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NCUF, Filene non-prime auto loan program gives hope on wheels

CU System
MADISON, Wis. (4/23/14)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), in partnership with Filene Research Institute, announced this week that a product incubator for its Non-Prime Auto Loans is full, with 14 credit unions across the country participating.
Non-Prime Auto Loans, an NCUF product, is one of five products in the Filene Research Institute's accessible financial services incubator funded by the Ford Foundation.
"Credit unions have a long history as being the proving ground for consumer-centric, innovative financial products," said Cynthia Campbell, director of innovation labs at Filene. "Partnering with the NCUF to test the viability of non-prime auto loans with mainstream financial institutions was a natural fit since their experience in working with low- to moderate-income consumers is extensive."
One of the 14 participating credt unions--Seasons FCU, Middletown, Conn.--has offered subprime auto loans since 2011. The $137 million-asset credit union joined the NCUF-Filene incubator initiative to share its experiences and learn from other credit unions, according to Senior Vice President Betsy Sommers.

One lesson Seasons FCU has already learned: Done right, subprime auto lending can change members' lives. Members give priority to their car loans because they use their vehicles for essential daily tasks such as getting to work and taking children to school, Sommers told News Now .

But unlike many subprime lenders, Seasons FCU takes a holistic approach to its relationship with its borrowers, according to Jeff Rindfleisch, vice president of financial services. "We really believe in developing a deeper relationship with the member," Rindfleisch told News Now . "We look at if they have direct deposit with us, if they have a debit card with us. If we're approving or denying a loan it's based on the relationship the loan officer has with that member."

"In a lot of cases when a member is struggling, they are more likely to go to the loan officer proactively," Rindfleisch continued. "We view it as a partnership. So it's about us getting the member into a car that makes sense at a payment that makes sense, and really being there to consult and advise the member."

The NCUF-Filene initiative comes at a time when obtaining a vehicle may soon become more difficult for subprime loan candidates. A new study by financial tracking firm Moody's shows that U.S. subprime auto lenders are "exercising more caution," especially when it comes to higher-risk customers ( NBC News April 22). Less competition from non-traditional subprime lenders decreases the need for independent finance companies to lend to subprime candidates, said Peter McNally, Moody's vice president senior analyst.
The other 13 participating credit unions are:
  • CALCOE FCU, Yakima, Wash., with $23 million in assets;
  • Cy-Fair FCU, Houston, with $191 million in assets;
  • Denver Community CU, with $256 million in assets;
  • EECU, Fort Worth, Texas, with $1.5 billion in assets;
  • Freedom First CU, Roanoke, Va., with $315 million in assets;
  • Laramie Plains Community FCU, Laramie, Wyo., with $38 million in assets;
  • Missoula (Mont.) FCU, with $383 million in assets;
  • SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana, Calif., with $9.8 billion in assets;
  • Shreveport (La.) FCU, with $99 million in assets;
  • Soo Co-op CU, Sault Ste Marie, Mich., with $147 million in assets;
  • Summit CU, Madison, Wis., with $1.9 billion in assets;
  • University FCU, Austin, Texas,with $1.6 billion in assets; and
  • US FCU, Burnsville, Minn.,with $928 million in assets.

As a CU member, it's easy being green

CU System
MADISON, Wis. (4/23/14)--On Tuesday, credit unions focused their Earth Day messages by offering members solutions to be more environmentally responsible.
Spokane Teachers CU, Liberty Lake, Wash., put the word out that for every member who switches to e-statements until June 30, the $1.8 million-asset credit union will cover the cost to plant one tree along Deep, Coulee and Hangman creeks. The campaign, which was noted in Tuesday's Spokesman-Review , caught the attention of Twitter account holders.
Click to view larger image ( graphic)
Other credit unions shared their eco-efforts not with printed press releases but with their Twitter and Facebook accounts. Reliant Community CU, a $364 million-asset credit union in Sodus, N.Y., broke down its energy-saving practices of putting timers on its lights and its diligent participation in industrial recycling tweet by tweet.
Capitol CU, a $124 million-asset credit union in Austin, Texas, shared tips from in its Go Green to Get Green campaign. E-statements are one way members can quickly make a difference in the amount of paper they receive. Paperless statements and billing are cost- and tree-saving.

When possible, members should look at auto-bill payment programs that mean fewer checks to write each month, according to the April 22 blog post on . Even small acts such as saying, "No," to receipts at ATMs and checkout counters can make a difference.
Many credit unions hold true to the green theme throughout the year. Redwood CU, a $2.2 billion-asset credit union in Santa Rosa, Calif., has a sustainability committee that meets regularly to guide and promote environmental awareness. Its administrative offices are Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design certified, and it offers lower loan rates on qualified hybrid vehicles.
Redwood CU volunteers Wrynn Reynoso, left, and Brittany Gaddis plant a tree during the credit union's fifth annual Re-Leaf Day at Laguna de Santa Rosa, Calif. (Redwood CU photo)
Recently, 21 Redwood CU employees and family members joined community volunteers to plant more than 600 trees and shrubs along a degraded habitat near the freshwater wetlands of Laguna de Santa Rosa.
Credit unions also help keep thousands of pounds of paper out of landfills by holding shred days for their communities. Last year, Arizona State CU, Phoenix, sliced and diced more than 48,000 pounds of information-sensitive documents, and the $1.6 million-asset credit union has seven events scheduled for 2014.
Shred events help prevent identity theft by securely disposing of personal information, but, said Kristyn Dix, vice president of operations, Kemba CU, "We're recycling, and we're making a difference in our world" ( WLWT-TV 5 April 19). The $564 million-asset credit union collected more than 200,000 pounds of paper and documents during Saturday's shred event. All of the paper is recycled, saving more than 3,200 trees.

CU Social Good marks more than 2,000 'Unite for Good' stories

CU System
BISMARCK, N.D. (4/23/14)--CU Social Good, a campaign by the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (CUAD), marked a milestone of collecting more than 2,000 stories of the good work that credit unions do in their communities.
"We are encouraged by the positive response we have received from so many unique credit unions," said Robbie Thompson, CUAD president. "Credit unions give back to their local communities in an amazing variety of creative and generous ways, but we don't always do a great job of telling these stories."
In just over a year, credit unions from 41 states and Canada have shared their stories on the CU Social Good website, noting everything food pantry donations in Michigan to building bikes for kids in Texas. Categories include charities, community work, Credit Unions for Kids, financial literacy and education, scholarships and environmental sustainability.
In addition to sharing their stories and photos, credit unions can receive good news in their email in-boxes by subscribing to CU Social Good's weekly newsletter.

CUs field major, minor savings for members

CU System
SAN FRANCISCO (4/23/14)--The crack of the bat, the squeak of shoes on the hardwood, hot dogs and grilled onions, the roar of the crowd--the sights, sounds and smells of a professional sporting event. It's an experience unlike any other.  

Like a towering fly ball over the right-field fence, the cost for families to attend these games seems to climb higher and higher every year.

The average ticket to a Major League Baseball game, for example, rose 2% this season to $27.93, the biggest jump in five years. In some cases, such as for New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox games, average prices have ballooned to more than $50 a pop ( April 16).

To help members and their families snag tickets to these games at more affordable prices, credit unions throughout the country are offering discount deals, making those unmatched family trips to the ball park much more possible.

Here are some examples:
  • Tarrant County CU, Fort Worth, Texas, with $71 million in assets, is offering discounted tickets to Texas Rangers baseball games that can be purchased online. Tarrant also serves up other promotions, like cheaper movie tickets, entertainment passbooks and discounted tickets to theme parks.
  • Space Coast CU, Melbourne, Fla., with $3.1 billion in assets, hands out marked-down Miami Marlins tickets, available through the credit union's website. Members also have access to discounted tickets for Tampa Bay Buccaneers football, Miami Heat basketball and Tampa Bay Lightning hockey games throughout their respective seasons. Non-sports-related deals offered by the credit union include reduced admission to the Florida Aquarium and other area attractions.
  • Spire FCU, Falcon Heights, Minn., with $607 million in assets, works with the St. Paul Saints, a minor league baseball team, to bring members discounted ticket packages that include a ticket, meal, baseball cap and more.
  • Agriculture FCU, Washington, D.C., with $240 million in assets, tees up member discounts through its website for Washington Capitals hockey and Washington Wizards basketball games.
  • Blue Cross Texas CU, Richardson, Texas, with $38 million in assets, also offers its members discounted tickets to Texas Rangers games.  
  • Sun FCU, Maumee, Ohio, with $442 million in assets, delivers deals to its members on tickets to see the Toledo Mud Hens, a minor league baseball club. Tickets can be purchased on the credit union's website.

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Registration open for CUNA collections, bankruptcy school

CU System
MADISON, Wis. (4/23/14)--Registration is open for the CUNA Collections and Bankruptcy School, Sept. 22-25, in San Antonio.

CUNA Collections and Bankruptcy School offers collections professionals the knowledge and skill sets to run a collections department and solve issues from delinquencies to bankruptcy. Starting with the nuts and bolts of collections, the program moves through practices, legality and eventually, specific nuanced details of management.
"This school provides for every level of experience, from new-hire collections personnel to veteran managers," said Kathy Smith, CUNA instructional design manager. "No matter what an attendee's skill level coming in, they leave CUNA Collections and Bankruptcy School with the know-how to oversee a credit union's collections department and help it thrive."
This year's sessions include:
  • "Innovative Strategies for Helping Members Face Today's Financial Challenges" with Mark Lynch, a field coach with the National Credit Union Foundation's REAL Solutions program;
  • Best practices roundtable, hosted by Harry Strausser, president of the Remit Corp. and Interact Training and Development; and
  • "Putting Insights into Action," presented by David Reed, a partner in the law firm of Reed and Jolly, PLLC, and founder of CUDoctor, a full-service credit union consulting practice.
CUNA offers Collections and Bankruptcy School in two levels, introduction and advanced, to further meet the needs of every attendee.
For more information about CUNA Collections and Bankruptcy School and to register, use the link.

Today is deadline for CFO Council Crasher hopefuls

CU System
MADISON, Wis. (4/23/14)--Today marks the final day that young people can apply for the first "Crash the CFO Council Conference."

The conference, set for May 18-21 in Las Vegas, is geared toward young credit union professionals who are interested in learning about credit union finance and planning.

The CUNA CFO Council and the Cooperative Trust will co-host the event. Successful applicants will be announced next week.

This gives young professionals the opportunity to attend an event with 400-500 credit union financial experts, said Suzanne Weinstein, CFO Council vice chair and CFO of Orlando (Fla.) FCU, with $180 million in assets.

Every Crasher will receive full registration from the CFO Council, in addition to a year's membership and up to $1,000 to cover travel expenses.

Focusing on the future of finances within credit unions, the conference will offer attendees a deeper insight into the world of credit union finance and planning, while also providing young professionals an opportunity to meet and learn from industry leaders and current CFOs. 

The Cooperative Trust, a grassroots community of young people who work in credit unions, will run a program parallel to the main event that will offer mentoring sessions with industry leaders.

Past sessions have featured representatives of the National Credit Union Foundation, the Credit Union National Association, the National Credit Union Administration, Filene Research Institute and CUNA Mutual Group.

Crashers will get a chance to look beyond the mission of credit unions and into their functions and operations during the event, said James Marshall, Cooperative Trust leader.

CUNA discounting education programs for CUs under $50M

CU System
MADISON, Wis. (4/23/14)--The Credit Union National Association announced credit unions with less than $50 million in assets now will receive preferred rates on select educational materials.
Small credit unions will receive a $50 discount off all live and recorded webinars and $200 off all live and recorded eSchools.
CUNA's training webinars, audio conferences and eSchools feature experts whose expertise ranges from compliance and regulatory issues to the industry's most pressing economic topics.
Every CUNA webinar, audio conference and eSchool includes tailored training, resources for beyond the class, and interactivity with peers and experts.
For more information, use the link.

CU System brief (04/23/2014)

CU System
  • MADISON, Wis. (4/23/14)--There is still an opportunity for state leagues and league service corporations to submit their best efforts in marketing, advertising or publications to the Credit Union National Association Blockbuster Awards. The deadline has been moved to this Friday . Entries can now be submitted digitally . Awards will be handed out during the GAPS/Communicators Conference June 16-18 at the Marriott Marquis in Washington. Winners will be notified in May ...

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