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CU exec NACHA urge e-payments to cut fuel postage costs

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HERNDON, Va. (5/8/08)--A credit union executive who is chairperson of a working group for NACHA--The Electronic Payments Association--is urging consumers to employ electronic bill payment to mitigate rising fuel and postage costs. "Now is the time to start using electronic payments," said Lisa Monroe, electronic payment systems manager at $1.029 billion asset Evangelical Christian CU, Brea, Calif. Monroe is chairperson of NACHA's Marketing Management Group (Business Wire May 6). She told consumers, "The sign-up process, either with your financial institution or with the companies that send you bills, is simple and fast. Once you sign up, you can start enjoying the savings of time and money immediately." NACHA said a single household with an average of 20 bills and financial statements each month can spend up to $100 on postage each year and another $50 on the cost of checks, late charges and fuel used to mail their payments. Monroe also noted in a press release that with electronic payments, "far fewer people touch your personal financial information. The payments travel security to the companies that send you bills. It's the most private way to pay bills." A recent study by Javelin Research and Strategy indicated that most identity thefts start with someone seeing a victim's personal financial information on a check, billing statement on bank account statement. In April, PayItGreen Alliance announced that a family could save nearly seven pounds of paper a year by switching to electronic bills, statements and payments. If one in five families in the U.S. switched to electronic payment services, they would save nearly 103 million gallons of gasoline--equal to 1,000 road trips from New York to Los Angeles and back.

Steve Ford addresses Maine leagues convention

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PORTLAND, Maine (5/8/08)--Steve Ford, son of the late President Gerald Ford, addressed the Maine Credit Union League’s Annual Meeting and Convention as the keynote speaker last weekend in Portland.
Steve Ford, son of President Gerald Ford, addressed the Maine Credit Union League’s Annual Meeting and Convention in Portland, Maine.
About 82% of Maine’s credit unions were represented by roughly 650 attendees. This year’s theme was “Maine Credit Unions--70 Years of Giving Back.” “Through leadership and commitment and by working together, the Maine Credit Union League and Maine’s credit unions have a strong record of giving back for more than 70 years, and we’ll continue to give back to members and the community in a variety of ways for years to come,” said John Murphy, league president. Ford spoke about the importance of leadership, overcoming adversity, living with values and character, settling and juggling priorities, and making the right decisions, the league said. “Seven years ago, I was challenged by three people in my life to do something inspiring and to work to make a difference,” Ford said.
Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine), the nation's only credit union board member currently in Congress, addresses the Maine Credit Union League's Annual Meeting and Convention.
“I took time off from acting and other activities and traveled to places like Africa and saw poverty, hunger and tragedy, but my travels inspired me because the people in these places had a great attitude and hope.” Several legislators also spoke at the event. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) praised credit unions “for always putting the best interests of their members first. As a credit union member, I appreciate that. Maine’s credit unions give back to their communities in so many ways, from the best deals in financial services, to financial assistance, to helping end hunger. Maine credit unions are all about people and that truly makes them special.”
Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine) reiterated his opposition to ever taxing credit unions before an audience of Maine credit union leaders at the Maine Credit Union League's Annual Meeting. (Photos provided by the Maine Credit Union League)
Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine) acknowledged credit unions for their community service. “I am particularly impressed by the fact that Maine credit unions contributed more than 23,000 hours of volunteer time to their communities last year, and not because you have to but because you want to,” he said. League-endorsed candidate for the First District congressional race, Adam Cote, told the audience of his lifelong membership in a credit union. “When I needed my first car loan and loans for college and other important events in my life, I have always been able to count on my credit union to not just give me a loan, but give me a better deal on a loan. “That’s what credit unions do and I have experienced it first-hand and look forward to being an advocate for credit unions in Congress. Having the support of the league means a lot to me,” he said. Maine Gov. John Baldacci and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) were scheduled to speak also but cancelled due to flooding in Aroostook County.
Just days after formally endorsing him as the Maine Credit Union League's candidate in the First District Congressional Race, Adam Cote addressed attendees at the Maine CU League's Convention. Pictured (left) is Adam Cote, one of six candidates running in the June Democratic primary, and John Murphy, league president.

Self-Help plans to buy foreclosed homes

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (5/8/08)--A community development organization affiliated with Self-Help CU in Durham, N.C., is working to stabilize a troubled Charlotte neighborhood, Peachtree Hills, by purchasing, improving, and re-selling its foreclosed homes. The program is being implemented by the credit union's development entity, Self-Help Community Development Corporation. Its financing is through the Self-Help Ventures Fund. Self-Help CU is an entity under the Self-Help umbrella but not directly involved in the initiative. The program aims to “help a neighborhood that should not be in such distress,” Evan Covington-Chavez, Self-Help CU director of real estate development, told News Now. If Self-Help’s program works, the city of Charlotte will not have to invest in a long-term revitalization project for the neighborhood. The city already has such projects in several downtown neighborhoods. Peachtree Hills was built five years ago. Despite its youthful age, it “looks like an older neighborhood,” Chavez said. Peachtree homes originally were sold for about $100,000. Now, the foreclosed properties are valued at about $70,000. The vacated homes also have been easy targets for vandals. “There are windows broken and doors beaten in,” Chavez said. Self-Help hopes to purchase up to 25 of the foreclosed properties, although the exact number will depend on market circumstances. It also plans to offer a lease-to-purchase option for potential homeowners after the homes have been fixed up, Chavez said. Although it’s still early, Self-Help hopes to “see the effects of acquiring properties in the neighborhood” within a year, she said. Self-Help plans a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the program this summer.

Taylor reappointed Southwest Corporate Chairman

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PLANO, Texas (5/8/08)--Brent Taylor, president/CEO of Weokie CU in Oklahoma City, Okla., has been reappointed as chairman of the board for Southwest Corporate FCU, Plano, Texas. The appointment was made at an organizational meeting held in conjunction with Southwest Corporate’s 33rd annual meeting (eFACTS May 6). Taylor has served on Southwest Corporate’s board of directors since 1998. He has been CEO at Weokie CU since 2007 and has served on the credit union’s management team for 18 years. He is a member of the Credit Union Executives Society and a former director of the Oklahoma Credit Union League. Also Jessie Gutierrez, Texas Bay Area CU, Pasadena, Texas, was appointed Southwest Corporate vice chairman; and Claudia Green, El Paso Teacher FCU, El Paso, Texas, was appointed Southwest Corporate secretary.

Final results Youth Saving Challenge hits 12 million

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MADISON, Wis. (5/8/08)--The National Credit Union Youth Week Saving Challenge, hosted by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), garnered more than $12 million in savings. Youth Week took place April 20-26. Four hundred credit unions reported their results to CUNA. Total deposits equaled $12,035,272.42; 76,524 youth made deposits; and credit unions opened 6,748 youth accounts. “Credit unions proved that youth matter,” said Joanne Sepich, National Youth Week coordinator. This year’s theme was “Got Green? Grow it at Your Credit Union,” and a number of credit unions combined savings lessons with being environmentally conscious. “From digging in the dirt to face painting, credit unions opened their doors to youth and introduced them to the very simple concept of setting goals and saving for them,” Sepich said. Last year, 393 credit unions reported $10,133,355 in deposits from 71,844 young members. About 9,067 new youth accounts were opened.

New York CUs lobby for depository choice

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LATHAM, N.Y. (5/8/08)--Representatives from New York credit unions and the New York State Credit Union League recently gathered in Albany, N.Y., to advocate for depository choice.
Robert Nemeroff, Melrose CU, Briarwood, talks about depository choice with New York State Rep. Herman “Denny” Farrell (D-Metropolitan). (Photos provided by the New York State Credit Union League)
Currently, commercial banks are the only banking institutions in New York state that are permitted to accept deposits from local and state governmental units. “The law addressing municipal funds was enacted in 1909,” said William J. Mellin, league president/CEO. “Credit unions did not exist in New York 100 years ago. Clearly it is time to fix this antiquated law and allow municipalities the depository options they are seeking.” Bills in the state Senate and/or the Assembly that would secure depository choice for credit unions include:
* S.3664, sponsored by State Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Metropolitan) and A.6511, sponsored by State Rep. Carl Heastie (D-Metropolitan), would allow state and federal credit unions, savings and loans, and federal savings associations to accept municipal deposits; * S.4054, sponsored by State Sen. Hugh Farley, (R-Capital) and A.6856, sponsored by State Rep. Catherine Nolan, (D-Metropolitan), would allow state and federal credit unions and savings banks to accept municipal deposits; and * S.4071A, sponsored by State Sen. John Flanagan (R-Long Island) and A.7322A, sponsored by State Rep. Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Island), contains a local option in which the local governing body would designate the financial institution by resolution. It also limits the amount that each depository financial institution can accept for deposit at $1 million per municipality.
The group of 16 credit union professionals met to review the pros and cons of each of the bills before heading to the State Capitol and legislative offices to visit 19 legislators, including bill sponsors and chairmen of key committees.
From left: Bruce Beaudette, Sunmark FCU, Schenectady; William J. Mellin, New York State Credit Union League; New York State Sen. Hugh Farley (R-Capital/Adirondack); Michael Castellana, SEFCU, Albany; and Tristam Coffin, Alternatives FCU, Ithaca.
During the meetings, the group reiterated how credit unions play a vital role in the state economy, how they are regularly approached by representatives from their local fire departments, libraries, schools and villages, and how--as required by current state law--they must turn away the business. The group said municipalities facing tight budgets could see financial benefits from working with credit unions, and their taxpayer’s funds would stay local, benefiting their communities. After their visits, credit unions and lawmakers met for a legislative reception. “As commercial banks deepen the credit crisis, government leaders need to explore more local, responsible and affordable financial services options,” said Amy Kramer, league vice president, governmental affairs. “Our targeted visits provided the opportunity for New York credit unions to convince lawmakers that their communities and constituents would greatly benefit by allowing local government access to credit unions.”

Texas CEO profiled in banking publication

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SAN ANTONIO (5/8/08)--David Reynolds, president/CEO of San Antonio-based Security Service FCU, was profiled in the San Antonio Business Journal Friday. The biggest obstacle facing the financial industry is the subprime mortgage lending market crisis, Reynolds told the newspaper. Everyone has been affected by subprime problems, whether they participated in the subprime loan market or not, so his credit union is focusing on helping members touched by the crisis, Reynolds said. “We will, therefore, indirectly have to deal with it, and we are, by … trying to help them, rather than just saying, ‘Well that’s your problem. Go figure it out,’” Reynolds said in the article. “We’re here to help counsel and do what we can to get them out of these problems because it doesn’t do us any good to succeed if the community is not succeeding.” A former credit union examiner, Reynolds was acquainted with a similar financial crisis in the late 1980s and early 1990s due to a bust in the commercial real estate, oil and gas markets in San Antonio and Texas, the journal said. The $4.376 billion asset Security Service was able weather those tough times by adhering to consistent and sound lending practices, Reynolds said. The credit union is focused on growth and has been reaching out to military personnel, Reynolds told the journal. The Texas Credit Union League said a credit union profile in the publication was unusual. “Generally, business journals--weekly newspapers that focus on business stories in major metropolitan areas--are on the fences about credit unions,” Winter Prosapio, advocacy communications director for the Texas Credit Union League, told News Now. “As a general policy they don’t write about not-for-profits, and usually they give considerable space to area banks. “So when a credit union lands not only a story but a full-fledged feature, it’s an accomplishment,” she concluded.

CU System briefs (05/07/2008)

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* MADISON, Wis. (5/8/08)--Dorian Stone, an associate principal in the San Francisco office of McKinsey & Co., a management consulting firm, has been named a Research Fellow at the Filene Research Institute. Research Fellows are researchers and professors who provide expertise on a range of topics. Stone focuses on the financial service industry across the U.S. and Latin America, and leads the firm's proprietary research and knowledge efforts on consumer buying behaviors and customer experience in the property and casualty and financial services industries. He received his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania … * RALEIGH, N.C. (5/8/08)--State Employees' CU has again teamed with the North Carolina Office of State Personnel and state agencies to sponsor statewide radio messages promoting state employees and the services they provide. The messages are part of a "What's In It For You" Image Campaign that began in 2001. They are airing this week, which is also State Employees' Recognition Week. This year's radio campaign spotlights five employees and their agencies/departments. During the spots, the employees introduce themselves and comment on the services their agency provides. The campaign also highlights a website, www.whatsinitforyou.org, which links to state agencies, job listings, and information about services …

Yet another publication recommends trying a CU

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MADISON, Wis. (5/8/08)--A May 7 article in Investopedia, published by Forbes, recommends that consumers who are frustrated with banks should look at credit unions for their financial needs. In the article, “Tired of Banks? Try a Credit Union,” Certified Financial Planner Mark P. Cussen writes about the alternative value of credit unions. “Many bank customers are becoming increasingly frustrated with the litany of fees their banks are charging, as well as the difficulties often associated with obtaining a loan,” Cussen wrote. “Credit unions represent an alternative to banks and possible solutions to common complaints about traditional banking institutions.” Cussen also explains what credit unions are, their history, their regulatory apparatus and environment, the credit union philosophy, and how credit unions have higher rates, lower fees and better service than banks.