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WesCorp has strongest year to date

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TORREY PINES, Calif. (5/21/08)--Despite the turmoil in the markets during 2007, Western Corporate FCU (WesCorp) experienced its strongest year to date, posting total assets of $31.6 billion, the corporate announced at its 39th annual meeting Monday in La Jolla, Calif. Net interest income increased by 47% on the year to $157.6 million, and the efficiency ratio ended the year at 46.3%, down from 56.56% at year-end 2006. "Our financials are super strong; the strongest year we've had," WesCorp President/CEO Bob Siravo told the 275 CEOs, chief financial officers and executives attending. He added that WesCorp and other corporates, including U.S. Central, serve as a shield, protecting their members from the instability of today's capital markets. Siravo spoke of his disappointment that VolCorp's bid to merge with WesCorp was not approved by federal regulators, but said WesCorp's merger with SunCorp is ready to move ahead as planned, contingent on further market stabilization. He noted the spreads are narrowing. During the year, WesCorp added 27 new member credit unions, bringing its total membership to 1,055 credit unions in 44 states and Guam. Also at the meeting:
* Three directors were re-elected to three-year terms. They were: Adam Denbo, president/CEO, California Agribusiness CU, Bueno Park, Calif.; Diana Dykstra, president/CEO, San Francisco Fire CU, San Francisco; and Jim Jordan, president/CEO, Schools Financial CU, Sacramento. * The executive leadership remained unchanged. Bob Harvey, president/CEO of Seattle Metropolitan CU, Seattle, continues as chairman; Jordan as vice chairman; and Timothy Kramer, president/CEO of KeyPoint CU, Santa Clara, Calif., as recorder/financial officer.

Columnist Start with a CU for good rate yields

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NEW YORK (5/21/08)--Credit unions, cyber banks and big-box financial institutions are upping the yields on short- and long-term certificates of deposit (CDs) to lure in depositors looking for a safe place to park $1,000, says a columnist in Monday's issue of Farnoosh Torabi, writing about the safety of CDs in uncertain economic times, recommends credit unions as one of the starting points for consumers with an extra $1,000 searching for secure deposit instruments to park their savings. "Credit unions tend to offer higher yields, since they do little marketing and don't depend on huge spreads to please shareholders," says the article. Experts say credit unions have a history of better savings rates than traditional banks, Torabi writes. Daniel Penrod, industry analyst for the California Credit Union League, explains in the article that conservatively, credit unions offer half to three quarters of a point more on CD yields than banks. He points out that the biggest myth about credit unions: that few people qualify to join unless they have a certain job, ethnicity or location. Most of the population is eligible to join a credit union, he says, adding that with shared branching and the nationwide credit union CO-OP Network, credit union members actually have 25,000 branches to use. To access the original article, use the link.

Teachers legacy The model for student-run CUs

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DENVER (5/21/08)--When Kent Denver School math teacher Donna Duvall-Serrano retires on Friday, she will have left behind a hefty financial literacy legacy that will continue through students she has taught and the student-run credit union, Kent Denver Student CU, she organized 24 years ago.
Math teacher Donna Duvall-Serrano, left, will retire Friday after 24 years leading one of the nation's first--and largest--student-run credit unions, Kent Denver Student CU, a partner of Westerra CU. With her are Westerra President/CEO C. Alan Peppers, and Tracy Wittmer, who will succeed her as branch manager. (Photo provided by Westerra CU)
In 1984, Duvall-Serrano was instrumental in establishing one of the nation's first student-run credit unions, Lowry FCU, which became the nation's largest student-run credit union. The credit union also was called Gateway CU. Today, as Kent Denver Student CU, it is a branch of Westerra CU, a $923.6 million asset credit union in Denver. It has $2 million in assets. "Donna's dedication and commitment to financial literacy and her students are nationally renowned," said C. Alan Peppers, president/CEO of Westerra. "The Kent Denver CU is the model for student-run credit unions across the country. What Donna and the students have accomplished is truly amazing." Students apply for about 20 positions each year to operate the credit union, helping other students learn financial responsibility. Each year a senior is selected president, supported by officers and teller staff who operate the credit union during lunch hours every school day. It offers Kent's 655 students (sixth through 12th graders) everything, from their first checking account and first credit card to savings accounts and spending money--and in many cases, their first job. To ensure that the credit union's success continues, Duvall-Serrano has been working with Tracy Wittmer, who will succeed her as branch manager.

38 people arrested in phishing ring that targeted CUs banks

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WASHINGTON (5/21/08)--The U.S. Department of Justice charged 38 people in the U.S. and Romania in two separate indictments involving computer and credit card fraud with accounts at U.S. credit unions and banks. The alleged fraud involves charges of phishing--using e-mail to solicit personal information for illegal use--and smishing--using text messages to solicit personal information for illegal use (CMP TechWeb May 19). The ring allegedly procured credit card numbers and personal information that were stolen by “cashiers” through spamming phishing and smishing messages. The ring was linked to accounts at about 20 credit unions and 10 banks, but authorities said it targeted thousands of accounts from hundreds of financial institutions. The cashiers used hardware credit card encoding devices and software to imprint stolen card numbers onto magnetic strips of credit and debit cards, according to Deputy Attorney General Mark R. Filip. “Runners” then took the newly created cards and made unauthorized withdrawals. The amount stolen is estimated to be several million dollars, Filip said.

Mississippi league to launch first CU awareness blitz

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BILOXI, Miss. (5/21/08)--A “Statewide Cooperative Credit Union Awareness Campaign” will be undertaken sometime soon by the Mississippi Credit Union Association (MCUA). With the help of the Credit Union National Association, the (MCUA) conducted a credit union public awareness telephone survey in December 2007. “Mississippi found, like many other states that have conducted similar surveys, a credit union awareness campaign could benefit the state,” Amy Manley, MCUA corporate relations manager, told News Now. “Our focus at this time is the organization of a task force for recommendations and advice. Once formed, it will be the task force’s charge to represent and guide our state’s credit unions through this important endeavor,” she said. The purpose of the multi-year campaign may vary from year to year, but in the first year the goal will be to raise credit union awareness and awareness of the credit union difference, said Charles Elliott, MCUA president/CEO. “This is something that the association has talked about for many years,” Elliott said. “We intend to use several forms of media--TV, radio, print and billboards. The mix and utilization will be determined by our task force once it is formed. There is no set time frame for the campaign at this point.”

CUNA CFO Council exec committee named

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MADISON, Wis. (5/21/08)--The new executive committee and officers for the CUNA Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Council were announced during the council’s 14th annual conference and roundtable, which ends today in Fort Myers, Fla. The conference began on Sunday. Erin Mendez, senior vice president of finance and information technology, SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana, Calif., was elected to a second term as chair. Pamela S. Finch, vice president of administration/CFO, Mid Minnesota FCU, Brainerd, Minn., remains as vice chair. Peg Lamb, CFO, CapCom CU, Lansing, Mich., was appointed secretary/treasurer. Recently re-elected to the executive committee, each for a three-year term, were Dan Leclerc, CFO, Lacamas Community CU, Camas, Wash., and Steve Smith, CFO, Sharonview FCU, Fort Mill, S.C. The committee is rounded out by:
* Louis (Jay) Scungio, vice president of finance/CFO, Freedom CU, Springfield, Mass.; * M.J. Coon, senior vice president/CFO, Ent FCU, Colorado Springs, Colo.; * Robert Warren Jr., senior vice president/CFO, Virginia CU, Richmond, Va.; and * Kevin Brueseke, chief operating officer/CFO, Missouri Credit Union Association.

CU System briefs (05/20/2008)

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* MADISON, Wis. (5/21/08)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is weighing its options about appealing a decision by a Madison, Wis., employment commission over an action brought against the association by a former employee. The action was brought over allegations by the former employee of discrimination and retaliation by CUNA toward the employee. In an "interim order" issued by a hearing examiner of the Madison Employment Opportunities Commission (MEOC), CUNA is directed to reach an agreement with the former employee for back pay, benefits, expenses and a judgment of $75,000 for damages. CUNA is studying the interim decision to determine its next steps. Meanwhile, in a statement, CUNA said it "strongly disagrees" with the decision, and reiterated that "CUNA does not discriminate or retaliate against any of its employees under any circumstances, and did not do so in the case at issue" … * SOUTH BEND, Ind. (5/21/08)--Two teens, ages 15 and 16, were apprehended with 25 minutes of an attempted robbery of a South Bend credit union Monday morning. At about 10:13 a.m., the suspects allegedly each gave a note demanding money to separate tellers, said South Bend Police. However, the tellers alerted police. After waiting a bit, the boys left. One teen was caught in the parking lot with help from a police dog. The other was tracked to a dumpster. One of the suspects was treated for a dog bite. No weapons were found, and no money was taken, police said (South Bend Tribune May 19) … * COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (5/21/08)--Lois Carlock, education and event manager at Colorado Springs-based Ent FCU tries out one of the 200 cell phones the credit union collected from its employees and members. The cell phones will be donated to a local agency, TESSA, which offers prevention, intervention and treatment services to women and children who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. TESSA reprograms the old cell phones for its clients so that women have a means to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. (Photo provided by Ent FCU) … * LARGO, Md. (5/21/08)--Employees of Prince George's Community FCU joined local law enforcement agencies in a Buckle Up for a Buck campaign May 9 and yesterday at an intersection in Largo (Focus Newsletter May 19). They distributed $1 to drivers who had all occupants buckled up. Those riding unrestrained received educational materials about the effectiveness of seat belts and child safety seats in saving lives and reducing injuries. The group gave out a combined $466 to motorists wearing seat belts. The credit union attached information about the credit union to the dollar bills. Agencies involved included the Prince George's Highway Safety Office and the Maryland National Capital Park Police-Prince George's County. (Photo provided by Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association) … * INDIANAPOLIS (5/21/08)--Charles Carr Comptom, a former executive with the international operations of CUNA Mutual Insurance Society in Madison, Wis., died May 17 in Indianapolis. He was 88. Compton worked in 59 countries with various international organizations. He was on the faculty of what was then called CUNA School for Credit Union Personnel at the University of Wisconsin. He is survived by his wife Shirley, two children and four grandchildren. Services were held Tuesday (Indianapolis Star May 18) …

Three AACUC board seats up for election

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SHREVEPORT, La. (5/21/08)--The African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) has three board positions up for election. The board seats will be voted on Aug. 10 at the AACUC 2008 annual business meeting in Houston. The positions currently are held by Bert Hash Jr.; Hubert Hoosman Jr.; and Lynda McDaniel. Each of the incumbents is seeking re-election to the AACUC board. The 2008 Nominating Committee consists of Leroy Nesbit Jr., chairman; Bob Harvey Jr.; and Sheilah Montgomery. AACUC’s mission is to increase the global credit union movement's strength by adding the focused perspective and energy of credit union volunteers and professionals of African-American and African descent. Those interested in seeking a position on the AACUC board of directors, should submit a letter of intent, a resumé, a biographical sketch of 100 words or less and a photo by midnight June 6 to: Leroy Nesbit Jr, Chairman AACUC Nominating Committee 12093 River Bend Drive Grand Blanc, MI 48439 e-mail:

Biz Journal Maryland CUs avoid mortgage meltdown

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COLUMBIA, Md. (5/21/08)--Maryland credit unions have managed to avoid the U.S. mortgage meltdown, and several have even increased their earnings in 2007 and piqued member interest in mortgages, according to a May 9 article in the Baltimore Business Journal. “Many of Maryland’s credit unions made gains last year, even in the difficult economy, steering clear of the subprime mortgage struggles that ensnared some banks,” the article said. “But while credit unions found a clear path through the mess in 2007, some are preparing for a tougher 2008.” (Focus newsletter, May 19). The 2007 successes of Destinations CU, Baltimore; Atlantic Financial FCU, Hunt Valley; and Municipal Employees CU, Baltimore, were cited in the article. It also mentions the earnings being used for loan interest rebates and increased dividends. “The nature of the credit union business insulated it from the subprime mortgage loans and investments that weighed on the banking world,” Mike Beall, CEO, Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association, said in the article. “Now that many banks have scaled back mortgage lending, some credit unions are seeing an increase in mortgage demand.”

Largest CU in Poland visits CCUL

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (5/21/08)--Polish credit union officials, media, and the president of Poland’s largest credit union, recently spent a day at the California Credit Union League learning how credit unions operate in the U.S.
Click to view larger imageA 20-member delegation of Polish credit union officials, media and the president of Poland’s largest credit union recently spent a day at the California Credit Union League’s headquarters learning how credit unions operate in the U.S. (Photo provided by the California Credit Union League)
The 20-member delegation listened to presentations by league staff on the credit union mission and principles, social and economic role of credit unions, credit unions’ position on U.S. and California financial markets, role of the league and other apex organizations in the California credit system, and forms of state support towards credit unions. "Poland’s credit union officials were most concerned with what our credit unions are doing to help members affected by the subprime crisis,” said Sylvia Faith, league senior vice president of business services. “Apparently, Poland is experiencing its own housing downturn.” Over the last few years Polish credit unions have provided their members with 100% mortgage loans and home values have now depreciated, according to the delegation. Poland’s visit to the league coincides with the introduction of new proposals to amend the Polish cooperative law, including the Co-Operative Savings and Credit Unions Act. Journalists had the opportunity to get acquainted with the credit union system as well as the legal solutions applied in the U.S. Polish officials mentioned that it’s crucial for their media to understand the credit union philosophy. Credit unions in Poland face the same arguments from banks that credit unions do in the U.S. “The California credit union system can be proud of its successes and I’m happy we were able to show this to Poland’s journalists,” said Grzegorz Bierecki, president, National Association of Cooperative Savings and Credit Unions in Poland. “This experience will help them to understand what role credit unions can play in Poland.” Poland is the third country in recent weeks to send credit union officials to Southern California. The league hosted a Chinese rural credit cooperative delegation May 9, and in April, officials from India met with league staff and toured two Los Angeles-area credit unions.