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Ohio CUs Raise $136,000 For Children's Hospitals

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (6/24/13)--Ohio credit unions have raised $136,000 for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals as a result of their annual statewide fundraising event, Marching Miles for Miracle Kids. Eighty-five credit unions statewide participated in this year's initiative.

"This is another example of how credit unions are making a difference in the communities they serve," said Paul Mercer, president of the Ohio Credit Union League. "When credit unions collaborate, good things happen. And in this case, the collaboration is helping to support the high-quality pediatric care that thousands of families count on."

Spearheaded by the league's Credit Unions for Kids Committee, the annual march raises money for nine children's hospitals that serve Ohioans. Walks were held statewide during April, May and June and include a partnership with the ColorBlaze 5K in Lima, which attracted 1,500 participants.

CU System Briefs (06/24/2013)

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  • HARRISBURG, Pa., and ALEXANDRIA, Va. (6/24/13)--Several Pennsylvania Credit Union Association staff were on hand at Thursday's meeting of the National Credit Union Administration Board in Alexandria, Va. (Life is a Highway June 21).  NCUA Office of Consumer Protection Director Gail Laster gave PCUA staff an overview of that office's functions, and the group enjoyed a brief visit with NCUA Board Chairman Debbie Matz and Board member Michael Fryzel. They also met with Kelly Lay, Wendy Angus and Mike Ryan of NCUA Region II and discussed operations. "It helps our advocacy and compliance efforts to meet face-to-face with the NCUA," said Rick Wargo, executive vice president/general counsel at PCUA. "We learned a great deal, which our team will put in practice."  Shown are, from left: PCUA Compliance and Operations Officers Heather O'Donley and Denise Sickonic; Fryzel; Matz; and Wargo. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association) ...

New York Lawmakers Pass Bill To Enhance CUs' FOM

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ALBANY, N.Y. (6/24/13)--Legislation that expands the ability of credit unions to provide vital financial services to New Yorkers and their families has passed the State Senate and Assembly. It provides state-chartered credit unions the ability to include select employee groups (SEGs), associations and communities within the same field of membership.

The new measure, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Griffo and Assemblywoman Annette Robinson, enhances the credit union state charter through expanded membership and investment options, said the Credit Union Association of New York, which advocated strongly for passing the legislation.

The measure also includes a provision that enables state-chartered credit unions to increase investments in their communities and programs aimed at community reinvestment--including projects of state corporations that work with housing projects, slum clearance corporations, small business investment corporations and urban development corporations.

The bill will now be sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

"We salute the New York State Legislature for passing this legislation, which enhances the state charter and opens the door for more New Yorkers to have a not-for-profit, cooperative financial services option," said William J. Mellin, CUANY president/CEO. "Our  association will continue to advocate for legislation that benefits New Yorkers and promotes parity among state and federal charters."

N.Y. CUs Raise $75,000 For Causes At Convention

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ALBANY, N.Y. (6/24/13)--Attendees of the Credit Union Association of New York's Annual Meeting and Convention participated in several fundraiser events, raising nearly $75,000 for three causes: The New York Credit Union Foundation, the state-level Credit Union Political Action Committee (CUPAC) and the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals that serve New York.

Click to view larger image Tracy Conner, left, Credit Union Association of New York (CUANY) member relations vice president, and William J. Mellin, CUANY president/CEO, right, present Credit Unions for Kids Senior Director Joe Dearborn with a check for $22,000 to benefit Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. (Photo provided by Credit Union Association of New York)
Nearly 700 New York credit union representatives and system providers gathered for the event.

CUNA Mutual Group presented a check for $31,000 to NYCUF, assisted by sponsor and credit union support for the annual golf tournament, held June 13 and 15 during the convention. Nearly 150 golfers participated. An additional $6,000 was raised for NYCUF through a special reception to honor outgoing CUANY Chairman Lou Jimenez.

By supporting the annual Silent Auction and the first Bingo event, convention attendees raised more than $15,000 for CUPAC, New York credit unions' state-level political action committee.

Sponsorships, donations and a match from CO-OP Financial Services' Miracle Match program helped a Wine Pull raise more than $22,000 for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals that serve New York. A total of 202 "mystery bottles" of wine were pulled during the event.

Washington CU Regulator To Continue Operations, Despite State Budget Process

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (6/24/13)--Although a budget impasse could cause a Washington state government shutdown, credit unions can expect continued operations from their state regulators, the Northwest Credit Union Association reported Friday.

A second special legislative session had failed to produce a state budget, the league said (Anthem Recap June 21). If a shutdown cannot be averted, the Washington Division of Credit Unions (DCU) and Department of Financial Institutions will continue operations, the league said.

Non-appropriated agencies like DCU continue operations without interruption under a contingency plan, DCU spokeswoman Rhonda Mires informed the league in a memo.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee alerted state workers and taxpayers Thursday to the possibility of a government shutdown and employee furloughs if the legislature does not produce a budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Assets Up For Third Year At Alabama, Florida CUs

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala., and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (6/24/13)--For the third consecutive year, Alabama and Florida credit unions saw a major increase in assets in the first quarter, according to the League of Southeastern Credit Unions.

"For six quarters now we've seen credit unions gain a greater wallet share from their members," said Patrick La Pine, LSCU president/CEO. "Both states have a record number of assets, and Alabama continues to have a record number of members. Credit unions have been working hard to draw in new members but to also get existing members to fully utilize the credit union as their preferred financial institution."

In 2013, the asset growth rate for Alabama credit unions was 3.2%--equal to the national credit union average, LSCU said. Alabama's 123 credit unions collectively have $18.3 billion in assets, a $569 million jump in assets in the first quarter.

In Florida, asset growth surpassed the national average by 3.9%. Florida's 159 credit unions collectively have $47 billion in assets, a $1.7 billion gain in assets in the first quarter.

Alabama continues its record pace for membership, LSCU said. The state added 15,000 new members in the first quarter, for a record 1.85 million members. Florida added 33,000 new members in the period to reach 4.62 million members. Nationally, credit unions added 777,000 new members to set a record with 96.7 million members, the league said.

The quality and quantity of loans continue to increase in both states, said LSCU. The number of delinquent loans in Florida dropped below 2% (1.98%) for the first time in years. That also represents a 40% drop in delinquencies in three years.

In Alabama, delinquent loans continue to trend down at 1.18%, an18-basis point drop from 2012. Net charge-offs in each state also fell. In Florida, net charge-offs are at 1.12%--a more than 1% drop from three years ago. In Alabama, net charge offs are at 0.63%. Also, credit unions in each state are setting aside less in loan loss provisions.

Loans continue to be the focus of credit unions. In the first quarter, Florida credit unions added $54 million in new member business loans (MBL), while Alabama added $6 million in new MBL loans. Florida credit unions added more than $200 million in new loans to the books.

"Credit unions have been fighting to have the member business lending cap raised so more can make MBLs," La Pine said. "In two years, Alabama and Florida credit unions have made more than $200 million in business loans. With delinquencies and net charge-offs low, it shows quality loans are being made. More small businesses need to check with their credit union for a loan."

If Congress were to raise the credit union MBL cap to 27.5% of total assets from 12.25%, it would generate $13 billion in new loans and create 140,000 new jobs, the Credit Union National Association said.

Industry Veteran: How To Make a Political Impact

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (6/24/13)--Credit unions need be politically engaged to beat the banks in the political arena, an industry veteran told more than 300 Minnesota credit union professionals and volunteers at the Minnesota Credit Union Network's Annual Meeting and Convention last month.

The importance of being active in the political process and how to make an impact during elections were stressed by Dr. Paul Withey, vice president of strategic development and public relations at Houston-based Texas Bay Area CU, and Mara Humphrey, MnCUN vice president-governmental affairs.

"People don't often like to talk about it, but the world of politics is extremely competitive, especially when industries have to go head-to-head due to competing interests," Withey said. "The current environment in the credit union industry is such that we need to be able to beat the bankers in the political arena. Strong advocacy and grassroots involvement is the way to do that."

Withey has 16 years' experience with the credit union industry, including leadership posts on the Texas Credit Union League Board of Directors, the TCUL Legislative Affairs Committee, and as a Political Action Committee trustee.

Click to view larger imagePolitical engagement was the heart of the message to nearly 300 credit union professionals and volunteers attending the Minnesota Credit Union Network's Annual Meeting and Convention last month. (Photos provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Network)
He outlined three areas where credit unions can have the most impact in their political advocacy efforts:

  • Support political action committees, such as MnCUN's state Credit Union Volunteer Committee and the federal Credit Union Legislative Action Committee.
  • Participate in the Credit Union National Association's Project ZIP Code, which converts a credit union's database into a political tool by counting total membership numbers and calculating how many live in each state legislative and congressional district.
  • Engage in partisan communications to get involved in the election process and create powerful relationships with political allies. Direct mail postcards promote a candidate only to primary voters and registered political party members, and create positive word-of-mouth for credit unions, he said. Postcards do not tell who to vote for, but rather show that a particular candidate supports credit unions.
"Credit unions [in Texas] were initially nervous about endorsing a candidate," he said, but concerns were alleviated as soon as credit unions became involved in the experience. They understood the significance of taking that political step, he said.

Humphrey told the group about the nationwide Don't Tax My Credit Union grassroots advocacy campaign driven by the Credit Union National Association and the state leagues and associations, including MnCUN. She noted that the credit union corporate income tax exemption is under threat in Congress' tax reform.

"This is an all-out grassroots advocacy effort, and we need credit unions to involve their members in this campaign," Humphrey said.  "It is critical that Congress hear from millions of credit union members that they want the credit union tax status preserved."

Several CU Mergers Reported Last Week

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MADISON, Wis. (6/24/13)--Three mergers involving credit unions in Wisconsin and New York were announced  in the past week and a half.

Members of Milwaukee, Wis.-based Veterans Administration CU, which has $15 million in assets and was established in 1932,  approved plans to merge with Summit CU, a $1.8 billion asset credit union in Madison, effective Sept. 1.

After the merger, Summit will have $1.9 billion in assets, 131,000 members and 24 branches. Both the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions and the National Credit Union Administration have approved the move. The two credit unions' systems will not be fully converted until February 2014. (The Capital Times and Wisconsin State Journal June 11).

The boards of Kimberly, Wis.-based Capital CU and Green Bay, Wis.-based Pioneer CU have agreed to merge the credit unions in 2014.  Capital has $456.7 million in assets and 34,377 members. Pioneer has $570.7 million and 54,430 members. The surviving credit union will be called Capital Pioneer CU and have more than $1 billion in assets, a membership totaling nearly 90,000 members and 25 branches.

Tom Young, president of Pioneer, said that being cooperatives means making decisions "based only on how it affects the members. There are no stock swaps, no big buyouts, no money changing hands." The structure "allows us to take advantage of economies of scale and better adjust to ever-increasing government regulations, maximizing the benefits to our members."

A vote to ratify the merger will be held for Pioneer members later this summer. Capital's members will vote on the name change at its annual meeting in February. They plan to complete the merger in mid-2014.

In Long Island, N.Y., Island FCU and CWA Long Island FCU announced they will merge, effective June 30. All CWALIFCU members will automatically become members of the $900 million asset Island FCU.  They will have access to six--and soon to be seven--Island branches throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties, and will have immediate access to more than 5,000 shared branches, 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs, Free Online Banking and Bill Payer, as well as 24/7 member service.

First Data Survey: Smartphones Are Shaping Mobile Banking

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ATLANTA (6/24/13)--If credit unions need more evidence about the importance of offering mobile banking, another study concludes that consumers want it all--in the palm of their hand.

Consumers expect strikingly similar mobile and technology-powered experiences from financial institutions and businesses, and their expectations are fueled by skyrocketing smartphone use, according to a new study from Atlanta-based First Data..

"They expect a mobile banking app to be as easy to use as shopping online, for example. And they want to be able to pay for purchases with whatever method is most convenient to them," said First Data's executive summary.

Consumers expect three features in their Web-based shopping, payments, banking and money management, the study found:

  • Seamlessness and control--the ability to connect related activities and move among multiple channels, both online and off, and from device to device.  This produces a simpler, more intuitive experience than previous payments and financial services experiences. About 71% of those surveyed expect real-time access to their financial accounts, rating this eight, nine or 10 on a 10-point scale. In the U.S., 76% had this expectation, one of the highest levels among countries in the survey. Nearly half said they would stop using a technology immediately if it was not intuitive, easy and straightforward.
  • Tailored and personalized experiences. Consumers expect businesses they interact with to know them. They demand a tailored experience using information businesses have collected about them to their benefit. Roughly 58% expect their financial institution to do a better job in considering their individual circumstances. Nearly half want businesses to get better at targeting ads and offers to them.
  • Social and sharing.  Technology has changed how communication between businesses and consumers functions, shifting from top-down to peer-to-peer and even bottom-up. Social media and user-generated online content have increased consumers' span of influence. Half of global consumers surveyed post reviews online, more than half consult social media before making a purchase, and about half prefer working with companies that are smart about social media and technology.

What does this mean for credit unions? Credit unions pride themselves on how well they know and serve their members, but these findings suggest they must translate this knowledge into their real-time technology to be effective under the evolving expectations for personalized service, said the Credit Union National Association.  Fostering service excellence is one of three components driving credit unions' national campaign, Unite for Good, which strives to achieve CUNA's strategic vision for credit unions, where "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial institution. For more information, use the link.

"When we talk about evolving consumer expectations, what we're really talking about is an expectation of higher levels of service and a drive toward simplicity, with the consumer at the center of it all," said Larry Drury, chief marketing officer at First Data.

"Much of this change in expectations is driven by the proliferation of smartphones, which have fundamentally altered how consumers around the world go about their daily lives. Understanding this impact on consumer behavior has profound implications for doing business today," Drury added.

First Data's online study surveyed nearly 4,000 consumers who had a bank account and either a debit or credit card in 10 markets, including the U.S.

Minn. CUs Share Insight In Establishing In-school Branches

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (6/24/13)--With student-run credit unions a hot topic in Minnesota, three credit unions in the state have received media coverage and high praise for their new in-school branches, said the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN).

Click to view larger image Postal CU employee Marc Buchmayer shared his experiences working at the new student-run credit union at Tartan High School in Minnesota. (Photo provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Network)
Student branches of HomeTown CU in Owatonna, St. Paul (Minn.) FCU and Postal CU in Woodbury have opened their doors in the past three years.

MnCUN and the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation hosted an educational session Wednesday for credit unions to share experiences of establishing student-run branches.

MnCUN Vice President-Association Services Kristina Wright, who is the lead staff liaison to the foundation, discussed the benefits of student-run credit unions and various models, saying that personal finance aspects of in-school branches are "just the tip of the iceberg."

"Not only do students receive financial education, but they get experience in life skills, like applying and interviewing for jobs, and learning the finer points of customer service," Wright said. She noted that schools can incorporate the student branches into marketing, math, art and computer classes.

"Student branches also open the doors for credit unions to be more involved in the community, educate students on the credit union difference, and increase your positive reputation among students, faculty and parents," Wright added. "This kind of involvement in the school positions your credit union as a valuable community partner and creates goodwill on a number of different levels," she told the group.

Richard Todd, vice president, community affairs with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, provided an overview of the history and revival of in-school savings programs, which started in Europe in the mid-1800s and spread to the U.S. in the 1870s. Todd noted changes in these programs over the years and the need for good support from financial institutions.

Representatives from HomeTown CU, St. Paul FCU and Postal CU shared their experiences, including hurdles and lessons learned. Each stressed the importance of forming a strong relationship with a school or district, and identifying a financial education champion within the school to help drive ideas forward.

While all the speakers agreed on a few key tenets--choosing a good location, being flexible and engaging with the school in as many ways as possible--each student-run branch is unique in its structure, offerings and demographics, they said.

Maine League Elects Table Officers, Presents Awards

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PORTLAND, Maine (6/24/13)--The Maine Credit Union League elected its table officers and announced the recipients of its annual awards at a special ceremony during the league's 75th annual meeting and convention.

Click to view larger imageJ. Hunter King, left, president/CEO of Trademark FCU, Augusta, Maine, recipient of the Maine Credit Union League's James M. Gratto Award for Outstanding Credit Union Manager, and Joann Bisson, vice president of Trademark FCU.
Table officers for 2013-14 include:

  • Chair--Jim Lemieux, president/CEO, Sebasticook Valley FCU, Pittsfield;
  • Vice chair--Richard Lachance, president/CEO, Maine Education CU, Augusta;
  • Treasurer--Phil Moreau, president/CEO, Rainbow FCU, Lewiston; and      
  • Secretary--Luke Labbe, president/CEO, PeopleChoice CU, Saco.
Click to view larger image John Murphy, left, Maine Credit Union League president/CEO, and David Rossignol, president/CEO of NorState FCU, Madawaska, Maine, who received the  League President's Award for Outstanding League Volunteer. (Photos provided by the Maine Credit Union League)
Also, two new board members officially began their terms. Ken Hensler, president/CEO of The County FCU, Caribou, replaced Dave Rossignol, president/CEO of NorState FCU, Madawaska, who is retiring at the end of the month. Roger Sirois, president/CEO of Atlantic Regional FCU, Brunswick, is replacing Gail Richardson, president/CEO, Midcoast FCU, Bath, who retired at the end of the convention.

Awards and their winners included:

  • Alexander Ferguson Award for Outstanding Credit Union Volunteer--Chanel Coulombe, Atlantic Regional FCU, Brunswick;
  • James M. Gratto Award for Outstanding Credit Union Manager--J. Hunter King, president/CEO, Trademark FCU, Augusta;
  • Jeannette G. Morin Award for Outstanding Credit Union Employee--Tina Jamo, vice president of operations, Katahdin FCU, Millinocket;
  • League President's Award for Outstanding League Volunteer--Rossignol; and
  • Diane L. Oceretko "People Helping People" Award--Joel Wegner, quality assurance coordinator, Five County CU of Bath (Maine).