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CUs 'Unite' Outside Today Show

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NEW YORK (7/5/13)--More than 100 credit union advocates decided "what better way to start off 'Today'" than to  gather outside of NBC's Today Show in bright-blue Unite-for-Good and aSmarterChoice T-shirts to help spread awareness about credit unions. 
 

Click for slide show Today Show host Savannah Guthrie waves to some of the 100 or more credit union folks who showed up in the New York City dawn at the Today Show site wearing Unite for Good and aSmarterChoice t-shirts to foster awareness of credit unions. (CUNA Photo)

The fun and unique effort was the brainstorm of the Credit Union National Association and was executed the final day of CUNA's America's Credit Union Conference (ACUC), held in New York City from June 29 to July 3.
 
As anyone familiar with morning television knows, the Today Show attracts an iconic crowd each morning it airs, as fans visible through windows behind the show's hosts can be seen as they wave "Happy birthday, Mom" signs or wear "Will you marry me, Josie" T-shirts.
 
"When we first conceived of this, we were kind of wondering what kind of turnout there would be when we asked attendees to get up at 6 a.m. on the last day of the conference for the show," CUNA Vice President of Marketing Communications Amy Nigrelli said of the event. "It became clear really quickly that credit union folks were really up for this. We are thrilled that so many people participated." 
 
The credit union crowd, not part of the official show, got some great exposure as they formed a window-framed backdrop--waving their Unite for Good and aSmarterChoice signs--to musical giant Usher as he chatted and joked with the show's hosts.

The Unite for Good T-shirts, however, were no joke.  They refer to CUNA's new strategic vision, being embraced by credit unions across the country, where "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."  The vision promotes three key goals credit unions will need to reach to achieve CUNA's shared vision for the credit union system: removing barriers, creating awareness and fostering service excellence.
 
And the aSmarterChoice T-shirts, of course, refer to the consumer website created by CUNA and the state credit union leagues, which helps people find a credit union to join.
 
Also during the ACUA, the throngs of people moving through one of Manhattan's most bustling thoroughfares, Times Square, saw a message in the neon lights letting them know they'll get better rates and lower fees by switching to a credit union, and urging them to find one at www.aSmarterChoice.org.
 
CUNA arranged for the message to run hourly on the iconic CBS Screen on famed 42nd Street beginning April 15 and running through July 4.
 
Attending the Today show was one of many media news outlets CUNA  interacted with while in New York City for the ACUC. The other outlets included The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune Magazine, FOX Business Network, Reuters and USA Today.

NEW: Grant: Don't Give Until it Hurts

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NEW YORK (7/5/13--UPDATED 11:15 a.m. ET)--Is workplace altruism a sucker's bet? It can be if you help others to the detriment of yourself, said professor and author Adam Grant on the final day of the Credit Union National Association's America's Credit Union Conference (ACUC)  here.
 
Grant, a Wharton School of Business professor and the author of "Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success," identified three types of employees:
  • Givers, those rare folks who enjoy helping others without taking credit;
  • Takers, manipulative people who try to get as much as they can from others without giving anything in return; and
  • Matchers, those who'll help others as long as they eventually get something in return.
Most employees, Grant said, fall into the final category.
 
Givers, Grant warned, often can be the worst performers: "They can be the least productive and make the most errors because they're too busy helping their peers." In the long run, however, those who help others succeed often advance themselves because they help create value for their organizations.
 
"If we create an atmosphere where givers thrive," Grant said, "we can lift all boats."
 
Grant told his credit union audience that organizations can create such a culture by:
  • Getting the right people on the bus and, conversely, "keeping the wrong people off the bus";
  • Recognizing, rewarding, and promoting givers;
  • Tracking who in the organization helps others and adds value;
  • Establishing a culture where people feel free to ask for help.
Asking for helps is "hard for givers, but it must be done sometimes," Grant said. "Successful givers ask for help; failures try to go it alone."
 
Takers tend to have certain traits in common, according to Grant's research. CEOs who are takers tend to say "I" and "me" instead of "we," and they often have salaries far higher than those of their colleagues.
 
These CEOs also can be self-satisfied and vain, often displaying large photographs of themselves, indicating "it's all about me." Disgraced Enron CEO Kenneth Lay, for example, published a full-page photo of his face in the company's 1997 annual report--a telling indication, Grant said, of his onerous intentions.
 
But like Lay, many takers are adept at hiding this trait, the final ACUC keynote speaker said Wednesday. They appear to give, but don't. "If you're a taker, you want people higher up to think you're generous. It's all about kissing up and taking others out."
 
One way givers can help others without being taken advantage of is by doing "five-minute favors," quick, easy tasks such as making an introduction or providing recognition, Grant said. If the recipient doesn't reciprocate, chances are he or she is a taker.
 
"Giving is sometimes seen as a sign of weakness," Grant assessed. "But it can be a strength."
 
CUNA's ACUC was held here June 28 to July 3.  For full coverage of the events use the links to News Now and Credit Union Magazine.

CU System Briefs (07/05/2013)

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  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/5/13)--John Finley, longtime board member of  Philadelphia-based Police & Fire FCU, died Sunday at age 85, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway July 3).  Finley was a former PCUA board director, serving on the board from 1995 to 2003.  A retired Philadelphia firefighter, he also was a former board member of the Philadelphia Chapter of Credit Unions and served as chapter president from 1993 to 1995. Services were held Wednesday ...
  • LAUREL, Md. (7/5/13)--Cynthia Scott, senior vice president of marketing at Tower FCU in Laurel, Md., died June 13 at the age of 66 after a brief illness.  Scott worked in marketing and sales for most of her 40-year career, serving Tower for the past 13 years. "Cyndy brought tremendous successes to our business with her efforts and leadership," said Martin Breland, president/CEO of Tower FCU. "In fact, she brought new ways of thinking about our business into Tower. She was a valued colleague and friend. She will be sorely missed."  Scott was active in advocacy on Capitol Hill, including participating in the Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C. She also began Tower's financial education program, which was recognized by the National Credit Union Administration, the Treasury Department of Financial Literacy initiative and members of Congress ...

Attorney To ACUC: CUs Should Act To De-risk Social Media

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NEW YORK (7/5/13)--Credit unions should implement policies and procedures to protect themselves against possible liability related to their use and their employees' use of social media, said attorney Kevin Funnell of Bieging Shapiro & Barber LLP  at a Discovery Breakout Session during the 2013 America's Credit Union Conference Wednesday.
 
The Credit Union National Association's ACUC ended Wednesday in New York City. The Discovery session was sponsored by CUNA Mutual Group.
 
A recent survey indicated that 62% of U.S financial institutions were not using social media or had no immediate plans to use it because they were worried about compliance, Funnell said.  "Most Americans are involved in social media," Funnell said. "There are 157 million Facebook users already, and 47% of adults use social media."

Also, new media present risks that traditional media don't--primarily a lack of control over content and a heightened sense of risk, Funnell added. "Social media is relatively new, and there are some well-settled legal rules, but not for financial institutions," he explained. "It's an open forum and there is a world full of possible plaintiffs and the fear of the unknown."
 
Some legal risks when a financial institution markets to a member/customer through social media  include: 
  • Deceptive advertising;
  • Intellectual property infringement/plagiarism;
  • Defamation/trade libel;
  • Disclosure of trade secrets or private information; and
  • Is it a conversation or advertising?
Legal risks when an employee uses a financial institution's social media include:
  • Leaking confidential information;
  • Committing defamation;
  • Admissions against the financial institution's interest;
  • Binding the financial institution to a promise;
  • Legal and regulatory violations;
  • Inability to regulate communication; and
  • Reputational risk.
Credit unions and financial institutions need to have clear internal written policies regarding copyright infringement, defamation, trade libel, use of non-public personal information and dishonesty (deceptive trade practices). "The key is to enforce policies consistently" to avoid any legal problems regarding unfairness of their application, Funnell said.

He concluded with social media policy takeaways for financial institutions. They are:
  • Strike a balance between the specific and the general.
  • Be aware that National Labor Relations Board rules apply--even without a labor union.
  • Understand that informed managers are the key.
  • Realize the NLRB has been making aggressive interpretations (in favor of employees).
  • Review Individual policies and procedures.
If you missed coverage of the ACUC, visit News Now and Credit Union Magazine at the links.

ACUC: Maximize Non-interest Income Through Member Relationships

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NEW YORK (7/5/13)--To grow non-interest income in today's economy, credit unions must focus on the areas they can control, with emphasis on building deeper member relationships, a CUNA Mutual Group representative told an America's Credit Union Conference (ACUC) Discovery breakout session Tuesday.
 
Click to view larger image With an influx of new members in the past 18 months, credit unions have a great opportunity to build share of wallet, Bob Larson, financial support consultant for CUNA Mutual Group, said during a Discovery breakout session at America's Credit Union Conference in New York Tuesday. (Photo provided by CUNA Mutual Group)
Bob Larson, financial support consultant for CUNA Mutual Group, discussed strategies for growing non-interest income in a changing environment.
 
The conference, presented by the Credit Union National Association in New York City, ended Wednesday.
 
"You will do better in today's economy by focusing on what you can control, not on what you can't control," said Larson. "Start with understanding your current credit union membership as well as those who've just joined your credit union.
 
"During the past 18 months, credit unions have added a great number of new members," he added. "Credit unions need to make sure they tap into new members by cross-selling additional services: loans, debit cards, credit cards, bill pay, etc. The more services, the deeper the relationship."
 
To deepen member relationships, credit unions must make sure they have a strong, transparent sales culture focused on building lasting member relationships, he said. The four key components for a successful sales culture are:
  • Champion--Have top-down management commitment and communication;
  • Train--Prepare staff to meet member needs with confidence;
  • Coach--Provide staff with consistent recognition and positive reinforcement to align management and staff behaviors to support credit union goals; and
  • Track--Inspect quantifiable data for coaching, training and making improvements.
A credit union's sales culture should start and end with the member, Larson said. "Let the member control the process because, as  (credit union pioneer) Roy F. Bergengren so eloquently stated, 'the most important service of the credit union is the education of its members in the management and control of their money,' which is exactly what ultimately drives your credit union's sales culture," he added.
 
Current market conditions have greatly impacted credit unions' earnings. Now, more than ever, credit unions must explore every aspect of their income statement to leverage additional income and to keep their revenue stream flowing. Larson added that members' and credit unions' interests have never been so well-aligned before, so credit unions should take advantage of this by aligning their sales cultures to meet members' needs.
 
Larson recommended that with the future threat of rising interest rates, credit unions should take time to develop a strategy to move some certificate dollars from the balance sheet to a wealth management program to improve the loan-to-share ratio, which will generate additional non-interest income in gross dealer concessions for the credit union.
 
If you missed News Now's and Credit Union Magazine's coverage of the ACUC, use the links below.

KCUA: Kansas CUs Start 2013 With Strong Growth

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WICHITA, Kan. (7/5/13)--Kansas credit unions began 2013 with strong growth in assets, shares, capital and loans, according to the Kansas Credit Union Association, in another indication of the value that credit unions bring to members.
 
Loans balances rose by 5.8%, which was "outstanding," said KCUA. That compares with nationwide loan balance growth of 4.8%. The average member relationship--the outstanding combined loan and share balances per member, excluding member business loans--increased to $12,428 in March.
 
"Our state credit unions continue to faithfully serve the 630,000 Kansas consumers who are credit union members," said Tammy Wendland, consultant for KCUA. She noted that the People Helping People philosophy "is evident by the increased member relationship numbers, as people continue to see the value of credit unions and how credit unions can help them reach their financial goals."
 
Share balances rose at a 6% rate, outpacing the 5.1% national average, with only share certificates decreasing.
 
KCUA said asset quality is still a high point for credit unions in the state, despite a slight increase in delinquency. Even with the increase, credit unions are still below the national delinquency average of 1.02%.
 
Capital levels remained high--at 11.3% of assets, better than commercial banks, as well as credit unions and banks overall nationwide.
 
Membership rose by 5,300 people during the past year, with Kansas credit unions now serving more than 630,000 members, said KCUA.

CUs Highlighted in Amtrak's 'Arrive' Magazine

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WASHINGTON (7/5/13)--Tucked into the seat-back pockets of its trains going from Washington, D.C. to Boston, Mass.--via New York City--and back, the current Amtrak and Amtrak Acela magazine features an article advising passengers on "Choosing the Right Financial Guru."  The first tip of the six offered shines the spotlight on credit unions.
 
"When it comes to financial advice, there is no one-size fits all expert," the Arrive article says. "Loan officers at the local credit unions offer mortgage services, financial planners make recommendations for investments and retirement accounts, credit counselors establish debt repayment programs, and financial psychologists delve into beliefs about money."
 
The article highlights: "As nonprofit organizations, credit unions have lower operating costs than big banks, and that can translate to better deals for members" like higher rates on savings and lower fees on services and lower rates on loans than banks.
 
The article notes that most people are eligible to join a credit union and notes the Credit Union National Associations consumer website, aSmarterchoice.org, as a way to find the right match. CUNA worked with Arrive on the article.