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Study Consumers small biz look to FIs for help

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CALABASAS, Calif. (10/7/09)--Consumers and small business owners are seeing a light at the end of the economic tunnel and that light could be their credit union's online finance management tools. A year after the banking crisis began, 52% of consumers surveyed said their financial prospects will improve during the next 12 months. And 61% of small business owners said they were also optimistic about their business's growth. They will be turning to credit unions and other financial institutions to help them make the most of their opportunities. Nearly 70% of respondents expressed confidence in the stability of their credit union or bank. Consumers and businesses surveyed also said they wanted more online tools from their financial institutions. The survey findings were presented by Digital Insight, the financial institutions division of Intuit Inc., last week. Digital Insight is a provider of online financial management tools to credit unions and banks. Its research was conducted by Decipher research in July and August by polling 1,000 adults and 5j00 small business owners across the U.S. Other findings:
* Roughly 80% of consumers pay bills and transfer funds online but 62% would like a single place to manage their complete financial picture, no matter where the information originates. * Nearly half would like online help with tracking expenses and budgeting. * About 80% of consumers and small businesses named their credit union or bank as their most trusted online destination to manage their finances--up from 68% last year. * Seventeen percent of small business owners have increased their use of online financial management tools in the past year. * The top five tasks that small business owners would like to manage online are: processing credit card and automated clearinghouse payments; invoicing; making remote deposits; planning and filing taxes; and learning about new products and services.
"Consumers and small business owners clearly are looking for help as they manage through the strained economy," said Sasan Goodarzi, president of Digital Insight. "Financial institutions have an unprecedented opportunity to seize this moment and provide the tools and services that their customers and members want and need. By offering the right tools at the right time, they can build lifelong relationships that will help grow their business." Credit unions are lending to small businesses owners who are struggling to find loans in a tight credit market. The Credit Union National Association says that increasing the lending limit for these loans to 25% from the current 12.25% would go a long way in helping small businesses. Increasing the limit would free up an extra $10 billion in capital for small businesses and commercial loans.

Shared branching kept CU open during G-20 Summit

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (10/7/09)--Pittsburgh-based Allegent Community FCU temporarily closed its branch and relocated its entire staff to a remote location while the G-20 Summit of world leaders met in downtown Pittsburgh for three days in September. According to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, the credit union on Sept. 23 set up a temporary working environment, equipped with a call center, in North Hills. There, staff took phone calls, handled loan applications and performed most of their job functions (Life is a Highway Oct. 6). The only thing Allegent didn't have was a physical branch for members to transact business. However, the credit union said the Shared Branching Network allowed Allegent members to make transactions at other credit unions in the area so they could avoid downtown Pittsburgh during the summit. Call center staff for Allegent said most of the members used shared branching for the first time those three days and were pleased they could still make their financial transactions.

Missouri CUs crank it up for HFOT soldiers

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BRANSON, Mo. (10/7/09)--Country music stars The Bellamy Brothers and Lee Greenwood ended the Missouri Credit Union Association's annual convention with a concert to raise awareness and funds for Missouri's first recipient of a specially adapted home built by Homes for Our Troops (HFOT).
Click to view larger image SSG Robert Canine, his brother Jamie, Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) Founder/President John Gonsalves, Rep. David Day (R-148) and credit union representatives meet with singer Lee Greenwood (center, back row) before a concert to raise awareness and funds for HOFT homes for disabled veterans.
Click to view larger image The Bellamy Brothers met HFOT President/Founder John Gonsalves and Army SSG Robert Canine backstage during a fundraising concert at the end of the Missouri Credit Union Association's convention and exposition in Branson, Mo. Canine will receive a specially built home from HFOT. (Photos provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association)
The concert was the first opportunity for Army Staff Sergeant Robert Canine, recipient of the Missouri HFOT house, to meet with Missouri credit union representatives and HFOT President/Founder John Gonsalves. Credit unions are sponsoring the project. Canine lost both legs below the knee in May 2009 when his Humvee was attacked in Iraq. A native of Mexico, Mo., Canine is walking again on prosthetics and undergoing physical therapy. He, his wife Jennifer and 8-year-old son Sebastian plan to reside in Columbia, Mo. United CU, Mexico, provided information about HFOT to Canine's family. "This entire experience almost seems too good to be true," said Canine. "When I think about what Missouri credit unions and Homes for Our Troops are doing for me and my family, I just try not to cry. I am so thankful for everything." Mid Missouri CU, Fort Leonard Wood, helped bring 25 local soldiers representing the base's Warrior Rehabilitation Unit to the concert for free. Brent Sadler, Mid Missouri chief operating officer, noted that when the HFOT concert coincided with the credit union convention, "it only made sense to reward some heroes that have actually been overseas protecting our nation by giving them the red-carpet treatment." Both the Bellamy Brothers and Greenwood met with credit union representatives, Canine and his brother Jamie, and the Warrior Rehabiliation Unit soldiers before the concert. Greenwood told the group, "It's a great thing that you are doing. I commend you for all of your hard work in helping these soldiers." Credit unions in Colorado and Minnesota also worked with HFOT and the national presidential conventions to build homes in those states for veterans wounded overseas.

CaliforniaNevada leagues partner with Guatemala

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ONTARIO, Calif. (10/7/09)--Representatives from Guatemala's national credit union trade association met with a California assemblywoman from Guatemala and inked a partnership agreement with the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues in a weeklong visit earlier this month. The visit by representatives from the Federación Nacional de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito (Federated Cooperative Credit Union System or FENACOAC) ended Oct. 2.
Oswaldo Oliva, left, CEO of FENOACOAC, Guatemala's credit union trade association, and Bill Cheney, president/CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues signed a World Council of Credit Unions International Partnerships agreement Sept. 29. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
League President/CEO Bill Cheney and FENACOAC CEO Oswaldo Oliva signed the agreement Sept. 29, establishing a mutually beneficial cooperative relationship between the two movements as part of the World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) International Partnership Program. "We're looking forward to working with credit unions in Guatemala now and in the future," Cheney said. The leagues will work with the Guatemalan federation and WOCCU in the areas of advocacy, shared branching and the implementation of a share insurance fund in the Central American country. The recent meeting set the stage for considerable efforts to come, according to FENACOAC's Oliva. "We learned a lot from our visit, and we're leaving with a list of things we're going to implement immediately," Oliva said. The delegation also met with Assemblywoman Norma Torres (D-Pomona), the first Guatemalan immigrant to serve in California's state assembly, at the leagues' Ontario, Calif., office. Torres is a member of the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee. A long-time credit union member, Torres said credit unions have special relationships with their members in that they know each member by name. She pledged to support the credit union cause in both California and Guatemala, and encouraged the delegation to stress the role credit unions play. "You need to tell people about how credit unions are different from banks," said Torres. In addition to Oliva, the FENACOAC delegation included Guillermo Peralta, board chairman; Carlos Flores, strategic marketing manager; and Mario Salvatierra, business coordinator. They visited to learn about the U.S. credit union system, league operations, risk management, marketing, branding and shared branching. The delegation also met with Altura CU, Riverside; SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana; and Financial Service Centers Cooperative, San Dimas. The new partnership brings WOCCU's International Partnership Program's active partnerships to 25. "Partnerships show that cooperation among credit union organizations is important in strengthening our industry worldwide," said Victor Miguel Corro, WOCCU senior manager for international partnerships, who participated in the visit. "I have no doubt that California/ Nevada's and Guatemala's willingness to share and exchange knowledge will make for better services offered to members."

Nomination received for CUNA board election

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MADISON, Wis. (10/7/09)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has received another nomination for its 2009-2010 board elections. The fifth nominee and district category is Laida Garcia, Florida Central CU, Tampa, Fla., District 3, Class B. Already nominated are:
* Dennis E. Pierce, CommunityAmerica CU, Kansas City, Mo., District 4, Class C; * John A. Graham, Kentucky Employees CU, Frankfort, Ky., District 2, Class A; * Marla S. Marsh, Kansas Credit Union Association, Wichita, Kan., District 5, Class D; and * Susan Steifel, Woodstone CU, Federal Way, Wash., District 6, Class A.
The deadline for nominations is Oct. 16. Nominations are being accepted in eight categories:
* District 1, Class C; * District 2, Class A; * District 3, Class B; * District 4, Class C; * District 5, Classes B and D; and * District 6, Classes A and D.
Eligible candidates must be an employee or voting board member of the nominating credit union. Nominations must be in writing and seconded in writing by two other credit unions of the same size group from the district. Only two seconds will be recorded for each candidate. Upon request, a list of credit unions by size group and district will be furnished to candidates to assist in obtaining seconds. To be an eligible league candidate for a CUNA Director position, individuals must be a league president and be nominated in writing by their league, with a second in writing by at least one other league from the district. CUNA’s Corporate Governance Committee will verify eligibility of each candidate, the credit union's affiliation, size group and district, and date/time of receipt. Voting will begin Oct. 23 and close Dec. 18. For more information, use the link.

GoogleTwitter adviser keynotes retail delivery convention

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SAN DIMAS, Calif. (10/7/09)--The keynote address of Financial Service Centers Cooperative’s 2010 Credit Union Retail Delivery Convention will be given by Chris Sacca, Twitter adviser and former head of special initiatives for Google. Sacca will tell credit unions how to create a culture of new media by discussing his experiences with Google and how the credit union movement can use those principles to serve its members. He also will share how Twitter grew its business by 400% in three months. Other speakers at the conference will provide analyses of the trends surrounding social media and the growth of dialogue, new retail delivery channels, disaster planning and the latest consumer and member trends. The convention is scheduled for June 30 through July 2 in Chicago. This year’s theme is “Delivering the Future...Now.” The convention aims to provide credit unions with opportunities to enhance their strategies on membership growth, innovation and consumer trends.

Ex-manager sentenced to 11 years for 2.2M theft

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HOUSTON (10/7/09)--The former manager of the Houston Longshoreman’s FCU No. 24 was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for taking $2.2 million in fake loans. Melinda Diane Andrews, 53, managed the credit union and created 110 phony loans for more than $7 million, court documents revealed (Houston Chronicle Oct. 5). Using the bogus loans, she funneled away $2.2 million for herself and family members between 2000 and 2006, the document indicated. Because of the thefts, the credit union closed in February 2006, prosecutors alleged in the original charges against her. Andrews was sentenced to 135 months--11.25 years--in prison after being found guilty of financial institution fraud against the credit union, and for tax evasion and theft for failing to report $236,000 in stolen income in 2004. The National Credit Union Administration discovered the improprieties during an audit ( Oct. 5).

IWash. PostKiplingersI Avoid overdraft fees bank at a CU

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WASHINGTON (10/7/09)--Consumers should bank at a credit union to avoid costly overdraft fees, said a personal finance columnist for Kiplinger’s, whose column was reprinted in The Washington Post Sunday. In a column titled “Three Ways to Avoid Overdraft Fees,” Joan Goldwasser tells readers that one way is to “bank at a credit union or small bank.” Goldwasser writes: “‘Credit unions have the lowest fees and require the lowest balances,’ says Ed Mierzwinski of the consumer advocacy group U.S. PIRG. And small community banks make it easier to decline overdraft protection. If your bank doesn't let you opt out, find one that does.” To read the column, use the link.

IWSJI CUs others would pay price on interchange controls

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NEW YORK (10/7/09)--Credit unions, consumers and community banks will foot the bill if Congress decides to put price controls on interchange fees, says The Wall Street Journal. In a Thursday opinion piece, John Berlau, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Center for Investors and Entrepreneurs, points to 7-Eleven Inc. and other retailers as culprits in forcing “big government down the throats of American consumers. “If Congress acts on 7-Eleven’s misleading petition to put price controls on interchange fees, consumers will pay the price through the reduction of credit card reward programs such as frequent flier miles, and the possible return of annual fees,” Berlau wrote. “Credit unions and community banks will pay the price, too, in higher costs that will make it more difficult to offer cards at all. This could force their customers to abandon their local lending institutions if they want the convenience of credit and debit cards. “Contrary to the spin of the 7-Eleven and other big retailers, interchange fees, also called ‘swipe fees,’ are only levied on merchants, and none of the major legislation currently before Congress would require retailers to pass on one penny of their resulting savings to consumers,” Berlau added. “Australia’s recent experience with interchange price controls, for example, resulted in no tangible benefits--but plenty of added costs--for consumers down under.” Mastercard Inc. and Visa have come out against 7-Eleven’s position on interchange fees. MasterCard released a study that claims consumers were misled by a petition intended to drum up support for interchange fee regulations (News Now Oct. 2). Visa also weighed in on the interchange debate, saying that legislators and the public should not be swayed by the showy delivery of 15,000 booklets by 7-Eleven executives of signatures supporting interchange fee reforms (News Now Oct. 5). CUNA has spoken in favor of the current interchange fee structure, saying that regulating interchange fees would adversely affect consumers, competition and technological innovation. CUNA also has highlighted the positives of interchange fees, saying that the fees help credit unions cover their expenses and losses while offering merchants a guaranteed source of payment at the time that the transaction is completed (News Now Aug. 10).

Council paper addresses analyzing training needs

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MADISON, Wis. (10/7/09)--A training-needs analysis can help credit unions in times of budget tightening to determine which types of training is most needed, according to a new CUNA HR/TD Council white paper, “Conducting a Training Needs Analysis for Your Credit Union.” The paper includes three case studies that show how credit unions have used training needs analyses (TNAs) successfully. The training leaders note in the paper that both formal and informal processes can do more than identify topics for training classes at credit unions. A TNA also should:
* Advance progress toward the credit union’s strategic goals; * Refine training tactics; * Improve communication; * Offer opportunities for personal development; and * Enhance workplace performance.
The paper also discusses formal and informal approaches as it explores credit unions’ options for learning more about employees’ training needs. For more information about the paper or the Human Resources/Training Development Council, use the link.

Tinker FCU hits 2 billion in assets

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OKLAHOMA CITY (10/7/09)--Tinker FCU (TFCU) announced Tuesday it has reached the $2 billion asset mark, despite the economy. "I remember when we reached the $1 billion mark in 2001. It took us 55 years," said TFCU President/CEO Michael D. Kloiber. "Now in just eight years, we're at $2 billion." He noted a "good, sound asset base allows us to do more for (our members in the way of services, technology and benefits." He attributed the growth to consistent sound business practices and the loyalty of the Oklahoma City-based credit union's more than 200,000 members. "Like other credit unions, we avoided the subprime mortgage arena. And, we held steady with a solid asset and liability plan that emphasized consistently competitive rates without trying to lead the market on every product every day," Kloiber explained. The credit union's member growth and loan growth were the results of the credit union's strong member service and branch network, a financial education program developed last year, TFCU-hosted website geared to teens and young adults, various outreach programs targeting Gen Y and a strong branding campaign, he said. TFCU tracks member and public perception of its service and brand recognition. It has a Net Promoter Score of 85%, which means 85% of its members would recommend the credit union to their family and friends. Bankography listed TFCU in the nation's Top 10 for brand recognition, the credit union said.

CU System briefs (10/06/2009)

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* ALBANY, N.Y. (10/7/09)--Credit union representatives from the Utica-Rome chapter of the Credit Union Association of New York
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recently gathered for an event to benefit the association’s state political action committee. Rep. David R. Townsend (R-Central N.Y./Utica-Rome) attended the event and spoke with his credit union constituents. Events like these “serve a dual purpose,” said Cheryl Frantzen, association political action coordinator. “They help ensure that credit unions maintain a voice in the political arena while raising awareness among fellow credit unionists of legislative issues facing our credit unions today.” Pictured are Jeff Gardner (waving), board member of Utica District Telephone EFCU; Townsend (at center in back), and several credit union representatives. (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of New York) ... * WESTBROOK, Maine (10/7/09)--The Maine Credit Unions’ Campaign for Ending Hunger, in partnership with Good Shepherd Food Bank,
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celebrated the fourth anniversary of Maine’s first and only “food mobile” Monday with a contribution of $7,500. The amount is symbolic of the 7,500 pounds of food that the food mobile can carry each trip. The food mobile has distributed 1,129,540 pounds of food to food pantries throughout Maine since the mobile’s inception in 2005. Food pantries in every Maine county receive its deliveries each year. Jon Paradise, governmental and public affairs manager for the Maine Credit Union League, and Diane Dunton, chair of the board of Good Shepherd Food Bank, stand in front of the state’s only food mobile holding the check from the campaign. (Photo provided by the Maine Credit Union League) …