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CU System briefs (03/31/2010)

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* ST. LOUIS, Mo. (4/1/10)--The Missouri Senate has confirmed Gov. Jay Nixon's appointment for the attorney member of the Missouri Credit Union Commission. Stephanie Grise, a senior associate with Armstrong Teasdale LLP, was confirmed on March 25, according to the Missouri Credit Union Association. She will serve a five-year term that ends Jan. 1, 2015. The commission is comprised of seven members, each appointed by the governor. Its mission is to spread regulations related to credit unions; hear appeals of orders or decisions pertaining to the chartering, relocation, branching or membership of credit unions; and consult with and advise the director of the Division of Credit Unions (The Missouri difference March 31) ... * PHOENIX (4/1/10)--Desert Schools FCU, based in Phoenix, is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the "Mummy Bandit." A man wrapped in bandages and walking on crutches entered a branch located inside a Wal-Mart in Phoenix on Jan. 30. He approached the teller counter, drew a semi-automatic pistol and demanded the tellers open the drawers. He then vaulted the counter, removed cash from the drawers and filled a plastic grocery bag. He fled on foot without the crutches. He had yellow or jaundiced eyes and white bandages on his head, face, hands and right foot ( March 30) ... * FARMERS BRANCH , Texas (4/1/10)--Curtis Parkerson, former board chair of PrimeWay FCU, Houston, died Feb. 24, the Texas Credit Union League reported (LoneStar Leaguer March 31). Parkerson joined the Supervisory Committee of PrimeWay FCU in 1984 and served 25 years with the credit union. In 1996 he was named board chairman, a position he held for 11 years. Declining another term as chairman, he served in the director position for the last two years of his credit union service. He was honored with the 2009 Golden Service Award by the National Association of Credit Union Supervisory Auditing Committees ...

Social-networking voters pick CUs Gen Y spokesman

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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (4/1/10)--South Carolina FCU's new Young & Free South Carolina spokesperson won the job by earning votes from the community at large in a social networking campaign, according to the North Charleston-based credit union. Darryl LePlante, 22, of Goose Creek won the credit union's dream job search and became the second Young & Free South Carolina spokesperson. Young & Free South Carolina is a Web-based effort to address the unique financial needs of young adults ages 18 to 25. At, the credit union will host financial tips and money management strategies relevant to Generation Y. LePlante, a 2009 graduate of Winthrop University with a bachelor of science degree in theatre performance and a minor in business, was informed that he won the position during a surprise luncheon with family and friends. Other finalists were Alexa Chloe Villavicencio, 22, of Goose Creek, and Danielle Delain of Cayce. All three finalists conducted broad social networking campaigns to gain public votes at LePlante had the most votes and won the job, which includes a salary, Toyota Prius, MacBook Pro, HD Video camera and an iPhone.

Great Lakes CU requires fin ed to open young adult account

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NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. (4/1/10)--Great Lakes CU (GLCU), based in North Chicago, has introduced a series of customized accounts for young adults, ages 16-23, that requires completing financial education modules in order to qualify for opening the accounts. The On Your Way accounts currently include a free On Your Way checking account with debit card, On Your Way student Visa, and computer loans, with student loans offered soon. Accountholders have access to online and mobile banking, and exclusive access to the On Your Way website, which is loaded with financial advice and articles, as well as opportunities to earn rewards for big-ticket items for visiting the website, contributing website content and using GLCU's products and services. To qualify to open both the checking account and student Visa, young adults must successfully complete online educational modules on "checking account management" and "credit matters." The self-guided modules include a quiz to measure understanding of the content. "Young adults need financial literacy and, at the same time, have a strong preference for personal contact," said Vikki Kaiser, president/CEO of the $543 million asset credit union. "Many young people will avoid a financial purchase until they meet with a professional," Kaiser said. "Purchasing financial products via the Internet or telephone rates low with these consumers, but they use these media to get educated on products and services that may be appropriate for them. GLCU has taken this into account by providing young adults with high-touch interactions alongside online resources."

Ireland finance minister extends CUs long-term lending

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DUBLIN (4/1/10)--Ireland's Minister of Finance Brian Lenihan announced that the government will extend longer-term limits for credit unions, which would allow credit unions to reschedule loans to help members with financial difficulties. Currently credit unions in Ireland are restricted from having more than 20% of their loan portfolio outstanding for more than five years and only 10% of their portfolios may be for more than 10 years. Under the new measures, the limits would increase to 30% and 15%, respectively (Irish Independent and Evening Herald March 31). Also, the Registrar of Credit Unions would have the authority to impose requirements on credit unions related to lending practices and require credit unions to have procedures in place to monitor compliance with the lending act. The Irish League of Credit Unions President Mark Bailey said the league welcomed the changes, which will allow credit unions to ease the position of members while safeguarding credit unions' financial position "accompanied by honest, prudent and transparent accounting practices" (Evening Herald).

N.Y. senator adds voice to municipal deposits

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. (4/1/10)--A New York state senator who introduced a municipal deposits choice bill last year reiterated his support Wednesday for municipal deposit choice, adding to the swell of support the issue has been receiving. New York Sen. Kevin Parker sent an opinion editorial to News Now outlining the reasons why the municipal deposit bill he is co-sponsoring with Assemblyman Rep. Carl Heastie would be good news for taxpayers and local government. In his letter he cites a recent study prepared by the Credit Union Association of New York (CUANY), which shows that the savings to taxpayers could reach $18 million to $24 million every year. "Benefits like this are only the beginning," he wrote. "Because they are locally owned financial cooperatives, credit unions tend to keep their deposits local and pay local property taxes to the very same local government entities that would benefit from municipal deposit choice." The senator represents many underserved areas that have a large credit union presence in those neighborhoods, his office told News Now. The Parker-Heastie bill is the same as the language in the state's proposed budget bill. The state Senate last week endorsed the language in its budget resolution. CUANY supports municipal deposit choice, which would allow public entities to make deposits in local credit unions and community banks. It is also pursuing municipal deposits through the state budget process, in which talks are ongoing, said Amy Kramer, vice president of governmental affairs for the association. The state legislature, which is on a recess, will return to Albany on April 7. The issue has seen a growing groundswell of support with resolutions from various municipality organizations such as firemen and councils. The latest resolution of support came from the New York City Council and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week (News Now March 30).

WOCCU to Basel Committee Consider CU difference

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BASEL, Switzerland (4/1/10)--Credit unions worldwide have weathered the global financial crisis better than their larger, for-profit counterparts and, in many countries, have helped stabilize and counter-balance inherent weaknesses in the financial services systems.
Click to view larger image David Phillips, left, president/CEO of Credit Union Central of Canada, and Grzegorz Bierecki, president/CEO of Poland's National Association of Cooperative Savings and Credit Unions, took the credit union message to the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in Switzerland this week.
Those were some of the key messages a World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) delegation raised on Monday during three meetings with members of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and the Financial Stability Board to address pending revisions to the Basel II capital accord. "Over the past decade, the Basel Committee's capital rules affecting banks and credit unions have been adopted by financial regulators in more than 100 countries," said Dave Grace, WOCCU vice president of association services. who led the multi-national delegation. "It is imperative that the Basel Committee's guidance not only does no harm to financial cooperatives, but that it actively promotes the diversity and benefit those cooperatives bring to the marketplace." he said. The delegation also included WOCCU Second Vice-Chair Grzegorz Bierecki, president/CEO of Poland's National Association of Cooperative Savings & Credit Unions, and David Phillips, president/CEO of Credit Union Central of Canada.
Click to view larger image It's imperative the Basel Committee's guidance recognizes the diversity and benefit that financial cooperatives bring to the marketplace, said Dave Grace, World Council of Credit Unions vice president of association services. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
The group met with Basel Committee and Financial Stability Board officials to discuss capital and liquidity standards and other issues that affect credit unions. In the interest of promoting proper oversight of financial cooperatives, the delegation raised specific issues regarding credit unions' capital structure and governance policies. It also raised credit union reactions to the financial crisis and learned that Basel officials were not aware of credit unions' efforts. WOCCU has advocated for the past several years that the Basel Committee recognize the credit union difference. The current consultative documents, adapted with guidance from the Group of 20 (G-20) nations in response to the global economic meltdown, recognize for the first time the difference between large for-profit financial corporations and non-joint stock companies, which includes mutuals, cooperatives and credit unions. Input from credit unions on the issues raised during the delegation's meeting is critical to ensure that those standards appear in the final guidelines, delegation officials said. To follow up the meetings, WOCCU will host a webinar on April 7 for WOCCU member organizations and regulators with participation from the Basel Committee's staff. Comments from both the visit and webinar will be incorporated into a formal letter WOCCU will submit in response to the Basel Committee's consultative documents on behalf of the global credit union movement. The deadline to submit comments in response to the current consultative documents is April 16. "WOCCU continues to be the voice of the international credit union community," said Bierecki, noting that what credit unions have to say "is being heard by people in positions to make a difference."

Pa. CUs 2009 growth exceeds national stats

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/1/10)--Pennsylvania credit unions showed an increase in total assets, loans, savings and members at year-end 2009, exceeding the national rate in all four categories for the same time period, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA). The Pennsylvania Profile Fourth Quarter 2009 indicated that total asset growth was 13.7%, ahead of the 8.9% national rate. Loan growth was 9.4%, roughly eight times the national 1.2% increase. Savings rose by 15%, ahead of the 10.3% national rate. Membership at Pennsylvania credit unions grew at 2.3%, compared with 1.4% nationwide (Life is a Highway March 31). Pennsylvania credit unions also recorded 12% growth in credit cards--nearly double the 6.4% national rate. Used-auto loans grew 10.8%, compared with 3.9% nationally, first mortgages reached 23.9% compared with 4.3% nationally, and member business loans grew 18.7%, almost double the 9.9% national rate, PCUA said. The average net worth-to-asset ratio for credit unions dropped to 10.6% in 2009 from 11.4% in 2008. As of Dec. 31, there were 557 credit unions in Pennsylvania with combined assets of $31.9 billion and more than 3.5 million members.

NCUF opens 2011 Wegner Award nominations

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WASHINGTON (4/1/10)--Credit union supporters can nominate individuals and organizations for the 23rd Annual Herb Wegner Memorial Awards to be presented by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF). Nominations are due by June 18 for the following 2011 awards:
* The Individual Achievement Award, which honors an unsung hero for innovative concepts or accomplishments that have significantly impacted the national or international credit union movements within the past 10 years or have a significant impact now. Nominations must cite a specific subject of achievement. Examples include financial literacy, service to the underserved, alternatives to predatory lending and new products; * The Outstanding Organization/Program Award, which honors an organization or program for innovative concepts, products or services that have significantly impacted national or international credit union movements; and * The Lifetime Achievement Award, which honors an individual who has dedicated his or her life to promoting the credit union philosophy of “People Helping People.” The individual must have created innovative concepts and provided leadership that has significantly impacted the national or international credit union movements.
Nominations can come from individuals or organizations. Forms are available on the NCUF website. Five letters of recommendation that cite examples of a nominee’s achievements relevant to award criteria are required. Winners will be honored at the awards dinner in conjunction with the Credit Union National Association’s 2011 Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.

CUs find ways to cut health care plan costs

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MADISON, Wis. (4/1/10)--Despite tight budgets from the economy and the escalating costs of providing health care coverage, credit unions continue offering this prized employee benefit. Like past years, 65% of credit unions provide health insurance to their employees--and nearly all credit unions with $50 million or more in assets offer it, according to the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) recently released 2010-2011 Credit Union Staff Benefits Report.
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
The full impact of health care reform on health care coverage as an employer-provided benefit is not yet clear. However, employers currently providing this benefit will continue to face challenges fairly soon, with percentage cost increases projected to return to double-digit levels in 2010 and 2011. Half of credit unions saw 2010 health insurance costs increase at least 10% over 2009 costs. Credit unions trying to reign in costs are most likely to increase employee cost-sharing for health care coverage, increase/enhance employee communications, study health care data for cost of use patterns, or add/increase use of their wellness program. "It’s encouraging that credit unions are finding ways to reduce costs and persist in providing health care insurance as an employee benefit," said Beth Soltis, senior research analyst for CUNA. "The employee benefits package is an essential recruitment and retention tool, and health care insurance is arguably its most crucial component," she said. "It is vital for credit unions to understand the impact of health care reform and monitor cost trends in order to maintain a cost-effective health care plan and preserve its place in the employee benefits package." The survey provides nationwide data on benefit trends, costs, and program structures for health care coverage, wellness programs, retirement/savings plans, life and disability insurance, work/life and ancillary benefits, and paid leave. The report is available in print or Adobe PDF format. For more information or to order the print or PDF versions of CUNA's 2010-2011 CU Staff Benefits Report, use the links.

Secret good-doer is a CU

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (4/1/10)--For the past six weeks, a group of “do-gooders” have been treating Birmingham, Ala.-area residents to random acts of kindness--paying for their groceries, and meals, and offering discounts on gasoline for their cars.
Click to view larger image Legacy Community CU, Birmingham, Ala. anonymously performed random acts of kindness to individuals in its community during a six-week marketing campaign. Legacy recently revealed itself as the “do gooder” during a promotion at a local gas station. The campaign and reveal were well-received, Legacy said. (Photo provided by Legacy Community CU)
Last week, the group revealed itself--as Legacy Community FCU. The reveal took place on the credit union’s 55th anniversary. “There was no catch,” said Joseph McGee, Legacy CEO. “We just wanted to do something for the community.” Legacy anonymously performed acts of kindness for individuals in the community as a part of its marketing campaign, Do Something Good Today. The campaign was so secretive Legacy didn’t even tell all of its employees. Keeping it secret for so long “was an accomplishment in itself,” McGee told News Now. Legacy worked with a local marketing agency, Think Positive, to come up with a new tagline for the credit union--“Do Something Good With Your Money.” The tagline ended up blossoming into a bigger concept--to perform acts of kindness within the community with the hopes of inspiring others to do the same. “Someone has to plant the seed,” McGee said. Legacy revealed itself on March 25 at a local gas station, where the $317 million asset credit union offered gas to individuals for $1.99 a gallon for two hours. “Over the past six weeks, people from have been all over the Birmingham area doing good deeds and random acts of kindness, all to inspire our community--everything from filling up gas tanks, to paying for meals, groceries or haircuts, to buying toys for kids who recently lost everything in a fire at their home,” McGee said. “Legacy created as a way to give back to the community that has given so much to us since our founding back in 1955.” The reveal was received favorably. Legacy worried that some might think it was a catch--but everyone loved it, McGee said. Some of the individuals who received discounted gas were members, and judging by activity at the credit union’s branches that day--some became members, he added. The campaign was so successful that it has been extended into the Legacy For Good Foundation, which will continue the random acts of kindness. Legacy also will launch the Legacy Initiative for Financial Endowment (LIFE) to offer college scholarships, McGee said. Social media proved to be a huge part of the campaign’s success. Do Something Good Today was advertised on billboards, but much of its buzz was generated by those who had received acts of kindness and wrote about it on their social media sites. Legacy also set up a Facebook page where members became fans of the credit union and its campaign, said Michelle Willis, vice president of marketing and business development. When conducting this type of campaign, make a budget and stick to it, Willis said. “It was tough to cut off the gas promotion,” she said. “It’s also tough to go into a restaurant and pay for 10 meals when there are 20 people waiting in line,” she said. Willis noted that AltaOne CU, Ridgecrest, Calif., conducted a similar campaign that ran for four weeks. Legacy accepts ideas to help others from those who visit and nominations for individuals that need help. The website also features video diaries to track the good deeds, and their recipients’ reactions. “With the economy, there are so many people out there who are hurting,” Willis said.

Connecticut lt. governor addresses CUs student reality fair

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MERIDEN, Conn. (4/1/10)--Connecticut Gov. Michael Fedele addressed more than 400 high school students during a financial reality fair sponsored by 17 Connecticut credit unions and 105 volunteers from credit unions and local businesses statewide.
Click to view larger image Connecticut Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele spoke at a financial reality fair hosted by Connecticut credit unions and local businesses. From left are: Kelly Fuhlbrigge, Credit Union League of Connecticut vice president of government relations; league President/CEO Tony Emerson and Fedele.
Click to view larger image More than 400 students participated in a financial reality fair at Central Connecticut State University, which was sponsored by Connecticut credit unions. (Photo provided by the Credit Union League of Connecticut)
“What you are going through today will help you face the challenges that await you as you enter your adult life,” Fedele said, who was introduced by Credit Union League of Connecticut President/CEO Tony Emerson. During the fair, held at Central Connecticut State University, credit unions and businesses helped students make real-life choices in areas such as transportation, housing, food, entertainment, travel and other extras. Students in personal finance, economics, marketing and other business classes prepared for the fair by studying budgeting, the league said. Students attending received annual starting salary and budget based on an occupation that interests them. They visited booths to make life choices, and completed budget worksheet and met with a financial counselor to see if their choices were within the budget. Financial reality fairs enhance financial literacy among youth in preparation for life’s challenges, financial or otherwise.