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Ohio CU members embrace Shared Branching

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (9/10/10)--Ohio now ranks second in the U.S. for the number of Shared Branching locations and is seventh in national transaction volume, according to the Ohio Credit Union League (OCUL). “These numbers are especially significant considering Ohio has only been participating in the Shared Branching network for 10 years, while other states have used the cost-effective service delivery channel for 20 or more years,” said Marty Auxter, Business Consultant for OCUL Services Corp. (eLumination Newsletter Sept. 8). In addition to providing member account access and service, Shared Branching is a deposit generator for credit unions, and its users are some of the credit union industry’s most profitable members. This was confirmed by a two-year study conducted by Raddon Financial Group on behalf of CO-OP Shared Branching--which is part of CO-OP Financial Services, said the league. CO-OP Financial Services, based in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., provides access and convenience products for credit unions. CO-OP connects credit union members to their accounts through CO-OP Shared Branching, network services, payment processing, e-commerce solutions and call center services.

Ireland CU shakeup is now vital

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DUBLIN, Ireland (9/10/10)--Ireland’s credit unions have been warned that paying generous dividends, or interest, on savings is no longer sustainable, according to James O’Brien, the country’s registrar of credit unions. A major shake-up in the way in which credit unions are governed is needed, and that regulation will become more intrusive, O’Brien told Irish credit unions (Belfast Telegraph Sept. 8). Rapidly falling investment incomes and higher loan losses for credit unions will put the brakes on dividends, O’Brien said in a major speech to the county’s representative body for credit union managers. “It is becoming clear that the high dividend-driven business model of many credit unions in no longer sustainable,” he added. In a related matter, Ireland’s Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, announced last week the membership for the country’s re-established Credit Union Advisory Committee (finance.gov.ie Sept. 3). The seven committee members will hold office for three years. The committee’s statutory function is to advise Lenihan about credit unions regarding the improvement of their management, protection of members’ and creditors’ interests, and other matters relating to credit unions.

Savers choose CUs for IRAs

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MADISON, Wis. (9/10/10)--An increasing number of retirement savers are selecting credit unions for their individual retirement accounts (IRAs). IRA balances are up 12% over the past year, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). June 5300 call report data from the National Credit Union Administration indicates that 65.3% of the 7,717 credit unions in the U.S., including Puerto Rico, showed outstanding IRAs as of June 30, according to CUNA. IRAs make up 9.68% of mid-year CU savings--at $796 million for shares and deposits, according to data from the same time period. A study by Cogent Research indicated that for the first time, IRA assets are bigger than employer-based accounts like 401(k)s, said The Creston News Advertiser (Sept. 8). “IRAs are in sync with credit union ideals, like member education and financial planning,” said Stan Hollen, president/CEO of CO-OP Financial Services. He told the paper that a solid retirement plan involves making sure savings are there when the accountholder needs them and making sure the money lasts. “A disciplined, slow and steady approach is best, combined with insured safety and not spending unnecessarily,” Hollen added. “Member-owned credit unions, with their heritage of service, trust and security, are right in tune with today’s savers and retirees.”

Colorado CU foundation helps wildfire relief

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BOULDER, Colo. (9/10/10)--Elevations Foundation, which is the official charitable arm of Elevations CU in Boulder, Colo., announced Wednesday that it is accepting donations for the Fourmile Canyon fire relief efforts. The foundation is partnering with the Boulder Office of Emergency Management on the initiative. A wildfire burning in the steep mountainsides and canyons near Boulder has become the most destructive fire in the state’s history (Associated Press Sept. 8). As of press time, about 169 homes have been destroyed by the 6,200 acre fire, and 3,500 people have been evacuated. Four people remain missing. No deaths or injuries have been reported yet and the cause of the fire remains unknown, AP said. “We have a least one employee who has been evacuated,” Ed Beckman, Elevations assistant vice president of marketing, told News Now. “We also have had several members who have come into our branches and say that they have nothing left of their homes. We’re working with these individuals. “Contributions are starting to come in--a few hundred dollars so far,” he added. “We expect more because there’s been a lot of interest.” Donations can be made at any of the nine Elevations CU branch locations or by mail. Members of Elevations can also make donations over the phone by calling 303-443-4672, 970-667-8585, or 1-800-429-7626. Credit union membership is not required to support this cause. Donations will be accepted through Sept. 30. “All money donated will go directly to those aiding in the fire relief effort and to the families who have lost their homes or been displaced,” said Gerry Agnes, Elevations president/CEO. “In addition, Elevations Foundation will match all donations dollar-for-dollar up to $10,000.” The primary objective of the Elevations Foundation is to collect and distribute funds that support charitable causes and education within the communities Elevations serves. Elevations has more than $950 million in assets.

Northwest CU Assoc. would join CUAO Wash league

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PORTLAND, Ore. (9/10/10)--The Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO) and the Washington Credit Union League met Wednesday to finalize plans to vote Nov. 1 to merge the two trade associations. The boards also passed a resolution to brand the new entity as the Northwest Credit Union Association. The proposal now moves to a joint membership action. Wednesday’s meeting culminated a series of town hall-style meetings conducted by Washington league Chair Debie Keesee and CUAO Chair Gene Pelham and board members, who reached out to colleagues about the value of combining the trade associations, the leagues said. The meetings were conducted in more than a dozen cities across Oregon and Washington, culminating in Olympia, Wash., on Wednesday. “These town halls have provided us with important information to help guide the final structure and framework of the new association that will be presented to the joint membership,” said Washington league President/CEO John Annaloro. Credit union leaders also can discuss the merger during a breakout session at the Washington league’s annual convention Sept. 16 and CUAO’s convention Oct. 6. “This is truly a merger of equals building on the strengths and traditions of each organization,” Pelham said. “We have eliminated the Columbia River as a barrier to make us stronger in our advocacy and support of all credit unions.”

Okla. CU assoc. announces Jones as presidentCEO

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OKLAHOMA CITY (9/10/10)--Gary Jones is the new president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma (CUAOk). Jones told News Now that he is excited about his new role, and the opportunity to work with his credit union friends. “We are in a great position to help credit unions deal with the unique challenges in the [credit union] industry,” he said. The biggest challenge, he said, will be charting the course during change. The association recently changed its name to CUAOk and built a new facility, moving its headquarters to Oklahoma City from Tulsa. It also underwent some staff changes. However, Jones said CUAOk wants to ensure a seamless transition for member credit unions in how it delivers products and services. Jones previously served as president/CEO of will Serve CU in Tulsa until his retirement in 2007. He then joined CUAOk. He has served as interim president since July. “When credit unions were first established in 1934, the financial world was going through some challenges,” Jones said. “When we look at what we’re facing today [in the financial world] some of the challenges we faced over the last few years are exactly why credit unions were created.”