League launched its redesigned website Tuesday. "One of the items from our board's strategic plan was to redo our website," said Jane Bailey, league executive vice president. The league worked with Visions Ink for more than a year on the project. "It's much more informative, user-friendly and attractive," Bailey told News Now, adding that the league now can highlight campaigns such as training or its annual conference on its landing page. In addition to the resources for credit unions, the site also includes a section for consumers ...
     
  • MADISON, Wis. (4/2/14)--The Filene Research Institute and the World Council of Credit Unions will unveil the results of their yearlong study on women and credit union leadership during a June 19 colloquium at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. About half of the credit union CEOs in the U.S. are female, but at the larger credit unions, men outnumber women at the executive level. The study addresses women's challenges and opportunities at U.S. and international credit unions. , both in the United States and around the world. One of the sessions includes Melissa Thomas-Hunt, associate professor, University of Virginia Darden School of Business, who will address the hurdles that slow women down on the leadership path ...
 

CUNA's CEO search heads Top 10 articles for March

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MADISON, Wis. (4/2/14/)--When Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney announced he would be stepping down from his post as head of the association, and that a national search was on for his replacement, readers flocked to the News Now March 12 edition, making it the most-read story in March.

Cheney, who has been president/CEO since 2010, will become president/CEO of SchoolsFirst CU, Santa Ana, Calif. He will remain with CUNA until June.

"I take on this new role at SchoolsFirst knowing that, with the backing of the CUNA board, the state leagues, and CUNA staff, we have accomplished much. However, the work will continue without interruption," Cheney said in a statement (News Now March 12).

Added Cheney: "Protection of our tax exemption, pursuit of regulatory relief, enhancing the charter and working toward achievement of a shared strategic vision--among other key issues--must proceed, with guidance from our board, partnership with the leagues and efforts of our talented, professional staff."

The complete Top 10 list for March includes:

10. Fed takes 'balanced approach' to interest rate decisions

WASHINGTON (3/19/14)--The Federal Open Market Committee will take "a balanced approach" and update its forward guidance as it looks toward keeping the interest rate at 0% to 0.25%, it announced after today's meeting.

9. NCUA bans four from future CU work

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (3/3/14)--The National Credit Union Administration has banned four former credit union employees from participating in the affairs of any federally insured financial institution.

8. CUNA to Hill: CUs, members pay steep data breach price

WASHINGTON (3/5/14)--CUNA today made sure that every lawmaker on Capitol Hill got this message: America's credit unions spend millions of dollars--without skipping a beat--to protect consumers from merchant data breaches by re-issuing cards, monitoring accounts and reimbursing customers for fraud.

7. Bloomberg spotlights CUs' 'big, big' tax win

WASHINGTON (3/4/14)--Credit unions and the preservation of their tax status were highlighted Monday within the first 23 words of a 1,000-word Bloomberg article on Rep. Dave Camp's (R-Mich.) unveiling of his draft tax code reforms last week. And CUNA executive John Magill was quoted underscoring the importance of the "big, big win" for CUNA, the state credit union associations, credit unions and credit union members.

6. NCUA to CUNA: MBLs on regulatory radar

WASHINGTON (3/25/14)--The National Credit Union Administration assured CUNA that member business lending (MBL) is prominently on its radar for this year. Calling a recent CUNA letter on the issue "timely," NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz said the agency intends to carefully review several MBL issues that have come to its attention.

5. Corp. loss update reaffirms good news for CUs: CUNA

WASHINGTON (3/19/14)--Tuesday's announcement that the upper end of projected corporate stabilization assessments declined by $2.2 billion between July and December 2013 "reaffirms the good news credit unions received last fall," CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel said.

4. CUNA: Victory for CUs in court interchange ruling

WASHINGTON (3/24/14)--Calling it "truly a victory for credit unions and a rebuke to the merchants," CUNA welcomed a federal appeals court ruling Friday that upheld the Federal Reserve's debit interchange regulation.

3. WSJ columnist watches biggest banks 'freak' over tiny tax

WASHINGTON (3/20/14)--Al Lewis, who writes columns for The Wall Street Journal Sunday and MarketWatch, is watching big banks' reaction to Rep. Dave Camp's (R-Mich.) draft proposal for tax code reforms and does not seem amused.

2. Appeals court overturns merchant challenge to Fed interchange rule

WASHINGTON (3/21/14)--U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Judges David Tatel, Harry Edwards, and Stephen Williams ruled today to overturn a lower court that supported merchants' arguments in the ongoing debit interchange fee cap case known as NACS, et al. v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

1. CUNA launches national search for new president/CEO

WASHINGTON (3/12/14)--A national search for a new president/CEO of CUNA will be launched immediately, the association's chairman said, to find a successor to Bill Cheney, who is returning to California in June to be president and CEO of SchoolsFirst FCU in Santa Ana.

41% give themselves C or lower in personal finance

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WASHINGTON (4/2/14)--As National Financial Literacy Month begins this week, a new survey shows American consumers admit they need the type of guidance credit unions can provide. Forty-one percent of adults gave themselves a grade of C, D or F on their knowledge of personal finance in the 2014 Financial Literacy Survey conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).
 
The survey was conducted online in March among more than 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and over.  In its eighth year, the survey provides a snapshot of the American consumer's level of knowledge as it relates to financial literacy, as well as behavioral and attitudinal trends associated with personal finance.  The 2014 survey was sponsored by Experian Consumer Services.
 
"This year's survey once again confirms what we already know: the need for financial education is great," said Susan C. Keating, NFCC president/CEO.  "Without a solid foundation on which to base everyday financial decisions, Americans are on a slippery slope as they begin to rebuild their financial lives following the Great Recession."
 
Significant gaps of personal financial knowledge revealed in the survey include budgeting, saving, and understanding credit reports and credit scores.
 
Sixty-one percent of U.S. adults, the highest percentage in six years, admit to not having a budget.  Consumers appear reluctant to maintain budgets, which could explain why about one in three adults (34%) indicated their household carries credit card debt from month-to-month, with 15%, or more than 35 million people, admitting to rolling over $2,500 or more monthly.
 
When asked which areas of personal finance are most worrisome, the top concerns were evenly divided between insufficient "rainy day" savings for an emergency (16%) and retiring without having enough money set aside (16%).  However, the proportion of adults who are spending less when compared with the previous year continues to decline to a low of 29% in 2014 from a high in 2009 of 57%. 
 
Most adults have not reviewed their credit score (60%) or their credit report (65%) within the past 12 months. Close to one in four adults who did not order their credit report in the past 12 months (23%) indicated that they already knew their credit score, so they didn't think they needed their credit report.

Day 2 and Fin. Lit. Month already in full swing

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MADISON, Wis. (4/2/14)--Wearing jeans or noshing on a cupcake? Congratulations for doing your part to support Financial Fitness Day today--only one of many events planned for National Financial Literacy Month.
 
The National Credit Union Foundation challenged credit unions to take part in Financial Fitness Day, which is dedicated to helping members get their financial health in shape. The funds raised during today's campaign will support financial education initiatives at the national and state level.
 
Youth financial literacy--particularly the Jump$tart Coalition--was noted by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett as he officially proclaimed April as Financial Education Month (Life is a Highway April 1). His proclamation also recognized the work Pennsylvania credit unions do to support financial education and National Credit Union Youth Week.
 
The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association hosted a Jump$tart Coalition meeting Monday that included a presentation from State Rep. Mark Longietti (D-Mercer) about House Bill 1839, a bi-partisan effort to require a capstone, stand-alone course in personal finance as a graduation requirement for all Pennsylvania students.
 
The Credit Union League of Connecticut said its Financial Reality Fair season is well under way with recent events at the University of Connecticut's Stamford campus and Central Connecticut State University, New Britain (Weekly Update April 1). In Connecticut alone, the fairs will reach more than 2,000 high school students.
 
Through the end of April, 1st Financial FCU, Wentzville, Mo., will provide free credit score counseling, credit history review and credit rehabilitation to its members.  "Many of the people I meet don't know what is available in their credit report. Most are unsure who they can trust with fixing their credit," said Nancy Tate, lead financial service representative at the $194 million-asset credit union (Missouri Difference March 23).
 
Credit unions are using Facebook and Twitter (#FinancialLiteracyMonth) to invite consumers to come in and learn about getting their finances in order or to lead them to resources such as Smart about Money from the National Endowment for Financial Education. New Castle (Del.) County School Employees FCU started off the month by sharing 10 tips to cut spending on its Facebook page.
 
The Kansas Credit Union Association, for instance, shared an interview from KAKE-TV's "Moms Everyday." Kristin Smet, youth and education coordinator at Credit Union of America, Wichita, Kan., explained how financial literacy affects all age groups. During Tuesday's segment, host Rachel Phillips noted that "credit unions are really special" for their education efforts throughout the community.

N.J. foundation accepting tech grant applications for XP sunset

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (4/2/14)--As Microsoft prepares to dismantle technical assistance services for Windows XP users, businesses throughout the country may be scrambling to upgrade to a more current operating system.

To help smaller credit unions grapple with the change, the New Jersey Credit Union Foundation has developed a XP Sunset Grant Program that will help New Jersey credit unions under $25 million in assets update their equipment, and it recently announced it will start accepting applications to that program (The Daily Exchange April 1).

Without the funding, credit unions may not be able to re-equip their systems to host the newer Windows 7 or Windows 8, which could keep the institutions from serving their members.

All grant applications will be reviewed and available dollars will be distributed evenly to all eligible credit union applicants.

Applications are due April 30.

To offer as many grants as possible to New Jersey credit unions, the foundation also is asking for either financial support or donated equipment from credit unions.

Oregon CU challenges others to match $5K for mudslide fund

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CORVALLIS, Wash. (4/2/14)--Rick Hein, president/CEO of OSU FCU, Corvallis, Wash., said that his credit union will donate $5,000 to the Northwest Credit Union Association and the Northwest Credit Union Foundation's fund to benefit survivors of the mudslide in Oso, and he urged others in Washington and Oregon to do the same.
 
"We'd like to see all credit unions in the Northwest with assets above $100 million match or beat that amount," Hein said (Anthem April 1). "If all will rise to this call for help, we can 'Unite for Good' and aid a struggling community in its time of crisis."
 
NWCUA, NWCUF and member credit unions are partnering to fulfill the "people helping people" mission by raising funds for families affected by the March 22 mudslide in Oso, Wash. (News Now April 1).
 
The mudslide is responsible for the deaths of at least 27 people, and 22 area residents were unaccounted for as of April 1. Contributions to the fund can be made online and will be accepted through April 9. At that point, the foundation will work with United Way of Snohomish County to make sure donations are directed to housing and other immediate needs.
 
Credit union members can also contribute to the fund, and the NWCUA has created a sample message that credit unions can use on their websites to raise awareness of the fundraising effort.

The National Credit Union Foundation said it has funds in its CUAid general disaster relief fund and is working with NWCUA and NWCUF to get disaster relief grant applications to credit union people who were affected by the mudslide.

Loan growth critical, CU CEOs tell TransUnion

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CHICAGO (4/2/14)--Nearly three-quarters of credit union executives polled in a recent TransUnion survey pegged loan growth as the most significant issue facing credit unions in 2014.

The survey polled 64 executives at February's CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington.

More than half of the credit union leaders surveyed also identified auto loans as the place where the most opportunity for loan growth lies, while deposit accounts came in as the next best opportunity--though it trailed auto loans by a wide margin.

"With delinquency rates at historic lows and consumers prioritizing loans above other credit instruments, credit union executives continue to view auto loans as a significant driver of near-term growth," said David Dodson, TransUnion vice president of financial services.

Studies have shown that consumers continue to pay their auto loans off before any other line of credit, including mortgages.

TransUnion reported in March that the number of 30-day delinquencies for auto loan payments in September 2013 sat at 0.89%, compared to both mortgage and credit card payments, which sat at 1.79% and 1.86% respectively (News Now March 24), illustrating the payback preference of consumers.

The national average auto debt-per-borrower climbed to $16,769 in Q4 2013 from $16,060 in Q4 2012, which marks 11 straight quarterly increases, according to TransUnion.

Credit union executives cited increased regulation and competition as the biggest challenges to loan growth, at 34% and 54% respectively.

Concerns over member expansion jumped 26% from 2013. 

N.M. league's new CEO Stull shares vision

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (4/1/14)--Building relationships is the top priority for Paul Stull in his role as the new president/CEO of Credit Union Association of New Mexico, Stull said in March 28 interview with Albuquerque Business First .
 
Stull, who previously served as senior vice president at $1.47 billion-asset Arizona State CU, Phoenix, was named president of the New Mexico league in January ( News Now Jan. 16)
 
"Leading a trade organization is all about building relationships," Stull said. "Getting to know the people involved in the credit union movement in New Mexico as well as community leaders is an important goal. New Mexico has a proud tradition of independence. I need to create opportunities for working together, but still maintain the unique culture and value of each organization."
 
Stull said he will measure progress by helping others achieve their goals. On a day-to-day level, that means helping New Mexico credit unions provide superior services to their members. "On a larger scale I want to play a role in helping our communities grow and want to participate in helping credit unions create economic value through jobs and opportunity for both businesses and individuals," he added. "I measure progress every time I see a credit union enable, support and strengthen the lives of their members and the communities they serve."
 
Credit unions in New Mexico have been successful in communicating the value of participating in a financial cooperative, as evidenced by one-third of all New Mexico residents who belong to a credit union, Stull said. "This understanding is something I keep in mind every day as I seek to represent credit unions at both the state and national level," Stull said.
 
Among the greatest strengths of credit unions and cooperatives is their willingness to work together to bring value to their members, Stull said. "No matter how big a cooperative gets, its strength is still derived from the power of working together," he said. "There is strength in numbers and allowing competition or other forces to divide the cooperative will take away its power."

N.H. launches awareness campaign in light of bankers' press

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MANCHESTER, N.H. (4/1/14)--The New Hampshire Credit Union League has launched an awareness campaign in response to bank attacks on the credit union tax status.
 
The league is airing a newly produced radio spot titled "You Matter," for two weeks on WZID-FM 95.7 to counteract the banks' campaign.  The spots began running Monday, and will air weekdays four times a day--twice in morning drive time and twice in evening drive time.
 
The spots highlight the local cooperative nature of credit unions.  "Credit unions know their members," the narrator states. "Loan decisions are made locally not by bureaucrats and computer models from across the country."
 
The New Hampshire Bankers Association (NHBA) try to argue that state credit unions are increasing membership due to a competitive advantage created by the credit union tax status.  NHBA charges were outlined in a March 22 Union Leader article, a radio press conference and other public pronouncements ( Daily CU Scan March 31).
 
The first credit union response came in a March 28 Union Leader op-ed from league Chairman Gerald Dumoulin, president/ CEO of Guardian Angel CU, Berlin, N.H. Credit unions are local institutions that serve consumers, Dumoulin wrote. "Credit unions are also locally owned and operated," he wrote. "In contrast, out-of-state banks control 56% of deposits of financial institutions in the state, an increase of 12% over the past two decades."
 
The league prepared a strongly worded response intended to debunk a new banker-placed attack--this one appearing Sunday in Foster's Daily Democrat . "If banks think credit unions have such an advantage, we urge them to come join our ranks and convert to credit unions," league President Paul Gentile wrote.

"Banks can quite easily become credit unions, but if they do so they can no longer pay their board members, which at credit unions are democratically elected from the membership," Gentile continued. "They also would no longer be able to serve anyone who walks in their doors and they would be immediately limited in how many commercial loans they can do."

Texas House committee hears from CU about data security

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/1/14)--The Texas House Committee on Business and Industry held a hearing Thursday on data security, during which the CEO of Chocolate Bayou Community FCU, Alvin, testified about how breaches affect credit unions.
 
Gary Davis, president/CEO of the $98 million-asset credit union, appeared on behalf of the Texas Credit Union Association and shared how credit unions are affected by data breaches--the costs they incur in fraud and card reissuing--and the erosion of public trust. ( Leaguer March 31).
 
He noted that legislation is needed to protect Texas consumers--a position that the Credit Union National Association is also bringing to the forefront at the national level.
 
Davis told the committee that next year's migration to the Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) chip system will cost between $4 and $9 per card. Chairman Rene Oliveira (D-Brownsville) asked Davis if this charge would be passed to consumers, and Davis replied it wouldn't.
 
Testimony on the impact of data theft was presented by state agencies, bankers, credit card processors, retailers' associations and others.
 

CU System briefs (04/01/2014)

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  • RACINE, Wis. (4/1/14)-- Educators CU  is using a social media app to raise $5,000 by April 7 for the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. The $1.4 billion-asset credit union is matching every dollar that that is pledged to the drive. CafeGive Social's Make the Match app allows supporters to donate to the cause and share the campaign with Facebook and Twitter friends and followers. This way, a former Wisconsinite living in Arizona could hear about the campaign through a Facebook friend and make a donation, the Racine, Wis., credit union noted ...
     
  • LIVONIA, Mich. (4/1/14)-- Christina Lethlean, former CEO of Richland, Wash.-based Gesa FCU, was hired as executive vice president/chief financial officer of Michigan Solutions , a company that was born from the merger of CUcorp's lending solutions department with CU Solutions Group (CUSG).  "The position will help CUSG refocus energy on the Michigan market with regard to the sale of CUSG solutions and for communicating major MCUL initiatives including affiliation," said David Adams, Michigan Credit Union League CEO ( Monitor March 31).  Lethlean was CEO at the $1.29 billion-asset credit union for six years and previously worked at Xceed Financial CU, El Segundo, Calif., and Christian Community CU, San Dimas, Calif. ...
     
  • OCALA, Fla. (4/1/14)-- Chief Operations Officer Jerry Benton will replace Larry Scott as president/CEO of Campus USA CU , a $1.14 billion-asset credit union in Gainesville, Fla. ( Ocala Star Banner March 28). Scott, who announced his retirement Friday, started at the then-named Your Campus CU in 1990. Benton has been with Campus USA CU for 14 years and previously worked for Decatur (Ill.) Earthmover CU ...
     
  • BEAVERTON, Ore. (4/1/14)-- Gerald H. "Jerry" Rutz, who led Portland, Ore.-based Fred Meyer Employees FCU for nearly 30 years, died March 8 . He was 83. In the March 28 issue of Anthem , Rutz was remembered as a credit union pioneer who "could do any job in the office," said Leslie McGrew, vice president of marketing at the $39 million-asset credit union. Mark Freels, manager of Teamsters Council #37 FCU, Portland, said Rutz was always looking out for the best interest of his members ...

CO-OP throws support behind Biz Kid$ box set campaign

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif., and MADISON, Wis. (4/1/14)--CO-OP Financial Services will pay half the cost of all "Biz Kid$" DVD box sets purchased by credit unions under a program to enhance the financial education of families at Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.
 
"Even though CMN Hospitals treat sick and injured children without regard for ability to pay, many of their families still face tremendous financial challenges," said Stan Hollen, CO-OP Financial Services president/CEO and a member of the CMN Hospitals board of governors since 2010. "The 'Biz Kid$' box sets will provide a source of entertainment and financial education for families that need both at a very difficult time."
 
CO-OP Financial Services will pay $150 of the $300 DVD set, which credit unions are purchasing through the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) and donating to their local CMN Hospitals.  
 
The program is a joint initiative of Credit Unions for Kids and NCUF, which aims to provide all 163 CMN Hospitals with a box set of "Biz Kid$" by the end of April, National Financial Literacy Month.
 
Biz Kid$ is the Emmy Award-winning and credit union-funded public television series that teaches young people about money management and entrepreneurship.
 
"We thank CO-OP Financial Services for helping underwrite this new initiative between NCUF and CU4Kids," said Gigi Hyland, NCUF executive director. "With CO-OP's support, even more "Biz Kid$" DVD box sets will make their way to patients and families in CMN Hospitals across the country. Linking credit unions' philanthropy with their mission to improve people's financial lives is truly a win-win."

Judicial panel hears Target case jurisdiction

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SAN DIEGO (4/1/14)--During a hearing in front of the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation Thursday, the attorney for Target Corp. supported the placement of class action lawsuits related to the 2013 data security in the company's home state of Minnesota.
 
More than 100 lawsuits have been filed on behalf of consumers, whose information was compromised, and financial institutions, which had to cover costs of reissuing cards and reimbursing consumers. The retail giant revealed Dec. 19 that about 40 million debit and credit card numbers were compromised as was the personal information of as many as 70 million customers.
 
Rebekah Kaufman, Target's lead counsel, said that despite cases being filed in 39 districts, there was a "substantial connection" to Minnesota ( Fulton County Daily Report March 31). The company's information technology department is located in Minneapolis, as are many witness and documents.
 
Plaintiffs attorney Karl Cambronne also argued that Minnesota should be home to the case because of a state statute that prohibits merchants or businesses from retaining magnetic-strip information captured during a transaction.
 
However, attorneys from California and Illinois cited Target's relationships with third parties in their states as a reason why the cases should not be moved.
 
A California company that provided malware protection to Target "will be a major component witness," said attorney Aashish Desai.
 
Chicago attorney Robert Clifford argued to keep the cases in the Northern District of Illinois, adding that state Attorney General Lisa Madigan was spearheading investigations for fellow attorneys general.
 
The panel also heard from attorneys from Louisiana and Colorado.
 
The cases have been stayed until a decision is issued by the panel, which typically issues rulings several weeks following its hearings.
 
The Credit Union National Association found that credit unions incurred $30.6 million in costs directly related to the breach--not including fraud costs--and is pressing federal lawmakers to address data security relative to merchants, who are not held to the same standards of security as credit union and other financial institutions. (See related story: Texas House committee hears from CU CEO about data security.)
 
Credit unions interested in possibly bringing litigation against Target are encouraged to contact CUNA's Legal Department for more information. 
 

Northwest CUs, members raise funds for mudslide victims

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SEATAC, Wash. (4/1/14)--The Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) is partnering with the Northwest Credit Union Foundation (NWCUF) and member credit unions to fulfill the "people helping people" mission by raising funds for families impacted by the March 22 mudslide in Oso, Wash. The mudslide is responsible for the deaths of at least 25 people, and 30 area residents were unaccounted for as of March 31.

"The loss of lives and family homes is devastating," said Troy Stang, president/CEO of the NWCUA.  "What we know so far is at least one credit union member lost his wife and a grandchild.  At least four northwest credit union members lost their family homes. We believe as the recovery efforts continue, we will learn of more impact on credit union members. But member or not, they are our neighbors and our credit unions want to help."

The NWCUF has established an online link (see resource link below) through which it is seeking contributions from NWCUA credit unions, their staffs and the 4.5 million consumers who belong to credit unions in Washington and Oregon.  Credit unions and their nearly 97 million members from around the country are invited to contribute as well. 
 
The funds will be earmarked to go directly for the immediate household needs of the impacted families such as temporary housing, supplies, and basic needs.  The NWCUF has arranged for the United Way of Snohomish County, Wash. to channel the credit union contributions directly to the families impacted by the mudslide.
 
"For credit unions to step up in support is important," said Steven Ellis, president/CEO of SnoCope CU--located just 30 miles from the mudslide. "Collectively, credit unions are filling the people helping people mission."
 
Adds Gayle Yost, CEO of Community Healthcare FCU in Everett, Wash., "Everyone coming into the credit union has a story. Either someone they know, or even a relative, was affected. The need is great."
 
NWCUA's Stang noted that homeowners insurance may not cover the loss of homes or mortgage payments.