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CUNA Mutual's Smartphone Loan Technology Marks Milestone

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MADISON, Wis. (8/23/13)--CUNA Mutual Group's Smartphone Loan technology has reached a significant milestone, as credit union members have submitted more than $1 billion in total loan requests via their mobile devices in the two years since the platform was launched.

"Reaching this milestone demonstrates how, Smartphone Loans, and the new AskAuto Smartphone application work together to provide credit unions with a convenient way for their members to apply for loans when and where they desire," said CUNA Mutual Group Director of Loan Growth Products Steve Hoke.

CUNA Mutual Group noted it receives $2.4 million in loan requests each day through

The Smartphone Loan technology allows credit union members to begin their loan applications on their phone from wherever they are. The technology is a mobile version of CUNA Mutual Group's product, which is used by more than 550 credit unions nationwide.

"Credit unions are expected to provide lending services through their members' preferred channel, and for a whole new generation, that channel is mobile," Hoke said. "We knew credit unions wanted to increase their loan volumes and attract younger members," said Hoke. "This Smartphone Loan technology accomplishes both, especially when combined with our AskAuto app."

AskAuto is a downloadable smartphone and tablet application that offers credit union members vehicle information and loan-application assistance to simplify their vehicle-buying experience.

'Don't Tax' Rallies, Meetings With Delegates In Full Swing

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MADISON, Wis. (8/23/13)--"
Click to view larger image Credit unions, guests and speakers attended a rally Thursday outside the headquarters of the Credit Union Association of New York in Albany to voice their support and raise awareness to preserve credit unions tax exemption.
Don't Tax My Credit Union" rallies and credit unions' meetings with congressional delegates in their home districts are in full swing this week on behalf of preserving credit unions' tax exempt status. The Credit Union National Association is encouraging credit unions to keep up the good work.
For example, an energized crowd of credit union leaders and members rallied Thursday morning outside the Credit Union Association of New York's headquarters in Albany to voice their support for the national "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign. The rally was part of CUANY's "Don't Tax My Credit Union Week," designed to raise awareness about the campaign and urge Congress to preserve credit unions' tax-exempt status.
Click to view larger image Credit Union Association of New York President/CEO Bill Mellin told attendees at a Don't Tax My Credit Union rally that eliminating credit unions' tax exempt status would result in a new tax on 96 million credit union members.
The rally attracted considerable media attention, with WRGB Ch. 6, WNYT CH. 13, WTEN Ch. 10, WGY-AM and The Times Union covering the event. (Use the link to view CBS Albany's coverage.)
"Credit unions are member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperatives that return their earnings to their members in the form of lower rates on loans, higher interest on savings, enhanced service and little or no fees," CUANY President/CEO Bill Mellin told the group. "Elimination of the exemption would create a new tax on the 96 million credit union members nationwide and erase $6 billion to $10 billion in annual economic benefits."
Also speaking were Paula Stopera, president/CEO of CAP COM FCU; Curt Cecala, CEO of TCT FCU; Lucy Halstead, senior vice president/chief operations officer of First New York FCU; and Michael Tobler, president/CEO of Albany Firemen's FCU. 
Click to view larger image Don't Tax My Credit Union rally attendees in New York signed postcards asking Congress to keep the credit union tax-exempt status. Nearly 100 credit unions across New York participated in the postcard campaign coordinated by the Credit Union Association of New York (Photos provided by the Credit Union Association of New York)
Stopera and Halstead emphasized that the exemption allows credit unions to reinvest money back into their communities. CAP COM FCU will donate more than $200,000 to community and charitable initiatives this year, Stopera said.  Cecala and Tobler highlighted their credit unions' histories and emphasized that time and growth have not changed their fundamental mission of serving members.
John DeCelle, chief marketing officer at SEFCU, noted that grants, scholarships and other forms of charitable giving would come under scrutiny if the exemption were lost. "If we lose our exemption, we're going to have to take a look at our overall situation," he said. "There would be some type of change in how we operate."
Click to view larger image The New York rally grabbed the attention of media and tweeters alike, many sending photos such as this one.  Some of the tweets:  "What a great morning--Proud to be part of the NY#creditunion movement % share our message!#DontTaxMyCU" and "First round of #Don'tTaxMyCU rally pics are up on Facebook! @CAP_COM FCU@SEFCU @AlloyaCorp."
"I feel it is very important for the future survival of credit unions that our voices be heard concerning this issue," said Randy Martin, CEO of Dannemora FCU. "Without competition from credit unions, banks would have free reign with what they charge and the dividends they pay their customers to ensure large bonuses for their board members--leaving the unbanked without any options."
Other state activities:
  • The Missouri Credit Union Association was profiled in The Missouri Times (Aug. 18), with Amy McLard, senior vice president of advocacy, speaking to topics such as the credit union tax-exempt status, raising the member business lending cap and regulatory burden. "We have a national effort on hand going with Facebook, Twitter and websites to make sure lawmakers recognize the important role credit unions play in the financial landscape and how much we serve working families and why that's needed," McLard said.  "Because if credit unions would be taxed, it would be a tax on the people who use credit unions as well as other people who don't because we benefit consumers."  Use the link to read the article.
  • Pennsylvania credit unions have made about 25,000 contacts with their
    Click to view larger image More than 60 college students interned at CUNA Mutual Group this summer, working in various business unites that serve credit unions and the Madison, Wis.-based company. The group also got a lesson in CUNA Mutual's allegiance to credit unions by wearing  "I am 1 of 96 Million" T-shirts supporting credit unions' tax-exempt status. That support was part of CUNA Mutual's "Action Days," also observed by its full-time employees, hundreds of whom wrote letters urging Congress to "Don't Tax My Credit Union." (Photo provided by CUNA Mutual Group)
    congressional representatives since the Don't Tax My Credit Union campaign began in late May (Life is a Highway Aug. 22). The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association is encouraging credit unions to participate in a number of town hall meetings held by members of Congress during the legislative recess, including one today and several next Friday. PCUA provided a schedule of meetings for lawmakers and urged credit unions to visit the #DontTaxMyCU website and contact lawmakers.
  • Also see the related News Now story, Sen. Enzi, Two Congressmen State Support Of CUs' Tax Exempt Status, for successful results of meetings with lawmakers in Wyoming, Montana and Tennessee, who added their support of credit unions' tax exempt status.

National Mortgage Lending Conference Provides Takeaways

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DALLAS (8/23/13)--A record number of credit union attendees received mortgage lending takeaways at CU Members Mortgage's 16th annual National Lending Conference in Dallas, July 15-16.

The conference's theme was "Diving Deep: A Quest for Mortgage Success," with speakers and networking events to help attendees better prepare for an ever-changing mortgage market. Topics covered included the latest mortgage-related regulations, economic projections, underwriting red flags and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) servicing changes.

Here's a recap of some of the conference sessions:
  • CU Members Mortgage President David Motley's "Navigating the Latest Regulations." Motley focused on seven new CFPB rules that will go into effect within the next six months: Ability to Repay, Qualified Mortgage, Escrow Account, Appraisals and other Valuations, and Loan Originator Compensation. Most will impact credit unions' daily operations, which means credit unions should be making policy decisions now on how to implement the guidelines, Motley said.
  • Texas A&M University's Research Economist Dr. James P. Gaines' "Fishing for Answers: Economic Review and Projection. The economy has slowly recovered with home sales and construction, car sales and retail sales increasing, but uncertainty looms with health care costs in 2014, Gaines said. The economy is leaning more heavily on housing as the country emerges from its recession. He also discussed the Fed's exit strategy and why home prices are on the rise.
  • CU Member Mortgage Vice President of Direct Lending Matthew Abbink's "Secrets of Cs: Underwriting Red Flags that Sink Your Loans." Red flags that can sink a credit union's lending program include capacity (employment, debt-to-income ratio, income), cash (deposits, account ownership, verifications), collateral (1004/appraisal, property inspection, automated valuation models, business process outsourcing), credit ("thin" credit, disputed accounts, contingent liabilities, foreclosures, undisclosed debts), and character (experience, intuition).
  • CU Member Mortgage Senior Vice President of Loan Servicing Tim Neer's "Staying Afloat in the Servicing Abyss." Neer provided a CFPB update on the latest changes in servicing that will be effective Jan. 10. The changes cover servicing transfer notices and nine areas of servicing: periodic statements, interest-rate adjustment notices, prompt payment crediting and payoff statements, force-placed insurance, error resolution and information requests, general servicing policies and procedures, early intervention with delinquent consumers, continuity of contract with delinquent consumers, and loss mitigation procedures.
  • Ben Rogers, research director for Filene Research Institute, shared insight into changing a credit union's mortgage approach for a changing population.
  • Credit union executives also shared their best practices in mortgage lending in a panel. Senior Director of Consumer Lending Sales and Business Development Tim Johnson from Arizona FCU, Phoenix, shared his experience in launching a front-line incentive program, and how several key changes such as offering an online mortgage application helped his program soar.
  • Blaine Rada, CUNA Mutual Group Mortgage Insurance's customer training manager, discussed growing credit unions' purchase market with a focus on what it means to be a purchase market specialist.

MBLs At CUs Grew 45.1% In July

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MADISON, Wis. (8/23/13)--Member business loan (MBL) approval for credit union small-business loans rose in July for the first time in a year, according to a report by Biz2Credit, an independent commercial credit service.
Loan approval rose to 45.1% in July from 44.8% in June, the report indicated ( Aug. 19).
"We are beginning to see larger credit unions investing in Small Business Administration (SBA) loans," Biz2Credit CEO Rohit Arora said in a statement. "Possessing the license to carry out SBA loans is a huge advantage that the credit unions have over alternative lenders, and they are starting to promote this aggressively."
Credit union small-business loans have been crucial to small-business owners during the recession and moving forward from then, Mona Shand, public relations manager of marketing and communications for the Michigan Credit Union League and Affiliates, told
Metro CU, a $1 billion asset, Chelsea, Mass.-based credit union, reported its business loans are up 45% year over year, and $650 million asset Webster First CU in Worcester, Mass., saw an increase mostly in service sector startups applying for loans at the credit union, said the publication.     
The article also mentioned small-business loans provided to entrepreneurs by $700 million asset Credit Union of Southern California, Whittier, Calif., and Omni Community CU, a $304 million asset credit union, based in Battle Creek, Mich.
The Credit Union National Association and credit unions are pressing Congress to increase credit unions' MBL cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Doing so would open up more opportunity to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers, CUNA said.

Boards Benefit When Devil's Advocates Are Present

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MADISON, Wis. (8/23/13)--A decade after acquiring Gatorade's parent company and turning that brand into every athlete's must-have energy drink, Quaker CEO William Smithburg moved in on another drink surging in popularity: Snapple, according to an article in the August issue of the Credit Union National Association's Credit Union Directors Newsletter.

Despite a $1.8 billion bid and a lot of unanswered questions, Smithburg received the full support of his board of directors. Three brutal years later, Snapple was sold for $300,000 and Smithburg stepped down.

"We should have had a couple of people arguing the 'no' side of the evaluation," he said.
Organizations often suffer when devil's advocacy is in short supply, Chip and Dan Heath illustrate in  "Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work."

"We want to avoid the momentary discomfort of being challenged, which is understandable, but surely it's preferable to the pain of walking blindly into a bad decision," the authors wrote.

Some organizations license skepticism by appointing individuals to the task. The best approach is to encourage the entire board to participate in what the authors characterize as "values-based opposition"--avoiding adversarial politics by disagreeing without being disagreeable--and to work as collaborators and analyze options objectively.

Become a better devil's advocate by following these guidelines, the authors advise:
  • Expand the options. Decisions require multiple options, not "yes" or "no" answers. Alarm bells should sound if you're asked "whether or not" to pursue a single alternative. Ask "What else could we do?" to generate other reasonable courses of action.
  • Consider the opposite. Channel the discussion toward objective reasoning by asking, "What would have to be true for this option to be the very best choice?" Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, asked this question to defuse a tense negotiation over whether to close a historic copper mine in Upper Michigan. In the end, those who pressed for the mine to remain open conceded the numbers didn't add up.
  • Ask pointed questions. Because proponents naturally offer weighted arguments about an issue, it's your job to ask pointed but legitimate questions. The Heath brothers highlight one study that shows a seller wouldn't willingly disclose a major glitch in a used iPod unless directly asked what problems it had.
  • Bookend the future. Don't base decisions on a single forecast of a fixed outcome. Consider the full range of possibilities, from very bad to very good.
  • Honor your core priorities. By identifying and enshrining the tenets that guide your credit union, you make it easier to solve present and future dilemmas. Always ask, "What kind of organization do we want to build?"
For more information about Credit Union Directors Newsletter, use the link.

North And South Carolina CUs Vote To Consolidate Leagues

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COLUMBIA, S.C., and RALEIGH, N.C. (8/23/13)--Affiliated credit unions in North and South Carolina voted overwhelmingly to consolidate the South Carolina Credit Union League and North Carolina Credit Union League to create the Carolinas Credit Union League (CCU), which will begin operation on Jan. 1.
SCCUL members voted 43-2 in favor of consolidation, while NCCUL affiliates voted 52-2 in favor. The vote caps a thorough review process that commenced in December 2012.
"Both leagues are coming into this consolidation from positions of strength and view this as an opportunity to enhance delivery of core services to affiliated credit unions in the years to come," said Faye Crocker, current SCCUL chairwoman and incoming CCUL board member. "Creating the CCUL today ensures our league can be a vital part of the success of credit unions in the future."   
"Staff at both leagues will be focused on combining operations in the months ahead while delivering the services that credit unions value on an ongoing basis," said NCCUL chairman Maurice Smith.  "We're fortunate to have a gifted group of professionals working together to create this new enterprise. We think credit unions will be thrilled with the results of their work."
Current NCCUL President John Radebaugh will serve as president of the CCUL. Radebaugh and retiring SCCUL President/CEO Steve Fowler will lead staff through the transition in the months ahead.

CUs' Secret Weapon For Transitions: Evolutionaries

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PLANO, Texas (8/23/13)--Credit unions need "evolutionaries" to lead their organizations during times of transitions, says Randy Harrington, CEO of Extreme Arts and Sciences, an Oregon-based financial industry consulting firm. He will be opening speaker at Catalyst Corporate FCU's Economic Forum, Oct. 22-23 in Frisco, Texas.

"You need evolutionaries to help you lead your organization in times of transition," Harrington said. "They are the secret weapon of organizations that transform quickly. They are able to adapt and innovate and rise to any challenge, no matter how unexpected."

Credit unions are often faced with tensions that pull on opposite ends of logic, such as, providing warm and personal member service while being efficient. There is no single answer to the perplexing challenges; however, evolutionaries can help develop effective strategies that fit each credit union, he said.

Evolutionaries are emotionally committed to the cause they pursue, Harrington said. "They are comfortable with who they are, they know why they do what they do," he added. "They have committed a piece of themselves to their work and are willing to tie their hearts, as well as their minds, to the outcomes of their teams and organizations."

In his book, "Evolutionaries: The Missing Link in Your Organizational Chart," Harrington explains how to identify and engage staff so they can most effectively contribute to the credit union's success. The book, co-authored with Carmen Voilleque, weaves together a series of exercises with insights from "evolutionaries" Harrington has encountered in his business-consulting practice.

Harrington emphasizes the need for leaders to lead with strategic intent.  "Task saturation does not allow for you to look down the road," Harrington said. "You'll lose the ability to be strategic if all you do is do."

League Asks CUs For Videos About Biz, Community Loans

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LANSING, Mich. (8/23/13)--The Michigan Credit Union League and the Michigan Business Connection (MBC), a credit union service organization that offers business services, are asking state credit unions to submit videos showcasing the positive impact they have made on local businesses or causes.

Michigan's credit unions have loaned more than $1 billion to local businesses and donated more than $10.5 million to community causes, as of 2012, said the league.

The league promotes the initiative with a video that offers tips and ideas credit unions can use to make simple videos promoting their business lending projects. To view the video, use the link.

As credit unions work to create their visual story, MBC is also planning its second annual CU Lunch Local event for Oct. 15. Last year, more than 51 credit unions "cash-mobbed" local businesses to demonstrate the greater power of a dollar spent at a small business.

Credit unions maintain they can do more for small businesses if the cap on their member business loans were lifted to 27.5% of total assets from 12.25%. The Credit Union National Association has estimated that lifting the MBL cap would create 140,000 jobs and inject $13 billion in new funds into the economy, at no cost to taxpayers.

Canepa Bang To Receive Wegner Award For Individual Achievement

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MADISON, Wis. (8/23/13)--The National Credit Union Foundation announced Sarah Canepa Bang, president of CO-OP Shared Branching-FSCC LLC and chief strategy officer of CO-OP Shared Branching, will be presented the 2014 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Individual Achievement.

This will be one of four Herb Wegner Memorial Awards presented at a special dinner hosted by NCUF at the Grand Hyatt Washington on Feb. 24 at the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference.

Canepa Bang started her career at CUNA's Internet office in 1983. During the 1980s, she served as education director at what was then the Oregon Credit Union League and as vice president of human resources at the Massachusetts Credit Union League.

She returned to the Oregon league as executive vice president in 1990 and launched a number of high-visibility programs and served as chief operating officer of CU Access, an ATM and shared branching network which the league operated, and Automated Item Management, the Northwest's largest check-processing operation.

In 1995, Canepa Bang established a two-year associate degree program in credit union management through Mt. Hood Community College. She also initiated Loans Today, one of the first 24/7 lending call centers in the nation, created to enhance a credit union's ability to process member loan requests via telephone.

Canepa Bang was named CEO of FSCC in 1999. Under her leadership, FSCC more than quadrupled in the number of credit unions, branches and states involved in shared branching.

FSCC was the first network to pioneer the outlet concept in shared branching. During Canepa Bang's tenure, it expanded the technology to include full-service kiosks, mobile banking, call centers, disaster recovery and remote deposit capture. In 2007, FSCC implemented shared branching services on more than 2,200 Vcom kiosks inside select 7-Eleven stores.

Canepa Bang is a longtime supporter of the Credit Unions for Kids (CU4Kids) program and was one of the key founders of the program while at the Oregon league. She also helped Children's Miracle Network Hospitals to pick up the CU4Kids program and as a national program in 1997.

In 2011, the World Council of Credit Unions named her one of its top seven people who make a difference in supporting World Council.