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CU System

Newest Mass. congressional rep. meets with CU delegates

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Massachusetts credit union leaders welcome the state's newest congressional representative during a Monday visit to RTN FCU, Waltham. James Regan, president/CEO, Digital FCU, Marlborough, left; Richard Wright, CEO/treasurer, RTN FCU; U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Melrose); Edward Lopes, CEO, Liberty Bay CU, Braintree; David Sprague, president/CEO, Hanscom FCU, Hanscom Air Force Base; and Doug Petersen, president/CEO, Workers' CU, Fitchburg. (Massachusetts Credit Union League photo)
ALTHAM, Mass. (7/2/14)--U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Melrose), the newest member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, told a gathering of credit unions leaders Monday that she understands the credit union difference and is looking forward to working with them during her time in Congress.
 
Clark, who serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources, was elected in December in a special election to fill the seat previously held by now U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D).
 
At the RTN FCU headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Clark met with officials from some of the 25 credit unions located in her district ( Daily CU Scan July 1).
 
Clark's experience at the state House and Senate included corporate income tax exemption, mandatory financial education in high schools and promoting state- and federally chartered credit unions as depositories for public funds.
 
She shared her belief that credit unions should not be lumped in with other financial service providers and praised them for their commitment to lending during the financial crisis.
 
Credit unions in attendance thanked Clark for signing on to the recent congressional letter to the National Credit Union Administration regarding its risk-based capital proposal.

CU System briefs (07/02/2014)

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    Click for slide show Click for a slideshow of the Unite for Good Wall (CUNA Photo)
    SAN FRANCISCO (7/2/14)--The "Unite for Good" campaign, the Credit Union National Association's shared strategic vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partners, marked its first anniversary in February during CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.,  at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Building on the success of a Unite for Good storyboard at the GAC, where stories from nearly 100 credit unions were displayed throughout the convention center, CUNA is giving credit unions at this week's America's Credit Union Conference in San Francisco a fun opportunity to have their story told and illustrated. "You talk, Kate draws" asks credit unions to share their Unite for Good stories then instructs attendees to "Come back and visit your story when it is posted" for all to see. Click through the slideshow to get a sampling of what credit unions are most proud. Credit union advocates can also post messages to social media using the #UniteforGood hashtag ...
     
  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/2/14)-- As part of its commitment to community service, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association is committed to the state's Adopt-a-Highway program and recently completed its second round of cleanup duties June 29 at the interchange of Route 22/322 and Linglestown Road ( Life is a Highway July 1). Participants included Joe Wambach, executive director, Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, left; T. Fetsko, controller/vice president of administration; Rhonda Rumbaugh, vice president of marketing and professional development; Corinne Sherman, senior vice president of fee services; Paula Walker, support services assistant; Rose Dietz, settlement representative; Mike Wishnow, senior vice president of communications and public relations; and John Kilduff, compliance administrator (Pennsylvania Credit Union Association photo) ...
  • RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (7/2/14)-- The young singer/songwriter Daria Musk will take part in a July 10 webinar that details CO-OP Financial Services' "Empowering People. Amplifying Dreams." campaign and offers new marketing materials. The free webinar-- "Empowering People. Amplifying Dreams: Building a National Brand of CO-OP Credit Unions" --will be 2-3 p.m. (ET). "The single greatest challenge to our movement's growth is consumers, especially young consumers, who don't understand what credit unions are, and aren't aware of the national access they provide," said CO-OP President/CEO Stan Hollen. The campaign aims to introduce consumers to credit unions and to the benefits of membership, while offering individual credit unions an opportunity to attract attention to their own brand, he added. Musk, the campaign's spokesperson, also will hold her second Google+ Hangout concert for CO-OP at 6 p.m. (ET) July 16 ...

Changes are in the works for RBC proposal, Fazio says at ACUC

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SAN FRANCISCO (7/2/14)--The National Credit Union Administration will work as long as it takes to finalize practical regulations that govern asset risk at credit unions, Larry Fazio, NCUA director of the Office of Examination and Insurance, told a full house of credit union professionals Tuesday.
Click for slide show Larry Fazio, NCUA director of the Office of Examination and Insurance, tells a packed room of credit union professionals that the NCUA will use as long as it takes to get the controversial risk-based capital proposal right, adding that there is a lot of work yet to be done. (CUNA Photo)
The large crowd had come to listen to a panel discussion about the state of NCUA's controversial risk-based capital (RBC) proposal during a special general session at the Credit Union National Association's 2014 America's Credit Union Conference.

Answering a question about when the agency might finalize an RBC plan, posed during a Q&A with attendees that capped off the event, Fazio said, "There's a lot of work left to still be done." He added that the agency will spend "as long as it takes to get it right, and I don't know (how long) that will be because we're still in the re-engineering process."

Credit unions have been clear about their concerns over NCUA's RBC proposal, which would rewrite Prompt Corrective Action rules and replace the current system of risk-based net worth requirements with risk-weighted asset and capital requirements. The NCUA received a record number of comment letters before the comment period ended May 28.

A key problem, as CUNA's leaders have noted, is that the rule as proposed would force credit unions to build an incrementally larger buffer into their bottom lines to remain well-capitalized, a harsh penalty considering how responsible credit unions have been in their lending practices.

As CUNA Interim Chief Economist Mike Schenk illustrated during the RBC panel discussion, from the outset of the recession, only 25 credit unions failed as a result of taking on too much risk, while 450 banks of a similar size went under during that same stretch.

"On one level we had a real difficult time with why exactly this thing (proposal) was needed in the first place," Schenk said. "(Not only is this) a solution looking for a problem, but in our view it's a bad solution looking for a problem."

After its initial release, CUNA tested the proposal by running existing credit unions through the system, an exercise that produced several important and disturbing results, Schenk said.

Most notably, the rule led to very significant increases in capital requirements for thousands of credit unions throughout the United States, a dedication of resources which likely would impair their abilities to serve members.

"We have a problem with that," Schenk said.

Fazio acknowledged that the credit union system weathered the economic downturn well, but said the NCUA was tracking some credit unions who struggled with their assets, especially in those states hit hardest by the recession.

"I do think we have an opportunity to modernize our capital standards to bring them up to date, that's necessary," Fazio said, adding, "I think the trick, of course, is calculating it properly going forward--and certainly we want to get it right.

"A proposed rule is a place to start, it's not the end."

Reiterating comments made recently by NCUA Chair Debbie Matz, Fazio said all aspects of the proposal are still on the table for reconsideration.

"That doesn't mean we're going to make all the changes, but we're certainly going to take a fresh look at everything and continue to do research," Fazio said.

Mary Dunn, CUNA's deputy general counsel, also sat on the panel for the RBC session and outlined the specific recommendations CUNA has developed to improve the proposal.

The recommendations include lowering the risk-based capital component for well-capitalized credit unions, recalibrating risk-weights in a number of key asset areas, rethinking the definition of a complex credit union, and reconsidering a provision that would allow the NCUA to impose minimum capital requirements.

"We think this proposal is one of the most significant proposals credit unions are going to see perhaps in the next 10 years," Dunn said. "As a result of that, CUNA really wanted to pull out all the stops. We wanted to analyze this proposal as carefully as we possibly could."

Interim CUNA President/CEO Bill Hampel kicked off the session, laying out the significance of the RBC proposal, while General Counsel Eric Richard moderated, raising key questions for panelists to address. Senior VIce President of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan highlighted the significance of concerns raised by Congress and that NCUA has gotten out in front to support supplemental capital authority on Capitol Hill.

Be sure to visit  News Now and Credit Union Magazine frequently this week to keep up with all the ACUC action in San Francisco. You can also follow ACUC on Twitter using the handles and hashtag below:

 

ACUC: CUNA full-steam ahead, Hampel says

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SAN FRANCISCO (7/2/14)--No hiccups, no missteps, no lags. The Credit Union National Association is powering full-steam
Click to view larger image "CUNA is strong and in good shape," says CUNA interim President/CEO Bill Hampel at the ACUC. Hampel, who took the reins of the organization in June, tells ACUC goers, "Thanks to tireless efforts on your behalf, (we) intend the organization to be as strong as ever when a new CEO begins." (CUNA Photo)
ahead, proclaimed Bill Hampel, CUNA's interim president/CEO, as he addressed a packed house gathered for the second general session of CUNA's 2014 America's Credit Union Conference.
 
Hampel led off the session detailing the association's recent accomplishments, outlining the regulatory issues CUNA has and continues to tackle, and lauding the leagues and member credit unions for their dedicated work.
 
"CUNA is strong and in good shape," said Hampel, who took the reins of the organization in June when former President/CEO Bill Cheney stepped down to take over as CEO of SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana, Calif., which has $10.3 billion in assets. "Thanks to tireless efforts on your behalf, (we) intend the organization to be as strong as ever when a new CEO begins."
 
At the outset of Hampel's address, the interim CEO recognized and thanked Cheney for what he achieved as CUNA's leader over the past four years. 
 
Cheney's greatest legacy, Hampel said, was creating a vision for the credit union movement--which he chalked out with the help of leagues and member credit unions throughout the country--that, one day, Americans will choose credit unions as their best financial partner.
 
And that's a vision Hampel vowed CUNA will maintain.
 
Meanwhile, with the credit union industry expected to earn its 100 millionth member later this year, Hampel described the various ways CUNA will capitalize on this opportunity to spark even more awareness of credit unions.
 
The plan includes the recent launch of a new website, www.americascreditunions.org, the distribution of materials to leagues and credit unions to pass out themselves, and events scheduled throughout the summer that will allow credit unions to highlight this significant achievement.
 
"100 million is a really big number, and reaching that 100 million memberships is a really big deal," Hampel said. "So we're going to make a really big splash about it."
 
Hampel also detailed the regulatory issues that CUNA, and the credit union industry as a whole, has been grappling with of late.
 
Of course, the National Credit Union Administration's risk-based capital proposal, which attendees learned about in great detail at another general session Tuesday, topped the list. (See related story:    )
 
"Working with leagues and credit unions, we all generated a record number of comments on a regulatory proposal: over 2,000," Hampel said. "More than 350 members of Congress have either signed onto a joint letter to NCUA or written their own, expressing their concerns about the proposal."
 
At the moment, the NCUA is hosting a series of Listening Sessions that will give credit unions, among others, the opportunity to voice their comments and concerns about the proposal, Hampel relayed.
 
Finally, Hampel teased next year's America's Credit Union Conference, which will take place in Denver, which sits only miles away from where CUNA was founded in Estes Park. 
 
He encouraged those who might attend to take the short drive, if they have the chance, next year to see the beautiful place.
 
"Our vision for the future brings us together with shared goals that would make the pioneers who met in Estes Park (80 years ago) really proud of what we have done, following on their initial work," Hampel said. ​

Be sure to visit News Now and Credit Union Magazine frequently this week to keep up with all the ACUC action in San Francisco. You can also follow ACUC on Twitter using the handles and hashtag below:

ACUC: Schenk highlights disconnect between economic reality, perceptions

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SAN FRANCISCO (7/2/14)--Perception is everything when it comes to gauging the health of the economy, and in Credit Union National Association interim Chief Economist Mike Schenk's perspective, while there's still a long way to go, the economy is currently trending up.

The job environment is one reason why "there remains a disconnect between overall consumer confidence and the day-to-day struggles consumers still face," Credit Union National Association Interim Chief Economist Mike Schenk notes during a Tuesday session on the economy at America's Credit Union Conference. (CUNA Photo)
Schenk walked a gallery of credit union professionals through his take on the state of the economy Tuesday at a special America's Credit Union Conference session called "Impact of the Economy: Credit Unions, Current Issues and What Lies Ahead."

While not all aspects of the economy have fully rebounded since the economic downturn in 2008, Schenk said there's enough evidence to believe the nation's financial health is finally improving.

"We think the economy has gotten better, and we think that it's going to get better yet," Schenk said.

Experts forecast a 3% expansion in the economy for the second quarter, pent-up demand continues to swell, labor markets have been healing and manufacturing has improved since the beginning of the downturn, among other bright spots, Schenk said.

But there seems to be a disconnect between what's actually happening in the economy, and how people perceive its health.

When Schenk asked those in the audience who felt the economy was improving to raise their hands, every single attendee did so.

Polls, however, say that the majority of U.S. citizens don't believe the economy is rebounding, Schenk explained, citing a study that found only 38% of people feel the economy is getting better, while 58% believe it's getting worse.

"That's a pretty powerful observation, I think the economy is getting better, you think the economy is getting better, but our members don't think it's getting better," Schenk said.

Part of the reason for this, is due to the tepid rate at which jobs have come back since the start of the recession. Further, there are concerns over the quality of the jobs that have been produced of late.  

"If you're looking for reasons why people may not be feeling that good, these are folks that are employed but they're not making a lot of money," Schenk said. "Jobs that don't take a lot of education but pay well and have good benefits, those jobs are going away, and that's a big deal."

The trend signals a growing belief that salaries are polarizing in the United States to high-paying jobs and low-paying jobs with middle-class individuals being squeezed out of the equation.

If income growth and quality jobs aren't produced, Schenk said, any further improvements to the economy will be anchored down.

Be sure to visit News Now and Credit Union Magazine frequently this week to keep up with all the ACUC action in San Francisco. You can also follow ACUC on Twitter using the handles and hashtag below:

Sinek tells CUs: 'Be the leader you wish you had'

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SAN FRANCISCO (7/2/14)--Positive leadership is like parenting, a keynote speaker told attendees at the America's Credit
Click to view larger image Leadership expert/author Simon Sinek challenges credit union executives to create a "circle of safety" to gain employees' trust and loyalty. True leaders, he says at the America's Credit Union Conference Tuesday, are those who put the needs of others before their own. (CUNA Photo)
Union Conference Tuesday. Leadership expert/author Simon Sinek challenged credit union executives to create a "circle of safety" to gain employees' trust and loyalty.
 
A title does not a leader make, Sinek quipped, adding that true leaders are those who put the needs of others before their own and willingly make sacrifices and take risks for the good of all.
 
Addressing the ACUC general session, Sinek said, "I know some people at the highest echelon who aren't leaders, and people at the lowest who are. It's all about looking out for others."
 
"The reward of leadership is to see others achieve more than you do," Sinek continued. "It's like being a parent."
 
As a parent would protect a child from danger, so must leaders shield employees from harm with what Sinek calls a "circle of safety."
 
When people feel safe, their natural disposition is toward cooperation and trust. When employees don't feel safe, they partake in nonproductive--even destructive--behavior.
 
"Leaders set the tone--they decide what environment you'll have," Sinek said. "If there's no circle of safety, people feel they have to protect themselves from each other. Anytime someone feels compelled to write a CYA email, this is a sign they don't feel safe from their own people--they're literally spending time to write an email to protect themselves as opposed to committing that time and energy to serve the organization."
 
"Our behavior is governed by our environment," he continued. "If there's a bad environment, people are capable of doing bad things. If it's good, they're capable of doing good things."
 
In a good work environment, the leader puts people before financial results in all but the most dire of circumstances. "A great leader would never sacrifice people to save the numbers," Sinek said. "A great leader would sacrifice the numbers to save the people. That's really important."
 
When the bottom line is prized above all else, people don't feel safe, they don't trust each other, and they know they're disposable. This is where credit unions have an advantage over their for-profit competitors, he said.
 
"Credit unions are human organizations," Sinek said. "This makes them empirically better than banks, which are all about the numbers. The credit union model has nothing to do with rates. It's a human enterprise, where you make sacrifices for the sake of employees and members. That's why I'm a credit union member."
 
Leadership takes daily practice, he added. "It's not an event, it's a 24-hour experience."
 
People can practice positive leadership every day by making others feel that they matter, Sinek said. "Be the leader you wish you had."

Sinek's speech also drew rave reviews on social media. Use the #ACUC hashtag on Twitter to listen in on the crowd's reaction, and visit News Now and Credit Union Magazine frequently this week to keep up with all the ACUC action in San Francisco.

CUNA defense of rate risk among News Now's June Top 10

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MADISON, Wis. (7/2/14)--An article describing how a Wall Street Journal report on credit union interest-rate and credit risk missed several key points was the most-read News Now story in June.
 
Also, an article about a Credit Union National Association letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal defending credit unions strong record of managing interest-rate risk was the third-most read article of the month.
 
The second-most read article was an interview with outgoing CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney, who took over as president/CEO of  $10 billion-asset SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana., Calif., in June.
 
The Top 10 articles for the month:
 
10. Lively back and forth defines RBC Listening Session

LOS ANGELES (6/27/14)--It was a lively back and forth at Thursday's National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Listening Session here, with credit union participants enumerating their concerns with the regulator's risk-based capital (RBC) plan and the agency responding with thoughts about possible changes to the proposal.
 
9. CUNA: NCUA should respond to Hill RBC concerns with meaningful changes to proposal

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (6/2/14)--The NCUA responded Friday to 324 federal lawmakers who voiced concern about the agency's proposed risk-based capital plan. The bipartisan collection of House members joined Reps. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) earlier this month to express their concern over the NCUA proposed rule and urged the federal agency to ensure the proposal does not adversely affect small businesses and credit union members.
 
8. NCUA state data shows loan, membership growth hot spots

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (6/6/14)--Idaho credit unions were at the top of many categories in the NCUA's state-level data from the first quarter of this year. The NCUA Quarterly U.S. Map Review is prepared by NCUA's Office of the Chief Economist and tracks performance indicators for federally insured credit unions in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
 
7. Supreme Court mandates new look at ruling that allows MBS lawsuits

WASHINGTON (6/17/14)--The Supreme Court yesterday instructed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit to re-examine a ruling that allowed the NCUA to sue several banks for alleged deceptive practices when selling mortgage-backed securities. This stems from a Supreme Court decision last week that defined in the environmental context the difference between statutes of limitation and statutes of repose, and whether various forms of "pausing" the period of time set forth by statute apply to statutes of repose.
 
6. First malware threats stalks mobile banking security

WOBURN, Mass. (6/17/14)--In what may be the first major security threat to mobile banking users, Kaspersky Lab discovered that a breed of malware targeting mobile devices had made its way from Russia to the United States.
 
5. NCUA reminds CUs to amend CUSO agreements

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (6/11/14)--Federally insured credit unions investing in or lending to a credit union service organization (CUSO) must amend the contractual agreement by the end of this month, in accordance with the new CUSO rule from the NCUA.
 
4. After record 2,052 comments, NCUA's next steps on RBC plan

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (6/12/14)--The NCUA's risk-based capital proposal received a record 2,052 comment letters by the May 28 deadline, surpassing the previous record of 1,300 received in 1995 on proposal that set all rules for federally insured corporate credit unions.
 
3. CUNA letter in WSJ: CU assets well managed, pose no undue risk

WASHINGTON (6/23/14)--In a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal , published Saturday, the Credit Union National Association defended credit unions strong record of managing interest rate risk.
 
2. Cheney reflects on tenure as CUNA CEO
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.
 
1. CUNA: WSJ report takes unbalanced view of CU interest rate risk
WASHINGTON (6/9/14)--A Wall Street Journal story published Friday regarding credit union interest rate and credit risk misses some important points, according to Credit Union National Association analysis of credit union financials.

ACUC: Young CU professionals get executive treatment

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SAN FRANCISCO (7/2/14)--A group of young credit union professionals were treated to a nice surprise Tuesday on Day 2 of the Credit Union National Association's 2014 America's Credit Union Conference, when their Young Leaders Series session was combined with the larger Executive Series group.
 
Echoing several other young professionals at the table, Andrea Dickinson, Iowa Credit Union League member outreach coordinator, says it was a very valuable experience to sit it on the Executive Series session. (CUNA Photo)
The session, directed by Monday's keynoter and Extreme Leadership guru Steve Farber, unfolded into an open discussion among a roomful of top credit union leaders, which provided this green group a great deal of insight into the types of challenges the people they're striving to be in this industry face.
 
"It's a great experience to sit a table with CEOs, hearing the questions that were being asked today," Jen Laud, director of marketing and innovation at First Financial CU, Chicago, with $67 million in assets, told News Now . "It's really interesting because ... you see what's important to the people sitting in this room, what's at the top of their minds what's coming up for them."
 
Added Andrea Dickinson, Iowa Credit Union League member outreach coordinator: "To think about the longevity of our leaders in this industry is quite remarkable. To get to glean some of those insights is very valuable."
 
The leaders in the room fired off a volley of questions at Farber ranging from how to deal with the painful process of downsizing, to how to grapple with the roaring tides of changing technology, to how to stay positive at all times, but at the same time keep employees accountable.
 
The answers Farber returned likely provided useful information to the young credit union professionals about being a leader now and into the future, but even the questions themselves carried value.
 
"Everyone has questions, no one has all the answers," Joshua Smith, advocacy officer for SchoolsFirst FCU, Sana Ana, Calif., with $10.3 billion in assets, told News Now . "So it's not only reassuring, but it also gives you confidence to ask some questions."
 
Joshua Smith, advocacy officer for SchoolsFirst FCU, and the rest of the Young Leaders group listen intently as Steve Farber answers tough questions from credit union executives during an Executive Series session Tuesday at the America's Credit Union Conference. (CUNA photos)
Naturally, with a table full of young professionals sitting in on the conversation, the question was raised about how to engage, and eventually pass the torch to the younger generations.
 
Farber's answer was that current credit union leaders should actively seek out the young people in their organizations, share advice and insight and offer them opportunities in leadership roles as well, all with the hope that they will one day grow into individuals who are capable of running operations themselves, and perhaps become even more successful than those who taught them.
 
"(You should say) look at those folks, they are much better leaders than I was ever able to be," Farber said.
 
Hearing this issue debated was not lost on the group about which the executives were discussing. 
 
"When one of the questions is 'How do we incorporate this younger generation into the next movement of leaders, how do we make that happen?'" Laud said. "It's awesome to hear a question like that come up."
 
The session was the first of three Young Leaders Series sessions. The second one on Tuesday covered challenges and opportunities, and today's final meeting focuses on insights and engagement.

Be sure to visit News Now and Credit Union Magazine frequently this week to keep up with all the ACUC action in San Francisco. You can also follow ACUC on Twitter using the handles and hashtag below:

La. gov. signs league-backed e-signature law

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HARAHAN, La. (7/2/14)--As of Tuesday, Louisiana financial institutions can accept electronic signatures after Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law legislation that was drafted with the input of the Louisiana Credit Union League.
 
The original legislation, HB 661, was sponsored by Rep. Ed Price (D-Gonzales) to relieve credit unions of the burden of maintaining paper records. The practice of electronic document storage is widely accepted in the United States, however, Louisiana law previously restricted financial institutions reliance on electronic storage of certain records. 
 
The bill was drafted by the league, the law firms of Adams and Reese and Trimmier, Kudulis and Reisinger, with additional input from the Louisiana Bankers Association.
 
Among the new law's provisions:
  • Allows financial institutions to choose whether to rely on traditional paper records or digitally reproduced records;
  • Enhances confidence in digital record storage, retention and file integrity;
  • Decreases costs for financial institutions and consumers by eliminating the expense of retention of paper documents; and
  • Increases consumer confidence, protection and convenience by requiring that reproductions are certified by a representative of a financial institution.
Credit unions seeking to submit electronically signed records must attach a certificate of authenticity to the documents. The league has prepared a certificate for credit unions to use, which can be found on its website .

ACUC: Mobile is a strategy, CUNA Mutual's Israelite says

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SAN FRANCISCO (7/2/14)--Credit unions are beginning to realize the importance of mobile lending, but many haven't figured out how it fits into their strategic plans, a CUNA Mutual Group lending specialist told attendees of the Credit Union National Association's America's Credit Union Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.
 
Before getting into mobile, a credit union should determine if their goals and strategy are related to mobile, advises Robert Israelite, CUNA Mutual Group lending and compliance specialist. Israelite spoke during one of the Discovery breakout sessions at Credit Union National Association's 2014 America's Credit Union Conference Tuesday. (CUNA Mutual Group Photo)
"A credit union has to go back to its vision, values and mission in determining its future in mobile. Mobile is a strategy," Robert Israelite, CUNA Mutual Group lending and compliance specialist said. "It has to start with why you are in business. Before getting into mobile, a credit union should determine if their goals and strategy are related to mobile. If there's no purpose to be on mobile, it's worthless because it has to be connected to a strategy."
 
Israelite said if a credit union's vision is to provide personalized, one-on-one, face-to-face consultative services to a segment-based group, they may determine they don't need mobile. "But, if a credit union wants to be a full-service provider to members in the member's delivery channel of choice, then the credit union needs to have a mobile-first mindset across their entire business," he added.
 
Many veteran CEOs have expressed disbelief that members are applying for loans on mobile devices, and boards are even further removed, Israelite said during his Discovery breakout session.
 
"Most credit union staff have never applied for a loan in a member channel, and that's a problem," Israelite said. "They have internal ways of doing it. Staff need to put themselves in the shoes of a 'real member' or potential member who doesn't have strong ties to the credit union."
 
Credit unions that decide mobile is essential to their business need to know and experience every online member-facing channel. Israelite urged attendees to "go through every link on your site, and if you don't control it, talk to business partners who do to get it optimized for mobile. You need to understand what your members are experiencing."
 
If a credit union determines mobile serves its mission and value, "you'd better get moving because you're already late to the party," Israelite added. He said credit unions late into the game have already lost more members than they'll ever know about. Those members, he added, have moved on, and they'll never come back.
 
"We lose a credit union every day with the merger pace continuing," he continued. "There is urgency if your credit union has determined it needs to adopt mobile but hasn't yet. You are setting up your legacy for your credit union to be around. If you miss this, you won't fulfill your legacy."