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MnCUN Honors Volunteer, CU Professional of the Year

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (5/31/13)--The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) recently honored two credit union advocates with its most prestigious awards--Outstanding Credit Union Volunteer of the Year and Outstanding Credit Union Professional of the Year.

Mark Cummins, left, Minnesota Credit Union Network president/CEO, presents the league's 2013 Outstanding Volunteer of the Year award to Verne Palmberg, board treasurer of West Financial CU, Medina, Minn.
Minnesota Credit Union Network's (MnCUN) 2013 Outstanding Professional of the Year was presented by Mark Cummins, left, MnCUN president/CEO, to Jeff Schwalen, president/CEO of Hiway FCU, St. Paul. (Photos provided by Minnesota Credit Union Network)
The awards were presented at a banquet during the MnCUN 2013 Annual Meeting and Convention earlier this month.

This year's Volunteer of the Year is Verne Palmberg of West Financial CU, Medina, Minn. Palmberg has served credit unions as a board member for 22 years, nine of those as board treasurer for West Financial CU.

Palmberg is an influential force for the credit union, leading the push for a successful merger and helping attract community members to a local grocery store credit union branch, said MnCUN.

The 2013 Outstanding Professional of the Year is Jeff Schwalen, president/CEO of Hiway FCU, St. Paul.

During Schwalen's decade at the helm, Hiway FCU has seen a steady rise in membership, assets have increased by $350 million, and the credit union developed a tradition of offering innovative products and services to its members.

CU System Briefs (05/31/2013)

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  • SAN DIEGO (5/31/13)--A busy robber held up two San Diego credit unions within 20 minutes apart Wednesday morning. Police say the work is likely by the same man because the descriptions of the suspect are similar and he claimed in each robbery to have a bomb. During a robbery at 9:30 a.m. of California Coast CU in Clairemont Mesa, a bandit described as a 5-foot 8-inches tall Asian in his mid-40s with a long ponytail, and wearing jeans and a red hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses, presented the teller with a note claiming he was carrying a bomb and had planted another by the front door.  Later, a similar-looking man robbed a Mission FCU branch in Hillcrest. That man wore a red hat with SDSU logo and told a clerk he had a concealed bomb. No weapon was displayed, and no one was injured ( May 29 and May 30) ...
  • DUBLIN, Ohio (5/31/13)--The Ohio Credit Union League's website has a new URL,  The league said that as of today, its old website no longer be live. Credit unions may want to remove the old address from their bookmarks and bookmark the new one, the league said (eLumination Newsletter May 29) ...

International CU Day Theme: Credit Unions Unite For Good

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MADISON, Wis. (5/31/13)--The Credit Union National Association has announced that the U.S. theme for International Credit Union (ICU) Day in 2013 is "Credit Unions Unite for Good," which conveys the movement's shared vision of Americans choosing credit unions as their best financial partner.

Click to view larger image Click for larger view

The announcement is made in concert with World Council of Credit Unions' announcement of the 2013 ICU Day theme, "Credit Unions Unite for Good: A Better Way," emphasizing the benefits of cooperation among credit unions worldwide.

ICU Day is held annually on the third Thursday of October. Both themes will be celebrated this year on Oct. 17.

"CUNA is committed to supporting and spreading World Council's international vision, and we're confident that America's credit unions will share our enthusiasm," commented Paul Gentile, CUNA executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement. "We will be placing a dedicated emphasis on the 'Unite for Good' portion of the theme, which resonates particularly well with U.S. credit unions."

"Cooperation within the financial cooperative industry has always been considered a principle," said Brian Branch, World Council president/CEO, "but today there is a market-driven business rationale for finding cooperative solutions to consumer demand. It is fitting that we celebrate this year's International Credit Union Day with this recognition--that credit unions uniting for the good of our consumers truly is a better way of doing business."

This year's message speaks to the powerful global network of credit unions, which no other financial institution can claim, and the advantages that result from sharing challenges, experiences and solutions with one another to better serve members, said CUNA and the World Council.

"We envision this collaboration as serving to emphasize the movement's widespread mission and strengthen the position of America's credit unions as the best financial partners available," added Gentile.

For the official ICU Day graphics, promotional materials and additional celebration tools for U.S. credit unions, visit CUNA's link. For more information about World Council and the worldwide celebration of ICU Day, visit the World Council link.

For questions about ICU Day, contact Joanne Sepich at,, or 800-356-9655, ext. 4867.

Tech Council Announces Launch Of First CUFX Standard

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MADISON, Wis. (5/31/13)--The first working specification of Credit Union Financial Exchange (CUFX), an initiative of the CUNA Technology Council, is now live at Baxter CU, Vernon Hills, Ill.

The standard for personal finance management (PFM) went live this week after being developed by volunteer experts from credit unions and the vendor community, said Heather Moshier, CUNA Technology Council chair and executive vice president of information technology at San Diego (Calif.) County CU.

At BCU, the CUFX specification went live between MoneyDesktop, PSCU and Symitar's Episys core platform.

"It's a good time for this initiative," says Bill Cheney, CUNA president/CEO. "The board and I appreciate the CUNA Technology Council's efforts to make improvements that will benefit the entire credit union industry."

The final specifications used at BCU were designed to fit the needs of all credit unions, Moshier said. "Credit unions spend millions of dollars independently integrating similar solutions. CUFX is an integration specification, not software or a middleware solution. It is also purposely vendor and credit union agnostic.

"We welcome all players in the industry to get involved so that the CUFX standards are developed in a way that creates the largest benefit for everyone," Moshier added.

The CUFX initiative began last year with the goal of streamlining how technology companies and credit unions connect applications such as online banking and account opening into core systems. Along with keeping credit unions and technology vendors on the same page, CUFX will:

  • Simplify integration and reduce initial and ongoing costs of independent vendor-provided and credit union-created offerings;
  • Increase the speed of delivery of new solutions;
  • Improve user experience and credit union member satisfaction; and
  • Reduce integration time and costs for application providers and core processors.
The launch brings the credit union industry one step closer to the reality of a single integration standard, said Jeff Johnson, vice chair of the council and Baxter CU chief information officer. "The standards proposed through CUFX free up more resources for innovation," Johnson said. "For example, we were able to implement our PFM solution in a matter of weeks instead of months. This type of success can save countless hours of repetitive work once the CUFX standards are in use industry-wide.

"Ultimately, the success of the CUFX initiative will depend greatly upon the dedication and commitment of our volunteers, including technology vendors and credit union professionals," Johnson added. "CUFX needs the resources, ideas and expertise that these professionals bring to the table to ensure our strategic plans are on target and that our initiative proceeds in a direction that is both effective and beneficial for all groups involved."

Ready To Batten Those Hatches? Hurricane Season Begins Saturday

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MADISON, Wis. (5/31/13)--As credit unions recover from May's tornadoes and last October's Hurricane Sandy, others are preparing for the 2013 hurricane season, which begins Saturday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) is predicting a mixed bag for 2013, with extreme activity in the Atlantic and mild activity in the Eastern and Central Pacific Oceans. Its Climate Prediction Center indicates a 70% likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms in the Atlantic. Seven to 11 may become hurricanes. Of those, three to six may develop into Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricanes, said NOAA.

This week is National Hurricane Preparedness Week. Credit unions that have survived a hurricane's wrath before are already preparing, and several leagues are updating their information.

For example, the Louisiana Credit Union League, whose credit unions have extensive experience with hurricanes including Katrina, said it has updated its website to feature these 2013 Disaster Preparedness Resources (eNews May 29):

  • Important contacts;
  • Education/training resources;
  • A crisis communication list for credit unions;
  • A credit union hurricane/flood/tornado preparedness checklist;
  • A branch re-opening checklist;
  • Credit Union National Association's Disaster Preparedness checklist;
  • A preparedness guide for credit union members;
  • Information on shared branching and business continuity from LA BEOC, Ongoing Operations and Agility Recovery, and more.
 (Use the links for more advice and webinars from CUNA Strategic Service Providers Ongoing Operations and Agility Recovery).

Even credit unions inland are taking more precautions than they may have in the past, given the 800-mile wide Superstorm Sandy, which swamped the Northeast in October. The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association during April as part of Tornado Preparedness Month, featured an article on "A Culture of Preparedness."

In Sandy's wake, "we have seen that when disaster strikes, it may be several days or even weeks before disaster assistance can reach every organization," said PCUA (Life is a Highway April 10). "It is critical that credit unions prepare in order to recover themselves immediately."

PCUA cautioned against thinking disasters only relate to big events. "Don't just consider large weather events like hurricanes or tornadoes, but also blown transformers, improper construction digging and even automobile accidents," said PCUA.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) noted that hurricane awareness and preparation can reduce the impact of hurricanes and save lives. It outlines five steps in developing a preparedness program: program management, planning, implementation, testing and exercises, and program improvement. More detail on each step is provided at its website. Use the link.

CU Friend Named Ohio House Minority Leader

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (5/31/13)--State Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-Columbus), a friend of credit unions, has been elected House Minority Leader in the Ohio House of Representatives, the Ohio Credit Union League said.

Maxwell replaces Rep. Armond Budish (D-Cleveland), who will resign to run for Cuyahoga County Executive (eLuminations Newsletter May 30).

A credit union supporter, Heard has sponsored past public funds legislation, the league said, adding it is looking forward to working with her and her team.

Joining Heard in leadership posts in the House Democratic caucus will be Reps. Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) as assistant minority leader, Mike Ashford (D-Toledo) as minority whip, and Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) as assistant minority whip.

Hill Elected SunCorp Board Chairman

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WESTMINSTER, Colo. (5/31/13)--Greg Hill, president/CEO of Community Financial CU in Broomfield, Colo., was elected chairman of the board at System United Corporate FCU at SunCorp's 35th Annual Meeting May 22 in Westminster, Colo.

Hill has been on the board of directors for four years and most recently held the position of vice chairman. Carlos Pacheco, president/CEO of Premier Members FCU in Boulder, Colo., formerly a member of the Supervisory Committee, was elected vice chairman of the board.

Also moving from the Supervisory Committee and elected to the board is Rainy Thoen, president/CEO of Community Choice CU in Commerce City, Colo. Mark Hawkins, president/ CEO of Altura CU in Riverside, Calif., was elected to the board as well.

SunCorp's Supervisory Committee appointments are:

  • Committee Chairman: Bill Willingham, president/CEO, WyHy FCU, Cheyenne, Wyo.;
  • Vice Chairman: Brad Bauges, CEO, East Idaho CU in Idaho Falls, Idaho; and
  • Marsha Tynsky, president, Trona Valley FCU in Green River, Wyo.
Retiring from SunCorp's board after many years of service are: Kim Withers, president/CEO, Meridian Trust FCU, Cheyenne, Wyo.; Steve Kelly, president/CEO, Metrum Community CU, Centennial, Colo.; and Brad Harvey, president/CEO, Horizons North CU, Northglenn, Colo.

SunCorp is a full-service financial cooperative serving credit unions, credit union service organizations and credit union associations throughout the western U.S.

Tennessee League, VolCorp Induct Hall Of Famers

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (5/31/13)--The Tennessee Credit Union League and Volunteer Corporate CU recently inducted two individuals into the Tennessee Credit Union Hall of Fame at the TCUL Annual Convention and Expo in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Click to view larger image The Tennessee Credit Union Hall of Fame had two inductees for 2013. Pictured from left, are: Rick Veach, CEO, VolCorp; inductee Dickie Johnson, chairman of the board, Electric Service CU, Nashville; inductee Blake Strickland, president/CEO, Tennessee Valley FCU, Chattanooga; and Fred Robinson, president, Tennessee Credit Union League. (Photo provided by VolCorp)
The 2013 inductees are W. Blake Strickland, president/CEO, Tennessee Valley FCU, Chattanooga, and Dickie Johnson, chairman of the board, Electric Service CU, Nashville.

Jointly sponsored by the TCUL and VolCorp, induction into the Tennessee Credit Union Hall of Fame is awarded annually to recognize the commitment, leadership and dedication that individuals from the state have made to the credit union movement.

Strickland began his credit union career with Tennessee Valley FCU in 1978 as its first marketing director. Appointed as president/CEO in 1999, he has guided the credit union to $975 million in assets with 14 branch locations. Strickland served as board chairman of VolCorp from 2005 to 2009 and as a league director in 2007.

Johnson served as president/manager of Electric Service CU from 1969 until 1992. During his tenure as president/manager, ESCU grew from $2.5 million to $28 million in assets. Johnson's service continues as the current board chairman of ESCU. Other credit union service includes serving on the league board from 1986 until 1992 and as league chairman in 1989-1990.

Integrated Branding Topic Of Council Paper

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MADISON, Wis. (5/31/13)--In modern advertising in general, and for credit unions specifically, the 21st century is summarized in two words: integrated branding. A new white paper from the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council explores credit union brand integration and management, incorporating insights from credit union experts and discussing tools necessary to achieve success.

The paper, "Designing an Integrated Branding Approach," goes beyond branding to illustrate how an integrated brand can be implemented at all levels of the credit union, benefiting staff, members and the bottom line.

Branding encompasses everything a credit union is and does, from the way the boardroom is designed to the cleanliness of public restrooms. Integrated branding is a demanding master and leaves nothing untouched, said author Mark Arnold, president of On The Mark Strategies.

Americans are under siege when it comes to product advertising. Every year in the U.S., companies spend more than $300 billion marketing their goods. Out of every 60 minutes of primetime television, more than 17 minutes are devoted to commercials. Consumers see ads placed above urinals in airports and restaurants, ads on toilet paper in Europe, and even ad spaces sold on peoples' foreheads, Arnold said.

Everywhere one turns, from e-mails and text messages, to online ads and blimps, brands are literally everywhere. The question and challenge for credit union marketers becomes: How do you cut through all this mess and reach your members and potential members?

The answer is integrated branding, said Arnold. Building a consistent, lasting, monitored, upheld and delivered brand is the only way to slice through the din of everyone else's messages and hope to be heard. According to a recent article, those companies practicing integrated branding (also sometimes referred to as multichannel advertising) report the following results:

  • 48% have increased impressions (influencing perceptions of other people) more than 15%;
  • 43% say they've gained more than 15% in customer satisfaction scores;
  • 40% are generating more than a 15% improvement in marketing-attributed revenues;
  • 24% report a 15% reduction in average sales cycle length; and
  • 34% report more than a 15% increase in return on marketing investment.
Four main points are covered, including: 1) Definitions and Trends, 2) How to Develop an Integrated Brand, 3) Integrated Branding Tools and 4) Tactical Ideas.

To access the paper online, use the link.

Catalyst Urges CUs To Stay In Remittance Biz

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PLANO, Texas (5/31/13)--Since the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) first announced the details of its proposed international remittance regulations, credit unions and others have talked about exiting the business, reported Catalyst Corporate FCU.  However, the corporate advises its member credit unions to stay in the business.

The regulations would implement section 1073 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

"At first, compliance with the rule as proposed appeared to be nearly impossible," said Brad Ganey, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Catalyst Corporate. "And, to the extent that it was feasible to comply, new procedures would have been very cumbersome operationally."

However, things changed over recent months, with the rule's implementation delayed from February to October, giving Catalyst Corporate and its partners time to develop the functionality to facilitate credit union compliance, Ganey said. "The delay...helped us to refine our solution even further, reducing the operational impact on member credit unions," he said.

"While it is far from ideal, the final rule published last month does provide some meaningful relief," Ganey said.

The Credit Union National Association, in meetings and other communications with the CFPB, urged the agency to make such changes to the rule.

CUNA agrees that the changes are positive but wants to hear more from credit unions regarding their actions. CUNA is surveying credit unions about CFPB's final remittance transfer rule, which is explained in the May 23 News Now story, CUNA Seeks CU Remittance Comments In New Survey. Surveys are due June 10. For more information about the survey and the final recommendations, use the link.

In disclosures, "the CFPB has significantly reduced the burden on remittance providers of including hard-to-obtain information about fees charged by other entities.  Remittance providers now will have the ability to distinguish certain 'non-covered third-party fees' from those charged by the remittance provider," Ganey said.

Financial institutions won't have to disclose taxes collected by any party other than the remittance provider. "Instead, the disclosure should state generally that the recipient may receive less than the disclosed total value of the transfer due to fees and taxes that may be deducted later," Ganey explained.

Other relief provided by the final regulation includes a "very significant improvement" that limits the sending institution's liability for error, said Ganey. He noted that "credit unions won't be liable for errors caused by wrong or insufficient information provided by the 'consumer sender' under certain fairly reasonable conditions when the outcome is that the funds are deposited into the wrong recipient account."

To eliminate liability in these instances, the credit union would be required to demonstrate that the sender provided incorrect or incomplete information and that the sender was notified that the information could cause the transfer amount to be lost. To avoid liability, credit unions also must employ reasonable verification measures to help ensure the accuracy of a recipient institution identifier, and engage in investigation and reasonable efforts to retrieve the mis-deposited funds, said Catalyst Corporate.

"The combination of a well-formulated solution, such as what Catalyst Corporate is offering for international funds transfers, and regulatory relief found in the final rule, should influence credit unions that were considering exiting the international remittance space," Ganey said.

"International remittances are an important service for credit unions to offer to a growing demographic in the membership base. Fortunately, some of the unintended consequences of legislative efforts to protect these individuals have been addressed."

Catalyst Corporate will provide a summary of its modifications in upcoming webinars in June and July. For more information, use the link.