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WesCorp sells 1.5 billion in three-year notes

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NEW YORK and WASHINGTON (10/29/09)--Western Corporate (WesCorp) FCU Wednesday sold $1.5 billion in three-year government-guaranteed notes, according to IFR, a Thomson Reuters news service. The National Credit Union Administration Wednesday morning confirmed that the $18 billion asset, San Dimas, Calif.-based WesCorp was offering the notes guaranteed by NCUA under the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Liquidity Guarantee Program. J.P. Morgan and Bank of America were to serve as lead underwriters for the issuance, according to John J. McKechnie III, NCUA's director of public and congressional affairs, said Wednesday morning. The medium term notes (MTN) issuance secures another source of funding to ensure bonds can be held to recovery, McKechnie said in an e-mail to News Now staff. "Given that much of the current corporate funding is short-term, the MTN issuance will enhance stability," he said. "The issuance is part of a normal process to maintain a balanced asset/liability mix, McKechnie said. According to Reuters, the 1.75% notes were priced at 99.875 to yield 1.793%, or 35.9 basis points over comparable U.S. Treasuries. Earlier this month, U.S. Central FCU, Lenexa, Kan., completed a similar offering of $4 billion in MTN. That issuance was completed Oct. 14. Several corporate credit unions have issued debt in the form of commercial paper. Both U.S. Central and WesCorp had previously issued MTNs. In other developments, Corporate America CU, based in Birmingham, Ala., filed a lawsuit Oct. 20 in a U.S. District Court in Alabama alleging that U.S. Central forced it to buy $9 million in paid-in-capital shares in U.S. Central several weeks before NCUA required U.S. Central to write down its mortgage-backed securities by $1.2 billion and injected $1 billion into the corporate (Kansas City Star Oct. 26). Three months after Corporate America CU bought the securities, federal regulators placed U.S. Central into conservatorship.

ABA convention attracts 5000 bailout protesters

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CHICAGO (10/29/09)--About 5,000 demonstrators from 20 states marched on the American Bankers Association convention in downtown Chicago Tuesday to express frustration with the banking industry's lack of transparency and accountability regarding $350 billion in federal bailout money. The protestors included union members, community activists and taxpayers from 48 groups, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the AFL/CIO. The march culminated three days of demonstrations demanding that banks stop lobbying against financial reform, end extravagant executive bonuses and halt home foreclosures that are ruining neighborhoods across the nation, said participants (PRNewswire and The Christian Science Monitor Oct. 27). They also picketed the Chicago offices of Goldman Sachs Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co., and demanded that banks "end their over-reliance on greed and profits, and commit to using their taxpayer bailouts and backstops to help America's economy recover," said an SEIU press release. Attendees at the ABA convention told The Wall Street Journal (Oct. 27) that the anger is misplaced and should not be directed at the group since ABA represents mostly community banks. A spokesperson for ABA issued a statement that said "bankers want smart regulation" and look to the government to fill the "gaps in the regulation of non-bank lenders," said the Christian Science Monitor. The events kicked off Sunday with a gathering of hundreds of individuals who have lost their homes, jobs and pensions during the economic crisis. On Monday, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) Chair Sheila Bair addressed nearly 1,000 of the group and reaffirmed her support for the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency (Reuters Oct. 27).

Suze Orman site Look at CU credit card options

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MADISON, Wis. (10/29/09)--Personal finance expert Suze Orman is urging consumers to look into credit union credit cards as an alternative to the credit cards offered by large banks. “I think what many of the major banks are doing to their credit card holders is a travesty,” Orman says on her website, referring to the high fees and rates that some charge. “To fight back, I want all of you to look into credit union credit cards as an alternative.” Orman’s website also features a blog posting by Ondine Irving, founder of Card Analysis Solutions. The posting is listed under “The Suze Scoop.” “Your best bet is to get a credit card from a credit union that owns its own program,” Irving writes. Of the roughly U.S. 8,000 credit unions, about half have their own card programs, she said. “I am strongly opposed to credit unions selling their card portfolios to banks,” Irving added. “But in all fairness, some credit unions needed capital to either build new branches or utilize the funds for other purposes.” Credit unions offer the following with their cards, according to Irving:
* Fixed interest rates ranging from 7.95% to 17.95%, based on FICO scores. Federally chartered credit unions cannot charge more than 18%; * Late fees of $20 to $25 with a five-day payment grace peiod; * No penalty annual percentage rates (APR); * No separate cash advance or balance transfer APRs; * No annual fees; and * Generous rewards programs, including points that can be redeemed on any airline with no blackout dates.
For more information, use the links.

Oklahoma league opens CU House

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (10/29/09)--More than 100 credit union professionals, volunteers and partners gathered to mark the official grand opening of Oklahoma Credit Union House Friday in Oklahoma City. The day, Oct. 23, also marked the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma’s (CUAOk) 75th anniversary.
Click to view larger image More than 100 people gathered at the official grand opening of Oklahoma Credit Union House Friday in Oklahoma City. Among them were, from left: Aaron Owen, Miller Tippens Construction; Doug Aldrich, building committee, Tulsa (Okla.) Teachers CU; Gary Bartley, building committee, Credit Union Service Centers; Gina Wilson, board of managers, Oklahoma Central CU, Tulsa; Michael Kloiber, board of managers, Tinker FCU, Oklahoma City; Kelly Diven, Board of Managers, 66 FCU, Bartlesville; Steve Rasmussen, chairman, CUAOk board of directors, FAA CU, Oklahoma City; DJ Morrow Ingram, president/CEO, CUAOk; Brent Taylor, board of managers, WEOKIE CU, Oklahoma City; Whit Todd, architect, kinslow, keith & todd; and Bill Lavin, building committee and board of managers, Credit Union One of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City. (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma)
“This is a historic day for the Oklahoma credit union movement and our association,” said Kelly Diven, chairman of the board of managers for Oklahoma Credit Union House and president/CEO of 66 FCU, Bartlesville. “It perfectly symbolizes the cooperative nature of credit unions and our partners.” Twenty-four Oklahoma credit unions gathered to create the limited liability corporation that built Oklahoma Credit Union House, Diven told the crowd. The 8,300 square foot building is debt-free and serves as a meeting and training facility for Oklahoma credit unions and houses CUAOk, formerly the Okahoma Credit Union League. Oklahoma Credit Union House is one story and features a mezzanine with a balcony that boasts a view of Oklahoma’s State Capitol building located about six blocks away. On the main floor is a meeting room that features state-of-the art technology that can accommodate 100 people classroom-style and is divisible by a movable wall. The association’s board room can accommodate a meeting of up to 30 participants. The mezzanine offers a meeting area. The entire building has wireless Internet access. “Our close proximity to the State Capitol serves to underscore the importance of advocacy to our association,” said Steve Rasmussen, chairman of the CUAOk board of directors. “We will hold our annual State Government Affairs Legislative Reception here and will no doubt host many other legislative-related events and meetings.” Along with the 24 investor credit unions, a number of credit union partners and individuals invested in naming rights to rooms in the facility. DJ Morrow Ingram, president/CEO of CUAOk, said there are a few remaining naming rights opportunities available. A paving brick program--where individuals or companies can purchase an engraved brick to be installed on the flag plaza--is ongoing. In her remarks to the crowd prior to the ribbon cutting, Morrow Ingram said: “This house is your house. It will long serve as a powerful visual reminder that Oklahoma credit unions and the millions of members that they serve are an important piece of Oklahoma’s commerce and one that will be a part of the political, business and consumer scene for a long time.”

New Mexico CUs to launch Savings Revolution

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (10/29/09)--The Credit Union Association of New Mexico (CUANM) was awarded a $40,500 grant from the National Credit Union Foundation to launch a statewide Savings Revolution challenge.
Kathy Darwin, REAL Solutions consultant for the Credit Union Association of New Mexico (CUANM), and Mike Athens, CUANM vice president of association services, look over a $40,500 grant from the National Credit Union Foundation to launch a statewide Savings Revolution challenge. (Photo provided by Credit Union Association of New Mexico)
The year-long Savings Revolution is like Weight Watchers for your wallet, said Mike Athens, CUANM vice president of association services (CUANM Network October). The program allows people to overhaul their financial lifestyles to save money and reduce debt with strategies supported by their credit union collaboration. The New Mexico challenge is the first statewide challenge, with six credit unions participating, Athens added. “It comes under the umbrella of REAL Solutions to reach out to low-wealth individuals, new Americans and youth,” he said. “Players will have financial issues and will benefit from the challenge.” The winner will receive a cash prize. The savings challenge targets families or individuals chosen by the six participating credit unions, although other members can get involved, said Kathy Darwin, REAL Solutions program coordinator for CUANM. The Savings Revolution has two main components:
* A savings challenge in which about 15-18 selected credit union members will compete to achieve defined savings and debt reduction goals, and build their credit. The participant(s) most closely reaching or exceeding their financial goals win the competition and receive a cash prize. * In the meantime, through online communications and other channels, other members can take the challenge using the same techniques. One goal is to have members network to set goals, share notes with those facing similar challenges and see how others respond to those challenges.
Participating credit unions are:
* Chino FCU, Silver City; * LOCO CU, Alamogordo; * High Plains FCU, Clovis; * Guadalupe CU, Santa Fe; * Everyone’s FCU, Tucumcari; and * Rio Grande CU, Albuquerque.
Each family or participant will have a credit union coach who will meet with them monthly to advise them, monitor progress and help them adjust their plans along the way, Darwin said. An outside accounting firm will tally the final numbers, looking for reduction in debt and an increase in savings and credit scores to find the winner. “This is a fun way to help entire communities learn more about financial literacy and managing their finances as they do the same thing the contestants will be doing: reducing debt, and building their credit,” Darwin said.

Panama CUs learn advocacy benefits from Iowa league

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DES MOINES, Iowa (10/29/09)--Advocacy and legislative activities topped the agenda for Panamanian credit union and trade association representatives who last week visited their counterparts at the Iowa Credit Union League (ICUL). The visit was part of World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) International Partnerships Program.
Click to view larger image A delegation from Panama recently met with representatives from the Iowa Credit Union league (ICUL). From left, are Murray Williams, ICUL chief operating officer; Leonor Samudio, COFEP board secretary; Thom Belekevich, World Council of Credit Unions consultant; Jacinto Villarreal, COFEP CEO; Patrick Jury, ICUL president/CEO; and José Montenegro, COFEP chair. (Photo provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
Representatives from the Corporación Fondo de Estabilización y Garantía de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito de Panama, R.L., known as COFEP, met with the league to better understand and apply advocacy, and gain ideas for new products and services for Panamanian credit unions. Effective lobbying can be challenging in many Latin American countries, including Panama because interactions with government officials are often seen as signs of corruption or under-the-table dealings. COFEP sought ICUL’s advice on ways to keep legislative activities transparent and leverage member needs to positively influence legislation. “In the U.S., credit unions have found advocacy to be a vital component of our movement's success,” said Patrick Jury, ICUL president/CEO. “Everything credit unions do is impacted by the political process, so we must have a strong collective voice. Our goal is to help Panama’s credit unions feel more comfortable in this process and create more urgency in their engagement with elected officials.” The delegation from COFEP, which began its WOCCU partnership with ICUL in 2006, included José Montenegro, chairman; Leonor Samudio, board secretary; and Jacinto Villarreal, CEO. The meetings helped determine how different products and services offered by ICUL and its subsidiaries might be adapted for use in Panama. Also, the delegation studied cooperative business lending, matched savings programs using individual development accounts and ways to reach underserved populations. The delegates met with Iowa Corporate Central CU representatives to discuss CD Access, a liquidity product. CD Access is a mechanism that credit unions needing liquidity can use to buy certificates of deposit from credit unions with excess liquidity. The group discussed Iowa credit unions’ success with investing in certificates of deposit at other institutions and how that process could work in Panama. COFEP delegates will present a CD Access to their board of directors and may engage ICUL in a webinar early in 2010 to promote the product. The delegates also toured Iowa’s Capitol and visited 1st Gateway CU, Camanche, and EdCo Community CU, Des Moines. Pat Drennen, 1st Gateway president/CEO and ICUL chair, discussed the credit union’s goals for its products and services. 1st Gateway aims for each member to use 2.8 products and/or services by the year-end, Drennen said. The credit union also analyzes service popularity for future planning. The visit concluded with a planning session in which COFEP, ICUL and WOCCU mapped the next steps for the partnership in 2010. These steps may include a translated webinar on CD Access and/or cooperative business lending, a credit union-to-credit union partnership and a return visit to Panama by an ICUL delegation.

Wings Financial takes flight to diversify membership

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APPLE VALLEY, Minn. (10/29/09)--Wings Financial FCU, which has primarily served employees of the airline industry, has taken flight to serve a larger and more diverse membership in the Midwest. Wings Financial FCU, the largest credit union in Minnesota with $2.2 billion in assets, now serves individuals in 13 counties near the Twin Cities. It also can serve members in St. Croix and Pierce counties in Wisconsin (Star Tribune Oct. 26). Apple Valley-based Wings, which is one of the U.S.’s largest credit unions, has 18 branches nationwide. Many are located in airports to serve those working in the air transportation industry, the newspaper said. Mark Cummins, president/CEO of the Minnesota Credit Union Network, told the Tribune that credit unions--like Wings--that once served a narrower group of individuals may have asked themselves, “Is there going to be a nucleus of people within this one group that allows us to continue to offer services to a level that we want to be able to provide to our members?” The credit union, chartered in 1938 to serve Northwest Airlines workers, serves employees of 30 air transportation companies--including 54 airlines--and has 123,000 members, the newspaper added. Wings’ latest partnerships include JetBlue, Colgan and SunCountry airlines. The credit union also received significant media attention when it attempted to take over Continental FCU, El Segundo, Calif. in 2007. Continental’s board of directors rejected the merger proposal (News Now March 22, 2007).

CUs root for their World Series teams

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HARRISBURG, Pa. and HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (10/29/09)--Word Series mania has hit Pennsylvania and New York, and one state is caught in the middle--New Jersey. One credit union has embraced this rivalry by creating a World Series-themed fundraiser that will benefit children’s hospitals.
Hamilton Horizons FCU, in Hamilton Township, N.J., has created a fundraising opportunity that embraces the rivalry between its members regarding the World Series, which kicked off Wednesday night in Yankee stadium. For each dollar donated to the Children’s Miracle Network, the credit union will place a baseball under the donator’s favored team--the Philadelphia Phillies or the New York Yankees. (Photo provided by Hamilton Horizons FCU)
Hamilton Horizons FCU, located in Hamilton Township, N.J.--which is in the middle of New York and Pennsylvania--has created a fundraiser that will run throughout the series. For each dollar a member donates to Children’s Miracle Network, the credit union will place a red Philadelphia Phillies or blue New York Yankees baseball on the wall of the credit union under the team of the donator’s choice. The funds raised will be split evenly between Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Children’s Specialized Hospital in Brunswick, N.J. The New Jersey Credit Union League’s 2009 Turnpike World Series predictions indicate that the state’s bets on the series are split. About half--52.2%--said New York will win in six games. Another 21.7% predict New York will win in five. Roughly 8.7% predicted Philadelphia will win in six games, and another 8.7% think the team will win in seven. New York was predicted to win in seven games by 4.3%, and Philadelphia in five by 4.3% (Weekly Update Oct. 28). The series, which kicked off Wednesday night in Yankee Stadium, also has inspired a bet between credit union association CEOs in the teams’ states. Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) President/CEO Jim McCormack and New York Credit Union Association President/CEO Bill Mellin have bet placed on the winning team that will leave one of them wearing either blue or red pinstripes. The loser will wear the color of the winning team at the Credit Union National Association’s Governmental Affairs Conference in February (Life is a Highway Oct. 28).

CU System briefs (10/28/2009)

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* OGDEN, Utah (10/29/09)--A nineteen-year-old was sentenced to 45 days in jail and ordered to pay restitution of nearly $10,000 for her part in a check-kiting scheme against three credit unions. Britney Kylie Thorp is one of four young women charged since June with communications fraud for opening checking accounts with bad checks. She was ordered to pay more than $4,592 to Weber CU, Riverdale, Utah; more than $4,006 to America First CU, Ogden; and more than $959 to Mountain America CU, West Jordan. The defendants allegedly used the funds to pay bills and cover expenses as opposed to buying big-ticket items, said police. Others charged included sisters Kelli Ann and Kari Marie Foprd, 19 and 20, respectively, and Jessica Ann Richardson, 21, of West Valley City. Their cases are pending. Richardson pleaded guilty earlier this month and will be sentenced Nov. 18 (Standard-Examiner Oct. 28) … * ST. LOUIS, Mo. (10/29/09)--A gym full of children counted down 3-2-1, the scissors cut the ribbon, and Gateway Metro FCU of St. Louis
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
opened its second student-assisted branch in an elementary school, this time at St. Ferdinand School in Florissant. At the opening, Gateway Metro President David Barton spoke to students from all grade levels about the importance of saving and the impact the new branch will have on their school. Here, credit union staff and students cut the ribbon on the new branch, which will open every Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Students will be entered in a drawing for a $50 Target gift each time they deposit $5 in their credit union account. In 2006, the credit union opened its first student branch at Our Lady of Guadalupe School. (Photo provided by Gateway Metro FCU) … * WICHITA, Kan. (10/29/09)--Beginning this week, Wichita's Southeast High School students can open a savings or checking account, use their debit card or apply for a 0% interest laptop loan at school through Credit Union of America's new Buffalo Branch. The branch is named for the school's mascot. It is the first financial institution branch inside a Wichita high school (The Wichita Eagle Oct. 28). Credit union President Bob Thurman told the newspaper he hopes the branch will help students establish credit by teaching real-world skills such as balancing a checkbook and paying bills on time. Students 15 and older can open a savings account with $5. Most other accounts require a signature from a guardian or parent. Students 16 and older can open a checking account without a co-signer if they complete an online tutorial and pass a test … * RALEIGH, N.C. (10/29/09)--State Employees' CU (SECU) members, through the SECU Foundation, have pledged $500,000 to the Vital Connections Capital Campaign for the expansion of the Hospice and Palliative CareCenter (HPCC) in Winston-Salem. HPCC will use the funds to add a Palliative Care Clinic and a new 10-bed wing to the Kate B. Reynolds Hospice Home, increasing the number of beds to 40 …