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Conn. league CEO addresses reg challenges in biz journal

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MERIDEN, Conn. (10/12/09)--Credit Union League of Connecticut President/CEO Tony Emerson was spotlighted Oct. 9 in the Hartford Business Journal in a question-and-answer feature. Emerson addressed the burden of regulatory changes that credit unions face today and regulatory challenges they anticipate for 2010. He noted that in light of today's regulatory and compliance burden on financial institutions, credit unions--no matter their asset size--are all expected equally to comply with heavy regulation demands. The Journal was particularly interested in the league's new Compliance School, scheduled for February through July and which covers major regulatory compliance issues, he said. The league's Small Credit Union Support Program is subsidizing the costs so credit unions with less than $20 million in assets can attend free, he said. The league also has scheduled a compliance forum for November, he added.

Developers lose lawsuit vs. IH Miss. Valley CU

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DAVENPORT, Iowa (10/12/09)--Two property developers involved in a failed condominium complex lost their $16 million lawsuit against Moline, Ill.-based IH Mississippi Valley CU, on all six counts. The suit was filed by Cypress Point Developments, operated by Niky and Thomas Bowles, after the credit union filed for foreclosure against them. They claimed the credit union wanted out of a $3.5 million loan to develop the complex in Davenport, Iowa, because it had locked in a lower interest rate (News Now Sept. 30). The credit union countered that the Bowleses knew the provisions of the loan called for six-month extensions. But a Scott County District Court judge and jury ruled last week in favor of the credit union (Quad-City Times Oct. 8). The decision now clears the way for the court to determine whether the foreclosure should be placed on the property. Trial judge Mary Howes ruled in favor of the credit union on three of the six counts before the case went to the jury. The jury ruled in favor of the credit union on the final two counts after an eight-day trial and two hours' deliberation. The six counts were: breach of contract, interference with third-party contracts, negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duties and slander. The condominium project has spawned several lawsuits from contractors, most of whom won. The property has nearly 10 years of lawsuits, land disputes and zoning fights.

CUs ready for Thursdays big event ICU Day

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MADISON, Wis. (10/12/09)--This week is Credit Union Week, and Thursday credit unions will celebrate their efforts for the 61st consecutive year on International Credit Union Day--always on the third Thursday of October--which is also National Cooperative Month. This year's theme, "Your Money. Your Choice. Your Credit Union," celebrates why 177 million people worldwide choose credit unions. The event is sponsored by the World Council of Credit Unions and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). Credit unions are already reporting what they will do to celebrate this week, and officials in several cities and states have issued or will issue special proclamations recognizing credit unions. For example, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter last week proclaimed Oct. 15 as International Credit Union Day, says the Idaho Credit Union League. In Kaua'i, Hawaii, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. issued a similar proclamation stating that credit unions on the island contribute significantly to the economic well-being of Kaua'i's communities and to an improved standard of living among its members and their families (Kauaiworld.com Oct. 7) . Most of Idaho's 59 credit unions will observe the day by serving cookies and other treats to their members, said the Idaho league. Others will conduct auctions and fundraisers to benefit charities such as the Children's Miracle Network. Still others will host member activities throughout the week. Those scenes will be repeated throughout the nation. Among the special activities:
* Educational CU, Topeka, Kan., will host four opportunities this week for the community to "pay it forward," with the potential for members to win additional money and benefit themselves and the charity of their choice. The credit union will provide $20 to the first 25 people who arrive at specific branches and make a brief video about how they would use the money to pay it forward. They will later e-mail a follow up telling what they did with the money and how it was received. The videos will be uploaded to the credit union's YouTube page at www.educationalcu.org so the public can vote on them. The video participant with the most comments by Nov. 2 will receive $500 and an additional $500 for a charity of their choice (WIBW-TV.com Oct. 7). * Northeast CU, Portsmouth, N.H., indicated is inviting community members to celebrate Thursday at its branches and offering snacks and refreshments. * Redwood CU, Santa Rosa, Calif., said it will celebrate with free educational seminars open to members and the public, a coloring contest for kiddies, a $100 member raffle, giveaways and more. It will conduct workshops on Financial First Aid, Budget-Wise Teens, Money & Me (for ages 6 to 12) on Tuesday and Thursday.
"International Credit Union Week is an opportunity to thank our members for their business and to raise general awareness of the many benefits that credit unions offer our communities, including affordable financial services and free financial education," said Redwood President/CEO Brett Martinez. "Credit unions continue to be safe and sound, and provide a full range of financial products and services while remaining committed to serving and investing in our local communities," Martinez added. A number of credit unions shared their plans with CUNA. Use the resource link to find out what they are planning for this week.

New Washington foundation exec officers elected

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (10/12/09)--The Washington Credit Union Foundation (WCUF) board of directors recently elected the foundation’s executive officers. The elections were conducted at a meeting held in conjunction with the Washington Credit Union League’s annual convention in Bellevue, Wash. The board voted to promote Paula Slaye, chief financial officer of Catholic CU, Yakima, to chair. Slaye served on the WCUF board for the past seven years--most recently as vice-chair. Also elected were:
* Vice Chair--M. Earlene Fantz, CEO, American Lake CU, Tacoma; * Treasurer--Steve Wilder, Horizon CU, Spokane; and * Secretary--Gayle Yost, Community Health CU, Everett.
WCUF has given back more than $183,000 in 2009 to the Washington credit union community. The funds supported attendance at the CUNA Management School, smaller credit union grants, community outreach programs and public education efforts--such as the Emmy-winning TV series BizKid$.

North Carolina program prevents 2000 foreclosures

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RALEIGH, N.C. (10/12/09)--State Employees’ CU (SECU) is part of a State Home Foreclosure Prevention Project in North Carolina that has helped more than 2,000 homeowners avoid foreclosure. The project in which the $16.7 billion asset, Raleigh, N.C.-based credit union participates, has been in operation for 10 months (Citizen-Times.com Oct. 8). The project has helped prevent 2,040 foreclosures in North Carolina and also has provided foreclosure prevention and budgeting advice to more than 6,000 homeowners, the newspaper said. Avoiding foreclosures on these homes has prevented $175 million in declines in neighboring property values and financial system losses, according to the North Carolina Office of the Commissioner of Banks, the paper said. North Carolina foreclosure filings are up 10.6% this year due to the economic downturn and job losses, the paper said.

Home and Family Finance refocuses to online

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MADISON, Wis. (10/12/09)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has decided to focus its Home & Family Finance resources on its online product, which delivers new content at least three times a week to subscribing credit unions that serve more than 20 million members nationwide. “CUNA has made a big commitment to providing financial education on the Web,” said Jim Hanson, vice president of CUNA’s business-to-consumer publishing operation, which focuses on financial education. “Home & Family Finance Resource Center is a much more robust product than any print product could deliver and is just one of six online tools that we developed to help credit unions reach specific market segments. With each of these tools, credit union members can access money management information anytime and learn at their own individual pace.” “And the fact is that more and more consumers are getting their information online today,” added Susan Tiffany, Home & Family Finance editor and director of periodicals. There will also be a significant cost savings on distribution, she said. However, the decision means that after 49 years of publishing, Home & Family Finance magazine will no longer be a print product. The final issue came off the press last week. CUNA launched Everybody’s Money, the magazine’s original name, as the 13th issue of The Bridge, now known as Credit Union Magazine, in 1961. Everybody’s Money was a quarterly digest-sized product devoted to money management. Its circulation grew to 2.5 million in 1973. The name was changed to Home & Family Finance in 1998. CUNA’s Web-based Home & Family Finance Resource Center, launched in 1997, will continue to deliver the same kind of money management information online that the magazine delivered in print. The center also provides a virtual library of information, including calculators, videos and articles surpassing the potential reach of a print product. People in online learning conditions perform better than those receiving face-to-face instruction, according to a recent study conducted by SRI International for the Department of Education. The report examined comparative research on online vs. traditional classroom teaching from 1996 to 2008. Most of the studies were conducted in colleges and adult continuing-education programs. Hanson noted that CUNA started building online financial literacy tools in 1997, “well ahead of today’s rediscovery of financial education.” “I’ve had a number of subscribing credit unions tell me they are sad to see the print product going away,” Tiffany said. She has been associated with 111 of the 196 printed issues. “And I tell them that we do have print materials available to them. But most have been excited to learn more about online options. After all, now they can reach all their members 24/7, not just a select few.”

Slovak Republic to re-establish CUs

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BRATISLAVA, Slovak Republic (10/12/09)--The Slovak Republic, with the help of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), is working to re-establish credit unions in that country. In 1845, cooperative pioneer Samuel Jurkoviè founded one of Eastern Europe's first credit unions in the village of Sobotište in what is now the Slovak Republic. Today, there are no credit unions left in
Click to view larger image Sobotište Mayor Dana Ceranova (left) displays the village guest book with the help of World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) Brian Branch (Center) and the National Association of Cooperative Savings & Credit Unions Pawel Grzesik. The Slovak Republic, with the help of WOCCU, is working to re-establish credit unions in the country.
the village, according to Dana Ceranova, Sobotište's mayor. As a result, the village’s inhabitants are paying higher prices for financial services, a situation the global credit union movement would like to change, WOCCU said. Ceranova and a small group of grassroots organizers want credit unions to return to the Slovak Republic, and have enlisted aid from WOCCU and the National Association of Cooperative Savings & Credit Unions (NACSCU)--WOCCU’s member organization in Poland. They will work with the republic’s national government to establish regulatory standards to help credit unions flourish again. “There is no legislative framework for credit unions here,” said Leonard Hölbling, board member of the Slovak Association of Savings Cooperatives (SASC), which is helping spearhead the initiative. “We want to establish the proper legislative framework informed by international best practices.” Credit unions have spread throughout Eastern Europe during the past two decades because of the efforts of WOCCU and NACSCU--which provided extensive credit union development assistance in Belarus, Macedonia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. Due to a high level of interest on the part of its people, the Slovak Republic may be the next country to experience the growth of financial cooperatives, explained Brian Branch, WOCCU's executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Two things must exist for credit unions to thrive--interest and support of the people being served, and the proper legislative and regulatory infrastructure,” said Branch, who recently visited the
Click to view larger image World Council of Credit Unions’ Brian Branch (left) greets Slovak Republic Parliament Vice President Miroslav Cíž. (Photos provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
country with Pawe³ Grzesik, plenipotentiary head of NACSCU's Warsaw office. “Slovakians have expressed an interest, and our hope is that we can help them affect the proper legislative and regulatory solutions,” Branch added. In support of SASC, Branch and Grzesik met with officials from the republic’s Central Bank, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Relations and Parliament in Bratislava to discuss policy framework for credit unions in a country dominated by urban retail banking. The delegation stressed the benefits of credit unions as lower-cost consumer alternatives outside of urban areas, particularly in villages like Sobotište. As cost-effective alternative providers, credit unions exert competitive pressure on rates and fees while maximizing value to consumers rather than profits for shareholders, Branch told government officials, including Miroslav Èíž, vice president of the republic’s parliament. Slovak Republic policymakers expressed concerns based on experiences with financial speculators and manipulators who used cooperative models to disguise pyramid schemes that negatively affected the country’s economy. Local credit union organizers and delegation members explained how cooperative governance principles and prudential regulations properly exercised can better control risk and ensure the true cooperative management of registered credit unions. “Mr. Èíž responded that the Slovak Republic needs credit unions’ social outreach to serve marginalized populations currently being ignored by banks,” Branch said. “He agreed to support credit union development to accomplish this goal.” Four savings cooperatives exist in the republic. All are registered under a civil code that allows them to accept member deposits to invest in the stock market but does not allow them to make member loans. The Slovak Republic is the latest focus in WOCCU’s ongoing collaboration with NACSCU to develop credit unions. Efforts to help the republic’s growing credit union movement will draw heavily on NACSCU’s past successes within the region, Branch said.

CU System briefs (10/09/2009)

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* DALLAS (10/12/09)--Robert "Rob" Kyker, owner of R&D Sales and Leasing, Richardson, Texas, has been appointed to the Texas Credit Union Commission by Gov. Rick Perry. His term will expire Feb. 15, 2015. The commission supervises the Credit Union Department, which regulates all state charter credit unions. He is a volunteer leader with the Boy Scouts of America and as a national spokesperson for its Emergency Preparedness Committee, and volunteers for several other community organizations (The Advocate Oct. 9) … * WASHINGTON. (10/12/09)--Brian Branch, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), will be among the experts featured on a webcast about Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) and other matched savings programs Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. EDT. The webcast is sponsored by New America Foundation of Washington, D.C. and will spotlight WOCCU's new program in Mexico, MatchSavings.org, where online donations are used to match the first savings account of the poor. The event will launch the Global Assets Project to promote savings as a tool for international development and discuss WOCCU's model as it relates to savings promote, financial inclusion and asset building. For more information, use the link … *
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (10/12/09)--Dave Seely, president/CEO of Kirtland FCU, pictured at far right, was part of a hot air balloon crew last week during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The balloon he crewed for was sponsored by CO-OP Financial Services Network and CU Anytime ATM network, according to the Credit Union Association of New Mexico. On average, about 500 hot air balloons ascended each day of the annual balloon festival. (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of New Mexico) …

Washington state CU leaders honored

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (10/12/09)--The Washington Credit Union Foundation honored several credit unions and representatives during its Summit Awards program Sept. 17. The awards are named in honor of a trek that 21 credit union professionals took to Mt. Rainier in Washington 25 years ago. The group was led by Bruce Rouillard, former Washington Credit Union League president. Washington State Employees CU (WSECU) President/CEO Kevin Foster-Keddie received the 2009 Mark of Excellence Award, the highest statewide honor. The award is given to individuals who have displayed 25 years or more of credit union leadership. Foster-Keddie was one of the leaders who helped create a shared branching initiative in Washington. He also developed the first cooperative television advertising campaign. WSECU is located in Olympia. Other awards included:
* The Outstanding Credit Union Volunteer Award, presented to Graeme Sackrison, board member, Generations CU, Olympia; * Distinguished Credit Union Professional of the Year Award, given to Tumwater-based O Bee CU President/CEO Bruce Cramer; * The Legacy Award, presented to Harborstone CU, Tacoma; and * The Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award, given to Spokane (Wash.) Teachers CU.
The foundation also presented four Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Awards to:
* SnoCope FCU, Everett, $20 million to $50 million in assets; * O Bee CU, $100 million to $200 million; * Horizon CU, Spokane, $200 million to $500 million; and * GESA CU, Richland, more than $500 million.

Illinois REAL Solutions CUs discuss innovations

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (10/12/09)--Illinois REAL Solutions partner credit unions met to discuss the latest innovations and initiatives of the Filene Institute's i3 group.
Jean Theis, vice president of operations at Motorola Employees CU, Schaumburg, Ill., tells Illinois REAL Solutions partner credit unions about a Debt in Focus web interface initiative to help members get anonymous debt management advice
Frank Weidner, senior vice president of member services at Alliant CU, Chicago, describes the latest projects of the Filene Research Institute's i3 group, a group that explores ideas, innovation and implementation for credit unions, to credit union partners of Illinois REAL Solutions. (Photos provided by the Illinois Credit Union League)
The i3 group identifies and evaluates recent credit union innovations that meet members' needs, lower costs or increase efficiencies, build member loyalty, meet niche needs. and enhance credit union effectiveness. Jean Theis, vice president of operations at Motorola Employees CU, Schaumburg, told credit unions about a Debt in Focus Web interface. Rolled out in June, the initiative provides credit union members with anonymous debt management advice and delivers an actionable plan to help reduce debt and improve members' credit profiles. The tool provides the members with a summary of their debt. According to Filene, 62% of the U.S. population has less than $100,000 in assets. They represent 12% of consumer assets nationwide and are overlooked by today's financial advisers, Theis told the group. They struggle with day-to-day life decisions, including debt counseling, home and auto financing, college savings and retirement savings. Credit unions have an opportunity to build on their strong reputation of trust by giving members a way to analyze their own debt situation and by laying out an action plan to make improvements, she said. Theis also provided updates on other i3 innovations. Representatives from Alliant CU, Chicago, described that credit union's innovations. Joe McGowan, Alliant director of marketing, presented Friends and Benefits, a customized benefit initiative being piloted by the credit union. The program summarizes the value of each member's relationship with the credit union. Its report displays for the member what they have saved or earned above what they would expect at another financial institution. The objective is to demonstrate that the credit union offers the overall greatest value to the member, McGowan said. Also, the benefits statement means the credit union can learn more of the members' business by including offers of loans and other products for which they are eligible. Alliant plans to expand the pilot to a larger, targeted audience and produce an online version as well as a print version. Elements of the report will be included in statements and online banking. Frank Weidner, Alliant CU senior vice president of member services, provide an overview of several of the latest i3 products. These included:
* The Leap, a Web platform aimed at Gen Y regarding sustainable "green" products available at credit unions; * Share the Wealth, a home equity referral program; * The Giving CD, a concept to use the financial power of credit union members to provide funds for development and expansion support of other cooperatives; * Responsible Rent, a loan program for investment property owners in times of foreclosures and depressed home values; and * Credit Union Benefits for Employees, a pooling approach for credit unions to jointly purchase healthcare insurance and benefits.
The Illinois Credit Union League and Illinois Credit Union Foundation have teamed up with the National Credit Union Foundation to offer REAL Solutions for Low Wealth Households. There are 45 credit unions involved in REAL Solutions in Illinois.