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NCUF asks CUs to complete financial education survey

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MADISON, Wis. (3/24/11)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) is collecting data for its 2011 Credit Union Member Education Inventory. Sponsored by state credit union leagues and NCUF’s REAL Solutions program, the data and information gathered from credit unions will allow the credit union movement to demonstrate the power of financial education and counseling on the lives of members and communities nationwide. The information will provide state credit union leagues/associations and the broader credit union movement with fuel for state and national public awareness, advocacy, and related outreach efforts. Survey responses will create a rich, vibrant and sustainable source of data and statistics about the lives touched by credit unions. “No one has quantified in-depth information for the entire credit union movement around financial education,” said Bucky Sebastian, NCUF executive director. “From the limited data that we have collected through REAL Solutions, we know that credit unions have an impressive story to tell, and it behooves us to show legislators and community leaders the extent to which credit unions advance financial literacy and decision-making, especially given the government’s ever-increasing emphasis on financial education.” Each league/association will have a section in the resulting report that contains state-specific data and comparisons to national figures. Designed for maximum impact and exposure, the report will be used for communications, advocacy and outreach efforts, and will be accessible to participating credit unions at no charge through the REAL Solutions Impact Center. In addition, a companion tool detailing member financial education/counseling products and credit union best practices will be published in conjunction with the report. NCUF is using an online survey tool to gather this data during March and April. Roughly 700 credit union CEO/presidents will receive an email from Lois Kitsch, NCUF’s REAL Solutions national program director, in the coming weeks requesting their participation in the Inventory. However, NCUF is inviting all U.S. credit unions to participate in the project. To access the survey, use the link. “NCUF and state CU leagues/associations eagerly await the results of this data collection effort,” said Kitsch. “We know that credit unions are doing amazing work in the area of member financial literacy and education. And while we read and hear about these tools and programs on a daily basis, we now need to quantify your efforts so we can share credit unions’ overall impact with those who rely on numbers to measure success.” The eight sections of the inventory are:
* Financial counseling programs; * Classroom education (for students); * Seminars and workshops (for adults); * Experiential learning programs; * In-school branches; * Online resource centers/tools/courses; * Financial communication tools; and * General financial education questions.
A section of the inventory seeks to determine the extent to which credit union financial education/counseling programs align with a set of Financial Education Core Competencies developed by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Literacy and Education Commission and referenced in the National Financial Capability Challenge Educator Toolkit. For questions and additional information, contact Lois Kitsch at or call 414-793-991.

CU reps launch mutual fund to help with MBL cap

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MADISON, Wis. (3/24/11)--A small group of credit union professionals are creating a mutual fund that could help credit unions package and sell their business loans--giving these credit unions a way to better manage the member business lending cap. The new mutual fund is tentatively named the “Unity Fund.” The fund is the collaboration of Tom Campbell and Mario Pelosi, managing directors of Glasgow Partners; David Dunn former commercial lender and former president of two credit union service organizations (CUSOs) providing business services, and Guy Messick from the law firm of Messick & Weber PC. The team will partner with investor credit unions in a CUSO that is a registered investment advisor to launch the mutual fund. The group’s proposal was conditionally approved by BNY Mellon in December to become a mutual fund offered by BNY Mellon in its family of mutual funds. This was no small feat, according to Dunn. It shows the business viability of this project, he added. It has a few more hurdles to clear before it can open for business, but its prospects look bright--no fund that has gained BNY Mellon approval has ever failed to clear subsequent regulatory hurdles. At this time, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has interpreted the investment regulations as not permitting federal credit unions to buy shares in the proposed mutual fund. There will be follow through with NCUA to determine if the investment regulations could be amended to permit credit unions to buy shares in the mutual fund. In the meantime, the shares will be sold to institutional investors. The quality control on the loans will be extensive, according to the fund’s creators. Only experienced and successful business lending credit unions and CUSOs will be certified to sell loans into the mutual fund. The CUSO will certify the lenders, and that certification must be reviewed and renewed annually. If a non-certified credit union wants to sell loans to the mutual fund, a certified credit union must review and approve the underwriting. The certified lenders will service the loans in the mutual fund. The CUSO will review all loans being sold into the mutual fund and there will be a third-party reviewer who will sample test the underwriting. “The mutual fund will only be successful if the loans are of the highest quality and we are sparing no effort to insure this,” Dunn said. “We are excited about this new tool for the credit union industry that will help manage the regulatory cap issue [because when credit unions sell their business loans, those assets are taken off their books], provide liquidity from outside the industry, shift some lending risk to outside the industry, and provide high underwriting standards that will tend to raise the bar for those credit unions that want to sell to the mutual fund. We look forward to the day when credit unions can buy shares in the mutual fund so they can benefit from a favorable return on their investment without the same level of risk a loan participation might pose. “There is a great deal of business lending opportunity for credit unions,” he added. “We’re not looking for the big syndicated real estate loans that have been so problematic. Credit unions can help America recover if they have the necessary business-lending expertise and regulatory relief. This mutual fund can help credit unions seize their significant business-lending opportunities.” CUNA and credit unions are trying to get Congress to increase credit unions’ MBL cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Doing so would open up more opportunity to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers, CUNA said. For more information, contact David Dunn at or Guy Messick at

IN.Y. TimesI highlights CUs advertising celebrity spokespersons

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NEW YORK (3/24/11)--Credit unions nationwide are doing more advertising to accentuate the positive advantages they provide members compared to banks, and many are even employing celebrity spokespersons, according to a Tuesday article in The New York Times about how several industries are using celebrity pitchmen. “Credit unions historically have been low-key with advertising, but in the past couple of years they have become more aggressive, occasionally addressing the distaste many consumers have shown for big banks whose lending practices contributed to the economic downturn,” the article said. The Times highlighted efforts by Municipal CU, a $1.54 billion-asset credit union based in New York City, who recently hired as spokesman John Franco, a retired relief pitcher for the New York Mets, who noted that his father, who worked for the city, was a member there. Before last year, the 96-year-old credit union had never advertised on television, but decided to elevate its profile without being negative toward competitors, Steve Kibitel, Municipal vice president of marketing, told the newspaper. “We’re not into the attack mode,” Kibitel added. “We’re comfortable within our own skin promoting who we are--the banks are the banks, this is who we are, check us out.” The article also mentioned America’s First CU in Birmingham, Ala.; Financial CU in Jacksonville, Fla.; Public Service CU in Romulus, Mich., and BECU in Tukwila, Wash, which used musician Kenny G. in a commercial promoting its new debit card with the University of Washington logo. To read the article, use the link.

CU System Briefs (03/23/2011)

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* LAS VEGAS (3/24/11)--During the closing ceremonies last July of The 1 Credit Union Conference, the meeting jointly sponsored by the Credit Union National Association and the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), there were 33 nominees from 15 countries honored in the WOCCU Young Credit Union People (WYCUP) program. Of those honorees, the following five received scholarships: Scott Daukas, U.S.; Carol Karugu, Kenya; Melia Keller, U.S.; Orla O’Shea, Ireland; and Christie-Anne Scott, Australia. Each recipient will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to attend the WYCUP 2011 program in July and WOCCU’s World Credit Union Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, next July. A story in The March 23 News Now about Melia Keller had mentioned her as the only scholarship winner, when there had been five ...

IWSJI notes interchange fights progress CU lobbying efforts

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MADISON, Wis. (3/24/11)--In an article about the financial services industry’s progress in delaying interchange legislation, The Wall Street Journal made note of the 4,000 credit union representatives that lobbied their lawmakers while in Washington to the attend the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA)Governmental Affairs Conference Feb. 27-March 3. The article, which appeared online in the March 23 print edition of The Wall Street Journal, outlined the balance-sheet challenges financial institutions would face if the Durbin Amendment were to take effect as scheduled in July. Credit unions and community banks are concerned they will have to lower their fees to match the 12-cent cap imposed on large institutions under the Durbin Amendment, which, in turn, would force them to eliminate free checking or add other fees to make up for lost revenue. However, credit unions and banks have “bombarded” lawmakers with virtually every type of communication, including face-to-face meetings with those in Washington for CUNA’s GAC, according The Wall Street Journal. “Around 4,000 credit-union employees descended on lawmakers’ Washington offices a few weeks ago while in town for meetings of their trade group, the Credit Union National Association,” the article noted. “The debit-fee rule was among their top issues, and now that the two bills have been introduced, they are urging support for them from their representatives, said CUNA [vice president of communications and media] Pat Keefe,” the article added. The story also noted that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair have expressed reservations that echo those of the financial services industry. Also, the financial services industry has received support for its views from groups as diverse as the National Education Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Legislation that would delay the implementation of the interchange fee cap was introduced in the Senate and House on Tuesday. The two bills would also order regulators to study the impact that the proposed interchange rules would have on credit unions, small issuers, consumers and merchants. CUNA supports the legislation. CUNA has encouraged credit unions nationwide to contact their federal lawmakers, at home this week for a District Work Period, and ask them to “stop, study and start over” on interchange legislation.

CUNA releases white paper on branch managers changing role

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MADISON, Wis. (3/24/11)--A new white paper from the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Community Credit Union Committee offers insights on the key forces that are changing the role of the branch manager and how credit unions should react. The paper, titled The Credit Union Branch Manager: A New Leader for a New Era, outlines critical expectations for the next-generation branch manager and the skill sets that must be developed to meet those expectations. The paper describes a digital shift that is beginning to affect the traditional retail banking model, and the changing role of the branch manager as credit unions see continued proliferation of mobile channels and e-payments. With this unprecedented consumer shift, financial institutions are struggling to determine where the brick-and-mortar branch fits into a future-looking business model--and what role a branch manager will play in the growth and success of their organizations. The evolution of both the branch and the profile of the branch manager will be a difficult and volatile challenge for credit union executives, according to the white paper. This will be a major topic during strategic planning, annual budgeting and the ongoing execution of the organization’s growth plans. The CUNA Community Credit Union Committee was formed in 2006 to provide support for community credit unions. The committee’s purpose is to support and service community credit unions and credit unions considering a community charter through representation of community credit unions’ unique legal, legislative and regulatory needs; and education, resources and information. To download a free copy of The Credit Union Branch Manager: A New Leader for a New Era use the link.

Belvoir FCU partners with military community for shopping challenge

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WOODBRIDGE, Va. (3/24/11)--Belvoir FCU, Woodbridge, Va., and the Fort Belvoir Army Community Service (ACS) partnered in February and March to support the 2011 ACS Shopping Challenge in recognition of Military Saves.
Belvoir FCU, Woodbridge, Va., and the Fort Belvoir Army Community Service (ACS) partnered in February and March to support the 2011 ACS Shopping Challenge in recognition of Military Saves. Pictured from left: Judy MacDonald, director of branch operations at Belvoir FCU, Woodbridge, Va.; challenge winners Wendy Windley and Sgt. Thomas Windley; and Erica F. Drame, financial readiness program manager at Fort Belvoir Army Community Services. (Photo provided by Belvoir FCU)
ACS and Belvoir FCU teamed up to give away three cash prizes. Military Saves is a national campaign to persuade, motivate and encourage military families to save money every month and to encourage the promotion of automatic savings. The ACS Shopping Challenge originated with the goal of having consumers comparatively shop to save money on their groceries. All members of the military community who wanted to participate were challenged to use coupons and shop at the commissary to compare the price of their groceries. The three-week challenge helped participating families learn how they could save money by forming a budget and using coupons to meet their budgets. Participating families that kept receipts and saved the most money were eligible for the cash prizes. After saving $279.05 in coupons at the commissary, Sgt. Thomas Windley and his wife, Wendy, won the grand prize of $200. First runner-up Kelly Ratliff saved $262, earning a $150 prize. Second runner-up Christine Jones saved $203.67, good for a $100 prize.