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CUs on the Tube CU Man rescues potential bank victim

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MANCHESTER, Conn. (6/15/10)--Super hero "Credit Union Man," the masked and caped alter ego of a staffer at Northeast Family FCU in Manchester, Conn., is now a video star on YouTube. His mission: "I'm here to save you from the high costs of banking." In the video, Credit Union man meets a woman at the door of Multi-High Fee Bank. She has accumulated "a ton of fees, preventing me from using my debit card." Credit Union Man--also known as Fred Brown, director of marketing and member development at the $63.5 million asset credit union--convinces her that the credit union is better, with lower fees, member ownership, and no profits shared with a "rich old boys' club of shareholders." In the next scene, she's happily signing her membership papers to the tune of "This Can't Be Love." Brown told staffers at the Credit Union National Association that he's entered the video in a contest. To watch it, use the link.

Debit card growth shows more small-ticket transactions

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HOUSTON (6/15/10)--The debit card market--robust during the second year of the economic downturn--is expected to grow strongly in 2010, according to the 2010 Debit Issuer Study commissioned by PULSE. Much of the growth is in small-ticket transactions, suggesting consumers prefer debit over cash. Card issuers surveyed saw overall debit transaction growth of 10% between 2008 and 2009, with 58% of debit transactions in 2009 at less than $20 (Business Wire June 14). "The debit market has continued to weather the economic storm as a result of consumer preference for debit and increasing merchant acceptance of small-ticket debit transactions," said Cindy Ballard, PULSE executive vice president. "As consumers scaled back spending during the recession, they embraced a pay-as-you-go approach and are keeping their debit card top of wallet." Personal identification number (PIN) debit transactions outpaced signature debit transactions, said the study. PIN debit grew by 13% from 2008 to 2009, with an average ticket size of $41. Signature debit transactions rose 9% with an average $35 ticket. Both ticket figures are a decline by $1-$2 from PULSE's previous study. Other findings:
* Active debit cardholders, with at least one PIN or signature point-of-sale (POS) transaction in the past 30 days, conducted an average 17.3 transactions per month--steady with the 2008 transactions. * Debit card penetration--the percentage of eligible accounts that can be accessed by debit card--remained steady at 73% since 2007. Sixty-four percent of consumer debit cards are active, compared with 66% in 2008.
The increase in transactions has prompted more concern among card issuers about how fraud and government regulation might impact profitability of debit cards. Last year, 95% of debit card issuers were hit by data breaches, making fraud mitigation a top challenge, said PULSE. Issuers' average signature POS fraud losses rose 43% last year, from 5.2 basis points (bps) to 7.5 bps. And PIN POS fraud losses increased 24% to one bp from 0.8 bp. Issuers surveyed cited government regulations as a major challenge for their institutions. Changes to Regulation E taking effect this summer will require opt-in consent before consumers can incur overdraft charges. Those surveyed expect 30% of consumers to opt- in to overdraft services, but expectations vary according to institution size. Large banks expect 20% to 40% of customers to opt in. Many credit unions and community banks surveyed expect a much higher opt in rate--of more than 70%. Interchange and overdrafts produced about $118 of annual revenue per active card in 2009, but financial institutions said the Reg E changes will result in fewer approved transactions, lower interchange income and less profitable debit card programs, impacting debit card profitability over the next two years. The survey indicated that 45% of issuers surveyed already have created a plan to respond to the changes. PULSE is an ATM/debit network that serves more than 4,400 banks, credit unions and savings institutions across the U.S.

Space Coast CU members donate 106423 for Haiti relief

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MELBOURNE, Fla. (6/15/10)--Space Coast CU, which established a Haitian relief fund for its members to donate to just days after the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake, donated $106,423 to the relief effort Friday. The money will be channeled to Haiti through the American Red Cross ( June 12). Included in the amount is $50,000 in matching funds the $3.2 billion asset, Melbourne, Fla.-based credit union promised to match of it members’ donations. The credit union made similar efforts to match donations for other mass relief efforts, such as the Indonesian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, the newspaper said. However, the Haitian relief effort was the first one to meet the $50,000 threshold. This time it was personal. The credit union has a staffer who lost 13 members of her family in the earthquake. To read the article, use the link.

Bankers bathe in money confess sins in CU ads

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NEW YORK (6/15/10)--New credit unions ads--some of which are humorous and others which are blunt in their assessments--use the general theme, “big banks are bad for you, why not join us?” in attempts to lure bank customers to credit unions, according to a blog in The New York Times. Some of the ads are edgy and have videos on YouTube, while others are more traditional print ads, wrote Tanzina Vega in an article titled “A Gallery of Credit Union Ads” ( June 11). Credit unions promote more personalized service, lower fees, a more ethical way of doing business, and the fact they are nonprofit organizations, the Times said. The article asks readers to judge for themselves if the ads are convincing or not, and if they convince readers to join a credit union. They’ll see bankers in a confession booth, bankers bathing in money, and more. To see the ads and a related New York Times article on credit unions’ ad campaigns, use the links.

IN.Y. TimesI CUs promotions getting cheekier

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NEW YORK (6/15/10)--Credit unions--traditionally conservative marketers--are taking a bolder, cheekier approach to promoting themselves as consumer dissatisfaction with banks continues, The New York said Friday. Such efforts were featured in the article, “Some Credit Unions Try Something New, Promoting Themselves,” by Andrew Martin and Ron Lieber. Credit union leaders often discuss among themselves why the industry does not have a national advertising campaign such as the dairy industry’s “Got Milk?” to promote credit unions’ advantages over banks, Bill Hampel, chief economist for the Credit Union National Association, told the Times. An issue with a national credit union campaign is how to divide the costs, he added. A more rudimentary problem is how to let most Americans know they are eligible to join a credit union, the Times said. Another issue is the time and effort it takes to switch to a credit union--or any other financial institution. That involves shutting down automated bill payments at a consumer’s existing financial institution, setting up new ones elsewhere and having enough money in both accounts to avoid overdrafts during the transition period, the Times said. It cited these examples of aggressive credit union marketing:
* Boeing Employees CU (BEU) in Tukwila, Wash., takes a swipe at banks by running an ad urging people to “Switch Now or Pay Later.” * SCE FCU in Irwindale, Calif., runs a campaign with the tag line, “I wish banking were less bankish.” * Public Service CU in Romulus, Mich.--in response to bank bailouts, rising bank fees and executive bonuses--creates a video in which Amy McGraw, Public Service marketing director, asks a colleague to portray a fat cat banker in a bathtub, bathing himself in dollar bills. The tagline is: “What are all the big banks really doing with your money?”
Also mentioned were: the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association; VyStar CU, Jacksonville, Fla.; and Dade County FCU, Doral, Fla. To read the Times article and a related article featuring videos of some credit union ads, use the links.

N.Y. CUs lawmakers urge passage of municipal deposits bill

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ALBANY, N.Y. (6/15/10)--Rep. David I. Weprin (D-Queens), several state legislators and the Credit Union Association of New York urged the State Assembly to pass a municipal deposits choice bill, which would allow New York City and local government entities to deposit their funds in credit unions. “I strongly support municipal deposit choice, which simply gives local governments the ability to deposit their tax dollars in credit unions and community savings banks in addition to commercial banks,” Weprin said Saturday in a press release (ReadMedia June 13). Commercial banks currently have a monopoly on municipal tax deposits. The municipal deposits bill, which has been supported by New York Gov. David Paterson and the state Senate, is authored by State Rep. Carl Heastie (D-83). Several other bills pending in the state legislature also seek to allow deposit choice. These include bills by Sens. Kevin Parker (D-21), Craig Johnson (D-7) and Rep. Harvey Weisenberg (D-20). “Together with Weprin and others in the legislature, we are asking the State Assembly to support municipal deposit choice and join the governor, who included it in his proposed budget, and the State Senate, which included it in its passed budget resolution,” said William J. Mellin, association president/CEO. “This much-needed reform allows local governments something they don’t currently have--the freedom to deposit their tax dollars where they can save revenue, encourage more local investment, and create more opportunities for New Yorkers. “Municipal deposit is about reforming a nearly century-old antiquated law, which fails to reflect current financial conditions or offer local governments the flexibility they need to manage declining revenues and growing deficits,” he added.

UsNet announces 2010-2011 board

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ALBANY, N.Y. (6/15/10)--Universal Sharing Network (UsNet) announced its board of directors for 2010-2011 during the organization’s annual meeting in Cooperstown, N.Y. UsNet has a national shared branching network and is partnered with CO-OP Shared Branching. Newly elected to the board were Don Denofio, president/CEO of Saratoga’s Community FCU, Saratoga Springs, and John Tucker, president/chief financial officer, FASNY FCU, Albany. Re-elected to new three-year terms are:
* Board chair--Mark Pfisterer, president/CEO of AmeriCU CU, Rome; * Al Frosolone, manager/CEO of Niagara’s Choice FCU, Niagara Falls; and * Nancy Kasprzak-Whitmore, president/CEO of Niagara County’s FCU, Lockport.
Those re-elected to one-year terms were:
* Kevin Brauer, president, Northeast region of Members United Corporate FCU, Warrenville, Ill.; * William J. Mellin, president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of New York; and * Bruno Sementilli, president/CEO of Quorum FCU, Purchase.
Returning as vice chair, treasurer and secretary are: Vicki O’Neill, president of ACMG FCU, Solvay; Edward Paternostro, CEO of Nassau Educators FCU, Westbury; and Mark Welshoff, president/CEO of Palisades FCU, Pearl River, respectively. Filling out the board are returning directors James Doig, president/CEO, Sidney (N.Y.) FCU; Robert G. Allen, president/CEO of Teachers FCU, Farmingville; and Christine Peters, CEO of Family First of NY FCU, Rochester.

Two Texas league programs honored by associations group

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DALLAS (6/15/10)--Two of the Texas Credit Union League’s programs--Juntos Avanzamos and REAL Solutions--have made the American Society of Association Executives’ “Associations to Advance America” (AAA) Honor Roll. Juntos Avanzamos, or “Together we advance,” is the league’s Hispanic outreach program. It seeks to empower Texas credit unions to address the unique needs of the market. REAL Solutions aims to help low-wealth individuals gain financial stability. REAL Solutions is the signature program of the National Credit Union Foundation and stands for “Relevant, Effective, Asset-Building and Loyalty-Producing.” “Credit union support of league initiatives such as Juntos Avanzamos and REAL Solutions demonstrate their commitment to reaching out to Texas’ unbanked and underserved communities, and lifting them out of poverty and onto the path of financial stability,” said Dick Ensweiler, Texas league president/CEO. AAA recognizes associations that made significant contributions to solving local and national crises, fostering volunteerism and developing initiatives for the public good.

Arizona league awards presented

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Click to view larger image Arizona Credit Union League's Rose Mofford Credit Union Volunteer Award recipient is Harlan L. Bradford Sr., right, a volunteer at American Southwest CU, Sierra Vista. He is shown with Brian Barkdull, president/CEO of the credit union.
Click to view larger image Pete Pritts, second from left, CEO of First Corp, Phoenix, is flanked by his family--parents Pete and Doreen, sister Jennifer and his daughters, Elizabeth and Paisley--after accepting the Arizona Credit Union League's VOCUP (Very Outstanding Credit Union Person) Award. (Photos provided by the Arizona Credit Union League)
TUCSON, Ariz. (6/15/10)--The Arizona Credit Union League presented its two top credit union awards during its 2010 Annual Convention. Each year the league honors a "Very Outstanding Credit Union Person" (VOCUP) and a recipient of the Rose Mofford Credit Union Volunteer Award. The 37th annual VOCUP award was presented to Pete Pritts, CEO of Phoenix-based FirstCorp for his commitment to member service, enthusiasm, dedication, hard work and tenacity, said the league. The award is presented to a credit union executive or volunteer who gives time and energy to the movement through serving on the league, chapter, and credit union boards or committees, as well as for time spent in other volunteer activities. The recipient of the Rose Mofford Credit Union Volunteer Award for 2010 is Harlan L. Bradford Sr., from American Southwest CU, Sierra Vista. Bradford has more than 30 years of volunteer service and earned five Volunteer Achievement Award certifications. He will retire from the board this year and will turn 80 in August. Southwest CU President/CEO Brian Barkdull said Bradford's "personality and character are deeply woven into the fabric of our credit union and we will miss his wit, his common-sense approach and his diverse experiences, which have helped bring us ongoing success."

RCU to acquire 11 AnchorBank offices June 26

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (6/15/10)--Royal CU (RCU), Eau Claire, Wis., announced that it has received regulatory approval to move ahead with the purchase of 11 AnchorBank offices. The acquisition will take place June 26 and June 27, with the offices opening as RCU on June 28. The offices, all in Wisconsin, include Amery, Balsam Lake, Centuria, Menomonie, Milltown, New Richmond, Osceola, River Falls, St. Croix Falls, Somerset and Star Prairie. Under terms of the agreement, RCU will assume $177 million in deposits, real estate loans and other assets. RCU will purchase nine of the offices and assume the lease on the other two. “This is the largest bank branch acquisition that our state and federal regulators have considered,” said Charles Grossklaus, RCU CEO. “RCU is strong, stable, and well-positioned for the purchase of these 11 in Western Wisconsin." He added, "we see great potential in these new locations.” Once the acquisition is complete, RCU will have 25 offices--22 across central and western Wisconsin and three in Minnesota’s Twin Cities Metro area, serving more than 140,000 members. RCU received approval from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, Office of Credit Unions, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and the Office of Thrift and Supervision. AnchorBank customers will become RCU members if they continue to use the products and services it offers, Grossklaus said. It’s too early to know yet if all the customers will become members, he added. Some AnchorBank customers are apprehensive because Anchor previously merged with another bank, so this will be the third conversion. Grossklaus said RCU has received every good reception from the mayors, chambers of commerce and United Way in the communities where the new RCU offices are located. Credit unions choosing to merge with banks should be aware that the process is labor intensive. “We’ve done a lot of due diligence,” Grossklaus said. The merger also should fit within a credit union’s strategic plan. Banking terminology and technology is a lot different than credit unions,’ so it “takes a good year to get it right,” Grossklaus added. Working with NCUA was a positive experience, Grossklaus said. “They asked a lot of questions,” Grossklaus said. “They did their due diligence. NCUA really stepped up to the plate.” After the merger is complete, RCU plans to spend some time in the communities to answer questions people might have.

CU System briefs (06/14/2010)

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* WESTBROOK, Maine (6/15/10)--Maine CUs' Campaign for Ending Hunger
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
presented $17,000 to 33 food pantries in the state and the Good Shepherd Food Bank. The sixth annual "Share the Bread" campaign aims to bring awareness of the hunger issue in Maine and the need for food for Maine's 65,000 school children during summer vacation, when meals aren't provided by their school. From left are Jon Paradise, governmental and public affairs manager of the Maine Credit Union League; Rick Small of Good Shepherd Food Bank; and Luke Labbe, chair of the league's Social Responsibility Committee. (Photo provided by the Maine Credit Union League) ... * WASHINGTON (6/15/10)--A former teller/supervisor of Department of Interior CU , Washington, has been sentenced in a U.S. District Court for District of Columbia to three months' incarceration for taking property in the care, custody and control of a credit union. Monica Michals stole more than $25,000 in depositors' funds from 2006 to 2008, said prosecutors. She took money on 25 occasions from the accounts of at least three members, two of whom were elderly and especially vulnerable, they said. (Targeted News Service May 21). After her jail term is over, Michals will be on home detention with electronic monitoring for 180 days as part of a three-year supervised release. She was also ordered to complete outpatient drug treatment and make full restitution to the credit union ... * OKLAHOMA CITY (6/15/10)--Tinker FCU has been named among Oklahoma's top 28 Best Places to Work by OKCBiz Magazine. It ranked first among finalists in the "large companies" group. The competition has two categories: large companies with 250 or more employees, and small/mid-sized companies with fewer than 250 employees. Best Companies Group collects information from the competition entrants and conducts employee surveys to determine the companies with the best practices. Factors reviewed include leadership and planning, corporate culture and communications, role satisfaction, work environment and relationship with supervisor. The credit union cited three factors that keep employees happy, motivated and involved in fulfilling the credit union's mission: empowerment, community involvement and extras that make coming to work rewarding, but fun. "Our employees know they can have a say in making a difference in the lives of those we serve," said Susan Rogers, senior vice president of human resources at the $2 billion, Oklahoma City based credit union. An incentive program paid more than $1.3 million last year to employees, recognition and gift certificates for exceptional service, competition prizes and more ... * SOUTHBRIDGE, Mass. (6/15/10)--Roger A. Dion, former CEO/treasurer of Southbridge (Mass.) CU died Friday at a local hospital after an illness. He was 81. Dion retired in 1993 as CEO/treasurer of the credit union where he worked for many years. He started his banking profession in the 1950s at the former Worcester County National Bank. Funeral services were Monday ( Worcester Telegram & Gazette June 12) ...