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CU System briefs (07/17/2014)

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  • WESTBROOK, Maine (7/17/14)-- Lauren Reeves, who just completed her stint as the Young & Free Maine "spokester," is the new corporate communications and marketing coordinator for the Maine Credit Union League. Reeves will replace Diana Dionne, who will be leaving in the fall after the birth of her twins. "Diana has done a great job during her seven-plus years with the organization," said Jon Paradise, league vice president of governmental and public affairs ...
  • HARAHAN, La. (7/17/14)-- Danielle Thibodeaux has been promoted to compliance director at the Louisiana Credit Union League , where she will assist member credit unions with research and compliance needs ( eNews July 16). Thibodeaux also will help maintain compliance information available through InfoSight and CU Policy Pro ...
  • LAWRENCE, Mass. (7/17/14)-- Lawrence (Mass.) Postal Employees CU, has merged with $510 million-asset Merrimack Valley FCU, Lawrence, Mass. Before the July 1 merger, Lawrence Postal Employees CU was the smallest postal credit union in the United States with $492,000 in assets and 118 members ...

Patent abuse among 4 MCUA-backed bills signed by Gov. Nixon

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ST. LOUIS (7/17/14)--Among four bills Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed by the July 14 legislative deadline was a measure that provides credit unions and others with protection against bad faith assertions of patent infringement, or patent trolling.
 
Four out of the five bills supported by the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) during the 2014 legislative session will become law on Aug. 28. Nixon vetoed one bill by the deadline. Overall, he vetoed 33 bills, the most in a single year since he took office.
 
House Bill 1374, the patent troll bill, was sponsored by Rep. Stan Cox (R-52). Sen. Mike Cunningham (R-33) introduced Senate Bill 706, which addresses the same issue ( News Now Feb 6).
 
The new law sets clear criteria to help judges distinguish legitimate from illegitimate patent assertions. It also gives businesses affected by patent trolling the option to seek restitution through the circuit court.
 
"Patent troll" broadly refers to people who sue companies, such as credit unions, for patent infringement on often questionable claims in attempt to collect licensing fees.
 
Other bills signed by Nixon include a consumer protection bill banning public employee pension transfers (HB 1217); a bill protecting a credit union's lien priority over a condo association's special assessment (HB 1218); and a credit card processing service contract bill (HB 1270). 
 
Nixon vetoed the electronic lien release bill, HB 1999.  The bill would have allowed a lienholder who files a lien electronically on a motor vehicle or trailer to electronically release the lien.  Nixon's veto letter cited concerns about a drafting error in the bill. 
 
"While it was disappointing to have the electronic lien release bill vetoed, it was a positive legislative session overall," said David Kent, MCUA director of state legislative affairs.  "The governor signed the majority of our priority bills, including the patent troll bill, and these bills will have an impact on credit union operations and service to members."
 
There is still an opportunity for HB 1999 to become law this year.  The Missouri General Assembly can override the governor's veto with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate.  The veto session will be held Sept. 10.

NW CUs write truly big checks to states' members

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PORTLAND, Ore. (7/17/14)--The Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) created an eye-catching way for its member credit unions to communicate how Washington and Oregon credit unions collectively saved consumers $280 million in the 12 months ending March 2014.
 
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
The NWCUA created downloadable check images that member credit unions can post to market the credit union difference to the public.
 
The two checks are made out to the members of each state and signed by ASmarterChoice.org, the consumer website launched in 2011 by the Credit Union National Association and state credit union associations to provide information on credit unions to potential members and the press.
 
Washington's 3 million members collectively saved nearly $202 million, while Oregon's 1.4 million members saved more than $78 million, according to an analysis by CUNA. The quarterly report is based on data collected by Datatrac and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), which tracked fees, loan rates and interest on savings at banks and credit unions ( Anthem July 16).
 
The NWCUA also provides its member credit unions with community impact reports to share with their members that include statistics such as:
  • Ninety percent of the likely Oregon voters polled in January 2013 shared a positive impression of the credit union in their communities;
  • A recent survey of 36 Oregon credit unions--large and small--found they contributed more than $2.4 million in cash and more than 46,000 volunteer hours in 2012 to children's hospitals, food banks, animal shelters and other local charities. Those credit unions also donated nearly $800,000 in staff time to those efforts;
  • The NCUA reported that Oregon credit unions had more than $796 million in outstanding small business loans as of December 2012;
  • Sixty-two percent of Washingtonians are credit union members;
  • Financing a $25,000 new automobile for 60 months at a Washington credit union will save members an average of $231 per year in interest, according to CUNA;
  • A recent survey of 43 Washington credit unions--large and small--found they contributed more than $4.2 million in cash and more than 41,000 volunteer hours in 2012 to children's hospitals, schools, scholarships, food banks and other local charities. Those credit unions also donated more than $1.2 million in staff time to those community causes; and
  • In 1986, a group of Oregon and Southwest Washington credit unions began raising money for local children's hospitals. They were so successful, that their model was adopted nationally by credit unions. Credit Unions for Kids is now the credit union movement's charity of choice, benefitting 170 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals across the United States. Since 1996, Credit Unions for Kids has generated more than $100 million for research, examination rooms and charity care.

Grants from CUs help schools, teachers make the grade

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MADISON, Wis. (7/17/14)--Students may still be on summer vacation, but credit unions are helping teachers and schools prepare for the upcoming school year with financial support for programs, training and infrastructure.
 
In New York, students from 61 schools submitted videos for Municipal CU's Build a Better School contest ( New York Daily News June 23). The $2 billion-asset credit union granted $5,000--matched by another $5,000 from the United Federation of Teachers (UFT)--to four schools for a greenhouse, a weather station, computers and science lab equipment.
 
The largest grant of $10,000--also matched by the teachers' union--went to School by the Sea, Far Rockaway, Queens, where $20,000 will help fix classrooms destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.
 
"We judged them on the basis of need, creativity, collaboration and community," Corey Fernandes, Municipal CU vice president for business development, told the N ew York Daily News .  
 
Build a Better School, which will accept grants next year, was sponsored by Municipal CU, the New York City Department of Education, UFT, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, the City University of New York, WPIX-TV 11 and the Daily News .
 
Moss Point (Miss.) High School chemistry and physical science teacher Myeshea Holmes, left, and department Chair Qwantina Barlow are using the grant from Singing River FCU to restore a greenhouse that will ultimately house a produce market. (Mississippi Credit Union Association Photo)
In Moss Point, Miss., Singing River FCU awarded three $1,000 grant to local teachers because they are "dedicated, passionate teachers," said Jimmy Smith, president/CEO of the $196 million-asset credit union ( CU Connection July 9). "They're also spearheading innovative projects that will inspire students and parents alike, with no additional dollars in their budgets."
 
Kelly Walters, who teaches third grade at Martin Bluff Elementary School, will invest in technology that will allow her students to write and publish interactive digital textbooks.
 
Myeshea Holmes, a chemistry and physical science teacher at Moss Point High School, will team up with the school's carpentry department to restore a neglected greenhouse on the campus in order to establish a new gardening program. Eventually, Holmes said, "we'll open a produce market run by our business students and sell fresh vegetables to the public."
 
Mississippi's history and natural resources will be the focus in Sharon Thompson's classroom at Central Elementary School. The "Rockin' Round Mississippi" curriculum will allow students to celebrate Mississippi natives such as Oprah Winfrey, Brett Favre and Elvis Presley.
 
"Every student understands and remembers in his own way, and this material allows for learning across multiple intelligences," said Thompson, a special education inclusion teacher.
 
The A+ Education Foundation, a philanthropic arm of $1 billion-asset A+ FCU, awarded more than $72,000 in grants to 81 educators in central Texas. Since 2004, the Austin, Texas-based foundation has awarded more than $500,000.
 
The grants cover the cost of programs, supplies and training to improve the classroom experience for students. This year's winning submissions include a literacy lab, college readiness, music in play, circuitry in engineering, integrating technology to foster and develop mathematics and assistive technology to conquer dyslexia.
 
"We continue to be impressed by the innovative and creative grants submissions we receive each year," said foundation President Kerry A.S. Parker.

Check deposits lead upswing in mobile banking

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AUSTIN, Texas (7/17/14)--Credit unions and banks that have been live with mobile check capture for at least 12 months reported a 45% increase in the number of checks processed monthly in the year ending June 2014, according to Malauzai Software, a mobile banking provider.
 
Malauzai's Monkey Insights report highlights key trends in mobile-banking usage  based on data for 180 credit unions and banks covering 3 million logins from 210,000 active mobile users.
 
There has been a 47% rise in the number of consumers depositing checks among Malauzai clients.
 
Year-over-year, mobile banking consumers increased their frequency of usage, Malauzai reported. The average consumer logged in 3.9 times per week in June 2014, a rise of more than 20% from 3.2 times in June 2013. iOS (iPhone and iPad consumers) log in 12% more often than Android users, indicating that usage varies by platform.
 
From July 2013 through June 2014, viewing of account transaction history saw a 4% gain. Internal transfers increased by 8%, and viewing check images also increased by 10%. Consumers are learning to use the advantages of mobile and tablet navigation, as evidenced by the 12% upturn in the use of the finger-swipe feature. 
 
Mobile bill pay jumped 75% in monthly transaction volume, with a 40% spike in the number of consumers paying bills.
 
For credit unions and banks that have offered Picture Pay--through which end-users pay their bills with smart-phone camera images--at least 12 months, transaction volume rose by 34% over the past year. The value of payments processed monthly increased by 44%.

CU invests in staff, community with paid volunteer time

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ST. LOUIS (7/17/14)--Leaders from 1st Financial FCU, Wentzville, Mo., have a long list of ways to encourage employees to give back to the community, such as offering opportunities to donate goods, provide financial literacy education and participate in fundraising efforts.

That list just got a little longer.

The $203 million-asset credit union in the St. Louis-area recently introduced a paid-volunteer program where it pays employees when they volunteer at designated nonprofit organizations in their communities ( St. Louis Post-Dispatch July 11).

In order to bring about true life-changing transformation in the community, the credit union's leadership says, it takes hard work, effort and people using their talents and skills for good.

"Paid volunteerism is such a great opportunity to allow our employees the chance to actively contribute to the communities we serve," said Robyn Whalen, 1st Financial vice president of human resources and administration. "We don't just donate money or raise funds for our local charities. We physically help those organizations whether it's stocking shelves at a food pantry, playing with children in a shelter or building a house."

So far, employees from 1st Financial have worked more than 165 hours of paid volunteer time at organizations such as Gateway 180: Homelessness Reversed; O.A.S.I.S. Food Pantry; PAKT Community Center; and Habitat for Humanity of St. Charles County.

The organizations are picked through the credit union's Helping People 1st grant program.

"The act of volunteering is a team- and morale-building event," Whalen said. "The employees create shared memories and work together to help a good cause."

Post-recession, millennials struggle to save now to survive later, survey says

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (7/17/14)--The Great Recession taught many hard lessons to American consumers, and that includes millennials.

According to a recent survey by Wells Fargo, 80% of millennials, or those born between 1980 and the early 2000s, say the economic downturn in 2008 showed them they need to save now to ensure they can survive economic problems in the future.

Unfortunately, in many cases this lesson has not led to action, as only 55% report that they've started saving for retirement. Broken down by gender, 61% of males have started saving compared with 50% of females.

"The silver lining of the recession that started over five years ago is that a majority of millennials get that saving is a necessity and even equate it with 'surviving' tough times," said Karen Wimbish, director of retail retirement for Wells Fargo. "But millennial women are starting out their working lives making far less than men, and as a consequence, are saving less and feeling less contentment at the start of their working lives."

The findings are part of the Wells Fargo Millennial Study that polled more than 1,600 adults ages 22 to 33.

Further, about half of all millennials say they're satisfied with the current state of their savings, with only 41% of women reporting satisfaction compared with 58% of men.

The study also found that many millennials continue to struggle with debt, as 42% said debt is their biggest financial concern, with about 40% saying their debt is "overwhelming." Again, males fared a bit better with 45% of women feeling overwhelmed compared with 33% of men.

Student loans are the top source of debt that millennials grapple with, according to the survey, with 29% reporting that it's their strongest concern.

Additional findings:
  • Of those millennials who have started saving, 46% said they are saving 1% to 5% of their income for retirement; 31% are saving 6% to 10% of their income; and 18% are saving more than 10%;
     
  • More than 70% of millennials are confident they will be able to save enough to pay for the lifestyle they want in the future, with women far less confident than males in this category at 63% compared with 80%; and
     
  • Of those millennials not yet saving, 84% say they aren't doing so because they currently don't have enough money.

New CUNA eSchool tailors compliance training for HR professionals

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MADISON, Wis. (7/17/14)--The Credit Union National Association announced a new, eight-session eSchool focused on the compliance challenges faced by credit union human resources professionals.
 
The HR Compliance eSchool, which will run between Sept. 3 and Oct. 29, is tailored to keep human resources professionals updated on workplace law and better able to minimize risk.
 
"Human resources professionals sometimes get caught in a difficult balancing act between advocating for the employee and protecting the credit union," said Marlo Foltz, CUNA vice president of blended learning. "Over the course of eight Wednesdays this fall, we'll make sure they have the regulatory updates and compliance know-how to successfully position their credit unions and stay one step ahead in their HR roles."
 
The eSchool will identify and address common pitfalls that can put an organization at risk. Presented by human resources expert Joe Aitchison, each session offers resources for tackling the complexities of workplace compliance.
 
The CUNA HR Compliance eSchool session dates and topics are:
  • Sept. 3: Complying with Fair Labor Standards Act and I-9;
  • Sept. 10:  HIPPA Privacy and Other Workplace Security Issues;
  • Sept. 17:  Social Media in the Workplace;
  • Sept. 24:  Family Medical Leave Act/Americans with Disability Act;
  • Oct. 1:  Department of Labor and Employee Retirement Income Security Act Audits;
  • Oct. 15:  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Diversity and Affirmative Action Plans/Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs;
  • Oct. 22:  Harassment, Discrimination and Workplace Violence; and
  • Oct. 29:  Human Resource Audits--The Whats and the Whys.