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Louisiana league announces award winners

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HARAHAN, La. (8/13/10)--The Louisiana Credit Union League awarded three Louisiana credit unions with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Recognition Awards--the Desjardin Youth Financial Literacy Award, the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award and the Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Award. The winners advance to CUNA’s national competition. They were:
* Neighbors FCU, Baton Rouge; Desjardin Youth Financial Literacy Award; * Ouachita Valley FCU, West Monroe; Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award; and * Louisiana FCU, La Place; Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Award.
Louisiana credit unions were recognized with Excellence in Marketing Awards for outstanding marketing and communications efforts. The Excellence in Marketing Awards Program received a record number of entries this year. In $20 million or less category, winners were:
* Calcasieu Federal Employees FCU, Lake Charles; Best Newsletter; * Calcasieu Federal Employees FCU, Best Annual Report; and * Internal Revenue FCU, New Orleans, Best Website.
In the $20 million to $60 million category, winners were:
* Access of Louisiana FCU, Westlake; Best Newsletter; * Access of Louisiana FCU, Best Annual Report; and * Ascension CU, Gonzales; Best Website.
In the $60 million-plus category, awards winners were:
* CSE FCU, Lake Charles; Best Newsletter; * Dow Louisiana FCU, Plaquemine; Best Annual Report; and * The New Orleans Firemen’s FCU, Best Website.

Filene study CUs have opportunities to differentiate themselves

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MADISON, Wis. (8/13/10)--Credit unions have many opportunities to differentiate themselves from other financial institutions, according to a recent Filene Research Institute study. Filene has released, “Why Choose a Credit Union: An Ethnographic Study of Member Behavior,” and the first-ever audio interview or podcast for Filene with the study’s author, Stefanie Norvaisas. Norvaisas, director of research at Design Concepts, visited seven credit unions of various asset sizes and fields of membership nationwide. At each credit union, Norvaisas and her research team conducted up to a half dozen in-home, in-depth interviews with members and a similar number of in-credit-union interviews with staff members. Most consumers said they chose their credit union because of price, convenience, service and trust. However, many also didn’t understand what a credit union was or the value of membership. Many consumers also had relationships with other financial institutions, and were “hard-pressed to describe real meaningful differences,” Norvaisas said. Some consumers had chosen credit unions based not on age or income, but what was happening in their lives--like a difficult financial event, such as divorce. Norvaisas suggested that credit unions look at members’ behaviors to better serve them. Instead of saying, “What checking account do they need?” they should ask, “How can we help them pay their bills?” she said. Credit unions should have individual identities for each of their branches that are tailored to supporting the local community. Also, make sure to put things in terms people understand, Norvaisas said. For example, most consumers she talked with assumed financial advisers were only for the wealthy--instead of using the term “financial adviser,” perhaps try “financial coach,” she added. Ethnographic research can be an interesting tool, and the credit unions involved in the study said it was incredibly valuable. “There were lots of surprised reactions,” Norvaisas said. “They couldn’t believe what members said. Members’ needs were different than what [credit unions] expected.” Overall, Norvaisas said credit unions are uniquely positioned to help people and can use studies such as ethnographic research to attract members and help them improve their lives. “[Credit unions] are positioned to make a difference in people’s lives,” she said. “They are nonprofit, cooperatives, members are owners, and credit unions can pull the members in to help credit unions shape their [own] futures.” For more information or to listen to the podcast, use the link.

Richmond paper Look at CU deals Cheney tells why

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RICHMOND, Va. (8/13/10)--Credit unions historically have offered better rates and terms on financial products than banks, and consumers should include them in their search for the best deals, according to a Richmond, Va., newspaper. The article features CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney, who explains how the credit union difference translates into savings for consumers. Informa Research Services Inc., a California-based market research company that tracks 3,500 financial institutions nationwide, including 500 credit unions, provided the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Aug. 8) with a comparison of credit union and bank rates and fees as of July 27: According to the newspaper, the comparison indicates that on average:
* A $2,500 checking account has a 0.34% annual percentage yield (APY) at credit unions, compared with a lower 0.25% at banks: * A $1,000 regular savings account has a 0.31% average APY at credit unions, compared with 0.26% at banks; * A one-year $10,000 certificate of deposit has a higher 0.96% average APY at credit unions, compared with 0.82% at banks; * A five-year new-auto loan has a 4.64% average rate at credit unions, compared with 5.98% at banks; and * Overdraft fees on checking have a $25.29 on average at credit unions, compared with $29.35 at banks.
“Credit unions generally have more competitive rates on loans and more generous rates on deposits,” Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com., told the paper “Since we don't have shareholders, we don’t have to pay dividends,” Bill Cheney, president/CEO of Credit Union National Association, told the paper. That translates to savings for members, the paper added. “There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer for everyone,” McBride concluded. “However, credit unions do warrant being included in your search, whether you're looking to move your entire banking relationship or just looking for the most competitive loan rate.”

Coosa Pines Jefferson Community Development FCUs merge

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CHILDERSBURG, Ala. (8/13/10)--Coosa Pines FCU and Jefferson Community Development FCU have merged, with Coosa Pines as the remaining credit union. The merger was effective May 31 and the conversion of accounts was completed July 31. Coosa Pines is located in Childersburg, Ala. Jefferson Community had assets of $1.6 million and one location in Roebuck, Ala. Coosa Pines ended July 2010 with assets of $185 million and more than 20,000 members. Coosa Pines FCU now has five branches in Chelsea, Childersburg, Pell City, Roebuck and Sylacauga. The merger will now include membership to those in Jefferson County. The two credit unions merged because they have similar visions. Brant Malone, president/CEO of Coosa Pines, said the credit union is “consistently looking for areas of future growth and diversification of our membership base.”

Cheney in IHuffPoI Frustrate the bankers help the economy

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WASHINGTON (8/13/10)--The banks are at it again, putting their interests ahead of those of consumers and small business owners, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney said in a blog post on The Huffington Post Thursday. It’s time for the U.S. Congress to thwart the banks’ selfishness, and help the country, by giving credit unions greater authority to make more business loans, he wrote. In his blog posting titled “Frustrate the Bankers, Give Credit Unions More Biz-Lending Authority,” Cheney said, “You have to wonder what bankers are thinking, especially since just last week the government reported the nation shed more than 130,000 jobs in July--adding to the concern that more needs to be done to prevent the economic recovery from stalling.” He noted that when Congress finally broke for its summer home-district work period this week, banks had not budged from “stubbornly blocking a commonsense approach for creating more jobs: legislation that would give credit unions more authority to make business loans.” CUNA and credit unions are urging lawmakers to raise the caps on member business lending (MBL) at credit unions. Credit unions are capped at making no more than 12.25% of their assets in MBLs. Congress will return to session on Sept. 13, and credit unions should make good use of each day before that to advocate to lawmakers on their home turf for an increased credit union MBL cap, Cheney has urged. Cheney said credit unions should use the current August District Work Period to meet with senators on their home turf and seek support for the MBL increase. Use the opportunity to refute banker rhetoric in opposition to an amendment by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) to a budget stimulus bill that would raise the caps to 27.5%, Cheney said. CUNA estimates that lifting the caps would create more than 100,000 new jobs, and inject $10 billion into the economy. “There is no public policy reason not to permit credit unions to do more lending to their members who own or want to start small businesses,” Cheney added. “In fact, credit unions have proven for years they are capable of making these types of loans safely and soundly.” For more information, use the link.

Former CUNA leader Mica wins Wegner award

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WASHINGTON (8/13/10)--Daniel A. “Dan” Mica, former president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), is the winner of the 2011 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Individual Achievement, presented by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF). The honor to Mica will be one of three awards presented at the 23rd Annual Herb Wegner Awards Dinner hosted by NCUF at the Grand Hyatt Washington on Feb. 28-- Monday night of CUNA’s 2011 Governmental Affairs Conference. Online registration for dinner tickets will be available later this year on the NCUF website.
Click to view larger imageCUNA President/CEO Dan Mica (right), testified before the House Financial Services Committee on small business lending in May, and told lawmakers that credit unions could do a lot for the U.S. economy if the statutory cap on member business lending was increased. To Mica’s right is Paul Atkins, a member of the Congressional Oversight Panel and former Securities and Exchange Commissioner. (CUNA photo)
“I am deeply humbled by and immensely appreciative of this great honor,” Mica said. “Throughout my tenure as CUNA CEO, I gave my entire heart and soul to the movement, as I became a true believer in credit unions--and I will remain so the rest of my life.” NCUF cited Mica’s efforts to preserve credit union access for millions of consumers, safeguard an independent federal credit union regulator and system, protect credit unions’ federal tax exemption, spearhead a successful challenge to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over unrelated business income tax (UBIT), garner unprecedented national positive press for credit unions, move credit unions to the forefront of financial literacy, raise credit union political involvement to the highest levels and other achievements. “The most significant thing about Dan is that he took credit union people into his heart,” said Mike Mercer, CUNA vice chairman and Georgia Credit Union Affiliates president/CEO. “He could have exercised commendable leadership from the stage and from his perch on Pennsylvania Avenue. But, something happened to Dan that I don’t think he anticipated. He became genuinely attracted to the philosophy and good deeds that he encountered in the credit union world. When he was defending credit union issues on the Hill or in the press, he was speaking with genuine emotion for what he believed to be right.” “Dan has demonstrated personal commitment, inspirational leadership, and innovation that have been second to none in the credit union movement in the past 14 years,” said Jeff Post, president/CEO of CUNA Mutual Group. “Without question, credit unions, their members, and the entire credit union movement have benefited from his vision, passion, political savvy and enduring spirit.” “Everyone knows about his work to preserve the credit union tax exemption, the Hike the Hill program, Project Zip Code and Credit Union House,” said Pete Crear, president/CEO of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). “Not enough people know what a wonderful international ambassador for credit unions he has been throughout his tenure at CUNA. His opinion is much valued by the Aussies, the Canadians, and the Irish among many, many others. He has served as the chair of the World Council CEO Roundtable and recently hosted the inaugural WOCCU G-10 (ten largest members) gathering.” Dan Mica’s key accomplishments as CUNA president/CEO:
* Preserving credit union access for millions of consumers; * Safeguarding an independent federal credit union regulator and system; * Protecting credit unions’ federal tax exemption; * Winning an eight-year battle for bankruptcy abuse reform legislation; * Ensuring credit unions are part of balanced regulatory relief legislation; * Raising political involvement to new levels and establishing credit unions as a powerful, ongoing, and highly visible presence in Washington; * Spearheading a successful challenge to the IRS over UBIT; * Garnering unprecedented positive national press attention for credit unions; * Changing numerous NCUA rules (with significant business/cost implications for credit unions) for the better; * And doing the same at other key federal agencies with an impact on credit unions (Defense Department, Small Business Administration, Federal Reserve, Labor Department); * Establishing unique and comprehensive compliance resources for credit unions; * Advancing programs to help lower-income and minority members; * Moving credit unions to the forefront of financial literacy; * Serving as a critical catalyst for system-wide thought leadership; * Creating the Credit Union System National Disaster Preparedness Plan; and * Turning CUNA Strategic Services into a success story that annually saves credit unions millions of dollars.

CU System brief (08/12/2010)

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* TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (8/13/10)--Southeast Corporate FCU’s board has appointed Peter Giorgianni, chief operating officer of Railroad and Industrial FCU in Tampa, Fla., to its supervisory committee. Giorgianni oversees branch operations, internal audit, human resources and training, and the call center at Railroad and Industrial FCU. He previously worked as a manager of a finance company and at Eastern Financial Florida CU, now Space Coast CU, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Southeast Corporate FCU is based in Tallahassee, Fla. (Photo provided by Southeast Corporate FCU) ...