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New CUNA Website Design Emphasizes User Ease

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WASHINGTON (3/18/13)--When you click onto cuna.org this morning, you will immediately notice a transformation that was almost a year in the making. The Credit Union National Association has completely re-thought and redesigned its website to make it more appealing to users both in function and graphic elements.

"We have incorporated graphic 'theaters' throughout, so our pages have lost their out-dated, static appearances and have come alive with rotating displays of the most important and current information in each content area."

CUNA has also completely revamped its website search function. Users can start with a keyword search, and then refine that search by sorting through filters that will result in the most relevant "finds."

The website now is organized into seven "channels," or content areas. Each of the channels have theaters that will promote up to five top issues or hot products and services for that area.

The channels and their contents are:

  • Stay Informed: Access CUNA's daily online news service News Now, the newly launched weekly, "The Cheney Report," CUNA's members-only bi-weekly Credit Union NewsWatch, the monthly Credit Union Magazine, press releases, and more;
  • Grassroots: Find information on Hike the Hill, the Credit Union Legislative Action Committee, Project Zip Code, and the grassroots action center, among other advocacy tools;
  • Legislative & Regulatory: This section holds the latest legislative updates and legislative hot topics, as well as archived materials, the weekly Regulatory Advocacy Report, CUNA comment calls and comment letters, final rule analyses, as well as other regulatory information. This location also houses State Governmental Affairs materials, such as issues digests and state legislation and regulation trackers;
  • Compliance: A compilation of copious compliance help, such as CompBlog, the E-Guide, additional compliance support;
  • Research and Strategy: Economics research and strategy are found here, plus products that help credit unions plan for their future, like the Credit Union Environmental Escan, and survey products;
  • Marketing and Member Education: This is the credit union system's premiere location for all products and services that provide help to credit unions as they market their products, explore business development and member retention and growth;
  • Training and Events: This channel focuses on training products that are available to all credit unions.
"Set aside a few minutes. Explore our new site," Nohelty invites credit unions. "I think you are going to like what you find."

NCUA Approves Landmark CU Acquisition Of Hartford Savings Bank

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (3/18/13)--The National Credit Union Administration has approved Landmark CU's request to purchase and assume Hartford Savings Bank.

The acquisition was approved unanimously during the agency's closed board meeting on Thursday. The transaction will be subject to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation approval.

Landmark is based in New Berlin, Wis., and is Wisconsin's largest credit union, holding $2.1 billion in assets. Hartford Savings Bank is located Hartford, Wis. and has three branch locations in Hartford, Juneau and Hubertus, Wis.

Discussions between the two institutions began in June 2012 and each CEO and board agreed quickly to the acquisition.

"Our institutions are strikingly similar in our mutual memberships, shared beliefs in excellent customer service and focus on employee satisfaction and community involvement," Ron Kase, who was Landmark CU CEO at the time of the application, said last year. He recently retired. Kase noted that Landmark's "broader offering of products and services will bring a variety of benefits to the area."

The acquisition of Hartford Savings Bank will allow the credit union to strategically expand its branch locations and better serve members, Kase added. Landmark currently serves members in Washington and Dodge counties from branches in Germantown, West Bend and Watertown.

Cheney Report Covers a Positive Week For CUs

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WASHINGTON (3/18/13)--Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney details a positive past week for credit unions in the regulatory, political and public spheres in the latest edition of The Cheney Report.

In this edition, Cheney reports on a recent CUNA conference with National Credit Union Administration Chairman Debbie Matz and agency staff, during which derivatives authority, examination issues and NCUA efforts to update Prompt Corrective Action standards were discussed.

Productive meetings were also held on Capitol Hill, with Cheney and CUNA legislative staff discussing the credit union tax status and other issues with key legislators. Cheney notes that no legislator CUNA has spoken with has suggested that credit union taxation is on the table as a tax reform or spending issue. "We know an educated Congress, and public, are the best ways to preserve credit unions' tax exemption; that process continues on both fronts," Cheney writes.

The public perception of credit unions was again boosted by an early week CUNA appearance on Bloomberg Radio. Traffic on CUNA's consumer website aSmarterChoice.org received 804 daily searches for credit unions following CUNA Executive Vice President of Strategic Communications Paul Gentile's interview on Taking Stock with Pimm Fox, Cheney notes.

Each Friday, The Cheney Report delivers Cheney's insights on three to four key events and policy developments affecting credit unions into the e-mail inboxes of credit union CEOs.

The report also provides a valuable window into CUNA's actions on behalf of member credit unions and reinforces the value of CUNA membership, Gentile notes.

Past issues of The Cheney Report are archived on cuna.org.

NCUA Shutters Two Small CUs

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (3/18/13)--The National Credit Union Administration on Friday liquidated two troubled small credit unions: I.C.E. FCU, Inglewood, Calif., and Pepsi Cola FCU, Buena Park, Calif.

The agency in separate releases said it moved to liquidate the credit unions after it determined that both were insolvent and had no prospects for restoring viable operations.

The 942 member, $3.4 million-in-asset I.C.E. FCU was chartered in 1939 and served Inglewood city employees and their families.

Pepsi Cola FCU, chartered in 1956, served 558 members and held $652,000 in assets, the NCUA said. The credit union served employees of the Pepsi Cola Bottling Co.

The credit unions represented the third and fourth credit unions to be liquidated in 2013.

The agency reminded members that their deposits are federally insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund up to $250,000. The NCUA's Asset Management and Assistance Center will issue correspondence to individuals holding verified share accounts in the credit union within one week, the agency added.

For more, use the resource link.

Senate Subcommittee Reports JPMorgan 'Misconduct'

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WASHINGTON (3/18/13)--A Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs permanent subcommittee on investigations report has revealed troubling misconduct and high-risk activities at JPMorgan Chase, and broader, systemic problems related to the valuation, risk analysis, disclosure, and oversight of synthetic credit derivatives held by U.S. financial institutions.

The report was released at a Friday hearing entitled "JPMorgan Chase Whale Trades: A Case History of Derivatives Risks and Abuses." The report and the hearing follow JPMorgan Chase's 2012 derivatives trading loss of more than $6.2 billion. The subcommittee developed the more than 300-page report by collecting nearly 90,000 documents and conducted more than 50 interviews and briefings, subcommittee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said.

The congressional report alleges that JPMorgan Chase:

  • Engaged in high risk derivatives trading;
  • Mismarked the Synthetic Credit Portfolio book to hide hundreds of millions of dollars of losses;
  • Disregarded multiple internal indicators of increasing risk;
  • Manipulated models;
  • Dodged Office of the Comptroller of the Currency oversight; and
  • Misinformed investors, regulators, and the public about the nature of its risky derivatives trading.
Levin in prepared remarks said the investigation "brought home one overarching fact:  the U.S. financial system may have significant vulnerabilities attributable to major bank involvement with high-risk derivatives trading. The four largest U.S. banks control 90% of U.S. derivatives markets, and their profitability is invested, in part, in their derivatives holdings, nowhere more so than at JPMorgan."

For more on the hearing, use the resource link.

Senate Banking To Vote Cordray Nomination This Week

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WASHINGTON (3/18/13)--The Senate Banking Committee is set to vote Tuesday on Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray's nomination to continue as head of that agency.

Cordray's committee nomination hearing was held last week.

Credit Union National Association Senior Vice President for Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan said Cordray is expected to be approved by the committee. However, he said, Cordray's prospects before the full Senate are uncertain.

The banking committee approved Cordray's nomination in late 2011, but he did not receive a full vote in the Senate. President Barack Obama appointed Cordray to the director position during a brief congressional recess in 2012, and some have questioned the constitutionality of this appointment.

Senate Republicans have consistently said they would block any CFPB nominee if certain structural changes were not made to the agency.

House and Senate Republicans have supported replacing the CFPB director's position with a five-member panel of leadership. Legislation that would create such a panel (S. 205) has been introduced in the Senate. CUNA backs such a multi-member panel of directors if it includes seats statutorily designated for credit union system representatives, including a state or federal credit union regulator, and possibly a state consumer agency representative.