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CU System briefs (02/12/2014)

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  •  BIRMINGHAM. Ala. (2/12/14)--Severe winter weather hit Alabama again yesterday and the League of Southeastern Credit Unions and Affiliates announced Tuesday morning that many credit unions in central and northern Alabama were closing or delaying openings in an effort to avoid adding to traffic problems seen a few weeks ago. Early Tuesday the league reported on its website that at least 10 credit unions were delaying openings or staying closed due to some icy and closed roads and generally hazardous conditions. The storm also prompted school and business closings throughout North Alabama. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for a second round of snow, which could bring the snow total to eight inches in some area ...
  • PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (2/12/14)--A funeral service for Peter Kavalauskas, 62, president/CEO of Northeast CU here, who died Saturday as the result of a snowmobiling accident (News Now Feb. 11), will be Thursday, Feb. 13 at 11 a.m. (ET) at Wiggin-Purdy-McCooey-Dion Funeral Home, in Dover, N.H. Remembrances of the credit union leader continue to flow in, including from Gerald Dumoulin, chairman of the New Hampshire Credit Union League and CEO of Guardian Angel CU, who said, "Credit unions have lost a good friend. Peter was a leader in the credit union industry. For 35 years, he exemplified the spirit of the credit union movement through his willingness to cooperate with his peers and serve credit union members. He will be greatly missed." John Murphy, president of the Maine Credit Union League, said his association joins many others across the credit union movement in mourning the loss of Kavalauskas: "Peter was a not only a dedicated and committed leader but a great person and family man. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and officials and staff at his credit union during this difficult time." ...
  • ALEXANDRIA, Va. (2/12/14)--There is a link change of the National Credit Union Administration's Office of Small Credit Union Initiative's Feb. 19 free webinar on field-of-membership expansions. The webinar, starting at 2 p.m. (ET), will inform participants on when charter expansions make sense strategically, the advantages of each type of federal charter, policy requirements for various expansion options, and where to find additional information. Register here ...

Loan demand 'encouraging' for Minn. CUs

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (2/12/14)--Minnesota credit unions' loan portfolios expanded faster in 2013 than deposits and assets on their books, according to a Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) study published Tuesday.
 
Loans increased by $720 million, while deposits and assets rose by $613 million and $700 million respectively--a trend that MnCUN CEO/President Mark Cummins called "very encouraging."
 
"More lending is a good sign that consumer and business confidence continue to improve after the economic downturn, and credit unions are helping to contribute to the state economy's overall growth," he said. Loans added were well-balanced between real estate and non-real estate loans.
 
The Credit Union National Association reported this month that in 2013, growth in lending outpaced savings growth throughout the country for the first time since 2007 (News Now Feb. 5).
 
Annual loan growth in Minnesota was at 6.95%, with fourth-quarter growth of $202 million or 1.86%--down from 2.69% in the third quarter.
 
Assets and deposits increased in the fourth quarter by 0.38% and 0.34%, respectively. Assets and deposits both edged upward last year on an annual basis of 3.91%.
 
The total number of credit union members increased last year to 1.61 million from 1.57 million, but expansion in the state slowed between the third quarters of 2012 and 2013, to 1% from 2%.
 
The National Credit Union Administration, meanwhile, rated Minnesota credit unions as "well-capitalized," with a reported net worth of 10.06% at the end of last year.

Pa. league gives CU update to Philadelphia Fed

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (2/12/14)--On Monday, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) gave an update on the status of the state's credit unions to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's Financial Institutions Relations Division.
 
PCUA President/CEO Patrick Conway and Michael Wishnow, senior vice president of communications and public relations, met with Tony Scafide, assistant vice president, and Bill Guinan, outreach manager, from the Fed.
 
"It was a pleasure to provide input to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve and to hear their thoughts on where they think the financial services industry is going," Conway said (Life is a Highway Feb. 11).
 
"The association has established a good relationship with the Philadelphia Federal Reserve, and that relationship enables us to convey to the Fed the impact that many new regulations have on credit unions and their ability to make loans," he added.
 
Throughout the year, the Financial Institutions Relations Division meets with financial institutions in Delaware, the eastern two-thirds of Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. It provides analysis and feedback to Charles Plosser, president of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank and member of the Federal Open Market Committee.

Assessing sustainability efforts pays dividends, says Filene study

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MADISON, Wisc. (2/12/14)--A new study has concluded that credit unions still have room to improve when it comes to social responsibility and sustainable practices--and that they can potentially improve their bottom lines doing it.
 
The research, which was published Monday by the Filene Research Institute, compared nine credit unions to 15 "independently held, sustainably focused banks," and found that credit unions studied "have yet to make significant progress toward improving their measurable social and environmental performance."
 
Ryan Honeyman, a sustainability consultant and author of the report, scored both sets of financial institutions on governance, workers, community and environment. While credit unions had higher scores in the first two categories, their comparative weakness in the latter dragged down the overall score. The banks' total was 62.9, while credit unions' aggregate score was 62.
 
Honeyman said that the credit unions studied outperformed "sustainable banks" in certain "important categories," such as employees' salaries and recycling practices. "Nevertheless," he found, "there's room for improvement."
 
"Despite scores that outperform banks on numerous scales, sustainability-oriented credit unions can still improve on issues like writing environmental and social stewardship goals into policy, increasing support for child care and maternity/paternity leave, and incorporating sustainability goals into employee reviews," Honeyman wrote.
 
He concluded that improved sustainability practices can attract potential younger members and create loyalty. It could also create "innovative loan growth opportunities." So-called green loans, he said, "have been shown to be profitable; and can attract financially strong borrowers, spur membership growth, and lead to new growth in solidly performing loans on the balance sheet."
 
The nine credit unions that participated in the study had assets ranging from $80 million to $12 billion.
 
The report used the "B Impact Assessment" gauge, which measures social and environmental impacts of a business. The assessment takes into account governance, mission, structure, engagement, job flexibility, management communication, community engagement, and environment.

NCUA Region 1 examiners meet with Wis. CUs, state office

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MADISON, Wis. (2/12/14)--More than 40 representatives from Wisconsin credit unions and four officials from the state Office of Credit Unions (OCU) met with their new regional director from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).
 
Effective Jan. 1, Wisconsin credit unions fall under Region I, which is led by Director Larry Blankenberger, for federal supervision. Blankenberger and 19 NCUA examiners listened to insights and concerns from the credit unions at Credit Union House in Madison (The League News Feb. 10).
 
Blankenberger cited interest rate risk as a top concern of examiners this year. He stressed the importance of having up-to-date policies and ensuring board members are aware of the how and why of risk-management decisions.
 
Credit union attendees urged NCUA to coordinate with OCU to minimize duplicative reporting and paperwork.
 
They also shared their vision of Wisconsin's current operating environment:
  • Wisconsin credit unions collaborate well with one another and have had a strong and proactive relationship with state examiners.
  • Wisconsin credit unions are less affected by major economic swings than other regions of the U.S. because Midwesterners generally don't take on as much risk and are financially conservative.
  • Operating expenses are higher in some areas of the state because of operating costs and/or a large percentage of the membership is low income.
     
  • Despite some economic improvement, many members are earning less and are generally taking on less debt.
  • The deluge of regulation has been onerous for credit unions.
 Other key points raised by the group:
  • NCUA aims to coordinate with the OCU for exam visits to credit unions.
     
  • Some Wisconsin credit unions will have the same examiners. For up to three years, NCUA staff from the state's previous Region IV will assist with Wisconsin credit union exams. Staff from Region II (District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia) also will support exams for the next two years.
     
  • There is an expectation of professionalism for both NCUA staff and credit union staff involved in the examination process. Credit unions should contact the NCUA or OCU if there are conduct issues to be addressed.
     
  • NCUA examiners follow procedures outlined by the National Supervision Policy Manual to assure a consistent approach by all examiners.
     
  • Policy requirements sometimes dictate the actions NCUA must take despite every interest in flexibility.

Three Wis. CU fin. lit. programs win governor's award

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MADISON, Wis. (2/12/14)--Three Wisconsin credit unions and two state credit union professionals were recognized by Gov. Scott Walker (R) for managing outstanding financial literacy programs.
 
On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions announced the seven individuals and 13 organizations that received 2013 Wisconsin Financial Literacy Awards. Fifty-two individuals and organizations were nominated.
 
Heather Hill and Errin Schleusner from Royal CU's Balsam Lake branch were acknowledged in the individual category for the "$chool $ense" program. The $1.3 billion-asset credit union also was commended in the organization category.
 
Altra FCU, Onalaska, $960 million in assets, and CoVantage CU, Antigo, $1.08 billion in assets, received awards in the organization category.
 
"The need for personal financial literacy has never been greater," Walker said. "These recipients are equipping Wisconsin citizens with an important life skill. They are truly making a difference in communities across the state."
 
The awards were given out by the Governor's Council of Financial Literacy, which judged programs based on innovative implementation, demonstrated measureable results, collaboration with partners and whether the effort focused on needs-based groups.

Maine CUs raise record-setting $513K for hunger campaign

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PORTLAND, Maine (2/12/14)--The Maine Credit Union League announced Tuesday that its 2013 Campaign for Ending Hunger raised a record-setting $513,309--$42,000 more than the previous year's record.
 
League President/CEO John Murphy noted how far the campaign has come since it began in 1990 with $24,000 in its pocket.
 
"This campaign is a testament to what can be accomplished by cooperating and coming together for a cause," Murphy said, adding, "Maine credit unions are about helping others, whether it's by providing financial services or raising funds to make sure their neighbors have enough to eat including the one in four Maine children who, often times, do not know where their next meal is going to come from."
 
More than 100 delegates from the state's credit unions attended Tuesday's ceremony in South Portland where they listened to keynote speaker Sue Mitchell. "Miss Sue" was portrayed by Kathy Bates in "The Blind Side," which told the story of Baltimore Ravens tackle Michael Oher, his adopted family and Mitchell, his tutor.
 
Mitchell said, "As a former teacher, I know that a first-grader can't learn to read if she doesn't have enough to eat, or a third-grader can't do a math problem if his stomach is rumbling.
 
"I am so impressed by what you are doing with new initiatives to fight childhood hunger, such as providing significant funding to help expand the backpack programs in schools across the state."
 
The record-setting year of donations pushed the campaign to more than $5.3 million raised in 24 years. One-hundred percent of the funds stay in Maine and go directly to help end hunger.

Travis CU forms Hispanic advisory committee

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VACAVILLE, Calif. (2/12/14)--A credit union with 22 branches in Northern and Central California has formed a panel to improve its outreach to local Latino communities.
 
Travis CU, Vacaville, Calif., announced last week that it has formed a Hispanic Advisory Committee comprised of a wide array of professionals to "better serve its entire community."
 
"Travis Credit Union has worked hard to demonstrate the credit union difference with our Hispanic members. and we are hoping to build further trust with the market by working closely with our Hispanic Advisory Committee," said Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, president of the $2.1 billion-asset credit union. "Many in the Hispanic community are unaware of the benefits of membership, and we want to change that."
 
Committee member Dr. Guido Minaya called the outreach "a most important initiative regarding a significant and growing segment of our Bay Area communities." He said it could provide Travis CU with unique and important insights into the "financial and cultural needs of the Latino community."
 
Members of the committee include:
  • Minaya, CEO/partner of Minaya Learning LLC, Fairfield, Calif.;
     
  • Maria Alvarez, founder/principal of the Latin Story, a consulting firm, Richmond, Calif.;
     
  • Marisela Barbosa, vice president of Monarch Engineering and Development Inc., Vallejo, Calif.;
     
  • Maria Cisneros, principal of Valley Oak High School, Napa, Calif.;
     
  • Oscar Dominguez, executive director of Contra Costa County Small Business Development Centers, Pleasant Hill, Calif.;
     
  • Josie Enriquez, case management supervisor of the Yolo County Family Resource Center, Woodland, Calif.;
     
  • Alex Gomez, executive director of the West Contra Costa Business Development Center, Richmond, Calif.;
     
  • Rick Gonzales, president of the Mexican American Concilio of Yolo County, Woodland, Calif.;
     
  • Edgar Lampkin, director of English Language Learners at the Yolo County Office of Education, Woodland, Calif.; and
     
  • Armando Tam, owner of Viva Magazine, Concord, Calif.
Sherry Cordonnier, director of corporate relations, said that the credit union wants to ensure it's "delivering what our Hispanic members want and need."