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N.J. CUs open storefront in Junior Achievement BizTown

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BRIDGEWATER, N.J. (1/30/15)--When fifth- and sixth-grade students from PS 22, Jersey City, N.J., took part in the financial learning experience BizTown this week, they learned about financial institutions not from a bank, but from a credit union.  

The New Jersey Credit Union League gave a mock-financial institution a facelift last year, turning the bank branch in Junior Achievement's BizTown into a credit union branch. (New Jersey Credit Union League Photo)
Last year, the New Jersey Credit Union League transformed what was previously a bank branch into a credit union branch for BizTown, a hands-on financial learning experience coordinated by Junior Achievement. Students act as citizens of a "real" town and get a feel for employment, earning and spending money, paying bills and running a business.

Credit union representatives again volunteered for this week's event, not only running the "New Jersey Credit Union CU," but also the entire event.

BizTown operates similar to Reality Fair events where kids are handed life situations that they must consider while spending money on things they need and things they want.

In the case of BizTown, however, the students are running an entire town.

The credit union volunteers helped guide the students from PS 22 throughout the day as they managed their businesses, cashed paychecks, voted on important BizTown legislation, paid taxes, bought goods and more.

Dupaco takes at-risk students to HEART

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (1/30/15)--Dupaco Community CU is part of a new alliance that helps potentially at-risk Dubuque-area high school students create sustainable careers.
Click to view larger image Dupaco CU's participation in the Housing Education and Rehabilitation Training (HEART) Program will help provide local young adults with skilled labor positions. (Dupaco CU Photo)
The partnership brings together the $1.26 billion-asset, Dubuque, Iowa-based credit union, the Housing Education and Rehabilitation Training (HEART) Program and the Dupaco R.W. Hoefer Foundation.
The effort includes hands-on learning, financial education and savings goals, certificate programs and advanced degrees. The program also is intended to address the local economy's growing shortage of skilled workers.
Through hands-on revitalization projects, the program teaches valuable trade skills to juniors and seniors who may be at-risk of dropping out of high school.
Through the alliance--called HEART Bridge--Dupaco Community CU and the Dupaco R.W. Hoefer Foundation annually contribute staff expertise and more than $10,000 in direct matching contributions and operational support.
Through the enhanced HEART Bridge program, Dupaco Community CU opens a savings account and provides financial coaching required by the program to help ensure the participant's goals are met. Students earn a stipend as they learn valuable trade skills during housing and community revitalization projects.
Dave Klavitter, Dupaco CU senior vice president of marketing and public relations, said the program will serve several aspects that appeal to the credit union's mission of improving members' financial lives.
"It provides young people with a path toward a sustainable career by teaching them these trade skills," Klavitter told News Now . "It employs Dupaco's expertise in teaching people how to manage money and make it last. Also, the program will also revitalize housing in an area that was home to a lot of Dupaco's original members."
The Dupaco R.W. Hoefer Foundation will match the savings amount once the goal is attained. Participants can use their savings and matched funds toward certificate programs, degree programs, career equipment or tools.
The matching funds represent an investment in local young people, but also the community, Klavitter said. "Our community has low unemployment, so we're facing a looming skilled worker shortage. This has a double effect of helping address that as well. We want to keep our young people here."
To help students build skills, the Four Mounds Foundation and its partners--Dubuque Community School District, the City of Dubuque and Four Oaks of Iowa, Inc.--created its HEART Program in 2003 to revitalize blighted neighborhoods and community buildings in Dubuque. The program empowers its participants to take part in community revitalization projects while also working on becoming better leaders and developing viable career paths.

CU System briefs (1/30/15)

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  • LENEXA, Kan. (1/30/15)-- Lisa Ginter, chief operating officer of CommunityAmerica CU, Lenexa, Kan., will become CEO following the retirement of current CEO Dennis Pierce, effective March 1 . Pierce, who is board chair of the Credit Union National Association, will retire after 22 years. Ginter has been with the $1.9 billion-asset credit union since 1995 ...
  • HERNDON, Va. (1/30/15)-- James Morrell, president/CEO, Peninsula Community FCU, Shelton, Wash., with $148 million in assets, was elected to serve on the board for NACHA--The Electronic Payments Association . His three-year term began Jan. 1. Morrell is also on the board of NACHA member WesPay, an association that promotes the development and best use of electronic payments. "Jim brings a wealth of experience and an important credit union perspective to the board," said Russell Oatman, NACHA board chair. Other credit union representatives on the board are Chet Kimmell, president/CEO, Neighborhood CU, Dallas, with $348 million in assets, and Tynika Wilson, vice president of transaction and document processing, Navy FCU, Vienna, Va., with $58 billion in assets ...
  • RICHMOND, Va. (1/30/15)-- Forty-two teenagers who are serving as pages and messengers for the Virginia Senate clerk's office received hands-on budget advice this week from Virginia CU, Richmond, Va. Cherry Hedges, financial education director at the $2.5 billion-asset credit union, led the students through an hourlong exercise that asked each student to develop a realistic budget based on randomly assigned careers such as child care worker, legal secretary or physician ...

CUNA to launch CU system governance survey

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WASHINGTON (1/30/15)--Early next week, the Credit Union National Association will launch a survey of all credit union CEOs regarding the structure and organization of the credit union system.
The survey will be emailed to all credit unions, regardless of affiliation status with CUNA.
CUNA's System Governance and Structure Task Force has been studying the needs and preferences of credit unions in relation to the current system model for national and state advocacy trade association functions and services.
"We want to capture the greatest level of input possible as we recreate the best association support system for the future," the association said in announcing the survey. The responses are essential to successfully developing recommendations for possible organizational changes.
The survey--developed by a task force of credit union CEOs, league presidents and credit union volunteers--will be overseen by an independent market research firm, guaranteeing confidentiality and anonymity.
Credit unions that don't receive the survey invitation email next week can email CUNA at to receive a customized link.

Capitol visits raise CU awareness at state level

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MADISON, Wis. (1/30/15)--Credit union leaders from three Midwestern states traveled to their state capitols this week to advocate for key issues on the local level.

Click to view larger image Representatives from Ideal CU and Tartan High School's student-run credit union meet Minnesota State Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-North St. Paul) during the Minnesota Credit Union Network's Credit Union Day at the Capitol. (Minnesota Credit Union Network Photo)
Minnesota's top policymakers headlined the Minnesota Credit Union Network's 2015 Credit Union Day at the Capitol event in St. Paul on Tuesday. More than 150 credit union leaders from communities statewide gathered for the annual event.
Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, speaker of the House Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (Democratic-Farmer-Labor-Cook) talked about their respective policy and legislative priorities, as well as their outlook for the legislative session. They also emphasized that in-person meetings with elected officials are vital in helping to keep them informed about issues that are important to credit unions.
Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, a 2014 recipient of the Credit Union National Association's Desjardins Financial Education Award for State Government Policymakers, spoke about the importance of providing the state's youth with financial education.
"The Commerce Department and credit unions share the goal of teaching kids money management skills at an early age," said Rothman. "We want to help set the stage for them to build the financial skills they'll need to be successful in the years ahead."
Click to view larger image The South Dakota Legislative event was held in Pierre Wednesday with more than 30 credit union professionals visiting the state Capitol. (Credit Union Association of the Dakotas Photo)
The South Dakota Legislative event was held in Pierre Wednesday with more than 30 credit union professionals visiting the state Capitol, the Credit Union Association (CUAD) of the Dakotas reported ( The Memo Jan. 29). Following the Capitol visit, an open forum was held at the Ramkota Hotel.
Later, the group attended the Legislative Social with more than 70 South Dakota legislators. The event provided an opportunity for credit union leaders to meet and re-unite with policymakers.
"We are pleased with the strong turnout for this annual event," CUAD president/CEO Robbie Thompson said, adding, "Whenever we can show our presence and meet directly with our elected representatives, we strengthen the credit union movement."
As part of the Wisconsin Credit Union League's annual Governmental Affairs Conference last week, more than 200 state credit union leaders visited with their state legislative representatives to discuss issues that affect the state's 1 million credit union members ( Iron Mountain Daily Jan. 28).

CUs face 'perfect storm' of tech changes in 2015

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ATLANTA (1/30/15)--A sea of forces--investment, innovation and competition--could expand what credit unions, and other financial institutions, will spend on technology in 2015, according to a new report on technology expectations.  

" Bankers as Buyers 2015 ," compiled by William Mills Agency, a financial public relations and marketing services company, could provide credit unions a glimpse into how they might mold their technology budgets, including in the realms of mobile technology, branch transformation and data security.

Based on the agency's forecast, 2015 sets up to be a busy 12 months. Scott Mills, president of William Mills, said the year will usher in a "perfect storm" of robust investment in fintech, competitive pressure from nontraditional financial companies and a wave of innovation.

"From all appearances, more investment is flowing into financial and payment technology companies than I've ever seen in my career," Mills said in the report, which received input from the Credit Union National Association. "Once considered too esoteric for many local and general business media, the fintech industry has become more mainstream.

"Without trying to sound too enamored with it, it is possible we will look back to this time as a golden age of innovation and the beginning of enormous operational change."

Perhaps more than any other area of investment, financial institutions will focus on mobile technology in 2015.

Experts widely agree that mobile is no longer an add-on, but actually should be the first consideration when planning a technology spending strategy, the report said.

Digital banking is the key to attracting and retaining customers, according to Javelin Strategy and Research.

"There will be more mobile banking users than Internet banking users in the next 18 months," said Robb Gaynor, founder and chief product officer for Malauzai Software Inc.

As credit unions and other financial institutions stay on top of new and evolving data security threats, meanwhile, budgets to ramp up technology to protect themselves likely also will expand in 2015.

Financial institutions were asked what their most pressing security concerns for the upcoming year were, and 75.4% listed data breaches at the top.

One area where financial institutions may look to spend more is on technology that requires multifactor authentication for high-risk transactions, according to Javelin Strategy and Research.

Only one in five U.S. financial institutions currently use this type of additional security, such as one-time passwords sent to mobile phones for secondary authentication.

In addition to mobile technology and data security, a number of analysts have said 2015 will be the year financial institutions actually transform their branches and the branch experience, after years of talking and planning.

IDC Financial forecasts that branch transformation, which includes the addition of video banking to automate human interaction, will climb 5% to 10% over the next 12 months compared with 2014.

Wincor Nixdorf AG predicts that by 2017, financial institutions will be spending $16 billion per year to transform their branches and incorporate all the necessary technology.

"With transactions moving to digital channels, the branches aren't as important as they once were, but they are and will continue to be important destinations for complex advice and for problem resolution," said Somesh Khanna, director at McKinsey and Co.

William Mills expects to see more of each of the following in 2015 as well:
  • Interest in the user and customer experience;
  • Security breaches;
  • Mobile technology;
  • Regulatory compliance demands and costs; and
  • Adoption of big data projects with expected return on investment.

CUs teach college students how to handle the plastic

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (1/30/15)--When starting out, managing credit card use can be tricky, especially in the college environment where young adults are just beginning to make financial decisions on their own.

That fact is made clear based on a recent study from Ohio State University, which found that younger Americans are carrying more debt and paying it off at a slower rate than any previous generation.

"A person born between 1980 and 1984 has credit card debt substantially higher than debt held by the previous two generations: on average $5,689 higher than his or her 'parents' at the same stage of life, and $8,156 higher than his or her 'grandparents,'" the study said ( The Daily Lobo Jan. 29).

Fortunately, credit unions such as New Mexico Educators FCU, Albuquerque, N.M., with $1.5 billion in assets, focus on educating young members about how to approach credit cards when they first open one.

Anneliese Elrod, senior vice president of marketing at New Mexico Educators FCU, told The Daily Lobo that the credit union works with students to help them build credit and teach them how to avoid any pitfalls.

"(Being a student) is the best time to try and build credit," Elrod told The Daily Lobo .

Elrod also explained it's typical of credit unions to work only in a student's best financial interests, as credit unions are not-for-profit, cooperatively owned financial institutions; unlike banks, which are often only interested in their bottom lines.

Credit unions also can tailor cards to the needs of college students, Elrod said.

"Credit is probably one of the most important things you will ever have in your life," Elrod said. "Organizations or employers that are starting to use credit scores, you'll also see things like insurance agencies start to use credit scores. They are already using them."