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Wisconsin asks league for payday loan alternative

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PEWAUKEE, Wis. (4/11/08)--Wisconsin's State Treasurer's office has expressed an interest in working with the Wisconsin Credit Union League to set up an alternative payday lending program, the league has confirmed. Jim Drogue, vice president of league operations said he would be contacting the state to follow up on the request. "Whether it's through a low-cost payday alternative product or a basic short-term loan, Wisconsin credit unions are working to meet their members' immediate financial needs," he said. "We're looking forward to speaking with the State Treasurer's office and exploring opportunities that will further those efforts." The league has just made its Stretch Pay payday loan program available to credit unions in the state and is working on plans to promote that. The state treasurer's office also told the National Credit Union Foundation it wanted to work with the league on the product. Lois Kitsch, NCUF's program director for REAL Solutions, said Wisconsin is leading the nation in terms of REAL Solutions participants. "WCUL and the 102 Wisconsin REAL Solutions Partner credit unions are committed to reach deep into their communities to provide a variety of products and services designed to help their members move up a path to financial security," Kitsch said. "Doing so is proving to be a good business decision for the credit unions while at the same time fullfilling their rich history of social values. "Now that REAL Solutions is working in 27 states, we are proud to see the first REAL Solutions state reach such a milestone of success," Kitsch said. Credit unions in Pennsylvania also are working with that state's treasurer on a payday loan alternative.

Salt Lake members OK merger with Mountain America

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SALT LAKE CITY (4/11/08)--Salt Lake CU will merge with Mountain America FCU, West Jordan, Utah. Salt Lake CU members voted Wednesday night on the merger proposal. About 82% voted in favor, Cindy Nelson, assistant to CEO Michael Moyes told News Now. The merger is scheduled to take place May 31. Salt Lake CU’s name will remain the same for at least two years, she said. The merger was proposed because it is increasingly harder to meet members demands for additional branches, services and ATMs, Salt Lake CU said (News Now April 8). Salt Lake has 10 branches, while Mountain America has more than 50 branches. Salt Lake CU has $256 million in assets. Mountain America has $2.3 billion in assets.

Missouri CUs give MCUA a 94 satisfaction rating

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (4/11/08)--Missouri credit unions rated Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) products and services at 94% satisfaction, according to a recent survey. The survey, sent to credit union presidents, helps MCUA meet and exceed member expectations and identifies benefits for member credit unions. MCUA employees also are surveyed on their perceptions of service quality and value and the survey results are compared with credit unions’ results. Each department is analyzed on: satisfaction with service attributes, likelihood to recommend the service, and service quality and value compared with competitors, and MCUA market share. Half of MCUA’s credit unions responded to the survey, which was conducted by Michael Neil and Associates, an independent credit union consulting firm. The survey has been conducted five times since 2000. “Since the implementation of the survey, the organization has focused on those product and service attributes of greatest value to members,” said MCUA President/CEO Rosie Holub.

CUNA CUAC break ground in Homes for Troops project

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DENVER, Colo. (4/11/08)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the Credit Union Associations of Colorado (CUAC) and Wyoming (CUAW) were on hand Thursday for the groundbreaking of a Denver-area home for wounded Iraq-war veteran Staff Sgt. Travis Strong and his family. The home is part of Homes for Our Troops, a non-profit organization that builds specially adapted homes for severely wounded American troops. The home, located in Golden, is part of a joint project with the Democratic National Convention Committee, the credit union movement, and National Journal Group. The home will be presented to Strong and his family around this summer's Democratic National Convention. CUNA Chairman Tom Dorety, CEO of Suncoast Schools FCU, Tampa, Fla., said, "Credit unions operate under a 'People Helping People' philosophy, and this project is one way we can live out that philosophy. We are honored to participate in this special effort on behalf of a very deserving soldier and his family." John Dill, president/CEO of CUAC and CUAW, added, "Credit unions here in Colorado are excited to take part in this project. We look forward to working closely with Homes for Our Troops and the convention staff to make this dream a reality." CUNA and CUAC/CUAW will work to raise funds, provide donated materials and volunteer labor, and coordinate activities closely with Homes for Our Troops. CUNA, the Minnesota Credit Union Network, and National Journal also are working with Homes for Our Troops and the Republican National Committee on a companion project in Minnesota during the Republican National Convention. Groundbreaking for that project is planned for April 28 in St. Paul, Minn.

Texas newspaper editorial Raise CUs MBL cap

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ODESSA, Texas (4/11/08)--Congress should pass HR 1537--the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act--and raise credit unions’ member business lending caps, according to an editorial in a Texas newspaper. The Odessa American (April 9) said that raising the cap for credit unions from 12.25% of total assets to 20% makes sense. “Common sense would say that caps on credit union business loans should not exist if banks are free of such restrictions,” the newspaper stated. “But raising the limit is the best option for the benefit of free enterprise at this point. “Raising the cap would, according to estimates, open up another $875 million in business lending just from the approximately 20% of Texas credit unions that offer business loans” the paper continued. “And the raised limit might encourage other credit unions to get into business lending.” The editorial concludes that it is time for Congress to relieve stifling regulations imposed on credit unions for the past 10 years, and encourage and reward business entrepreneurship, which it says has been a source of pride and accomplishment throughout the history of the U.S. This is the first time that the editorial board of the newspaper has published an editorial supporting credit unions that has not been an opinion/editorial piece from the Texas Credit Union League, said Winter Prosapio, league advocacy-communications director.

Record rebates issued to nearly 15 of nations CUs

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (4/11/08)--More than $460,000 in rebates are being collectively issued to 1,226 credit unions throughout the U.S. by the Illinois Credit Union League Service Corp. (LSC). The rebates are being distributed in the largest “pool” to date, according to LSC. The corporation has been issuing more than $2.5 million in rebates since 2000. LSC has agreements with leagues in 44 states to provide products and services to their credit unions and their members.

MCUA subsidiary awards patronage rebate

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (4/11/08)--The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) is rewarding member credit unions--through its subsidiary--for their use of core, fee-supported services. Credit Union Partnership (CUP), an association for-profit subsidiary, distributed a rebate totaling $123,500 to participating credit unions April 2 (Courier Net April 9). The four core products that contribute revenue to CUP are check processing, the credit union shared branch network, credit and debit cards, and CUNA Mutual Group insurance. CUP maintains a standard return-on-equity (ROE) threshold of 10% annually. During years in which this amount is not practical or prudent, the CUP board of directors may determine a different rate of return. For 2007, the board decided to use a 5% ROE in determining the patronage rebate. After deducting CUP’s assigned ROE amount, the remaining earnings are determined. Credit union patronage rebates are then based on each credit union’s contribution to gross income for each core product. “We have been able to award a patronage rebate each year since initiation in 2000,” noted Rosie Holub, MCUA president/CEO. “The return to credit unions differentiates our organization from competitors and provides an incentive for credit unions to use products within the credit union system.”

Massachusetts regulator offers CU parity amendments

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BOSTON (4/11/08)--The Massachusetts Division of Banks has proposed amendments to regulations that will give state-chartered credit unions some parity with federal charters. State regulation 209 CMR 50 was originally passed in 1998, went into effect in 1999 and is amended every few years, Joe Leonard, general counsel for the Massachusetts Division of Banks, told News Now. This is the fifth set of amendments, Leonard added. The amendments occasionally are proposed because state credit unions did not get all the capabilities the federal credit unions received when chartered in the state. “So we’re trying to take a well-reasoned and moderate approach for fairness’ sake,” Leonard explained. “Sometimes we get petitioned to make changes by the state of Massachusetts Credit Union League.” New authorities granted by the proposed amendments would include:
* Authorizing credit union service organizations (CUSOs) to engage in securities brokerage; * Increasing unsecured and secured personal loans from a maximum term of 12 years to a maximum term of 15 years; * Authorizing indirect mobile home loans; * Authorizing credit unions to enter into consumer loan participations and non-residential real estate loan participations with CUSOs; and * Authorizing additional money transfer services for nonmembers.
A public hearing will be held Monday at 10:30 a.m. EDT on the parity proposals. The public comment period will end Tuesday at 5 p.m. The proposed amendments must be sent to the state legislature for 90 days of review. So the amendments likely will not go into effect until August, Leonard said.

RMJ Foundation sponsors California fin lit summit

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (4/11/08)--The Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation, the state foundation for credit unions in California and Nevada, is one of the sponsors of this year’s California Financial Literacy Summit, April 23 in Sacramento. Representatives from the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues also are expected to attend. The event--hosted by the California Society of Certified Public Accountants, the California CPA Education Foundation, and the California Jump$tart Coalition--will seek to help Californians improve their financial skills and reduce the effects of an economic downturn. Session topics include building coalitions to improve financial literacy, the housing crisis, and nonprofit programs that provide services for low-income Californians. Letty Cordon-Hernandez, Leagues’ Manager of International Relations, will present information about the National Endowment for Financial Education’s (NEFE) high school financial literacy curriculum. Also in attendance will be Rita Fillingane, the league’s director of research and information, and California Jump$tart Coalition board member. “We’re getting interested parties together to discuss how they can share resources so that we can improve the overall financial education of Californians from school-age children to senior citizens,” said Loretta Doon, CEO, California Society of CPAs and the California CPA Education Foundation. Jean Chatzky, Money Magazine’s editor-at-large and financial editor for NBC's “Today Show,” will deliver the summit’s keynote address. Pam Krueger and Jack Gallagher, hosts of “Money Track” on PBS, will moderate three breakout sessions. Other event sponsors include: Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Grant Thornton, the California Teachers Association, Visa and the AICPA Foundation.

7 CU women examine co-ops run by women in Chile Peru

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LIMA, Peru (4/11/08)--Seven women credit union leaders from the U.S. and Canada traveled throughout Peru and Chile this week to visit cooperatives managed by women and learn about credit unions' efforts to increase women's access to finance. The visit was part of a World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) study trip.
Participants in the World Council of Credit Unions' Women's Leadership Engagement Program were, from left: front row: WOCCU's Mark Cifuentes, vice president of technical services, and Brian Branch, chief operating officer; (standing) Mary Cunningham; Sue Albrecht; Jo-Anne Ferguson; Val Breunig; Sylvia Lyon; Catherine Roberts; Penny Reeves; and Winona Nava. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
“All around the world, WOCCU applies market-driven solutions to provide access to finance for those without access,“ said trip leader Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer. "Assisting credit unions in providing women access to products and services matching their needs and circumstances has always been part of our strategy. This group is taking us a step further, identifying strategies that WOCCU and participating credit unions can use to develop leadership opportunities for women in the global credit union system.“ Joining Branch and other staff on WOCCU's Women's Leadership Engagement Program this week were: Susan Albrecht, senior vice president, international division, CUNA Mutual Group; Mary Cunningham, president/CEO, USA FCU; Jo-Anne Ferguson, senior director, international development, Canadian Co-operative Association; Sylvia Lyon, president/CEO, Credit Union Association of New Mexico; Winona Nava, president/CEO, Guadalupe CU; Penny Reeves, director, Credit Union Central of Canada and WOCCU board member; and Catherine Roberts, president/CEO, Community Choice CU and WOCCU board secretary. During their weeklong travels, the delegation visited US$4.8 million asset, 8,626-member San Francisco de Huánuco CU, which joined WOCCU's Peru program last July. The group also traveled to Santiago, Chile and visited $1.2 billion asset Coopeuch CU, one of Latin America's largest credit unions. Coopeuch serves more than 370,000 members via 73 branches throughout Chile. WOCCU is implementing and partially funding a three-year (2006-09) technical assistance program in Peru, with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and contributions from the National Federation of Peruvian Credit Unions (FENACREP). The program goal is to increase income and wealth generation for poor households through improvements in financial services and greater market access for their products. Opportunities for value-chain financing, a method by which financial support is provided along a specific product's development “chain“ from manufacture or planting to final sale, is also part of WOCCU's focus in Peru. Poor women in developing countries face obstacles to economic and social advancement, including denial of access to education, healthcare, ownership rights and capital, according to the International Center for Research on Women. The WOCCU program's efforts to increase women's access to financial services by introducing targeted products that respond to market demand is one of the best ways to combat rural poverty, according to Luis Jiménez, director of WOCCU's program in Peru. Crece Mujer (Grow Woman), a group-lending initiative for poor women who are microentrepreneurs in rural areas, is being introduced in several of Peru's nine program credit unions. The “collateral“ for loans is the solidarity among the group members to cover each other's weekly repayments should anyone falter. The delinquency rate remains at 0% in two credit unions that have offered group lending since October 2007. The WOCCU program helped another of the participating credit unions launch an urban individual microcredit product for micro-entrepreneurs. The credit union has new member growth, reduced delinquency and is more profitable as a result. According to Manuel Rabines, general manager of FENACREP and second vice president of the WOCCU board, 168 FENACREP-affiliated credit unions serve 674,000 members as of December 2007. The credit unions had $758 million in assets and held a 2.3% share of Peru's national financial system's credit and 1.9% of the deposit market.

CU System briefs (04/10/2008)

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* SUMMERFIELD, Fla. and MADISON, Wis. (4/11/08)--Susan Tiffany, director of the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) personal finance information for adults, has been elected to the board of directors of the Personal Finance Employee Education Foundation. The Summerfield, Fla.-based foundation is a non-profit scientific organization advocating best practices in workplace financial programs that increase both employee financial health and employer profits. Tiffany has worked with CUNA for 26 years, most recently in its center for personal finance … * LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. (4/11/08)--The 2008 Missouri Credit Union Charitable Foundation/Children's Miracle Network (CMN) Buddy Bass Tournament reeled in a record $18,500 for CMN--the largest amount in the tournament's 12-year history. Participants raised $9,277.50 in the fishing tournament. For the first time, CO-OP Financial Services is matching the amount, dollar for dollar. CO-OP's contribution "makes a huge difference in our ability to help sick kids and their families," said Kevin Brueseke, Missouri Credit Union Association chief operating officer/chief financial officer. Roughly 119 teams competed. Credit unions in the winner's circle were fifth-place winners Bob Bellville (pictured) of First Community CU, Chesterfield, and partner Michael Ortmann; and sixth-place winners James Sherrill and Francis Asher, a team sponsored by Leadco Community CU, Park Hills. (Photo provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association) … * CAPITOLA, Calif. (4/11/08)--Bay FCU recently presented checks for $5,000 each to two social service organizations--New Life Community Services and Kinship Support Services. New Life assists low-income families in Santa Cruz County who are homeless, chemically addicted or both. Kinship assists residents of Monterey and Salinas who are relatives raising foster children at risk of dependency or delinquency. The funds were raised at a silent auction during an employee holiday party in January. The $10,000 donated included $500 worth of printing services for each organization from Community Printers … * WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (4/11/08)--Purdue Employees FCU (PEFCU) CEO William "Bill" F. Connors announced his retirement, effective July 1, at PEFCU's annual meeting Tuesday. He will provide consulting services to PEFCU through Dec. 31. Succeeding Connors will be Bob Falk, a six-year PEFCU employee who has served as president/chief operating officer. Connors, who was CEO for 12 years, began his credit union career in 1970. He currently serves as CEO of Passageways LLC, a software provider partially owned by PEFCU subsidiary CU Channels, and as board member of Card Services for Credit Unions. Formerly he served as chairman of Midstates Corporate CU; member of the Credit Union National Association's Federal Credit Union Committee; and chairman of CO-OP Network. Falk joined PEFCU in 2002 as vice president of lending. He has 18 years' credit union experience and previously served in positions at CUNA Mutual Group and University of Colorado FCU (now Elevations CU), Boulder, Colo. … * ALBANY, N.Y. (4/11/08)--The New York State Credit Union League announced that 18 college-bound students will receive scholarships from its 2008 annual Scholarship Program. The league will award a total of $11,500--five scholarships of $1,000 each and 13 scholarships of $500 each. Roughly 102 credit unions participated this year, submitting a total of 1,237 applications. Click on the link for a list of the winners and their sponsoring credit unions …

Deadline extended for Serving Underserved Latino conference

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NEW YORK (4/11/08)--The early-bird discount deadline for the 34th Annual Conference on Serving the Underserved and the Fifth Latino Credit Union Conference has been extended to April 18. The joint conference will take place June 11-14 in Dallas (CDCU Insight E-Newsletter April 2008). The conference is hosted by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals. Tim Sandos, CEO, National Association of Hispanic Real East Estate Professionals, Anza Solis, associated director for the Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior Francisco and Victor Rico, director of democratic sustainability at the Organization of American States, have been added to the speaker lineup (LoneStar Leaguer April 10). The Texas Credit Union League and the California and Nevada Credit Union League are sponsoring the event. For more information, use the links.