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Cornerstone foundation on standby to assist Okla. tornado victims

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (3/27/15)--Wednesday night's tornadoes and severe storms in Arkansas and Oklahoma were the first recorded in this year's tornado season.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for 25 counties after Wednesday's severe weather that resulted in at least one death, school closures and power outages for thousands in Oklahoma.
Northwest Arkansas was the location of the first touchdown by a tornado for 2015, the National Weather Service reported ( Associated Press March 26.)
The Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation said it is prepared to assist credit unions and their employees affected by the storms. "In times of crisis, the foundation is here to help our credit unions and their staff get back on their feet so that they in turn can be there for their members," said Courtney Moran, foundation executive director ( Leaguer March 26).
The disaster relief program has three phases:
  • Emergency grants are provided to credit union employees to assist with immediate disaster relief needs, such as out-of-pocket costs that may result from being evacuated.
  • Disaster relief grants are intended to assist credit union employees with significant needs. Phase two grants are intended for credit union employees with significant needs and will follow the distribution of phase one grants; and
  • Phase three grants are set up for credit union employees who suffered catastrophic loss and are still needing assistance after phase two grants have been distributed.
One of the areas affected by Wednesday's storm was Moore, Okla. In May 2013, a Tinker FCU branch was destroyed in the Oklahoma City suburb when a half-mile wide tornado ripped through the area ( News Now May 22, 2013).

PCUA's iBelong campaign rolls out 'Fixing Your Finances'

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (3/27/15)--As part of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association's iBelong campaign, Central Pennsylvania credit unions are sponsoring a monthly segment on WPMT-TV 's "Fox 43 Morning News."

Click to view larger image "Fox 43 Morning News" host Amy Lutz, left, talks about credit scores with Paul Perini, senior vice president of operations at Belco Community CU, Harrisburg, Pa.
On Thursday, "Fixing Your Finances" featured Paul Perini, senior vice president of operations at Belco Community CU, Harrisburg, Pa.

Perini explained to morning anchor Amy Lutz how credit scores are calculated and the opportunities afforded consumers if they have good credit.

"First and foremost it's the ability to get credit," Perini said. "But once you are approved, a lot of financial institutions will use your score to determine the rate of interest you pay."

Lutz asked how consumers can learn more about credit unions, and Perini referred her to iBelong , which can help potential members find credit unions they are eligible to join.

The first segment, shown in February, featured Bob Marquette, president/CEO of Members 1st FCU, Mechanicsburg, Pa. The 11 segments are part of a media buy in the Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York market ( Life is a Highway Feb. 25).

CU System briefs (3/27/15)

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  • MADISON, Wis. (3/27/15)--A number of credit unions recently announced changes in their leadership. In Waterloo, Iowa, Monte Berg will become CEO of Veridian CU, effective May 26 . Berg, who has been with the credit union since 1990, currently is Veridian's senior vice president of finance. Current CEO/Chief Inclusion Officer Jean Trainor will leave the credit union May 22 after 25 years. Michael Tomko is the new president/CEO of BrightStar CU, Sunrise, Fla. , succeeding interim CEO Colin Battle. Tomko has been working in credit unions since 2003 and most recently served as senior vice president of operations at Community First CU, Jacksonville, Fla. Amy Bagby will take over as president of NW Missouri Regional CU, Maryville, Mo., after the April 3 retirement of Coby Lamb ( Maryville Daily Forum March 26). Bagby has worked for the credit union since 2006 as a teller, loan officer and vice president ...
  • MOLINE, Ill. (3/27/15)-- DHCU Community CU, Moline, Ill., has announced it is changing its name to Vibrant CU .  The credit union began as Deere Harvester CU 80 years ago by factory workers at the John Deere Harvester Works Plant. In 2005, the John Deere company requested the credit union remove any name or affiliation with the John Deere brand. The result was DHCU Community CU, an acronym without a meaning, the credit union noted. The new website will be live May 4 ...

62% worry about fin. stability: CUNA Mutual study

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LAS VEGAS (3/27/15)--A large majority of the middle class worries about its financial stability on a daily basis, according to new research from CUNA Mutual Group.

Released this week during the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council Conference in Las Vegas, the research found that 62% of middle-income Americans fret daily about their finances.

At the same time, only 6% of people said they defined success as having a lot of money.    

"People define success more personally; it's about relationships and work-life balance. I like that," said Kim York, senior vice president/chief marketing officer, Ascend FCU, Tullahoma, Tenn.

Conducted by TruStage, CUNA Mutual's consumer brand, the "What Matters Now" study aims to identify how middle-income Americans define success so that credit unions may learn how to focus their operations to best serve their members.

Susan Sachatello, TruStage senior vice president, said that consumer insights such as these also help TruStage develop media plans and design products, among other things.

Other key findings from the research:
  • 34% of individuals self-identified as having no banking relationship. "Understanding this population and engaging them in the credit union value proposition could be a significant source of membership growth," CUNA Mutual said; and
  • Middle-income Americans rank raising good/happy kids first (38%) and having a great partner relationship second (36%) as measures of success in life. Financial stability and good health tied for third at 33%.
"We know that what matters most to members evolves over time as people go through different life stages or as our economy fluctuates," Sachatello said. "In fact, 77% of the members we talked with said their definition of success has changed over time."

Added York: "(This research) made me realize that when we're choosing art for marketing pieces, we really need to focus on kids and families. We need to position Ascend as the go-to source for members seeking stability."

Fed: Mobile banking, shopping popularity gains in 2014

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WASHINGTON (3/27/15)--The rate at which consumers take advantage of mobile banking continues to climb, as 39% of adults with mobile phones and bank accounts reported using mobile banking in 2014, a 6% annual increase, according to a recent survey from the Federal Reserve.
While checking an account balance continued to be the most common activity, use of remote deposit capture experienced the biggest jump on an annual basis with a 13% increase to 51%.
After checking account balances, transferring money between accounts was the second-most common feature used in 2014, followed by alerts from financial institutions.
Further, 22% of all mobile phone users had made a payment sometime in the 12 months prior to the survey, a 5% increase annually. Bill pay was the most common type of payment, followed by online or in-app purchases.
The survey also showed where financial institutions might have an opportunity to serve the underbanked or unbanked.
While 14% of consumers in the study were underbanked, 90% of that group also had access to a mobile phone, and 73% had access to a smart phone.
Additionally, underbanked consumers used mobile banking at a higher rate than fully banked consumers, according to the study.
Shopping habits also continue to evolve thanks to the mobile phone, as 47% of consumers used their phones to compare prices on the Internet, while 33% had scanned a barcode in-store to find the best price.
More than 40% used their phones to peruse product reviews while in a store, and more than two-thirds of those who used their phones to compare prices purchased something different because of that extra information.

Calif. media take note of state's CU success

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (3/27/15)--Strong fourth-quarter lending data from the California Credit Union League (CCUL) grabbed headlines at a number of media outlets throughout the Golden State recently.

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune , for example, wrote about the "increasing power" credit unions are wielding in the state, as memberships climbed by 3.4% in 2014, according to call report data provided by the CCUL.

New-auto loans skyrocketed in 2014, according to the CCUL data, jumping 40.1% on an annual basis, while used-auto loans increased by 16.7%. Further, first mortgages and home equity lines of credit rose 11.8%, business lending climbed 7.4%, and credit card lending ramped up by 6.8%.

"Last year was our best year ever," Dwight Johnston, CCUL chief economist, told the Valley Tribune . "That was kind of the trend across the country. In California specifically, it had much to do with how good our economy was last year."

The Sacramento Bee covered the healthy gains at the county level, using the league's call report data to show that new-auto loans at credit unions had jumped 62% on an annual basis in Sacramento County.
Used-car loans rose 15% in the county year-over-year, the Bee said.

Mortgage lending also rose for the quarter on an annual basis, according to the CCUL data for Sacramento County, as first mortgages and home equity lines of credit climbed 8.5%. Credit card lending increased by 14% as well.

The Fontana Herald News also cited statewide numbers recently, reporting that California's credit unions posted a 13.8% increase in loan growth for the year, according to the league's numbers.

In the fourth quarter alone, credit unions recorded a 2.9% climb in loan growth.

"Strong job growth, coupled with a general improvement in all sectors of the economy, boosted the confidence of California consumers," Johnston told the Fontana Herald News . "Thanks to this rebound in confidence, consumers were more willing to borrow to purchase cars and homes."

The story that ran in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune also was published in the Redlands Daily Facts , the Long Beach Press Telegram , the Whittier Daily News , the Inland Daily Bulletin and the Los Angeles Daily News , according to Matt Wrye, media relations manager for the league.

N.Y. CUs building on 2014 momentum: Mellin

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ALBANY, N.Y. (3/26/15)--New York credit unions ended 2014 with significant increases in memberships, which now top 5.1 million, and loan volume that outpaced the prior year.

"2014 was an encouraging year for the New York credit union movement, and we are continuing to build on that momentum this year," said William J. Mellin, New York Credit Union Association president/CEO.

"Last year, the state's credit unions continued to provide important products, services and loans that directly benefit their members and their communities. As a result, there are now more credit union members than ever in New York, because credit unions put New Yorkers first."

The year-end credit union profile, developed in partnership with CUNA, also reported:
  • Memberships expanded by 2.9%;
  • First mortgages increased by 10.9%, surpassing the national average of 9.1%;
  • New-auto loans surged 17.4%, a significant rise from 7.6% in 2013;
  • Used-auto loans increased by 11.4%, compared with 3.4% the year prior; and
  • Member business loans grew by 13.4% in 2014, topping the national average growth rate of 12.4%.