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Current future economy topic at The 1 CU Conference

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MADISON, Wis. (5/5/10)--Attendees at The 1 Credit Union Conference next month will hear from several experts from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) during breakout sessions on two of the hottest challenges facing credit unions: the economy and the growing compliance burden. The conference is set for July 11-14 in Las Vegas. It is the one-time-only combination of the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) America's Credit Union Conference and the World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) World Credit Union Conference. The Current Economy and Future Trends: An Industry Update will be provided by CUNA's economists--Bill Hampel, senior vice president of research and chief economist, and Mike Schenk, vice president of economics and statistics. The global recession, the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, has changed the political and financial landscape and has altered consumer behavior for what may be generations to come. In the session, which will be simultaneously interpreted into Spanish, Hampel and Schenk will share how the shifts and the changing economic outlook will shape credit union operations going forward. They also will look at how credit unions can continue to provide stellar member service in tomorrow's challenging environment. In another session, Coping with a Growing Compliance Burden: What Credit Unions Need to Know, Kathy Thompson, CUNA senior vice president and associate general counsel for regulatory compliance, will discuss the latest regulations' effects on day to day operations of the credit union. As an added feature, conference attendees will have the option to purchase show tickets for three special events:
* Barry Manilow, $135 per ticket; * The Beatles Love Cirque du Soleil, $135; and * Viva Elvis Cirque du Soleil, $150.
Show tickets may be purchased online through the conference registration system once the registration form is completed. For individuals who have already registered and would like to add show tickets, tours or other events, use the link and enter the confirmation number in the registration confirmation email. Use the links for more information.

CUs tax filing programs yield impressive results

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MADISON, Wis. (5/5/10)--Credit unions are reporting some impressive results--saving their members millions of dollars--from their efforts to assist members with the tax-filing season, especially in North Carolina and Michigan. In Raleigh, N.C., the State Employees' CU (SECU) completed its third year of providing tax-preparation services to members. SECU chalked up a 41% increase in its free Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, preparing more than 35,000 member returns. In its introductory season of paid tax-preparation services, SECU also assisted more than 2,100 members whose incomes thresholds surpassed VITA guidelines. Between the two tax-preparation programs, SECU helped members claim more than $26.2 million in tax credits, including $15.2 million in Earned Income Tax Credits. The credit union also helped members receive $52.8 million in tax refunds and saved them more than $5.4 million in tax preparation fees. SECU also provided a low cost 12% annual percentage rate (APR) Tax Refund Express loan, but strongly encouraged members to avoid any refund anticipation loan costs by simply waiting on the quick electronic refund. "Two years ago, SECU completed 16,000 tax returns in its first year as a VITA partner, and this year, it's completed more than 35,000. To be completing that number of tax returns with such dedication of resources is impressive," said Julie Garcia, director of Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communications (SPEC) with the IRS. "By next year, SECU will have a VITA site in every county in North Carolina. We are hoping to replicate the SECU model in other states across the U.S.," Garcia said. Roger Burton, territory manager for IRS SPEC, said that SECU developed "an effective training program that allows it to train nearly 1,000 VITA preparers with help from only two IRS employees. By replicating this model, we can improve outreach to an even greater number of players." Josh Kelly, SECU senior vice president of tax preparation services, said the success SECU had is "a direct reflection of the dedication and teamwork exhibited by credit unions staff. In another state, the Michigan Credit Union League's Just File It! free tax-preparation service saw a large increase in the number of tax filers and amount of tax credits and refunds returned to Michigan credit union members, according to the league (Michigan Monitor May 3). Roughly 125 Michigan credit unions provided nearly $13.7 million in refunds and credits to nearly 5,000 individuals. This year's numbers topped last year's refund and credit totals by more than $1 million. The league said that when adding the totals from credit union participants with non-credit union partners, Just File It! returned nearly $21.8 million--a record--to Michigan residents.

La. league defends CUs vs. banks misinformation

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BATON ROUGE, La. (5/5/10)--Credit unions earn their tax exemption every single day, said the Louisiana Credit Union League in a letter in Monday's The Baton Rouge Advocate. The letter is in response to one of two recent bankers' attacks in the media. The other attack was featured in the San Antonio Express-News April 21. The Louisiana letter, from Anne Cochran, president/CEO of the Louisiana league, responded to an April 26 letter, "Banker rips credit union tax breaks," in which banker Preston Kennedy calls credit unions' tax exemption "a drain on the economy." Kennedy's letter responded to a credit union's letter on the government's proposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("Legislation could hurt credit unions," The Baton Rouge Advocate April 9). The banker's "assertions about credit unions in his April 26 letter are misleading and shortsighted," said Cochran (The Baton Rouge Advocate May 3). She noted that credit unions were granted a tax exemption based on their unique structure as nonprofit cooperatives, with volunteer boards. "Unlike other financial institutions," Cochran wrote, "credit unions exist to maximize service to their member-owners." At another point, she wrote, "Credit unions are exempt from paying corporate income taxes because earnings are returned to members, who are taxpayers themselves. They are not share-holders." As for the bureau legislation, "credit unions will continue to place the highest priority on service to their members. Credit unions are right for looking upon it with a cautious eye, out of their desire to ensure their members' interests are served," Cochran said. "During these times of economic uncertainty, credit unions in the Greater Baton Rouge area are emerging as quality, effective financial institutions for individuals and businesses to put their hard-earned money. They remain accountable to their members and are focused on investing in the neighborhoods where they do business, live and bring our kids to school. "Credit unions do not stop behaving like cooperatives once they reach a certain size," Cochran said. "Whether big or small, every credit union shares the same not-for-profit structure and orientation toward member service. Because of this structure, unchanged over the past 75 years, credit unions earn their tax exemption every single day." Earlier in the month, in the San Antonio newspaper, Steve Mack, CEO of a San Antonio-based bank, wrote that "taxpayers are subsidizing the credit union industry" because of their tax exemption" (San Antonio-Express-News April 21). His letter responded to an article written by David Hendricks urging Congress to expand credit unions' role (San Antonio Express-News April 7).

CU operating normally after cease and desist order

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TAMPA, Fla. (5/5/10)--Bay Gulf CU, Tampa, Fla., is operating normally after the Florida Office of Regulation issued a cease and desist order to the credit union April 29. The order was issued to the credit union because of a difference in the interpretation of accounting principles regarding some troubled debts, Bill DeMare, president/CEO, told News Now. It has since been resolved, and there have been no changes in management. The credit union has excess liquidity, and member deposits are safe, he added. The credit union has acted on much of the order, and has submitted a plan to raise its reserves. As of March 31, Bay Gulf’s net worth was 5.24% of total assets. Adequately capitalized credit unions are required to have at least 6%. The credit union submitted a capital restoration plan to regulators that will help it reach 7% net worth as of September 2012. The National Credit Union Administration is reviewing the plan, he said. “We are moving along,” DeMare said. “We’re not finished with April yet, but we’re expecting a strong quarter.” The credit union reported a $823,706 loss for the first quarter of 2010. DeMare noted that Bay Gulf modified about 700 consumer loans--including car and home loans. More than 80% have been paid off (Tampa Bay Business Journal May 3). “We thought we were doing the right thing,” he said. “We helped a lot of people. We don’t regret that.” The credit union has $140.7 million in assets as of March 31.

Filene i3 seeks 17 new members

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MADISON, Wis. (5/5/10)--The Filene Research Institute's i3 group is seeking 17 new members who are passionate about the credit union system. Deadline for applications is noon CT June 13. Candidates will be selected and notified by July 16. The group, which focuses on ideas, innovation and implementation, is not only developing ideas, but it is also developing an innovation competency for the next generation of credit union CEOs. The positions are available beginning in the fall. Applicants are recruited from natural person credit unions in the U.S. and Canada that are Filene Research Institute members New this year, CEOs of credit unions under $50 million in assets are eligible to apply. Those applying should:
* Agree to one two-year term,; * Obtain support from their CEO to be involved in the group; * Secure credit union commitment to cover travel and hotel expenses for two national meetings per year (or a total of five meetings); * Attend four two-to-three day meetings in the spring and fall: * Make a monthly time commitment to i3-related projects beyond the national meetings; * Gain support from their credit union to pilot and test at least one Filene i3 idea; and * Consent to the i3 participant agreement.
For more detail and for an online application, use the link.

Dangerous floods damage CUs in Tennessee

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (5/5/10)--Several credit unions reported water damage and branch closings after historic floods in Tennessee killed at least 18 people statewide and swept away homes and vehicles over the weekend. About 27 deaths reported in the Southeast as of Tuesday were caused by the flooding. More than 13 inches of rain fell at the Nashville airport, with higher totals reported elsewhere in the region. Tennessee’s Cumberland River is receding, but the city of Nashville faces a long recovery from the historic flooding, said (May 4). Many Tennessee residents also faced power outages, blocked highways, and evacuation from their homes, and were required to conserve water. Cynthia Dunn, research specialist at the Tennessee Credit Union League, said several credit unions reported damages. Old Hickory (Tenn.) CU closed all six of its branches Monday. One branch remained closed on Tuesday. That branch sustained water damage, Dunn told News Now. Leaders CU, Jackson, experienced two to three inches of water in 60% of the interior of the credit union. The credit union was drying out and had ripped out its carpet, Dunn said. Fort Campbell CU, Clarksville, sustained water in its parking lot but no damage. LMPCO Employees Credit Association, Lexington, had water under its front door but no damage. The Tower Branch and Goodlettsville branch of Southeast Financial CU, Franklin, closed Monday due to flooding, according to the credit union’s website. Tennessee Employees CU, Nashville, was not affected by the flooding. It is located in a state office building with a generator so it did not have a power outage. None of the credit union’s employees had damages at their homes, said Sherrie Brooks, CEO. “Everyone seems to be okay,” she told News Now. “We’re very fortunate.” However, one of the credit union’s members called Tuesday saying that she had lost her home and car. “We’re trying to get her financing for a new car,” Brooks said. The Opryland Hotel, located in Nashville, was evacuated as a result of the flooding. The hotel has hosted credit union conferences in the past, including those of the Credit Union National Association. News Now also contacted the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions. The department said it did not have an exact count of credit unions that were closed, but credit unions with affected branches have been doing a good job of letting their members know which branches are open.

Michigan league announces annual award winners

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LANSING, Mich. (5/5/10)--The Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) announced the winners of its annual awards--including several new additions. The awards will be formally presented at the MCUL Annual Convention and Exposition, May 20-22 in Detroit (Michigan Monitor May 3). The 2010 winners are:
* Distinguished Service Award--Robert Mackay, retired CEO of Berrien Teachers CU, Saint Joseph; * Credit Union Professional of the Year--Thomas Miller, president/CEO of Affinity Group CU, Pontiac; * Outstanding Credit Union of the Year--Michigan State University FCU, East Lansing; * Chapter Effectiveness Award--Lansing Chapter; * Young Professional of the Year--Lori McCloud, Monroe County Community CU, Monroe; * Credit Union Youth Advocate of the Year--RuthAnn Albus, DFCU Financial, Dearborn; and * Award for Excellence in Consumer Education--Susan Young, CP FCU, Jackson.

Iowa CUs small biz owners discuss MBLs with Rep. Braley

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (5/5/10)--More than 20 Iowa credit union representatives from four credit unions met with U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) Friday in Dubuque to discuss how the state's credit unions continue to serve members at a time when members need it the most.
Click to view larger imageNortheast Iowa credit unions and the Iowa Credit Union League are shown with U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa). From left: John Koppes, Dupaco Community CU; Matt Dodds, Dupaco; Joe Gonzalez, Alliant CU; Bob Hoefer, Dupaco; Julie Vande Hoef, Iowa Credit Union League; Russell Kuennen, Du Trac Community CU; Andy Hawkinson, DuTrac; Denise Dolan, Dupaco, Braley; Dr. Greg Crowley, chiropractor and Dupaco member; Ron Mussehl, convenience store chain owner and Dupaco board member; Mike Maroney, Alliant CU; Jonathon Miller, Dubuque Teachers CU; Joe Hearn, Dupaco; and Gregg Liddle, Dupaco. (Photo provided by Dupaco Community CU)
Credit unions attending were Dupaco Comunity CU, which hosted the event; DuTrac Community CU; Alliant CU; and Dubuque Teachers CU. Also attending was a representative from the Iowa Credit Union League. Dupaco Community CU CEO Bob Hoefer told how the credit union provided more than 3,000 loans of under $2,500 each in the past year. "These small dollar loans are an alternative to payday loans and help our members in a short-term pinch," he said. Two small businesses explained to Braley how they were helped by local credit unions. Ron Mussehl, convenience store chain owner and Dupaco Community board member, said his business saved money from lower fees, compared with local bank fees, while processing business transactions. Dr. Greg Crowley told Braley his credit union provided a loan to establish his chiropractic practice after graduation. He said that many medical school students struggle to find access to similar capital from other financial institutions. "Small businesses need more options for capital--not fewer," he said. They thanked Braley for his co-sponsorship of H.R. 3380, which would increase credit unions' member business lending cap to 25% of assets from the current 12.25%. "Iowa credit unions are continuing to serve their members in this challenging economy," said Patrick S. Jury, president/CEO of the Iowa league. He thanked the congressman for "taking time to learn more about the important role of the credit union industry in the financial marketplace."

Governor praises CUs at Mich. small-business event

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LANSING, Mich. (5/5/10)--Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm again promoted Michigan credit unions’ small-business lending efforts during a 2010 Michigan Celebrates Small Business event Friday in Lansing.
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm addresses attendees of a Michigan Celebrates Small Business event Friday in Lansing, Mich. The event helps promote credit unions’ small-business lending efforts. (Photo provided by the Michigan Credit Union League)
The Michigan Economic Development Corp. also recognized Michigan small businesses and entrepreneurs that excelled the past year in their innovation, revenue growth and ability to employ Michigan workers (Michigan Monitor May 3). “We’ve had to create a whole spectrum of help for entrepreneurs in order to be successful,” Granholm told a group of several hundred at the Lansing Center. “We have 12 Small Business Technology and Development Centers (SBTDCs) around the state ... and we also linked up with credit unions all across Michigan. “This year at the State of the State [address], I announced that credit unions chipped in $43 million to be able to work with the SBTDCs to take 1,000 entrepreneurs from start to finish,” she added. “We’re very excited about being able to support entrepreneurs, startups and those who need technical assistance.” Michigan credit unions were represented at the event by Michigan Credit Union League staff. Fifty small businesses were honored as “Companies to Watch,” while several individual business owners received awards.

CU System briefs (05/04/2010)

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (5/5/10)--Thanks to the efforts of The Golden 1 CU Director of Internal Audit Kara Giano and the Sacramento Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), May has been proclaimed International Internal Audit Awareness Month by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. The recognition is important for internal auditors, said Giano, because they "work tirelessly to help organizations meet their objectives by monitoring risks and ensuring controls in place are adequate to mitigate risks." Golden 1 President/CEO Teresa A. Halleck noted that the credit union's internal audit team's "hard work ensures that our business practices remain top notch." IIA was established in 1941 and is based out of Altamonte Springs, Fla. California has 11 IIA chapters serving more than 5,600 members. The Sacramento Chapter has 484 members, some of them shown here after the proclamation ceremony (Photo provided by The Golden 1 CU) ... * WASHINGTON (5/5/10)--Richard Allen, retired accountant at the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) died April 4 at a nursing home in Boynton Beach, Fla., reported the Washington Post (May 3). He was 75 and had Parkinson's disease. Allen was an accountant and auditor for the Navy Department before joining NCUA. He retired in 1999. He is survived by his wife, three children, three granddaughters and two brothers ...

Two new NASCUS Board members appointed

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ARLINGTON, Va. (5/5/10)--Mary Hughes, Idaho credit union regulator, and Kathy Stewart, Kentucky regulator, have been appointed to the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) Board of Directors. The announcement was made by Tom Candon, Vermont regulator and NASCUS chairman. Hughes will take the unexpired seat--which runs until September 2012--filled by past Chairman George Reynolds, who retired. Stewart, a Kentucky regulator, will fill Hughes current one-year term on the board, which expires in September. Linda Jekel, Washington’s director of credit unions, will return to the past chairman officer position in Reynolds’ place. This will be Stewart’s first term on the NASCUS board. She serves as director of the Division of Financial Institutions for the Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions. Hughes, the Financial Institutions bureau chief of the Idaho Department of Finance, was appointed to the board in 2008.

CU asks for essays on how to cut costs for the prom

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (5/5/10)--Michigan State University (MSU) FCU kicked off its “Cash for the Bash” contest, asking high school juniors and seniors to explain how they are reducing the costs of going to the prom. Students submitted essays and videos about how to cut costs. Popular ideas included potluck dinners instead of restaurant meals, and using the family car instead of renting a limo. Alexis Cavazos-Kottke from Waverly High School submitted the winning essay. She will win a prom dress, dinner for two at a local restaurant, a boutonniere and corsage, and $250 deposited in her savings account at the credit union (Michigan Monitor May 3). “The essays and videos submitted were truly heartfelt,” said MSU FCU President/CEO Pat McPharlin. “We are all aware that the economy has tightened many families’ wallets and the essentials for program may not be what they once were. This contest allowed us to partner with local businesses to provide one lucky teenager with a fantastic prom package.” MSU FCU has $1.8 billion in assets.

NEW Bill Cheney named next CUNA CEO

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WASHINGTON (Filed at 11:50 a.m. ET 5/5/10)--William "Bill" Cheney has been named the successor to Dan Mica as president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), CUNA's chairman announced today. Cheney, 49, is currently president/CEO of the California/Nevada Credit Union Leagues. “After an exhaustive search, in which nearly 100 highly qualified candidates were considered, the CUNA Board has unanimously accepted and certified the executive search committee’s recommendation of Bill as the next chief executive of our association,” said Kris Mecham, CUNA Board chairman. “Bill’s long service to credit unions, as both a financial institution executive and association leader, ensure our association will not miss a beat in advocating for credit unions.” Mecham said Cheney, who has been the California/Nevada Leagues president since 2006, will take the reins of CUNA July 5. “I am honored that the CUNA Board has the confidence in me as their selection for this position, given the very extensive search that was conducted by the committee,” Cheney said. “I am ready for the challenge and excited about the opportunity. Dan Mica has built a great team and I look forward to leading it in continued pursuit of critical credit union goals.” Harriet May, CUNA vice chairman and leader of the executive search committee, said Cheney’s background in credit unions was a key factor in the search group’s recommendation of his hiring. “While we in fact considered candidates from both inside the credit union movement and outside of it-- and nearly all who possessed compelling professional and personal achievements-- we ultimately recommended Bill for the job because of his peerless and extensive background as a credit union professional and as a professional advocate for credit unions. He knows us--and we know him.” Current CUNA CEO Dan Mica said he fully concurred with and applauded the board’s selection. “He has the resume and the real experience to do the job brilliantly,” Mica said. “His many visits to Capitol Hill and the relationships he has built, his tireless work with the regulator, his bonds with his California and Nevada members, his knowledge of credit unions and of business in general makes him the ideal candidate. I anticipate an absolutely seamless transition from my tenure to that of the new leader of the credit union movement.” Mica added that the transition is already underway, and that he will be working with Cheney until the new CEO’s official start date in early July. Mica said he will remain available to Cheney for counsel through the remainder of the year.