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CU System Briefs (10/18/2013)

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  • HONOLULU, Hawaii (10/18/13)--The board of directors of Aloha Pacific FCU named Vince Otsuka its president/CEO on Wednesday. Interim president since the April retirement of Wallace Y. Watanabe, Otsuka was previously Aloha Pacific's senior vice president of lending. He's the credit union's third president, after Watanabe and Masami Oishi. Aloha Pacific FCU is located in Honolulu and has $756 million in assets...
  • LIVE OAK, Texas (10/18/13)--Randolph-Brooks FCU (RBFCU) helped the Senior Citizens Program of Wilson County purchase new tires for its Meals on Wheels program. Betty Manak, a program coordinator for the charity, said that a donation camefrom the credit union just 24 hours after she reached out for help. Workers for the program deliver meals to senior citizens within a 75- to 100-mile radius around Floresville, Texas five days a week. "RBFCU's focus is on people helping people," said Lorena Bourland, the Floresville branch manager. "We are committed to helping people like Ms. Manak succeed in their mission of serving the community." The tires were purchased at a discount from Ancira Ford in Floresville. The Senior Citizens Program in Floresville is open to members of the community over the age of 60. Randolph-Brooks FCU is located in Live Oak, Texas, in the San Antonio area. It has $5.51 billion in assets. The picture, from left to right, includes Ralph Rodriguez, RBFCU business development director; Bourland; Manak; and Ancira Ford General Manager Andy Horny. (Photo provided by Randolph-Brooks FCU)...

ICU Day Proclamations Ring Out As CUs Tell Their Stories

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MADISON, Wis. (10/18/13)--
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
While political officials proclaimed yesterday as the 66th annual International Credit Union Day, credits unions and leagues "United for Good" by telling their stories, educating the public about credit unions, and celebrating with nearly 200 million members in nearly 100 nations worldwide.
 
National Credit Union Administration Board Chairman Thursday urged credit unions across the country to reach out to the next generation of credit union members. ICU Day "is an ideal occasion for credit unions to highlight their traditions of stability, personal service and community involvement to attract new and younger consumers," she said.
 
Click to view larger image Teams of employees, members and friends of Wichita, Kan.-based Meritrust CU worked assembly style to package 20,000 meals in 90 minutes for a South Africa orphanage as part of Meritrust's International Credit Union Day activities. The ICU Day theme "Credit Unions Unite for Good" helps leverage the credit union initiative of working together to better the lives of individuals, families, communities and countries around the world, said the credit union. (Photo provided by Meritrust CU)
"Credit unions should use this day to evaluate how they are engaging young people, and if they are providing the products, services and conveniences that younger generations have come to expect," Matz said.  "With effective outreach to America's youth, credit unions can ensure the industry's future viability, and in so doing, meet the financial services needs of the next generation of Americans."
 
Messages proclaiming the day from the Credit Union National Association and the World Council of Credit Unions were reported in News Now Thursday.
 
Governors of several states--Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Connecticut among them--added their proclamations or statements acknowledging credit unions' day and the work they do.
 
Click to view larger image Staff at Telcoe FCU, Little Rock, Ark., formed a hexagon on the floor of the credit union in their International Credit Union Day T-shirts that display this year's theme, "Credit Unions Unite for Good." (Photo provided by Telcoe FCU)
Many leagues offered messages, too.  Association of Vermont Credit Unions President Joe Bergeron and his staff recorded ICU Day greetings on video, said Newslines Express (Oct. 17). Use the link to access the video.
 
Georgia Credit Union Affiliates noted the theme with a statewide Switch to Save campaign to encourage Georgia residents to stop by a credit union for a loan review and to see how credit unions can save them money on loans.
 
Cornerstone Credit Union League CEO Dick Ensweiler shared stories in the Leaguer Thursday about Western Sun CU's "Choose My Wish" initiative in Broken Arrow, Okla.; Abilene (Texas) Teachers FCU employees participating in the March of Dimes; and VA Hospital FCU CEO George Bujarski in Little Rock, Ark., participating in financial education workshops at a local high school.  "Whether it's reaching out to youth via financial education, helping to solve a social concern in the community, or raising funds for a good cause, credit unions rise to the occasion," Ensweiler said.
 
Credit unions themselves celebrated a number of ways, including by sharing photos and messages in #ICUDay tweets. To get a flavor for the enthusiasm and creativity credit unions displayed during the day, check out Credit Union Magazine's ICU Day page (Use the link).
 
Click to view larger image Star of Texas CU celebrated International Credit Union Day in Austin, Texas, by inviting members for refreshments (The Advocate Oct. 17). From left are Sherry Han, vice president of operations; Frances Laurel, CEO; Ruben Hernandez, assistant vice president consumer lending; and Carla Trager of the Cornerstone Credit Union League. (Photo provided by the Cornerstone Credit Union League)
Some credit unions celebrated by helping others. In Wichita, Kan., Meritrust CU's members, employees and friends assembled 20,000 meals for international hunger relief organization Numana on Saturday. The meals will be shipped to an orphanage in northern South Africa, the Tabitha Ministries.

"This event was meaningful to the community focus of credit unions in two ways," said Meritrust President/CEO James Nastars. "One, we joined with our co-workers and friends, coming together as a community to make a difference in the lives of those in need. Two, in our globally connected world, community encompasses groups or persons both near and far. It's the credit union way to reach out to those in need, wherever they might be."
 
Some raised awareness in the media of credit unions. Thursday's Harrisburg, Pa. Patriot-News featured an eight-page credit union-sponsored insert with ICU Day graphics and articles about the history of credit unions, the benefits of membership and services provided, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway Oct. 17). It included a Unite for Good coloring page. In addition to a PCUA-placed iBelong ad, sponsoring credit unions included Hersehy FCU, Members 1st FCU; New Cumberland FCU, and PSECU.
 
Also, the Northeast PA Chapter of Credit Union sponsored its annual newspaper greeting with 10 Credit Union History Facts, which point out how credit unions originated, the pioneers who brought the idea to North America and more.
 
Pacific Marine CU, Oceanside, Calif., and Lakota FCU on the Pine Ridge Reservation in Kyle, S.D., used the day to tell members and nonmembers who they are and the services they provide as well as what credit unions are in articles in SanDiego.com and Indian Country (Oct. 17).
 
ICU Day has been celebrated on the third Tuesday of October since 1948.

Vermont FCU Hosts Peruvian CU Delegation

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (10/18/13)--Vermont FCU hosted representatives from AELUCOOP, Peru's second largest credit union, last week (Newslines Express Oct.17).
 
A delegation from AELUCOOP, Peru's second largest credit union, visits Vermont FCU,  Burlington, Vt. The two cooperatives struck up a partnership through the Association of Vermont Credit Unions, its Peruvian counterpart, FENACREP, and the World Council of Credit Unions. (Photo provided by the Association of Vermont Credit Unions) 
The exchange, organized by the World Council of Credit Unions, allowed the Peruvian delegation to learn about VFCU's lending, marketing, information systems, operations, human resources, risk management and accounting strategies.
 
AELUCOOP representatives were given tours of VFCU branches in Burlington, South Burlington, and Milton. They also toured the Association of Vermont Credit Unions' Colchester office, and were given an orientation by AVCU President Joe Bergeron and some of his staffers.
 
AVCU is a participant in the World Council's International Partnerships program, through which it has an agreement with the Peruvian credit union trade association, FENACREP.
 
AELUCOOP and Vermont Federal first agreed to a formal working relationship in October 2010, when they signed an agreement through the World Council. In October 2011, VFCU representatives visited AELUCOOP facilities in Lima.
 
"The relationship between AELUCOOP and Vermont Federal is one of the many examples of the collaborative spirit and efforts that have become commonplace in the credit union movement," Bernie Isabelle, VFCU president/CEO said. "The information disseminated and the friendships developed have helped us all in our ultimate goal of serving our members."
 
Jean Giard, VFCU senior vice president of finance and chief financial officer, who went on the 2011 trip to Peru, said the program is "is about exchanging ideas, best practices and an opportunity to see the credit union movement applied in different cultures."
 
VCFU is headquartered in Burlington, Vt. and has $393 million in assets.

Don't Tax Campaign Sees More Action In CUs, Press

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MADISON, Wis. (10/18/13)--Credit unions--even those competing against each other--are using their cooperative spirit to join together to preserve credit unions' tax status against banker attacks. In Charleston, S.C., and Eugene, Ore., credit unions worked together to deliver the Don't Tax My Credit Union message.
 
Two Charleston, S.C., credit union CEOs teamed up to present that message to viewers of ABC News in Charleston.  Scott Woods, CEO of SC FCU, and James Gergen, CEO of CPM FCU, urged consumers to call their senator or congressman and tell staff who answer the phone, "Don't Tax My Credit Union." They also urged viewers to go to the Don'tTaxMyCreditUnion.org to weigh in on the tax issue.
 
"As a rule credit unions work together very well within the cooperative network. We're competitive, but there's plenty of business opportunity for everyone," said Woods, adding that credit unions "offer a greater balance of competition in the community, even for nonmembers."
 
Gergen noted that the Don't Tax campaign is a national effort by credit unions "to ensure financial choice remains out there for consumers and small businesses." As non-for-profits, "if we would have to pay taxes, we'd have less money to take care of the member." Credit unions have "got under banks' skin" because they pay more on deposits, take less on loans and have low or no fees, he said.
 
In Eugene, Ore., three credit union CEOs--Mandy Jones of Oregon Community CU, Bob Newcomb of Selco Community CU, and John D. Iglesias of Northwest Community CU-- demonstrated credit unions' "Unite for Good" collaboration to tell the value of credit unions.
 
Their conversation spans three videos covering credit union values, the credit union experience, and taxation. "You would not get three banks sitting in a room together trying to tell their story," said Jones. "Credit unions are united--we're all in this together."
 
"We have so many examples of how credit unions have returned what we earn," said Iglesias. "We make profits but what we do with that profit is the huge difference" between credit unions and banks, he said.
 
Banks focus on the bank statement, maximizing profit and "enriching individuals rather than giving back to the community," said Newcomb. He pointed out that during the economic downturn in 2007, credit unions increased their lending 13% while banks cut back lending 3%. "Credit unions help members solve problems not just get a payment due."
 
Credit unions were established "to help the common person and from our inception have been there to help meet the basic financial needs of consumers," said Iglesias. "Taxation would really effect that."
 
Congress is struggling with the federal deficit and has two choices: reduce expenses or increase revenues, said Jones. That raises concerns of possibly losing credit unions' tax status. "We are not tax-exempt. We do pay taxes, for property, payroll and several other taxes," she said.
 
"If you are taxed like a bank, some will say you may as well operate like a bank," said Newcomb. "Credit unions are an alternative to the for-profit banks. Member choice is very important."
 
If credit unions are taxed, "then consumer choice has gone out the door," said Jones.
 
The three CEOs urged viewers to visit Don'tTaxMyCreditUnion.org.
 
Other articles related the benefits of credit unions to communities and members and the importance of working on a united front to preserve the tax status. They included an article in the Sioux Falls Business Journal (Oct. 15), which featured popular services of local South Dakota credit unions and how their success has drawn banks' attention.
 
Robbie Thompson, president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas, noted in the article that banks and credit unions "are different models. The bank model is to generate a profit from customers for a small number of shareholders. The credit union model is cooperative, where all profits are returned back to the members who are also the owners."

ASmarterChoice Grabs 32,266 Visitors Since August

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MADISON, Wis. (10/18/13)--ASmarterChoice, the website launched by the Credit Union National Association and state credit union leagues to help consumers find a credit union to join, attracted 32,266 visitors between Aug. 31 and Oct. 15.
 
"ASmarterChoice continues to spread its message across social media, increasing its followers and reach," said Amaia Kirtland, CUNA social and digital media manager. "By adding additional content from the leagues and their member credit unions, we can build upon this growing trend. By focusing on returning visitors, we can help ensure they choose a credit union as their preferred financial institution."
 
About 82% of the visitors were new to the site and 17.4% were returning visitors. 
 
The ASmarterChoice Facebook page garnered 7,156 likes as of Oct. 15, an increase 7,122 followers on Aug. 31.  Its Twitter account counted 1,567 followers, up from 1,476 followers on Aug 31.  
 
Future plans for the web site include a blog that will highlight the credit union difference, encourage visitors to become credit union members, offer financial education and spotlight the efforts and activities of credit unions in their local communities.  
 
The site architecture also will be updated to better adapt to mobile and smart tablet devices, which will increase site functionality and accessibility. The site will incorporate more infographics, pictures and video for sharing content and link backs. These developments are expected to be in place by early 2014.

Young Wisconsinite Can Save $117K In Lifetime Using a CU

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PEWAUKEE, Wis. (10/18/13)--A young person in Wisconsin can expect to save slightly less than $117,000 from a lifetime of credit union membership, according to Federal Reserve data.
 
The number was touted yesterday by the Wisconsin Credit Union League in honor of International Credit Union Day.
 
"Saving well over $100,000 could help offset the many costs of higher education, raising a family, beginning a retirement nest egg, or pursuing a passion, like launching a small business," said Brett A. Thompson, president/CEO of  the league. "And that figure doesn't even take into consideration additional savings realized by consumers from the lower and fewer fees that are typical at credit unions."
 
Broken down, the $116,942 in savings calculated by the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances shows that credit union membership nets members over their lifetime:
  • $5,163 on car loans;
  • $44,784 on mortgages;
  • $59,120 in home equity;
  • $5,819 on savings certificates; and
  • $2,056 on checking and savings accounts and other surcharges, including ATM fees.
Since the start of the recession in 2007, the league said, the state's credit unions have saved 2.4 million members over $1 billion.
 
The league noted that potential members can visit ASmarterChoice website operated by the Credit Union National Association--to locate a local credit union to join.

Rock Star Paul Phillips: A Heart For Service

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MADISON, Wis. (10/18/13)--At a strategic planning session a few years ago, directors and key executives at Freedom First CU, Roanoke, Va., focused on one vital question: "If we weren't here, who would care?"
 
From the discussion arose a new commitment. "We said, 'Let's be different,'" recalled Paul Phillips, the credit union's president/CEO.
 
Credit Union Magazine is celebrating the credit union movement's rock stars--those ordinary people who manage to pull off the extraordinary--in honor of International Credit Union Day, which was Thursday. Today News Now will highlight the fourth and fifth rock stars of the week.
 
Under Phillips' leadership, Freedom First embarked on a bold effort to serve people who lack access to traditional financial institutions.
 
"In doing so, we've breathed new life into the credit union and given our work purpose," Phillips said. "Our skill sets are evolving to include such things as grant writing and leading community collaborations to do things for-profits either would not or could not do. It's been a fun journey."
 
In 2010, Freedom First obtained designations as a community development credit union, a low-income credit union, and a community development financial institution. It also created products and programs designed specifically for low-income people, who comprise 61% of the credit union's members.
 
One such program is Responsible Rides, a collaboration with community nonprofits and Enterprise Car Sales. Borrowers get not only a loan, but also classes in personal finance and vehicle maintenance.

Rock Star Bob Stowell: Inner Fire Fuels Desire To Serve Others

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MADISON, Wis. (10/18/13)--When Bob Stowell isn't performing his duties as a Minnesota credit union executive, he might be off in Haiti mixing concrete for a village well-house construction project.
 
Or he might be administering polio vaccine drops to children at a clinic in India.
 
Such activities are part of Stowell's volunteer work through Rotary International, which sponsors projects that improve life for people around the globe.
 
"There are parallels between credit unions and Rotary," said Stowell, senior vice president/chief operating officer at US FCU in Burnsville, Minn. "Rotary serves others, and so do credit unions. Our credit union takes great pleasure in helping our members secure their financial future."
 
Credit Union Magazine is celebrating the credit union movement's rock stars--those ordinary people who manage to pull off the extraordinary--in honor of International Credit Union Day, which was Thursday. Today News Now will highlight the fourth and fifth rock stars of the week.
 
For Stowell, the urge to help others goes back to childhood. He grew up enduring parental abuse and neglect. When he left home at age 18, he was six feet, two inches tall--and weighed 120 pounds.
 
"Food was rationed at home," he recalls, "so I was starved, always hungry. The truth is, when you're hungry, nothing else matters."
 
But those bad memories turned into major motivators years later. "I don't want people in the U.S. or any country to be deprived of water or food," Stowell says. "I don't want others to have to live the life I had."
 
After leaving home, he signed up for a four-year stint in the armed services, which included a year in Vietnam. Eventually, he finished college and embarked on a banking career. Stowell also searched for a service organization to fulfill his personal motivation to make a difference--and that's when he discovered Rotary.
 
He's been at US FCU since 2006 and is active in the CUNA Operations, Sales & Service Council and the CUNA Lending Council, where he serves as secretary-treasurer.
 
Over the years, Stowell has made several trips overseas to work at or visit Rotary projects. He has seen with his own eyes the impact these projects have.
 
Whether it's his volunteer work or his credit union day job, Stowell relishes working in an environment that values cooperation. "The credit union philosophy mirrors my personal philosophy," he said. "It's about finding ways to give others hope."

Co-op Month: Study Reveals Strong Preference For Co-ops

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MADISON, Wis. (10/18/13)--Seventy-four percent of consumers in Minnesota and Wisconsin prefer to do business with cooperatives, including credit unions, based on past experience,  according to a St. Norbert College Strategic Research Institute Survey commissioned by Cooperative Network.
 
Click to view larger image North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple proclaimed October Co-op Month in the state. Representatives included, from left, Jeff Olson, Credit Union Association of the Dakotas; Stan Vagness, North Dakota Association of Telecommunication Cooperatives; Mike O'Keeffe, Farm Credit Services of Mandan; Dennis Hill, North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives; Dalrymple; Woody Barth, North Dakota Farmers Union; Carl Younce, CHS; and Larry Holst, Land O'Lakes. (Photo provided by Credit Union Association of the Dakotas)
October is International Co-op Month. This year's theme is "Collaborate, Communicate, Cooperate," illustrating a proven, grassroots alternative for economic progress.
 
When asked about financial services providers, 61% of survey respondents said they would prefer the services offered by a credit union. About 66% percent of Wisconsin residents chose a credit union, while 55% of Minnesota residents preferred credit union services.
 
Cooperative Network's 2013 co-op study was funded by CHS Inc., a global agribusiness owned by farmers, ranchers and co-ops nationwide. In the study, the research institute randomly polled 400 people in Minnesota and Wisconsin about their opinions and use of cooperatives, and it contrasted the results to a comparable study performed in 2007, prior to the U.S. financial crisis.
 
Other notable findings included:
  • 47% of respondents indicated there was at least one family member who belonged to a co-op, compared to 36% in 2007.
  • 69% of people who ran a business within their home were also members of a co-op, statistically similar to 2007 results.
  • 18% of people associated the words "teamwork/collaboration" with "co-op" or "cooperative"--a correlation that did not appear in the 2007 study.
In North Dakota, Gov. Jack Dalrymple proclaimed October as "Co-op Month" to recognize the valuable contributions that cooperatives bring to the state. Based on data provided by the North Dakota Secretary of State, 332 businesses operating in North Dakota identified themselves as cooperatives in 2012.  
 
The total economic value of all cooperative-related business operating in North Dakota generated or induced $22.6 billion in the state's economy, according to a recent study by the Quentin Burdick Center for Cooperatives at North Dakota State University.