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NEFCU Ad Seeks To Distance CU From Big Banks

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NEW YORK (5/7/13)--NEFCU, Westbury, N.Y., has launched a television commercial that highlights the differences between credit unions and big banks.

The commercial introduces NEFCU's new brand campaign: "Better banking because we're not a bank."

In the commercial, a group of banking executives gather around a boardroom table, sipping from cut-glass crystal while exchanging knowing winks and smirks, presumably making decisions to maximize profits. An Italian aria plays in the background.

"You gotta hand it to them," a narrator says. "Banks offer high-interest loans and have no shortage of takers. They get away with charging fees for most everything. When they mess up royally, they're bailed out by the government." 

The spot concludes: "Yeah, you gotta  hand it to them ... but you don't have to hand them your money."

The commercial, created by the New York advertising agency DeVito/Verdi, began airing last week throughout the New York city market. 

To view the commercial use, the link.

CU System Briefs (05/07/2013)

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  • EUGENE, Ore. (5/7/13)--Police are searching for a man who rammed his truck into a Northwest Portland, Ore., branch of Selco Community CU Sunday in an apparent attempt to steal an ATM. Selco Community has $1.03 billion assets and is based in Eugene, Ore. The crash smashed the front windows and caused significant damage to the ATM, which was just inside the credit union. The suspect got away with nothing, Portland police said. Afterwards, the man abandoned his truck a few blocks away. A nearby witness said someone tried to get into the truck but ran away when confronted, police said. They are searching for a Hispanic or white man in all-dark clothing (kgw.com and katu.com May 5)  ...
  • LAKE MARY, Fla. (5/7/13)--A woman impersonating an employee of the Lake Mary, Fla.-based CFE FCU was arrested last week on charges of grand theft, fraudulent use of personal-identification information, fraudulent use of a credit card and exploitation of the elderly. Tonya Tinch, 34, allegedly tricked an 89-year-old man into thinking she was an employee of his credit union before asking him to give her his debit card and personal information. According to the arrest report, more than $1,271 disappeared from his account, leaving the man a balance of $3.09. Tinch already was being held in the Orange County Jail with convictions of prostitution, burglary, theft and drug possession, her bail was set at $5,450 (Orlando Sentinel May 4) ...
  • SAGINAW, Mich. (5/7/13)--Catholic FCU, based in Saginaw, Mich., recently awarded more than $123,000 to 295 students through its Msgr. Forbes Scholarship Fund. "We are all very proud to support our members in need with scholarships. It is yet another perfect example of how we live our service mission to improve the financial well-being of our members," said President/CEO Alan Watson.  Scholarships are available to members that meet specific criteria such as financial need, community involvement and grade point average. Since the scholarship was founded in 1982, the committee has awarded more than $1.3 million to more than 2,800 students to begin or continue their education ...
  • TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (5/7/13)--Members CU in Traverse City, Mich., announced that Andrew B. Kempf will be the new president/CEO of the $221 million asset credit union. A native to Michigan, Kempf has almost 20 years of experience within the credit union and finance industry. He most recently served as manager/CEO of Preferred FCU, based in Greenville, Mich., where he managed more than $50 million in assets (The Leader and the Kalkaskian May 6) ...
  • ENDICOTT, N.Y. (5/7/13)--Visions FCU in Endicott, N.Y., selected Tyrone Muse to become the new president/CEO of the $3.1 billion asset credit union. He succeeds Frank E. Berrish, who retired April 30. Most recently, Muse was the chief financial officer at Hudson Valley FCU in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He led the $3.75 billion asset HVFCU's programs for diversity, financial performance and investment returns. Prior to that, he worked as finance manager at GE Asset Management, and as business assurance manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC (Press & Sun-Bulletin, Binghamton May 5) ...

Payment Systems' Future Is Topic Of CUNA Committee Paper

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WASHINGTON (5/7/13)--Mobile technology is here to stay and all evidence points to it having an increasing role in the payments ecosystem. Being at the center of members' payments is essential to the credit union's sustainability, relevance and competitiveness, reports a white paper commissioned by the Credit Union National Association's Community Credit Union Committee.

"The Future of Payment Systems for Credit Unions" was prepared by George A. Hofheimer, chief research and innovation officer at Filene Research Institute. (To access the full report use the link.) It outlines 12 trends in payments systems and offers tips for credit unions related to payments. They include:

  • Understand what your members need.
  • Take a holistic, collaborative approach to payments.
  • Capitalize on physical assets such as brick and mortar.
  • Leverage the power of payments data that can be gathered, mined and consolidated.
  • Continue to cooperate with payments aggregators.
  • Experiment and collaborate by taking advantage of credit unions' ability to work together.
To prepare, understand early (and sometimes weak) warning signs for disruptive innovation. Credit union strategists can:

  • Critically examine adoption of technology being implemented. "The public relations departments of new payment technology firms are very busy today," said the report. "Innovations abound, and credit unions must cast a critical eye at these new entrants to understand what is real and what is vapor."
  • Pay attention to the momentum in the payments ecosystem. Changes "will not occur overnight; therefore, keenly observe payments uptake by financial institutions, consumers, merchants, card associations, and processors. Traditional research tends to be late to the game on the topic of disruptive innovation, so rely on your payments provider who has an ear to the ground on these developments."
  • Understand the shifts in business models even if they are small. If momentum builds in the payments ecosystem but has little impact on the payment business model, pay attention. "Disruptive innovation tends to come from the lower end of the market, and entrenched players often ignore developments until it is too late."

Ideal Mother's Gift--a Lesson In Personal Finance

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WASHINGTON (5/7/13)--A lesson in personal finance may be the ideal Mother's Day gift, given the results of a survey of consumers' opinions about their mother's personal finance skills.

More than 67% of those surveyed saw their mother as either someone who is intimidated by money (21%), views managing money as a necessary evil (26%) or has never managed money (18%), according to the survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). Only 35% said Mom is savvy managing money and enjoys it.

"What mothers may not realize is that a lack of financial skills has the potential to negatively impact not only their future, but also that of their children, as negative habits are picked up as readily as positive ones," said Gail Cunningham, NFCC spokesperson. "Mothers have an opportunity to influence multiple generations by improving their own personal financial abilities."

NFCC's 2013 Financial Literacy Survey results indicated that 33% of people surveyed learned their financial skills at home. NFCC also noted that the typical single parent is the mother who has the sole responsibility to demonstrate and teach sound financial habits, and that fewer than half of the states require taking a course in personal finance for graduation. Roughly 5% of those surveyed indicated schools were their main source of personal finance skills.

Credit unions, which have a wealth of financial education tools and programs on hand, should find it easy to tap into serving this need by considering some mothers' discomfort with finances in their educational efforts.

Perhaps that student branch can turn the tables and offer financial basics info to parents visiting the school or parent/teacher night. That reality fair for teens could include a family version. Or it may be a matter of just including personal finance information for Moms on your website or newsletter.  It's yet another opportunity to reach out to members needing solid financial information.

Teen's Ice Cream Co Is Northwest FCU's Youngest Biz Account

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HERNDON, Va. (5/7/13)--A 14-year-old with a neighborhood gelato and sorbet business is the youngest CEO to open a business account in the history of Northwest FCU.

Click to view larger image GG's Frozen Treats is a family business, with 14-year-old CEO Grayson Albers, his sister Gretchen and mother Mary each having a role. They are pictured with staff of the Leesburg branch of Herndon, Va.-based Northwest FCU, which provides the business account for GG's Frozen Treats. (Photo provided by Northwest FCU)

Grayson Albers, 14, started with the idea to sell lemon sorbet at his sister Gretchen's lemonade stand. A year later, GG's Frozen Treats had grown into a neighborhood hit, with a website, a menu of flavors, and shelf space at Ashburn Wine shop, Carolina Brothers BBQ and The Wine'ing Butcher.

When his company needed a financial partner, CEO Albers turned to Herndon, Va.-based Northwest FCU.

His family had been members of the $2.5 billion asset credit union for a long time, said Marty Albers, Grayson's mother. "We've had a good experience with them over the years, and knew they would be the right fit."

After studying Northwest Federal's website, Grayson arrived at the Leesburg branch with the completed paperwork and the required documents from the Internal Revenue Service and the State of Virginia. With his parents signing as joint account holders, he became the youngest business owner in Northwest Federal's history to open a business account.

With the credit union's help, Grayson set up a Basic Business Checking account, which comes with no monthly maintenance fee. Designed to help companies like GG's Frozen Treats keep more of the money they earn, it also lets businesses scan and make deposits remotely from their offices or homes--an important feature for Grayson, since he isn't old enough to drive.

While at the helm of his company, Grayson learned the value of having a good support team. In addition to local restaurants adding his product to their menus, the business receives help from a neighbor who is a lawyer, a local church that provides use of its commercial kitchen, and Northwest Federal, which offers financial services and advice.

Another key business lesson learned: You have to have a good product. "We make everything in small batches," Grayson said. "It's homemade, made fresh, with fresh ingredients."

The business is a family affair, with Mom doing the cooking, his sister serving as the taste tester, and everyone helping with kitchen cleanup. Grayson's key role is managing the business aspects. "I keep track of sales, expenses and taxes."

"It was clear that he had studied our products and services, and believed Northwest Federal would be a good financial partner for his business," said Sherry Henein, manager of its Leesburg branch, noting the credit union is excited "to help out such a young entrepreneur and to watch his business continue to succeed."

Fostering this kind of service is one of the three-pronged goals aligned with the Credit Union National Association's strategic vision for credit unions where "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner." For more information about the Unite for Good campaign toward this vision, use the link.

NBC Among Media Reporting On CUNA's Student Loan Survey

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MADISON, Wis. (5/7/13)--NBC, along with several other media, have reported stories picking up information from the Credit Union National Association's first annual High School Student Borrowing Survey, released last month.

NBC covered the CUNA survey May 1, as did CNBC.com on Saturday, and Professional Services Close-up on April 29.

The CUNA survey also has been reported by other national media, including Bankrate.com and The Wall Street Journal (News Now April 17).

The survey found that nearly half of high school seniors don't know how much they will need for college costs, CUNA said. That lack of knowledge translates to a greater student-debt burden after college.

CUNA is lobbying the federal government to allow student loans of a longer duration than the current 15-year standard because most borrowers are taking out more loans for larger amounts.

A recap of the CUNA survey's key findings indicates:

  • 83% of students surveyed did not know the rates, and 77% didn't know the duration of their expected or existing college loans;
  • 74% of those aspiring to attend college said they will need a combination of federal and private loans, family money and jobs to support their tuition; and
  • 25% expect to take out two or more student loans; 13%, one loan; and 60% could not estimate how many they would need.

Andrews FCU's Gardner Tapped For Maryland Fin Ed Commission

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SUITLAND, Md. (5/7/13)--Melissa Gardner, community outreach coordinator for Suitland, Md.-based Andrews FCU, will serve as the credit union representative of the Maryland Financial Education and Capability Commission, which will conduct its first meeting Friday in Crownsville.

Gardner was appointed to the commission last October by Gov. Martin O'Malley. She fills the lone credit union seat.

"Andrews Federal has had a financial education department since 2005, and we, along with other credit unions in the state, continue to see financial education as an important part of our service to our members," said Gardner.

The commission's task is to improve financial education and capability of the state's residents by monitoring the implementation of public and private initiatives. The commission will make recommendations about the coordination of financial education and capability efforts across state agencies and by submitting reports on its findings.

State Sen. Katherine Klausmeier (Dist. 8) and Delegate Dana Stein (Dist. 11) are co-chairpersons of the commission.

NC Legislature Passes CU Charter Bill

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RALEIGH, N.C. (5/7/13)--North Carolina's House last night passed HB 515, which would amend the state's credit union statutes, said the North Carolina Credit Union League.

"HB 515 just passed 113-0," said Lauren Whaley, North Carolina Credit Union League director of legislative and regulatory affairs, told News Now at 8:49 p.m. ET.  The league had predicted the vote would be unanimous in favor of the measure. "There are a series of three votes in each chamber--once when it is read in and then two more for passage."

FHB 515 involves modernizing changes to payable on death accounts, joint accounts and dealing with minors. It will now move to the state Senate where it will be heard in a committee before reaching the Senate floor, she added. It will be a few more weeks before it will go to the governor's desk for his signature.

The bill was introduced by John Bell (R-10), Larry Hall (D-29), Andy Wells (R-96) and Jonathan Jordan (R-93) after an overhaul of the North Carolina banking statutes by the Office of the Commissioner of Banks in 2011, the league said.

"With the input and feedback of credit unions over the last two years, the league reviewed the credit union statutes in North Carolina and listed several areas that would enhance the value of the credit union charter in North Carolina," Whaley said last month. "The league is grateful for the cooperative process that helped us identify key areas that would be of most benefit."

Vancity Billboard Sports Nearly 61,000 Pennies

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VANCOUVER, B.C. (5/7/13)--The Canadian penny went out of circulation in February. VanCity, a Vancouver, B.C.-based credit union, turned the country's budget-cutting measure into an imaginative marketing opportunity, using 61,000 of the decommissioned coins to create a mosaic billboard.

Click to view larger image VanCity, a Vancouver, B.C.-based credit union, collected 61,000 of the out-of-circulation Canadian pennies to create a mosaic billboard touting its "Money Makes Good" philosophy. (Photo provided by The Financial Brand.)
In February, Vancity asked its members, "What do you plan to do with all your pennies?" on the credit union's Facebook page (The Financial Brand May 6).

The credit union offered members two ideas: Lead a penny drive to support a local cause or drop their pennies off at two of the credit union's new branches.

Vancity partnered with Vancouver-based social enterprise Starworks to use the pennies members recycled to build the "super billboard." Starworks provides employment opportunities to people with developmental disabilities.

The billboard is a demonstration of Vancity's "Make Good Money" philosophy, which seeks to create positive change within the local community, said Richard Seres, the credit union's vice president of marketing. The project put out-of-circulation pennies to use and created jobs for six people at Starworks, Seres told the The Financial Brand.

"Are you ready for change that counts?" asks the slogan on the billboard, underscoring Vancity's commitment to its community.

To watch a YouTube video about the mural, use the link.

Pennsylvania Opens Its 50th Student Branch

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (5/7/13)--Tri County Area FCU, Pottstown, Pa., has opened the 50th student branch in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association reported.

"The branch will provide a convenient opportunity for students to save and will help improve financial education in the area," said Andy Pistoria, Tri County Area FCU president/CEO.

Tri County Area FCU opened the branch in Pottstown High School (Life is a Highway April 6). It is the second in-school branch for the credit union, which opened its first branch in Pottsgrove High School four years ago.

The student branch in Pottstown High will open on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the school year from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held before the 2013-14 school year.

Washington Post Features CUs' No Down Payment Loans

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WASHINGTON (5/7/13)--Two federally chartered credit unions bucking the nationwide trend of charging consumers a down payment for mortgage loans are featured in The Washington Post.

During a time of strict underwriting standards, when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Federal  Housing Administration and many others are requiring minimum down payments to qualify for mortgages, NASA FCU in Upper Marlboro, Md., is offering a zero-down payment loan option to qualified members, according to nationally syndicated real estate columnist Kenneth Harney (The Washington Post May 2). The article also was picked up by BostonHerald.com (May 5) and other media.

The $1.23 billion asset NASA FCU is offering the no-down-payment loans only to qualified members in the Washington, D.C.-area.  However, depending on local housing-market conditions, it may expand the program to other areas, it told the Post.

The maximum amount members can borrow is $650,000, and there are stringent underwriting standards. Preferred FICO scores start in the mid-700s, and seller concessions--contributions by home sellers to defray buyers' closing costs--are capped at 3%.

There have been zero delinquencies and zero foreclosures during the past year and-a-half, Bill White, NASA FCU vice president for real estate lending, told Harney.

Also, Navy FCU in Vienna, Va., with $52.4 billion in assets, offers a zero-down-payment option and no required mortgage insurance for qualified home buyers nationwide, the article said.

It allows seller concessions up to 6%, with a maximum loan amount of $1 million. The program is mostly aimed at first-time home buyers who often lack a sufficient down payment, but are otherwise creditworthy, Harney said.

To read the article, use the link.