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Kansas CUs Altered CARD Act costs time money

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WICHITA, Kan. (10/16/09)--Credit unions in Wichita, Kan., and the Kansas Credit Union Association say that late changes to the federal Credit CARD Act cost local credit unions time and money, but they hope relief is on the way. This week the House of Representatives passed a bill that would undo provisions of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act that made it more costly for credit unions to provide open-end lending, according to The Wichita Eagle (Oct. 15). A last-minute provision slipped into the act before it was approved by Congress has affected credit unions' ability to offer open-end loan because they would be required to provide 21 day's notice in advance of the payment due date--a problem for credit unions that have members making weekly or biweekly payments on their loans. The Wichita-based credit unions said their members already know when their payments are due and how much they will have to pay as part of their open-end loan agreements. Bob Corwin, CEO of Meritrust CU, a $637 million asset credit union based in Wichita, told the newspaper that the law meant Meritrust had to conform with issues that aren't really relevant for open-end loans. It cost the credit union time and money to have staff manually preparing the required 21-day notices. "That was a big scramble and quite an expense we didn't have before," he told the Eagle. Meritrust doesn't have the capability to prepare the notices through an automated system. Central Star CU President/CEO Lee Williams noted that to comply with the new law, her $82 million asset credit union had to convert about 3,800 of its 4,000 open-end loans to closed-end loans. That took a full week of staff time devoted to nothing but transferring the loans, and Williams said it cost about $20,000 in man-hours and notifications to members. "This is not a year where you need that kind of impact," she said. The act also changed the payment due dates for members with open-end loans who chose their original dates based on their financial situations. Marla Marsh, CEO of the Kansas Credit Union Association, was also quoted in the article, saying she hoped the House bill, CARD Act Technical Corrections Act, would be passed by the Senate. That would remove open-end loans from the Credit CARD Act and allow credit unions to follow their usual processes.

Reaffirming CUs commitment on ICU Day

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MADISON, Wis. (10/16/09)--Every credit union celebrated International Credit Union Day in its own way, but many of the celebrants did so in ways that reaffirmed their commitment to their members. "International Credit Union Day is the one time each year we all step back and celebrate the value of the cooperative model as an alternative financial service provider," said Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) President/CEO Jim McCormack. He commended the state's credit unions for "providing unparalleled value to consumers in a highly competitive marketplace."
Click to view larger image CUNA Mutual Group employees celebrate International Credit Union Day by spelling out TRUE to illustrate their commitment to credit unions. Their T-shirts, bearing the word TRUE, were sold to employees to raise money for the National Credit Union Foundation’s Development Education program, which helps credit unions leverage their commitment to cooperative principles as a competitive advantage in the financial marketplace. (Photo provided by CUNA Mutual Group)
Credit unions in Pennsylvania took efforts to make sure their members and the public knew about that commitment. Thursday's Harrisburg, Pa. Patriot-News featured an eight-page insert including articles about the history of credit unions, credit union philosophy, benefits of membership and credit union facts such as safety and soundness. PCUA and five credit unions sponsored the ads. In Ohio, credit unions were busy educating others, including their members. "I know it is not a holiday that is on many calendars," wrote Chris Blough, CEO of Wayne County Community CU, Smithville, Ohio, in an e-mail sent to members. "It hasn't made the 'Hallmark Holiday' status. Nobody (aside from those of us in the industry) will be throwing a party for it or sending a card. But that doesn't mean that ICU Day is a day that should go unnoticed." Blough celebrated Thursday by going to Waynedale High School and teaching three senior high classes the ins and outs of credit, "but this isn't just a one day thing for us," he said. "Two out of every three credit unions in Ohio provide some form of free financial education to their communities," Blough said. "That's more than 350 credit unions and communities that are strengthened because we know that the best financial tool out there is knowledge. Over 60% (and we are among them) of credit unions offer free one-on-one counseling to anyone, member or not, because we know that it is not right for those who know the least to get taken advantage of the most. Credit unions are a true community asset. Not a flashy one. Not a loud one. But a strong and stable one." In Delaware, credit unions published their eighth credit union supplement, with more than 120,000 copies inserted in Thursday's statewide newspaper, The News Journal, said the Delaware Credit Union League. The supplement highlights the difference between banks and credit unions, and directs consumers how to find a credit union to join. Credit union member testimonials underscore the value of belonging to a credit union (Together Oct. 15). "Most credit unions realize they need to tell the public who we are, to advertise credit union services, and to maintain visibility among members and potential members alike," said Alice Smith, Delaware league communications director. The publication was underwritten by the advertisements of 11 credit unions and features a directory of all 28 credit unions in that state. Credit unions in Georgia are celebrating ICU Day as well as the 100th anniversary of credit unions in the U.S. and the 75th anniversary of the Georgia Credit Union League by sharing "A Century of Good Advice," an online video featuring advice from both young and older Georgians. "By compiling testimonials of Georgians young and old about spending and savings habits over the years, Georgia credit unions hope to provide consumers with insight and inspiration for their own financial futures," said Michael Mercer, president/CEO of the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA). Gov. Sonny Perdue Wednesday signed a special proclamation honoring ICU Day. And GCUA also released a poll on the savings and spending habits of consumers in the state. The poll results are available at the resource link. It found that: 46% of Georgians spend less than they did one year ago, and 41% spend the same. Of those polled, 65% say their personal spending habits will be changed forever because of the current recession. Roughly 53% say either their mother or father was the biggest influence in their lives about money, with 27% indicating the father and 26%, their mother. The Texas Credit Union celebrated ICU Day and its 75 years of service. According to President/CEO Dick Ensweiler, "Each and every one of us has a chance to demonstrate the positive impacts credit unions are capable of. I have seen the differences we are making, be it on a local level by establishing relief assistance for those ravaged by Hurricane Ike or on the larger scale of advocating for actions to be taken on the political fronts" (LoneStar Leaguer Oct. 15). "We operate under the mantra of 'people helping people' and I know of no better gift to our international credit union family than to commit to this philosophy for another 75 years," he said.

Canadas CUs donate 42.1M to communities

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TORONTO, Canada (10/16/09)--Canadian credit unions upped their support of community projects nationwide to $42.1 million in 2008. The amount was up 18% from the $35.8 million donated in 2007, a new survey indicated (Canada NewsWire Oct. 15). “During the recent tough economic times, credit unions have increased their support for local community projects,” David Phillips, president/CEO of Credit Union Central of Canada, told the news service. “Every day, credit unions help their communities by providing time, money and expertise. These actions flow from the cooperative principles that are at the core of the credit union difference.” Since its inception eight years ago, the annual survey has shown a steady increase in donations from Canada’s credit unions, the news service said. In a related matter, credit unions in the Canadian province of Ontario increased their support of community projects to a record $5.3 million in 2008--up roughly 10% from $4.8 million in 2007, said Central 1 CU, the central liquidity management facility and trade association for nearly 200 member credit unions in British Columbia and Ontario.

HarborOne CU flu strategy cancels holiday party

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BROCKTON, Mass. (10/16/09)--In preparation for a possible H1N1, or swine flu epidemic, Brockton, Mass.-based HarborOne CU has canceled its annual holiday party and is instead providing $25 gift cards to employees. “We realized that in December [when the pandemic could hit], we’re going to put 400 people together in a room, and that’s conflicting with things we’re telling people [about swine flu],” said Patricia Williams, HarborOne CU vice president of human resources. The credit union is reminding employees to wash their hands and has provided hand sanitizers. Williams told News Now that she hadn’t received any complaints about the cancellation of the party. “I think people are feeling our concern,” she said. HarborOne has already booked its holiday party for 2010. The credit union has been preparing for a flu pandemic for several months. It recently offered and paid for flu shots for employees. Flu shot participation was up 70%, Williams said. The credit union has offered shots for 10 years. HarborOne also is offering screenings for employees so that they can receive Tamiflu, a drug used to treat swine flu, on prescription. The credit union realized that it may not have access to the flu vaccine, so it is paying for employees to be screened. Employees’ family members also can receive the screenings and medication at a reduced cost. The screenings are being handled by an outside healthcare company, Williams said. No employees have reported being sick with swine flu, but there are several cases in the area, Williams said. HarborOne has $1.7 billion in assets.

CUs can help Latinos build assets--Filene report

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MADISON, Wis. (10/16/09)--Credit unions have an opportunity to reach out to the Latino community, which has a growing demand for transaction and savings products, according to a report released by the Filene Research Institution on the financial needs of the U.S. Latino population. The report, “U.S. Latino Families, Heads of Household and the Elderly: Emerging Trends in Financial Services and Asset-Building Behaviors,” focuses on the key features of the Latino financial experience. The Latino population presents unique opportunities, such as the incidence of multiple generations living under one roof, a lower-than-average age than the overall population and a higher frequency of married couples. Latinos are seeking products to build assets though individual development accounts, educational savings accounts, investment accounts and mortgages, the report said. “Credit unions can take advantage of this opportunity by crafting campaigns of community partnership and outreach, including niche marketing strategies that convey trust and continuity in a culturally sensitive manner,” said Filene Chief Research Officer George Hofheimer. In reaching out to Latinos, credit unions can:
* Be “language-friendly” by making sure members understand the products and services. This can be achieved through a new-member orientation, opposed to text-dense financial brochures that have little impact; * Offer bold and family-friendly credit union savings products, like dollar savings bonds, penny CDs, and rural savings bonds; * Partner with the community to provide financial education through high school equivalency degree classes and English as a Second Language courses; and * Provide “green” car or home loans that help bring energy-efficiency savings into low and moderate-income communities, and educate residents on predatory lending regarding auto loans and mortgages.
“Many of today’s most loyal credit union members had less-than-stellar credit when they first came to the credit union,” Hofheimer added. “And while the Latino population is neither the wealthiest nor the best credit risk, the sheer numbers and needs of this group make this a once in a lifetime opportunity.” The report, authored by researcher Barbara J. Robles of Arizona State University, was supported in part by the National Credit Union Foundation and its signature program REAL Solutions. For more information, use the link.

Vacant position on Ohio league board filled

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DUBLIN, Ohio (10/16/09)--Tina Wocher, CEO of Cincinnati Police FCU, has been appointed to fill a vacant spot on the Ohio Credit Union League board of directors. Wocher will fill a Membership Category B position, which represents Ohio credit unions with 7,500 to 21,999 members (eLumination Oct. 15). The seat was previously filled by Jim Hartman, who resigned from the board in August. Wocher’s term expires in 2010. She also was elected to the seat in the 2010 league board election and will serve a separate three-year term expiring in 2013, the league said.

Intense bike-building nets 24 bikes for kids

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PORTLAND, Ore. (10/16/09)--About 190 Unitus Community CU staff assembled bicycles for 24 members of the Portland Boys & Girls Club Monday in a three-hour race against time.
This young man was one of 24 recipients of a new bicycle from Unitus Community CU, Portland, Ore. Unitus employees assembled the bikes during a team-building exercise Monday. (Photo provided by Unitus Community CU)
Columbus Day traditionally is a holiday for many businesses. For Unitus, the date usually means all-staff training. However, this year it became “The Unitus Columbus Day Moving You Forward Conference: A Day for Teamwork and Collaboration.” The intense bike-building exercise tested the teams’ wit and creativity in building bikes that were wheeled out to surprise 12 boys and 12 girls from the club. None of the employees knew until the end of the exercise that the bikes they built would be donated to local youth. Teams assembled at 1 p.m. and attempted to have every last nut and bolt in place by the 3:30 p.m. deadline. At that time, Unitus President/CEO Patricia Smith and Sarah Fast, program director of the Regence Club in North Portland, welcomed the children. “We saw some great expressions of surprise because none of our employees knew why they were building the bikes, and the boys and girls did not know about the bicycles until they actually took their own and wheeled them away,” Smith said. “This is probably one of the most fun-filled and rewarding team-building experiences we’ve ever completed.” The program is not the first involving bicycles and Unitus. The credit union received widespread publicity last year when it announced a low, fixed-rate loan program for bicycle purchases. The loans target purchasers of commuter-quality bicycles who ride to work to save on gas and wish to protect the environment (News Now July 17). Unitus also collected used bicycles last year, and refurbished and donated them to low-income youth and adults.

Banks spend ICU Day educating youth about credit

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HARRISBURG, Pa. and WASHINGTON (10/16/09)--While credit unions celebrated International Credit Union Day Thursday, bankers took on their own project aimed at educating young adults about credit. The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association calls their project "an attempt to steal the Credit Union Day spotlight" (Life is a Highway Oct. 16). For the seventh year, bankers have organized a Get Smart About Credit Day, which falls on International Credit Union Day. The event focuses on educating young adults about wise use of credit. Many adults under age 21 will be prevented from getting a credit card without a parent co-signor or proof of independent income by a new law that becomes effective in February. Roughly 3,000 bankers and students were to participate in lessons on developing good credit habits. The "Get Smart About Credit" website also featured a young woman saying a line that should sound familiar to all credit unions who've been educating the public and lawmakers about the credit union difference for years. She tells the bank website visitors: "Bankers, you make a difference."

CU System briefs (10/15/2009)

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* TOPEKA, Kan. (10/16/09)--Two established credit unions in Topeka, Kan.--Credit Union 1 of Kansas and Credit Unions United (formerly Rubber Workers CU)--announced plans to consolidate operations. The merger is pending a Nov. 4 vote of the membership and approval by the Kansas Department of Credit Unions and the National Credit Union Administration. Both credit unions said they have strong capital and efficient operations. However, given the challenges of competing and growing in the current economic climate, the boards of directors said they believe that consolidating will make for a stronger organization, better-positioned for future growth and success. “This is a strong consolidation of two healthy credit unions,” said Vickie Hurt, president/CEO of Credit Union 1. “By joining forces as one organization, members of the ‘new’ credit union will be able to take advantage of the economies of scale that will promote efficiency, as well as favorable rates and fees” … * COLUMBUS, Ohio (10/16/09)--Political leaders from Mahoning Valley, Ohio, visited with representatives of several credit unions at the Mahoning Valley Chapter's annual Legislative Forum Golf Outing and Reception, according to the Ohio Credit Union League (eLumination Newsletter Oct. 14). Among the special guests were U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles), State Rep. Ronald Gerberry (D-Austintown), Trumbull County Commissioners Frank Fuda and Dan Polivka, Warren Municipal Court Judge Tom Gysegem, Austintown Trustee Lisa Oles, and Deputy Superintendent for Credit Unions for the Ohio Division of Financial Institutions Rose Bartolomucci. The event provided legislators with an opportunity to learn more about credit unions and discuss state and national legislation modernizing laws pertaining to credit union operations and their ability to offer greater services, said the league. From left are Paul Mercer, president of the league; Congressman Ryan; Mike Kurish of Associated School Employees CU, Youngstown; and Gary Soukenik of Seven Seventeen CU, Warren (Photo provided by the Ohio Credit Union League) … * BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (10/16/09)--Kern Schools FCU in Bakersfield, Calif., has selected Steve Renock to replace president/CEO Vince Rojas, who will retire in January. Renock will begin work at the credit union Monday ( Oct 14). Renock previously worked as executive vice president of lending at SchoolsFirst FCU, president/CEO of CUNA Mortgage Corp., and senior vice president and national wholesale manager and controller of Shearson Lehman Mortgage Corp. Kern Schools FCU has $1.730 billion in assets ...

Summerall elected to board of Southeastern league

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (10/16/09)--Ron Summerall, CEO of Alabama Teachers CU in Gadsden, Ala., was elected Oct. 9 to fill the vacant Class C seat on the board of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU). “Ron is very involved at the chapter level and has a great interest in legislative and regulatory advocacy, which will make him a valuable addition,” said Patrick La Pine, LSCU president/CEO. Summerall served as CEO of Alabama Teachers CU for more than 14 years. Under his leadership, the credit union tripled in size. Summerall also was recently honored as the Alabama Credit Union Manager’s Association “CEO of the Year.” Voting for the seat was open to all affiliated credit unions in Alabama, and began Sept. 28 and closed Oct. 9. The LSCU board consists of eight representatives from Alabama credit unions and eight from Florida credit unions. Current directors will serve staggered terms. The LSCU represents 332 Alabama and Florida credit unions.