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Michigan DIFS Hosts Meetings For Small CUs

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LANSING, Mich. (5/8/13)--The Michigan Credit Union League and the state Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) are hosting meetings around the state for credit unions with assets under $5 million to discuss a range of issues (Michigan Monitor May 6).

Among the topics are a credit union's board and fiduciary responsibility under the Michigan Credit Union Act, regulatory and legal implications for the board of directors, the purpose of the examination process, new regulations from the National Credit Union Administration and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the Bank Secrecy Act and examiner hot topics.

Two meetings were held in April and were hosted by Public Service CU, Romulus, and Educational Community CU, Kalamazoo, said the league.  Meetings in the northern part of the state will be held May 29 at Filer CU, Manistee, and June 7 at UP Catholic CU, Marquette.

DIFS regulates state-chartered credit unions.

CU System Briefs (05/08/2013)

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  • KYLE, S.D. (5/8/13)--U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) attended the grand opening and ribbon cutting Friday of Lakota FCU on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of South Dakota.  "People should be proud of the role that the credit union is playing in the Pine Ridge economy," said Johnson. "Everyone deserves to have access to an insured financial institution, and this credit union can be another piece of the puzzle for this community." Credit unions from around the Black Hills, S.D., area and the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas  joined the celebration to show their support (The Memo May 7). Shown are employees and board members from Highmarck FCU, Northern Hills FCU, Dakota Territory FCU, Sentinel FCU, Rapid City Telco and Black Hills FCU, and CUAD staff in front of CUAD's "CU on the Road" vehicle. Manager of the new credit union is Whitney O'Rourke (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas) ...
  • CHICAGO (5/8/13)--U.S. Rep Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), left, visited Algonquin Middle School in Des Plaines, Ill., May 1 to observe a class on checking and savings accounts, according to Alliant CU in Chicago. The class is part of a four-course curriculum called Banking on Our Future, which teaches the basics of banking and the importance of credit and investment. The financial literacy classes are taught by trained employee volunteers from the $8.27 billion asset Alliant CU, which is headquartered nearby. Schakowsky praised the concept of teaching youth about money matters. The classes occur quarterly during the school year for eighth graders at Algonquin and Chippewa Middle Schools. As a former elementary school teacher, Schakowsky has a strong commitment to education, Alliant CU said. (Photo provided by Alliant CU) ...
  • ONTARIO, Calif. (5/8/13)--CU Direct Corp., which provides lending solutions to credit unions, has been recognized by the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO) with the 2013 NACUSO Collaboration and Innovation Award. CU Direct Corp. was recognized for its leadership in innovation and collaboration. The Collaboration and Innovation Award showcases the credit union or CUSO that exhibits leadership using the CUSO collaborative model to deliver value to the credit union and its members. The award was presented during NACUSO's annual conference in Las Vegas ...

N.Y. Daily News: Fee-weary Consumers Wake Up To CUs

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NEW YORK (5/8/13)--Credit unions' growth continues as "fee-weary consumers" look for alternatives to high bank fees, said the New York Daily News, in an article Monday,

"As fee-weary consumers continue to wake up to credit unions, these alternatives to commercial banks are showing no signs of slowing down," said the Daily News.

The article notes that Brian and Carrie Packin, who own an upscale cocktail lounge midtown, pulled their money out of a savings account at a commercial bank and opened a checking account at the McGraw Hill FCU, which has a branch in their building in New York City. Now, their account earns 0.6% instead of the bank's 0.1%.  They also won't be paying ATM surcharges.

Last year was the best year to date for credit unions, which added two million members, the article pointed out.

For example, New York-based Municipal CU added 11,000 members, bringing its total membership to 350,000, and its assets grew to $1.8 billion from $135 million.  Members prefer to do business with MCU because they trust it to keep their money safe and secure and the credit union treats them like members, MCU told the newspaper.

The Credit Union National Association provided background information for the article.  The article also cited a recent Bankrate poll that compared rates between credit unions and banks on six areas. The credit unions' rates were better in five of the six.

For the full article, use the link.

Texas Bill To Expand Directors Sent To Governor

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (5/8/13)--A bill that contains a provision to expand the number of advisory/honorary directors on a credit union board to six from three has passed the Texas House and has been sent to Gov. Rick Perry, said the Texas Credit Union League.

"We anticipate that he will sign it in the next week or two," Jim Phelps, TCUL vice president of advocacy, said about SB 244. "It would take effect immediately and is a great bill for credit unions" (The Advocate May 6).

Making the change would allow credit unions to identify and engage new directors who wish to serve in a board governance role, and facilitate the transition of long-term directors who may no longer wish to serve as an active member of the board, but whose institutional knowledge will continue to benefit the credit unions and members, Phelps told News Now.

Also, SB 422--which makes a technical correction to the filing of process on a financial institution so that any claims must be served set on the proper party--has been signed by Perry and takes effect immediately, Phelps said.

"We had our lobby team work with the bills' sponsors to help shepherd them through the legislative process," Phelps told News Now Tuesday.

Some other Texas bills of interest to credit unions include:

  • HB 2662, which requires a class on financial literacy as part of the high school curriculum. The bill has passed the House.
  • HB 949, which adds to the statute 20 days of insurance coverage on a personal automobile when a motor vehicle is purchased based on an existing policy covering a motor vehicle. The bill passed the House and has been favorably reported from the Senate Business and Commerce Committee.
  • HB 1451, which would require the Texas Credit Union Department to establish a program to encourage credit unions to make micro-loans. The bill has been introduced but no hearings are scheduled.

CUNA Mutual: Go Paperless Effort To Raise Funds For NCUF

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MADISON, Wis. (5/8/13)--CUNA Mutual Group is encouraging its credit union members to sign up for paperless policy delivery to help the environment and raise money for the National Credit Union Foundation.

During May, CUNA Mutual will donate $5 to the NCUF for every credit union that signs up for paperless policy delivery. The insurer launched the month-long initiative with an e-mail May 1 to all credit union customers.

"As a strong 'green' advocate, CUNA Mutual launched this campaign to reduce waste, save money and take another step toward environmental sustainability," said Jennifer Norr, director, customer operations. "Plus it's a great way to support the NCUF and their programs that do so much to support credit unions."

A CUNA Mutual policy package averages 264 pages. With 6,000 credit union policies in force, the total number of printed pages can exceed 1.5 million. Reducing that provides enormous potential for savings, Norr added.

The company's goal is to inspire 2,000 credit unions to go paperless, which would raise $10,000 for NCUF. "But we won't stop there," Norr said. "If more than 2,000 of our customers go paperless within the month, we'll continue to add to the donation with the potential to give $30,000."

CUNA Mutual began making policies available online in 2012 in its Credit Union Protection and Collateral Protection business lines. Lending policies will be added later this year.

The 800 credit unions that have already gone paperless will benefit as well, with donations also being made on their behalf to NCUF.

League Surveys: Vacations Making a Comeback

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas and COLUMBUS, Ohio (5/8/13)--Vacations are starting to make  a comeback among consumers, but travelers still are cost-conscious on vacation spending, according to separate surveys by the Texas, Ohio, and California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues.

A Texas league survey showed 64.4 % of survey respondents say they plan to take a summer vacation (LoneStar Leaguer May 2). However, the league found that even with a predicted growth in travel, some Texans are not planning to spend much more on a vacation. Nearly 45% of respondents' travel plans are identical to last year, the survey found.

Others reported these differences to their 2013 vacation plans:

  • Longer time--15.2%;
  • Shorter time--23.8%;
  • Greater distance--11.4%;
  • Shorter distance--19%;
  • Multiple vacations-- 5.7%; and
  • Different transportation--10.5%.
Credit unions can use this knowledge to help members plan their spending and save for future vacations.

For those seeking to add a vacation back into their budgets, Texas Credit Union Foundation Executive Director Courtney Moran suggested reducing leisure and entertainment expenses throughout the year to offset vacation costs.

"It's also a good idea put money away into savings from each paycheck," Moran added. "Consumers will find great savings products at their local credit union."

A survey of nearly 1,200 Ohioans by the Ohio Credit Union League shows more than 55% percent of respondents say they plan to take a summer vacation (Consider This ... May).

However, like Texans, many Ohioans are not ready to increase vacation spending. Nearly 55% of respondents' travel plans are the same as last year.

Others reported the following changes to their 2013 vacation plans:

  • Longer time--11.9%;
  • Shorter time--10.7%;
  • Greater distance--12.3% ;
  • Shorter distance--8.3%;
  • Multiple vacations--8.3%; and
  • Different transportation--5.6%.
"While we have not seen an increase in vacation loan requests yet this year, the overall feeling seems to be that members are looking for ways to add vacations back into their budgets," said Bill Burke, CEO of Day Air CU in Dayton.

Burke does see a trend toward limiting vacation spending, however. "It seems like the amounts spent on vacations remain scaled back. Instead of two or three trips, they combine them into one less costly trip or a day at local attractions,"  he added.

For those seeking to add a vacation back into their budgets, Burke suggested reducing leisure and entertainment expenses throughout the year to offset vacation costs. "We also advise people to put money away into savings from each paycheck," Burke said.

Also, 55% of Californians and 49.5% of Nevadans say they plan to take a summer vacation this year, according to a survey by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues.

"People take vacations to get away from everyday stresses," said Tena Lozano, leagues' consumer advocacy manager.  "However, without planning ahead or creating a budget, your vacation may generate debt that can take months or years to pay off, creating more headaches."

Minnesota CUs' Growth Continued In 1Q

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (5/8/13)--Minnesota credit unions improved their financial strength in nearly every indicator during the  first quarter, according to the Minnesota Credit Union Network.

The state's credit unions have grown steadily since the financial crisis, with consumers and businesses choosing not-for-profit, locally owned credit unions as their primary financial institution.

"Minnesotans have always been strong advocates for the member-owned model of credit unions," Mark Cummins, MnCUN president/CEO. "Consumers trust credit unions more than other financial institutions," he said, noting they" align with their values of local and not-for-profit financial institutions."

Among the first quarter highlights:

  • Assets: Minnesota credit union assets grew 3.2% between fourth quarter 2012 and first quarter 2013. Assets grew 7.3% during first quarter from the same period a year earlier.
  • Deposits: Deposits grew 3.5% in first quarter from fourth quarter 2012, and 7.7% year over year from first quarter  2012 to first quarter 2013.
  • Loans: Year-over-year growth in loans made by Minnesota credit unions increased by 3.3% between first quarter  012 and first quarter 2013, while loans 0.5% between fourth quarter 2012 and first quarter 2013.
  • Net Income: Minnesota credit unions are rated as "well-capitalized" by the National Credit Union Administration with a net worth of 10.19%.
MnCUN based its summary and analysis on data credit unions submit quarterly to NCUA.

Security Service FCU launches new ad campaigns

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SAN ANTONIO, Texas (5/8/13)--Security Service FCU, San Antonio, Tuesday launched two advertising campaigns: One targeting bilingual, bicultural members and a second focused on what great member service feels like.

The campaigns include television and radio spots and billboards showcasing expected and unexpected humor in life.

In the bilingual campaign, a father of the bride laments in Spanish that the cake his daughter wants "is bigger than my first house, the guest list is the phone book, and people are allergic to food--so we're serving every food." A Security Service teller reassures him in English, "You've planned and saved smart for this wedding. Everything's going to be fine." She then expresses her condolences that she won't be able to attend, prompting the gentleman to grasp her hands and say in English, "Bless you."  .

In a second ad, a harried mom sitting in her minivan at the Security Service drive thru reflects on a recent date night with her husband, complete with flowers, champagne and "not a single chicken finger." A Security Service teller tells her she "can make it" until the next weekend's date, sending her some wet wipes through the pneumatic tube to mop up a drink hurled at her from the back seat.

The second series focuses on conveying the unexpected joy of being on the receiving end of great member service. Each ad begins with a Security Service spokesman trying to explain the credit union's great service: "Service isn't something you hear," he says. "It's something you feel."

One spot in the campaign then cuts to a child's birthday party. The birthday boy swings at a large pinata hanging from a tree in the backyard. But instead of candy falling out, a shiny, new pickup truck drops to the ground.

Another ad cuts to a scene of average-guy Gary approaching a romantic restaurant to meet Veronica, an out-of-his-league, website-made match. Slow music plays as Gary meets the tall, friendly beauty. She smiles and utters a line that no online dater who has had a brush with reality has ever heard: "Your profile picture doesn't do you justice, handsome."

"Yep, feels like that," each commercial concludes, cutting quickly back to the Security Service spokesman. The spot ends with the tagline: "Feel how banking's supposed to feel. Feel it for yourself, at Security Service FCU."

Fostering great member 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.

The ads are scheduled to air in three states: Texas, Colorado, and Utah.

To view the ads, use the link.

Coopera: Hispanics Represent Different Market Segments

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DES MOINES, Iowa (5/8/13)--Like most cultural groups, the Hispanic market is made up of several smaller segments, many of which represent opportunities for credit unions, according to a new white paper from Coopera, a Hispanic market solutions company with a focus on credit unions nationwide.

In the paper, "The Multifaceted Hispanic Market," author Anna Pena, Coopera client account coordinator, suggests credit unions should go beyond making available a popular or emerging product to attract Hispanic consumers.

"Because there are so many facets to the Hispanic community, it's important for credit unions to understand the makeup of their local Hispanic community," Pena said. "After determining which of the Hispanic market segments exist within a credit union's field of membership, they can better define their target market and understand how service to these consumers aligns with the credit union's growth strategies."

The paper outlined three Hispanic segments in need of credit union services. They are:

  • Second generation and Generation Y. Second-generation Hispanics generally have higher incomes, more degrees and own more homes than their parents, making them attractive members
  • Small business owners. Often Hispanic business owners are on their own, without the benefit of boards of directors, shareholders or executive teams. Nearly 90% of Hispanic-owned businesses, in fact, are without paid employees. That underscores the importance of leadership support and guidance for this critical segment of the Hispanic population, the paper said.
  • Underserved. For many credit unions, the best marketing tactics for reaching the unbanked will be financial education outreach and word-of-mouth referrals, the paper said. With these methods, the credit union can begin to build awareness about the benefits of depositing and borrowing from a federally insured financial cooperative, as well as the credit union difference.
Getting Americans to choose credit unions as their best financial institution is a strategic vision for the credit union movement. One of the ways to do this--through the Unite for Good campaign--is by raising awareness of credit unions, said the Credit Union National Association. Consumers can find out more information about credit unions at

Tuesday's DDoS Fears Allayed, FBI Extends Alert

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MADISON, Wis. (5/8/13)--A dozen large credit unions on a hackers' hit list targeted for possible distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks Tuesday got through most of the day without incident as of press time. An alert distributed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Tuesday morning, however, indicated potential attacks could still exist until Thursday.

The 12 credit unions were among more than 133 financial institutions and nine government agencies, including the FBI and the White House, listed as targets on Pastebin by the hacker group OpUSA. The group had indicated that the cyber campaign would launch "on or about May 7."

Because of time zone differences between the U.S. and the countries where participating hacker groups may reside, the FBI said it expected most "significant" attack activity to occur during late afternoon or early evening EDT. However, it also warned that the groups might operate during late evening to early morning EDT, when U.S. organizations might be perceived as not have technology personnel available.

A DDoS attack involves using botnets of hijacked computers to overwhelm a website with so many requests that it can't respond to legitimate requests and stalls.

News Now checked in with credit unions on the list Tuesday and also logged into their websites and saw no evidence of a slowdown.

"So far, normal operations," said Jim Blaine, president of State Employees' CU in Raleigh, N.C., at around 3 p.m. ET. "We continue to monitor it closely," he added.

That sentiment was echoed by a number of the credit unions on the list, including BECU, Tukwila, Wash., and The Golden 1 CU, Sacramento, Calif. All are monitoring for developments.

"Everything looks good at this point,"  Patti Barrow, vice president  of marketing at Suncoast Schools FCU in Tampa,  Fla., told News Now.

Nicole Cypers, public relations and social media manager at American First CU, Riverdale, Utah, and Todd Camp, marketing communication analyst at American Airlines FCU, Fort Worth, Texas, reported no evidence of  DDoS attacks.

Others on the target list included Alliant CU, Chicago; San Diego (Calif.) County CU; Security Service FCU, San Antonio; SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana, Calif.; Navy FCU, Vienna, Va.; and Pentagon FCU, Alexandria, Va. Their websites were working as usual on Tuesday afternoon.

The Credit Union National Association and several leagues alerted credit unions last week about the hacker campaign.

Even states that do not have credit unions on the public target list are warning the public of the potential attacks.  "We are taking it very serious," said Patrick Harris, director of media and public relations at the Ohio Credit Union League. The league and the Ohio Bankers League sent out their first joint widespread consumer notice warning of the coordinated online attack (Dayton Daily News May 7). Credit unions not on the list were monitoring their sites as well.