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CU satisfaction survey nets support in social media

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WASHINGTON (12/13/10)--When credit unions came out on top last week in a new customer satisfaction survey, the news made the rounds in the social media, with 20-somethings using blogs and Facebook to weigh in on what they like about credit unions. "Credit unions and small banks tops in service," was the headline for a blog, which noted Thursday that "if you bank at a small bank or credit union, you're probably a happier and more loyal customer, at least according to a study published this month by Prime Performance." In addition to highlighting comments made by Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney in News Now (Dec. 8) about the survey, the blog writer, Claes Bell, noted: "The thing that seemed counterintuitive to me about these numbers wasn't that credit unions and small banks have happier customers; it was how high the numbers were all around." "For all the horror stories I hear about banks in the media and from friends," Bell continued, "it seems remarkable that so many people are pleased as punch with the service they're getting from their financial institutions. I mean, I know a lot of people like credit unions, but an 87% satisfaction rate for customer service? A 77% rate for service in the industry at large?" Bell noted that banking is a competitive service, where it's "easy enough to pick up your checking account and move, so there's not much reason to stick around it you're truly dissatisfied." In (Dec. 9), a blog entitled, "Credit Unions and Small Banks Cream Big Banks in Customer Satisfaction Survey," Brad Tuttle wrote that "88%--88%!--of credit union and small bank customers say they're satisfied…and only 1% of credit union customers report being dissatisfied." He noted that CUNA "seized the opportunity to pat itself on the back and basically say "No s*** Sherlock! Of course we have better service and more satisfied customers. What did you expect to find out?'" Actually, Tuttle admitted, he was paraphrasing Cheney's comments. For the record, Cheney actually said that CUNA "is not surprised at the finding, because this confirms what study after study have found. It's fine to be included with 'small banks' in a survey such as this. However, it's also important to note the very real and fundamental difference between banks and credit unions, regardless of size: Credit unions' not-for-profit, cooperative structure. Ultimately, that's what separates all credit unions from the rest, and drives their passion to provide the best service to their members, rather than amass profits." Credit unions are also showing up on Facebook in a good light among 20-somethings. One CUNA staffer said a Facebook friend of a relative said he was sick of being yanked around by a certain mega-bank and asked for suggestions about a bank he could switch to. Seven of the 12 posts told him to go to a credit union and one explained about shared branching.

Auto loan delinquencies repos down

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SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (12/13/10)--Consumers did a better job repaying their auto loans during third quarter than they did during third quarter 2009. Both delinquencies and repossessions dropped, and lenders loosened loan criteria, according to Experian Automotive's quarterly analysis of the automotive credit industry. The findings have implications for credit unions, whose bread-and-butter has traditionally been auto loans. New-auto loans accounted for 11.4% of credit unions' loans in October, down slightly from a year earlier, while used-auto loans were 17.9% of loans, a slight increase over October 2009, according to the Credit Union National Association's Monthly Credit Union Estimates. Both 30-day and 60-day auto-loan delinquencies dropped for all lenders studied by Experian during third quarter from third quarter 2009. Experian said 30-day delinquency fell 8.43%--to 2.99% from 3.27%--while the 60-day delinquency rate plunged 17.39%--to 0.77% from 0.93%. Total dollar volume of loans at risk of default dropped by $6.4 billion. "Overall, our Q3 analysis shows that there are very positive signs for the automotive lending industry," said Melinda Zabritski, director of automotive credit for Experian. "With delinquencies down and less money in their portfolios at risk, lenders can be a little less conservative in their lending strategies. "Consumers still have the impression that lending is extremely tight, so it will be important for lenders and automotive retailers to educate car shoppers that there are more loans available to a wider group of consumers," Zabritski added. Shares of new loans to nonprime consumers with credit scores of 620 to 679 rose to 10.86% from 9.709% in the same period for 2009. Subprime consumers, with credit scores from 550 to 619, comprised 6.61% of loans, while deep-subprime consumers, with credit scores below 550, rose to 1.59% from 1.46%, the study found. Other findings for third quarter:
* New-vehicles: The average credit score for a new-vehicle customer fell six points--to 769 in third quarter 2010 from 775 in third quarter 2009, and the average loan amount rose to $25,273 from $22,743. * Used-vehicles: The average credit score for used-vehicle customers was 683--down one point from the year before--and the average loan was $16,706, up from $15,729 a year earlier.

Idaho Dept. of Finance receives accreditation

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (12/13/10)--The Idaho Department of Finance, which houses the credit union supervisory agency for the state, has received a certificate of accreditation from the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS). That means the department maintains standards and practices in state banking supervision set by the organization's accreditation program. The department, headed by Gavin Gee, director, regulates banks and credit unions and a number of other financial services providers operating in Idaho. It regulates and licenses more than 156,740 individuals and businesses. Mary Hughes, the department's financial institutions bureau chief, is on the board of the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors.

AVCU to serve on colleges financial lit advisory board

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (12/13/10)--Joe Bergeron, president of the Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU), and Sue Leonard, New England FCU (Williston, Vt.) chief financial officer, have been invited to serve on the advisory board of Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy. In addition, Colin Ryan, AVCU’s Economy of Me project manager, has been invited to present the Economy of Me workshop to teachers attending the Vermont Financial Literacy Summit, scheduled to take place in March. Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy, a partnership between the school and several Vermont financial institutions, seeks to increase financial literacy in classrooms throughout the state (Newsline Express Dec. 10). “It’s an honor to be invited to serve on the center’s advisory board,” Bergeron said. “I look forward to working with Sue, John [Pelletier, the center’s director), economist Art Woolf, and representatives from a number of institutions that promote financial literacy in Vermont. I’m very optimistic that the center can serve as a focal point for all of these efforts, improve their effectiveness, and expand educator resources.” “What I do in the classroom--explaining the dangers of credit and the basics of budgeting to 20 or 30 students at a time--feels very focused,” said Ryan. “It was empowering to hear the hopes I have for greater financial literacy among students echoed by prominent and influential figures in our community. I’m excited to be part of Vermont’s rapidly growing financial literacy movement.” Among the center’s projects are a financial literacy summit, a teachers’ summer literacy institute and a program to help juniors and seniors understand credit scores.

20 of Americans spend more than they earn

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20% of Americans spend more than they earn WASHINGTON (12/13/10)--One in five (20%) Americans spend more than they earn. Most (60%) don’t have any rainy day funds. And about a quarter (24%) use non-bank loans. These were just some of the findings in a nationwide survey conducted by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The study underlines the need for financial literacy efforts many credit unions offer. FINRA launched an interactive Web resource to display the results of the study, which it calls America’s first state-by-state financial capability survey. The new website displays a clickable map of the U.S. and allows the public, policymakers and researchers to delve into and compare the financial capabilities of Americans in every state and geographic region. The state-by-state financial capability survey, which surveyed more than 28,000 respondents, was developed in with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy. The survey echoed several of the findings of a smaller-scale national survey released in 2009, finding:
* More than half of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck. 55% report spending more than, or about equal to, their household income. * A significant majority of Americans (60%) do not have a “rainy day” fund to cover three months of unanticipated financial emergencies. * More than one in five Americans (24%) have engaged in some form of higher cost non-bank borrowing during the past five years, including taking out a payday loan or getting an advance on a tax refund. * Americans, on average, were able to correctly answer just three of five questions about fundamental financial concepts.
The data were collected through an online survey of 28,146 respondents (about 500 per state, plus Washington D.C.), over a five-month period, June through October 2009. Within each state, data were weighted to match 2008 American Community Survey distributions on age category by gender, ethnicity and education.

N.C. governors plan keeps CU Division independent

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RALEIGH, N.C. (12/13/10)--North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue Wednesday announced her proposal for major government restructuring to alleviate the state’s estimated $3.7 billion shortfall. The governor’s plan does not include consolidating the Credit Union Division with other regulators. The plan’s four steps include consolidating and privatizing some departments, eliminating some functions in all departments, freezing hiring of non-critical jobs, and reviewing more than 400 boards and commissions with a goal of trimming them to 150, the North Carolina Credit Union League said in its newsletter Weekly Update (Dec. 10). Of importance to North Carolina’s credit unions, Perdue’s initial proposal maintains the Credit Union Division as an independent regulator for state-chartered credit unions and does not consolidate the division with the Office of the Commissioner of Banks. However, the league said it will continue conversations with the state’s legislative and executive branches about the consolidation and elimination of agencies and commissions. The North Carolina Credit Union Division ensures the safety and soundness of the 52 state- chartered credit unions that serve more than two million members. Since its establishment in 1915, it has operated exclusively from fees paid by state-chartered credit unions. Consolidation with the Office of the Commissioner of Banks would result in no cost savings for the state, the league said. “State-chartered credit unions are thriving under their current regulator, who has fostered progressive partnerships among credit unions,” said Lauren Whaley, league director of legislative and regulatory affairs. “We are concerned that the orientation of a combined regulatory agency would erode the individuality of credit unions as member-focused institutions and maintain that state-wide consolidation efforts should exclude the Credit Union Division, leaving it as an independent agency.”

ICU Foundation awards 25K more in grants

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (12/13/10)--The Illinois Credit Union (ICU) Foundation has awarded $25,000 in grants for a variety of projects. It awarded $22,100 in small credit union development (SCUD), community service, marketing and business development, and financial independence and revitalization effort (FIRE) grants, and more than $2,700 in scholarships. The latest grants bring the total awarded for the year to nearly $129,000. SCUD grants totaled $12,000 and were awarded to six credit unions. Purposes for these grants included computer hardware and software, equipment and upgrades, and other operational needs. The recipients were: Alton & Southern Railroad EFCU, East St. Louis; Citizens Community CU, Rockford; D’PUC CU, Chicago; LaSalle County School ECU, Ottawa; Mt. Zion (Ill.) CU; and Springfield City (Ill.) ECU. The foundation also awarded six community service grants at $500 each. This program is designed to encourage and reward chapter or credit union participation in local community projects. Credit unions and chapters can qualify for grants by hosting an established event, creating an event, or volunteering at an event. Recipients included: DHCU Community CU, Moline; North Side Community FCU, Chicago; and Shiloh Englewood FCU, Waukegan. Two chapters, Chicago Metro and Egyptian, and the Washington Credit Union Foundation, also received grants. Grants will go toward sponsoring meals for seniors, and hosting a do-it-yourself home maintenance series for low- and moderate-income members, and helping women in trades. In addition, three credit unions received marketing and business development grants that totaled $7,100. The recipients were: Altonized Community FCU, Alton; Blaw Knox CU, Mattoon; and North Side Community FCU, Chicago. Established in 2006, these grants help credit unions with assets of up to $30 million to start or expand outreach efforts. The maximum grant award is $5,000 per credit union each year. Grant requests included a skip-a-payment campaign for vehicle loans, adding a debit card program for members, and opening a satellite branch. Scholarships totaling $2,768 were awarded to four recipients. Individuals and groups (such as a chapter or group of credit unions) are eligible. Scholarships may be used toward Illinois Credit Union League educational opportunities as well as Credit Union National Association schools. Recipients included: Ambraw FCU, Lawrenceville; Jeff-Co Schools FCU, Mt. Vernon; and Wrigley Associates CU; Yorkville. One chapter, Chicago Metro Chapter, was also a recipient.

Cherry Blossom Run set for April 3

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WASHINGTON (12/13/10)--The 2011 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run will be held in Washington, D.C., April 3, and organizers have high hopes for a record-breaking fund-raising year. 2011 represents the 10th year of race sponsorship by the credit union movement. Sponsors have set a goal of exceeding $5 million in donations to children’s hospitals in that 10-year period. “Involvement by credit unions across the country continues to grow. The generosity of the credit union movement and commitment to local community is astonishing; this event brings that message home to our nation’s capital,” said Juri Valdov, chairman of Credit Union Miracle Day (CUMD), the lead sponsor of the event. The annual race is an international event attracting world-class runners. The run highlights the community involvement of the credit union movement, with proceeds going to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals nationwide. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals treat more than 17 million critically ill children every year. Last year, the run involved 70 credit unions and 25 business partners and credit union service organizations (CUSOs), representing all 50 states. Nearly 15,000 runners participated, including more than 622 legislators, aides and government employees. Also, 40 senators and congressmen acted as honorary race chairs. Runners and others nationwide donated more than $180,000 to children’s hospitals using the race’s online giving site. See the link. Race officials said money raised goes back to the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals where donations originated, because an industry CUSO--PSCU Financial Services--underwrites race expenses. Credit union donations are returned to the hospitals in their area, and credit unions can publicize these contributions. The local publicity helps raise awareness for the credit union movement and the hospitals. During the past nine years, the race has generated more than $4 million in donations. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals is an alliance of 170 children’s hospitals nationwide that treats 17 million critically ill children each year. Credit unions, CUSOs and partner organizations may sign up as race sponsors by visiting the race website. Marketing materials also are available on the website. CUMD is a partnership of credit unions, CUSOs and partner organizations nationwide that have joined under the umbrella of Credit Unions for Kids to support Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals by sponsoring the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run. For more information, contact Sarah Turner, CUMD director, at 443-325-0778 or

Metro 1 to merge with Travis CU

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VACAVILLE, Calif. (12/13/10)--Travis CU in Vacaville, Calif., announced a merger with Metro 1 CU in Antioch, Calif., which is targeted for completion by late spring. The proposal to merge the two credit unions, which was agreed to by the National Credit Union Administration on Nov. 3, adds more than 19,000 members and $177 million dollars in assets to Travis CU. “We look forward to serving the financial needs of our new members at Metro 1, while expanding our own branch network to include more locations,” said Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, president/CEO of the $1.6 billion-asset Travis CU. “The merger of these two credit unions provides additional strength and security for all members.” Once the merger is complete, Travis CU will provide Metro 1 members access to more branches, expanded e-services, higher dividend rates on savings accounts, fewer and lower fees, and products and services previously unavailable to them, Travis CU said. The combined branches will have extended hours. Although the conversion of member records and systems will not occur until late spring, the two credit unions will combine their financial statements as of Dec. 31. At that time, Metro 1 employees will become employees of Travis CU, with most of them remaining in the branches to serve their members until the merger is complete.

CU System briefs (12/10/2010)

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* SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (12/13/10)--Bill Myers has been named interim CEO at Santa Cruz (Calif.) Community CU. Myers formerly was founder/CEO of Alternatives FCU, a community development credit union in Ithaca, N.Y. He served there 28 years until his retirement. Myers succeeds Ginger McNally. Santa Cruz Community CU, which reported a $647,000 loss during first quarter and a decline in loan volume, has assets of $86 million. (Santa Cruz Dec. 9) … * LIVONIA, Mich. (12/13/10)--Livonia (Mich.) Public Schools' Cooper
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Elementary, which has nearly 700 fifth and sixth grade students, celebrated the opening of its student credit union, Cooper Coyote branch, in partnership with Co-op Services CU. Students can continue using existing accounts they established at credit unions in their former schools at Hayes and Cleveland Elementary. Ninety students applied, and 24 were hired and trained to help operate the student credit union. The branch is named for the school's mascot, and the credit union's mascot is Rock Star Saver. "This is a very hands-on program that gives students the opportunity to learn a variety of math skills," said Jeremy Cybulski, youth and community development coordinator for Co-op Services CU. Pictured are six of the credit union's 24 student team members: from left, Camryn Zurawski, David Werk, Emma Polcyn, Hallee Ellefson, Angelina DiPonio (front) and Veronica Garrick.(Photo provided by Co-op Services CU) … * PITTSBURGH, Pa.(12/13/10)--Wayne J. Sherman, 78, who was president and chairman of the board at PATA FCU, Pittsburgh, died Tuesday. He had held that position since 1986. Sherman also was owner of Dean Honda for three decades, a past president of Pittsburgh Auto Trade Association and a member of National Association of Auto Dealers (NADA). Services were Friday. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Dec. 9) …