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CUNA learning event How to better serve Gen Y

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MADISON, Wis. (10/22/08)--Credit union professionals can learn the financial needs of the Gen Y market during the YES Summit: Serving 18-30s, CUNA’s featured learning opportunity in December. The YES Summit, taking place Dec. 3-5 in Tampa, Fla., helps credit unions develop lasting relationships with young adults by tapping into their needs for money management, creditworthiness, debt management and wealth building. In addition to exploring products and services geared toward this demographic, a panel of young adults will provide insights on how to enhance current programs and potential ideas. Other December learning opportunities include:
* Board and supervisory committee members can better understand their responsibilities in evaluating the security and strength of their credit unions during the Supervisory Committee and Internal Audit Conference, Dec. 14-17, in Las Vegas. The conference covers important auditing, compliance, and fraud topics and helps attendees to better evaluate how the current economy impacts their credit unions. * An optional Supervisory Committee Fundamentals Pre-Conference Workshop, Dec. 13-14, explores responsibilities, job duties, and effectiveness of the supervisory committee. * Certified Financial Counselor School: Parts I and II take place Dec. 7-11 in Tempe, Ariz. Part I details the role of financial counselors in helping members prevent and resolve financial problems. It also addresses spending plans; improving creditworthiness; creditors’ and consumers’ rights and remedies; creditor/member relations; additional programs and resources; and designing a counseling program. Part II examines the underlying causes of financial difficulties for members and suggests ways to control and monitor living expenses. Topics include: insurance, education planning and saving, consumer credit, investment basics, taxes, consumer fraud, addictions, retirement planning, money conflicts, and more. Attendees may earn their Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor certification by successfully completing exams for both parts of this school. * The Business Lending Certification Institutes: Fundamentals and Credit Analysis will convene Dec. 8-12 in St. Pete Beach, Fla. Fundamentals lays a foundation for providing financial services and advice to member business owners. Topics include: business basics and lending regulations, analyzing member requests and applicant information, financial analysis fundamentals, loan structuring, loan default warning signs, member loan protection, and additional member business services. Credit Analysis analyzes issues such as: business credit and tax return analysis, financing fast-growth businesses, loan repayment, business life cycles, financial projections, and business plan development. An optional certification is available to attendees to document their knowledge and expertise in the business lending arena.
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CUs FIs filling GMAC void

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MADISON, Wis. (10/22/08)--Credit unions and independent financial institutions are filling the void left by General Motors’ former captive finance company, GMAC, according to a report by Automotive News. GMAC has begun stepping away from auto lending by setting credit score limits at 700 or higher. As a result, the “vacuum” left by GMAC is being filled by credit unions and other financial institutions, the report said (Global Insight Daily Analysis Oct. 21). Steve Graham of Genesee Township, Mich., told The Flint Journal that he financed his 2008 Chevrolet Equinox with a credit union instead of GMAC because the credit union offered a lower interest rate (Oct. 16). Credit unions have not been as affected by the credit environment and continue to finance loans, the Journal said. Security CU in Flint, Mich., has “a lot of money to lend” and is “making car loans to qualified individuals in the area,” Chad Merrihew, vice president of operations, told the newspaper.

Texas league debriefs Hurricane Ike victims

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (10/22/08)--The Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) is offering “debriefing” sessions in four Southeast Texas communities to provide additional support to credit union employees struggling to rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Ike last month. Charles A. Scott, master of social work and licensed clinical social worker, presents the sessions, designed to help credit union employees identify, overcome and prevent stress, and to gain a better understanding of the loss and grief process (LoneStar Leaguer Oct. 21). Credit union employees who have suffered personal loss as a result of Hurricane Ike are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity share experiences with their peers, who perhaps are going through similar stresses and sense of loss, the league said. The sessions are open to all credit union employees in the affected areas, and employees are encouraged to attend a session that is most convenient to them. Over the last several weeks, TCUL President/CEO Dick Ensweiler and other league staff, visited Southeast Texas credit unions damaged by Hurricane Ike. In these visits, Ensweiler and his staff had the opportunity to speak with credit union employees who suffered significant personal loss. “I’m so proud of how employees in the area are coping with the situation. Despite their own hardships they wear a brave smile for their members,” Ensweiler told the league. “Offering these sessions is our way of letting them know that the credit union community cares about their well-being. It is our hope that these debriefing sessions will give these employees the tools they need to more effectively deal with the range of emotions they will surely experience during the healing process.” Scott conducted similar sessions in Mississippi for the Mississippi league, after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the league said. Scott has worked for 33 years helping individuals, families and organizations. He worked with over 600 credit union employees in Hurricane Katrina-affected areas. Scott has concern for and understanding of the difficult times that survivors have during and after a disaster such as Hurricane Ike, the league said. These sessions were made possible through a grant from the Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF). The grant was given from TCUF’s General Fund, and no money is being taken out of the Hurricane Ike Disaster Relief Fund to cover these sessions, the league said.

Prospera offering GoodMoney to CUs nationwide

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APPLETON, Wis. (10/22/08)--Prospera CU of Appleton, Wis., is offering its GoodMoney not-for-profit payday loan alternative to credit unions nationwide. So far, Superior Choice CU, Superior, Wis., and Delta County CU, Escanaba, Mich., have committed to offering the program. GoodMoney costs half of a typical payday loan. With a start-up fee, credit unions can access training, advertising support, marketing materials and customized software offered by CU*Answers, Prospera said in a release. “GoodMoney provides lower-cost alternatives to consumers looking for a short-term loan,” said Lois Kitsch, national program director for the National Credit Union Foundation’s REAL Solutions program. “The program encourages financial education, creating a more informed borrower, and access to other financial products to increase their financial stability.” GoodMoney was launched in 2005 as a collaborative effort between Prospera and Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin, and Financial Information and Services Center. More than 12,000 GoodMoney loans have been processed for loans totaling more than $4.5 million. Payday lending costs Americans $4.2 billion annually, and the average borrower pays $793 to borrow $325, according to the Center for Responsible Lending.

Safety soundness message pushed by CU leagues

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MADISON, Wis. (10/22/08)--State credit union leagues continue to push the message of credit union safety and soundness in the media. Leagues are conducting the following efforts:
* The Michigan Credit Union League and Michigan credit unions aim to impart the message of credit union growth, (on pace for 2 million new members nationally in 2008) and soundness (assets rose 5% nationally in the first half of 2008), through a new, multi-million dollar campaign called “The Credit Union Difference Initiative.” The campaign theme of “Love + Trust = My Credit Union” will consist of two phases. The first phase is a radio advertising campaign that will run statewide for six weeks, and the second phase will include a customizable radio, Web and collateral campaign in 2009. * In response to feedback from member credit unions, the Louisiana Credit Union League (LCUL) recently launched a statewide advertising campaign promoting the many benefits of credit union membership to current and potential members. LCUL facilitated this cooperative print ad campaign, which was funded by participating credit unions around the state. The ads were placed in major daily newspapers across the state. “Louisiana Credit Union Members Sleep Well at Night … knowing their money is safe, sound, and insured” was the theme of the print advertisements. The league also launched a radio advertising campaign Oct. 15 that is airing statewide. As with the print ads, the radio campaign assures credit union members that that their money is safe and insured. It also presents the benefits of joining a credit union and encourages potential credit union members to visit the league’s website to find a credit union that they may be eligible to join. The league provided the funding on behalf of Louisiana credit unions. * On Oct. 10, viewers of Burlington television station FOX 44’s early evening and 10 p.m. newscasts got an important message from Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU) President Joe Bergeron--credit unions are safe, sound, insured, and have money to lend. FOX 44 Reporter Julia Dunn visited the AVCU offices with a cameraman to interview Bergeron amidst the ongoing turmoil of the rapidly falling markets and bailouts of for-profit financial institutions. “In a tanking economy, people are wondering where to put their deposits so that their money will be safe,” Dunn reported. “Instead of pulling all your money out and stuffing it into the mattress upstairs, credit unions are grabbing more people's attention.” * The New Jersey Credit Union League has stepped up with unbudgeted funds to invest in advertising throughout the state to spread the message of credit unions. The league office reported it has been bombarded by consumer requests for more information on New Jersey credit unions and its promotional websites have seen a significant increase in Web traffic. Media calls are on the rise and even competitors have caught wind of the leagues’ efforts. The league’s advertising efforts stem from the slogan, “New Jersey's Credit Unions, Banking You Can Trust.” The ads are running in several state papers. The ads that have made a big impact are running on the radio waves, the league said. The league is running 60-second spots that a number of the callers have referenced when contacting the League. Online ads are also running in several outlets. * The Virginia Credit Union League is launching a statewide consumer awareness campaign on credit union safety and soundness next week. The print element features one of the ads produced by the Credit Union National Association.

CU System briefs (10/21/2008)

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* ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (10/22/08)--The Credit Union Association of New Mexico (CUANM) recently presented Children’s Miracle Network with $50,000 from the association’s annual fundraising events. New Mexico credit unions are working to raise $1 million in five years for the construction of and equipment for the University of New Mexico Hospital’s new pediatric emergency unit. To date, more than $755,000 has been raised. From left are: Amy Vigil, CUANM education and training manager; Elisa Furlan-Young, CUANM staff accountant; Samantha Wells, CUANM education coordinator; Daniel Jaecks, Children’s Miracle Network development specialist; Derek Wright, CUANM accounting manager; and Sylvia Lyon, CUANM CEO. (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of New Mexico) ... *
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WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (10/22/08)--Pacific Service CU recently sponsored the annual picnic for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area. The event took place Sept. 20 and allowed Big Brothers and Big Sisters to gather with their siblings for the day. Pacific Service CU has been the presenting sponsor of the annual picnic for the last six years. "As a member of the Bay Area community, we are proud to sponsor this special day for those involved in the local Big Brothers Big Sisters program," said Steve Punch, Pacific Service president. Pacific Service CU has $1.109 billion in assets. (Photo provided by Pacific Service CU) ... * SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (10/22/08)--Intermountain CU, Salt Lake City, Utah, will ask its members to vote on a proposed merger with America First CU, Ogden, Utah, Oct. 28. Intermountain approached America First about a possible merger due to problems in Intermountain’s construction-loan portfolio, Intermountain CEO Jeff Blackburn told the Deseret Morning News Monday. The merger would “help protect our members” and offer them more products and services, he told the newspaper. Intermountain has $80.6 million in assets. America First has $4.34 billion in assets ...

Miss. CU official quoted in newspaper spurs editorial

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GULFPORT, Miss. (10/22/08)--An official with Keesler FCU, Biloxi, Miss., was quoted about credit union safety and soundness in a local newspaper article, which led in part to an editorial that praised credit unions for providing financial security. Josh Duncan, Keesler assistant vice president of lending, was quoted in an Oct. 12 article in The Sun Herald. "We have actually seen an increase in the number of car loan applications in the past couple of months. We approved more car loans in September 2008 than we did in September 2007," Duncan told the paper. "Our approval percentage is also up over last year. We have been consistently approving more home loans as well. "Homeowner's insurance is still the key factor on the coast concerning the local real estate market. Keesler FCU continues to follow conservative underwriting guidelines. We are here willing and able to make loans to our membership," he added. The article also mentioned that business at the $1.607 billion-asset Keesler FCU is better than a year ago. Afterward, an Oct. 14 editorial in the paper said: “Not only are our banks and credit unions secure, they are still very much in the business of lending money. They're just lending it the old-fashioned way: to people who can be expected to repay it … When have South Mississippians ever been able to go to their local bank or credit union and receive a loan for anything, much less a home, based on anything but their own credit worthiness? “Never, that we know of … a more conservative approach to credit and debt by local financial institutions is now paying dividends. For that, we can all be thankful,” the editorial concluded.

CUs leagues share ICU Day celebrations

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MADISON, Wis. (10/22/08)--Among many activities by credit unions nationwide, Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn was joined by credit union and community officials at a press conference on International Credit Union Day (ICU Day) Oct. 16 to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Pembroke Township CU.
Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn held a press conference on ICU Day. From left are: Keith Sias, Illinois Credit Union League director of state governmental affairs; Quinn; Rachel Lakes-Bingham, Pembroke Township CU; Paul Simons, president/CEO, Credit Union 1; and Mayor Samuel Patyon, Hopkins Park. (Photo provided by the Illinois Credit Union League)
Pembroke Township CU is a branch of Credit Union 1 in Rantoul, Ill. In 2005, Quinn and Team Illinois, which is led by the Department of Human Services, worked to create a plan to bring financial services to the area. The result was a branch of Credit Union 1 in Pembroke Township, according to the Illinios Credit Union League. “I’m a lifelong credit union member,” Quinn said. “Credit unions are an ideal way for everyday citizens to save, borrow and build personal and community wealth. “With this year’s theme, ‘It Belongs to Me,’ we’re reminding the people of Illinois that despite the current economic uncertainty our nation faces, breaking the cycle of poverty can be done if we build a community of active, informed consumers,” he added. Quinn also was joined by Hopkins Park Mayor Samuel Payton, and Rachel Lakes-Bingham, office manager of Pembroke Township CU, at the conference. Other ICU Day activities reported to News Now:
DEXSTA FCU, Wilmington, Del., held a $1.99 gas promotion on ICU Day Oct. 16. (Photo provided by DEXSTA FCU)
* Seasons FCU, Middletown, Conn., gave mugs with candy, hot chocolate, tea, lemonade and $50 to its employees. The board of directors hired masseuses to give each employee a 10-minute massage. The credit union also handed out ICU Day skittles to members; * DEXSTA FCU, Wilmington, Del., held a $1.99 gas promotion; and * State Employees CU held a member appreciation cookout in conjunction with an enterprise car sale. More than 100 members and potential members attended.

Illinois CUs take first steps toward offering VITA

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (10/22/08)--Illinois credit unions are taking steps to provide free income tax filing help--Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA--to individuals of modest means, the Illinois Credit Union League said Monday.
The Center for Economic Progress (CEP) has been a major partner in assisting consumers with filing their tax returns free of charge at many sites throughout Illinois, including credit unions. Ellen Smith, CEP tax site manager (left) helps an individual during a free tax filing day for seniors sponsored recently by North Side Community FCU in Chicago. (Photo provided by the Illinois Credit Union League)
VITA helps those with incomes of about $40,000 or less who cannot prepare their own tax returns. A good opportunity exists for credit unions to build partnerships with existing VITA sites, which are generally open from January to April 15. Credit unions also can provide consumers with alternatives to Refund Anticipation Loans and help them make better financial decisions, the league said. Two credit unions in Illinois have partnered with the Chicago-based Center for Economic Progress, which provides free tax preparation and representation services. South Division CU, Evergreen Park, said the partnership with the center “went great.” “We helped over 40 underserved veterans in just two hours,” said Geri Burek, South Division CEO. The credit union plans to continue helping veterans during the next tax season, Burek said. North Side Community FCU, Chicago, also serves as a host VITA site. The credit union provides service for members on Mondays when the credit union is normally closed, and on Tuesday evenings for community members. “We are always looking for ways to strengthen the relationship with our select employee groups, and VITA is a great way to do it,” said Ed Jacob, North Side CEO.

CUs worth checking out says D.C. radio station

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WASHINGTON (10/21/08)--WTOP Radio in Washington, D.C., spotlighted credit unions on its Answer Desk segment last week.
Click to listen.
Credit unions “didn’t go knee-deep into the hoopla” that is the mortgage mess, WTOP said. “It might be worth checking them out.” Credit unions also don’t have to answer to shareholders or Wall Street critics. They are privately held organizations run “by the little people [as opposed to big banks],” WTOP said. ABC News also noted credit unions’ safety in a question-and-answer story on its website. “If the credit union offers higher interest rates, or is closer to your home or work, then by all means choose it,” the news outlet said.