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CU Realty focuses on first contact education

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (2/2/12)--CU Realty Services has hired Margaret J. Blankers Public Relations Group to educate credit unions on the benefits of serving as the first point of contact for members buying or selling a home.

"Being involved in the process from the beginning both strengthens member relationships and creates a new channel for credit unions to grow their mortgage loan portfolios," said Mike Corn, CU Realty CEO.

"It's well-documented that better than 80% of homebuyers stay with the first Realtor they meet, often asking that agent for help finding a loan. By providing the tools for credit unions to participate in the process before an agent is chosen, they become valuable partners," Corn said.

CU Realty said its real estate program connects members with a network of pre-screened realtors who have received training on credit union philosophy. The agents are trained to assist members with researching neighborhoods and homes, and then guide them back to the credit union for financing.

Typically, credit unions only become involved when a member needs a mortgage, Corn said. Positioning themselves as the first point of contact is a new approach for credit unions, and Corn said he believes improving communication on that process can help credit unions grow their mortgage business.

"Many of the challenges in growing mortgage volumes are because credit unions and agents traditionally work in silos," he said. "They represent different companies, have different tracks with buyers and little opportunity to collaborate. But growth isn't going to happen organically; credit unions are going to have to take proactive steps. "

First Tech teams with Raymond James investments

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (2/2/12)--Addison Avenue Investment Services, the investment services program of First Tech FCU in Palo Alto, Calif., has partnered with Raymond James to offer investment and wealth management services.

In January, Raymond James Financial agreed to buy the Morgan Keegan brokerage, creating one of the biggest regional brokerage firms in the country. (The New York Times Jan. 11).

Addison Avenue Investment Services was initially launched in 1998 to serve the investment needs of Hewlett-Packard employees. Since then, it has grown into the largest credit union investment program in the country, with 30 financial advisers operating 38 branches in eight states and managing $2.2 billion in assets.

CU 24 announces 4Q expansion

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (2/2/12)--Seventeen credit unions, representing $3.6 billion in assets and more than 400,000 members, joined Credit Union 24, a credit union-owned ATM and point-of-sale network, during the fourth quarter of 2011.

The fourth-quarter results represent the most successful sales quarter for the Credit Union 24 during 2011. 

Also, James Gukeisen, formerly senior card services manager Suncoast Schools FCU in Tampa, Fla., has joined the Credit Union 24 team as a relationship manager. 

At Suncoast, Gukeisen was responsible for the day-to-day operations of all non-credit card products, including debit cards, instant-issue cards, single-load gift cards and Suncoast's 200 ATMs.