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CUNA helps CUs assist members in tough times

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MADISON, Wis. (5/7/08)--Consumers face difficult times in the economy ahead. Credit unions are stepping in to help their members weather the crisis. And the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is supporting credit unions' efforts--with money management information. Home and Family Finance Resource Center, one of CUNA's online content services, introduced its Tough Times Series last week. The series will run until the economy turns the corner. "Credit unions are helping their members, and we're helping credit unions do that," said Jim Hanson, vice president of CUNA's center for personal finance. "We're making sure that members have access to money management information that can help them gain perspective on today's tough climate," Hanson said. Members will learn "what steps to take to avoid being a casualty in this economy." He gave examples. New articles such as "How to Handle a Layoff," as well as older ones such as "Steer Clear of Credit Counseling Bad Guys," can point members in the right direction--to the credit union--for help. At the Home & Family Finance Resource Center, "members at subscribing credit unions can search on the phrase 'Tough Times Series' and bring up several articles and tools that address current challenges," said Michelle M. Haas-Dosher, CUNA senior editor. "We will add new articles in the coming months."

Student loan social lending sites latest P2P venture

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NEW YORK (5/7/08)--More social lending websites are cropping up, with the latest batch focusing on providing student loans at a time when there's confusion in the student loan market. A credit union social finance site with at least six credit union partners--plans to launch a student loan feature this summer, according to SmartMoney (April 25). At Zopa, loans are funded by the credit union partners. Investors on the site can buy certificates of deposit from the credit unions. Since the investments are insured, the borrower's payments are less than other sites (Yahoo! News May 6). Credit unions will have plenty of competition from online person-to-person (P2P) lenders. Two new sites--Loanio and GlobeFunder--have announced plans to launch this year (Yahoo! News May 6). College Loan Market, based in North Reading, Mass., plans a June start up and will bid out students' loan applications to a group of lenders, according to (May 6). Others sites are already established, either as general lenders, student lenders, or as information sites for student loan comparisons. Among them:
* Fynanz, a New York-based P2P lender dedicated solely to student loans. It is the newest start-up and allows borrowers to create an online listing with their educational profile, along with a loan and rate request. Student can request unsecured loans from $2,500 to $20,000, to be repaid over a 10-to-20-year period ( May 6). *, a site that, like Fynanz, focuses on education debt. * Simple Tuition Inc., a Newton, Mass.-based online service that helps students and parents compare loan options. The site is on track to about two million users in 2008, but some of the lenders it works with have vanished (The Boston Globe May 6). Last year its partner lenders totaled 55; that number has dropped to 31. * Virgin Money, a Waltham, Mass.-based site (originally launched as CircleLending) that offers to formalize loans between students and their family members for $299; * Lending Club, which has a Facebook application; * Prosper, an auction-style site that connects lenders and borrowers. It probably is the most well-known P2P lending site.

PCUA re-elects board officers presents awards

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (5/7/08)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) board of directors re-elected officers and presented awards at its annual reorganization meeting April 30. Officers re-elected were:
* Chair: Diana Roberts, president/CEO, Hershey FCU, Hershey; and * Vice Chair: Ray Brunner, president/CEO, WEST-AIRCOMM FCU, Beaver.
Roberts represents District 8 and has been a PCUA board member since 1992. She will serve as chairman of the PCUA’s nine-member board of directors for one year. Brunner represents District 2 and has been a PCUA board member since 1999. Also, at PCUA’s 74th Members Annual Meeting May 3 in Pittsburgh, the association’s Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented:
* Judi Supplee, CEO, Keystone FCU, Downingtown, received the 2008 William W. Pratt Professional of the Year Award; and * Kathy Linn, board chair, Service First FCU, Danville, received the 2008 Joseph A. Moore Volunteer of the Year Award Life is a Highway May 5).
Louise Lingenfelser, president/CEO, UGI Employees FCU, Wyomissing, was elected to PCUA’s board of directors. She will serve a three-year term.

Texas operating electronic closed-account notification system

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (5/7/08)--The Texas Credit Union League’s (TCUL) Compliance Council will host a conference call with the Texas Department of Banking May 14 to assist credit unions with any concerns and questions regarding the state’s newly implemented Closed Account Notification System (CANS). During the 80th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, State Rep. Helen Giddings sponsored House Bill 2002 (LoneStar Leaguer May 6). It created an electronic notification system that requires financial institutions, upon proper request by a customer, to alert check verification entities that the customer has closed an account because of actual fraud or compromised financial information. To implement the program, every financial institution maintaining an office, branch or agency office in the state must register with the Texas Department of Banking, which is administering the program. The department had CANS operating March 1.

NACUSO announces director election results officers

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NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (5/7/08)--The National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO) announced that Doug Petersen, CEO of Workers’ Financial Services, Fitchburg, Mass., will begin his first term serving on the NACUSO board. NACUSO held its election April 24 and announced the results April 28 during the annual meeting. Platinum Partner Vic Pantea, president and chief operating officer, Member Gateways, South Bend, Ind., retained his seat on the board. Pete Snyder, president of Snyder Consulting Solutions, Rocklin, Calif., also retained his seat on the board. Officers for the 2008 board include:
* Chair: Dave Serlo, president/CEO, PSCU Financial Services; * Vice-chair: Snyder; * Treasurer: Lisa Renner, president/CEO, CU Holding Company LLC; and * Secretary: Judy Sandberg, senior vice president of strategic direction, Gateway Services Group.

NCBA to aid Ace Hardware owners to keep co-op structure

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WASHINGTON (5/7/08)--The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA), which represents cooperatives across various sectors of the economy, including credit unions, announced that it will help Ace Hardware owners maintain Ace’s cooperative structure. The NCBA will help the Concerned Ace Owners (CAO) elect new directors to Ace’s board that are more representative of the Ace membership and who pledge to maintain the company as a cooperative. NCBA is asking all owners to support CAO’s slate of candidates--Brian Odell, Larry Perty, Charlie Huff and Patrick Smith. “They have reached out to all of the more than 3,000 Ace members on a shoestring budget while combating the staunch opposition from Ace’s current board and senior management,” said Paul Hazen, NCBA president/CEO. Ace consists of independent, locally-owned hardware and home improvement stores. Last August, Ace management discovered an accounting error that erased $152 million, or 47% of the company’s equity. The current board of directors created a plan to restore the equity by assessing members with a variance allocation charge, though the plan has been tabled until the equity restoration plan is completed. CAO formed to encourage Ace’s membership to be more proactive in setting the company’s future direction. More than 700 Ace owner-members have registered with CAO. Ace has stores in all U.S. states and 63 countries.

DE class graduates registration open for next class

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MADISON, Wis. (5/7/08)--Twenty-one credit union executives and professionals graduated from Credit Union Development Education (CUDE) training in Madison, Wis., early last month.
Click to view larger image Twenty-one credit unions executives and professionals graduated from Credit Union Development Education training in Madison, Wis., last month. In the program, they learned about national and international credit union systems and cooperatives. The training was sponsored by the National Credit Union Foundation. (Photo provided by the National Credit Union Foundation)
Participants from throughout the U.S, Australia, Kenya, England and Scotland, learned about national and international credit union systems and cooperatives. The training, sponsored by the National Credit Union Foundation, focused on cooperative principles, social impact and credit union uniqueness as a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace. One facet of the development education (DE) training had the class divide into five work groups--each choosing a subject to research. Participants then presented their case studies that proposed credit union solutions to some modern challenges. The groups had to:
* Decide whether or not to convert a credit union into a mutual savings bank; * Develop a plan to serve the underserved in a low-income community; * Provide credit access to the people of Iraq; * Decide whether a small credit union should merge with a larger credit union; and * Determine how credit unions can rebuild the community after the fallout of the subprime lending crisis.
The overall training promoted credit unions’ social responsibility and possible areas of domestic and international development. For a list of the 2008 Spring DE Graduates, use the link. The second DE class will be held Aug. 14-20 at IslandWood, Wash. For information or to register, contact Program Director Tom Decker at 800-356-9655, ext 4274 or

Mich. lawmakers tout CUs work on mortgage crisis

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NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (5/7/08)--Michigan lawmakers attending a chapter breakfast were complimentary of credit unions' efforts in finding solutions to a mortgage crisis they didn't cause.
State Rep. Matthew Gillard compliments Michigan's credit unions for their work. He spoke at the Blue Ox Chapter Legislative Breakfast. (Photo provided by the Michigan Credit Union League)
Michigan State Rep. Matthew Gillard (D-Alpena) addressed 50 credit union attendees at the Blue Ox Chapter Legislative Breakfast April 25 in Alpena (Michigan Monitor May 5). He complimented credit unions' efforts to address the foreclosure crisis, saying their efforts to address the foreclosure issue had not gone unnoticed and were appreciated. In addition to Gillard, the event drew State Rep. Joel Sheltrown (D-West Branch) and staffers from the offices of U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) and State Sen. Tony Stamas (R-Midland). According to Alpena Alcona Area CU President/CEO Donald Mills, the lawmakers heard that "the credit union industry was not responsible for the present mortgage crisis that is crippling American families and our overall economy, and that credit unions will be a vital part of the solution to this problem." He added, "This crisis was created by lenders who don't operate by the credit union philosophy of trustworthy, personal service."

CU System briefs (05/06/2008)

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* HARRISBURG, Pa. (5/7/08)--The board of directors of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) approved the purchase of Policy Pro, an online policy library with more than 200 policies on topics such as human resources, third-party due diligence, accounting issue, Bank Secrecy Act and red flags. PCUA is making the policies available to member credit unions at no charge and expects the program to become available later this summer (Life is a Highway May 1) … * BLOOMFIELD HILLS and AUBURN HILLs, Mich. (5/7/08)--A planned merger of two Southeast Michigan credit unions--$600 million asset T&C FCU in Bloomfield Hills and $600 million asset USA CU in Auburn Hills--would create the fourth-largest credit union in the state ( May 2). Combined assets would total more than $1.2 billion. The new credit union would be called Genesis, reflecting the membership roots of both credit unions--General Motors for T&C FCU and Burroughs/Unisys for USA CU. USA CU President Mary McDonald would remain with Genesis during the transition, then retire. T&C President/CEO Dianne Addington would be CEO-designate of the merged institution. The merger is pending approval by T&C members in August … * FAIRBORN, Ohio (5/7/08)--Douglas A. Fecher, right, president/CEO of Wright-Patt CU was named as "Professional of the Year" by the Ohio Credit Union League during the league's ZENITH08 conference April 24 in Columbus. Fecher is shown with Steve Behler, league chair and CEO of Kemba CU, who made the presentation. Fecher's innovations include StretchPay, a credit union alternative to payday lending that has received national and statewide attention. Fairborn-based Wright-Patt CU has doubled in asset growth since 2002. (Photo provided by Wright-Patt CU Inc.) … * HARRISBURG, Pa.(5/7/08)--Amanda Grolemund, 25, of Erie, Pa., was the winner of a statewide contest to serve as 2008 Credit Union Youth Ambassador of Pennsylvania. She represented the Erie Chapter of Credit Unions and is the marketing manager at Erie General Electric FCU. The contest was conducted during the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association's (PCUA) 74th Annual Convention and Expo. As youth ambassador, Grolemund will speak to credit union officials throughout the state at PCUA events and regional chapter meetings. First Alternate is Kathryn Berger, 22, of M-C FCU, Danville, representing the N.W. Susquehanna Chapter of Credit Unions, and Second Alternate is Christopher Owens, 24, of Pennsylvania State Employees CU, Harrisburg, representing the Harrisburg chapter … * NEENAH, Wis. (5/7/08)--Ten-year-old Emma Flottemesch of Neenah, Wis., shown here, was recognized as the 3,000th member of Neenah-based Evergreen CU and was awarded prizes. Emma's entire family are members of the credit union. The $22 million asset credit union is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year. ECU President Sherry Johnson told Emma, "We've been waiting 50 years for you." (Photo provided by Evergreen CU)

WOCCUs Pete Crear awarded Polish CU System prize

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WARSAW (5/7/08)--World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) President/CEO Pete Crear has been named recipient of the Feniks Prize awarded by the Foundation for Polish Credit Unions, part of the Polish Credit Union System. The prize will be presented in a special ceremony June 19 at the Polish system's National Credit Union Conference. "Under the able leadership of Pete Crear, WOCCU became much stronger in the countries of Eastern Europe, putting emphasis on better utilizing Polish credit union expertise for the benefit of the movements in this region," said Grzegorz Bierecki, president of Poland's National Association of Cooperative Savings and Credit Unions. Bierecki is also WOCCU board treasurer. Crear, a former executive for the Credit Union National Association and its affiliates as well as several state credit union leagues, was awarded the Foreign Prize, one of five Feniks awards given each year. Judges for the award include CEOs, deputy CEOs and board members of the Polish credit unions' national association and foundation. Prize committee members said Crear received the honor for his continuous support and personal commitment to the Polish Credit Union System. "I have been fortunate to witness the growth of the Polish system and have long been impressed with the expertise and commitment of its chief architects," said Crear. "It's one of the world's fastest growing, most accomplished credit union systems, and I am pleased and proud to receive this prestigious honor."