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Point Loma CU to close San Marcos branch

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SAN DIEGO (10/3/11)--San Diego-based Point Loma CU plans to close a branch located in San Marcos, Calif., next month, because of the sluggish economy. The $451.2 million asset credit union told members the branch is scheduled to close Nov. 2 (North County Times.com Sept. 30). Theodore H. Dennis, CEO of the credit union, told the newspaper the deep recession and slow recovery of the economy have forced the "difficult decision," according to the paper. Members were told earlier this month that the ongoing sluggish economic climate continued to be a challenge for most people, including the credit union.

Hanscom FCU reaches out to military domestic partners

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HANSCOM AFB, Mass. (10/3/11)--Hanscom FCU, based at Hanscom AFB, Mass., is reiterating its support for military and civilian members and their families--including domestic partners--in a newspaper ad campaign created in the wake of the repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy in the military. The ad in the Hansconian. a local military base newspaper, reinforces the credit union's long-held policy of membership for significant others and household members, and highlights its status within the military as an affirming organization dedicated to inclusion. Its purpose, said the credit union, is to encourage members who serve in the military to feel comfortable handling their finances at the $912 million asset Hanscom FCU. "With the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Hanscom FCU's members can be more open in the workplace about their personal relationships," said Scott Post, senior vice president of strategy and delivery. "In the past, members may have been reluctant to have two names printed on their checks, or take other actions that could reveal the status of their relationship." By reaching out with its message of inclusion, the credit union said it aims to continue growth in its military service area of membership. "Even people who are not directly affected have co-workers, family members and friends who are," Post said. "These are people that they care about. A number of our employees have thanked us for running the ad," he added, noting a staffer saw the ad and told him she felt proud to work at the credit union.

WGE FCU now called Prime Time Financial FCU

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MUNCIE, Ind. (10/3/11)--WGE FCU in Muncie, Ind., is changing its name to PrimeTrust Financial FCU, effective today. The $142 million asset credit union was founded in 1935 by employees of the then-Warner Gear plant in Muncie. The new name follows a decision several months ago by the credit union’s board to change its charter as part of a plan to allow for a wider membership (thestarpress.com Sept. 29). BorgWarner--the successor to Warner Gear, a local transmission builder--ended operations in Muncie in 2009, closing its plant in town. The new name was chosen because market research showed it “connected” with consumers and businesses and communicated PrimeTrust’s attempts to position itself as a “total financial resource,” PrimeTrust officials told the newspaper Thursday.

2011 another year for negative CU loan growth

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MADISON, Wis. (10/3/11)--Although credit union loans slightly increased in August, the trend for the year likely indicates negative loan growth, according to a Credit Union National Association (CUNA) economist’s analysis of August’s monthly sample of credit unions.
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Credit union loans outstanding rose 0.3% during August, compared with a 0.2% increase in July. Adjustable-rate mortgages led loan growth with a 1.4% gain, followed by unsecured personal loans (1.1%) and used-auto loans (0.9%). Credit card loans climbed 0.5%, while home equity loans went up 0.3%. New-auto loans decreased 0.4%, and fixed-rate mortgages declined 1%. Credit union loans totaled $580.9 billion, compared with $582.9 billion in August 2010, said the monthly estimates. "2011 is shaping up to be another year of negative loan growth for credit unions,” Steve Rick, CUNA senior economist, told News Now. “Over the 12 months ending in August, credit union loans balances fell 0.3%. With income, jobs and retail sales growth weak in September, we don’t expect much additional loan growth for the remainder of the year. “We are expecting loan growth to rise 3% in 2012 after three years of basically zero growth and a buildup of pent-up demand,” he added.
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Credit union savings balances decreased 0.5% in August, compared with a 0.2% increase in July. Regular shares grew 2.2%, followed by individual retirement accounts (0.5%). One-year certificates fell 0.2%, and money market accounts and share drafts decreased 2.9% and 4.5%, respectively. Credit union savings in August totaled $827.1 billion--or $32.2 billion more than the $794.9 billion in August 2010. Credit unions’ 60-day-plus delinquency rate remained at 1.6%. “Loan credit quality continues to improve as credit union loan delinquency rates hit 1.55%, down from 1.78% in August 2010,” Rick said. “We believe delinquency rates will continue to improve through 2012, falling below 1.2% by this time next year,” he added. Credit unions’ loan-to-savings ratio remained at 70%. The liquidity ratio--the ratio of surplus funds maturing in less than one year to borrowings plus other liabilities--remained at 19%. The movement’s overall capital-to-asset ratio remained at 10%. The total dollar amount of capital is $99 billion.

CU MBL helps orchard owners dream come true

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WENATCHEE VALLEY, Wash. (10/3/11)--Turned down by several banks in pursuit of his dream, Randy Arnold turned to a credit union and then the roots of his new career path literally took hold. Arnold, a railroad worker, wanted to become an orchardist and needed a loan to help buy nine acres of what he termed a “stump ranch” in the Wenatchee Valley of Central Washington state. He was able to buy the land after procuring the $5,000 loan many years ago from King Street Terminal CU (KTSCU), now Express CU (ECU) in Seattle, Wash. His loan request had been turned down by about four banks. Today, he has grown that parcel to 50 acres where he raises Bartlett and D’Anjou pears on his orchard. He has built and owns a house on the land, which he said now is worth about $300,000. The total net worth of his orchard is roughly $1.5 million, he added. “If I hadn’t gotten that loan to begin with, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t have the success I have now,” Arnold told News Now. “I didn’t have enough down payment to buy the land. With the $5,000 I got from the credit union, I was able to purchase the nine acres for $25,000. “They were great to be giving me support when I was young,” he added. “I wanted to be an orchardist and they helped me purchase an orchard. I was turned down by banks because they seldom loan to orchards. I’m still a member of ECU and do my business with them. I just brought them a box of pears yesterday.” Every year, Arnold drops off boxes of pears grown on his orchard for ECU staff as a token of his appreciation. Over the years, Arnold has taken out several more loans from the $10.2 million asset ECU to help him remodel his house and buy a couple of trucks. “KSTCU gave Randy an unsecured signature loan to purchase the property,” Norma Hernandez, Express president/chief operating office officer, told News Now. “That was our first investment in Randy. As years went on, Randy kept us as his primary financial institution because of the risk KSTCU was willing to take on him and his dream. We financed vehicles (secured) and gave him a number of other signature loans (unsecured) throughout the years as needs came up. “He has always come to us first whenever he needed a loan--which by the way, has been a while--because since KSTCU/ECU provided that first opportunity to prove himself all those years ago, Randy has become a successful and stable member of our community and membership,” she added. “And now his shares in ECU provide those exact same opportunities to our newest members who are needing that same ‘take a chance on me and I won’t let you down’ considerations,” Hernandez concluded. The orchard loan is just one example of how credit unions help members’ small businesses--often when banks refuse them loans. Many credit unions offer member business loans (MBL), but some are bumping up against a cap that limits MBLs to 12.25% of assets. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions are urging Congress to increase credit unions’ MBL cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Doing so would open up more opportunity for credit unions to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers, CUNA said.

OpSS Council honors five CUs for best practices

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MADISON, Wis. (10/3/11)--Five credit unions were honored with the seventh annual CUNA Operations, Sales and Service (OpSS) Council’s Best Practices Awards, which recognize innovative solutions optimizing credit union performance. The award winners were recognized during the council’s 14th Annual Conference, Sept. 25-28, in San Antonio. Oregon Community CU, Eugene, Ore., with $983 million in assets, won in the Sales and Service Management category for its 360 Training: Excelling in a Sales Culture program, which employs:
* Organization-wide training; * Product-knowledge workshops; and * An incentives program.
With 360 Training, Oregon Community CU increased loan growth by 8.5% and deposit growth by 3.15%, both of which exceeded goals. Travis CU, Vacaville, Calif., with $1.8 billion assets, won in the Sales and Service Management category for creating, cultivating and sustaining a sales-and-service culture. The strategy includes:
* Retail sales managers to ensure service standards accountability; * Development of a formal sales training program; and * Creation of “Travis Intelligence” to analyze sales efforts.
This credit union is expected to exceed its goals in the number of new direct members and increase in wallet share. SouthPoint FCU, Sleepyeye, Minn., with $23 million in assets, also won in the Sales and Service Management category for its Service Points of Excellence Program, which includes bi-weekly coaching sessions and member and staff surveys. In addition to increasing positive feedback from member surveys, the Service Points of Excellence Program helped improve overall cross-sells. WestStar CU, Las Vegas, Nev., with $135 million in assets, won in the Miscellaneous category for hosting two job fairs for its members. The fairs:
* Were held in Las Vegas and Reno, two economically hard hit areas; * Allowed participating employers with open positions only; and * Permitted priority entrance to WestStar CU members.
With 4,300 jobseekers, 23 employers--which were WestStar SEG groups--and more than 1,000 jobs, the fairs helped more than 70 people gain employment and garnered the credit union local and national attention. FedChoice FCU, with $303 million in assets, Lanham, Md., also won in the Miscellaneous category for forming its Member Councils to gain insight on:
* Financial “pain” points; * Preferred communication methods; and * Product and service awareness.
FedChoice held nine meetings over three months. It has implemented suggestions made during the meetings, with additional changes in progress. The OpSS Council Best Practice Awards were created to identify, recognize, and share new approaches and solutions with universal application in the credit union movement.

CU System briefs (09/30/2011)

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* RICHMOND, Va. (10/3/11)--Richmond-based Virginia CU, in partnership with the VCU University College and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, sponsored a financial success summit Wednesday for college students and garnered attention on WTVR, the local CBS affiliate. The event included four workshops on managing money and credit on Wednesday. "Unfortunately, many students simply are unaware of how to manage their money and even few mistakes can have lasting consequences. Cultivating a few simple habits can be enormously helpful to a student's long-term financial being," said Cherry Hedges, financial education director at the credit union. View a video of the event to find out more … * SAN DIEGO (10/3/11)--A man dubbed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as the "well-dressed bandit"--because he wears suits, sports jackets or a leather jacket--is a suspect in robberies of 10 banks and credit unions in San Diego County since May 2010. Three of the banks and credit unions were targeted more than once (The San Diego Union-Tribune Sept. 29). He is suspected of robbing Point Loma CU, San Diego, twice this year, on Feb. 11 and June 17, and Mission FCU, Solana Beach on April 6 and Aug. 2. The latest robbery occurred Chase Bank Friday, which also was robbed on Sept. 7 and Nov. 5 of last year … * DES MOINES, Iowa (10/3/11)--Lesley Hastings, director of new client partnerships for The Members Group (TMG), Des Moines, Iowa, has been elected to the board of directors for the Northwest Card Association. The association provides an educational and networking platform for the bankcard industry, helping financial institutions in the northwest keep up with payments developments, technologies and compliance challenges. Hastings joined TMG in July 2010. She has 16 years' experience in the financial services industry in a variety of payments areas. TMG is a subsidiary of Affiliates Management Co., which is owned by Iowa credit unions and their members ...

Self-Helps Eakes elected to Ford Foundation board

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NEW YORK (10/3/11)--Community development credit union leader Martin Eakes been elected to the Ford Foundation Board of Trustees. Eakes is the founder of the Durham, N.C.-based Self-Help CU, the Center for Community Self-Help, the consumer advocacy Center for Responsible Lending, and most recently, Self-Help FCU, Oakland, Calif. In May, Eakes was named a Ford Foundation Visionary, a new award that recognizes innovators whose work provides economic opportunities for marginalized people worldwide (News Now May 6). The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization that works on the frontlines of social change worldwide to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Ford Foundation trustees are elected by the full board and serve six-year terms. Trustees set broad policy relating to grant making, geographic focus, investments, governance and professional standards, and they oversee internal and independent audits.

Catalyst Corporate focuses on long-term solution

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PLANO, Texas (10/3/11)--Catalyst Corporate FCU, formed by the merger of Southwest Bridge Corporate FCU and Georgia Corporate FCU, has a “long-term system solution” with a value proposition that exceeds its capital contribution, according to its top executive. Catalyst opened its doors Sept. 6, with 880 member credit unions and $93 million capital---representing 74% of previous shareholders’ capital. Its board of directors has formed a committee to oversee the search for a permanent CEO. The committee expects to select an executive search firm this week, said Dianne Addington, who was brought in as the corporate’s interim CEO one year ago and will stay on board until a permanent CEO is hired. Addington, who has declined candidacy for the position, anticipates the search will take two to four months. The merger made Southwest Bridge Corporate the first corporate to come out of bridge status--well in advance of the two-year timeframe established by the NCUA last fall, when the corporate was placed under conservatorship (News Now Aug. 31). Since the merger, the Plano, Texas-based corporate has received subscription commitments from four credit unions and 25 additional requests for membership packets. The four credit unions joining Catalyst have assets ranging from $31 million to $2.8 billion and will move all services to Catalyst, said Addington. Catalyst anticipates rolling out two new products by the end of 2011--mobile capture and lockbox processing, Addington said. About 33% of Catalyst’s member credit unions have assets of less than $10 million; half have assets of $10 million to $100 million; and just over 15% have assets of more than $100 million, she said. The credit union has formed “Catalyst Councils” comprising credit union leaders from the eastern, central and western regions of the U.S. The councils will help guide the development of products and services for the corporate.