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CUNA money management program featured in article

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MADISON, Wis. (5/6/08)--A money management simulation program designed by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) was among the programs featured in an article about programs to teach teens financial literacy through simulated situations. Mad City Money, based on a curriculum created by CUNA, was an event held at La Follette High School and Memorial High School in Madison. The event was sponsored by Heartland CU (Wisconsin State Journal May 4). Donna Kennedy, a business education teacher at La Follette, put together the program for her school and for Memorial. Another teacher, Anna D'Amelio, secured a grant for $5,000 from the Governor's Council on Financial Literacy. About 250 students participated in La Follette. They were given an occupation, salary, spouse, student loan debt, credit card debt and medical insurance payments. They visited stations staffed by volunteers posing as merchants selling housing, transportation, food, household necessities, clothing, day care and more. At the end of the event, students had to stop by the credit union booth to see if they spent their money wisely. The goal at the end was to have some money left. Kennedy said she would eventually like to get the event started at all high schools in Madison.

Biz lending at CUs scores nationwide media hits

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SAN ANTONIO (5/6/08)--Credit unions' business lending scored a major media hit last weekend with an article about nontraditional options for small business borrowers. The article, which featured statistics from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) appeared in Business Week, AOL,,,, and Tampa Tribune, among others. The Associated Press article tells about a man in Texas who spent a year developing relationships with three large banks, only to be abruptly denied a loan for his restaurant-microbrewery because the national economy had soured. He went to the credit union, and his loan was approved within two weeks. His microbrewery is set to open in October. Also discussed: Peer-to-peer lenders, including Zopa, an online social financier backed by partner credit unions. Zopa loaned to a self-employed photographer who needed $20,000 to publicize her company in San Francisco. She had been rejected by Capital One Financial Corp. and couldn't afford a pre-approved Wells Fargo & Co. credit line or credit card. The article cited these statistics from CUNA: Credit unions made almost $12 billion in new business loans last year. Total business loans at credit unions were $28 billion. The average size of the loans was $181,000. In the second half of 2007, almost 20% more business loans were distributed through credit unions than in the second half of 2006, CUNA said. That's despite the fact credit unions are limited by federal legislation in the amounts of business loans they can make. Other media carrying the AP article included San Francisco Gate, News-Leader, The Olympian, The Tennessean, and Arizona Daily Star. To read the complete article, use the link.

Maine league takes measures to help flood victims

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WESTBROOK, Maine (5/6/08)--The Maine Credit Union League, with the Aroostook Chapter of Credit Unions and the National Credit Union Foundation, has launched a website to collect contributions for credit unions affected by flooding in Aroostook County, Maine. The northern portions of the county recently experienced significant flooding that resulted in millions of dollars in damage. The flooding forced many to evacuate the area, according to the league. Applications for assistance will be distributed in Aroostook County. Many credit union members have suffered significant losses and will be in need of immediate financial assistance, the league said. “The credit union movement has a strong history of responding in times of crisis, and we are hopeful that credit unions will again answer the call to help,” said John Murphy, league president. For more information, use the link.

Savings accounts for Fido Kitty offered at Belco

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (5/6/08)--Now Kitty and Fido can have their own savings accounts at a credit union. Belco Community CU has introduced a pet savings account called "Belco's Critter Club." The Harrisburg-based credit union said it has the first pet savings account in Pennsylvania and it is the only area financial institution offering a savings account exclusively for pets. The accounts help pet owners save for Fido and Kitty's medical bills and other expenses. The account features no minimum balance requirements and funds are easily accessible, said Belco. Belco employees found out that 63% of homeowners surveyed have one or more pets, and that spending on pets has more than doubled in the past 19 years. Members of the Critter Club will receive discounts at local "pet partners" and will be entered for a monthly prize drawing when they deposit $75 or more. The account currently pays 0.85% annual percentage yield on balances of $5 or more. The credit union is encouraging members with more than one pet to open multiple accounts and to "name" each account using their pets' names. To promote the pet club, Belco will participate in several pet-related community events, starting with the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area's 5K Run/Walk for Animals on May 17.

March CU loans fixed-rate mortgages increase

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MADISON, Wis. (5/6/08)--Not only did credit unions' loans outstanding increase during Marcy, but also fixed-rate mortgages increased 2.8%, for the largest monthly increase since June 1999, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) monthly sample of credit unions.
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Credit union loans outstanding increased 0.6% in March, rising 0.8% for the first quarter of 2008. “Credit unions are picking up loan market share, as competitors tighten their underwriting standards in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis,” said Steve Rick, CUNA senior economist. Declining during March were home equity loans (2.8%), new-auto loans (1.5%), and unsecured loans (1.1%). “Consumers are pulling back on auto purchases and auto loans,” Rick said. “Credit union new-auto loan balances declined 3.4%, the biggest drop in 10 years.” Credit union savings balances grew 1.2% in March, compared with 2.5% a year ago. Savings growth for the first quarter of 2008 was 5%, compared with 4% for the same period last year.
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“Credit union savings balances rose 5% in the first quarter, the fastest pace in five years, as the falling home process eviscerates household wealth, creating an incentive for credit union members to increase their savings,” Rick explained. Individual retirement accounts, money market accounts and regular shares rose 4.7%, 3.8%, and 1.7%, respectively. Share drafts declined 3.3% during March. The largest year-to-date growth by account type was in the money markets accounts--rising 8%. Credit unions’ loan-to-savings ratio decreased to 80.1% in March from 80.6% in February. The liquidity ratio--the ratio of surplus funds maturing in less than one year to borrowings plus other liabilities--remained at 21%. Regarding asset quality, credit union 60-plus day delinquencies were 0.97% in March, a slight decrease from 0.98% in February 2008. “Delinquency rates have leveled off below the 1% level, highlighting the fact that the credit crisis has not adversely affected credit unions to the same degree as many other lenders,” Rick said. With the increase in assets, the movement’s overall capital-to-asset ratio remains at 11.1%. The total dollar amount of capital ended the year at $90 billion, an increase of 0.8% from February.

CU System briefs (05/05/2008)

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* APPLETON, Wis. (5/6/08)--Ken Eiden, CEO of Appleton-based Prospera CU will participate on a panel next week at a national conference hosted by the Institute of American Values. It will take place May 13 in Washington, D.C. Prospera CU has gained national attention for GoodMoney, its alternative to payday lending. "We realize that payday lending is a backend solution to a much larger problem," he said. "The true solution begins with financial education and reverting back to the principles of thrift, a concept that has been embedded in the foundation of credit unions since the movement began." A new white paper, "For a New Thrift, Confronting the Debt Culture," will be unveiled at the conference. Among the topics it discusses are models of reform including regulations and the credit union movement as a solution to the debt problem … * NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (5/6/08)--Former Michigan Credit Union - (League MCUL) chairman Robert L. Huston, retired president/CEO of Co-op Services CU, has been named as the recipient of the league's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award. The award includes automatic induction into the Michigan Credit Union Hall of Fame (Michigan Monitor May 5). Huston also has served as a director of the Credit Union National Association and CUcorp, and was a driving force behind the organization of a data processing credit union service organization, CU Data Inc. He will be recognized officially at the 2008 MCUL Annual Convention and Exposition May 15-17 in Grand Rapids … * KENT, Ohio (5/6/08)--From left, Ron Moss and Bill Burns, directors of Kent (Ohio) CU, have been named as 2008 Volunteers of the Year by the Ohio Credit Union System. As part of the Ohio Credit Union League's 2008 Leadership Recognition Program, Burns and Moss were honored for 44 years of outstanding service during the league's ZENITH08 annual convention in Columbus. Both men are charter members of the credit union's board and have served as board members for 44 years (Photo provided by Kent CU) … * NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (5/6/08)--Raul Alvarez, marketing director of Financial Plus CU, Flint, Mich., has been named as the 2008 recipient of the Michigan Credit Union Foundation Credit Union Community Volunteer Award (Michigan Monitor May 5). Alvarez has served on boards or committees and done volunteer work for Genesee Area Skills Center, Grand Blanc Public Schools, Fenton Public Schools, Fenton Cultural Center Corp., Whaley Children's Center, Swarz Creek Area Chamber of Commerce, Boy Scouts of America, Capitol Area United Way, Junior Achievement of Mid-Michigan, and the Ingham Regional Healthcare Foundation. The award will be presented at the Michigan Credit Union League's Annual Convention and Exposition, May 15-17 in Grand Rapids …

CUNA Mutual opens European headquarters in Dublin

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DUBLIN, Ireland (5/6/08)--CUNA Mutual Group’s International Division announced an expansion of its European operations, with the opening of its new European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, Thursday. Ireland's Minister for Innovation Policy Michael Ahern officially opened CUNA Mutual’s new office. The expansion of CUNA Mutual’s International Division comes near the end of a three-year transformation effort at the company. The company is pursuing growth opportunities within its traditional credit union market and new ventures outside the credit union space. "With the opening of this office, we’re positioning for the future,” said Sue Albrecht, CUNA Mutual senior vice president of international business. “We’re energized to grow and make a difference around the world by providing people with access to financial well-being.” The company, headquartered in Madison, Wis., also has international operations in Canada, Australia, Korea and Latin America. “We see great opportunities for growth for CUNA Mutual in the European market,” said President/CEO Jeff Post during the grand opening ceremonies. “We believe the values and characteristics that contributed to our growth in the U.S. and other countries will serve us well in this part of the world.”

Corporates walk takes unusual steps

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (5/6/08)--First Carolina Corporate CU has an unusual goal to help its employees get fit: Walk to each corporate in the country and to U.S. Central in Lenexa, Kan.
Click to view larger imageSeveral staffers of First Carolina Corporate CU--dressed in the corporate's tie-dye logo wear--are among the 28 who pledged to walk to each corporate credit union and U.S. Central as a fitness measure in First Carolina's Corporate NetWALK. (Photo provided by First Carolina Corporate CU)
Twenty-eight staffers, armed with corporate-provided pedometers to count their steps, have started the trek in the First Carolina Corporate NetWALK. They plan to walk a total 9,241 miles--that's roughly 20.3 million steps--by September. As they reach their "destination," they will receive a small memento or token of their "visit" to the corporate. As of Monday, the group has logged 247 miles and is well on the way to the first stop: VolCorp, located in Nashville, Tenn. Also, several First Carolina employees have committed to collectively lose weight totaling President/CEO David Brehmer's body weight. Each week, Brehmer and 14 staff members weigh in. Since the program began, staff has lost 20 pounds--about 9% of Brehmer. "We all know we should exercise more and eat better. But sometimes, an extra incentive or push is needed to get us going," said Brehmer. "In today's over-scheduled, on-the-go society, too many people are pushing health and fitness to the back burner."

Tornado winds cracked windows of Virginia CU branch

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COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (5/6/08)--One credit union is counting itself lucky in the wake of last week's tornado spree in Suffolk and Colonial Heights, Va. Winds from the storm cracked the windows of the Southpark branch of Virginia CU, but no one was hurt. Seven members were in the lobby and five were at drive-through windows at the Southpark branch of Virginia CU when the tornado hit a nearby shopping center in Colonial Heights at about 3:30 p.m. April 28. About the same number of employees were in the branch at the time. "They heard the wind and went to the center of the branch and took cover there," said Jean Holman, senior vice president of marketing at the Richmond-based credit union. Those still in their cars ducked down. "The force of the wind cracked several windows in the branch," she told News Now. However, because the windows are double paned the wind did not get into the credit union. The tornado "was very close" to the credit union, Holman said. News accounts of the day described a funnel cloud "on its way toward the credit union." One of the stores had gravel on its roof. Rocks and other debris were blown against the windows of cars in the credit union's parking lot. Some car windows burst. Both outside ATMs were damaged but were running again by the next evening. The credit union closed about an hour early because the utilities and the computer server were out of commission. There was so much debris and glass in the parking lot, it wasn't safe to drive in, and some areas were restricted, Holman said. The credit union opened two hours late, at 11 a.m., the next day. The electricity was back, but the PC servers weren't operating. Still, the credit union was able to serve its members. The credit union put into effect its business continuity plans and the employees operated the credit union offline. "We were very fortunate to have the CU Service Centers shared branch outlets. We were able to direct members to the closest shared branches," Holman added. Stacey Carmichael, the branch's manager, noted that, "At ll a.m., when we opened, anyone coming to the branch never would have known that anything had happened the day before. Every one was very supportive and everything went very smoothly." "We were so glad no one was hurt and that everyone, even members at the drive in, was OK," Holman said.

White papers focus on biz services Net Promoter Score

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MADISON, Wis. (5/6/08)--Credit unions can learn how to use business services to build member relations, and about a new tool used for analysis and benchmarking purposes to measure customer loyalty in two new white papers from the CUNA Operations, Sales and Service (OpSS) Council. “Taking Care of Business Members: The Case for Business Services as a Relationship-Building Strategy” illustrates how credit unions can grow with their business members and establish a two-way conduit to their personal and business accounts. Using case studies, expert advice, and surveys, the white paper explains how credit unions are making the most of business services opportunities and examines the successful strategies of some credit unions that are just getting started in business services. It also details how credit unions are overcoming challenges involving staffing, training, technology, competitive positioning and regulations. Net Promoter Score (NPS)--used to analyze, benchmark and measure customer loyalty--is gaining popularity within certain industries. Given the importance of the consumer “experience” and the spread of customer opinions via word-of-mouth, blogs, and online social networking sites, NPS may prove a replacement of outdated customer satisfaction surveys, which have become long and costly, said the paper. The second white paper, “Net Promoter Score in Action,” describes the score’s framework and how it is used at three credit unions. The paper begins by explaining how the score works, what drives the numbers and the rationale behind NPS. It then moves on to credit unions that use NPS to improve member stickiness and referrals, as well as their chances for survival in the competitive financial services market. The paper also provides examples of how some credit unions are tying improvements in NPS to overall employee benefits and using NPS as a jumping off point for other feedback innovations. CUNA Council members are entitled to complimentary copies of white papers. Non-members may purchase the white papers for $50 per copy.

Maryland governor signs fin lit bills

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (5/6/08)--Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has signed into law Senate Bill 533 and House Bill 1242, which together will lead to the formation of a statewide task force on financial literacy.
Click to view larger image At the signings of two Maryland’s bills which will lead to a statewide task force on financial literacy are: Seated from left, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, State Senate President Mike Miller, Gov. Martin O’ Malley, and House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch. Standing, from left, are: Sarah Bloom Raskin, state finance commissioner; Bert Hash, president /CEO, Municipal Employees CU, Baltimore; Dana M. Stein, delegate; Dan K. Morhaim, delegate; Ann Marie Doory, delegate; James Brown, counsel for the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association (MDDCCUA); and Aaron Glaser, MDDCCUA director of legislative affairs. (Photo provided by Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association)
The task force will study and make recommendations to the Maryland General Assembly on how to raise the average level of financial literacy among the citizens of Maryland, and how to promote financial literacy education within Maryland’s public schools (Focus Newsletter May 5). The signing of the bills represents a victory for credit unions, who supported both bills said the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association. The association will have three representatives on the task force, which will advocate for measures to increase financial literacy education within Maryland--an important task given the current mortgage and foreclosure crisis, the association said.