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CU System briefs (09/16/2011)

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* NEW YORK (9/19/11)--The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (CDCUs) is expected today to announce the launch of a credit union program that offers small, non-predatory loans with a savings component to counter predatory lending. The federation will work with local CDCUs, which serve predominantly low- and moderate-income residents across New York City … * UPPER MARLBOROUGH, Md. (9/19/11)--Members with direct deposit accounts will have access to their paychecks a day earlier at NASA FCU, which Thursday launched EarlyAccess Payroll as part of its new Premier Checking Line. The move means paychecks that are direct deposited into NASA FCU will be available for access to direct deposits or automated clearinghouse (ACH) transfers one day sooner than usual. For some members, such as NASA employees, money from direct deposits could be available up to two days in advance, said the credit union. Exceptions could be during holidays, weekends or if there is a change in employer payroll processes; members then would get access to funds on regularly scheduled paydays … * WASHINGTON (9/19/11)--CU Direct Corp., parent for the CUDL, Lending Insights and the new Lending 360 and CUDL Retail brands, announced that Madison, Wis.-based Summit CU and Riverdale, Utah-based America First CU were awarded its 2011 Diamond Awards during the credit union service organization's Lending Redefined Conference held in Arlington, Va., last week. The awards recognized the credit unions for their excellence in lending practices and overall success in 2010. Summit increased its funded auto loans by 54% from June 2010 to June 2011, with 42% of funded loans year-to-date going to existing members. American First increased its look to book ratio by nearly 40% and ranked second in funded loans on the CUDL lending platform … * WARMINSTER, Pa. (9/19/11)--More than 1,076 members of Warminster, Pa.-based Freedom CU signed up for paperless statements during the credit union's Paperless Statement Sweepstakes during August. Fifty members won $50 gas cards in the sweepstakes. The signups brought the total of members on paperless statements to 10,775. Freedom CU said paperless statements reduce clutter and member concern about lost or stolen statements, help the credit union to cut costs so it can provide better services and rates, and allow members to get their statements sooner through e-mail … * PHOENIX (9/19/11)--Phoenix-based Arizona State CU donated more than 2,000 cases--or 20 tons--of water to the Phoenix Rescue Mission just in time for August temperatures, which spiked at 117 degrees, the hottest temperature recorded there in August since 2001. The mission distributes 4,000 bottles of water a week to the homeless, said the credit union. Its donation will provide water for roughly three months. This year's water drive, a competition between the credit union's headquarters and branches, resulted in a 35% increase in donations from the 2008 water drive, said President/CEO David E. Doss. Arizona State CU has $1.3 billion in assets and more than 128,000 members …

Shots fired during CU robbery no one injured

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TULSA, Okla. (9/19/11)--Two shots were fired during a robbery Friday morning at Tulsa (Okla.) Municipal Employees FCU, but no injuries were reported, said local media. The incident occurred shortly after 11 a.m. Friday, when three men wearing ski masks entered the credit union. One man fired a handgun at a video surveillance camera, and another shot into a teller's glass partition, said Tulsa Police (, and Sept. 16). Police said the three men entered the vault area, stayed a few minutes, then ran out the door. They fled in a green Jeep to a nearby apartment complex, then switched to a Honda Civic. Police recovered the Jeep, which had been stolen, said Newson6.cvom.

CUDL awarded five Summit International awards

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ONTARIO, Calif. (9/19/11)--CUDL, an indirect and point-of-purchase auto lending credit union service organization (CUSO) and administrator of a credit union auto lending network, has been recognized by Summit International with 2011 Summit Creative Awards (SCA) in multiple categories. The Summit Creative Awards recognize the creative accomplishments of small- and medium-sized creative groups, advertising agencies and other organizations with annual billings under $30 million. The CUSO was presented with five awards, including: the Summit SCA Silver Award in the categories of mobile applications for its AutoSMART iPhone App, and in consumer product/service television for its “CUDL Together” television ad. CUDL also was presented with the Summit SCA Bronze Award in the consumer product/service television category for its “CUDL Character” television ad. The AutoSMART iPhone app, designed for credit union members, replicates features of the CUDL AutoSMART vehicle research and shopping website as an app for Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Developed specifically for credit unions and their member base, the AutoSMART website provides CUDL’s 945 partnering credit unions a vehicle shopping and research site that they can brand, customize and market to members as their own. CUDL’s 2010 “CUDL Together” and “CUDL Character” TV advertisements were developed for the CUSO’s credit union partners to promote CUDL AutoSMART programs local television marketplaces. More than a dozen credit unions have aired the TV spots to promote their AutoSMART programs. CUDL competed against more than 2,000 entries from 22 countries.

Carolinas foundation to raise 600K for kids hospitals

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RALEIGH, N.C. (9/19/11)--The Carolinas Credit Union Foundation has committed to raise $600,000 for two Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, one in North Carolina and one in South Carolina. The multi-year campaign includes an initial effort to benefit Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, N.C., with a second stage to benefit a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in South Carolina, said the North Carolina Credit Union League (Weekly Update Sept. 16). The fundraising push on behalf of Levine Children’s Hospital culminates in September 2012. The plan is to renovate a rooftop garden at the hospital. The combined efforts will leave a lasting impact on the city, said John McGrail, president/CEO of the foundation. “Credit unions have a long history of being involved in community projects that benefit children,” McGrail told the Tarheel Chapter last week. Once the Levine project is completed, fundraising would commence for a South Carolina children’s hospital, McGrail said. Details of that effort and plan will emerge over time, but it will be the same $300,000 goal as the initial Levine project. Credit Unions for Kids is a fundraising vehicle for the credit union movement, benefitting the industry’s charity of choice, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. For more information, use the links.

Tellers are not an endangered species says consultant

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas, and MADISON, Wis. (9/19/11)--Several credit unions recently have announced new tellerless, high technology branches. Does that mean human tellers are becoming an endangered species? No, says Mary White, founder of WTC Performance Group and a training and organizational consultant (LoneStar Leaguer Sept. 6). "This is similar to all the stories 15 or 20 years ago that claimed that with the advent of debit and ACH (automated clearinghouse) cards, brick-and-mortar credit unions and banks were going to go away," she told the Texas Credit Union League. "Yet, look around. Financial institutions are still building and growing." While the concept of tellerless branches may have merits in a technology-driven world, White said, the actual application of the concept may prove otherwise. "What happens when a member or customer wants to cash a check or requires a more complex transaction than can be handled by machine?" She noted that the importance of human interaction matters--even to younger generations tethered to their gadgets. Citing surveys showing that technical service matters, but customer service matters far more, White suggested that employers may be underusing their tellers. "So many tellers I have worked with have so many more talents than what the credit unions are using," she said, noting the high turnover on the front line occurs because "we don't tap their brains and really use the front line to deliver memorable member service." "Credit unions are all about 'people hiring people'--and that requires people," White said. Several credit unions announced this month that they were opening state-of-the-art techno-teller services. Among them:
* American Heritage FCU, Philadelphia, which opened its newest branch with Personal Automated Teller (PAT) machines that combine the convenience of an ATM with a personal, two-way video interaction, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway Sept. 6). It will be staffed by a branch manager, assistant branch manager and member service officer, and all teller transactions will be handled by the PAT. American Heritage became the first financial institution in Pennsylvania to introduce PAT technology when it deployed a PAT unit in Northeast Philadelphia last year. * Education First CU, Columbus, Ohio, which has deployed a 200-square-foot Video Banking Branch in the Gahanna's Lincoln School District, said the Ohio Credit Union League (eLumination Newsletter Sept. 7). The fully functional remote unit connects with the credit union's member service representatives, who can be hundreds of miles away in a central video call center. While members familiarize themselves with the new technology, a credit union staffer provides assistance on site. Members can conduct virtually any type of banking transaction as well as open accounts and apply for loans.
"The blend of technology and assisted service is taking place across many industries," said Education First CU President/CEO Dick Maslyk. "When we combine the power of personalized services with business efficiencies, everyone wins. This technology will allow Education First to move forward with key strategic goals to serve our marketplace better through new branch deployments and design," he told the Ohio league.

Two Oregon CUs call off merger

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BEND, Ore. (9/19/11)--The hiring of a new CEO hiring has put on hold merger talks between two Oregon credit unions. After considering a merger, Mid Oregon, with $148 million assets, Bend, Ore., and Northwest Community CU, with $661 million assets, Springfield, Ore., have decided to remain stand-alone organizations, according to a newsletter on Mid Oregon’s website. “NW Community Credit Union was somewhat unexpectedly put in the position of having to select a new CEO and that required their sole focus,” Mid Oregon president/CEO Bill Anderson wrote in the August edition of Member News. “The new CEO hiring has occurred and an important responsibility of their new CEO will be to assimilate into the leadership position of a complex organization. That will take some time. This was a long term strategic opportunity.” Mid Oregon is financially healthy and has “no plans to actively pursue any other mergers at this time,” Anderson wrote. NW Community CU recently hired John Iglesias as its new president/CEO. Iglesias most recently served as the president/CEO of Salal CU, Seattle.

AVCU sponsors two-month iBelong campaign

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (9/19/11)--The Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU) will again sponsor iBelong ads on broadcast and cable television outlets statewide during October, under the auspices of the AVCU Marketing Committee. This is the third year AVCU has sponsored more than two months of advertising--at no cost to credit unions--to educate consumers about the benefits of belonging to a Vermont credit union (NewsLines Express Sept. 15). The committee placed six weeks of ads in the spring and is adding another three weeks, starting Oct. 3, to coincide with National Co-op Month and International Credit Union Day. The committee selected programs targeted toward women who are 25 to 54 years old--the most important demographic for family financial decisions, according to marketing research. The iBelong spots will appear during local and national morning shows such as “Today” and “Good Morning America,” during evening local and national news broadcasts, and during prime-time shows, including sitcoms, dramas and Fox’s new reality/ talent show, “The X Factor.” The 2011/2012 AVCU Marketing Committee is chaired by AVCU Director Matt Levandowski of Heritage Family FCU, Rutland, and includes:
* Stacey Benoit, Members Advantage Community CU, Barre; * Lori Crowley, Vermont FCU, Burlington; * Yvonne Garand, Vermont State Employees CU, White River Junction; * Julie Longfellow, NorthCountry FCU, South Burlington; and * Cindy Morgan, New England FCU, Williston.

CU staffer takes in new members evacuated by flood

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PHILADELPHIA (9/19/11)--During Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, credit unions throughout the Northeast scrambled to help their employees and members. One employee of Sb1 FCU, Philadelphia, went beyond mere member service and opened her home to two new members.
This photo, from The Patriot-News, shows a flooded South Front Street in Harrisburg, Pa., the after-effects of Tropical Storm Lee. One employee of Sb1 FCU, Philadelphia, invited two members who were evacuated from their apartment into her home. (Photo provided Pennsylvania Credit Union Association)
In August, Sb1 FCU member service representative Liz Strittmatter opened accounts for two GlaxoSmithKlein interns served by the credit union’s Upper Merion branch. The interns, who had just moved to the area from the United Kingdom, didn’t know many people. “We just kind of struck up a friendship,” Strittmatter told News Now. “When it became evident that Irene was going to cause flooding and they could be evacuated from their apartment I gave them my phone number. I said, ‘Please call if you need a place to stay.’” The two interns indeed were evacuated. They spent one night at Strittmatter’s home during the weekend of Hurricane Irene and another night when Hurricane Lee caused flooding in the Philadelphia area. For her good deeds, Sb1 presented Strittmatter with tickets to a Philadelphia Phillies game. Strittmatter said she was gratified, but she extended the offer out of friendship, she said. “They still stop by the office everyday just to say hi,” she said. “We had a great time.”

Scottish banks end free services for CUs consumers hurt

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DUNDEE, Scotland (9/19/11)--At least two major Scottish banks are attempting to end free financial services for credit unions--a move that could cause some of the country’s most economically stressed members more financial hardship. Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Clydesdale Bank are looking to introduce charges for credit unions that offer affordable alternatives to expensive borrowing (The Herald Sept. 15). Scotland has more than 100 credit unions with a total membership of roughly 250,000 people. As an example, Discovery CU in Dundee, Scotland, which has had free financial services with RBS since 2003, could have to pay up to 800 pounds (about $1,250) per month in financial services fees to RBS. That monthly payment could eventually limit the amount of money Discovery could lend to it members ( Sept. 16). No final agreement on charges had been agreed to at Discovery, RBS said. Also, negotiations are ongoing to reduce the amount of fees Discovery would have to pay RBS, The Herald said. “Inefficiencies” in RBS’ reviewing policy had led to many businesses “enjoying free transaction charges” for many years, which had led to an “unfairness in the system,” a representative of RBS told a meeting at the credit union last month, according to a report to Discovery’s board of directors. RBS is looking at “all income streams” given recent events within the business, the report added.

Illinois governor CUs critical to growth of middle class

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CHICAGO (9/19/11)--Hailing credit unions as “the heart and soul of the middle class,” Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn addressed the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) State System Summit Friday in Chicago.
Click to view larger image Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn called credit unions “the heart and soul of the middle class” during his address at the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors State Summit Friday in Chicago. (Photo provided by the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors)
Credit unions are critical to the growth of the middle class, Quinn said. “Your gathering here today is special, given this economic time in our country and the need for jobs,” he added. The address was Quinn’s second visit to the NASCUS Summit. He addressed attendees in 2005 when he served as Illinois’ lieutenant governor. “It’s important to have a regulatory system that is proper and safe,” he told attendees. Brent Adams, secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Roxanne Nava, director of Illinois Financial Institutions; and National Credit Union Administration board member Michael Fryzel were on hand to greet Quinn. Representatives from the Illinois Credit Union League also were in attendance. Illinois has 285 state-chartered credit unions--the largest number of state-chartered credit unions in the nation.