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PCUA amends bylaws to extend director term limits

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (6/10/14)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) is considering a bylaw amendment that would allow four three-year terms of service on the league's board, an increase from the current three, three-year term-limit.
 
"We believe the extra term will give our board members valuable experience and continuity," said Patrick Conway, PCUA president/CEO ( Life is a Highway June 9).
 
At the league's annual business meeting May 18 in Atlantic City, N.J., board Chair Maria LaVelle presented the bylaw amendment, which was adopted by the board April 4.
 
Mail ballots were sent to all member credit unions Friday. The deadline to return ballots is July 7.

N.H. league elects board at 60th annual meeting

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MANCHESTER, N.H. (6/10/14)--The New Hampshire Credit Union League announced board officers at its 60th annual meeting, held Friday and Saturday in Bretton Woods. 
 
Table officers re-elected at the meeting include: 
  • Chairman: Gerald Dumoulin, president/CEO, Guardian Angel CU, Berlin, with $42 million in assets;
  • Vice chairman: Timothy Naro, executive vice president/COO, Granite State CU, Manchester, with $33 million in assets; and
  • Secretary/treasurer: Brian Hughes, president/CEO, Holy Rosary CU, Rochester, with $203 million in assets.
Other board members include:
  • Ronald H. Covey Jr., president/CEO, St. Mary's Bank CU, Marlborough, with $641 million in assets;
  • Michael A. L'Ecuyer, president/CEO, Bellwether Community CU, Manchester, with $389 million in assets;
  • Maurice Simard Jr., president/treasurer, Triangle CU, Nashua, with $515 million in assets; and
  • John Young, president/CEO, New Hampshire FCU, Concord, with $241 million in assets.

Cheney reflects on tenure as CUNA CEO

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WASHINGTON (6/10/14)--Today marks the last day that Bill Cheney will walk through the doors of 601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW as president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association.
 
Cheney is returning to California, where he served as president of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues and was president of Xceed Financial CU, El Segundo, with $851 million in assets. He takes the helm of SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana., Calif., from Rudy Hanley who is retiring after more than 30 years at the $10 billion-plus-asset credit union.
 
Cheney joined CUNA in July 2010, following the retirement of Dan Mica, a former U.S. representative from Florida, who headed the trade association for 14 years.
 
News Now posed five questions to Cheney about his time at CUNA and the credit union movement.
 
Q: Why is SchoolsFirst a "dream job?"
 
A: It is a credit union that has done a great job of identifying the needs of its members and creatively meeting them. This only happens with a strong team and visionary leadership and SchoolsFirst has all of the above.
 
For almost 80 years, SchoolsFirst FCU has worked for the educational community in Southern California, first in Orange County and now throughout the region. Its products and services are uniquely designed to address school employees' pay schedules. Members can turn to SchoolsFirst FCU for loans for classroom supplies or furthering their education, in addition to more traditional uses. 
 
It has long been known for having an active voice in the political arena. I know it takes commitment, knowledge, perseverance, action and time to influence political leaders, and SchoolsFirst is committed to that ideal.
 
It is a profound honor to follow Rudy Hanley as SchoolsFirst FCU's CEO after his 31 years of unsurpassed leadership and success. I look forward to working with the amazing team of more than 1,300 professionals and volunteers to build on that success.
 
CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney discussed the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign during a 2013 appearance on the Fox Business Network. (CUNA photo).
Q: In February, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) submitted a tax reform package that left the credit union tax status untouched. Of course the victory in this first stage of maintaining the credit union tax status didn't just "happen," but what specifically do you think was most effective?
 
A: CUNA prepared the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign well in advance of when Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) announced that tax reform was going to be approached with a "blank slate" in June 2013.
 
The success of "Don't Tax My Credit Union" should be credited to the members who responded in a strong and positive manner to the campaign. CUNA, leagues and credit unions generated more than 1.4 million contacts with Capitol Hill in less than nine months as part of our "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign.
 
Some might say credit unions never were on the list to lose their tax exemption, but we know for certain that we were at risk. CUNA and the leagues could not sit back and take that risk. That's why "Don't Tax My Credit Union" was--and still is--important to getting the message out.
 
At the 2013 America's Credit Union Conference, Cheney emphasized the "Unite for Good" campaign, which seeks to have the whole credit union industry speak with one unified voice to remove barriers, increase awareness and foster service excellence for credit unions in reaching the strategic vision in which "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner." (CUNA photo)
Q: Outside of legislative and regulatory successes in D.C., what other feathers did CUNA add to its cap while you were president/CEO?
 
I'm delighted that the shared, strategic vision initiative--"Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner"--is receiving traction within the credit union movement. I strongly believe that if credit unions are all headed in the same direction, in terms of where we want to be by 2023, there is very little that can stop us from getting there.
 
The vision's "shared agenda" of removing barriers, creating awareness and fostering service excellence is the pathway for achieving the vision and getting us to our overall goal. And we'll know we've achieved success by the numbers we reach: At least 55 million "primary financial institution" members, and $20 billion returned annually in financial benefits. I look forward to the day we reach our goals--which I hope will be sooner than later.
  
Q: How do you think the National Credit Union Administration's risk-based capital proposal will turn out?
 
A:  The record 2,050 comment letters submitted to the regulator shows that credit unions are concerned, as are the hundreds of members of Congress who have weighed in. There will be some type of risk-based capital--and CUNA agrees with that--but the proposal by the NCUA is untenable. I believe the chairman and other board members when they say they will make substantive changes, and I know CUNA will be tracking this closely, as will leagues and credit unions. 
 
Q: What words of wisdom do you have for your successor?
 
A: Be tenacious. It is difficult to win grand successes with a Congress that is gridlocked and regulators that are under ever increasing pressure to prevent the last crisis, but CUNA, leagues, credit unions and members should make sure their voices are always being heard. And while Washington and Madison are both key to the success of the credit union movement, make sure you take the time to visit with credit union professionals and volunteers from throughout the country. We have an amazing group of passionate leaders from all walks of life.
 
On top of that: I know CUNA is in good hands with Bill Hampel guiding the organization in this interim between permanent CEOs, ably assisted by the tremendously talented senior management team and the entire staff at our national trade association. Together, they won't miss a beat in advocacy, representation and service for credit unions.
 

ACUC speaker drops in for #CUNAchat on social media

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WASHINGTON (6/10/14)--Anyone just itching to get to the Credit Union National Association's 2014 America's Credit Union Conference had the opportunity Monday to fire off questions to one of the keynote speakers headlining the event.

For nearly an hour, Amber MacArthur, TV host, bestselling author and social media maven, shared knowledge during CUNA's first-ever Twitter chat about best practices in social media, while also dropping hints about the topics she will broach during the conference in San Francisco, set for June 30 to July 3.

Using the hashtags #CUNAchat and #ACUC, credit unions from throughout the country were able to pick the brain of "AmberMac," who's built a following of nearly 100,000 Twitter users.

"What should #creditunions know to get started on social media?" one industry professional tweeted @AmberMac.

"Most important, have a plan in place--a long-term strategy to achieve your goals and objectives--don't just jump in!" MacArthur tweeted back. "Also, you can't master all platforms at once. Figure out where your audience is and connect with them there."

The Twitter account for Vantage CU, Bridgeton, Mo., with $737 million in assets, also participated, asking MacArthur how bloggers can create engaging content on a continuous basis.

Replied @AmberMac: "That's where editorial plan can help. Pick content themes that are triggers around key dates ... (such as) holidays."

Other information shared by MacArthur during the Twitter chat:
  • Most organizations don't post or engage enough. "Do three times more than what you're doing daily, and you will see results;"
     
  • Remember, "no one shares boring;" and
     
  • Rarely is too much use of social media a problem. As long as the quality is good and engagement is good, keep doing it more.
Scroll through the tweets below.

Take it from your dad: Financial advice worth heeding

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WASHINGTON (6/10/14)--When in need of some guidance, many often turn to their dads in hopes of attaining ever-valuable fatherly advice.

With Father's Day fast approaching, financial experts from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling would like to impart some advice of their own in honor of that day for dads.

When asked to finish the sentence, "If I knew what I know now," concerning what they would have done differently at the outset of their financial lives, these financial experts offered the following tutelage:
  • Wait at least 24 hours before making a major purchase, and "I'm not sure 48 hours wouldn't be a better suggestion," one expert said, citing the example of a time the individual impulsively bought a car that needed entirely too much maintenance.

    "Although numerous hikes from a car broken down on the side of the road did provide a lot of exercise, I let my wants override my needs and paid for it over many years," the expert said;
     
  • "I would stress the importance of saving for college," answered another expert, who described seeing many clients recently shackled with overwhelming student loan obligations. "This is something I'm working on with my own kids, and something I hope they pass along to theirs. ... Consider having them contribute to it so they are part of the process. It might even make them study harder;"
     
  • Seek professional management of retirement savings early in your career. Putting someone in charge of monitoring personal finances made a difference for one financial expert;
     
  • Lobby school officials and districts to incorporate financial education as part of their standard curriculum; and
     
  • The two ways of getting everything you want in life is to, one, work harder and accumulate more, or, two, desire less."

    "When I accepted No. 2, life was much more enjoyable," an expert said.

Colo. gov. inks first ever pot co-op into law

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DENVER (6/10/14)--Colorado is inching ever closer to removing cash from the marijuana industry equation, as Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill Friday that could establish the world's first financial system for pot businesses ( the Cannabist June 6).

Concerned for the safety of the cash-only businesses working within the recently legalized industry-- businesses banks won't yet offer services to for fear of breaking federal law--advocates of the legislation hope that this network of uninsured cooperatives the legislation would form would provide pot businesses basic financial services such as checking accounts.

A credit union in Washington, the only other state in the United States to legalize recreational sales of marijuana, has begun offering services to a select group of pot businesses--though marijuana retailers are still barred ( News Now May 9). 

Running these businesses entirely on cash is becoming more and more of a perilous operation, as the high volumes of on-hand currency are likely to attract robberies and other crime.

Mike Elliot, Marijuana Industry Group representative, told the Cannabist that a member of his organization was recently robbed, and that tensions are beginning to rise for employees and businesses trying to make their way in this new business world.

"We don't need a vault. What we need is checking," Elliot told the Cannabist . "We're looking for a way to take cash out of the businesses."

The only way the financial cooperative will happen, however, is with the approval of the Federal Reserve, which has not yet agreed to approve a financial system for marijuana businesses.

While Colorado legalized recreational marijuana on Jan. 1, federal law still deems recreational sales and use illegal.

Some have even called the legislation symbolic, as it carries no weight without the endorsement of the federal government. Though, lawmakers in Colorado say it's still important to pass the bill.

"At minimum, it's a 'send a message' bill," Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver) told the Cannabist. "Hopefully, it becomes a leverage point to get some attention and get some action on the part of the federal government," he said. "Because they hold the keys on this one. We can't solve this problem at the Statehouse in Denver. It's going to require action and participation on the part of federal officials, and hopefully this gets us there."

N.J. CU CEO warns of borrowing against retirement funds

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TRENTON, N.J. (6/10/14)--A New Jersey credit union poll and CEO were the dual pegs of a recent article in The Times of Trenton that spells out a growing, and perhaps disheartening, trend of workers pulling money from their retirement savings too soon (June 8).

The poll, sponsored by McGraw-Hill FCU, East Windsor, N.J., with $312 million in assets, found that employees were more apt to request an advance on their retirement savings over the last year than they were three years ago.

Specifically, 62% of respondents said they had seen a jump in loan requests over the past 12 months, while 44% reported that employees were more likely to request a hardship withdrawal from their retirement savings compared with last year, according to The Times of Trenton article.

Shawn Gilfedder, McGraw-Hill president/CEO, told the newspaper that the problem likely signals deeper financial issues both with the borrower and with the culture of the U.S. workforce.

"More and more, we're being asked to help individuals that have taken loans out against their retirement accounts," Gilfedder told The Times of Trenton. "By the time we get that request, most of these people are heading down a path that we may not be able to resolve."

Added Gilfedder: "That money was meant for a different purpose, and you don't get that money back. We want to get ahead of those people before they decide to do that. When people start sooner in the money-planning process, time is their friend. When they start later on, it makes it much more difficult, and because it's harder, they take on more risk than they should, and that could cause a problem."

The survey, which polled 401 human resource professionals, also found a correlation between the problems employees are having with their finances and their performance in the workplace (See News Now May 16: Financial stress seeps into workers' lives, CU-sponsored survey finds).

Bellco's Ferraro elected chair of CO-OP

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (6/10/14)--Doug Ferraro, president/CEO of Bellco CU, Greenwood Village, Colo., has been elected board chair of CO-OP Financial Services.
 
Ferraro has been a director on the CO-OP board since 2010. He has been president/CEO of $2.5 billion-asset Bellco CU since 1992. He also serves on the boards of Open Technology Solutions, Gateway Services Group and Credit Union Direct Connect. 
 
In addition to Ferraro, three other credit union leaders were elected to officer positions on CO-OP's board:
  • Vice chairman/chairman-elect: Jeff Napper, president/CEO, LBS Financial CU, Westminster, Calif., with $1.1 billion in assets;
  • Treasurer: Allan McMorris, president/CEO, Oakland County CU, Waterford, Mich., with $192 million in assets; and
  • Secretary: Chuck Purvis, president/CEO, Coastal FCU, Raleigh, N.C., with $2.8 billion in assets.
The board of directors of CO-OP Financial Services consists of 11 members. The six other members of the board include:
  • Tom Dorety, president/CEO, Suncoast CU, Tampa, Fla., with $5.7 billion in assets;
  • Shruti Miyashiro, president/CEO, Orange County's CU, Santa Ana, Calif., with $1.1 billion in assets;
  • Benson Porter, president/CEO, BECU, Tukwila, Wash., with $12 billion in assets;
  • John Radebaugh, president/CEO, Carolinas Credit Union League, Raleigh, N.C.;
  • Lisa Schlehuber,  president/CEO, Eli Lilly FCU, Indianapolis, with $1.1 billion in assets; and
  • Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, Travis CU, Vacaville, Calif., with $2.2 billion in assets.

League's skilled trades program hailed by Mich. gov.

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (6/10/14)--Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said the state has many unfilled good-paying skilled trade jobs, and a program from the Michigan Credit Union League is a way to encourage and support students to explore those opportunities.
 
Gov. Rick Snyder said encouraging more Michigan young people to explore careers in skilled trades is a "top priority." (Michigan Credit Union League photo)
Snyder, who spoke at the league's annual convention in Grand Rapids last week, thanked the league for its Career and Technical Training program--an initiative of the league, U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Iron Mountain) and the Michigan Workforce Development Agency.
 
"We have thousands of open jobs and still too much unemployment," Snyder said ( Michigan Monitor June 6). "The skilled trades is the best place to look."
 
He said the problem goes back to when the emphasis for post-secondary education was shifted to a four-year degree and away from the well-paying skilled trades jobs.
 
"That was the mistake we made 20 years ago or so," Snyder said. "I want Michigan to be the leader in emphasizing both tracks."
 
Aimed at teens and young adults, the Career and Technical Training guide outlines Michigan industries--ones that don't typically require a four-year university education--that are short of workers.

Senate leader McConnell talks to CU constituents at home base

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (6/10/14)--The top Republican in the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, came by the Kentucky
Click to view larger image Sen. Mitch McConnell, minority leader in the Senate, addresses almost 50 credit union representatives at the Kentucky Credit Union League offices in Louisville. (KYCUL photo)
 Credit Union League office in Louisville to address 48 credit union constituents from Louisville, Fort Knox and Frankfort during the recently ended District Work Period.

On Friday, the senator discussed a broad range of issues, including health care, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, and the volatility and violence in Ukraine. 

The Senate leader also  took time to answer questions from the credit union audience. He ended his remarks by thanking credit unions for their important role in helping Kentucky's consumers and the nation's economy. 

"Sen. McConnell has been a friend of credit unions for many years, and we appreciate his support and taking time out of his schedule to meet with our credit unions," Debbie Painter, executive vice president of the Kentucky league, noted Friday.

McConnell recently co-sponsored the credit union-backed Privacy Notification Modernization Act (S. 625), which is supported by the Kentucky league and the Credit Union National Association. 

The bill would eliminate a requirement that privacy notices be sent on an annual basis and instead allow the notices to be sent only when the privacy policy of a financial institution has changed--cutting the nuisance of duplicative notices for consumers and unnecessary costs to financial institutions.
 
Both Senate and House are back in session now, entering a three-week work period before both chambers recess for a July 4 District Work Session.