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CU System briefs (01/31/2014)

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  • FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (1/31/14)--Effective Monday, the Cornerstone Credit Union League will have a new phone system (Leaguer Jan. 30). Credit unions from all three of the league's states--Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas--can use the league's toll-free number, (800) 442-5762, to reach an employee by name through the automated voice system ...
  • WEST JORDAN, Utah (1/31/14)--In yet another recognition of its workplace excellence, Mountain America CU was named one of the "Best Companies to Work For" by Utah Business magazine--its fifth such honor. The $3.6 billion-asset credit union also recently was honored with two national awards: Alfred P. Sloan Award for excellence in workplace efficiency and effectiveness, and the Achievers' 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Award. "We have established a great culture, work environment and we are committed to continue to be an outstanding organization," said Marshall Paepke, executive vice president of the West Jordan, Utah-based credit union ...
  • LONGVIEW, Wash. (1/31/14)--Cowlitz CU, a $41 million-asset credit union based in Longview, Wash., announced it will voluntarily merge with Red Canoe CU, a $586 million-asset credit union also in Longview. The board unanimously agreed to the merger, which brings the two credit unions back together. When Cowlitz CU was formed, it was managed by Weyerhaeuser CU, now known as Red Canoe, and the two kept their assets separate. Eventually Cowlitz CU had its own CEO. "It's becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with new regulations and the fast-paced technological developments in our industry," said Larry Anderson, Cowlitz CU board chairman. Red Canoe President/CEO David Spaulding announced all 15 of Cowlitz' employees will remain employed by Red Canoe ...
  • WESTBROOK, Maine (1/31/14)--A record number of players and teams hit the boards during the 20th Annual Dr. Noel Paradise Memorial Swish-Out Childhood Cancer Challenge Jan. 26. Maine's credit unions coordinate the annual charity basketball tournament that has raised more than $290,000 for the Maine Children's Cancer Program. This year, more than 300 players and 52 teams, including Orono-based University CU (pictured), raised a record-breaking $31,000--100% of which goes to the program to help children with cancer and their families, said Jon Paradise, league assistant vice president of governmental and public affairs ...

Biz Kid$ offering financial ed grants for CUs

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MADISON, Wis.  (1/31/14)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) is now accepting applications for Biz Kid$ financial education grants.
 
"There is a need to improve the financial literacy skills of the youth in America and Biz Kid$ is the perfect vehicle to address that need," said Danielle Brown, NCUF director of development and donor relations.
 
"We are looking to fund innovative programs that improve the financial education of youth through the use of the Biz Kid$ program and encourage you to apply," she added.
 
Biz Kid$ financial education grants may be used to fund innovative programs that use the award-winning TV series and associated content to improve the financial education of youth.
 
The objective is to engage the credit union movement in using Biz Kid$ and its curriculum to build students financial literacy and economic education skills while increasing awareness and usage of Biz Kid$.
 
Credit unions, credit union service organizations, state credit union associations, state credit union foundations, and any other organizations owned or controlled by credit unions are eligible to apply. The deadline is March 31.

Director's Newsletter examines risk management

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MADISON, Wis. (1/31/14)--The latest edition of Credit Union Directors Newsletter examines questions about risk management systems that may have been raised, rather than answered, in a recent National Credit Union Administration supervisory letter.
 
The Credit Union National Association's January edition of Directors considers enterprise risk management (ERM), as addressed by the NCUA in a Letter to Federally Insured Credit Union (13-CU-12).
 
NCUA pointed out that ERM might benefit larger, more complex credit unions and that examiners should make sure credit unions employ a comprehensive risk management approach. This might or might not include a formal ERM program, NCUA said.
 
To better understand ERM and traditional risk management, Joette Colletts, a senior manager in risk management for CUNA Mutual Group, compared the different approaches.
 
Traditional risk management encompasses only hazard and transactional (operational) risk exposures. There's no upside or positive outcome for these risks, other than the status quo.
 
ERM includes all the risks a credit union faces, regardless of source or potential outcome. With ERM, credit unions consider the upside of risk, such as the possibility of outperforming strategic goals.
 
ERM also removes the NCUA's key risk indicators (credit, interest rate, liquidity, transactional, compliance, strategic and reputational) from individual silos and addresses them as part of the overall strategy.
 
The ERM process optimizes risk-taking tied to strategic goals, while traditional risk management simply aims to prevent or reduce losses.
 
For example, ERM would include an assessment of competitive challenges, such as plans by competitors to build new branches within a credit union's market. It would also examine the potential impact of a significant reputational hit, such as a highly publicized data breach or a top executive being prosecuted for embezzlement.
 
NCUA acknowledges that most credit unions don't have the means for expensive ERM software and other tools used to consolidate and assess this broad swath of information. A basic understanding of how to transcend individual operational risk assessment can increase credit union value.
 
Risk responsibilities are distributed differently as well. In traditional risk management, the responsibility for managing all of a credit union's operational risk belongs to one department or one individual.
 
In ERM, the enterprise risk manager (often referred to as the chief risk officer) acts as a facilitator and educator about the ERM process. This person serves as a coach to all the risk owners in the credit union. in fact, all employees are risk managers for functions within their responsibility.

ERM allows information to flow throughout the credit union, avoiding information silos that prevent critical information from reaching key people. The "enterprise" in ERM includes all employees, management, board of directors, committees, members, the community and regulators.
 
The more employees know about the risks a credit union faces, the more they can participate in finding and executing solutions, and in capitalizing on opportunities, Colletts noted.

Filene adds Trust Card to financial services incubator

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MADISON, Wis. (1/31/14)--Neighborhood Trust FCU's debt management program, The Trust Card, has been selected as the fifth and final product for the Filene Research Institute's accessible financial services incubator.
 
The Trust Card, which is a joint program between the $8.7 million-asset credit union and New York's Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners, aligns financial counseling with reducing credit card debt.
 
The Trust Card consolidates existing unsecured debt, offers a fair interest rate and sets a fixed monthly credit card payment that is within a consumer's budget.
 
Since its trial rollout 18 months ago, the New York credit union has consolidated about $300,000 of debt for 45 Trust Card users. The program saved borrowers thousands in interest and generated substantial revenue with zero charge-offs.
 
"We searched nationwide to find innovative financial products that benefit low- and moderate-income U.S. consumers," said Cynthia Campbell, director of innovation labs at Filene. "The Trust Card joins four other products to be tested in areas like non-prime auto loans, small dollar loans and employer-based loans."
 
The other four products are:
  • "Pay Yourself Back," Innovations in Poverty Action. This program switches consumers from making monthly loan payments to making savings deposits once the loan is paid off.
  • Employer-sponsored income advance loan, NorthCountry FCU, Burlington, Vt. Employees of select employer groups are eligible for small dollar loans that are auto-deducted from direct-deposited paychecks.
  • Non-prime auto lending, National Credit Union Foundation. Purchasing reliable transportation can be a challenge for some consumers, but is necessary for access to employment, housing and education. This program helps lenders fairly price and manage non-prime auto loans.
  • "Borrow and Save," National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. This also is a small dollar loan that includes a component for building emergency savings.
Filene is seeking credit unions to test the Trust Card, "Pay Yourself Back" and the employer-sponsored income advance loan.

Chatzky: Hope is not a financial strategy

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (1/31/14)--Hoping for the best is a positive approach to most situations in life, but not when it comes to personal finance, according to money expert Jean Chatzky who was a guest on the Cornerstone Credit Union League's "Your Money Your Matters" Blog Talk Radio show Wednesday.
 
Chatzky is headlining the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation's FOCUS Summit Feb. 6-7 in Dallas. The two-day summit addresses the financial literacy problem in U.S., and is an opportunity for financial education advocates to network, share best practices, learn about available resources, and explore proven and strategies for deploying financial education into their local schools and communities.
 
The "Let's Talk Money" with Jean Chatzky episode can be heard on Cornerstone's Blog Talk Radio channel (Leaguer Jan. 30).
 
Rather than wishful thinking, personal finance is about making conscious choices, Chatzky told listeners. For example, paying down debt requires a plan.
 
"I've never seen a budget where I can't squeeze something out of it," she said. "There might be a cell phone with minutes not being used or cable channels you don't really need."
 
Wherever expenditures can be cut, savings can be applied toward paying down debt, Chatzky said. Ideally, a consumer should be able to come up with an extra $10 a day that can be used towards debt. But if $10 is too much, she suggests trying for $2 a day and working up incrementally to $10 a day.
 
If the goal is to save more for retirement, Chatzky encouraged listeners to take advantage of employee-sponsored 401(k) plans.
 
She also shared her thoughts on money management in an interview that is available on the league's YouTube channel.

Minn., R.I. policymakers win state Desjardins awards

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WASHINGTON (1/31/14)--This year, two state policymakers--Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman and Rhode Island General Treasurer Gina Raimondo--were awarded the Desjardins Financial Education Award for State Government Policymakers.
 
The award, which is determined by the Credit Union National Association State Credit Union Subcommittee, recognizes the leadership for financial education at the state level. Previously restricted to legislators who promoted youth financial education, nominations for the award have been expanded to any state government policymakers who promote financial education to individuals of any age.
 
In his nomination letter, Minnesota Credit Union Network President/CEO Mark Cummins commended Rothman's efforts to bring together 10 state agencies that had existing programs, outreach or policy interests in financial literacy. The Minnesota Financial Literacy Interagency Work Group was the first of its kind in the state. The work group sponsors and organizes financial literacy outreach and education efforts. Its annual Financial Literacy Roundtable brings together a broad group of interested parties to pursue new opportunities for financial literacy program development and improvement.
 
"Commissioner Rothman has been a tireless advocate for financial literacy in Minnesota since he was appointed Commerce Commissioner in 2011," Cummins wrote.
 
In Rhode Island, Raimondo launched the Empower RI initiative, which includes the Financial Coaching Corps (FCC). Nearly 20 credit unions, non-profits and small businesses work with the General Treasurer's office and the Capital Good Fund in FCC. The state also offers EverFi, a web-based financial literacy program for high school students. Raimondo also started the Smart Money Tour this year that reached more than 300 people during stops at senior centers, farmers' markets and malls.
 
"The association is pleased that Treasurer Raimondo is being recognized for the outstanding work that she has done to support financial literacy efforts in Rhode Island," said Paul Gentile, president/CEO, Rhode Island Credit Union League (Daily CU Scan Jan. 28).
 
CUNA's State Credit Union Subcommittee accepts nominations for this recognition annually and usually recognizes only one awardee.

 

 

As state rep, CU employee stresses in-person advocacy

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SEATAC, Wash. (1/30/14)--As a Washington state representative and as a credit union employee, Steve Kirby knows the importance of in-person advocacy from both sides of the desk.
 
Kirby, who is a sales and services specialist for Lakewood-based Harborstone CU, represents Washington's 29th District and serves as chair of the House Business and Financial Services Committee.
 
Steve Kirby, left, and Vicky Nelson both are Harborstone CU employees. At the Feb. 6 Credit Union Day in Olympia, Wash., Kirby will be busy working as a state representative for the 29th District, and Nelson will be leading a group of advocates from the Lakewood, Wash.-based credit union. (Northwest Credit Union Association photo)
"Credit unions are unique in the world of financial institutions, but that's not always readily apparent to our legislators," Kirby said (Anthem Jan. 28).
 
"It never hurts for lawmakers to be reminded of the credit union story," he said, "and the best way for politicians to receive any input on any issue is from their own constituents. That's probably the reason credit unions consistently enjoy strong bipartisan support whenever they have issues before the Legislature."
 
Next week, credit union advocates will be meeting in Olympia for Credit Union Day at the Capitol.
 
"Every day is someone's 'day on the hill,'" Kirby told the Anthem. "Whether it's the Realtors, the bikers, the physical therapists or the community bankers, everyone wants to be heard. Credit Union Day at the Capitol is very important to insure that the credit union story is heard, too, and that the credit union model remains intact."
 
Last year, Kirby worked with Vicky Nelson, business sales and services manager, to create a Governmental Affairs Roadshow that stopped at every one of $1 billion-asset credit union's 17 Washington branches. The goal was to make sure that every employee, at every branch, understood the unique structure, value and impact of the credit union movement and why they needed to be active in advocacy efforts.
 
Nelson will lead a delegation of Harborstone employees to the Feb. 6 event. "As a credit union employee, I am in a wonderfully unique position to share the importance of credit unions not only with our members, but also with our state legislators," Nelson said.
 
Credit Union Day at the Capitol comes at a time when the Legislature is struggling with budget shortfalls and focusing on tax reform. That makes it imperative that every legislator understands the difference between credit unions and banks and the importance of the credit union tax exemption, said Mark Minickiello, vice president for legislative affairs, Northwest Credit Union Association.
 
"If our state legislators don't know anything about credit unions or the great things we do for our members and our communities, then they assume we are just like banks," he said.  "That's why our goal is to have every legislator meet with a credit union representative from their district."
 
A Financial Reality Fair for students is being held on the Capitol grounds in conjunction with Credit Union Day, which will give legislators an opportunity to see the difference that credit unions make with financial education.

On a national level, credit union advocates will take their message to Capitol Hill during the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference Feb. 23-27 in Washington, D.C.

Flood insurance program under Pa. league's watch

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/30/14)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association is watching federal legislation that would change the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
 
At the state level, both the House Democratic Policy Committee and Senate have held hearings on legislation--set for a vote in the U.S. Senate today--that would delay rate increases for up to four years and implement additional NFIP reforms (S. 1926). 
 
"While this appears to be a federal issue, there is great concern among elected officials in Harrisburg," said PCUA President/CEO Patrick Conway (Life is a Highway Jan. 28).
 
The league is "educating appropriate parties about the act's unintended consequences on credit unions, and monitoring state committee and legislative actions for potential relief for consumers," Conway added.
 
Tuesday's panel discussion went beyond the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, the exponentially higher flood insurance rates that homeowners face, and the recently introduced federal legislation that addresses rate increases and other reforms.
 
Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) said every county in the state has high-flood risk areas, reported Life is a Highway (Jan. 29).
 
Roughly six out of every 1,000 properties in Pennsylvania has a flood insurance policy, but as many as five times that many parcels are located in a flood zone.
 
The Credit Union National Association is closely watching the progress of an amendment that may be offered by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) related to force-placed insurance. The amendment, in its current form, would prohibit lenders from receiving any kind of fee or reimbursement in connection with insurance they purchase on behalf of a borrower who lets the insurance lapse. (See Tuesday News Now story: NFIP delay bill one of CUs' interest items this week.)

Cornerstone chapters share best practices

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (1/30/14)--Credit union leaders from Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma shared best practices during Cornerstone Credit Union League's Chapter Leaders Conference in Dallas last week.
 
The two-day event also offered credit union chapter leaders an opportunity to network, share ideas on how to bring value to local credit unions and positively affect their respective communities through the chapter program (Leaguer Jan. 29).
 
The best practices session was moderated by Scott Rose, CEO of $86 million-asset Kelly Community FCU, Tyler, Texas, and president of the Tyler Area Chapter of CUs.
 
Panelists included Mark Casares, loan officer at $66 million-asset PosTel Family CU, Wichita Falls, Okla., from the Wichita Falls Chapter; Karyn Gonyea, vice president at $24 million-asset Union Pacific of Arkansas FCU, Little Rock, Ark., from the Central Arkansas Chapter; and Stephen Lark, vice president of marketing and corporate development at $936 million-asset Communication FCU, Oklahoma City, Okla., from the Greater Oklahoma Chapter.
 
Best practices discussed included:
  • Taking the "meeting" out of chapters and focusing instead on chapter events;
  • Focusing on advocating, collaborating and educating (ACE) when planning chapter events;
  • Rotating chapter event responsibility among local credit unions;
  • Involving local credit union young professionals in chapter board governance; and
  • Focusing on "quality vs. quantity" when developing a chapter plan--which may require changing the meeting schedule from monthly to quarterly.

Sen. Blunt cites CU costs in data security radio interview

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (1/30/14)--Credit unions and other card issuers, not retailers, ultimately bear the burden of losses created by data breaches like the one that victimized Target shoppers, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) noted in a recent NewsRadio 1120 KMOX interview.
 
Blunt said a bill he recently introduced, The Data Security Act of 2014 (S. 1927), is getting plenty of attention now. The bill was introduced with chief co-sponosr Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) in mid-January and has been referred to the Senate Banking Committee.
 
The Carper/Blunt bill would require credit unions and other financial institutions, retailers, and federal agencies to protect sensitive information, notify consumers if a breach occurs, and conduct their own investigations in that event. If a breach impacted more than 5,000 consumers, the federal authorities, law enforcement officials, and various consumer reporting agencies would have to be notified. Overall, the bill aims to replace various state-based data protection laws with one single, federal standard.

The Credit Union National Association supports the Carper/Blunt legislation, which is similar to bills the legislators have introduced over the last five years.
 
Blunt on KMOX said Congress should require better card security standards, but should not specifically tell institutions how to secure their cards.
 
CUNA is still accepting credit union data on the costs and burdens created by the Target data breach. According to CUNA estimates released earlier this month, the total cost of the breach for credit unions is between $25 million and $30 million. However, the actual costs could exceed this estimate in the coming weeks if greater fraud losses are incurred or those that have reported already add additional costs to their reported totals.
 
The CUNA survey has garnered widespread media attention, with outlets as varied as the San Francisco Business Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Chain Store Age, MSN Money, the Associated Press, Bankrate.com, Yahoo Finance and Computerworld covering the issue and/or CUNA's survey results. (See related Jan. 24 story: More media outlets spotlight CUs, CUNA's breach survey.)

CU System briefs (01/30/2014)

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  • Click to view larger image University of Central Oklahoma junior Abigail Wilburn, left, takes notes as senior Jackie Smith inspects evidence in the simulated crime scene held at the Edmond, Okla., branch of Tinker FCU. (Photo provided by Tinker FCU)
    EDMOND, Okla, (1/30/2014)--The Edmond, Okla., branch of Tinker FCU looked like a set from "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" when students from the University of Central Oklahoma staged a simulated crime scene. Twenty-one students from Professor Don Mizell's class at the School of Criminal Justice used the after-office-hours opportunity to sketch the scene, tag evidence and predict what happened. The students, who are majoring in criminal justice or forensic science, will follow up by doing simulated witness interviews with employees at the credit union. "Our participation in this simulation allowed students to practice real-world skills in a real-world environment," said John Micue, security and safety officer at $3.1 billion-asset credit union  ...
     
  • NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. (1/30/2014)-- GPO FCU's board of directors has announced Nicholas Mayhew as its new president/CEO. Mayhew has served on the board of the $202 million-asset credit union for 25 years and played an integral part in the strategic planning process as vice chairman. He formerly worked at Rome (N.Y.) Memorial Hospital as vice president and chief financial officer. Mayhem said he would continue to stress the importance of member service. He will replace John Prumo, who is retiring as president/CEO after more than 40 years at the New Hartford, N.Y., credit union ...
  • BELLINGHAM, Wash. (1/30/14)--After 41 years as CEO of Whatcom Educational CU, Wayne Langei announced his plan to retire from the Bellingham, Wash., credit union. The board expects to name a new CEO in August, with Langei staying on as a consultant until January 2015. There are three internal CEO candidates: Jeff Dykstra, Jennifer Kutcher and Robert Langei, all executive vice presidents for the $961 million-asset credit union. Langei will not be involved in the selection process because his son Robert is one of the candidates (The Bellingham Herald Jan. 28) ...
  • BREA and GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (1/30/14)--Members of Golden West Cities FCU, Garden Grove, Calif., voted Jan. 21 in favor of merging with CU of Southern California, Whittier. The credit union will serve more than 60,000 members in 11 locations and have nearly $760 million in assets. As of April 1, members of Golden West Cities FCU will have access to additional products and services, including extended weekday and Saturday hours, free mobile banking, remote deposit capture, individual retirement accounts and member business loans. CU of Southern California President/CEO Dave Gunderson will remain president/CEO while Golden West Cities FCU CEO Jaqueline Wadsworth will extend her retirement date and act in an advisory position for one year. The credit union will remain under the CU of Southern California name ...
  • ST. LOUIS (1/30/14)--Vantage CU, Bridgeton, Mo., is looking for an 18- to 25-year-old to be the Young and Free representative for St. Louis. Applications will be accepted until March 3. Applicants can enter by submitting a short YouTube video outlining what would make them the best Y&F Spokester, a blog post on a financially entertaining topic and a personal information form. A public vote will take place March 5-17, and eight contestants will move on to the final round. Applicants will then submit a final YouTube video and blog post and participate in a "Show Your Stuff" challenge. The winning Spokester will be a salaried employee of the $705 million-asset credit union and will participate in regional events and regularly create videos and blogs ...

NWCUA debuts 3 redesigned websites this week

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PORTLAND, Ore. (1/30/14)--New websites for the Northwest Credit Union Association, the Northwest Credit Union Foundation and Strategic Link, the association's service corporation, debuted this week.
 
"In today's ever-changing world, our members need quick and easy access to their association, their Foundation and their service corporation," said Troy Stang, NWCUA's president/CEO. "These newly designed websites make it easier than ever to connect to the right information, at the right time, and in the right context."
 
The redesigned Northwest Credit Union Association website includes a home-page "hub" that allows visitors to plug into key resources.
The NWCUA website includes a home-page "hub" that allows visitors to plug into key resources. The home page also includes a slideshow of photographs that highlight the impact Northwest credit unions have on the communities they serve.
 
All three websites use bigger photos, brighter colors and bolder typography to create a more dynamic user experience. The three sites also feature content that is more closely aligned with the league's strategic plan and priorities: Policy advancement, public awareness, value creation and strategic philanthropy.
 
The NWCUA's website includes:
  • More ways to access the most in-demand content, including Resource Centers that gather all of the relevant information, articles and pages in one place for departments, such as compliance, advocacy and public relations and marketing;
  • A new Public Awareness section, with graphics, videos, photos and stories that credit unions can share with members on their own websites, in branch lobbies and in newsletters;
  • An updated jobs board and career-resources page;
  • A new online and mobile directory; and
  • An upgraded Anthem newsletter that includes the ability for members to filter the articles, an RSS feed and a list of related posts for each article. There's also a new way for members to share news from their own credit unions. As part of the changes, Anthem will publish once a week, but the online blog will be updated daily to include breaking news.
The new Northwest Credit Union Foundation website includes a tab to apply for scholarships and grants.
The new Northwest Credit Union Foundation website is organized into tabs:
  • The "My Foundation" tab makes it easy for credit unions to apply for scholarships and grants, using a new online application process developed by Profits4Purpose;
  • The "Do More" tab supports greater community engagement by offering ways to contribute time, talent and funds to the Foundation and its programs; and
  • The Financial Education Resource Library offers resources and guidance to help credit unions host financial education programs in their own communities.
 
The redesigned Strategic Link website includes a "partner" connection for vendors. (Photos provided by Northwest Credit Union Association)
The Strategic Link website includes:
  • The launch of BetaSpace, which connects credit unions to financial technology startups and their latest innovations;
  • A "partner" side of the website, which highlights three ways to work with Strategic Link and NWCUA's member credit unions: Official partnerships, an annual sponsorship program, and the opportunity to exhibit at Amplify;
  • A new feedback area to help credit unions engage with Strategic Link, recommend potential new partners, and make suggestions about the kinds of products and services they need.

Leadership defined by 6 disciplines, says Filene report

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MADISON, Wis. (1/30/14)--A new report from Filene Research Institute breaks down strategic thinking into six disciplines and looks at how each element is deployed at credit unions across North America.
 
The report, "Strategic Thinking and Credit Union Leaders: Strategic Aptitude Assessment Findings, Fall 2013," was written by Jarrad Roeder and Franck Schuurmans of Decision Strategies International, which developed the strategic thinking model.
 
The six elements of strategic thinking described in the report include:
  • Anticipate. Strategic thinkers consistently look for signals of change, scanning their environment for signs of impending threats as well as emerging opportunities. By proactively monitoring changing market dynamics, these leaders are able to seize opportunities and mitigate threats--well ahead of the competition.
  • Challenge. Strategic leaders question what others take for granted. They do not jump to judgment; instead they challenge their own assumptions, as well as those of others, to encourage creativity and divergent points of view. Only after examining a complex problem through many lenses and engaging in careful reflection do they take action.
  • Interpret. This is the ability of a leader to view strategic challenges through multiple lenses and evaluate alternative interpretations against robust decision criteria. Interpretation is related to wisdom, and wisdom requires the ability to compare multiple viewpoints and hypotheses to ascertain and interpret the facts as they emerge.
  • Decide. Strategic leaders have to make sure that groupthink, gut calls, old habits and analysis paralysis do not stifle the strategic decision-making process. Furthermore, leaders play a key role in avoiding groupthink by making sure that the decision team is truly diverse. With well-defined assumptions and good data, the decision process will be more productive.
  • Align. This is the ability to converge distinct views and agendas to advance a strategic decision. Strategic change can be achieved when people work as an integrated system to develop, stress-test and support transformation. This is rare and difficult to achieve.
  • Learn. Learning is often a selective process to seek confirmation of what the learner believes to be true. Real learning requires an honest analysis of facts and causality. Success will come from a combination of good process, serendipity and execution.
The report also offers an assessment tool for credit unions to use in the selection and evaluation of CEOs and other executive-level leaders.
 
To download the report, use the link.

CU System brief

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  • WASHINGTON (1/29/14)--The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is accepting applications for two open slots on its Academic Research Council. The council, which the CFPB said was created to gather information from experts with diverse viewpoints, knowledge, and expertise, aids the CFPB by providing the agency's office of research with methodological and technical advice and feedback, suggesting new data collection strategies and methods of analysis and providing input into research strategic planning and the research agenda. The CFPB said council nominees should be tenured academics with world class research and publishing backgrounds and a record of public or academic service. Recognition for professional achievements and objectivity in economics, statistics, psychology or behavioral science is also a plus. Potential council members can also have strong methodological and technical expertise in structural or reduced form econometrics, modeling of consumer decision-making, behavioral economics, experimental economics, program evaluation, psychology, or financial choice, the CFPB added.

N.H. CUs meet with Rep. Kuster

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MANCHESTER, N.H. (1/29/14)--America's Credit Union Museum was the setting for Friday's meeting between New Hampshire credit unions and U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.).
 
U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.), center, met with representatives from six New Hampshire credit unions and New Hampshire Credit Union League President/CEO Paul Gentile last week. (New Hampshire Credit Union League photo)
Kuster, who represents the state's Second District, met with Paul Gentile, president/CEO, New Hampshire Credit Union League, and representatives from Bellwether Community CU, Manchester; Holy Rosary CU, Rochester; Northeast CU, Portsmouth; Service CU, Portsmouth; St. Mary's Bank CU, Manchester; and Triangle CU, Nashua.
 
The delegation discussed member business lending, supplemental capital, student loans, taxation and regulatory burdens (Daily Scan Jan. 26).  "The Congresswoman is clearly focused on helping the people and businesses of New Hampshire, and we think credit unions can play a part in that," said Gentile, who also serves as president/CEO for the Massachusetts and Rhode Island leagues.
 
The representatives explained the effect that the 12.25% cap on member business loans has on their efforts to serve small businesses. Kuster offered to communicate with the National Credit Union Administration regarding credit unions' business loan challenges and expressly rejected any suggestions that such lending was unsound, Daily Scan reported.
 
Gentile also thanked Kuster for co-sponsoring H.R. 1553, The Financial Institutions Examination Fairness and Reform Act, which would bring fairness to the examination and examination appeals processes.

Tax fight, merger voting requirements among NWCUA 2014 top priorities

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SEATAC, Wash. (1/29/14)--Although Washington credit unions don't face a declared battle on their tax status this year, protecting that status will be among the Northwest Credit Union Association's top state legislative priorities in 2014, NWCUA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Mark Minickiello told News Now last week.
 
"It's not specifically under threat, but it's always under threat because of the financial needs of our state," Minickiello. "Even though our tax status was reviewed in 2011 by the legislature, we want to continue to educate lawmakers about the great things credit unions are doing and the money that gets returned to our members and other Washingtonians through that tax status."
 
Among the credit union benefits that NWCUA and credit unions will share with lawmakers:
  • At a credit union, the typical interest rate on a 60-month auto loan is 1.49% lower than at a bank, so the member would save about $200 per year in finance charges.
  • Washington credit union members collectively paid $38.5 million less in new car finance charges than bank customers in the 12 months ending Sept. 30--and saved more than $38 million in credit card interest charges.
  • The interest rate on a "gold" credit card is typically 11.07% at a bank, but just 10.18% at a credit union.
Last year Washington credit unions helped pass Senate Bill 5302, which among other things, changed the voting requirement of a merging credit union's board to a simple majority, in parity with the Federal Credit Union Act. However, SB 5302 did not change the voting requirement of the merging credit union membership to a simple majority, as also required in the Federal Credit Union Act.

In 2014, Washington credit unions are supporting a bill that would change the membership voting requirement to simple majority. The bill passed out of committee earlier this month. "It's noncontroversial," Minickiello said. "It will probably pass pretty easily."
 
Another legislative hot button in Washington is marijuana banking. Small amounts of marijuana-related products are legal for most adults in Washington. The state taxes marijuana sales and designates the revenue for healthcare and substance-abuse prevention and education.
 
The state of Washington is considering creating a state bank for money generated from legal marijuana sales because credit unions and banks are not currently allowed to hold that money.

"We're in opposition to a state bank for thos purposes," Minickiello said. "We think it's premature. We want to wait for guidance from the federal government. It's got to be coming soon."
 
Minickiello said some Washington credit unions are interested in accepting marijuana deposits. "We have some members that want to get involved--not all of our members," he said.
 
"Some of our members are waiting for the green light, no pun intended, from the government to get involved, but I think what we are waiting for is guidance that is more immediate than legislation at the federal level, and that is guidance from the [National Credit Union Administration], Minickiello said.

CU pioneer Haynes honored during National Thrift Week

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (1/29/14)--Rita Haynes believes that everyone was put on planet Earth for a reason.

"There's a purpose in everybody's life," she said. Whether or not that's true, Haynes has certainly lived by that mantra. As the leader of the Cleveland-based Faith Community United CU for over five decades, from 1958 until 2012, she dedicated her life to helping her community access financial services it might have otherwise never been privy to.


Last week, she was honored for her life's work at a National Thrift Week event in Philadelphia, where she gave the keynote speech. At an event sponsored by a local charity, People to People Inc., and a New York-based think tank, the Institute for American Values, Haynes spoke about how she turned the credit union from a $500 church basement operation into a $12 million institution with its own branch.

"I just wanted to make sure that I was instrumental in helping to change lives," she said in a documentary about Faith Community United shown at the event. Haynes, who started managing the credit union shortly after joining its parent church, Mount Sinai Baptist Church, also discussed the profound responsibility she felt after receiving members' "total life's savings."

The credit union, which was founded in 1952, had its roots in the early days of the Civil Rights movement. As black servicemen returned from World War II only to find themselves discriminated against, they banded together to launch their own institutions like Faith Community United. Haynes explained this history and how it was difficult to inculcate a sense that the Mount Sinai parishioners, too, deserved access to institutions white communities took for granted.

"Once we got over that hurdle, everything went great," she said. "We were able to get the credit union on solid footing."

The spirit of solidarity and community that gave life to Faith Community United is reflected in financial products it offers. Its Grace Loans--a short-term credit line of up to $500, launched in 1999--and Mercy Mortgages--designed for members facing foreclosure--both offer the Cleveland area membership an alternative to the predatory lenders that crept into the void left in the inner city by conventional banks.

Members over the years appear to have responded positively. Since it was launched, Faith Community United CU has grown to become the largest minority-owned credit union in the state of Ohio. For that, Haynes was honored last week, given the marquee ahead of notable figures such as Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and State Treasurer Rob McCord, a 2014 Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate.

LSCU board adopts political endorsement policy

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala., and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (1/29/14)--The League of Southeastern Credit Unions' board of directors last week approved an official election endorsement policy.
 
It is a major election year in Alabama and Florida, the states served by the LSCU. Alabama and Florida have many high-profile federal races, races for governor and cabinet positions (eSignal, Jan. 27).
 
The league has three political action committees (PACs)--a federal PAC and one each for Florida and Alabama.
 
"Under the policy, official endorsements will be made by one of two state-specific brands developed by LSCU for advocacy purposes---the Alabama Credit Union Association or the Florida Credit Union Association," said Patrick La Pine, LSCU & Affiliates president/CEO. "This will raise the profile of credit unions since the endorsements will be for major races. It will also give us a foot in the door with the candidates once they win their election."
 
The process will be transparent, the league said. PAC trustees will make recommendations to the LSCU board on candidates to endorse. Each time the LSCU board endorses a candidate, member credit unions will be informed of the reasons for the endorsement.
 
Decisions on candidates will be made solely based on their position on credit union issues. 
 
LSCU will not state that endorsements are made by all 279 member credit unions or their 6.5 million members.
 
LSCU member credit unions can play a part in the process by attending chapter legislative events where candidates may appear or respond to league requests for endorsements.

Severe weather closes some southeastern CUs

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (1/29/14)--As Winter Storm Leon beared down, the Deep South faced freezing rain, sleet and snow, which caused some credit unions to close Tuesday.
 
Snow was forecast to reach as far south as Pensacola, Fla.  The winter storm warning was in effect for all of southeast Mississippi, southwest and south central Alabama, and the western Florida panhandle until 6 a.m. today.
 
Keesler FCU, Biloxi, Miss., was monitoring the weather in the Gulf Coast and said on its website it would post operating hours this morning. Hope CU closed branches in Jackson and Utica, Miss., as well as its New Orleans branch.
 
The Birmingham, Ala., office of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions closed at noon Tuesday, said Mike Bridges, vice president of communications. It plans to reopen for normal hours today.
 
All branches of Army Aviation FCU, Daleville, Ala., are closed until Thursday "due to the fast-moving weather conditions," said the credit union on its website.
 
Pen Air FCU, Pensacola, Fla., closed at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday and will not reopen until Thursday. "We urge all members to check for updates before driving to any branch, as member safety is of upmost importance to us," the credit union said on its website.
 
In Warner Robins, Ga., HEA FCU and Robins FCU were among the mid-state businesses that planned late openings (The Telegraph Jan. 28).  TIC FCU closed its branches at noon Tuesday, said Mark Littleton, vice president and chief strategy/marketing officer for the Columbus, Ga., credit union. It reminded members that ATMs and phone, mobile and online banking are available (Ledger-Enquirer Jan. 28).
 
Heart of Louisiana CU, Pineville, closed branches last Thursday and Friday because of weather and closed again Tuesday, according to its Facebook page and website.
 
In Austin, Texas, Velocity CU notified its members of late office openings on its website and encouraged members to use online, mobile or phone banking systems.
 
The Cornerstone Credit Union League rescheduled a planned compliance seminar that was to be held in Houston Tuesday. It has been moved to Feb. 14 (Leaguer Jan. 28)
 
States of emergencies were declared in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina, with Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant closing state offices Tuesday (weather.com Jan. 28).
 
As the storm moved north and east, other credit unions took precautionary measures. CPM FCU, North Charleston, S.C., closed branch locations in Orangeburg, Summerville, Charleston and Beaufort Tuesday with modified operating hours today.

Ark. CU stresses security standards for member data

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (1/29/14)--Retailers should be held more accountable for data breaches, such as the recent Target security breach, an Arkansas credit union CEO recently told the Cornerstone Credit Union League.
 
Like virtually every other credit union, Mil-Way CU, Texarkana, Ark., holds itself to high standards in protecting its members' personal data, Mil-Way CU CEO Allen Brown told the Cornerstone league, which serves credit unions in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas (Leaguer Jan. 28). Despite its best efforts, the $105 million-asset credit union was required to replace 500 debit cards in the wake of the recent Target security breach.
 
Unfortunately, when members swipe their debit cards at restaurants, gas stations or retailers, credit unions are at the mercy of the merchant to secure the network, Brown said.
 
"Mil-Way FCU performs its due diligence to keep our members and their personal data safe," Brown said. "We adhere to strict security policies and procedures. We have firewalls in place to prevent intruders from accessing our network. And we perform periodic penetration testing to ensure the systems we have in place are working.
 
"But more importantly, we had to restore member confidence," Brown said. "Anytime there is a data breach of this magnitude, it affects members' confidence. The last thing we want is for members to be afraid of using their debit card."
 
Members didn't necessarily understand that the credit union was not in any way responsible for the breach, so Mil-Way CU spent a significant amount of time briefing its member service team on the Target breach, so member representatives could could inform and educate members.
 
Brown said the credit union encourages members to monitor their accounts at least weekly-- if not daily--so they can identify fraudulent activity as early as possible.
 
Media continue to detail the effects in their regions with numbers drawn from the Credit Union National Association's survey on the Target data breach. The League of Southeast Credit Unions told the South Florida Business Journal that Florida credit unions have lost at least $1.41 million because of the massive Target customer data breach. The breach cost Alabama credit unions $400,000, LSCU told the Birmingham Business Journal.

The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association told Lancaster Online that state credit unions lost $1 million as result of the breach.

And, Politico noted the results of CUNA's survey in a Tuesday article "Banks, stores tout cards with chips as security cure: But chip wouldn't have stopped breach." Credit unions have incurred between $25 million and $30 million in initial costs due to the breach.

Tech CU finances $4.5M for historic theater rebuild

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (1/28/14)--Technology CU funded a $4.5 million loan to the owners of a historic Redwood City, Calif., theater that is set for renovation and community growth.
 
Owners Eric and Lori Lochtefeld bought the Fox Theatre out of foreclosure in 2010 and plan to turn it into a venue for retailers, office space and the performing arts.
 
"This financing opportunity is unique because the theater is such an important landmark on the Peninsula," said Niki Wong, senior vice president of commercial/Small Business Administration lending for the $1.75 billion-asset credit union.
 
"As a local lender, we appreciate being involved in supporting the preservation of a historic property, while also seeing the business opportunity Eric and Lori envision for the future," Wong added.
 
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Fox Theatre is nearly 90 years old, having started out as a movie theater.
 
"Tech CU's lending team structured the refinancing of this property to the benefit of our business model and investment strategy," said Eric Lochtefeld.
 
The San Jose, Calif., credit union's loan plays into the role of how credit unions can support local businesses and better the economy. The Lochtefelds plan to turn the mixed-use property into an area for retail, office and entertainment space.
 
The Credit Union National Association has been urging Congress to allow credit unions to play a larger role in helping small businesses through MBLs. The statutory cap on MBLs loans, as a proportion of credit union's assets, is currently 12.25%. CUNA says that raising the federal government-mandated ceiling to 27.5% would inject $13 billion into the economy, and help boost employment by 140,000 at no cost to taxpayers.

CU System briefs (01/28/2014)

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  • WASHINGTON (1/28/14)--The first round of 2014 campaign schools garnered strong results for the Credit Union National Association and Montana Credit Union Network, as 20 to 25 individuals attended schools held in Missoula, Helena and Billings last week.
    Wayne Stevenson, an 18-year-old high school senior from Hobson, Mont., came to the campaign school with hopes of running for governor in the future. (MCUN Photo)
    Montana State House members Chuck Hunter (D-79) and Kelly Flynn (R-68) both spoke during the session, and CUNA Senior Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose also provided pointers to potential candidates. The main goal of the campaign schools is to give candidates the know-how to run for office, raise money and develop campaign plans. Gose noted that this year's campaign schools were attended by a mixture of newcomers, incumbents and others seeking higher office. "For credit unions to be truly impactful at the highest level of federal and state government, our interaction needs to start at this level," he said. Three more schools are being held in North Carolina this week. The North Carolina-based schools will be held in Rocky Mount today, Fayetteville on Wednesday and Hickory on Thursday ...
  • ARLINGTON, Va. (1/28/14)--The National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) last week submitted a rare comment on proposed federal regulations because they would affect state-chartered credit unions. The submission came in response to a request from the National Credit Union Administration for input on proposed changes to rules governing examination locales. The NCUA has suggested that Part 701 of its Rules and Regulations be amended to require examinations and contact between its regulators and credit union staff to occur at commercial offices or other public locations. The federal regulatory body specifically asked whether to include state-chartered credit unions under one provision of the law. NASCUS replied that the NCUA should coordinate with the primary state regulator when dealing with credit unions that are federally insured but state-chartered, while agreeing that regulatory agencies should be able to shape their examination processes within reason. The association recognized that some state regulators have voiced concerns about the appropriate public location for NCUA examinations, particularly with regard to the handling of credit union records and the cost of off-site meetings ...
  • WHIPPANY, N.J. (1/28/14)--The head of a $284-million asset New Jersey credit union last Friday started his term as leader of a prominent local trade association. Garden Savings FCU President/CEO Lou Vetere became chairman of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, presiding over a meeting in Whippany, N.J. (The Daily Exchange Jan. 27). There were more than 600 attendees at the gathering, including representatives from Garden Savings FCU, Parsippany; XCEL FCU, Bloomfield; and the New Jersey Credit Union League. Linda McFadden, president/CEO, XCEL FCU, and league chair; and Greg Michlig, league president/CEO, were in attendance ...
  • WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (1/28/14)--A North Carolina credit union was named one of the healthiest businesses in America. Allegacy FCU, Winston-Salem, was given the distinction last week by Healthiest Employers, a health analytics company. More than 5,000 organizations were competing for the honor, which is given to firms that incorporate outstanding employee programs and practices. Allegacy was recognized for its AllHealth Wellness program, which it started in 2009. "We are honored to be the only credit union recognized on a national level for Allegacy's AllHealth Wellness efforts," said Cathy Pace, CEO of the $1 billion-asset credit union, noting that the annual employee participation rate for the past three years has been at least 86%. The program includes health risk assessments, screenings, in-person coaching, incentives and discounted gym memberships, among other benefits ...
  • MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (1/28/14)--Sixty-one Massachusetts credit unions collectively raised $120,000 for the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless in 2013. The amount was represented by a ceremonial check given to the coalition last week by Nicole James, social responsibility committee chair, and Paul Gentile, president/CEO, Massachusetts Credit Union League (The Daily Scan Jan. 27). The largest contribution came from Waltham-based RTN FCU, which raised $31,300 through a number of programs. "It is only with the collective generosity from the credit unions that the coalition can be a place for families and individuals to turn when the unthinkable possibility of becoming homeless happens," said Robyn Frost, coalition executive director . . .

CUNA nominates 4 CUs to BSA advisory group

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WASHINGTON (1/28/14)--On Monday, the Credit Union National Association nominated four credit unions to be part of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) Advisory Group for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
 
In the letter, CUNA Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn said that the nominated credit unions have been very active in BSA and payments issues, providing assistance to CUNA and others in regards to these topics.
 
They also have legal, regulatory and compliance staff that carefully analyze BSA issues and will be well-equipped to assist the credit union's representative who will be attending the advisory group meetings, the nomination letter said.
 
Nominees are:
  • Hudson Valley FCU, Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Lisa Massey, director of risk mitigation, will be the representative for the $3.8 billion-asset credit union that serves more than 280,000 consumers and businesses in four New York counties;
  • First Commerce CU, Tallahassee, Fla. Andrew Price, general counsel, will be the representative for the $367 million-asset credit union with more than 39,000 members;
  • Wescom CU, Pasadena, Calif. Bryan Tinoco, BSA officer and Office of Foreign Assets Control administrator, will represent the $2.5 billion-asset credit union that serves seven California counties and more than 200,000 members; and
  • Kentucky Corporate FCU, Louisville. President/CEO Marsha Hahn will represent the corporate credit union that provides correspondent and payment services to 87 credit unions in Kentucky.

CU CEO to help Hispanics, young folks

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MORTON GROVE, Ill. (1/28/14)--A Jan. 20 Daily Herald article highlighted the efforts of Jose Garcia, president/CEO of $60 million-asset Northwest Community CU, to increase awareness of credit unions, especially among Hispanics.
 
"He's looking to increase membership and focus more on social media to draw in the younger generation," wrote Daily Herald reporter Anna Marie Kukec.
 
Garcia called credit unions a "diamond in the rough." The missing piece is reaching high school students so they have a better understanding of credit and finances and how to shop for lending products, he said.
 
Reaching out to social media, such as Facebook and YouTube, is the best way to reach young consumers, Garcia said.
 
Garcia was born in Texas and raised in Chicago. He earned his bachelor's of business administration degree in accounting at St. Xavier University in Chicago.
 
He began his career in financial services as a bank teller, and worked his way into the accounting department. He landed a job as accounting manager at Baxter CU, in Deerfield, Ill. He also served as chief financial officer of Advance Financial Federal in Schereville, Ind., before taking over as CEO of Northwest Community CU.
 
Northwest Community CU currently has 2,700 members, "but the potential is endless," Garcia told the Daily Herald.

CO-OP Miracle Match results in $3M for CMN Hospitals

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (1/28/14)--More than 150 credit unions participating in CO-OP Miracle Match in 2013 raised $3 million for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals--$1 million of which was matching funds provided under the CO-OP Financial Services program.
 
"CO-OP Financial Services established CO-OP Miracle Match on behalf of our member credit unions in 2008 as a way to encourage Credit Unions for Kids fundraisers," said Stan Hollen, president/CEO of CO-OP Financial Services. "This marks the third year in a row that the combined totals of CO-OP and participating credit unions surpassed the $3 million mark in donations."
 
Credit Unions for Kids is the brand under which America's credit unions, chapters, leagues/associations and business partners raise funds for 170 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Credit unions are the third-largest sponsor of CMN Hospitals and since 1996 have contributed over $110 million dollars to help fund  programs and services ranging from research and training to the acquisition of new life-saving equipment.
 
Credit unions interested in applying for match grants in 2014 under the CO-OP Miracle Match program may do so by using the link below.
 
The credit union fundraisers benefited 98 different children's hospitals in 34 states in 2013. More than 100 fundraisers were first-time events by the sponsoring credit union and nearly half of the participating credit unions-- about 70--were new to the CO-OP Miracle Match program.
 
CO-OP Financial Services also made donations of $164,500 to CMN Hospitals in 2013. The donations were made through event sponsorships, such as credit union-hosted golf tournaments, and at its own THINK Conference, held last year in Chicago.
 
CO-OP Financial Services has also developed an add-on transaction that allows credit union members to make a contribution to CMN Hospitals at ATMs directly "driven" by CO-OP for its clients.

N.Y. advocate hits the road to build startup CU

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BUFFALO, N.Y.  (1/28/14)--Starting up a credit union requires lots of enthusiasm, energy, supplies and--if you are lucky--generosity.

Last November Emma Smalley, financial counselor at $30 million-asset Boulevard FCU, Amherst, N.Y. sent out an email, she says, asking her credit union friends to "look around their offices" for anything they could donate to the startup Good Neighbors FCU in Buffalo, N.Y.

Her friends were generous, Smalley says.  That was the good news--but it sparked the quandary:  How to actually get the stuff.

"Light bulb moment?" said Smalley, a former member of the Credit Union Association of New York's Young Professionals Commission, "CU road trip!"

Her brainchild will result in April with "CU on the road," collecting donations from state credit unions.

"I got a really good response," Smalley told News Now. "The problem is that the commission is throughout the whole state and [GNFCU] is in Buffalo. We didn't know how we were going to collect all this stuff--so we planned a road trip."
 
GNFCU organizers are seeking deposit pledges, donations and in-kind donations such as general office equipment and supplies.
 
"CU on the road" also offers an opportunity for GNFCU to publicly acknowledge contributors for donations. Organizers have developed a website for the event, which can also be followed on Facebook and Twitter. Each stop of the event will be promoted with photos, videos and interviews with credit union employees.
 
Planning for GNFCU has been under way for more than a year. The credit union held its first steering committee meeting in April and has received preliminary approval from the National Credit Union Administration.

CU System briefs (01/27/2014)

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  • DES MOINES, Iowa (1/27/14)--The Iowa Credit Union Foundation hired Jaimie Miller as its executive director. Miller will support the foundation's fundraising strategies and strengthen relationships with Iowa credit unions and community partners. "Jaimie's wealth of foundation knowledge and passion for helping others will be a tremendous asset not only to the Iowa Credit Union Foundation, but to the entire credit union community," said foundation President Dale Owen. Miller previously was director of philanthropy for WesleyLife and has served as the fund development manager for Girl Scouts of Iowa and as a governmental affairs intern for PolicyWorks, a credit union compliance firm in Des Moines, Iowa ...
     
  • ST. PAUL, Minn. (1/27/14)--Former TopLine FCU President/CEO Harry Carter received the Credit Union Builder Award from the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation. Carter, who retired from the Maple Grove, Minn., credit union at the end of 2013, was honored for his tenure, service and excellence. Under his 14-year guidance, the $340 million-asset credit union became the first to be granted a seven-county charter. Carter also was inducted into the Credit Union House Hall of Leaders for his commitment to the people helping people philosophy.  "Harry is a strong leader who has helped lead the growth and success of credit unions, not just in Minnesota but nationwide as well," said Mark Cummins, president/CEO, Minnesota Credit Union Network ...

Strong lending forecast for Pa. CUs

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/27/14)--Pennsylvania credit unions are expected to experience a strong lending marketing in 2014--possibly the most robust environment in seven years--as accelerated economic growth and increased job creation will drive consumer borrowing, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association reported.
 
In the third quarter of 2013, loan balances at Pennsylvania credit unions increased 2.8%, up from a 1.9% rise in the third quarter of 2012, according to the Pennsylvania Profile Third Quarter 2013 (Life is a Highway Jan. 24).
 
Member business loans and other unsecured loans were the fastest rising lending sectors, increasing 4.6% and 3.6%, respectively. Home equity loan and second-mortgage loan balances posted a gain of 2.5%.
 
Meanwhile, first mortgage loan balances rose 2.7%, similar to the 2.8% pace set in the third quarter of 2012, even in the face of higher mortgage interest rates. Credit card loan balances rose 3.1% as spending on durable goods picked up.
 
Over the last 12 months, savings balances are up 2.6%, while loan balances are up 4.4%, increasing the loan-to-savings ratio to 65.3% from 64% at the end 2012.
 
Loan delinquency rates for Pennsylvania credit unions were significantly lower than bank-reported rates. The credit union rate for more than 60 days was 1.09% in the third quarter, compared with 1.40% reported by Pennsylvania banking institutions.
 
The net charge-off ratio for credit unions fell to 0.53% in the third quarter--from 0.56% in the second quarter, and two basis points lower than one year earlier.
 
Pennsylvania credit unions reported strong net membership growth in the third quarter, rising 0.8%, identical to the 0.8% pace set one year earlier. Net memberships grew by 23,000 in the third quarter to reach 3,769,000.

Ohio face-to-face meetings focus on public funds bill

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (1/27/14)--The Ohio Credit Union League (OCUL) continues to press its state representatives to support and pass public funds legislation--House Bill 221, also known as the Community Access and Local Government Choice Act.
 
OCUL's Becky Hart, senior vice president of credit union advocacy; John Kozlowski, general counsel; and Patrick Harris, director of legislative and public affairs, joined Superior FCU, Lima, staff for a lunch with Rep. Matt Huffman (R-Lima).
 
Superior FCU's President/CEO Phil Buell, Executive Vice President of Lending Keith Eiden and Vice President of Business Development Kurt Neeper urged the speaker pro tempore for leadership support for the legislation, citing specific examples across the state where local entities had asked credit unions to serve as their depository institution. Huffman was asked to bring banks to the negotiating table, according to the league's eLumination newsletter (Jan. 22).
 
The following day, Medina County FCU, Wadsworth, hosted a breakfast with House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R-Medina). Again, credit unions shared specific examples of the need for public funds legislation and asked the speaker to talk to banks about compromise legislation.
 
"We are on to our sixth version of public funds. Credit unions have conceded along the way, and banks continue to say 'no,'" Harris said. "We need legislative leaders to join us in standing up to the banks, and finding common ground."
 
Those meetings--as well as three others--led up to a dinner at which Ohio House Republicans joined representatives from 10 Ohio credit unions.
 
League President/CEO Paul Mercer told the gathering that credit unions are willing to and want to do more, "and we are looking for ideas on how to ensure Ohio credit unions can join 25 other states in accepting public deposits. We need help from the Ohio General Assembly."
 
Legislators in attendance were: Batchelder; Huffman; Barbara Sears (R-Monclova Township), majority floor leader; John Adams (R-Sidney), assistant majority floor leader; Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City), majority whip; Jim Buchy (R- Greenville), assistant majority whip; Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster), Finance and Appropriations Committee chairman; and Terry Blair (R-Dayton), State and Local Government Committee chairman.

N.J. league briefs Sen. Booker on CU issues

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NEWARK, N.J. (1/27/14)--Representatives from the New Jersey Credit Union League (NJCUL) and other industry stakeholders met last Thursday with freshman U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

From left, Greg Michlig, president/CEO, New Jersey Credit Union League; Chris Abeel, NJCUL director of government affairs; Tracy Sussmann, president/CEO, Mid-State FCU, Carteret; U.S. Sen. Cory Booker; John Fenton, president/CEO, Affinity FCU, Basking Ridge; Bob Steeves, president/CEO, Essex County Teachers FCU, Bloomfield; and Eddie Daniels, CEO, Newark Board of Education CU.
The group briefed Booker on credit unions' legislative priorities and New Jersey credit unions' financial literacy programs (The Daily Exchange Jan. 24).

Specific topics discussed included efforts to preserve credit unions' tax status, lessening the regulatory burden on credit unions, fair access to the secondary mortgage market in housing finance reform, and how credit unions can play a role in the economic recovery by altering their charters to increase member business lending and members' access to capital.

League Government Affairs Director Chris Abeel said it has been cultivating a relationship with the senator, a former mayor of Newark, for years. Booker has given a speech at an NJCUL chapter meeting, participated in a Garden Savings FCU fundraiser and attended the CO-OP Think Conference in Chicago last year.

"Senator Booker already had an excellent understanding and appreciation of the unique and important role credit unions play, and he seemed very interested in seeing that role expanded," NJCUL President/CEO Greg Michlig said after the meeting.

Booker was picked by New Jersey voters to fill the seat held for 10 years by the recently deceased Frank Lautenberg. In a special election held Oct. 31, Booker won 54% of the vote. 

Miss. CUs' QM considerations in Business Journal

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JACKSON, Miss. (1/27/14)--The Mississippi Business Journal recently looked into how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's ability-to-repay/qualified mortgage (QM) rule is affecting credit unions in its state--particularly the 63 low-income designated credit unions.
 
The Jan. 24 article noted that the Jan. 15 Federal Reserve Beige Book reported "some bankers in the Southeast are putting the brakes on any non-QM lending, others are halting mortgage lending altogether."
 
Credit unions, meanwhile, are working to determine what is the right thing to do for their members and communities, according to Charles Elliott, president/CEO of the Mississippi Credit Union Association (MCUA).
 
Elliott told the Journal that low- and moderate-income borrowers make up about 90% of assets and 87% of members for the state's credit unions.
 
The QM/ATR lending rules specify a debt-to-income ratio no higher than 43% and a fairly clean credit history.
 
A lot of the people live day-to-day, the MCUA executive noted in the article,  and are carrying debt loads in excess of 43%of their income,  referring to debts beyond home mortgages. "We're trying to digest all of this to determine what the right thing to do is."
 
The CFPB rule allows some exemptions from the QM/ATR rule.
 
Hope FCU, Jackson, is not exempt, but the $169 million-asset credit union is moving forward with mortgage lending. "We are absolutely going to go ahead and continue to lend," CEO Bill Bynum told the Journal, adding that it will be more difficult for some of its branches.
 
The lending rules went into effect Jan. 10.  The Credit Union National Association has advocated with the CFPB and the U.S. Congress that all credit unions should be exempt from the QM rule.
 
"Credit unions agree that it is always in the best interest of the credit union to assess a member's ability to repay when offering them a loan. That is what credit unions routinely did, even before the adoption of the rule," CUNA said as recently as Jan. 10 in a statement for a House hearing on the QM rule and its impact on consumers. CUNA also drove home that point when Jerry Reed, is chief lending officer at Alaska USA FCU, testified on CUNA's behalf in June before the House Financial Services subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer credit.

See resource link for Jan. 13 News Now "CUNA urges Congress, CFPB to exempt CUs from QM rule."

LSCU pushes for legislation on public deposits, foreclosures

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala., and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (1/27/14)--The League of Southeastern Credit Unions is getting ready for a legislative marathon. In Alabama, they state legislature begins in January and runs until March or April.  In Florida, session runs from March to May.

"It's a sprint to get legislation passed in both states," said League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) President/CEO Patrick La Pine. "Obviously, we're not the only group out there pushing for their agenda items. It's about timing and preparation. If you don't have your ducks in row by January, it can be a tough year to try to get anything done proactively."

 Among the "ducks" the LSCU has in its sights in Alabama and Florida are changes to the Alabama state credit union act and public deposit and foreclosure legislation.
 
In Alabama, the LSCU has been working with the Alabama Credit Union Administration to update the Alabama Credit Union Act. Among the changes the league is seeking is the addition of a wild-card provision that would give the state regulator authority to grant powers to state chartered credit unions that are available to federally chartered credit unions and other financial institutions.
 
The league is also pressing for explicit language to guide financial institutions on charter conversions, La Pine said. "There's really no language [for charter changes] in Alabama," La Pine told News Now. "One could argue a credit union could not convert to a bank. But the regulator could also devise its own process. One of the things that we want to do is be sure there are very clear guidelines for charter conversions, such as voting thresholds and the types of notifications that need to be given to the member so they can make a well-informed decision."
 
A bill that updates the Alabama Credit Union Act passed the Alabama Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance unanimously last week. While most of the changes are technical in nature and non-controversial to the banking and finance industry, the legislation is a stepping stone to further legislation within the Alabama Credit Union Act, the league said (eSignal Daily Jan. 24).
 
House counterpart legislation was also introduced last week. That bill could be heard in the House Financial Services Committee as early as this week.
 
Alabama credit unions are also seeking legislative protection from end-of-the-year Alabama Credit Union Administration funds sweeps by the state government, when money from special funds are dumped into general spending. "Like most state credit union divisions, our regulator is completely funded by examination fees from state-chartered credit unions," La Pine said. "We want to make sure that our funds are not used to supplement the general fund."
 
In 2011, 2012 and 2013, Florida credit unions pursued legislation that would grant them authority to accept public deposits but were stymied by fierce opposition from banks. Although the Federal Credit Union Act (FCUA) authorizes all federally chartered credit unions to accept public deposits, Florida law does not grant state governmental entities the authority to deposit funds in federally chartered and/or state-chartered credit unions.
 
"We have a lot of credit unions that get contacted by local units of governments that want to rate shop their deposits around, and we can't accept them," La Pine said. "We continue to gain momentum with lawmakers."
 
La Pine said credit unions would welcome a compromise on public deposits with Florida banks, which have not been able to have to advance their own proactive legislative agenda while they "play defense" in battling credit unions on public deposits.
 
The LSCU will also support legislation that would streamline foreclosures with a non-judicial process. Florida has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country, and its courts are backlogged. "Basically, this has paralyzed the docket," La Pine said. "Even the judges are in favor of a new process. We are on the same page as the bankers on this one. Hopefully, we can get this legislation advanced."
 
The league also supports legislation to close a loophole in a law that allows homeowners' associations to start foreclosure proceedings against homeowners who have not paid their assessments. "It allows homeowners to sell the property for pennies on the dollar," La Pine said. "Our issue is that because of this loophole, we as the lender don't even have to be notified."

Tinker FCU reopens branch demolished by tornado

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (1/27/14)--An Oklahoma credit union branch devastated by a tornado last spring is set to reopen today with a tribute to a "saving" plan no financial institution wants to offer.
 
Click to view larger image After being destroyed by a tornado in May, a rebuilt branch of Tinker FCU in Moore, Okla., will reopen today. (Photos courtesy of Tinker FCU)
The new Moore, Okla., branch of Tinker FCU will feature a monument made from part of an old safe deposit vault used as a makeshift storm shelter by 23 people during the May 2013 tornado. It will also feature the original building's dedication plaque, and an inscription that pays tribute to the lives saved and the spirit of Oklahomans in times of distress.
 
"We are all so happy to be back home and in the community," said Jan Davis, assistant vice president and Moore branch manager. "We are absolutely thrilled to reopen, and it is so apparent on the faces of all of the employees here."
 
Click to view larger image Only the safe deposit box vault was left standing in the aftermath of the EF5-scale tornado that hit the area near Oklahoma City May 20, 2013.
Ribbon-cutting celebrations will also feature free commemorative coins to members, and a sale of Moore/Tinker T-shirts--the proceeds of which will benefit a fund that finances storm shelters for the town's public schools.
 
After the storm, only the vault was left standing at the Moore branch of the $3.1 billion-asset credit union. Fourteen staffers and nine members were attended to by first responders within minutes. The emergency workers helped the group out, due to debris blocking the door, and took shelter with the refugees at a basement across the street as a second system of storms approached. The 23 people who took refuge in the credit union escaped physically unscathed (News Now May 22).
 
The clean-up process started days after the storm, and reconstruction on the Tinker branch was under way 62 days after the EF5 tornado swept through Moore. The credit union said that the new branch will feature a space-maximizing floor plan with the same number of offices, teller windows and drive-through lanes.

CU System briefs (01/24/2014)

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  • OSHKOSH, Wis. (1/24/14)--Three Wisconsin credit unions--CitizensFirst CU, Oshkosh; Lakeview CU, Neenah; and Best Advantage CU,  Brillion--announced their boards have unanimously approved plans for a collaborative merger. CitizensFirst CU will retain the name until a new one is selected for the credit union which will have $600 million in combined assets and 47,000 members in 15 Wisconsin counties.  "We take the seven cooperative principles of credit unions seriously and have worked hard to achieve something bigger, something better, for all of our members," said Pat Lowney, president/CEO of $107 million-asset Lakeview CU. Kevin Ralofsky, current president/CEO of $386 million-asset CitizensFirst CU, will serve as the new credit union's president. Lowney and Tammy Williams, president/CEO of $68 million-asset Best Advantage CU, will have senior executive positions ...
  • PORTLAND, Ore. (1/24/14)--Two months after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, OnPoint Community CU announced that it will donate nearly $53,000 to benefit MercyCorps' relief efforts. The Portland, Ore., credit union matched donations made from Nov. 18 to Dec. 13. Funds raised by the campaign will be used to provide food and shelter and improve access to clean water and sanitation. "Supporting global relief efforts is a natural extension of the credit union philosophy of people helping people," said Rob Stuart, president/CEO of the $3.3 billion-asset credit union ...
  • HARAHAN, La. (1/24/14)-- "Stone Age Dad: The Evolution of a First-Time Dad," the employee blog from Neighbors FCU, Baton Rouge, La., received top honors at the Baton Rouge Social Media Association SoMe Awards. "Stone Age Dad" follows Brett Reynolds, vice president of marketing at the $615 million-asset credit union, as he goes through the experience of having his first child, including doctor's visits, choosing a day care and a baby-cost calculator. It won the "How May I Help You?" category and took the People's Choice award (eNews Jan. 22) ...

Mich. chapter meets with U.S. Rep. Bentivolio

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LIVONIA, Mich. (1/24/14)--The implications of the Target data breach were part of the discussion between the Metro West Chapter of the Michigan Credit Union League and U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Milford) Jan. 17.
 
U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Milford) met with members of the Metro West Chapter Jan. 17. (Photo provided by Michigan Credit Union League)
Bentivolio, who represents Michigan's 11th District, met with credit union representatives at the Livonia headquarters of Co-Op Services CU (Monitor Jan. 20).

CEO Tony Carnarvon started the meeting by discussing credit unions' costs as a result of the compromised debit and credit card information. (See related story: "CUs' state-by-state breach data can inform advocacy efforts.")
 
Bentivolio shared his interest in raising data security standards for merchant payment systems. He also offered his assistance to efforts that could help prevent data breaches of this magnitude, the Monitor reported.
 
The group also discussed government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) reform, member business lending and Bentivolio's continued support of the credit union tax exemption.

CUs' state-by-state breach data can inform advocacy efforts

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MADISON, Wis. (1/24/14)--State leagues immediately started planning to use the state-by-state breakdowns from the Credit Union National Association's survey on Target data breach costs to ramp up their advocacy efforts to get merchants to cover costs created for credit unions and other financial institutions when a breach occurs via the merchants' systems.
 
For instance, League of Southeastern Credit Unions President/CEO Patrick La Pine noted Wednesday that Alabama and Florida credit unions that responded to the CUNA survey say that nearly 350,000 cards were breached bringing an estimated $1.8 million in total costs.
 
In an article in the Jan. 22 issue of his league's newsletter, eSignal, La Pine noted that the cost and scope of the Target data breach was a major topic of discussion for a Monday meeting Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) in Birmingham.
 
La Pine said it "was a good meeting that sets up a larger conversation next month" when credit union advocates take their message to Capitol Hill during the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference. Credit unions' visits with federal lawmakers on top credit union issues is a key component of the CUNA GAC.
 
"Rep. Bachus was very open to our perspective on the data breach," La Pine said, adding that the former House Financial Services Committee chairman will expect to hear more from his constituent credit union reps during the GAC, to be held in Washington, D.C., Feb. 23-27.
 
Nationally, credit unions have already incurred costs estimated to be in the range of $25 million to $30 million as a result of the Target stores data security breach, the CUNA survey has shown. Actual costs could exceed this estimate in the coming weeks if greater fraud losses are incurred or if affected credit union add additional costs to their reported totals. The survey remains open for more submissions.
 
Among state credit union leagues that have reported state or regional totals to their member credit unions are:
  • The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, which reported 460,000 debit cards and 75,000 credit cards were affected in California, while Nevada cited 16,000 debit cards and 1,600 credit cards (CU Weekly Jan. 21). Total estimated costs for the two states are $2.8 million.
  • The Northwest Credit Union Association, which said that the Target breach already has cost Oregon and Washington credit unions an estimated $1.3 million. Oregon reported 148,000 debit cards and 27,700 credit cards had been affected, while Washington had 150,000 debit cards and 28,400 credit cards.
  • And, to date, 61 Pennsylvania credit unions participated in the survey, the state league said. About 148,000 debit cards and 27,700 credit cards were affected with an estimated total cost of $896,800 (Life is a Highway Jan. 22).

Building media relationships pays off for Ohio CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (1/24/14)--It's a long-standing joke that reporters are always looking for a free meal, but the Ohio Credit Union League has used media lunches help boost media coverage for state credit unions.
 
The face-to-face dialogues over lunch have resulted in numerous articles and generated relationships that will help develop more newspaper coverage of credit unions, the league reported in its eLumination newsletter (Jan. 22).
 
Recently the league received an e-mail from Crain's Cleveland Business reporter Michelle Park, who covers financial institutions in northeast Ohio. Park wrote: "Can we organize a 2014 lunch like the others we have done? I think I need to meet more of the leadership of credit unions around here." The league obliged and will host a February luncheon with Park and several credit union representatives.
 
In another instance of the league's outreach efforts resulting in media coverage, a league-hosted lunch with Dayton Business Journal reporter Olivia Barrow provided the impetus for an article about Day Air CU's proactive assistance to its members following the Target data breach. Paul Mercer, league president/CEO; Patrick Harris, league director of media and public relations; Kimberly Stewart, the league's consumer outreach coordinator; and Bill Burke, president/CEO of the $272 million-asset credit union in Kettering, met with Barrow last week.
 
Burke explained how credit unions must address member needs following a merchant breach. He explained Day Air CU's decision to immediately notify members that they could request a new debit or credit card if they believed their information was at risk. Barrow followed up with additional questions and wrote the article. Use the link to read the story.
 
Lunches can also be credit union-driven. The league recommends that someone from the credit union commit to reading the local daily newspaper cover-to-cover, paying particular attention to coverage related to the financial services industry and personal finance.
 
When the credit union reader finds an article, he or she should e-mail the reporter and offer the credit union as a source of financial expertise for future stories. By suggesting lunch meetings to discuss story ideas, the credit union reader can kick start a relationship that can lead to regular media coverage for the credit union--fostering consumer awareness that can help the entire credit union system.

Wis. CUs team up to help homeless students

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MADISON, Wis. (1/24/14)--Five credit unions have used the spirit of cooperation to help homeless students in Madison, Wis.
 
In November, Sally Dischler, president/CEO of Heartland CU in Madison, read a newspaper article about the challenges Madison homeless children face in maintaining consistent school schedules as they move from shelter to shelter.
 
Heartland CU had already developed a Give Local community support program. Each holiday season for the past several years, it has chosen an organization to benefit with the goal of raising awareness as well as money. Dischler and the credit union decided to dedicate their 2013 Give Local efforts to the Madison Metropolitan School District's Transition Education Program (TEP), which provides homeless students with transportation, school supplies and food.
 
Heartland also enlisted four other Madison credit unions to join in the project. Those credit unions include Summit CU, Madison CU, Members First CU and Heritage CU.
 
Homelessness isn't a social problem often associated with Madison, a university town with a population of about 200,000. So far this school year, TEP has identified 964 homeless students, an increase of 30% over last year. To help underscore the issue, Heartland produced videos featuring some of the homeless students in the Madison Metropolitan School District.
 
"We've had good success with videos on social media in the past, so we knew it was an effective way to share our message," Robin Marohn, vice president of marketing at Heartland CU, told News Now. "I think in the back of our minds, we know that homelessness exists all over, but I don't think we realize how that affects kids. The videos really helped send that message home."
 
So far, the project has raised $35,000. An advisory group will work with the school district to determine how the funds will be used to help the homeless students.

N.Y. foundation awarded nearly $88K in 2013

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ALBANY, N.Y. (1/24/14)--The New York Credit Union Foundation (NYCUF) announced that it awarded $87,993 in grants last year.

The money, which was given to state credit unions and credit union stakeholders, was granted for financial education initiatives, professional development, member service improvement and disaster relief.

"We see the summary report (of awards) in the form of numbers and dollars, but those numbers actually represent hundreds of lives that have been impacted in a positive way," said Vicki O'Neill, NYCUF chair and president/CEO of ACMG FCU, Solvay. "That positive impact represents the best of what we collectively do to advance the ideals and goals of our movement."

Seven credit unions received $10,941 in education initiative grants, or "Smart Money" awards. The winners were:
  • Buffalo Metropolitan FCU, Buffalo;
  • East River Development Alliance FCU, Long Island City;
  • Gates Chili FCU, Rochester;
  • Hudson River Community CU, Corinth;
  • ServU FCU, Painted Post;
  • Cooperative Federal CU, Syracuse; and
  • UFirst FCU, Plattsburgh.
Seventeen credit unions won $35,874 in award money for financial education programs, or "Financial Fitness" grants. The winners were:
  • Allegany Community FCU;
  • Chen-Del-O FCU, Franklin;
  • East River Development Alliance FCU, Long Island City;
  • Fidelis FCU, New York City;
  • Gates Chili FCU, Rochester;
  • Greece Community FCU, Rochester;
  • GRS FCU, West Henrietta;
  • IRS Buffalo FCU, Buffalo;
  • LeRoy FCU;
  • Lockport Schools FCU, Lockport;
  • Lower East Side People's FCU, New York City;
  • Palisades FCU, Pearl River;
  • Sing Sing EFCU, Ossining;
  • Spencerport FCU;
  • St. John's Buffalo FCU, Buffalo;
  • Tonawanda Community FCU, Buffalo; and,
  • Western New York FCU, West Seneca.
Meanwhile, 72 credit union employees and volunteers were given professional development grants worth a total of $39,178.

The NYCUF also gave $2,000 to help credit unions' disaster relief efforts in the wake of the Colorado floods and Oklahoma tornadoes last year.

CUs' financial expertise can benefit own employees

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (1/24/14)--Credit unions searching for innovative ways to help the community should consider focusing some attention internally, according to a report by Mazuma CU.
 
 Extending financial literacy and financial education programs to credit union employees can help both the institution's bottom line and the community, the credit union said in the third article of its "Community Collaboration" series.
 
 According to the Kansas City, Mo.-based credit union, there is a real need for financial education throughout the national workforce, with some 85% of American workers wanting financial education.
 
The credit union also pointed to evidence that programs could essentially serve as wise investments in human capital. About 25% to 40% of employees report having difficulties staying productive because of financial problems, it claims. Mazuma also cited a study by the Personal Finance Employee Education Foundation, which found that the average employee wastes about five days worth of time at work due to personal financial issues.
 
"Financial education can, therefore, be a useful tool to reduce the associated costs of stress such as absenteeism, low productivity, turnover, and workplace distractions," President/CEO Brandon Michaels said, while increasing "the quality of life for employees."
 
Credit unions, many of which already teach financial literacy and financial education in their communities, are in a unique position to address this problem. But, Michaels warned that one-way information sessions, brochures and websites are insufficient.
 
"Employees must be able to put into context and apply the information they learn," the credit union said in the piece on corporate social responsibility. "They must be able to apply what they learn to their daily life and to change behavior. While it will not be a magic bullet to solve all employee financial issues, it will reduce the detrimental effects." 
 
The syllabus should incorporate more than benefits and retirement plans, the credit union advocated. It should include lessons on daily living, debt management and budgeting, with topics that include setting goals, net worth, cash flow, income, and predicting future costs.
 
Michaels encouraged credit unions considering an employee financial education program to engage employees in the planning stages by asking them what sort of information they want, how it should best be delivered, and by whom.
 
"Unless they are in a crisis, most employees won't take the time to seek out help on their own. This is why employees want to receive this type of education at work and from someone who does not sell the products taught about," he said.

More media outlets spotlight CUs, CUNA's breach survey

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MADISON, Wis. (1/24/14)--Results of the Credit Union National Association's survey on costs related to the Target data breach continue to make headlines in national media outlets.
 
Thursday's San Francisco Business Times and Las Vegas Review-Journal picked up the story for their regions with localized numbers provided by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues.
 
In fact, league President/CEO Diana Dykstra called the breach's impact "astonishing" in Thursday's San Francisco Business Times. "This reinforces the need for national legislation. As it stands now, financial institutions are left holding the bag every time a retailer leaves itself open to a security breach," she said. (See related story: "CUs' state-by-state breach data can inform advocacy efforts.")
 
According to CUNA's survey results, credit unions have incurred costs in the range of $25 million to $30 million as a result of the breach. The Target breach has cost credit unions about $5.10 per card affected by the security lapse, on average.
 
The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal and the trade publication Chain Store Age both ran CUNA's survey results.

MSN Money picked up Wednesday's Associated Press story which zeroed in on CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney's comments that retailers such are Target Corp. are "rarely held responsible for reimbursing financial institutions for the costs that the data."
 
On Thursday, Bankrate.com writer David McMillin noted that the "scary part" is that the preliminary survey results don't include anticipated losses from fraudulent activity.

Yahoo Finance ran with 24/7 Wall St.'s "Cost of Target Data Theft Spreads, Credit Unions Now... Banks Next?"
 
In Compliance Week, CUNA Senior Vice President for Compliance Kathy Thompson said, "There are no regulatory requirements about notifying members when a breach occurs in a merchant's information system" (Jan. 22). She emphasized that CUNA has been advocating for congressional action on legislation to require merchants to reimburse financial institutions for costs incurred when breaches occur in retailers' systems.
 
Computerworld captured the back-and-forth rallying between retailers and financial institutions over payments systems security and who should cover the costs of data breaches (Jan. 23).
 
KRNV 4 in Reno, Nev., reported that the breach has cost Greater Nevada CU, Carson City, more than $15,000, and Target will not be reimbursing any of its expenses.

Prize-linked savings, public deposits top CUANY legislative agenda

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ALBANY, N.Y. (1/23/14)--Prize-linked savings, expanded fields of memberships and public deposits are at the top of the legislative agenda for the Credit Union Association of New York in 2014.
 
This is the first article in a News Now series that will explore legislative priorities for various credit union leagues nationwide.
 
Two bills that passed both the Senate and Assembly but were vetoed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo are the first priorities for CUANY heading into 2014, said Michael Lanotte, CUANY senior vice president/general counsel.
 
In 2013, CUANY introduced legislation that would authorize credit unions to offer prize-linked savings to their members. The legislation was vetoed by Cuomo over concerns that some of the language violated the state constitution. Lanotte said the league has worked closely with Cuomo's office and the appropriate state agencies to clarify the language. "The governor's office wants to see it happen, and we have commitments from both of the bill's original sponsors," Lanotte told News Now. "We expect it to become law in 2014."
 
The league also helped pass legislation that would expand the fields of membership and investment powers for state-chartered credit unions, a measure that was also vetoed by Cuomo. That bill requires language that the state regulator's authority is not being diluted in any way, Lanotte said. "Obviously, that was never our intention," Lanotte said.
 
The field of membership/investment powers bill passed through the Senate and Assembly despite bank opposition, Lanotte said. "I'm sure the banks will ramp up their opposition with the bill having to go through the legislature again," he added.
 
Also in play are two pieces of legislation that would give credit unions access to public deposits. The first bill would create a credit union state funds deposit program. In 2013, legislation was introduced that would establish a program allowing the State Comptroller to deposit up to $250 million of state funds into credit unions across the state.
 
"It's a separate line item where the state would put aside separate funds so it wouldn't detract from deposits that the state would make in other institutions," Lanotte said. "It would actually complement an existing state program that was recently put in place for the community banks in New York state."
 
In 2013, the legislation was approved by both the Senate and Assembly Banks Committees and advanced to the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means Committees.
 
A second municipal deposits bill was also introduced in both the Senate and Assembly that would allow all credit unions to accept up to $250,000 in deposits per local government. The legislation was reported to the Senate Local Government Committee and Assembly Banks Committee.

"We've actually cited that the New York state law that limited our local government to only working with commercial banks was created in 1909, so clearly it is outdated," Lanotte said. "Giving the banks a monopoly takes choice away from local governments. It's extremely important to us to push this for our state's credit unions."
 
CUANY also seeks to pass legislation that would increase the penalty for credit union robberies conducted by demand note. Since the recession, there has been an increase in robberies in which the perpetrator will pass a note demanding money but will not display a gun, Lanotte said. The league would like to see legislation passed that would increase the penalty in the hopes of deterring these types of robberies. "It's a matter of safety for our employees and easing the emotional impact to both staff and members," Lanotte said.
 
The demand-note legislation passed the Senate and was pending consideration in the Assembly Banks Committee.

CU System briefs (01/23/2014)

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  • WEST JORDAN, Utah (1/23/14)--Mountain America CU was named one of the 50 most engaged workplaces in the U.S. by San Francisco-based human resources software company Achievers. The distinction, which is given to firms that engage their employees in outstanding ways, was awarded by a panel of 14 experts on employee management. The eight criteria considered by Achievers are communication, leadership, culture, rewards and recognition, professional and personal growth, accountability and performance, vision and values, and corporate social responsibility. "Having employees who understand the importance of being engaged in what they do is very important to us," said Lynn Stephens, the credit union's senior vice president of human resources. Based in West Jordan, Utah, Mountain America CU more than $3.5 billion in assets and 420,000 members in five states. ...
  • PARMA, Ohio (1/23/14)--A Catholic credit union in Ohio is attempting to mimic Pope Francis with a new loan promotion. Unity Catholic FCU, Parma, decided to offer special rates on motorcycle loans and promised to make donations with every deal in honor of Francis' plans to auction a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that he received. "With each motorcycle loan we do, we're following our own mission of helping members save money with this low rate," said Tamlyn Schervish, CEO of the $70 million-asset credit union. "And we're giving back to those in need with $100 per loan for area food banks." The credit union said that the donations will go to the community where the member who opens the line of credit lives. Pope Francis was given a Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide last year by the company, as part of its 110th anniversary celebrations. The money made by auctioning the personalized motorcycle will go to a Catholic charity in Rome called Caritas Roma, which operates a hostel and a soup kitchen. ...
  • RALEIGH, N.C. (1/23/14)--State Employees CU employees chipped in a record $78,000 to the 2013 North Carolina State Employees Combined Campaign. The Raleigh, N.C.-based credit union's staff gave 9% more than it did in 2012 to the statewide public sector charity fundraiser. "Our employees' efforts for the State Employees Combined Campaign reflect a shared commitment of charitable giving, exemplifying the credit union philosophy of people helping people," said Jimmy Goodrum, senior vice president of member education and outreach at the $26.8 billion-asset credit union. The fundraising program was started in 1984 by then-Gov. James B. Hunt (D) and has raised $95 million. ...

N.J. Gov. Christie signs CU advisory council bill

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TRENTON, N.J. (1/23/14)--On the same day he took the oath of office for his second term, Gov. Chris Christie signed New Jersey Credit Union League-supported legislation to expand the state's Credit Union Advisory Council (CUAC) to seven members and provide for representation of federally chartered credit unions.
 
Click to view larger image From left, Chris Abeel, New Jersey Credit Union League director of government affairs; contract lobbyist Carol Katz;  and Greg Michlig, NJCUL president/CEO, joined lawmakers and other dignitaries who braved the frigid, snowy weather Tuesday to attend the invitation-only swearing-in of Gov. Chris Christie to his second term. (Photo provided by New Jersey Credit Union League)
Christie signed the bill before the noon deadline, preventing it from a pocket veto.

The bill expands the CUAC from five members to seven and designates that not less than four seats can be held by representatives of state-chartered credit unions and not less than two seats can be held by representatives of federally chartered credit unions (Daily Exchange Jan. 22).
 
The legislation recognizes that federally chartered credit unions, though primarily regulated by the federal government, are also subject to numerous state laws and regulations and should have a voice as well.
 
The CUAC was established through legislation enacted in 1984 as a vehicle for state-chartered credit unions to advise state government on credit union-related matters. Members are nominated by the governor and must be confirmed by the state Senate.

Hanley among CEOs to retire this year

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MADISON, Wis. (1/23/14)--A number of credit union CEOs announced their retirement plans for 2014, including Rudy Hanley, president/CEO of SchoolsFirst FCU.
 
Hanley, who has been with the Santa Ana, Calif.-based credit union since 1982, said in a message to members that the decision was not an easy one. "The last 31 years have been the most fulfilling and rewarding of my career, thanks to our wonderful members and team members whom I consider my second family," he said (CU Weekly Jan. 17).  His retirement will be effective at the end of March. The board is currently seeking a successor at the $9.7 billion-asset credit union.
 
Last week, Travis CU President/CEO Patsy Van Ouwerkerk announced plans to retire this summer. She has been in the credit union movement for 38 years--12 as CEO of the Vacaville, Calif., credit union. Executive Vice President Barry Nelson was selected unanimously by the board of directors to replace Van Ouwerkerk. He previously has served as chief financial officer and chief operating officer for the $2.1 billion-asset credit union.
 
Jim Updike, president/CEO of Honda FCU, Torrance, Calif., will transition to a senior adviser position April 1 as he readies for his May 2015 retirement. Updike has nearly 45 years of credit union experience, beginning with San Diego Gas and Electric CU. Chief Operating Officer Steve Brandon will succeed Updike as leader of the $625 million-asset credit union.
 
Lufkin (Texas) FCU announced the Jan. 3 retirement of President/CEO Linda Smith. Smith served as president/CEO of the $30 million-asset credit union for 16 years. She began her career at the credit union in 1978 as a teller (The Lufkin News Jan. 19).
 
Under a board initiative, the transition at Fort Knox FCU, Radcliff, Ky., has been five years in the making. After 23 years as president/CEO, Bill Rissel will retire effective July 1. Ray Springsteen, who was appointed senior vice president in 2009, will take over the reins of the $1.1 billion-asset credit union upon Rissel's departure (The News-Enterprise Jan. 18).
 
Susan Peddle, who served as president/CEO of Forsyth County Employees CU, will retire as manager/CEO of Summit CU, effective Jan. 31. Peddle was with the Winston-Salem, N.C., credit union until it merged with Summit CU, Greensboro, N.C., in 2008. She has more than 31 years of service in the credit union industry (Winston-Salem Journal Jan. 13).
 
Riverside Health System Employees CU, Newport News, Va., announced the retirement of President/CEO Janet Harris. For 25 years, Harris led the $9 million-asset credit union and advocated for small credit unions. She is succeeded by Heidi Lewis, who was CEO of Hampton (Va.) City Employees CU, a $5.7 million \-asset credit union.

Dawn Harris is the new president/CEO of Campus FCU, Baton Rouge, La. She has more than 30 years of experience as chief operating office, executive vice president of retail services and vice president of marketing. Harris succeeds John Milazzo, who served the $502 million-asset credit union for 28 years (eNews Jan. 22).

Iowa Innovation Group seeks 15 CU professionals

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DES MOINES, Iowa (1/23/14)--The Iowa Credit Union League is looking for 15 credit union representatives to join the second year of its Iowa Innovation Group (IIG) program.
 
"The formation of the Iowa Innovation Group is a significant step in creating a blueprint for innovation within the Iowa credit union system," said Jim Niederhauser, league vice president of member services. "Beyond this, it has opened doors for credit union professionals who represent the next generation of leaders for the movement."
 
The IIG is modeled after the Filene Research Institute's i3 (Ideas, Innovation, Implementation) program. Filene and the league coach participants as they create, test and implement financial products, services and business model ideas.
 
Participating in the IIG provided a great opportunity to work with other credit union employees, said Jennifer Tebbe, eServices branch manager at Greater Iowa CU, Ames.
 
"It opened my eyes to the different challenges we all face and allowed us to find ways to work together to find solutions that will benefit all sizes of credit unions and their members," she said.
 
Candidates will must demonstrate leadership, passion and a collaborative spirit, the league said. Applications are due Feb. 5, and selections will be completed by Feb. 28.

Maine CUs meet with speaker on elder financial abuse

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PORTLAND, Maine (1/23/14)--Maine Credit Union League representatives met with state Speaker of the House Mark Eves (D-North Berwick) Jan. 10 at the State House in Augusta to discuss ideas and provide feedback on financial elder abuse prevention training that the league played a key role in developing.
 
Attending the meeting on behalf of the league were Quincy Hentzel, the league's director of governmental affairs, and league board member Kyle Casburn, president/CEO of Seaboard FCU, Bucksport. Hentzel serves on the Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention. Casburn serves on Eves' Round Table on Aging in Maine.
 
"I appreciated Speaker Eves and his staff giving credit unions the forum to weigh in on financial issues affecting seniors in our state," Casburn said (Weekly Update Jan. 17). "Credit unions are all too familiar with our senior members falling victim to financial fraud, either through 'foreign lottery' types of scams or theft by family or caregivers. Credit unions have an opportunity to use our collective resources to educate our members on fraud and provide tips on monitoring our loved one's accounts. The speaker recognized the value of Maine's credit unions in providing leadership in this area."
 
With Maine's aging population, Maine's credit unions have offered assistance to the elderly for several years, league president John Murphy said. "Speaker Eves appreciates our support and willingness to continue to be proactive in this effort," Murphy said.
 
A free training session on preventing financial exploitation of the elderly--coordinated and developed by the league--will be offered for credit unions and other financial institutions on Feb. 13 at the Augusta Civic Center.

Equifax: Auto loans continue rebound

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ATLANTA (1/23/14)--Auto lending continues to bounce back in a big way, according to the latest Equifax National Consumer Credit Trends Report.
 
From January to October 2013, the total number of new auto loans originated was 20.2 million, totaling $405.2 billion and representing the highest origination total for that time in eight years, Equifax said.
 
"Auto delinquencies have declined to levels last seen in mid-2006, and the strength in the performance of loans booked in the last few years is helping to make credit more widely available to those with higher-risk credit profiles, namely subprime borrowers," said Equifax Chief Economist Amy Crews Cutts.
 
Additional metrics for new credit include:
  • Year-over-year, the total balance of new loans Jan. to Oct. 2013 increased 14.7%, while the total number of new loans rose 11.6%;
  • Subprime auto lending now accounts for 31% of all auto loans originated;
  • October 2013 auto loan amount totals also hit an eight-year high for the month at $39 billion; and
  • The total balance of new credit for auto loans Jan.-Oct. 2013 represents 49% of all new non-mortgage consumer credit.
  • Balances on outstanding auto loans ($859.6 billion) and the total number of existing loans (62.3 million) in December 2013 are the highest in more than five years;
  • Loans funded by credit unions, banks and savings and loans are at $417.2 billion, while the total number of loans is 30.9 million--a five year high for both;
  • Similarly, the total outstanding balance for loans funded by auto finance companies is $442.5 billion, a five-year high, while the total number of existing loans is more than 32 million, a 59-month high;
  • Serious delinquencies on auto loans funded by finance companies in December 2013 represent 1.88% of outstanding balances, a year-over-year decrease of 13.5%;
  • In that same time, serious delinquencies on auto loans funded by banks or other depositories are 0.41% of outstanding balances, identical to December 2012.
The recession appears to have changed the choices auto buyers make, Cutts said. "The choices consumers are making with the types of cars they are buying have changed in the aftermath of the Great Recession, with a heavy emphasis on value for the dollar," she said. Demand for new cars is rising, but the mix is now shifted towards economically and environmentally friendly features."

CUs 'left holding the bag' in breaches, Adams writes Stabenow

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LANSING, Mich. (1/22/14)--In a letter to U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D), Michigan Credit Union League President/CEO Dave Adams addressed the financial liability of merchants when data breaches occur.
 
"Despite standards held up by the retail industry as protections for consumer data, industry self-policing and enforcement of such is inadequate and often retroactive," Adams wrote in a Jan. 10 letter.
 
"This becomes less startling, however, when one considers that it is the financial institution supporting the breached card, and not the retailer, that is often 'left holding the bag' for the initial costs related to card replacement (including analysis and member communication) and the later cost of fraud itself."
 
Initial results of a survey by the Credit Union National Association show that credit unions already  have incurred $30 million in costs since the announcement of retail-giant Target's massive data breach (See related story: "Target breach to cost CUs estimated $25M-$30M, CUNA study shows"). More than 40 million credit and debit card accounts and personal information of 70 million consumers was compromised in the breach that occurred around prime holiday shopping season last year.
 
Adams queried why financial institutions and their members bear the consequences of a retailer's failure to adequately store and protect consumer data.
 
"Shouldn't a retailer be held accountable for their own inadequate efforts, and shouldn't there be some recourse for those harmed that must ultimately bear the costs involved?" he wrote.
 
In a Friday column on Huffington Post, CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney also called for merchants to be held financially liable for the impact on consumers and their financial institutions.
 
Adams referenced the Dodd-Frank Act-imposed debit interchange cap, too. "As you will recall, during the passage of Dodd-Frank, the 'Durbin amendment' shifted billions of dollars of interchange income from financial institutions into retailers' pockets, with no identifiable price-relief or benefit to consumers."
 
On Friday, the debit card interchange case NACS, et al. v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System was heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. (See Tuesday's News Now: "Appeals court to closely examine lower court interchange ruling.")

CU partner Chatzky tells expo: Financial, physical health are equals

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WASHINGTON (1/22/14)--Financial expert Jean Chatzky tied financial health to physical health during her appearance at the NBC 4 Health and Fitness Expo Jan. 11.
 
Financial expert Jean Chatzky, center, and credit union staff from the Washington, D.C., and Maryland area helped consumers check their financial fitness at the NBC 4 Health and Fitness Expo Jan. 11. (MDDCCUA photo)
"When you are in great shape financially, you are less worried, stress free and feel much better," said Chatzky, director of education at SavvyMoney and financial editor for the "Today" show.
 
After her speech at the Washington, D.C., expo, she spent one-on-one time with attendees, signing copies of her "Money Rules: The Simple Path to Lifelong Security."
 
More than 60 credit union representatives helped hundreds of attendees complete the SavvyMoney checkup at the Dollars & Sense Credit Union Pavilion.
 
The pavilion and Health and Fitness Expo advertising were made possible by 20 participating credit unions; MDDCCUA and its D.C. and Suburban Maryland chapters; the Virginia Credit Union League; the Credit Union Foundation of MD and DC;  the National Credit Union Foundation; SavvyMoney; and CUNA.

Pierce pens pro-CU op-ed for Kansas City Star

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (1/22/14)--Dennis Pierce, CEO of Lenexa, Kan.-based CommunityAmerica CU, noted the historical significance of 2014 and credit unions' creation in a Monday op-ed in The Kansas City Star.
 
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Federal Credit Union Act, in which "Congress created credit unions in response to the stress on family pocketbooks in the depths of the Depression," he wrote. In order to make family money management economical, lawmakers included an institutional tax exemption because "credit unions are mutual or cooperative organizations operated entirely by and for their members."
 
Pierce said, "Today, Congress is hearing special interest suggestions to remove this exemption, despite the festering recession. Doing so would create a new tax burden on the nation's 96 million credit union members, the vast majority of whom are middle- and lower-income individuals struggling to make ends meet."
 
He dispelled the myth that credit unions don't pay taxes, listing the types they do pay--property, tangible personal property, employee payroll, unrelated business income, sales, and state franchise.
 
Pierce cited research that removing the tax exemption would remove $6.3 million in consumer spending in Kansas alone, with similar results expected in Missouri.
 
"Though most agree our federal tax system needs work, taxing the one financial institution system serving 96 million Americans is not the way to do it," Pierce wrote, adding, "Congress today should remember the wisdom of its 1934 class of predecessors and ensure that the credit union tax exemption is sustained for the benefit of American consumers."
 
Pierce, who leads the $1.8 billion-asset credit union, also is the incoming chair of the board of directors for the Credit Union National Association.

CUNA, Cooperative Trust pick 47 Crashers for GAC

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MADISON, Wisc. (1/22/14)--A historic financial "crash" has never felt this good.

A record number of young credit union professionals will be participating in this year's fifth annual Crash the GAC, the Credit Union National Association and the Cooperative Trust announced Tuesday.

Representatives of credit unions from 46 states and the District of Columbia will be participating in the event, designed to bring upstarts to CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference, which is in Washington, D.C., Feb. 23-27.

"I believe we need to develop next generation leaders to grow, promote and sustain the credit union movement," said Jill Tomalin, CUNA executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Cooperative Trust Leader James Marshall said that his organization has also been "working with state leagues to really embed their Crasher into their advocacy efforts throughout the week."

CUNA and the Cooperative Trust partnered with state leagues to select Crashers from a record pool of applicants, resulting in the largest Crash event to date. Nineteen young credit union professionals attended last year's event.

Crash the GAC gives young credit union professionals the chance to attend exclusive speaker sessions as well as experience GAC's core events.

Featured speakers at CUNA's signature conference this year include former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and four sitting U.S. lawmakers--Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Reps. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Peter King (R-N.Y.).

For a full list of the 2014 Crashers, use the resource link.

CUs 'no threat' to banks, Dakotaland CEO tells S.D. forum

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HURON, S.D. (1/22/14)--South Dakota credit unions continue to beat back a pro-tax message being pushed by the state's banking association.
 
On Jan. 16, Dan Cumbee, president/CEO of $234 million-asset credit union Dakotaland FCU, spoke to the Beadle County Democratic Forum in Huron (Plainsman Jan. 20). 
 
The only motivation behind forcing credit unions to pay taxes like banks is to put credit unions out of business, he told the forum.
 
Since late last year, the South Dakota Bankers Association has been trying to get local governing bodies such as school boards, chambers of commerce, city and county commissions to take up a resolution to change the tax status of state credit unions and farm credit services. (See Jan. 15 News Now: "Banks' 'concerned' citizens a no-show in S.D. tax-status fight.")
 
Cumbee, who has been with the Huron-based credit union for 27 years, said credit unions are no threat to banks. State bank assets are at $113 billion compared with credit union assets of $2 billion.
 
In a basketball game, "You're behind 113 to two," he said. "That's what the score is in South Dakota, and yet the banks are concerned we've become a threat or that we are too successful."

CU partner Chatzky tells expo: Financial, physical health are equals

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WASHINGTON (1/22/14)--Financial expert Jean Chatzky tied financial health to physical health during her appearance at the NBC 4 Health and Fitness Expo Jan. 11.
 
"When you are in great shape financially, you are less worried, stress free and feel much better," said Chatzky, director of education at SavvyMoney and financial editor for the "Today" show.
 
After her speech at the Washington, D.C., expo, she spent one-on-one time with attendees, signing copies of her "Money Rules: The Simple Path to Lifelong Security."
 
More than 60 credit union representatives helped hundreds of attendees complete the SavvyMoney checkup at the Dollars & Sense Credit Union Pavilion.
 
The pavilion and Health and Fitness Expo advertising were made possible by 20 participating credit unions; MDDCCUA and its D.C. and Suburban Maryland chapters; the Virginia Credit Union League; the Credit Union Foundation of MD and DC;  the National Credit Union Foundation; SavvyMoney; and CUNA.

CUNA seeks student reps for Googolplex editorial board

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MADISON, Wis. (1/21/14)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) will select 12 students from across America to serve one-year terms as youth editorial board members for Googolplex: The Credit Union Guide for Student Moneymakers, CUNA's online financial literacy toolkit.
 
Requests for applications are being accepted through March 7 for all 12 positions. The new student board members' terms will begin on June 1. 

"The insight we receive from these bright students is instrumental in helping us to design financial literacy tools that resonate with children and young adults," said Rena Crispin, Googolplex managing editor. "We believe that it's vital to start financial education at a young age."
 
Googolplex is a youth-focused element of CUNA's onlineEDGE program, which guides credit union members through financial decisions at every stage of life. Googolplex features interactive games, videos, blogs and other content dealing with money matters and real life issues to promote financial literacy for youth age six to 18.

Youth editorial board members complete two brief monthly online critiques of stories and games in age-specific sections of Googolplex's award-winning three-in-one website.

At the end of the terms, each board member writes an original story for Googolplex.

Other board-member responsibilities include:
  • Four elementary-school-aged students will serve on the Clubhouse Crew for 5-Spot;
  • Four middle-school-aged students will make up the Super Youth Team for AJ's; and
  • Four high-school-aged students will be on the Teenage Panel advising C-Note. 
"Our youth board members provide us with feedback that ensures that their peers feel welcome and validated whenever they use Googolplex on their credit union's website," said Susan Tiffany, director of consumer periodicals at CUNA.

Board members must be in grades 3-12 in the fall of 2014 or, if home-schooled, of the same grade-level ages. They will work from home.
 
Applications are available by request from Laurel Purves, Googolplex youth editorial board liaison. Please state the child's grade level or age equivalent if home-schooled and use "Googolplex Youth Board Application" in the subject line. Requests are due by March 7.

Technical issues delaying News Now publishing

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (1/21/14)--Readers of News Now may have noticed a delay in its publication recently. Technical issues have delayed the daily production system, and the Credit Union National Association teams in the Washington and Madison, Wis., offices are working to fix the problem.
 
"We appreciate our readers' patience, but mostly appreciate their concern when News Now is unavailable," said Pat Keefe, CUNA vice president of communications. "We're working to provide our readers the stable and consistent news delivery platform they have come to expect and deserve."

Bergeron debuts 'Executive Exchange' for Vermont CUs

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (1/21/14)--The Association of Vermont Credit Unions has introduced "Executive Exchange," a video interview series hosted and produced by league President Joe Bergeron. 
 
Available through AVCU's YouTube channel, Bergeron will interview Vermont credit union chief executives and other credit union and cooperative leaders.
 

"Credit unions and cooperatives have stories that are worth telling, and the best people to share them are those who can do so in their own words," said Bergeron. "That's what I envision 'Executive Exchange' being ... no scripts, no cue cards, just straightforward dialogue with the people who believe passionately in the cooperative business model and who demonstrate the credit union difference to their members every day."
 
Jerry Cross, president/CEO of $132 million-asset One CU, Springfield, Vt., is the featured guest in the first episode of "Executive Exchange." Cross told Bergeron how he began with One CU when it was a single-sponsor credit union serving employees of Bryant Grinder Corp.
 
Cross said his greatest achievement with One CU was providing a needed service to members. For example, when Bryant Grinder employees went on strike, the credit union offered assistance to employees, Cross said. "We were the only institution in Springfield that was offering positive financial help to these people, and they did not forget it," Cross said. "That's what this industry is about: Building loyalty and building trust."

Target-like attack hitting 6 more retailers

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LOS ANGELES (1/21/14)--At least six additional U.S. retailers have been attacked with the same software used late last year to steal credit card and personal data from upward of 110 million Target Inc. customers, according to research released Thursday.
 
Dallas cybersecurity company iSight Partners Inc. and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sent their findings to financial services and retail companies Thursday (The Wall Street Journal  Jan. 16). iSight released its own version of the report the same day.

"What's really unique about this one is it's the first time we've seen the attack method at this scale," said Tiffany Jones, a senior vice president at iSight (CNN Money Jan. 16). The malware infects individual point of sale devices, monitors data processed on the device, then transmits that data outside of the retailer, she said.

Also on Thursday, the cybersecurity firm IntelCrawler reported retailers in Arizona, California, Colorado and New York were among those compromised with BlackPOS/Kaptoxa, the same malicious software used in the cyberattack on Target (Reuters Jan. 17). The code has been linked to a 17-year-old in Russia, IntelCrawler said.

"Most of the victims are department stores. More BlackPOS infections, as well as new breaches can appear very soon, retailers and security community should be prepared for them," said IntelCrawler CEO Andrew Komarov in a Jan. 16 blog post.

Target initially reported the breach compromised 40 million credit- and debit-card accounts from Nov. 27 through Dec. 15. It later added that personal data for 70 million people also had been compromised.

Federation adds 3 to CU Breakthrough team

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NEW YORK (1/21/14)--The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions has added three credit union industry veterans to its consulting arm, CU Breakthrough.
 
CU Breakthrough helps credit unions identify and implement sustainable solutions to increase financial independence among low- and moderate-income consumers.
 
The new consultants include:
  • Steven L. Dalhstrom, retired CEO of the $1.8 billion-asset Spokane Teachers CU, Liberty Lake, Wash.;
  • Robert Fenner, former National Credit Union Administration chief legal officer; and
  • Randy C. Thompson, commercial lending consultant and president/CEO of Thompson Consulting and Training Inc.
Dahlstrom is a former board member of the Credit Union National Association and was named Credit Union Professional of the Year by the Washington Credit Union League. He is available to CU Breakthrough clients to consult on executive coaching, strategic planning, organizational development and project planning.
 
Fenner served as the NCUA's chief legal officer for 27 years. He received the NCUA Board's Gold Medal for Meritorious Service and the Federal Bar Association's Banking Law Committee's Richard Peterson Award for contributions to financial institutions law and policy.
 
Fenner is available to consult on strategic planning, the legal and fiduciary responsibilities of directors and officers, regulatory compliance, field-of-membership expansion, low-income designation and applications to state and federal regulators.
 
Since 1987, Thompson has provided commercial lending training to credit unions.  In 2013 he received the Kim Bannon Eternal Flame award from the California Credit Union League in recognition of his service and support to credit unions. Thompson is available to consult on asset liability management, assessment of lending programs, profitability models, strategic planning, marketing and training.

CUs prepare for tax season as VITA sites

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MADISON, Wis. (1/21/14)--Income tax preparation season is getting closer, and credit unions nationwide are preparing to participate in the Internal Revenue Service's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
 
"It's a yearlong process, actually," Carin McClain, VITA program manager for Montana Credit Unions for Community Development (MCUCD), told News Now. "We're concentrating on training our volunteers, making sure their certifications are completed and coordinating preparation sites."
 
The VITA program offers free tax help to people who make $52,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns.
 
McClain has been on the road in Montana training volunteers, but noted that "credit unions do this work all across the country."
 
In Montana, the 29 MCUCD VITA sites prepared 2,074 returns in 2012, returning more than $1.9 million in federal funds, she said. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) made up just over $627,000. MCUCD partners with Community Action Partnership of Northwest Montana, the Billings and Bozeman Human Resources Development Councils, Opportunity Link Inc. and United Way of Yellowstone County. The VITA partnership sites prepared 5,517 returns at 59 locations and returned $5,597,564 in total federal refunds. The EITC made up $2,069,271.
 
"Our main focus is to let people know the advantages of filing their taxes," McClain said. "Many people we service don't have a filing requirement, but they can claim really important tax credits that they are entitled to."
 
VITA volunteers provide electronic filing of returns. Combine that with direct deposit, and people can get their return just as fast as if they filed themselves or use a paid tax preparation service, she said.
 
They also get education about the tax process and what tax credits they are eligible for, such as EITC, Child Tax Credit and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.  "The clients will say, 'I had no idea that I had that credit,'" she said.
 
Last year, the MCUCD VITA Partnership garnered a $76,800 IRS grant to support tax preparation sites (News Now 10/17/13).
 
Some credit unions--$388 million-asset Belco Community CU, Harrisburg, Pa., for example--will open their doors to members and non-members for scheduled appointments. In other cities, such as Leominster, Mass., volunteers from IC FCU, Fitchburg; Leominster CU; and Workers' CU, Fitchburg, staff sessions at local libraries (Worcester Telegram & Gazette Jan. 16).
 
The National Credit Union Foundation's REAL Solutions program also provides resources for becoming a VITA site.

Friday deadline for CUs for Kids' 2013 donations

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WASHINGTON (1/21/14)--Friday is the deadline for credit unions to submit their donations to Credit Unions for Kids to count toward 2013 fundraising goals.
 
In 2012, credit unions raised more than $10.2 million for Credit Unions for Kids, a nonprofit collaboration of credit unions, chapters, leagues/associations and business partners nationwide.
 
The program raises funds for 170 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH) nationwide. Credit unions are the nation's third-largest sponsor of the hospitals, and 100% of every dollar donated goes to support research and training, purchase equipment or pay for uncompensated care for children.
 
Proceeds are returned to credit unions' local CMN Hospitals, which receive funds quarterly as well as a report of the donor credit unions.
 

CU System briefs (01/17/2014)

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  • MADISON, Wis. (1/17/14)--Feb. 1 is the deadline to purchase tickets for the National Credit Union Foundation dinner, which will be Feb. 24 in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference. "The top two tiers of sponsorships are already sold out, and tickets overall have been selling twice as fast as last year," said Executive Director Gigi Hyland. The dinner includes the award ceremony for recipients of the Herb Wegner Memorial Awards. Lifetime achievement honorees are Gary Oakland, retired president/CEO, BECU, Tukwila, Wash.; Jim McCormack, retired president/CEO, Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, Harrisburg, Pa.; and Tim Haegelin, retired president/CEO, Generations FCU, San Antonio, Texas. The individual achievement award will go to Sarah Canepa Bang, president/COO, CO-OP Shared Branching-FSCC, and chief strategy officer, CO-OP Shared Branching ...
  • FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (1/17/14)--The Cornerstone Credit Union League is moving its Principles & Philosophy Conference to May 12-14. The conference was originally scheduled for Feb. 10-12, but there was some concern that the event was too close to the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference, which is Feb. 23-27 in Washington, D.C. (Leaguer Jan. 14).  The conference, themed "Leveraging the Credit Union Difference," will be in Dallas ...
  • MADISON, Wis. (1/17/14)--The Filene Research Institute is hosting a free webinar on social media compliance 11 a.m. CT Jan. 29. Titled "Critical Considerations," the webinar is part of Filene's Social Media Advisory program. In December, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) released guidance to help financial institutions understand how existing requirements and supervisory expectations associated with the use of social media apply to them (See News Now "CUs, FIs Get Social Media Guidance," 12/12/13) ...
  • VANCOUVER, Wash. (1/17/14)--Two southwest Washington credit unions announced their plans to merge--a move that coincides with the retirement of their respective leaders. iQ CU, with $503 million in assets, will consolidate with $196 million-asset Lacamas Community CU in July. Roger Michaelis, president/CEO of the Vancouver-based iQ CU, plans to retire in July. In Camas, President/CEO Kathleen Romane is set to retire at the end of the year from the $196 million-asset credit union. The combined institution will have 15 branch locations and 240 employees ...
  • CLEVELAND, Ohio (1/17/14)-­-The former CEO of Taupa Lithuanian CU was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud that resulted in $15 million in losses at the now-defunct credit union. On Wednesday, the FBI released details of the charges against Alex Spirikaitis, 51. Spirikaitis personally embezzled about $4.2 million from the Cleveland, Ohio, credit union between 2001 and 2013, according to the information. The release said Spirikaitis used the embezzled funds to buy firearms and vehicles and to build a home. Spirikaitis went into hiding in July after the credit union was liquidated by the National Credit Union Administration and was arrested in October.  In related news, John Struna, 51, was charged in federal court Tuesday with one count of conspiracy to commit theft or embezzlement from a credit union. Former teller Michael Ruksenas pleaded guilty Dec. 2 to embezzling more than $481,000 from the credit union. At the time of its closure, Taupa Lithuanian CU had $23.6 million in assets and 1,154 members ...
  • PUTNAM, Conn. (1/17/14)--Charter Oak FCU, Groton, Conn., pledged $50,000 over five years to build a regional community YMCA facility in Putnam, Conn. The YMCA will serve the towns of Brooklyn, Eastford, Killingly, Plainfield, Pomfret, Putnam, Thompson and Woodstock (Norwich Bulletin Jan. 13). The $784 million-asset credit union contributed to the roughly $13.2 million that has been raised by the Newell D. Hale Foundation, the YMCA of Greater Hartford, the state of Connecticut, and individual and corporate donors . . .

CUs are the place to help kids save, says NerdWallet

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MADISON, Wis. (1/17/14)--NerdWallet, the personal finance and financial literacy website, touted credit unions as financial institutions that help kids save money with incentives and rewards.
 
"Because the majority of schools often lack comprehensive financial education resources, it is important to teach your child the significance and benefits of saving money as early as possible--and reward them for doing so, because a little gift here and there never hurt anybody," the Jan. 16 article said. "Many credit unions offer savings accounts for children, and some of them come with a variety of incentives and rewards."
 
The article cited several credit unions that offer accounts and benefits for children.
 
In addition to youth savings accounts and certificates of deposits, $26 million-asset Pueblo (Colo.) Government Agencies CU, offers a CU Smart Kids section with games and worksheets to motivate and entertain kids, NerdWallet said.
 
York County FCU, with $195 million in assets, Sanford, Maine, provides both free online banking and free eStatements with its youth accounts. The superhero-themed Centsables kid's website provides creative and interactive games that will teach children about money and savings.
 
1st Choice CU, with $23 million in assets, Atlanta, offers a program called the Savasaurus Club, for kids 12 years old or younger, with a required minimum opening deposit of only $1.  Kids receive an account card, a coloring book, crayons, and other items that will help motivate them to save money.
 
Each time a child makes a deposit into $95 million-asset Riegelwood (N.C.) CU's Buck Club  he or she is entered into drawings for periodic prizes, including trips to amusement parks and local water parks. This Valentine's Day they could win a large stuffed bear and a Radio Flyer wagon stuffed with treats and prizes. Riegelwood CU employees also visit local schools and teach financial literacy classes.
 
The Kids Club account at $31 million-asset Wyrope Williamsport FCU, South Williamsport, Pa., gives kids a Money Mouse dollar for every $10 they deposit. They can also win a Money Mouse dollar for getting As on their report card. They can use their Money Mouse dollars to buy prizes such as stickers, books, water bottles and board games.

For more on credit union activities and kids, see today's News Now "Youth Week set to 'Catch the $ave Wave' in April."

To read the full article, use the link.

CU House seeks nominations for Hall of Leaders

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WASHINGTON (1/17/14)--Credit Union House is seeking nominations for its Credit Union House Hall of Leaders. Nomination forms are due Jan. 31.
 
The Hall of Leaders provides lasting recognition for credit union leaders whose commitment has made a significant impact on the credit union movement at the local, state or national level.
 
"Credit Union House is the movement's permanent presence in our nation's capital," said Dick Ensweiler, Credit Union House chairman and president/CEO of the Cornerstone Credit Union League, which represents credit unions in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. "It is therefore fitting to recognize the outstanding leaders who have dedicated their lives to promoting credit unions within its walls."
 
Those selected for the honor have shown commitment that inspires others in the credit union movement. Inductees include board chairmen, league presidents, credit union CEOs, league board members and volunteers.
 
Nomination forms must be submitted by the deadline for recognition at the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference, Feb. 23-27, in Washington, D.C. They can be obtained on Credit Union House's website and sent to:
 
Credit Union House
403 C St. NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
 
All nominations must be approved by the state league where the credit union is affiliated.
 
Credit Union House is a townhouse in Washington, D.C., owned by every state credit union trade association and the American Association of Credit Union Leagues. It was built primarily for credit unions and credit union groups nationwide as a coordination center on Capitol Hill and is considered a symbol of the strength and permanence of the credit union movement on the national scene.

For more information, use the links.

CUNA D.C., Madison offices closed Monday

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (1/17/14)--The Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wis., offices of the Credit Union National Association will be closed Monday due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

There will be no News Now edition Monday, but News Now will publish Tuesday.

Youth Week set to 'Catch the $ave Wave' in April

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MADISON, Wis. (1/17/14)--Sunny beaches and rolling waves are a part of this year's theme for the 2014 National Credit Union Youth Week, April 20-26.
 
Credit unions selected "Catch the $ave Wave" from submissions nationwide.
 
"Kids loved a recent campaign with beach balls throughout our lobby," said Meredith Mosely, marketing director, Tomah (Wis.) Area CU. "With Youth Week in the spring, kids will be ready for summer."
 
"Catch the $ave Wave" and Youth Week engage and encourage younger members to set up savings accounts, learn how to manage money and be more financially literate.
 
Credit unions nationwide may join in the celebration through April, or just during National Credit Union Youth Week, said the Credit Union National Association.
 
"National Credit Union Youth Week fits perfectly with the credit union cooperative principle of member education," said Jan Garkey, CUNA's youth week coordinator.
 
Garkey suggested that credit unions introduce young children to the credit union through regular deposits of their quarters, hold a Mad City Money simulation at a local high school, or hold a parent seminar on how to teach money skills to children.
 
"Use the celebration to create a new generation of financially literate consumers, and have fun in the process," she said. (See today's News Now "CUs are the place to help kids save, says NerdWallet.")
 
For the latest information on Youth Week, sign up for the free Youth Week e-Newsletter or follow @CUYouthWeek on Twitter.

Illinois' Plauda: CUs vital to consumers in SJR op-ed

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (1/17/14)--Dan Plauda, president/CEO of the Illinois Credit Union League, hailed credit unions as a vital, locally owned financial services option for consumers in an op-ed piece that appeared in the Wednesday edition of The State-Journal Register.
 
"Every day, nearly 3 million Illinois residents are among 96 million Americans who count on their local credit union to reach their financial goals," Plauda wrote.
 
Plauda explained that as not-for-profit financial cooperatives, credit unions were first exempted from federal income taxes in 1917 explicitly to fulfill a special mission as valuable and affordable alternatives to for-profit banks to serve individuals with a common goal or interest.
 
Credit unions are owned and democratically controlled by their members, who together pool their funds to help each other,  he wrote. After expenses and reserve requirements are met, net revenue is returned to members via lower loan and higher savings rates, and lower costs and fees for services.
 
"A credit union's goal is to serve all members well, including those of modest means--every member counts," Plauda wrote. "Credit unions exist solely for this reason, not to make a profit. Members know their credit union will be there for them in challenging times, as well as good times--which is the reason why they are so fiercely loyal."
 
Plauda also explained the credit union tax status. "Even though credit unions are exempt from income tax, they still are subject to, and pay, property, payroll and sales taxes, as well as a host of governmental regulatory supervision fees," Plauda wrote.
 
"Last year, credit unions returned financial benefits to their members of $6 billion--nearly four times that which would be realized by subjecting credit unions to taxes," he continued. "In other words, the full benefits of the tax exemption were passed on to members, and then some--primarily because credit unions do not have to pay dividends to stockholders."

To read the editorial, use the link.

CNN, NY Times highlight 'Save to Win' program

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NEW YORK (1/17/14)--Save to Win, the prize-linked savings program for credit unions, garnered more national attention with articles in CNN Money and The New York Times this week.
 
In the past two months, NPR, ABC News and PBS have featured the program, which encourages saving by giving entries for prize drawings for each deposit. All money that goes into the account, including interest, belongs to the account holders.
 
On Tuesday, CNN Money detailed the benefits for members and for credit unions in "Savings account lotteries: Win up to $25,000."
 
In Michigan, where the program started with the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL), Filene Research Institute and the Doorway to Dreams Fund, the average savings balance of a participant has grown to $2,873 from $734.
 
"These accounts are not geared toward people with lots of money," MCUL President/CEO Dave Adams told CNN Money. "They're geared toward people who aren't regular savers."
 
CNN Money also had a slideshow of winners from Besser CU, Alpena, Mich.; Community Alliance CU, Dearborn, Mich.; KEE FCU, Kearney, Neb.; U.P. Catholic CU, Marquette, Mich.; and Mountain CU, Waynesville, N.C.
 
The common themes were disbelief and a desire to share the good fortune. "If you draw our name again next year, just pretend you didn't see it and draw again. It's somebody else's turn," KEE FCU winner LaVerne Bricker told CNN Money.
 
In Wednesday's The New York Times, "Playing the Odds on Saving" cites the crisis in Americans' savings habits--more than a quarter have saved less than $1,000 for retirement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute--and how lottery-style programs can boost participation.
 
Henry Hubbard, CEO of $32 million-asset Communicating Arts CU in Detroit, told how Save to Win gained attention immediately from members--about 800 members signed up. "It's not the silver bullet, but it's making a difference," Hubbard told the paper. "It's the best thing we've been able to find to encourage people of modest means to put a little bit aside."
 
Credit unions gain deposits and increase loyalty among members, Adams said. "Credit unions see the merits for this type of program," he told the Times. "It is part of their social mission to help people of modest means achieve their financial objectives."
 
Prize-linked savings accounts are allowed by state law in Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Washington, according to Doorways to Dreams.
 
In October, both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives introduced legislation that would allow credit unions and other financial institutions to offer prize-linked savings accounts.

Education CUs plan Feb. conference in New Orleans

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SPANISH FORT, Ala. (1/16/14)--The Education Credit Union Council will host its annual conference in New Orleans Feb. 15-18.

The ECUC provides a forum for education-niche credit unions to share common membership and mission issues.
 
Conference speakers include:
  • Elizabeth Ellis, deputy assistant director for the Office of Financial Institutions and Business Liaison and former senior adviser to the chief of staff at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau;
  • Joe Lombardi, New Orleans Saints assistant coach;
  • Steve Gilliland, author of "Enjoy the Ride;"
  • John McKechnie, former National Credit Union Administration director of public and congressional affairs;
  • Peter Ricchiuti, economist, Tulane University; and
  • Jason Young and Tracy Moore, entrepreneurs, Mindblown Labs.
Registration is open for the full conference or single days.
 
Connie Kennelly, CEO of $20 million Tulane-Loyola University FCU, New Orleans, and a member of the ECUC West Orleans chapter, will kick things off with opening remarks (eNews Jan. 15).

Minn. AG presses for senior financial protection

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (1/16/14)--During a Tuesday meeting with credit unions, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson commended them for their work to prevent senior fraud--an area that her office is monitoring statewide.
 
From left, Mara Humphrey, vice president of governmental affairs, Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN); Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson; and Mark Cummins, president/CEO, MnCUN, at the Archer Doig Chapter meeting Tuesday in St. Paul.
"Seniors are often targeted because they have some money, but not a lot of money," Swanson told the meeting of the Archer Doig Chapter of the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN).
 
"Many credit union employees have acted as good stewards when assisting senior members with suspicious financial activities--such as wire transfers--and have helped report fraud to my office," she said.
 
"Attorney General Swanson has a critical role in helping to protect Minnesota consumers--a mission that credit unions share," said Mark Cummins, MnCUN president/CEO, adding that the league will continue to work with her office on consumer protection and regulatory matters.
 
Swanson also is monitoring the practice of selling trusts to avoid probate or selling annuities and insurance products that are not appropriate for an elderly person. Also, her office is on the lookout for instances of where a senior is induced to act because they are concerned for their physical safety.

CU fills BofA branch on Puget Sound island

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SHELTON, Wash. (1/16/14)--Our Community CU (OCCU), with $280 million in assets, Shelton, Wash., will open a branch formerly operated by Bank of America on Vashon-Maury Island near Washington.
 
Vashon-Maury Island is about 13 miles long and eight miles at its widest point, with a population of 11,000, but OCCU will be the island's second credit union. Puget Sound Cooperative CU, with $79 million in assets, Bellevue, Wash., also operates a branch on the island (Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber Jan. 15).
 
Daris Devaney, an OCCU spokeswoman, said there's room on the island for both branches. Credit unions have co-existed for a long time and even have a history of working together. It could even happen on Vashon-Maury Island, she said.
 
OCCU's opening is just another indication that consumers have grown weary of big banks and are seeking not-for-profit financial institutions and personalized financial services, said Puget Sound Cooperative CU branch manager Patte Wagner.
 
OCCU also offers business services, which is a great benefit for island businesses, said Rex Stratton, an island attorney.
 
The credit union announced plans to move to the island after Bank of America announced it would close its location after 35 years of service. The credit union has hired four islanders to staff the branch, which will open Jan. 27. One of the employees is a former employee of the Bank of America branch.

Wis. announces $250K for financial literacy grants

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MADISON, Wis. (1/16/14)--The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Wednesday announced a $250,000 statewide grant program to bring personal finance education into state schools.
 
Funding for the program will be provided by DFI, which through its Office of Financial Literacy is charged with promoting financial literacy in Wisconsin. The Office of Financial Literacy works in concert with the Governor's Council on Financial Literacy to measurably improve the financial knowledge of Wisconsin's citizens.
 
The application deadline is March 21. DPI, which is administering the program, will begin accepting nominations online Jan. 31. Award recipients will be notified by e-mail May 1. Grant money will be made available to grantees June 1.
 
The intent of the program is to support the efforts of teachers and school districts to begin new and sustainable programs and events. Teachers in K-12 school districts are eligible to apply for awards of up to $10,000 and may submit proposals for elementary, middle school and high school.
 
DFI Secretary Peter Bildsten pointed out that a survey commissioned by the agency last year showed that 44% of Wisconsin school districts currently require a course in personal financial literacy in order to graduate from high school.
 
Credit union financial educators reached 400,097 students nationally in 12,243 classroom presentations involving financial literacy during the 2012 school year, according to data from the National Youth Involvement Board (News Now Sept. 26).

CU System briefs (01/16/2014)

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  • BEAVERTON, Ore. (1/16/14)--The Northwest Credit Union Association announced this week that it has added Samantha Beeler to its political and grassroots advocacy team. The role, the NWCUA says, will have her working with credit unions in Oregon and Washington to develop the association's legislative and political agenda (Anthem Jan. 14). Beeler has experience with grassroots advocacy from her time in charge of international outreach efforts for a relief organization called The World Race. She has also worked as a business development and marketing coordinator for BakerHostetler LLP in Washington, D.C.--a city where, last year, she opened her own events firm ...
  • HARAHAN, La. (1/16/14)--University of Louisiana FCU, Lafayette, named Debbie Kidder as its new president/CEO (eNews Jan. 15). She replaces Patsy Matthieu. Kidder, who has been with the $44 million asset-credit union for 36 years, has been a senior vice president since 2003. Before that, she worked as a teller, a member service representative, a bookkeeper, an accountant and an operations manager ...
  • GAINESVILLE, Fla. (1/16/14)--SunState FCU reported this week passing the $500,000 mark in a refund program, after doling out the 10 millionth nickel since the promotion started. The Gainesville, Fla., credit union promised members in October 2009 that they would receive 5 cents back for performing signature debit card transactions. "We are very excited to reach this milestone, not only because 10 million of anything is substantial, but also because that nickel will represent $500,000 we have given directly to our members right here in North Central Florida," said Robert Hart, vice president of marketing at the $300 million-asset credit union ...

CUANM selects Arizona CU's Stull for CEO position

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (1/16/14)--Paul Stull, a senior vice president at Arizona State CU, will be the next CEO of the Credit Union Association of New Mexico, the board announced Wednesday.
 
Stull has been with the $1.47 billion-asset credit union in Phoenix for seven years as senior vice president of strategy and brand, overseeing corporate strategy and planning, product management, and marketing.
 
He replaces Sylvia Lyon, who is retiring March 7. Lyon joined CUANM in 1994 and became CEO in 2003.
 
"I am proud to be selected to lead a strong group of credit unions in New Mexico. One-third of all New Mexico residents are credit union members, so leveraging that strength and the cooperative power of our credit unions is at the top of my agenda," Stull said.
 
Stull is active at the state and national level of political advocacy programs, earning the honor of Arizona political advocate of the year in 2010. He is a director of the OneAZ Community Foundation and has served on the Marketing Association of Credit Unions board of directors.
 
Stull has an undergraduate degree in marketing from Elmira (N.Y.) College and is a graduate of the Said Business School at Oxford University.
 
"New Mexico is a state that exemplifies the American spirit of independence, and its credit unions are a symbol of that spirit. I look forward to speaking up and speaking out on issues that impact them and their members," he said.

Leagues voice appreciation for congressional response to Target breach

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WASHINGTON (1/16/14)--Credit unions continue to inform lawmakers of the repercussions of the Target security breach and are recognizing those who have responded to the growing issue.
 
For instance, immediately after the Target breach notification, the Missouri Credit Union Association contacted the Missouri congressional delegation, and continues to follow developments.
 
In a letter released Tuesday, Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) called for a briefing from the retailer about the data breach that exposed personal information of more than 70 million consumers.
 
McCaskill is chair of the Senate subcommittee on consumer protection, product safety and insurance; Rockefeller is chair of the Senate Commerce Committee.
 
"It has been three weeks since the data breach was discovered, and new information continues to come out," the senators wrote. "We expect that your security experts have had time to fully examine the cause and impact of the breach and will be able to provide the committee with detailed information."
 
"It is clear that members of the Missouri delegation understand data breaches are a concern for credit unions in the state and are taking steps to address that concern," said Don Cohenour, president/CEO, Missouri Credit Union Association (Missouri Difference Jan. 15). "We will continue our efforts to communicate information that will help lawmakers better address these issues."
 
Last week, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) reintroduced the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act--a move that drew praise from Joe Bergeron, president, Association of Vermont Credit Unions. Although the bill is not specific to credit unions, he said, it addresses growing marketplace issues that are detrimental to credit unions. (NewsLines Express Jan. 10)
 
Also, the Credit Union National Association has reached out to House Financial Services and Senate Banking Committee leaders, encouraging them to "fully examine the chronic issue of merchant data breaches, their impact on consumers and financial institutions." (See Tuesday's News Now "House Financial Services will have data security hearings, chairman says.")

Majority of N.Y. CUs positive going into 2014

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ALBANY, N.Y. (1/15/14)--The majority of New York credit unions are optimistic about lending in 2014, according to an economic survey conducted by the Credit Union Association of New York.
 
More than 60% of respondents to the December survey said they anticipated loans to increase, with first mortgages leading the way at 33.3% followed by member business loans at 29.7%. Just under 19% said they expected to see mortgage refinance volume rise, followed by student lending at 17.6%.
 
"These findings reflect a cautious optimism among New York credit union leaders as our economy continues to recover," said league President/CEO William J. Mellin. "It's encouraging to see that, while there are still many challenges facing our industry, the majority of New York credit unions are planning to increase their lending, serve more members and expand the products and services they provide in the year ahead."
 
Nearly 80 New York credit union professionals representing every asset category and region responded to the survey.
 
The survey provided other insights:
  • About 55% rated themselves "very optimistic" or "somewhat optimistic" regarding the national and state economies. Sentiment was higher--57.7%--when asked about their region. Forty-five percent are either "somewhat pessimistic" or "very pessimistic" about the national and state economies.
  • For credit union shares, 57% anticipate an increase while another 38% expect levels to remain stable.
  • The majority of respondents--57%--are planning to expand products and services in 2014.
  • New hires and new branches are not high on the radar. Fifty-three percent are not planning to hire new employees, and 72% are not planning to open new branches.
  • In the Adirondack, Metropolitan and Rochester regions, respondents are the most optimistic about their regional economies. Those in the Central New York, Finger Lakes and Long Island regions are the least optimistic.
 

138 BECU-branded ATMs placed in Wash. Rite Aid stores

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SEATAC, Wash. (1/15/14)--Tukwila, Wash.-based BECU announced it will brand 138 ATMs at Rite Aid stores in the Puget Sound area and throughout the state of Washington.
 
"One of our top member requests is to add more ATMs," said Doug Marshall, senior vice president of digital product management (Anthem Jan. 14). The $11.7 billion-asset credit union will partner with Payment Alliance International to expand surcharge-free ATM access.
 
The new Rite Aid locations will bring the number of BECU-branded ATMs to more than 300 in the Puget Sound area and nearly 350 statewide.
 
BECU currently offers its members free access to approximately 200 company-owned and -operated ATMs in Washington as well as the nearly 30,000 ATMs that are part of the CO-OP Financial Services network.
 
Marshall said the addition of the drugstores gives its members ATM access in the Olympic Peninsula to the west and Lynden and Bellingham to the north.
 
When expanding its ATM footprint, the credit union factored in the opportunity to add convenience for its members who travel and that fact the ATMs will be part of the CO-OP shared network. "It made sense for us to include all of the Rite Aid locations in Washington state," Marshall said.

'Lone Survivor' author Luttrell announced as 2014 ACUC keynoter

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MADISON, Wis. (1/15/14)--Marcus Luttrell, one of a team of four Navy SEALs ambushed by a large Taliban force in 2005 and the only one to survive the following hours of combat, will be a keynote speaker at the Credit Union National Association's 2014 America's Credit Union Conference (ACUC), to be held June 29-July 3 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, Calif.
 
Luttrell, critically wounded in the attack, crawled into the mountains and was taken in by the Afghan villagers of Sabray, who nursed and protected him, despite escalating Taliban threats, until he was rescued. After recuperating, he redeployed to Iraq for a second tour. In the spring of 2007, Petty Officer 1st Class Luttrell retired. He was awarded the Navy Cross for combat heroism in 2006 by President George W. Bush.
 
America's Credit Union Conference, praised by attendees as an energizing, forward-thinking event, features the nation's best business innovators and motivational leaders to deliver ideas for growth and the inspiration to drive positive change for credit unions.
 
"It is with great pleasure that we welcome Marcus Luttrell to tell his heroic story," said Jill Tomalin, CUNA executive vice president and COO. "His conference-closing keynote presentation on courage, sacrifice and community is sure to connect with credit union values, giving us a patriotic sendoff just in time for Independence Day."
 
For more information about speakers and sessions at the ACUC, and to register, use the resource link.
 
Luttrell has written two books: "Lone Survivor" (2007), which recounts the harrowing trials of Operation Redwing and is now in movie theaters across the United States; and "Service: A Navy SEAL at War" (2013), in which Luttrell turns his focus to the nature of service on America's battlefields and the soldiers who give their lives to defend their nation and each other.

Banks' 'concerned' citizens a no-show in S.D. tax-status fight

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BISMARCK, N.D. (1/15/14)--While South Dakota banks continue to claim they are representing citizens "concerned" that the credit union tax status is unfair, citizens have yet to show up in support of banks' "tax equality" resolution, as credit unions and their members advocate on behalf of state cooperative financial institutions, the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas pointed out Tuesday.
 
On Monday, state credit unions fended off two more attempts by banks to persuade local boards to support an anti-credit union tax resolution (The Memo Jan. 14).
 
"Their entire 'awareness effort' is geared toward stirring up the masses to jump up and shout  'taxation fairness," said Jeff Olson, Credit Union Association of the Dakotas vice president of advocacy, told News Now. "There has yet to be one 'concerned citizen' who has shown up or spoken in support of this resolution at any of the 12 committees, commissions and councils where it has been considered."
 
The Vermillion School Board considered the South Dakota Bankers Association's "Equalization in Taxation" resolution, but did not take action during its meeting Monday. South Dakota credit unions were represented by Olson and Janet Mount, CEO of Vermillion (S.D.) FCU, who addressed the board.
 
Also, on Monday the Brookings School Board tabled the bankers' resolution for two months and will hear the issue in March. CUAD President/CEO Robbie Thompson attended the meeting, along with Dan Cumbee, president/CEO, and Chad Moller, branch manager, from Dakotaland FCU, Huron.
 
CUAD noted that as the South Dakota legislature reconvened Tuesday, no state school board, city council, county commission or chamber of commerce that has heard the banks' request to support the resolution has moved to have the legislature review the credit union tax status.

NEW: Stull named CEO of N.M. league

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (1/15/14, UPDATED 5:05 p.m. CT)--The Credit Union Association of New Mexico board of directors announced that Paul B. Stull will be its new CEO.
 
Stull has been with Arizona State CU, Phoenix, for seven years as senior vice president of strategy and brand, overseeing corporate strategy and planning, product management, and marketing.
 
"I am proud to be selected to lead a strong group of credit unions in New Mexico. One-third of all New Mexico residents are credit union members, so leveraging that strength and the cooperative power of our credit unions is at the top of my agenda," Stull said.
 
"New Mexico is a state that exemplifies the American spirit of independence, and its credit unions are a symbol of that spirit. I look forward to speaking up and speaking out on issues that impact them and their members," he said.

Financial expert Chatzky headlining Cornerstone foundation summit

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (1/15/14)--Financial expert and best-selling author Jean Chatzky will be the keynote speaker for the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation's FOCUS Summit.
 
Chatzky is director of education at SavvyMoney and financial editor for NBC's "Today" show. For the past year, her book "Money Rules: The Simple Path to Lifelong Security" has been distributed through a National Credit Union Foundation initiative.
 
The FOCUS Summit, set for Feb. 6-7, connects financial education advocates. The agenda for the Dallas meeting includes:
  • An overview of financial education tools aimed at various age ranges;
  • A performance by The Disclosures, a Madison, Wis., musical duo that focuses on financial literacy and social responsibility;
  • A life simulation facilitated by Lois Kitsch, REAL Solutions national program manager, National Credit Union Foundation; and
  • A best-practice panel with school officials that will focus on sustainable relationships with schools.

Community platform new feature of Carolinas website

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COLUMBIA, S.C., and RALEIGH, N.C. (1/15/14)--The Carolinas Credit Union League's newly designed website includes a community section that fosters networking and collaboration among league members.
 
The community section allows members to join online groups within three group types: chapters, asset size, and expertise. Once a user joins a group, he or she can network with its other members, start and join forum discussions, post group-related photos, keep up with group events, and learn from each other.
 
"We heard clearly that credit unions want their league to be a unifying influence and a champion of cooperation, and the community section will empower them to connect and collaborate," said CCUL Vice President of Public Relations and Communications Brandon Pugh.
 
The newly designed website completes a four-month process of consolidating the North Carolina and South Carolina leagues' sites.
 
Built on the same membership management platform as the former South Carolina Credit Union League's website--carolinasleague.org--optimizes navigation with added tabs for advocacy, compliance, professional development and community. The leagues' web team was led by Pugh and included CCUL staff, with design support from Third Degree Advertising.
 
The site includes the ability for league-member credit unions, business partners, and CCUL staff to create individual profiles within the site. Once logged in, users have access to exclusive site features including CU directory search, community groups and a job posting form.
 
Details are added to the site daily, and companion sub-sites include the grassroots action platform Vocus, League InfoSight for compliance resources, and the Credit Union Webinar Network through Financial Education and Development (FED) to round out professional development offerings.

NEW: 'Lone Survivor' author Luttrell announced as 2014 ACUC keynoter

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MADISON, Wis. (1/14/14, UPDATED 10 a.m. CT)--Marcus Luttrell, one of a team of four Navy SEALs ambushed by a large Taliban force in 2005 and the only one to survive the following hours of combat, will be a keynote speaker at the Credit Union National Association's 2014 America's Credit Union Conference (ACUC), to be held June 29-July 3 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, Calif.
 
Luttrell, critically wounded in the attack, crawled into the mountains and was taken in by the Afghan villagers of Sabray, who nursed and protected him, despite escalating Taliban threats, until he was rescued. After recuperating, he redeployed to Iraq for a second tour. In the spring of 2007, Petty Officer 1st Class Luttrell retired. He was awarded the Navy Cross for combat heroism in 2006 by President George W. Bush.
 
America's Credit Union Conference, praised by attendees as an energizing, forward-thinking event, features the nation's best business innovators and motivational leaders to deliver ideas for growth and the inspiration to drive positive change for credit unions.
 
"It is with great pleasure that we welcome Marcus Luttrell to tell his heroic story," said Jill Tomalin, CUNA executive vice president and COO. "His conference-closing keynote presentation on courage, sacrifice and community is sure to connect with credit union values, giving us a patriotic sendoff just in time for Independence Day."
 
For more information about speakers and sessions at the ACUC, and to register, use the resource link.
 
Luttrell has written two books: "Lone Survivor" (2007), which recounts the harrowing trials of Operation Redwing and is now in movie theaters across the United States; and "Service: A Navy SEAL at War" (2013), in which Luttrell turns his focus to the nature of service on America's battlefields and the soldiers who give their lives to defend their nation and each other.

In the media: Mobile payments, CU membership, stress test rule

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MADISON, Wis. (1/14/14)--USA Today, U.S. News & World Report and The Hill were among the national media outlets that featured information and insight from the Credit Union National Association in the past several weeks.
 
Meanwhile, other publications noted how credit unions are helping their members navigate the Target breach, increasing in popularity among consumers, and reporting improved financial results, according to CUNA's weekly "In The Media Report" (Jan. 10). The report covers mentions of CUNA and credit unions in the media and is available to CUNA's member credit unions.
 
USA Today (Jan. 8) featured content from CUNA's mobile payments survey. Titled "Youngest adults are not the top users of mobile payments," the graphic broke down the survey by age groups.
 
A Jan. 7.U.S. News & World Report article, "The Benefits of Joining a Credit Union," highlighted benefits credit union membership offers American consumers. The article also provided answers to common questions about credit unions, and described how credit unions differ from banks in structure and purpose. 
 
An article in The Hill (Dec. 31), outlined CUNA's position on the new stress test rule. CUNA believes that credit unions already have all the incentive they need to make sure the financial institutions have sound plans. In a comment letter submitted to the National Credit Union Administration, CUNA wrote that regulators should issue advice in the form of guidance, not mandatory regulations.
 
On Dec. 27, Missouri ABC 3 KTVO News reported state-chartered credit unions are becoming more popular with consumers, especially in larger cities. As of June, state-chartered credit unions had $11.2 billion in assets, $9.7 billion in deposits and the loan volume reached $6.5 billion.
 
In a Jan. 4, Sacramento Bee op-ed piece, "Time for tougher measures to combat another credit card breach," Diana Dykstra, president/CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, said the massive, pre-holiday card data security breach at Target serves to illustrate the serious need for tougher card- and cyber-security measures to protect consumers. Dykstra called for toughening the "dangerously weak credit and debit card security measures employed by U.S. retailers."
 
A Mother Jones (Jan. 9) article described how the $638 million-asset Silver State Schools CU of Las Vegas offers loans specifically for K-12 teachers who are struggling to scrape together classroom supplies on small budgets.
 
A Jan. 5 MiBiz.com article highlighted Michigan credit union small business lending. Member business lending (MBL) at Michigan credit unions surged 18% through the third quarter of 2013, and state credit unions are well-positioned for future MBL increases, Dave Adams, Michigan Credit Union League president/CEO, told MiBiz.com.
 
An Arizona Daily Star article (Dec. 22) noted improving third-quarter financial returns for state credit unions. Bauer Financial said 84.4% of the state's credit unions were recommended in the third quarter of 2013, improving from 76% recommended in the third quarter of 2012.

3Q numbers show strong momentum for Kansas CUs

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WICHITA, Kan. (1/14/14)--Kansas credit unions outperformed their counterparts around the country in two key areas in the third quarter.
 
The expansion of loans and shares in the state outpaced the national average, according to a recent report commissioned for the Kansas Credit Union Association (Vision Jan. 10).
 
Shares and outstanding loans at Kansas credit unions increased by 5.5% and 8.5%. The national averages for share and loan growth in the third quarter were 4.1% and 6.8%.

Used auto loans, the largest component of the loan portfolio, increased 8.7% over September 2012 levels. New auto loans increased 17.9% at Kansas credit unions. The overall auto loan portfolio increased 10.3%, up $195.7 million from September 2012.
 
Delinquency rates, meanwhile, remained low, at 0.86%--below the national credit union average, 1.02%, local commercial bank average, 1.63%, and the in-state savings bank mean, at 1.34%.
 
The third quarter also saw 15,000 additional Kansans join credit unions, bringing the total number of state members to 641,000--almost a quarter of the state's population.
 
The report revealed that credit union service organization (CUSO) participation, as measured by loans to or investments in CUSOs, rose by more than 40% on an annual basis in the third quarter, by $14.3 million.
 

Detroit News spotlights CU defibrillator program

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LANSING, Mich. (1/14/14)--An article in the Sunday edition of the Detroit News highlighted a Michigan Credit Union League program that places automated external defibrillators in credit unions.
 
The article told the story of John Looman, CEO of $124 million-asset Community West CU, Grand Rapids, Mich., who at the age of 49 suffered a heart attack during a YMCA spinning class last year. Now fully recovered, Looman credits quick-thinking bystanders and an automated external defibrillator (AED) for saving his life, the News reported.
 
Looman told the News that at first he felt lucky, but in truth it was planning on the part of the YMCA to place AED in its facility and the fast response of well-trained bystanders that saved his life.
 
Inspired by Looman's experience, the Michigan league started a program to offer AEDs to credit unions and their business members at a reduced cost. Through the manufacturer and its authorized distributor, NorthStar Medical Equipment, the league offers AEDs at a discounted price of $1,250 each, a 37% discount off the retail price.
 
In less than two months since the program started, eight credit unions have installed AEDs in 27 branches. The league has the devices in its offices in Lansing and Livonia.
 
In conjunction with the program, the league will offer CPR/AED classes at its Annual Convention and Exposition in June.

Maine league's message: 'Now is the time for a CU'

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PORTLAND, Maine (1/14/14)--The sense of urgency is clear: Now is the time for a credit union --for convenience, for lending and for being a trusted financial partner.
 
That is the message behind the Maine Credit Union League's statewide awareness campaign, which is going into its second year.
 
"No matter how a member or potential member saw us, we had a consistent message: Look to us for all your needs," said Debra Trautman, league assistant vice president of corporate marketing.
 
 
Members who want convenience are reminded of shared branching networks--a unique credit union characteristic, surcharge-free ATMs and mobile capabilities such as apps or websites.
 
The latest 30-second commercials show how credit unions can "make it happen" for home or auto loans and how more Maine people are joining credit unions because they offer true financial value.
 
"Make It Happen" is the key part of the social media campaign that will use #MECreditUnions. The league is seeking photos, Tweets and Facebook posts that show how credit unions helped consumers accomplish or obtain something positive.
 
"Our goal is to make a giant mosaic where members can see what other people use," Trautman said. There was a lot of engagement with the #DontTaxMyCreditUnion campaign in Maine, she said, adding, "We knew we could get them to share their stories."
 
The total media buy for 2014 is $600,000 including Young and Free Maine. "Now is the time for a credit union" will be distributed via traditional television commercials, community event sponsorships as well as voice-over spots on Pandora and Spotify.
 
The first year's goal was to increase awareness among members and directly reinforce the benefits of credit unions over banks (News Now 1/14/13).
 
The market responded with approval of the positive message, a reported increased knowledge of what a credit union is and an appreciation of the ATM and shared branching networks. Maine has nearly 240 ATMs in its surcharge-free network.
 
When convenience is featured, those shared branching transactions increase, Trautman said.
 
Through the first three quarters of the year, assets at Maine's 61 credit unions increased 4%, nearly $250 million. Assets collectively totaled $6.1 billion. Loans volume improved 5.6% to $4.1 billion for the year, with shares coming in with a 4.3% increase to $5.2 billion.
 
Membership is at an all-time high of more than 636,500 members statewide.

Unity Project saves members $1M, gives $6,500 to community

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GREAT FALLS, Mont. (1/14/14)--A credit union based in Great Falls, Mont., saved its members a significant amount on loans while simultaneously expanding its loan portfolio and giving back to the community.

Russell County FCU said it has refinanced 607 loans, benefiting members by more than $1 million, and used the additional business to give $6,500 to community charities (Great Falls Tribune Jan. 10).

The effort, known as the Unity Project, started with the $61 million-asset credit union asking employees and members to talk about the program with friends and family who used lines of credit elsewhere. Each new referral between May and December, the credit union said, then voted for an organization eligible to receive a donation.

The Unity Project ended up raising $3,000 for Great Falls Public Schools Foundation Homeless Students Program, $1,500 for Kairos Youth Services, and $2,000 for the YWCA Mercy Home--a domestic abuse shelter for women and children.

Meanwhile, members who refinanced loans reported significant gains. One member, who refinanced a mortgage, two car loans and consolidated credit-card debt, reportedly is saving $80,071. Another saved $15,000 in interest charges after consolidating a loan taken out for a truck repair, according to the Great Falls Tribune report.

According to research from the Credit Union National Association, the combination of higher yields on savings, lower loan interest rates and lower fees translated into $5.8 billion worth of benefits to credit union members in 2012. Non-members benefit from credit unions' presence in the financial markets to the tune of $2.2 billion per year.

The Mercy Home told the Great Falls Tribune that it would spend most of the Russell Country donation on renovations. The public schools foundation said it was planning to spend at least $100 on clothes for a student who has been couch-surfing for two years.

W. Va. FCU staff pull together during water shortage

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (1/14/14)--Credit unions are known for helping their communities in their time of need, but they also take care of their "credit union families."
 
"From an employee standpoint, what you do have is everybody working together," said Nick Arvon, president/CEO of West Virginia FCU. The $164 million-asset credit union is within the nine-county area that was declared a federal disaster area Friday because of a chemical spill into the Elk River. Monday, the ban was slowly being lifted on using water for anything other than flushing toilets.
 
Employees live anywhere from three to 30 miles from work, he said. Those who live farther away from the Charleston metropolitan area invited co-workers to meals and offered a place to bathe.
 
"It's the cooperative spirit we all share," Arvon told News Now. "Everybody is checking up on everybody to make sure there aren't any other needs."
 
Arvon said skip-a-pay fees could be waived for members who need them this month. Small businesses such as restaurants had to close Thursday evening, missing a weekend's worth of customers. Hospitals and government buildings also were closed as up to 300,000 residents were without tap water.
 
"It really makes you appreciate some of the things you take for granted, like laundry, showers and baths," he said.
 
As far as disaster recovery lessons to be learned, Arvon said he recognized the importance of leadership in time of crisis: "Focus on the task at hand, show you have plans and keep people informed."

Burek wins District 4, Class A seat on CUNA board

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MADISON, Wis. (1/14/14)--Geraldine Burek won the election for the District 4, Class A seat on the board of directors for the Credit Union National Association.
 
Burek is president/CEO of South Division CU, a $53 million-asset credit union in Evergreen Park, Ill. She won over Pat Drennen, CEO of 1st Gateway CU, an $87 million-asset credit union in Camanche, Iowa.
 
Burek will represent credit unions having less than 25,000 natural person members in District 4, which covers Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. Her term will expire at the adjournment of the 2017 annual general meeting.
 
In December, seven credit union leaders were elected by acclamation to the board.

The elected directors, their districts and classes are below.

District 1--Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands:
  • Class A (credit unions having less than 25,000 natural person members)--Edwin L. Williams, president, Discovery FCU, Wyomissing, Pa., $132 million assets; and
  • Class D (league presidents)--William J. Mellin, president, Credit Union Association of New York, Albany, N.Y.
District 2--Delaware, District of Columbia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia:
  • Class B (credit unions having at least 25,000 but not more than 93,999 natural person members)--Dallas Bergl, president, INOVA FCU, Elkhart, Ind., $281 million assets; and
  • Class D--Rick Pillow, president, Virginia Credit Union League, Lynchburg, Va.
District 3--Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee:
  • Class C (credit unions having at least 94,000 natural person members)--Maurice R. Smith, president, Local Government FCU, Raleigh, N.C., $1.3 billion assets.
District 5--Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming:
  • Class C--Tony C. Budet, president, University FCU, Austin, Texas, $1.64 billion assets.
District 6--Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, American Samoa, Guam, Johnston Atoll, Midway Atoll, Northern Mariana Islands, Palmyra Atoll and Wake Atoll:
  • Class B--Jeff York, president, CoastHills FCU, Lompoc, Calif., $718 million assets.
Directors elected will take office upon the adjournment of CUNA's annual general meeting during the Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., Feb. 24.

W. Va. CUs still open despite federal disaster declaration

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. (1/13/14)--Credit unions in and around Charleston, W. Va., are mostly open for business, despite the declaration of a federal emergency caused by a chemical spill into the drinking water system, the West Virginia Credit Union League told News Now.
 
"We've been in contact with all of the credit unions in the affected areas this morning as well as the NCUA regional office," said league President Ken Watts. Of the 22 credit unions that are affected, all but two are open for business.
 
The two that are closed are housed in facilities that did not open today--the federal courthouse in Charleston and the county vocational center in Eleanor. "Members at the other 20 credit unions have full access to their accounts and business is being conducted as usual," Watts said.
 
Up to 300,000 residents of nine counties surrounding the state's capital city are without tap water. This includes restaurants, hospitals, state and local government, and financial institutions..
 
President Barack Obama issued the federal disaster declaration for nine West Virginia counties: Kanawha, Boone, Logan, Lincoln, Putnam, Jackson, Roane, Clay and Cabell.
 
A 48,000-gallon storage tank filled with a compound to wash coal breached a containment wall at Freedom Industries before it flowed into the Elk River Thursday (The New York Times Jan. 10). 
 
As of Friday afternoon, Freedom Industries, the company responsible for the spill could not determine the amount of chemical leaked into the river.
 
The West Virginia League will be monitoring the situation throughout the weekend and will determine if any assistance is needed should the water ban extend into next week. "We are hopeful that this gets resolved in a quick and safe manner," Watts added.
 
Jeff McIntyre, president of West Virginia American Water, told CNN today that the company has no timeline for declaring when the water will be safe to do more than flush toilets.
 
Residents were told that the water should not be used for drinking, boiling, washing, cleaning, bathing or given to pets.
 
Water distribution centers have been set up in the Charleston area.

Filene, Aite seek suggestions for revenue generation

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MADISON, Wis. (1/13/14)--As part of a newly established research partnership, Filene Research Institute and Aite Group are asking credit union CEOs, chief financial officers and other finance professionals to complete a survey on how they will drive increased revenue. Responses are due Friday.
 
Ron Shevlin, senior analyst at Aite Group, will guide the project.
 
Filene will share a complimentary copy of the report with survey respondents.
 
After three straight years of declining revenue from 2009 through 2011, the credit union system saw an increase of revenue in 2012. However, revenue increased by just 0.7%, still well below 2008 levels. As an industry, credit unions generated just a little more than half of what banks with more than $50 billion in assets were able to generate in non-interest income in 2012.
 
"Revenue generation is a top priority for credit union executives," said Ben Rogers, research director at Filene. "Through this research we'll look at where credit unions see revenue growth coming from, the biggest challenges credit unions face in generating additional revenue, and how and what credit unions are investing in to generate revenue."
 
The research project is expected to take two months. The report will be released later this year

El Paso mortgage CUSO helps 50 families find homes

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (1/13/14)--Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the support of three local credit unions, the El Paso Affordable Housing credit union service organization (CUSO) will help 50 families become homeowners, the Cornerstone Credit Union League said Friday.
 
The grant of roughly $2 million, funded through HUD's Neighborhood Stabilization Program, will  be used to provide qualified homebuyers with up to $26,500 in down-payment assistance and up to 3% toward closing costs, Luis Caballero, El Paso Affordable Housing family asset development manager, told the league (Leaguer Jan. 10.).
 
"HUD issued these grants to various organizations around country in an effort to re-stabilize communities affected by housing collapse," said Caballero.
 
Three El Paso credit unions--FirstLight FCU, with $829 million in assets, $2 billion-asset GECU, and $89 million-asset OneSource FCU--were selected as the preferred lenders for the program. All three of the credit unions have received the Cornerstone Credit Union League's Juntos Avanzamos designation for credit unions that have demonstrated exceptional commitment and service to the Hispanic community.
 
The CUSO has partnered with a local developer to build 50 new homes. Ten of the homes have been completed.

CU advocates sought for Carolinas council program

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RALEIGH, N.C. (1/13/14)--As the North Carolina and South Carolina leagues merged, so did their council programs.
 
CUaware, based in Raleigh, N.C., and South Carolina's CU Forward are expanding the geographic footprint and meeting schedule for credit unions in those states.
 
"Our plan is to add four regional councils in South Carolina that will hold regular educational meetings, as well as networking and community events," said CUaware co-founder Brandon McAdams, director of business transformation at Coastal FCU, Raleigh (In the Loop Jan. 10).
 
To that point, both the leadership and regional councils are seeking credit union professionals to volunteer, and the deadline to apply is Friday. The four new regional councils are SC Upstate, Midlands, Pee Dee and Low Country. In addition, CUaware has five openings on its nine-member leadership council.
 
"Credit union volunteers in each regional council will coordinate these meetings and events in order to enhance the level of grassroots cooperation throughout the Carolinas," McAdams said. "The end result will be that more credit union staff will appreciate and understand what makes credit unions and cooperatives so special."
 
Former CU Forward ambassador Will Crosswell said it was a great first step, even as CU Forward comes to a close." I truly believe that joining forces with CUaware has the potential to open up more exciting opportunities for credit union professionals in South Carolina," said Crosswell, business development officer at Palmetto First FCU, Florence, S.C.
 
North Carolina's councils in the Piedmont Triad and Triangle regions will continue to build upon past success, and CUaware plans to expand further in North Carolina.
 
For more information, contact CUaware's Lauren Whaley, (800) 822-8859, ext. 9066, or use the link.

CU System briefs (01/13/2014)

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  • ST. LOUIS (1/13/14)--Managing a calendar and creating content for social media can be challenging, and the Missouri Credit Union Association's latest #TweetUpTuesdays will tackle just that (Missouri Difference Jan. 8). In its first meeting of the year, the St. Louis-based group will focus on sources for content, editorial calendars and communication strategies during its meeting at the Blue Sky Tower Grill in Brentwood. The #TweetUpTuesdays program started in December  ...
  • MIDLAND, Texas (1/13/14)--Two Texans were sentenced to federal prison Jan. 9 for their alleged roles in defrauding My Community FCU, Midland, Texas. Raymond Holguin Jr., 36, and Gustavo Pizarro, 37, received 41 months and 18 months, respectively, and ordered to pay almost $4 million in restitution. According to a release from the FBI, the two men, along with a loan officer from the credit union, conspired on a car-loan fraud scheme that cost the credit union more than $4 million. Loan officer Michael Franco, 40, was sentenced to 18 months in prison in November for his role in approving more than 300 car loans on behalf of Holguin and Pizarro, who both worked at the Motor City dealership in Odessa ...
  • FITCHBURG, Mass. (1/13/14)--For the first time in its nearly 100-year history, Workers' CU will be distributing a bonus dividend to its membership through its GiveBack Program. In February, qualifying members of the Fitchburg, Mass.-based credit union will receive $2 million. CEO Doug Petersen announced the dividend during a Chamber of Commerce meeting (Worcester Telegram and Gazette Jan. 10). The $1 billion-asset credit union also teased the distribution with its "The Angry Banker" video on its bigbanksagainstworkers.org website ...
  • TROY, Mich. (1/13/14)--The finance and economics department at Walsh College, Troy, Mich., is teaming up with the membership of Michigan Schools and Government CU, Clinton Township, to participate in a survey about personal financial knowledge. The survey, which includes questions about stress levels related to financial situations, is open to residents of Oakland and Macomb counties ...

Stars and Stripes readers pick Andrews FCU as best FI

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SUITLAND, Md. (1/13/14)--Readers of Stars and Stripes voted Andrews FCU as the top financial institution in the publication's latest readers' choice award.
 
"It's a great feeling to know members worldwide value and appreciate our service," said Oma George, chief retail officer of the $1 billion-asset credit union.
 
Stars and Stripes received more than 5,000 entries from readers to select their favorites in more than 60 business categories.
 
Andrews FCU is based in Suitland, Md., and serves Andrews Air Force Base, McGuire Air Force Base, military installations in central Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, and more than 200 select employer groups in Maryland, New Jersey and the District of Columbia.
 
Stars and Stripes is an independent news publication that provides information to the U.S. military community of active-duty service members, Department of Defense civilians, contractors and their families.

American Forces Network picks up Biz Kid$ for 2nd season

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MADISON, Wis. (1/13/14)--The second season of Biz Kid$ premiered Jan. 4 worldwide as new programming from the American Forces Network (AFN) on military bases overseas.
 
Biz Kid$ is the Emmy Award-winning and credit union-funded public television series that teaches kids about money management and entrepreneurship.
 
"Financial literacy is critical, and Biz Kid$ delivers outstanding content to teach youth how to make and manage money through the power of television," said Danielle Brown, director of development and donor relations at the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF).
 
The first 26 episodes of Biz Kid$ launched on AFN in 2012. The license for those episodes has been renewed and with the second season added, 39 Biz Kid$ episodes air at 12:30 p.m. viewer time on the AFNfamily channel to military bases worldwide.
 
The Department of Defense operates AFN, a worldwide radio and television broadcast network that serves nearly one million American service men and women, Department of Defense civilians and their families overseas, stationed at bases in 175 countries, and 140 U.S. Navy ships at sea.  AFN broadcasts the most popular American radio and television programs from all the major networks and is a service of the American Forces Radio and Television Service.
 
NCUF oversees fundraising, outreach and administrative responsibilities of Biz Kid$. In the past seven years, more than 300 credit unions and affiliated organizations have raised more than $13.8 million to support the show's production, website and curriculum. Every Biz Kid$ episode begins and ends with a narrator reminding viewers that: "Production funding for Biz Kid$ is provided by America's Credit Unions, where people are worth more than money."

CU branch linked to community college fin-lit program

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MENTOR, Ohio (1/10/14)--Cardinal Community CU, with $172 million in assets, Mentor, Ohio, has taken the student-run branch to college. After opening a branch in a local high school in 2012, the credit union recently opened student-run branch at Lakeland Community College, Kirtland, Ohio.
 
The branch is part of a new financial-literacy education program at the college.
 
"We really saw a need for financial literacy," Christine Blake, Cardinal Community CU president/CEO, told News Now. "We partnered with the college because we both saw the benefit that this would bring to the community."
 
Blake has ties to Lakeland. Before taking over as CEO of Cardinal Community CU, she served as an adjunct professor at the college, where she taught accounting and auditing.
 
"The student branch didn't come as a result of my teaching, but by teaching there I had an appreciation of what was missing in terms of financial literacy," Blake said.
 
Lakeland Community College also previously hosted a credit union that merged into Cardinal Community CU.
 
"There were a lot of bits and pieces that made this a good fit for us," Blake said.
 
About 10 to 12 students are employed at the student-run branch under the supervision of a Cardinal Community CU branch manager. The branch is open 40 hours per week.
 
Each month the credit union, with participation and input from Lakeland faculty, will feature financial education sessions for students on a specific topic, Blake said. Cardinal will also offer four scholarships per year to qualified Lakeland students.

NEW: W. Va. CUs still open despite federal disaster declaration

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. (1/10/14, UPDATED 3:20 p.m. CST)--Credit unions in and around Charleston, W. Va., are mostly open for business, despite the declaration of a federal emergency caused by a chemical spill into the drinking water system, the West Virginia Credit Union League told News Now.
 
"We've been in contact with all of the credit unions in the affected areas this morning as well as the NCUA regional office," said league President Ken Watts. Of the 22 credit unions that are affected, all but two are open for business.
 
The two that are closed are housed in facilities that did not open today--the federal courthouse in Charleston and the county vocational center in Eleanor. "Members at the other 20 credit unions have full access to their accounts and business is being conducted as usual," Watts said.
 
Up to 300,000 residents of nine counties surrounding the state's capital city are without tap water. This includes restaurants, hospitals, state and local government, and financial institutions..
 
President Barack Obama issued the federal disaster declaration for nine West Virginia counties: Kanawha, Boone, Logan, Lincoln, Putnam, Jackson, Roane, Clay and Cabell.
 
A 48,000-gallon storage tank filled with a compound to wash coal breached a containment wall at Freedom Industries before it flowed into the Elk River Thursday (The New York Times Jan. 10). 
 
As of Friday afternoon, Freedom Industries, the company responsible for the spill could not determine the amount of chemical leaked into the river.
 
The West Virginia League will be monitoring the situation throughout the weekend and will determine if any assistance is needed should the water ban extend into next week. "We are hopeful that this gets resolved in a quick and safe manner," Watts added.
 
Jeff McIntyre, president of West Virginia American Water, told CNN today that the company has no timeline for declaring when the water will be safe to do more than flush toilets.
 
Residents were told that the water should not be used for drinking, boiling, washing, cleaning, bathing or given to pets.
 
Water distribution centers have been set up in the Charleston area.

Morrow Memorial Scholarship one of many CU offerings

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MADISON, Wis. (1/10/14)--The Iowa Credit Union Foundation will award the first Warren A. Morrow Memorial Scholarship this year--only one of many that the credit union community will distribute to high school and college students.
 
Morrow, who was founder/CEO of Coopera Consulting and widely known for his Hispanic outreach efforts, died in 2012. The $5,750 in scholarships will go to high school seniors with a projected graduation date of 2014 and to students in accredited undergraduate, graduate or vocational programs.
 
The Morrow scholarships include an essay question, something that is common across credit union offerings. Its deadline is Feb. 7.
 
Many of the scholarships bear the names of community leaders. Applicants submit written or video essays about the benefits of being a credit union member or how the credit union helped them use money wisely.
 
Supporting higher education with scholarship funds is another example of how credit unions "Unite for Good" for their communities. A partial list of scholarships with spring deadlines are below.
 
  • The Ohio Credit Union Foundation opens its video scholarship contest Feb. 3 for an opportunity to receive $5,000 to pursue an undergraduate degree. Finalists will appear on the foundation's website, with the winner announced May 16 (eLumination Jan. 8).

    The 15 chapters of the Ohio Credit Union League offer scholarships to local students pursuing post-secondary education. Winners of the chapter scholarships are automatically entered to win an additional scholarship from the Ohio foundation, which awards five $3,000 state-level credit union scholarship grants.
  • In Kalamazoo, Mich., Educational Community CU will disburse 21 scholarships worth $24,000 to high school seniors, who must be a primary member of the $396 million-asset credit union to be eligible.
  • Members Advantage CU, Michigan City, Ind., has two scholarships--one that honors former board member Gail Walker and the other in memory of the first manager of the $87 million-asset credit union, Leona Bruno.
  • Students who are members of Justice FCU, Chantilly, Va., and interested in pursuing a degree in the field of justice can apply for scholarships from the $600 million-asset credit union.
  • First Community CU, Jamestown, N.D., committed $1 million to create a scholarship fund in December. First Community CU will award nine scholarships to schools in which the $459 million-asset credit union has branches: Bismarck State College, Concordia College, Minnesota State University Moorhead, Mayville State University, North Dakota State University, North Dakota State College of Science, University of Jamestown, University of Mary and Valley City State University.
  • Palisades FCU, $153 million in assets, offers the George Hatala scholarship that honors the community activist and long-time senior manager of the Pearl River, N.Y., credit union and community activist. Palisades FCU also participates in Credit Union Association of New York scholarship program.
  • In St. Louis, Anheuser-Busch Employees' CU and American Eagle CU are calling for applicants for the Vince Jacknewitz program that awards six $1,500 to members of its Young Adult Financial Group. Jacknewitz was a longtime board member and chair of the $1.4 billion-asset credit union.
  • This year, United Methodist Connectional FCU, Marietta, Ga., expanded the eligible age range for applicants to 17- to 35-years old, in order to include graduate students.
  • The B.A. Candler/ORNL FCU Scholarship, Oak Ridge, Tenn., is awarded to students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Candler served as president of the now-$1.4 billion asset credit union for 31 years.  
  • Lacey, Wash.-based TwinStar CU, with $872 million in assets, distributes nearly $30,000 per year to graduating high school seniors and older students seeking higher education.
  • Sikorsky CU, Stratford, Conn., awards five Thomas J. Williams Scholarships, each worth $1,000. Williams was president/CEO of the $677 million-asset credit union for more than 30 years. Applicants have to write an essay about how the credit union helped them take charge of their money.
  • Clatskanie, Ore.-based Wauna CU, $163 million in assets, will give $6,000 to its scholarship winner, who must have graduated from high school within the past five years.
  • Hawaii State FCU, $1.3 billion in assets, will distribute 15 scholarships worth $2,000 each. Since 1996, the Honolulu credit union has disbursed nearly $450,000 to members seeking higher education.
  • Student hopefuls must answer the question "What does financial responsibility mean to you?" when applying for one of the $1,000 scholarships from $271 million-asset SIU CU, Carbondale, Ill.

CU System Briefs (01/10/2014)

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  • BANGOR, Maine (1/10/14)--A fire in the boiler room area of Katahdin FCU Wednesday sent two people to the hospital and closed the Millinocket, Maine, credit union. One employee and a second-floor tenant suffered from smoke inhalation, according to Bangor Daily News (Jan. 8). The fire, which was discovered when employees arrived for work Wednesday, was restricted to the room and spaces between the first and second floors. Don Casko, president of the $68 million-asset credit union, told the paper that members can use a temporary office at Eastmill FCU, East Millinocket; one of more than 150 credit unions statewide through the  Maine Credit Union Shared Branch Network; or the national Credit Union Shared Branch Network.  It is unknown how long the credit union will be closed ...
  • COLUMBIA, S.C. (1/10/14)--Dispelling the myth that it can be inconvenient to use credit unions, Carolina Collegiate FCU launched its new campaign, Banking in Your Boxers. The Columbia, S.C., credit union highlights its many services that can be used at home or "anywhere else that pants are optional." The microsite lists options such as mobile banking and remote check deposit as well as online payments, electronic statements and text banking. "This is an opportunity for us to educate consumers that Carolina Collegiate offers many of the same conveniences the big banks offer, with the personal approach that most credit unions are known for," said Anne Shivers, CEO of the $84 million-asset credit union ...
  • AUSTIN, Texas (1/10/14)--In recognition of surpassing 100,000 members and $1 billion in assets in 2013, Austin, Texas-based A+ FCU awarded $10,000 to one of its members. Winner Carmen Hinojosa said, "The A+ service has been wonderful, and I've always felt welcomed at the branches." The grand prize capped an eight-month member appreciation celebration during which more than 530 members won items ranging from $100 to free groceries for a year ...
 

Social media pay-it-forward pays off for Royal CU

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (1/10/14)--For Royal CU, it was simple--take 20 of its Facebook fans, add $10 to each and multiply by paying it forward. The equation was more than effective--it was overwhelming.
 
"We weren't exactly prepared for all the heartwarming, touching stories that came out of this," said Andrea Finn, digital marketing specialist at the Eau Claire, Wis.-based credit union.
 
 
They shared their stories and photos on Royal CU's Facebook page, where others "liked" photos and proffered their thanks that so many lives were positively affected by a small gesture.
 
"One member reminded us that it takes all of us to do something like this, and that is what she specifically likes about RCU being so community-minded," Finn said. Members from Centuria, Chippewa Falls, Colby, Eau Claire, Eleva, Frederic, Independence, New Richmond, Whitehall and Withee participated.
 
Several members doubled the $10 by adding their own money to the campaign, making donations to holiday toy drives and food pantries. Pay-it-forward winner Natalie Spies used the money for her and her family to make sandwiches for a local homeless shelter.
 
Mande Kuechenmeister told her story about paying it forward on Royal CU's Facebook page. She decided her contribution would be the next time she dined out. After paying her bill and leaving her usual tip, she left a note on the table with the credit union's $10 and added her own $10 so the server could pay it forward.
 
The $1.35 billion-asset credit union plans to do another positive campaign, Finn said.

CSS provider: It's time for CUs to re-evaluate overdraft programs

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (1/10/14)--Recent regulatory changes have created the need for most credit unions to re-evaluate their overdraft programs, John M. Floyd, chairman and CEO of John M. Floyd & Associates (JMFA), recently told the Cornerstone Credit Union League.
 
John M. Floyd & Associates is a CUNA Strategic Services provider.
 
As regulators and consumer groups continue to focus on the expectations of transparency and full disclosure of consumer products, an overdraft program that is not up-to-date can negatively impact a credit union's compliance and revenue, Floyd said (Leaguer Jan. 9)
 
"Now is the time to re-evaluate the overall effectiveness of your overdraft program--from a compliance standpoint--as well as how it affects member service and performance," Floyd said.
 
In the past several years, nearly all of the criticisms on overdraft programs--as well as reported fines and legal action--have focused on institutions that offer programs with dynamic overdraft limits or those that manipulate transaction processing order to increase overdraft fee income.
 
"Because dynamic overdraft limits are set using a complicated, ever-changing criteria-based matrix, it is impossible for a member to know his or her limit from day to day," Floyd said. "Or, for that matter whether or not an overdraft will be paid. Posting checks, ATM and debit card transactions in non-neutral order can cause financial hardship for members who may already be facing a difficult economic situation."
 
From a regulatory standpoint, these undisclosed procedures are discriminatory and will most likely result in increased scrutiny during a compliance exam or, in a worst-case scenario, in fines and legal action.
 
Transparent financial products and services are expected in today's financial services regulatory environment. To eliminate the risk of non-compliance, credit unions should make sure their overdraft program follows consumer-focused regulations, industry standards and best practices. Those standards and practices include:
  • Complete transparency regarding fees and program procedures;
  • Reasonable, communicated overdraft fees;
  • Clearly established overdraft limits;
  • Transaction clearing policies that avoid maximizing overdrafts and related fees created by the clearing order;
  • The ability to easily monitor excessive usage; and
  • Communications materials that outline alternative financial products that more appropriately fit the needs of excessive overdraft users.
 For credit unions, the Credit Union National Association points out, overdraft protection and courtesy pay are designed to be a service to their consumer members, who have asked that they have continued access to such programs.
 
National studies--one as recent as November 2013--show credit unions offer higher checking account interest rates and lower overdraft fees on average than banks. That study, by GoBankingRates.com, showed credit unions continue to demonstrate their ability to offer depositors higher average checking account returns, with rates at 0.32% APY compared with a 0.26% APY for banks.
 
And according to Moebs Services, median bank overdraft fees are also $30, while credit unions charge $28 for an overdraft.

ExpressJet lands in Alliance CU financial wellness program

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CHICAGO (1/10/14)--Alliant CU announced that ExpressJet, the world's largest regional airline, has signed on to offer its 9,000 employees access to the Alliant Financial Wellness Program.
 
The Chicago-based credit union's financial wellness program helps members gain greater skill and confidence in handling their finances by providing them with a toolkit of personal finance resources.
 
ExpressJet operates as American Eagle, Delta Connection, and United Express.
 
The program includes:
  • Online financial wellness videos from personal finance expert and best-selling author Jean Chatzky;
  • Free quarterly credit scores;
  • Financial news and tips;
  • A personal financial management tool, which helps members create and manage their budgets, track their spending and identify ways to save and meet their financial goals;
  • Free on-demand financial courses, videos and games; and
  • A free online financial wellness assessment.
Chatzky will appear at the Credit Union Dollars and Sense Financial Fitness Pavilion at this weekend's NBC 4 Health and Fitness Expo in Washington, D.C. She is director of education at SavvyMoney and financial editor for the "Today" show. She was a keynote speaker at the 2013 Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference.
 
Alliant CU, with $8.1 billion in assets, has experience in serving airline professionals from its historical start serving the employees of United Airlines.

Survey: Mobile Banking Products Can Attract Small Businesses

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ANDOVER, Mass. (1/9/14)--Improved mobile banking could lead to mobile money, a recently published study has found.
 
Nearly two-thirds of small business owners said they would move their money to banks with better mobile products, according to the research firm ath Power (American Banker Jan. 7).
 
Banks, however, appear to be falling short in tapping this demand. The study found that in 839 branch visits by small business owners in the second half of last year, 37% of bank representatives failed to mention mobile banking services.
 
The research also included a poll of small business owners' satisfaction with 38 banks. Bank of the West, Associated Banc Corp (ASBC) and JPMorgan Chase received the highest ratings at 80, 79 and 79 out of 100 points. Survey participants gave the trio high marks for being attentive to their needs, building relationships and demonstrating why they were better than bank competitors. The average score was 71, down three points from last year's survey.
 
Another survey in the study showed that bankers aren't following up prospective customers at the rate they were last year. About 70% of bank employees asked customers for their name and contact information, down from 78% last year. Just under two-thirds, 66%, asked for permission to follow up with customers--down from 71% in 2012.

The survey also showed that 90% of small business owners said they would patronize a bank if asked by employees for permission to follow up, while just 62% of those not asked reported a willingness to become customers. 
 
The study did not include any observations about credit unions.

CU System Briefs (01/09/2014)

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  • ST. LOUIS (1/9/14)--The Missouri Credit Union Charitable Foundation (MCUCF) began 2014 with a new logo and a renewed mission of supporting educational initiatives for the community and credit union professionals. "Our new logo represents credit unions, their communities and the Missouri Credit Union Association coming together to form MCUCF," said Executive Director Maria Langston (Missouri Difference Jan. 8). The foundation will team up with the Missouri Council on Economic Education to hold financial reality fairs at high schools. A special reality fair will be held March 11 at the Capitol Rotunda in during the Missouri Credit Union Association's annual advocacy meeting in Jefferson City. MCUCF will also sponsor Youth Savings Month events in April. The foundation has provided funding for more than 380 scholarships for credit union professionals in Missouri. It also will continue to work with Children's Miracle Network Hospitals ...
  • MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (1/9/14)--The board of directors of AmeriChoice FCU, Mechanicsburg, Pa., selected Anna May Nauss to succeed C. Kipp Stecher as president/CEO. Nauss has been with the credit union for 28 years, most recently as senior vice president and chief financial officer. Stecher retired from the $160 million-asset credit union in December ...
  • LYNCHBURG, Va. (1/9/14)--A former longtime teller of the now-defunct Lynrocten FCU, Lynchburg, Va., pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal embezzlement charges in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Virginia. Teresa Wieringo Humphries, 58, of Madison Heights, Va., admitted to stealing more than $1 million from the credit union, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy. He said Humphries falsified loan documents and participated in check-kiting schemes that cost the credit union more than $7 million overall and contributed to its collapse. The National Credit Union Administration liquidated the credit union in May. It had 1,068 members and about $13.8 million in assets, according to the agency (News Now 5/6/13). At sentencing, Humphries faces a maximum possible penalty of up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1 million ...
     

S. Dakota CUs Add Billboards to Promote Tax Status Message

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PIERRE, S.D. (1/9/14)--The Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (CUAD) is taking its tax status battle with state bankers to the streets with a billboard campaign reminding consumers that 251,000 South Dakotans depend on credit unions every day for their financial well-being.
 
While South Dakota Bankers Association continues to push its proposal to tax credit unions, its efforts have largely failed to get support from the local governing bodies. The state bankers' association is shopping for a resolution sponsor for the upcoming South Dakota state legislative session.
 
On Dec. 30, two CUAD-sponsored billboards went up near the Pierre, the state capital, where the South Dakota legislative session opens Tuesday. The first two billboards will be displayed until Feb. 23. A third billboard will go up Monday near Wall, and a fourth will be on display in Rapid City starting Jan. 20. 
 
Also, CUAD will run advertisements with the same message on monitors in the Pierre Regional Airport throughout 2014.
 
CUAD is next scheduled to advocate for credit unions at the Yankton Area Progressive Growth Committee and at the Vermillion and Brookings School Board meetings Tuesday.

USA Today Spotlights CUNA Data for Mobile Payments Snapshot

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MADISON, Wis. (1/9/14)--Research from the Credit Union National Association hit the money--the Money section of USA Today, that is--for a "USA Snapshot."
 
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
Wednesday's print edition of the national publication featured content from CUNA's mobile payment survey. Titled "Youngest adults are not the top users of mobile payments," the graphic broke down the age groups.
 
The youngest age group of 18-29 came in at 58%--slightly below the 60% of the 30- to 44-year-old age range--for using mobile payments. The 45-60 range reported 48% usage, and 24% of those older than 61 said they used mobile payments.
 
CUNA's Mobile Payments Survey polled 1,046 people via the Internet from a population of mobile phone users. The October survey revealed that more than half of smartphone users make payments with their device. Security is the biggest concern for 77.7% of those users (News Now 10/30/13).
 
In September, USA TODAY featured findings from CUNA's Women's Financial Survey as the "USA Snapshot" on the front page of its Money section. The national publication also tweeted the content and graphic later that month (News Now 9/27/13).
 

Payments Systems' Future is New CUNA Roundtable Topic

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MADISON, Wis. (1/9/14)--The Credit Union National Association and the CUNA Technology Council just announced a new payments system roundtable that will provide credit unions with an in-depth look at the future of payments, as well as allow the forum's participants to shape that future through discussions with their peers and industry experts.
 
The CUNA Payments Roundtable will take place May 5-6 in Las Vegas in conjunction with the CUNA Technology Council conference.
 
"The payments industry is clearly up-in-the-air. Credit unions will benefit most from understanding the latest trends, interacting with peers and setting a payments strategy, rather than waiting and reacting to others in the financial industry," said James Carrick, assistant vice president of CPD learning events at CUNA. "This roundtable will equip attendees with the tools to act."
 
With an emphasis on keeping its content up-to-date, the roundtable will act as a central hub of resources as payments systems evolve.
 
Speakers and presentations will cover:
  • The State of Technology and Payments;
  • The Six Things That Will Change the Future of Payments;
  • The Rapidly Evolving Mobile Wallet Landscape;
  • Data Analytics and Your Credit Union;
  • A Value Based Approach: Vancity's Successful Payments Strategy;
  • Bitcoin: What It Is and Why It's Gaining Interest; and
  • Setting a Direction for Your Payments Strategy.
 For more information and to register, use the link.

Experts: Mobile, Content Will Drive Marketing in '14

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MADISON, Wis. (1/9/14)--This year's marketing forecast is closely tied to mobile and social media--areas considered essential for today's credit union marketers but also remain elusive as core marketing tools. Experts also say 2014 will require time-tested values and messaging, strategies credit unions have built their reputations on. Marketing success will likely depend on a blend of both, with strategy driven by consumer expectations, experts said.
 
"I see a lot of buzzy trends that get more noise than maybe they are due," Jeffry Pilcher, publisher of the online marketing publication The Financial Brand, told News Now. "Sometimes what flies under the radar is what accounts for the changes that take place."
 
Among the trends that will shape marketing in 2014:
  • Retargeting is a cookie-based technology that uses computer code to anonymously "follow" website visitors after they leave an organization's Web page. Say a member goes online to checks out credit union's loan rates, and later in the day visits the ESPN's Web site. The credit union can then post a targeted ad asking if the member is still interesting in financing. "Instead of broadcasting or mass marketing, you already have somebody on the hook," Pilcher said. "Reel them in. You can get really specific with it. It's pretty powerful stuff."
  • New technology tools will enhance targeted marketing, said Michelle Hunter, chair of the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council and senior vice president of marketing and development for $723 million-asset Credit Union of Southern California in Whittier. Every home banking and debit transaction creates a clearer picture of members' preferences and habits, Hunter says in the January issue of Credit Union Magazine. That information is becoming more actionable with new tools and technology such as real-time analytical software, Facebook and mobile applications, mobile marketing and search engine optimization. To read more predictions for the coming year, read "Charting Your Course Through 2014" on page 17 in the January issue of Credit Union Magazine.
  • Mobile advertising is still emerging, but its eventual acceptance is inevitable, Pilcher said. There's a dynamic going on among the mobile phone, the place it's taking in peoples lives, and how many people are using it for Facebook, Twitter and e-mail," he said. Now organizations must find a way to gain the mobile users attention, he adds. "It's going to be tricky, but it's going to be big, and the ones that figure it out are going to be very successful," Pilcher said.
  • Social media advertising starts with Facebook, and Facebook advertising starts with targeting consumers who "like" your Facebook page, Pilcher said. By taking "likes" to a second level, credit unions can mine look-alike Facebook profiles. "Facebook knows what music you listen to, where you spend your time, who you interact with," Pilcher said. "Tell me that's not a better use of [a marketer's] time than filing posts about your last annual meeting." Credit unions can mine similar data in YouTube and Twitter, Pilcher said.
  • Content is king. Consumers are tired of sales pitches, Mark Anrold, credit union brand expert and strategic planner, told News Now. Marketers must move their promotions away from product-of the-month type messages and more towards financial education and values-based branding, Arnold said. Information about money, finances and local events that add value will increase member engagement with the organization, Arnold said.
Increasingly that content is video. "It really adds emotion to your marketing," Arnold said, adding that at the same time, credit unions have to be on point with their message. "Consumers are consuming more information but they are digesting information in smaller bites. He suggested credit unions conduct a marketing audit. "We audit everything in credit unions. We audit loans and teller drawers, but we hardly ever audit marketing. It's a practical way to find where you can cut copy and hone your message."
  • User experience is also essential. "You've got focus on what is it like for your members to do business with your credit union," Arnold said. The branch is just part of the experience, he explained. Consumers also define convenience by website and mobile accessibility. The user experience is closely tied to the credit union's brand, Arnold said. "Are you transaction-based or are you education-oriented? Are you white collar, or are you folksy? It's different for every credit union, but you have to identify it and consistently link it to your brand. It's more important than ever that consumers identify you with that experience."

'Get Rich Slowly' Blogger Considers Switch to CUs

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FOSTER CITY, Calif. (1/9/14)--Kristin Wong, a writer for the personal finance blog "Get Rich Slowly," is determined to leave her bank this year, and with that, is investigating the advantages that credit unions provide.
 
Wong started the year with a number of money-related resolutions, one of which was "switch banks." Her current account with a bank not only doesn't earn interest, it also charges her a $12 fee when she drops below the minimum balance. "That's just rude," she wrote Jan. 2.
 
In her most recent post, she considers the pros and cons of credit unions and banks. "The main draw I've often heard about credit unions is they offer lower interest rates on loans and higher interest rates on savings," she wrote Wednesday.
 
Wong also looked at no- or low-fee checking accounts and overdraft charges in her comparison.
 
However, the not-for-profit, member-owned structure put credit unions in the win column for business model, she said.
 
"Overall, though, a non-profit structure usually translates to: a) not feeling like your financial institution is trying to take advantage of you, and; b) not seeing your financial institution's name next to the words 'crooked' and 'discrimination,'" Wong wrote.
 
Even as Wong continues her research, perhaps what will be more helpful will be the numerous comments made by readers about shared branching, no-fee ATM networks and member service.
 
"Get Rich Slowly" is a personal finance blog that was founded by J.D. Roth in 2006.

CO-OP Hits Record 2.8B Transactions in '13

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (1/9/14)--CO-OP Financial Services processed a record 2.8 billion electronic funds transfer (EFT) and shared-branch transactions in 2013, an increase of 10% compared with 2012.

The figures were boosted by the last few days of the holiday buying season, with a single-day record of more than 9 million transactions recorded Saturday, Dec. 21. Also, records for transactions in a single hour, minute and second were set Dec. 24, highlighted by a peak of 223 transactions per second.

"The transaction processing records set by CO-OP in 2013 demonstrate that credit unions can compete with anyone in terms of terms of debit, credit, ATM and branch services," said Stan Hollen, CO-OP Financial Services president/CEO.

With transactions increasing at an annual rate of 10%, CO-OP Financial Services would surpass 3 billion transactions in 2014. In 2004, the company reached 1 billion in annual transactions, and in 2010 CO-OP Financial Services first topped 2 billion transactions.

CU System Briefs (01/08/2014)

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  • WASHINGTON, D.C., and BALTIMORE (1/8/14)--Karen Gouldmann is the new, shared chief financial officer of $68 million-asset Department of Labor FCU, Washington, D.C., and $57 million-asset Destinations CU, Baltimore. Gouldmann will split her time between the two credit unions, working in both offices as needed. She was most recently employed by Tower FCU after its merger with U.S. Coast Guard CU, Baltimore, where she served as CEO. She has also served as vice president of audit and compliance for MECU, Baltimore, and senior auditor for Provident Bank ...
  • BEAVER FALLS, Pa. (1/8/14)--Beaver Valley FCU, Beaver Falls, Pa., announced the retirement of CEO Albert Tripodi. He began his career with Beaver Valley FCU, then B7W Employees FCU, in 1952 as a member of the supervisory committee. He was elected to the board of directors and appointed CEO in 1955. Aaron Kniess, who most recently served as Beaver Valley FCU's assistant manager and chief financial officer, will succeed Tripodi ...
  • ARLINGTON, Va. (1/8/14)--The National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) announced that Jenny Champagne, vice president of regulatory and government relations, is leaving the organization. Also, Elizabeth Kirkland has joined NASCUS as director of communications and marketing. In her years at NASCUS, Champagne has overseen educational programs, regulatory and government relations and communications. Champagne is pursuing a secondary education career. She will begin working as a teacher-in-training in a middle-school English classroom in Northern Virginia this month and earn her teaching certificate in May. Kirkland, who formerly served as the director of publications for the Alexandria, Va.-based International Public Management Association for Human Resources, began her role as NASCUS' director of communications and marketing Dec. 16 ...
  • NEW YORK (1/8/14)--The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions' Annual Conference will be held May 14-16 in Detroit. The conference is the larger gathering of credit unions that share a mission of community development within the U.S. Sessions will focus on emerging markets, innovative products, new technologies, research and community outreach. Among the keynote speakers is Michael S. Barr, a key architect of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and a former U.S. Department of the Treasury's Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions. Federation members save more than 35% when they register by Jan. 20 ... 

Auto, Biz Loan Growth Strong in Fla., Ala.

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala., and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (1/8/14)--Alabama and Florida's 279 credit unions increased their loan portfolios by more than $900 million in the third quarter of 2013, with member business lending (MBL) accounting for a notable portion of the growth, the League of Southeastern Credit Unions reported.
 
"You can clearly see over the past three years more consumers are looking for loans," said LSCU & Affiliates President/CEO Patrick La Pine. "Credit unions have been in a great position to help their members purchase new and used autos, as well as new homes. Member business loans have picked up over the past 10 quarters as more businesses recognize credit unions want to help them grow their business."
 
Alabama credit unions added $187 million in new loans from the second quarter to the third quarter, according to call report data. About $8 million of those loans were MBLs.
 
In Florida, credit unions increased their loans by $753 million from second quarter to third quarter, with $61 million coming from MBLs. For the first three quarters of 2013, Alabama made more than $20 million in loans to small businesses, while Florida added $142 in MBLs.
 
The Credit Union National Association is urging Congress to allow credit unions to play a larger role in helping small businesses through MBLs. The statutory cap on MBLs loans, as a proportion of credit union's assets, is currently 12.25%. CUNA says that raising the federal government-mandated ceiling to 27.5% would inject $13 billion into the economy, and help boost employment by 140,000 at no cost to taxpayers.
 
Florida credit unions have seen delinquencies fall 33 basis points (bps), while net charge offs fell 32 bps. Both numbers have been cut in half over the past three years. Alabama credit unions have seen delinquencies rise slightly, but net charge offs continue to fall and are at the national credit union average of 0.57%.
 
Assets and membership are climbing among LSCU credit unions. Alabama credit unions added 38,000 new members through three quarters, bringing total membership to 1.876 million. Florida credit unions added 96,000 new members through the first nine months of 2013 for a total of 4.69 million members.
 
Alabama's 120 credit unions added $512 million in new assets through September for a total of $18.3 billion. Florida's 159 credit unions have added $1.6 billion in new assets for a total of $47.1 billion.

CUNA Wants Your 'Unite for Good' Stories for GAC

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MADISON, Wis. (1/8/14)--The Credit Union National Association is asking credit unions to submit their "Unite for Good" stories for a special montage to be used at this year's Governmental Affairs Conference.
 
CUNA is collecting videos, photos and stories to highlight how credit unions "Unite for Good" every day on behalf of their members and communities.
 
Since the launch of the "Unite for Good" campaign last year, credit unions have told hundreds of stories of building homes, collecting food and clothing, helping communities recover after natural disasters, and providing financial guidance during sequestration and government shutdowns.
 
Now, those stories have a chance to shine at CUNA's signature conference, Feb. 23-27, in Washington, D.C.
 
To share stories, photos and videos, visit UniteforGood.org. Deadline for GAC content is Monday.

Calif./Nev. League's Dykstra Stresses Card Security Changes in Op-Ed

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (1/8/14)--The massive, pre-holiday card data security breach at Target serves to illustrate the serious need for tougher card- and cyber-security measures to protect consumers, according to an op-ed piece by Diana Dykstra, president/CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues.
 
In the Saturday issue of The Sacramento Bee, Dykstra called for toughening the "dangerously weak credit and debit card security measures employed by U.S. retailers."
 
"For starters, we should ask American retailers to issue credit cards like those that are in widespread use in most other nations," she wrote. "These cards feature hard-to-replicate digital chips to store account information."
 
U.S. retailers' reliance on magnetic-strip cards make them "prime targets" for fraud, she said, encouraging consumers, the financial services industry and lawmakers to talk about considering technology such as Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) chip-and-PIN cards.
 
Dykstra also called for cyber-security legislation at the national level that will hold those that conduct debit and credit transactions responsible for system breaches.
 
These steps are in the best interest of retailers, financial institutions and, most importantly, the consumers that they all serve, she concluded.
 
The cost of the breach, which affected more than 40 million consumers, will fall on the shoulders of the shoppers and their financial institutions, she said. Credit unions have to reissue and distribute replacement cards, and the cost of fraudulent transactions suffered by members will have to be covered.
 
For the full article, use the link.

U.S. NewsTells Benefits of Joining a CU

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MADISON, Wis. (1/8/14)--A Jan. 7 U.S. News & World Report article put a national media spotlight on the many benefits credit union membership offers American consumers.
 
The article also provided answers to common questions about credit unions, and described how credit unions differ from banks in structure and purpose.  
 
"Customers frustrated with bank fees might want to consider their options, including switching their money over to a credit union," opens the article, headlined "The Benefits of Joining a Credit Union." "According to the Credit Union National Association, more than 96 million Americans use credit unions, which generally offer higher savings rates and lower fees than traditional banks."
 
The article explains that credit unions are owned by members rather than shareholders. Although the average credit union is smaller ($149 million in assets) than the average bank ($2.2 billion in assets), most credit unions still provide a full menu of financial services--and most Americans are eligible to join a credit union.
 
On average, credit unions offer lower rates on loans and higher rates on savings accounts, and credit union deposits are insured by the federal National Credit Union Administration, which provides the same protections that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the article said.
 
Also, credit unions pride themselves on being a source of financial information for their members, the article noted. "Many offer seminars and information on topics such as preventing identity theft and managing credit cards," the article said. "More information on any of these topics can be found at the NCUA website or by contacting a local credit union."

To read the full article, use the link.

Registration Open for CUNA World-Class Service Institute

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MADISON, Wis. (1/8/14)--Registration is now open for the Credit Union National Association's World-Class Service Leadership Institute set for June 9-11 in Denver.
 
Attendees experience first-hand the exemplary service standards of The Ritz-Carlton and its staff, and take away how they can improve the service culture at their own credit union.
 
"Every year, we hear from attendees that this institute shines new light on credit union service cultures," said Angela Prestil, CUNA director of sales culture development. "By interacting with the Ritz-Carlton staff and experiencing their top-tier service culture from the other side of the counter, attendees learn what makes the biggest impact and walk away with a better idea of what member service means to them."
 
All levels of credit union professionals attend the institute, which focuses on skills and strategies for improving their credit union's service culture.
 
The institute's sessions cover the current state of service in America, the Ritz-Carlton's legendary service process, how to design a world-class service culture and how to develop skills to coach employees for service excellence. Attendees also will have an opportunity to get behind-the-scenes information during an exclusive, Ritz-Carlton employee discussion panel.

Dorety Elected to NCUF Board

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MADISON, Wis. (1/8/14)--Tom Dorety, president/CEO of Suncoast Schools FCU in Tampa, Fla., has been elected to the board of the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF).
 
Board elections took place at NCUF's board meeting Dec. 18.
 
Dorety takes the board seat previously occupied by Rudy Hanley, president/CEO, SchoolsFirst FCU in Santa Ana, Calif.
 
NCUF board members, including officer positions, re-elected at the meeting, include:
  • Lee Butke, president/CEO, Corporate One FCU, Columbus, Ohio, and board treasurer;
  • Angela McCathran, president/CEO, People's Trust FCU, Houston; and
  • Winona Nava, president/CEO, Guadalupe CU, Santa Fe, N.M., and board secretary.
The additional members of the NCUF board include:
  • Laida Garcia, president/CEO, floridacentral CU, Tampa, Fla., and board chairman;
  • John Radebaugh, president/CEO, North Carolina Credit Union League, Greensboro, N.C., and board vice chairman;
  • Bill Cheney, president/CEO, Credit Union National Association, Washington, D.C., and board president;
  • John Graham, president/CEO, Kentucky Employees CU, Frankfort, Ky.;
  • John Gregoire, president, The ProCon Group, Madison, Wis.;
  • Joe Guilfoy, executive director, Indiana Credit Union Foundation, and vice president, consulting and education, Indiana Credit Union League, Indianapolis, Ind.;
  • Stan Hollen, president/CEO, CO-OP Financial Services, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.;
  • Christopher Roe, senior vice president, corporate and legislative affairs, CUNA Mutual Group, Madison, Wis.;
  • Mark Twisdale, executive vice president, administrative services, State Employees' CU, Raleigh, N.C.; and
  • Edwin Williams, president/CEO, Discovery FCU, Wyomissing, Pa.
The table officers were re-elected at NCUF's most recent board meeting Jan. 6.

N.J. Assembly Passes CU Advisory Council Change

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TRENTON, N.J. (1/8/14)--Legislation to expand the New Jersey's Credit Union Advisory Council (CUAC) to seven members and provide for representation of federally chartered credit unions passed the state Assembly by 78-0 vote Monday.
 
The legislation awaits signature by Gov. Chris Christie.
 
The bill expands the CUAC from five members. It designates that no fewer than four seats be held by representatives of state-chartered credit unions, and no fewer than two seats can be held by representatives of federally chartered credit unions, said the New Jersey Credit Union League (The Daily Exchange Jan. 7).
 
The CUAC was established through legislation enacted in 1984 as a vehicle for state chartered credit unions to advise state government on credit-union related matters. Members are nominated by the governor and must be confirmed by the state Senate.

CU System Briefs (01/07/2014)

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  • LOUISVILLE, Ky. (1/7/14)--Park Community FCU, based in Louisville, Ky., was granted a state charter Dec. 31, 2013, by the Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions and the National Credit Union Administration. The move will allow the credit union to offer membership to residents, students, employees, volunteers, and religious institution congregants in 17 additional counties--Fayette, Madison, Estill, Clark, Woodford, Anderson, Mercer, Boyle, Lincoln, Garrard, Powell, Jessamine, Nicholas, Bourbon, Scott, Franklin and Harrison (BereaOnline.com Jan. 3). The charter will not affect the status of Park Community's incumbent membership, which includes those served by branches in southern Indiana and Decatur, Ala. It will also continue to be federally insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund. Park Community FCU, however, is planning on changing its name to Park Community CU. Before being granted the Kentucky charter, its membership has been restricted in the Lexington area. Park Community has $618 million in assets ...
  • HARRSIBURG, Pa. (1/7/14)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association announced Monday that the vice president of marketing for Freedom CU, Gerard McGeever, has been named as the recipient of the 2014 Paul E. Kanjorski Young Professionals Advocacy Scholarship (Life is a Highway, Jan. 6).  The scholarship is named after the longtime U.S. congressman and credit union supporter who served Pennsylvania's 11th district in the U.S. House from 1985 to 2011. The honor will give McGeever the chance to attend the Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference this February in Washington, D.C. McGeever, who has worked in the credit union industry for almost 12 years, said he hopes to enhance his personal and political knowledge at the CUNA convention. Freedom CU is based in Warminster, Pa., and has $624 million in assets ...
  • PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (1/7/14)--An organization that supports veterans, servicepersons and their families recently thanked Service CU here for sponsoring the group. Veterans Count representative Bill Schuler honored the credit union by giving President Gordon Simmons a painting of the USS Raleigh and an American flag that flew in Afghanistan on July 4 last year (Foster's Daily Democrat Jan. 2). Service CU cosponsored and hosted Veterans Count "Salute Our Soldiers" events at the credit union's offices in Portsmouth and Nashua, N.H. Attendees raised money for deployed and returning soldiers in need of employment, housing and medical assistance for themselves and their families. Veterans Count, which was founded last year, also presented Simmons with a photo album commemorating that May 2013 event in Portsmouth. Service CU said it would display the gifts at its museum, which is on the first floor of its corporate office in Portsmouth. Service CU is based in Portsmouth and has $2.34 billion in assets ...

Maine Media Turn to League for Target Breach Advice

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WESTBROOK, Maine (1/7/14)--As news of the Target security breach continued to gain steam, media turned to the Maine Credit Union League as a source to guide consumers.
 
WGME CBS-13 tapped into the expertise of Rebekah Higgins, assistant vice president of card services at Synergent, a subsidiary of the league. Higgins told the Portland, Maine, television station that consumers should be "vigilant about monitoring their accounts for suspicious activity, and to communicate with their financial institution immediately if any is noticed" (Weekly Update Jan. 3).
 
She added that many credit unions have fraud monitoring tools and reinforced to consumers that credit unions are "technologically advanced."
 
The league provided additional information to radio stations 560 WGAN, Coast 93.1, Rewind 100.9, 970 WZAN and WPOR 101.9.
 
In addition to the Target data breach, Jon Paradise, league assistant vice president of governmental and public affairs, provided advice about holiday shopping and budgeting to WGME CBS-13 and FOX 23's "Good Day Maine."
 
League President John Murphy said, "We appreciate the trust and recognition that media across the state has in your league's ability to respond in a timely manner and with good and accurate information.
 
"It not only demonstrates our focus on consumer issues but also provides an opportunity to highlight our expertise on a variety of financial services issues with the media, legislators and the general public," Murphy added.

Internship with CU Equals Community College Credits

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WORCESTER, Mass. (1/7/14)--Worcester (Mass.) CU has formed a partnership with Worcester Technical High School (WTHS) and Quinsigamond Community College to provide college credits  to WTHS students who complete coursework in conjunction with an internship at the credit union.
 
Since WTHS opened in 2006, 105 students in the school's finance and marketing program have become employees at WCU's WTHS branch, the Massachusetts Credit Union League said (Values & Visions Jan. 6).
 
"The students at our WTHS branch learn so much more than just how to cash a check," said Karen E. Duffy, president/CEO of $82 million-asset WCU.
 
Students learn all aspects of retail banking, including deposits, lending and compliance, Duffy said. The branch is also open to the general public.
 
Many students have gone on to regular employment at WCU and other local financial institutions. Duffy looked for a way to recognize training and financial education students undertook at the in-school branch.
 
WTHS offers a personal finance course that runs for a full school year, meets all high school requirements, and includes a Worcester CU teller internship.
 
If students complete the course, meet the course criteria for acceptance, and enroll at QCC, they receive three QCC college credits for FIN 111-Personal Financial Planning, an elective within QCCU's business administration curriculum. The course examines the tools, terms, and applications necessary to successfully manage financial matters in daily life, including consumer credit, financial planning, money management and personal taxation.
 
"The agreement with QCC to provide college credit will give these students a further stepping stone into their future," Duffy said.
 
Each semester five students intern at the WCU school branch. Also, two additional seniors work at the branch through the school's co-op program.

CUs Team Up with Financial Guru Chatzky for NBC Wellness Expo

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WASHINGTON (1/7/14)--Financial expert Jean Chatzky is inviting the greater Washington, D.C.-area to tune up its finances at the Credit Union Dollars and Sense Financial Fitness Pavilion at this weekend's NBC 4 Health and Fitness Expo.
 

"There's a credit union in your neighborhood to help you with your finances," Chatzky says in the 30-second commercial airing in the local markets of NBC 4. Another 15-second clip encourages consumers to get full, personal SavvyMoney checkups at the pavilion.

Chatzky is director of education at SavvyMoney and financial editor for the "Today" show. She was a keynote speaker at the 2013 Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference.
 
"It's a fabulous opportunity to generate some awareness about credit unions," said Jennifer Simmons, chief membership officer, Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association (MDDCCUA). People recognize Chatzky from NBC's "Today" show, and it adds credibility to credit unions' standing as financial experts, she added.
 
As the second-largest event at the Washington Convention Center, the Health and Fitness Expo expects more than 85,000 attendees Saturday and Sunday.
 
Chatzky will take center stage at 2 p.m. Saturday, followed by a book signing at the Dollars and Sense Financial Fitness Pavilion. Attendees will receive copies of her best-selling book, "Money Rules: The Simple Path to Lifelong Security."
 
They also can run their finances through a SavvyMoney checkup and learn more about credit unions and the benefits of membership.
 
The pavilion and advertising were made possible by 20 participating credit unions; MDDCCUA and its D.C. and Suburban Maryland chapters; the Virginia Credit Union League; the Credit Union Foundation of MD and DC;  the National Credit Union Foundation; SavvyMoney; and CUNA.
 
Twenty credit unions will have their logos in the pavilion and were featured in a special newspaper insert prior to the expo. They are:
  • Agriculture FCU, Washington, D.C.;
  • Andrews FCU, Suitland, Md.;
  • Wright Patman Congressional FCU, Oakton, Va.;
  • District Government Employees FCU, Washington, D.C.;
  • Department of the Interior FCU, Washington, D.C.;
  • Department of Labor FCU, Washington, D.C.;
  • Educational Systems FCU, Greenbelt, Md.;
  • Healthcare Systems FCU, Fairfax, Va.;
  • HEW FCU, Alexandria, Va.;
  • Library of Congress FCU, Hyattsville, Md.;
  • Market USA FCU, Laurel, Md.;
  • Mid-Atlantic FCU, Germantown, Md.;
  • Money One FCU, Largo, Md.;
  • Montgomery County Employees FCU, Germantown, Md.;
  • NASA FCU, Upper Marlboro, Md.;
  • Police FCU, Upper Marlboro, Md.;
  • Prince George's Community FCU, Bowie, Md.;
  • Signal Financial FCU, Kensington, Md.;
  • US Postal Service FCU, Clinton, Md.; and
  • WSSC FCU, Laurel, Md.

NPR Features CUs' 'Save to Win' Program

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WASHINGTON (1/7/14)--National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" featured a credit union member who won $10,000 through her credit union and its Save to Win program.
 
Shankar Vedantam, social science correspondent for NPR, interviewed Carolann Broekhuizen of Waterford, Mich., in a piece that aired Monday morning.
 
Vedantam noted that adding an element of fun and luck to saving--like visiting a casino or buying a lottery ticket--makes it easier for people to do.
 
Broekhuizen signed up for Save to Win through her credit union, Community Alliance CU, based in Dearborn, Mich. Although she didn't win the first year, she continued to save because there was the chance she could win while she increased her retirement savings.
 
Then a few months ago, the credit union called her. "My first thought was that a check had bounced and I wasn't real happy," Broekhuizen told her interviewer. "And then she went on to explain that I had won the cash prize, and beyond that I couldn't think for a while because something like this happens to other people; it doesn't happen to me."
 
Prize-linked savings account programs such as Save to Win are attractive to consumers, said Emel Filiz-Ozbay, assistant professor of economics at the University of Maryland. "We found that indeed people seem more patient or more willing to wait additional weeks to get more money when it is offered in lottery-like form," Filiz-Ozbay told NPR.
 
With Save to Win accounts, members earn entries into monthly and annual cash prize drawings for every $25 they deposit. All funds deposited into the accounts, including interest earnings, belong to the account holders. In October, both the U.S. House and Senate introduced legislation that would allow financial institutions nationwide to offer prize-linked savings accounts (News Now Oct. 31).
 
As Filiz-Orbay said, "Unlike the standard lotteries, the consumer is not losing the initial capital, initial principal. So what you invest is always there, you are not losing it."
 
What did Broekhuizen do with her $10,000? In homage to her mom, who died last year, and in the spirit of the prize, she put it in her savings.
 
To hear the story, use the link.

Michigan League Cites Success of Small-Biz Lending

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LANSING, Mich. (1/7/14)--Member business lending (MBL) at Michigan credit unions surged 18% through the third quarter of 2013, and state credit unions  are well-positioned for future MBL growth, Dave Adams, Michigan Credit Union League president/CEO, told MiBiz.com in a Jan. 5 article.
 
Since the end of 2009, business loans to members increased more than 85% for first nine months of last year, according to the most recent data available from the National Credit Union Administration.
 
The growth is the result of three factors: a slowdown in lending by banks due to the recession, strong liquidity among credit unions and a willingness by credit unions to diversify their portfolios by lending to local businesses, Adams told MiBiz.com.
 
Credit unions offered loans to members who own and operate small businesses to diversify their balance sheets from residential mortgage and consumer lending, Adams said.
 
Grand Rapids-based $2.9 billion-asset Lake Michigan CU increased business loans during the first nine months of 2013 by 16% to $129.9 million, according to a quarterly report filed with the NCUA.
 
MBLs at St. Joseph-based $1.5 billion-asset United FCU rose by 62% to $157.2 million in the third quarter. Lansing-based $1.5 billion-asset Lake Trust CU increased its business loans to members by 37% to $110.4 million.
 
The Credit Union National Association is urging Congress to allow credit unions to play a larger role in helping small businesses through MBLs. The statutory cap on MBLs loans, as a proportion of credit union's assets, is currently 12.25%. CUNA says that raising the federal government-mandated ceiling to 27.5% would inject $13 billion into the economy, and help boost employment by 140,000 at no cost to taxpayers.
 
To read the full article, use the link.

5th CU Approved To Accept N.J. Municipal Deposits

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TINTON FALLS, N.J. (1/6/14)--United Teletech Financial FCU, Tinton Falls, N.J., is the fifth credit union in New Jersey to secure eligibility to receive municipal deposits.

After filing its Governmental Unit Depository Protection Act (GUDPA) application, the credit union received its official notification of eligibility Nov. 25.

"This is a big deal and allows UTF to bid for the deposits of various public entities as they receive funding at the beginning of the year," Leo R. Ardine, president/CEO of $322 million-asset UTF FCU, told the New Jersey Credit Union League (Daily Exchange Jan. 3).

UTF FCU will be included on the list of eligible depositories for local government entities, municipalities and school districts in New Jersey's Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean counties.

The league helped pass legislation in 2011 to allow credit unions to enter the $15 billion municipal depository market.

In Ohio, the Ohio Credit Union League and credit unions are urging state lawmakers to pass legislation that would allow credit unions to accept municipal deposits (News Now Dec. 30).

Other states that have laws on the books or are considering legislation to allow credit unions to accept public deposits include California, Illinois, Missouri,  New York, Oregon and Washington.

South Dakota CUs Score Another Win in Tax Battle

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BROOKINGS, S.D. (1/6/14)--South Dakota credit unions achieved another victory in their battle against state banks Thursday when a resolution proposal to change the tax status of state credit unions and farm credit services failed to get support from the Brookings Chamber of Commerce  Government Affairs Committee and died on the table. 
 
A motion was made to approve the resolution; however, it failed to receive a second motion and was not called into question, the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (CUAD) reported. If approved, the resolution proposal would have been recommended for adoption by the Brookings Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors. 
 
While the South Dakota Bankers Association is seeking a resolution sponsor for the upcoming state legislative session, its proposal has failed to win approval from several local city, county and school boards across the state, including the Brookings County and City commissions, Yankton City Commission and School Board, the Vermillion City and Clay County commissions, and Campbell County Commission.  
 
"Over the course of the last several months I have come to the conclusion that the reason that banks are devoting so much time and energy to shouting at the rain about 'tax equality' on the local level is because they can't sell it anywhere else," Jeff Olson, CUAD vice president of advocacy, told News Now
 
CUAD will advocate for credit unions at the Yankton Area Progressive Growth Committee and at the Vermillion and Brookings School Board meetings Jan. 14. The South Dakota Legislative Session is set to open in Pierre Jan. 14.

Home Equity Loans on Rise According to CUNA Monthly Estimate

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MADISON, Wis. (1/6/14)--Optimistic consumers and rising home prices equaled higher home equity loan growth in November according to the Credit Union National Association's monthly sample of credit unions.

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"We're seeing a nice turnaround in home equity loans," said Steve Rick, CUNA senior economist. After years of deleveraging and paying down debt, consumers are starting to borrow, he said.

S&P/Case-Shiller home price indexes, released Dec. 31, collectively rose 13.6% in October (See Jan. 2 News Now, Monthly Increase in Home Prices Highest Since '06.)

With home prices rising, there is equity available for homeowners to tap into. The monthly credit union estimate report said home equity loans grew 0.4% in November. "It means good things for the economy," he said.

Rising mortgage rates are prompting the upward movement in adjustable-rate mortgages, which led November loan growth at 1.1%. Fixed-rate mortgages declined 0.04%.

Overall, loans continue to do well, with 0.3% growth in November. Right now, CUNA is forecasting about 6.5% in loan growth for the year ending 2013 and more than 7% in 2014, Rick added. "We could see one of the best years in loan growth with a stronger economy and consumer confidence going up," he said.

Credit unions also are picking up market share in new auto loans, which increased 0.4%.

"Earnings aren't coming in as strong as we'd like to see," Rick said, which resulted in a slowdown in capital growth. November's year-over-year number was 4.3% compared with 7.9% for November 2012's year-over-year.

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The November loan-to-savings ratio of 69.8% decreased 0.4% from October because of the extra payday in November, said Rick. "Everybody got paid on that Friday, and the savings went up," he said.

Credit union savings balances grew 0.8% in November compared to a 0.3% increase in October. Share drafts had the greatest increase of 4.5%, while one-year certificates, regular shares and money market accounts ticked upward. Individual retirement accounts declined 0.1%.

Asset quality remains strong as shown by the 60-day-plus delinquency rate that has been at 1% for the past nine months.

Credit union membership grew to 98.3 million--a 2.5% increase from November 2012 and year-to-date growth of 2.4%.

CU System Briefs (01/06/2014)

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  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/6/14)--Pennsylvania State Employees CU announced recently that it is bestowing a $10 million dividend upon its members this year. The minimum reward is $10, with the maximum determined by the usage of certain products and services combined with a percentage of total dividends earned and interest paid by the entire membership.  This is the second year in a row that the $4.1 billion-asset credit union distributed dividends. "Thanks to our members, we're as strong as ever and as a member-owned financial cooperative, it's only right that we give back to them," said Gregory Smith, president of the Harrisburg, Pa., credit union ...

  • BEAVERTON, Ore. (1/6/14)--Doug Page became Great Northwest FCU's new president/CEO Jan. 1 (Anthem Jan. 2). Page, who has been with the $113 million-asset credit union since 1994, replaced outgoing head Karen Burkhalter. He was previously an executive vice president--a position he had held since 2002. Before joining the Aberdeen, Wash.-based credit union, he worked for a finance company in Spokane, Wash. Page predicted that the credit union's biggest challenges will be "much like those at many other credit unions: shrinking margins, an excessive compliance burden and slow loan demand," but said he expected Great Northwest to manage them ...

  • ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (1/6/14)--Community Trust CU, Gurnee, Ill., named Lana Krieps as its new CEO (The Daily Herald Jan. 2). Krieps, who has 29 years of experience working in the financial sector, had previously worked at Pioneer West Virginia FCU, Charleston, W.Va., where she oversaw nine branches as a vice president. She has also been a CEO and a chief financial officer at other credit unions. Community Trust CU has $185 million in assets and membership based in Lake and McHenry counties ...

  • WASHINGTON (1/6/14)--Sandra Braunstein, the Federal Reserve's director of the Division of Consumer and Community Affairs, announced Friday that she will retire April 1. She has led the department since April 2004. Under her administration, the division developed a new regulatory framework for credit cards and used the Truth in Lending Act and Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act to establish consumer protections for residential mortgage borrowers. Braunstein also oversaw the establishment of mortgage foreclosure mitigation and neighborhood stabilization programs after the 2008 financial collapse. From 2010 to 2011, she also helped transition staff and resources to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Braunstein has worked for the Federal Reserve Board for almost 27 years ...

  • NEW YORK (1/6/14)--The deadline for Community Development Investment Program applications has been extended to Jan. 10 from Jan. 6 due to inclement weather. The grants are given out by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions to low-income designated credit unions seeking to increase liquidity, boost net worth, mitigate risk, and launch innovative products. (News Now Dec. 20, 2013). CDIP is also accepting applications for predatory relief and intervention deposits and microenterprise deposits ...

Frankenmuth CU Forms Community Foundation with Dividend

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FRANKENMUTH, Mich. (1/6/14)--Frankenmuth (Mich.) CU invested its annual patronage dividend of $1 million back into its community by creating a new nonprofit called Foundation for Our Communities.
 
"This was something we have never done before, but when the board saw that the patronage dividend gave a big benefit to some and a small benefit to most, everyone around the table had a desire to make a much bigger impact for our membership," said Vickie Schmitzer, CEO of the $285 million-asset credit union (Frankenmuth News Jan. 3). "That's where the idea of the foundation came from."
 
The credit union determined at year-end that it had an additional patronage dividend that went beyond the normal dividends it calculates quarterly.

Foundation for Our Communities will support projects that are concentrated on improving the quality of life and will continue to support the credit union's mission to support community causes that its members care about.
 
Board Chairman Pete Bender said, "Frankenmuth CU has always been very active in the communities it serves by donating time, talents and treasures, but we feel the establishment and funding of a foundation will further enhance our support of those communities we serve."

4 CUs Join Fledging Police CU Association

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ORANGE, Calif. (1/6/13)--In its first month of existence, the Police Officers' Credit Union Association has enlisted four new members.

New member credit unions include:
  • Chicago Patrolmen's FCU;
  • Greater Hartford (Conn.) Police FCU;
  • Police & Fire FCU, Philadelphia; and
  • Police FCU, Upper Marlboro, Md.
State Highway Patrol FCU, Columbus, Ohio, is the charter member of the association.

"Given the direction and growth we were seeing with the conference, starting the POCUA was the natural next step," said Norman Mann II, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Police FCU. "Regardless of size, it's going to be more difficult for credit unions to compete in the future. The association provides the structure for police credit unions to collaborate and thrive."

Police FCU has been a supporter and attendee of the Police Officers' Credit Union Conference since its inception in 2004.

CU Seeks Restitution in Class Action Filed Against Target

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (1/3/14)--Alabama State Employees CU has filed a class-action suit related to costs associated with the Target data breach.

It is estimated that more than 40 million accounts were compromised in the breach, which occurred on or around Nov. 27, just before Black Friday, and continued through at least Dec. 15.
 
The suit, filed Monday in an Alabama federal court, seeks $5 million in damages for losses suffered by millions of financial institution members and customers whose personal financial information was compromised, as well as costs associated with closing accounts, reissuing new checks, debit cards and credit cards as a result of Target's data breach.
 
On Dec. 20, Target announced that it had been hit by the wide-reaching security breach.
 
The complaint alleges that Alabama State Employees CU, Montgomery, Ala., and other plaintiffs "were required to expend time, energy and expense to address and resolve these financial disruptions and mitigate the consequences by refunding loss deposits; issuing new credit and debit cards; closing compromised or suspected-to-be compromised accounts opening new accounts; and increased costs in monitoring customer and member accounts to determine which transactions are legitimate or fraudulent."
 
The $211 million-asset credit union is represented by the law firm of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C. of Montgomery, Ala.
 
The law firm filed the class-action lawsuit Dec. 30 in the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Alabama, Northern Division.

Brown Named NCUF Director of Development, Donor Relations

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MADISON, Wis. (1/3/14)--The National Credit Union Foundation has named Danielle Brown as director of development and donor relations.
 
In 2011, NCUF named Brown the national coordinator of Biz Kid$, the credit union-sponsored public television series, on a contract basis. She previously served as vice president of the Northwest Credit Union Association and executive director of the Oregon Credit Union Foundation.
 
In her new position, Brown's primary duties will include NCUF development, fundraising, donor relations and serving as NCUF liaison to the State Credit Union Foundation Network. Brown will also continue to be the national coordinator of Biz Kid$, a role in which she is responsible for advancing the funding, use and integration of Biz Kid$ within the credit union movement. 
 
"Danielle brings a wealth of experience and passion to the foundation, and we couldn't be happier to work with her in this new role," said Gigi Hyland, NCUF executive director.
 
Prior to the merger of the Oregon and Washington leagues, Brown was senior vice president of operations for the Credit Union Association of Oregon. 
 
In other NCUF staff development, Jenni Speth has been promoted to the role of administration and meeting coordinator, and Cameron Newfarmer has been hired as finance and administration assistant.

Michigan's First Community FCU Now Advia CU

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PARCHMENT, Mich. (1/3/14)--The merger of two Michigan credit unions resulted in a new name as the new year rolled in.
 
Advia CU is the new name of Parchment, Mich.-based First Community FCU, which officially merged with Port Huron, Mich.-based E&A CU Thursday.
 
"Advia was a coined named that we developed based on the 'advantages' that we offer members 'via' innovative financial solutions," Marketing Manager Nancy Loftis told the Kalamazoo Gazaette (Jan. 2).
 
Cheryl DeBoer, who was president of $705 million-asset First Community FCU, is president/CEO of the new Advia CU. Janice Rose was president of $274 million-asset E&A CU and is now chief community relations officer for Advia.
 
Loftis said the name change better encompasses the credit unions' membership areas. First Community FCU merged with First American CU, Beloit, Wis., in 2010, but the Wisconsin and Illinois operations continued under the First American name. All 21 locations will fall under the new Advia CU moniker.
 
The name change also reflects the charter change to a state charter from a federal charter.

Top 10 Hottest News Now Articles for December

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MADISON, Wis. (1/3/14)--The Target data breach demanded News Now readers' attention in December, with three articles making the month's Top 10 list.
 
The Top 10 articles for the month:
 
10. NCUA Prohibits Three From Future CU Work

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (12/2/13)--The National Credit Union Administration has banned three former credit union employees from participating in the affairs of any federally insured financial institution.
 
9. Patent Trolls' 'Growing Threat' Described to Lawmakers by CUNA

WASHINGTON (12/17/13)--Demand letters from "patent trolls" represent a great and growing threat to credit unions and other end-users of technology, John Dwyer,  president/CEO of New England FCU, Williston, Vt., told the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning.
 
8. NCUA Approves Final Charitable Donation Account Rule

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (12/12/13)--A final rule on charitable donation accounts has been approved at this morning's just-concluded National Credit Union Administration open board meeting.
 
7. Final Charitable Donation Rule Leads Dec. NCUA Agenda

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (12/6/13)--A final rule on charitable donation accounts will lead the day when the National Credit Union Administration holds its final open meeting of 2013 on Dec. 12.
 
6. Obama to Nominate McWatters for NCUA Board

WASHINGTON (12/18/13)--Mark McWatters will be President Barack Obama's pick to fill a National Credit Union Administration board seat when it is vacated by board member Michael Fryzel, whose term ended Aug. 2 this year.
 
 
5. CUNA Urges CUs to Collect Data on Costs of Breach

WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (12/27/13)--Credit unions should keep a tally of the costs incurred from fraud and replacement of the debit and credit cards compromised in the recent Target data breach so they can report it later, said the Credit Union National Association. CUNA plans to open a data collection website next week and will provide further details as soon as it becomes available.
 
4. NCUA TCCUSF Oversight Budget Is $4.5M

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (12/12/13)--The 2014 Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund Oversight Budget will be just over $4.5 million, the National Credit Union Administration said at this morning's open board meeting.
 
3. CUNA Unveils Major Speaker for GAC 2014

WASHINGTON (12/17/13)--The Credit Union National Association is making a major announcement about a speaker of international renown slated for the 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference.
 
2. CUNA Working to Determine Impact of Target Breach on CUs

WASHINGTON (12/20/13)--The Credit Union National Association's regulatory staff is working with CO-OP Financial Services, CUNA Mutual Group and others, including PSCU, Financial Services Information Sharing (FS-ISAC), Visa and MasterCard, to determine the potential impact on credit unions and their members related to the massive data breach confirmed Thursday at retail giant Target.

1. CUs Impacted in Target Breach Get Risk Mitigation Tips

MADISON, Wis. (12/23/13)--As the Credit Union National Association works with other entities in the industry to monitor new developments in the widespread Target stores data breach and provide up-to-date information to help mitigate the risks to credit unions, new information has shed light on what credit unions will need to do--both for themselves and their members.

Tech Trends for '14: Consumers Continue to Drive Change

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MADISON, Wis. (1/3/14)--For credit unions, the biggest drivers of technology trends are not  tech giants such as Apple and Google, but credit union members. Consumer acceptance--or better put, demand--has driven the almost ubiquitous presence of smartphones, tablets and their accompanying applications.
 
In financial services, consumers have driven the growth of mobile banking and virtual, anywhere, anytime service. For credit unions, that trend will continue in 2014, with technology and financial providers trying to meet consumer demands for convenience, mobility and customization.
 
A few of the technology trends that will shape the technological landscape in 2014 include:
  • Strategic mobile services. After establishing a mobile banking presence in 2014, credit unions must take a more strategic approach, experts say. They must find ways to add value to member relationships, help differentiate the institution and create a strategic advantage, said Ron Shevlin of Aite Group. The increasing development of mobile applications that place financial institutions where their members and customers are making financial decisions will drive mobile banking's growth, according to Bank Innovation.
  • "Omnichannel" financial services. For nearly 20 years, credit unions have developed digital touch points to provide more convenience for their members, and to drive down operational costs. But many members still show a strong preference for having convenient access to brick-and-mortar locations, especially when seeking out financial advice or performing more complex, emotionally involved transactions, (eMarketer Sept. 4). "An omnichannel approach--serving and engaging with [consumers] in an 'anytime, anywhere' fashion--is being touted as a way to give [financial institutions] of all types and sizes more flexibility to meet consumers' constantly evolving preferences," said an eMarketer report, "Digital Banking Trends: With Consumer Preferences in Flux, Is Omnichannel the Answer?"
  • Repurposing the branch. The many options offered by the omnichannel will be accompanied by a repurposing of the branch, driven by self-service. "Whereever you go--the airport, Home Depot, Lowe's, the grocery store--basic transactions are being pushed toward self-service," said Robert Reh, chief information officer at Nassau Financial FCU, Westbury, N.J., and a member of the CUNA Technology Council's executive committee. "That trend will change the face of basic branch transactions in the next couple years." As basic transactions move towards automation, added-value services such as lending and financial advice will maintain the personal approach, Reh said.

    Some credit unions have already begun rethinking their branches through technology. Vantage West CU recently opened a tellerless branch in Tucson, Ariz. The branch is largely driven by deposit-automation Opteva ATMs from Diebold Inc. In one of its branches, Coastal CU in Raleigh, N.C., has implemented personal teller machines (PTMs), a video-based technology that does everything a traditional teller would do--dispense cash, create images of checks and answer questions (News Now July 3).
  • Cardless ATM transactions. Consumers will soon be able to make ATM transactions with their smartphones. Diebold and mobile wallet provider Paydiant have already created the technology. To complete a cardless withdrawal, the credit union members scans the ATM's QR code using a smartphone. When the devices sync via the cloud, a transaction screen appears on the smartphone, allowing the user to select the withdrawal amount. The cloud server then sends a one-time code to the smartphone, which the customer enters on the ATM screen to authenticate the transaction and receive cash.
  • Digital wallets. In the 1990s, Paul Fiore started up Digital Insight, betting that credit union members would log on to credit union web sites and do their online banking through his company's online financial management software, rather than Microsoft Money or Quicken. Digital Insight became one of the largest providers of online financial providers in the credit union sector.

    Now Fiore and his partners are betting that credit union members will reach for a credit union-branded digital wallet rather than one with one from Google or another big tech provider. The startup has already signed 39 credit unions representing 4.64 billion members and 54 billion in assets. As CUWallet begins to create scale it will focus on signing more merchants, Fiore said. "Credit unions are betting on themselves," Fiore said. "We will soon see the day when we represent 10 million members."
  • Big data. In the upcoming year, organizations that are able to define which datasets will have the most impact on crafting a great consumer experience will succeed have a competitive edge. "We have a wealth of information available to us, Reh said. " Most credit unions have a marketing customer information system. Many have [customer relationship management system]. They certainly have core system. We need to utilize that information with our member to make them offers that they might not even realize the need." Social media provides a vehicle to provide even more highly targeted messages, Reh said.

CU System Briefs (01/03/2014)

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  • GALVESTON, Texas (1/3/14)--George Ballis, longtime president/CEO of AMOCO FCU, Texas City, Texas, died Dec. 25. He was 85. Ballis started working for the credit union in 1962 by traveling to Amoco refinery and chemical plants to take deposits and make loans, said the credit union. He was promoted to CEO in 1973--a position he held for 25 years. His obituary noted his leadership and enthusiasm were "fueled by his altruistic belief that every American should have access to a credit union." Ballis' credit union involvement included organizing the National Association of Amoco Credit Unions and serving as president of the Galveston County Chapter of Credit Unions. "He will be more remembered for the family environment he created and his commitment to serve the members and employees of the credit union," said Shawn Bailey, current president/CEO of the $622 million-asset credit union ...
  • ALBANY, N.Y. (1/3/14)--A body piercing shop in Albany, N.Y., won the Sunmark FCU Business Grant Contest for 2013. Will and Kimberly Eck, owners of Classy Body Art, won $1,000 in a business savings account at the credit union and a seat in the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber's Entrepreneur Boot Camp.  "Will and Kimberly's business plan was in great shape and showed a lot of initiative," said Frank DeGraw, executive vice president of the $395 million-asset credit union. Sunmark FCU and the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber sponsor the contest for new businesses and entrepreneurs (Times Union Dec. 31) ...
  • DENVER (1/3/14)--Denver police are looking for a bank robbery suspect who wears an oxygen tank and mask during his heists. Dubbed "the O2 Bandit," the suspect has struck three financial institutions, including branches of Westerra CU, Denver, and Partner Colorado CU, Arvada. Investigators aren't sure if the supplemental oxygen is a medical necessity or a disguise (The Denver Post Dec. 31) ...

News Now Director Leigh Gregg Retires

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MADISON, Wis. (1/2/14)--News Now Director of Online Editorial Leigh Gregg will post her last story today, retiring after more than 28 years with the Credit Union National Association's Madison, Wis., office.
 
She joined CUNA in 1985 as a public relations writer, before moving in 1986 to a senior editor position at Credit Union Magazine. Gregg became editor of CUNA's bimonthly Credit Union Executive Journal and served in that position until 2001, when she joined News Now, CUNA's online daily news service, as editorial director.
 
"There is no other single person to whom News Now owes more for its reputation for quality, and depth and breadth of credit union news coverage than Leigh Gregg," said Lisa McCue, CUNA vice president of editorial communications. "She will be missed for her dedication, her superior skills, her love of credit unions, and for the easy way she works with people."
 
Prior to joining CUNA, Gregg taught journalism and mass communications for 12 years at Rutgers University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Salem College, and West Virginia University. She also worked at daily newspapers in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
 
She is succeeded by Michelle Willits, who returns to News Now after serving as manager of new alliances for CUNA Strategic Services and advertising supervisor for Credit Union Magazine.

Target Breach Effect on Payment Systems Under Debate

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MADISON, Wis. (1/2/14)--While credit unions and other financial institutions reissue millions of debit and credit cards compromised by the Target data breach last month, security and payments industry experts are debating the implications of the breach on payment systems.
 
The debate centers around two issues: Will debit cards suffer from a drop in consumer confidence as a result of the breach? And would having the EuroPay MasterCard Visa (EMV) chip-standard technology in place have helped protect consumers data?
 
Several sources say the security breach, which compromised 40 million debit and credit cards and included stolen encrypted PIN data, will impact how consumers pay with plastic.  Some are even predicting the demise of the debit card.
 
The breach has shaken consumers' confidence in using debit cards at physical retail stores, said Karen Webster, CEO of Market Platform Dynamics, in an analysis on Pyments.com (Dec. 30).  "Consumers understand that they are protected from financial ruin if the bad guys get hold of their credit card account number. The picture is a bit muddier when it comes to debit," she wrote. "Federal law doesn't provide much protection. Visa and MasterCard require issuers to have zero liability rules for consumers with signature for signature transactions. But protections for PIN debit are much more varied."
 
Consumers already are more nervous about using debit cards, because the cards link directly to their checking accounts. "So the recent news about the Target breach also included PIN information might just be the finishing blow to the already shaky consumer confidence in debit cards as a secure method of payment anywhere," Webster said.
 
Consumers already say they won't use their debit cards again for purchases because of the breach, wrote  Mark Calvey, a columnist for the Washington Business Journal Online (Dec. 30). "In my opinion, the Target breach is going to focus renewed attention on debit card security," he wrote. However, he noted the push in the financial industry to replace magnetic stripe technology "with more secure, but costly, digital chips." In that case, he wrote, the breach would not be the end of debit cards but would be the end "of the debit card as we know it."
 
Opinions are mixed on whether having EMV chip-based technology, instead of the less secure magnetic stripe technology on cards, would have helped protect data in the Target breach.  Major credit card companies are pushing merchants and financial institutions to switch to EMV by October 2015, and will make them liable for any fraudulent charges if they haven't converted by that date.
 
EMV has been slower to be adopted in the U.S. than in other nations.  According to Tammy Fleiger, vice president of operations at Spokane (Wash.) Teachers CU, it is a "chicken and egg thing." It doesn't make sense to upgrade the credit union's cards until merchants can accept the technology, "and merchants don't want to upgrade their terminals until they have the card," she said in Northwest News Network (Dec. 27). The credit union plans to issue chip cards this year.
 
Some analysts say that even EMV would not have prevented Target's situation because EMV does not encrypt card data transmitted between the card swipe at the terminal and the acquirer of the transaction. Market Platforms Dynamic's Webster in her column said EMV "does nothing to prevent the risk that card information can be intercepted in the merchant environment. Underwriters Laboratory security experts that said when a merchant terminal and/or point-of-sale system is hacked, an EMV chip still would have provided enough information to be used by criminals online. She noted that in countries using EMV technology, fraud is down at stores, but online fraud has increased.
 
Webster and others have indicated a layered approach to data security, involving both tokenization and encryption, should be at the forefront in future discussion about fraud solutions.
 
One group that will help provide structure for EMV changes in the U.S., is the Debit Network Alliance of 10 U.S. PIN debit networks, including CO-OP Financial Services. Formed last month, it will provide structure for the governance, deployment and implementation of the EMV debit standard to facilitate adoption of the standard in the U.S. (News Now Dec. 12).
 
In the Target breach aftermath, credit unions whose members' accounts were compromised are being urged by the Credit Union National Association to collect data about the costs they incur in replacing cards and assisting members. CUNA will have a website up soon to assist in the efforts to track the costs imposed by the breach.
 
Meanwhile, credit unions continued this week replacing debit and credit cards for members whose information was stolen.  The Northeast Florida Chapter of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions said Monday that local credit unions were issuing replacement cards to roughly 58,000 members. They are bearing the full cost of issuing new cards and new card numbers (Jacksonville Business Journal Online (Dec. 30).

Belvoir FCU in Woodbridge, Va., is among the latest credit unions to alert members of the breach, and American Southwest CU, Sierra Vista, Ariz., said it will replace 877 Visa debit cards compromised at no cost to members, even though no fraudulent activity has shown up on its cards. Taking proactive steps will diminish future fraud on the cards, the credit union said.

Interchange, Exams, Tax Status Top 2013 News Now Reader Topics

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MADISON, Wis. (1/2/14)--Debit interchange, National Credit Union Administration supervisory exams and the credit union tax status were the most in-demand topics for News Now readers in 2013, with each making multiple appearances in monthly Top 10 lists.

As News Now brought the latest developments in credit union news to readers each day, other hot topics throughout the year included the Credit Union National Association's Don't Tax My Credit Union and Unite for Good campaigns, the NCUA's settlements in mortgage-backed security lawsuits, student lending, supplemental capital and overdraft legislation, as well as the end-of-the-year Target debit card breach.
 
The top two articles for each month in 2013 included:
 
January
 
NCUA Letter to CUs Cites 2013 Exam Goals

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/31/13)--Increased clarity in its guidance to it examiners and more consistency in its examination practices is a key supervisory focus of the National Credit Union Administration this year, said NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz in a Letter to Federally Insured Credit Unions released today.
 
ABA Targets Tax Exemption For 2013, CUNA Primed To Protect

WASHINGTON (1/25/13)--As if there were any doubts about what the banks are up to this year, an American Bankers Association  lobbyist was quoted today by Bloomberg BNA  that a "chief" goal for banks in 2013 is to push for legislation to change or eliminate the credit union federal tax status.
 
February
 
CUs' Mobile Banking Enters Second Generation: Special Report

MADISON, Wis. (2/20/13)--Mobile banking is here to stay at credit unions. Today, about one-third of all credit unions offer mobile banking. The rest are likely to roll it out within the next 48 months. By comparison, online banking took about twice as long to reach similar numbers.
 
Strong NCUSIF, TCCUSF Performances Decrease Premium Chances

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (2/21/13)--The strong performance in 2012 of the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund and the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund, reported by the National Credit Union Administration today, decreases chances for a premium assessment this year.
 
March
 
HarborOne Members Vote To Convert To Bank

BROCKTON, Mass. (3/18/13)--Members of HarborOne CU in Brockton, Mass., have voted to convert the $1.9 billion-asset credit union to a mutual cooperative bank charter.
 
NCUA Liquidates I.C.E. FCU

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (3/15/13)--I.C.E. FCU, Inglewood, Calif., has been liquidated by the National Credit Union Administration.
 
April
 
CUNA Warns Of Potential Denial Of Service Attack

MADISON, Wis. (4/26/13)--With the increasing prevalence of Distributed Denial of Service cyberattacks, the Credit Union National Association is alerting credit unions to "chatter" that has been detected about a potential widespread attack that could be planned for May 7.
 
Surcharge Bans Continue To Gain Momentum

MADISON, Wis. (4/2/13)--The number of states considering bans on imposing a surcharge on credit/debit cards is gaining momentum. At least 18 states are considering such proposals, with one measure reaching a governor's desk. That's in addition to 10 states with laws already on their books.
 
May
 
Tinker FCU Branch Destroyed, Assisting Staff And Members

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (5/22/13)--For nearly two dozen staff and members of Tinker FCU's branch in Moore, Okla., Monday afternoon had its moment of reckoning. A half-mile wide tornado bore down on the branch, and they took cover in the credit union's safe deposit box vault. After it was over, they were safe and sound, and the only thing left standing was the vault.
 
Oklahoma League On Tornado: 'We're Prepared To Get Through This'

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.  (5/22/13)--Three credit unions in Moore, Okla., saw different outcomes when Monday's EF5 tornado swept through with 200 mile-per-hour winds that leveled thousands of homes and businesses in an area as much as two miles wide and 17 miles long.
 
June
 
Senate Finance Committee's 'Tax Options' Paper Notes CUs

WASHINGTON (6/13/13)--The release today of the Senate Finance Committee's "tax options" paper on exempt organizations--with the elimination of the credit union tax status written clearly in black and white as a reform option--should be a wake-up call for action by credit unions, Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney said in immediate response to the paper's release.
 
NCUA Approves Loan Participation Rule

WASHINGTON (6/20/13)--The National Credit Union Administration's final approved rule on loan participations implemented a number of changes sought by the Credit Union National Association and is now a much more workable framework for credit unions to utilize loan participations, said CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney.
 
July
 
Court Rejects Fed Interchange Cap Rule

WASHINGTON (7/31/13)--The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision today striking down the Federal Reserve's price caps on debit interchange fees. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon said in his ruling that the Fed did not follow congressional intent when it implemented the cap and other changes imposed by what is known as the Durbin amendment.
 
NCUA To Re-align Regional Supervisory Authority In 2014

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (7/19/13)--To maximize operational efficiency, the National Credit Union Administration says it will re-align its regional supervision of federally insured credit unions in nine states, effective Jan. 1, 2014.
 
August
 
Alloya Corporate CEO Walby Resigns, Effective Sept. 15

WARRENVILLE, Ill. (8/26/13)--Alloya Corporate FCU announced Monday that Bill Walby will resign as Alloya's CEO for personal reasons. His resignation is effective Sept. 15, 2013.
 
What CUs Need To Know About Wednesday's Interchange Developments

WASHINGTON (8/22/13)--Federal Reserve Board General Counsel Scott Alvarez on Wednesday said the Fed plans to appeal a recent district court decision that invalidated the agency's debit interchange fee rule. The U.S. District Court judge currently handling the case said that he would allow the status quo to be maintained for now.
 
September
 
NCUA Approves Final Version Of Fixed-Asset Reg Changes

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (9/12/13)--The National Credit Union Administration just minutes ago approved a final version of fixed-asset regulation changes.
 
NCUA, Fed Agencies Release Elder Abuse Prevention Guidance

WASHINGTON (9/24/13)--The National Credit Union Administration today joined six other federal financial regulators to clarify that financial institutions may report suspected elder financial abuse to appropriate authorities.
 
October
 
CLF And Fed Discount Window Are Only Sources For Emergency Liquidity In New NCUA Rule

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (10/24/13)--A final rule addressing emergency liquidity and contingency funding plans for credit unions has just been approved at today's National Credit Union Administration open board meeting.
 
NCUA Unveils Upcoming CU Exam Changes
 
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (10/8/13)--Changes that will streamline credit union examination reports and improve the overall exam process by setting clearer expectations for credit unions and examiners will be introduced on Jan. 1, the National Credit Union Administration said in a letter to credit unions (13-CU-09) released this afternoon.
 
November
 
No TCCUSF Assessment In 2014

WASHINGTON (11/21/13)--The National Credit Union Administration will not charge a Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund (TCCUSF) assessment in 2014. The National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund assessment for 2014 will be between zero and five basis points, the agency added.
 
JP Morgan To Pay $13B Settlement

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (11/19/13)--The National Credit Union Administration has added another settlement to its victory pile related to lawsuits to regain costs associated with losses to the corporate credit unions brought by residential mortgage-backed securities of alleged questionable quality. The U.S. Department of Justice has just announced that JP Morgan Securities would pay $13 billion in total.
 
December
 
CUNA Working To Determine Impact Of Target Breach On CUs

WASHINGTON (12/20/13)--The Credit Union National Association's regulatory staff is working with CO-OP Financial Services, CUNA Mutual Group and others, including PSCU, Financial Services Information Sharing (FS-ISAC), Visa and MasterCard, to determine the potential impact on credit unions and their members related to the massive data breach confirmed Thursday at retail giant Target.
 
 
Market Reaction To Fed Taper Bodes Well For Loans, Says CUNA

MADISON, Wis. (12/19/13)--The market reaction to the Federal Open Market Committee's decision Wednesday to taper its asset-buying program is good news for housing and auto lending, according to a Credit Union National Association economist.

Gentile: Continue to Tell the CU Story

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MADISON, Wis. (1/2/14)--As Paul Gentile exits his post as the Credit Union National Association's executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement, he names this as his proudest accomplishment during his year at CUNA: "Telling the great story of credit unions to the media."  
 
Gentile leaves CUNA to succeed Dan Egan as president/CEO of the Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island credit union leagues on Jan. 6. He recently discussed his accomplishments with Credit Union Magazine Editor Walt Laskos.
 
"Credit unions have such a great story to tell," he says. "We've been under the radar for a number of years, and I really think that's changing. If you look at the mainstream press, we're out there.
 
"Credit unions should embrace that, and the best way to do that is to tell their story in the local market."
 
Another key to success, Gentile notes: Doing the right thing for members all the time.

"People are frustrated with big business and with banks," Gentile says. "People are more values-based today: Going green, going lean, organic locally grown foods, and all that. We fit right in there. That's who we are: Locally owned institutions that do good things for the community. More people want to join credit unions when they hear that great story."
 
During his time at CUNA, Gentile helped launch a number of new national communication vehicles, including The Cheney Report and Inside Exchange.
 
Prior to joining CUNA, Gentile was president/CEO of the New Jersey Credit Union League.

Use the resource link to access the full, eight-minute video interview, and to link to The Cheney Report and Inside Exchange videos on such topics as the credit union tax battle, the debit interchange issue, corporate credit union assessments, and much more.

Consumers Should Be Wary of 'Financial Amnesia'

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WASHINGTON (1/2/14)--It's easy to make New Year's resolutions, but it can be harder to carry them out, especially when it comes to financial planning.
 
In a recent poll by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, 56% of the respondents said they would be better off financially this time next year. The positive outlook was more than three times the number of those who said their financial situation would be about the same.
 
It's good to be optimistic about your financial health, but it takes more than hope and a New Year's resolution, said Gail Cunningham, spokeswoman for the non-profit foundation that represents credit counselors nationwide.
 
"People need to guard against financial amnesia, the affliction of too quickly forgetting the financial mistakes and pain of the past," she said. "Although the future can't be predicted, consumers can protect themselves from financial unknowns by making smart money decisions today."
 
Credit unions continue to be a resource for members who want to improve their money management skills (See Tuesday's News Now story "CUs Help with New Year's Financial Resolutions.")

Cunningham suggested consumers start by building a financial plan that includes:
  • The unexpected emergencies. Tuck away 10% of each paycheck into a rainy-day fund, the foundation said.
  • Long-term savings. If unemployment strikes, bridge money will be needed to cover a minimum of six month's expenses.
  • Known periodic expenses. Set aside money for the fun--birthdays, anniversaries and holidays--and the necessary--vehicle registration and insurance premiums--that occur at the same time each year.
  • Charitable giving. Review your previous charitable contributions to estimate this year's donations.
  • Health insurance choices. Review changes to insurance plans for any impact on cost of prescriptions, co-pays or other medical expenses.
  • Investing. Disciplined investing is critical to building wealth long term.
  • Debt reduction. Instead of allocating minimum monthly payments into the budget, set a date by which all current credit card debt will be eliminated. This step will free up money to go toward satisfying goals such as saving or investing.

Ascentra CU Donates $25K to Iowa Foundation in Honor of Late CEO

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DES MOINES (1/2/14)--The Iowa Credit Union Foundation received $25,000 from Ascentra CU in honor of the credit union's late CEO, Paul Lensmeyer.
 
Lensmeyer, who died May 20, was an "extremely strong advocate" of the foundation's work, said Dale Owen, president/CEO of the Bettendorf, Iowa, credit union.
 
"This gift will advance ICUF efforts around financial literacy, matched savings programs and other ICUF activities," Owen added. "An example like this is what defines our difference and reminds all of us we work in a wonderful credit union community."
 
As president of the $292 million asset credit union, Lensmeyer promoted reading through partnerships with schools and libraries.
 
"On behalf of the Iowa Credit Union Foundation, we are all honored and humbled to receive this generous donation from Ascentra CU in Paul's name," said Jim Niederhauser, vice president of member services, Iowa Credit Union League.
 
Donations help the foundation achieve its mission of helping Iowans build wealth, responsibility and independence.