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CU System Archive

CU System

Citizens CU to merge with Lake Michigan CU

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (5/25/10)--Members of Kalamazoo, Mich.-based Citizens CU have voted to merge into Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Lake Michigan CU, pending regulatory approval. Both credit unions' boards had approved the merger proposal earlier (Kalamazoo Gazette May 21). The merger allows Lake Michigan CU to expand its footprint and services with four additional branches in the Kalamazoo area, President/CEO Sandra Jelinski told the newspaper. It will offer a full range of financial services to the new members, including a 4% Max Checking account and low-rate mortgage guarantee. Citizens CU has $60 million in assets and 9,000 members. With the addition of Citizens, Lake Michigan CU will have $2 billion in assets.

CUAC President John Dill steps down

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DENVER. Colo. (5/25/10)--John Dill has stepped down as president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of Colorado (CUAC), effective immediately, CUAC's Board of Directors announced Monday. Pete Kirchhof, CUAC's former senior vice president of government affairs, has been named interim president/CEO. "John Dill came to CUAC to revitalize and reinvigorate the credit union movement in Colorado and Wyoming," said board Chairman Mike Williams. "He had a strategic vision and put in place a legislative and political plan that has given CUAC’s membership a solid foundation. "We thank John for his leadership over the past six years as we look forward to a new strategy to meet the pressing demands of a challenging economy," Williams added. "The board is optimistic about the future in spite of the economic downturn and we want our member credit unions to thrive and grow as the economy recovers.” "CUAC is a great organization, and I wish all the members and staff much success in the future," said Dill. Credit Union National Association President/CEO Dan Mica said, "We wish John well in whatever path he chooses next and appreciate the work he has done at the state level, and nationally through AACUL [American Association of Credit Union Leagues], in the areas of political and grassroots organizing and public affairs campaigns. We look forward to continuing to work with the leadership of the Colorado and Wyoming Leagues on behalf of credit unions." CUAC's board will begin the search for a new CEO immediately.

Quest CU debuts after two Kansas CUs merge

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TOPEKA, Kan. (5/25/10)--The merger of Credit Union 1 of Kansas and Credit Unions United has resulted in a new name: Quest CU. The Topeka, Kan.-based credit union’s new name encourages members and staff to “discover the possibilities,” according to co-presidents/CEOs Gary Colcher and Vickie Hurt. “We have a track record of providing friendly service, easy account access and a full array of traditional and leading-edge services. Now, as Quest CU, that’s going to continue to be a daily goal,” Hurt said. Colcher agrees. “People want their financial institution to be friendly, financially strong and safe, reliable, professional and efficient,” he said. “They also want it to stay current on new technologies, which is very important to Quest CU. There’s always more we can do; it’s a journey. I think the way to sum it up is that we’re on a quest for excellence.” The two credit unions received regulatory approval to combine in October and put it to a membership vote in early November. Quest CU will continue to serve members throughout a combined field of membership, which expands from Topeka to communities in Eastern Kansas. “We are two healthy, well-capitalized credit unions with strong membership bases, so the consolidation wasn’t required,” Hurt said. “But we believed we could do more for our members by uniting. Not only do they gain access to more branch locations, but we’ll be open more hours. And with the increased competition for business among financial institutions today, joining together will help us continue to ensure competitive rates, low fees and greater member convenience.”

Another CU files trademark suit

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PITTSBURGH, Pa. (5/25/10)--For the second time in just over a week, a credit union has filed a trademark infringement suit in a federal court against an entity using a similar name. Clearview FCU (CFCU), based in Moon Township, Pa., filed the suit Thursday in a U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, against Clearview Credit Inc., a Tampa, Fla.-based debt reduction service provider that includes credit counseling and debt settlement Clearview Credit Inc. (CCI) was known as Debt Reduction America Inc. until early January 2009, according to the complaint filed Thursday. CFCU offers banking services including credit counseling. It filed its trademark on Aug. 21, 2003, and registered it Jan. 24, 2006, for the design mark "Clearview Federal Credit Union" and design in connection with "credit union services." CFCU also holds a trademark for "Clearview" in connection with credit union services, which it filed for on Jan. 12, 2003 and registered on Feb. 1, 2005. The credit union alleges that the debt settlement company is targeting the credit union's 79,000 members via phone and mail solicitations "in an apparent attempt to trade on the goodwill established by CFCU in connection with the Clearview marks," and causing confusion in the market place. CCI's solicitation of CFCU's members "has, in fact, caused several instances actual confusion in the marketplace as to the source and/or sponsorship of CCI's services." Solicited credit union members "learned that CCI's solicitations did not originate from CFCU only upon being reassured by CFCU representatives that the solicitations were not authorized or provided by CFCU and that CCI is in no way associated or affiliated with CFCU." The suit seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction and restraint from using the mark or any similar mark, destruction of any materials with the mark, and damages. On May 12, another credit union, Michigan First CU, Lathrup Village, Mich., brought a trademark infringement suit in the U.S. District Court in Ann Arbor against First Michigan Bancorp Inc., based in Troy, Mich., saying that the name "First Michigan" is too similar to its name (News Now May 18).

CUNA Mutual restructures target retirement date funds

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MADISON, Wis. (5/25/10)--Because CUNA Mutual Group views managed investment accounts as an appropriate investment choice for most employees, it is teaming up with Madison Asset Management to re-engineer its Ultra Series Target Retirement Date Funds. The funds, which plan sponsors can include in employees’ 401(k) retirement accounts, treat the retirement date as an important destination, a time when new investment strategies are often developed, said Scott Knapp, director of investment strategy for CUNA Mutual. Other target date funds view the retirement date as a “flyover date,” where investment strategies remain unchanged. “When you transition from getting a paycheck and accumulating assets to generating your own income by spending down your assets, this is a major decision point,” Knapp said. “We want to protect assets at this time so people can make prudent choices without the risk of a market downturn derailing their plans.” Target date funds are gaining traction as the account option of choice, because most participants need help in managing their accounts, he said. “Why force participants to become portfolio managers when, in fact, they’re not.” In 2009, participants held about a quarter, or 24.7%, of their assets in a premixed fund--up nearly 2% from 2008 and 8% from 2007--followed by Guaranteed Investment Contract/stable-value funds, 17.1%, and large U.S. equity funds, 15.3%, according to Hewitt Associates. When available in the plan, about half of employees, 51.2%, invested in a premixed portfolio. Target date funds are now offered by 78% of plans. The redesigned Ultra Series Target Retirement Date Funds use a more conservative approach in the 10 years prior to retirement and after retirement with a focus on capital preservation, said Tom Eckert, vice president of Retirement Plan Services. “The funds’ glidepath uses a unique ‘risk management zone,’ which gives portfolio managers the ability to adjust the equity exposure based on current market valuations and economic conditions,” Eckert said. “Outcome-based plans make it easy for participants to save enough for retirement and avoid huge investment mistakes that can occur in typical plans,” he added. “Investments offered in an outcome-based plan are often not the leading hot funds, but they support better decision making among participants. Ultimately, they can end up more financially secure during retirement.” The Ultra Series Target Retirement Date Funds are used in more than 2,000 of CUNA Mutual’s 401(k) plans and feature Target 2020, 2030 and 2040 versions. The funds are managed by Madison Asset Management, a member of the Madison Investment Advisors Inc. family of companies. CUNA Mutual manages 4,000 credit union retirement plans representing $6 billion in assets under administration. Knapp said the company has embraced outcome-based retirement planning for 15 years.

Global Womens Leadership Network names scholarships

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MADISON, Wis. (5/25/10)—Eleven women who are current or potential future leaders in the credit union movement will receive scholarships to attend the 2010 Global Women’s Leadership Forum thanks to donations by members of the sponsoring organization, the Global Women's Leadership Network, a program of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU).
Click to view larger image Named as this year's network scholarship recipients are Eliane Jose Ferreira, Brazil; Elenora Zgonjanin Petrovic, Macedonia; Elena Koleda, Belarus; Maria de Lourdes de Jesus Montalbo, Mexico; and Catherine Mwamba, Purity Maina, Mercy Macharia and Susan Gachora, all from Kenya. In addition, the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada will fund scholarships for Swanzie Success Mawerenga, Malawi; and Rose Angeyamgo, Uganda; and the Louisiana Credit Union League will fund a scholarship for Natalia Vydrina, Russia. The photo above shows the network's first forum in Barcelona in 2009. (Photo provided by the World Council of CUs)
The scholarship recipients all will receive a one-year membership to the leadership network and free registration to attend the July 10-11 Global Women's Leadership Forum at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev. Several of the recipients also will have their travel expenses and registration covered for The 1 Credit Union Conference, scheduled concurrently at the same location. The Global Women's Leadership Network, which debuted last year at WOCCU's World Credit Union Conference in Barcelona, Spain, was formed to recognize the important role of women in credit unions around the world, as well as their roles at the community and family levels, said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer, when announcing the scholarships. "Through our development work we have seen how important women have become in helping sustain and build credit union movements not only through their institutional involvement, but through participation in savings and lending groups that help support their families and strengthen their communities," said Branch. "Our goal is to support those current and potential women leaders and help bring their commitment and expertise to new levels of achievement. The Global Women's Leadership Network provides women with an international network that engages them in professional and personal development," he added. WOCCU reports that the network now counts more than 100 women from more than 20 countries among its members. There will be a July 14 session at the conference for those interested in learning more about the network or becoming a member. There is a second invitation-only forum event offered by the network this year in conjunction with The 1 Credit Union Conference, a joint event that combines the Credit Union National Association's America's Credit Union Conference and WOCCU's World Credit Union Conference. The July 11 session will focus on educational presentations, confidential peer-to-peer exchanges and candid discussions on business-driven topics. The network also is hosting T-Up Fore WOCCU, a golf tournament fundraiser, the proceeds of which will help fund future network scholarships and development programs.

Latino CU celebrates first 10 years

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DURHAM, N.C. (5/25/10)--In its first 10 years, Latino Community CU (LCCU) in Durham, N.C., has opened 10 branches, reached nearly $100 million in assets and attracted 54,000 members. The Hispanic-focused credit union celebrated its 10-year anniversary Sunday with an event hosted by the Durham Armory. It featured speakers Gabriela Zabala, director of the Office of Hispanic/Latino Affairs for the North Carolina governor’s office, and Carlos Flores Vizcarra, consul general of Mexico in Raleigh, N.C. LCCU was created in response to violence in the Latino community in the late 1990s, when many Latinos suffered home invasions for the cash they kept in their homes instead of in a financial institution, according to The Herald-Sun (May 23). Since its inception, LCCU has provided members with financial services, including more than $130 million in loans to more than 10,000 families. Most LCCU members are low-income and were previously unbanked, the article said. The credit union wants to continue to expand geographically, and grow and provide more member business lending. John Herrera, past LCCU board chair, told the newspaper that the credit union hopes to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit with micro loans. It also wants to offer individual retirement accounts and college savings accounts, he said. LCCU’s 10 branches are located in Durham, Carrboro, Raleigh, Garner, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Charlotte and Fayetteville. One will open soon in Monroe.

Vermont becomes first state to pass swipe fees law

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (5/25/10)--Vermont became the first state Friday to pass a law that limits swipe fees on credit and debit purchases. The passage comes one day after the U.S. Senate Thursday approved a measure to regulate interchange fees as a part of a financial regulatory reform bill. The Vermont law will allow retailers to set a $10 minimum for credit and debit card charges and give a discount to shoppers who pay with cash beginning Jan. 1 (The Washington Post May 22). The Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU) lobbied on behalf of state credit unions to try and prevent passage of the bill, S. 138, saying it could harm the ability of consumers to use their credit and debit cards at merchant locations statewide. The legislation was strongly opposed by AVCU, and although the measure passed, AVCU's lobbying efforts resulted in some improvements in the final bill. (SEE RELATED: Vermont card acceptance bill moves to governor’s desk). AVCU is undecided whether to pursue a future legislative campaign to try to alter the new state law, according to Joe Bergeron, AVCU president. “Our short-term focus, and that of our state regulator should the version in Congress attached to financial restructuring legislation become law, will be to conceive how state and federal versions will interplay, if at all,” he said. “The federal provision being considered goes much, much further in its potential negative impact on credit union card programs than the far more limited Vermont provisions resulting from very active lobbying efforts in the Vermont statehouse.” Vermont Gov. James Douglas will not sign the bill, but he also will not veto it, which means it will become law. In a letter to David Gibson, Vermont secretary of state, Douglas said that he sympathizes with the concern of Vermont’s merchants regarding credit card fees, credit card rules and interchange fees imposed on them without the opportunity to negotiate terms and the freedom to choose pricing options. However, Douglas said he does not believe such legislation should be handled at the state level. “This is a national, if not an international, issue that is best addressed in a wider forum,” he said.

NCBA CEO touts CUs co-ops in IForbes.comI

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MADISON, Wis. (5/25/10)--Cooperatives embody the kind of corporate social responsibility the U.S. economy needs, the CEO of the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) wrote in an op/ed piece May 13 in Forbes.com. He cited in particular credit unions. After going through a huge recession in which greed and questionable business deals were prevalent, some are calling for innovative solutions, but cooperatives already exist and can help provide a cure, Paul Hazen, NCBA CEO, wrote in Forbes. “Co-ops aren't just for alternative groceries,” Hazen added. “There are some 29,000 of them in all sectors of the American economy, a recent study by the University of Wisconsin found. They have revenues that exceed $3 trillion and employ 856,000 people. Household names among them include Ace Hardware, Ocean Spray, the Associated Press and Sunkist.” Hazen calls attention to the difference between credit unions, which are cooperatively owned financial institutions, and investor-owned banks. “Large-scale banks have been publicly flagellated for the risks they took with securitized subprime mortgages and the ways they artificially--and even illegally--inflated the value of their assets,” Hazen wrote. “They did all this, we know, because they were under heavy pressure from boards and investors to maximize earnings. “Credit unions simply didn’t do that,” he continued. “Credit union executives are unabashed when they say they run boring businesses. No risky, faceless customers, no fancy junk bonds. Banking should be boring and simple, they like to say. At last these conservative practices are beginning to look more respectable, and boring banking has piqued the public’s interest, given the ill effects we’ve all seen stem from the flashy excess of Wall Street-driven banking.” To read the op/ed, use the link.

CU System briefs (05/24/2010)

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* BOISE, Idaho (5/25/10)--An Idaho man pleaded guilty to three counts of bank robbery and is headed to prison (Associated Press May 21). Russell Lee Brumbaugh, 46, said he robbed three financial institutions, including Idaho Advantage CU, Boise, in November and Payette River Community CU, Horseshoe Bend, on Feb. 3. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, a fine of up to $250,000 and maximum supervised release of three years ... * WASHINGTON (5/25/10)--Leon Stanford, 42, has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for taking $920 in cash from Choice One Community FCU, Wilkes Barre, Pa., on July 23, 2008. Stanford pleaded guilty to the robbery. He is accused of handing a teller a note demanding money and claiming he had a bomb. Stanford was indicted by a federal grand jury in August 2008, and was ordered to serve three years of supervised release after his release in prison. He also was ordered to pay a $100 special assessment and restitution in the amount of $920 (Targeted News Service May 21) ... * NEWARK, Ohio (5/25/10)--Two Ohio credit unions joined forces to bring Mad City Money, a program that puts financial education into
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action, to several school districts, including Newark, Johnstown, CTEC, Granville Christian and Spring Hills Homeschool Group. Fibergas FCU, a $116 million asset credit union based in Newark, and Harvest FCU, a $23 million asset credit union based in Heath, provided the program. Here, Spring Hills Homeschool Group students receive training on how to write checks. They were given an occupation, an income, a child, and some debt. They visit "merchants" around the city to buy the house, clothes, food, car and more that they can afford. "Our reality day has proved to be very successful with each school district, and we are especially proud to have a new niche of students with the homeschoolers," said Shani Smith-Reed, vice president, marketing of Fiberglas FCU. (Photo provided by Fiberglas FCU and Harvest FCU) ... * DOVER, Del. (5/25/10)--Dover (Del.) FCU has been recognized as the first credit union in Delaware to grow past the $300 asset milestone, according to the credit union. The growth is a sign of confidence that more than 36,000 members have in the credit union's strength and ability to meet their financial needs in a time of economic uncertainty, the credit union said. "For more than 50 years our members have trusted us to provide smart financial solutions and that confidence has allowed the organization to truly excel even during tough times," said David Clendaniel, president/CEO. "And we are proud to say that this growth has been without a single penny of TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program) funding," he added ... * HARRISBURG, Pa. (5/25/10)--Frank Wielga, 75, former credit union leader and Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) employee, died Saturday, PCUA said (Life is a Highway May 24). Wielga was hired in the 1960s as an administrative assistant by Mike Judge, managing director of the Pennsylvania Credit Union League (now PCUA). Wielga served as manager and assistant treasurer of Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) VA Employees FCU. He designed a Credit Union Profile Analysis form that was later made available through CUNA Supply, and was still in use in the mid-1980s. Wielga left the league for a senior staff position with Philadelphia City Employees FCU. He went on to become manager of Pennsylvania State Employees CU in Harrisburg. In 1983, Wielga was honored with the William W. Pratt Memorial Award as Credit Union Professional of the Year ... * TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (5/25/10)--Clara H. Adams, 84, a co-founder of the Department of Highway Safety CU in Tallahassee, Fla., died Friday. She retired in 1966 after merging the Department of Highway Safety CU with Motor Vehicles and creating the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles CU. In March 2008, the credit union merged with First Florida CU in Jacksonville, Fla. (Tallahassee Democrat May 24) ...

CFO Council elects exec committee

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MADISON, Wis. (5/25/10)--The coming year’s executive committee and officers for the CUNA CFO Council were announced during the 16th annual CUNA CFO Council Conference May 16-19 in New Orleans. Pam Finch, vice president of administration and chief financial officer (CFO) for Mid Minnesota FCU, Baxter, Minn., will remain chair. Dan Leclerc, senior vice president and CFO for Aventa CU, Colorado Springs, Colo., is continuing as vice chair and Brandon Michaels, CFO for Mazuma CU, Kansas City, Mo., will remain secretary/treasurer. David D’Annunzio, senior vice president and CFO for Heritage Trust FCU in Summerville, S.C., and Peg Lamb, CFO for Marine CU in Lacrosse, Wis., were elected to the executive committee. They replace outgoing members Erin Mendez, senior vice president of finance and information technology for SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana, Calif., and M.J. Coon, senior vice president and CFO for Ent FCU, Colorado Springs, Colo. Also on the committee are:
* Robert Warren Jr., senior vice president and CFO, Virginia CU of Richmond, Va.; * Kevin Brueseke, CFO for the Missouri Credit Union Association; * Steve Smith, CFO for Sharonview FCU in Fort Mill, S.C.; and * Derrick Peterson, senior vice president and CFO for Public Employees CU in Austin, Texas.

PCUA re-elects chairman vice chairman

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (5/25/10)--
The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) Board of Directors re-elected its chairman and vice chairman during its annual reorganization meeting. Officers re-elected were: Chairman, Ray Brunner, president/CEO of WEST-AIRCOMM FCU, Beaver, and vice chairman, Michael Kaczenski, president/CEO of Sun East FCU, Aston. Brunner represents District 2, which encompasses Beaver, Butler, Lawrence, Mercer and Venango counties. He has been a PCUA board member since 1999 and will lead the nine-member board. Kaczenski represents District 6's Delaware and Philadelphia counties. He has been a PCUA board member since 2004. Kaczenski also serves as chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee/Political Action Committee Trustees, as well as the Advocacy/Marketing Task Force and the Advocacy/Marketing Steering Committee.