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CU System briefs (07/11/2014)

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  • WASHINGTON (7/11/14)-- Four Washington, D.C.-area credit unions were recognized for their achievements associated with the April 6 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, which benefits Children's Miracle Network Hospitals . Constellation FCU, Reston, Va., with $181 million in assets, raised the most in the member donation challenge. Department of Labor FCU, Washington, with $71 million in assets, raised the most in the organizational donation challenge. NASA FCU, Upper Marlboro, Md., with $1.3 billion in assets, was the top credit union running team with the top credit union male runner and top credit union female runner. SECU, Linthicum, Md., with $2.8 billion in assets, was named the most spirited volunteer team. This year's race resulted in a $487,000 donation to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals ...
  • NEW CASTLE, Del. (7/11/14)-- The Delaware Credit Union League and NetDE Business Group will hold their first networking event for seasoned credit union professionals of all ages Tuesday in Newark, Del. The league said it envisions all participants can provide information and insight into their own generations ...
  • COLUMBUS, Ohio (7/11/14)-- John Florian, vice president of government and political affairs at the Ohio Credit Union League, is leaving the league after 23 years. Florian, who has a master's degree in theological studies from Washington Theological Union, will pursue his passion of spiritual ministry, according to the eLumination newsletter (July 9). "During his 23 years, John made many lasting contributions to the league and greater credit union movement," said league President Paul Mercer. "In particular, he laid many of the foundational blocks on which our advocacy business has grown strong."  Florian's last day is July 18 ...

CU growth buoys hiring, pay increase plans: CUNA survey

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MADISON, Wis. (7/11/14)--Burgeoning membership expansion and the potential for double-digit loan growth are incubating a stronger employment environment at credit unions--one that portends more hires and increased wages, according to research from the Credit Union National Association.
In the soon-to-be released 2014-2015 CUNA Staff Salary Report, nearly 30% of credit unions plan to add full-time employees to their payrolls in 2014--an increase from overall figures of 25% in 2013 and 20% in 2012.
In credit unions with $200 million or more in assets, a full 60% plan to expand their employee numbers this year.
"With credit union operating results in the aggregate, and by most means, back to pre-recession levels, credit unions are healthier than they have been in years," CUNA interim Chief Economist Mike Schenk told News Now .
Between trends of double-digit loan growth and 2.5% annual membership growth, "it's a pretty good indication that there would be a need for additional people and resources to serve new members," Schenk added.
On average, credit unions plan to add 3.9 full-time employees. That number rises with asset size, hitting 37 expected additions for credit unions with assets of $3 billion or more.
Part-time employees also play a part in 2014, with almost a quarter of credit unions planning to add part-time workers and an average 2.1 staff members. Fewer than 10% of credit unions plan to reduce full- or part-time staff, and the vast majority of those planning to make reductions are eliminating just one position.
This is the third year that nearly three-quarters of credit unions with $1 million or more in assets have plans for wage or salary increases. "As the job environment improves, credit unions will be paying more to keep their top-performing employees," said Jon Haller, CUNA director of market and corporate research.
Both actual increases and anticipated increases are somewhat more likely to be found among credit unions with assets of $20 million or more than among their smaller counterparts.
About 70% to 80% of credit unions provided salary/wage increases to each of the three following employee categories: CEO, management employees and non-management employees.
Similar percentages of credit unions anticipate providing such increases to each of these groups this year and in 2015.
Wage growth also is supported by a reduction in pay freezes, Haller noted. "Only 17% anticipate any wage freezes this year, a significant drop from the 2010 and 2011 high of 45% and the slide to 35% in 2012 and 2013," he said.
Those expected wage freezes are more likely to be encountered at credit unions with less than $20 million assets.
As credit unions look to a changing leadership demographic, 10% of CEOs--including about 25% to 35% who are currently age 60 or older--plan to retire in the next two years. Seventy-five percent of credit unions with CEO retirements on the horizon have succession plans in place.
The survey features compensation data for 90 positions, including CEO and 10 part-time positions. Data includes:
  • Base salaries;
  • Incentives;
  • Bonuses;
  • Total cash compensation;
  • Salary ranges; and
  • Asset categories for $1 billion to $3 billion, and more than $3 billion.

Debit rewards programs still valuable to members, CUs find

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MADISON, Wis. (7/11/14)--Credit unions are finding success in offering debit reward programs to their members--three years after big banks bailed on the programs in the wake of interchange rule changes.

While most big banks jumped ship, community financial institutions--including credit unions--saw an opportunity: Debit cards account for nearly 50% more noncash transactions than credit cards. And consumers are more than happy to earn cash for spending money ( July 9).
About one-third of financial institutions offer rewards tied to debit cards, according to Aite Group research.
Credit unions say the programs fit with their members-first philosophy, according to Ron Shevlin, Aite Group senior analyst. Most community financial institutions are using debit as a channel for growth, according to Shevlin. Among those with a debit card rewards program in place, 60% said the program helped drive usage.
At $1 billion-asset Hanscom FCU, based on Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., the MemberPoints reward program has been popular with members since 2007, according to Steve Silva, the credit union's vice president of marketing.
Members earn one point for every $2 when they sign a receipt, or five points per transaction when they use a PIN. The program makes the credit union's checking product more appealing, Silva told . Points are used to make purchases from a merchandise catalog.
Studies show that consumers prefer using debit cards to credit cards. About 49% of those polled said they preferred to pay by debit, while 34% said they preferred credit. Another 11% said they preferred paying by cash or check, according to a 2013 Consumer Payment Choice Study by the payments processing company TSYS.
At Directions CU, Sylvania, Ohio, with $598 million in assets, debit rewards are an added benefit for members with checking accounts but not necessarily a driver on their own, Julie Linch, senior vice president of retail delivery, told . Consumers still expect other benefits, such as free checking, Linch said.
Bankrate's 2014 Credit Union Checking Survey found that 72% of the nation's 50 largest credit unions offer a free checking account, which means there are no monthly service fees or point-of-sale transaction fees associated with the account ( News Now March 4).

Kindness alert: NEFCU starts 'Pay It Forward Friday' today

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WESTBURY, N.Y. (7/11/14)--NEFCU is telling Long Islanders, "It's on us," this summer as the credit union this week announced a "pay it forward" initiative.
Starting today, the $2.2 billion-asset Westbury, N.Y.-based credit union will send local branch employees into the Long Island community to surprise residents with free lunches, coffee, treats and gas, and perform other good deeds.
NEFCU also will be helping three Long Islanders in need. Throughout the summer three local residents will receive up to $1,500 in assistance. NEFCU is asking for nominations of three people or families who would benefit most from the larger donations.
"Every Friday this summer, we'll be looking to bring a smile to hundreds of Long Islanders' faces and show them the power of 'paying it forward,'" said Edward Paternostro, NEFCU president/CEO.  "This is an exciting and enjoyable program for everybody involved as we go deep into the community--and deep into our pockets--to bring a little happiness and assistance to our neighbors."
The program kicks off today in Commack. Throughout the day, local NEFCU branch employees will be out in the community, looking for opportunities to  pay it forward, whether it's bringing meals to a senior center, providing balls to children in a town park or buying a late-running commuter a train ticket.
NEFCU's "Pay It Forward Fridays" team will also be handing envelopes stuffed with a $5 bill to passers-by in the hope that they, too, will use the money to brighten the lives of a stranger.
Following the Commack debut, the promotion moves to a different community each Friday.
For the three people or families selected to receive the large donations from NEFCU, each will be handed a check on a different Friday at a local NEFCU branch.
"We'll be looking to do so many little things that make a difference in the lives of our neighbors, but in three instances this summer, we hope to provide a little bit of hope for those who could use a helping hand or some assistance amidst some difficult times," said Paternostro.

Global study finds 1 in 6 U.S. students financially illiterate

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PARIS (7/11/14)--In a recent international study that looked at the financial capabilities of 15-year-olds, U.S. teenagers scored below average in financial literacy, and roughly 17.8% of American students were found to be financially illiterate, meaning they failed to complete even the most basic of tasks.

"This group of students can, at best, recognize the difference between needs and wants, make simple decisions about everyday spending, recognize the purpose of everyday financial documents, such as an invoice, and apply single and basic numerical operations," found the Organisation of Economic and Development, which administered the international assessment.

About 29,000 15-year-olds from 13 countries participated in the test, which gauged knowledge and financial skills such as reading and comprehending a bank statement, calculating the long-term cost of a loan or understanding how insurance works.

Americans scored just below the mean score of the 13 countries. The average score was 500, and U.S. teenagers averaged a 492.

Those from Shanghai-China posted the highest average score in financial literacy, above 600, with Belgium, Estonia, Australia, New Zealand, the Czech Republic and Poland behind them, though only 1 out of 10 students were able to handle complex financial situations across the board, including in the United States.

Students with bank accounts scored higher than those without them, the study found. In the United States, about 50% of 15-year-olds reported having bank accounts and in general performed better than those who didn't.

Other factors that influenced performance were:
  • Gender;
  • Wealth;
  • Cultural possessions and number of books at home;
  • Parents' highest occupational status and level of education;
  • Immigration status; and
  • School location.

Time MONEY recognizes Olson for refugee fin. ed.

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (7/11/14)--Sandy Olson, an employee of the charitable foundation of $1.7 billion-asset Affinity Plus FCU, St. Paul, Minn., has been recognized as a Time MONEY hero.
One person from each state and Washington, D.C., is recognized as a MONEY hero for helping others improve their personal financial situations.
Olson was nominated and selected as the MONEY hero in Minnesota for teaching financial education courses to refugees at MORE Multicultural School for Empowerment (MORE) for the past 11 years. The topics she covers in the courses include money management, budgeting, credit cards and lending.
"During each class, I provide refugees with tools that will help them understand our country's financial system, and then dive into specific topics like checking and savings accounts for example," said Olson. "Most importantly, I listen to their questions and concerns, and help them find answers. As the discussion develops, and their confidence and trust grows, so does our relationship."
"Olson has never been out of the country yet she teaches refugees from Bhutan to Ethiopia," the MONEY magazine article said in describing Olson's work. "Today the personal finance classes she teaches are the last of a series in which immigrants learn English and basic living skills. Olson explains budgeting and shows her students how to compare credit cards and real estate online; she discusses the link between credit reports and hiring. And she drives her students around because most don't have cars."
Olson told MONEY that providing rides for her students helped them develop a bond and build trust. "Trust is huge factor," she said. "They've been through so much."
Olson's dedication is inspiring. More than a dozen of her Affinity Plus co-workers have also volunteered at MORE, MONEY reported.
For more on Olson and her work, use the links.

CUNA Councils reaches milestone of 6,000 total members

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MADISON, Wis. (7/11/14)--The Credit Union National Association's nationwide organization for credit union executives--CUNA Councils--has reached the 6,000-member milestone.
"That's 6,000 credit union leaders collaborating and sharing insights, and 6,000 credit union leaders working together to drive the movement forward," said Jill Tomalin, CUNA executive vice president/chief operating officer. "If you're not already a Council member, connecting with this ever-growing community of credit union peers is something that will benefit you both professionally and personally."
Members have access to cooperative peer resources and experienced advice through the CFO Council; HR/TD Council; Lending Council; Marketing and Business Development Council; Operations, Sales and Service Council; and Technology Council.
The celebration and nationwide prize giveaway runs through Aug. 29. There are six ways to enter and six prizes, including a grand prize valued at up to $2,670. In the spirit of paying it forward, for each new member who joins by Aug. 29, the Councils will donate $6 to the National Credit Union Foundation.
Use the resource links for more information about CUNA Councils and to join the 6,000-member celebration.

Fin. ed. for student body key part of Altura, UC-Riverside partnership

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RIVERSIDE, Calif. (7/11/14)--Altura CU, Riverside, Calif., announced a four-year contract with the University of California-Riverside's (UCR) multimedia rights partner this week, an agreement that will allow the $731 million-asset credit union to provide the university's students financial education, among other services.

"We have strong ties to UCR and to the educational community throughout Riverside County," said Mark Hawkins, Altura CEO. "Working together, we can help them build the financial skills they will need to help them better manage their financial lives, now and in the future."

As UC-Riverside Athletics' official credit union partner, Altura will sponsor financial literacy and life skills education, offer Spirit Debit Cards, host in-game promotions at UCR athletic events, have access to branding opportunities and offer an ATM at the SRC Arena.

"We are fortunate to have such a vested partner in not only the UCR athletic program and our student-athletes, but to the entire student body through Altura Credit Union's involvement in financial literacy program, on-campus ATM and student- and affiliate-centric banking services," said Jim Wooldridge, UCR athletic director.