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Satisfaction with social media websites low says study

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (7/22/11)--It's no secret that credit unions are getting into the social media trend, with Facebook and LinkedIn pages, YouTube videos, and more as they try to attract younger members. A new study, however, is giving low scores to social media in customer satisfaction. Satisfaction overall with e-business has risen 2.6% to 75.4 on a 100-point scale on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI), largely due to increased satisfaction for portals and search engines. However satisfaction with social media websites remains low, yet stable, with an unchanged aggregate scale of 70, said Larry Freed, president/CEO of ForeSee Results in the company's Annual E-Business Report 2011 on the index. Social media websites, which have been included in the study for only two years, received the fourth lowest score of all companies, said the report. Only airlines, cable television and print newspapers have managed to satisfy customers less than social media websites. This has implications for credit unions using social medias to market their brand, products and services to maintain connections with their members. Social media sites could become a potential weak link in the satisfaction chain for credit unions not paying attention to how well their sites use social media. Among the social media websites, Wikipedia ranked at the top, with a score of 78, a 1.3% increase over its score last year. Facebook remained the lowest-scoring site in the group, with a score of 66 or a 3.1% increase from last year, said Freed's report. One surprise, said the report, was what site wasn't on the list of measured companies this year: MySpace. "The ACSI could not gather enough responses to calculate a statistically reliable score for the site, which is telling of the site's shrinking market share," the report said. YouTube.com (Google) was ranked 74, a 1.3% change from last year. The site ranks lower than online streaming sites such as Netflix (85) and Blockbuster (78). Twitter.com and LinkedIn and other players in the social media space were represented as aggregate sites because so many users access the service through other sites or platforms. The aggregate companies clocked in with a 70, same as last year. So what makes Wikipedia a better customer experience? According to the report, it follows a nonprofit model, which allows users to navigate the site free of advertising. "This could be a contributing factor to the high satisfaction score, as users indicate they are the least likely or all measured social media users to be influenced by advertising." Despite its score, Facebook continues to be the social media site of choice for most users--750 million users. Customers have shown that, so far, they have been willing to suffer through a poor user experience to enjoy the benefits Facebook provides. However, Facebook will face new competition from Google+. Google traditionally has seen ASCI scores in the 80s. The winner in a contest between the two will be the social network that provides the best customer experience, said the report. ForeSee Results, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., is the same group that in an earlier study ranked credit unions well ahead of banks, 80 to 76 points respectively, in a similar consumer satisfaction ranking. Use the link to download the full e-business report, which includes scores for e-business for social media sites, portals, search engines and online news sites.

WesCorp directors press case for dismissal of suit

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LOS ANGELES (7/22/11)--Western Corporate FCU's directors and officers Wednesday informed a federal court in Los Angeles that a lawsuit brought against them by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) stemming from WesCorp's collapse is rendered "implausible" because of arguments NCUA makes in two other lawsuits recently filed against companies that sold residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) to WesCorp. NCUA, as WesCorp's liquidating agent, sued JP Morgan Securities and others in June. It sued RBS Securities and others in early July. Earlier the agency had sued WesCorp's directors for negligence, saying they misled the corporate into purchasing AAA-rated residential RMBS. According to the judicial notice filed by the WesCorp directors and officials in the U.S. District Court Central District of California Western Division in Los Angeles, NCUA in both the RBS complaint and the JP Morgan complaint alleges that those companies "misled WesCorp into purchasing AAA-rated RMBS by making misrepresentations and omissions in registration statements, prospectuses and prospectus supplements" and that they "misrepresented to WesCorp the quality of the mortgages in the pools of RMBS and the credit enhancement protections against financial loss." NCUA said in its RBS and JPMorgan suits that WesCorp "was not aware of the untrue statements or omissions" or "did not know of these untruths or omissions" made by the securities firms "at the time WesCorp purchased the certificates." NCUA also stated that investors such as WesCorp "had limited or no access to information concerning the actual quality of loans underlying the RMBS" and that WesCorp would not have purchased the securities had it known of the misrepresentations and omissions. NCUA's allegations in the two suits are "admissions that undercut and render implausible" the allegations it made against the WesCorp directors and officials, said court documents by the WesCorp group. NCUA had argued in that case the directors had acted "'clearly unreasonably' under the circumstances known to them at the time." The agency's "admissions will make it even clearer that the director defendants and the officer defendants made decisions based on the information available to them at the time. If that information was less than the truth, it was, at least according to the NCUA, the fault of others, and not the fault of the defendants here," said the judicial notice. The notice also said an NCUA press release "contradicts and therefore renders implausible…" its arguments against the WesCorp officials/directors and "highlights how difficult it was at the time to foresee problems with mortgage-backed securities." The directors filed a similar judicial notice after the JPMorgan suit was filed by NCUA.

McGraw Hill offers first-of-kind fin-lit series

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EAST WINDSOR, N.J. (7/22/11)--To promote financial literacy and help New Jersey school teachers and families deliver relevant financial planning information to young people, McGraw-Hill FCU has developed its 2011 Financial Literacy Series. The monthly seminars, free to teachers and families, provide up-to-date information about financial literacy subjects and allow teachers to receive continuing education credits. The series, launched in April, began as a way to help schools meet new state graduate requirements, which call for a financial literacy component in the curriculum of all high schools. Typically, the teaching responsibility for financial literacy material falls to social studies, family/consumer science and business education teachers who may have little or no training in providing financial instruction. The East Windsor, N.J.-based credit union developed the series with the New Jersey Department of Education, the New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education, and the McGraw-Hill Schools Education Group. Topics include how to manage your credit score, how to plan and pay for college tuition, financial planning and investing, credit and debt management, money management, personal budgets and how to become an informed consumer. Information for the seminars is based on The McGraw-Hill School Education Group's financial literacy materials and real-life examples from credit union professionals. The goal is to make sure everyone leaves with a better understanding of how to navigate the path to financial independence, said Shawn Gilfedder, McGraw-Hill FCU president/CEO. "It is our hope that this series will contribute to the education of many individuals as the teachers and parents share what they have learned with the young people in their lives, as well as with their own friends and family," Gilfedder said. "The more people we can get to understand how important it is to establish financial literacy at a young age, the more we will be able to improve the financial health of our region as a whole."

Dakotas CUs on a scholarship roll

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BISMARCK, N.D. (7/22/11)--Thirty-eight credit unions in North Dakota and South Dakota provided scholarships to high school and/or college students. A total of 121 separate scholarships worth $74,250 were given, according to a survey by the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (CUAD). The survey, conducted by the association in May, asked credit union managers and chapter chairs in the two states to list scholarships they provided. With 81 credit unions (nearly 100%) responding, the 2011 data show a great generosity and commitment to education on the part of Dakota credit unions, the association said. Three chapters also provided $3,200 in scholarships. In addition, CUAD provided $5,000 in scholarships, for a grand total of $82,450. The survey results will be compiled in an official report to be distributed to education officials, showcasing opportunities provided to students by the credit union industry in the Dakotas. The data also will be a powerful legislative tool to use with media outlets to illustrate to elected officials how credit unions give back to their communities and to highlight credit unions’ commitment to youth and education, the association said.

Texas Trust CU joins the planking craze

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MANSFIELD, Texas (7/22/11)--Employees of $680 million asset Texas Trust CU can add “planking” to their list of skills and experience.
Click to view larger image Texas Trust CU employees celebrated their 75th anniversary lying down, or more accurately by “planking,” spelling out the credit union’s initials on the front of its headquarters lawn Wednesday morning. (Photo provided by Texas Trust Credit Union)
Planking--also known as “the lying down game”--is the trend of lying face down on public structures for a photograph. While the game apparently originated in 1997, and become known as planking in Australia, it has recently gained popularity. Thirty-three Texas Trust employees started their work day Wednesday by planking on the credit union headquarters lawn in Mansfield, Texas. The Official Planking Facebook page has more than 180,000 fans and photos showcasing plankers worldwide. “This planking phenomenon is taking off, and we thought it would be fun to join in,” said Jim Minge, Texas Trust CU president/CEO and one of the plankers. “With this being our 75th anniversary year, Texas Trust is celebrating and creating memorable moments for members. We thought this would be one of those moments.”

Illinois first FiCEP training concludes

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (7/22/11)--Nearly 30 individuals from 14 Illinois credit unions are on their way to graduating as Certified Credit Union Financial Counselors (CCUFC) of the REAL Solutions Enhanced Financial Counseling Certification Program (FiCEP). With support from the Illinois Credit Union Foundation, the Illinois’ REAL Solutions program started its participation in FiCEP on March 8. While 27 other CCUFCs exist in the state, this was the first coordinated effort to train all Illinois credit unions. Modeled after the CUNA Certified Financial Counselor Schools and as its Financial Counseling Certification Program, FiCEP enables all credit union staff to become more confident in helping members build a stronger financial future. It is designed for those who work in financial counseling, collections, and loan departments, and other staff committed to helping members. Including the Illinois effort, seven states currently conduct the training on a coordinated basis. Five others are in either the recruiting or finalizing stages. The Illinois program concluded Wednesday with the second of two in-person meetings held at the Illinois Credit Union System Center in Naperville. Participants shared their visions for how they will incorporate their new expertise within their credit union. The Illinois REAL Solutions program coordinators plan to get the new CCUFCs together occasionally for networking, support and encouragement as they begin this new endeavor at their credit unions.

Merger involves CUs in Calif. Nevada

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LAS VEGAS and EL MONTE, Calf. (7/22/11)--Sonepco FCU of Las Vegas will merge into SCE FCU, giving the El Monte, Calif.-based SCE FCU entry into the Nevada market. The proposed merger still must be approved by the National Credit Union Administration and voted on by Sonepco members (Las Vegas Review-Journal July 21). The boards of both credit unions have approved the merger. Dennis Huber, CEO of SCE FCU, will oversee a credit union that includes California branches in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego counties and Nevada branches in Clark county. The newly formed credit union will have nine board members, 150 employees and a capital ratio of about 8.6%. Sonepco CEO Sue Longson in a statement called the merger a “natural progression” since both credit unions have a history of serving employees at energy companies. Sonepco FCU, with $56 million in assets, was organized in 1955. It serves employees of Nevada Energy and their families and other members of the local community. SCE, with $500 million in assets, was organized in 1952. It serves multiple employee groups though it has historically served employees of Southern California Edison. Under the terms merger, Longson will remain in Las Vegas and assume a senior management position with the new credit union, according to the Journal.

CU System briefs (07/21/2011)

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* FRESNO, Calif. (7/22/11)—A California man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for armed bank robbery stemming from a series of robberies in 2009 that included two credit unions. Michael Minjarez, 40, of Stockton, was convicted in the robberies of Central State CU, Stockton, on Aug. 28, 2009; of Valley First CU, Madera, on Oct. 5, 2009, and three robberies at two banks in the Central Valley area in September 2009. He was sentenced to life in prison under the federal “three strikes” law ( July 18) ... * MACON, Ga. (7/22/11)—A former credit union employee, Kimberly V. Brown, 35, of Macon, Ga., was indicted on charges of identity theft while she was employed at Robins FCU, Warner Robins, Ga. The charges include aggravated identity theft, theft by a credit union employee, and making false statements to a federally insured institution (Macon Telegraph July 21). From October 2007 through March 2008, Brown allegedly applied for three loans and five credit cards using stolen identities and false information, and allegedly obtained cash advances on the credit lines and spent the money as well as pocketed proceeds from the loans. An audit three years ago discovered suspicious activity, according to the indictment, which was filed in a U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia … * TULSA, Okla. (7/22/11)—A Tulsa man charged with Monday’s robbery and false bomb threat at Tulsa (Okla.) FCU, allegedly told the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he didn’t remember robbing the credit union but realized he must have done so when he found a large sum of money blowing around in his car while he was driving. Steven Paul Wooten, 41, called the FBI and took responsibility for the holdup, said an FBI affidavit. The incident occurred when a man entered the credit union, put a briefcase on the teller counter and told the teller there was a bomb inside. He fled with about $3,000 and left the briefcase. The credit union was evacuated and a bomb squad determined the briefcase was empty. Photographs of the robbery that appeared in the media prompted a number of calls identifying Wooten. When he was questioned by family and friends, he contacted the FBI ( Tulsa World … * CHARLOTTE, N.C. (7/22/11)—Carolina Postal CU based in Charlotte, N.C., is spearheading a drive for donations on behalf of a Hickory area teenage member paralyzed July 11 in a fall during a rodeo in Oklahoma. Kelly Blanton suffered a broken neck and spinal cord injuries while practicing for the International Finals Youth Rodeo competition in Shawnee, Okla. The fall occurred when her horse bucked during the breakaway roping event. The story was widely reported in the North Carolina media, said the North Carolina Credit Union League. Carolina Postal is collecting donations throughout its branch system and encouraging other credit unions in the Hickory area to take up collections. Hickory Springs FCU has joined the effort, and Postal said other credit unions plan to join as well … * SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (7/22/11)—David Toepp, president/CEO of Mortgage Center LLC, a credit union service organization based in Southfield, Mich., has announced he will retire during first quarter of 2012, after more than 30 years service in the mortgage industry. Toepp has been with Mortgage Center for 16 years. Under Toepp’s leadership, the CUSO has grown to service $1.6 billion in mortgage loans for 75 credit unions in Michigan, according to an announcement from Board Chairman John Normandeau. Mortgage Center was founded in 1990 to provide mortgage products exclusively for credit union members ... * WASHINGTON (7/22/11)--James T. Molloy, former Congressional FCU board chairman and U.S. House of Representatives Doorkeeper, died Tuesday of complications in a Rochester, N.Y., hospital. He was 75. In 1970, Molloy became a member of the credit union and its board of directors. In 1973, he became chairman and served continuously for 35 years, according to the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association. Molloy served as a director of the D.C. Credit Union League board and chairman of its Scholarship and Awards Committee. He gave the invocation at many of the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conferences. Although he officially stepped down in 2009 from its board chairmanship, "he remained an advocate for the credit union until his final days," the credit union said on its website. He is survived by his wife, a daughter and son-in-law, and two grandchildren. Services will be Saturday in Orchard Park, N.Y. …

Mid Cities CU granted 30K by national aging council

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COMPTON, Calif. (7/22/11)--Mid Cities CU, Compton, Calif., received a $30,000 grant from the Economic Security for Low Income Aging through the National Council on Aging (NCOA). The grant assistance will “help our aging members to reach their financial goals,” said Melia Keller, Mid Cities president/CEO. “With 26% of the credit union’s members over the age of 65 with an additional 8% turning 65 within the next five years, the grant will allow the credit union to implement senior programs and counseling to better assist our core group of members.” At this time, the programs at the $25 million asset credit union have not been launched, Spencer Shimasaki, Mid Cities marketing administrative specialist, told News Now. “We’re looking at offering travel discounts and improving financial literacy in areas such as financial planning and budgeting,” he added. “These ideas are based on comments from member surveys in which seniors said they wanted a rewards club and senior discounts [on the credit union’s products and services].” NCOA is a nonprofit service and advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. Its mission is to improve the lives of older adults, especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. NCOA works with thousands of organizations nationwide to help seniors find jobs and benefits, improve their health, live independently, and remain active in their communities. It brings together nonprofit organizations, businesses and government to develop solutions.

CUNA expands Wash. Office roles for Magill Newton

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WASHINGTON (7/22/11)--Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney announced Thursday that, effective Sept. 1, Susan Newton and John Magill will each take on components of the CUNA Washington office chief-of-staff position held by Richard McBride, who is retiring at year end.
As Executive Vice President for Government Affairs and Special Assistant to the President, Magill, a 30-year veteran of Capitol Hill before coming to CUNA in May 2006, will continue to offer strategic counsel on legislative and political issues while overseeing the day to day operations of those key advocacy areas. He will also handle a number of administrative and other related matters inherent in the daily operations of the CUNA Washington office. Prior to this change Magill was CUNA senior vice president of legislative affairs. Newton, as Executive Vice President of System Relations, will provide strategic counsel on credit union system issues, manage CUNA’s many external relationships, and continue to serve as head of league relations, state advocacy, and executive director of the American Association of Credit Union Leagues. Newton came to CUNA from the Texas Credit Union League in 1996 as senior vice president of league relations. “CUNA has a terrific advocacy team in place to further our strategic advocacy goals and a series of new initiatives we have planned to build upon our political strength in Washington and the states,” said Cheney when he announced the staff changes. “Susan Newton and John Magill are both extremely qualified, accomplished executives who have the right experience to take on these added responsibilities.” Additionally, Cheney announced that under a new management structure, Newton and Magill will report directly to him, as will Executive Vice President and General Counsel Eric Richard, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer John Franklin, Chief Economist Bill Hampel, Chief Financial Officer Joanne Duncan, and Senior Vice President of Communications Mark Wolff. McBride’s chief-of-staff position is not being filled. “The changes I am putting in place will create a flatter, more responsive organizational structure that will enrich communications within the organization,” said Cheney. “The result will further enhance our efficiency and effectiveness.” CUNA’s McBride is retiring at year-end after 15 years with the association, and will serve in a transitional role between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31. Cheney took the opportunity of the staff announcement to thank McBride for his service to CUNA. “Rich is one-of-a-kind and an unsung hero at CUNA; his perspective and insights have contributed immeasurably to the association’s success over the years and have been of help to me personally during my first year as CEO. All of us at CUNA are grateful for his dedicated service and wish him the best in his retirement.”