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Irish CU regulator stops dividends payout

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DUBLIN, Ireland (7/29/09)--Financial concerns caused Ireland's credit union regulator to intervene and prevent 76 individual credit unions from paying dividends they had originally proposed for their members last year. The move came after the regulator expressed concern that the bodies’ financial position was not strong enough to pay their target dividend or interest rebate (Sunday Business Post July 26). Some 101 credit unions contacted the regulator late last year regarding their dividends after being instructed to do so if they could not pay dividends in accordance with previous guidance from the regulator’s office. Each credit union was notifed that there was a need to strike ‘‘an appropriate balance’’ between rewarding savers and borrowers while maintaining the solvency of each credit union. The regulator, headed by Brendan Logue and part of the Financial Regulator, reassessed the scope for dividend payments in regard to the trading position, liquidity position and loan arrears of each organization, the newspaper said. Agreements were reached between the regulator and each body that reduced the total dividend among the 76 credit unions, which was instead transferred into the reserves of the credit unions in question.

CU robbers impersonate police to swindle elderly woman

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CINCINNATI (7/29/09)--Two credit union robbers impersonated police to swindle an elderly woman out of $8,400 last week. A 96-year-old woman told police that a man and woman claiming to be police officers came to her home and asked her to go with them to Cinco Family Financial Center CU in Cincinnati. They told her that they were conducting an investigation on her account. Because the woman had lost money in her account several years ago, she went with them to the credit union (The Cincinnati Enquirer July 24). The robbers asked the woman to provide them with blank checks. She complied, and the man and woman took $8,400 from the woman’s account. After they took the money, they put the woman in a cab so she could return home. The woman was not injured. Earlier this month, three men claiming to be police officers kidnapped a 92-year-old man and forced him to withdraw $4,500 from his bank account. Police do not know if the incidents are related, the newspaper said. Cinco Family Financial Center CU has $120 million in assets.

Card balances shrinking says TowerGroup study

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MADISON, Wis. (7/29/09)--Credit unions may be interested in knowing that revolving balances on credit cards are shrinking at double-digit rates, according to a recent TowerGroup study. The study examined recent economic trends and consumer purchasing behaviors that are forcing financial institutions to modify their credit card lending practices. The study also indicated:
* Unused credit lines at card issuers grew 70% from 1994 to 2008 to more than $4.7 trillion; * During the first quarter of 2009, credit card issuers reported their first negative annualized return on assets since the 1970s. The industry also could be in the red for 2009; and * Consumers are saving at historic rates of more than 6% and are shifting to debit cards from credit cards as a preferred means of payment.

CU in-school branches growing

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LANCASTER, Pa. (7/29/09)--The number of credit union branches in schools is growing, and will likely increase as the recession continues, according to a Pennsylvania newspaper. The Lancaster New Era noted Monday that a Wheatland FCU branch will open in Hempfield High School this fall--the first in Lancaster County, Pa. Though the Wheatland FCU branch is the first in the area, there are many in-school branches in Pennsylvania and other states. Last year, 746 schools in 35 states had in-school credit union branches, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). The figure has more than doubled in five years, the newspaper said. Phil Heckman, CUNA director of youth programs, said the increase in school branches correlates with an increase in desire by teachers and schools to teach youth about finances. The growth will continue because the recession has increased concern about savings and debt, he added. In-school branches can be “money losers,” but their goal is to educate community members, Mike Wishnow, Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) senior vice president of communications and marketing, told the newspaper. The in-school branches give back to the community because they teach youth about finances. In Pennsylvania, the PCUA gives grants of up to $10,000 to help credit unions set up branches in schools, the newspaper said. Credit unions focus on financial education because they believe that when community members make smart decisions with their money, the credit unions will benefit, Heckman said.

CU robber goes to confession returns money

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WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (7/29/09)--A man who robbed a branch of Patelco CU turned at least part of the money he stole over to a catholic priest after taking part in confession at a church last week. Police do not know the name of the man who went to a Walnut Creek, Calif., church Sunday night and told the priest during confession that he had robbed the Walnut Creek branch of Patelco CU Thursday afternoon. He left the church after giving the priest $1,200 he said he had robbed from the credit union (Contra Costa Times July 28). After the man left, the priest called the police. “I don’t know if that was the entire amount or a percentage of the amount,” Shelly James, Walnut Creek police lieutenant, told the newspaper. “He said he felt remorse.” After handing the Patelco teller a note Thursday, the man claimed he had a gun. Police will arrest the robber when he is found, James told the paper.

N.Y. association inducts four into CU hall of fame

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ALBANY, N.Y. (7/29/09)--Four credit union officials will be inducted into the Credit Union Association of New York’s Hall of Fame Aug 5. Hall of Fame inductees are individuals who have had a significant impact on credit unions at the local, state or national level, and have dedicated their lives to the philosophy and success of the credit union movement. The ceremony will be held during the association’s annual Convention in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Inductees are:
* Kathleen A. Frawley, who first became a member of Buffalo (N.Y.) Metropolitan in 1965. She joined the credit union’s supervisory committee and then became the first woman elected to serve on the credit union’s board of directors. She has held the positions of treasurer and first vice president and is currently the board’s second vice president. Frawley also is the membership officer, chairperson of the credit union’s education committee and an alternate on the credit committee. * Patricia H. McManus, who has devoted her life to Buffalo (N.Y.) Metropolitan FCU and the credit union’s “people helping people” philosophy. She was hired by the credit union as a frontline teller after graduating high school in 1956. In 1990, she was named manager--a position she held until her retirement in 1996. In the six years she led the credit union, McManus increased the credit union’s asset size by 19% and their loan portfolio by 25%. After retiring from 41 years of service, she accepted an invitation to join the credit union’s board of directors. She was elected secretary, a position she still holds. * Richard K. Moore, who was a founding member of Reliant Community FCU, Sodus. He joined its board of directors 15 years later in 1985 and has served as board chairman since 1986. He also is a member of the credit union’s supervisory committee. Moore stays current with credit issues, regularly attending conferences and other training programs. In 1997, he received the designation of Certified Credit Union Director from the Credit Union Executives Society. Moore is also an active member of the National Association of Credit Union Chairmen. * James E. Thierman, who was instrumental in establishing a credit union for the employees of the Dresser Clark Company and became one if its original members in 1972. In 1982, after many local mergers, the credit union converted to a community charter known today as Olean (N.Y.) Area FCU. From those first days, Thierman served as a member of the supervisory committee and later as a board member. He continued in that capacity until his official retirement in May 2008. During his board tenure, Thierman provided leadership and guidance, ensuring the credit union’s current success while providing a solid foundation for its future.

Jolette named WOCCU chair

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BARCELONA, Spain (7/29/09)--Barry Jolette, president/CEO of San Mateo CU in Redwood City, Calif., has been named chair of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). Jolette succeeds Melvin Edwards, who has represented the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions on the WOCCU board of directors for the past 11 years. Jolette was named chairman during Tuesday’s general session at WOCCU’s World Credit Union Conference in Barcelona, Spain. “Thomas Edison once said, ‘If we do all that we are capable of doing, we will astonish ourselves at what we can accomplish,’” Jolette said. “I've always been astonished at how far credit unions have come and how much value you bring to your members.” Joining Jolette are:
* First Vice Chair Manuel Rabines, Peru; * Second Vice Chair Grzegorz Bierecki, Poland; * Treasurer Mark Bailey, Ireland; and * Secretary Penny Reeves, Canada.
Click to view larger image Barry Jolette, new World Council of Credit Unions chair, (left) accepts the chain of office from former chair Melvin Edwards at the World Credit Union Conference in Barcelona, Spain.
Click to view larger image Eric Dillon, chief operating officer of Servus CU, Alberta, Canada (left), Mark Degotardi, panel moderator, and Luis Pastor, president/CEO of Latino Community CU in Durham, N.C., discuss growth during Tuesday’s general session at the World Credit Union Conference in Barcelona, Spain. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
Other changes to the WOCCU board were announced at the conference. Edwards and Neil McDonald announced that they would resign their positions as directors at the close of the World Credit Union Conference. Their terms, which will expire in July 2010, will be filled by Yvonne Ridguard, Jamaica, and Marlene Shiels, Scotland. After the new board was presented, Luis Pastor, president/CEO of Latino Community CU, Durham, N.C., and Eric Dillon, chief operating officer of Servus CU, Alberta, Canada, explained how credit unions began serving Hispanics and youth members. “We didn't know the challenges that we faced,” said Pastor, whose credit union was established to help stem the tide of growing violence against Durham's Latinos, many of whom carried cash because they lacked relationships with financial institutions. “I was asked if I had a plan B in case of failure, but I didn't even have a plan A.” What Pastor did have, he said, was a ready market waiting to be served. Latino Community grew quickly in size and sophistication, earning a Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Outstanding Organization from the National Credit Union Foundation in 2003 for making financial services available to Durham's Latino community. At Servus, Canada's third-largest credit union, concern over the graying of its membership prompted the establishment of “Young and Free Alberta.” The award-winning program reaches out to potential members, age 17-25, through an approach characterized by specific marketing imagery, products catered to younger members, an increased online presence and a spokesperson recruited from the same demographic group. “These were members who did not want to belong to their parents' or their grandparents' institution,” Dillon said. “We created a credit union within a credit union.” Both speakers said earning trust with their specific market segments was a critical factor for growth. They also cited a need to understand the nature of the “community” that each credit union was attempting to serve. “The definition of the term ‘community' has changed, especially for young people,” said Dillon. “Your community is no longer made up of the people next door; today, it's wrapped around personal values and the concept of people helping people.” “Young and Free Alberta” has spawned similar programs in Texas and South Carolina.