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CFSI launches Underbanked Solutions Exchange

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CHICAGO (10/30/08)--The Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) announced the first meeting of its Underbanked Solutions Exchange--a network of credit unions and mid-sized banks committed to serving the underserved. The meeting will focus on self-service market opportunities. Kinecta FCU, Manhattan Beach, Calif., is participating in the event. “Kinecta FCU looks forward to sharing our strategies for success in the underbanked market with CFSI participants, and gaining insight into other approaches,” said Randy Dotemoto, Kinecta chief strategy officer. Participating institutions attend twice-yearly meetings and webinars designed to provide learning opportunities from case studies, present real-world tested options and actively engage thinking on how to use existing strategies to attract the underbanked market. The exchange was created to allow credit unions and mid-sized banks to share knowledge with peers, learn the latest best practices, build relationships with service providers, and access tools to expand products and services for viable underbanked solutions.

CUNA Mutual upgrades Choice 401k

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MADISON, Wis. (10/30/08)--CUNA Mutual Group has upgraded and repackaged its Choice 401(k) program to provide retirement plan sponsors with a larger, stronger choice of institutional investments for their employees. Using a low-cost group annuity platform, the program now offers more than 75 different sub-account choices from investment managers, said Tom Eckert, CUNA Mutual vice president of Retirement Plan Services. “We've increased the asset class coverage of Choice 401(k) to provide a great product for plan sponsors and advisers,” Eckert said. “We've got the asset classes covered, but we've kept the number of sub-accounts at a manageable level, so it's not too overwhelming.” Investment accounts include Vanguard, PIMCO, Oppenheimer, MFS, T. Rowe Price, BlackRock, Morgan Stanley, Neuberger Berman, Lord Abbett, Putnam, Aim, Franklin Templeton, MEMBERS Capital Advisors and Dreyfus. The Choice 401(k) also includes target-risk and target-date allocation options that use multiple investment managers within the sub-accounts. Choice 401(k) includes CUNA Mutual’s Principal Guarantee Benefit Rider, which guarantees no loss of principal on the conservative or moderate allocation sub-accounts when held for at least 10 years. The 401(k) product portfolio also includes a Trustee product, featuring a national board of trustees responsible for the plan's investment selection and oversight. The trustees focus on building a plan with broad-based, low-cost, institutional-style portfolios. This plan is designed for plan sponsors who do not have the expertise or time to select and monitor the investment accounts of a 401(k) plan. CUNA Mutual serves an estimated 60% of the retirement plans sponsored by credit unions, representing about 4,300 plans with 129,000 participants.

SAIL platform allows CUs to tap into P.O.S. lending

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AUSTIN, Texas (10/30/08)--Teres Solutions, a provider of direct and indirect lending software to credit unions, announced the availability of its SAIL Merchant Lending module, which aims to connect local lenders with more opportunities to grow their business through the retail finance market. The module allows credit unions, credit union service organizations and finance companies the ability to submit point-of-sale (POS) loan applications. Lenders can respond with automated instant approvals or human-reviewed approvals. Other features include a Web-based interface, two-way communications, document delivery and multi-loan support. Texas Dow Employees CU, Lake Jackson, Texas, has deployed the module. The technology will help the credit union expand its loan portfolio, said Lance Wortham, vice president of business services. The credit union has $1.3 billion in assets.