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CUs consistently trustworthy, Harris Poll reinforces

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NEW YORK (10/31/14)--Credit unions as a whole continue to be held in high regard by consumers when it comes to trustworthiness, according to a Harris Poll released Thursday.
 
Nearly half of respondents said their trust in credit unions has remained consistent over the past few years, and 25% said they trusted credit unions more. Meanwhile, 50% reported having less trust in banks, and 57% had less trust in Wall Street.
 
The Harris Poll surveyed 2,537 U.S. adults online between Aug. 13 and 18.
 
Credit unions, which keep money and services local, appear to benefit from location as more than three-quarters of respondents had some or a great deal of trust in local credit unions.
 
Local credit unions are most trusted by the 69-and-over demographic and baby boomers at 85% and 83%, respectively. However, all age ranges--from 18 to 69-plus--put credit unions above regional banks, local branches of big national banks, big national banks and online-only banks.
 
Two-thirds say that personal experience drives the level of trust with financial institutions, which aligns with the member-focused service that credit unions pride themselves on.
 
Credit unions come in with a solid 33% of respondents as members. Similar numbers were seen this summer as the Credit Union National Association tracked the movement's 100-millionth membership, a number equating to a third of the U.S. population.
 
Big national banks, despite being among the least trustworthy, still hang on to 45% of respondents as customers. Only 1 in 10 report using an online-only bank.

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Community outreach focus of revamped Ohio league alliances

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (10/31/14)--Supporting credit unions' work in community outreach areas--financial literacy, scholarship funds or charitable giving--is a key reason the Ohio Credit Union League is shifting to an outreach alliance model from the chapter system.
 
The evolution to an alliance model will move the burden of training and political advocacy to the league.
 
The message to chapters is: "Let us do all the heavy lifting," Patrick Harris, league director of legislative affairs, told News Now . "You focus on your credit union, your community and the great work you are doing."
 
The collaboration effort will begin in earnest in January, and today is the deadline for chapters to express their intent to become an alliance within the league.
 
An alliance's principal responsibilities are: coordinating at least one major community outreach initiative per year; conducting appropriate fundraising to fuel community outreach initiatives; organizing volunteers and work groups; and sparking collaboration by implementing outreach initiatives that generate a positive impact for the community and the credit union movement.
 
Outreach alliances will operate under the direction and oversight of the league board and receive marketing support from the league.
 
When those two "bubbles" of training and advocacy are lifted from the shoulders of chapters, "the sky is the limit" for what credit unions can do in their communities, said Laura Busque, league director of membership engagement.
 
There is a great deal of pride and ownership in the work chapters have done over the years, Harris said, and the change does not imply whatsoever that chapters were doing anything wrong.
 
Should a chapter choose not to focus solely on community outreach--for instance, if it excels in professional development--it will continue to receive the league's support but not be part of the alliance program.

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Rates, relationships drive growth at Ala. CUs

CU System
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (10/31/14)--Credit unions are growing more popular in north Alabama, as a poll by AL.com (Oct. 30) recently found that there has been a steady growth trend in credit union membership, assets and loan volume since 2011.

Spurred by data from the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) that found that 1 in 3 Alabamians belong to a credit union--pushing total membership near 2 million-- AL.com decided to check out to five major credit unions in the northern part of the state.

What they found was that each has posted solid gains over the past year.

The credit unions surveyed by AL.com were:
  • Redstone FCU, Huntsville, with $3.7 billion in assets;
  • North Alabama Educators CU, Huntsville, with $85 million in assets;
  • Family Security CU, Decatur, with $531 million in assets;
  • TVA Community CU, Muscle Shoals, with $295 million in assets; and
  • Listerhill CU, Muscle Shoals, with $645 million in assets.
The five credit unions gained nearly 20,000 new members last year, AL.com found, calling on data from LSCU and the Alabama Credit Union Administration. The jump in membership continued a trend of 15 straight quarters of positive membership growth.

Further, growth in assets has surged as well, as assets among the five credit unions climbed by $196 million between the final quarter of 2013 and the second quarter of this year.

Lending also posted strong gains over the same stretch, with the credit unions posting rising loan growth of about $104 million, or 7.1%.

The credit unions also hold an average net worth ratio of 10.76%.

Kristen Mashburn, Listerhill CU vice president of marketing, says the member vs. customer relationship at credit unions accounts for much of the growth.

"Part of it is the fact that we are not-for-profit," Mashburn told AL.com . "People see value in working with a member-owned credit union. They like the feel of being seen as members."

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Halloween, CUs a boo-tiful pair

CU System
MADISON, Wis. (10/31/14)--Credit unions are leaving the tricks to the banking industry. On Halloween, for their members and communities, it's all about the treats.

Element FCU, Charleston, W. Va., is offering zombie-themed debit cards to celebrate Halloween this year. (Element FCU Photo)
Nationwide on this spooky day, credit unions have carved out special family events, contests and other ghastly promotions to celebrate Halloween.

GOBankingRates.com has compiled a list of 12 credit unions that are offering scary good deals and hauntingly fun events for their members.

Element FCU, for example, is offering a zombie-themed debit card that it's calling "A No Brainer" because of the low fees and high rates it carries. Members of the $27 million-asset, Charleston, W.Va.-based credit union can choose from five zombie-themed designs.

Summit CU, Madison, Wis., with $2 billion in assets, meanwhile, hosted its fifth annual Haunted Hustle this week, a series of races that included a kid's race, a stroller derby, a 5K, 10K, half and full marathon.

Many credit unions are also holding costume contests, both at their branches and through social media, such as City and Police FCU, Jacksonville, Fla., with $62 million in assets, which is holding a City Kid's Club member Halloween photo contest.

The winner gets a $25 deposit into their jack-o-lantern pail (also known as a City Kid's Club savings account at the credit union).

CitizensFirst CU, Oshkosh, Wis., with $402 million in assets, is jumping all over the pumpkin spice craze by offering its own Pumpkin Spice Loan promotion that allows members to switch over their current vehicle loans to get lower rates, and to let the member hold off payments until January.

And in West Jordan, Utah, Mountain America CU, with $3.9 billion in assets, is giving away pumpkins and handing out vouchers for local Halloween attractions like The Haunted Village.

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NWCUA's $114 Pay It Forward campaign priceless to recipients

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SEATAC, Wash. (10/31/14)--Credit unions save Northwest households $114 on average annually, and that amount was given to unsuspecting recipients by credit unions during the Northwest Credit Union Association's Pay It Forward campaign.
 
Click to view larger image The $114 given by Renee Gehring of Valley CU, Salem, Ore., (left) to Family Building Blocks during the Northwest Credit Union Association's Pay It Forward campaign represents the average savings credit unions provide to Northwest households annually. (Valley CU Photo)
Held on International Credit Union Day, the no-strings-attached cash giveaway focused on giving back to the community.
 
For instance, Adam Hermosillo had a past-due heating bill and no way to bring it current ( Anthem Oct. 28). He happened to be in the Klamath Lake Community Action Services office when in walked Janet Buckalew, vice president of member advocacy and business development, Pacific Crest FCU, Klamath Falls., Ore.
 
She handed Hermosillo a stack of bills worth $114. "He could not believe it," Buckalew said. The amount was enough to get his electric bill current and help a friend with his electric bill, she added. Hermosillo was not a member of the $149 million-asset credit union, but he did say he would look into what credit unions had to offer.
 
Linn-Co FCU, Lebanon, Ore., with $81 million in assets, paid it forward to 18 people in three towns--Lebanon, Albany and Sweet Home.  Kathleen Burt, public relations officer, and Rebecca Grizzle, chief sales officer, focused on job-seekers. "We liked the idea of employment offices," Burt said, "because these were people looking for work."
 
When they saw a young woman filling out a job application at a restaurant, they gave her the money. "People were stunned, grateful and frozen with disbelief," Burt said.
 
Pay It Forward cash also went to community organizations that address the homeless, child abuse and neglect prevention, and advocacy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
 

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Operational efficiencies focus of new CUNA program

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MADISON, Wis. (10/31/14)--The Credit Union National Association and FI Strategies LLC have partnered in a commitment to improve processes and bolster efficiencies for credit union sales and service teams using the Process Analysis and Optimization (PAO) program.

The PAO program sharpens self-sustained process optimization in credit union managers and in select employees.

As a result, CUNA says, credit unions that participate will experience a significant and immediate improvement in efficiencies and, at the same time, form a common "production and efficiency" language that permanently improves their cultures.

"I've seen countless credit unions get bogged down in complex processes when they could be streamlining their operations and establishing a sales and service culture that will continue to improve itself in the long run," said Meghann Dawson, CUNA director of learning events.

"Process Analysis and Optimization is all about doing more with less," Dawson said, adding that she's looking forward to watching the program shift credit unions' focus and enable "leaders to spend more time on worthwhile pursuits and less on the ineffectual tasks that are actually costing money."

FI Strategies travels to individual credit unions to teach managers the PAO program through interactive sessions. FI also works with in-house staff to make sure the new routines are firmly adopted.

During the program, participants will learn to:
  • Measure and improve production quality;
  • Forecast future volumes and capacity;
  • Improve processes through analysis and flow charts;
  • Measure the economic impact of improved processes;
  • Effectively record and track vital performance data; and
  • Differentiate between batch and demand tasks.

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