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CU System briefs (02/01/2013)

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  • SANTA ROSA, Calif. (2/1/13)--Community First CU reported a record asset increase for 2012, driven by consumers dedicated to keeping their money local, the credit union said. The credit union reported a surge in assets of 15.8% to $150.6 million. Membership rose 18.9% to 15,627 members. The Santa Rosa, Calif.-based credit union also reported double-digit increases in deposits and checking accounts for the second consecutive year. Real estate lending jumped 94.8% to $60 million. Auto loans surged about 28% to $20.7 million. Net revenue of $1.3 million was the second best in the 52-year history of the credit union (Press Democrat Jan. 29) …
  • NORTH HIGHLANDS, Calif. (2/1/13)--SAFE CU has promoted Dave Roughton to president/chief operating officer.  Roughton previously served as executive vice president at the $1.871 billion asset, North Highlands, Calif.-based credit union. SAFE CU is expanding its executive structure amid anticipated continued growth. The appointment means CEO Henry Wirz can focus on SAFE's development strategies, long-term business plan and working more closely with the credit union's board. Roughton has been with SAFE nearly 20 years and previously worked as SAFE's external certified public accountant ( Jan. 30) …
  • MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (2/1/13)--Marlborough, Mass.-based St. Mary's CU has appointed James "Jim" Garvey as president/CEO, effective Feb. 19. Garvey was president/CEO of Borel Private Bank, San Mateo, Calif., and Charter Private Bank, Seattle. Both are subsidiaries of Boston Private Financial Holdings. Garvey also led Flagship Bank and Trust in Worcester from 2001 to 2009, when the bank was acquired, and served at Safety Fund National Bank in Fitchburg and Shawmut Bank. He will succeed Thomas H. Wellen, who has served in an interim position since June. (Community Advocate Jan. 29) …
  • UTICA, N.Y. (2/1/13)--Philip G. Vanno Jr. of Utica, N.Y., died Tuesday at the age of 61 after a battle with cancer. He was a board member and held volunteer leadership positions at the $1.1 billion asset AmeriCU CU, based in Rome, N.Y. Vanno worked most recently as a city labor relations specialist, after retiring after 30 years with Business and Technology Park and Griffiss Air Force Base. He was active in the community and was a part-time substitute teacher and teaching assistant for the Utica School District (Observer-Dispatch Jan. 30) …

Governor praises CUs for service to Minnesotans

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ST.  PAUL, Minn. (2/1/13)--Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton this week joined other state legislators and officials in praising the services and support credit unions provide consumers. Dayton also stressed that his proposal for tax reform does not involve credit unions' tax exemption, said the Minnesota Credit Union Network.

Click to view larger imageMinnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, praising credit unions, addresses the crowd, during the Minnesota Credit Union Network's Credit Union Day at the Capitol in St. Paul. (Photo provide by the Minnesota Credit Union Network)
Defending the credit union tax exemption is the Credit Union National Association's No. 1 priority this year, CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said Jan. 25 in The Cheney Report. Several state credit union leagues such as Ohio and Oregon also are monitoring tax reform proposals in their states. 

Dayton said tax reform in the state won't involve credit unions because they provide important services, and he won't tamper with that.

"I have special regard for those who serve their members and their needs, for those who provide savings back to their customers. I thank you for that," said Dayton, speaking to more than 150 credit union representatives at MnCUN's annual political advocacy event, Tuesday in St. Paul. Credit union leaders also heard the governor's plans for the budget in the next biennium.

Financial literacy also was a hot topic at Credit Union Day, MnCUN said. Dayton and Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman touched on its importance. Rothman told attendees he believes credit unions and the state can work together to make big strides in the financial literacy realm.

"We have a common goal--that people, from kindergarten to retirement, have the lifetime skills to attain financial stability," Rothman said. 

In visits with their local legislators, credit union leaders emphasized the financial literacy and credit union messages. They touted the avenues used to help members with financial education, including in-school, student-run credit union branches--HomeTown CU in Owatonna and St. Paul (Minn.) FCU.

Following the theme of this year's Credit Union Day, "Minnesota Credit Unions: A Trusted Partner," attendees talked with legislators about why more consumers are choosing credit unions--with trust being a top factor.

Participants with MnCUN's young professionals group The Crew--for new and mid-level credit union employees 35 and younger--learned how to advocate for credit unions and address issues in visits with elected officials.

Irish league offers reward after detective gunned down outside CU

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DUBLIN, Ire. (2/1/13)--The Irish League of Credit Unions is offering more than $67,613 (U.S. dollars) as a reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those who gunned down a detective outside Lordship CU in Bellurgan, Ire., during a robbery.

The league said it was inundated with calls from credit unions offering support to the credit union and the gardai, the term used for the local police (Independent Jan. 30 and Irish Times Jan 28).

Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, 41, a father of two, was shot in the head by five gang members who escaped in a stolen Volkswagen Passat.

He was one of two detectives on escort duty when the robbery occurred.  His colleague, Detective Garda Joe Ryan was held at gunpoint while the gang stole more than $5,409. Donohoe was not supposed to be on duty that day and was substituting for a colleague (BBC News Jan. 30).

The gardai believe the gang had supporters aiding them and that they may be the same gang that robbed the credit union a year and a half ago.  The gardai found the stolen getaway card across the border, where it had been set on fire.

Kessler Foundation grant to train disabled to work in CUs

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WEST ORANGE, N.J. (2/1/13)--A $484,452 grant from the non-profit Kessler Foundation to the National Disability Institute (NDI) will provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities in New York credit unions, with support from the Credit Union Association of New York.

The project will fund the "BEST (Building Economic Strength Together) Employees N.Y." initiative--an enhanced version of the 2009 Kessler Foundation-funded pilot project, "BEST Employees in N.J."

Individuals with disabilities will receive training in providing financial services and be given on-the-job training and internships.

CUANY will screen and match applicants with available positions and provide ongoing training to build sustainability of the program.

"We are looking forward to being part of the BEST Employees N.Y. initiative, which will provide training internships and job placement assistance within the financial services community to individuals with varying disabilities," said William J. Mellin, CUANY president/CEO. 

Other elements of the project include:

  • A comprehensive assessment tool to judge participants' performance;
  • Credit union-ready employee training and certification so employees understand how to work with individuals with disabilities; and
  • Collaboration with vendors, and training and technical assistance for credit unions.
The Signature Employment Grant is part of more than $2.17 million in grants distributed by Kessler Foundation to improve employment and job training options for Americans with disabilities.

In the two-year grant cycle, BEST Employees N.Y. will train and place 72 people with disabilities.

The project will provide opportunities for replication nationwide.

BEST Employees N.Y. is a collaborative effort of NDI, the Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, CUANY, the New York Office of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation, the State Department of Labor's Disability Employment Initiative and Syracuse University's Burton Blatt Institute.

Card companies report rising fraud losses

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MADISON, Wis. (2/1/13)--Credit card issuers are reporting a spike in fraud losses for 2012, and U.S. issuers--including credit unions--are the weakest link in the world in terms of preventing these losses, said industry experts.

That's because U.S. institutions, unlike their counterparts in Europe, haven't converted to the Europay MasterCard Visa (EMV) security chip and PIN technology, considered the strongest defense against credit card fraud losses.

Credit unions and other card issuers who delay adopting the EMV will face a rapidly increasing risk of loss as fraud migrates from countries deploying the EMV protection to countries with less stringent standards--such as the U.S., said Mark Rennie Davis, a principal at MasterCard Advisors, the professional arm of MasterCard Worldwide.

In a column he wrote about the topic in (Jan. 25), Davis estimated that a  fictitious bank with five million cardholders and average market characteristics could lose as much as $25 million if EMV migration is delayed until 2015, instead of starting this year.

Although the cost of emigration is estimated at between $5 billion and $13 billion, the risks associated with delaying its deployment are growing, he said. He predicted that counterfeit fraud in the U.S. will rise as EMV chip cards continue to replace magstripe-only cards elsewhere. As counterfeit fraud increases in the U.S., it will focus on issuers who have not migrated to EMV, Davis said.

Also, cross-border revenue will decline because fewer merchants in EMV-mature countries accept cards that don't comply with the EMV standards, he said.

Credit card companies are already reporting increases in fraud losses, after a decline for several years, said American Banker (Jan. 29).  Discover Financial Services reported losses for fiscal 2012 at $93 million, a 70% hike from two years earlier. That figure is adjusted for rising transaction volumes.  The publication also reported Capital One Financial had experienced a 20% increase in fraud losses adjusted for volume from 2010 to 2011--the latest data available.

The major U.S. card brands have said they will require most U.S. merchants to use terminals that can handle EMV cards by October 2015.

CUs thank Wis mayor for small-biz credit advocacy

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Click to view larger image Racine Mayor John Dickert was honored at the Wisconsin Credit Union League's annual Government Affairs Conference for helping to pass a resolution at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in support of federal legislation that would ensure small businesses can access needed loans through credit unions. Pictured, from left, are: Brett Thompson, president /CEO, Wisconsin Credit Union League; Dickert; Jack Gill, chair, Wisconsin Credit Union League Government Affairs Committee and president/CEO, First Community CU, Beloit, Wis. (Photo provided by the Wisconsin Credit Union League)
PEWAUKEE, Wis. (2/1/13)--John Dickert, mayor of Racine, Wis., was honored for his small-business advocacy efforts by the Wisconsin Credit Union League's annual Government Affairs Conference in Madison, Wis.

He was recognized in front of 230 attendees for helping to pass a resolution at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in support of federal legislation that would ensure small businesses can access needed loans through credit unions.

"Mayor Dickert understands that credit unions can fill today's huge void for business credit because they have billions available to lend, a 100-year history of making business loans safely, the support of federal regulators and the support of 80% of Wisconsin voters who, like ForbesMagazine, see this as an absolute no-brainer," said Brett Thompson, league president/CEO.

A plaque was presented to Dickert on behalf of the 95 million consumers nationwide who own credit unions, thanking him and acknowledging his help in adding a bipartisan list of 187 mayors to the resolution supporting the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Bill (S.B. 2231/H.R. 1418). 

The legislation, pushed by the Credit Union National Association and credit unions nationwide, was introduced in the previous 112th Congress. It would have increased the ability of credit unions to extend $13 billion in loans to small businesses at no cost to taxpayers. In the first year alone, it would have generated 157,000 new jobs nationwide. In Wisconsin, it would have provided $458 million in new credit and created nearly 5,000 jobs.

A similar version of the bill likely will be reintroduced in the current 113th Congress and is one of CUNA's top priorities for 2013.

Nominations open for WOCCU Distinguished Service Award

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MADISON, Wis. (2/1/13)--Nominations are due March 11 for the World Council of Credit Unions' 2013 Distinguished Service Award (DSA).

World Council of Credit Unions is calling for 2013 Distinguished Service Award nominations. Awards will be presented at the World Credit Union Conference, July 14-17 in Ottawa, Canada. Nominations are due March 11. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions.)
The DSA, which honors individuals and organizations that have provided outstanding service to the global credit union movement, will be presented at the World Credit Union Conference, July 14-17 in Ottawa, Canada. The award is the international credit union system's highest honor.

"The Distinguished Service Award recognizes those who have dedicated their time, resources and attention to improving credit unions on an international scale," said Brian Branch, WOCCU president/CEO. "Their important work has positively impacted many members and families throughout the world who otherwise may not have had the life-changing opportunities their credit unions were able to provide."

Individuals and organizations that have furthered WOCCU's vision of "building a global community" through their activities and achievements are eligible for nomination.

Individual recipients may be WOCCU member-organization officers, directors or representatives; international credit union pioneers; field technicians; or individuals whose actions have benefitted global credit union development.

Institutional recipients may be organizations or agencies that have provided financial or technical assistance to develop international credit union movements and their service infrastructures during an extended period.

The DSA is not an annual award; it is presented based on the achievements and worthiness of candidates according to the award committee's review. WOCCU presents up to one institutional and three individual awards in a single year.

Pennsylvania's McCormack to retire at end of year

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (2/1/13)--Longtime Pennsylvania Credit Union Association President/CEO Jim McCormack will retire on Dec. 31, announced PCUA's board Thursday.

However, McCormack will remain as a consultant to the association's board of directors through November 2014, said PCUA board Chairman Michael Kaczenski.

McCormack's leadership has earned praise from the Credit Union National Association.

"Jim has contributed immeasurably to the growth and success of the credit union movement during his more than 40 years of service," said CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney.

"I've known Jim for most of my own career with credit unions, and I have always had enormous respect for Jim's leadership ability, his innovative thinking--the league's iBelong public awareness campaign is just one great example--and his extreme passion for the cause of credit unions," Cheney added.

"During my 26 years in the credit union movement, and my tenure on the PCUA board, Jim has exemplified the qualities of a true credit union leader," PCUA's Kaczenski said. "He is a visionary whose commitment to cooperation, advocacy and growth of credit unions around the state, country and globe has made the movement stronger for all who are in it now and will be part of it tomorrow.

"We will miss what Jim has brought to us; yet, we know that he will be an ongoing resource and promoter of the credit union movement in his retirement," said Kaczenski.

A nationwide search for McCormack's successor is being conducted by credit union consulting firm Dollar Associates LLC of Birmingham, Ala.

"It's been a privilege to serve this board and Pennsylvania's credit union movement for the last 32 years," McCormack said.

He began his credit union movement career in 1971. Before joining PCUA, he served in various positions with CUNA Mutual Group, both in Pittsburgh and its corporate headquarters in Madison, Wis. In 2009, he was presented the Eugene H. Farley League Leadership Award by the American Association of Credit Union Leagues.

McCormick also served in the past on the boards of CUNA and the National Credit Union Foundation. He is a native of Scranton, Pa.

Summit CU's Inspiration Branch like sets from a theatre

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MADISON, Wis. (2/1/13)--A new "Inspiration Branch" introduced by Madison, Wis.-based Summit CU provides members with theatre-type sets that portray financial goals such as education, home ownership and travel.

The Fitchburg, Wis., branch of the $1.86 billion asset credit union features a tropical scene in the lobby fitted with a red-striped beach umbrella, two lawn chairs and a 12-foot sailboat (The Wisconsin State Journal Jan. 31).  

Other features include a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and an airplane facade that leads to a children's play area--complete with real airplane seats.

Members conduct business at an open, concierge-type counter, with a mock-up of one of York, England's, historic streets in front of several meeting rooms, the newspaper said. 

The colorful, imaginative branch matches the credit union's philosophy, Kim Sponem, Summit president/CEO, told the paper, adding that the credit union wanted to have a place that reminds people of their aspirations and dreams.

For instance, some members may recall that they wanted to travel to a specific location in the world when they were a child, or the branch might trigger members to create new desires or plans, Sponem added.

As with theatre production sets, many pieces of the Inspiration Branch are removable. If the concept is taken to other credit union branch locations, the sets can be interchanged or added, Sponem told the paper.