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October 22, 2014

CUNA Attorneys Conference: Existing regs apply to social media activity

Washington
DANA POINT, Calif. (10/22/14)--Credit unions are often encouraged to engage their members through the channels of social media, but once they fully enter that world they also need to make sure they "get their arms around" where all social media is coming from within the organization, according to a panel discussion held Tuesday at the Credit Union National Association Attorneys Conference.

Ross Hansen and Jennifer Kraus of CUNA Mutual Group addressed the compliance challenges that come with maintaining a presence on social networks.

Most importantly, they said, a credit union must be fully aware of all its social media activities at all times, including who is posting them and where they are coming from.

Existing regulations for advertising, privacy and lending also apply to social media messaging. For example, an advertisement may show differently on a mobile device than it does on a website, which could be a risk if certain required copy is cut off on a mobile platform.

According to Kraus and Hansen, general business liability insurance does not cover lawsuits for hosted website activities. Those activities generally require cyber-specific policies.

In addition, the credit union fidelity bond does not cover member losses incurred due to information mistakenly exposed through a credit union's website, only losses sustained by the credit union itself.

The two also advised that credit unions and other organizations may want to consider third-party vendors that can assist with social media setup, execution and tracking. ReadMore

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Regulators approve final QRM rule

Washington
WASHINGTON (10/22/14)--Federal regulators Tuesday approved a final qualified residential mortgage (QRM) rule, which requires investment banks to hold at least 5% of a loan's risk on their books when securitizing loans unless the loans meet the definition of a QRM.

The rule more closely aligns the definition of QRM with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) qualified mortgage (QM) definition than did the original proposal. The Credit Union National Association strongly advocated for a closer alignment .

"CUNA has advocated strongly for the important step of aligning the Qualified Residential Mortgage with the existing Qualified Mortgage definition," said Mary Dunn, CUNA's deputy general counsel and senior vice president. "Doing so encourages lenders to work with creditworthy borrowers to make home loans that will continue to drive the country and our economy forward."

Thomas Curry, Comptroller of the Currency, said the rule is an important milestone.

"The rule we are approving today will require lenders to retain some of the risk for the loans that go into securitized pools except for home mortgages that meet the standards necessary under the qualified residential mortgage, or QRM, exception," he said in announcing his agency's adoption of the definition.

Curry added, "Under this rule, QRM is equivalent to QM, that is, the qualified mortgage rule approved by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."

Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mel Watt called it "a major step forward" to providing certainty to the housing market.

"Aligning the qualified residential mortgage standard with the existing qualified mortgage definition also means more clarity for lenders and encourages safe and sound lending to creditworthy borrowers," he said.

CUNA supported aligning the definition of a QRM more closely with the definition of a QM in commenting on the proposal last year. However, CUNA does not support a 43% debt-to-income ratio a borrower must meet for a QM.

The new rule also states that regulators will review the QRM standards in four years.

"By then, we should have enough experience with the standards to know whether they strike the right balance between long-term financial stability and the home-financing needs of American families, and we can adjust them if necessary," Curry said.

The joint rule was proposed by the Federal Reserve Board, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, FHFA, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Use the resource link below to access the complete rule. ReadMore

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CUNA Attorneys Conference: Updates provided on BSA reqs, corporate CUs

Washington
DANA POINT, Calif. (10/22/14)--Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) issues and National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) regulations were highlighted during sessions at the Credit Union National Association Attorneys Conference this week.

T. Wayne Hood, senior vice president and general counsel at ORNL FCU, Oak Ridge, Tenn. with $1.5 billion in assets, spoke about the latest developments in BSA compliance. Most notably, he addressed some of the popular misconceptions about offering financial services to legal marijuana-based businesses.

Hood said the U.S. Department of Justice seems to believe that it is not good use of resources to go after financial institutions whose actions are in clear compliance with existing state laws if priorities such as preventing distribution of marijuana to minors and preventing revenue from marijuana sales from going to criminal enterprises are met.

It is very difficult to offer services to such businesses, and to do so requires a robust BSA compliance program, Hood emphasized.

Some in the room said it is possible. A representative from $1.3 billion-asset Numerica CU, Spokane Valley, Wash. said that credit union is currently offering services to legal marijuana-based businesses, so it is possible to comply with BSA requirements while serving the businesses.

This led to a discussion among attendees about the pros and cons of serving such businesses.

Also at the conference, an update on corporate credit union cases was provided by John Ianno, NCUA senior associate general counsel. He said five corporate credit unions have settled for a reported $1.6 billion, and there are 15 active suits that are currently in the discovery stage of litigation. 

The NCUA is making these recoveries in its role as conservator for the corporate credit unions. The proceeds are used by the agency to reduce or eliminate natural person credit union assessments to repay the U.S. Treasury loans to the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund during the financial crisis.

Ianno said the NCUA predicts that damages in those remaining cases will be in the billions, and that the agency is committed to seeing those through, with the goal of recovering more for the credit union system.

Pamela Yu and Sarah Chung of the NCUA discussed the agency's recent letter regarding contractual agreements with credit union service organizations (CUSOs). The requirements only apply to contractual agreements relating to CUSOs that a credit invests in or loans to, not CUSOs who solely provide services to the credit union.

Yu and Chung also provided updates on various NCUA rulemakings, including proposals regarding fixed assets, bylaws and appraisals. CUNA General Counsel Eric Richard highlighted the agency's risk-based capital proposal during his remarks and answered questions about the proposal following his speech. ReadMore

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CUs get good 1st report card on liquidity rule implementation: NCUA Report

Washington
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (10/22/14)--The October edition of The NCUA Report , the National Credit Union Administration's monthly newsletter, examines the 12 months since the agency passed its liquidity rule.
 
The NCUA adopted a liquidity rule in October 2013 that formalized liquidity policies and plans, as well as ensured larger credit unions have prearranged access to a federal contingent liquidity source. These sources can be the Federal Reserve's discount window, NCUA's Central Liquidity Facility (CLF), or both.
 
Since the rule was adopted, all federal credit unions with more than $250 million in assets have made the appropriate arrangements with a federal liquidity source, an article in The NCUA Report noted. The remaining major and time-sensitive requirement for those credit unions to conduct is advance planning and testing of contingency resources, which must be done by Dec. 31.
 
According to the NCUA, all current CLF members will be considered in compliance with that requirement, and new members will be tested on a rolling basis as they join. Fed discount window users need to successfully pledge collateral before they can run a test transaction.
 
As of June 30, there was a 70% increase in CLF members and a 37% increase in Fed discount window arrangements in a one-year period..
 
Other items in The NCUA Report include:
  • A guest commentary from Small Business Administration Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet about how SBA loans can help credit unions and their members;
  • A look at how student interns can help low-income credit unions in areas such as Web design or marketing;
  • A recap of the September board meeting, which included an update on the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund, a charter expansion, and some housekeeping amendments to NCUA rules and regulations; and
  • A guide to managing the credit risk of private student loans.
Use the resource link below to access The NCUA Report . ReadMore

Watt announces changes to Representation and Warranty Framework

Washington
LAS VEGAS (10/22/14)--Mortgage lenders soon will be provided with more certainty about requirements for covering losses on loans sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mel Watt. Speaking at the Mortgage Bankers Association convention in Las Vegas Tuesday, Watt outlined upcoming revisions and clarifications to the agency's Representation and Warranty Framework.
 
He noted the agency is also working to develop new guidelines for mortgages with loan-to-value ratios between 95% and 97%, which Watt said will "responsibly serve a targeted segment of creditworthy borrowers with lower down payment mortgages by taking into account 'compensating factors.'"
 
Representations and warranties provide assurances that allow Fannie and Freddie to purchase loans efficiently without checking each loan individually or being at each closing. They also provide both entities remedies to address situations when lenders' obligations to meet purchase guidelines have not  been fully met.
 
Credit Union National Association Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn said CUNA is encouraged by Watt's comments.
 
"This will ensure that any lender outliers will manage their risk, and it is not targeted at those which comply and have already adopted efficient and responsible lending practices," she said. "While we will be reviewing the details as available, this proposal will mitigate some of the concerns that credit unions have regarding their need for more flexibility on mortgages."
 
Dunn added that CUNA is pleased the agency is working to allow the purchase of home loans with a 3% down payment, which she called "a move that will open doors to home loans to creditworthy borrowers."
 
Critics have said that the FHFA framework did not originally provide enough clarity to enable lenders to understand when Fannie or Freddie would exercise their remedy to require repurchase of a loan. Lenders also reported credit overlays that drove up the cost of lending and restricted lending to certain borrowers.
 
"To address this problem, FHFA and the enterprises (Freddie and Fannie) have worked to revise the Framework to ensure that it provides clear rules of the road that allow lenders to manage their risk and lend throughout the enterprises' credit box," Watt said in his remarks.
 
The upcoming changes identified by the FHFA head include clearly defining six categories of life-of-loan exclusions:
  • Misrepresentations, misstatements and omissions;
  • Data inaccuracies;
  • Charter compliance issues;
  • First-lien priority and title matters;
  • Legal compliance violations; and
  • Unacceptable mortgage products.
The agency also clarified that only life-of-loan exclusions can trigger a repurchase under the framework for loans that have already earned repurchase relief.
 
Watt said more details about the updated definition for each life-of-loan exclusion, as well as the new lower down payment mortgage guidelines, will be announced in the coming weeks.
 
Use the resource link below for the full text of Watt's remarks. ReadMore

Inside Washington (10/22/14)

Washington
  • WASHINGTON (10/22/14)--There now is a summary report from Inspector General (IG) for the Federal Reserve System and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that reviews the Fed's and Federal Reserve Bank of New York's supervisory activities related to losses at JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s chief investment office (CIO). The evaluation was launched to assess the effectiveness of the Fed board's and New York Fed's supervisory activities regarding JPMorgan's CIO and also to identify any lessons learned that could inform future supervisory activities. An agency release noted that the IG review centered on the multibillion-dollar loss by JPMorgan's CIO in 2012 "due to a complex trading strategy involving credit derivatives." The CIO employee who initiated the relevant trades became known as the "London Whale." Bloomberg Quicktakes describes the London Whale as the trader who lost at least $6.2 billion for JPMorgan Chase & Co. "That's a lot of money until you remember that it didn't stop the bank from earning a record profit of $21.3 billion the same year," the Bloomberg news topic guide says ...
  • WASHINGTON (10/23/14)--There have been "minor technical problems" in the Financial Assistance and Technical Assistance Excel workbook documents distributed by the U.S. Treasury Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Program, and the agency has distributed new guidance--in the form of frequently asked questions (FAQ)--to help applicants with these problems. The FAQ document, along with application materials for the program, can be found on the CDFI Fund's website at www.cdfifund.gov/cdfi and www.cdfifund.gov/native in the Application Materials section. A release announcing the new guidance notes that the technical problems will have no impact on the scoring or rating of the FY 2015 applications. The CDFI Program release also reminds that there are two remaining scheduled webcasts for potential applicants to ask CDFI Fund staff questions about the FY 2015 applications. The webcasts, one focused on matching funds and one as a makeup opportunity for all other questions, will be held on Nov. 4 ...
ReadMore

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Regulator says large banks could face downsizing for ethics gaps

Washington
NEW YORK (10/22/14)--Without a change in culture and behavior at banks, "dramatic downsizing" might be necessary, warned William Dudley, president/CEO of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Speaking at a workshop at the bank this week, Dudley said that because of the importance of the financial sector in the lives of each consumer, it is incumbent upon them to serve a beneficial role.

"Financial firms exist, in part, to benefit the public, not simply their shareholders, employees and corporate clients," he said. "Unless the financial industry can rebuild the public trust, it cannot effectively perform its essential functions. For this reason alone, the industry must do much better."

Dudley cited ethical lapses, professional misbehavior and compliance failures adding up to fines of more than $100 billion assessed to banks since 2008. He also quoted a 2012 Harris poll that said 68% of respondents disagreed with the statement, "In general, the people on Wall Street are as honest and moral as other people."

Unless supervisors are "pushing forcefully for change throughout the industry," the bad behavior will persist, Dudley said, leading to only one conclusion.

"The inevitable conclusion will be reached that your firms are too big and complex to manage effectively," he said. "In that case, financial stability concerns would dictate that your firms need to be dramatically downsized and simplified so they can be managed effectively."

Use the resource link below to access Dudley's full remarks. ReadMore

News of the Competition (10/22/14)

Market
  • NEW YORK (10/22/14)-- While a large majority of credit unions continue to offer free checking accounts to their members, bank customers continue to watch the fees they are charged for checking climb. CNNMoney.com reported Tuesday that Citibank will raise its rewards checking account fees by $5 up to $25 starting next year, and basic account fees up to $12 from $10. It's becoming more difficult for consumers to avoid checking account fees at Citibank, according to CNNMoney . Under the new policy, the average monthly minimum balance required to stave off fees will be reduced, but consumers won't be able to use lines of credit, mortgages, credit card or loan balances any longer to count towards the total . If consumers want to avoid fees, said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate, they should look to a credit union ...
ReadMore

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Existing-home sales tick up in September

Market
WASHINGTON (10/22/14)--Existing-home sales outperformed analyst expectations in September, as sales climbed 2.4% from August to 5.17 million annualized units, according to the National Association of Realtors ( Economy.com Oct. 21).

Three out of the four major regions in the United States posted sales gains, however the Midwest experienced a substantial decline. Nationwide, existing-home sales fell 1.7% behind their year-ago levels.

"Though the September data show that the housing market is rebounding from the lackluster numbers in the first half of this year, it is still far from a faster recovery," said Andres Carbacho-Burgos, Moody's analyst ( Economy.com ).

The West region recorded the largest gain in sales at 7.1% for the month, with the South just behind it, posting a 5% jump. Sales in the Northeast increased 1.5% in September, but in the Midwest existing-home sales fell by 5.6%.

Moody's analysts believe the aftereffects of the recession, which have suppressed homebuyer confidence, are likely to blame for the Midwest's step back.

Existing single-family home inventories, meanwhile, fell 1.3% for the month but remain 6% higher year-over-year.

The not-seasonally adjusted median house price for the month came in at $209,700, slightly below August's price but 5.6% higher than in September of last year.

All four regions have recorded similar year-over-year home price increases.  ReadMore

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Business Rates

Market
Daily Financial Rates -- 2014-10-22

Financial Rates


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

03:55 AM CDT

TREASURY YIELD CURVE
(based on the $1 million market)

TermWed
10/22
Tue
10/21
Mon
10/20
Fri
10/17
Thu
10/16
1 month0.040.030.030.040.02
3 month0.020.020.020.030.02
6 month0.060.060.050.050.05
1 year0.100.100.110.100.10
2 year0.380.370.390.350.34
3 year0.770.760.790.750.73
5 year1.441.411.441.391.37
7 year1.881.851.881.821.80
10 year2.232.202.222.172.15
20 year2.722.682.702.662.64
30 year0.002.962.982.942.92

TREASURY BILLS

Results of the October 20, 2014 auction of short-term U.S. government bills, sold at a discount from face value in units of $10,000 to $ 1 million

TermLatest
Mon, 10/20
Week Ago
Tue, 10/14
13 weeks0.0200.010
26 weeks0.0500.040

PRIME RATE

3.25% Last changed December 16, 2008

FEDERAL FUNDS

TermWed
10/22
Tue
10/21
Mon
10/20
Fri
10/17
Thu
10/16
high0.3120.3120.3120.3120.312
low0.0700.0700.0500.0600.060
near closing bid0.0700.0800.0700.0700.060
offered0.2700.1000.1000.0800.080
effective rate20.1000.1100.1000.1000.100

FREDDIE MAC (Mortgage commitments, 30 days)

TermWed
10/22
Tue
10/21
Mon
10/20
Fri
10/17
Thu
10/16
30 year0.000.000.000.000.00

FANNIE MAE (Mortgage commitments, 30 days)

TermWed
10/22
Tue
10/21
Mon
10/20
Fri
10/17
Thu
10/16
30 year3.4733.4833.4833.4493.331

LIBOR

TermWed
10/22
Tue
10/21
Mon
10/20
Fri
10/17
Thu
10/16
1 month0.229000.228000.228000.226000.22700
3 month0.378000.378000.378000.378000.37600
6 month0.539000.538000.538000.538000.53600
1 year0.840000.839000.839000.839000.83700

COMMERCIAL PAPER (Financial, 90 days)

TermWeek ended
10/21
Week ended
10/15
90 days0.230.23

NA: Data not available at time of page generation (shown at top of page)

Sources:
Wall Street Journal
U.S. Dept. of the Treasury


All rates are from the previous business day unless otherwise noted. ReadMore

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Consumer Rates

Market

Informa Research Services, Inc.
Daily Rate Comparison

Informa Research Services, Inc.
Deposit Products Credit Unions Bank Average Difference
12 Month CD $10,000 0.47% 0.28% 0.19%
Personal Savings $1,000 0.21% 0.10% 0.11%
Personal Interest Checking $2,500 0.37% 0.15% 0.22%
NSF Fee $27.91 $32.04 $-4.13
Personal MMDA $2,500 0.17% 0.10% 0.07%
Business MMDA $2,500 0.17% 0.09% 0.08%

Consumer Loan Products Credit Unions Bank Average Difference
Unsecured Personal Loan - $5,000 - 4 Years 10.18% 10.28% -0.10%
New Auto Loan - 5 Years 2.61% 3.81% -1.20%
Used Auto Loan - 2 year Old - 4 Years 2.77% 4.00% -1.23%
HELOC - 80% LTV - $50,000 4.13% 4.41% -0.28%
HE Loan - 80% LTV - $50,000 - 15 Years 5.66% 5.93% -0.27%

Mortgage Loan Products Credit Unions Bank Average Difference
30 Year Fixed Conforming 3.97% 3.99% -0.02%
30 Year Fixed Jumbo 4.07% 3.96% 0.11%
5/1 Year ARM Conforming 2.91% 2.84% 0.07%

Credit Card Products Credit Unions Bank Average Difference
Platinum 8.89% 10.48% -1.59%
Annual Fee $25.00 $31.00 $-6.00
Maximum Late Fee $25.54 $33.42 $-7.88
Reward 10.03% 13.68% -3.65%
Annual Fee $26.71 $99.76 $-73.05
Maximum Late Fee $22.61 $33.60 $-10.99

Indirect Auto Loan Products Credit Unions Bank Average Difference
Indirect A Tier New Auto Loan - 5 Years 3.59% 3.74% -0.15%
Indirect B Tier New Auto Loan - 5 Years 5.32% 5.30% 0.02%
Indirect C Tier New Auto Loan - 5 Years 7.47% 6.77% 0.70%

Averages displayed are straight averages of all institutions within the Informa Research Services database for the selected region as of Tuesday, October 21, 2014. For detailed disclosures click here.

ReadMore

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More than 300 grants part of Cornerstone's 2013 success

CU System
FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (10/22/14)--The impact the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation had in 2013 on the states in which it operates was widely felt.

More than 300 credit union growth and professional development grants, totaling $384,490, were made possible; credit unions in areas of Oklahoma that were ravaged by tornadoes were assisted with emergency funds; and more than 67 reality fairs, reaching more than 5,200 students, were held thanks to the work of the foundation.

But these accomplishments just scratch the surface of the benefits the charitable arm of the Cornerstone Credit Union League have provided.

A comprehensive report on the foundation's full impact can be found in its 2013 Impact Report, which was released Monday ( Leaguer ).

"We simply would not be positioned to be as successful as we have been over the years without the support of our credit unions and other contributors," said Courtney Moran, the foundation's executive director. "Together we are truly making the difference."

The full report includes:
  • Board of trustees and management team directories;
  • Grant highlights;
  • Financial education updates;
  • A Community Investment Fund overview; and
  • Fundraising highlights.
To download the full report, use the resource link below. ReadMore

Staples investigates possible breach

CU System
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (10/22/14)--Staples Inc. is investigating a possible breach of payment card data, the company announced Monday.
 
Although the office supply retail giant has 1,800 locations nationwide, it appears fraudsters have stolen data from a subset of Staples locations in Pennsylvania, New York City and New Jersey.
 
The breach appears to have occurred in a pattern of fraudulent transactions on a group of cards that had previously been used at a small number of Staples locations in the Northeast, according to information security Brian Krebs.
 
Fraudulent charges occurred at other businesses, such as supermarkets and other big-box retailers, an indication that the cash registers in at least some Staples locations may been infected with card-stealing malware that lets thieves create counterfeit copies of cards that customers swipe at compromised payment terminals, Krebs reported on his KrebsOnSecurity.com blog.
 
Staples told Krebs it has contacted law enforcement about the matter.
 
Also on Monday, the FBI reported nearly 519 million financial records have been stolen in the past year, with 439 million  stolen in the last six months ( USA TODAY Oct. 21). About 35% of the thefts were from website breaches, 22% were from cyber-espionage, 14% occurred at the point of sale when a purchase was made at a retail store, and 9% when someone swiped a credit or debit card, the FBI said.
 
The Credit Union National Association continues to press national lawmakers to pass legislation that would require merchants to meet the same strict payment data security standards imposed upon financial institutions. Credit unions nationwide saw 4.6 million of their cards compromised as a result of last year's Target breach, leading to about $30.6 million in breach-related costs.

CUNA also is collecting information on the financial and operational impact the Home Depot breach has had on credit unions. Completed surveys from credit unions affected by that breach are due Friday. ReadMore

CU System briefs (10/22/14)

CU System
  • HANSCOM AFB, Mass. (10/22/14)-- The Hanscom FCU Charitable Foundation, a subsidiary of the $1 billion-asset credit union located in Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., has donated $100,000 to the Run to Home Base organization. The gift will include participation in the 2015 Run to Home Base 9K run and 3K walk through scenic Boston, which ends with a finish across home plate at Fenway Park. Run to Home Base was introduced in 2010 by the Red Sox Foundation and the Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program. Since then, participants and sponsors have raised more than $9 million to help Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and families heal the invisible wounds of war--post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury--through clinical care, education and research. "Run to Home Base is doing crucial work to address a problem that too many of us at Hanscom are too familiar with, and getting involved was an easy decision," said foundation Chair Alan Hart ...
  • WESTBROOK, Maine (10/22/14)-- Infinity FCU named Liz Hayes as the new president/CEO of the $265 million-asset, Westbrook, Maine-based institution. Hayes most recently served as executive vice president/chief administrative officer of Affinity Plus FCU, St. Paul, Minn., with $3.6 billion in assets. "Infinity has a solid history of serving our members well, and Liz will build on that foundation with new strategies to serve current members and compel new members to join Infinity in the future," said Richard Powell, Infinity FCU board chair ...
  • ANAHEIM, Calif., and WHITTIER, Calif. (10/22/14)-- Members of Interstate FCU, Anaheim, Calif., with $19 million in assets, have voted in favor of merging into the Credit Union of Southern California, Whittier, Calif., with $742 million in assets. The credit unions will be integrated on Dec. 1. "This partnership brings our members many immediate benefits including access to longer member service hours and expanded product offerings--with the same friendly, personalized and efficient service we've had for 53 years," said Dede Menhadji, president/CEO of Interstate FCU. "In addition, this partnership also creates a bright future for all employees" ...
ReadMore

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92% of consumers fear not having money to pay monthly bills: NFCC

CU System
WASHINGTON, D.C.  (10/22/14)--What spooks U.S. consumers more than any "Walking Dead" marathon or Halloween ghoul is an ever-present sense of the financial inability to pay their monthly bills, according to a recent poll from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).
 
Ninety-two percent of the nearly 1,400 respondents said they had a fear of running out of money, led by 64% who fear they can't pay each month's bills. Retirement, unplanned expenses and children's education were concerns for 15% or less of respondents.
 
"The focus on immediate needs, as opposed to future ones such as retirement, reflects the uncomfortable financial situation in which many Americans live month after month," said Gail Cunningham, NFCC spokesperson. "Entering the holiday shopping season already struggling to meet existing debt obligations will only add more pressure on the family."
 
NFCC suggests five steps to alleviate the financial fear:
  • Track spending. Find any financial leaks by tracking household spending and come together to determine what gets spent and what gets saved in the future. "The unity that results from this type of decision-making process will likely produce a greater level of success, as everyone will be pulling in the same direction," said the NFCC;
  • Create a cash-flow calendar. Increase financial awareness by recording sources of income and bill-due dates. If there's not enough money available to meet a debt obligation on its due date, call the company to see if the date can be moved. This will prevent overdrafts, late payments and fees;
  • Begin saving. When money is tight, saving isn't a priority for many. Living on a cash basis can save up to 20% over previous spending on plastic. Put raises, bonuses, birthday money or other windfalls directly into savings, and aim for an emergency fund of one month's salary;
  • Decrease debt. Revolving debt can be expensive with interest stacking on top of interest. Write down and total the existing debt and associated interest paid each month. "The totals may be shocking, but will hopefully spur action, as ignoring the problem will only make matters worse," the counseling agency noted; and
  • Set goals. Make a list of short-term goals for the next 12 month and a separate list of long-term goals. Include dates and dollar amounts with each goal to decide which ones can be met realistically. "Goals that aren't achievable only serve to discourage and potentially derail the entire plan," the NFCC said.
"Fear and worry can impact more than a person's finances. People owe it to themselves and their family to find solutions to financial concerns before they negatively impact other areas of their life," noted Cunningham. ReadMore

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Grow Financial's salsa sensation spices up seed giveaway

CU System
TAMPA, Fla. (10/22/14)--Couple of tomatoes, perhaps a jalapeno or two, a little cilantro, and voila: homemade salsa.

Grow Financial FCU, Tampa, Fla., is helping members grow the ingredients for this very recipe through the "Grow You Own Salsa" campaign it's created in partnership with the Tampa Bay Times .

Today, each of the credit union's 21 locations in the Tampa Bay area will be passing out free seed packets to grow cilantro, tomatoes and jalapenos, all in an effort to promote locally grown food and healthy eating habits.

"One of our guiding principles as an organization is to 'Grow the Greater Good,'" said Bob Fisher, president/CEO of the $1.9 billion-asset credit union. "We look for opportunities to be socially responsible and give back to the communities we live and work in, so this type campaign is the perfect tie in for our credit union."

In addition to the seed packets, which will come with instructions on how to plant and grow the vegetables, the credit union branches will distribute a special section of the Tampa Bay Times called "Growing the Greater Good," in which the credit union will be featured.

The tabloid will focus on green initiatives and what local organizations are doing to take an eco-friendly approach to their operations. Grow Financial's green initiatives and company culture will be highlighted in the newspaper prominently.

For a copy of the salsa recipe and growing instructions use the resource link below. ReadMore

Bank disgust not only factor driving CU millennial membership: Inc.

CU System
NEW YORK (10/22/14)--It might be easy to state that millennials don't like big banks, Vince Passione, columnist for Inc. magazine wrote in a recent article, given that polls show a handful of the largest U.S. banks consistently rank at the top of the generation's most-hated brands.

But it's not only animosity that's driving millennials toward credit unions and away from banks.

Credit unions, explains Passione, CEO/founder of LendKey, a cloud-based technology platform for lenders and investors, have evolved into the types of tech-savvy and versatile financial institutions that appeal to millennials.

For example, South Carolina FCU, North Charleston, with $1.3 billion in assets, has created fee-free deals for those age 25 and under that act as "Oops Refunds," according to Passione.  

The product allows the young members to have one free-fee refund per quarter, a service that acknowledges the growing pains associated with learning about personal financial management.

Passione also noted PSCU's recent KnockOut event, which fosters tech-innovation in the credit union industry through a daylong challenge that pits teams in a competition to create the best technology-based financial services product ( News Now Oct. 15).

And even some larger credit unions have already adopted the recently introduced Apple Pay.

"Innovative tech products and creative programs like these are drawing millennials away from big banks," Passione wrote. "And as community-based, member-owned businesses, credit unions are perfectly positioned to appeal to millennials."

As millennials are estimated to number 86 million, which is 7% larger than the baby-boomer generation, the up-and-coming generation will have a substantial impact on the financial services industry, Passione said.

Fortunately, credit unions excel in the ways that are important to millennials: service, ease, convenience, value and education.

According to Passione, 81% of millennial credit union members say their institution offers an "outstanding customer experience" compared with only 59% of bank customers.

"By focusing on millennials, credit unions are learning and adapting to ensure they are on the cutting edge of banking technology," Passione said. ReadMore

NCUF honors Schumacher with Wegner award

CU System
MADISON, Wis. (10/22/14)--In recognition of a career that included stints with the Credit Union National Association, state leagues, a credit union service organization, and as the top executive of a credit union, the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) will recognize Bob Schumacher, retired president/CEO, MountainCrest CU, as the recipient of a 2015 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement.
 
Schumacher's award will be one of four Wegner awards presented at a special dinner hosted by NCUF March 9 at CUNA's 2015 Governmental Affairs Conference.

"Bob is one of the most dedicated and devoted followers of the credit union philosophy who has worked on all levels of the movement," said John Gregoire, chair of NCUF Wegner Awards selection committee and president of The ProCon Group. "His impact particularly on Foundation programs such as the Community Investment Fund, Biz Kid$ and the Credit Union Development Education Program is beyond belief. Anyone who has had the opportunity to be touched by Bob's contagious energy and enthusiasm comes away a more committed individual."
 
Schumacher's career includes eight years at CUNA, 12 years at the credit union leagues in Washington and Florida, two years at a mortgage CUSO and 15 years at MountainCrest CU, Arlington, Wash., with $87 million in assets.
 
Schumacher worked CUNA's national advertising program (NAP) in the 1970s. He spoke to credit union groups on the importance of marketing, raising money for the NAP, helping create a credit union brand image and increasing public awareness of credit unions.
 
As president/CEO of MountainCrest CU, he not only had a direct impact on the financial lives of his members, but led his staff through a successful merger, relocation and name change.
 
Schumacher has also helped several credit unions and nonprofit foundations, both as a professional senior consultant through The Paragon Group and as a pro bono volunteer. He has served on the NCUF board, the Washington Credit Union Foundation board (including serving as chair), the FSCC shared branching network board, the Northwest Corporate FCU board, the Snohomish County (Wash.) Junior Achievement board, as chair of the NCUF's awards and recognition committee--as well as a member of its fundraising committee--and in many additional leadership roles within the credit union movement.
 
In 2002, Schumacher was recognized with a CUNA Marketing Council's Hall of Fame Award, and in 2006, with the Washington Credit Union League's Ambassador Award. ReadMore

Muzzle POODLE vulnerability by updating browsers, SilverSky advises

CU System
MADISON, Wis. (10/22/14)--Keeping operating systems and browsers up to date is key to protecting credit unions and members against a new security vulnerability discovered last week.
 
POODLE (Padding Oracle on Downgraded Legacy Encryption) exploits a flaw in old Secure Socket Layer (SSL) 3.0 encryption protocol. POODLE allows a third party to capture information sent between the user and the website--known as a "man in the middle" attack.
 
"You might not notice anything," said Andrew Jaquith, chief technology officer for SilverSky, a provider of cloud security solutions and a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider. "They are snapping up the information that you're transmitting. It's insidious--you just won't know."
 
"It affects every browser, every server, because everyone supports backward capability," he told News Now . "Now it needs to be disabled in all these areas."
 
For credit unions, that means they must disable SSL 3.0 on all servers and member-facing sites. "If you're using any systems newer than 2006 or 2007, you should be fine," he said. Credit unions also should make sure they have recently updated versions or patches on their operating systems. "Always turn on automatic updates," he advised.
 
Credit unions can also help protect their employees and members by making sure they are using "slightly more modern browsers," he counseled. Internet Explorer 6 and below are vulnerable so members should be using Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer 7 and above.
 
"As a browser user, the nice thing about Chrome and Firefox is that they do silent updates in the background," Jaquith said.
 
Silver State Schools CU, Las Vegas, with $655 million in assets, took a proactive approach in notifying its members about the vulnerability and what it was doing to update its four member-serving systems. "We have begun taking corrective action," it noted on its website. "As a result, you may experience short interruptions in some or all online services."
 
It also suggested members look at their own Web browsers to ensure SSL 3.0 is disabled. ReadMore

Mobile payments: Avoid impulse buying

Consumer
NEW YORK (10/21/14)--At the dawn of a "frictionless payment" revolution, many consumer advocates are worrying these new technologies could lead to more people sliding further into debt. Already Americans struggle to control credit card debt.
 
One landmark 2001 study showed that people who pay with credit cards, in some situations, are likely to spend twice as much as they would have if they were paying with cash, in part because the pain of actually handing over hard-earned money for the item is delayed (The New York Times Oct. 10).
 
Multiple studies since then have confirmed that credit cards encourage people to spend more than they would if they were paying with cash.
 
With the new Apple Pay system, iPhone owners won't even need to get out a credit card to buy something in the estimated 220,000 stores currently equipped to accept this payment method: Paying will be as simple as hovering their smartphone near contactless readers. If iPhone owners are shopping online or in an app, a single touch can buy anything they see.
 
Credit cards transformed the way consumers spend, and new mobile-payment platforms are poised to do the same. With phones being transformed into computers, GPS locators and now payment methods, companies will have unprecedented opportunities to encourage consumers to spend (Slate Oct. 9).
 
These payment platforms make sense for companies like Apple and Amazon that are offering them, because it gives them access to reams of consumer spending data. But for consumers, they could encourage unprecedented levels of overspending by widening the gulf separating shoppers and the physical act of spending money.
 
If anything you see in real life or encounter online can be purchased in a split second, saying no will be harder than ever. So if you're excited about ditching your wallet and embracing a new smartphone-based payment platform, take precautions to avoid overspending:
  • Use technology. Exert impulse control with apps that help you stick to a budget and meet savings goals. Your credit union might offer its own money management app;
     
  • Check your balance. The reason paying with your phone is dangerous is because it takes the sting out of spending money, but a smartphone also makes seeing your balance easier than ever, too. Before making a purchase, take a second to log into your checking account and remind yourself that whatever you buy, you'll eventually have to pay for; and
     
  • Commit to a waiting period before any major purchase. Saving and delaying a purchase cannot only help you make a better decision, but it often results in a more satisfying experience.
For related information, read "Gotta Have It? Check Impulse Spending" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center. ReadMore

Maine league's Synergent renews 3 CUs

Products
PORTLAND, Maine (10/22/14)--Synergent, a subsidiary of the Maine Credit Union League, announced that three credit unions have signed 10-year renewal agreements for the Episys core processing solution with Synergent Technology Services.
 
John Murphy, Synergent president/CEO, said that the renewals reflect the strength of continued partnerships. "While our service bureau environment provides the security, quality of service and greater efficiencies that allow the credit union to grow, our understanding of the credit unions and their unique needs gives them both the tools and the team they need to serve their members," Murphy added.
 
Credit unions signing agreements include:
  • cPort CU, Portland, with $155 million in assets;
  • Coast Line CU, South Portland, with $48 million in assets; and
  • Casco FCU, Gorham, with $47 million in assets.
A continuing trend for new signings and renewals has been longer-term agreements, with most credit unions opting for 10-year contracts, said Ben Jordan, Synergent vice president of technology services.

"These long-term partnerships are investments in the credit union's strategy to be the best in member service and allow Synergent to provide the technology services needed to achieve that," Jordan added. ReadMore

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