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N.J. Governor Nominates Mullen As Banking Division Head

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TRENTON, N.J. (5/15/13)--New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Monday nominated Patrick Mullen to head the Division of Banking within the state's Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI).

Mullen's nomination is subject to confirmation by the state Senate, the New Jersey Credit Union League said (The Daily Exchange May 14).

Mullen serves as the division's assistant director in charge of the Office of Consumer Finance (OCF). OCF regulates state-chartered credit unions and other consumer financial businesses and activities, including mortgage bankers and brokers, check cashers, foreign and domestic money transmitters and pawnbrokers.

As division director, Mullen will also oversee the regulation all state-chartered banks. 

Before joining DOBI in 2011, Mullen held senior positions at Alliance Capital Management, ABN AMRO Bank and Barclays Capital.

CU System Briefs (05/15/2013)

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  • NEW YORK (5/15/13)--A Supervisory Committee Webinar Series, hosted by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions,  continues Thursday with a webinar on detecting fraud and embezzlement from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. EDT.  Deputy District Attorney James Teh will explore cases from the San Diego District Attorney's Office that demonstrate how the simplest oversight or mistake can reveal years of undetected fraud and embezzlement. His session also will cover reports and compliance information every supervisory member should know. Use the link for more information ...
  • CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa.  (5/15/13)--A customer service representative from Keystone United Methodist FCU saved a panicked member from becoming a victim of the "grandparent scam," according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway May 14). The member rushed into the branch asking for money and saying he had received a call from his grandson, who needed money immediately for bail to get out of jail in Haiti. Darlene Jewett, the first employee the man spoke to, sensed something wasn't quite right about the situation and consulted with other staff. "We asked him if he was sure that the voice on the phone was his grandson," said Patti Columbe, CEO. "He thought it was, but wasn't 100% sure." Staff notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation and verified that the call was an attempt to steal money from the member through telephone fraud.  According to the FBI, the grandparent scam started in 2008 but has become more developed and sophisticated since social networking sites have become more popular, said PCUA ...

Okla. CUs Vote To Consolidate With Texas, Arkansas Leagues

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NORMAN, Okla. (5/15/13)--Member credit unions of the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma voted  49-10 in favor of consolidating with the Texas and Arkansas Credit Union Leagues into a single Cornerstone Credit Union League.

Oklahoma credit union delegates voted Tuesday afternoon during CUAOK's special member business meeting in Norman, Okla. Member credit unions of the Arkansas and Texas leagues have already approved the measure.

Cornerstone will become official July 1, according to the LoneStar Leaguer (May 14).

"Given the outcome of today's vote, it's quite clear that Oklahoma credit unions are progressive and forward-focused," said CUAOK President/CEO Gary Jones. "I'm very excited to have the voting behind us because now we can focus on building the Cornerstone Credit Union League."

"This is truly a momentous occasion," said Gina Wilson, CUAOK board chair. "We've been discussing and working toward this goal since last summer and it's wonderful to see our efforts come to fruition."

While the new organization won't become effective until July 1, the initial board of directors will meet before then to help ensure a smooth transition, said the association.

Media Comparisons Of CUs, Banks Tilt In CUs' Favor

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MADISON, Wis. (5/15/13)--In the 11th of a 12-part "Head to Head" series of articles, Business Insider Tuesday pitted credit unions versus big banks and asked: "Where Should You Put Your Money?" The verdict?  Credit unions.

The publication isn't alone in pointing out the value of credit unions., Seattle's CBS affiliate, also focused on the cooperative difference in a segment Monday entitled "Credit Unions Vs. Traditional Banks."

The Business Insider discussed pros and cons of credit unions versus banks in four areas: accessibility, fees, interest rates, customer service. Credit unions won three of the four. On the fourth--accessibility--the best the banks got was a "draw."  Here's a sampling:

Accessibility: Credit unions are meant to serve local communities so they might not have as many ATMs but they compensate by offering surcharge-free banking.

Fees:  "Big banks are notorious for levying major fees against customers for everything from overdrafts to monthly maintenance fees and they've only gotten worse." The article cited a survey showing an 18-cent increase in banks' average monthly fees, and's survey indicating 70% of the largest credit unions offer free checking while 5% of banks do. "Hands down, credit unions are friendlier on the fee front."

Interest rates: Credit unions offer higher yielding accounts but it noted that may not be enough to prompt bank customers to switch banks.

Customer service: "Once again, credit unions beat big banks. But as their customer base grows, it will be crucial for the industry to ramp up resources to meet demand."

"If you are able to take advantage of a credit union and don't mind the lack of ATMs and physical branches, they are by far the best option for banking today," said Business Insider.  "You'll pay fewer fees and get more personalized services out of the deal as well."

In Seattle, CBS's "New Day' producers, which partnered with Washington State Employees CU for the past year to provide consumers financial information, said the most common question it receives about the show is "What is the difference between credit unions and just traditional banks?"

WSECU's Suzanne Klenk discussed two key differences--cooperative ownership and philosophy--and outlined seven cooperative principles of credit unions: voluntary and open membership; philosophy, democratic member control, members' economic participation, credit unions' autonomy and independence, an emphasis on financial education, cooperation among cooperatives, and concern for community. Use the links to access both the article and the segment.

Spreading awareness about credit unions' value is one of the three prongs underlying the Credit Union National Association's and credit unions' Unite for Good campaign, which aims to rally credit unions toward the strategic vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partners. For more information, visit the Unite for Good and sites in the links.

Experian: Auto Loan Delinquencies Increase

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SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (5/15/13)--U.S. automotive-loan delinquency and repossession rates increased in the first quarter, announced Experian Automotive Tuesday. However, repossession rates are down for credit unions from the same time last year.

Thirty-day auto-loan delinquencies rose 1.3%, 60-day delinquencies increased 12.4% and repossessions rose 16.9%, compared with last year, according to the most recent State of Automotive Finance report.

"Obviously, we never want to see a rise in delinquencies or repossessions, but when you compare the current findings with previous years, they are still lower than the recession-level rates," said Melinda Zabritski, Experian senior director of automotive credit.

"As we continue to move forward, we should start to see more increases as some of the subprime loans coming onto the books begin to deteriorate. However, one thing most lenders will agree upon is that today's subprime borrower is less delinquent than those in the past."

Automotive repossessions jumped 16.9%, going to 0.50% in the first quarter from 0.43% in first quarter 2012, the report indicated. While repossession rates for banks, captives and credit unions are down year over year by as much as 14.9%, rates for finance companies increased 52.1%. In spite of the increase, overall repossession rates are still relatively low when compared with the peak rate of 0.71% in first quarter 2010, Experian said.

Other report findings:

  • Total dollar volume of automotive loans grew 9.6% in the first quarter, reaching $726 billion, compared with $663 billion in first quarter 2012;
  • Credit unions increased loan portfolios by $14 billion, banks increased by $20 billion, finance companies by $18 billion, and captive finance companies by $12 billion;
  • Average charge-off amounts for defaulted loans were $7,401 in the first quarter, up from $6,739 in first quarter 2012; and
  • Charge-offs still are below recession levels, with first quarter 2009 average charge-offs at $10,126.

WYCUP Announces Program Agenda, Speakers

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MADISON, Wis. (5/15/13)--Nominations for World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) Young Credit Union People (WYCUP) scholarship program are due June 3.

Click to view larger image The 2012 WYCUP participants meet in Gdańsk, Poland. Five nominees won all-expense-paid scholarships to attend this year's World Credit Union Conference in Ottawa, Canada.
The program, an educational opportunity for credit union leaders age 35 and younger, and awards ceremony will take place at the 2013 World Credit Union Conference in Ottawa, Canada, July 14-17.

"We've heard from credit unions worldwide (of) the need to build up the next generation of leaders," said Brian Branch, World Council president/CEO. "The WYCUP program is an excellent opportunity to expose upcoming leaders to a global perspective that they can apply in their communities." 

The program seeks individuals who have made significant contributions to their own credit union organizations and have the potential to make a larger impact. Credit unions and credit union organizations affiliated with WOCCU can nominate young leaders to compete for the scholarship. Nominees must:

  • Be sponsored by their credit union or credit union organization to attend the 2013 World Credit Union Conference;
  • Be 35 years of age or younger as of this past Jan. 1; and
  • Submit a completed nomination form to WOCCU with supporting materials by June 3.
Click to view larger image Shel Holtz, principal of Holtz Communication + Technology, will present "Building the Brand through Social Media" during the World Council of Credit Unions' Young Credit Union People's educational session July 14. (Photos provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
Shel Holtz, principal of Holtz Communication + Technology and expert in integrating technology into communications strategies, will present a session on "Building Brand Through Social Media" during this year's WYCUP program.

The agenda will include general sessions, education and networking opportunities with WOCCU's board of directors and Shel Holtz. The program will conclude with the annual awards ceremony, during which five 2013 scholarship winners will be formally recognized.  Each receives an all-expense-paid trip to the 2014 World Credit Union Conference in Australia.

WOCCU will recognize WYCUP nominees in Ottawa. Conference registrants age 35 and younger qualify for registration discount. Those who would like to participate in the WYCUP events must RSVP to Lili Tangwall at before June 14.

WYCUP nominees who won scholarships to attend this year's World Credit Union Conference in Ottawa included:

  • Miriam De Dios, U.S, CEO, Coopera;
  • Maire Doyle, Ireland, chairperson, Naomh Breandan CU Ltd.;
  • Brian Aalbers, Canada, manager, Libro Financial Group Branch;
  • Wesley Diniz Alves, Brazil, manager, Sicredi Social Programs and Marketing; and
  • Edyta Grzybowska, Poland, vice president, Credit Union Management Society.

Cirque Director: Creative Fire Can Propel CU To Greatness

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WASHINGTON (5/15/13)--She's not saying that credit union folks should get up in the morning and put on shocking-colored leotards and tights. But when they rise and shine, credit union employees have every reason to compare themselves to the artists and athletes who hurl themselves beautifully and almost magically through the air on a Cirque du Soleil stage, according to Lyn Heward, director of creation for Cirque du Soleil.

Heward will address a credit union crowd during the Credit Union National Association's America's Credit Union Conference next month in New York City. Her presentation--and her recent book--are entitled, "The Spark: Igniting the Creative Fire that Lives Within Us All."

She brings this message: For their own good and the good of the entire movement, credit unions must make sure they are kindling their employees' creative fire.  It is what will set them apart from the competition.

In a recent interview, Heward told News Now that Cirque is like any organization--in some ways. It attracts both tough-minded practitioners--for Cirque, that is athletes with years of training behind them--and creative artists--who have the same amount of determination as the practitioners but a "broader focus on the world around them."

It is the diversity of tools that these employees bring, she says, that builds a successful operation. And it is any manager's job to recognize that "we are all creative" and to help open employees' minds to the idea of pushing boundaries and "using the tools of the past to build a better future."

And that, Heward emphasizes, is why employees' creativity is vital to any organization.

"We all have competition," she says, adding that part of what makes Cirque--or any organization--better is acknowledging that they are fighting a competitive battle--knowing there are other things out there for people to do, or see, or access.

"It's not what you do now that will bring you into the future.  It's having a vision of what you want to become--see how you can evolve and add to your relationships with members and your communities."

Heward advises that every organization must gear its creativity directly to its purpose: while Cirque entertains, credit unions provide financial services to members.

"Where you really have to be creative is in your initiative to show your members what steps you have taken to serve them better."

It's a manager's job, she says, to take two key actions to lead a creative team: inspire them and acknowledge them. Creativity will not flourish without these managerial elements, she says.  You can inspire your team in many ways, even by simply encouraging them to change things up--eat something different for lunch, take a different route to work, anything to get their creative brains out of their "regular track."

She shares another tip. "Remember not all ideas work," at least not the first time around.  But by encouraging employees to fire off many creative ideas all the time, a manager will have a deep pool of resourcefulness from which to fish at all times.

America's Credit Union Conference will be June 30-July3. For more information, use the link.

Catalyst Corporate Launches Second Satisfaction Survey

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DULUTH, Ga. (5/15/13)--Responses to Catalyst Corporate FCU's Second Annual Satisfaction Survey are due Friday.

Survey results will be used to obtain data to support benchmarking and decision-making for allocation of Catalyst Corporate CU's resources.

"The online survey measures satisfaction with engagement and service, gathers a high-level assessment of Catalyst's products and services, and gauges the likelihood of respondents recommending Catalyst to other credit unions," said Kathy Garner, Catalyst Corporate president/CEO.

About 540 representatives from 300 credit unions responded to Catalyst Corporate's 2012 survey. Member feedback was collected by the Catalyst Councils and Catalyst Corporate's board of directors. The survey generated a Net Promoter Score (NPS) by calculating responses to the question: "How likely are you to recommend Catalyst Corporate to a friend or colleague?"

Catalyst Corporate scored an NPS of 64; any score above 50 is considered excellent, said the corporate. The average score in the banking industry is 18. Respondents cited Catalyst Corporate's quality of service and helpful staff as reasons they would recommend the organization to others.

Results will be tabulated during June and will contribute to Catalyst's strategic planning in September.

Virginia League Announces Board Election Results

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (5/15/13)--The Virginia Credit Union League announced the results of recent elections in its board of directors' reorganization meeting.

Officers elected were:

  • Chairman--Suzanne Hodgins, UVA Community CU, Charlottesville;
  • Vice Chairman --Karen Orie, Hampton Roads Educators' CU, Hampton;
  • Treasurer--Rose Gilliam, Argent CU, Richmond; and
  • Secretary--Chris Williams, Henrico (Va.) FCU.
Other board election results include:

  • Stan Leicester, BayPort CU, Newport News, re-elected to represent credit unions with $50 million or more in assets in the Hampton Roads and Tidewater chapters;

  • Iris Ellis, Assurance FCU, Richmond, re-elected to represent credit unions with less than $50 million in assets in the Richmond and Southside chapters;

  • Cliff DeMars, Blue Eagle CU, Roanoke, re-elected to represent credit unions with $50 million or more in assets in the Lynchburg, Piedmont, Roanoke Valley and Southwestern Virginia chapters;

  • Carl Ratcliff, ABNB FCU, Chesapeake, elected as an At-Large Director;

  • Joe Thomas, Fairfax County FCU, Fairfax, re-elected as an At-Large Director.

They all will serve three-year terms.

The league board elected a slate of officers for the League Service Corp.--Virginia Credit Union Services Inc.--the league's wholly owned subsidiary, which provides products and services for credit unions, including insurance, lending assistance, shared branching, card services and share-draft processing.

Officers elected were:

  • Chairman--Ellis;
  • Vice Chairman--Gaye DeCesare, Belvoir FCU, Woodbridge;
  • Treasurer--Gilliam; and
  • Secretary--Cheryl Dickerson, Fairfax (VA.) City FCU.

BizKid$ Nominated For Three Daytime Emmys

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MADISON, Wis. (5/15/13)--Biz Kid$, the credit union-funded public television series that teaches kids about money management and entrepreneurship, has received three Daytime Emmy Award nominations from the National Academy of Television Arts & Science.

"These nominations are a testament to the quality of the show" said Danielle Brown, Biz Kid$ program coordinator for the National Credit Union Foundation. "As a financial literacy resource, Biz Kid$ continues to teach millions of young people how to make and manage their money--something that is needed now more than ever." 

The series was nominated in the categories of: Outstanding Achievement in a Single Camera Editing, Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing and Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing. Awards will be presented June 14 in Los Angeles. 

Biz Kid$ received 13 Emmy nominations in the past five years, winning once in 2009. The Daytime Emmy Awards recognize excellence in American daytime television programming. Emmys are considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards (for film), Grammy Awards (for music) and Tony Awards (for stage).

Biz Kid$ has continually garnered attention in and outside of the credit union industry. The show has won the Environmental Media Award for Outstanding Children's Television Series, a Silver Telly Award for Outstanding Children's Financial Literacy Programming and most recently the Parent's Choice Gold Award.

In 2010, it also earned the credit union industry's most prestigious honor, the Herb Wegner Award for Outstanding Program.

NCUF oversees fundraising, outreach and administrative responsibilities of Biz Kid$. During the past six years, more than 300 credit unions and affiliated organizations have raised at least $13.8 million to support the show's production, website and curriculum.

Every Biz Kid$ episode begins and ends with a narrator reminding viewers that: "Production funding for Biz Kid$ is provided by America's Credit Unions, where people are worth more than money."