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Calif.-Nev. Leagues To Support CMN Hospitals On ICU Day

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ONTARIO, Calif. (8/12/13)--The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues--with support from CO-OP Financial Services--are encouraging their member credit unions to celebrate International Credit Union Day--Oct. 17--by helping CU4Kids create miracles.
Each time credit union members use their check card or credit card Oct. 17, participating credit unions will donate 25 cents or any self-determined amount to Credit Unions for Kids, the nationwide alliance of credit unions supporting Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Funds will benefit local hospitals belonging to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.
Participating credit unions may be eligible for a CO-OP Miracle Match from the Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.-based CO-OP Financial Services, depending on their level of CO-OP relationship.
Launched in 2008, CO-OP Miracle Match is a $1-million philanthropic matching program that encourages credit unions, chapters and leagues to create and participate in local Children's Miracle Network Hospital fundraisers.
All matching funds go directly to the local Children's Miracle Network Hospital, benefiting sick children in the local community. Applications for the match are due Sept. 30. Use the link.

Minnesota Foundation Re-elects Officers

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (8/12/13)--The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation (MNCUF) Friday announced the results of its Aug. 8 board elections.
Re-elected as table officers were:
  • Chair--Pat Brekken, president of Richfield (Minn.) Bloomington CU;
  • Vice chair--Dave Larson, senior vice president, Affinity Plus Federal CU and executive director of the Affinity Plus Foundation, St. Paul; and
  • Secretary/treasurer--Brian Sherrick, president/CEO, Postal CU, Woodbury.
Table officers are elected for one-year terms. Brekken and Larson are entering their fourth consecutive years in these roles. Sherrick is entering his second year.
Glen Durbahn, vice president of marketing and member relations, Hiway FCU, St. Paul, was elected to fill the remaining two years of a three-year term that was vacated in January.
Other MNCUF board members include:
  • Larry Champeaux, president/CEO, Northern Communities CU, Duluth;
  • Mary Hansen, CEO/administrator, Mayo Employees FCU, Rochester; and
  • Kathy Harrington, president, Heartland CU, Inver Grove.

Consumers' Shift Toward CUs Still Gets Media Attention

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MADISON, Wis. (8/12/13)--Consumers' shift from banks to credit unions continue to get media attention, most recently in a story about the Credit Union National Association's 2013-2014 National Member and Nonmember Surveys and in a Kansas story about credit union checking account growth.
"The roar of frustration with banks may seem like it's quieting, but a new survey suggests consumers are continuing to question their allegiances to their banking institutions," said Thursday's article, "Credit unions beating banks." "More of those consumers are turning to credit unions for their personal finance needs."

It cites findings from CUNA's just-released surveys: 57% of credit union members indicate they are extremely likely to recommend their credit union to friends, while 40% of member who also have bank accounts say they would recommend the bank.

In the article, Jon Haller, CUNA director of corporate and market research, noted that "The financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 caused many consumers to question their loyalty to banks, which many consumers blamed for triggering the economic collapse."

In "Banks' regulatory pain is credit unions' gain," the Kansas City Business Journal (Aug. 7) writes that "credit unions have been reaping nice growth in checking account customers ever since banks had to find new ways to make money as they adjusted to several new banking regulations that went into effect in 2011."

It cites an Aite Group report that said 82% of credit unions surveyed saw an increase in their debit card accounts since 2011.

CommunityAmerica CU CEO Dennis Pierce told the publication the Lenexa, Kan.-based credit union has seen about a 16% growth in the number of checking accounts and a 20% hike in checking account balances since January 2011--more growth than in the past. The No. 1 reason that triggers consumers to contemplate switching to credit unions is "when they're exposed to unnecessary or high fees," he said.
Consumers will tolerate a bad experience on a checking account for a while but eventually will reach a tipping point, he said. "For the most part it's the constant drip, drip, drip of issues. Fees keep going up and they want a better personal service experience," he added.
To access the articles, use the links. For more information about the CUNA surveys, see related News Now articles CU Member Loyalty Rises At Banks' Expense and CUs Must Improve Among Non-members by using the links.

CU System Briefs (08/12/2013)

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  • CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (8/12/13)--Check out what happens when you take energetic Collins Community CU team members and give them a video camera. "We're Collins Community Credit Union. If you haven't heard of us, I don't know what you're doin'" is how the Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based credit union's new rap video begins. Wearing sunglasses and a backward cap, the lead singer, backed by an entourage of backup dancers, invites viewers to check out the credit union. The clever rhyming manages to get everything from savings and checking accounts to student loans ("Say what? Goin' off  ta college?") and "bill pay and pop money" to the cooperative, member owned-structure and the  volunteer board of directors ("So decidin' what to do comes from the heart of the peer"). When you view the video, be sure to wait for the outtakes  ...
  • CHARLEVOIX, Mich. (8/12/13)--Bay Winds FCU, a $153.7 million asset credit union in Charlevoix, Mich., has been designated an authorized lender by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The preferred designation means it can continue expanding its member business lending services it began offering in April ( Aug. 9). The loans can be used to establish a new business or assist in the acquisition, operation or expansion of an existing business, and present opportunities for business owners who otherwise might not be able to qualify for conventional lending, said the newspaper. Credit unions have been urging Congress to raise their member business lending cap to 27.5% of assets, up from 12.25%, so they can inject $13 billion into the economy in loans and help generate 140,000 new jobs ...
  • WESTBURY, N.Y. (8/12/13)--NEFCU, based in Long Island, has awarded its 2013 Premier 'Making a Difference' Scholarship of $20,000 to Grace Agolia, a resident of Massapequa Park, N.H., who also received the credit union's  Making a Difference Family Scholarship for her academic accomplishments and service to her community during her four years of high school. Agolia, shown here with NEFCU Board Secretary William Russo, left, and NEFCU Board Director William Youngfert, recently graduated from Sacred Heart Academy and will attend the University of Notre Dame in the fall. The scholarship is presented annually. NEFCU's Making a Difference Scholarship Program has awarded more than $1 million in scholarship funds since the program's inception. (Photo provided by NEFCU) ...

Maine League Testified About 19 Bills During Session

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PORTLAND, Maine (8/12/13)--The Maine Credit Union League tracked 40 bills and provided testimony on 19 during the state's past legislative session. Over the course of the six-month session, Maine's credit unions had great success with all legilsation on which it had an official opinion, the league said.
The league assumed a leadership role with several bills before the Maine Legislature and received praise from legislators on its outreach and education efforts (Weekly Update Aug. 9).
Highlights included the passage of these bills supported by the league:
  • A student lending bill which will allow the Finance Authority of Maine to provide loan insurance on supplemental student loans;
  • A bill to allow the Federal Home Loan Bank to accept loans as collateral for mobile homes that are not titled and not permanently affixed to property;
  • A bill to promote the financial literacy of high school students by adding course work in personal finance as part of required social studies and history classes; and
  • A bill to strengthen protections for vulnerable adults from financial exploitation.
The league also played a key role in helping to defeat several bills that would not have benefitted credit unions, including:
  • A data breach bill that would have reduced the amount of time allowed to notify consumers of a breach, regardless of any ongoing investigation;
  • A bill that would have allowed small retail businesses to impose a surcharge on consumer purchases using a credit or debit card; and
  • A bill that would have prohibited employers and agents from obtaining consumer reports that contain creditworthiness, credit standing and other financial information.
The league also spent significant time on bills dealing with foreclosure and making changes to existing law.

Rev Up Crisis Communications For Hurricane Season

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MADISON, Wis. (8/12/13)--The peak of hurricane season is beginning and so far, only four named storms have surfaced in the Atlantic. However, although the National Hurricane Center has reduced the number of named storms expected for the 2013 hurricane season, credit unions in coastal areas can still expect an "above average" storm season, NHC said in its August update.
The center now is forecasting 13-19 named storms, including seven to nine hurricanes and three to five major hurricanes of at least 111 mph winds.  In May, it had forecast 13-20 storms, including as many as 11 hurricanes and as many as six major hurricanes. The NHC says there is a 70% probability in each range of activity.
Credit unions on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts should start preparing now for possible hurricanes this season, especially with getting their crisis communications strategy in order. According to Agility Recovery, the disaster preparedness business continuity service provider for CUNA Strategics Services, next month is National Preparedness Month, and it will feature three webinars for credit unions to help them prepare.
The free webinars all begin at 2 p.m ET. Topics include:
  • Protecting Your Organization By Preparing Your Employees, Sept. 11;
  • The NEW 10 Steps to Preparedness: Lessons From the Past, Sept. 18;  and
  • Crisis Communications For Any Organization, Sept. 25.
Agility Recovery also has prepared a free Crisis Communications Planning Checklist for Credit Unions that is available to download from its website. "Disasters can happen at any time, and communications during a crisis could be the most important part of your plan," Agility said. "During an emergency, it is imperative that those within your credit union know how to communicate effectively.This includes both internal and external communications."
Use the link to download the two-page checklist, which provides recommendations for developing a communications plan, as well as what to do during the crisis and after the crisis.  The checklist can help credit unions assess their current strategy "and put into place some simple steps that will enhance your capability to communicate before, during and after the next disaster," Agility said.

Pew Survey: Half Of U.S. Adults Bank Online

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WASHINGTON (8/12/13)--Any credit union that has buried its head in the sand about offering online banking or mobile banking will need to take note:  Over half (51%) of U.S. adults today bank online, and 32% of them transact financial business on their mobile phones.

The 51% of online-bank users account for 61% of internet users, said a new survey from the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project, whose results were announced Wednesday.

Both types of digital banking are rising. In 2010, about  46% of U.S. adults--or 58% of internet users--said they bank online. In 2011, roughly 18% of cell phone users said they used their phone to check their balance or transact business with a financial institution. Nearly double that transact by mobile phones today.

That means credit unions will need to integrate online/mobile banking and mobile payments into their overall business strategy because "mobile devices ultimately will become the primary way members interact with your credit union," said the Credit Union National Association in its Environmental Scan (E-Scan) Report for 2013-12014.

"The mobile payments space offers the single greatest opportunity--and threat--credit unions will face in the foreseeable future as third-party entrants threaten disintermediation," said CUNA's E-Scan, adding that mobile payments "offer credit unions a way to retain members--who could opt for other financial providers for the mobile opportunity alone--and realize significant revenue by partnering with retailers."  Use the link for more information about the E-Scan.

Pew noted that the percent of internet users who bank online varies by gender, race, age, education, income and whether they live in a city or rural area.  Of the 61% of internet users, 63% of those are men, compared with 58% women.  Younger people age 18-29 were more likely (67%) to bank online, compared with 65% for 30- to 49-year olds, 55% for 50 to 64-year-olds, and 47% for those 65 or older.

Whites (63%) and Hispanics (62%) were more likely than blacks (48%) to bank online. Higher education and higher income also increased the likelihood of a consumer banking online.

Mobile banking, too, had trends that varied by demographics. Thirty-five percent of all cell phone owners used their mobile phone to bank, with men and women evenly divided at 35% each, said Pew's report. Again, younger adults were more apt to use mobile banking (54% for 18- to 29-year-olds, versus 40% for those between 30 and 49, 25% for the 50-to-64 age group, and 14% for those 65 or older.  Those with college experience were one and a half times more likely that those with high school or less experience to engage in mobile banking.

However, in contrast with online banking trends, non-white cell phone owners were more likely than whites to engage in mobile banking.

Pew's research is based on two surveys: telephone interviews on mobile banking with a nationally representative sample of 1,003 adults in the U.S., and telephone interviews about online banking with a sample of 2,252 adults.

CEO Of NSWC FCU Killed In Car Crash

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DAHLGREN, Va. (8/12/13)--Harry C. Ovitt Jr., who had been CEO of NSWC FCU in Dahlgren, Va., for 27 years, was killed Thursday morning in a car crash on his way to work, reported The Free Lance-Star and (Aug. 9).  He was 63.
The accident occurred at about 6:15 a.m. on State Route 206, the credit union told the newspaper. Staff said he always arrived at work early.
His eastbound car went off the right side of the road and hit a power pole and tree. He died at Mary Washington Hospital.  No other vehicles were involved. Ovitt was alone and was wearing his seat belt.
The credit union called the tragedy "a tremendous loss." "While the staff is devastated by this, Harry's foresight and planning have allowed us to implement processes that will assure the continued seamless operation of the credit union," said a notice on the $298 million asset credit union's website.  All branches of the credit union will be closed today.

Kansas CUA Innovation Lab Think Tank Team Selected

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WICHITA, Kan. (8/12/13)--The Kansas Credit Union Association's Innovation Lab Think Tank Team has selected it members.
The members of the Think Tank team are:
  • Michael Augustine, vice president of lending, Frontier Community CU, Leavenworth;
  • Gary Austin, vice president, operations and payment systems, CU of America, Wichita;
  • Adrienne Basham, business development/financial counselor, Central Star CU, Wichita;
  • Jenny Boyd, marketing, TECU CU, Wichita;
  • Chuck Bullock, president, TECU CU, Wichita;
  • Vickie Hurt, president, Quest CU Topeka;
  • LaRae Kraemer, president, Kansas State University FCU, Manhattan;
  • Garth Strand, president, Hutchinson CU, Hutchinson;
  • Geoff Strole, mortgage development officer, Truity CU, Lawrence;
  • Lisa Traphagan, vice president, branch development, Quest CU, Topeka;
  • Ginger Wehner, regional vice president, Truity CU, Lawrence;
  • Kim Wheelock, information service manager, Mid American CU, Wichita;
  • Lee Williams, CEO, Central Star CU, Wichita; and
  • Corey Winter, branch manager, Meritrust CU, Wichita.
Team members range from Gen Yers who serve as financial counselors and marketers, to seasoned CEOs. The team is using technology to better serve its members. It is nearly evenly divided male and female, and members represent credit unions ranging in asset size from $53 million to more than $800 million.
"In order to foster open innovation and explore the full spectrum of creativity, we assembled a diverse Think Tank team," said Melissa Baptista, KCUA research and development director. "The younger demographics' enthusiasm is contagious, and their ability to see projects from another perspective is just as important as the experiences and insights brought to the table by our veteran credit union leaders."
At the first meeting of the Think Tank, in Lawrence for a creative brainstorming session, the team divided into two groups. Each was asked to come up with projects or ideas that would further the Kansas credit union industry and provide value to the state's 630,000 credit union members.

The ideas will be presented to boards of KCUA and Shared Financial Solutions--KCUA's wholly owned, for-profit subsidiary that focuses on member service offerings in September. If the boards approve the ideas or projects, they will be given to the Dream to Destination team for implementation.

The Innovation and Implementation Lab was created to encourage continuous curiosity to generate revolutionary ideas to serve Kansas credit unions and their members. 

Study: Business Accounts Slow To Adopt RDC

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MT. PROSPECT, Ill., and GLENVIEW, Ill. (8/12/13)--A new survey reveals some disconnects between how financial institutions and depositors view electronic deposit and remote deposit capture (RDC) offerings. A key finding: business accounts are slower to adopt RDC than banks and credit unions expected.
The survey, "Check Imaging, RDC and ICLs: Depositor and Bank Experiences and Viewpoints," was conducted by Mt. Prospect, Ill.-based Cummins Allison, a provider of currency, coin and check handling solutions, and Branmark Strategy Group, a marketing firm in Glenview, Ill. (Wireless News Aug. 9).
Seventy-five percent of financial institutions surveyed offer RDC to commercial/business accounts, said the survey report, but two-thirds of them have less than 5% of commercial accounts using the service. Despite the slow adoption, most depositors surveyed said they would be interested in a service that allowed them to scan and transmit check images to their financial institution.
One of the most surprising disconnects, said Matthew Gniech, product manager of check imaging at Cummins Allison, was that more than half of the financial institutions surveyed believed they were marketing RDC services to commercial accounts, while depositors said the No. 1 reason they don't use electronic deposits was because they were unaware their financial institution offered the service. "Clearly, awareness is still a barrier to commercial RDC adoption," Gniech said.
The study suggested that financial institutions understand the benefits to offering RDC to their commercial customers: 44% said they offer it to stay competitive, 24% said RDC helps them attract new commercial accounts, and 11% said RDC helps lower operational costs.
However, 45% of depositors said that time savings when preparing deposits is the overwhelming benefit of electronic deposits.  Also 16% said they saved on fees by not depositing paper checks; and 13% said they saved time by not visiting the credit union or bank to make the deposit.  Others noted electronic deposits extended deposit deadlines andgave quicker access to funds than do conventional deposits.
Half of the depositors using RDC believe the service--especially scanner performance--could be better, and two-thirds said they would be more productive if the scanner were faster and more reliable. Many of the depositors said their check scanners are provided by their credit union or bank. The financial institutions revealed that their commercial depositors often request more accurate and faster check scanning equipment.

Filene Documentary Sums Up Experiential Learning Colloquium

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MADISON, Wis. (8/12/13)--The Filene Research Institute has released a documentary of its experiential learning colloquium held in January.
In partnership with National Credit Union Foundation and sponsored by CO-Op Financial Services, Filene hosted the colloquium at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta with an eye toward answering the question: How can credit unions use experiential learning to improve the lives of their members?
The colloquium explored the possibility of improving financial behavior by helping people learning through hands-on experience rather than through the traditional "linear" method of gathering information.
Sixth-grade teacher Tim Vandenberg explored how he uses the board game Monopoly as an learning tool in the classroom. Participants learn required math standards, while becoming emotionally involved in the game.
Lance Palmer, University of Georgia associate professor in the College of Consumer Science, described an initiative in which college students helped prepare and file tax returns as part of the Internal Revenue Service's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. The students also provided financial advice to tax filers.
"Tax time is a tremendous time to reach people," Palmer said. "Everybody has to file their taxes. With that, there is a tremendous opportunity to provide education in unique ways to help clients think differently about their future to get them out of the present mindset of 'How much am I going to get back and what can I buy with it?' to a future mindset of 'What can I do with that and build a better tomorrow for me and the people I love?'"
Ben Rogers, Filene Research Institute research director, discussed how credit unions can use gamification to facilitate financial literacy. He introduced a system that rewards members with simple positive feedback or "psychic rewards" if they meet savings or debt payment goals. "People respond to simple feedback," Rogers said. "The takeaway for credit unions is how can we encourage good behavior, like on-time payments, saving, accumulating wealth, with those reminders."
Lois Kitsch, National Credit Union Foundation national program director, described how credit unions use reality fairs to provide students with a hands-on learning experience. During reality fairs, students experience financial challenges similar to what they will face when they start life on their own. Students identify their career choice and starting salaries, then complete a budget sheet requiring them to live within their monthly salary while paying for basics such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing and food.
To view the documentary, use the link.

CUNA, Leagues Participate In State Legislators Meetings

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CHICAGO, Ill. (8/12/13)--Credit Union National Association and state credit union league representatives are participating in the annual meetings of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) this month.
At the ALEC annual meeting in Chicago, CUNA and the leagues met with state lawmakers and staff from across the country to discuss
Shelton Roulhac with CUNA, Sarah Wainscott and Tom Liebe with the Wisconsin Credit Union League, and Lynn Coard with CUNA stand in front of the exhibit booth for America's Credit Unions at the ALEC Annual Meeting in Chicago. (CUNA Photo)
pro-credit union policies. Banks and other financial services industry lobbyists attended the meeting to promote and defend their institutions, so CUNA and leagues understand the importance of adding credit union voices to these discussions, notes Richard Dines, senior state and league affairs director for CUNA/American Association of Credit Union Leagues.
This week, the NCSL Annual Legislative Summit in Atlanta will attract thousands of state lawmakers and their staff. As a result of CUNA's long-standing efforts at these meetings, NCSL has a policy of supporting the dual chartering system for credit unions.
At each meeting, CUNA displays an exhibit booth featuring "America's Credit Unions" and demonstrates the breadth and strength of the industry by showing the numbers of credit unions and their members in each state. CUNA also attends committee meetings of state legislators to advocate for credit union interests.

CUs Can Encourage Members Not To Give Up On Fin. Goals

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CHICAGO (8/12/13)--More than half of Americans are focused on fun in the sun this summer instead of the financial resolutions they set back in January, TransUnion found in a recent survey. The credit and information management company reminds consumers to take time this summer to conduct a mid-year checkup and evaluate their financial goals for 2013.

"The trick with resolutions is to keep them achievable--the tendency is to attempt too much and set yourself up for failure," Susan Tiffany, director of consumer publications for the Credit Union National Association, said Friday. "One simple technique to save more money, for example, is just to set up direct deposit and automated transfers from checking to savings. You can use a similar technique to pay down credit cards, by setting up automated payments."

Nearly a quarter of Americans surveyed (22%) say they have abandoned their financial resolutions for 2013. Also, nearly a third (29%) of those said they were less than halfway to their 2013 goals, according to a recent Google Consumer survey commissioned by TransUnion.

"A mid-year checkup is the perfect time for consumers to appraise their current financial situation and make goals for where they want to be at the end of 2013," said Julie Springer, vice president at TransUnion responsible for consumer education.

Credit unions can help their members get financially fit and reach their financial resolutions for 2013 with these tips from TransUnion:
  • Check credit reports frequently: The first step to robust credit health is to recognize which bad financial habits, such as late payments, one has and how they are represented on the consumer's credit report. Regular check-ups also will help guard against identity theft.
  • Know your score: Consumers should understand what affects a credit score and take the necessary steps to reach healthier credit. The higher the score, the more likely a better rate will be received.
  • Create a monthly spending plan and stick to it: Consumers should determine current spending habits and set a monthly budget to determine how much disposable income they have so they can manage it wisely. By examining spending habits for a few months and inputting monthly payments and deposits, consumers can get a better idea about where to cut spending and increase savings.
  • File a dispute. Consumers have the right to question information on their credit report that they don't recognize or that might be inaccurate.
  • Guard against identity theft: Sign up for a credit monitoring service for quick alerts to any changes in the report, said TransUnion.