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CU Tests Emergency Plans With Mock Shooting Drill

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FAIRMONT, W. Va. (8/15/13)--Fairmont (W.Va.) FCU teamed up with the city of Bridgeport (W.Va.) Office of Emergency Services to make sure the credit union is prepared for potential threats, including armed robbers and any active shooter taking people as hostages.

The $278.8 million asset credit union tested its new emergency plans and equipment on Tuesday, with three mock scenarios for its tellers to handle.  The Bridgeport Police Department also participated in the night's drills (wboy.com Aug. 13).

Bridgeport's Office of Emergency Services designed the mock scenarios, saying the training is beneficial for both the credit union and the police department.

Emergency Services Director Shaunda Rauch told the station that the drill is important so when an actual event occurs, participants will go back to what they were trained to do. If employees haven't gone through the training, "we're learning it the hard way the first time out."

CU System Briefs (08/15/2013)

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  • BRUNSWICK, Maine (8/15/13)--A grand jury in Cumberland County, Maine, indicted Joshua McCarthy, 27, of Southport, for attempted burglary at Five County CU in Bath. McCarthy faces charges of felony attempted burglary with priors, criminal mischief, refusing to submit to arrest and violation of conditions of release.  The incident occurred after midnight on July 11 when an alarm was activated at the credit union's night deposit box. Police chased two men into an adjacent trailer park. McCarthy was caught during the pursuit. The other suspect is still at large (Bangor Daily News Aug. 13) ...
  • INDIANAPOLIS (8/15/13)--Ely Lilly FCU's Cars 4 Kids promotion ties donations to a cause with auto loans and refinances.  The Indianapolis-based, $1 billion asset credit union said that when consumers finance or refinance a vehicle through Elfcu, they will enjoy a lower monthly payment and a $75 contribution to the Riley Children's Foundation. Those who buy from Indy Honda and finance through Elfcu can double the charitable contribution to $150. The offer began July 26 and will continue through Aug. 30. Those visiting the dealer will get guidance from Elfcu's auto buying partner, Members Auto Source.  The maximum Elfcu donation is $16,500 representing  220 contracts and does not include matching funds from the dealer, Members Auto Source and CO-OP Network ...

FBI Warns FIs Of Possible Sept. 11 Cyberthreat

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WASHINGTON (8/15/13)--Credit unions are being warned about a possible cyberthreat to both U.S.- and foreign-based financial institutions  in September, and the Credit Union National Association is encouraging credit unions to be on the alert.
 
The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues as well as California's state credit union regulator, the California Department of Business Oversight, sent out alerts Tuesday, based on a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Advisory that said the potential threat would be "on or about Sept. 11.)
 
"Although previous iterations of this effort have had limited if any impact to the targeted entities, the FBI encourages the private sector to take reasonable steps to secure cyberinfrastructure in light of possible threats," said the advisory.
 
"CUNA believes cybersecurity threats will be an ongoing issue for credit unions and the entire financial sector," said Paul Gentile, CUNA executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement.  "We urge credit unions to maintain a robust enterprise risk management program that includes policies and procedures for cybersecurity attacks.
 
"CUNA continues to work with system players, lawmakers and regulators to ensure the credit union system is as well-prepared as possible for such attacks," Gentile said.
 
The FBI encouraged recipients of its advisory to report information concerning suspicious activity to the local field office Cyber Task Force, to its website (use the link), or contact the FBI's 24/7 Cyber Watch Center at 855-292-3937.  When available, the report should include date, time, location, type of activity, number of people, type of equipment used for the activity, the name of the submitting company or organization, and a designated contact.

July Bankruptcy Filings Rise 5%, Down 10% From Year Ago

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (8/15/13)--Total U.S. bankruptcy filings for July decreased 10%, compared with July 2012, according to data provided by Epiq Systems Inc.--a provider of managed technology for the global legal profession--and a partner with the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI).

"Year-over-year bankruptcy figures continue to drop as consumers and businesses shore up their balance sheets amid sustained low interest rates," said ABI Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano. "We remain on pace this year for perhaps the lowest total new bankruptcies since before the financial crisis in 2008."

July bankruptcy filings totaled 87,684, down from the 97,287 filings registered in July 2012. Total commercial filings for July were 3,581--a 23% decrease from the 4,681 filings during the same period in 2012. Commercial chapter 11 filings totaled 536 in July, a 24% decline from the 702 filed in July 2012. The 84,103 total noncommercial filings for July were a 9% drop from the July 2012 noncommercial filing total of 92,606.

The July bankruptcy filings did show slight increases from June with total filings up 5% from June's 83,603. Noncommercial filings also rose 5% in July from June's 80,135, and commercial filings gained 3% from the June's 3,468. Commercial chapter 11 filings registered the biggest jump as the July filings increased 8% over the 497 filings in June.

The average nationwide per capita bankruptcy-filing rate for the first seven calendar months of 2013 decreased slightly to 3.49 (total filings per 1,000 per population) from the 3.51 rate for the first six months of the year. The average daily filing total in July was 2,829--a 10% decline from the 3,138 total daily filings in July 2012.

States with the highest per capita filing rate (total filings per 1,000 population) through the first seven months of 2013 were:

1. Tennessee (6.73);
2. Georgia (5.79);
3. Alabama (5.72);
4. Utah (5.39); and
5. Illinois (5.33).

Council Paper: CUs Fight For Small-loan Market

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MADISON, Wis. (8/15/13)--The market for unsecured loans--previously the domain of credit unions--has largely been taken over by credit cards, payday loans and peer-to-pear lending, as credit unions fight to remain relevant in a crowded marketplace, according to a new white paper from the CUNA Lending Council.
 
"Fighting for our Turf: Threats to Credit Union Small Loan Markets" explores how credit unions can capitalize on opportunities within the marketplace and improve their small-loan portfolios.
 
Among the "lessons learned" the report offers:
  • Credit cards have taken over the small-loan market, according to a number of lending professionals. But the American consumer is wary of taking on more debt and wants to pay down expensive credit card debt. Consolidation loans to pay down this type of debt are growing in popularity.
  • Payday loan customers are a small subset of the membership, typically 1% to 2%. They frequently pass on financial counseling and want their funds immediately. Each credit union must decide whether it makes sense to serve this segment.
  • Payday loan alternatives and small loans can be expensive to make, but if fulfilled online with automated decision-making and minimal staff involvement, they can generate revenue. Members receiving these loans will likely come back for more services if the experience was positive.
  • Peer-to-peer lending had a rocky start in the industry, but with new technology and community based credit unions working through a credit union service organization, a market opportunity exists.
  • Point-of-sale financing is an untapped market with more than an estimated 1.5 million retailers and medical/dental offices that need reliable and community-based financing for their customers. The technology exists to make this happen.
  • Point-of-sale offers a chance to deepen relationships with existing select-employee groups if credit unions offer relevant products or services. It can also provide an opportunity for furthering business lending efforts.
  • By adjusting underwriting standards--sometimes just slightly--net interest margin can increase while prudent lending is maintained. This includes increasing the loan-to-value ratios, lowering the Fair Isaac credit scores, and especially working with more "B" and "C" borrowers.
  • Messaging should revolve around what the loan can do, rather than the loan itself. Is the experience of obtaining a loan at the branch or Internet a quick, convenient and positive one?
  • A focus group of members can reveal answers.
To download the whitepaper, use the link.

Fifteen Execs Join Filene's i3 Program

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MADISON, Wis. (8/15/13)--Fifteen credit union executives joined Filene Research Institute's i3 innovation program, which fosters the development of new ideas and innovations for credit unions.
 
"If innovation were simply about ideas, our job would be a lot easier," said Matt Davis, innovation director at Filene. "Making ideas happen requires a rare skill set. We look for credit union professionals who are passionate about fixing problems for consumers, have a track record of breathing life into new ideas, can excite others about their ideas and have the best chance of leading credit unions for the next generation."  
 
Each new i3 member will serve a two-year term that kicks off in October at Filene's  big.bright.minds event at Princeton University.  
 
Ideas developed in the i3 program since its inception in 2003 have gone on to change state laws, improve the financial lives of millions of consumers, save millions of dollars for credit unions and drive new members to the credit union system, said Filene. Ideas tested through Filene's innovation lab include Prize-linked Savings, Debt in Focus/SavvyMoney, SaveUp, Savings Revolution and minTuition.
 
More than 20 former i3 members went on to be CEO of a credit union or credit union industry organization. The program, supported by PSCU, develops an innovation competency for the next generation of credit union CEOs using the Filene Method, an innovation curriculum developed from a decade of experience in creating, testing and implementing ideas for credit unions and their members.   
 
The newest i3 members are:
  • Laurie Butz, senior vice president, human resources, Community First CU, Appleton, Wis.;
  • Scott Coe, senior vice president, marketing, CoastHills FCU, Lompoc, Calif.;
  • Douglas Ebner, manager, business technology and innovation, First West CU, Langley, B.C. (Canada);
  • Kathi Goodell, project coordinator, NorthCountry FCU, South Burlington, Vt.;
  • Mark Hamid, vice president-chief of retail operations, Fort Lee FCU, Prince George, Va.;
 
  • Jeremy Hayes, senior vice president, Assemblies of God CU, Springfield, Mo.;
  • Rachel Langtry, vice president of marketing and communications, Credit Union 1, Anchorage, Alaska;
  • Rob Lefkowicz, vice president of member service delivery, Park Side FCU, Whitefish, Mont.;
  • Evelyn Royer, vice president, risk management, Purdue FCU, West Lafayette, Ind.;
  • Serese Selanders, vice president, sales and development, Affinity CU, Des Moines, Iowa;
 
  • Jennifer Sider, development officer, Duke University FCU, Durham, N.C.;
  • Matt Vance, senior product development supervisor, Salal CU, Seattle;
  • Suzanne Weinstein, chief financial officer, Orlando FCU ;
  • Jennifer Wolfe, assistant vice president, business systems delivery, Partners FCU, Orlando; and
  • Brett Wooden, senior vice president of marketing and innovation, Cy-Fair FCU, Houston.
For more information on Filene's i3 innovation program, use the link.

Banking At Bottom Spot On Trust Index

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CHICAGO (8/15/13)--The banking industry hit rock bottom in a global study of consumers' trust among 11 industries, with one in two people saying they were aware of major bank scandals and one-third of thee reporting the scandals had impacted their trust in banks.
 
Credit unions, which have topped a number of consumer trust surveys as the most trusted financial institutions, are not included in the survey by 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer, a global public relations firm founded in Chicago.

In the past three months, according to the Credit Union National Association, credit unions have received high scores in the Temkin Ratings survey on experience, loyalty, forgiveness, trust, customer service and Web experience (News Now Aug. 14); scored the highest in Foresee's Financial Services Benchmark on customer satisfaction (News Now June 5); and were best in all satisfaction segments of the 2013 Credit Union Satisfaction Index from CFI Group and the American Customer Satisfaction Index (News Now June 5);
 
Banks and financial services each tied for last place, with 50% of consumers surveyed indicating they would trust each industry (The Financial Brand Aug. 8). Among U.S. consumers, banks fared worse, with a 42% trust factor.  Financial services included credit card companies, insurance companies and financial advisers in wealth management. Trust in banks was 11 points lower than it was in 2008, said Edelman.
 
"The barometer finds that this lack of trust is driven by poor performance and the perception of unethical behavior," said Edelman in a press release.
 
Banks received poor ratings on lending to small business, providing home mortgage loans, offering reasonable credit cards, trading and investing in government debt, and overseeing initial public offerings. The only area they scored positive in was ensuring customer privacy/security.
 
The industries trusted the most, and the percentage of people trusting them, included:
  • Technology, 77%;
  • Automotive, 69%;
  • Food and beverage, 66%;
  • Consumer packaged goods, 65%;
  • Telecommunications, 62%;
  • Brewing and spirits, 62%;
  • Energy, 59%;
  • Pharmaceuticals, 58%;
  • Media, 53%;
  • Banks, 50%; and
  • Financial services, 50%.
Consumers who said they were aware of the banking scandals said the top three reasons were: corporate corruption, 25%; banking culture driven by compensation and bonuses, 23%; and a lack of regulation, 20%.
 
Fostering service excellence is one of the key prongs to CUNA's and the state leagues' Unite for Good campaign, which aims to achieve the vision where Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner.

SECU's $1 Million Challenge Grant To Benefit Hospice

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RALEIGH, N.C. (8/15/13)--SECU Foundation, funded by members of State Employees' CU, Raleigh, N.C., has granted a $1 million challenge grant to the Hospice House Foundation (HHF) of Western North Carolina for a new inpatient hospice facility.
 
In honor of SECU Foundation's challenge grant to HHF's Capital Campaign, the facility will be named SECU Hospice House of Western North Carolina.
 
The area's first Hospice House will be located on a 2.74-acre site in Franklin, N.C. The inpatient facility will offer peaceful surroundings and the comforts of home to area patients and their families in need of end-of-life or respite-care services. The house will include six private patient suites, residential-style living areas, a family kitchen, dining room, chapel and exterior gardens.

Chili Challenge Heats Up, Builds Awareness For San Diego CUs

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SAN DIEGO (8/15/13--The Xpress Data Inc. Credit Union Chili Challenge, held at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Racetrack in San Diego Aug. 3, hosted 10 California credit unions competing for trophies, bragging rights and $10,000 in prize money for their charities.
 
"This event really breaks the mold of traditional credit union gatherings outside the workplace," said Mike Cooper, president/CEO of XDI.
 
"Our mission here was to provide enhanced credit union awareness to consumers at a heavily attended public venue [more than 20,000 patrons were at the racetrack that day] but also show that this industry is committed to giving back and supporting its community charities--just like we at XDI are committed to supporting our credit union community," Cooper said.
 
First place winner was Pacific Marine CU's Chilis-a-Blazin' team, led by Chief Cook Lynette Chubb. It received a $5,000 cash donation for its charity, Rady Children's Hospitals. As first place winner, the team will compete in the Homestyle Division of the 47th Annual International Chili Society (ICS) World's Championship Chili Cookoff in Palm Springs, Calif., Oct. 11-13.
 
Second place went to United Services CU's team, Chili Chili Bang Bang, led by Chief Cook Laura Poerink. The team earned $3,500 to donate to their charity, Alternative Family Services of Almeda. Chili Chili Bang Bang also won the People's Choice Award.
 
In third place was USE CU's Team Fat Chili, led by Chief Cook Steve Ewers. The team earned $1,500 for the San Diego State University's Alumni Association  Scholarship Program.
 
Other competitors included: Hot Pink Chili Peppers from Kinecta FCU; Cabrillo Cajuns from Cabrillo CU; Hillbilly Chili from Chevron Valley CU (winner of Best Booth Decoration); The Searing Eagles from Eagle Community CU; Chili Gone Wild! From OE FCU, winner of Best Showmanship; Team Nougat from San Francisco Fire FCU; and Red Hot Chilis from POPA FCU
 
Six of the competing credit unions held internal chili cook-offs to select the best chili to represent the credit unions.  Schools First FCU made an additional financial contribution to support the event.
 
Plans are underway to host next year's XDI CU Chili Challenge to a bigger field of competitors, said XDI, a service company focused on customization, production and delivery of credit union member correspondence.
 
Even chili cook-offs can build awareness of the cooperative philosophy of credit unions and their community spirit. Raising awareness of the value of credit unions to members and the community is one of three components of the Unite for Good campaign, the Credit Union National Association's and the state leagues' campaign to achieve the strategic vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner.

Special Report: North Carolina CU Keeps Money Local With CD

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ASHVILLE, N.C. (8/15/13)--Carolina Mountains CU, a division of Durham, N.C.-based Self-Help CU offers a certificate of deposit (CD) that allows savers to make a difference locally.
 
The community development credit union offers a Go Local CD to members of its Carolina Mountains CU division in Asheville, N.C. Funds that members invest in the CD are used to fund home mortgages as well as small-business auto and signature loans. The Go Local CD will also also helps the credit union support local economic-development projects. Mortgages funded by the CD will never be sold to the secondary market, the credit union said.
 
CD terms range from three months to five years.
 
"It brings our economic development mission, as a community development credit union and a community development financial institution, to the fore," said Jane Hatley, Western North Carolina regional director for Self-Help CU.
 
The program was created through a partnership with the Asheville Grown Business Alliance, a grassroots organization whose mission is to support independently owned businesses in the community. The group says that local independent business cycles three times more money back into the local economy and gives greater support to a community's non-profit and civic needs.
 
"The Go Local movement is very strong in Asheville, and Asheville Grown has a very strong presence here," Hatley said. About 400 businesses display Go Local posters and distribute Go Local cards that provide residents discounts on products and services. The CD provides residents with another opportunity to ensure their money stays within the local economy, Hatley said.
 
The idea for the Go Local CD was inspired by Michael Shurman, activist and author of the book "Local Dollars, Local Sense," who suggested the idea while speaking at a conference about supporting local businesses. Asheville Grown Director Franzi Charen suggested the credit union use the Asheville Grown logo in marketing the CD and slogan, "Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is: Love Western North Carolina: Invest Local" in marketing the CD.
 
Since the launch of the program in April, the credit union has raised $800,000 through the CD. Among the businesses recent loans have funded are a small hand-made lotion company, a trucking company, an auto maintenance shop and a custom tile business.
 
Although the credit union held a kickoff luncheon with local businesses when it launched the CD, most of the marketing has been through word of mouth. "These loans are making more local business possible, and that's exciting for people," Hatley said. 
 
This article is part of a News Now series of exclusive, special reports on credit unions' outreach efforts and innovative ideas. Fostering service excellence and raising awareness about the value credit unions provide their members and communities are two prongs in credit unions' Unite For Good campaign toward a vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial provider.