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CU System Archive

CU System

Wis. regulator at league meeting CUs performing well

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MADISON, Wis. (5/9/11)--Credit unions in Wisconsin continue to perform well, according to a Wisconsin regulator speaking at the Wisconsin Credit Union League's 77th Annual Convention and Exposition Friday in the Wisconsin Dells. Peter Bildsten, secretary of the state Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), reported on the positive preliminary first quarter results of the performance by the state's credit unions, according to a DFI press release. "Overall, Wisconsin credit unions continue to perform well based on the preliminary financial results filed as of March 31, 2011," said Bildsten. He noted that total assets increased to $21.3 billion, up from $20.7 billion--a 2.0% increase over year end 2010. The net income ratio for the state's credit unions remained steady at 0.53%. Net worth rose by $42 million, resulting in a capital adequacy ratio of 9.83%. Also Friday, Ginger Larson, director for the Office of Credit Unions, led a "Meet the Regulator" breakout session that addressed current regulatory and compliance issues affecting credit unions at the state and national level. Larson also participated in an Ask the Experts session at the end of the day.

Disaster-fund donations from CU community total 55K

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MADISON, Wis., and WASHINGTON (5/9/11)--Credit unions and their organizations continue to rally behind colleagues who suffered losses during the April 27 tornadoes that swept seven states in the South. As of Friday, donations raised through CUAid.coop, the movement's online disaster relief fund, totaled at least $55,000, said the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF). Among the new donors providing funds to assist credit unions and their employees in the aftermath of the storms is CUNA Strategic Services (CSS), which donated $10,000, and the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL), which contributed $2,500 toward the efforts. "Credit unions, their staff and families in these hard-hit areas are still struggling; we want to help them get back on their feet," said Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney, who is also CEO of CSS. CSS partners with key vendors to provide products and services to credit unions. "Our desire is to see the damaged credit unions and the people who run them recover as soon as possible," said Brett Thompson, AACUL chairman and president/CEO of the Wisconsin Credit Union League. Credit unions in every state can donate through CUAid.coop, a secured website that accepts credit cards and wire transfers. NCUF will coordinate with the credit union leagues across the southern part of the country to distribute money efficiently to credit union employees and members in the affected areas, said NCUF. In addition to supporting the relief efforts directly for credit unions and their employees, credit unions are finding a variety of other ways to help. Huntsville, Ala.-based Redstone FCU, which had two branches affected by the storms, began trucking in food and supplies to several smaller communities hit hard by tornadoes. It also planned a cookoff this past weekend to feed 1,000 survivors and relief workers and volunteers. Tyndall FCU, based in Panama City, Fla., presented a $1,000 check to American Red Cross to help victims of the tornadoes in Alabama. Representatives from the $1 billion asset credit union's Dothan, Ala., branch also donated cases of bottled water to help in the relief efforts. "As part of the Alabama community, we felt it was important to offer assistance to the residents in the areas devastated by the tornadoes," said Jim Warren, president/CEO of Tyndall. "While our headquarters may be in the Florida Panhandle, we have branches in Dothan, Mobile, and Spanish Fort, Ala., as well, and we wanted to show our support. Living in the southeast, we have seen the destruction such storms can do, and we wanted to do our part to help." For more information about contributing to CUAid.coop, use the link.

Riverset CU guest blogger addresses free checking fees

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PITTSBURGH (5/9/11)--Lisa Florian, director of business development for Riverset CU, Pittsburgh, is author of a blog that warns consumers about so-called “free” checking accounts that contain hidden fees. Florian is a guest blogger for the local Regional Internship Center in Pittsburgh, and posted a blog Tuesday titled “Free Checking Account? Watch Out for Hidden Fees” (Life is a Highway May 6). “You may or may not be aware of a number of regulations within the financial industry that have been passed over the last year or so, which have impacted financial institutions’ ‘lucrative’ stream of fee income as it pertains to overdraft fees,” Florian wrote. “So, the days of FREE checking now seem to be morphing into the days of free checking with fine print and hidden fees. The new regs have forced institutions to find alternative ways to make up for the lost income and free checking has become the target. “A truly free checking account is one with no minimum balance and no monthly fees--or any other hidden fees, period,” she continued, adding, “The bottom line is--read the fine print and be smart with your money so you are not hit with hidden fees.” To read the blog, use the link.

Maine interchange bill stalls in committee

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PORTLAND, Maine. (5/9/11)--The Maine Legislature’s Insurance and Financial Services (IFS) Committee voted unanimously to “ought not to pass” on the state’s interchange bill on April 29, said the Maine Credit Union League. LD 1251--An Act To Prevent Credit Card Company Unfair Trade Practices--would have prohibited electronic payment systems from imposing certain restrictions on merchants relating to the acceptance of credit cards, charge cards, debit cards or other stored value cards as payment for goods and services (Weekly Update May 6). Since the bill was introduced, the league took an active role in opposing the legislation. The league coordinated a call to action by credit unions located within the districts of IFS committee members, stating opposition to the bill. Maine credit unions responded by sending 500 messages to the committee. The committee tabled a vote April 8 on the bill and directed interested parties to participate in a stakeholders’ group meeting (News Now April 18). The league and two credit union representatives participated in the stakeholders meeting, testified at another public hearing on the bill, and communicated directly with legislators on the negative impact the bill would have on Maine credit unions and their members. “We provided the committee with accurate information that was helpful in clearing up much of the misunderstanding about what this bill would really do,” said league President John Murphy. “That information and strategy proved important when the committee took its vote. We appreciate the involvement of our governmental affairs committee and credit unions on this bill.” The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) opposes a proposal in Congress capping interchange fees and has told federal lawmakers that such action would harm consumers by driving up costs of debit cards, limiting consumer options, and harming competition and technological innovation. Interchange fees allow business costs, including the risk of consumer nonpayment, to be shared by the payments participants, CUNA said.

Mutual Savings CU turnaround faster than expected

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (5/9/11)--Mutual Savings CU, Birmingham Ala., has rebounded under the leadership of president/CEO Doug Key after being placed in conservatorship in 2009. The credit union had experienced more than $5 million in losses from bad business loans, prompting the state credit union administrator to seize its remaining assets, and replace the CEO and board of directors (The Birmingham News via al.com May 6). Key had served as an outside lawyer for the credit union before taking over its leadership in October 2009. Among Key’s first priorities was problem business loans, the articles said. With the support of the Alabama Credit Union Administration, Mutual Savings CU took aggressive write-downs on much of the portfolio, Sonja Purvis, Mutual Savings’ chief marketing officer and senior vice president, told the newspaper. Expenses also were reduced by $1.5 million. By last summer, Mutual Savings CU had climbed back to solvency, just a year after it had been placed under conservatorship. The credit union reported a profit of more than $700,000 for 2010. With a $169 million in assets, Mutual Savings CU remained profitable for the first quarter 2011. Another turnaround within the credit union was employee morale. Employees were nervous when the state took over the credit union, Purvis told The News, and they faced budget cuts under the conservatorship. Employees bought into a morale-building campaign that focused on the mythical Phoenix, the bird reborn from its own ashes. Key and Purvis even designed a pin to inspire employees. The key to keeping employees engaged was regular detailed communication on how the credit union would move forward and how the work they did was integral to turning those plans into reality, Purvis told the publication.

CUs in Vermont Peru sign partnership agreement

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (5/9/11)--Armando Ouchida, CEO of Peru’s Pacifico CU (Cooperativa de Ahorro y Credito Pacifico), traveled to Vermont last week to sign a World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) international partnership agreement with NorthCountry FCU, South Burlington, Vt.
Peru's Pacifico CU last week signed a World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) international partnership agreement with NorthCountry FCU, South Burlington, Vt. Seated, from left, are: NorthCountry FCU (NCFCU) Board Chair Kathleen Sweeten; NCFCU CEO John Benoit; Armando Ouchida, CEO of Peru’s Pacifico CU; and WOCCU International Partnerships Manager Victor Miguel Corro. Standing, from left, are: NCFCU Vice President of Operations Bob Cowie; Vaughn Carney, NCFCU executive vice president; Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU) Director Bob Morgan; NCFCU Training Specialist Mary McEwen; and AVCU President Joe Bergeron. (Photo provided by the Association of Vermont Credit Unions)
The peer-to-peer relationship is the third of its kind in the state and enhances the partnership between the Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU) and its Peruvian counterpart, the Federacion Nacional de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Credito del Peru, AVCU said (Newslines Express May 6). During his visit, Ouchida met with NorthCountry CEO John Benoit and department managers and learned about the credit union’s lending, finance, technology, operations, and marketing departments. Ouchida and Benoit traveled to Montpelier, where they toured NorthCountry branches, then had lunch with NorthCountry Director Vaughn Carney and Tom Candon, deputy commissioner of Vermont’s Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration, which regulates state-chartered credit unions. The two also met with AVCU President Joe Bergeron and Bernie Isabelle, CEO of Vermont FCU, Burlington. Vermont CU has a WOCCU international partnership agreement with a Peru credit union. Pacifico and NorthCountry are working to arrange a visit to Peru for NorthCountry personnel in October.

Philly bans questions about criminal backgrounds

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HARRISBURG, PA. (5/9/11)--A new Philadelphia ordinance restricts employers with more than 10 employees--including credit unions--from inquiring into potential employees' arrests and convictions. The ordinance, which takes effect July 12, prohibits an employer from asking about arrests or criminal charges that are not pending against the individual or did not result in an arrest. The limitation applies during the application process and any time after, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) (Life is a Highway May 6). Credit unions also won’t be permitted during the application process to ask an individual to disclose any criminal convictions. The application process begins when an applicant inquires about the employment and ends when an employer has accepted an employment application. “This legislation is intended to give the individual with a criminal record an opportunity to be judged on his or her own merit during the submission of the application and at least until the completion of one interview,” a preamble to the ordinance states. “For credit unions with employees in the city of Philadelphia, it might be wise to take a look at your employment applications and questions about criminal history,” advised Rick Wargo, PCUA general counsel. “The ordinance does not compel hiring individuals who have a background that is inconsistent with working at a credit union. But, credit unions may have to exercise some care through the application process and first interview.” Federal and state-chartered credit unions have a specific statutory duty to provide for bond or fidelity coverage for officers and employees who have custody of or handle funds, PCUA said. The Philadelphia ordinance has an exemption provision that appears to render the law inoperable if another applicable law specifically authorizes some of the practices barred by the ordinance, Wargo said. “If an individual is not bondable, they cannot work at the credit union,” Wargo said. “We’re doing some additional analysis to square the bond coverage requirements of the Credit Union Code and Federal Credit Union Act and this new Philadelphia Ordinance and its exemption language.”

100K granted to R.I. CU to aid homebuyers

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WESTERLY, R.I. (5/9/11)--Westerly (R.I.) Community CU Thursday announced it received a $100,000 grant to help low- and moderate-income households with home ownership. A Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) approved the $213 million asset credit union to take part in its Equity Builder program, said Meg Sisco, Westerly vice president of marketing (The Day May 6). The Washington, D.C-based FHLB system was created by Congress. FHLBs nationwide are among the biggest source of funding for mortgage lending. Through the home-ownership program, the credit union can award up to $10,000 per eligible family. The awards are provided on a first-come, first-served basis until the funding is gone, the newspaper said. Households that earn 80% of the area’s median income are eligible to participate. Through the program, the credit union said it will offer reduced interest rates for first-time borrowers, and would reduce closing costs by $575.

CU System briefs (05/06/2011)

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* HOUSTON (5/9/11)--Twelve Houston area credit unions demonstrated
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the strength of the cooperative spirit with an April 16th car sale organized by Devon Ader, group car sales manager for Enterprise Car Sales, and James Tuggle, CEO of Transtar FCU. The group closed 25 loans that day. "Even though there may have been some overlap in fields of membership, they worked as a team to market this event to their individual members through direct mail, inserts, lobby signage and even Facebook to grow their loan business," said Ader. CEOs' commitment to attending the event paid off. Tony Black, president of BCM FCU, worked with a member who "wouldn't have financed on the spot if I had not been there to work with him directly and structure a loan that suited his situation," Black said. Participating were SPCO, Transtar, Texas Bay Area, Shared Resources, Houston Highway, BCM, Southwest Financial, Union Fidelity, Lubrizol, Port Terminal, New Light and United Community credit unions. Pictured are Raymond Garcia, member of Union Fidelity FCU, and Enterprise employee Keith Malone. (Photo provided by Transtar FCU) … * RALEIGH, N.C.(5/9/11)--The board of North Carolina's State Employees' CU held a "Volunteer Meet and Greet" for the credit union's Advisory Board and Loan Review Committee members serving in the Raleigh area. More than 200 volunteers gathered to learn about the credit union's commitment to providing new opportunities to assist members with their financial needs. Topics included new products and enhancements to existing products offered by SECU, SECU's assistance to members experiencing job loss, and member-funded community projects through the SECU Foundation. More than 3,000 volunteers serve on local advisory boards at SECU's 237 locations across the state. The volunteers serve as a voice for more than 1.6 million members to communicate member ideas, address issues and offer products and services recommendations to the board … * RALEIGH, N.C. (5/9/11)--Ann R. Suggs, former chairman of the board at Raleigh-based Local Government FCU died on April 23, according to the North Carolina Credit Union League (Weekly Update May 6). She was 64. Suggs served in every official capacity on the LGFCU board. She was a former chairman, vice chairman, treasurer and secretary of the board. She chaired the Asset Liability Management Committee, Operations Management Committee, and the Nominating Committee. She served on the Loan Review Committee prior to joining the board in 1992 … * WACO, Texas (5/9/11)--Brenda Sue Osterholtz, former president/manager of Waco (Texas) FCU, died Thursday in Waco. She was 65. Osterholtz retired from the credit union in 2003. She is survived by a daughter and son in law. Services were held Friday (Waco Tribune and LoneStar Leaguer May 6) …