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Web-only REALTORS FCU now in business

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CHICAGO (5/6/09)--The nation's first Web-only credit union, REALTORS FCU, is now up and running online, and ready for members. The new credit union serves members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), their families and staff. NAR has 1.2 million registered members nationwide. It also is open to members, employees and families of NAR affiliates, and state and local realtor associations. "We offer a full menu of checking and savings accounts, lines of credit, consumer and mortgage loans," CEO Tom Glatt said in his "welcome" message on the site. The credit union is designed to accommodate NAR members' busy professional and personal schedules, said Glatt. "We know that many of you are independent contractors and work evenings and weekends. We are also aware that for many of you, your car is your office and your cell phone is your business lifeline." In a message to NAR staff, NAR's office of the CEO noted that the credit union is "one of the most important initiatives we have ever undertaken." Accompanying the message was a set of instructions to walk potential members through the account opening process. New members will need to have an existing checkbook handy to fund the opening of the account. The credit union's 24-hour phone center is 866-295-6038. The website is at located at www.REALTORSFCU.ORG. Use the link.

CU System briefs (05/05/2009)

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* FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (5/6/09)--Firstlight FCU, El Paso, has earned the Juntos Avanzamos (Together We Advance) designation from the Texas Credit Union League (LoneStar Leaguer May 5). That means the credit union has demonstrated it has the capacity and commitment to serve the Hispanic marketplace. It can fly the Juntos Avanzamos flag, letting members of the Hispanic community know they can receive friendly, affordable financial institutions at the credit union. The designation helps the league channel resources to specific credit unions to help them grow their outreach programs. Credit unions with the designation receive 500 free copies of the Building a Financial Foundation for Your Family brochure, a Spanish language brochure, and are eligible to apply for grant dollars through the Richard L. Ensweiler Fund … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (5/6/09)--Members lst FCU opened a student branch at Harrisburg Science and Technology High School in downtown Harrisburg, the fifth student branch the credit union has opened in the city (Life is a Highway May 5). Mayor Stephen Reed praised the credit union and the credit union movement for continuing to provide loans and other services to consumers, unlike banks, during turbulent economic times. He presented Members lst President/CEO Bob Marquette with a proclamation from the city. Harrisburg Schools CEO/Superintendent Gerald Kohn noted the branch would enhance the school, bring a direct benefit to students, and train students in the financial services industry. Also attending: Joseph Wambach, executive director, Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation; Mary Rosenkrans, acting director, Pennsylvania's Office of Financial Literacy; and George Nahodil, executive vice president, marketing, Members lst. …

Colorado Wyoming leagues to pursue formal merger

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DENVER (5/6/09)--The Credit Union Association of Colorado (CUAC) and the Credit Union Association of Wyoming (CUAW) announced Tuesday they are pursuing a formal merger and intend to create a new organization to serve credit unions in both states. A merger would build upon an already-close relationship between the two states. Since 1997, they have shared staff under a management contract with CUAC serving the day-to-day needs of the Wyoming association. It also would continue the trend toward consolidation at both the credit union and league level. A formal merger will require a majority vote from Colorado's 104 affiliated credit unions and Wyoming's 26 affiliated credit unions. No time line has been set for a vote, pending a full discussion of merger-related issues, the associations said. A six-member group of board members--three from Colorado and three from Wyoming--began meeting last year. A letter of intent assumes the creation of a formal Wyoming-Colorado Task Force to explore the matter further. "Our two states have already forged a close working relationship," said Larry Knopp, chairman of the Wyoming association and president of UniWyo FCU, Laramie. "Examining an actual merger is the next logical step to produce economies of scale and to put us in position to better serve our credit unions and prepare for future consolidations among credit unions and leagues." Doug Ferraro, chairman of the Colorado association, said, "All our members are looking for real value from their associations, whether it be advocacy, education and training, regulatory compliance or collaboration. Over the years, we've learned from each other, and a formal merger would allow us to collectively strengthen all our individual efforts." John Dill, CEO of both associations, noted the long history of working together. "The boards are looking not just to merge, but to create something bigger and stronger out of our combined efforts." Dill outlined issues that the joint task force will address, including governance, board and committee appointments, dues structure, annual meeting locations, and staff coverage.. "There is no guarantee that a formal merger will occur," said Knopp, "but in this time of consolidation of credit unions, our members want us to pursue ways to continue providing them high quality association services while looking for new ways to operate more efficiently and effectively." "There are going to be fewer credit unions and, therefore, fewer leagues," said Ferraro. "Colorado and Wyoming are fortunate to have already formed a close bond, which makes these discussions both easier and hopefully more successful."

23 named certified CU executives in April

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MADISON, Wis. (5/6/09)--Certified Credit Union Executive (CCUE) designations were awarded to 23 individuals from 10 states, bringing the total nationwide to 2,638, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). CCUE, instituted in 1975, is designed for managers and those aspiring to credit union leadership. It teaches advanced credit union management and operations techniques. Eight individuals earned the Certified Financial Services Professional (CFSP) designation, which began in 1999 as a designation targeted at educating credit union professionals specializing in financial services. The Certified Executive Program (CEP) awarded specialty certifications to 18 credit union professionals. These certifications require in-depth courses in a specialty area such as compliance, lending, financial management, marketing and human resources. The CEP is the overall name for the self-study program allowing for the already mentioned designations. Recommended for college credit by the American Council on Education (ACE), the classes and materials are tailored to those working within the Credit Union System. All new designations were awarded in April. Those graduating with honors:
* James P. Frost, CCUE, University CU, Orono, Maine; * Angela M. Muxworthy, CCUE, New Mexico Educators CU, Albuquerque; * Keith P. Connolly, CFSP and CCUE, Spokane, Wash.; and * Stephanie R. Montgomery, CFSP, Weokie (Okla.) CU.
High honorees include:
* Gary K. Nakata, CCUE, Aloha Pacific FCU, Honolulu; * Heather K. Luciani, CCUE and CFSP, Marshall (Mich.) Community CU; and * Frost, CFSP.
For a full list of graduates, use the link.

CU measures progressing in Texas legislature

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AUSTIN, Texas (5/6/09)--Three legislative measures concerning credit unions are in various stages of progress in the Texas legislature. The credit union sunset bill (HB 2735) passed into engrossment Saturday by a unanimous vote. The bill now moves to the Texas Senate committee on Governmental Organization, according to the Texas Credit Union League (The Advocate May 4). The bill embodies recommendations of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission to continue the Texas Credit Union Department (TCUD) for an additional 12 years (News Now March 18). The Texas CU Act (SB 1647) is now in the state House, having passed the Senate, and is scheduled to be heard by Pensions, Insurance and Financial Services Monday. Current law provides for both regulatory oversight and corporate governance of credit unions. The bill amends the finance code to provide for additional regulatory oversight of credit union activities and addresses provisions concerning corporate governance. It also adds provisions to the finance code for regulatory coordination between state and federal agencies. The bill provides the credit union commissioner additional regulatory and supervisory oversight of credit union activities and amends various provisions relating to the administration and operation of credit unions. Every few years, the TCUD is charged with reviewing the act and rules to keep them modernized. The last major revisions to the state Credit Union Act occurred in 2003. The bill has a number of sections dealing with TCUD powers, credit union powers and board governance issues (News Now April 24). Also, the SB1 general appropriations bill--which would provide TCUD full funding--is in conference committee deliberations. Indications are positive that TCUD will retain full funding, the league said.

Ohio CUs raise 80000 for kids hospitals

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (5/6/09)--Credit union leaders from throughout Ohio presented an $80,000 check to Children’s Miracle Network as a result of their fundraising march to benefit children’s hospitals.
Click to view larger image Ohio Credit union individuals make the final five-mile trek from Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital to the Cleveland Convention Center to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network. (Photo provided by Ohio HealthCare FCU)
Joe Dearborn, senior managing director of Children’s Miracle Network, accepted the check. Spearheaded by the Ohio Credit Union League’s Credit Unions for Kids Committee, the annual Marching Miles for Miracle Kids march-a-thon distributes the money to Ohio children’s hospitals. Since the event’s inception three years ago, Ohio credit unions have raised more than $260,000. “A fundraising event of this magnitude is a great display of the cooperative spirit embraced by Ohio’s credit unions,” said Paul Mercer, league president. “We are proud to support the Children’s Miracle Network, and I want to extend my thanks to credit union staff and volunteers who helped make this year’s Marching Miles a tremendous success.” The 190-mile relay-style march kicked off in Newark April 5 and concluded in Cleveland April 23 at the league’s Zenith 2009 convention at the Cleveland Convention Center. On average, marchers traveled 10 miles a day during the 19-day trek.

CUs have good stories to tell--Crear to U.N. group

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NEW YORK (5/6/09)--Despite continuing challenges facing U.S. credit unions, financial cooperatives worldwide have a “good story to tell” in terms of stability, member service and their ability to “spread” financial risk, according to Pete Crear, World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) president/CEO. Crear took the credit unions’ positive message last week to a United Nations (U.N.) meeting of global economic experts on “Cooperatives in a World in Crisis.” “Credit unions have not contributed to the creation of the global economic crisis,” Crear told participants representing 13 countries. “However, through their roles as member-owned and operated financial cooperatives, credit unions are contributing to the healing process.” The group met for three days to examine the role and capabilities of cooperatives, including credit unions and financial cooperatives, to counter the effects of the ongoing economic downturn. Participants, comprising primarily academics and cooperative association executives from the U.S. and other countries, submitted reports before the meeting, outlining the role of cooperatives in their countries. To view WOCCU's report to the U.N. work group, use the link. Crear’s paper evaluated how credit unions in nine member countries and regions have been affected by market disruptions due to the financial crisis, their inclusion in financial rescue programs and changes made to deposit insurance for both banks and credit unions relative to the crisis. To WOCCU’s knowledge, credit unions have not accepted government funds for bailout purposes, Crear said. “Credit unions’ overall approach of accepting member deposits, providing loans to members and generating strong capital bases has kept the majority of them out of harm’s way as bad investments take their toll on the for-profit financial services industry,” Crear said. “Their conservative practices are driven by a philosophical mandate to place member needs ahead of institutional profits.” WOCCU also supported the U.N.’s International Year of Cooperatives, proposed for 2012. The U.N. celebrated its first International Day of Cooperatives in July 1995 to recognize and reaffirm cooperatives’ role in economic, social and cultural development. The event would expand that recognition to better draw attention to major global issues and the role cooperatives can play in addressing them, Crear said. “Declaring 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives would shine a more intense light on cooperatives and credit unions worldwide,” Crear said. “Such a ‘blessing’ by the U.N. and its member governments would lead to greater support for cooperatives and credit unions, enabling them to better serve members.” Last week’s meeting was held in response to U.N. resolution 62/128, “Cooperatives in social development,” which introduced the concept of the International Year of Cooperatives. The resolution also urged the strengthening of cooperatives worldwide and the development of increased public awareness of their overall socio-economic impact.

Corporate One board officers elected

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (5/6/09)--Three leaders were elected to the Corporate One FCU board of directors at its annual meeting in late April. Bob Burrow, president/CEO, Bayer Heritage FCU, Proctor, W.Va.; Phil Buell, CEO, Superior FCU, Lima, Ohio; and Lee Powell, president/CEO, DESCO FCU, Portsmouth, Ohio, were elected to three-year terms.
In his first term on Corporate One’s board of directors, Burrow brings more than 25 year’s credit union experience to his position. He has served as president/CEO of the credit union since 1994. Burrow also served as the senior vice president of Auto Body CU, Lansing, Mich., from 1991 to 1994. He served with the Ohio University Employees’ CU, Athens, Ohio, and Ormet CU, Clarington, Ohio. Burrow also was a member of the West Virginia Corporate CU board from 1998 to 2005. Buell has served on Corporate One’s board of directors since 1999. Since 2003, Buell has served as the CEO of Superior FCU and is a current trustee of the Ohio Credit Union League Political Action Committee/Ohio Credit Union Legislative Action Committee and the Ohio Credit Union Defense Coalition. Powell, re-elected to his second term on Corporate One’s board, has been president/CEO of DESCO FCU since 2004. Powell has also served as an audit committee liaison and enterprise wide risk management committee member on Corporate One’s board and as a member of the Ohio Credit Union League Services Corp. board and the league board. Corporate One’s new board officers are:
* Chairman, Gerald D. Guy, president/CEO of KEMBA Financial CU, Columbus, Ohio; * Vice Chairman, Janice L. Thomas, president of PSE CU, Parma, Ohio; * Treasurer, John J. Shirilla, president/CEO of Best Employees FCU, Walton Hills; and * Secretary, Buell.
Corporate One FCU is based in Columbus, Ohio.

EasCorp to participate in NCUA share guarantee program

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BURLINGTON, Mass. (5/6/09)--Eastern Corporate FCU (EasCorp) will participate in the National Credit Union Administration's (NCUA) Temporary Corporate Credit Union Share Guarantee Program (TCCUSGP), according to EasCorp. EasCorp's Board of Directors voted April 27 to participate (Inside EasCorp May). "NCUA has accepted our participation and, effective immediately, all of EasCorp's uninsured shares are now covered under the Guarantee Program through at least Sept. 30, 2011," EasCorp said. Quarterly extensions will be possible later, at NCUA's discretion. EasCorp's board declined to participate in the program when it was offered by NCUA in February. Several factors contributed to that decision, "most especially our interest in protecting your capital and EasCorp's retained earnings, generated through your patronage," the newsletter said. "The board felt that, by accepting the TCCUSGP agreement, EasCorp would potentially lose control of its future." However, a turning point came after the NCUA Board met to consider extending the guarantee program and enabling all corporate credit unions to participate. The action included revisions to the program's agreements with corporates to eliminate ambiguities and provide greater flexibility. EasCorp's board, after consulting with legal counsel, "was satisfied that all previous concerns had been addressed and remedied in the revised agreement." The guarantee program has been modified and extended, said EasCorp. New share deposits covered under the guarantee are allowed a maximum two-year maturity. The guarantee currently expires Sept. 30, 2011. At least 30 days before the end of each calendar quarter, beginning this September, NCUA's Office of Corporate Credit Unions will evaluate the need to extend the expiration date. Any expiration date extensions will be announced at least 15 days before the end of each quarter by NCUA's executive director to allow members to adjust their investment horizons and make maturity decisions. The first opportunity NCUA will have to announce an extension will be Sept. 15. If the option to extend each quarter is fully used, the final guarantee would expire Dec. 31, 2014, said EasCorp.