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CUBG webcast urges prudent MBL policies

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PORTLAND, Ore. (6/1/12)--Eighty attendees from 73 credit unions recently attended a free webinar hosted by CU Business Group (CUBG) to explain the credit union service organization's annual revisions its business loan policy template.

The webinar also included an update on the credit presentation CUBG underwriters use in reviewing member business loans (MBL).

CUBG updates its policy template annually and distributes it exclusively to member credit unions. The annual revision is intended to help credit unions incorporate the most recent regulatory changes and best practices CUBG has learned from its experience in credit union MBL.

The major revision made to this year's policy is a revamp of the risk-rating system to segregate commercial real estate income-property lending from commercial and industrial lending, creating a better match of cash flows to the risk rating. Other revisions include additional guidance on concentrations and the desired loan mix for business lending, and more detailed language on modifications, troubled-debt restructuring, and loan-loss reserves.

CUBG updated its credit presentation to focus more on balance sheet analysis and include more detail on business history, marketplace and management information, risk monitoring and loan exit strategies.

"We're really upping the standards for credit unions in business lending," said Lary Middleman, CUBG president/CEO. "It's not just about doing a simple income property loan and calling it good. Credit unions are looking to diversify, to get into commercial and industrial loans, and into full deposit relationships. This updated credit presentation allows us to accommodate these types of requests."

CUBG provides business lending, deposit and consulting services to credit unions nationwide.

WRG invests 1.6M to support Episys CUs

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PASADENA, Calif. (6/1/12)--Wescom Resources Group (WRG), a software and technology service solutions provider for credit unions, has made new investments in its service bureau solution.

The investments, totaling more than $1.6 million since November, are to support the credit union service organization's Episys-based credit unions in key delivery systems and platforms.

The investments include:

  • Two new IBM Power 740 Express Servers, featuring 16-core 3.55GHz processors. The servers will support Episys processing for more than 20 service bureau clients with Episys Virtualization Management.
  • Data Domain's tapeless backup across WRG's three technology centers in Anaheim, Calif.; Pasadena, Calif.; and Denver, Colo., growing WRG's existing business continuity design to protect real-time critical member data.
  • Interactive Voice Response support agreements, extending its TellerPhone audio solution through Intervoice for five years.
  • Installation of SMA's OpCon Enterprise information technology Automation and Job Scheduling product, to automate the Episys-based job processing for service bureau clients.

Mich. CUSOs team up to drive mortgage activity

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (5/31/12)--Two Michigan credit union service organizations (CUSOs)--Xtend Inc., based in Grand Rapids, and Ada-based Member Advantage Mortgage (MAM)--have partnered to help credit unions pursue mortgage opportunities based on the expanded Home Affordability Refinancing Program (HARP2) initiative.

The campaign provides a turnkey solution for credit unions that leverages Xtend's contact center (Xtension) to drive member awareness and MAM's loan officers to handle the underwriting process.

HARP2 is an expanded government initiative to help borrowers refinance Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac-owned mortgages.

"Over the past couple years, we have executed projects for MAM and several of their credit union clients to help build the mortgage application pipeline," said Scott Collins, Xtend president. "When Tom Davis (MAM CEO) approached us about this latest project, I think we were both confident that it would generate some solid activity, but on this first pass we experienced a lead rate of 40%."

Lead ratios for outbound call campaigns have increased over the past year, Collins said. "I think it is a combination of multiple factors," he explained. "First, our agent team is getting better at their craft. Second, credit unions, and especially their boards, are warming up to the idea that topical and timely calls can generate big results. And finally, members are responding positively to hearing more from their credit unions." 

Xtend provides operational, marketing, technical planning and consulting services for credit unions of all sizes. Member Advantage Mortgage is a mortgage servicing CUSO.

MnCUN Filene collaborate on Gen Y research

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (5/30/12)--The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) has partnered with the Filene Research Institute to offer state-specific research on how Minnesota credit unions can attract and retain Gen Y members.

The analysis incorporates more than 10 years of young adult research conducted by Filene into opportunities and challenges facing Minnesota credit unions in serving Gen Y.

Using Minnesota demographic information, the Filene report outlines the distinct characteristics, behavioral trends and financial needs of 18-34 year olds in the state.

Keeping in mind the range in size and access to resources among Minnesota credit unions, the report makes "good, better, best" recommendations. Credit unions of all sizes can customize the recommendations to meet their needs, strategic initiatives and long-term goals.

Filene provided five primary recommendations:

  1. Identify the specific needs of Gen Y;
  2. Enhance young adults' awareness of credit unions;
  3. Enrich products that appeal to Gen Y members and meet their needs;
  4. Engage credit union employees in outreach strategies; and
  5. Measure success.
"This research helps to tackle the ever-growing challenge facing the credit union movement, which is how credit unions can effectively capture, develop and nurture the next generation of credit union members," Mark D. Cummins, MnCUN president/CEO. "More than just providing data on this problem, Filene's report takes the analysis one step further by offering practical action steps that credit unions can implement."

Working with the Filene Research Institute, a credit union advisory group helped to shape the report and ensure that it was practical for Minnesota credit unions.

Committee members included:

  • Harry Carter, TopLine FCU, Maple Grove;
  • Marty Kelly, U.S. FCU, Burnsville;
  • Bridget Moeller, Greater Minnesota CU, Mora;
  • Russ Plunkett, Postal CU, Woodbury; and
  • David Sawin, Minnesota Catholic CU, Little Canada.
In addition to the written report, Filene is delivering the research results in different formats, including a webinar series and video summary of the recommendations. Individuals can view the video online. Use the link.

Corporate Central unveils membership options

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MUSKEGO, Wis. (5/30/12)--Corporate Central CU, Muskego, Wis., has rolled out new  membership options for credit unions with additional service and capital commitment choices.

Credit unions now have the option to establish membership at an associate member level with less capital than required for full membership or no capital commitment.

Corporate Central CU offers two levels of Associate Membership. The newly established partner level allows access to all correspondent services, all settlement services, and a line of credit proportionate to perpetual contributed capital (PCC) commitment. PCC commitments begin at $10,000.

The correspondent level allows access to all correspondent services with no capital commitment.

"Corporate Central CU never impaired any members' capital and has very strong retained earnings," said Robert W. Fouch, Corporate Central president/CEO. "We established new flexible membership options as a means to help credit unions across the country find a stable home for their financial relationships and establish membership with the strongest corporate credit union in the country."

American Airlines FCU installs image-enabled ATMs

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FORT WORTH, Texas (5/30/12)--American Airlines FCU, Fort Worth, Texas, has completed the installation of new image-enabled Diebold ATMs at 15 of its branch locations.

Diebold is a CUNA Strategic Services provider.

The new machines feature complete ATM deposit automation allowing AA FCU members to make envelope-free deposits. The image-enabled devices capture check images, determine check amounts, complete the deposit process and then provide front and back copies of checks printed on the ATM receipt. There also is a paperless option to decline a receipt.

"This is the kind of member-friendly service improvement we're continually working to provide," said American Airlines CU President/CEO Angie Owens. "These machines add a new layer of convenience while providing added security and simplifying the deposit process."

Owens said the credit union hopes to expand to other locations in coming months.

Branch locations featuring the new image-enabled devices include: American Airlines headquarters and Alliance Airport in Fort Worth, Southlake, Hurst and Euless, Texas; Tulsa, Okla.; and airport locations at Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Chicago O'Hare, Newark, LaGuardia and JFK in New York.

Beyond Marketing offers free auto loan materials

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LENEXA, Kan. (5/29/12)--Beyond Marketing, LLC, a credit union service organization, has posted its newest set of free advertising materials to its website for credit unions to use in auto loan promotions.

The 2012 auto-loan campaign theme materials "You Joined this Credit Union for a Reason--Low Interest Auto Loans was a Good One," are provided at no charge to any credit union as downloadable art files for a variety of print items, Web banners, in-branch lobby screens and ATM screens.

Credit unions can download the materials and save the art file they wish to use. The materials can be customized with the credit union's logo.

"Our mission is to create a more powerful, successful credit union industry," said Curtis Hays, Beyond Marketing director of strategy. "Helping credit unions market financial products is a big part of what we do every day. This program delivers high-quality, no-cost ad materials designed to bring members to the credit union for a vehicle loan. We believe that's a worthwhile endeavor."

A variety of ready-to-use fee advertising downloads reside on Beyond Marketing's website. Promotional materials for mortgage loans, vacation loans, auto loans, and the benefits of joining a credit union remain online for credit unions to use at any time.

Beyond Marketing established the BFree program's website in 2010. Fully customized ads are also available from Beyond Marketing for credit unions to purchase. The company's recently enhanced website also features a new blog, videos, client testimonials, and an updated portfolio.

Open Solutions launches mobile banking

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GLASTONBURY, Conn. (5/25/12)--Open Solutions Inc., a provider of collaborative enterprise technology, has released DNAmobile, a solution that allows credit unions to offer mobile banking to their members regardless of what type of device they use.

The Open Solutions mobile banking solution will offer balance alerts, and mobile bill payment using Open Solutions' DNAbillpay service. DNAmobile also lets consumers securely check balances, review account history and transfer funds without visiting a local branch, the company added.

DNAmobile can level the playing field for credit unions because they can offer mobile banking to virtually their entire memberships, said David Mitchell, executive vice president and chief product officer at Open Solutions.

"Mobile banking has become a key differentiator for many financial institutions," Mitchell said. "As a delivery channel, it is even more popular than Internet banking was at the same point in its life cycle, which means it is critical for financial institutions to get on board now with a complete solution."

Quicken Loans Mortgage Services to expand

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (5/24/12)--Quicken Loans Mortgage Services (QLMS), a division of Quicken Loans Inc., will add more than 75 employees by the end of the year.   

QLMS, which provides mortgage services to credit unions, community banks and mortgage professionals nationwide, currently has 150 employees and expects to expand beyond 200 by the end of the year.  

The company currently works with more than 800 partner financial institutions and will surpass 1,000 partners and $1 billion in monthly loan volume, by the end of 2012.

To facilitate its increasing production, QLMS will relocate to a new office facility in Charlotte.  The company expects to move into its new 20,000 square-foot office space, which is more than double its current location, by the end of June.

"We are growing very quickly--faster than even the most optimistic models we developed when we launched QLMS two years ago," said Tod Highfield, vice president of QLMS. "Right now we are in explosive growth mode, adding both partner financial institutions and team members.  It is really a fun time to be part of this team--and we see continued opportunity ahead of us."

Quicken Loans Mortgage Services (QLMS) is a division of Quicken Loans, the nation's largest online mortgage lender, and the fourth largest home lender in the country. QLMS works exclusively with community banks, credit unions and select brokers to provide mortgage products without the need for the financial institutions to hire mortgage-origination staff.

Alaska USA FCU signs on with CUNA Brokerage Services

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (5/23/12)--Alaska USA FCU is bringing CUNA Brokerage Services Inc.'s investment services program to its nearly 450,000 members, according to CUNA Mutual Group.

"The CBSI business model works well with Alaska USA's service delivery strategy that includes electronic access and an extensive network of branches and financial centers," said Bill Eckhardt, president of $4.9 billion asset Alaska USA FCU. 

The addition of CBSI's investment program will complement Alaska USA Trust Company and Alaska USA Insurance Brokers, the largest independent insurance agency in Alaska. 

Alaska USA Trust Company provides personal trust and investment services to individuals and institutional trust and custody services to Alaska public units and other financial institutions nationwide. Alaska USA Insurance Brokers offers property, casualty, and other types of insurance to individuals and businesses throughout Alaska and in Washington.

League InfoSight to acquire CU Policy Pro

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PLYMOUTH, Mich. (5/22/12)--League InfoSight, an online compliance resource owned by several credit union leagues, has purchased the CU PolicyPro compliance library from CUCorp.

In the future, the purchase will include integration with the InfoSight compliance service and access to model policies provided by CUPolicyPro, League Infosight said. However, there are no immediate plans to change CU PolicyPro, and the same staff will continue to support and manage it.

InfoSight, is service used in 39 states provided by the credit union leagues and incorporates the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) compliance e-guide.

League InfoSight has an existing management contract with CU Solutions Group, which had been supporting and managing CU PolicyPro for CUcorp. That same support has carried over to League InfoSight with its purchase of CU PolicyPro to ensure continuity of service and support.

The only immediate change is that future communications and billings will now come from League InfoSight instead of CUcorp.

A central component of the InfoSight service is a model policy library, which is powered by CU PolicyPro.

League InfoSight was formed in 2003 and is owned by the California, Illinois, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Ohio credit union leagues, and the League of Southeastern Credit Unions. Managed by the CU Solutions Group, its mission is to drive league-CUNA system success in value creation by delivering solutions for credit unions. Among its products is the credit union locator system used by aSmarterChoice.org.

CU Direct Corp. passes 1000 client milestone

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CHICAGO (5/21/12)--CU Direct Corp.--the parent for CUDL, Lending Insights, Lending 360, CUDL Retail and Vero brands--has surpassed 1,000 credit union clients.

CU Direct announced that 1,006 credit unions, representing 28 million members nationwide, are now using the CUSO's lending solutions.

The Ontario, Calif.-based credit union service organization (CUSO) began operations in 1994, serving a small client base of California credit unions. The CUSO offers products and services to help credit unions advance their lending programs and achieve overall portfolio success.  In 18 years, CU Direct has grown to include its CUDL auto lending brand and Lending Insights portfolio management brand, and more recently its Lending 360, CUDL Retail and Vero brands.

Earlier this year, CU Direct announced it had signed new agreements with 128 credit unions in 2011 and had paid a 3% cash dividend to credit union shareholders for the seventh consecutive year, totaling nearly $1.4 million for 2011.

cbanc Network reaches 10000-users mark

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AUSTIN, Texas (5/21/12)--cbanc Network, an online collaboration community of 4,400 credit unions and banks, surpassed 10,000 financial institution-member users last week.

The network continues to add about 30 new members per day. cbanc reached the 10,000 milestone after starting with 80 members three years ago. The network has users from 15% of U.S. credit unions and 52% of U.S. banks.

"Getting 10,000 users means both banking and credit union professionals can find peer content solutions to just about any problem they post to the network," said Myers Dupuy, cbanc president. "Our goal is to get every bank and credit union professional in the industry collaborating with each other to solve any issue that arises."

About 90% of cbanc's growth has occurred since December 2010, which can be attributed to Google picking up the content that cbanc members provide on a daily basis--and to member referrals, Dupuy said.

The participation of the first 500 members was essential to cbanc's growth, Dupuy said. Their participation is what allowed Google to pick up cbanc as an information resource, he added.

Council launches CUFX tech standards for CU industry

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MADISON, Wis. (5/18/12)--The CUNA Technology Council has launched a new integration standards project, Credit Union Financial Exchange (CUFX), to streamline how technology companies and credit unions connect applications such as online banking and account opening, into core systems, announced the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

Heather Moshier and Jeff Johnson, chair and vice chair of the CUNA Technology Council, respectively, presented an update on CUFX's goals and recent progress to CUNA's board of directors during a meeting at CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference in March.

"It's a good time for this initiative," said Bill Cheney, CUNA president/CEO. "The board and I appreciate the Technology Council's efforts to make improvements that will benefit the entire credit union industry."

For credit unions to grow and remain competitive in the financial marketplace, they must continually improve their technical infrastructure, Johnson said. By introducing technological standards to the industry, CUFX will increase the speed of delivery of new solutions, improve user experience and credit union member satisfaction, and reduce integration time and costs for application providers and core processors.

"Technology companies' ability to innovate and quickly deliver leading-edge services is hampered by the lack of a single integration standard," said Johnson. "Technology providers spend valuable resources independently customizing the same interfaces or adapters for each of their credit union clients, primarily at the expense of further refining their solutions. The standards proposed through CUFX free up more of their resources for innovation."

CUFX is designed to benefit credit unions and the technology industry by:

  • Simplifying integration and reducing initial and ongoing costs of independent vendor-provided and credit union-created offerings;
  • Increasing the speed of delivery of new business functions across the credit union industry;
  • Improving member experience and employee efficiency; and
  • Freeing vendors from repetitive, time-consuming, low-impact customization, so they can focus their efforts on application innovation.
Initially, CUFX will focus on new applications or existing transaction sets that support new initiatives such as personal financial management, membership applications and mobile payments, Johnson said. The idea is to build a new standard so back-end systems speak the same language, he added.   Future initiatives may include re-engineering existing transaction sets.

"Ultimately, the success of the CUFX initiative will depend greatly upon the dedication and commitment of our technology vendors and credit union professionals," Johnson said. "CUFX needs the resources, ideas and expertise that these professionals bring to the table to ensure our strategic plans are on target and that our initiative proceeds in a direction that is both effective and beneficial for all groups involved."

For more details about CUFX, use the link or e-mail info@cufxstandards.com.

CUC offers new delivery channel products

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INDIANAPOLIS (5/17/12)--Credit Union Centers (CUC), a credit union service organization and shared branching provider in Indianapolis, will begin offering additional delivery channel products through its partnership with CO-OP Shared Branching.

The new products include remote deposit, mobile banking and call center services. Since they will use the existing shared branch data system, CUC member credit unions can add the products without paying for additional interfaces to their core systems.

"By offering these new services, credit unions can now provide multiple touch points to attract younger demographics that will ultimately keep the industry moving forward," said Dan Davis, Credit Union Centers executive vice president and chief financial officer. "These new delivery channel products allow us to become a total solutions provider, complementing our shared branching services that allows credit unions to have more options without paying for multiple interfaces to their core system."

CUBUS Solutions debuts online banking platform

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LIVERMORE, Calif. (5/17/12)--CUBUS Solutions has introduced an online banking solution that integrates consumer and commercial banking on a single page.

The CUBUS Online Banking product includes online banking functionality such as balance and transaction detail, bill payment, money transfers and graphs of spending behavior on one interface.

The platform is designed to help credit unions drive more interaction, facilitate greater adoption of e-services and increase touch points with members.

"Instead of the notion of online banking just being a self-service, transactional kiosk, we believe it should proactively build stronger relationships with members," said John-Ashley Paul, CUBUS Solutions CEO.

Instead of increasing the number of disparate systems to provide functionality such as automated clearinghouse transfers with personal online banking, CUBUS created a holistic solution under one roof.

Credit unions can add other CUBUS products that will plug-and-play into the platform. They also can integrate any third-party application into the platform using the CUBUS single sign-on interface.

Current CUBUS customers FAA CU in Oklahoma City, Okla., and Diamond CU of Pottstown, Pa. have started testing the product internally.

AgilitySBA webinar Protect biz during hurricane

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WASHINGTON (5/17/12)--A global climate expert from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will share the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season forecast during a free webinar at 2 p.m. ET on May 29 hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Agility Recovery. 

Agility Recovery is a CUNA Strategic Services provider. After the weather discussion, Agility will present disaster preparedness tips.

Dr. Gerry Bell has been the lead scientist of NOAA's Long-Range Hurricane Outlook Team since 1998.  He was instrumental in developing NOAA's Atlantic and East Pacific hurricane activity outlook, and has conducted weather analysis on CNN, FOX News, The Weather Channel and other news outlets.

Hurricane Season begins June 1. Last year's hurricane season was busy and costly, with damages from Hurricane Irene alone totaling $18.7 billion, according to the National Hurricane Center. 

The SBA has partnered with Agility to offer business continuity strategies through its "PrepareMyBusiness" website. Use the link to access past webinars and additional preparedness tips.

The SBA provides disaster recovery assistance in the form of low-interest loans to homeowners, renters, private nonprofits and businesses of all sizes.

CUNorthwest adds QualiFile tiered services classes

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LIBERTY LAKE, Wash. (5/16/12)--CU*NorthWest, a credit union service organization located in Liberty Lake, Wash., has integrated a new risk assessment tool into its core software. The company also will hold a series of four classes this month on using Tiered Services, a relationship management tool that helps credit unions analyze member behavior and reward it.

The integration of QualiFile, by ChexSystems will eliminate the need for credit unions to re-key information from a risk assessment report. The purpose of the project is to streamline how credit union staffers use QualiFile to assist with decisions about approving new accounts and memberships. 

With QualiFile, credit unions can configure their core processing software to interactively pull a risk assessment report based on parameters chosen by the credit union. 

CU*NorthWest is offering the enhancement free to its clients.

The Tiered Services classes, held each Wednesday morning during May, show credit unions how to set up "scoring systems" and reward programs and how to market and monitor the new offerings. 

Each class, which lasts about an hour, builds on the previous class with homework assignments to be completed by participating credit unions.

CUSO announces website for boards

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (5/16/12)--CU*Answers, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based credit union service organization, has launched Asking the Right Questions, a new website designed to educate board members and credit union management.

Board directors can use the site to make sure they are asking the right questions and staying engaged. CEOs and management can ensure they are answering the right questions and are prepared for an interactive board meeting, the company said.

The website is available to all credit unions, and is not limited to those on the CU*Answers data processing platform, the company said. Interested credit unions can review questions directly from the website and, for a fee, order the questions in a book format to hand out to board members.

Among the services CU*Answers provides for credit unions are its flagship CU*BASE processing system and Internet development services, featuring It's Me 247 online and mobile banking. Additional services include Web development, network design and security, and image check processing.

Vendor management means CUs focus on strengths

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LACY, Wash. (5/15/12)--Maintaining a strong compliance program is a complex process that can be difficult to prioritize on a daily basis, according to Paragon Consulting Group, a credit union service organization (CUSO) owned by TwinStar CU in Lacy, Wash. Ignoring any aspect of it can be a dangerous regulatory proposition, the CUSO said. 

"Bank and credit union regulators are watching this industry very closely," Paragon Vice President Sue Girsch told the Northwest Credit Union Association (Anthem May 10). "Outsourcing this side of credit union operations can be the easiest, best decision a financial institution can make in order to maintain compliance and good standing."

Girsch recalled asking an examiner if there were any particular advice for credit unions.

'"Tell them they need to open up the envelopes they receive from the vendors," the vendor told her. '"They didn't even have time to open letters,"' the vendor said.

Paragon's Vendor Management Program has a dedicated person doing all of the legwork and a software platform that allows its experts to contact vendors to gather and review company information for documentation and risk assessment.

Paragon researches and reviews all vendors doing business with their partners on an annual basis and then analyzes the partnerships' effectiveness.

"No vendor is a a panacea for all financial institutions," says Girsch. "We get all of the latest Securities Exchange Commission data on rulings and lawsuits so our partners have the latest vendor information."

NACUSO announces CUSO award winner

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LAS VEGAS (5/15/12)--The National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations presented its 2012 CUSO Collaboration & Innovation Award last week. 

Formerly known as "CUSO of the Year," the award was presented to Chicago-based Member Loyalty Group.

Member Loyalty Group uses the Net Promoter Score metric to measure member feedback and help credit unions achieve growth.

MnCUN launches programs to ease compliance burden

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (5/14/12)--The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) has launched a compliance services program for its member credit unions.

Minnesota credit unions can contract for a MnCUN staff member to help them fulfill their compliance obligations.

The program offers credit unions two outsourcing options. The first allows credit unions to contract for ongoing assistance to manage their internal compliance programs. Through this option, MnCUN's compliance professional works on-site at the credit union for a specific number of hours each month.

The second option focuses on providing credit unions assistance in completing specific compliance tasks. Credit unions can either contract with a compliance professional for a one-time request, or they can arrange for the professional to complete compliance projects quarterly.

MnCUN has hired Marcia Lewis to fill a newly created compliance and audit consultant position. Lewis has 25 years of financial institution experience. Her areas of expertise include risk management, internal auditing, training, compliance and operations.

Lewis has been a certified compliance officer since 1997, and has been designated as a Certified Financial Services Auditor since 1998.

Among the compliance areas MnCUN is offering services:

  • Bank Secrecy Act;
  • Home Mortgage Disclosure Act;
  • Marketing/advertising;
  • Consumer lending;
  • Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act
  • Real estate lending;
  • Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act;
  • Credit/debit card administration;
  • Accounts payable/expense reports;
  • Collection queues;
  • Vendor management;
  • Overdraft protection; and
  • Compliance training.

CUSO Financial Services added 30 investment clients

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SAN DIEGO (5/14/12)--CUSO Financial Services LP (CFS), a broker-dealer and investment adviser providing services to credit unions, added more than 30 new clients in 2011.

CFS provides program offerings including two primary and several hybrid models. These include managed programs, in which managers and investment advisers are employed and managed by CFS, and "dual programs" where managers and advisors are employed by the credit union but are licensed, registered and supervised for compliance through CFS. The hybrid programs combine both options and appeal to credit unions migrating from a managed program to s dual one or vice versa. The four new investment programs include three managed and one dual program.

Browser-based budget manager launched by ProfitStars

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MONETT, Mo. (5/11/12)--ProfitStars, a division of Jack Henry & Associates Inc.,  has introduced  a browser-based budgeting tool designed to help financial institutions gain greater control of the budgeting process by receiving continuous accountability and buy-in from throughout the organization.

ProfitStars' Budget Manager helps improve business workflow as budgets are submitted and assessed within approval hierarchies. Financial institution budget administrators can obtain input from all levels of the organization, minimizing delays with consent review chains and enhancing overall process visibility. With continuous input from branch and department managers, results can be shared throughout the budget year.

Designed with front-line budgeters in mind, Budget Manager provides the ability to drill down to subledger calculations for items such as salaries and fixed assets. Project tools can forecast financial targets and budget assumptions can be documented by line item.

Budget Manager also offers graphical functionality for comparing historical balances with forecasted ones, automates edit logs, supports unique account and subledger formulas, and incorporates data from other applications.

CUAD offering webinars

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BISMARCK, N.D. (5/11/12)--The Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (CUAD) is offering two more free webinars as part of its Mindburst series.

CUAD invites credit unions nationwide to attend the webinars.

"Robbery Training" will be held at 1 p.m. CT on Tuesday. Troy Evans, who has interviewed more than 300 bank and credit union robbers, will present a "look into the mind of the enemy."

RESPA Requirements for Escrow Accounts will be held at 1 p.m. CT May 30. The session will provide a review of the required calculations and notices for opening and maintaining escrow (impound) accounts under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and regulations.

Vantiv Saylent launch strategic decisioning tool

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CINCINNATI and FRANKLIN, Mass. (5/10/12)--Vantiv Inc., a provider of payment processing services, has partnered with the analytics firm Saylent Technologies Inc., to offer Vantiv Analytics to Vantiv credit union and bank debit portfolio customers. 

Powered by Saylent Technologies, Vantiv Analytics is a software solution designed to make it easier for financial institutions to optimize their debit card portfolios, increase card revenue, understand card usage and trends, and make smarter, faster decisions. Financial institutions benefit from member and customer insights that can be used to drive marketing programs, loss-prevention strategies, and new product development, the companies said. 

Vantiv provides marketing services and an online portal from which customers can select turnkey marketing campaigns and incentives to deepen cardholder loyalty and prompt more profitable behaviors.

Vantiv Analytics offers segmentation capabilities combined with enhanced reporting designed to help uncover trends, identify under-performing or at-risk member and customer groups, monitor transactions to prevent loss, and prioritize programs and campaigns.

CMG MI launches foreclosure prevention option

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SAN FRANCISCO (5/9/12)--CMG Mortgage Insurance Co. (CMG MI) has introduced a new option under its CU Homekeepers program that credit unions can use to prevent foreclosures and keep members in their homes.

With Foreclosure Prevention Advance (FPA), CMG MI will advance funds for servicers' approved initiatives designed to cure delinquencies on CMG MI-insured loans. Servicers are required to submit for review and approval a package of documentation supporting each FPA request.

"CMG MI strongly supports credit unions and credit union servicers trying to prevent foreclosures, and we are initiating the FPA option to provide direct, targeted assistance," said Scott Romesburg, senior director of underwriting, operations and technology at CMG MI. "Many members just need these additional funds to cure the delinquent loan balance.

"No repayment of the advance is expected from the member," Romesburg added.  "The goal is to achieve a sustainable, long-term home retention solution for the credit union and credit union servicer."

The program's guidelines require members participating to have stable incomes and demonstrate a commitment to keeping their homes. 

Decisions are made within two business days, and funds are forwarded to servicers within 10 business days of formal approval.

Five more companies join MnCUNs V.I.P.

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (5/9/12)--Five more companies have joined the Minnesota Credit Union Network's (MnCUN) Vendor Involvement Program (V.I.P.), bringing the total number of participants to 26.

The V.I.P. provides vendors that are committed to supporting the credit union mission with an opportunity to increase their brand's visibility among Minnesota's credit unions.

Organizations that have become V.I.P. participants in the past two months are:

  • Alloya Corporate FCU;
  • Action;
  • CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP;
  • CU Companies; and
  • Murnane Brandt, P. A.
Participants in V.I.P. agree to offer professional service, quality product lines and competitive pricing. The companies must appreciate the qualities that make credit unions unique and understand the importance of providing the best service possible to Minnesota's credit unions, said MnCUN.

Participation in V.I.P. does not constitute an endorsement by MnCUN.

CUNA announces Financial Management Schools

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MADISON, Wis. (5/9/12)--Registration and school information is now available for the upcoming CUNA Financial Management Schools, Aug. 12-16 in San Diego, announced the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

The schools provide credit union managers and chief financial officers with experience in financially managing a credit union in a learning environment. Using the Stanford Bank Game, a software program that simulates the operations of a financial institution, credit union financial management professionals will work through the details and decisions involved in running a successful credit union. The simulation is designed to promote learning, develop on-your-feet thinking, provide feedback and establish solid skills.

Expert speakers, including CUNA senior economist Steve Rick, will help distill the financial management lessons learned through the simulation and prepare attendees to manage their own credit unions.

The CUNA Financial Management Schools are offered in three parts:

Part 1. All staff members involved in the financial decision-making at their credit union can attend Part 1 to learn how to manage the financial aspects of their institution. Attendees will get hands-on-experience working with a team through the Stanford Bank Game scenarios and listen to guided lectures that will draw out the lessons to be learned in each simulation.

Part 2. This segment continues the themes and theories discussed in Part 1, with the financial simulations gradually becoming more advanced. Discussions of financial theories will move beyond the introductory stages and touch upon high-level decision making, such as strategic financial forecasting for long-term growth. Past participants include CEOs, chief financial officers, senior vice presidents and other senior management positions.

Part 3. This segment is designed for advanced financial management professionals and departs from the asset-liability simulation structure of Parts 1 and 2. Part 3 attendees will work through issues specific to their credit union in discussions with a supportive group of educated peers and industry experts.

CUNA Mutual Visa to conduct plastic card webinar Wednesday

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MADISON, Wis. (5/8/12)--Close to 1,500 participants have signed up already for a free CUNA Mutual Group (CMG) Plastic Card Fraud webinar, to be held Wednesday. Registration is still open.

The hour-long session, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. (CT), will feature presentations by Ann Davidson, risk management consultant for CUNA Mutual Group, and W. Joseph Majka, of Visa's Cyber Security & Investigations division.

Plastic card fraud continues to threaten credit unions and their members and the CMG webinar is designed to help policyholder credit unions stay up to speed on plastic card fraud and the ever-changing related technology.

The session will identify trends associated with the cards/data breach landscape, identify the impact of breaches on credit unions, and introduce steps credit unions should take to stay aligned with innovations in card and chip technology.

Use the resource link to register.

Mass. league offers rate mapping tool

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MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (5/8/12)--The Massachusetts Credit Union League is offering RateWatch, a mapping tool that provides access to deposit and loan interest rates nationwide.

The service is being provided to Massachusetts credit unions in collaboration with the league and RateWatch.

Ratewatch offers a national database of data from more than 90,000 branches for deposit data and more than 40,000 branches for loan data. Users can conduct research by address, ZIP code, or city and state, and narrow search results by filtering for institution type, product type, and rate.

Additional information, such as website and number of locations for each displayed institution, is also available.

Verafin redesigns CTR SAR modules

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ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland (5/8/12)--Verafin Inc., a provider of fraud detection and anti-money laundering software, has redesigned its Currency Transaction Reporting (CTR) and Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) modules to support the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network's (FinCEN) updated reporting requirements.

Verafin is a CUNA Strategic Services provider.

It also updated some features of the modules to improve the user experience, the company said.

With updated e-filing requirements coming into effect in July 2012 and a March 2013 deadline for the new report formats, Verafin has completed successful submissions to the FinCEN test site.

"Our approach has always been to help our customers stay a step ahead of both regulatory requirements and the latest trends in financial crime," said Rob Norris, Verafin product management director. "From recent advances in our software such as automated Common Point of Compromise detection and online banking fraud detection to having our customers ready for the updated CTR and SAR e-filing requirements, we always push to ensure our software meets our customers' needs."

Verafin also improved reporting features to enhance ease-of-use and user efficiency, the company said.

The company is offering a free webinar demonstrating the updated features at 12:30 p.m. (ET) May 16. To register, use the link.

Verafin also announced it had surpassed more than 800 customers.

Xtend to roll out settlement service

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (5/7/12)--Xtend Inc., a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based multi-owned cooperative credit union service organization, will roll out a monthly settlement service later this year for credit unions participating in its shared-branching network. 

The optional service would provide a monthly electronic settlement among credit unions based on member activity the previous month.

"The network has reached the size where the process of settling between the individual institutions can be very time consuming, especially for those who have a small staff but whose members use dozens of partners in the network on a monthly basis," said Scott Collins, Xtend president

The company will work with software partners at CU*Answers Inc. to develop pricing for the service, Collins said.

Also, Xtend announced last week that it handled the largest number of call center transactions during a 30-day period  in its history. The CUSO's contact center took more than 25,000 calls and web chats.

The company said it would invest in additional staffing during the next six months to meet increased demand for its products and services.

DH acquires Avista Solutions

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TORONTO (5/7/12)--Davis+Henderson Corp. (D+H), a Toronto-based technology firm, has acquired Avista Solutions Inc.of Charleston, S.C., a cloud-based mortgage loan origination provider to credit unions and banks.

The purchase price is $40 million, payable in cash, funded from D+H's existing credit facilities.

The acquisition adds to D+H's customer base and expands the range of integrated technology solutions the company offers by complementing the software-as-service consumer point-of-sale mortgage origination platform it delivers to more than 1,100 U.S. credit unions and banks through its Mortgagebot subsidiary.

Similar to Mortgagebot, Avista's loan origination system (LOS) technology is delivered through the Internet as a service and revenues are generated by subscription fees under long-term contracts.

Avista has more than 150 financial institution clients and a technology suite that includes a LOS with a product and pricing engine, document imaging, work flow capabilities, and a network of integrated third-party mortgage service providers.

Synergent white paper discusses picking service providers

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PORTLAND, Maine (5/4/12)--The decision to outsource core processing is a value proposition, one that involves piece of mind as much as it does price, according to a new white paper from Synergent, a service provider owned by credit unions serving only credit unions.

Synergent is a subsidiary of the Maine Credit Union League.

"Partnership and Value: Choosing the Best Service Provider for Your Credit Union" explores the partnership and value inherent in an outsourcing relationship, including when outsourcing makes sense, the value of partnership, the difference between running a credit union and running an information technology (IT) department, comparing value to price, and outsourcing as sound fiscal policy in an uncertain economy.

"A growing number of credit unions are opting to outsource technology services to a qualified service provider or vendor," writes Mark Arnold, author of the paper and president of On the Mark Strategies, a strategic planning and branding consulting firm. "By investing these dollars in technology for member service, credit unions of all sizes are now realizing the ease and value of outsourcing. With the highly trained and dedicated support team of a service provider helping operate the behind-the-scenes side of IT, credit unions can then focus more freely on what they have always done best: superior member service," he writes.

An executive responsible for IT who answers "no" to two or more of the following questions, might consider outsourcing as a member service option, according to the paper:

  • Do we need to do this ourselves?
  • Do we have the trained staff and available hours to handle technology issues?
  • Are we prepared to immediately handle any contingency, day or night?
  • Can we shoulder the weight of the additional staff (salary, benefits, training) to keep these functions in-house?
  • Can we improve overall member service by trying to be all things to all people?
When searching for the right service provider partnership, price should not be allowed to dominate the process, according to the paper. Credit unions do best when allied with a service provider that sees them as more than another account or incoming call on the tech support line.

The paper also includes interviews with credit union executives who are Synergent users, telling why they decided to outsource their core processing platform.  "We see a very clear value proposition in any sized credit union in turning these duties over to trained IT professionals rather than trying to handle it internally,"  Debbie Guiney, CEO at AllCom CU in Worcester, Mass., said.

MnIPC Cachet offer mobile banking edge

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (5/4/12)--MnIPC, a check processor and item-processing provider, has collaborated with Cachet, a remote deposit capture provider, to offer mobile deposit services.

Northwoods CU, Cloquet, Minn., is the first credit union to offer mobile deposit services through the partnership. Credit union members can make a deposit by taking a picture of a check with their phone and sending it to the credit union. Cachet's CheckReview  product monitors the deposits with real-time image verification, and MnIPC completes the cycle by processing Northwoods CU's checks.

MnIPC said it expanded into mobile deposits to offer its clients the opportunity to expand their marketing footprint, strengthen existing member relationships, provide members greater convenience and attract new deposits.

Calyx Software launches Point PointCentral 7.6

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (5/3/12)--Calyx Software, a mortgage solutions provider, has released the latest version of its mortgage origination software.

This latest versions of Point and PointCentral 7.6 update compliance functionality and offer more integration with vendors, the company said.

In response to client requests and compliance needs, Point 7.6 now includes a Uniform Collateral Data Portal screen for delivery of uniform appraisal dataset files to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The uniform loan delivery dataset reporting functionality now includes additional fields in the XML file.

A new RegulatorConnect report will help Calyx users submit e-Exam data to auditors. Calyx also added additional fields to interfaces with closing doc vendors fields. The interfacing with LoanScoreCard is streamlined with shortcut buttons in multiple locations.

Calyx's PointCentral 7.6 software offers users stronger security with password management and administration of file operations for specific users or user groups, the company said. The software also gives administrators the ability to assign user files to another user or user group.

CUNA SalesService Culture Institute in Chicago

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MADISON, Wis. (5/3/12)--The CUNA Sales & Service Culture Institute will bring together CEOs, senior managers, branch managers and those responsible for creating a successful service culture at their credit unions for three days of seminars and collaborative learning, Aug. 6-8 in Chicago.

CUNA Sales & Service Culture Institute is designed to help credit unions create a more harmonious balance between quality service and sustainable sales, said the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

"Creating a sales and service culture that is unique and which sets your credit union apart from the competition isn't easy," said Carla Schrinner, CUNA Creating Member Loyalty master trainer. "It takes organizational focus and a sound plan to ensure success. That is why each attendee of the CUNA Sales & Service Culture Institute will leave Chicago with customized plans of action, tailored specifically to their credit union, that they can start using as soon as they get home."

Topics include:

  • Critical success factors for a value-driven sales culture;
  • Successfully navigating organizational change; and
  • Transitioning to a sales environment.
For more information about CUNA Sales & Service Culture Institute and to register, use the link.

cbanc Network launches subscription service

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AUSTIN, Texas (5/2/12)--cbanc Network, a collaboration community of more than 9,700 credit union and bank users, has launched a premium subscription service that offers exclusive features for credit union and bank subscribers.

The new subscription tiers reward members that use the network heavily, while helping support the free network that members visit for assistance with policies, exams, best practices and vendor reviews.

cbanc Plus members receive access to the new "Peer Trends" feature so they can see what peers from similar institutions are paying attention to the most. These members receive five "Free Content Downloads" to download any content item regardless of points price. In addition, a 1.5x Points Booster allows them to earn 50% more points every time they complete a vendor review, survey, content review or exam watch.

cbanc Pro includes the same benefits as cbanc Plus, in addition to one free registration to a webinar, five additional Free Content Downloads (10 total), and access to the Vendor Management and Due Diligence software solutions, which have a combined value of 4,500 cbanc points.

The new subscription tiers add an additional layer of value to reward cbanc members for participating in the Network, according to cbanc President  Myers Dupuy. The free content downloads alleviate the pressure of earning points by allowing members to purchase expensive content immediately, without having to contribute to earn points first.

CO-OP Diebold to test two way ATM video support

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (5/2/12)--CO-OP Financial Services is partnering with Diebold  Inc. to test two-way video member service on CO-OP Network Diebold ATMs.

Diebold is a CUNA Strategic Services provider.

The two companies said they hope to migrate sales, additional teller functions and member service functions to the self-service channel. The goal of the partnership is to allow credit unions to reduce costs and expand their channels while maintaining a high level of personal service, they said. 

Through the two-way video, members can connect to a call center member service representative for real-time, "face-to face" interaction . The service will facilitate call center services such as transfers and account opening.

CO-OP Financial Services will provide the terminal driving capability and network access, and Diebold will provide member identification and video services to support the two-way video capabilities.

Interactive program unites philosophy business

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MADISON, Wis. (5/2/12)--The National Credit Union Foundation and the Missouri Credit Union Association have partnered to offer a new program to teach the credit union difference.

The Credit Union Learning Map is in an interactive program consisting of three sessions that take participants through the history and structure of credit unions and concludes with a call to action.

The sessions, ranging from two hours to a full-day, include:

  • Interactive Learning Map. This session provides an overview of credit union history and philosophy. Groups will engage in discussions about the credit union difference and how it acts as a competitive advantage in the marketplace. (About two hours)
  • Planning Session & Interactive Learning Map.  This session offers a further exploration of credit union history and philosophy and a search for treasures that create a strong foundation for the future course of action. It will provide an understanding of the past and a direction for the future, with goals and objectives for next year's journey. (Half or full day)
  • Philosophy is Good Business:  Staff Development. This session provides professional development and teambuilding exercises. Using the interactive Learning Map, participants will unearth the industry's history and philosophy. While working in groups, participants will discover how philosophy is good business. (Full day) 
"The Learning Map  is valuable for all credit union board members, leadership teams and staff to participate in," says Gary Oakland, president/CEO of Seattle-based BECU. "Our credit union board [members] saw this training as an effective use of their time as they discussed consumer trends and how our actions align with credit union cooperative operating principles. I'm confident our board members will continue to reflect on this exercise during future planning sessions as they determine our strategy and actions."