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Mortgages balance disclosures top complaints in Fla.

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MIAMI (1/21/11)--The No. 1 and No. 2 complaints made to Florida regulators by the state's consumers about their financial institutions last year were about mortgages and account balance disclosures, according to an analysis released Monday. The analysis, by Miami economist and bank consultant Ken Thomas of K.H. Thomas Associates LLC, indicated mortgages accounted for 30% of the 1,379 complaints filed last year. Account balance disclosures received 21% of the complaints. Many complaints about account balance disclosures related to new fees that consumers hadn't expected. Both categories had greater concentration of complaints than the previous year, said Thomas' report (South Florida Sun-Sentinel and The Miami Herald Jan. 18). The number of complaints for 2010 was down from the 1,840 filed in 2009, but up from 992 complaints consumers filed in 2008. Thomas based his analysis on three years' data from the Florida Division of Financial Institutions (DFI), which regulates both credit unions and banks. He focused on financial institutions with a high number of complaints compared with their market share. Bank of America, which has 18.2% of the market share, had 227 complaints or 16.5% of the complaints filed last year. JPMorgan Chase Bank, which has only 2.6% of market share in Florida, was the target of 119.6 or 8.6% of the complaints. Complaints about B of A have risen in each of the past two years, while the total number of bank complaints fell 25% from the year before. In 2009, B of A was the subject of 12% of the complaints filed. As for Chase, Thomas noted that analysis does not include complaints made about Chase affiliates, such as credit card operations. The data analyzed was only for the bank. Merger growing pains and the conversion of data systems produced one unusual finding: A credit union made the Top 10 complaints list this year. The credit union acquired a failed credit union in 2009, a move that doubled its membership size. The complaints came during a conversion of the two credit unions' systems that affected more than half its members. Since then, the credit union said it is already down in complaints to what is considered normal levels (South Florida Sun Sentinel Jan. 19). Others in the top 10 included Sun Trust Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, Regions Bank, Wachovia Bank, Saxon Mortgage Services, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, and "unspecified."

Corporate America LaCorp to explore merger

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IRONDALE, Ala., and METAIRIE, La. (1/21/11)--The Boards of Directors of Corporate America CU and Louisiana Corporate CU (LaCorp) have signed a letter of intent to pursue a merger of the corporates, pending completion of due diligence and regulatory approval. If approved, the result will be a $3.9 billion Corporate America CU, with headquarters in Irondale, Ala. The combined corporate will serve 514 member credit unions in 26 states. Plans call for Louisiana member services and potentially credit union service organization (CUSO) operations to be housed in LaCorp's Metairie, La., facility. Corporate America President/CEO Thomas Bonds will serve as president/CEO of the combined organization. LaCorp's staff will remain in place and continue to serve credit unions in Louisiana. The merger "will benefit both Louisiana and Corporate America members," said Bonds. "This business combination is a natural fit as our memberships are similar, and our product and service offerings will benefit our combined membership going forward." According to LaCorp President/CEO David Savoie, credit unions that currently are members of LaCorp would be asked to convert their existing membership capital shares (MCA) and paid-in-capital (PIC) to perpetual contributed capital (PCC), which will be required by the revised National Credit Union Administration corporate regulation, Part 704. No additional capital investment would be required from these members. Credit unions that are associate members of LaCorp could retain membership in the combined organization by purchasing PCC in a competitive contribution amount with a competitive yield. The two corporates' mutual desire to provide high-quality member service, proximity of their organizations and shared knowledge of the regional market make merging a logical next step--one that carries significant benefits to credit unions, Savoie said. "I believe there is a tremendous advantage in combining our corporates because we would be able to handle both the correspondent and credit needs of any-sized credit union at the same institution," Savoie added. "Unlike some of the CUSO/bank partnership ideas now being floated, our members would not need to rely on banks for their credit or payment processing needs." The corporates are in the information gathering and due diligence phase. Both agree they will proceed with the merger only if there is a sound business case for it. They have discussed the possible merger with their regulators and are staying in close contact with both federal and state agencies, they said. Ensuring continued high-quality member service is the No. 1 priority for both LaCorp and Corporate America, Savoie said. "For us to move forward, the analysis must indicate that members will benefit in all significant areas--product offerings, pricing, convenience, cost-effective operations and member service," he said. "We already have a strong working relationship--in many ways, David and I share a similar credit union background. That's a definite plus," said Bonds.

Former CU extends deadline for community offering

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WAYCROSS, Ga. (1/21/11)--Atlantic Coast Financial Corp., the proposed holding company for Atlantic Coast Bank, a former credit union, will extend its community offering connected to its reorganization from a two-tier mutual holding company to a stock holding company structure to Jan. 27. The closing of the offering remains subject to final regulatory approval and the company must sell a minimum of 1.7 million shares at $10 per share to consummate the offering. Atlantic Coast Federal Corp. is the current holding company for the bank, a federally chartered and insured stock savings bank that was organized in 1939 as a credit union to serve the employees of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. In November 2000, Atlantic Coast FCU converted its charter from a federal credit union to a federal mutual savings association and, in January 2003, Atlantic Coast Federal Corp. was formed as the holding company. The company completed its initial public stock offering in October 2004. Atlantic Coast Bank, with about $893 million in assets, is a community financial institution serving southeastern Georgia and northeastern Florida with 12 branches.

Former Treasury official Barr named Filene Research Fellow

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MADISON, Wis. (1/21/11)--Former U.S. Treasury official Michael S. Barr is the newest Filene Research Fellow, announced the Filene Research Institute Thursday. Barr, now a professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School, was formerly Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions at the U.S. Treasury Department. He joins a panel of researchers and academics that creates a formal link between the Filene Research Institute and top thought leaders in the consumer finance world. "I'm excited to join the top-notch Research Fellows and contribute to the work of Filene in understanding the financial services needs of American households and businesses," he said. Barr currently teaches financial regulation and international finance, and is co-founder of the International Transactions Clinic. In 2009 and 2010, while he was at the Treasury, he was a key architect of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) worked closely with Barr while he was at the Treasury on various issues such as small business lending. He spoke at the CUNA 2010 Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., telling attendees that credit unions are an essential part of the "fabric" of communities throughout the country and that the Treasury would work with them to expand their small business lending activity (News Now Feb. 24, 2010). Barr also said the Treasury and the National Credit Union Administration had a strong relationship, working together to resolve issues affecting credit union legacy assets. "Acting Professor Barr is a testament to both the value and the potential of credit unions in today's marketplace," said Mark Meyer, CEO of the Filene Research Institute. "His academic work and his intimate knowledge of the currents of financial regulation will help Filene continue to publish essential research and experiment with new, innovative models to deliver consumer financial services." Barr conducts large-scale empirical research regarding financial services and writes about issues in financial regulation. He also is author of Building Inclusive Financial Systems and Insufficient Funds. He also has served as Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin's special assistant, as deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury, as special advisor to President Bill Clinton, and as special advisor and counselor on the policy planning staff at the State Department. Other Filene Research Fellows include:
* Robert Litan, vice president for research and policy at Kauffman Foundation; * Annamaria Lusardi, professor of economics and director, Financial Literacy Center, Dartmouth College; * Eldar Shafir, William Stewart Tod Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, Princeton University; * Dorian Stone, partner, McKinsey and Company; * Peter Tufano, Sylvan C. Coleman Professor of Financial Management, Harvard Business School, and incoming dean of Said Business School, University of Oxford; and * James A. Wilcox, J.J. and M.B. Lowrey Professor of Financial Institutions, University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business.

Security Service FCU hits 6B in assets

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SAN ANTONIO (1/21/11)--Security Service FCU has reached $6 billion in assets and more than 800,000 members. Officials at Security Service FCU attributed its growth to excellent member service, affordable products and services and convenient service delivery channels. “The credit for our success goes to our members and employees,” said David Reynolds, president/CEO. “The trust and loyalty of our members and the service our employees provide them have played a key role in Security Service becoming a recognized leader in the credit union industry.” Security Service FCU is the largest credit union in San Antonio, the largest in Texas, and the eighth largest in the U.S.

Oakland elected NCUF chairman Garcia vice chairman

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MADISON, Wis. (1/21/11)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) Board of Directors has unanimously elected Gary Oakland, president/CEO of BECU in Seattle, as its new chairman. Laida Garcia, president/CEO of floridacentral CU, Tampa, was elected vice chairman. The elections took place during NCUF's 2011 annual meeting Wednesday in Tampa. Oakland succeeds Allan Kemp McMorris, president/CEO of Oakland County CU, Waterford, Mich., as chairman. McMorris stepped down after three years but will remain on the board, said NCUF. Other officers elected are: secretary, Danielle Brown, senior vice president, operations at Northwest Credit Union Association, and treasurer, John Radebaugh, president/CEO of the North Carolina Credit Union League. Bill Cheney, president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association, is board president. New board members elected are: Rudy Hanley, president/CEO, SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana, Calif., and recipient of the 2011 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement, and Pete Pritts, president/CEO, First Corporate CU, Phoenix. Other board members include:
* John Gregoire, president, The ProCon Group, Madison, Wis.; * Stan Hollen, president/CEO, CO-OP Financial Services, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; * Sandy Lingerfelt, president/CEO, Clinchfield FCU, Erwin, Tenn.; * Paul Mercer, president, Ohio Credit Union League; * Christopher Roe, senior vice president, corporate and legislative affairs, CUNA Mutual Group, Madison, Wis.; and * Mark Twisdale, senior vice president, human resources, State Employees' CU, Raleigh, N.C.

Invest in America CUNA Mutual partnership announced

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LIVONIA, Mich. (1/21/11)--CUNA Mutual is the newest partnership in CU Solutions Group’s Invest in America program, bringing discounts on home and auto insurance to credit union members. The centerpiece of the partnership is CUNA Mutual’s MEMBERS Auto & Homeowners Insurance program. “We see a natural synergy between Invest in America’s auto partnerships and CUNA Mutual’s auto insurance offerings,” said David Adams, president of CU Solutions Group, a Michigan-based marketing, technology and human resources company. The more than 2,700 credit unions participating in Invest in America will be able to offer the benefit to members. They include more than 1,400 that already endorse CUNA Mutual’s MEMBERS Auto & Homeowners Insurance. According to the March 2009 comScore Auto Insurance Report, almost 63% of auto insurance buyers get an online quote before purchasing a policy, noted Lois Zajac, director of product management at CUNA Mutual. “The partnership with Invest in America and CU Solutions Group will help credit unions reach and build stronger relationships with these members,” Zajac said. Credit union members can get quotes directly through Invest in America’s website. Credit unions can use no-cost marketing materials (including banner ads and newsletter articles) from CU Solutions Group. Any credit union member can take advantage of the program. Credit unions that currently offer MEMBERS Auto & Homeowners Insurance do not have to take any action to participate. Invest in America, which began with a General Motors discount in December 2008, has provided discounts to members on more than 317,000 vehicles and brought more than 213,000 auto loans to credit unions. Forty-six states participate in the program.

CU System briefs (01/20/2011)

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* LAUREL, Md. (1/21/11)--Tower FCU staff joined U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin
(D-Md.) and other members of the Fort Meade Alliance to celebrate the grand opening of the Warrior in Transition Soldier and Family Assistance Center in Fort Meade, Md. The new center provides assistance for injured soldiers and their families. Tower's sponsorship helped equip the facility with furniture, computers, kitchen appliances, and books and games for the children's room. From left are Cyndy Scott, Tower FCU vice president of marketing; Cardin; and Patricia Wagaman, Tower's advertising and public relations manager. (Photo provided by John Keith) … * ABERDEEN, Md. (1/21/11)--Aberdeen Proving Ground FCU (APGFCU)
presented its 90,000th member, Jordan Hunton, with a certificate and a $90 Visa Gift card when he became the 90,000th person to open an account. APGFCU said its membership grew 5.33% in 2010 over 2009. As of June, the credit union ranked No. 1 in deposit market share among financial institutions in Harford County, Md., with deposits of $702 million. From left are Hunton and Brannon Dagilas, APGFCU's Amyclae Branch manager. (Photo provided by Aberdeen Proving Ground FCU) …

Ohio CUs add 34000 members in 2010

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (1/21/11)--For a seventh consecutive quarter, Ohio credit unions recorded gains in membership—they added 34,547 members in the 12 months between September 2009 to September 2010, according to the latest Ohio Credit Union Quarterly Performance Summary. The 1.3% increase during the 12-month stretch nearly triples the rate at which credit unions across the country added new members (0.48%) during the same time. Analysts attribute the growth to the continuing consumer shift from investing long-term to addressing immediate financial concerns. Like its neighbor state, Michigan, where credit unions have also experienced strong growth, Ohio’s overall economy has struggled mightily in the past decade, Dave Fearing, senior vice president of credit union support for the Ohio Credit Union League, told News Now. In the aftermath of the Wall Street crisis, where big banks were equated with higher risk, consumers may be seeking the local flavor of credit unions, he said. “The recent trend has been for consumers to consolidate, pay off debt, and focus on savings growth rather than incurring additional debt,” said Fearing. “As a result, credit unions have seen an increase in deposits as consumers look to gain the most out of their money through credit unions, which traditionally offer a higher rate of return. Consumers are also attracted to credit unions’ lower rates on credit cards and consumer loans, which helps them to pay off debt quicker.” Fearing’s analysis is supported by the Quarterly Performance Summary, which shows share balances at Ohio credit unions topping $18.1 billion in September 2010, an increase of 6.2% from September 2009. Money market balances grew the fastest, rising 16.8%. Share deposits saw the largest dollar increase, adding $1.1 billion Also, the average member relationship, or the total dollar amount of loan balances and deposits per member, increased 2.1% from $11,112 in 2009 to $11,346 in 2010. Member business lending continued to be the fastest-growing loan category among Ohio’s credit unions. As of September, 95 of Ohio’s 390 credit unions reported outstanding business loan balances, an increase of 22.6% over the previous September. Member business loan balances increased from $383 million from $333 million during the 12 months, a 15% increase, outpacing the national credit union average. Loan activity also increased among Ohio credit unions in the second half of 2010. In the third quarter alone, credit unions originated more than $1.4 billion in new loans, up 18.4% from activity in the second quarter. The largest driver of the increase was a 58.6% jump in quarterly first mortgage originations, driving the September 2010 total loan portfolio up 1.3% from June 2010. While balances are up on a quarterly basis, annual loan growth has turned negative. Balances are down 1.5% at credit unions nationally, while credit unions in Ohio saw their loan portfolio contract 0.36% during the 12-month stretch. The driver of the decline in balances is the auto loan market, said the league. While Ohio credit unions have historically reported above-average auto loan growth, and have avoided declining trends nationally, auto loan balances fell 2 % during the year. Used-auto loans increased 5.1%, while new-auto loans decreased 11.7%. Credit card balances grew 6.58% at Ohio credit unions during the 12-months, nearly doubling September 2009’s growth rate of 3.5%. Ohio credit union economic indicators remain positive overall, with capital levels at 11.7% on average, which is higher than Ohio banks and thrifts, and credit unions and banks nationally. Asset quality in Ohio remains strong, as the delinquency rate fell slightly to 1.34% in September 2010 from 1.37% the same month the year before.

Garden Savings ice fishers on YouTube

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Flexing their acting muscles to spread the word about Garden Savings FCU in the credit union's latest YouTube commercial are, from left, Robert Anselmo, vice president, retail sales and service; Daniel Czerniawski, assistant vice president of lending; and Mike Powers, assistant vice president, marketing and business development. (Photo provided by the New Jersey Credit Union League)
NEWARK, N.J. (1/21/11)--Parsippany, N.J.-based Garden Savings FCU has posted a new commercial to its YouTube channel, according to the New Jersey Credit Union League (The Daily Exchange Jan. 20). "Ice Fishing" features Robert Anselmo, vice president, retail sales and service, and Mike Powers, assistant vice president, marketing and business development, as ice fishermen waiting for a bite. While making conversation on the ice, Anselmo asks what a credit union does. Power answers, while holding a Credit Union Membership Information Packet, "They offer great rates on mortgages and car loans. They even have a checking account that refunds me my ATM fees every month, no matter whose ATM I use." So what's the difference between Garden Savings and a bank? "It's just better," shouts Assistant Vice President of Lending Daniel Czerniawski, who makes a brief cameo as he runs on the screen. The video is the most recent in a line of commercials starring the three staffers. Other commercials focus on Garden Savings' auto loans, employee benefits, free checking and other services. To view the Ice Fishing commercial and other videos from the $190 million asset credit union, use the link.