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The difference one CU can help make

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (9/6/12)--Sula Pettibon and Winnie Kennedy sat on the newly renovated rooftop playground at Levine Children's Hospital Wednesday morning waiting for the ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the play site. They wanted to witness the difference one credit union can make in the lives of people in their communities.

Pettibon, community relations manager and chairman of the employee fundraising committee, and Kennedy, lobby services director, both hail from Family Trust FCU, of Rock Hill, S.C.

Pettibon told News Now that they were at Levine because "credit unions are all about people helping people." She added, "Our employees raise money all year for charities."

She said deciding to get involved in the credit union project at Levine wasn't a tough decision. Although her credit union is based in South Carolina, Levine Children's Hospital is only about a half an hour's drive from Rock Hill, she said. It is a hospital that sick kids in her community would--and do--use.

In fact, she recalled, one of her credit union's senior staff investment officers has a son who was treated at Levine. Kennedy added another of the credit union's employees has a child with a heart condition who has been seen at Levine.

"It's a place that our Rock Hill community uses," Pettibon repeated.

The credit union employees said they were pleased with the outcome of the credit union effort at Levine. They also seemed pleased that they had an opportunity to discuss with Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney credit union issues--like legislation to increase the credit union member business lending limit that is pending in both the U.S. House and Senate--as they all waited for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to begin to officially open the playground space.

Rep. Clyburn calls CUs convention project important

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (9/6/12)--Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), a top Democratic leader in the U.S. House and former House Majority Whip, commended credit unions Wednesday for their tradition since 2000 of leaving behind a charitable project for the host city when they participate in national political conventions, like the Democratic National Convention taking place in Charlotte, N.C., this week.

Click for slide show John McGrail, of the Caroline Credit Union Foundation, Martha Whitecotton, president/CEO of Levine Children's Hospital, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who is the third ranking Democrat in the U.S. House, CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney, Steve Fowler, president/CEO of the South Carolina Credit Union League, and John Radebaugh, president/ CEO of the North Carolina Credit Union League cut the ribbon to declare the renovated rooftop playground at Levine open for fun. (CUNA Photo)
Clyburn made his remarks when he was on hand at the Levine Children's Hospital for a ribbon cutting ceremony for a project made possible by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the North Carolina Credit Union League, the South Carolina Credit Union League, the National Journal Group, CUNA Mutual Group, CO-OP Financial Services and others who have been involved for months in renovating a rooftop playground at Levine to provide a stimulating and therapeutic environment for youngsters being treated there.

CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney, welcoming Clyburn, noted that the playground project is emblematic of the credit union philosophy of "people helping people."

He noted that hundreds of man hours, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in charitable contributions, have been dedicated by credit unions in North and South Carolina and across the country in support of the project.

Clyburn called it "important" that credit unions have decided that when they participate in these conventions they should leave the community even better off than they found it. "Congratulations to you for doing this," he added.

Clyburn shared a personal story about the impact a project to help a children's hospital can have on a community. He noted his family's joy when, after raising his three, one daughter presented Clyburn and his wife with their first grandson. However, the child arrived three months premature and had three operations before he weighed even 10 pounds.

"Now he is a freshman in college," Clyburn said. He did not just survive, he thrived, the South Carolina Democrat declared.

Clyburn, who noted he is a member of two credit unions and his wife a member of a third, commended Levine Children's Hospital and credit unions for working together on the project to benefit young patients.

The Charlotte project, to honor the DNC held here this week, mirrors another sponsored by CUNA, state leagues, credit unions and their partners that was unveiled last week at All Children's Hospital to honor the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

The two 2012 projects cost a combined $600,000, and credit unions nationwide, as well as the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation and the League of Southeastern Credit Unions Foundation, have raised funds to cover the costs of the projects.

CUNA CUs honor delegates stay active at DNC

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (9/6/12)--Between 250 and 300 Democratic National Convention (DNC) delegates and more than a dozen federal lawmakers Wednesday attended an event hosted by the Credit Union National Association, the state credit union leagues, CUNA Mutual Group, and credit unions to honor all delegates attending the convention.

DNC delegates and federal lawmakers attended an event hosted by CUNA, the credit union leagues and CUNA Mutual Group at the Aria Tuscan Grill Restaurant in uptown Charlotte, N.C., to honor all delegates attending the convention here. (CUNA Photo)
The event, hosted at Charlotte, N.C.'s Aria Tuscan Grill Restaurant, provided delegates, lawmakers and credit union representatives a casual atmosphere to mingle and discuss the events of the day, as well as credit union issues. It also gave them a chance to refuel with a wide assortment of tapas-style selections.

The delegate event closely followed another credit union convention highlight when CUNA and its partners unveiled a convention "leave-behind" project to benefit the DNC's host city.

After months of preparation and work, the credit union project now provides young patients at Levine Children's Hospital with a renovated rooftop playground for therapeutic play, a bit of fresh air, a change of scenery, and a break from their hospital routines. (See related story: Rep. Clyburn calls CUs' convention project 'important.')

Both credit union events happened just hours before former President Bill Clinton took the podium at the Time Warner Cable Arena last night to formally nominate Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate for president. The convention changes venue today to the much larger Bank of America Stadium for when the president delivers his acceptance speech.

Also on Wednesday, CUNA continued its ongoing sponsorship of the  National Journal's Convention Daily Briefings, which feature party newsmakers here, as it did in Tampa.

The day's session featured Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who discussed Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's budget plan and how Van Hollen thinks it has helped Democrats in House races across the county.

The session also included the executive directors of both the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and ended with The Cook Political Report's Jennifer Duffy and David Wasserman.

Trey Hawkins, CUNA vice president of political affairs, says CUNA participation in the national conventions overall is "an opportunity to continue to develop our political brand."

Inside Washington (09/05/2012)

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  • WASHINGTON (9/6/12)--Travis Plunkett has accepted the newly created position of deputy director of the Family Economic and Financial Security Portfolio at the Pew Center on the States. Plunkett will leave his position as legislative director at the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), where he has worked for the past 13 years. In his new position, Plunkett will build and manage a team focused on the ability of families to earn and maintain income, save for the future, and borrow and invest safely and wisely. Rachel Weintraub will assume the position of legislative director at CFA. Weintraub is currently CFA's director of product safety and in-house counsel. In her 10 years there, she has worked on congressional issues, including leading the consumer coalition that persuaded Congress to pass major consumer product safety legislation several years ago …
  • WASHINGTON (9/6/12)--The Federal Reserve will offer $3 billion in 28-day term deposits through its Term Deposit Facility Monday. The offering is part of ongoing small-value operations designed to provide eligible institutions with an opportunity to become familiar with term deposit operations, the Fed said. Competitive bids submitted at the stop-out rate will be pro-rated and will be rounded to multiples of $10,000. Normal rounding convention will be used, except that awards less than $10,000 will be rounded up to $10,000. Non-competitive bids will be allowed. All non-competitive bids will be automatically awarded in full at the stop-out rate of the competitive auction. The minimum amount for a non-competitive bid is $10,000; the maximum amount is $5 million and should be submitted in increments of $10,000. Non-competitive bids must be submitted between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. ET Monday …

CUNA releases remittance survey for CUs

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WASHINGTON (9/6/12)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) continues to seek changes to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) pending remittance transfer rule, and has asked credit unions for information on any remittance transfer services they may offer in a new survey.

Under the CFPB remittance rule, remittance transfer providers would be required to disclose the exchange rate, all fees associated with a transfer, and the amount of money that will be received on the other end. Remittance transfer providers will also be required to investigate disputes and correct errors. The bureau's new remittance disclosure rule will take effect Feb. 7.

The CFPB has provided a safe harbor exemption from the rule for remittance providers that transact 100 or fewer remittances per year. The agency has indicated at least 80% of credit unions that offer remittance services would be exempt, but CUNA remains very concerned about the safe harbor provisions and continues to encourage the CFPB to increase this safe harbor threshold.

In the survey, credit unions can answer about their own remittance practices, including whether or not they offer remittances and how many remittance transfer transactions, if any, they complete in a given month.

Information on the total yearly cost of remittance transfer programs, how much each remittance transfer made for each member costs and the amount of fees that are charged to members requesting remittance transfers is requested in the survey. And credit unions can detail how much their total annual remittance program costs could increase, and how much more they may be required to charge their remittance-requesting members, under the CFPB's rule.

Credit unions are also asked to provide basic information on their asset size and comment on how they would be impacted by the rule. Additionally, CUNA in the survey seeks credit unions that wish to participate in a working group of credit union remittance providers. That group will meet with CFPB Director Richard Cordray and his staff in the coming weeks.

"We urge credit unions to take a few moments and complete this survey," said Mary Dunn, CUNA deputy general counsel. "The feedback we receive from credit unions will bolster our ability to press the CFPB to make further improvements to the remittances rule," she added.

CUNA has asked that the survey be completed by close of business today.

For the full CUNA survey, use the resource link.

Membership growth financial strength noted in NCUA state breakdown

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (9/6/12)--Credit union membership nationwide is surging, and Alaska, Idaho and New Hampshire are helping to lead the way, with each state posting membership increases of 5% or more over the past year, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) revealed in the latest quarterly state-by-state review of the financial performance of credit unions.

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The NCUA last week reported that U.S. credit unions added 1.3 million members in just the first half of this year. That total is more than credit unions realized in full-year 2010 and 2011 combined, and is the second-highest increase in the past decade.

The agency's state-by-state review of quarterly financial statistics showed Alaska ranked first overall in credit union membership growth over the past year, with a growth rate of 6.1%.

Membership growth was also strong in Washington, New York, Texas, and parts of the Midwest and southeast U.S. All of these states averaged membership increases of between 3% and 5% over the past year, the NCUA reported.

Some states with strong membership increases also showed positive movement in returns on average assets (ROAA), delinquency rates, asset growth, deposit growth and loan growth.

Credit unions' ROAA increased in 37 states and territories when compared with last year's averages, and Arizona led the way in ROAA for the second straight quarter, posting an ROAA of 149 basis points (bp). New Jersey credit unions posted the lowest ROAA for the second quarter of 2012, recording an ROAA of 36 bp.

The share of credit unions with positive ROAA increased in 34 states, with New Mexico and Alaska posting the highest average shares: 92%.

New Hampshire again posted the lowest average credit union loan delinquency rate in the nation, averaging 0.5%. In another holdover from last quarter's results, Montana again led the nation in delinquencies, with an average of 3.1%. However, this average was slightly below the previous quarter's total of 3.23%. Delinquency rates in 46 states fell when compared to last year's numbers, according to the report.

Overall, the NCUA said most state-level credit union metrics are experiencing a recovery, but "credit union performance varies widely across the country."

Asset growth for North Dakota's credit unions averaged 13.7% over the past year, the highest of any state. North Dakota also led the nation in loan growth, averaging 13.7%. Nevada, which was particularly hard-hit in the recession, was the only state in the nation to report negative asset growth, averaging a loss of 1.3% over the past year, and that state's loan growth average also declined sharply, dropping by 10.4%.

This is the second state-by-state breakdown of key financial indicators released by the agency.

The latest data are drawn from 2012 second quarter call reports. For the full NCUA report, use the resource link.

CFPB releases credit bureau exam procedures

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WASHINGTON (9/6/12)--The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Wednesday detailed the procedures agency staff will follow as they examine credit bureaus and other consumer reporting companies this fall.

The CFPB on Sept. 30 will begin supervision and examination of consumer credit reporting agencies. The agency said its examination authority will cover consumer credit reporting agencies with more than $7 million in annual receipts. This threshold includes about 30 firms that account for 94% of total credit report industry receipts.

The supervision program will make sure credit reporting companies "are playing fairly and by the rules" and ensure that all companies are held to the same standards,  CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a release.

The agency said its examiners will attempt to verify that consumer reporting companies are:

  • Taking the steps needed to ensure the personal information in credit reports is accurate;
  • Conducting "reasonable investigations" when consumers dispute the accuracy or completeness of any information in their credit report;
  • Disclosing information and credit scores to consumers in a timely fashion, and explaining that information to consumers, as needed;
  • Addressing identity theft issues and protecting active duty military consumers through fraud and active duty alerts; and
  • Blocking the reporting of information that stems from identity theft.
Examiners also will evaluate the systems, procedures and policies used by the company for tracking, handling, investigating and resolving consumer inquiries, disputes and complaints, the CFPB said.

The examination process will be an ongoing process of pre-examination scoping and review of information, data analysis, onsite examinations and regular communication with supervised entities, as well as follow-up monitoring, the CFPB said. Enforcement actions may also be taken as needed, the CFPB added.

There are about 400 firms in the $4 billion consumer credit reporting market, according to CFPB estimates. The three largest credit reporting agencies produce more than three billion consumer credit reports each year, and maintain credit records on more than 200 million Americans, the CFPB has said.

Cordray in a July hearing said dispute resolution and credit report accuracy would be two areas of emphasis for the agency. Inaccurate credit reports deprive lenders of the information needed to properly assess credit risk, and can also cause borrowers to be wrongly denied loans, charged higher interest rates, or passed over for jobs, he noted.

The agency plans to work with credit reporting agencies to improve the accuracy of credit report information.