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ITheStreet.comI CUs crash student-loan party

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (8/24/09)--Credit unions' efforts in helping students obtain private student loans is still getting media attention, this time in Massachusetts. The wrote about a Massachusetts credit union's efforts in its "MainStreet" column Friday. "With private lenders fleeing the scene, thanks to ongoing lousy credit conditions, credit unions are increasingly picking up the slack in a market they've long avoided--student loans," began the article. It discussed Harvard University Employees CU's pact with the university to make student loans available to international graduate and professional students, who found loans drying up in the tight market. The Credit Union Student Choice program, with more than 80 credit unions participating to offer loans, is "a pretty good deal for college students," with an average interest rate of 5.8% and no origination fees, the article said. It also mentioned credit unions' programs in New Jersey and Connecticut, which have received media attention recently. Credit union loans could narrow the gap between government-backed student loans and private student loans, the Street said. Credit union borrowers get lower rates on student loans. Credit unions are in more stable financial position--since they didn't take the big credit risks that banks did. "Expect to see even more credit unions enter the student loan market--it seems like a good deal for both parties. Credit unions get access to newer, younger customers, and students get even better deals than they did from banks," the article concluded.

CU System briefs (08/27/2009)

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* MADISON, Wis. (8/24/09)--Registration closes today at 1:30 p.m. CT for CUNA Mutual Group's first free Discovery Webinar, which will take place Tuesday. John Lass, senior vice president , strategy and business at CUNA Mutual, will discuss "10 Reasons Why Credit Unions Are Needed--Now, More Than Ever." The webinar takes place from noon to 1:30 p.m. CT and will include a discussion the financial health of the credit union system. For more information, click on "webinar" on CUNA Mutual's website … … * ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (8/24/09)--Credit unions in the St. Joseph, Mo., area are teaming up with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to help apprehend a serial robber operating in the area, according to the Missouri Credit Union Association (The Missouri difference Aug. 19). Two groups, one of credit unions and one of banks, have donated cash rewards to help generate leads and assist the FBI. The bureau says the suspect has robbed two banks and two credit unions in the area and is a suspect in robberies of five businesses. He usually uses a note to acquire money, but he recently began displaying a gun during the holdups … * SUITLAND, Md. (8/24/09)-- Andrews FCU has been named the 2008 Air Force Credit Union of the Year by the Department of the Air Force. The annual award goes to a credit union that provides exceptional services to an Air Force base community. The $879 million asset credit union received the award at the Defense Credit Union Council's 46th Annual Conference in San Francisco. Andrews Federal was cited for its commitment to financial literacy, tailored products and services, military community support, and relationship with base personnel. From left are Audrey Y. Davis, deputy assistant secretary, Department of the Air Force; Chris McDonald, Andrews FCU president/CEO; and Henry E. Bowman, vice chair, Andrews FCU board of directors. (Photo provided by Andrews FCU) …

Wash. league hosts first Evolution Summit

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (8/24/09)--The Washington Credit Union League is fostering discussion about the evolution of the credit union movement in Washington and worldwide through a strategic effort called “Evolution Summit.” The league’s first of a series of Evolution Forums was held Tuesday and included discussions designed to make attendees think about the future of credit unions and how they should evolve in changing times. The specific issue discussed was the charter: Can the credit unions’ charter be salvaged or is an entirely new option necessary? And with what changes? More than 25 state and national credit unions leaders gathered for the event that featured Bucky Sebastian, president/CEO of GTE FCU, Tampa, Fla., and co-founder of Callahan & Associates Inc. The event also featured Marv Umholz, a 33-year credit union industry veteran and president/CEO of Umholz Strategic Planning & Consulting Services, Olympia, Wash. The discussions will be the basis for a legislative and regulatory agenda for the league, helping it envision where it will want to be in the near and distant future.

Estonia is newest WOCCU member

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MADISON, Wis. (8/24/09)--The Estonian Union of Credit Cooperatives (EUCC), which represents credit unions in the former Soviet satellite country of Estonia, is World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) newest member. At its annual meeting last month in Barcelona, Spain, WOCCU's board of directors unanimously approved EUCC’s designation as affiliate member, the second member organization in the relatively new WOCCU membership category. “We’re seeing a groundswell of credit union activity in Eastern Europe, with more countries finding that the cooperative model provides significant advantages to their citizens,” said Pete Crear, WOCCU president/CEO. EUCC, founded in 1999, represents most of Estonia's 15 credit unions, which account for 91% of the country’s credit union members and 73% of credit union assets. In April 2008, Estonia joined with the Virginia Credit Union League as part of WOCCU's International Partnerships Program. A delegation of Virginia league and credit union representatives visited Estonia last year to review the country’s credit union operations and challenges. The two groups will continue working together to address those challenges. WOCCU’s affiliate category is designed for smaller organizations representing fewer credit unions. Earlier this year, the WOCCU board approved affiliate membership status for the Azerbaijan Credit Union Association. “Creating a dues category that enables smaller organizations to join WOCCU helps foster greater growth of the global credit union movement,” Crear said. “Broader membership ranks mean more credit union members are being served in more countries worldwide. That's WOCCU's goal, and it is the goal of all our member organizations.”

INY TimesI cites CUNA website CUs cards

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NEW YORK (8/24/09)--The New York Times cited the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Credit Union Finder website and credit unions’ lower interest rates on credit card balances in a recent article. With new credit card rules in effect Thursday under the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, many credit card companies quickly made changes to their policies to get ahead of the rules. Under the CARD Act, financial institutions must give cardholders 45 days before increasing their interest rates or changing card terms. Cardholders irritated by the changes can seek out credit unions for better deals on credit cards, using CUNA’s website at, the Times said. “Credit unions often offer lower interest rates; find one that will accept you at,” the newspaper added. Pentagon FCU, Alexandria, Va., offers cardholders interest rates of 2.99% on transferred debt indefinitely if a member pays a one-time balance transfer fee of 2.5% of the debt and makes payments on time, the newspaper added. For more information, use the links.

Gordon Simmons to chair Defense CU Council

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PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (8/24/09)--Gordon A. Simmons, president/CEO of Service CU, was re-elected chairman of the Defense Credit Union Council for the 2009-2010 term. Simmons has more than 38 years of experience with credit unions, 34 of them at the Portsmouth, N.H.-based Service CU. He served as DCUC chairman for the past two years and during 2000-2002. He has been on the DCUC Board for 15 years, first elected as representative-at-large. Simmons also served as second vice chairman from 1996-1998 and as first vice chairman for the terms of 1998-1999 and 2006-2007. Simmons is chairman of America's Credit Union Museum Foundation, past board chairman of the New Hampshire Credit Union League, and past chairman of the Armed Forces Financial Network LLC. DCUC has 235 credit unions and more than 14 million members.

30 FSCC CUs to receive Fraud Buster Awards

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SAN DIMAS, Calif. (8/24/09)--The Financial Services Centers Cooperative Inc. (FSCC) shared branching network announced last week 30 of its client credit unions will receive awards for stopping more than $930,000 in fraud activity during first and second quarters of 2009. Recipients of the Fraud Buster Awards are recognized for protecting their credit unions, their members and members of other credit unions from fraud. Credit unions stopped fraud at every touch point in the system, said FSCC. "The award recipients demonstrated their commitment and diligence in preventing fraud for members nationwide. It is not just their members who would be impacted, but also members of other credit unions," said Sarah Canepa Bang, FSCC president/CEO. Financial institutions and businesses lose more than $48 billion annually from fraudulent activities, according to the Federal Trade Commission "Fraud is one of the most expensive security challenges facing credit unions today. And as a (credit union service organization), it is our duty to provide tools that support prevention and training for credit unions," added Bang. FSCC's Operation Advisory Committee of stockholder credit unions reviews activity and looks at ways to prevent and detect fraud through rule changes, products and services. The committee organized the awards program in 2000. In eight years, credit unions have stopped more than $7.4 million in attempted fraud, said FSCC.

Vermont regulator assumes NASCUS chairmanship

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (8/24/09)--Tom Candon, Vermont’s deputy commissioner of banking, Friday was named chairman of the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) during its annual business meeting.
Tom Candon Friday became chairman of the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors during its annual business meeting in Boston. Pictured are, front row, from left, Candon, deputy commissioner, Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities & Health Care Administration (BISHCA); and Joe Bergeron, president, Association of Vermont Credit Unions, surrounded by representatives from Vermont credit unions and the Vermont Department of BISHCA. (Photo provided by the Association of Vermont Credit Unions)
Candon, from the Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities & Health Care Administration (BISHCA), takes over the elected leadership role from outgoing Chairman George Reynolds of Georgia. NASCUS’ annual three-day State System Summit was held in Boston last week (Newlines Express Aug. 21). During the Chairman’s Luncheon Thursday co-sponsored by the Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU), AVCU President Joe Bergeron welcomed participants to Boston, introduced Candon, and presented him with a plaque to commemorate the milestone. Candon delivered remarks about his ascension to the chairmanship and the future of NASCUS and the dual-chartering structure. Also on hand to congratulate Candon were Vermont representatives from the association, state and federal credit unions, BISHCA, and Tricorp Federal CU of Maine. Candon’s term will expire in 2011. The NASCUS board of directors for 2009-2010 was also announced at the meeting. Jerrie Jay, the Administrator of the North Carolina Division of Credit Unions, and Immediate Past Chairman Reynolds, senior deputy commissioner of the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance, were re-elected to three-year terms on the NASCUS Board. Chairman Candon also re-appointed Mary Hughes, financial institutions bureau chief of the Idaho Department of Finance, to a second one-year appointment on the NASCUS Board, which completes the nine-person governing body of NASCUS. The NASCUS Board also elected its officers. Orla Beth Peck, supervisor of credit unions, Utah Department of Financial Institutions, is the Chairman-elect, and Suzanne Cowan, director, Wisconsin Office of Credit Unions, will serve as Secretary/Treasurer.

INews NowI on hiatus until Aug. 31

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (8/24/09)--CUNA's News Now will be on a hiatus this week and will not publish regular editions on Tuesday Aug. 25, Wednesday Aug. 26, Thursday Aug. 27, and Friday Aug. 28. However, its LiveWire tweets will continue to be posted throughout the week. Special bulletins will be posted on News Now if there are urgent developments. News Now will resume regular publication on Monday, Aug. 31.

Three CUs earn national kudos for employee benefits

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DES MOINES, Iowa (8/24/09)--Three credit unions were among 10 companies selected by Principal Financial Group to earn national recognition for their employee benefits programs. Principal Financial Group honors growing companies for their commitment to employees’ financial security in the Principal 10 Best Companies for Employee Financial Security list. The companies were selected by an independent panel of experts for maintaining extraordinary benefits programs. Credit unions earning recognition include:
* Credit Union West, Glendale, Ariz.; * Knoxville TVA Employees CU, Knoxville, Tenn.; and * Summit FCU, Rochester, N.Y.
The credit unions and other companies were noted for refraining from downsizing their employees’ benefits despite a troubled economy. In some cases, employers actually increased their employees’ benefits in addition to:
* Managing the cost of health care benefits; * Increasing wellness programs; and * Providing extra help to employees so they can make smart financial decisions given the troubled economy.
“Small- to mid-sized companies need to generate significant productivity from their employees, along with strong employee loyalty, enthusiasm and customer service,” said Tim Welsh of McKinsey and Co., who helped judge the companies. “The benefit programs that are offered by all of the 10 Best Companies really reinforce their commitment to employees while supporting vital business needs.” Turnover at the top 10 companies averages 8.9%, compared with 22.6% nationally. To qualify for Principal’s top 10 list, companies must have between five and 1,000 employees, be U.S.-based, have provided a broad range of employee benefits for at least five years, and offer retirement, health, life and/or disability insurance. For a full list of winners and their profiles, use the link.

CU educators reached 389000 students in 08-09

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (8/24/09)--Credit unions educated nearly 400,000 students during the 2008-2009 school year, according to data collected by the National Youth Involvement Board (NYIB). Credit unions taught financial management to 388,843 students in 12,652 presentations despite 19 fewer presenters reporting data this year. The totals are an increase of 3.9% for students and 12.5% over 2007 and 2008 statistics. Over five years, credit unions are increasing their presentations by an average of 12.9% annually. However, the number of presenters this past year dropped 3.59%, NYIB said. NYIB Chair Brandon Pugh said he hopes credit unions will reach 400,000 students next year. “Past performance certainly puts 400,000 in reach,” Pugh said. “With many state-level mandates taking hold and nationwide attention (in financial literacy) at its peak, credit unions should have plenty of opportunities. We look forward to seeing their reports come in at” Rachel Parrent of Vantage CU, Bridgeton, Mo., conducted the most classroom presentations--469. Marsha Lunden of Desert Schools CU, Phoenix, reached the most students--15,038--in the 2008-09 reporting year. The NYIB “Top Classroom Presenter”--the person with the greatest percentage increase in classroom presentations over the previous year--was Anissa Arthenayake of OSU FCU, Corvallis, Ore. During the 2008-09 reporting year, Arthenayake made 298 presentations, or 308% more presentations than she made in 2007-08. Michelle Merkley of Keystone FCU, West Chester, Pa., reported the highest percentage increase in the number of presentations she offered to students--3,769. The figure is 219.4% more than last year.