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NASCUS regulators Executive CU Council named

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ARLINGTON, Va. (9/21/11)--At the 2011 National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) Annual Meeting Sunday in Chicago, three sitting NASCUS board members officially began new three-year terms. The NASCUS Credit Union Executive Council also named some new members. The state regulators continuing their service on the NASCUS board are John Kolhoff (Michigan), Orla Beth Peck (Utah) and Michael Wettrich (Ohio). Each board member will serve a three-year term ending in September 2014. Kolhoff is a deputy commissioner for the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation. Peck, the supervisor of credit unions for the Utah Department of Financial Institutions, also assumed the NASCUS Chairmanship for a two-year term on Sept. 14. Wettrich is the deputy superintendent for credit unions for the Ohio Department of Commerce. New NASCUS Chairman Peck also appointed Werner Paul, deputy commissioner of the Virginia Bureau of Financial Institutions, to a one-year term on the NASCUS Board of Directors. The remaining sitting NASCUS board members include: Tom Candon, deputy commissioner, Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration; Mary Hughes, financial institutions bureau chief, Idaho Department of Finance; Jerrie Jay, Administrator, North Carolina Credit Union Division; Linda Jekel, director of credit unions, Washington Department of Financial Institutions; and Kathy Stewart, director of financial institutions, Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions. The NASCUS board also elected its officers. Hughes is the chairman-elect and Stewart will serve as secretary/treasurer. The NASCUS Credit Union Advisory Council also held its annual meeting Sunday in Chicago, where two state credit union CEOs began new terms on NASCUS’ Credit Union Executive Council. The Credit Union Advisory Council is governed by the Executive Council, a group of 12 directors who are credit union executives from around the country. Linda Childs, Knoxville (Tenn.) Post Office CU, will continue to represent District 2 for a three-year term, expiring September 2014. Representing District 3, Jason Boesch, Oklahoma RE&T Employees CU, Oklahoma City, also will continue to serve as a director for another three-year term. Childs has served on the council as a director since 2005, and Boesch was elected to the council in 2008. The new Credit Union Advisory Council Chairman, Catherine Tierney of Community First CU, Appleton, Wis., also re-appointed at-large director Michael Kurish, Associated School ECU, Youngstown, Ohio, to serve a three-year term. The remainder of the Executive Council includes the sitting directors:
*Jim Blaine, State Employees’ CU, Raleigh, N.C.; * J. Parker Cann, BECU, Tukwila, Wash.; * Bob Fouch, Corporate Central CU, Muskego, Wis.; * Dan Kester, Sooper CU, Arvada, Colo.; * Debbie Peters, Incol CU, Old Forge, Pa.; * Jack Sheets; Interra CU, Goshen, Ind.; * Tierney, Community First CU, Appleton, Wis.; * Mendell Thompson, America’s Christian CU, Glendora, Calif.; and * Terry West, Vystar CU, Jacksonville, Fla.
The Executive Council also elected its officers. Childs is the chairman-elect and Kester is the secretary.

Southeastern CUs add 2.2B in assets increase MBLs

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (9/21/11)--Credit unions in Alabama and Florida are beginning to see a trend: More consumers are joining a credit union, applying for loans and paying off their debt. Collectively, Alabama and Florida credit unions added $2.2 billion in assets in the second quarter of 2011, according to the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU). That breaks down to $1.18 billion in new assets in Florida and $1.09 billion in new assets in Alabama. Both states combined to welcome 28,000 new members to credit unions; 16,000 new in Alabama and 12,000 new in Florida. “Through the first six months of 2011we are seeing a trend,” said LSCU President/CEO Patrick La Pine. “Credit unions are adding members and assets while loans are beginning to show some growth. We’re seeing savings and deposits up in both states with Alabama increasing by 7%, nearly double the national credit union average and Florida by 3%, which is right at the national average.” Credit has been tight for small businesses since the economic collapse of 2007. Credit unions, despite a 12.25% of assets cap on the amount of member business loans (MBL) they can make, are seeing major growth on MBLs, LSCU said. In Alabama, member business loans are up 81%, or $182 million. That represents significant growth over the past four years. Alabama total MBLs are now over $400 million. Florida credit unions made $200 million in MBLs during the past four years, which signifies 24% growth, to more than $1 billion in total MBLs. “The arbitrary cap, which was never in place until 1998, is causing some credit unions to turn away loans,” La Pine said. “It’s also preventing others from making much needed MBLs. We need Congress to pass H.R. 1418 and S. 509 so the MBL cap will be raised to 27.5%, which will help our small businesses survive and expand.” Credit unions are seeing more quality mortgage and auto loans being made. In Alabama, used-auto loans grew 15%, or $269 million, in the second quarter. That is nearly 10% higher than the national credit union average. Alabama credit unions have a total of $2 billion in outstanding used-auto loans. Florida credit unions used-auto loan growth was $30 million, to bring total outstanding used auto loans to $4.4 billion. What is significant in these numbers is that delinquent loans to loans and net charge-offs are dropping, LSCU said. In Florida, credit unions have seen a 32 basis points (bp) drop in delinquent loans to loans. This is better than the national credit union average of 17 bp. Through the first six months of 2011, Florida credit unions net charge-offs are 119 bp lower. In Alabama, delinquent loans to loans have dropped 24 bp, while net charge-offs have declined by 26 bp. “It’s hard to say we’ve turned the corner, but our credit unions are seeing more quality loans,” said La Pine. “Alabama credit unions are below the national credit union average in delinquent loans to loans and net charge-offs, while Florida credit unions have seen their most significant drop in years, especially in net charge-offs. These two factors give us some hope.”

St. Vrain Valley and Elevations merger approved

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BOULDER, Colo. (9/21/11)--St. Vrain Valley CU, Longmont, Colo., and Elevations CU, Boulder, Colo., Tuesday announced regulatory approval of their pending merger. With due diligence completed, St. Vrain has a green light for its member vote. The National Credit Union Administration and the Colorado Department of Financial Services have given approval to proceed with the final merger requirement--a vote by St. Vrain members to merge with Elevations. The vote is scheduled for Monday. St. Vrain has $81.3 million in assets, and Elevations has $966.3 million in assets. “Our organizations are working very closely together in anticipation that members will vote ‘yes’ to combining our two credit unions,” said Eva Gaudio, president/ CEO of St. Vrain Valley CU, and Gerry Agnes, president/CEO of Elevations CU, in a combined statement. “Individually, our credit unions are quite strong, yet we both fully realize that we will be far stronger together, and we look forward to providing improved service and convenience to our combined membership in early October.”

Haitian CUs join WOCCU International Remittances Network

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (9/21/11)--Haitians abroad now have a more affordable way to send money back home through Haiti’s caisses populaires, or credit unions. Last week, seven credit unions affiliated with the Le Levier network in Haiti launched remittance services through the International Remittances Network (IRnet), a platform owned and operated by the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU).
Click to view larger image Nicolas Bona Junior Metellus receives one of the first remittances transferred through CPSA CU in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Last week, seven credit unions affiliated with the Le Levier network in Haiti launched remittance services through the International Remittances Network (IRnet), a platform owned and operated by World Council of Credit Unions. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
Haitians can receive remittances at their local credit union through money transfer operator (MTO) Ria Financial Services, Inc., a 100,000-agent network in 131 countries across five continents. “Despite its vital importance to the local economy, Haiti’s remittance market remains a virtual oligarchy with very high prices, poor service and limited rural access,” said Saul Wolf, IRnet manager, pointing out that few remittance firms offer services in Haiti. “With WOCCU’s know-how and valued partners like Ria and Le Levier, we aim to create a national network that can provide the same or better service but at a lower cost than the main players.” Ria is one of 10 MTOs offered through IRnet’s platform, which provides financial institutions the technology and training to offer competitively priced remittance services with minimal upfront investment. IRnet partners with low-cost MTOs like Ria to help stimulate local competition and works with credit unions to encourage the rural poor to enter the formal financial sector through remittances. Haiti annually receives $1.5 billion in remittances, accounting for 21.2% of its gross domestic product, according to the World Bank. But with few MTO options in Haiti, senders pay an average of 6% to 10% of the total transfer amount to remit money to the country, significantly reducing the amount the receiver collects. Prices vary daily and by location, but the cost of sending a remittance through Ria is up to 50% lower than through market leader Western Union, Wolf said. Nicolas Bona Junior Metellus was the one of the first people to use the new remittance service in Haiti when he picked up a money transfer from Switzerland on Monday at CPSA CU in in Port-au-Prince. He is not currently a member, but he said he was happy with the service and planned to join the credit union on his next visit. Making remittance services available to both members and non-members alike, as IRnet does, opens the door for new membership opportunities and developing remittance-linked products, WOCCU said. Ansy Saintervil, assistant general manager of Le Levier, said IRnet has helped credit unions bring a much-needed resource to the rural communities they serve. “This service is very important for the Haitian people because it’s offered through the credit unions, which serve the most disadvantaged and are spread over 10 regions of the country in some of the most remote places,” Saintervil said. “It’s also important to note that a good part of the population lives on transfers coming from overseas, particularly the U.S. and Canada.” Remittances in the past week have come through Haiti’s credit unions from senders in Canada, France, Switzerland and the U.S. Seven of Le Levier’s 20 affiliated credit unions are piloting IRnet through 15 service points. Le Levier plans to grow the network to 50 locations by the end of the year and has signed memorandums of understanding with more than 25 unaffiliated credit unions. “The introduction of lower-cost remittances through IRnet and Ria in Haiti brings the rural poor one step closer to financial inclusion in the country,” said Brian Branch, WOCCU president/CEO. “We look forward to seeing the remittances network expand through Haiti’s credit unions in the coming months and years.” The Haiti Integrated Financing for Value Chains and Enterprises program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and managed by WOCCU, provided technical and logistical support in expanding the IRnet platform to Haiti. It was funded by the international credit union movement through contributions made to WOCCU’s Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions.

N.Y. association initiates Hispanic pilot program

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ALBANY, N.Y. (9/21/11)--The Credit Union Association of New York has identified four credit unions to participate in a pilot program to create or enhance offerings to the state’s Hispanic community. The pilot program was initiated on the heels of the 2010 New York Hispanic Opportunity Report commissioned by the association. As the largest, fastest growing, youngest and most underserved market in the state, the Hispanic population could potentially represent a loyal and growing member base that in turn could spur credit union growth, the association said. The association, through its work with REAL Solutions, commissioned Coopera Consulting to conduct the study.
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
Numbering more than 3.2 million, Hispanics make up 17% of the state’s population. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2025, the Hispanic population will reach 4.3 million, with more than one in five New Yorkers being Hispanic. (See chart.) The association, together with Coopera Consulting, reviewed the report findings and conducted phone interviews to gauge the level of commitment from more than two dozen credit unions, based on their location and demographic opportunity. The four credit unions selected to participate in the pilot program are:
* AmeriCU CU, with $970 million in assets, Rome; * Hudson Heritage FCU, with $242 million in assets, Middletown; * Lower East Side People’s FCU, with $28 million in assets, New York; and * Teachers FCU, with $4.1 billion in assets, Farmingville.
The pilot program is funded in part by a grant from the association. Participating credit unions will also provide financial support and staffing. The program will incorporate Coopera’s Hispanic Opportunity Navigator assessment tool, on-site strategic planning sessions and staff training. The credit unions’ investment will allow them to choose two additional Coopera services they deem critical to the program’s success at their credit unions. The association said it hopes that the credit unions in the pilot program, in working through the process of identifying products and the culturally nuanced solutions necessary to serve the financial needs of the Hispanic market, will serve as models that other credit unions in the state can duplicate. Coopera Consulting is an economic development firm focused on emerging Hispanic markets that present unique growth opportunities for credit unions. Coopera was formed in 2006, is owned by the Iowa Credit Union League and is a strategic alliance partner of the Credit Union National Association. Coopera’s bicultural and bilingual staff works with credit unions nationwide. Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Shared networks announce merger agreement

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (9/21/11)--CO-OP Financial Services and Financial Service Centers Cooperative Inc. (FSCC) have announced their intent to merge, unifying the two primary credit union shared branching networks. Through the two companies, more than 1,700 credit unions nationwide participate in shared branching, making more than 4,300 physical branch locations available to their members, plus 2,200 Vcom kiosk locations at 7-Eleven stores. The shared-branching arrangements allow credit union members to conduct financial transactions as if they were visiting a branch of their own credit union. According to a release, under the terms of the agreement, FSCC president/CEO Sarah Canepa Bang will join CO-OP as president and chief operating officer of FSCC, and as chief strategy officer of CO-OP shared branching. Stan Hollen is president/CEO of CO-OP Financial Services. CO-OP and FSCC expect the transaction to close within 120 days. "There's no denying that FSCC and CO-OP have been terrific competitors--imagine what we can do together," Bang said. "CO-OP and Stan Hollen personally played a historic role in the creation of FSCC, and now with the combining of the two companies, it is very much a case of our business coming to a logical full circle." FSCC was created in 1990 and originally operated under a management agreement with CO-OP Financial Services--then known as CO-OP Network. In 1999, as chairman of the board of FSCC, Hollen hired Bang as president/CEO.

Filene names Idea Idol winner

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MADISON, Wis. (9/21/11)--HomeTrak, a device to help homeowners track and plan for home maintenance, replacement costs of major appliances, and household expenses, has been voted the winner of the Filene Research Institute’s first Idea Idol contest. The winner emerged from a live Idea Idol webinar and online voting on Sept. 14. HomeTrak will now enter the Filene Research Institute innovation lab where it will be prepared as a pilot program. Filene evaluated 76 ideas from its i3 innovation team before narrowing the field to four Idea Idol contestants. Filene’s i3 team strives to create new ideas, innovate and implement products and services for the benefit of the credit union industry. The three other Idea Idol finalists:
* Flex.One: A first mortgage combined into a home equity line of credit with all the capabilities of a checking account; * Heartfelt Hands: An “angel tree” recognizing an emergency financial need and matching that need with members who are willing to help; and * The Signal: A Website that helps consumers navigate through the questions and complexities of disability benefits and asset building.

NEW CO-OP FSCC announce merger agreement

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (9/21/11 UPDATE 12:30 P.M. et)--CO-OP Financial Services and Financial Service Centers Cooperative Inc. (FSCC) have announced their intent to merge, unifying the two primary credit union shared branching networks. Through the two companies, more than 1,700 credit unions nationwide participate in shared branching, making more than 4,300 physical branch locations available to their members, plus 2,200 Vcom kiosk locations at 7-Eleven stores. The shared-branching arrangements allow credit union members to conduct financial transactions as if they were visiting a branch of their own credit union. According to a release, under the terms of the agreement, FSCC president/CEO Sarah Canepa Bang will join CO-OP as president and chief operating officer of FSCC, and as chief strategy officer of CO-OP shared branching. Stan Hollen is president/CEO of CO-OP Financial Services. CO-OP and FSCC expect the transaction to close within 120 days. “There’s no denying that FSCC and CO-OP have been terrific competitors--imagine what we can do together,” Bang said. “CO-OP and Stan Hollen personally played a historic role in the creation of FSCC, and now with the combining of the two companies, it is very much a case of our business coming to a logical full circle.” FSCC was created in 1990 and originally operated under a management agreement with CO-OP Financial Services--then known as CO-OP Network. In 1999, as chairman of the board of FSCC, Hollen hired Bang as president/CEO.