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2014 World Credit Union Conference opens in Australia

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GOLD COAST, Australia (7/30/14)--An international flag parade with bearers clad in their national colors can only signal the start of one thing in the credit union world: The start of the year's World Credit Union Conference.
 
Click to view larger image Flag bearers dressed in national attire march in during the opening ceremonies of the 2014 World Credit Union Conference in Gold Coast, Australia. (World Council of Credit Unions Photo)
Nearly 1,900 credit union professionals from 48 countries descended upon Gold Coast, Australia this week to attend the World Council of Credit Unions' annual marquee event.
 
The conference, which provides international networking opportunities and the chance to learn from top industry experts from throughout the globe, kicked off Sunday with the flag parade, and ends today.
 
Don Magin, World Credit Union Conference chair and co-host of Customer Owned Banking Association, outlined Australia's mutual banking sector for attendees.
 
"Collectively, (credit unions) serve more than 200 million people worldwide," Magin said. "In the face of adversity, we have found a way to succeed. You all have reminded us in Australia that we have to do the same."
 
On Monday, World Council presented the Outstanding Membership Growth Awards to representatives of several international organizations that experienced exceptional membership-growth rates last year.
 
The award winners were:
  • Confederacao Interestadual das Cooperativas Ligada ao Sicredi of Brazil;
     
  • Federacion Nacional de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Credito of Guatemala; and
     
  • Islamic Investment and Finance Cooperative Group of Afghanistan.
Experts on hand at the conference also have offered insight on subjects such as young adult membership, technology, leadership and credit union advocacy.
 
Click to view larger image The Aboriginal dance troupe Nunukul Yuggera demonstrates a traditional performance to kick off this year's World Credit Union Conference. (World Council of Credit Unions Photo)
"It is meetings such as these that make us better, that help us serve our members better, that make us try to help others," said World Council Chair Grzegorz Bierecki, president of the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors, in his remarks welcoming attendees. "During this conference, ideas will be born and linkages will be formed that will bring tangible results, if not today, then tomorrow."
 
Audience members Sunday, including a vast contingent of Australians and New Zealanders, also witnessed performances by the Aboriginal dance troupe Nunukul Yuggera and Australian tall-tale teller and singer Errol Gray.
 
To follow conference activities, including daily events and photos, visit the World Council's Facebook and Twitter pages at www.facebook.com/WOCCU and www.twitter.com/WOCCU, and use the hashtag #WCUC2014.

MasterCard exec: CUs 'formidable' competitors

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PURCHASE, N.Y. (7/30/14)--Credit unions made the most of their reputation for trust with consumers during the financial crisis, strengthening their credit card portfolios and establishing themselves as "formidable" competitors to big banks, a MasterCard executive said in an interview with PYMNTS.com.
 
Now is the time to redouble their consumer-focused efforts, said Margaret A. Shine, MasterCard senior vice president and group head, segment solutions. 

Shine will speak at this week's World Council of Credit Union's World Credit Union Conference in Gold Coast, Australia.
 
During the financial crisis overall outstanding credit card balances declined 12%, Shine said. Large banks felt the downslide the most, with a 14% decline in credit card balances.  "But the rest of the marketplace, which includes local and community institutions like credit unions, grew this line by 5%," Shine said. "Similarly, when you look at U.S. credit card purchase volume, the market grew by 30% overall. Yet large financial institutions saw only a 26% increase versus a 66% growth rate for the rest of the marketplace."
 
Shine said the need for government intervention and resulting media coverage during the crisis shook consumer confidence and trust in financial institutions, but credit unions mostly emerged from the crisis with solid, unsullied reputations. 
 
Shine said credit unions must now focus on the consumer of the future. That means focusing on the payment trends and applying them to their memberships to stay relevant and differentiated.
 
"Credit unions in the U.S. market did a great job in being formidable competitive players post-crisis; they have built momentum and should continue to do so, redoubling their efforts especially with some strong economic factors to their back," Shine said.

Global Women's Leadership Forum speaker: 'People value authenticity'

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GOLD COAST, Australia (7/30/14)--The 2014 Global Women's Leadership Forum, held in partnership with Australian Women in Mutuals during World Council of Credit Union's World Credit Union Conference, included research presented by keynote speaker Louise Mahler about strengthening women's verbal and nonverbal communication skills.
 
Click to view larger image Dr. Louise Mahler, vocal intelligence expert, discusses powerful communication skills at the 2014 Global Women's Leadership Forum in Gold Coast, Australia.
The Global Women's Leadership Network meets annually in conjunction with the World Credit Union Conference. More than 125 women credit union leaders from 24 countries attended Monday's event in Gold Coast, Australia.
 
Mahler presented research on harnessing the art of face-to-face communication to improve women's leadership effectiveness in the digital age. She explained the qualities of both male and female leaders throughout history--based on body language, words and voice.
 
"People value authenticity. We need a model of authenticity, which is what I call vocal intelligence, to change the notion of perceived leadership," said Mahler, an opera performer of 15 years. "It all starts in the mind, which influences the body. The voice is an outcome. Once you learn how to unlock your authenticity and clear the body, you will hear the voice. Women cannot afford to get this wrong."
 
The forum also included a panel discussion on overcoming leadership obstacles faced by women credit union leaders. Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, president/CEO of $2.2 billion-assets Travis CU, Vacaville, Calif., moderated the discussion, which included Louise Petschler, president/CEO of Customer Owned Banking Association, Australia; Barbara Gascoigne, general manager of Jamaica Teachers' Association Cooperative Credit Union Ltd.; and Luse Tamani, secretariat officer of Oceania Confederation of Credit Union Leagues, Pacific.
 
Click to view larger image The leadership forum panel discussion presented perspectives on solutions to women's leadership obstacles from the U.S., Australia, Jamaica and the Pacific. (World Council of Credit Unions photos)
Winners of the 2014 Global Women's Leadership Network scholarships presented projects designed to solve a problem or meet a need at each of their credit unions or within their communities. Network members will vote during the conference on which of the six scholarship winners will receive network support for the implementation of their project. The winner will be announced during the World Credit Union Conference's closing ceremony today.
 
Prior to the forum, Louise Aubusson, Australian Women in Mutuals co-leader, was honored with the Global Women's Leadership Network's 2014 Athene Award Saturday evening at the Global Women's Leadership Networking Reception, sponsored by Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates. The annual award is named for the Greek goddess of reason, intelligence, arts and agriculture, and honors outstanding work in the area of women's leadership.

Moebs study: FIs rethink overdraft, CUs still most reasonable

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LAKE BLUFF, Ill. (7/30/14)--Competitive and regulatory pressures are causing financial institutions to rethink their overdraft fee structures. Within an extensive report, the author includes information that describes how credit unions remain the most reasonable financial institutions in forgiving members for overdrafts.

About 52% of financial institutions (FIs) with assets over $50 billion have a de minimis balance, while 15.3% of FIs with assets less than $100 million use a de minimis balance, according to the Moebs Services study.  
 
 De minimis--Latin for a small amount--is a methodology for assessing overdraft fees that depends on how much the charge will overdraw an account.  If the overdrawn amount is below the FI's hurdle, the fee is waived.
 
For example, the national average for de minimis balance fee assessment is $7.40, with 25.8% of institutions using this methodology, according to Moebs. Transactions that cause an overdraft of less than $7.40 may not be charged an overdraft fee.
 
Credit unions have the lowest participation at 10.8% --due in large measure to their more personal handling of overdrafts, according to the Moebs study.  Banks have the highest de minimis participation rate at 33.9%. 
 
The Moebs Fee Study found de minimis balance hurdles range from a high of $50 to a low of $1.
 
The wide range is due to the competitiveness of the market for checking, according to the study.  The higher the de minimis balance the more competition by FIs to get checking accounts.
 
Another change in overdraft fee practice is the use of caps, or limits on the number of overdrafts fees charged during a single day. Nationally, 24.3% of FIs have instituted some form of caps. Caps ranged from a low of two, with fees for overdrafts over two in a day waived, to a high of 12 in a day, with the national average at five, Moebs said. 
 
Moebs said 63% of Wall Street FIs with more than $50 billion in assets, use an overdraft fee cap, while 12.2% of the credit unions and community banks with under $100 million in assets use a cap.  As with the De minimis balance, main streets FIs often provide de facto caps by phoning the consumer to advise them of multiple overdrafts, Moebs said.

Minnesota league celebrates 10-year relationship with Paraguayan CUs

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (7/30/14)--The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary of its relationship with Paraguayan credit unions.
 
MnCUN helped recognize the 20th anniversary of Central de Cooperativas del Area Nacional Ltda. (CENCOPAN), which provides its Paraguayan credit unions with services similar to those offered by trade associations and corporate credit unions in the United States.  MnCUN President/CEO Mark D. Cummins spoke at CENCOPAN's International Seminar, "Credit Unions: A True Alternative for Economic & Social Development." 
 
Click to view larger image During the May 2014 visit, Kristina Wright, MnCUN vice president, association services, left, and President/CEO Mark D. Cummins, rightr, met with the 30 de Agosto Ltda. Cooperativa. This credit union, chaired by Dario Quinonez Martinez, center, was the first in the country to implement safe deposit boxes, an innovation inspired by a visit he made to Minnesota during the partnership exchange. Now several Paraguayan credit unions offer safe deposit boxes to their members.
Cummins provided an overview of the changes in payments systems and the evolution of technology in the United States.
 
The 10-year relationship has been mutually beneficial, Kristina M. Wright, MnCUN vice president of association services told News Now. While the Minnesota league has been able to provide the South American nation with technological and regulatory advice related to credit unions, Paraguayan credit unions have helped U.S. credit unions remain true to their roots.
 
"It's inspiring to experience the passion and commitment that the credit unions in Paraguay have, and it's a great reminder of our cooperative roots and principles," Wright told News Now.

 With MnCUN's assistance, CENCOPAN has streamlined its internal departments and overall organizational focus, rebranding the association and opening a new office in a visible part of the capital city, Asuncion. CENCOPAN is also currently in the midst of a technological assessment, working with the International Development Bank to audit their offerings and define areas where it can make structural improvements in safety and security.
 
Going forward, MnCUN and CENCOPAN will shift the focus of its relationship, scaling back time and travel commitment while maintaining an open line of communication.

CUNA to host Twitter chat to boost CU awareness

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WASHINGTON (7/30/14)--Pull up a chair Thursday for a national conversation about the credit union movement, right from your office or living room.
 
The Credit Union National Association is inviting leagues, credit unions, volunteers and member-advocates to participate in its newest #CUNAchat on Twitter, slated for Thursday at 3 p.m. (ET).
 
Topics for the discussion, which will be moderated by @CUNA and feature responses from CUNA's @aSmarterChoice and @CUNAadvocacy, include:
  • Raising awareness of credit unions to consumers;
  • The power of credit union membership;
  • Credit union structure; and
  • Community impact.
@CUNA will pose questions from its Twitter account using the hashtag #CUNAchat. Anyone following the conversation can jump in and offer a response.
 
Follow @CUNA, @aSmarterChoice and @CUNAadvocacy to get involved Thursday. Participants are encouraged to include the hashtag #CUNAchat when responding.
 
As the credit union movement marches toward 100 million memberships, meanwhile, credit union members continue to send in "selfies" of themselves to www.americascreditunions.org, the website CUNA has launched as part of a campaign to highlight the industry's forthcoming milestone.
 
When sharing selfies submitted to the website on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, use the hashtag #100MM.