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CUs can rescue small business members CUNA white paper says.

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The Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Community Credit Union Committee released the third in a series of four whitepapers, “CU Business Services: Making it Real and Keeping it Safe today,” which offers insight on how credit unions with clear business services strategies and a disciplined approach to execution will have what it takes to “rescue” many small businesses and take them into the future. While small businesses--especially startups--have traditionally been the engine of the American economy and job growth, the weight of the Great Recession and continued uncertainty has caused this engine to remain sputtering in very low gear. The real future of small business depends on having a vibrant, consistent and disciplined financial infrastructure to support new business creation, growth and ongoing performance. With grassroots rising up everywhere, the time certainly may be right for credit unions to step up and become the engaged and vibrant financial partner to small business. “CU Business Services: Making it Real and Keeping it Safe” is written to serve as a useful guide for credit unions’ diligent efforts to pursue the opportunities in business services with a renewed energy and discipline. The CUNA Community Credit Union Committee was formed in 2006 to provide support for the growing group of community credit unions. The committee’s purpose is to support and service community credit unions and credit unions considering a community charter through: representation of community credit unions’ unique legal, legislative and regulatory needs; and education, resources and information. To download a free copy of “CU Business Services: Making it Real and Keeping it Safe,” use the link.

PSCU Fin. Serv. white papers show how to attract new members

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (12/2/10)--PSCU Financial Services released two new white papers this week that illustrate how online and mobile banking services and professional 24/7/365 Call Center support can attract new members and boost revenues--while containing costs. The convenience of mobile and online banking services builds stronger and more profitable relationships with members, according to the experiences of two credit unions quoted throughout the paper. Both Texas Dow Employees CU (TDECU) in Lake Jackson, Texas, and Visterra CU in Moreno Valley Calif., report significant increases in deposits, loans and other services driven by online access. TDECU has also used online social media tools, including Facebook, Twitter and a social media website, to attract Gen Yers. While these credit unions celebrate increased loyalty and revenues, they also appreciate cost reductions achieved through fewer phone calls and in-branch interactions. Achieving higher revenues and lower costs is also the topic of the call center paper, which documents how a comprehensive solution such as the CUSO’s Total Member Care can dramatically improve support and availability while reducing expenses. In today’s financial services market, outsourcing call center services is essential to deliver affordable around-the-clock support expected by members, according to PSCU Financial Services. When evaluating potential suppliers, credit unions should start by looking for well-managed services with high single-call-resolution rates and a low percentage of abandoned calls. The paper also advises credit unions to go a step further to find a call center service that can deliver customizable scripts that allow real-time changes and a platform that supports multiple integration configurations, including shared banking functionality. The two free papers are entitled “Using Online Tools and Services to Attract and Retain Members” and “Call Centers: A Valuable Resource in Challenging Times.” These and other educational papers that describe best practices for promoting credit, debit, prepaid, e-Commerce and segment marketing activities are available at PSCU Financial Services’ website.

National campaign protects against ID theft

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ARLINGTON, Va. (12/2/10)--The recent 2010 Protect Your Identity Week (PYIW) campaign hosted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) touched a record number of consumers, helping protect tens of thousands against identity theft. During the one-week campaign:
* 190 events were held in 40 states, serving more than 24,000 consumers in person; * 882 tons of material were shredded at events; * More than 28,000 consumers visited the English website and the Spanish website; and * More than 6,000 consumers took the Identity Theft Risk Check in either English or Spanish.
Also, the event broke an existing Guinness World Record. Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Orange County, GreenPath Debt Solutions and BBB of Detroit & Eastern Michigan, and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Delaware Valley were designated to compete in the Guinness category of Most Paper Collected in a 24-Hour Period. The existing record of 2,204 pounds was toppled by those three locations which collectively shredded a total of 31,979 pounds. Cintas Corporation, national shredding partner for PYIW, provided free document destruction for events nationwide, including the three that participated in breaking the world record. “Protect Your Identity Week has grown to become a nationwide mobilization of government agencies, nonprofits, business, and consumers coming together to fight identity theft and BBB is proud to work with the NFCC to make it happen,” said Stephen A. Cox, president and CEO of the CBBB. “Even though the week is over, BBB is still here throughout the rest of the year to help educate small business owners and consumers on how to protect their identity.” Regarding consumer advice for fraud protection during the holidays, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association recommends that shoppers use their credit cards rather than their debit cards, (WHTM Nov. 24). In the event that a perpetrator would gain access to a debit card and commit fraud, the money would be stolen from a checking account. The consumer could be left without day-to-day while the fraud is being sorted out by the financial institution and the police. But if a credit card is compromised, access to a line of credit card is lost--not such an inconvenience in the short term. Consumers can avoid interest fees and still use their credit cards by paying their balance before the due date.

Three Canadian CUs promoting merger

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MADISON, Wis. (12/2/10)--A proposal to merge three credit unions in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan into one province-wide credit union has been put forward. The combined credit union would have thousands of members and billions of dollars in assets (The Canadian Press Nov. 23). Membership meetings are slated for this month on the potential merger of Conexus, Innovation and Synergy credit unions. A merger of the three credit unions would create a new entity comprising 84 branches 194,000 members and $7 billion in assets, Ian Rea, Conexus CEO, told the news outlet. Voting is scheduled to take place in January after the informational meetings are concluded. Each credit union must vote in favor of the proposal by a margin of 75% for the merger to proceed. “We did due diligence for the merger and there aren’t any negatives that I can see. It’s just a way for our credit union to grow and prosper into the future,” Gord Lightfoot, board president of Innovation CU said after a Nov. 23 meeting. “And through the credit union doing well, our members will be better served and I just see it as an entirely positive thing for our community” (The Southwest Booster Nov. 24).

Minn. CU network discusses corporate options

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ST. PAUL, Minn.(12/2/10)--More than 120 midwest credit union professionals gathered to discuss the state of corporate credit unions on Tuesday during the Minnesota Credit Union Network’s (MnCUN’s) Corporate Credit Union Forum. With the aim of helping credit unions navigate through the current corporate credit union environment, the forum--held in conjunction with the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas--featured insight from six credit union panelists. Panelists provided an overview of their credit union’s corporate selection process and shared information about their experiences with the corporates. The panel was made up of individuals from credit unions conducting business with the Federal Reserve or one of three different corporate credit unions. Panelists included:
* Rick Borchardt—chief financial officer of Lake State FCU, Moose Lake, Minn.; * Dan Cumbee--CEO of Dakotaland FCU, Huron, S.D.; * Pam Finch—chief financial officer of Mid-Minnesota FCU, Baxter, Minn.; * Lynn Kothe --CEO of North Memorial FCU, Robbinsdale, Minn.; * Pat Pierce--CEO of City & County CU, St. Paul, Minn.; and * David Sawin--CEO of St. John’s CU, Little Canada, Minn.
In their comments, the panelists emphasized the importance of evaluating the credit union’s needs and choosing a corporate credit union solution based on their own due diligence. They also highlighted the current opportunities available to the credit union movement to fix the corporate system. Panelists called on credit unions need to demonstrate the principles of cooperatives and work together to find solutions to the current situation. “This session provided credit unions a forum to have an open and honest conversation about what is and isn’t working in the corporate credit union system,” said Mark D. Cummins, MnCUN president/CEO. “By pooling ideas and experiences together, the attendees were able to gain further clarity on corporate options and how the movement as a whole will be able to work its way through the current situation.” In September, the National Credit Union Administration Board took action to resolve ongoing problems to reform the corporate credit union system. One of those actions was to finalize major revisions to Part 704, NCUA’s rule governing corporate credit unions. The NCUA proposal would establish a new capital structure for corporate credit unions, including risk-based capital requirements, to provide corporates with a stronger capital base. The NCUA Tuesday announced an extension for the comment period on the agency's recently proposed amendments to its corporate credit union rules. Interested parties now have until Jan. 28 to comment. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) last week urged the NCUA to extend the comment period, saying that many aspects of the proposal "are in need of careful review by credit unions and the agency." CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said that CUNA appreciates the NCUA's "responsiveness to the needs of the credit union movement for more time to fully evaluate this important proposal."

Top 10 INews NowI stories for November

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MADISON, Wis. (12/2/10)--Stories about the corporate credit union system, and elections results with Credit Union National Association analysis dominated November’s list of top 10 stories in News Now. Other stories that made the list include a Filene study on adapting services to retain young adults, and a study on how free checking can prompt people to switch financial institutions. November's top stories are: 10. Counterfeit checks reported by CUs in five states MADISON, Wis. (11/23/10)--Credit unions from New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, Iowa and California reported counterfeit checks scams, CUNA Mutual Group announced on Wednesday, according to the New Jersey Credit Union League (The Weekly Exchange Nov. 15). 9. Constitution Corporate to be liquidated ALEXANDRIA, Va. (11/22/10)--Constitution Corporate FCU (Constitution) will be liquidated on Nov. 30, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) announced Friday. 8. Restitution, employment ban ordered for two by NCUA ALEXANDRIA, Va. (11/23/10)--Two former credit union employees have been banned from future work at any federally insured financial institution, as well as ordered to pay substantial restitutions, under prohibition orders issued by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). 7. WesCorp risk management was inadequate, NCUA says ALEXANDRIA, Va. (11/22/10)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has found that the management of failed Western Corporate FCU (WesCorp) “did not implement appropriate risk management practices to adequately limit or control significant risks in its investment strategy” before its ultimate conservatorship in early 2009. 6. Study pinpoints what prompts a switch in FIs: Free checking LOMBARD, Ill. (11/16/10)--Offering a free checking account is the top reason consumers say they would switch financial institutions, according to new research by Raddon Financial Group. Of consumers surveyed, 39% said they would switch if free checking changed. 5. NCUA to create ‘loan loss’ resolution tool ALEXANDRIA, Va. (11/18/10)--Saying it was ‘taking a page’ from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s (FDIC’s) recent action plan to increase available tools to resolve large, complex financial institutions, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Wednesday announced its own Loss Share Program. 4. Filene Study: Adapt services to retain young adults MADISON, Wis. (11/17/10)--Attracting more Gen Y members is more than a marketing strategy for credit unions, it’s a matter of survival, according to a just-published report from the Filene Research Institute. 3.Projected corporate fund assessment a concern: CUNA ALEXANDRIA, Va. (11/19/10)--While the National Credit Union Administration’s (NCUA) proposed National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) assessment of 0 to 10 basis points “is right within the range” that the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) expected, CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said that CUNA is “troubled with the projected corporate stabilization assessment.” 2. Fitch withdraws ratings of three more corporates CHICAGO (11/2/10)--Ratings organization Fitch says it has affirmed and then withdrawn its ratings for three corporate credit unions under conservatorship. 1. How did CUs fare? CUNA election analysis WASHINGTON (UPDATED: 1:00 P.M. ET 11/3/10)--With the makeup of the 112th Congress falling into place after Tuesday’s midterm elections, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA)has analyzed the near future for credit unions and legislation in general.