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Texas CUs grew in assets loans deposits in 3Q

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (1/12/12)--In the past two years, Texas credit unions made strides in several areas, growing in assets, loans and deposits, according to the Texas Credit Union Profile for Third Quarter.

The Texas Credit Union announced several highlights from the report (LoneStar Leaguer Jan. 11). During the past two years:

  • Assets in Texas credit unions grew by $8 billion, while Texas bank assets grew $14 billion;
  • Loan portfolios grew by more than $2 billion; banks' portfolios shrank by $7 billion;
  • Deposits grew by near $8 billion for credit unions in the state, compared with a $36 billion increase in deposits at the state's banks;
  • On average, credit unions increased their net income by 14 basis points to 65, and their net worth ratio shrank by one-tenth percent, to 9.7 from 9.8.
The league also noted that credit unions have a 12.7% market share of all used-car loans; 11% of unsecured loans; 9.2% of credit card loans; and 7.4% of new-car loans in the state.

Mich. league survey 78 of under-35 would consider CU today

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LANSING, Mich. (1/12/12)--Roughly 78% of Michigan household decision makers under the age of 35 would consider a credit union if they were looking for a savings account, loan, credit card, or other financial product today, according to a survey conducted by the Michigan Credit Union League.

Since most credit unions are trying to attract younger members, the league asked the under-35 consumers what they really think about credit unions (Michigan Monitor Jan. 9).

Other findings:

  • Fifty-seven percent of those under age 35 surveyed currently have accounts at a credit union;
  • Thirty-eight percent would consider a credit union to be their primary financial institution;
  • Sixty-six percent recalled seeing credit union advertising in the past six months, compared with 55% of those over age 35.

According to the league, the results mean that younger generations are poised and ready to be credit union members and that Michigan credit unions' Credit Union Difference campaign is making a dent in public awareness.

CU survey 40 of Canadians unhappy with bank fees

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HAMILTON, Ont. (1/12/12)--The average Canadian has been with the same bank for more than 15 years, yet more than 40% of those surveyed are unhappy with high fees at their bank, says a survey report from FirstOntario CU, based in Hamilton, Ont.

Like credit unions in the U.S., Canada's credit unions are fighting misconceptions about credit unions and the difficulty of switching financial institutions.

"There are serious misconceptions among Canadians about what's involved in leaving your bank for another institution, and for many people even the thought of switching is daunting," said Dave Schurman, executive vice president and chief operating officer at the credit union. "The reality is that if you are unhappy with your bank, switching is simple and straightforward."

He cited these misconceptions:

  • Switching banks can negatively impact one's credit rating;
  • It's complicated to change banks.
  • The bigger the bank, the better the benefits.
  • Only chartered banks in Canada are regulated.
  • Only big banks offer online banking.
The credit union is launching a public awareness campaign to educate consumers about the benefits of a community-based credit union over Canada's big banks.  It is urging consumers to make the change in 2012.

The survey, conducted by the credit union in November, polled more than 2,500 Canadians about their banking practices, preferences, satisfaction levels and whether they would leave their bank.  Of the respondents, 432% indicated they are either "unsatisfied completely" or "somewhat dissatisfied" with their current institution. Nearly 10% said they were reluctant to switch because the bank is the only bank they've ever used or that switching would be too much trouble.

Canada has the world's highest per capita membership in the credit union movement, with more than 10 million Canadians and small business owners--about one-third of Canada's population--as members of a credit union or caisse populaire (Quebec's credit unions).

Colo. bill to propose financial co-op for med-marijuana industry

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DENVER (1/12/12)--Two state lawmakers in Colorado say they plan to introduce next week a bill that would allow the state's medical-marijuana industry to form a "financial cooperative" that would act like a credit union.

State Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver) and state Rep. Tom Massey (R-Poncha Springs) announced their proposed bill would provide banking services to medical-marijuana businesses, with membership limited to industry members (Denver Post (Jan. 11).  However, they said, the institution would be free of the kinds of federal insurance requirements existing with banks and credit unions, making them reluctant to work with medical-marijuana businesses.

The lawmakers said difficulty in finding banking services is an ongoing complaint in the industry. Steadman indicated the inability to have a financial institution for banking hinders regulatory enforcement. Instead of relying on piles of cash, a financial cooperative could provide a paper trail for regulation, he told the newspaper.

A bank that had worked with the dispensaries closed those accounts in October, followed by other closures from institutions that were wary of a federal law making distribution of the drug illegal. The bill is a top priority for the Medical Marijuana Industry Group in this legislative session, which began Wednesday, according to the newspaper.

ABCUL Reform package major breakthrough for Britains CUs

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LONDON (1/12/12)--A recent reform package that provides Britain's credit unions with increased powers to compete more effectively with banks has been hailed as a "major breakthrough" by the Association of British Credit Unions (ABCUL).

The reforms allow credit unions to pay interest on deposits instead of a dividend for the first time. The reforms also allow credit unions to grow by accepting new types of membership, such as limited companies ( Jan. 11).

The changes will make it easier for credit unions to expand, consolidate and merge because they will no longer need to prove that all eligible members have something in common, the publication said.

ABCUL said the reforms would allow credit unions to provide a more effective alternative to banks, high-cost lenders and loan sharks.

The changes are a "major breakthrough" for Britain's communities, Mark Lyonette, CEO of ABCUL, told the publication, adding that the new rules will allow credit unions to more effectively compete with banks and other lenders to provide affordable services and reach many more people--benefitting communities.

Compared to the U.S. and Canada, Britain's credit union sector is relatively small--with 400 credit unions. ABCUL expects membership will surpass one million members this year.

Michigan First CU offers Turning Point home loans

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LATHRUP VILLAGE, Mich. (1/12/12)--Michigan First CU is offering an alternative lending option for consumers who have not previously qualified for a traditional mortgage.

"The current state of the housing market creates an excellent opportunity for metro Detroiters to get into the home of their dreams," said Chris Maynard, vice president of lending for the Lathrup Village, Mich.-based Michigan First CU. "Unfortunately the state of the financial industry may create a challenge for many consumers to get a mortgage. With the Turning Point Home Loan, we are able to work closely with our members and simplify some of the requirements of conventional mortgages."

Michigan First CU considers potential borrowers with credit scores as low as 580 for the Turning Point Home Loan program. The $600 million asset credit union will also consider members who have previously filed for bankruptcy, so long as the bankruptcy filing is more than two years ago.

Turning Point Home Loan participants can make a lower down payment--typically about 10%--than a conventional mortgage requires--and private mortgage insurance is usually waived.

Loan terms--10-, 15- and 20-year loans, or a seven-year-year balloon loan similar to a standard 30-year fixed-rate loan--are flexible to fit the needs of borrowers, said the credit union.

The credit union also offers free seminars to help members improve their credit scores and explore lending options.

IABC NewsI IConsumer ReportsI note CUs as high-fee alternative

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NEW YORK (1/12/12)--Ways for consumers to fight back against escalating fees at banks--including switching to a credit union--were featured on "Fighting Against Bank Fees," a segment that aired Tuesday night on ABC News and in which Consumer Reports gave advice.

Most banks now charge a fee for non-interest checking accounts, said Consumer Reports on Eyewitness News on Channel 7 WABC-New York. Most of those accounts were free two years ago. ATM fees and overdraft charges also are setting record highs.

Consumers can combat this hike in fees, said Consumer Reports. If consumers are assessed a fee, they should ask their bank to waive it. If the bank refuses, they should move their accounts. Consumers who decide to move their money out of banks should consider a big credit union, said Consumer Reports' Kim Kleman. The fees for basic checking at major credit unions are on average 42% lower than at big banks.

"Credit unions used to serve just small groups," Kleman said. "But that has changed. Now it's pretty easy to find one you can join."

Consumer Reports also lists some steps to take before switching accounts to make for an easier transition.

To view the segment, use the link.

Three Arizona CUs piloting first ATM Visa gift cards

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MESA, Ariz. (1/12/12)--Three Arizona credit unions are participating in a pilot program offering Visa's first ATM-dispensed gift cards.

Credit Union West, Glendale; MariSol FCU, Phoenix; and Pinal County FCU, Casa Grande; are offering their members Visa gift cards at walk up and drive-through ATMs.

Screens on the ATMs include the option to purchase a gift card, and they prompt users to designate the value to load on each card. Cards are available with no activation fee in $25 denominations during the pilot.

The new ATM-dispensed Visa Gift card is made of a durable, yet thinner, material than debit and credit cards. The gift cards can easily pass through the cash mechanisms of ATMs, said Visa.

Better ATM Services patented the technology that enables sale of prepaid cards through ATMs.

Visa said it is working with manufacturers, independent sales organizations and financial institutions to make ATM-dispensed gift cards a common offering at ATMs nationwide.

Senators preview legislative session for Twin Cities CUs

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (1/12/12)--Two  leaders in the Minnesota state Senate provided an insider's preview into the upcoming legislative session during a Twin Cities credit union chapter meeting Tuesday.

Minnesota state Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem (R-Rochester), second from left, provided attendees at a Twin Cities credit union chapter meeting Tuesday  a preview of the upcoming legislative session. (Photo provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Network)
Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem (R-Rochester) and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Chris Gerlach (R-Apple Valley) discussed the challenges and opportunities that will face legislators during the 2012 session, said the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN).

Senjem said he is uncertain about what this year's legislative session will hold for lawmakers and the state as a whole. However, he proclaimed that the legislature will preserve credit unions' tax-exempt status.

A longtime credit union friend, Senjem has served as a volunteer and board member of Rochester-based Mayo Employees FCU for 23 years. Since his election in 2002 to the Minnesota Senate, he has openly supported and fought for credit unions and the legislation important to them, said MnCUN.  Over the years, he repeatedly has declared his commitment to protecting credit unions' tax-exempt status and the ability to meet members' needs, MnCUN added.

Gerlach provided an overview of the Senate Commerce Committee's operations and processes. The committee examines most of the bills impacting credit unions, and the overview  strengthened credit unions' understanding of how they can impact the legislative process, said MnCUN.

"It is through long-standing relationships with legislators like Sen. Senjem and Sen. Gerlach that Minnesota credit unions are able to maintain our strong presence at the State Capitol," said Mara Humphrey, MnCUN vice president-governmental affairs. "Our dedication to building and maintaining relationships with elected officials both during the session and in the interim demonstrates our strong grassroots network and strengthens our ability to impact the legislative process," she added.

The politically focused chapter meeting was part of Minnesota's ongoing initiative to develop and maintain strong relationships with federal and state elected officials.

On Jan. 5, credit union representatives also met with U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) at Richfield Blooming CU, Bloomington. During that meeting, credit unions stressed the importance of passing legislation that would raise the member business lending (MBL) cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. They also focused on the increasing regulatory burdens facing credit unions and how they impact operations.

One of the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) priorities is to work with leagues to highlight their work in advocating for, promoting and defending credit unions at the state level.  On a national level, CUNA and state leagues are urging Congress to raise the MBL cap, which would inject $13 billion in loans to small businesses and help create 140,000 new jobs, without costing the taxpayer.

CU4Kids fundraising YL4Kids apps due Jan. 31

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WASHINGTON (1/12/12)--To ensure the funds raised last year by credit unions for children's hospitals are counted in the Credit Unions for Kids' 2011 fundraising totals, Children's Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals must receive checks from credit unions by Jan. 31.

By CMN Hospitals' estimates, only one-third of funds raised in 2011 have been received. Use the link below for a form to send with donations and remittance instructions.

Credit Unions for Kids is a nonprofit collaboration of credit unions, chapters, leagues/associations and business partners nationwide, engaged in fundraising activities to benefit 170 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

The collaboration is also seeking young leaders from the credit union movement to serve on The Young Leaders for Kids Board (YL4Kids).

Composed of individuals who are under forty years of age from credit unions, leagues and industry partners, the YL4Kids Board benefits from a broad spectrum of talent, experience, perspective, and reach within the credit union movement.

The purpose of YL4Kids is to create, grow and inspire Credit Unions for Kids enthusiasts among the next generation of credit union leaders. Applications also are due by Jan. 31. For an application, use the link.

CU System briefs (01/11/2012)

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  • DEARBORN, Mich. (1/12/12)--A man about to go on trial for the 2001 fatal shooting of an armored-truck guard outside Dearborn (Mich.) FCU (now DFCU Financial CU) pleaded guilty Tuesday.  Norman Duncan, 43, entered the plea to the murder charge just before selection of the jury was to begin (Associated Press via Jan. 11).  Duncan was not accused of pulling the trigger. Two other men, Kevin Watson, 41, and Timothy O'Reilly, 37, already have been convicted in the shooting death of Norman Anthony Stephens, 30, during the robbery while Stephens was loading an ATM outside the credit union.  O'Reilly escaped receiving a rare death sentence after the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on the death sentence. Six men were involved in the $204,000 heist (News Now Nov. 28 and Feb. 10) …
  • TULSA, Okla. (1/12/12)--A Tulsa man pleaded guilty Monday to robbing the Tulsa (Okla.) CU on July 18, even though he allegedly told the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he does not remember giving a teller a note saying he had a briefcase with a bomb and a gun (Tulsa World Jan. 11).  Steven Paul Wooten, 41, told police he realized he must have committed a robbery when he noticed a large sum of money blowing around in his car and that a voice told him to commit the robbery. The bomb threat was a hoax. Wooten was found mentally competent on Dec. 26 to stand trial. He will be sentenced in a U.S. District Court on April 9 and faces from five years, three months to six-and-a-half years in prison …
  • ORANGE, Texas (1/12/12)--Linda Cupit, president of Orange, Texas-based Sabine FCU is retiring after 31 years of service at the credit union. She will be succeeded by David Meaux. Cupit began her credit union career as a teller in 1980, said the Texas Credit Union League (LoneStar Leaguer Jan. 11). She was the credit union's vice president of accounting until 1995, when she was named branch manager after the Strickland Drive branch opened.  In 2000, Cupit was promoted to chief financial officer. She was named president after the retirement of former president/CEO Lyndell H. Bray.  Cupit is a 1989 graduate of Southwest CUNA Management School  …