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CU System briefs (09/25/2009)

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* MONTPELIER, Vt. (9/28/09)--Steven D. Post, CEO of Vermont State Employees CU (VSECU), a $472 million asset, Montpelier, Vt.-based credit union, was profiled in the September issue of Vermont Business People magazine. When Post replaced retiring General Manager Clyde Coffrin Jr. in the early 1990s, the credit union had roughly $80 million in assets, 20 employees and about 16,000 members. Today VSECU has 45,000 members and employs more than 130 people. “The purpose of the credit union is to have it run for the benefit of its members, not for stockholders or making profits,” said Joe Bergeron, president of the Association of Vermont Credit Unions, who also was interviewed. “[Post] just naturally has that in front of his mind at all times” … * DURHAM (9/28/09)--Latino Community CU, Durham, N.C., has launched its first annual essay writing and photo contest that emphasizes savings. The contest is offered in three age categories: 13-14, 15-16, and 17-18 (HeraldSun.com Sept. 16). The credit union will award $1,000 to first place winners, $500 to second place winners and $250 to third place winners. The money, made possible through a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation, will be given to winners in 24-month share certificates. Submitted photos and essays will be displayed in the credit union’s branches and published online. Latino Community CU said it hopes the contests will raise awareness about the importance of building wealth. The credit union has $75 million in assets ... * VANCOUVER, B.C. (9/28/09)--The merger of two Canadian credit unions will result in the third largest credit union in British Columbia (Vancouver Sun Sept. 23). Envision Financial and Valley First CU announced the members approved the merger. The combined credit union--which will have $5.6 billion in assets, 167,000 members and 1,250 employees--will be known as First West CU. The merger will take effect Jan. 1. Evision President/CEO Gord Huston will be First West's CEO during the transition, while Valley First President/CEO Harley Biddlecomb has been appointed special adviser … * PORTLAND, Ore. (9/28/09)--A paroled credit union robber was sentenced in a federal court Wednesday to 115 months (more than nine years) in prison for a string of credit union robberies in Eugene, Ore., and the Portland area. Marc Timothy Rzegocki also was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $23,124 in restitution to the credit unions (Targeted News Service Sept. 23). When the eight robberies at six credit unions occurred between June 27, 2007 and Aug. 20, 2007, he was out on parole from a sentence related to two unarmed robberies stemming from nine credit union robberies in 1986. The new sentence will run concurrently with a parole revocation sentence on the earlier charges …

Corporate Uncertainty sharpens rationale for ALM

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DALLAS (9/28/09)--Rampant change is reason enough for credit unions to renew their interest in managing liquidity and interest rate risks, says Southwest Corporate. It lists five reasons a sound asset/liability management (ALM) process makes sense in today's economy:
* ALM is valuable for more than just compliance reasons. Credit unions historically use ALM to assess balance sheet risk, but many haven't incorporated overall risk exposure into their strategic decision-making. They need to begin evaluating the results of their risk analysis as it relates to the credit union's long-term strategies and goals so they can be adept at adjusting near-term decisions, said the corporate. Information gleaned from ALM reports enable credit unions to manage interest-rate risk, assists in strategic planning and budgeting, and helps credit unions respond to member deposit behaviors, said Mark DeBree, Southwest Corporate Investment Services' manager of ALM analysis, in an article on the corporate's website. * Credit union balance sheets are becoming more complex as mortgage portfolios grow. Credit unions are making fewer vehicle loans and more mortgage loans. In 2008, mortgage loans represented 38% of credit unions' total loan portfolio, a 6% increase from 2005. Vehicle loans for 2008 totaled 21%, or 4% less than in 2005. The growth in mortgages brings concerns about their longer average lives and durations, said DeBree. The average life of a vehicle loan is 2 1/2 years, he said. Mortgages also are more exposed to extension and contraction risk because of the embedded prepayment option. And hybrid mortgages have added complexity to the portfolio. * Regulators are pressuring financial institutions to understand and accurately measure interest-rate risk. The National Credit Union Administration has expanded the ALM portion of the exam and contends that credit unions familiar with their tools and the information those tools can provide are better prepared when adjustments are called for from economic events, said Southwest Corporate. * Uncertainty prevails in the market. Interest rates are near historically low levels and the inflation outlook isn't clear. Mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures are rising, and financial institutions are finding it difficult to operate profitably. DeBree noted that given the Federal Reserve's actions Wednesday--plus the addition of a second stimulus package and possible extension of homebuyers' assistance to all homebuyers, "it is not likely we are headed toward a recovery any time soon." Addressing risks embedded in credit union balance sheets is more critical than ever, said the corporate. * The potential for rising interest rates is high. An economy in recovery means interest rates likely will rise. With stimulus spending and restructuring of consumer and corporate balance sheets, the recovery will see rapidly increasing interest rates. "A quick rise in rates can be tough on financial institutions," said DeBree. "Upward pressure on cost of funds eats into the already narrow net interest margin that has resulted from the fixed-rate loans on the books at recent low rates."
For more detail, use the link to Southwest Corporate's website.

Nine named to WOCCU International Exec Volunteer Corps

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MADISON, Wis. (9/28/09)--World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) has welcomed nine credit union professionals to its International Executive Volunteer Corps. (IEVC). Established in 1995, the corps recognizes inductees for their years of international service to WOCCU. The 2009 inductees are:
* Mike Delker, vice president of credit union relations, the Texas Credit Union League; * Pat Drennan, president/CEO, 1st Gateway CU, Camanche, Iowa; * Patrick Jury, president/CEO, Iowa Credit Union League (ICUL); * Mike Lanotte, senior vice president of association services, Credit Union Association of New York; * Luis Lopez, executive president, Cooperativa Abraham Rosa, Puerto Rico; * Sue Mitchell, CEO, Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates, Boulder City, Nev.; * Murray Williams, chief operating officer, ICUL; * Vicki Williams, senior executive vice president and chief operating officer, League of Southeastern Credit Unions (formerly Alabama Credit Union League); and * Gary Wolter, retired president/CEO of the former Alabama league.
"These are individuals who have repeatedly given their time and expertise to credit unions around the world," said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief executive officer. "Their volunteer work enables us to reach out to many more credit unions than we can by ourselves." IEVC members and other volunteers contribute valuable technical assistance and credit union industry know-how, bolstering WOCCU's efforts in developing countries. Participants also gain international development experience through volunteer service to the global credit union movement. "Credit unions derive their strength from volunteer efforts," said Pete Crear, WOCCU president/CEO. "Thanks to the generosity of this year's inductees and those who have come before, we've been able to tap into this vital energy and commitment on behalf of credit unions worldwide." Past inductees into the four-year-old program include: Pat Bodnar, Arizona Credit Union League; Carlos Calderón, OAS Staff FCU; Kathy Chartier, Members CU; David Chatfield, formerly of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues (CCUL); Anne Cochran, Louisiana Credit Union League; Letty Cordon-Hernandez, formerly with CCUL; Richard Ensweiler, Texas Credit Union League (TCUL); John Florian, Ohio Credit Union League; Mary Martha Fortney, National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS); Dana Hofmann-Geye, formerly with the Minnesota Credit Union Network; David Low, OSU FCU; Kurt Lykins, Corporate One FCU; Rick Myxter, Pennsylvania Credit Union League; Barbara Pogue, NASCUS; Bill Raker, US FCU; Kasey Rockwell, Credit Union Association of Oregon; Marcus Schaefer, Truliant FCU; Sarah Turner, Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association; and Linda Webb-Mañon, TCUL.

Scammed Spammed Stung webinar set for Oct. 21

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MADISON, Wis. (9/28/09)--As part of National Protect Your Identity Week (PYIW) Oct. 17-24, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) will offer a webinar aimed at helping credit unions protect themselves and their members from identity theft fraud. The webinar, Scammed, Spammed and Stung: Protect Your Credit Union and Your Members from ID Theft Fraud, is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 1-2:30 p.m. CDT (2-3:30 p.m. EDT, 12-1:30 p.m. MDT, and 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. PDT). The webinar is sponsored by CUNA Strategic Services, CUNA, and three strategic alliance partners. Speakers will include:
* Kevin Prince, chief technology officers, Perimeter eSecurity; * Lynn Scheck, senior vice president of business development for Intersections, an identity theft prevention services; * Jamie King, president and co-founder of Verafin, a software company specializing in money laundering and fraud detection solutions; and * Janet Garkey, manager of group education at CUNA's Center for Personal Finance.
According to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), a sponsor of the PYIW, 45% of U.S. adults--roughly 101 million people--feel at most risk for identity theft when they make a purchase with a credit card that requires the card to be temporarily taken out of their sight. Only 21% of consumers said they were concerned about falling victim to ID theft when using their card in person. In 2007, roughly 8.4 million Americans reported ID theft. In 2008, the number increased 19% to 10 million victims, said Susan C. Keating, president/CEO of NFCC. Joining NFCC as full sponsor of PYIW is the Council of Better Business Bureaus. CUNA is one of the supporting PYIW coalition members. The webinar costs $99. For more information, use the link.

Environment a focus for N.C. CUs

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (9/28/09)--Two North Carolina credit unions are partaking in green initiatives to help the environment. State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU), a $16.7 billion asset credit union based in Raleigh, has recently expanded its “green” program offerings to include a Green Second Mortgage. The new loan product is designed for energy efficient improvements such as replacement windows, heating/air conditioning systems, insulation, solar water systems and Energy Star appliances. As much as $50,000 may be financed for up to 10 years with at least 75% of the proceeds used for energy efficient improvements. “SECU encourages its membership to seek energy efficient home improvements in order to cut costs and save on their utility bills,” said Phil Greer, SECU senior vice president of loan administration. “There are also some federal and state tax credits and utility company rebates to assist homeowners who make energy efficient home improvements, and we recommend that our members take advantage of those as well.” Self Help CU, a $349.3 million asset, Durham-based credit union, said it is offering an Environmental Term Certificate (CD) to environmentally conscious members (Weekly Update Sept. 25). The CD has several maturity terms and gives members a return on their investment while supporting the credit union’s Environmental Stewardship initiative. For more information, use the link. Through the initiative, Self Help was able to provide a loan to Piedmont Biofuels in Pittsboro so it could purchase a truck for collecting grease from area restaurants. The loan allowed Piedmont to begin collecting more grease instead of buying other forms of raw materials for fuel production on the open commodities market. As a result, the company can deliver fuel to its members more inexpensively. For more information, use the link.

One dead three arrested after CU robbery

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TAMPA, Fla. (9/28/09)--Three robbery suspects were apprehended by police and one person was found dead, an apparent suicide, in the aftermath of a Thursday robbery of Grow Financial CU, in Tampa, Fla. Officers surrounded a Tampa home looking for suspects after receiving a tip that the suspects were driving a Chevrolet Yukon and following the car to a Tampa home (abcactionnews.com Sept. 25) . Once at the home, police caught one man who ran down the street, while two others ran into the house. The two suspects turned themselves in when a SWAT team arrived. A third man fired several shots at officers during a standoff. The standoff ended when members of the police tactical response team broke into the house after firing tear gas inside. The third man was found dead by police. He took his own life, according to the medical examiner. He had a bullet wound to his head (St. Petersburg Times Sept. 24). The 12:24 p.m. robbery prompted lockdowns at area schools while police searched for the robbers. The incident may be related to a string of robberies by perpetrators who have worn strange disguises--most notably sticking up a pawn shop while wearing beauty shop sinks over their heads, police said.

ATM skimmers steal funds from 90 people

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SAN BERNANDINO, Calif. (9/28/09)--ATM card skimming schemes have compromised accounts at Alaska USA FCU and Arrowhead FCU in California and an area bank. Police in San Bernardino County, Calif., where the credit union branches are located, suspect that members’ accounts have been affected from fraudulent use of ATM cards. At least 90 people in the High Desert area have been affected (San Bernardino Sun Sept. 24). Authorities have noticed a spike in thefts in Apple Valley, Hesperia and Victorville, Calif., the newspaper said. Card skimming occurs when a thief places a device on the outside of an ATM. The device captures information from a card’s magnetic stripe when swiped. The skimmers also use video cameras to watch accountholders enter their personal identification numbers. The newspaper provided several tips to prevent fraud:
* Inspect ATMs for unusual devices; * Cover the hand used to enter a personal identification number; and * Check account balances frequently.

Blanchard named to 2010 Coop Hall of Fame

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WASHINGTON (9/28/09)--Credit union pioneer Larry Blanchard was selected for spring induction into the Cooperative Hall of Fame, the Cooperative Development Foundation announced. He will be recognized at the annual Hall of Fame Dinner and Induction Ceremony at Washington’s National Press Club May 5. Blanchard’s nomination was recommended by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Cooperative Alliances Committee with the approval of the CUNA board. He was head of communications in CUNA’s Washington, D.C., office during the late 1980s and early 1990s before going to CUNA Mutual Group. Blanchard retired from CUNA Mutual in December 2008 as senior vice president for special projects. He now serves as a consultant for corporate and legislative affairs at CUNA Mutual. Blanchard was a shaper of today’s credit union landscape, the foundation said. He was an employee and organizer of credit unions who worked for every major credit union organization in the U.S. Blanchard also was a credit union development educator who helped guide the evolution of the Campus Credit Union Council. Blanchard was a leader of Operation Grassroots--an effort to maintain regulatory independence for credit unions. He was one of four people selected. The others are Glenn English (rural utilities), Werqu Mekasha (agriculture) and David Thompson (general).

Indiana awards note service fin lit philosophy

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INDIANAPOLIS (9/28/09)--The Indiana Credit Union League honored credit unions for achievements in community service, credit union philosophy in action, and excellence in youth financial literacy with awards named after credit union pioneers in each area. First place Dora Maxwell Awards for social responsibility and community service, by asset category, went to:
* Great Horizons FCU, Hammond, less than $5 million assets; * Evansville (Ind.) FCU, $20 million-$50 million in assets; * First Trust CU, Michigan City, $50 million-$100 million; * Industrial FCU, Lafayette, $100 million to $200 million; * Finance Center FCU, Indianapolis, $200 million to $500 million; and * Centra CU, Columbus, more than $500 million.
Winners of first place Louise Herring Awards for philosophy in action were:
* Partners 1st FCU, Fort Wayne, $50 million to $250 million assets category; and * Centra CU, more than $250 million assets.
First place winner of the Alphonse Desjardins Award recognizing excellence in youth financial literacy efforts was Finance Center FCU, Indianapolis. The state-level winners will proceed on to the national awards competition coordinated by the Credit Union National Association.

California league to honor six CU leaders

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (9/28/09)--The California Credit Union League will honor six credit union leaders at this year’s California
and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ Annual Meeting and Convention Nov. 16-18 in Las Vegas. Recipients will be presented with distinguished service awards, volunteer awards and Tomorrow’s Star Awards--which are given to credit union professionals under the age of 35. Judith A. McCartney will receive the 2009 Leo H. Shapiro Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is the league’s highest honor and is named after the father of the California credit union movement and founder of the league. McCartney, a retired CEO from Orange County’s CU, Santa Ana, has worked in the credit union movement since the late 1960s when she became CEO of a small credit union in Alaska. She is involved with the World Council of Credit Unions and has served on the California league’s board of directors. Other recipients include:
* Mary Cunningham, CEO, USA FCU, San Diego, Distinguished Service Award; * Marshall Holloway, board chairman, Desert Valleys FCU, Ridgecrest, Outstanding Volunteer Award; * Phillip A. Meserve, SAFE CU, board vice chairman, North Highlands, Outstanding Volunteer Award; * Erin Hodson, Kern Schools FCU, Bakersfield, branch manager, Tomorrow’s Star Award; and * Wendy Zanotelli, UNCLE CU, Livermore, chief operating officer, Tomorrow’s Star Award.
The Distinguished Service Award honors leaders who have provided service to the credit union community outside the usual scope of employment. Cunningham has served as a board chairman of Western CUNA Management School, the National Credit Union Foundation, the Richard Myles Johnson Foundation and the Credit Union National Association.