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League Names S.C. Fin. Lit. Educator Of Year

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (9/23/13)--The South Carolina Credit Union League has named Shannon McCrimmon of Landrum High School as its 2013 Financial Literacy Educator of the Year for instilling in young people the financial concepts that will help them succeed as adults.
 
The league presented the award and a $1,000 honorarium from the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation to McCrimmon.
 
McCrimmon, who is also an author of teen novels, worked with the school's faculty and Greenville-based SC Telco FCU's administration to organize reality fairs for two senior classes at Landrum High School. In the second reality fair, she enlisted volunteer parents and teachers, and invited teachers from other schools to witness the fair and its impact.
 
The two fairs reached more than 250 students. Another 250 students will learn the same lessons when the entire junior and senior classes of Landrum High School participate in a reality fair this fall.
 
The annual SCCUL Financial Literacy Educator of the Year award has been given since 2002 to teachers to raise awareness within the education community of not only the need for financial education but also exemplary work teachers do. SCCUL also presents annually the Financial Literacy Ambassador of the Year to credit union professionals committed to advancing the cause.
 
Financial literacy efforts are one way credit unions can raise awareness of the value of credit unions--one of the three components of the Credit Union National Association's and the leagues' Unite For Good Campaign, which rallies credit unions toward the strategic vision of America's consumers choosing credit unions as their best financial partner.

CU System Briefs (09/23/2013)

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  • SAN ANTONIO (9/23/13)--The Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation's 16th annual golf tournament, hosted with the Cornerstone Credit Union League's joint Leadership Conference & Expo and Marketing & Business Development conference in San Antonio, generated about $85,091 in net proceeds. Tournament proceeds help the foundation provide resources for financial education initiatives and educational grants, as well as scholarships for credit union professionals and volunteers. The tournament hosted 144 golfers and 58 sponsors, along with dozens of volunteers at the Canyon Springs Golf Club in San Antonio (Leaguer Sept. 19) ...
  • CHARLOTTE, N.C. (9/23/13)--Carolina Postal CU in Charlotte, N.C., will host voter registration Tuesday on National Voter Registration Day. The event will be outside its campus from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.  Voter registration volunteers and the North Carolina Consumer Council will be on-site. "People don't realize every year is an election year," said Joy Watts, CEO of Carolina Postal CU. "In 2013, there are over 15,000 elections throughout the U.S. It's important that you make your voice heard." Carolina Postal CU has partnered with non-partisan organizations Mecklenburg County League of Women Voters and the National Voter Registration to promote the event to encouraged people to register to vote (The Weekly Conversation Sept. 20 ...
  • ASHLAND, Ky. (9/23/13)--The Ashland (Ky.) CU is aiding the restoration of Putnam Stadium, which serve's Ashland  city schools' team, the Tomcats, by donating 10 cents every time a member swipes a credit card through a Tomcat checking account. The cardholder must choose credit rather than debit on the purchase to activate the donation. The 75-year-old stadium, which has crumbling concrete, will have 900 fewer seats this season after structural concerns were raised from an engineering report last month at an Ashland Board of Education meeting, said the stadium's website. It normally seats 4,500 to 5,000 sports fans.  Jason Strader, the credit union's vice president of operations and an avid Tomcat supporter, decided to help after reading about the stadium's deterioration. A brainstorming session among credit union staff resulted in the checking account. The credit union will give away some of the profits from the cards and give it back to the community, said the Daily Independent (Sept. 18).  Ashland CU had a booth at Friday's game and will have one again at the Oct. 18 game to answer questions about the checking account program  ...
  • FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (9/23/13)--Long-time Texas credit union leader Mary Nell Johnson James, former CEO of Lone Star Steel FCU, died Sept. 17, the Cornerstone Credit Union League reported.  She was 84. James was employed at the credit union for 32 years, starting as a part-time employee in 1955 and ending as CEO in 1987.  She also served as president of the Wright Patman Chapter of Credit Unions and on the board of directors of the Texas Credit Union League (now Cornerstone).  Memorial services were held Friday in Gilmer, Texas (Leaguer Sept. 20) ...

CUNA Chair: CUs Looking Out For Hard-working Americans

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MARSHFIELD, Wis. (9/23/13)--As tax reform debate picks up in Congress, credit unions are looking out for the interests of hard-working Americans on the issue, says Credit Union National Association Chairman Pat Wesenberg in a guest column Thursday in the Enterprise-Journal.
 
"For years, big banks have been trying to saddle their non-profit credit union competitors with new taxes. They see a congressional tax reform push as their best chance to sneak such taxes in," said Wesenberg, who also is president/CEO of Central City CU in Marshfield, Wis.
 
"Consumers should hope that the big banks don't succeed," Wesenberg wrote, adding that new taxes on credit unions would impact all Americans by reducing competition in the financial services sector.
 
Although credit unions and banks offer similar service, "they couldn't be more different in philosophy and structure," she said.
 
"As non-profit financial cooperatives, credit unions exist solely to benefit their member-owners. They do so by charging low or no fees and offering higher interest rates on savings and lower rates on loans. They've done that since the 1930s, when Congress authorized their creation and granted them non-profit status," Wesenberg said.
 
For every dollar in new credit union taxes, the government would wipe out $10 in member benefits, she said.
 
"The federal tax code certainly merits reform. But lawmakers must prevent change from coming at the expense of average Americans. Slapping credit unions with new taxes would do just that," she concluded.

Association Of Corporate CUs Re-elects Roy As Chairman

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WASHINGTON (9/23/13)--The Association of Corporate Credit Unions held its first annual membership meeting since the national financial crisis and re-elected an executive committee consisting of Steve Roy, CEO, Tricorp, Westbrook, Maine; Kathy Garner, CEO, Catalyst Corporate FCU, Plano, Texas; and Lee Butke, CEO, Corporate One FCU, Columbus, Ohio. Roy is expected to continue serving as ACCU Chairman.
 
"That means the ACCU chairman will be continue to serve as an ex-officio member of the Credit Union National Association Board of Directors," said Eric Richard, CUNA executive vice president and general counsel. "In addition, corporates will continue to have an ACCU representative on CUNA's Government Affairs Committee, which will continue to be Kathy Garner."
 
"CUNA and ACCU will collaborate on regulatory and legislative issues, as they arise, for the benefit of the credit unions we serve and who support our organizations," Roy said. "It's another step in the rejuvenation of the corporate credit union system." 
 
"Corporates and natural person credit unions are vital to each other.  CUNA will help provide a forum where the interests of both segments are recognized and strengthened," said CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney.

NASCUS Summit Discusses Reg Capital, State CU Charter

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COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (9/23/13)--Regulatory capital and protection of the state credit union charter were among the topics discussed Thursday at the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors State System Summit in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho.
 
Thursday's sessions featured the Annual NASCUS Interagency Dialogue--one of two annual sessions where state regulators and the National Credit Union Administration board, NCUA regional directors and federal examiners meet to collaborate and share information on critical supervisory issues facing credit unions.
 
"This session highlights the critical partnership between states and the NCUA," said NASCUS Chairman John Kolhoff, director, Office of Credit Unions for the state of Michigan.
 
NASCUS credit union members joined NASCUS President Mary Martha Fortney to discuss issues affecting state credit unions. Attendees were particularly concerned about supplemental capital, preserving state authority and protection of the state credit union charter. 
 
The day closed with a session on the future of regulatory capital, featuring panelists Michael Scanlon, partner at K&L Gates, and Steve Farrar, NCUA loss/risk analyst.
 
Credit unions that make consumer loans will be happy with the proposed risk-based rule, Farrar said. The top risk-weighted capital requirement would be comparable to the banks' risk-weighted requirement of 10.5%, he added.
 
While the exact publication date of the proposed rule was subject to the NCUA board approval, he anticipated a final rule would be published in 2014, with an ultimate effective date of 2016.
 
 Farrar also discussed NCUA's modeling of the agency's risk weightings. Ninety percent of U.S. credit unions were well-capitalized under the risk-based proposal, he said. NCUA will also provide an application on its website when the rule is proposed that will allow credit unions to run their numbers to model their risk-weighted requirement under the rule, he said.
 
Friday's session featured an update from NCUA board member Richard Metsger, a director compensation dialogue, an overview of cybercrime emerging information technology trends insights and predictions for financial services for 2014.

Earlier in the week, Bill Cheney, president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association, appeared as part of a panel titled "Working Together on System Priorities: The Credit Union Leadership Forum. Cheney reiterated CUNA's commitment to reducing regulatory burden for credit unions. He also stressed the importance of a key NASCUS priority--keeping the state charter strong and preserving the dual chartering system.
 

Blaine Touts Trust In CUs On Carolina Business Review

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RALEIGH, N.C. (9/23/13)--Trust, accountability and responsibility are the keynotes of credit unions and what sets them apart from other financial institutions, Jim Blaine, president/CEO of State Employees' CU (SECU) in Raleigh, N.C., told a panel on Carolina Business Review Aug. 23.
 
"The accountability and responsibility [to members] has not changed," Blaine explained when asked what is different since the financial crisis and how trust is created. "That is what a member-owned organization has by definition.     
 
"In our membership, they have a very powerful tool--they have an annual meeting," he added.   "Our boards are volunteers; they are not compensated. They are elected by our members and our memberships can arrive at the annual meeting and vote us all out if we get out of line. And that's a very good control on the organization."
 
The success of the $27 billion asset SECU is also because of the greater convenience and lower-cost delivery systems than in the past, along with a North Carolina focus, which has made it a desirable partner, Blaine said. "Quicker, better and cheaper works well with any business," he added.
 
"As long as we keep the personal touch--the community relationship--we will be effective," Blaine said.
 
Credit unions are diametrically opposite from banks because credit unions are cooperatives, owned by the people who use them. They are not investor owned, he explained. "As a banker, I would be working hard to extract money from my customers' pockets," Blaine said. "As a credit union, our job as a cooperatively owned organization is to leave money in our members' pockets."       
 
Credit unions' appearances on panels such as the Carolina Business Review help raise awareness about the value credit unions provide their members and communities. Raising awareness, fostering service excellence and removing barriers are the foundation for the Credit Union National Association's, state credit union leagues' and credit unions' Unite For Good campaign toward a vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner.
 
To view the Carolina Business Review YouTube segment, use the link.

Taxation, Other Issues Top Agenda At League Roundtable

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ROCKPORT, Maine (9/23/13)--Taxation and other issues such as regulatory burden, growth, building strong brands and card standard changes topped the agenda at the Maine Credit Union League's Leadership Roundtable last week in Rockport, Maine.  Nearly 90 credit union representatives attended.

"The cooperative principals and philosophy of credit unions are really resonating with consumers," league President John Murphy told attendees (Weekly Update Sept. 20). "As a result, we continue to see impressive growth across the board in assets, loans, savings and membership. However, there are some critical issues and threats facing credit unions, such as tax reform and regulatory burden."
 
Maine credit unions must continue to engage members in the Don't Tax My Credit Union  grassroots campaign, he said, adding, "Maintaining our tax exemption is our No. 1 priority and, even though each member of our congressional delegation has been supportive of our exemption, we need to demonstrate that importance by sending thousands of messages to our delegation."
 
Regulatory burden was also on the list of threats and challenges facing credit unions. "There have been 170 new regulations put in place since the start of the Great Recession in 2008," said Murphy. "The burden of new regulations continues to impact the ability of credit unions to focus on serving members. We, along with the Credit Union National Association, are committed to working with Congress and regulatory agencies to ease this burden and look for more regulatory relief, where it is appropriate."
 
Dennis Dollar, a former National Credit Union Administration chairman, concurred that threat of tax reform and regulatory burden are two of the most critical challenges facing credit unions today. "Making your case and reinforcing the value and benefits of your tax exemption are essential. Get your members to respond and have your voices be heard in large numbers."
 
He urged credit unions to take advantage of the many opportunities credit unions have before it is too late. "With anti-big bank sentiment at an all-time high, credit unions, as not-for-profit financial cooperatives, are positioned for their best growth opportunity in decades," he said.
 
John Costello, president of global marketing and innovation for Dunkin' brands, opened the roundtable by sharing experience and insight about the importance of building and maintaining a strong brand. "The credit union brand is strong, and you have many opportunities to leverage that strength for the future," he told attendees.  "The challenge, though, is staying relevant in a changing world. One way to do that is to engage your members in a two-way dialogue and find out what they want and how they want it."
 
Fiserv's Allison Edwards updated the group on the implementation of Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) credit card standards in the U.S., saying that process will be slow and will take years. "Without a mandate to currently do this and the considerable costs of EMV cards to financial institutions, a wait-and-see approach makes a lot of sense, especially with mobile payment technology potentially changing the need for EMV cards," she concluded.

Shuttered Chicago Thrift Now a CU

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CHICAGO (9/23/13)--A Chicago savings and loan that was shuttered in 2011 has been reborn as a credit union to serve predominately low-income Hispanic communities on the city's southwest side.
 
The Second FCU, which re-opened Sunday with a press conference and cultural program, is the result of a collaboration between Chicago's The Resurrection Project (TRP), which works to revitalize the area, and Self-Help CU, which operates in North Carolina and Los Angeles. This is Self-Help's first involvement in the Midwest and the first time a credit union has acquired a community bank and resurrected it (Community Media Workshop Sept. 20). 
 
The unique arrangement was made after the Los Angeles-based Self-Help FCU and TRP bought Second Federal Savings & Loan last year.  The S&L's assets had been sold to Wintrust Financial Corp. but Wintrust did not want its mortgages.  Instead, the mortgages were spun off to TRP and Self-Help, and later Wintrust decided to sell the assets to TRP.
 
Rudy Medina, a former branch manager at the S&L, will serve as Second FCU's president/CEO.
 
The failed thrift had focused on the low-income Hispanic market and made home loans to undocumented immigrants who lacked Social Security numbers but had taxpayer-identification cards.  Most of the borrowers used cash to make their monthly payments.
 
TRP said it is dedicated to preventing foreclosures and community deterioration, driving out predatory lenders and providing financial services for residents through the new credit union.

Michigan CUs Record Major 2Q Growth In Auto Loans, More

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LANSING, Mich. (9/23/13)--Michigan credit unions reported increases in loans for new and used automobiles at rates that surpassed the national averages, according to 2013 second quarter data released by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and analyzed by the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL).
 
Credit union membership increased for the eighth straight quarter--growth that also translated into 1,000 new employees at Michigan credit unions in the past four years.
 
"Michigan credit unions continue to play a key role in helping Michigan's economy make its comeback, said David Adams, MCUL CEO. "Families, students, and small businesses alike are turning to credit unions in record numbers because of the value they provide and the trust that they have earned. The data show that credit unions are increasingly becoming the lender of choice for more and more Michiganders."

He also noted that as membership and loan volume increases, credit unions "are able to hire more people and further the state's economic recovery in yet another way."
 
Highlights of the second quarter results include:
  • Michigan credit unions' market share for indirect new-auto loans in the second quarter was 17.1%, up from 14.8% in the same period in 2012, and up from 11% in 2011.
  • The credit union share of indirect used-auto loans increased to 39.9%, up from 36.5% in 2012 and 34.9% in 2011.
  • Michigan credit unions added more than 125,000 new members in the past eight quarters, with more than 16,000 added this year. Total credit union membership today is 4.57 million in Michigan.
  • For the first half of 2013, total deposits rose 4.2%, growing faster than loans, which were up 3.1%. Total loans as a percentage of assets are at their lowest level since 1994.
  • Loans to member businesses surged during the first half of 2013, increasing 8.4%--up from 7% during the same period in 2012.
  • Michigan credit unions added 1,000 new employees in the past four years at a time when some large banks moved their headquarters out of the state.

Metsger Urges Oregon CUs, 'Maintain the Public's Trust'

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (9/23/13)--Higher interest rates are coming, and credit unions should already have plans in place to manage risk and protect their reputation, urged Richard Metsger, the National Credit Union Administration's newest board member, during a visit to his home state of  Oregon last week.
 
"We should have one goal...Today and tomorrow, our 95 million members must feel that credit unions are the one institution they can trust to have their best interests at heart," said National Credit Union Administration Board Member Richard Metsger at the annual meeting of Northwest Credit Union Association's Mt. Hood Chapter in Oregon. (Photo provided by the Northwest Credit Union Association)
"We should have one goal," Metsger told the annual meeting of the Northwest Credit Union Association's Mt. Hood Chapter of Credit Unions (Anthem Recap Sept. 20). "Today and tomorrow, our 95 million members must feel that credit unions are the one institution they can trust to have their best interests at heart."
 
(Metsger's statement fits in with the credit union movement's strategic vision where "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner." The Credit Union National Association and state leagues have rallied under the Unite for Good campaign to work toward this goal by fostering service excellence, increasing awareness of the value of credit unions to members and the community, and removing barriers, such as legislation and regulations, to that goal. Use the links for more information.)
 
With so many fixed-rate mortgages on the books, financial institutions face significant risk from rising interest rates, Metsger said. "I'm really, really concerned. Rates are at historic lows. There's only one way to go, and that's up. The only question is, 'How far, how fast?'"
 
Safeguarding the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund is the NCUA's top priority, Metsger said, which means ensuring that credit unions can serve their members' financial needs while also protecting the safety and soundness of the fund.  "We must make sure that the public's trust and faith remain strong," he said.
 
Metsger's public comments were his first in Oregon since being sworn in on Aug. 23 as the NCUA's newest board member. Metsger said he's spent much of the time since adapting to life inside Washington D.C.'s Beltway.
 
"I'm proud to be the first board member from the Northwest," he said. "But it's a different type of culture (in D.C.), and trying to learn how things operate has been interesting."
 
Metsger served in the Oregon state Senate from 1999 to 2011. During his tenure, he was known for his straightforward, honest and unscripted style, said the Northwest Credit Union Association in the Anthem. His remarks to the Mt. Hood chapter were characteristically delivered off-the-cuff and without a prepared speech.
 
He vowed that the visit to a local chapter meeting would not be his last.
 
"I'm pretty accessible, and I'm always happy to talk to credit union folks," Metsger said. "Going around the country, dropping into credit unions, seeing how they're being impacted on the ground--that's important," he added. "I like to hear what's really going on."