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Irish League Rejects Bank's Plan For Distressed Borrowers

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DUBLIN, Ire. (5/14/13)--The board of the Irish League of Credit Unions voted unanimously last weekend to reject a new pilot program from Ireland's Central Bank for dealing with mortgages in arrears.

The league said in a statement that concerns it had raised about the proposed framework of the plan were ignored during negotiations and that the discussions offered little in the way of meaningful relief to distressed mortgage holders (RTE and The Independent May 13).

The absence of a provision for a mortgage writeoff or write down essential to any relief plan was a "major flaw" in the proposal, the league said.  The plan was written to protect the bank's capital positions and maximize its income from mortgage interest payments "at the long-term expense of the borrower," said the league's statement.

The Central Bank had been negotiating for months with regulators of banks, credit unions and credit card providers.

CU System Briefs (05/14/2013)

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  • OREGON CITY, Ore. (05/14/13)--A woman inside the Oregon City, Ore.-based OnPoint Community CU lobby was injured May 3 after a car crashed through its front windows and landed in the lobby. Firefighters arrived and declared that the driver, an elderly man, didn't suffer any serious injuries after his car jumped the curb outside and crashed into the building (KPTV.com May 3). However, the woman inside was taken to the hospital for treatment. The building was evaluated after the accident and was determined to still be structurally sound. An estimate of the damages still hasn't been announced ...
  • EL PASO, Texas (05/14/13)-- GECU is breaking ground in El Paso, Texas, on a new concept for credit unions, partnering with a local coffee shop to appeal more to people's lifestyles.  "The new location features a warm, relaxing ambience and a mezzanine for free financial workshops. People will be able to enjoy conversation and refreshments. The latest technology will be available to conduct all financial needs with convenient extended hours that complement Kinley's Tea House hours," said Crystal Long, president of GECU. The credit union hopes to become a place where locals go to conduct business, learn about finances and enjoy a meal and Kinley's specially brewed coffee or tea (LoneStar Leaguer May 13) ...
  • WEST JORDAN, Utah (05/14/13)-- Mountain America CU just made buying a home easier with its electronic mortgage process. Homebuyers can apply online, upload all key application documents and view and sign their closing documents electronically. "There's no need to call or come into the branch to start your mortgage anymore," said Amy Moser, vice president of mortgage services for the West Jordan, Utah-based Mountain America. "One click can put members on the path to home ownership. With paperless origination now combined with Quick Close, our members are saving more time than ever during the traditionally hectic home-buying experience." The Quick Close secure paperless mortgage process provides homebuyers a quick, convenient, simple and secure way to purchase a home and allows them to have access the documents after they have closed, the credit union said ...

Wall Street Journal: CUs Step Up, Offer Student Loans

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NEW YORK (5/14/13)--U.S. credit unions are helping consumers who are struggling with the high costs of college education by offering more private student loans, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal Friday, for which the Credit Union National Association provided information.

"Nearly 590 of the nation's 6,955 credit unions--member-owned nonprofit financial institutions--offered student loans as of December, according to the Credit Union National Association, a trade group, up more than 50% since March 2011," the article said.

"Though credit unions account for just a tiny slice of the student loan market, the amount they hold nearly doubled to more than $2 billion in the same period," the Journal added.

2nd Order Solutions, a credit-risk advisory firm, said credit unions control 8% of the roughly $8 billion annual market in private student-loan originations--of which the federal government originates 90%, the article indicated.

For borrowers, credit unions' student loans tend to be among the least expensive options, Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Edvisors.com, which operates financial aid and college planning websites, told the Journal.

The article mentions that consumers can find a credit union to join by using the aSmarterChoice.org website, a joint project of CUNA and the American Association of Credit Union Leagues aimed at helping create consumer awareness of credit unions and building membership.

The Journal also noted that the University of Wisconsin CU in Madison, Wis., will start allowing borrowers to consolidate private student loans this month. Four credit unions were featured in the article.

To read it, use the link.

CUNA's first annual High School Student Borrowing Survey, released last month, found that nearly half of high school seniors don't know how much they will need for college costs. That lack of knowledge translates to a greater student-debt burden after college. CUNA is lobbying the federal government to allow student loans of a longer duration than the current 15-year standard because today's loans are for larger amounts.

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

Wisconsin CUs' Net Income Rises 7.6% In 1Q

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MADISON, Wis. (5/14/13)--Wisconsin's state-chartered credit unions grew their net income by 7.6% during first quarter, compared with first quarter 2012, according to data released Friday by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).

"First quarter credit union performance continued the very positive trend of 2012," said DFI Secretary Peter Bildsten. "Assets and income are up. Loan quality continues to improve. Net worth remains strong at over 10%. These indicators are positive signs for the credit union industry and the Wisconsin economy," he added.

In the quarter that ended March 31, the state's 184 state-chartered credit unions grew total assets to $24.1 billion, an increase of 3.3% over year-end 2012. They also posted a return on average assets of 0.90%, down slightly from the 10-year high of 1% recorded in 2012.

Membership continued to increase, said Director of Credit Unions Kim Santos. "Another 13,000 people became credit union members in the first quarter," she said. "Total membership for all Wisconsin credit unions is closing in on 2.3 million people."

Two CUNA Events Offer Details On Implementing MBL Programs

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MADISON, Wis. (5/14/13)--The Credit Union National Association will host back-to-back member business lending (MBL) events for a week in late July in Madison, Wis. They are: CUNA Business Lending & Services Conference, July 19-20, and CUNA Business Lending Certification Institute, July 21-25.

The events offer the information and insight to take a credit union from "curious" about MBLs to knowing all the steps and details of program implementation.

"Together, these programs make for an impactful week for credit unions looking to serve their members' small businesses' needs," said Courtney Cantwell, instructional design manager at CUNA. "The Lending Conference and Certification Institute position credit unions to provide the people-first services that members look for in a financial institution."

CUNA Business Lending & Services Conference offers credit union executives and decision makers a chance to determine whether offering member business services is the right decision for their credit unions. Through an overview of the market, advice from experts and experienced credit unions, and an analysis of the current competition, attendees will gain a solid picture of what a member business services program would look like at their credit union.

CUNA Business Lending Certification Institute offers a credit union-specific, week-long curriculum designed by industry experts to increase attendees' business lending potential. The institute features core knowledge, case study analysis in teams and on-site solution building for credit unions' business lending. Expert-led sessions addressing real-life business scenarios leave attendees with a comprehensive understanding of the components involved in lending services, said CUNA.

For more information, use the link.

Atlanta Newspaper: Delta Community CU CEO Touts CUs' Service

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ATLANTA (5/14/13)--Delta Community CU's new CEO, Hank Halter, took the opportunity to educate The Atlanta Journal-Constitution readers about the credit union difference, credit unions' structure and service orientation during an interview published in Sunday's edition.

The $4.37 billion asset, Atlanta-based credit union saw record growth in 2012, with a 13% increase--amounting to 30,000 new members-- after big banks imposed new fees or introduced minimum balance requirements, Halter told the publication.

Service is the biggest difference between a credit union and a bank, he said. "Our loyalty isn't divided. We're in business to serve the best interest of our members, period. By the nature of their structure, for-profit banks have to hold something back for the benefit of their investors."

Service and pricing are better at credit unions, Halter  said. "Because we're a not-for-profit organization, we can take a longer view of the customer relationship more easily than for-profit banks. Banks are under a lot of pressure to return higher earnings each quarter. Our employees view themselves as partners and advisers to our members. We look for ways to save them money and direct them to the best options, even if it reduces our revenue."

Credit unions can compete with banks' convenience through ATMs and their shared branch network. Although banks are larger, "credit unions do something banks generally don't do. Credit unions collaborate more freely. Because they're not-for-profit, they pool resources and make joint investments in services and technology that benefit all credit unions," he said.

Although credit unions serve more than 95 million members,  that is just 8% of the market, according to Credit Union National Association statistics cited in the article. "It's mostly a lack of awareness," Halter told the Journal-Constitution. "Many consumers don't know what credit unions are or the benefits we offer."

Raising awareness about credit unions is one of the three-pronged goals-- along with removing barriers and fostering service excellence--of CUNA's and credit unions' Unite for Good campaign to achieve a strategic vision where all Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."

To review the full article use the link. Also use the links for more information about the Unite for Good campaign or to find a credit union through aSmarterChoice.org.

'Tis the Season For Student Scholarships

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MADISON, Wis. (5/14/13)--May is scholarship season, with students graduating from high school and making plans for college. Credit unions offer assistance, not only through student loans, but through scholarship programs awarded to deserving students.

Click to view larger image Joseph Wambach, executive director at the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation, was the guest speaker at Trevose Pa.-based TruMark Financial CU's Financial Jeopardy Game and stressed the importance of financial literacy for young adults. (Photo provided by Trumark Financial CU)

"There is no more important investment we can make in our next generation of leaders," said Anthony Pili, vice president of sales and marketing for Palisades FCU, Pearl River, N.Y., which awarded $2,400 in scholarships this year.

Many credit unions find creative ways to determine winners for financial assistance.

TruMark Financial CU, Trevose, Pa., designed The Financial Jeopardy Game, a spin-off of the long-running nightly quiz show, to award $11,400 in scholarships. The sixth annual Financial Jeopardy Game tested 10 students' knowledge in subjects relating to personal finance.

Joseph Wambach, executive director at the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation, was the guest speaker and stressed the importance of financial literacy for young adults.

Some credit unions asked applicants to submit an essay in addition to listing their academic accomplishments and community involvement.

Fort Campbell FCU, Clarksville, Tenn., asked scholarship applicants to submit an essay providing two ideas on ways to promote financial service to their generation. The credit union awarded six $2,000 scholarships.

In awarding $2,000 in scholarships, North Star Community CU, Cherokee, Iowa, required applicants to write an essay based on the question "Given the fragile state of the national economy, with record unemployment and deficits, describe how having an emergency saving account is more crucial than ever. How might someone utilize their credit union to focus on saving?" (Chronicle Times May 10).

Scholarship applicants at Palisades FCU submitted a written essay based on the people-helping-people philosophy.

Even scholarship winners who didn't submit essays showed a willingness to help others. "I hope to open up a local clinic where I can serve the under-served healthcare community," said Nadeen Dakhlallah, who received a scholarship from Community Choice CU, Dearborn Mich. (Dearborn Patch May 12). "I believe that the success of our state depends on future generations who are willing to put their time and effort into enriching our society."

Community Choice awarded $100,000 in scholarships this year:

Among the many other credit unions awarding scholarships recently were:

  • Peach State FCU, Lawrenceville, Ga., with $97,0000 in scholarships;
  • State Employees' CU, Raleigh, N.C. with $580,000 in scholarships;
  • Black Hills FCU, Rapid City, S.D., with $6,000 in scholarships, the Credit Union Association of Dakotas said (The Memo May 8);
  • First Community CU, Jamestown, N.D., $10,000 in scholarships (The Memo April 29);
  • First Financial CU, Lutherville, Md., $147,000 in scholarships (Baltimore Sun May 13); and
  • Vantage CU, Bridgeton, Mo., with $20,000 in scholarships (St. Louis Today May 8).

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

Corporate's FInection Video Channel Attracting Viewers

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MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (5/14/13)--The FINection video channel launched earlier this year by Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU has generated more than 50 videos and 4,800 views during its first 10 weeks, announced the Middletown, Pa.-based corporate.

The channel, created and produced by the corporate, was launched during the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference in February. 

FInection  offers a range of content from economic overviews to updates on the corporate's financials. It also includes tips to increase computer speeds, news of an upcoming security conference and the fact that animal cracker boxes originally were marketed as Christmas tree ornaments, which is why the boxes have a string attached, said the corporate.

"Sometimes we share important but basic information," said Mid-Atlantic Corporate President/CEO Jay Murray." Other times, FInection is educational or helps us add interest and humor to our communications. We enjoy making the process interactive and entertaining."

Its name is a combination of the words "financial" and "connection." It can be viewed from any location with Internet access, including mobile phones and tablets. While the content is developed for Mid-Atlantic Corporate's members, other credit unions and business partners can share the news and information. Some videos address industry-wide issues and offer general fun facts.

To view FInection videos, use the link.

Forty Certified As CU Development Educators

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MADISON, Wis. (5/14/13)--Forty credit union professionals earned certification as Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) last week after being guided by eight program facilitators and mentors through Credit Union Development Education (DE) Training from the National Credit Union Foundation.

Click to view larger image The 40 graduates of the Spring 2013 Development Educator Training stand outside of the World Credit Union Center Campus in Madison, Wis. (Photo provided by The National Credit Union Foundation)
The May 1-8 training was conducted on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, Wis.

DE Training provides lessons in cooperative principles and credit union philosophy while incorporating challenges credit unions face today. Participants were involved in group exercises, field trips and issue discussions with speakers from in the credit union system, and were required to complete team projects proposing solutions for credit unions to help alleviate or eliminate challenging situations.

"During DE training, we work to ensure the lessons in credit union philosophy are applicable and relevant to current events," said Lois Kitsch, DE facilitator and NCUF national program director. "For example, for the final case studies, participants worked through and presented solutions to critical issues that included credit union solutions to payday lending, a small-credit union merger dilemma, the low-income designation, building an Islamic banking center, developing a credit union awareness campaign and league consolidation."

For a list of the 40 DE graduates, use the link.

The next DE Training will be held at the Lowell Center in Madison, Wis., Sept. 4-11. Registration still is open. For more information, use the link.

Calif. DFI Warns CUs About Ads' FOM Language

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (5/14/13)--The California Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) issued a warning about credit unions using certain language about their fields of membership in their advertising.

In the April monthly bulletin, the California DFI issued a statement regarding "Impermissible Advertising by Credit Unions."

"The Department has recently become aware of certain impermissible advertising campaigns by credit unions. The advertisements state that 'everyone can join' or 'all individuals can join' the credit union," DFI said in the bulletin.

"Advertisements that display this message violate the Commissioner's regulation concerning common-bond requirements for field of membership," the bulletin continued.

"Title 10 California Code of Regulations 30.51 provides that members must share a common bond 'beyond obtaining financial services.' Stating that 'everyone can join' or that 'all can join' the credit union incorrectly suggests that the common-bond requirement of 30.51 does not apply.

"Please note this regulation when advertising to increase membership and do not use or display any advertisement that is in violation of Title 10 California Code of Regulations 30.51."

The type of credit union campaigns involved were in-branch signage and Internet/Web pages, Alana Golden, California DFI public information officer, told News Now.

"Three credit unions were sent a letter directly, and the bulletin announcement was sent to all licensees," Golden added.

The California regulator became aware of the issue when a DFI employee saw a window advertisement, which then led to Internet searches, she explained.