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League Ohio CUs hold their own despite economy

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DUBLIN, Ohio (7/7/08)--Ohio credit unions are doing well despite a struggling economy, the Ohio Credit Union League said last week. “Ohio’s credit unions are holding their own,” said Dave Shoup, league vice president of regulatory affairs. “Credit unions are typically--and have been for a long time--well capitalized.” The league released its First Quarter 2008 Performance Report, which details Ohio and U.S. statistics of economic conditions (eLumination July 2). “Ohio credit unions remain safe and sound institutions, despite many Ohio residents facing financial difficulties in the wake of increasing unemployment and rising energy and food prices,” the report said. Capital levels at the state’s credit unions are at 12.6% net worth-to-assets, which is higher than Ohio banks and thrifts and credit unions and banks nationwide. Ohio credit union mortgage originations rose 65.5% over the past 12 months, despite a weak housing market in Ohio, as home sales fell 19% over the year as of March. Total credit union income rose 3.9% by the end of the first quarter, as growth in investment income slowed. Mergers and liquidations also remained slow, the report said. Membership at Ohio credit unions declined less than one percent over the past year, to 2.63 million members. “Most importantly, credit unions need to focus on membership growth,” Shoup said. “The league is making concentrated efforts to examine and focus on that.”

NACUSAC honors members for service

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DEL MAR, Calif. (7/7/08)--The National Association of Credit Union Supervisory Auditing Committees (NACUSAC) presented awards during the 2008 Annual Conference in Denver to two of its members for their service. Eleanor Willhoite, vice chairman, supervisory committee, Chartway FCU, Virginia Beach, Va., received the 2008 Golden Service Award. Willhoite was commended for her dedication, loyalty and leadership by Chartway Chairman Lou Hull, who accepted the award on her behalf.
Bob Fouratt (left), managing partner, The Curchin Group, received the Associate Member of the Year Award from Bob Butler, National Association of Credit Union Supervisory Auditing Committees vice chairman.
Willhoite also was noted for her contributions to the credit union, including her help in developing written procedures for vital auditing processes and for identifying fraudulent activity on a member’s account--which later led to arrest. The second award, the 2008 Associate Member of the Year, was presented to The Curchin Group. The group is an accounting firm based in New Jersey and is one of the top 15 firms providing services to credit unions. Accepting the award was Robert Fouratt, the firm’s managing partner. The group was selected because of its dedication and professionalism in working with credit unions, NACUSAC said.

CU blog grows issues discussion

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (7/7/08)--Natasha Melugin, a representative with the Texas Credit Union League (TCUL), has started a community blog for credit union personnel to post their thoughts and ideas to help shape their credit unions. CU Grow 2008 began in late May and has generated dozens of responses and ideas from contributing credit union employees and volunteers from throughout Texas, according to TCUL (LoneStar Leaguer June 30). In today’s quickly evolving environment of competition and service, credit unions routinely face challenges in member growth and acknowledgement, the league said. The blog is focused on innovation, collaboration and communication. It was started to help facilitate conversation between credit union leaders. The idea of a communal effort to provide advice and encouragement is natural asset, Mellugin told the league. “Without collaboration and growth within, we cannot expect the credit union movement to grow,” she wrote in an introductory entry to the blog in May.

Minnesota CUs discuss CUBTRRA with congressman

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (7/7/08)--Minnesota credit unions met with U.S. Rep. Tim Walz (DFL-1st District) to discuss credit union and national political issues June 30 at First Alliance CU in Rochester.
From left, Minnesota U.S. Rep. Tim Walz; John Shonyo, board member of Mayo Employees FCU, Rochester; and Harry Wobschall, board chairman, First Alliance CU, Rochester, discuss credit union issues during a meeting June 30 at First Alliance. (Photo provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Network)
Fifteen credit union professionals and volunteers attended the meeting and discussed a variety of current credit union and national issues with Walz. The meeting was part of the Minnesota Credit Union Network’s (MnCUN) goal to strengthen its political influence by building and cultivating positive relationships with legislators. One of the main topics of the meeting was the Credit Union, Bank, and Thrift Regulatory Relief Act (CUBTRRA), which was passed by the House as H.R. 6312 on June 24. CUBTRRA contains measures that would offer significant relief for credit unions and would also benefit banks and thrifts. The group discussed how this act would increase credit unions’ member business lending ability and help federally chartered credit unions serve underserved areas. Other topics covered in the meeting included national issues such as campaign financing and the high cost of fuel. The group also shared their concerns about the current health care system and discussed how to reform health care so that it would be easier for small credit unions to provide benefits to their employees. Walz also commented on credit unions’ community and political involvement. Minnesota credit unions are well represented in Washington, D.C., and their opinions are heard at the Capitol, Walz said. “Congressman Walz was very receptive to the issues and concerns we shared with him during the meeting,” said Mara Humphrey, MnCUN vice president-governmental affairs. “We look forward to working with him in the future and appreciate his support of credit unions.”

Canada CUs merge combined membership 2.8 million

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia and MISSISSAUGA, Ontario (7/7/08)--Credit Union Central of British Columbia and Credit Union Central of Ontario officially merged on Tuesday, with a combined membership of 2.8 million. The new credit union will be named Central 1 CU. Central 1 will provide services to 196 member credit unions in British Columbia and in Ontario. It will have more than $7.5 billion in assets (Marketwire July 2). Credit Union Central of British Columbia acquired the assets of Ontario Central. Central 1 shareholdings will reflect the proportion of member credit unions in each province. The merger proposal was announced on Oct. 6, 2006, based on a concept that other provincial credit unions would join to create a single entity. Canada is currently served by six provincial credit unions and a national trade association. “We continue to see this as a first step toward a national financial services organization for credit unions,” said Daniel A. Burns, Central 1 chairman.

Davidson CUs need to combat aggressive thieves

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NEW YORK (7/7/08)--Credit unions need to keep up with aggressive thieves who are recycling types of fraud and expanding them into different payment areas. So says Ann Davidson, risk manager at CUNA Mutual Group, speaking Wednesday at the America’s Credit Union Conference & Expo last week. The event, presented by the Credit Union National Association, closed on Wednesday. “When the economy is not so good, the temptation is there,” Davidson said. The newest targets for fraud are electronic paychecks, via automated clearing house (ACH), and mobile payments via the .mobi Internet extension, she said. Today members can make payments through cash, check, credit and debit card, and online billing, via ACH, and through cell phones and personal digital assistants. “How do you manage the member’s fraud risk when that member uses six payment systems? Credit unions want to become the member’s primary financial institution (PFI), so you can manage fraud from a cross-channel protection point of view,” Davidson said. “Thieves are having educational sessions, identifying who has the weakest link. They come in and will keep coming in until you plug the hole,” she told credit unions. She noted the dangers of “silo fraud monitoring,” with each type of transaction monitored separately. “All those types of transactions get posted to the member’s account. You are seeing those transactions somewhere along the line.” Technology makes fraud easier, but it can help to manage fraud also. On March 20, 2009, credit unions will be required to have their systems ACH-compliant. Some best practices to help minimize the effects of fraud include:
* Use the fraud management system to identify and block suspect transactions; * Deactivate the mobile device in the event of theft or loss, like credit unions do with card fraud; * Use encryption of locally stored data; and * Implement personal identification number authorization and lockout.
Use the same methods in new risk areas, such as mobile devices:
* Make them compliant with the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council; * Secure registration of mobile devices; * Require Secure Socket Layer connection; * Validate and confirm security layers are working effectively; and * Talk to your peers.
Also note that member business lending (MBL) presents “a huge risk, associated with ACH. It’s not wrong, but you need to manage it,” Davidson said. How does a credit union get connected to manage all these types of fraud? Through enterprise cross-channel management, she said. Centralize your fraud risk management, layer loss control solutions across all transactions; do this in real-time; and centralize compliance and regulatory requirements, Davidson advised. For more on the conference, use the link to Credit Union Magazine's ACUC Daily.

Missouri CUs meet with political candidates before elections

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ST. LOUIS (7/7/08)--Two Missouri credit unions recently met with political candidates in advance of elections to discuss credit union issues and concerns. Central Missouri Community CU, Warrensburg, provided Chris Benjamin (D-District 31) with a tour of the credit union on June 15. Peggy Nalls, Missouri Credit Union Association senior vice president of public and legislative affairs, also attended the meeting (CourierNet June 25). “Benjamin gave us nearly two hours to talk about credit unions,” Nalls said. “He also met every employee at the credit union.” Arsenal CU President Linda Allen also met with Sen. Mike Gibbons (R-District 15). Gibbons is running for Missouri Attorney General. “Gibbons was really appreciative,” Allen said. “Though I have visited him many times over the years, this time he extended an offer to come to the credit union and speak to our members.”

WOCCU World CU Conference this week

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MADISON, Wis. (7/7/08)--More than 1,300 credit union industry executives and officials will be traveling to Hong Kong this week to convene for the 2008 World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) World Credit Union Conference. This year’s conference, the first to convene in Asia in more than 30 years, will host representatives from 48 countries. The conference is co-sponsored by the Credit Union League of Hong Kong and the Association of Asian Confederation of Credit Unions. This year’s general session speakers span the globe. Former U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, co-author of what is referred to as the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation on corporate financial accountability and transparency, will discuss credit unions’ accountability role in serving members. Dr. Anna K. Tibaijuka, United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Director, UN-HABITAT, United Nations Office at Nairobi, will focus on ways credit unions can globally support affordable housing. In addition, Credit Union National Association Chairman Tom R. Dorety, president/CEO of Suncoast Schools FCU, Tampa, Fla., and Phylip Doughty, CEO of MECU Ltd., Australia, will discuss how credit union philosophy can offer competitive advantages in the speakers’ respective countries. Topics addressed during the 20 breakout sessions include:
* Marketing credit unions to a value-driven generation; * Benefits and challenges of franchise models; * Global implications of a changing U.S. economy; * Attracting deposits in the age of Internet banking and falling interest rates; and * The role cooperatives play in an age of economic realignment.
For a complete list of session topics and speakers, use the resource link. WOCCU will also hold its annual awards ceremonies during the conference to honor individuals and institutions that demonstrate the true nature of the cooperative spirit. Honors include individual and organizational winners of the Distinguished Service Award and the WOCCU Young Credit Union People (WYCUP) Program, which will award scholarships to five of the 19 international applicants participating in this year’s program at the conference. In recognition of their leadership in the international credit union system, the five winners will receive an all-expense-paid trip to next year’s conference in Barcelona, Spain. The World Credit Union Conference is an annual event organized by WOCCU and the host country.