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Greater Nevada CU promotes car loans with laughing gas

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (7/27/11)--Greater Nevada CU of Carson City, Nev., with $465 million in assets, promoted a recent loan campaign by using social media--and asking members to put on silly face.
Tiffany O’Day (left) recently won $500 in gas cards as the first-place winner of Greater Nevada Credit Union’s Laughing Gas Photo Facebook contest. Her entry was titled “gas prices are even scary in space.” Photo provided by Greater Nevada Credit Union)
The credit union ran the Laughing Gas Photo Facebook contest May 1 to June 12 asking members to submit photos wearing GNCU’s Embarrassing Car Contest Glasses, which were provided by local GNCU branches. Winners were selected based upon the photos with the highest number of Facebook votes. The contest generated 1,914 votes. “We wanted a fun and engaging way to promote the benefits of borrowing through our credit union, and we received some very creative submissions in the process,” said Ron Willard, GNCU vice president of marketing. Wilard said the credit union also used the contest to test the waters with using social media to market one of its programs. “This indicates we can engage our customers electronically,” Willard said. “We’re pleasantly surprised at the feedback we’ve received.” Carson City resident Tiffany O’Day won $500 in gas cards as the first-place winner. Second- and third-place winners were awarded $350 and $150 in gas cards, respectively. Use the link to see the all three winning photos.

Case closed in Corp America v. U.S. Central

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BIRMINGHAM (7/27/11)—A U.S. District Court judge in Alabama has stated a settlement has been reached and the case is closed in a lawsuit brought by Corporate America CU against 13 executives and former executives and volunteer board members of U.S. Central FCU. The July 25 court order stating that the case is resolved was signed by Judge Inge Prytz Johnson of the U.S. District Court of the Northern Division of Alabama. The suit had centered around U.S. Central's action in December 2009 to convert $450 million of non-permanent capital to permanent paid-in-capital shares known as "PIC II." Back in March, Corporate America CU and RubinBrown LLP settled a lawsuit involving the St. Louis-based RubinBrown, hired to prepare valuation of PIC shares for conversion before U.S. Central suffered losses and went into conservatorship. Both settlements are confidential and no terms are disclosed.

Minnesota league promotes growth through MBL

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (7/27/11)--Mark D. Cummins, president/CEO of the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) proclaimed Minnesota credit unions have the potential to significantly improve the state economy, in the July 25 issue of Finance & Commerce. A regular columnist for Finance and Commerce, a daily publication covering business in Minnesota, Cummins wrote that credit unions have the capability and capacity to help the state’s businesses create jobs. The column, titled, “Credit unions stand ready to help boost the sluggish economy,” noted that during the past year credit unions have increased member business lending by 5%, while the state’s banks decreased business lending activity by 8%. “Credit unions are eager to increase their efforts to help the state’s small businesses create jobs, but they are being held back by a cap that limits member business lending (MBL) to 12.25% of assets,” Cummins wrote. Referencing member business lending legislation in the U.S. House and Senate, Cummins stated that the passage of these bills could inject $181 million into Minnesota’s economy and help create nearly 2,000 jobs. He highlighted the fact that these new jobs and new loans would be created at zero cost to the public. “I would argue that not passing this legislation leaves money on the table that could help small businesses and hire some of the 6.7% of Minnesotans actively seeking jobs,” Cummins concluded. “Now is the time to pass this bill and allow credit unions to fully serve the small businesses that are the engine of our state’s economic growth.” The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions are asking Congress to increase credit unions’ MBL cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Doing so would open up more opportunity to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers, CUNA said.

Dow Chemical Employees CU managers help the homeless

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LANSING, Mich. (7/27/11)--Sixteen management team members of the Dow Chemical Employees’ CU (DCECU), Midland, Mich., recently volunteered at the Good Samaritan Rescue Mission, a Bay City shelter for the homeless. The team spent five hours cleaning, painting, performing yard work and assembling hygiene kits (Michigan Credit Union League Michigan Monitor July 25). “Many assume that homelessness only affects people in metropolitan areas, such as New York City and Detroit, but it can happen to anyone,” said Dennis Hanson, Dow Chemical Employees’ CU president/CEO. “In addition to a corporate contribution, we worked together to help make the mission a better place for the men, women and children who are affected by homelessness in our community.” In 2010, Good Samaritan Rescue Mission had an average of 50 residents per day. The mission also provided more than 43,000 meals to those in need. “It was a very humbling experience,” said Barb Ostroski-Enos, DCECU marketing director. “You don’t realize how privileged you are until you meet people who have nothing. It felt amazing to give back to the community.”

NCUF investor education reaches thousands of Wis. employees

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MADISON, Wis. (7/27/11)--The Wisconsin Credit Union League is making a difference statewide with the Investor Education in Your Workplace (IEiYW) program. IEiYW is a free, online financial and investment education program made possible thanks to a grant from the Investor Protection Trust. The league has helped train 14 CFE Certified Financial Educators (CFEd) who worked to enroll up to 3,600 employees across the state to participate in online investor education courses. With additional outreach efforts planned by the CFEds and other IEiYW project partners, they are on track to provide training to 4,000 people by the end of the year. To help fund the initiative, the Wisconsin Credit Union League received additional grant funding this year from the National Credit Union Foundation’s REAL Solutions program. “Our project was designed to deliver quality, unbiased, online investor education to 4,000 consumers in the state of Wisconsin, all at no charge,” said Jim Drogue, league vice president of credit union development. “The benefits of IEiYW are two-fold. The courses not only help credit union employee make wise financial decisions, but also help credit unions educate and serve their members.” The league has worked with The University of Wisconsin, Department of Financial Institutions, Precision Information and the Investor Protection Trust, during all phases of their investor education initiative, which was originally named REAL Progress & Pathways to Prosperity (RP3). Each IEiYW course contains 10 hours of self-paced, unbiased online training on money and investing. The training covers topics such as:
* Investing basics, goals, strategy and choices; * Certificates, money market, mutual funds, stocks and bonds; * Formula investment plans and dollar cost averaging; * Education planning; and * Retirement planning and terminology.
“The focus on member financial education is so great in credit unions across the country that we sometimes take for granted the knowledge of employees,” said Lois Kitsch, National REAL Solutions Program Director at the National Credit Union Foundation. “I hope to see more states taking on programs such as IEiYW so that we not only see more members achieve financial freedom, but credit union staff as well.” The Wisconsin league and IEiYW project partners are currently in discussions with a number of credit union leagues to expand the program in the next year to potentially reach 10,000 to 20,000 people in up to eight states. Those interested in learning more about the possibility of bringing the program to their state, should contact Jim Drogue at jdrogue@theleague.coop, or 1-800-242-0833, ext. 6005.

CUNA council white paper evaluates crisis communications

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MADISON, Wis. (7/27/11)--“How can credit unions communicate more effectively in the midst of a crisis?” A CUNA council white paper has the answer. Many credit unions have disaster recovery plans identifying how to function operationally during the time of a crisis. With crises varying from power outages, to public relations blunders, to major catastrophic events, how well does the disaster recovery plan address the credit union’s plan for communication? The new white paper from the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council titled, “Crisis Communications,” stresses the importance of preparing for crises and how to engage with various audience groups when a crisis occurs. Credit unions may experience a variety of events that can cause long-lasting emotional, financial, and reputational damage. Robberies, fraud, severe weather and cyber-attacks are just a few of the threats that credit unions face, and understanding the potential risk and having an action plan to respond are critical. Credit unions should be proactive in preparing for situations that can damage not only their reputations, but also daily activities and communication channels with internal audiences (employees and staff members) and external audiences (members and the public at large). This white paper reviews the basics of crisis communications, including defining a crisis, perceptions of a crisis, and message strategies implemented in a crisis situation. Several emerging crisis communication issues relevant to credit unions include:
* Online reputation management issues within social media; * Perception of crises: Differences between current versus highly likely events; * Reputation threats and challenges; and * Implications and evolution of mobile technologies.
Also, the white paper reports the results from a pilot survey for credit union professionals regarding the current challenges and opportunities they see for crisis communication practices. Credit union professionals contributed their main crisis situation concerns and their perspectives about future training and education opportunities in crisis communications. The paper is available online. Use the link.

World CU Conference Put a human face on finance

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GLASGOW, Scotland (7/27/11)--People helping people--some in extreme duress--through provision of financial services is central to the credit union philosophy, a fact that Monday’s speakers at World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) World Credit Union Conference brought to the forefront in their remarks. If the past is prologue, then the global credit union movement is poised for a bright future as long as it does not abandon its moral and philosophical core, three financial leaders said during their general session remarks.
Click to view larger image Outgoing World Council of Credit Unions President/CEO Pete Crear (left) presented his successor, Brian Branch, to World Credit Union conference attendees during Monday's general session.
Opening speaker Pete Crear, WOCCU’s departing president/CEO, reflected on his six years of service and on WOCCU’s past 40 years, noting the organization’s successes and future opportunities. Incoming President/CEO Brian Branch, who has served as WOCCU’s executive vice president and chief operating officer for nine years, personalized the nature of services WOCCU and its members provide, charting a course to help advance the critical mission credit unions around the world pursue, Crear said. Keynote speaker the Right Honorable Gordon Brown, MP, the United Kingdom’s former prime minister and a current parliamentarian, noted not only credit unions’ current importance, but the opportunity to expand their growing influence in a rapidly changing world. “I congratulate World Council on its 40th birthday and applaud credit unions everywhere for adding morality to the discussion of money,” said Brown, who also had served as the U.K.’s chancellor of
Click to view larger image "[Credit unions] have brought a human face to the banking industry," former United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown told Monday's general session audience at the World Credit Union conference.
the exchequer, the country’s chief financial minister, before coming prime minister. “You have brought a human face to the banking industry and should be incredibly proud of what you have done.” In a rapidly changing world, credit unions will increase their influence as more people in developing countries become consumers, driving up the demand for accessible and affordable financial services, Brown said. However, a large segment of the population will be left behind, and they will become acutely aware of their deprivation thanks to the rapid expansion of technology and media. Credit unions’ opportunities to serve will increase at all levels, but expanded services will be possible only in countries with legal structures that allow credit unions to operate fully and effectively, he added. “Look carefully at laws that may restrict credit union operations and do what you can to change them so that credit unions can operate fully and effectively,” he said. Branch stressed the need for the technological empowerment of consumers, especially those in developing countries who lack basic financial institution access. By providing personal options such as financial services delivered through cell phones, credit unions can better serve consumers who otherwise would have no institutional access, expanding the global movement’s reach and improving its effectiveness by bringing the credit union to its members. “As credit unions, we have a tremendous marketing advantage that our for-profit competitors do not have in our ability to come together and form cooperative solutions,” Branch said. “We can move forward boldly, knowing that our value is defined through our service to our members.”
Click to view larger image Audience members applaud during Monday's general session at the World Credit Union Conference in Glasgow. (Photos Provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
Such capabilities and the increased awareness of credit unions by a growing number of governments, communities and individuals is based on decades of hard work not only by WOCCU, but also by credit union movements in countries worldwide, said Crear. “Early in my career I learned that we are judged by the results of our actions, not by what we intend to do. We don’t always succeed, but we always try,” Crear said. “When I look at the results [of the global credit union movement] today, I see that you have indeed risen to the challenges, and I am humbled by your commitment.” WOCCU’s World Credit Union Conference continues through today.