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Packers CU among sponsors of second fin lit summit

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MADISON, Wis. (9/25/12)--The Green Bay Packers, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), and Appleton, Wis.-based Fox Communities CU are among the sponsors of the second annual Wisconsin Summit on Financial Literacy.

The summit will be held Oct. 12 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. CT at Lambeau Field in

Green Bay, said DFI, which is one of three headline sponsors. The others are Economics Wisconsin and the Lakeland College Center for Economic Education.

The conference aims to support community outreach educators and teachers in strengthening their existing programs on personal finance and offering recommendations for implementing new programs to diverse communities, said DFI.

Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy will be guest speaker.

Among those presenting will be financial industry veterans who teach personal finance within their communities, college professors with expertise in personal finance and economics, and K-12 teachers with experience teaching these disciplines.

Topics include a community financial literacy roundtable, creating a community financial literacy program, important resources on financial literacy, identifying community partners, financial coaching, best practices and strategies for successful community initiatives and financial coaching.

In addition to the headline sponsors, Fox Communities CU, and the Green Bay Packers, other sponsors include Ariens, the Council for Economic Education, IBM, the Kohler Foundation, Northwestern Mutual, State Farm Insurance, the Vollrath Co. and the Windway Foundation.

IWSJI Year later banks free checking costs more

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NEW YORK (9/25/12)--So-called free checking accounts are more expensive than ever, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing a new survey from Bankrate, which analyzed 477 checking accounts at 247 banks and thrifts.

To avoid a fee, bank customers must keep an average minimum balance of $723 in checking accounts that pay no interest--up 23% since last year, reported the Journal. The average monthly fee on noninterest accounts rose 25% to a record $5.48, said the study.  Also rising are fees for ATMs, overdrafts and minimum requirements tied to account balances or regular deposits. The study also found that 39% of noninterest checking accounts are free to all customers, down from 45% in 2011 and from a peak of 76% in 2009.

The Journal, which mentions public outcry over new debit card fees last year that led to Bank Transfer Day, attributes banks' fee increases to the economy and to new regulations that have many accounts unprofitable because maintaining checking accounts costs $250 to $300 a year.

Banks are cutting costs and trying to step up profits, the article said. Still, U.S. banks earned $34.5 billion in second quarter, a 21% increase over year-ago levels, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

The rising fees are no surprise to those who watch banks' products and services. After Bank Transfer Day on Nov. 5, when thousands of consumers switched their accounts to credit unions and community banks, a number of financial experts warned that banks would find ways, even some hidden ways, to raise fees in other areas. Today the anti-bank sentiment is still strong and fees continue to feed that discontent. (See related News Now article, "Occupy anniversary: Anti-bank sentiment still strong."  Use the link.)

Credit unions, which have lower or no fees, and better rates are not included in the study. A recent article in the Louisville, Ky., Courier-Journal (Sept. 15), noted in an article, "Credit unions vs. banks: Should you make the switch?" that better interest rates, free checking accounts  are areas where credit unions have an advantage over banks.

Bankrate.com financial analyst Greg McBride told the Courier-Journal that credit unions have "a much higher prevalence of free checking accounts in an era of declining availability of free checking."

Filene seeks input for human capital study

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MADISON, Wis. (9/25/12)--The Filene Research Institute is looking for input from 10 U.S. and Canadian credit unions for its Human Capital Credit Union Research Study.

Filene is seeking credit unions to participate in the study, which will measure and describe how knowledge management interacts with human capital and how both influence business performance in U.S. and Canadian credit unions.

The research uses both financial and human resource lenses to help participating credit unions benchmark themselves against other credit unions and identify areas of improvement.  Deadline to register as a participant in the study is Sunday.

More information and details of the study will be addressed in a discussion at 2 p.m. ET Thursday with the researcher, Dr. Nick Bontis.

For more information, use the link.

Global fraudsters tapered off in August says report

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BEDFORD, Mass. (9/25/12)--Phishing attacks decreased during 17% in August--mostly at  nationwide banks and smaller regional banks--but not at credit unions, according to RSA's Monthly Online Fraud Report.

Phishing attacks targeting credit unions accounted for 18% of the August attacks, up seven percentage points from 11% in July and up from 10% in June, but down one percentage point from August 2011.

In the U.S. financial sector, nationwide banks experienced a 7% decrease in phishing attacks, but the brands in this segment continued to be the most targeted by phishing attacks--accounting for 67% or more than two out of every three attacks in August, said the report.

The Bedford, Mass.-headquartered security firm, which is a division of EMC Corp., identified 49,488 attacks during August, compared with 59,406 in July. To date, RSA has shut down 721,165 cyber attacks.

Forty-five percent of the attacks in August targeted brands in the U.S., the United Kingdom and Australia. The U.S. hosted 80% of phishing attacks launched during the month.

RSA's report also highlighted risks in the mobile app marketplace, which are increasingly vulnerable to malware and rogue apps, and noted that corporate settings are increasingly at risk from Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies that allow employees' devices to double as platforms for both personal and work-related communications.

In related news, hackers from Iran may have targeted the U.S.'s three biggest banks as part of broader cyber offensive against the U.S., said Reuters (American Banker Sept. 21).

It noted that Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup have experienced multiple attacks from hackers in Iran since 2011. The denial of service attacks seek to disrupt websites and corporate networks by flooding them with traffic. Some bank customers have experienced delays when they access their banks' websites, said the Banker.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation warned that thieves may be attacking financial firms' websites to steal information for fraudulent use, according to the Banker.

Last Wednesday, the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center raised its alerts from "elevated" to "high"--the first change since July 9, 2009, according to its website.

Calif.Nev. leagues announce awards

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ONTARIO, Calif. (9/25/12)--The California and Nevada Credit Leagues have announced the winners of the states' Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Award, the Desjardin Financial Education Award, the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award and the Community Outreach Award.

Meriwest CU, based in San Jose, Calif., is the 2012 recipient of the Community Outreach Award. The award honors credit unions and chapters for outstanding community outreach efforts.

Meriwest won in the $1-billion-plus asset credit union category. As the Community Outreach recipient, the credit union's entry also received a first-place statewide award in its asset category in the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award program, which recognizes credit unions for socially responsible community projects that are external to the credit union.

Meriwest was honored for its "Financial Education for All" program it launched in 2008 as the recession deepened. The credit union, seeing a need for financial education for youth and adults, reached out to schools and social services agencies as part of this new program. It has since worked with several agencies, community organizations and schools to develop specially customized financial education programs. More than 200 community members have participated in its employment skills workshops, and more than 3,800 middle and high school students have learned how to create a working budget.

Judges from the Mountain West Credit Union Association cited Meriwest CU's "positive changes crossing all income barriers." Also, they cited the number of staff members involved in teaching the free financial literacy classes. The "time and effort that went into (those) free classes were amazing," the judges noted.

The Golden 1 CU won a first-place state award in the Louise Herring for Philosophy in Action Award program. Based in Sacramento, Calif., the credit union won in the $1 billion-plus asset category for its successful operation of two in-high school branches. The Herring award honors credit unions for their practical application of the "people helping people philosophy."   

San Diego-based Mission FCU received a first-place Desjardins Youth Financial Educational Award in the more-than-$500-million-asset category for its "Mission 2 $AVE" program, an onsite program for elementary schools to help them educate students on the benefits and responsibilities towards good savings habits.

San Mateo CU in Redwood City, Calif., received a first-place Desjardins Adult Financial Educational Award in the more-than-$500-million category for its various programs, including its finance education programs at community organizations and underserved communities.

Winners of the Herring, Maxwell and Desjardins awards will compete in the national competition presented by the Credit Union National Association.

CU4Kids on pace to raise 9M for kids hospitals

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Several credit union representatives attended the pin exchange at the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals' "Celebration" event in Orlando, Fla.,  last week.  Some attendees were, from left: Melissa Kirtley, Communication FCU, Oklahoma City; Kate Czarnecki, Focal Point FCU, Canandaigua, N.Y., and Jennifer Lown, Oklahoma Employees CU, Oklahoma City.

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ORLANDO, Fla. (9/25/12)--More than 40 representatives from credit unions, state credit union leagues and the Credit Union National Association attended the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals' annual "Celebration" event in Orlando.

The event brings sponsor organizations together with families from around the U.S. and Canada whose children have benefited from treatment at Children's Miracle Network -supported hospitals.

Through the Credit Unions for Kids (CU4Kids) program, the credit union community is currently the third-largest fundraiser for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, behind Walmart and Costco.

The CU4Kids program is on pace this year to raise more than $9 million, according to the program's director, Joe Dearborn.

An emotional highlight of the celebration event is the "pin exchange," where sponsors meet the representative families from across the U.S. and Canada, give the kids colorful sponsor pins, and have the children sign a page in a booklet highlighting their story.

"There is a lot of courage out there," CMN Hospitals President/CEO John Lauck told the families gathered for the pin exchange. "These are miracle stories."

Other celebration events included a corporate partners breakout session, a forum to encourage collaboration among corporate sponsors, sessions on trends among the Millennial Generation and social media strategies, and opening remarks from actor/singer John Schneider, who along with Marie Osmond co-founded Children's Miracle Network.

Art Kremer, CEO of Sharefax CU Inc., Batavia, Ohio, and a member of the Credit Unions for Kids(CU4Kids) National Advisory Board, greets a family and presents a CU4Kids pin during the pin exchange at the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals' "Celebration" event. (Photos provided by CUNA)

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CU4Kids announced in May that it has raised more than $100 million for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals since it began its effort in 1996 (News Now May 24).

Last year, the CU4Kids program raised $8.7 million for children's hospitals nationwide.

"2011 was a landmark year for our credit union partners," John Lauck, president/ CEO of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, said in May.

"Their performance speaks volumes about the character of those in the movement," he added. "Given the unprecedented challenges facing the industry, credit unions could have cut back on their fundraising, but instead they pushed forward to raise $100 million."

Illinois first league to host new Retirement Fair

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (9/25/12)--The Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL) Thursday was the first U.S. league to host for its staff a new retirement fair created by the National Credit Union Foundation's (NCUF) REAL Solutions Program in concert with CUNA Mutual Group.

The fair, called "Route Your Retirement," assists credit unions in helping their members and staff better prepare for retirement.  It is suitable for people of all ages, not just those nearing retirement. More than 30 ICUL staff participated during one of three one-hour sessions.

Just as credit unions have pioneered a new way to teach budgeting skills to high school and middle school students through Financial Reality Fairs for Teens, this new type of fair for adults is poised to revolutionize the way adults approach planning and preparing for retirement, the league said.

The fair uses experiential learning techniques to help participants:

  • Assess their desired retirement lifestyle;
  • Estimate the likely cost of their chosen lifestyle; and
  • Take steps to assess whether their current savings plan is sufficient to fund their retirement lifestyle choices.
After listening to a short presentation about the intention of the fair, led by Illinois REAL Solutions coach Mark Lynch, participants visited different stations to help determine what their financial needs may be within certain categories. They included: transportation; health and fitness; gifts and donations; housing; food and clothing; communication; and leisure, travel and entertainment.

The program has been tested with Credit Union National Association and CUNA Mutual staff members in Madison, Wis. As part of the pilot fair, participants were asked to provide feedback to help refine the event.

Only 39% of investors between 21 and 50 years of age are confident they will have enough money for retirement, according to the latest research. Of those who are confident, two-thirds have yet to develop an actual retirement plan. To further compound the problem, most are underestimating how long they will live in retirement, the league said.

Federation webinar on LICU designation today

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NEW YORK (9/25/12)--The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions is offering a free webinar at 2 p.m. (ET) today on the benefits and opportunities that low-income designation provides eligible credit unions.

In August the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) informed another 1,003 of the nation's 7,200 credit unions of their low-income eligibility, and expedited the application process to increase credit union participation in a federal relief and recovery package for drought-stricken states.

As a result, a month after the announcement, 553 federal credit unions nationwide accepted the designation. The newly designated low-income credit unions (LICU) serve 5.9 million members and manage more than $49 billion in combined assets.

Today, 1,721 LICUs with combined assets of $100 billion provide services to 12.4 million predominantly low income consumers. If every eligible credit union accepts their designation, LICUs would have combined assets of $140 billion, providing affordable financial services to almost 17 million consumers, said the federation.

The LICU designation provides certain privileges aimed at expanding a credit union's capacity to meet the needs of their financially vulnerable members. The benefits include:

  • The authority to accept supplemental (secondary) capital;
  • Exemption from the member business lending limitation of 12.25% of assets;
  • The right to accept non-member deposits up to the greater of $3 million or 20% of total shares; and
  • Access to the NCUA's Community Development Revolving Loan Program, which provides loans and technical assistance grants.
To register for the webinar, use the link.

N.Y. Pa. leaders talk future collaboration

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ALBANY, N.Y. (9/25/12)--The boards and senior management of two leagues--the Credit Union Association of New York (CUANY) and the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA)--gathered last week in Cooperstown, N.Y., to conduct a dialogue and foster future collaboration.

Click to view larger image Credit Union Association of New York President/CEO William J. Mellin (first row, third from right) and Pennsylvania Credit Union Association President/CEO Jim McCormack (first row, fourth from left) gather with their board members at a joint meeting last week in Cooperstown, N.Y. (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of New York and the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association)
Among the topics discussed were emerging issues facing both associations and their credit unions, including:

  • Challenges and opportunities within the credit union environment;
  • Regulatory burden and future actions from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau;
  • Legislative projections;
  • Industry financial performance;
  • The issue of capital modernization;
  • The importance of regulatory and legislative advocacy; and
  • Opportunities to enhance association membership value.
"Our joint meeting was a great opportunity for our respective boards to come together and build peer connections while participating in candid discussions on how today's ever-changing financial climate is impacting credit unions," said CUANY President/ CEO William J. Mellin.

"The credit union landscape in Pennsylvania and New York are very similar demographically, as both represent credit unions of all asset sizes," said PCUA President/CEO Jim McCormack.

Both Mellin and McCormack noted that their associations look forward to continuing their discussions on ways to cooperate, such as their joint Volunteer Conference next month in Pennsylvania.

The joint dialogue was led by Dennis Dollar of Dollar Associates. He is a former chairman of the National Credit Union Administration.

Entrepreneur keynotes Conn. Collaboration Conference

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MERIDEN, Conn. (9/25/12)--Louis Hernandez Jr., author, consumer advocate and chairman/CEO of Open Solutions Inc., delivered the keynote address at the Credit Union League of Connecticut's (CULCT) Collaboration Conference Thursday in Wallingford, Conn.

From left, Tony Emerson, Credit Union League of Connecticut president/CEO, shares a moment with Louis Hernandez Jr., author, consumer advocate and chairman/CEO of Open Solutions Inc., following Hernandez' address to Connecticut credit unions on the importance of collaboration between cooperatives. (Photo provided by the Credit Union league of Connecticut)
More than 70 credit union representatives attended the event.

Hernandez, who engineered a national movement to Save the American Dream to help small businesses and community-based financial institutions drive sustained economic growth, encouraged attendees to cooperate and collaborate for benefit not only of their credit unions, but also their members.

"The CULCT has been doing great work helping credit unions collaborate and I believe that by working together community-based financial institutions can gain the scale and efficiency of the largest institutions in the world," said Hernandez. "Credit unions play a vital role in local economies, and their ability to support the financial needs of consumers and small businesses is essential to saving the American dream."

Other speakers at the conference included Theran Colwell, director of strategy and business development for CUNA Mutual Group, who spoke on factors influencing the future of credit unions; and Scott Collins, president of Xtend Inc., who described collaboration strategies.

An open roundtable discussion addressed collaboration specific to Connecticut credit unions.

Michigan names Maxwell Herring Desjardins winners

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LANSING, Mich. (9/25/12)--The Michigan Credit Union League has announced the winners of its 2012 Dora Maxwell, Louise Herring and Desjardins statewide competitions (Michigan Monitor Sept. 24).

The Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Recognition Award Program honors credit unions for their involvement in community projects and activities. Dora Maxwell Award first-place winners include:

  • Michigan One Community CU, Ionia, $50 million to $100 million in assets;                
  • Central Macomb Community CU, Clinton Township, $100 million to $200 million;           
  • CASE CU, Lansing, $200 million to $500 million;
  • Credit Union ONE, Ferndale, $500 million to $1 billion; and
  • Michigan State University FCU, East Lansing, $1 billion plus.
The Louise Herring Philosophy-in-Action Member Service Award honors credit unions for their practical application of the people-helping-people philosophy. The Louise Herring Award first-place winners include:

  • Communicating Arts CU, Detroit, less than $50 million in assets;                       
  • Public Service CU, Romulus, $50 million to $250 million;
  • Michigan First CU, Lathrup Village, $250 million to $1 billion; and
  • Michigan Schools & Government CU, Clinton Township, $1 billion plus.
The Desjardins Youth/Adult Financial Education Award recognizes leadership within the credit union movement on behalf of youth/adult financial literacy. The Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award first-place winners include:

  • CASE CU,  $150 million to $500 million in assets; and   
  • Michigan Schools & Government CU, $500 million plus.
The Desjardins Adult Financial Education Award first-place winner is:  

  • Northland Area FCU, Oscoda, $150 million to $500 million.

CU System briefs (09/24/2012)

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  • SANDY, Utah (9/25/12)--A former police officer stopped a robbery suspect as he fled from a Sandy, Utah , credit union Friday. The suspect allegedly entered Salt Lake City-based TransWest CU at 4 p.m. Friday and passed a note demanding cash to a teller (Fox 13 News Sept. 22). The former police officer entered the branch after the suspect left the building. After he received a description of the suspect, the officer left the branch in pursuit of the suspect. The man held 54-year-old Glen Lamar Jensen at gunpoint until police arrived ...
  • SPRINGFIELD, Ore. (9/25/12)--A man who was suspected of robbing the $1 billion asset Oregon Community CU in Springfield, Ore.,  turned himself in to police Saturday and now faces a robbery charge (KMTR.com Sept. 23). Springfield police were searching for Cody Daniel Gordon, 37, on Friday after the robbery occurred. After walking into the credit union, Gordon allegedly told a teller he had a weapon and then demanded cash. Before he turned himself in, police detectives identified Gordon as the robbery suspect and searched for him at several locations without finding him …
  • RALEIGH, N.C. (9/25/12)--Coastal FCU, based in Raleigh, N.C., has launched its new Student [Cu] Visa card for young adults with no or limited credit history. It touts the importance of establishing good financial practices when building credit and the credit limit increases gradually from $500 top $2,500 over a five-year period. "The basic principle behind the card teaches solid credit management and helps deter the cardholder from falling into credit card debt," said Coastal President/CEO Chuck Purvis.  The card features no interest on balances up to $250 for the first 48 months. Balances over $250 are subject to a non-variable annual percentage rate of 10%. At the end of five years, the card will have a credit limit of $2,500 and a standard 10% APR …
  • CHANDLER, Ariz. (9/25/12)--Fred L. Kent, former president/CEO of Chandler, Ariz.-based First CU, died Thursday at the age of 67. Kent dedicated his entire 37-year-career to the credit union movement. In 1975, he became a federal examiner for the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). He also served as general manager of J.L. Bammerlin Postal FCU and later as assistant general manager for First FCU after it merged with Bammerlin. Ken was president/CEO of First CU from 1988 until he retired in 2009 and subsequently served as chairman of its board.  He also served on the board of directors of the Arizona Credit Union League for 16 years, three as the board's chairman. He served on the league's Facilities Committee, Audit Committee and Project Services Task Force. Kent also was secretary for Arizona Council of the Blind FCU's board for 23 years. In 2005, he was awarded the Very Outstanding Credit Union Person Award for his accomplishments and involvement in the credit union movement by the ACUL. He is survived by his wife Alletta, their children and grandchildren …