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Mich. CU members benefited by $226M in '13, league reports

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LIVONIA, Mich. (2/27/14)--In 2013, Michigan credit union members benefited to the tune of $226 million for being part of the credit union community, according to the Community Reinvestment Report from the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL).
 
The league report found members saved $49 million in lower or fewer fees and $153 million in lower interest rates on loan products. They gained $23 million in higher interest rates on savings.
 
Fifty-three percent reported a "very favorable" consumer opinion of credit unions, according to the league's credit union awareness study. Eighty percent of credit union members had confidence in their primary financial institution, while 66% believe credit unions are doing what is in their best interest. Banks were rated at 38% and 27%, respectively.
 
 "It's a conscious choice to be part of something bigger: a movement, a community that is united for good," league President/CEO David Adams wrote in the introduction.
 
Michigan credit unions contributed to financial literacy with 253 student credit unions that teach money management skills to 22,631 students, and nearly 145,100 adult members received financial counseling.
 
As membership grows, so does the pool of credit union employees who support members. Credit unions alone account for 13,358 employees, and credit union service organizations are not covered in that list.  Six credit unions have been named top places to work by the Detroit Free Press.
 
Credit unions continue to offer loans to small businesses, topping $1.2 billion in 2013. "Deeply rooted in their communities, credit unions never stopped supporting the member businesses," the report noted.
 
The league also highlighted its "Save to Win" program, the Invest in America member discount program and the work by the Michigan Credit Union Foundation.

LSCU honors Bachus, Hastings as lawmakers of the year

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WASHINGTON (2/27/14)--The League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) honored U.S. Reps. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) and Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) as its Lawmakers of the Year Tuesday.
 
Patrick La Pine, president/CEO, League of Southeastern Credit Unions, left, and U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.).
"Reps. Bachus and Hastings have shown, through their actions, that they understand the issues facing credit unions," said LSCU President/CEO Patrick La Pine. "Each has co-sponsored multiple pieces of legislation that will help credit union members."
 
Both consistently meet in-person with credit union advocates throughout the year and are open to listening to real-world stories, La Pine added (eSignal Feb. 26).
 
Hastings, who is a member of Sunrise, Fla.-based BrightStar CU, said he was humbled by receiving the award from people who really are on the ground in the business of credit.

La Pine, left, and U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.). (LSCU photos)
Hastings has co-sponsored legislation for supplemental forms of capital, privacy notification reform and member business lending.
 
Longtime supporter Bachus said he didn't think there's ever been a greater need for credit unions. There is such a need for a local financial institution "where you know the people and they know you," he said.

He also is a co-sponsor of supplemental capital and privacy notification reform legislation.

The reception was held in conjunction with the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.

Prize-linked savings bill still alive in Ore.

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (2/27/14)--The Oregon legislature is nearing the end of its four-week session, and credit unions are keeping their eye on two pieces of legislation.
 
House Bill 4079 addresses the creation of prize-linked savings accounts in the state. It would direct the Oregon State Lottery commission to form a work group to study and make recommendations regarding the feasibility of such accounts under its authority.
 
Oregon's neighbor Washington allows all financial institutions to offer prize-linked savings programs as do Maine and Maryland. Nebraska, North Carolina and Rhode Island programs are limited to credit unions.
 
HB 4079 passed out of committee and was referred to the Ways and Means Committee. Any official work group established by the state has to be funded, the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) noted, and that puts the bill at risk (Anthem Feb. 25).
 
NWCUA submitted testimony in favor of the bill earlier this month.
 
The failure to provide notice of a foreclosure sale would become an unlawful trade practice under House Bill 4103.  Mechanic and towing liens are currently being foreclosed without notice to the lien holder and/or the party with security interest in the vehicle.
 
The bill passed the House and was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where amendments are being considered.
 
NWCUA wants the final bill to:
  • Give credit unions a legal claim against the lien claimant--for example, a repair shop--if the lien claimant doesn't give notice of the sale to the credit union;
     
  • Include attorney's fees as part of the claim that credit unions can make for not giving notice; and
     
  • Require the lien claimant to provide details about the amount of the lien as part of the notice process.

CU System briefs (02/27/2014)

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  • HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (2/27/14)--Three New Jersey credit unions have been named as "best places to work in New Jersey" according to NJBIZ magazine (Daily Exchange Feb. 26). In the small- to medium-business category for 15-249 employees, Credit Union of New Jersey, $326 million in assets, Ewing; and XCEL FCU, $148 million in assets, Bloomfield, were honored. Basking Ridge-based Affinity FCU, $2.2 billion in assets, was named in the large category for 250 or more employees. One hundred businesses are on the 2014 list, which was determined by assessing workplace policies and philosophies, followed by employee experience ratings. ...
  • COLCHESTER, Vt. (2/27/14)--Heritage Family CU, a $351 million-asset credit union in Rutland, Vt., announced its president/CEO, Ron Hance, will retire after 36 years (Newslines Express Feb. 21). He will stay on at the credit union until a successor is hired, which the board said would be this fall. When Hance began as CEO the credit union had just over $2 million in assets, three employees and one branch. Now it serves nine branches with two student credit unions and more than 145 employees. Hance started his relationship with the credit union in 1967 as a director, becoming president/CEO in 1978. He has been a board member for the World Council of Credit Unions, board chairman for the Vermont Credit Union League and a board member for the Credit Union National Association. ...
  • HARAHAN, La. (2/27/14)--Nicholls FCU, $1.3 million in assets, and ASI FCU, Harahan, La., have been approved for a merger (eNews Feb. 26). The Thibodaux, La., credit union is located near Nicholls State University. ASI FCU CEO Mignhon Tourne met with members during a Feb. 18-19 gathering that provided information about the $311 million-asset credit union. ...

Hunger campaign's influence felt throughout Maine

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WESTBROOK, Maine (2/27/14)--The Maine Credit Unions' Campaign for Ending Hunger ended with a record-setting $513,309 in funds raised, but the reverberations of the annual project are even more far-reaching.
 
The Maine Credit Union League found that the campaign resulted in nearly $2 million in "positive coverage and goodwill" of the credit unions' efforts (Weekly Update Feb. 21). Newspapers ran more than 600 articles. Sixty-one news stories aired on TV. Radio interviews and stories tallied 217. That doesn't include the word-of-mouth coverage by Maine residents at sporting events, schools and online.
 
The money raised will purchase about $7.6 million worth of food, and the campaign's year-round activities keep the issue top of mind.
 
"The ongoing efforts of credit unions to raise funds and bring attention to hunger in Maine keeps the issue visible and in front of people throughout the year," said Kristen Miale, president of Good Shepherd Food Bank, Auburn.
 
"The Maine CUs' Campaign for Ending Hunger reinforces the values and philosophy of credit unions with members, in the community and with the media," said league President John Murphy. "That benefits all credit unions throughout the year."

Wegner award recipients credit collaboration for success

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WASHINGTON (2/26/14)--In accepting their Herb Memorial Awards from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) Monday night, the four recipients credited shared efforts and collaboration for their success.
 
Lifetime achievement awards were bestowed upon Tim Haegelin, retired president/CEO of Generations FCU, San Antonio; Jim McCormack, retired president/CEO of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA), Harrisburg; and Gary Oakland, retired president/CEO of BECU, Tukwila, Wash.
 
Sarah Canepa Bang, president/COO of CO-OP Shared Branching-FSCC and chief strategy officer of CO-OP Shared Branching, received the individual achievement award.
 
"This is not about me winning an award. This is about collaboration, friendship and shared efforts," Oakland said.
 
After receiving his award, Haegelin said, "I was lucky because I was blessed with a board that embraced the credit union difference and then made sure I had the tools to succeed."
 
Current PCUA President/CEO Patrick Conway, Senior Vice President Michael Wishnow and Chair Maria LaVelle accepted the award on behalf of McCormack.
 
 "When informed that he had won this most prestigious award, Jim stated that the award was not for him, but for Pennsylvania," Wishnow said.
 
"It's been my experience that the credit union movement loves innovation and hard work," said Canepa Bang. "How else but innovation and hard work could we have built a delivery channel of over 7,200 locations for millions of credit union members?"
 
This year's winners joined an elite group of 51 individuals and 24 organizations whose efforts over the past 26 years have earned them the recognition of Herb Wegner Memorial Awards. The dinner was held in conjunction with the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington.

NCUF DE training a beneficiary of CMG's $140K donation

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WASHINGTON (2/26/14)--CUNA Mutual Group presented $140,000 to the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) Monday to support Credit Union Development Education (DE) training and the foundation's overall mission.
 
"CUNA Mutual Group has been a longtime supporter of NCUF, and we are honored to support an organization that embodies the spirit of credit unions through its efforts to strengthen and develop the U.S. credit union movement," Trunzo said. "We are also proud to have a number of employees who are graduates of the DE program, which promotes credit union philosophy and the many benefits credit unions offer their members."
 
The donation was made at the Herb Wegner Memorial Awards Dinner held in conjunction with the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference.
 
"The continuing contributions of organizations like CUNA Mutual Group enable NCUF to support effective initiatives that improve people's financial lives through credit unions," said NCUF Executive Director Gigi Hyland.
 

Consumers still bruised by big bank behavior, survey finds

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AUSTIN, Texas (2/26/14)--Consumers still hold residual resentment against big banks and their role in the financial meltdown of 2008, according to a new Consumer Banking Insights Study.
 
Two-thirds of those surveyed in the Harris Poll, commissioned by Kasasa client financial institutions, are still angry at the large banks. Another 71% said the megabanks had not made up for their actions during the crisis.
 
There were positive notes in the survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults: Nearly half said it was important to bank locally, although 26% of customers of big banks "feel guilty" for doing business with a bank.
 
After the financial crisis, people want to support local financial institutions that create jobs and boost local economies, said Kasasa CEO Gabe Krajicek.
 
The study found banking locally is important for 78% of Americans, who said it's at least somewhat important for them to use a local financial institution. Those who use local financial institutions tend to trust them (93%) and be loyal to them (84%).
 
By comparison, 58% of big bank customers believe their bank doesn't have their best interests at heart, and 42% feel they are being taken advantage of with bank fees.
 
Despite this, only 23% of megabank customers reported they are at least "somewhat likely" to switch their checking account to a local financial institution.
 
"There's still a perception out there that community banks and credit unions can't compete with the big banks when it comes to products and services," Krajicek said. "But if consumers were to research their options, they'd find that perception to be untrue."
 

Couldn't make GAC? Leagues keep CUs informed

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WASHINGTON (2/26/14)--While the Walter E. Washington Convention Center is hopping with more than 4,400 people, credit union advocates back home can still get in on the action at the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), thanks to their leagues.
 
Mike Bridges, vice president of communications, is posting daily videos on the League of Southeastern Credit Unions website. The first day's video featured Betty Petree, a director at Pen Air FCU, Pensacola, Fla., who was inducted into the Credit Union House Hall of Leaders. Florida and Alabama credit unions can watch the advice on how to be proactive in media positioning and advocacy in the day two video.
 
The Michigan Credit Union League published an extra edition of Monitor, which put the spotlight on its welcome reception. It also noted the critical presence of credit unions on the Hill as U.S. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) is set to introduce his tax reform plans this week.
 
The Point from the Credit Union Association of New York highlighted its state's presence--a CUNA member benefits top performance award for Melrose CU, Briarwood, and the recognition of Albany-based Capital Communications FCU's "Unite for Good" initiative.
 
Today, representatives from the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (CUAD) will be interviewed live by Scott Hennen of KFYR-AM 550 (The Memo Feb. 25). Hennen, who is broadcasting his "What's on Your Mind" radio show live from Washington, D.C., this week, invited CUAD President/CEO Robbie Thompson, Vice President of Advocacy Jeff Olson and board Chair Steve Davis for an interview. From 9 to 11 a.m. CT, listeners can tune in live at the radio station's website.

Many leagues and credit union leaders are using Twitter to share thoughts from the GAC using the #CUNAGAC hashtag.

CU House welcomes 12 to Hall of Leaders

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WASHINGTON (2/26/14)--In honor of their significant contributions to the movement, 12 credit union leaders have been added to the Credit Union House Hall of Leaders.
 
"The Credit Union House Hall of Leaders provides lasting recognition at the Capitol Hill facility for a distinguished group of people whose leadership serves as a model for credit union leaders throughout the country," said Dick Ensweiler, CU House chairman, and Cornerstone Credit Union League president/CEO.
 
"Their names remind the thousands who annually visit Credit Union House, which include prominent Members of Congress, of the strong commitment to the values on which the credit union movement was founded," he added.
 
Members of the Hall of Leaders are exceptional individuals that have dedicated their lives to perpetuating the credit union mission and philosophy. To date, 90 leaders representing 33 different states have been inducted.
 
The 2014 inductees are:
  • Robert G. Allen, president/CEO, Teachers FCU, Hauppage, N.Y.;
  • James C. Barbre III, director, Associated CU , Norcross, Ga.;
  • Bill Bynum, president/CEO, Hope CU, Jackson, Miss.;
  • Jim Cada, director, People's Choice FCU, Lincoln, Neb.;
  • Harry Carter, former president/CEO, TopLine FCU, Maple Grove, Minn.;
  • Sylvia Lyon, president/CEO, CU Association of New Mexico, Albuquerque;
  • James J. McCormack, former president/CEO, Pennsylvania CU Association, Harrisburg;
  • Phillip J. Hellmuth, director, University of Wisconsin CU, Madison;
  • Betty Petree, director, Pen Air FCU, Pensacola, Fla.;
  • William J. Rissel, president/CEO, Fort Knox FCU, Radcliff, Ky.;
  • Jeffrey Schwalen, director, Hiway FCU, St. Paul, Minn.; and
  • Pat Wesenberg, president/CEO, Central City CU, Marshfield, Wis.

Telco Community CU member wins $30K from 'Save to Win'

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RALEIGH and ASHEVILLE, N.C. (2/25/14)--North Carolina's inaugural year of participation in the "Save to Win" program resulted in nearly $2.5 million deposited in 1,908 savings accounts and $30,000 to a member of Telco Community CU.
 
"Seeing these positive results in North Carolina is reward enough for those of us who want the best for members and consumers," said Carolinas Credit Union League CEO John Radebaugh. "Seeing firsthand the grand prize go to a fellow North Carolinian is added proof that 'Save to Win' has been worth the effort for everyone involved."
 
 According to the Carolinas Credit Union League, Cindi Campbell, a member of $109 million-asset Telco Community CU in Asheville, was the winner of the grand prize drawing of $30,000.
 
The prize-linked savings program encourages members to save by offering cash prizes to randomly drawn members who earn an entry with each $25 deposit. The average balance per account was $1,246.
 
In North Carolina, 52% of participants had not saved regularly prior to joining the program. Fifty-four percent reported household income of less than $40,000, and 17% of participants earn less than $20,000.
 
More than the prizes, the value of the program is all deposits made by the member are owned by the member.
 
"Save to Win" started on its path to reality in North Carolina in 2011 when credit unions worked together to support the introduction and passage of state legislation to allow "savings promotion raffles." In 2013, North Carolina then joined Michigan, the progenitor of the program, Nebraska and Washington in offering "Save to Win."

CommunityAmerica's Pierce is new CUNA board chair

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WASHINGTON (2/25/14)--Dennis Pierce, president/CEO of CommunityAmerica CU, Kansas, Mo., was elected Monday as chairman of the Credit Union National Association Board of Directors, during a board meeting at the 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.
 
Pierce succeeds outgoing board Chair Pat Wesenberg, president/CEO of Central City CU in Marshfield, Wis.
 
Other board officers elected Monday are:
  • Vice chair: Susan Streifel, president/CEO, Woodstone CU, Federal Way, Wash.;
  • Secretary: Rod Staatz, president/CEO, SECU of Maryland, Linthicum, Md.;
  • Treasurer: Patrick Jury, president/CEO, Iowa Credit Union League, Des Moines, Iowa; and
  • At-large member: Maurice Smith, president/CEO, Local Government FCU, Raleigh, N.C.
New and re-elected board members, including those elected by acclamation, include:
  • Dallas Bergl, president, INOVA FCU, Elkhart, Ind.;
  • Tony Budet, president, University FCU, Austin, Texas;
  • Geraldine Burek, president/CEO, South Division CU, Evergreen Park, Ill.;
  • William Mellin, president, Credit Union Association of New York, Albany, N.Y.;
  • Rick Pillow, president, Virginia Credit Union League, Lynchburg, Va.;
  • Smith;
  • Edwin Williams, president, Discovery FCU, Wyomissing, Pa.; and
  • Jeff York, president, CoastHills FCU, Lompoc, Calif.

CUNA celebrates first year of 'Unite for Good'

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WASHINGTON (2/25/14)--It's the first anniversary of the "Unite for Good" campaign, CUNA's shared strategic vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner, marked by the Credit Union National Association 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference.
 
CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney introduced "Unite for Good" during the 2013 CUNA GAC, when he described a vision rooted in credit unions' shared values, including collaboration, a focus on members, community involvement, and a dedication to financial well-being.
 
Since the launch of the "Unite for Good" campaign last year, credit unions have told hundreds of stories of building homes, collecting food and clothing, helping communities recover after natural disasters, and providing financial guidance during sequestration and government shutdowns.
 
During the opening general session of the 2014 CUNA GAC, outgoing CUNA Chairman Pat Wesenberg, president/CEO of Central City CU, Marshfield, Wis., highlighted examples of credit unions serving their communities.
 
"Service to our communities removes barriers by opening doors to a better understanding of what credit unions are all about," Wesenberg said. "It creates awareness through interaction with members and non-members."
 
During the GAC, CUNA is showcasing the progress of "Unite for Good." Stories from nearly 100 credit unions will be on display throughout the convention center. CUNA will also post "Unite for Good" visual storyboards and banners throughout the conference where advocates can take pictures and then explain how their credit union is taking action on the campaign.

In the GAC exhibit hall, CUNA is distributing "Unite for Good" materials and an updated "Unite for Good" action checklist.
 
Advocates can also post messages to social media using the #UniteforGood hashtag.

Coopera white paper: 5 misconceptions CUs have about Hispanics

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DES MOINES, Iowa (2/25/14)--Misconceptions about the Hispanic market may be hindering credit unions' ability to better serve this growing demographic, according to a new white paper from Coopera.
 
Written by CEO Miriam De Dios, the paper outlines five common misconceptions--ones that hamper progress for Hispanics and the businesses that want to serve them.
 
Myth No. 1: All Hispanics are undocumented. Nearly three in four of the country's more than 52 million Hispanics are U.S. citizens. As of 2009, more than 62% of Hispanics were born in the U.S., and another 11% are naturalized citizens. Many second-generation Hispanics consider themselves "typical Americans" but have a strong preference for identifying with their family's country of origin. "This underscores the need for credit unions to acknowledge a prospective member's culture," De Dios wrote.
 
About nine million of the 11 million undocumented workers are Hispanic, and De Dios noted that credit unions are in an ideal position to make the dream of citizenship a reality. "The industry may soon have an even greater opportunity to develop financial relationships with these goal-oriented immigrant consumers, which include immigrants from all parts of the world," she wrote.
 
Myth No. 2: Hispanic foreign nationals cannot be credit union members. The matricula consular, passports and Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers can be used as alternate forms of identity. With these tools, credit unions can maintain compliance with the Patriot Act and build relationships.
 
Myth No. 3: A massive Spanish translation effort could take years. Credit unions mistakenly believe that they will have to translate every document, form and disclosure into Spanish. "Spanish-language materials (or better yet bilingual materials) will only be required for those products and services deemed essential to the strategic Hispanic member growth plan," De Dios wrote.  Credit unions shouldn't take the easy way out and only target English-speaking Hispanics, she advised.
 
Myth No. 4: Only second-generation Hispanics are open to a traditional banking relationship. Targeting the next generation is attractive. They likely have higher incomes, higher education and higher trust in financial institutions. However, the interdependence between generations cannot be denied. "High-value young Hispanics will come through the credit union door much more readily if their parents have already passed through it," De Dios said. Conversely, some youth are the English-speaking "advocates" for their parents or elders when forms need to be signed.
 
Myth No. 5: Hispanics only want transaction-based products. Coopera's experience with its clients found that product penetration was increasing faster among Hispanic members compared with non-Hispanic members. At 5.5%, the median growth rate for checking penetration was more than three times the median growth rate of 1.7% for non-Hispanics. Loan penetration was 4% compared with 3.4% of the non-Hispanic segment. The services per member median growth rate also increased 1.5% compared with 0.8% of the non-Hispanic market.
 
Attendees at Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., this week can pick up a copy of the white paper at Coopera's booth--329--in the exhibit hall.

CUs raise $10M for CU4Kids, CMN Hospitals in '13

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WASHINGTON (2/25/14)--Credit unions raised $10 million for Children's Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals through the Credit Unions for Kids program in 2013.
 
Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney and Joe Dearborn, senior director for CMN Hospitals, shared the stage during the announcement Monday at CUNA's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.
 
"The partnership between America's credit unions and Children's Miracle Network Hospitals has truly been an amazing journey," Dearborn said. "Since 1996, when the Credit Unions for Kids program was introduced nationally, the credit union community has teamed up to raise a remarkable $120 million."
 
Dearborn noted that local credit unions and their support have left a legacy of new facilities, equipment and life-saving research at the 163 CMN Hospitals across the U.S.
 
"The Children's Miracle Network Hospitals do extraordinary work, and we could not be more proud to support what they do," Cheney said, adding, "My thanks to leagues, credit unions and all of those in the credit union community who are uniting for good to make a huge difference in the lives of sick children."
 
Under the umbrella of Credit Unions for Kids, the credit union movement is the third-largest corporate contributor to CMN Hospitals, behind only Wal-Mart and Costco.

Nev. CU loans positive for 1st time since '07

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LAS VEGAS (2/25/14)--An upswing in credit union loans in Nevada caught the attention of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which noted that the fourth quarter of 2013 was the first time loans had been in the plus column since 2007.
 
The 0.6% increase in the fourth quarter was driven by "mid-level consumer purchases, mostly used auto, unsecured personal loans and credit cards," said Dwight Johnston, vice president/chief economist of the California and Nevada Credit Union League. The Review-Journal cited numbers from the league in its Feb. 21 report.
 
Used auto loans finished the year with a 13.6% increase according to preliminary fourth-quarter numbers from the league. Unsecured personal loans and credit cards also ended 2013 with increases of 5.4% and 4.8%, respectively.
 
"These three categories provided strong enough growth to push the overall loan growth into positive territory in the fourth quarter," Johnston said. "After lagging the recovery in the rest of the U.S., Nevada began what appears to be a sustainable rebound in jobs and construction in the second half of 2013."
 
Nevada credit unions also experienced a boost in savings, with 0.5% increase in the fourth quarter and 3.2% for the year overall.
 
Regular savings account balances increased by 9% at year-end 2013. Checking account balances ticked upward at 0.9% year over year, and money market balances came in with 2% year-over-year growth.
 

CU System briefs (02/24/2014)

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  • WASHINGTON (2/24/14)--A prominent race in April organized by USA Track & Field will be sponsored by Credit Union Miracle Day and the Credit Union National Association. The Men's and Women's 10 Mile Championships, held at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run in Washington, will be branded as being sponsored by "America's Credit Unions." The 10-mile fun run, which last year featured 15,000 runners, including almost 800 Congressional staffers, snakes around recognizable memorials in downtown Washington. At the Women's Championship last year, Janet Bawcom set a national record, finishing the 10-mile course in 53 minutes and 28 seconds. Since sponsoring races in 2002, Credit Union Miracle Day has given more than $6 million to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. ...
  • ALBANY, N.Y. (2/24/14)--William "Bill" Johnson, a five-decade veteran of the credit union industry and resident of Onondaga Hill, N.Y., died Feb. 19 (The Point Feb. 21). He was 83. A former District 2 board director for the Credit Union National Association, Johnson served as CEO/president of Empire Tel-Com FCU for more than 20 years. He volunteered with it before and after the 2007 merger with Power FCU that created Empower FCU, now a $1.2 billion-asset credit union in Syracuse. He also was on the board of the Credit Union Association of New York from 1980 until 1999, serving as chairman from 1991 until 1993. "Bill Johnson was a tremendous leader in the New York credit union community, and he made a lasting impact on all who knew him," said William Mellin, association president/CEO. Johnson helped create statewide credit union mortgage, ATM and shared branching organizations. He also served as director and chairman of Empire Corporate FCU. In 2001, he was inducted into the New York Credit Union Hall of Fame. ...

CSS calendar program benefits CMN Hospitals

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MADISON, Wis. (2/24/2014)--Credit unions continue to show their commitment to Children's Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals by purchasing calendars branded with Credit Unions for Kids.
 
In 2013, the calendar program--administered by CUNA Strategic Services Inc. (CSS)-resulted in sales of 25,600 units and $2,000 in credit union donations. More than 120,000 of the calendars have been sold since 2010, with more than $10,000 in donations going to the Credit Unions for Kids program.
 
When credit unions purchase the specially branded calendars, 10% of the purchase price is donated to CMN Hospitals through the Credit Unions for Kids program. Credit union donations serve children in their geographic areas.
 
In addition, CSS donates 10% of the net proceeds from the sale of all Credit Unions for Kids branded calendars.
 
CMN Hospitals in North Dakota will get an extra benefit this year, thanks to a commitment from CSS to donate a percentage of its net proceeds from sales of the calendars. Postal Family FCU, a $19 million-asset credit union in Fargo, N.D., was selected randomly, and CSS will make a $575 donation on behalf of Postal Family FCU.
 
The calendar program raises funds and awareness about the work being done at 170 children's hospitals throughout North America.
 
"We're extremely proud of our partnership with CUNA Strategic Services and look forward to working together for years to come on behalf of the kids served by our CMN Hospitals," said Joe Dearborn, senior director for CMN Hospitals. "It is through the support of programs like the CSS calendar program that credit unions have established themselves as one of the premier partners of CMN Hospitals."
 
Credit Unions for Kids has raised more than $110 million for CMN Hospitals since its inception in 1996.

Autos drive Ark. loans past savings balances

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (2/24/14)--A strong auto lending market, driven by a revitalized economy, highlighted Arkansas credit union financial results in 2013, the Cornerstone Credit Union League reported Friday.
 
In a sign that Arkansas's economy continues to improve, credit union loan growth in the state outpaced savings gains by a wide margin in 2013. Overall, credit union loan portfolios grew by 6.8% in the 12 months ending December 2013, while savings balances increased by 3% in the year.
 
The 6.8% full-year loan portfolio rise was the largest percentage gain Arkansas credit unions experienced since 2009. It also represented the first time since 2008 that annual credit union loan increases exceeded savings increases in the state. 
 
Automobile lending continued to drive overall loan results in 2013 as improving labor markets and pent-up demand motivated more consumers to purchase vehichles.  The surge in borrowing activity in Arkansas was reflected in a 24.4% full-year jump in used auto loans and a 4.8% increase in new vehicle loan balances in the year.
 
Credit cards and other unsecured loan balances increased by 4% and 2.6% respectively. The average rate on a platinum credit card at Arkansas credit unions was 9.12%---that is 1.81% lower than the 10.93% average at Arkansas banks.
 
Arkansas credit unions continued to offer better rates on loan products than state banks. The current rate on a five-year new auto loan at the state's credit unions now averages 2.15 percentage points lower than the comparable rate at the state's banking institutions according to Informa Research Services.  On a five-year, $30,000 new car loan the credit union advantage saves the average Arkansas consumer over $344 per year--or more than $1,720 over the life of the loan.
 
Total membership in the state's credit unions jumped by 1.4% in 2013---the fastest increase since 2010. It also is more than four times higher than the 0.32% rate of state population growth in the period according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Fortney retiring from NASCUS after 21 years

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ARLINGTON, Va. (2/24/14)--After more than 21 years with the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS)--11 as president/CEO--Mary Martha Fortney is retiring.
 
She joined NASCUS in 1993 as director of accreditation and communications, where she was responsible for the NASCUS state accreditation program and for NASCUS written communications.
 
During Fortney's tenure, NASCUS became a known voice in Washington, D.C. The association now routinely works with the other financial regulators and policymakers to reshape regulation.
 
Fortney was an early advocate for responsible charter advancements in secondary capital, expanded and diversified fields of membership, business lending, protecting credit union unrelated business tax exemption (UBIT), and protecting state authority. 
 
"NASCUS, state regulators and state credit union officials are appreciative of Mary Martha's tireless efforts on behalf of the dual charter during her tenure.  She has led NASCUS through an important period of credit union history and positioned NASCUS to continue to evolve with the industry as we look forward to the future," said Catherine Tierney, advisory council chair.
 
Fortney's career will be honored at the 2014 NASCUS Annual State System Summit Sept. 10-12 in Nashville, Tenn.
 
The NASCUS board and advisory council have started the search process for the next CEO, who is expected to be announced during the fourth quarter of this year.

Coopera, CUNA announce Morrow Hispanic growth fund

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DES MOINES, Iowa (2/24/14)--Hispanic market solutions company Coopera, in partnership with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), has developed a grant fund in honor of the late Warren Morrow, credit union advocate and Coopera founder.
 
The Warren Morrow Hispanic Growth Fund, established through the National Credit Union Foundation, will help credit unions with less than $500 million in assets start or enhance a Hispanic growth program.
 
"Warren was a visionary in the credit union industry who saw immense potential for growth for those cooperatives that focused strategically on serving the largest, fastest-growing and youngest community in the United States," said Miriam De Dios, Coopera CEO. "To carry on his legacy, this fund supports what Warren believed deeply--that credit unions were the avenue to providing dignified financial services to Hispanics," she added.
 
"I can't think of a better way to celebrate Warren than by carrying forward his vision," commented Jill Tomalin, CUNA executive vice president and chief operating officer.
 
To kick off contributions to the fund, Coopera will donate $1,000 as a part of its participation in the "Make a Difference" project hosted from its booth (#329) at the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference through Thursday in Washington, D.C.
 
To donate, use the link.
 
A celebration will take place at the 2014 CUNA Community Credit Union & Growth Conference, scheduled for Nov. 3-6 in Las Vegas.

Ohio league elects executive officers

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (2/24/14)--The Ohio Credit Union League announced the results of officer elections for its board and several affiliated organization boards.
 
Board officers include:
  • Chair--Barry Shaner, Directions CU, Sylvania;
  • Vice chair--Stan Barnes, CSE FCU, Canton;
  • Treasurer--Christine Blake,  Cardinal Community CU, Mentor; and
  • Secretary--Scott Hicks, Clyde-Findlay Area CU, Clyde.
 OCUL Services Corp. board officers include:
  • Chair--Tamlyn Straight-Schervish, Unity Catholic FCU, Parma;
  • Vice chair--Vidya Iyengar, Marion (Ohio) Community CU;
  • Treasurer--Blake; and
  • Secretary--Brent Binkley, School Employees Lorain County CU, Elyria.
 Ohio Credit Union Legislative Action Committee and Ohio Credit Union League Political Action Committee boards of trustees officers include:
  • Chair--Gary Soukenik, Seven Seventeen CU, Warren;
  • Vice chair--Mike Kurish, Associated School ECU, Youngstown;
  • Treasurer--Catherine Herring, Communicating Arts CU, Cincinnati; and
  • Secretary--Karen Reams, Millstream Area CU, Findlay.
 Ohio Credit Union Foundation board officers include:
  • Chair--Barnes;
  • Vice chair--Sonja Delaney, Midwest Community FCU, Defiance;
  • Treasurer--Jack Wilster, Seven Seventeen CU; and
  • Secretary--Sandy McCormick, Telhio CU, Columbus.

GAC hashtags can amplify CU message

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WASHINGTON (2/24/14)--With a record attendance of more than 4,400 credit union advocates attending the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference today through Feb. 27, the credit union system's collective eye will be turned toward Washington, D.C. CUNA GAC attendees have an opportunity to further amplify their voices by participating in the credit union social media conversation.
 
The GAC conversation will take place across all CUNA social media platforms, said Amaia Kirtland, CUNA's social and digital media manager. During the conference CUNA will host a social media hub on the convention center's L Street bridge, where attendees can meet and connect.
 
CUNA employees also will help attendees set up and use CUNA GAC and CUNA Advocacy apps, which will help them make the most of the GAC experience, including following the social conversation.
 
Attendees should follow these handles:
  • @CUNA
  • @CUNAAdvocacy
  • @NewsNowLiveWire
  • @CUMagazine
  • @aSmarterChoice
And they should use and follow Twitter hashtags:
  • #CUNAGAC
  • #UniteforGood
  • #DontTaxMyCU
  • #CrashtheGAC14
The hashtags will work on Goolge +, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, LinkedIn and Facebook.
 
"GAC participants--and credit union advocates everywhere--are encouraged to engage and share content as well as post and share their original content," said Kirtland. "Use of the hashtag facilitates everyone's ability to participate, even those who cannot be in attendance, and increases the overall impact of our credit union message."
 
Kirtland also encouraged attendees to post photos and videos to make their posts more engaging. For example, she suggested that when advocates visit their lawmakers on Capitol Hill, which is a key component of the CUNA GAC experience, they should feel free to ask for a photo and tag the elected official in the post with the hashtag #DontTaxMyCU. 
 
Credit union advocates should be respectful of political differences, she advised. "We're really aiming to share the positive credit union story here," she added.
 
CUNA will also post Unite For Good visual storyboards and banner throughout the conference where advocates can take pictures and then explain how their credit union is taking action on Unite For Good--the CUNA vision announced at last year's GAC in which "Americans Choose Credit Unions As Their Best Financial Partner."

Inform legislators about CU difference before issues arise, says Kahley

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (2/24/14)--Even if there aren't pressing issues at the state legislative level, credit unions need to engage with lawmakers. "We need to get to know them when we don't need anything from them," advised Reta Kahley, president of the Arkansas Credit Union Association, a division of the Cornerstone Credit Union League.
 
"That way when an issue does arise, and we need their support--we have already established that relationship," Kahley told the Cornerstone Credit Union League.
 
About 20 delegates represented more than a dozen credit unions during the Feb. 12 legislative lunch at the Arkansas capital. About 100 lawmakers attended the informal gathering. "Our lawmakers appreciate that," she said, adding, "In fact, they hold our format as the standard for other associations to emulate."
Because this session is centered on the budget, there were no credit union issues in play. Instead, the conversations focused on how credit unions make a difference in their members' lives and the positive impact they have on communities, Kahley added.
 
One state legislator did ask how the Dodd-Frank act is affecting credit unions, and Kahley offered up the league as a resource if he wanted more information.
 
"I'm certain that our lawmakers appreciate our credit unions for being there and being open to conversation," she said. "I, for one, am very appreciative that our credit unions recognize the value in engaging with legislators and sharing our story.
 
"If we want to influence legislation, we have to have a presence," Kahley said.
 
In Washington, D.C., this week, the presence is huge because thousands of credit union advocates at attending the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference--building relationships with representatives and senators.

CU System briefs (02/21/2014)

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  • ST. PAUL, Minn. (2/21/14)--The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation is offering $7,500 in grants to assist Minnesota credit unions implement financial education projects. Applications are being accepted through April 1, with recipients notified in mid-April. The foundation's board evaluates applications on credit union value, community impact, collaboration, creativity, and past involvement in and support of foundation activities. ...
  • CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (2/21/14)--Focusing on electronic statements and mobile banking helped Fort Campbell FCU become the first "Green Certified" credit union in the Clarksville-Montgomery County program. The $433 million-asset credit union also launched a large-scale recycling initiative and installed energy-saving light sensors. Fort Campbell FCU also hosts community shred days, and members can access shred bins at any of the Clarksville, Tenn.-based credit union's branches. ...
     
  • BENTON, Ark. (2/21/14)--Alcoa Community FCU, $40 in million assets, announced Stephen Brown as its new CEO. Before joining the Benton, Ark., credit union, Brown was a senior managing director at Acxiom, an enterprise data, analytics and software-as-a-service company in Little Rock, Ark. ...
  • EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (2/21/14)--On Tuesday, members of $4.7 million-asset Sacred Heart Hospital Employees CU in Eau Claire, Wis., voted to merge with Royal CU, also in Eau Claire. The merger will be effective Feb. 28 with the conversion set for March 29. "We are grateful that our colleagues have had the services of a credit union on site for all these years and that they will be able to continue to access these services through Royal CU in the future,"" said Faye Deich, chief operating officer, Sacred Heart Hospital. Royal CU has $1.3 billion in assets. ...

NEW: Fortney announces retirement from NASCUS

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ARLINGTON, Va. (2/21/14 Updated 11:30 a.m. ET)--President/CEO Mary Martha Fortney will retire after 21 years with the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS).

Fortney has been president/CEO for the past 11 years. She joined NASCUS as director of accreditation and communications, where she was responsible for the NASCUS state accreditation program and for NASCUS written communications. 

Fortney was instrumental in moving the association forward in its efforts to promote and ensure the viability of the state credit union system, said today's press release.

Board Chair John Kolhoff recognized Fortney's leadership "over a challenging period for both the regulators and the industry." He added, "Through this period of significant change she has been a leader in establishing strong dialogue amongst federal and state regulators and the institutions they supervise." 

Fortney's career will be honored at the 2014 NASCUS Annual State System Summit Sept. 10-12 in Nashville, Tenn.

The NASCUS board and advisory council have begun the search process for the next CEO. Fortney's replacement is expected to be named during the fourth quarter of 2014.

Jones to retire from Okla. CU Assn.; Webb to succeed

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (2/21/14)--Gary Jones will retire as president of the Oklahoma Credit Union Association, a division of the Cornerstone Credit Union League, effective March 31.
 
Jones was instrumental in the consolidation of the Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas leagues in 2013 (Leaguer Feb. 20).
 
Nate Webb, a partner with the lobby firm Capitol Gains LLC, has been selected to replace Jones. Capitol Gains has previously represented the Oklahoma Credit Union League.
 
From 2007 to 2011, Webb was chief of staff in the office of U.S. Rep Mary Fallin (R-Okla.), who is now Oklahoma's governor. From 2003 to 2006, he served as chief of staff when Fallin was lieutenant governor. U.S. Rep. Steve Largent (R-Okla.) selected Webb as his communication director when Largent was a candidate for governor in 2002.
 
Webb graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma majoring in journalism and political science. Also, from 1975 to 1979, he served in the U.S. Navy.

Filene colloquium: Payments need to be all things to all members

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MADISON, Wis. (2/21/14)--Credit unions need to be active in the changing market for payments systems despite uncertainty over its future, a Filene Research Institute report concluded.
 
The report, based on a recent Filene colloquium in Salt Lake City, found that members want to increase mobile banking options, even if they are rapidly changing.
 
But while there is far from a consensus on how the dust will settle, the colloquium agreed that demand is robust and isn't currently being fulfilled by credit unions.
 
"Members want to make payments to anyone, from anywhere and through any account," the report stated. "Most credit unions don't currently have the systems in place to make this happen, but they do have strengths that will serve them well in reaching this critical goal."
 
Muddying the waters, speakers said, was the fact that best practices or services aren't yet clear. Credit unions are grappling between different types of IT--namely the choice between near-field communications and cloud technology--and the extent to which services should be outsourced.
 
The report noted that credit unions can get a leg up in the competition for payment service demand by stressing their reputation for "better money management." It added that effective use of transaction data, "developing better ways to deliver plastic" and digital wallet development are prerequisites in this line of branding, however.
 
"Credit unions can't afford to take a wait-and see approach to the payments conundrum," the report concluded.
 
Experts at the event, from both inside and outside the credit union, discussed the digital wallet, emerging payments and how Canadian credit unions are changing with respect to payment services. They discussed the effect of payment services on revenue opportunities and member relationships.
 
A panel discussion also covered significant payment drivers, the importance of data, whether credit unions can compete when price drives consumer and merchant decision-making and why credit unions must embrace collaboration.

CUNA Mutual records 7.8% income growth in 2013

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MADISON, Wis. (2/21/14)--CUNA Mutual Group Thursday reported a net income increase of 7.8% for 2013. Net income rose to $162 million, compared with $150 million in 2012.
 
Strong operating results in lending, life, health and property and casualty products helped offset weather-related losses in the company's crop insurance business.  Solid investment performance also contributed to higher net income in 2013, the company said.
 
"Low catastrophic losses in our auto and home and credit union protection products helped offset weather-related losses from our crop insurance business," said Alastair Shore, executive vice president and chief financial officer. "We continue to invest in new capabilities to grow our core credit union businesses, while improving our already strong capital position."   
 
Operating revenue increased by 8.6% in 2013. A better lending environment, and improvements in consumer product lines and the crop insurance business, were key factors driving the year's revenue gain.
 
"CUNA Mutual Group has clear momentum. We are financially strong, investing in our company for the long term, and committed to credit unions and their members," said President/CEO Bob Trunzo. "We remain focused on serving hardworking Americans with the products and services they need to build a strong financial future and protect what matters most."
 
CUNA Mutual Group's total cash and investment holdings as of Dec. 31 were $11.1 billion.  The company's investment portfolio is well diversified with an average credit quality of "A." 
 
CUNA Mutual Group contributed $38 million to support credit union leagues and industry efforts in 2013. The company also invested more than $50 million primarily to strengthen its lending compliance and grow its consumer business. Benefits paid to domestic credit union policyholders in 2013 of $981 million were up 8% over 2012. 
 
Statutory total adjusted capital of CMFG Life Insurance Co., CUNA Mutual Group's lead life insurance company, increased to $1.8 billion in 2013, up $152 million from 2012.  The company's consolidated generally accepted accounting principle surplus ended the year at $2.4 billion, a decline of 4% from 2012 despite strong earnings. Net unrealized gains in the investment portfolio driven by rising interest rates. 
 
A.M. Best recently affirmed CUNA Mutual Group's key insurance companies' ratings at "A" (Excellent), the third highest of 16 financial strength categories, with a stable outlook.

PCUA shows its 'Membership in Action'

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (2/21/14)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association released its annual Membership in Action document, a "snapshot" of key activities the league performed for its members. It illustrates 2013 achievements in the areas of legislative and regulatory advocacy, compliance services, communications and public relations, education and professional development and through its charitable arm, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation.
 
Among the accomplishments the league highlighted:
  • More than 28,000 legislative contacts were made through the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" initiative to help preserve the credit union tax-exempt status.
  • Political action committees raised $130,000 and contributed to 80 credit union-friendly candidates.
  • Association compliance officers responded to more than 2,800 email and telephone inquiries from members.
  • Online compliance resources, such as InfoSight, attracted 22,000 visits from credit unions, while the online policy library Policy Pro logged more than 4,000 visits.
  • The cooperative advertising campaign iBelong continued to build awareness of credit unions, with 22,893 visitors helping consumers locate a credit union they could join.
  • In 2013, more than 2,800 registrants attended in-person events, and webinar attendance exceeded 1,300 registrants.
  • As the PCUA's philanthropic arm, the foundation on raised $255,500 in contributions. During the year, it awarded 33 unrestricted grants for $143,500, including eight financial literacy grants for $69,000. It also monitored 65 grants and successfully completed 27 grants in 2013.

29 named 'Women of Distinction' by CBSI

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ST. LOUIS (2/21/14)--At the company's annual FOCUS 2014 Conference, CUNA Brokerage Services Inc. (CBSI) honored 29 financial advisers with Women of Distinction awards in recognition of their superior performance, value to their investment and insurance programs, exceptional client service and overall contribution to the financial services industry and CBSI.
 
A program created by women, for women, Women of Distinction is an award recognizing the top performing female financial advisers within CBSI's broker/dealer operation nationally.
 
"Their contributions to the clients they serve, the financial services industry and to the women they mentor are exemplary and worthy of recognition," said Jim Metz, president/CEO of CBSI.
 
Candidates are nominated by industry peers. Then, selections are based on the nominee's annual performance and outstanding contribution to their clientele, the credit unions they service, as well as the financial services industry as a whole.
 
Award recipients participate in a national mentoring program to work with other female advisers who are new to the industry as well as those who want to improve in their profession.
 
2014 Women of Distinction recipients include:
  • Melissa Acher, Purdue FCU, West Lafayette, Ind.;
  • Helen Alexander, Red Canoe CU, Longview, Wash.;
  • Emmor Boslet, Belco Community CU, Camp Hill, Pa.;
  • Julie Brand,  FirstLight FCU, El Paso, Texas;
  • Jane Brockway, University of Illinois ECU, Champaign, Ill.;
  • Jody Brown, Summit CU, Madison, Wis.;
  • Marilyn Burell, CEFCU, Pekin, Ill.;
  • Cindy Sforza Buss, Schools First FCU, Fountain Valley, Calif.;
  • Kathy Chesney, Pacific Marine CU, Oceanside, Calif.;
  • Janeen Crane, Teachers CU, South Bend, Ind.;
  • Wendy Cundari, San Diego Metropolitan CU, San Diego, Calif.;
  • Carol Diest, First Community FCU, Kalamazoo, Mich.;
  • Joey Dylla, Randolph Brooks FCU, Live Oak, Texas;
  • Bethel Ellis, The Tennessee CU, Nashville, Tenn.;
  • Marioreen Gibson, Neches FCU, Port Neches, Texas;
  • Leigh Glover, Southeast Financial CU, Brentwood, Tenn.;
  • Kim Hamblin, America First FCU, Ogden, Utah;
  • Tiffany Haupert, Beacon CU, Wabash, Ind.;
  • Joni Hootman, CEFCU, Canton, Ill.;
  • Anna Kamp, Anheuser-Busch ECU, St. Louis;
  • Mary A LaFerriere, Novartis FCU, East Hanover, N.J.;
  • Juanita McCormick, Weokie CU, Oklahoma City, Okla.;
  • Wanda Miller, CFP, First New York FCU, Schenectady, N.Y.;
  • Stephanie Morales, Vantage West CU, Tucson, Ariz.;
  • Kim O'Donohue, CEFCU, Lincoln, Ill.;
  • Pamela Schwartz, Alcoa Tennessee FCU, Alcoa, Tenn.;
  • Kim Shirk, Heritage FCU, Newburgh, Ind.;
  • Jennifer Wagnerowski, Teachers CU, Mishawaka, Ind.;
  • Suzi Williams, Solarity CU,  Yakima, Wash.
The FOCUS 2014 conference featured 26 sessions designed to deliver motivation, knowledge and best practices to more than 500 financial advisers and executives.

Local govt. officials support Ohio public deposit testimony

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (2/21/14)--Local government officials joined Ohio Credit Union League delegates to support credit unions as depositories of public funds during last week's proponent testimony.

"Grandview Heights' depository options likely do not mirror other municipalities; however, approval of [House Bill] 221 does one thing: it provides choice," Mayor Ray DeGraw told the Ohio House State and Local Government Committee (eLumination Feb. 19).
 
HB 221, also known as the Community Access and Local Government Choice Act, would permit credit unions to serve as eligible depositories. Lima Municipal Court Clerk Jim Link said the bill "makes sense because credit unions are community-based, reinvesting these funds into member-owners of the cooperative and small businesses throughout the county."
 
League Director of Legislative Affairs Patrick Harris added credit unions' desire to participate in under-utilized, "linked-deposit programs" in partnership with the state of Ohio. "Credit unions, their members, and member businesses should have equal and fair access to these vital programs which can help create jobs and economic development," he said during the proponent testimony.
 
Also on hand were representatives from Bridge CU, Columbus; Desco FCU, Portsmouth; Hopewell FCU, Heath; KEMBA Financial CU, Gahanna; Pathways Financial CU, Columbus; State Highway Patrol FCU, Columbus; Superior FCU, Lima; and Telhio CU, Columbus.
 
Opponent testimony will likely be held in early March.

Target card breach cost Minn. CUs estimated $750,000

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (2/21/14)--An estimated $750,000 in costs have been incurred by Minnesota credit unions because of the Target data security breach, according to the Minnesota Credit Union Network (McCUN).
 
The state's numbers--broken down from the Credit Union National Association's national survey--include 27,000 credit and 117,000 debit cards that were compromised with a cost per card of $5.15.
 
Target is headquartered in Minneapolis.
 
"Credit unions and their members throughout Minnesota have been impacted by the data breach and they are having to cover those costs by themselves," said MnCUN President/CEO Mark Cummins. "Credit unions have incurred all of the costs related to reissuing cards, monitoring accounts for fraud, notifying members and closing and reopening accounts."
 
CUNA's numbers primarily are related to reissuing cards and other administrative expenses, which have cost credit unions nationally an estimated $30.6 million. Fraudulent activity--past or future--is not included in the survey results.
 
"Protecting members' financial and personal information is critical for credit unions--not just because it is required by regulations, but also because credit unions value the trust their members place in them," Cummins said.
 
He urged Congress to consider "legislation that holds all participants in the payments system to comparable security standards, allows for informing consumers about where their data was compromised, and requires merchants to reimburse credit unions for the costs of reissuing cards."
 
CUNA also has urged lawmakers to take a broad look at how consumer data is secured and the improvements that are necessary to prevent future breaches.

CU System briefs (02/20/2014)

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  • RICHMOND, Va. (2/20/14)--Virginia CU, Richmond, Va., will soon donate more than $30,000 to the Children's Hospital of Richmond thanks to the Virginia Commonwealth University men's and women's basketball teams. The credit union agreed to donate $1 for every assist made by players of both teams during the 2013-2014 season on top of $29,371.46 it gave to the hospital Jan. 7 (Current Feb. 14). At the start of the month, the program had increased the overall donation by $666 with more than 15 games remaining in the regular season. "When the Rams make an assist on the court, they help their teammates succeed. As a credit union, 'making an assist' is what we aim to do for our members," said Jane Watkins, president/CEO of the $2.5 billion-asset credit union. ...
     
  • MONETT, Mo. (2/20/14)--Jack Henry & Associates President Tony Wormington announced Monday he would retire June 30 from the technology solutions and payment processing services provider. Wormington first started at the Monett, Mo.-based company as an installer. He was named COO in 2003 and moved to the president position a year later. David Foss, current president of Jack Henry's ProfitStars division, will succeed Wormington. ...
     
  • HARAHAN, La. (2/20/14)--The Louisiana Credit Union League announced that Vice President Jennifer Green will be leaving Feb. 28 (eNews Feb. 19). For more than 12 years, Green has worked in communications, compliance, education and information technology. Jennifer has been a valuable asset not only for the league, but for Louisiana credit unions," league President/CEO Anne Cochran said. "She has played a significant role in many of the league's programs that are ongoing today." ...
     
  • FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (2/20/14)--Cornerstone Credit Union League executive Linda Winkfein died Monday of a heart attack (Leaguer Feb. 19). She was 66. Winkfein, who was vice president of small credit union development, had been with the league for 16 years. She previously worked for Dallas CU from 1979 to 1988. While at the $46 million-asset credit union, Winkfein served on the Dallas Chapter of Credit Unions, including one year as chapter president. She also served on the league's board of directors for seven years. "Linda was on the board when I came to the league," said President/CEO Dick Ensweiler, adding, "In fact, she was on the CEO Selection Committee." In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation. ...
 

NCUF encourages going casual for Financial Fitness Day April 2

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MADISON, Wis. (2/20/14)--To kick off National Financial Literacy Month, credit unions are being encouraged to hold a Financial Fitness Day fundraiser April 2.
 
"Financial Fitness Day is a simple way for credit union organizations to make an impact on state and national financial education efforts," said Christopher Morris, director of communications, National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF).
 
The foundation suggests credit unions offer a jeans or casual day for staff or a bake sale. Deduct-a-buck or donate-a-buck programs offer members and staff a chance to contribute by adding $1 donation during a transaction.
 
"Americans spend months getting their physical health into shape as part of their New Year's resolutions," said Danielle Brown, NCUF director of development and donor relations. "Kicking off National Financial Literacy Month in April, Financial Fitness Day is dedicated to helping members get their financial health in shape."
 
Donations made as part of the initiative will be split evenly between NCUF and the state credit union foundation in which the donation was made.

Utah league launches 30-day voter registration campaign

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SALT LAKE CITY (2/20/14)--On Wednesday, the Utah Credit Union Association (UCUA) set into motion a 30-day campaign to get citizens registered to vote by visiting credit union branches or a special website.
 
Rolled out on the steps of the Capitol, "Ready. Set. Vote." can assist Utah's 750,000 unregistered voters prepare for the polls. "We're trying to make that as easy as possible," said Scott Simpson, UCUA president/CEO (The Salt Lake Tribune Feb. 19).
 
Getting registered now means voters will be able to take part in next month's political party caucuses, which begin the long string of elections between now and the November general election. Utah will hold caucuses in March, conventions in April and primaries in June.
 
Simpson said that if someone is not registered to vote, they "really are not part of the dialogue."
 
About 100 credit union members and employees who had just registered stood behind Simpson as he announced "Ready. Set. Vote." in the Hall of Governors at the State Capitol building.
 
Voter participation is encouraged on the campaign's website: "It's your voice for what you want in our community, who you want to lead, and what issues you want resolved."

Conn. league adds voice to 'patent troll' reform with Blumenthal letter

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MERIDEN, Conn. (2/20/14)--The Credit Union League of Connecticut has forwarded a letter to Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) calling for patent reforms due to the growing impact of abusive litigation.
 
In announcing the letter to its membership, the league cited efforts by the Credit Union National Association and the Main Street Patent Coalition urging lawmakers to pass comprehensive patent troll reform.
 
So-called "patent trolls" use low-quality patents in an effort to extract settlements from credit unions.
 
"Over the past decade credit unions have increasingly found themselves the target of frivolous lawsuits from so-called patent trolls," states the letter, which is signed by league president Jill Nowacki and Kelly Ramsey-Fuhlbrigge, vice president of government relations. "Here in Connecticut, we would like to add our voice to urge the passing of comprehensive reform proposals that address five key areas: transparency, patent quality, demand letters, end users and litigation costs."
 
Transparency can be improved by eliminating the opportunity for trolls to hide behind multiple shell corporations, the letter states. "Legislation must address patent quality by expanding inexpensive review opportunities for unwisely issued patents," the letter adds. "It should make it easier to punish trolls that send fraudulent and abusive shakedown demand letters."
 
Patent trolls enforce questionable claims through demand letters to credit unions and other businesses by threatening to file lawsuits to collect licensing fees for patents, the letter alleges. "Patent trolls often allege that the use of necessary everyday technology violates the patent holders' rights, state vague or hypothetical theories of infringement, often overstate or grossly reinterpret the patent in question, and make allegations of infringement of expired or previously licensed patents," the letter states.
 
The letter explains that credit unions find they have no choice but to settle patent claims because they find defending themselves in court is too costly, which the trolls are gambling on.
 
CUNA supports a number of proposals currently being considered in the Senate, including the demand letter components of the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act of 2013 (S. 1720), offered by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), along with the Patent Litigation Integrity Act of 2013 (S. 1612) offered by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and the Patent Quality Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 866), offered by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) (News Now Feb. 12).

To read the letter, use the link.

CUNA, CBA Target breach numbers grab media's attention

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MADISON, Wis. (2/20/14)--Several media outlets cited the recent statistics announced by the Credit Union National Association and the Consumer Bankers Association that the Target data security breach has topped $200 million for member credit unions and banks combined.
 
"The tally by the industry trade groups is the most comprehensive so far in identifying the impact on banks and others from the breach that made vulnerable the card accounts of 40 million Target shoppers," a Feb. 18 article in The Wall Street Journal reported. The Wall Street Journal's Corporate Intelligence Feb. 18 blog also cited the same article by reporter Saabira Chaudhuri.
 
The same article also quoted CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney. "Credit unions have replaced or will replace 85% of their cards affected by the Target breach at no cost to their members," Cheney said in a statement. "The combined $200 million cost borne entirely by banks and credit unions shows the extent to which financial institutions will go to protect their customers and members."
 
The Huffington Post also cited CUNA/CBA statistics in a Feb. 18 article. "The more than $200 million in costs doesn't take into account any fraudulent activity, which would push the cost of the data breach to the industry higher as consumers are not held liable," The Huffington Post reported.
 
In another article, "Target hack strips banks and credit unions of $200M," CNet reported, "In all, 40 million credit and debit cards were compromised in the breach. So far, banks and credit unions have replaced 54.5%, or 21.8 million cards. The cost to banks could increase if additional fraudulent activity occurs with the compromised cards."
 
Fox Business noted that the cost to CUNA member credit unions from the Target breach has so far totaled $30.6 million.
 
The National Journal also picked up the CUNA/CBA statistics in a Feb. 18 article. "The Credit Union National Association has updated its calculations of damages incurred by credit unions to $30.6 million, up from $25 million," the article reported.
 
To read the full articles, use the links.

CU's education excellence prize pays teachers' mortgages

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PORTLAND, Ore. (2/20/14)--OnPoint Community CU announced details for its fifth prize for excellence in education, which awards funds to schools and pays the mortgages for one year for two winning teachers.
 
The $3.4 billion-asset credit union recognizes one kindergarten through eighth-grade teacher and one ninth- through 12th-grade teacher as Educators of the Year. It pays the winners' mortgages for one school year and donates $1,000 to their schools. One finalist from each grade range will receive $500 for themselves and $500 for their schools.
 
Nominations are being accepted by the Portland, Ore.-based credit union until April 15. Winners will be announced May 22. OnPoint Community CU was founded by teachers more than 80 years ago.
 
"Our annual OnPoint Prize award celebrates extraordinary teachers whose work sparks enthusiasm and passion in students and their parents," said President/CEO Rob Stuart. "This award is an opportunity to recognize educators who make a difference in the lives of students and the communities where we live."
 
Last year, Barbara Nasewytewa, a fifth-grade teacher at Brookwood Elementary School, Hillsboro, Ore., was honored as named K-8 Educator of the Year. Nasewytewa was recognized for her positive impact on students, dedication to school-wide initiatives such as summer science camp and ongoing collaboration with peers.
 
Francesca Morrison, an economics teacher at McMinnville High School, was named 9-12 Educator of the Year for 2013. She was recognized for development of financial literacy lessons including the Entrepreneur Marketplace, "An Interview with History" collection on wartime experiences and her support of Special Olympics and Project Unity.
 

Wash. Post's Singletary offers tips for America/Military Saves week

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WASHINGTON (2/20/14)--Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary this week offered consumers advice for saving during America/MilitaryAmerica Saves Week, sponsored by the Consumer Federation of American.

Singletary is a longtime credit union supporter and has spoken at several Credit Union National Association events.
 
Perhaps just as importantly, Singletary offered empathy to would-be savers. "I know that for many Americans, finding money to save is tough," Singletary wrote. "When experts recommend that you need to save at least six months of living expenses, I see people take a heavy breath."
 
Her advice: Start small. "To start, aim to save one month's worth of expenses," Singletary advised. "Then, as you get extra money, add it to your emergency pot."
 
She offered consumers a daily plan to get started saving during America Saves Week:
 
Monday. She advised consumer to start the week by deciding to save, figuring out where to cut expenses and going on a budget.
 
Tuesday. This is the day consumers should make a plan to pay off their debt. She advised listing all debts and targeting the lowest balance first while making minimum payments on the others to create a psychological boost.
 
Wednesday. Automatically deposit money from each paycheck into a savings account. Even start with an amount as low as $5, Singletary said.
 
Thursday. Review retirement savings goals. Consumers with access to a workplace retirement plan such as a 401(k) should start right away.
 
Friday. Consumers who are receiving a tax refund should earmark some or all of it for savings. Even if consumers have debt to pay, set aside some for savings, Singletary said.
 
Saturday. Assess progress. "If you procrastinated, use the weekend to take some action," Singletary urged readers."
 
To read the article, use the link.

CBSI: CUs need to be ready for $30T wealth transfer to Gens X, Y

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ST. LOUIS (2/20/14)--Credit unions stand to lose significant business over the next decade unless they woo more younger members, speakers at a CUNA Brokerage Service Inc. (CBSI) conference said Monday.
 
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
The aging baby boomer generation will redistribute significant wealth through inheritance over the next decade, the speakers said, and credit unions will lose out on this transfer if they don't actively engage younger cohorts before it happens.
 
"Research shows 71% of 18- to 24-year-olds have little to no knowledge of credit unions," said David Polet, voice of customer director at CUNA Mutual Group. He added, "That's a problem because this generation will be critically important to the future of your credit union in the years to come."
 
Roughly 30 trillion dollars will be passed down from baby boomers to Generations X and Y over the next three or four decades, according to a 2012 Accenture white paper. Polet and CBSI Vice President Gary Weuve warned that credit unions are increasingly losing out on this money as competition for younger consumers heats up.
 
The pair encouraged credit union professionals to start building relationships with younger members and potential members. Weuve suggested clients "bring their kids into the discussion regarding inheritance."
 
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
Polet said that younger adults are interested in financial management, "highly open to seeking advice" and more likely to receive that from a financial institution than an individual. A study published in April 2013 by research and consulting firm LIMRA found that 78% of Generation X and Generation Y members contributed to retirement accounts when they worked with an adviser, while only 43% who didn't have an adviser saved for retirement.
 
Social media and email marketing have been successful in attracting younger members, said Waylon Peterson, wealth management president at Teachers CU, South Bend, Ind. Peterson is part of CBSI's credit union advisory panel.
 
"We're focused on building relationships with the beneficiaries of our current investment members through direct mail, reviews, and seminars," he said, adding that the $2.3 billion-asset credit union has developed a plan using CBSI data to target younger members.

CU System briefs (02/19/2014)

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  • FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (2/19/14)-- Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) will be a guest speaker at the Oklahoma Governmental Affairs Conference . Fallin, who was elected governor in 2010, will join attendees during the legislative prep session at the Capitol ( Leaguer Feb. 18). The one-day GAC, which includes a breakfast with legislators, will be held at the Credit Union House of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City March 11 ...
  • BOSTON (2/19/14)-- Credit unions' tax status and student loans were among the topics discussed by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Massachusetts Credit Union League President Paul Gentile during his visit to her Boston office Friday ( Daily CU Scan Feb. 18). They also discussed data breaches, member business loans and supplemental capital.  "The senator is clearly very well-acquainted with our issues, and we had a very productive meeting," Gentile said (Photo provided by Massachusetts Credit Union League) ...
  • FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (2/19/14)--Two Texarkana, Ark., credit unions announced their merger agreement. On Feb. 6, the members of Miller County Teachers FCU, $3.3 million in assets, voted in favor of the merger with $105 million-asset Mil-Way FCU ( Leaguer Feb. 18). Mil-Way FCU will have about 1,400 members after the merger. Rena Kirvin, CEO of Miller County Teachers FCU, will retire ...
  • SAN ANTONIO (2/19/14)-- The National Association of Credit Union Chairmen is accepting scholarship applications to attend its leadership development seminar June 29-July 1 in Baltimore. The Norma Benson Memorial Scholarship will go to a chairman from a credit union with less than $25 million in assets. Benson was an avid supporter of NACUC, also known as the Chairmen's Group, and past chairwoman of $393 million-asset Matanuska Valley FCU, Palmer, Alaska ...

LSCU report shows success of consolidation

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (2/19/14)--The League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) released its annual self-assessment, which shows what the league did for its member credit unions regarding governmental affairs, education, cooperative initiatives and communications.
 
"What you see more than anything is that consolidating the Alabama and Florida Leagues has been a success," said LSCU President/CEO Patrick La Pine ( eSignal Feb. 17). The league returned a 10% dues rebate worth $310,000--the first in its history. Its service corporation, LEVERAGE, shared more than $100,000 in patronage dividends to Alabama and Mississippi credit unions.
 
The league ended 2013 with an 84% affiliation rate and 11 new member credit unions.
 
"Our two states and the movement are stronger because we work cooperatively together," La Pine said.
 
Other highlights from 2013:
  • Generated more than 120,000 unique contacts to Congress for the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign;
     
  • Created the Alabama Credit Union Association and Florida Credit Union Association brands to raise state identity for advocacy efforts;
     
  • Drafted 19 comment call letters on federal regulatory proposals on behalf of credit unions;
     
  • Offered 103 webinars, training 837 people on compliance, lending and operations;
     
  • Partnered with the National Credit Union Administration for a small credit union boot camp in Birmingham, Ala., that drew more than 100 attendees from five states;
     
  • Presented CU Philosophy in Action Workshop highlighting cooperative principles of credit unions;
     
  • Raised more than $500,000 for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals through Alabama and Florida credit unions;
     
  • Introduced eSignal Daily to better inform credit unions of timely industry news; and
     
  • Added auditing, compliance and human resources services to its LEVERAGE offerings.

Small CU crushes BofA at breach notification, says reporter

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NEW YORK (2/19/14)--Credit unions' commitment to member service was driven home by a phone call from a CEO to a member after the discovery of the Target data security breach.
 
The member happened to be a reporter for a financial trade publication and a customer of Bank of America. What he encountered was a personal and "ultimately more comforting" message than what he received from the bank.
 
In a first-person account Tuesday, American Banker reporter Andy Peters detailed what made the interaction with Atlanta-based BOND Community FCU so special. Ruth Artis, CEO of the $40 million-asset credit union, called him directly. She informed him that his debit card had been compromised in the Target data breach, and a replacement card would arrive in a couple of weeks.
 
Compare that to the automated voice mail left behind by Bank of America's card services subsidiary, after which Peters tried to follow up with the customer service line. The agent would only share that the card had been affected by fraud at an "undisclosed retailer" and did not give a time frame of when the fraud occurred.
 
The large bank lost an opportunity to gain a consumer's confidence, according to Shirley Inscoe, a senior analyst at Aite Group.
 
Poor communication about fraud hurts a financial institution's business, she said, adding that consumers will put replacement cards in the back of their wallets or even stop using them completely.
 
And Artis' personal phone calls to the credit union's members?
 
"I can't imagine that anything else would rank above that," Inscoe told Peters. "That has to be the ultimate in customer service."

Dykstra calls for data security action at assembly hearing

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (2/19/14)--Diana Dykstra, president/CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, urged legislators to take action to reduce consumer credit data breaches in testimony during Tuesday's special joint informational hearing of the California Assembly Judiciary and Banking and Finance Committees on personal data.
 
Citing Credit Union National Association statistics, Dykstra noted the Target credit card data breach has cost the nation's credit unions more than $30 million before fraud costs were taken into account. Also, 4.6 million cards were reissued by credit unions at an average cost of $5.68 per affected card.
 
California's credit unions have been swarmed by consumer calls about their personal data, requiring the non-profit, member-owned organizations to absorb millions in additional costs, she said.
 
Dykstra urged the panel to incentivize retailers and third parties they contract with to better protect consumer data with tougher laws.

She referred to stricter laws in other states that shift the liability and levy penalties onto retailers responsible for data breaches--noting there are 46 states with disparate laws enacted to reduce data breaches. Nevada, Washington and Minnesota are among the states that have stricter laws than California.
 
"Where California has stopped, some other states have kept going to address the inequities and lack of responsibility that currently exists in the system," she noted. "Retailers have no real security standards, no financial responsibility when a breach occurs and no mandate to notify the public and hinder the financial institutions' ability to inform the consumer where the breach occurred. Unfortunately, both state and federal law as it exists today, allows merchants to abandon that responsibility, leaving consumers exposed."
 
Co-chaired by Assemblymen Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento) and Robert Wieckowski (D-Fremont), the special joint committee information hearing focused on ways to prevent future personal data breaches. In addition to Dykstra, representatives from the banking industry, consumer groups, retailers, and credit card industries also testified.

On the federal level, the Credit Union National Association has urged the U.S. Congress to take a broad look at how consumer data is secured and the improvements that are necessary to prevent future breaches.

In a statement submitted for a Senate hearing, CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney wrote, "Data breaches occur, in part, because merchants are not required to adhere to the same statutory data security standards that credit unions and other financial institutions must follow, and merchants are rarely held accountable for the costs others incur as a result of the breaches.

"All participants in the payment process have a shared responsibility to protect consumer data, but the law and the incentive structure today allows merchants to abdicate that responsibility, making consumers vulnerable."

Half of couples don't share financial info, TransUnion finds

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (2/19/14)--About a quarter of Americans polled don't discuss personal finances with their significant other, "because it's none of their business," according a recent survey by TransUnion.
 
Another 7.8% said they don't think couples should discuss personal finances until after they are married, reported the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation, the public charity of the Cornerstone Credit Union League, which serves credit unions in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas ( Leaguer Feb. 17)
 
Another 45% of married Americans surveyed said they do not know their partner's credit score.
 
"Mind your own business," is not a good financial strategy for couples, said Courtney Moran, executive director of the foundation.

"Of course couples should have frank and honest conversations about personal finance before--not after--they marry. When you get married, how your partner manages debt, assets and credit impacts you as a couple. If one person in the marriage is credit challenged, for example, it could impact the couple's ability to obtain joint credit. If one person is a saver and the other is a spender, it could lead to conflict in the marriage."
 
Before marriage, Moran encourages couples to:
  • Talk about assets, as well as debts;
  • Discuss savings and spending habits;
  • Be honest and open about credit histories;
  • Know each others' short and long-term financial goals; and
  • Share thoughts on how the finances should be handled after marriage--with joint or separate accounts.
"Being honest and upfront about personal finances before you walk down the aisle will help to ensure a more harmonious union," Moran added.

Cupid's bow busy with Valentine's Day card use

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (2/19/14)--Cupid must have been helping credit union members choose chocolate and "Cake Boss" during Valentine's Day shopping. Analysis of debit and credit transactions by card-holding credit union members showed a 19% increase across 16 types of merchants compared with last year.
 
According to CO-OP Financial Services Total Revelation's report, this year members spent more money on restaurants; cable, satellite and other pay television services; and groceries than they did in 2013.
 
Stan Hollen, CO-OP Financial Services President/CEO, said, "Valentine's Day this year happened to fall on the Friday before the three-day President's Day weekend, which perhaps fueled additional spending on what is normally a busy day for merchants."
 
CO-OP Total Revelation's analysis also found:
  • Restaurants saw a 20% percent increase in dollars spent compared with 2013;
     
  • Cable, satellite and other pay television services rose by 28%.
     
  • Grocery stores experienced the most sales in 2014 with 3 million separate transactions and $135 million in spend--a 17% increase year over year; and
     
  • Individual number of cash withdrawals increased by 18%.

Ore. legislative lunch sweetens relationships with lawmakers

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (2/19/14)--Oregon credit union advocates were easy to identify at the State Capitol Thursday. They wore bright yellow scarves and extended greetings with specially designed cookies featuring a silhouette of Oregon and birthday wishes to the state. During a very busy day in a short legislative session, Oregon credit unions were noticed, their stories were shared, and their message was heard.
 
Click to view larger image Pam Leavitt, the Northwest Credit Union Association's policy adviser for Oregon advocacy, sports one of the bright yellow scarves that Oregon credit union advocates wore in Salem Thursday.
More than 50 representatives from Oregon credit unions attended Legislative Lunch at the Capitol, where they heard from Pam Leavitt, the Northwest Credit Union Association's policy adviser for Oregon advocacy; several state legislators, including Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R-Creswell); and Patrick Allen, the director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services.
 
Most of the day was spent meeting with legislators and their aides in Capitol offices or in hallways outside the House and Senate chambers. For only the second time in the state's history, the Oregon Legislature is meeting for a short, 35-day session in 2014.
 
During longer sessions in odd-numbered years, the NWCUA sponsors a full Credit Union Day at the Capitol, including a financial reality fair and other special events. This year's tight schedule means not only that many of the most contentious bills may not be addressed, but also lawmakers will be more difficult to contact.
 
So when a weary Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) stepped onto an elevator between legislative meetings, a cookie and kind words he received from Southern Oregon credit union advocates were an important contact, Leavitt said. 
 
"The goal isn't necessarily to meet with legislators," Leavitt said, "but just to say hello. We want them to know that we are in the Capitol today, and that credit union advocates will stay engaged every year in the legislative process."
 
Click to view larger image Representatives from Rogue CU, Medford, and Pacific Crest FCU, Klamath Falls, met with state Sen. Doug Whitsett (R-28), left. (Photos provided by Northwest Credit Union Association)
NWCUA President/CEO Troy Stang joined Mike Tierney, online banking manager at Unitus Community CU, Portland, for a visit to Barbara Smith Warner (D-Portland), the new state representative from Northeast Portland. "My dad once said, 'Open an account at a credit union and never close it,'" Smith Warner told them.
 
Representatives from Rogue CU, Medford--including Laura Chadick, mortgage delivery manager; Bruce Hearnsberger, senior relationship manger; and Andrew Staley, financial adviser--joined Kathie Philp, president/CEO of Pacific Crest FCU, Klamath Falls, for afternoon meetings with Sens. Herman Baertschiger Jr. (R-Grants Pass) and Doug Whitsett (R-Klamath Falls).
 
Rachel Pross, the director of compliance and legislative affairs at Northwest Community CU, Springfield, and Jim McCarthy, president/CEO of Trailhead CU, Portland, delivered cookies and shared the credit union message with Reps. Val Hoyle (D-West Eugene/Junction City) and Paul Holvey (D-Eugene) and Sen. Chris Edwards (D-Eugene).
 
The advocates' efforts--and the cookies--appeared to have made an impression. During the afternoon Leavitt received a text message from House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) that read: "Thanks for the cookie."

CU System briefs (02/18/2014)

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  • HOUSTON (2/18/14)-- Energy Capital CU, $201 billion in assets, was chosen to open a branch on the ExxonMobil campus in Spring, Texas . The new branch will be a full-service institution serving 10,000 employees from ExxonMobil's Upstream, Downstream and Chemicals companies and associated groups  as well as all other members of the Houston-based credit union ...
     
  • JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (2/18/14)-- Eastman CU, $2.8 million in assets, donated $250,000 to East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tenn., for its planned fine and performing arts center . Olan Jones, president/CEO of the Kingsport, Tenn.-based credit union, said the contribution strengthens a longstanding relationship with the college, promotes the arts and education and supports economic development ( Johnson City Press Feb. 11). University President Brian Noland said he hopes to soon be able to announce an agreement with the city to purchase land for the 1,400-seat auditorium and recital hall ...
  • COLCHESTER, Vt. (2/18/14)--The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation and the National Credit Union Administration announced the merger of $2.4 million-asset Rutland (Vt.) County Teachers and Municipal Employees CU with Green Mountain CU, South Burlington , effective Dec. 31 ( NewsLines Express Feb. 14).  Green Mountain CU has $18.4 million in assets and is led by CEO Robert Lake ...
  • MADISON, Wis. (2/18/14)--The volunteers who serve on credit union boards often have ties to the beginnings of the credit unions they work with. A number of credit unions have lost directors recently. In Pennsylvania, Suzanne Hoffer , a 38-year board member at Belco Community CU, died Feb. 8. She was 75. She was elected to the board of the Harrisburg, Pa., credit union Jan. 31, 1976, serving as chairman for three years and secretary for 12. Hoffer worked as a dispatcher for Bell Telephone Co. for 34 years. "Sue's vision, service and friendship will be greatly missed," said Lonny Maurer, president/CEO of the $389 million-asset credit union. Life is a Highway (Feb. 14) also offered condolences. Dennis Jackman , vice president of the board at A & S FCU, Aliquippa, Pa., died Feb. 12. He was 64. Jackman had many positions with the board over the last 39 years with the $23 million-asset credit union. Victor Stasney , a longtime volunteer for New Cumberland (Pa.) FCU, died Jan. 28. Stasney was 82. He was on the board of the $140 million-asset credit union for 27 years, including 22 as chair. One of the founding members of Nebo CU, Springville, Utah, died Jan. 28. James Keith Anderson , 92, joined with other Nebo School District teachers in 1956 to create the credit union, which now boasts $67 million in assets ( Daily Herald Jan. 30). The Montana Credit Union Network noted the Feb. 2 death of Earl Leibrand , who was 91. He served as board chairman for Daniels-Sheridan FCU, a $55 million-asset credit union in Scobey, Mont. A former member of the Montana league board, Leibrand received the Mitch Reed Volunteer of the Year in 1994. Telco Triad CU board member Donald Mohan , 84, died Feb. 7, in Sioux City, Iowa. Mohan was on the board of the $72 million-asset credit union for 34 years ( Sioux City Journal Feb. 9) ...

121 Financial makes cents by sponsoring teen blogger

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (2/18/14)--121 Financial CU has partnered with teen financial blogger Eva Baker to reach out to the youth market.

Baker, who is a 17-year-old residing in Jacksonville, Fla., has a popular website, TeensGotCents.com, that offers free financial information for young people. She also has an eBook, "7 Days to Centsible Savings," which is available on her website.

"As responsible business citizens, we think it is important that we help today's youth to learn and understand as much as possible about finances," said Cindy Breslin, vice president of marketing for  the $432 million-asset credit union in Jacksonville.

Baker's site receives roughly 3,000 hits a month. It covers topics such as saving for college; saving money for purchases like clothes or a car; and ways for kids to earn money.
 
"And Eva has received a lot of positive attention for her website," Breslin said. "She writes so well to young people her age about finances and money management. So we thought her website would be a great vehicle to tell the credit union story."
 
Much of Baker's blog is articles about her own financial experiences. Her most recent post was about her experience opening an account with her mother at 121 Financial CU. She also announced her partnership with the credit union in the same post.
 
Baker was nominated for a Plutus Award in the Best New Blogger category at the FinCon financial bloggers conference last October.

Foreclosure reform gets hearing in Mich. House committee

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LIVONIA, Mich. (2/18/14)--A bill has been introduced in the Michigan House to address outstanding issues following the sunset of the state's 90-day pre-foreclosure workout law and the creation of a lender's right of inspection prior to the redemption period.
 
HB 5277 has been referred to the House Financial Services Committee.
 
Michigan credit unions support the position that the homeowners' right to repair damage prior to the summary possession action should be reworked, and the stronger liability provisions against those borrowers who abandon a property without notice to the purchaser would be beneficial ( Michigan Monitor Feb. 17).
 
Testimony was heard on the bill Feb. 12. Consumer advocates requested a reasonable notice of inspections and a cap on the number of regular inspections, with an exception for emergency situations where damage or imminent damage is suspected. Other suggestions included providing a simple notice to the homeowner to communicate that a sale has occurred.
 
A committee vote is expected in the coming weeks, the league said. The league will remain an active participant in discussions pertaining to this legislation as it moves through the legislative process.

Cooperative structure makes a difference in tough times, says Vt. CEO

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COLCHESTER, Vt. (2/18/14)--The strength of the cooperative business model is what sets Vermont State Employees CU apart from a large portion of the marketplace, the credit union's CEO shared in the Vermont Credit Union League's latest "Executive Exchange."
 
"We're big proponents of the cooperative business model," Post told league President Joe Bergeron. "We try to first embrace those principles and live those day to day, year to year."

 

Post said that the Montpelier-based credit union also likes to be affiliated with other co-ops that are approaching the business world and market with those same principles.

The $618 million-asset credit union works hard to keep members involved including lots of communication during board elections. "We work to make them responsible owners," he added.
 
Credit unions are challenged to add value to their members' lives, Post said. Credit unions, however, can help members rise above challenges, just as Vermont State Employees did after Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.
 
"We absolutely did things that were of out the normal course of business," he said. "That's one of the great things about credit unions--the ability to think differently and treat people differently."
 
For members who had lost everything, Post said the credit union had to make "big decisions" regarding loan options. "Those members have stayed with us and have continued to make good on what we did for them," he added.
 

Ala. CU act update moves ahead

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (2/18/14)--The Alabama House Financial Services Committee unanimously voted last week to give a favorable report to a bill that would update the State Credit Union Act.
 
The bill, which updates numerous sections of the Alabama Credit Union Act, allows credit unions in the state to operate more effectively in the ever-changing world of financial services ( eSignal Feb. 14).
 
HB 165 is now in position to be taken up by the entire Alabama House of Representatives.
 
Earlier this session the companion to HB 165--SB 212--was passed out of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.
 
The government affairs team is working to have both bills voted on and passed by their respective chambers, according to the league.

N.H. CUs get sweet thanks from Make-A-Wish kids

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MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (2/18/14)--Twenty-one children and families acting on behalf of Make-A-Wish New Hampshire visited 13 credit unions in the central, seacoast, and northern regions of New Hampshire with sweet Thank You messages last week.
 
Click to view larger image Make-A-Wish child Clare, dressed as Cinderella, shares photos from her Walt Disney World trip with Ronald Covey, right, president/CEO St. Mary's Bank CU, Manchester, who is also chairman of the New Hampshire Credit Union League Social Responsibility Committee and committee member Jack Crane.
The visits were made in recognition of the contributions made by credit unions to make wishes come true for hundreds of children in New Hampshire, said the New Hampshire Credit Union League ( Daily CU Scan Feb. 14).
 
Many delivered baked goods, posters, cards and other items for credit union staff to enjoy. Some children came specially dressed for the occasion. Clare, who visited $780 million-asset St. Mary's Bank CU in Manchester, appeared as Cinderella. She spent time with Ronald Covey, president/CEO of St. Mary's Bank CU, and a member of the league's Social Responsibility Committee, and with committee member Jack Crane, vice president of St. Mary's financial services. Clare showed Covey and Crane her photo album as she relived her Make-A-Wish trip to Walt Disney World.
 
Click to view larger image From left, Emily and Ally, pictured with John Young, president/CEO of $239 million-asset New Hampshire FCU and a member of the Make-A-Wish New Hampshire board, greet members at the credit union's lemonade stand. (Photos provided by New Hampshire Credit Union League)
John Young, president/CEO, $239 million-asset New Hampshire FCU in Concord, and his staff personalized the Make-A-Wish lemonade stand for visitors Emily and Ally. The girls greeted credit union members and employees. "This was my best day ever," Emily said.
 
Julia and her mom surprised Jerry Dumoulin, president/CEO, $42 million-asset Guardian Angel CU, and his staff in Berlin with a Valentine's Day cake baked by Julia, who visits the credit union every year. "The New Hampshire Credit Union League members look forward to the sweet thank you visits in February every year, knowing that they'll have a chance to see so many wish children, whose wishes they have played a major role in granting," said Dumoulin, who is also the league board chairman.
 
Credit unions in the seacoast area enjoyed visits throughout the afternoon Feb. 12.  The staff at $918 million-asset Northeast CU in Portsmouth learned about Make-A-Wish child Dillon's amazing game room from a poster he made. Holy Rosary CU in Rochester had a special welcome message for Addison outside and saw photos of her favorite princess, Ariel. Service CU in Portsmouth had a photo tour of Maxwell's trip to Italy.

CUNA, CBA: CUs, banks to absorb more than $200M in Target breach costs

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (2/18/14)--The cost of the Target data security breach has topped $200 million for credit unions and Consumer Bankers Association member banks combined, according to numbers released by the Credit Union National Association and the CBA.
 
Last week, CUNA refreshed numbers from its survey that found the breach has cost credit unions $30.6 million. CBA estimated its member banks have incurred more than $172 million in costs because of the retail giant's data breach.
 
Credit unions and CBA members have replaced 21.8 million cards--more than half of the total of all compromised cards. During the holiday shopping season, the personal information of up to 70 million individuals was stolen along with 40 million debit and credit cards, Target has said.
 
"Credit unions have replaced or will replace 85% of their cards affected by the Target breach at no cost to their members," said CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney. "The combined $200 million cost borne entirely by (CBA)  banks and credit unions shows the extent to which financial institutions will go to protect their members and customers."
 
CBA President/CEO Richard Hunt said, "Financial institutions of all sizes have been aggressive in ensuring their customers are protected in response to the Target data breach."
 
The $200 million in combined costs does not include any costs associated with fraudulent activity, past or future.

Kan. gov. welcomes CU advocates for Day at the Capitol

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TOPEKA, Kan. (2/18/14)--Twenty-eight credit unions sent representatives to Topeka Feb. 11 for the Kansas Credit Union Association's annual Day at the Capitol.
 
Click to view larger image Marla Marsh, president/CEO of the Kansas Credit Union Association, introduces Gov. Sam Brownback, right, during Day at the Capitol Feb. 11. ( Kansas Credit Union Association Photo)
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and KCUA President/CEO Marla Marsh welcomed more than 130 credit union staff and volunteers ( Vision Feb. 14).
 
State Sen. Rob Olsen (R-23), chairman of the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee, and State Rep. Pete DeGraaf (R-81), chairman of the House Financial Institutions Committee, also greeted the group before meetings began with legislators.
 
Throughout the day, attendees carried the message about the credit union difference and credit unions' role in the state's economy.
 
Credit unions discussed efforts to protect businesses from bad faith assertions of patent infringement, to help their communities with financial literacy and about mortgage registration fees. Having a strong state charter option also was a topic of discussion.
 
The legislative leadership panel wrapped up the afternoon, with appearances by House Speaker Ray Merrick (R-27), Assistant Minority Leader Tom Burroughs (D-33) and Jeff Russell, director of Kansas Legislative Administrative Services.
 
Credit unions were only some of the visitors to the newly renovated Capitol last week. The Mid-America Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Kansas Dental Hygienist Association, Washburn Institute of Technology, Kansas for Change and the Kansas Parent Teacher Association also took their voices to the legislature ( The Topeka Capital-Journal Feb. 15).

CUNA open, no News Now on Monday's holiday

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (2/14/14)--Monday is a federal holiday (Presidents' Day) and many financial institutions will be closed. However, the Washington, D.C. and Madison, Wis., offices of the Credit Union National Association will be open. 
 
CUNA's News Now will not publish a Monday edition. News Now will resume regular publication on Tuesday.

Share ICU Day theme ideas with CUNA, World Council

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MADISON (2/14/14)--The Credit Union National Association and the World Council of Credit Unions are seeking theme ideas for International Credit Union Day, Oct. 16.
 
CUNA and the World Council encourage credit unions to submit theme ideas focused on credit union contributions to charity causes. Ideas can be e-mailed to icuday@cuna.coop.
 
The deadline for ideas is approaching fast--Feb. 20. When the top suggestions are identified, the public will have the opportunity to vote for its favorite theme in mid-March.
 
Credit unions have celebrated ICU Day since 1948. The day reflects upon the credit union movement's history and promotes its achievements. It is a day to recognize the dedication of those working in the credit union industry, appreciate current members and invite eligible consumers to join.
 
Use the link to view previous themes.

Two more CUs file suit against Target for data breach

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DALLAS (2/14/14)--On Thursday, two more credit unions filed a class action complaint against Target relating to the data security breach that occurred late last year.
 
Employees CU, Dallas, $63 million in assets, and KC Police CU, Kansas City, Mo., $107 million in assets, were joined by American Bank of Commerce, Wolfforth, Texas, in filing suit in the U.S. District Court in Dallas, saying they "have incurred (and will continue to incur) damages to their businesses and/or property in the form of...expenses to cancel and reissue compromised payment cards, absorption of fraudulent charges made on the compromised payment cards, business destruction, lost profits and/or lost business opportunities."

"The Credit Union National Association has been working to bring together credit unions looking for legal representation and law firms looking for cases in the data security field, but so far it looks like credit unions are doing a pretty good job of making their own plans," CUNA General Counsel Eric Richard told News Now.
 
The suit is the first to name a third-party vendor--Fazio Mechanical Services, Pittsburgh--as the point of entry for the breach that compromised the debit, credit and personal information of about 110 million people between Black Friday and mid-December (Dallas News Feb. 13).
 
It also cites the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, alleging the retail giant has known since 2007 that its point-of-sale network was vulnerable, thus engaging in what the suit calls "unlawful and intentional schemes to defraud and cheat plaintiffs" by means of false or fraudulent pretenses and/or fraudulent and intentional misrepresentation of its compliance with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards.
 
Other suits against Target--including those by $211 million-asset Alabama State Employees CU and $38 million-asset First Choice FCU, New Castle, Pa.-- were filed in a variety of courts. They will likely be consolidated into a single legal action before a federal judge (CNN Money Feb. 11).
 
With updated projections on the cost of the Target stores data breach, CUNA estimates that credit unions have thus far incurred costs of $30.6 million and reissued around 4.6 million credit and debit cards (see Feb. 13 News Now: Updated CUNA projections show high CU cost of Target breach).

"This continues to be a top issue at CUNA. As our member CUs know, CUNA and the leagues are pursuing every avenue to urge that merchants are held responsible for reimbursing financial institutions when merchants' security lapses cause situations such as this," CUNA's Richard said. "In fact, CUNA was among the first to knock on Congress' door to demand hearings on this issue and on creating a better data security framework."

CUs go public with displays of affection for members

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MADISON, Wis. (2/14/14)--Credit unions love their members. Valentine's Day provides them with a fun opportunity to express that affection.
 
Click to view larger image A member of Landmark CU baked rose cupcakes for branch employees. (Photo provided by Landmark CU)
And for a member of $2.3 billion-asset Landmark CU, New Berlin, Wis., that feeling of affection is mutual. She delivered a batch of rose cupcakes to one Landmark CU branch. (We know there are about 98.9 million other credit union members who feel the same way.)
 
Members of $749 million-asset Hughes FCU, Tucson, Ariz., were invited to spend Valentine's Day at the ballpark to celebrate opening day for the University of Arizona baseball team.
 
Mission FCU, with $2.4 billion in assets, San Diego, sponsored the "Share Your Love of Reading" campaign, in which 25 elected officials and celebrities read aloud to underserved children.
 
Sussex County FCU, with $248 million in assets, Seaford, Del., will reward its loyal members with a patronage dividend on Valentine's Day. SCFCU members with multiple accounts will find an extra $100 in their checking account.
 
Box Elder CU, with $92 million in assets, Brigham City, Utah, shared its Valentine's Day sentiment on Twitter with the message: Credit Union's look for opportunities to help others! #CUlove
 
The Missouri Credit Union Association offered these additional ideas for "sharing the love" on social media:
  • Share funny Valentine's Day stories. Post a funny or cute love-inspired graphic and ask fans and followers for their funniest or best Valentine's Day memories.
  • Share posts with Valentine's Day themes. Pose a fun and lighthearted Valentine's Day question. Ask something simple and generic such as "Chocolate or flowers?"
  • Drop a cute statistic. Search for a fun Valentine's Day stat, and share it on social media.
  • Offer last-minute gift ideas. Share them on social media, and don't forget: Valentine's Day isn't just about the ladies. Offers some gift ideas for men.
  • Share staff or branch gifts and decorations. Did any employees receive special deliveries, such as flowers or chocolates? Share them on Twitter or Facebook, along any branch decorations.

GAC attendance, exhibitors reaching records this year

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MADISON, Wis. (2/14/14)--With the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference a little more than a week away, an expected record attendance of over 4,300 people will be convening in Washington D.C.  Additionally, attendees will experience an exhibit hall that will be the largest in the conference's history with over 230 companies represented in the 360 booths on display.
 
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
"The combination of great attendance, a sold-out exhibit hall and an incomparable speaker line-up makes the 2014 CUNA GAC a must-attend event," said Todd Spiczenski, senior vice president, Center for Professional Development at CUNA.  "The spirit of cooperation among credit unions will truly make an impact in Washington, D.C. next week."
 
The conference, to be held Feb. 23-27 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, will include a power-packed list of distinguished speakers, including members of Congress, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
 
Earlier this week, CUNA announced a new media panel featuring journalists who will discuss in-depth how credit unions can better communicate their message to the media. The panel, to be moderated by former Washington, D.C. anchorman Paul Berry, showcases Fox News' Tucker Carlson, the Washington Post's Ylan Mui, and Politico's Lauren French.
 
During the conference, CUNA will showcase the progress of "Unite for Good," CUNA's shared strategic vision, which was unveiled at the 2013 GAC, in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner. "Unite for Good" stories from nearly 100 credit unions will be on display throughout the convention center.
 
A social media hub will provide attendees with an opportunity to share ideas from the conference on social media. Attendees should use and follow Twitter hashtags: #CUNAGAC #UniteforGood #DontTaxMyCU #CrashtheGAC14.

Limited openings available for DE training

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MADISON, Wis. (2/14/14)--Only 10 spots are left for April's session of Credit Union Development Education (DE) classes, and space is limited for the September classes as well.

The six-day immersion training from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) teaches students about credit unions' social responsibility and domestic and international development. Sessions are scheduled for April 23-30 and Sept. 10-17 in Madison, Wis. This is the first time NCUF has held three sessions in one calendar year.

"I learned of the principles on which credit unions were founded and how these principles should remain at the heart of every decision that we make today," said Michael Waylett, president, $44 million-asset Vision Financial FCU, Durham, N.C. "It is not possible to attend this training and not, as a human being, be changed significantly," he added. Waylett earned his CUDE designation at this year's first DE training in January.

Testimonials such as Waylett's are highlighted in a new video from NCUF about the DE program.



The registration fee includes seven nights of single-room lodging, as well as all training materials and meals.

Use the link to see registration and scholarship information.

Socked by storms again, CUs keep members in mind

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MADISON, Wis. (2/14/14)--Another major winter storm has swept its way from the Southeast up the coast to Maine, leaving in its wake layers of ice, power outages and as much as 20 inches of snow.
 
Many credit unions used social media or their websites to tell members to stay safe. On its Facebook page, Bellco FCU, Wyomissing, Pa., said, "We value the safety of our staff and members, but want you to know that Bellco is still at your fingertips. To access your accounts, please use Internet Banking, Mobile Banking, Text Banking or Phone Banking."
 
MECU of Baltimore was closed Thursday and advised members to check its website this morning for updates. It, as many credit unions did, made sure members knew they could use online, mobile or telephone banking for services.
 
The New Jersey Credit Union League operated in business continuity mode but that didn't stop President/CEO Greg Michlig from engaging credit unions. He tweeted, "#Snow, snow, snow, snow, snow Wonder where your #money goes? Take a look today," directing followers to the league's "Banking You Can Trust" website.

The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association closed its offices Thursday and reported nearly 20 credit unions had called snow days.
 
Early Thursday was relatively quiet as New York credit unions prepared for the storm. Some closed early and others altered their operating hours for today. "This storm has had a more significant impact on a greater part of our state than our most recent snowstorm, as it's impacted branch closings from Long Island to upstate New York,"  Ron McLean, senior vice president, Credit Union Association of New York, told News Now.
 
Massachusetts Credit Union League and New Hampshire credit union leagues and Credit Union Association of Rhode Island also were operating in business continuity mode Thursday afternoon.
 
The Carolinas Credit Union League rescheduled its small credit union roundtable to March, and the Foothills Chapter moved its meeting to next week (In the Loop Feb. 11).
 
Hazardous road conditions forced the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates' Duluth office to close Thursday morning. The South, which took a wallop with freezing rain, ice and wind, is now expected to thaw a bit today with temperatures in the 50s.
 
Some credit unions may have a four- or five-day weekend with the observance of the Presidents' Day holiday Monday.

CUs over big banks? Money Talks News breaks it down to 9 reasons

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MADISON, Wis. (2/14/14)--A Feb. 12 article in Money Talks News provides consumers with nine reasons to make credit unions their preferred financial services provider.  
 
"Are you aware of how credit unions operate and what they entail?" wrote reporter Allison Martin in the article, "9 Reasons Why Credit Unions Are Better Than Banks." "If so, you may be inclined to open up an account at one closest to you or even make the switch from your bank."
 
The nine reasons cited in the article include:
  1. Motives. Credit unions exist for the membership's best interest, not for shareholders, the article said.
  1. Structure. Credit unions are cooperatives, owned and operated by their members.
  1. Fees. Credit unions have lower expenses, so they are able to pass on the savings to their members.
  1. Loan rates. "Every loan I've ever gotten has been from the credit union, even after shopping around at the big boy banks," Martin wrote. "They usually have better rates because they are nonprofit and aren't looking to make their wallets fatter."
  1. Credit card offers. The average interest rate for credit cards was 10.99% for credit unions, compared with 11.82% for banks, according to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).
  1. Borrowing. "Been turned down by all the major banks? Try your local credit union, as its borrowing standards are more flexible and they may be willing to work with you," Martin wrote.
  1. Earnings on savings accounts. Saving rates are still on the low side, but credit unions nonprofit status usually means they have better rates then banks.
  1. Member service. Credit unions have built their reputation on putting members first.
  1. Insurance. Similar to most major banks, credit union accounts are insured up to $250,000 by the federal government through the NCUA.
 To read the full article, use the link.

Deadline nearing for WOCCU Distinguished Service Award nominations

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CU System briefs (02/13/2014)

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  • TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (2/13/14)- -The League of Southeastern Credit Unions and Affiliates has rebranded its annual convention for 2014 . Now open to all league-affiliated credit unions, the Southeast Credit Union Conference and Expo will be June 11-13 in Orlando, Fla. "For four years we have averaged 1,000 attendees at our convention," said LSCU President/CEO Patrick La Pine ( eSignal Feb. 12). "With our location in Orlando, it's already a destination location so growing our conference makes sense," he added. Bobby Bowden, retired coach of the Florida State Seminoles, will be the keynote speaker at the conference, which is themed "Living the Seven Cooperative Principles." ...
     
  • MERIDEN, Conn. (2/13/14)-- Through the Connecticut Credit Union Charitable Foundation, the state's credit unions donated $10,000 to Operation Fuel , which works to ensure residents have access to energy year-round. "Our winter funds are nearly depleted," said Lynn McDonald, Operation Fuel director of development. "This donation will help not only to keep families warm, but also to keep freezers cold, stoves hot and provides the comfort and safety of reliable energy." On hand for the Feb. 6 presentation were McDonald; Nick Moalli, Abbi Stamler and President/CEO Jill Nowacki, Credit Union League of Connecticut; Jim Howard, New Haven County CU, North Haven; Robert Aresti, 360 FCU, Windsor Locks; Andy Klimkoski, Achieve Financial CU, Berlin; Paul Dorner, First Bristol FCU, Bristol; John Keet, Personal Care America FCU, Trumbull; and Annette Janovic, Alloya Corporate FCU, Warrenville, Ill. ...
     
  • OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (2/13/14)-- Michael Kloiber, president/CEO of $3.1 billion-asset Tinker FCU, was honored as one of "Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs," as selected by The Journal Record . As a three-time recipient in the private company category, the president/CEO of the Oklahoma City-based credit union also was inducted into the Chain of Distinction. Kloiber and 31 others were selected based on leadership characteristics, integrity, values, vision, commitment to excellence, financial performance, and commitment to community and diversity.  ...

CU CEO confidence rebounds to pre-shutdown levels

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PLANO, Texas (2/13/14)--Credit union CEOs' confidence in the economy rebounded in the fourth quarter, according to a survey conducted by Catalyst Corporate FCU.
 
The Plano, Texas-based wholesale cooperative financial institution's CEO confidence index rose more than three points over the third-quarter survey to 27.04, approximating levels recorded for the first and second quarters of 2013.
 
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of the confidence survey. Looking back to 2004, U.S. GDP was around 4%, unemployment was around 5.5%, and the CU CEO Confidence Index registered almost 20 points higher than it does today.
 
CEOs' optimism regarding their members' current and future financial conditions improved over last quarter, rising 2.19 points and 3.38 points, respectively. Analysis of their own institution's current and future financial conditions also rose over last quarter's results by 1.99 points and 4.65 points, respectively.
 
Only two survey measurements reflected new highs for the year--loan demand and credit union future financial condition--while the remaining measurements stayed at or dipped lower than the average for the past four quarters.
 
The improvement in loan demand and future financial condition is accounted for by higher mortgage rates and improved auto sales, said Brian Turner, Catalyst Strategic Solutions director and chief strategist.
 
"Interest rates are not expected to be significantly higher during 2014, loan demand should improve, but most likely will be concentrated with the larger credit unions, and share growth should be at the most, moderately better," Turner said.

Voyage CU helps fellow co-op recover after fire

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (2/13/14)--A Sioux Falls, S.D., credit union helped an unlucky area business last week. But unlike typical credit union assistance to small enterprises, this had nothing to do with interest rates or principal reductions.
 
Click to view larger image Voyage FCU employees and Sioux Falls, S.D., community members helped restore Co-op Natural Foods after a fire. (Credit Union Association of the Dakotas photo)
Several Voyage FCU employees lent a hand to Co-op Natural Foods last Saturday, weeks after a fire set by an arsonist gutted its store. Voyage workers and other community members brought supplies and helped clean and paint the co-op's new temporary location ( The Memo Feb. 12). Employees of the $71 million-asset credit union also contributed toward the cost of cleaning supplies.
 
Voyage FCU CEO Darla Erb, who helped repair drywall and prepared walls for primer, praised the co-op, of which Voyage Marketing Coordinator Molly Brown is a member.
 
"We have such an incredible community here in Sioux Falls and have really come together in supporting one of our local cooperatives," Erb told The Memo . "Natural Foods is making strides in our community, and it is good to see their comeback since the fire."
 
Co-op Natural Foods, which has more than 1,700 members, has been in Sioux Falls since 1973.

Legislators warm to CU message at Wash. Capitol

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (2/13/14)--Gloomy winter weather was no match for the golden glow of brightly colored scarves worn by Washington credit union advocates during Credit Union Day at the Capitol in Olympia last week.
 
Click to view larger image Northwest Credit Union Association Vice President for Legislative Affairs Mark Minickiello, left, and Harborstone CU's Roger Johansen, senior vice president and chief credit officer, and Vicky Nelson, business sales and services manager, show off their "Northwest Credit Unions: Stronger Together, Better Than Ever" scarves during Credit Union Day at the Capitol. (Northwest Credit Union Association photo)
"Everyone showed a brave face as they struggled to keep warm in our tent on the Capitol lawn," said Mark Minickiello, vice president for legislative affairs, Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA). "But what they didn't struggle with was the high energy they passed along to legislators throughout the Capitol," he told The Anthem (Feb. 11).
 
Legislators quickly warmed to the more than 110 credit union delegates. Reps. Sam Hunt (D-22) and  Brandon Vick (R-18) both stepped out of committee hearings to meet with visitors from Thurston and Clark counties. Jane Parker, an advocate from Federal Way-based Woodstone CU, shared the benefits of credit union membership with Rep. Hans Zeiger (R-25) and Sen. Bruce Dammeier (R-25).
 
The response was so great that after Rep. Jeff Holy (R-6) met with Spokane-area advocates, he immediately pulled HB 2140, the NWCUA-backed credit union merger bill, out of the House Rules Committee, making it eligible for a floor vote, The Anthem reported.
 
"Even non-legislators got caught up in Credit Union Day," Minickiello said. "Many of our advocates were stopped in the cafeteria and in hallways by folks outside of the Legislature who wanted to ask about credit unions or share their love for credit unions."
 
Credit Union Day came at a time when the Legislature is struggling with the state budget and tax reform. It's imperative, Minickiello said, that every legislator understands the difference between credit unions and banks, and why the credit union tax exemption is so important.
 
The credit union employees, members and volunteers were armed with information: Washington's 106 credit unions represent 2.9 million members, and those members saved more than $200 million when compared to typical bank customers from June 2012 to June 2013.
 
Legislative leaders also stopped at NWCUA's tent on the Capitol lawn to talk to constituents and to watch a financial reality fair in action. Rep. Joel Kretz (R-7), deputy House minority leader, said that credit unions are a key player in bringing financial services to his rural district. "I appreciate that you are part of the community," he told the bundled-up audience.
 
Minickiello told them to keep in mind the unique credit union structure and value, but ultimately, he said, "It's your voice as a member, as a credit union employee or director that is most important. Tell your story."
 

Whitehouse named to CUNA Mutual board

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MADISON, Wis. (2/13/14)--CUNA Mutual Group has appointed Janet V. Whitehouse to its board of directors.
 
Whitehouse brings nearly three decades of business and insurance industry experience to the CUNA Mutual Group board, most recently as president of Wentworth Advisory Group, which provides strategic advice to corporations in various stages of development.
 
She began her career as an elementary school teacher, then after earning an MBA in 1985, she entered the corporate world.  Whitehouse served as a senior executive at Sun Life Financial and Unum Corp. In those roles, she led complex mergers and acquisitions, financial turnarounds, organizational restructuring and business development ventures.
 
"Janet's proven leadership experience and vast knowledge of the insurance industry will be tremendous assets to the board of directors and our company," said Jeff Post, president/CEO, CUNA Mutual Group.
 
In addition to Whitehouse and Post, other CUNA Mutual Group board members include:
  • Eldon R. Arnold, chairman, retired president/CEO, CEFCU, Peoria, Ill.;
  • C. Alan Peppers, president/CEO, Westerra CU, Denver;
  •  Joseph J. Gasper, retired president/COO, Nationwide Insurance, Columbus, Ohio;
  • Loretta M. Burd, retired president/CEO, Centra CU, Columbus, Ind.;
  • Bert J. Hash Jr., president/CEO, Municipal Employees CU of Baltimore Inc.;
  • Larry T. Wilson, retired president/CEO, Coastal FCU, Raleigh, N.C.;
  • James W. Zilinski, retired chairman/president/CEO, Berkshire Life Insurance Co., Pittsfield, Mass.;
  • Robert J. Marzec, retired audit partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers, New York;
  • Randy M. Smith, retired CEO, Randolph-Brooks FCU, Live Oak, Texas;
  • Thomas C. Godlasky, vice chairman, retired CEO, Aviva North America, Des Moines, Iowa; and
  • Caren C. Gabriel, president/CEO, Ascend FCU, Tullahoma, Okla.

Removing barriers, awareness ads highlighted at Wis. GAC

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MADISON, Wis. (2/13/14)--The Wisconsin State Assembly and Senate passed a bipartisan-approved set of reforms for the state's credit unions and sent it to Gov. Scott Walker for signing.
 
The action came as more than 200 credit union activists gathered at the Wisconsin Credit Union League's Governmental Affairs Conference in Madison this week.
 
"We applaud the Legislature for passing common-sense reforms that allow credit unions to spend less time unraveling regulatory requirements and more time providing consumers and communities the services that have consistently earned them recognition for their social responsibility," said league President/CEO Brett Thompson.
 
"While no single change in the bills may be pivotal in and of itself, passage of reform packages such as this yield regulatory improvements and operational changes that reduce a small portion of the regulatory burden on state credit unions," said Tom Liebe, league vice president of government affairs. "These reforms remove a number of barriers for credit unions and are a clear expression of The League's commitment to 'Unite for Good.'"
 
Credit union awareness radio ads began playing across Wisconsin this week as well.
 
"The League's ads are designed to build awareness, fire up the faithful members and discourage bankers and their trade associations who are currently engaged in their own grassroots activity to tax credit unions," said Thompson.
 
He noted that the radio ads, which are strategically linked to the national "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign, are scheduled to run during the Wisconsin and Credit Union National Association governmental affairs conferences.
 
The ads will be broadcast on radio stations throughout Wisconsin over the next six weeks.

Neb. 'Save to Win' awards $25K to lucky saver

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LINCOLN, Neb. (2/13/14)--A member of MembersOwn CU, Lincoln, Neb., is the winner of Nebraska's "Save to Win" program.
 
Ronald Hibbert, who has been a member of the $85 million-asset credit union for more than 47 years, received the $25,000 grand prize Wednesday.
 
"The goal of the 'Save to Win' program is to show our members that building a savings nest egg is possible even in small amounts and that saving doesn't have to be boring, but rather, it can and should be fun," said Scott Sullivan, president/CEO, Nebraska Credit Union League.
 
Since the launch of the program in 2012, Nebraska credit union members have opened 1,462 "Save to Win" accounts with an average balance of $1,648 per account and more than $2.4 million in total savings.
 
In Nebraska, "Save to Win" accounts are one-year certificates of deposit, which members can open with $25 and make deposits throughout the year. For each $25 deposited, a member earns an entry into drawings for monthly and annual prizes.
 

Iowa league hosts bipartisan forum for 1st congressional district

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DES MOINES, Iowa (2/13/14)--The Iowa Credit Union League (ICUL) will host a bipartisan candidate forum Tuesday for candidates seeking the state's First Congressional District nominations.
 
The forum will be moderated by Dean Borg, host of "Iowa Press," a weekly half-hour news and interview program on Iowa Public Television.
 
"ICUL and its member credit unions represent more than one million Iowans," said Jon Murphy, league director of government affairs. "Our members come from all political parties and have asked that we keep them informed on federal and state issues. This forum offers our members a unique opportunity to hear from candidates from both parties, and to hear their solutions to the important issues facing Iowa."
 
The forum will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon in Des Moines and will be streamed live at http://bit.ly/1cvVvkr . Live streaming begins at 10:25 a.m. More than 100 Iowa credit union leaders are expected to attend to learn more about the candidates' stands on the issues.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ...

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."

CU System briefs (02/11/2014)

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  • PORTSMOUTH (2/11/14)-- Peter Kavalauskas, president/CEO of $918 million-asset Northeast CU, Portsmouth, N.H., died as the result of a snowmobiling accident early Saturday morning. Police say Kavalauskas, 62, was snowmobiling with his son and friends when he lost control and crashed near Washington, N.H. ( Seacoastonline.com Feb. 9). He was pronounced dead at the scene. Kavalauskas and Northeast CU had announced that Thursday he was retiring as president/CEO after 35 years of service. He was a former member of the Association of Vermont Credit Union's (then Vermont Credit Union League) board of directors while employed by the former Windsor-Orange CU in White River Junction before joining Northeast CU in 1978. "The thoughts and prayers of our Vermont credit union family go out to Peter's family and Northeast CU," said Joe Bergeron, president/CEO of the Association of Vermont Credit Unions ...
  • WASHINGTON (2/11/14)-- The U.S. Treasury Department's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund)  announced that the 2014 National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference will be March 30-April 2 at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago, Ill.  The CDFI Fund, an event co-sponsor, said the program will feature innovations in community development policy and practice, Community Reinvestment Act--CRA--examination training, the National Community Development Lending School, and community development tours of Chicago. Participants must register by March 14 ...
  • MADISON, Wis. (2/11/14)- -A new book, "Development of the Modern U.S. Credit Union Movement 1970-2010," explores the transformation of many American credit unions from small, limited service institutions run largely by volunteers to today's full-service, professionally staffed institutions serving more than 98.9 million members.  Author Paul Thompson won the 2013 Individual Achievement Award of the Credit Union Development Education Program of the National Credit Union Foundation for his work on the book. He is a journalist and student of credit union history. He served as speechwriter for the leadership of the Credit Union National Association from 1986 to 1998. The 379-page book chronicles the factors that have moved credit unions into the mainstream of American life ...
  • WASHINGTON (2/11/14)-- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will convene a Small Business Review Panel, as required by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act . Specifically, the CPPB will use the panel to seek early feedback from small lenders, including feedback on how data can be updated to better reflect what is happening in the market. While this information would be reported to regulators, not all of it would be disclosed in the public Home Mortgage Disclosure Act dataset. Potential changes under consideration by the CFPB include improvements required by Dodd-Frank; new developments in the market; monitoring access to credit. A factsheet about the changes the CFPB is considering is on its website ...
  • POCATELLO, Idaho (2/11/14)-- Idaho State University CU, with $140 million in assets, Pocatello, Idaho, donated $7,000 to the university's cheer team to replace the team's mats. The team previously practiced on an area that only covered two-thirds of a competition-sized area, making routines difficult. The old mats also were heavy and difficult to move. The new mats will be used at basketball games and for performances and competitions. ISU CU is the first credit union in the U.S. to have its logo featured on cheer mats of this type ( Idaho State Journal Feb. 9) ...
  • HELENA, Mont. (2/11/14)-- Ranel Smith, director of education services at the Montana Credit Union Network, recently completed the requirements and testing to become a certified meeting professional (CMP), becoming only the fifth person in Montana to hold the certification. Smith, a Great Falls native, has worked in the credit union industry for more than two decades. She started at MCUN in 2004 and previously worked at $88 million asset Embark CU, Great Falls, Mont. Smith also assists the Credit Union Association of Dakotas with its conference planning ...

'Save to Win' helps Mich. members save $33M

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LIVONIA, Mich. (2/11/14)--Six Michigan credit union members each will receive $10,000 for taking part in the "Save to Win" program, which resulted in $33 million in savings overall.
 
More than 12,500 "Save to Win" accounts were opened through the end of 2013, with an average balance of $2,600 per account ( Monitor Feb. 10).
 
This week, two grand prizes will go to members of Community Driven CU, Ypsilanti, $59 million in assets. The other four winners are members of Christian Financial CU, Roseville, $284 million in assets; Sunrise Family CU, Bay City, $95 million in assets; and Public Service CU, Romulus, $137 million in assets.
 
More than $38.5 million has been saved among the four states--Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina and Washington--that use the "Save to Win" program, with more than $1 million in prizes being distributed.
 
Participating members earn one entry into the grand prize drawing for every $25 deposit they make into a "Save to Win" account. Smaller prizes also are awarded through the year. All deposits generate interest, build accounts and encourage savings behavior.

XCEL FCU CEO updates N.J. committee on state of CUs

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TRENTON, N.J.  (2/11/14)--Linda McFadden, president/CEO, XCEL FCU, presented an update on the state of credit union to the New Jersey Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee last week.
 
McFadden, who also is board chair of the New Jersey Credit Union League, briefed the committee, which is nearly double its size from the last session. Only two members carried over from previous committee, and four are completely new to the legislature ( The Daily Exchange Feb. 7).
 
She outlined the unique structure of credit unions' not-for-profit cooperative model, giving a big picture of the state's 197 credit unions and their membership.
 
McFadden expressed appreciation for the expansion of the Credit Union Advisory Committee to include federally chartered credit unions, recently signed by Gov. Chris Christie.
 
She also talked about modernizing the charter for state credit unions, the stress of foreclosures on financial institutions and the importance of moving to electronic lien titling for auto loans.
 
Lastly, she reiterated that data breach legislation--that was first introduced in 2006 and has been re-introduced in successive sessions--should be acted upon in light of the Target breach.

"While Congress continues to debate a national standard which credit unions could support, we believe it's time for New Jersey to act to protect consumers by enacting A-1239," she said.

Mich. league to CFPB: Regulate retailers to protect consumer data

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LIVONIA, Mich. (2/11/14)--The Michigan Credit Union League has sent a letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) urging the agency to begin regulating retailers in the wake of recent data breaches, including incidents at retail giants Target and Nieman-Marcus.
 
The league said the retailers caused extensive harm to consumers by not implementing proper security protocols and not protecting consumers' sensitive personal and financial information.
 
The Dodd-Frank Act gives the CFPB authority to regulate retailers because the breaches have caused substantial injury to consumers, said MCUL CEO David Adams.
 
"MCUL strongly urges the CFPB to engage in supervision of retailers that pointedly fail to take proper steps to protect consumers and their private information in the course of offering and providing consumer financial services," Adams wrote in the letter. "Consumers would certainly benefit from the regulation of a retail industry that, at the moment, relies on largely self-policing standards that are inadequate to the point of consumer deception."
 
The interchange rule in the Dodd-Frank Act has shifted billions of dollars of interchange income from financial institutions to retailers with no discernable consumer benefit, according to the letter. However, financial institutions still bear most of the risk regarding potential fraud losses.
 
"This liability dynamic represents an arbitrary windfall that does nothing to encourage real reform or consumer protection, and cuts at financial institutions particularly hard-lost revenue, and lost wherewithal to pay for the sins of the retail community," Adams said. "It is time to bring shared accountability back into the equation for data breach liability."
 
Target announced in December that between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15--during the busy holiday shopping season--that debit and credit card information of about 40 million consumers had been compromised, a number that has grown to 70 million since. In addition, Neiman-Marcus announced a data breach to its system and Michael's said that its system may have also experienced a data breach.
 
The Credit Union National Association's survey on the cost of the Target breach to credit unions is an estimated $25 million to $30 million.

Ind. league announces new ignite team members

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INDIANAPOLIS (2/11/14)--Nine Indiana credit union representatives have been selected to be part of ignite, an initiative of the Indiana Credit Union League focused on developing innovations to help credit unions better the financial lives of their members.
 
The initiative is a joint venture between the Indiana Credit Union League and the ignite leadership team--comprised of two Indiana credit union representatives who are alumni of the Filene Research Institute's i3 group.

"This is the seventh group of igniters to enter the program," said league Vice Chairman Doug True, CEO of $939 million-asset FORUM CU, Fishers, Ind. True is one of two members of the ignite leadership team. "The track record of leadership development, collaboration and networking that ignite has fostered has been tremendous," he said.
 
"The ignite experience prepares these team members to make high-level contributions at their credit unions," said Bob Falk, CEO of $786 million-asset Purdue FCU, West Lafayette, Ind.  "Some have even used their experience with ignite to contribute to projects that have a national scope."
 
"Under the direction of our leadership team, the ignite initiative has thrived in Indiana," said league President John McKenzie. "The credit union support has been tremendous, as many have shared very talented and innovative employees."
 
At the group's first meeting of the year, held Jan. 31, igniters began to develop their 2014 innovations in small working groups.
 
So far, 26 innovations have been developed by past ignite participants. Several ignite innovations have been adopted by credit unions in Indiana and elsewhere. To develop and promote them, members of the working groups attend meetings coordinated by the league and make presentations during the league's annual convention and at state chapter meetings.
 
New igniters, who will each serve a two-year term, include:
  • Brandon Speckman, FORUM CU;   
  • Curtis Meyer, Interra CU, Goshen;
  • Daren Johnson, Indiana Members CU, Indianapolis;
  • Jenna Turner, Three Rivers FCU, Fort Wayne;
  • Jessica Certain, Three Rivers FCU;        
  • Latonya Gaither, Teachers CU, South Bend;
  • Mark Moulton, Financial Center FCU, Indianapolis;     
  • Shelby Schuh, Beacon CU, Wabash; and
  • Stephanie Snow, Eli Lilly FCU, Indianapolis.          
 Continuing igniters, who have one year remaining on their two-year terms, include:
  • Amy Benner, Solidarity Community FCU, Kokomo;
  • Amy Wells, Teachers CU, South Bend;
  • Andrea Buescher, Evansville (Ind.) Teachers FCU;
  • Ashli Moore, Eli Lilly FCU, Indianapolis;
  • Bryan Myers, Crane FCU, Odon;
  • David Dekker, Interra CU;
  • Kelly Baran, FORUM CU;
  • Micaela Wise, AAA FCU, South Bend; and
  • Sven Leander, Financial Center FCU.

Scorecard: Wis. CU members saved $103M in '13, $1B since '07

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PEWAUKEE, Wis. (2/11/14)--Credit union members in Wisconsin saved more than $103 million in 2013 and $1 billion since 2007, according to the 2013-2014 Wisconsin Credit Union Scorecard, released Monday by the Wisconsin Credit Union League.
 
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
"Because credit unions exist to improve the financial position of the consumers who use them, credit unions go where other financial institutions can't, helping members create budgets, improve credit scores, escape payday loan traps, and refinance costly loans," said Brett Thompson, league president/CEO.

"This helps Wisconsin citizens make ends meet, weather job losses, prevent foreclosures and free up income to save for a rainy day, education or retirement," he added.
 
The scorecard focuses on four key areas for the state's 2.4 million members:
  • Keeping money in members' pockets;
  • Leading in financial education;
  • Helping communities and Main Street prosper; and
  • Delivering decades of service.
 
In 2013, nine in 10 Wisconsin credit unions provided free checking, offered loans of $1,000 or less, and adjusted loan terms to help members facing financial hardship due to unemployment, furloughs or temporary job loss.
 
Wisconsin credit unions saved members $57.7 million on loan interest and $24.8 million on fees. Higher interest on savings put $20.8 million in members' pockets, according to the scorecard.
 
Financial education is strong within credit unions, which provided 300,000 hours of free financial counseling, operated 113 in-school branches and engaged nearly 21,000 students with reality fairs. They also provided 300,000 hours of free financial counseling.
 
Since the start of the recession, loans at Wisconsin credit union rose 73%, while loans at banks inched up 1.5%.
 
Community efforts include over 24,000 hours in volunteer time and more than $1 million raised for local causes.

Gov. declares 'CU Day' while R.I. CUs visit legislature

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (2/11/14)--Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee (I) declared last Friday Credit Union Day in the state.
 
He gave Feb. 7 the annual designation as the Credit Union Association of Rhode Island hosted its yearly Governmental Affairs Day at the State House ( Daily CU Scan Feb. 10).
 
The Credit Union Association of Rhode Island's Governmental Affairs Day gave Stephen White, president/CEO, Westerly (R.I.) Community CU, left, an opportunity to meet with State Sen. Juan Pichardo (D-2). (Credit Union Association of Rhode Island photo)
More than 80 credit union officials and legislators participated in the event. The latter were led by state Sens. Chris Ottiano (R) and William Walaska (D), both volunteers for credit unions, and members of the State House Corporations Committees.
 
Rhode Island General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, who recently received a Credit Union National Association Desjardins Financial Education Award for State Government Policymakers award, gave the keynote speech.
 
One of two public policymakers who received the national award this year, Raimondo said she is a "huge fan" of credit unions and praised the partnership she has with them in key areas, such as financial counseling.
 
She said that it is her belief that now, more than ever, the residents of Rhode Island are in need of safe and reliable financial services.
 
In opening remarks, association President/CEO Paul Gentile noted that Rhode Island credit unions expanded lending by 10.7% over the past year. Gentile said that credit unions' ability to extend credit in lean economic times is "a strong testament" to the relevance of the movement's "historic mission," according to the Daily CU Scan .

Friday is last chance to buy Wegner tickets

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MADISON, Wis. (2/11/14)--Tickets for this year's Herb Wegner Memorial Awards dinner are going quickly, and the deadline to purchase them from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) is Friday.
 
The 26th annual dinner will be Feb. 24 in conjunction with the Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.
 
 NCUF Executive Director Gigi Hyland said the top two tiers of sponsorships already are sold out.
 
The awards will honor Gary Oakland, retired president/CEO, BECU, Tukwila, Wash.; Jim McCormack, retired president/CEO, Pennsylvania Credit Union Association; Tim Haegelin, retired president/CEO, Generations FCU, San Antonio, Texas; and Sarah Canepa Bang, president/chief operating officer, CO-OP Shared Branching/FSCC, and chief strategy officer, CO-OP Shared Branching.
 

League testifies on Maine 'patent troll' bill

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PORTLAND, Maine (2/10/14)--The Maine Credit Union League testified before the state Senate last week in support of legislation that would limit patent trolling. Representing Maine credit unions was Quincy Hentzel, the league's director of governmental affairs.
 
L.D. 1660--An Act Regarding Bad Faith Assertions of Patent Infringement--is sponsored by Sen. Anne Haskell (D), who is assistant majority leader.
 
"In Maine alone, we have seen several cases where poorly researched and vague demand letters have been sent to credit union executives suggesting patent infringements and demanding a settlement or threatening to take legal action," Hentzel testified ( Weekly Update Feb. 7).
 
"These cases have dealt with patents related to topics such as Internet security technology, mobile transactions on smartphones, ATMs, and even wi-fi offered in credit union lobbies," Hentzel said. "This bill provides protections and relief for those legitimate business and organizations that are being shaken down by patent trolls and do not want to nor should they have to settle."
 
Representatives from the league met with Haskell to discuss patent trolling in December.
 
The Maine league's efforts coincide with the Credit Union National Association's continued advocacy efforts on the national level.
 
"Patent trolls present a dangerous reality to credit unions and their members, adding to the costs of providing financial services-and shouldn't be taken lightly," CUNA President Bill Cheney wrote in a Huffington Post column last week. "CUNA backs legislation that would curb abusive patent litigation by removing some of the financial incentives sought by firms that assert low-quality patents."
 
The Vermont Credit Union League submitted Cheney's piece to VTDigger.org , the Burlington Free Press , St. Albans Messenger and Vermont Business magazine ( Newslines Express Feb. 7).

CUs key to making cities good for consumer banking: NerdWallet

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SAN FRANCISCO (2/10/14)--Everyone wants to get the most bang from their buck and, according to NerdWallet , where you live makes difference on how big that bang is. If there are credit unions available in your city, it's likely to make the bang significantly bigger.

NerdWallet applied six factors--stability of the financial institutions, range of unique banking options, access to a local branch, interest on an average savings account, checking account fees, and percentage of people who have a financial account of some type and haven't recently relied on alternative financial services--to the 100 most-populated cities in the U.S.
 
Consensus by the personal finance website? Credit unions were a common theme in the top 10 for basic consumer banking--rates, fees and accessibility.
 
For the second year, No. 1 on the list is Cincinnati, Ohio, where consumers have access to more than 120 branch locations per 100,000 residents, and fee-free accounts are available at local financial institutions such as $66 million-asset Cintel CU.
 
With almost 80 financial institutions, No. 2 Pittsburgh has a wide range of options from a large national bank to a credit union such as Riverset CU, $119 million in assets.
 
Washington, D.C., jumped three spots because of its higher-than-average savings yield of 0.13%, and NerdWallet noted $50 million-asset DC Government Employees FCU.
 
Lower checking fees--$8.24 on average; credit unions such as WEA CU, $28 million in assets, with no monthly fees; and a population that is 85.5% fully banked put Madison, Wis., in fourth place.
 
Coming in at No. 5, Tulsa, Okla., has a stable environment--few bank or credit union closures--and favorable interest rates from local institutions.
 
In Miami, the access is easy and the choices are many--more than 70 unique financial institutions, including Financial FCU, $57 million in assets. The sixth-place metropolitan area also has a lower-than-average basic checking account fee of $7.88.
 
NerdWallet said the "consumer-friendly terms" of institutions such as $129 million-asset Alabama Central CU put Birmingham, Ala., at seventh place.

It you want to be fee-free, eighth-place Omaha is the place to be. The Nebraska city's average monthly checking fee is the lowest--just under $7--and Neighborhood Community FCU, $23 million in assets, is one that offers fee-free accounts.
 
Irvine, Calif., has a wide range of choices--28 unique financial institutions per 100,000 residents--making it the ninth-best consumer banking city.
 
Rounding out the top 10 is Rochester, N.Y., making its first appearance on NerdWallet 's annual list. Accessibility is Rochester's strong point--there are 72 branches per 100,000 residents--giving residents many points of contact for in-person services.

Wis. state CUs at pre-recession delinquency rates, DFI reports

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MADISON, Wisc. (2/10/14)--Wisconsin credit unions are showing signs that they've fully shaken off the 2008 financial collapse by at least one measure.
 
State-chartered credit unions saw average annual delinquency rates drop in 2013 to 1.10% from 1.36%, according to data published Friday by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).
 
Kim Santos, director of the Office of Credit Unions at the DFI, said that "the delinquent loan ratio is back to pre-Recession benchmark levels" and called it "a very encouraging trend."
 
Other positive trends revealed by Friday's data release showed that Wisconsin state-chartered increased revenue streams and net worth last year.
 
Lending and assets grew by 7.2% and 5% to $18.2 billion and $24.5 billion.
 
Net worth ratio and net income increased to 10.65% and 1.4%. The latter reached $228.8 million, with a 0.96% return on assets.
 
"Wisconsin credit unions had another solid year in 2013," DFI Secretary Peter Bildsten said. "The fact that credit unions grew their loan portfolios by $1.2 billion is a sign that the demand for consumer and business lending is picking up. That's good for Wisconsin credit unions and the state's economy."
 
Santos did note, however, that the number of state-chartered credit unions dropped to 171 from 187--something she attributed to mergers and liquidations.
 
"This is a trend we expect to continue in 2014," she said.
 
The increase in lending and the drop in the delinquency rate appears to mirror national trends. Last Wednesday, a Credit Union National Association survey showed that credit unions across the country expanded loan balances by 6.8%, while the 60-day delinquency ratio held steady at 1% ( News Now Feb. 5).

Vt.'s Bergeron speaks on data security to state committee

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (2/10/14)--Joe Bergeron, president of the Association of Vermont Credit Unions, Friday testified before the State Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee in support of legislation to strengthen merchant data security breach standards.   
 
Similar legislation was introduced in the Vermont House last year, at which time Bergeron also testified ( Newslines Express Feb. 7). 
 
In both instances, Bergeron testified that under federal and state laws credit unions already abide by the kinds of standards and notification requirements being proposed for other types of businesses.
 
In Florida, a bill was filed in the state House of Representatives' House Civil Justice Subcommittee that addresses similar data security issues. The bill would require corporations, and governmental entities that do business in Florida and collect personal information to provide notice to the Attorney General's office and any persons affected in the event of a breach. Notification would be required within 30 days of the breach's discovery unless a delay is ordered by a state or federal law enforcement agency investigating the breach.
 
The League of Southeastern Credit Unions' government advocacy team will meet with committee members to discuss the bill, which does not require merchants to cover costs of a loss in breaches where they did not appropriately protect the information.
 
On the Federal level, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, last week chaired a hearing on preventing data breaches and combating cybercrime.
 
"American consumers deserve to know when their private information has been compromised and what a business is doing in response to a cyber-attack" said Leahy during the hearing. "After an attack, time is of the essence for law enforcement seeking to catch the perpetrator, and also for consumers who want to protect themselves against further exposure."
 
In a letter to Leahy and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Credit Union National Association called on Capitol Hill lawmakers to ensure consumers know where their information was breached. CUNA has also urged lawmakers to require that all participants in the payments system network are held to comparable levels of data security requirements, and that those responsible for a data breach be responsible for the costs of helping consumers.

Consumer expert Chatzky: CUs stand on the side of the consumer

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DALLAS (2/10/14)--During an appearance for the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation, personal finance expert Jean Chatzky commended credit unions and what they've done for Americans, especially during the economic downturn.
 
"You stand on the side of the consumer," she told attendees at Thursday's FOCUS Summit in Dallas. ( Leaguer Feb. 7). Chatzky, who told the group she is "a fan of credit unions," is director of education at SavvyMoney and financial editor for NBC's "Today" show.
 
When it comes to the relationships between consumers and their money, many are "a hot mess," the best-selling author said during the keynote speech.
 
Chatzky talked about "financially fragile" Americans. A significant percentage of women, African-Americans, Hispanics, elderly and the poorly educated don't have financial education, she said, adding that fewer women than men have an emergency savings fund, are comfortable with their debt load or regularly balance their checking account.
 
"Most people aren't money experts, and that is why they need you," she said. "You are in a service business, and you need to be able to anticipate people's needs."

Regulatory settlement reaches $14M in credits for Illinois CUs

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (2/10/14)--A settlement negotiated with the state by the Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL) nine years ago has reached $14 million in regulatory fee credits for Illinois state-chartered credit unions.
 
This year state-chartered credit unions will receive a credit of $394,830 on their first-quarter regulatory fee invoices as part of the settlement.
 
Between an initial cash settlement of $6.2 million, the regulatory fee holidays or credits realized in six of the past 19 quarters totaling $2.7 million, and a rate reduction of $3.5 million in regulatory fees paid to the state's Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) since the settlement was reached, Illinois state-chartered credit unions to date have realized a cumulative benefit of roughly $14 million.
 
These regulatory fee credits continue because of legislation initiated by ICUL to implement the court-approved settlement of the regulatory fee case it filed against then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich in 2004. The settlement was signed into law by Gov. Patrick Quinn effective April 6, 2009.
 
The 2009 legislation implementing the settlement also accomplished two other goals, according to Stephen Olson, ICUL executive vice president and general counsel. First, it codified a rate reduction in regulatory fees on a going-forward basis commencing Jan. 1, 2009. On a going- forward basis, the rate reduction has resulted in $700,000-plus per year during the past three years, or $2.1 million back to Illinois state-chartered credit unions since the legislation became law.
 
Second, the 2009 legislation reduced the Credit Union Fund margin that triggers a credit back to Illinois state-chartered credit unions. Olson noted the Credit Union Fund is the dedicated fund into which regulatory fees are deposited to offset the ordinary administrative and operational expenses of the DFI Credit Union Section in supervising state-chartered credit unions. It is structured as an operating account, not a savings account.
 
To meet that objective, the legislation reduced the margin level to 25% from 50%. When the balance in the Credit Union Fund at the end of a state fiscal year exceeds 25% of the expenses incurred by the state in administering the Illinois Credit Union Act and related laws, the excess must be credited to the credit unions that paid the fees in the first instance.
 
As a result of the legislation, Illinois state-chartered credit unions previously received an aggregate margin credit of $1.051 million, which was slightly less than the total 2012 fourth-quarter billing for regulatory fees, and an aggregate credit of $1,256,893, which equaled a full fourth-quarter fee holiday for 2011, and a partial holiday on their 2012 first-quarter fees paid to the regulatory agency in April 2012.
 
Illinois state-chartered credit unions also received an aggregate credit of $1,452,256, which provided a total holiday on the fourth-quarter regulatory fee in 2010 as well as a partial holiday for the first quarter of 2011.

CU System briefs (02/10/2014)

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  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (2/10/14)-- With widespread power outages after last week's winter storm in Pennsylvania, some Citadel FCU branches helped power up local folks . Offices in Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties invited people to come in to have a cup of coffee and plug in their electronic devices in extra power strips ( Life is a Highway Feb. 7). Citadel FCU is a $1.8 billion-asset credit union in Exton, Pa.  ...
     
  • POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (2/10/14)-- New York credit unions' excellence in the workplace was noted by the New York State Society for Human Resource Management and the Best Companies Group. Three credit unions--AmeriCU CU, $1.2 billion in assets, Rome; Empower FCU, $1.2 billion in assets, Syracuse; and Hudson Valley FCU, $3.8 billion in assets, Poughkeepsie--were honored in the large-employer category in the "Best Companies to Work for in New York State" for 2014. This is the fifth consecutive appearance on the list for Hudson Valley FCU. In the small- to medium-employer category, the Credit Union Association of New York, Albany, was among the recipients, along with SeaComm FCU, $460 million in assets, Massena; and Quorum FCU, $782 million in assets, Purchase. The list commends workplaces with practices that benefit the state's businesses, economy and workforce ...
     
  • TORRANCE, Calif. (2/10/14)--Effective April 1, Steve Brandon will succeed Jim Updike as CEO at Honda FCU , Torrance, Calif.  Brandon, who has been with the $625 million-asset credit union since 1991, most recently was chief operating officer. Updike will remain as an adviser until his retirement ... 
     
  • PEARL RIVER, N.Y. (2/10/14)-- Current Chief Financial Officer Paula Murray has been named president/CEO of Palisades FCU , Pearl River, N.Y. Murray has been with the $153 million-asset credit union for 25 years, 18 as CFO. She succeeds Mark Welshoff, who retired in October after more than 30 years at the credit union ...

GreenPath sponsors new incentives for youth saving challenge

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MADISON, Wis. (2/10/14)--GreenPath Debt Solutions is expanding its sponsorship of the National Youth Saving Challenge, held in conjunction with the Credit Union National Association's National Credit Union Youth Week.

The national non-profit, credit counseling organization is boosting incentives to help credit unions to reach a younger audience. GreenPath President/CEO Jane McNamara said, "We believe that we are not only setting each individual person up for a financially savvy life, but contributing to the prosperity of the nation's future."

The new enticements include increasing the quantity of cash prizes to participants and additional rewards for credit unions supporting the initiative. National Credit Union Youth Week is April 20-26.

"As part of the 2013 National Youth Saving Challenge, more than 117,000 young members deposited $25.2 million into their savings accounts--with 6,173 of those being new accounts," CUNA Youth Week Coordinator Janet Garkey said. "With the sponsorship from GreenPath, we're aiming to attract even more young savers."

CU System briefs (02/07/2014)

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  • CHARLOTTE, N.C. (2/7/14)-- Charlotte Metro CU aired two Super Bowl ads this year trumpeting the credit union's mobile banking services. The spots depicted two different couples at a tropical resort using smart phones and Charlotte Metro's mobile check deposit and person-to-person payment services ( Charlotte Observer Feb. 3). "We want consumers to know they can get the same mobile banking services at Charlotte Metro that they'd expect at a much larger institution," President/CEO Bob Bruns said. The ads, which featured the couples using mobile banking to cover for the husbands' mistakes, attempted a humorous slant. Vice President of Marketing Randall Beckwith explained that "comedy gets attention," adding that Charlotte Metro believes "these light-hearted ads will get noticed and stick with people." Beckwith also said that executives, including Bruns, played a significant role in developing the ad campaigns, as they do every year. This year, the credit union will also advertise on the radio, outdoors and online. Charlotte Metro is headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., and has $296 million in assets ...
  • BOSTON (2/7/14)-- Newly elected Boston Mayor Martin Walsh joined City of Boston CU this week. City of Boston announced Walsh's membership Thursday, saying that it looks forward to serving him and collaborating with him on community initiatives ( Daily CU Scan Feb. 6) ...
  • WICHITA FALLS, Texas. (2/7/14)-- Two credit union executives in Wichita Falls, Texas, were named to the city's Times Record News "20 Under 40" in 2013. Mark Casares , 32, loan officer at PosTel Family CU, and Teea Reed , 25, marketing and business development director at Union Square FCU, were recognized for their work, both at the office and in the community ( Leaguer Feb. 7). Casares, who became a head teller, loan counselor and loan officer for Postel Family in 2005, also works with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. He also represents the Wichita Falls Chapter of Credit Unions through Cornerstone Credit Union League, and is said to be the youngest area chapter president in Cornerstone's 83-year history. He is also a member of the Wichita County Sheriff's Citizen's Academy Alumni Association, and has volunteered with the Zavala Hispanic Cultural Initiative and the Boys & Girls Club. Reed, a Cache, Okla., native, has worked with Children's Miracle Network, United Regional Healthcare System and has also volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters ...
  • PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (2/7/14)-- Peter Kavalauskas, president/CEO of Northeast CU, Portsmouth, N.H., Thursday announced his retirement . He will continue to lead the credit union until a replacement is found. Kavalauskas first joined Northeast CU, then called Northeast FCU, in 1978 as an assistant general manager. He became general manager in 1984 and rose to his current position the following year. Under his administration, the $918 million-asset credit union has expanded from three branches in southern New Hampshire to 15 statewide branches. "It has been both an honor and a privilege to serve such an outstanding organization and its membership for over 35 years," he said. Kavalauskas has also volunteered with the New Hampshire Credit Union League since 1982, the Vermont Credit Union League, and the New England Credit Union Executive Society ...

Electronic lien titling on N.J. legislative agenda

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (2/5/14)--Electronic lien titling is among the top legislative priorities for the New Jersey Credit Union League during the new session of the state's Legislature, Chris Abeel, NJCUL director of government affairs told News Now .
 
Electronic lien titling (ELT) is moving on an administrative level within the state, and the league hopes to avoid legislation on the issue.
 
"We've been working with Motor Vehicle Commission, trying to nudge them along," Abeel said. "There is some legislation that would mandate that they complete it by a certain time, but we've stayed neutral on that legislation because we've developed what we think is a good relationship with MVC."
 
The greatest benefit of electronic titling is the efficiency gained in the elimination of the paper filing. Rather than storing titles in a vault, a credit union can locate a title electronically and have it ready for a member once the car loan is paid off. Credit unions can also eliminate some of the expenses required to handle and process paper titles. Under a paper process, a staffer may have to take a large batch of titles, look them up in a loan system and then match the two. ELT allows for an automated matching process based on the vehicle identification number.
 
That increased efficiency can save credit unions both time and human resources, Abeel said.
 
Legislation that would authorize credit unions to offer prize-linked savings to their members could also be introduced this session, Abeel said. "I'm optimistic in one respect: I don't think bankers would oppose it."
 
At the same time, credit unions are flush with deposits, Abeel said, and momentum for another deposits bill could wane after New Jersey credit unions helped pass legislation that authorized them to become eligible to accept municipal deposits in 2011.
 
Abeel also said a data breach bill that has been introduced in each legislative session since 2006--but not pushed because of heavy opposition from retailers--has been prefiled for the 2014 session, "and it might have legs," because the bill's sponsor is now the Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32).
 
The bill would restrict the information that a retailer can retain from a card's magnetic strip. In case of a breach, it would allow the card issuer to identify who is responsible for the breach, and also allow the card issuer to recoup card replacement and fraud costs.
 
The league is also laying the groundwork for state charter modernization, which Abeel said will likely be a multi-session initiative. The league and state credit unions have yet to determine whether they will press for a complete rewriting of the state credit union act or changes on individual items.
 
Abeel said the league will take a defensive posture on foreclosure-related issues in two areas. One concern is legislation that would a require lender to provide maintenance to a foreclosed property. "While we want to be good corporate citizens," Abeel said. "We do not want lenders to be held to a different standard than homeowners are held to."
 
Two New Jersey municipalities--Orange and Newark--have also moved forward with plans to use eminent domain to buy properties that are in foreclosure. "That concerns us," Abeel said. "The towns can pay us less than is owed on the properties, and then turn around and give it back to the person that the lender foreclosed on."

Radebaugh shares breach effect with congressional delegation

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COLUMBIA, S.C., and RALEIGH, N.C. (2/7/14)--John Radebaugh, CEO of the Carolinas Credit Union League, shared credit union concerns about data security with congressional delegations from North Carolina and South Carolina.
 
Prior to this week's lineup of committee and subcommittee hearings on data security and cybersecurity, Radebaugh sent a letter to each state delegation office, customized with state data.
 
"Credit unions...understand and appreciate the complexity of data security," he wrote, adding, "Our frustration with merchants, particularly in instances like the Target breach, is with lack of responsibility and accountability when a breach occurs" ( In the Loop Feb. 6).
 
Radebaugh recommended these objectives:
  • Subject merchants to the same type of data security standards that credit unions follow;
     
  • Require merchants to reimburse credit unions for the costs they incur as a result of merchant data breaches; and
     
  • Permit credit unions to identify the merchant at which a data breach occurs.
He added, "Perhaps most frustrating for credit unions is that the lack of merchant accountability leaves vulnerable the very heart of member relationships credit unions work so hard to build.
 
"When a merchant breach occurs and a credit union is unable to tell a member the responsible merchant's name, the member often assumes wrongly that the compromise is the result of negligence by the credit union," he said.
 
"It is only fair that we be allowed to offer greater reassurance and in doing so add incentive for merchants to protect consumer data."
 
The league will follow up with state delegations during the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference Feb. 23-27.
 
CCUL's advocacy and education efforts regarding data security going forward will include letters to the editor from Radebaugh, engaging credit unions within regional media markets and providing customizable templates for credit unions.
 

Maine Senate president praises CUs for hunger assistance

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PORTLAND, Maine (2/7/14)--The president of the Maine State Senate praised credit unions this week for their efforts to mitigate the effects of childhood hunger.
 
Sen. Justin Alfond (D-8th District) said that state credit unions' initiatives are "very impressive and an important example of what the private sector can accomplish." Alfond made the comments at a meeting with charity leaders, educators and private sector organizations at Riverside Elementary School in Portland.
 
"I have been pleased to hear of the long-term commitment that Maine's credit unions have had to ending hunger, and I am really excited about the leadership that credit unions have put forth with their recent pledge to provide significant funding to support childhood hunger in Maine," he added.
 
Alfond also said that he is planning to meet with government agencies, food banks and private sector partners to discuss ways to combat childhood hunger, and has invited Maine's credit unions to participate.
 
The Maine Credit Unions' Campaign for Ending Hunger last fall committed a three-year $75,000 contribution toward expanding school backpack and pantry programs. The program, which was spearheaded by the Maine Credit Union League in 1990, has raised more than $4.8 million since its creation. In that time, Maine credit unions have raised almost $95 million toward hunger eradication, according to the MCUL.
 
Alfond pointed out that student hunger is a "major problem in Maine," and praised the backpack program for alleviating hunger over weekends and holidays. "It is not enough to provide meals during school. Hunger is seven days a week," he said.
 
More than four out of 10 children under the age of 12 in Maine show evidence of hunger, and 68,950 children are food insecure, according to MCUL. The league said that new data shows 15% of the state's households, containing some 200,000 people, are food insecure. The state is 13th in the nation and first in New England in food insecurity.
 
MCUL President John Murphy said that he appreciates Maine credit unions' participation and "the significant role credit unions have had in raising awareness and funds to end hunger in Maine for many years."

Alabama GAC wraps up with legislative visits

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (2/7/14)--The Alabama Credit Union Association State Governmental Affairs Conference concluded Wednesday as credit union representatives pressed their case with state lawmakers on issues such as the state credit union act union act, patent trolling, and public deposits.
 
Before meetings at the State House, League of Southeastern Credit Unions staff updated attendees on bills in the Alabama legislature that are a priority for credit unions ( eSignal Feb. 6). The update to the Alabama State Act is moving forward, with the next action on the bill possibly coming next week. (See News Now Jan. 27: LSCU pushes for legislation on public deposits, foreclosures)
 
On the federal side, the league's federal contract lobbyist John McKechnie updated the group on tax reform, supplemental capital and regulatory issues. He said credit unions seemed very well positioned on tax reform, however unrelated business income tax (UBIT) might be on the table. He also said changing the name on the secondary capital issue to supplemental capital was a good idea because it implies helping credit unions and Congress wants to help entities.
 
GAC attendees were provided with a special welcome at the State House when they visited the Senate Chambers viewing gallery, where and the video board above the Senate floor read, "The Alabama Senate Welcomes the League of Southeastern Credit Unions."
 
Representatives from the LSCU and credit union representatives met with Rep. Phil Williams (R-Madison), who is the sponsor of a bill to limit patent trolling. Williams said he was pleased to talk to credit union representatives who have had first-hand experience with patent trolling.

Ohio league makes progress on public deposits

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (2/7/14)--The Ohio Credit Union League reports that it continues making inroads with lawmakers on legislation that would permit credit unions to accept public deposits.
 
League General Counsel John Kozlowski and Director of Legislative Affairs Patrick Harris recently met with House Republican caucus staff to discuss The Community Access and Local Government Choice Act, the legislation that would provide credit unions with the authority to accept public deposits. During the meeting, Kozlowski and Harris asked that Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R-Medina) follow up on his support of bringing banks to the negotiating table to clear a path for public deposits legislation ( eLumination Feb. 5).
 
Also, with momentum building in the House, Harris and Kozlowski met with Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) to discuss how the bill would fare in the Senate. Schiavoni suggested credit unions contact him should a vote in the House become imminent.
 
The Community Access and Local Government Choice Act is scheduled for proponent testimony Tuesday in the Ohio House State and Local Government Committee. Testifying in support of the legislation will be Ray Degraw, mayor of the city of Grandview Heights; Jim Link, former treasurer of Allen County and current clerk of courts; and Terry Scott, auditor for the city of Mount Vernon.

Harris will provide testimony on behalf of the league. Credit union staff and volunteers are encouraged to attend to show movement-wide support of the issue.

"We need to make sure we fill the room with credit union leaders so committee members understand how important this issue is to our movement," said Harris. "Banks will certainly be present in opposition."

CU System briefs (02/06/2014)

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  • SAN DIEGO (2/6/14)--Frankie Duenas, chief technology officer at San Diego's Cabrillo CU was named one of the Premier 100 information technology professionals by Computerworld magazine. "He has helped our members achieve greater access and connectivity in an evolving digital age. We are very proud of an achievement that is so well deserved," said Robin Lentz, president/CEO of the $210 million-asset credit union. Duenas, who has led the credit union's IT team since 1996, will be honored in Atlanta in March along with recipients from Verizon, DIRECTV, Intel and the Federal Bureau of Investigations ...
  • RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (2/6/14)--Linda Pettit, CEO of California Center CU, Ontario, Calif., has joined CO-OP Financial Services as vice president of customer care. She will be responsible for the company's service quality initiatives and programs. Pettit led the $8 million-asset credit union for five years and previously worked as a credit union consultant and for Evangelical Christian CU, Brea., Calif. ...
  • FORT COLLINS, Colo. (2/6/14)--Richard "Dick" Cleaver, a pioneer in Indiana credit unions, died Jan. 23 in Fort Collins, Colo.  He was 86. Cleaver was the founding CEO of RCA Employees CU in Indianapolis, retiring in 1987 after 24 years ( Coloradoan Feb. 1). He also was chairman for the Indiana Credit Union League, where he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989, and Indiana Corporate Central CU. Cleaver came out of retirement to serve as CEO of Norlarco CU (now Public Service CU), Fort Collins, from 1990 to 1994 ...

Prepaid cards can fill need in Hispanic market

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (2/6/14)--Prepaid reloadable cards are often touted as a good fit for unbanked Hispanic consumers who rely one expensive fringe financial service providers to cash checks and send money to relatives in another country. But Hispanic consumers will only embrace prepaid cards if the fee structure is consumer-friendly, according to Miriam De Dios, president/CEO of Coopera.
 
"While there has been a rise in popularity of prepaid solutions, particularly for the unbanked, not all solutions have been created with the Hispanic consumer in mind, nor are they generally consumer-friendly solutions," De Dios told the Cornerstone Credit Union League ( Leaguer Feb. 5).
 
Better yet, prepaid card programs should offer a path to savings and checking account status, De Dios advised.
 
Prepaid reloadable cards are a hybrid of gift cards and debit cards. Cardholders load and reload money onto their card and then use it to make purchases and withdraw cash at an ATM. It's relatively easy to obtain a prepaid reloadable card, because a financial institution account is not required, nor is a credit history.
 
"These cards provide cardholders an easy way to manage their money, have additional access to their money and a safe-tool to carry their money," De Dios said.
 
Beacon FCU, LaPorte, Texas, has offered prepaid cards since 2011. It's been a challenge getting members to embrace the product, said Adelina Gomez Abshire, director of business development for the $128 million-asset credit union.
 
"We have garnered feedback from the community about the prepaid cards, and we've discovered that there are a lot of misperceptions," Abshire said. "We learned from our dialogue with the community that Hispanics age 40 and older prefer to pay in cash because they perceive that prepaid cards have too many hidden fees."
 
The 40-and-over Hispanic demographic, unfortunately, tends not read all of the disclosures, Abshire said.
 
"They get their information from a trusted relative or friend," she added. "Once they start getting charged fees, they stop and go back to their source of using cash or money orders."
 
For the unbanked, there are advantages of having a prepaid reloadable card, De Dios said. Prepaid reloadable cardholders can save on check-cashing fees, money order fees and money transfer fees by using their card instead of using expensive fringe financial service providers.
 
"Some prepaid card solutions charge load fees, activation fees and interactive voice response system support fees," she added. "Solutions that limit their fees and have low- or no-cost services are the best solutions. The cardholder fee structure is important for credit unions to understand when selecting a prepaid reloadable card option."
 
When consumers purchase prepaid cards, they should also be offered financial education and options to develop an account-based relationship that can help the cardholder meet his or her financial goals, De Dios said.
 
"While a prepaid reloadable card can give the cardholder more access to money and can save them a lot of money, it's not going to help them build credit and get a car loan," De Dios said. "A prepaid reloadable card and a relationship with their local credit union will."
 
For those members with no other way of opening an account, prepaid cards have proven to be their best option, Abshire said.
 
Another important consideration is the cultural relevancy and language support available for the card program, she added. Without access to account information in Spanish and no bilingual cardholder support, a Spanish landing Web page is not going to be attractive to a Hispanic consumer who needs this card.
 
"Credit unions need to look at options that provide a seamless, culturally relevant and in-language experience in their prepaid reloadable card program," suggested De Dios.

CUNA, leagues win Grassroots Innovation Award

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WASHINGTON (2/6/14)--The Credit Union National Association's "#DontTaxTuesday" Twitter and Facebook campaigns walked away with a Grassroots Innovation Award from the Public Affairs Council Wednesday.
 
"We could not be happier with the success of credit union's social media advocacy," said Richard Gose, senior vice president of Political Affairs at CUNA. "We owe much of our success to the dedication of credit union members, who willingly engage in advocating for their credit unions."
 
The Grassroots Innovation awards are given out annually at the Public Affairs Council's National Grassroots Conference in Florida. The awards recognize the nation's best grassroots programs and campaigns in the categories of Corporate Innovation, Association Innovation and Social Media Innovation
 
On July 23 and Sept. 10 last year, CUNA and state credit union league advocacy used social media to encouraged credit unions, credit union members and other credit union advocates to contact state and federal lawmakers directly with the unified message of "Don't Tax My Credit Union." Some of the tweets incorporated videos. Below are just three of the kinds of messages sent to legislators:
  • Shiro-oni:  @MaxBaucus @OrrinHatch Truth is, credit unions provide superior deposit & loan rates & greater protection from risk than banks #DontTaxMyCU.
  • StevePoniewaz:  Cooperative status is not a subsidy. Credit Union Members have paid their tax; #DontTaxMyCU@RepAnnWagner
  • Alabama CU: CUs return profits to their members. Taxing CUs hurts 1.8 million Alabamians. Visit bit.ly/ZY97Pz and ell Congress #DontTaxMyCU
For the first "Don't Tax Tuesday" in July over 5,200 messages were posted with the #DontTaxMyCU hashtag with roughly 2,000 being sent directly to member of Congress.

For the second "Don't Tax Tuesday" in September CUNA worked to develop a Twitter and Facebook plug-in on the "Don't Tax" site (see resource link) that would allow advocates to simply enter in their address and directly Tweet their legislators or post messages on Facebook supporting the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign. The second "Don't Tax Tuesday" boasted nearly 8,000 tweets with the CUNA Advocacy hashtags including 5,000 directly tagging members of Congress.
 
Overall, since the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign began in May 2013, it has garnered more than 1.3 million direct messages to the U.S. Congress.

Weather puts big chill on Northeast CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (2/6/14)--Power outages and road closures are widespread after a one-two punch of winter storms in the Midwest and Northeast, causing some credit unions to close.
 
Click to view larger image Nearly 10 inches of snow had fallen in the Albany, N.Y., region Wednesday. This is the view from the Credit Union Association of New York's offices in Albany.
In New York, credit unions have closed branches or altered operating hours, according to Ron McLean, senior vice president, Credit Union Association of New York.
 
Ice and snow made travel treacherous, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo closed Interstate 84 between the Connecticut and Pennsylvania borders to traffic both ways for about six hours Wednesday. Cuomo also declared a state of emergency and urged people to stay off the roads ( Times Union Feb. 5).
 
"Credit unions located in this area are certainly significantly impacted," McLean told News Now .
 
In Pennsylvania, power outages were a grave concern. At the height of the storm, more than 623,000 customers were without power in the Philadelphia region. Peco, the power utility, said it was the second-worst storm in company history and that restoring power could take until the weekend ( Philly.com Feb. 5).
 
Click to view larger image The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association's Harrisburg offices look out over the frozen and snow-covered Susquehanna River.
"There are quite a number of areas that are really impacted by power outages," said Diane Powell, director of communications, Pennsylvania Credit Union Association. "I talked with a staff person from a credit union in this area who was working, but had no power at their residence," she told News Now .
 
People First FCU, Allentown, was closed Monday due to snow and closed early Wednesday, according to its Facebook page.
 
Credit union leagues in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Rhode Island operated in business continuity mode Wednesday. Boston received 9.7 inches of snow, and more than 61,000 power outages were reported in New Jersey ( weather.com Feb. 5).
 
In the Midwest, subzero temperatures are following Tuesday's snowfall, which dumped a record-setting 7.5 inches of snow at the Kansas City International Airport ( Kansas City Star Feb. 5).
 
The Kansas Credit Union Association was open Wednesday, as were most of the state's credit unions, according to Susan Dyer, communications director.

Bill introduced to modernize Pa. state CU code

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (2/6/14)--Legislation was introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Tuesday to "thoroughly update" the 1933 State Credit Union Code, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) reported.
 
House Bill 2009, drafted in partnership with the Department of Banking and Securities, was introduced by Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver (R-108), chair of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Financial Services and Banking. 
 
"House Bill 2009 will modernize the State Credit Union Code for state-chartered credit unions. It has been 13 years since the code was amended with parity provisions," said Patrick Conway, PCUA president/CEO ( Life is a Highway Feb. 5). "This legislation will create a more conducive operating environment for credit unions so they can better serve their members."
 
If passed, the legislation will:
  • Clarify credit union membership's authority to amend, or appeal a board-initiated bylaw amendment. Credit unions will no longer need to submit a petition obtained from the Department of Banking and Securities when a credit union amends or appeals its bylaws;
  • Update the status of inactive accounts to reflect the Pennsylvania Treasury escheat from six years to five years;
  • Provide credit unions with the ability to correspond to membership by fax, email, or other electronic communication after obtaining member consent; and
  • Give credit unions authority to collect fees paid to outside collectors for other share or loan service related amounts owed to the credit union. In addition, credit unions may recoup the actual sums it expends.

'Don't Tax My CU' counters Mo. bank attacks

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ST. LOUIS (2/6/14)--The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) is encouraging its membership to use CUNA's DontTaxMyCreditUnion.org website to fight a social media attack on the credit union tax status by state banks.
 
Missouri banks are attacking the credit union tax status through a social media campaign targeting the state's U.S. Congressional delegation. Using the #Time2Pay hashtag, bankers are directing messages to legislators via Twitter ( Missouri Difference Feb. 5).
 
MCUA is encouraging its members to visit the Don't Tax My Credit Union website and send the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" message to legislators.
 
"With a new year under way, it is a good idea to share the Don't Tax My Credit Union message with Missouri's federal lawmakers--even if you sent a message last year," said Amy McLard, MCUA senior vice president of advocacy. "Please encourage your staff, volunteers and members to re-iterate this concern with members of Congress. We don't want bankers to be the only voice lawmakers hear on this issue moving forward."
 
The Don't Tax My Credit Union website provides a platform for sending Twitter messages directly to members of Congress. Senders can tag messages #DTMCU.
 
MCUA's campaign comes in advance of the Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), which takes place Feb. 23-27 in Washington, D.C. Missouri credit union leaders will meet with members of the Missouri Congressional delegation during the GAC on Capitol Hill.
 
In September, CUNA initiated "Don't Tax Tuesday" as a social media push using Twitter, Facebook and the DontTaxMyCreditUnion.org websites in Spanish and English to generate more than 5,000 tweets, 600 Facebook posts and 8,000 e-mails to lawmakers. The campaign earned the Social Media Innovation award from the Public Affairs Council Wednesday. (See related story: CUNA, leagues win Grassroots Innovation Award)

MCUA testifies in support of 'patent troll' bill

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (2/6/14)--The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) testified last week before a Missouri House committee in support of a bill that would limit patent troll abuse.
 
David Kent, director of state legislative affairs, offered credit unions' viewpoint during the Jan. 29 hearing in the House Financial Institutions Committee ( Missouri Difference Feb. 5). House Bill 1374 is sponsored by Rep. Stan Cox (R-52). Sen. Mike Cunningham (R-33) introduced  Senate Bill 706, which addresses the same issue.
 
HB 1374 sets clear criteria to help judges distinguish legitimate from illegitimate patent assertions. It also gives businesses affected by patent trolling the option to seek restitution through the circuit court.
 
"Patent troll" broadly refers to people who sue companies, such as credit unions, for patent infringement on often questionable claims in attempt to collect licensing fees.
 
The issue, which is high on the league's list to watch, also was addressed by Bill Cheney, president/CEO, Credit Union National Association, in Wednesday's Huffington Post. (See related story: Cheney in HuffPo enlists backers in 'patent troll' fight.)
 
"It's important we explain to lawmakers the severity of the issue, and that the costs associated with patent trolling affect both the credit union and the consumers that the credit union serves," MCUA Senior Vice President of Advocacy Amy McLard told News Now last week. (See Feb. 3 News Now: MCUA addressing patent abuses, multiple issues in state session .)

Filene begins celebration of silver anniversary at GAC

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MADISON, Wis. (2/6/14)--The Filene Research Institute will begin its silver anniversary celebration with guest speaker Lisa Servon at its Chairman's Breakfast at the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., which starts Feb. 23.
 
Servon, professor of urban policy at The New School for Public Engagement, will speak at the Feb. 25 invitation-only event.
 
"Lisa's research on the financial needs of low-income consumers resonates with Filene's original purpose to be a catalyst for a stronger credit union system and policy around all financial services," said Filene CEO Mark Meyer.
 
The credit union think-tank officially launched May 31, 1989. "The Chairman's Breakfast marks our anniversary with not only the system leaders that formed us but also the members and contributors who've made these 25 years possible," Meyer said.
 
Filene is named in honor of credit union pioneer and Boston retailer Edward Filene. CUNA, CUNA Mutual Group, the National Credit Union Administration, the American Association of Credit Union Leagues, state credit union leagues and several credit unions lent their support in the creation of a place where credit unions could research and test new ideas.
 
For its first 16 years, Filene partnered with the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business to produce academic research that helped credit unions respond to market needs and shape public policy.
 
Some of Filene's notable achievements from the past 25 years are:
  • Helping set the stage for the Credit Union Membership Access Act of 1998 with its "Taxation of Credit Unions" and "Field of Membership: An Evolving Concept" reports;
     
  • Launching the i3 program in 2004 to instill the power of innovation in credit unions and test ideas such as Debt in Focus (now SavvyMoney), Savings Revolution and Save Up;
     
  • Piloting REAL Solutions--now a signature program of the National Credit Union Foundation--to help credit unions better serve low- and moderate-income consumers;
     
  • Testing prize-linked savings accounts with the Doorways to Dreams (D2) Fund and the Michigan Credit Union League in 2008, encouraging consumers to save by creating a chance to win a prize with each deposit; and
     
  • Introducing The Cooperative Trust in 2012, a community of young credit union professionals.

CU System brief

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  • MADISON, Wis. (2/5/14)--Credit unions continue to make leadership changes as new CEOs come on board and others announce they are leaving the movement. In Harrisburg, Pa., Belco Community CU announced Amey Sgrignoli was appointed president/CEO Jan. 1 and will replace Lonny Maurer when he retires in early 2015. Sgrignoli joined the $388 million-asset credit union in 2004. The credit union's succession plan has allowed her to work alongside retiring Executive Vice President Charlie DelMarcelle and Maurer, the latter who has been with Belco Community for more than 40 years. In Menomonie, Wis., Greg Lentz announced he would be retiring from WESTconsin CU July 31. Lentz is the credit union's third CEO in its 75-year history. Lora Benrud, the current chief financial officer for the $859 million-asset credit union, will succeed Lentz (The Dunn County News Jan. 31). The chief operating officer of Maple Grove, Minn.'s TopLine FCU, Tom Smith, is replacing retiring CEO Harry Carter. Smith has been with the $341 million-asset credit union since 2008 (Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Jan. 28). Dover-Phila FCU President/CEO David Andreatta retired Friday after nearly 39 years with the $348 million-asset credit union. When he started, Andreatta was only the second manager of the Dover, Ohio, credit union. He is succeeded by Jack Dooling, vice president of operations (Times Reporter Feb. 2).  Robert Andrade, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Pawtucket (R.I.) CU, is retiring after 42 years of service to the $1.5 million-asset credit union (Daily Scan Feb. 4) . . .
 

NEW: CUNA wins Grassroots Innovation Award

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WASHINGTON (2/5/14, UPDATED 4:19 p.m. ET)--The Credit Union National Association's "#DontTaxTuesday" Twitter and Facebook campaigns walked away with a Grassroots Innovation Award from the Public Affairs Council today.
 
"We could not be happier with the success of credit union's social media advocacy," said Richard Gose, senior vice president of Political Affairs at CUNA. "We owe much of our success to the dedication of credit union members, who willingly engage in advocating for their credit unions."
 
The Grassroots Innovation awards are given out annually at the Public Affairs Council's National Grassroots Conference in Florida. The awards recognize the nation's best grassroots programs and campaigns in the categories of Corporate Innovation, Association Innovation, and Social Media Innovation
 
On July 23 and Sept. 10 last year, CUNA and state credit union league advocacy used social media to encouraged credit unions, credit union members and other credit union advocates to contact state and federal lawmakers directly with the unified message of "Don't Tax My Credit Union." Some of the tweets incorporated videos. Below are just three of the kinds of messages sent to legislators:
  • Shiro-oni:  @MaxBaucus @OrrinHatch Truth is, credit unions provide superior deposit & loan rates & greater protection from risk than banks #DontTaxMyCU.
  • StevePoniewaz:  Cooperative status is not a subsidy. Credit Union Members have paid their tax; #DontTaxMyCU@RepAnnWagner
  • Alabama CU: CUs return profits to their members. Taxing CUs hurts 1.8 million Alabamians. Visit bit.ly/ZY97Pz and ell Congress #DontTaxMyCU
For the first "Don't Tax Tuesday" in July over 5,200 messages were posted with the #DontTaxMyCU hashtag with roughly 2,000 being sent directly to member of Congress.

For the second "Don't Tax Tuesday" in September CUNA worked to develop a Twitter and Facebook plug-in on the "Don't Tax" site (see resource link) that would allow advocates to simply enter in their address and directly Tweet their legislators or post messages on Facebook supporting the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign. The second "Don't Tax Tuesday boasted nearly 8,000 tweets with the CUNA Advocacy hashtags including 5,000 directly tagging members of Congress.
 
Overall, since the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign began in May 2013, it has garnered over 1.3 million direct messages to the U.S. Congress.

Former Taupa Lithuanian CEO pleads guilty to $15M fraud

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (2/5/14)--Alex Spirikaitis, the former CEO of now-defunct Taupa Lithuanian CU, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud in U.S. District Court Monday.
 
He is the fourth person related to fraud charges that led to more than $15 million in losses, causing the credit union to be closed and liquidated by the Ohio Division of Financial Institutions and the National Credit Union Administration. At the time of its closure in July, it had 1,150 members and $24 million in assets.
 
Spirikaitis, 51, personally embezzled about $4.2 million from the Cleveland, Ohio, credit union between 2011 and 2013, according to FBI records. He used the embezzled funds to buy firearms, vehicles and a luxury suite at the Cleveland Browns stadium as well as build a $1.6 million home.
 
After the credit union was liquidated, he went into hiding until his arrest in October (The Plain Dealer Jan. 4).
 
Also on Monday, Vytas Apanavicius, the external bookeeper of the credit union, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft or embezzlement from a credit union. According to court records, the 44-year-old Mentor man defrauded Taupa Lithuanian CU out of $962,689.
 
Spirikaitis and Apanavicius will be sentenced May 9.
 
Former teller Michael Ruksenas, 33, Naples, Fla., pleaded guilty Dec. 2 to embezzling more than $481,000 from the credit union. His sentencing is Feb. 28.
 
John Struna, 51, Concord Township, Ohio, also has been charged in federal court with one count of conspiracy to commit theft or embezzlement of $2.5 million from the credit union.
 
 

CUs' small-biz support highlighted in NJ Business

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FAIRFIELD, N.J. (2/5/14)--Credit unions in New Jersey last year appear to have expanded their small business loan portfolios faster than the national average, according to a profile of the state industry in New Jersey Business magazine.
 
New Jersey Credit Union League President Greg Michlig told the publication that NCJUL member credit unions increased small business loans by 0.6% in the third quarter of 2013--growth that was 0.5 percentage points more than the credit union national average.
 
"At this point, we are really working with our member credit unions as a league to assist with the resources and expertise that are necessary to offer business loans in this environment," he said. Michlig also pointed out that New Jersey's economy isn't performing well compared to other states due, in part, to recent storms that have pummeled the Garden State.
 
The February edition highlighted the role that credit unions can play in a tight economy. Megan Shull, business development officer at Wall-based First Financial FCU, said that otherwise capable entrepreneurs being shunned by the labor market can use credit union financing to launch their own ventures.
 
The $185 million-asset credit union recently approved a $170,000 loan to finance a small business owner's property acquisition. A larger bank had previously refused to provide the loan "because the dollar amount of the loan probably wasn't large enough," Shull told New Jersey Business.
 
But statutory limits are limiting how much credit unions in New Jersey and their counterparts across the United States, can lend to small businesses, as the magazine detailed. Credit Union of New Jersey President Andrew Jaeger said that the federal constraints on small business loans--12.25% of credit unions' total assets--have almost consistently limited the Ewing cooperative's line of commercial credit at around $3 million.
 
Jaeger, who said that the average business loan made by CUNJ is $200,000, with the typical minimum approved at $10,000, pointed out that credit unions can partner with one another to extend larger amounts of credit to businesses. The $326 million-asset credit union recently lent $9,500 to a doctor's office to help it cover an insurance premium, the article said.
 
NJCUL's Michlig counseled New Jersey Business readers: "The best advice I could offer small businesses is to make sure you shop around and include a credit union or two in the mix when looking for that loan or business service."
 
The Credit Union National Association is currently urging Congress to allow credit unions to play a larger role in small business financing through member business loans (MBLs). CUNA says that raising the federal government-mandated ceiling on MBLs as a percentage of total assets to 27.5% would inject $13 billion into the economy, and help boost employment by 140,000 at no cost to taxpayers. CUNA and credit unions are calling on Congress and the administration to support the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Creation Act (H.R. 688), which would increase the MBL cap to 27.5% of assets.

Conn. league watching sales-tax exemption

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MERIDEN, Conn. (2/5/14)--The Credit Union League of Connecticut and state credit unions are requesting a sales-tax exemption for state-chartered credit unions, given there is a projected general fund surplus of $117.1 million in fiscal year 2014, as this year's state legislative session convened today.
 
The surplus represents about 7% of total estimated expenditures. In addition, the Office of Fiscal Analysis projects a surplus of $8.4 million for 2015.
 
"We haven't asked since 2008 because the state was in the red, but now that we are in the black we figure it's time again," said Kelly Fuhlbrigge, league vice president of government relations told News Now. "It's in the best interest of our members and credit union members throughout the state."
 
Because of their cooperative ownership structure, Connecticut credit unions could return any savings realized from the sales tax exemption into better rates on savings products and loans to their members.
 
The league is also maintaining a defensive posture on foreclosure legislation during the session.  Last year the legislature made changes to the judicial branch's foreclosure mediation program, including extending the program's operation and establishing expedited foreclosure procedures for vacant and abandoned properties.
 
Because the high foreclosure rate persists in Connecticut, the league expects that the legislature may consider additional changes to the program and foreclosure process, including changes related to pre-foreclosure sales and additional procedures to help owners through the mediation process.  "Lengthening the process for us isn't anything more than a regulatory burden," Fuhlbrigge said.

Callahan CEO to succeed Plauda at Illinois league

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (2/5/14)--Sean Hession, current president/CEO of Callahan and Associates in Washington, D.C., has been named to succeed Dan Plauda as president of the Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL).
 
Hession, a former Omaha businessman, has been with Callahan and Associates since early January 2012. Earlier, he served in a series of staff and operational positions at First National Bank of Omaha for over a decade.
 
Hession said he is looking forward to joining the league, adding, "The organization has a rich history and a great reputation for member services."
 
Geri Burek, chair of the league's executive search committee, said of the CEO selection, "ICUL is excited to have Sean Hession join us as president and CEO. He comes to ICUL with a great deal of experience in strategy and innovation, and brings the vision that propels organizations to greater heights."
 
Last June 10, Plauda announced his intentions to retire from the top league position on June 30 this year. There will be a 60-day transition period, starting May 1, during which both Hession and Plauda will be on board at the league.
 
Plauda joined the ICUL staff in May 1977, serving at that time as the organization's first general counsel. Before that, he was a partner in a Minneapolis law firm.

Bad-news weather bears down on Kansas CUs

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WICHITA, Kan. (2/5/14)--Credit unions throughout Kansas closed early Tuesday as much of the state was expected to receive up to 10 inches of snow; the snowstorm was expected to move quickly to the east across the midwest section of the country and then on into New England.

According to Reuters, the heavy, wet snow also forced the closing of many schools and state offices across the Kansas region. That report said that authorities advised people to stay home because of what the National Weather Service warned was "extremely difficult travel conditions."

Gov. Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency for the entire state. As of 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, Salina reported 10 inches of snow, and Wichita had 5.3 inches.
 
As of mid-afternoon Tuesday, more than 20 credit unions had closed at least one of their offices:
  • Bell CU, Hutchinson;
  • Bell-Government CU, Dodge City;
  • Central Star CU, Wichita;
  • CommunityAmerica CU, Lenexa;
  • Credit Union of Emporia;
  • Educational CU, Topeka;
  • Emporia (Kan.) State FCU;
  • Envista CU, Topeka;
  • EquiShare CU, Wichita;
  • Frontier Community CU, Leanworth;
  • Hutchinson (Kan.) CU,
  • Hutchinson (Kan.) Government Employees CU;
  • Kansas State University FCU, Manhattan;
  • Mainstreet CU, Lenexa;
  • McPherson (Kan.) CO-OP CU;
  • Meritrust CU, Junction City, Lawrence branch;
  • Medical Community CU, Wichita;
  • New Century CU, Topeka;
  • Quest CU, Topeka;
  • Reliance CU, Kansas City;
  • River Cities Community CU, Atchison;
  • TECU CU, Wichita;
  • USPLK Employees FCU, Leavenworth;
  • Veterans Administration CU, Wichita; and
  • Wesley Medical CU, Wichita.
The Kansas Credit Union Association office also closed at 3 p.m. (CT), but is scheduled to be open during normal business hours today. 

The situation is similar to February 2013 when more than 20 Kansas credit unions closed as the state was hit with up to 18 inches of snow.

Fla. league endorses Sink in special election for U.S. Rep.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (2/5/14)--The board of the Florida Credit Union Association (FCUA) endorsed Democrat Alex Sink for Florida's open seat in the 13th Congressional District for the upcoming March 11 special election.
 
Sink and Republican David Jolly are running in the special election that will fill the seat of Rep. Bill Young (R), who died in October.
 
Sink served as the chief financial officer for the state of Florida, a time during which she forged working relationship with credit unions.
 
"Alex has a keen understanding of the difficulties facing credit unions today," said Patrick La Pine, president/CEO, League of Southeastern Credit Unions. "She realizes that credit unions play an important role in helping Americans, as well as Floridians, get on solid financial footing."
 
"Her background in financial services gives her an instant knowledge base on today's complex financial issues and regulations," La Pine added.
 
"Receiving the support of the Florida Credit Union Association's board of directors means a lot to me," Sink said. "Credit unions are a diverse group that mirrors our local communities. They are working to help Floridians get affordable loans as well as providing financial counseling so members can get out of debt and begin saving money."
 
FCUA is an affiliate of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions.
 
The Credit Union Legislative Action Council, the federal political action committee for the Credit Union National Association, contributed $10,000 to Sink's campaign.

Cornerstone expands Member Business Services Council

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas, and HARAHAN, La. (2/5/14)--The Cornerstone Credit Union League and the Member Business Services Council are partnering to expand opportunities to credit unions in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
 
The Louisiana Credit Union League organized the council in 2011 to provide service and support to credit union professionals who specialize in member business services, including lending. It offers opportunities for networking, sharing best practices and learning from subject matter experts (Leaguer Feb. 3).
 
The council's advisory committee plans the curriculum for council meetings, develops website content, participates in the listserv and promotes council activities at local credit union chapter events. The committee is made up of:
  • Eddie Vollenweider, vice president of business services, Neighbors FCU, Baton Rouge, La.;
     
  • Deanna Geisler, commercial services officer, Barksdale FCU, Bossier City, La.;
     
  • Dee Edie, president/CEO, Diamond Lakes FCU, Malvern, Ark.;
     
  • Mike Gandy, vice president of business lending, Amplify FCU, Austin, Texas;
     
  • Brian Gebard, SVP/chief lending officer, Oklahoma Employees CU, Oklahoma City;
     
  • Peter Hays, chief performance officer, ANECA FCU, Shreveport, La.;
     
  • Jay Noel, Campus FCU, vice president of business services, Baton Rouge, La.;
     
  • Jennifer Green, vice president/league staff liaison, Louisiana Credit Union League; and
     
  • Michael A. Delker, senior vice president of credit union relations/league staff liaison, Cornerstone Credit Union League.
The council offers member-only access to sample policies, research and listserv as well as discounts for education and training programs.
 
To be eligible for membership, a person must be a paid employee from an affiliated credit union, credit union service organizations or other credit union-related organization.

Company ordered to stop using 'credit union' in loan ads

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LIVONIA, Mich. (2/5/14)--A marketing company in California agreed to a 2012 cease-and-desist order by the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) to stop misusing the term "credit union" to market loan products.
 
D and D Marketing Corp., Encino, Calif., had been using the terms "Michigan" and "credit union"--as well as names of legitimate credit unions--in marketing "unlicensed payday loans and unauthorized credit union loans to Michigan residents," according to the order.
 
One website asserted that it actually was affiliated with a Michigan credit union, while others used a combination of "Michigan," "credit union" "quick loans" and "cash advance" in the website address.
 
It is a violation of the Michigan Credit Union Act to use the term "credit union" to promote business operations by an organization that is not a licensed credit union (Michigan Monitor Feb. 4).
 
D and D Marketing had asserted that the websites and promotions had been operated by former and/or unaffiliated third-party marketing partners or "publishers."
 
In consenting to the cease-and-desist order, D and D Marketing agreed to "undertake strict marketing and advertising compliance practices" to ensure the legitimacy of third-party providers and all advertising and marketing will be done in accordance with Michigan law.
 

NEW: Illinois league names Hession to succeed CEO Plauda

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (2/4/14, UPDATED 3:42 p.m. CT)--Sean Hession, current president/CEO of Callahan and Associates in Washington, D.C., has been named to succeed Dan Plauda as president/CEO of the Illinois Credit Union System (ICUS) .
 
Hession, a former Omaha businessman, has been with Callahan and Associates, since early January 2012. Earlier, he served in a series of staff and operational positions at First National Bank of Omaha over a decade.
 
Last June 10, Plauda announced his intentions to retire from the top league position on June 30 this year. There will be a 60-day transition period, starting May 1, during which both Hession and Plauda will be on board at the league.
 
Plauda joined the ICUS staff in May 1977, serving at that time as the organization's first general counsel. Before that, he was a partner in a Minneapolis law firm.
 
At the time of his retirement announcement, Geri Burek, ICUS chairman of the board, said that, because of Plauda's leadership legacy, the association is "well positioned for great success for many years to come." And Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney noted that Plauda "contributed greatly to the growth and success of the Illinois league and the state's credit unions during a distinguished career that has spanned nearly four decades." ( News Now June 11, 2013)
 

Mobile payments can make, break loyalty, says CO-OP white paper

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RANCHO CUCAMUNGA, Calif. (2/4/14)--With smart phones playing an increasingly prominent role in American life, one electronic financial service provider is warning credit unions without mobile banking plans that they are flirting with irrelevance.
 
CO-OP Financial Services on Monday released a white paper citing a number of studies which found that mobile banking services have a significant impact on customer loyalty.
 
The Southern California firm pointed to a study by consultants AlixPartners which showed that 52% of consumers between the ages of 26 and 34 would switch financial institutions for a digital wallet, while 38% and 36% would swap for mobile peer-to-peer payment and remote deposit capture systems.
 
The paper also cited a Yodlee Interactive Survey, which found one in three mobile banking users claiming the services are the main reason why they're doing business with their financial institution, and 71% of mobile banking users reporting that they are "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with online and mobile banking options.
 
Other research bolstered the CO-OP paper, including a study by Bain & Company Brief, which concluded that mobile-banking users in the U.S. were more loyal than competitors' customers who lack access to similar services, with Net Promoter Scores 14% higher than the average. Accenture, another management consulting firm, also discovered that 21% of a survey's respondents were "planning to" use a mobile device to make payments in stores.
 
"As consumers live more and more of their lives online, the role of mobile in financial services is shifting along with it," the paper stated. "Just a few years ago, going mobile was a way to surprise and delight tech-savvy credit union members. Today, mobile engagement is fast becoming the only way to serve mobile-driven consumers."
 
CO-OP, which offers a number of mobile services, cautioned that credit unions that "don't reach members where they live--on their mobile devices--will have a hard time maintaining that primary connection."
 
Smartphone users now make up more than half the population with 1% of Americans joining the joining that group every month., the firm said, citing more AlixPartners research.
 
"As the mobile majority grows, both in numbers and in devotion to their devices, leaving your members without the mobile capability they expect may leave them feeling abandoned altogether," the paper concluded.

47 CU professionals earn DE designation

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MADISON, Wis. (2/4/14)--A record 47 credit union professionals earned certification as Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) last week after being guided by eight program facilitators and mentors through Credit Union Development Education (DE) training from the National Credit Union Foundation.
 
Click to view larger image Graduates of the National Credit Union Foundation's Winter 2014 Credit Union Director Education training display the flags of Kenya and Malawi at the Rizzo Center in Chapel Hill, N.C., to honor their credit union colleagues who attended the training from both countries. (Photo provided by National Credit Union Foundation)
The Jan. 22-29 training was conducted on the University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill, N.C.
 
"DE training was hands-down the most educational, inspirational, and emotional training or conference I've ever been fortunate enough to be a part of," said Michael Waylett, president, $44 million Vision Financial FCU, Durham, N.C. "I learned of the principles on which credit unions were founded and how these principles should remain at the heart of every decision that we make today. It is not possible to attend this training and not, as a human being, be changed significantly."
 
DE training provides lessons in cooperative principles and credit union philosophy while incorporating challenges credit unions face today. Participants were involved in group exercises, field trips and discussions with speakers from the credit union system. They completed team projects proposing solutions for credit unions to help alleviate or eliminate challenging situations.
 
Registration is still open for the next two 2014 DE trainings, which will be held April 23-30 and Sept. 10-17 at the Lowell Center in Madison, Wis. Use the links for more information or to register.

For a list of the 47 DE graduates, use the link.

Risk-based capital plan heads News Now's January Top 10 list

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MADISON, Wis. (2/4/14)--An article on a new risk-based capital framework for credit unions released by the National Credit Union Administration was the most-requested News Now article in January.
 
Rules and regulations dominated the Top 10 with capital requirements, qualified mortgages and call reports making the list.
 
Articles about the Target data breach appeared on the list twice.
 
The Top 10 list included:

10. Risk-based capital rule would affect fewer than 200 CUs, Metsger says

WASHINGTON (1/14/14)--As the National Credit Union Administration works to modernize the 15-year-old credit union capital regime, board member Rick Metsger said Monday night that fewer than 200 credit unions would be required to make adjustments under a new risk-based capital proposal now being developed.
 
9. No credible case for capital requirement increase, says CUNA

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/24/14)--"Given how well credit unions in general survived the recent great recession, we do not think there is a credible case for increasing credit union capital requirements," Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney said following Thursday's National Credit Union Administration open board meeting.
 
8. NCUA to CUs: Examiners will reward good faith QM compliance efforts

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/6/14)--National Credit Union Administration field staff  "will take into account a credit union's good-faith efforts to comply" with new qualified mortgage regulations as they conduct their early-stage examinations, the agency said in a just-released supervisory letter to credit unions (14-CU-01).
 
7. CUNA highlights QM resources as rules go into effect today

WASHINGTON (1/10/14)--Today may not look a lot different than yesterday to many people, but for mortgage lending credit unions and thousands of other lenders today is the day that the Ability-to-Repay(ATR)/ Qualified Mortgage (QM) lending rules go into effect.
 
6. CUNA: Target breach to cost CUs an estimated $25M-$30M
 
WASHINGTON (1/21/14)--Credit unions have already incurred costs estimated to be in the range of $25 million to $30 million in costs as a result of the Target stores data security breach, a Credit Union National Association survey has shown.
 
5. NCUA Reg Alert Covers QM Rule

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/2/14)--Credit unions that make closed-end consumer loans secured by a dwelling must comply with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's new Ability-to-Repay/Qualified Mortgage (ATR/QM) rule for loan applications received on or after Jan. 10, the National Credit Union Administration reminds in its first Regulatory Alert on 2014.
 
4. Late call report filers will be fined by NCUA--starting soon

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/16/14)--Procrastinators beware: The National Credit Union Administration will begin to impose civil money penalties against federally insured credit unions (FICUs) that do not meet their quarterly call report filing deadlines.
 
3. State of the Union speaks of tax changes, jobs, and patent and housing finance reforms

WASHINGTON (1/28/14)--Job creation and tax reform were topics of President Obama's State of the Union address tonight, and the Credit Union National Association is urging the president to consider the credit union perspective in these and all important financial policy discussions.
 
2. Target-like attack hitting 6 more retailers

LOS ANGELES (1/21/14)--At least six additional U.S. retailers have been attacked with the same software used late last year to steal credit card and personal data from upward of 110 million Target Inc. customers, according to research released Thursday.

1. NCUA unveils risk-based capital plan

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/23/14, UPDATED: 11:44 a.m. ET)--A new risk-based capital framework for credit unions has just been released at today's National Credit Union Administration board meeting.

Mich. league endorses Gov. Snyder for 2nd term

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LANSING, Mich. (2/4/14)--On Monday, the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) announced its endorsement of Gov. Rick Snyder in his bid for reelection and cited his support of credit unions and the credit union philosophy.
 
"As governor, Snyder has worked with Michigan's credit unions and other lenders to build a common-sense regulatory structure that allows credit unions to best serve Main Street businesses and members," said league CEO David Adams. "Gov. Snyder's continued leadership will enhance the economic revitalization of Michigan, and we strongly support his re-election."
 
Snyder, a Republican, was elected in 2010.  
 
MCUL also noted Snyder's commitment to the role of local lenders and credit unions in strengthening the economy. He also has pushed back against unnecessary government regulations and policies that would further restrict access to credit for Michigan families and businesses, the league said, adding that these issues are critical for "Main Street credit unions" to continue to serve their members and communities.
 
The association's endorsement reflects the industry's broad view of Snyder's support on credit union issues that benefit the 4.6 million Michiganders served by credit unions with affordable and essential financial services, the league said.
 

NCUA derivatives rule is focus of CUNA Feb. 14 webinar

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MADISON, Wis. (2/4/14)--The Credit Union National Association scheduled a hot-topic webinar Feb. 14 on the recent final rule from the National Credit Union Administration on derivatives.
 
The "NCUA's Final Rule on Derivatives" webinar will be noon to 1 p.m. (CT) Feb. 14. It will cover the evolution of the rule; which credit unions quality for it; critical components and NCUA expectations; the application process; costs, controls, resources and limits associated with derivatives; and reasons to participate.
 
At its Jan. 23 meeting, the NCUA approved a proposal to use simple derivatives to hedge against interest-rate risks. The NCUA plan will allow only well-managed credit unions with $250 million or more in assets to invest in derivatives (See Jan. 24 News Now: NCUA approves final derivatives investment rule.)
 
Speakers are Mary Dunn, CUNA deputy general counsel; Bill Hampel, CUNA chief economist; and Emily More Hollis of ALM First Financial Advisors.
 
To register, use the link.

Cornerstone monitors legislative action in three states

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (2/4/14)--Following a merger in 2013, the Cornerstone Credit Union League will monitor spring legislative activity in three states--Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
 
The Oklahoma Legislature convened Monday, and is scheduled to meet through May. The Cornerstone league is closely monitoring two bills in particular, said Tom Haider, executive vice president and chief advocacy officer at the league.
 
One bill would change a state law to require towing companies to lien holders when a vehicle is towed. "What has happened in some situations is that vehicle will sit in storage and rack up tremendous storage fees, and by the time the lender finds where the vehicle is, it's no longer cost effective to recover the vehicle," Haider told News Now. "What we're hoping to do is amend that law to put an affirmative duty on anybody who takes possession of a vehicle to notify the lien holder."
 
Another bill would allow lien holders to represent themselves in small claims court on defaulted loans. Under current law, credit unions must take claims into full court where full legal representation is required. In small claims court, the credit union can be represented by an employee, such as a loan manager.
 
In 2014, the Texas legislature will not hold a regular session. The legislature meets in January during odd-numbered years.
 
"In off years, they hold a lot of interim hearing and conduct studies on major issues," Haider said. "For example, this year they might hold a hearing on data security as a result of the Target breach."
 
The Arkansas General Assembly's will hold a fiscal session, from Feb. 10 to early March, to settle the state's $5 billion budget.
 
In odd-number years the Arkansas General Assembly meets for regular sessions where any type of bill can be filed. In even-number years the assembly convenes for fiscal sessions.
 
"There really won't be anything coming up that will have any impact on credit unions, but we will certainly monitor the session," Haider said.

CU System briefs (02/04/2014)

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  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (2/4/14)--The Alabama Credit Union Association State Governmental Affairs Conference begins today, and attendees and non-attendees alike can take advantage of a mobile app that is available for Apple and Android devices (eSignal Feb. 3). It provides access to the agenda, speakers, social media integration for Facebook and Twitter. The app also includes a map of downtown Montgomery, Ala., tips for credit union advocates' visits to the Capitol and a league contact. Legislative, regulatory and grassroots advocacy are among the topics for today's agenda. Hill visits are set for Wednesday afternoon ...
  • WICHITA, Kan. (2/4/14)--Sixteen members of the Kansas Credit Union Association's young professionals group spent Jan. 28 in Topeka for CUnext Advocacy Day (Vision Jan. 31).  The CUnexters learned about credit union advocacy and the legislative process, watching the latter in action as they shadowed their state legislators through committees, constituent meetings and onto the House floor. During lunch, State Sen. Rob Olson (R-23), who also is chairman of the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee, detailed the role of committees in the legislative process. The group also learned about the state regulators at the Kansas Department of Credit Unions. (Kansas Credit Union Association photo) ...
  • NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. (2/4/14)--Merrimack Valley CU pumped up 144 lucky drivers Friday by giving away free gas at a North Andover, Mass., gas station. CEO Peter Matthews and other staff of the $497 million-asset credit union manned the pumps to give away more than $6,000 in free gas. "We made a lot of people happy today and in doing so supported a local business and created some awareness of our credit union," Matthews said ...
  • RALEIGH, N.C. (2/4/14)--A loan promotion from ElecTel Cooperative FCU for new and transferred auto loans paid off for members when Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow Sunday. The $40 million-asset credit union started the promotion in December that if the famous groundhog saw his shadow, meaning six more weeks of winter, eligible auto loan holders would have six weeks with no loan payments. "Hopefully it will make the six more weeks of winter a little more bearable, especially after the winter weather we've had this past week," said CEO Nancy Long. The Raleigh, N.C, credit union booked more than $600,000 in new auto loans as part of this promotion ...

CEO says CUs' legislative 'social' successful in S.D.

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PIERRE, S.D. (2/3/14)--More than 50 credit union advocates met with members of their South Dakota legislative contingent during last week's legislative social in Pierre, S.D.
 
Click to view larger image More than 50 credit union delegates hiked the Capitol during the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas' legislative day in Pierre Jan. 29. Both the House and Senate chambers recognized the visitors during the visit. (Credit Union Association of the Dakotas photo)
"This was one of our more successful and worthwhile legislative events," said Floyd Rummel III, president/CEO, Northern Hills FCU, Sturgis Memo Jan. 30). "Attendance from our credit unions was great, and we appreciate the time and opportunity to successfully tell our story with lawmakers," he added.
 
Although designed as a social activity, the event gave credit union representatives time to talk to nearly 70 state legislators about the South Dakota Bankers Association's "taxation equity" initiative.
 
Last year, bankers launched a statewide effort to convince local lawmakers to impose local, franchise or federal taxes on not-for-profit credit unions and farm credit services. They claim that credit unions have grown "beyond their intended purposes in both size and scope" and taxing credit unions will solve budget shortfalls at the local, state and national level.
 
Highlighting the legislative day in Pierre was a "Hike the Capitol" where the delegates were recognized by both the House and Senate chambers.

CUs top banks: SF Chronicle lists the many ways

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SAN FRANCISCO (2/3/14)--Consumers remain disillusioned with banks--a 2013 Gallup poll reported 74% of Americans had "some or very little confidence" in them--and an article in the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out the many pros of belonging to a credit union.
 
"Part of the distrust comes from the fact that banks are fundamentally profit institutions, meaning they're more likely to take risks with your money, and will often sock users with high fees and have low rates on deposit accounts," the Jan. 30 article said. "With a credit union, on the other hand, you are more likely to see lower fees, get slightly higher interest rates, and experience better customer service."
 
When it comes to accessibility, it's a draw between big banks and credit unions. Bank ATMs and branches are plentiful, but credit unions have a shared ATM network and mobile options to help members find ATMs.
 
"Hands down, credit unions are friendlier on the fee front," the article said, citing a two surveys. MoneyRates.com reported banks have an average monthly maintenance fee of $12--an extra $150 out of a consumer's pocket every year--overdraft charges of more than $30 and out-of-network ATM charges of about $3.
 
When it comes to checking accounts, more than 70% of the largest credit unions have free offerings, compared with 39% of banks, a Bankrate.com survey showed. Overdraft fees are less than $30, and if there are monthly account maintenance fees, they are $2-$5 and don't require a large balance to escape them, the article said.
 
Interest rates were nearly a draw, primarily because overall rates are so low. Although credit unions do offer higher-yielding accounts, they might need more to entice a consumer to switch from a bank.
 
Credit unions remain at the top for customer service, particularly when compared with the big banks. The article hedged a bit, saying, "as their customer base grows, it will be crucial for the industry to ramp up resources to meet demand."
 
Overall verdict? "Credit unions are better." Big banks may have flashy commercials and glossy logos, but credit unions are "by far the best option for banking today."

MCUA addressing patent abuses, multiple issues in state session

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ST. LOUIS (2/3/14)--It will be a busy spring for the Missouri Credit Union Association advocacy team. More than 900 bills have already been filed in the Missouri General Assembly, and the league figures to track at least 10% with direct or potential impact to credit unions, according to Amy McLard, MCUA senior vice president of advocacy, and David Kent, director of state legislative affairs.
 
"The state legislature is quick out of the gate," McLard told News Now. The Missouri General Assembly is a part-time or "citizen" legislature, which meets each year from January until mid-May.
 
Of course, some bills have more impact than others, McLard noted. Among those at the top of the list so far are bills to limit patent troll abuse that have been introduced in both the Missouri Senate and House. The bills are based on similar legislation passed in Vermont, McLard said.
 
The Credit Union National Association backs federal legislation that would curb abusive patent litigation by removing some of the financial incentives sought by firms that assert low-quality patents.  So-called "patent trolls" continue to use low-quality patents to try to extract settlements from credit unions and others.
 
Credit unions have been sued for the use of certain ATM technologies, check-imaging applications and check cashing applications, and providing members with mobile transactions through their smartphones.
 
"We know of specific instances where our member credit unions have been directly affected by patent trolls," McLard said. "It's important we explain to lawmakers the severity of the issue, and that the costs associated with patent trolling affect both the credit union and the consumers that the credit union serves."
 
The league testified in support of a pension advance bill that was heard in committee in January. A pension advance is a financial agreement promising access to up-front cash in exchange for a portion of the individual's pension plan, which can ultimately cost retirees thousands in interest and fees. Pension advance contracts are unregulated and often do not fully disclose the effective interest rate and other fees associated with them.
 
The league is also monitoring a condo lien bill which specifies the order of preference of liens on unit owners. "We're checking with our membership to make sure that any legislation would not have a negative impact on them," McLard said.
 
Not all action is taking place in the legislature.  There is a petition effort under way that would place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that could limit political action committee contributions by financial institutions as well as other businesses and organizations, McLard said.  "We are working with all of the groups affected in hopes to come to a resolution with the initiative petition that won't limit citizens' ability to participate in the political process."
 
Missouri's credit unions are closely scrutinizing the impact of data breaches, following both the Target breach and a credit card breach that affected an estimated 2.4 million cards, used at 79 stores, by Missouri-based Schnucks Markets Inc. in early 2013. "MCUA is asking our credit unions to respond to a survey assessing the overall impact the Schnucks data breach, as it gives a very state-specific example to demonstrate just how much data breaches are negatively affecting consumers and credit unions," McLard said.
 
McLard said multiple tax bills are filed every legislative session in Missouri, and "you always have to be diligent in monitoring them," she said.

Pa. CU second to file suit against Target after breach

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PITTSBURGH (2/3/14)--First Choice FCU, New Castle, Pa., is the second credit union to file a lawsuit against the retail giant Target after a security breach late last year compromised the debit, credit and personal information of about 110 million people.  
 
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the $38 million-asset credit union filed suit in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh Friday.
 
In the filing, the credit union said it has had to cancel and reissue 75 cards for members. It also faces the potential losses of reimbursing fraudulent charges on members' accounts, interest and transaction fees, and other expenses for monitoring and preventing fraud.
 
Alabama State Employees CU, Montgomery, was the first credit union to take legal action against Target, filing a class action suit Dec. 30. (See News Now 1/3/14: CU seeks restitution in class action filed against Target).
 
The lawsuit also claims that the Minneapolis-based retailer was negligent in protecting consumer data and violated Minnesota law by retaining magnetic strip information from purchased made by customers with credit and debit cards.
 
The Credit Union National Association has been collecting data from credit unions on the costs and burdens created by the Target data breach. According to CUNA estimates released earlier this month, the total cost of the breach for credit unions is between $25 million and $30 million. However, the actual costs could exceed this estimate in the coming weeks if greater fraud losses are incurred or those that have reported already add additional costs to their reported totals.

WOCCU accepting nominations for young CU leaders

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MADISON, Wis. (2/3/14)--The deadline for nominations to the World Council of Credit Unions' Young Credit Union People (WYCUP) scholarship program is June 16.
 
Click to view larger image 2013 World Council of Credit Unions' Young Credit Union People winners included, from left, Benjamin Janzen, Canada; Eber Ostemberg, Brazil; Caroline Domanski, United Kingdom; Jenn Vandehaar, Canada; and Christopher Morris, United States. (Photo provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
The scholarship program is an international networking and educational opportunity for promising credit union leaders, said World Council. The program and awards ceremony will take place at the 2014 World Credit Union Conference in Gold Coast, Australia, July 27-30.
 
The program seeks individuals who have made significant contributions to their credit union organizations and have the potential to make a global credit union impact. Credit unions and credit union organizations affiliated with WOCCU can nominate young leaders to compete for the scholarship.
 
"Investing in young people means investing in your credit union's future," said Brian Branch, World Council president/CEO. "WYCUP provides an opportunity to strengthen movements worldwide by exposing this group to new ideas about the most critical issues facing credit unions in and outside their countries."
 
To be eligible, nominees must:
  • Be sponsored by their credit union or credit union organization to attend the conference in Australia;
  • Be 35 years or younger as of this past Jan. 1; and
  • Submit a completed nomination form with supporting materials to WOCCU by June 3.
WYCUP scholarships will be awarded to five recipients for an all-expense-paid trip to the 2015 World Credit Union Conference in Denver. Conference registrants age 40 and younger qualify for a discounted registration fee and can participate in the joint WYCUP/Emerging Leaders program with Customer Owned Banking Association in Australia, whether or not they apply for the scholarship.
 
For more information, use the links.

Maine CUs counter bankers' letter to Sen. King

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WESTBROOK, Maine (2/3/14)--The Maine Credit Union League is reinforcing the importance of "Don't Tax My Credit Union" after it learned about a Maine Bankers Association (MBA) letter to U.S. Sen. Angus King Jr. (I) and other Congressional delegates.
 
The letter, signed by MBA President Christopher Pinkham and Chairman Rick Vail, urged King to "reconsider your position on continuing a tax-exemption for the trillion dollar credit union industry. Credit unions have moved sharply away from their original mission while growing substantially in size."
 
"It's the same old, tired arguments from the banks and, honestly, takes a lot of nerve for them to write it, in light of all of the issues the banks have had in recent years," said league President/CEO John Murphy (Weekly Update Jan. 31). "However, it serves as a reminder of the banks' ongoing state and national efforts to attempt to restrict credit union operations and taxation."
 
During the holiday season, advocacy efforts had slowed, but Murphy said credit union involvement in advocacy is "more important than ever."
 
Positive media coverage and record-high membership keep credit unions' profile high and solidly in bankers' sights.
 
"The credit union structure as member-owned cooperatives, and the focus on members is very compelling and one that the banks cannot counter," Murphy said, "but we must remain engaged on this issue and highlight the differences between credit unions and other financial institutions at both the federal and state level."

CU System briefs (02/03/2014)

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  • MADISON, Wis. (2/3/14)--The president/CEO of Electrical FCU, Arvada, Colo., was appointed by the State of Wisconsin to be deputy director of the Office of Credit Unions at the Department of Financial Institutions. Thomas Theune, who has 30 years of credit union experience, returns to his native Wisconsin where he attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Theune also was CEO at Jeffco CU, Lakewood, Colo., and was on the board of the Pikes Peak and Denver Chapter and of Tri-CUE, a Denver-based IT credit union services organization. The Office of Credit Unions regulates all state-chartered credit unions in Wisconsin ...
     
  • BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (2/3/14)--Alabama Telco CU, Hoover, Ala., collected nearly 1,040 cell phones for the Cell Phones for Soldiers program during November and December (eSignal Jan. 31). The donations, which were dropped off at branches of the $600 million-asset credit union, rang up a total of 62,340 calling minutes for military personnel serving overseas . . .
     
  • COLUMBIA, Mo. (2/3/14)--Young patients at the Missouri University Women's and Children's Hospital can now relax during lengthy MRI procedures thanks to the central Missouri chapter of Credit Unions for Kids (The Maneater Jan. 29). Instead of being sedated for the 45-minute procedure, children can wear a special pair of $44,000 goggles to watch a movie and communicate with MRI technicians. "When we found out there was a need, we knew we could band together and help," said Loretta Roney, president/CEO, Highway Alliance CU, Jefferson City. It took about a year for the chapter to raise the $44,000 for the Children's Miracle Network hospital . . .

London mayor told more CUs equals fewer payday lenders

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LONDON (2/3/14)--A new report from a London assembly member urges the city's mayor to promote credit union membership as a way of stifling payday lenders.
 
"Payday London," a report from Liberal Democrat London assembly member Stephen Knight,  recommends London Mayor Boris Johnson curtail illegal and payday by actively supporting the growth of credit unions with low and capped interest rates.
 
The report calls on Johnson to open a credit union savings account for every new secondary school student and for Johnson to actively encourage London residents to join a credit union. The report recommends that Johnson ensures that regulations are changed to require specific planning permission for payday loan shops.
 
"It is a harsh fact that where credit exclusion is greatest, payday companies and illegal loan sharks thrive," Knight told the 24dash.com. "Borrowing is a reality of life for many people on a low income, but if people have no access to credit at low interest rates they are often driven into the hands of loan sharks."
 
London residents have less access to credit unions than other U.K. residents, Knight said. About 1% of London residents belong to a credit union, compared with 3% in Merseyside and 5% in Glasgow, he said.