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CU System

Man pleads guilty accused of hacking Fed server

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NEW YORK (4/15/11)--A Malaysian man accused of hacking into a Federal Reserve computer system, pleaded guilty Wednesday to possessing 400,000 stolen credit and debit card numbers. Prosecutors alleged federal agents observed Lin Mun Poo, 32, selling stolen card numbers for $1,000 at a Brooklyn, N.Y., restaurant, shortly after he arrived in the U.S. on Oct. 21, reported Reuters (April 13). They allege he possessed an encrypted laptop with more than 400,000 stolen card numbers. Poo is also accused of hacking into the computer system at the Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland after finding a vulnerability. The Cleveland bank said the hacking involved 10 "test" computers and that no Fed data were compromised. Poo entered a plea to one fraud count in the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn. He faces up to 10 years in prison under federal guidelines. His sentencing was set for Sept. 13.

Winner of National Fin Lit Poster contest a CU member

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WASHINGTON (4/15/11)--A ninth grade student from West Palm Beach, Fla., who is the winner of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling's (NFCC) 2011 National Financial Literacy Poster Contest, is a credit union member. Jordan Lane-Palmer, a student at A.W. Drewfoos Jr. School of Arts in West Palm Beach, was one of more than 1,800 students nationwide who submitted posters around the theme, "Be a $uperhero! $ave Money!" Making smart money decisions is nothing new to Lane-Palmer, who credits his mother and grandmother with teaching him sound money habits and raising him with an appreciation for money, said NFCC in a press release. "He recently put those early life lessons to work by consistently depositing his allowance into his local credit union account, and allowing the money to grow until he had saved enough to reach his short-term goal of purchasing a robot modeling kit," said NFCC. That let him to bigger savings goals. His new goal is saving for college. "Once you decide to escape from destructive spending habits and follow a stable path for money management, you move closer to fulfilling your dreams for yourself and your family," said Lane-Palmer. The contest introduces young people to the concept of financial literacy and allows them to express their understanding of it through art. At the Jump$tart Coalition Annual Awards Dinner Wednesday night in Washington, D.C., NFCC presented him with the grand prize--a $500 savings bond. While in Washington, he toured the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and met with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Rosie Rios.

CUs prepared for National CU Youth Week

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MADISON, Wis. (4/15/11)--There might be a few rock stars hanging out in credit unions next week. Credit unions have spent several months preparing for National Credit Union Youth Week, with this year's theme, "Money Rocks at My Credit Union." The week begins Sunday and ends Saturday, April 23. Youth Week, the Credit Union National Association's nationwide effort to educate young people about the importance of being financially savvy, is a focal point for many credit unions' efforts during National Financial Literacy Month. At the center is CUNA's National Youth Saving Challenge, where credit unions track deposits and new accounts by youth during the month as an effort to get kids into the habit of saving. Here's what a few credit unions are planning:
* The staff at EDTECH FCU, Butte, Mont., will dress as rock stars during the week. "We celebrate Youth Week every year by organizing a Youth Day celebration--it's become one of our favorite get-togethers," said Judy Kiely, who added "the staff has as much fun as the kids--if not more." The celebration focuses on Cubby Club members under age 13. The credit union will provide giveaways, activities and food--pizza, breadsticks and root beer floats served in mood cups. Each Cubby will receive a goodie bag with a microphone, a coin coolie pouch, temporary tattoos, rock 'n' roll stickers, silly band bracelets, a magnetic bookmark, a mood pencil, a coin saver folder, and an inflatable guitar. Activities include four stations: a TV with "Guitar Hero," a table with a "bank" to color and assemble for saving, a TV with "Just Dance" for Wii, and a temporary tattoo station. If a Cubby member brings along a new Cubby, each will receive five gold dollar coins. * Security Service CU, San Antonio, and its branch at Clark High School have students taking a savings pledge during Financial Literacy Month. School staff, teachers and administration also are signing pledge cards. "Everyone who signs up gets a small reward--a coin purse, a calculator or silly pen," says Letha Harrelson, who directs Security Service's education program, told the Texas Credit Union League (LoneStar Leaguer April 14). "But more importantly, they are taking important steps toward saving for the future. We want to encourage thrift, and we want to encourage financial responsibility." * Redwood CU (RCU), Santa Rosa, Calif., will conduct free educational seminars for families on saving and money management on Tuesday at three locations. It also will host a coloring contest for kids under 12, and a $100 Youth Savings Challenge for any RCU youth account holders who make a deposit into their savings account during the week. , plus contests, and provide handouts. "Engaging kids and teens with fun activities like Youth Week is the first step in helping them develop responsible money habits at an early age, which will benefit them for a lifetime," said Lee Alderman, assistant vice president of educational development at Redwood. * Ticonderoga (N.Y.) CU reports it will have financial education materials covering age groups from pre-school to high school on hand in its Ticonderoga, Port Henry and Elizabethtown branches and on its website. Any member under age 18 can enter for a chance to win one of three $50 U.S. Savings Bonds and $100. Ten youth members from credit union nationwide will each win $100. A deposit isn't required to enter. * Marshall (Mich.) Community CU's annual Kids Day tomorrow will feature a Guitar Hero competition, music trivia on the Wheel of Fun, face painting and AAA providing bike helmet fittings/giveaways. "We will be giving away balloons and popcorn to members who come in on Kids Day," said Andrea Tucker, youth/marketing representative. Participants age 18 or younger will earn a ticket for a prize drawing. Prizes include a $50 Savings Bond; tickets for baseball, a water park, the children's museum, the zoo, and Paper Jamz (guitar, drum set and amplifier). Kids making deposits into youth accounts will also earn a ticket for drawings. Also, "we are participating in the National Savings Challenge and will be tracking our progress on a large goal chart that will be located in the lobby of our main office." To market the events, the credit union decorated its lobby with inflatable guitars, provided guitar-shaped gift bags and sunglasses, and featured Youth Week information on its lobby PowerPoints, its website, its newsletter and Facebook. * Kinecta FCU, Manhattan Beach, Calif., said that all new youth accounts opened during the week will receive $5 from the credit union, which will enter them into the Youth Week Sweepstakes for a chance to win one of these prizes: Grand Prize, iPad 2, second prize, iPod touch; third prize, Sea World Family Four-Pack Playcation; and extra chances to win $25 iTunes gift cards. * Altana FCU, Billings, Mont., plans to track youth deposits and new accounts the entire month. "We have a table display in our lobby with educational materials, candy, Brass Magazine, popcorn and coloring pages," said Andrea Vashus, marketing assistant. Each deposit is entered into one of three drawings: for ages up through five years, the prize is a Fischer Price Sing and Play Guitar; for those ages 6-11, Paper Jamz Guitar and Amp Set; for those 12 and older, a DVD of "Glee's" Season 1. Altana also is hosting a "Rockin' Out" photo contest through the end of June, with the winner receiving a $100 gift card, and is teaming up with a local elementary school to provide free activity sheets for the entire student body.

Proclamation notes Wis. CUs year-round fin-lit efforts

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PEWAUKEE, Wis. (4/15/11)--April is Financial Literacy Month, but credit unions have been recognized in a Wisconsin state proclamation for their efforts to teach sound money management year-round. The efforts are part of Wisconsin credit unions’ voluntary REAL Solutions initiative, which aims to help people improve their financial position without regard for profit, said the Wisconsin Credit Union League. For example, credit unions offer:
* Youth-run, in-school credit unions. Young people have saved more than $2.1 million in 109 youth-run branches of credit unions housed inside schools and youth centers statewide. None of the branches drive credit union profits; they teach young people the habit of saving. The branches are considered a best practice for youth financial education. * Savings programs. April 17-23 is National Credit Union Youth Week. The observance annually invites younger members to save. As part of last year’s observance, 3,800 young people in Wisconsin deposited $385,339 in savings accounts. * Classroom learning. Credit unions provide free to all of Wisconsin’s public high schools the brass|STUDENT PROGRAM--including the lifestyle money magazine brass. Resources for students and teachers online support state teaching standards. About 350 teachers actively use it in their classrooms. Credit unions also provide to schools the National Endowment for Financial Education’s High School Financial Planning Program, a classroom curriculum covering personal finance basics. * Online learning. Many credit unions offer financial lessons and tools online. For example, Money Mission offered by 24 credit unions, is an interactive game that challenges teens to balance their life along with their finances. The program recently awarded $12,000 to college-bound students. * Teacher education. Wisconsin credit unions sponsor local teachers attending the National Institute for Financial & Economic Literacy, held annually in Madison, Wis. The institute improves financial lessons for tens of thousands of Wisconsin students. * Financial counseling. Credit unions help members save more or pay down debt. Referrals to credit counselors help members facing more difficult situations. Referrals to classes help people gain or re-gain checking accounts. * Presentations. Credit unions present financial topics at schools and civic organizations. Many offer free workshops to teach members about credit reports, home buying and more. * Educational events. Credit unions participate in reality simulations that teach teens the costs of daily living. Some credit unions support money conferences, events that teach low-income families financial basics. Other credit unions offer savings challenges involving cash prizes. Others offer classes during Money Smart Week Wisconsin.

Iowa house fails to move savings raffle bill

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DES MOINES, Iowa (4/15/11)--An Iowa bill that would allow credit unions and banks to offer savings accounts linked to prize drawings or raffles was left to languish this year on the Iowa House of Representatives’ unfinished-business calendar--in part due to efforts by state bankers to kill it, according to the Iowa Credit Union League. The league ran newspaper ads last week requesting that Iowans call their state representatives to get the legislation passed. The ads also attacked Iowa banks for opposing the bill (The Des Moines Register April 13). The Iowa House did not seem to have sufficient support to pass the bill, Iowa House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer (R-12) told the newspaper. Despite opposition from the Iowa Bankers Association, the legislation--Senate File 490--passed the Iowa Senate in March by a 30 to 20 vote and moved to the Iowa state House for approval (The Des Moines Register March 21). “Unfortunately the bill became more politicized in the House,” Justin Hupfer, league vice president of governmental affairs, told News Now Thursday. “The majority party [Republicans] had to decide whether to keep it alive and decided not to. My expectation is that we will try again in the next session next year because there’s Democratic and Republican support in both the House and Senate. The second session of the general assembly will pick up again in January in the House Committee where it left off. So it doesn’t have to be reintroduced. “This session, it became a bank versus credit union association battle,” he added. “It took a long time to get the bill out of the Senate, and we didn’t have enough time in the House [this session]. The banks gave it all they had to kill it.” Consumers’ need to find innovative ways to save has never been more pressing, Patrick S. Jury, president of the Iowa Credit Union League, said in a statement, the paper reported in March. Credit unions need to change their traditional ways of thinking to change consumer behavior, he added. State bankers criticized the effort to increase consumer savings by saying they don’t think the possibility of winning a prize should be the basis for encouraging consumers to make decisions about how they are going to save, an Iowa Bankers Association spokesperson told the newspaper in March. Iowa credit unions want to start their program based on a similar one in Michigan in which members who open a “Save to Win” account have their name entered into a drawing for monthly cash prizes between $100 and $1,000. Then, once a year, a drawing is held for a $100,000 grand prize. Participants in the program are allowed to withdraw from the account once a year--but two withdrawals disqualifies them from being in the raffle, Hupfer said in March. Prize money generally comes from credit unions’ operating budgets, Hupfer added. The North Carolina Credit Union League has a similar bill pending in a legislative committee in that state.

Virginia league announces two award winners

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (4/15/11)--The Virginia Credit Union League announced two award winners at its 77th annual meeting April 8 in Norfolk, Va.--Janet Harris and John C. “Jake” Lay.
Click to view larger image Janet Harris (right), a champion for small credit unions and a proponent of small credit unions’ use of technology to better serve member-owners, has been honored with the Virginia Credit Union League’s Eugene H. Farley Jr. Award of Excellence for her service to Virginia’s credit union community. The award was presented April 8, at the League’s 77th Annual Meeting in Norfolk, Virginia. Presenting the award is Virginia Credit Union League President Rick Pillow.
Janet Harris, a champion for small credit unions and a proponent of small credit unions’ use of technology to better serve member-owners, was honored with the league’s Eugene H. Farley Jr. Award of Excellence for her service to Virginia’s credit union community. Harris serves as CEO for the $8 million Riverside Health System Employees CU, Newport News, which boasts 3,200 member-owners. The award is given annually to a credit union professional or volunteer official for outstanding contributions to an individual credit union or to the credit union movement. In particular, the award seeks to recognize achievements that exemplify credit unions’ ‘People Helping People’ philosophy. It is named in honor of retired league President Gene Farley. I think I’ve been so inspired to fight for the future of small credit unions because I believe that we’re still the folks making the $300 loans and who are still very much in touch with our members,” Harris said. “That’s what I still enjoy about my job; I still do the numbers, I do the big picture planning, but I still have contact with our members. I drank the credit union ‘Kool-Aid’ and found the ‘People Helping People’ philosophy that built the credit union system to still be the real mission of credit unions.”
Click to view larger image Virginia’s credit unions saluted longtime credit union volunteer John C. “Jake” Lay (left) for his service to the movement during a special presentation April 8 at the Virginia Credit Union League’s 77th Annual Meeting in Norfolk, Virginia. Lay was awarded the League’s James P. Kirsch Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes individuals for extraordinary service to their credit union and the greater credit union community. Presenting the award is Virginia Credit Union League President Rick Pillow. (Photos provided by the Virginia Credit Union league)
The league also honored long-time credit union volunteer John C. “Jake” Lay for his service to the movement. Lay was awarded the league’s James P. Kirsch Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes individuals for extraordinary service to their credit union and the greater credit union community. It is named for the late James P. “Jimmy” Kirsch, a longtime credit union volunteer whose passion for the movement led him to leadership roles at the state, national and international levels. Lay began his service in 1969, first as a member of the credit committee at Fairfax County FCU. In 1976, he joined the credit union’s board, becoming the board’s chairman in 1978, a position he’s held to the present day. “For me, it all started because the credit union had an office at work,” says Lay. “After serving on the credit and supervisory committees as a volunteer, I was hooked. I stayed in the movement because I love our ‘People Helping People’ philosophy; I love the fact that service to our members comes first.” In addition to his 40-plus years of service to the credit union, he served for 20 years on the board of directors of what is now Beacon CU, Lynchburg, Va. He spent nine years as board member for the league.

PSCUs CUSO announces new board members

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (4/15/11)--PSCU Financial Services’ member-owner credit unions re-elected three board members to new three-year terms (2011-2014) at the credit union service organization’s 2011 Senior Leadership Workshop & Member Forum business meeting last week. Board members re-elected include:
* Board chairman Craig Esrael, president, First South Financial CU, Bartlett, Tenn.; * Board vice chairman Michael Valentine, president, Baxter CU, Vernon Hills, Ill.; and * Board member Terry West, board member, president, VyStar CU, Jacksonville, Fla.
Officers of PSCU Financial Services’ board of directors also include: Board Secretary Susan Adams, president, Entrust FCU, Richmond, Va., and Board Treasurer Jane Watkins, president, Virginia CU, Richmond, Va. PSCU Financial Services issued a dividend of $21.3 million for its 2010 operations. Also, it passed financial savings of $6.5 million to member-owners in the form of price reductions and rebates during last year. The credit union service organization also achieved a 6.3% boost in net income and revenue and paid $8.9 million in revolving funds due to member-owners four months early, in December of 2010.

Dubuque woman reaps rewards--and freedom--from saving

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (4/15/11)--Dupaco Community CU, Dubuque, Iowa, has helped member Delora Beal discover the rewards of saving--and the freedom it can create.
Click to view larger image Delora Beal prepares to drive home in her newly acquired car, a purchase made possible through her participation in Dupaco Community CU’s Individual Development Account (IDA). Beal systematically saved $1,900 from her paychecks an amount matched by the Iowa Credit Union Foundation. She also received 12 months of financial coaching and an auto loan from the credit union. (Photo provided by Dupaco Communiy Credit Union)
After three years without a car--relying on her feet and a beat-up bike for transportation--the 44-year-old Beal recently became the owner of a 2004 Dodge Intrepid, thanks to her participation in Dupaco’s Individual Development Account program. In the program, a grant from the Iowa Credit Union Foundation matches the savings of the participant dollar for dollar. Dupaco opens the savings accounts and provides the financial coaching required by the program requires to ensure the participant’s goals are met. Beal saved $50 from every paycheck until she had accrued $1,900. That amount was then matched by the foundation. Exactly a year and two days later she was able to buy her car. “Delora took a serious effort into saving as much as she could to increase her match,” said Dupaco Community CU’s Cindy Hilkin, one of Beal’s financial coaches. “She attributes her success to systematic savings. She plans on continuing this type of saving for her auto insurance.” Hilkin helped Beal find a solid vehicle and get an auto loan through Dupaco. Beal credits her success to Dupaco’s financial coaching--and she says the experience has taught her some valuable life lessons. “I've learned that it’s a lot easier to save than what you think. You can still live and save money,” she said. “It makes you re-evaluate your spending habits. It makes you think about the importance of what you really need in your life.” Beal moved to Dubuque from Arizona with her son and a friend three years ago. They packed what they could into a tiny car--some clothes, important paperwork and a computer---and said goodbye to Arizona and steady employment. She eventually found temporary work in Dubuque, but she took a cut in pay. Her employer recently had a new position become available, but it requires travel. Beal hopes her vehicle will make her eligible for the promotion. Two days after buying her car, she was getting the paperwork together to get an Iowa driver’s license and license plates for the new car. Even though she has met her goal in Dupaco’s savings program, Beal says she will continue saving. “I’m looking ahead into the future, and I’m just hoping that having a way to get around will help me better my life. Just knowing I have a car is a whole different sense of relief,” she said. “For the first time in I don’t know how long, I’m just taking care of me.” Participants must meet income guidelines and be residents of or purchase assets in the state of Iowa to qualify for an individual development account. The savings and matching funds are then used by the individual to purchase a specific asset, such as a home, starting or expanding a small business, paying for education or job training, or purchasing a vehicle to get to work.

Four banking trends mean CUs must remain agile

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (4/15/11)--Four trends will redefine the banking experience in the next decade, requiring credit unions and their competitors to remain nimble in a environment marked by new competitors, more regulation and impatient, technology-savvy consumers, according to a new report from Intuit. Intuit’s Financial Services division and Emergent Research conducted interviews and forecast workshops with financial services professionals, academics and industry analysts to compile the Intuit 2020 report, a forecast of the demographic, social, economic and technology shifts that will shape the financial services industry in the next decade. Intuit Financial Services is a CUNA Strategic Services provider. The four trends identified in the report are:
* A new playing field for financial services--Increasing regulatory pressures and competition from both traditional competitors and new entrants will drive financial institutions to explore new business models, leading to greater industry collaboration, partnerships and consolidation. * Shifting segments, changing markets--Young and old consumers will demand more from their financial institutions, as aging baby boomers enter retirement and Gen Yers approaching middle age will have new financial needs. Competition to serve mid-market businesses will intensify, further reducing margins for financial institutions. Meanwhile, the small business sector will continue to expand, with the number of small and personal businesses expected to increase by more than seven million over the next decade. Financial institutions must understand and find efficient ways to meet the needs of these businesses, according to the report. * The new customer connection--Technology will drive service. With increased cost pressures and a growing demand for flexibility, accessibility and personalization, financial services organizations must accelerate their use of technology to efficiently meet consumer needs. The financial services industry will combine cloud-based platforms and applications, advanced analytical tools, ever-larger data sets, and social and mobile computing to design and deliver value-added products and services to customers. * Reputation and relationships rule--During the next decade, the financial services industry will shift its focus from transactions to customized, value-added services. Through a combination of both virtual and brick-and-mortar branches, credit unions and banks will develop stronger, more personal relationships with businesses and consumers, helping them manage risk, build wealth, plan retirement and anticipate health-care expenses. Financial institutions that provide useful customer insights will succeed.

Minnesota CUs represented at fin lit roundtable

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (4/15/11)--Minnesota credit unions had strong representation at a meeting with the new state commerce commissioner and his new financial literacy roundtable. Minnesota’s new face on the financial education scene is Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. The Minnesota Commerce Department yesterday convened a financial literacy roundtable to bring interested parties--including the financial industry, state agencies, non-profits (including credit unions) and others--to the same table to outline ways that various organizations improve the financial knowledge of Minnesotans. At the meeting, credit unions were specifically recognized by the commissioner in his opening comments for their work in the financial education arena. In attendance were St. Paul-based Affinity Plus FCU President/CEO Kyle Markland and Senior Vice President Sarah Mason; Burnsville, Minn.-based US FCU CEO Bill Raker; and Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) representatives Kristina Wright, vice president-association services, and Mara Humphrey, vice president-governmental affairs. The meeting encouraged sharing and collaboration among the organizations represented. “Financial literacy is very important to all of us, and there is a strong commitment with this administration to working on financial literacy,” Rothman said. “From the governor on down to the staff, we all share the common goal of wanting to make Minnesota a better place.” Rothman discussed the need to increase coordination of efforts and acknowledged the many barriers that stand in the way of financial education. “As not-for-profit financial institutions, credit unions have long known that member education is the key to success,” Wright said. “While each credit union is different in terms of its size and approaches to financial education, credit unions know that when members make informed decisions on their financial products and services, it benefits both the consumer and the institution.” Among the initiatives discussed was the Ladder Out of Poverty Task Force, which was established in 2010 to focus on asset development, financial education and community support. Also, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and President Barack Obama have declared their interest in and support of financial literacy by proclaiming April as Financial Literacy Month.

Ohio leagues InVest48 attracts nearly 500 CU leaders

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (4/15/11)--With a new name and format, the Ohio Credit Union Leauge’s Annual Convention--now called InVest48--drew 500 participants united to “Participate, Collaborate and Advocate” on behalf of their credit unions. Invest48’s new format offered familiar education breakouts and evening attractions, but added an advocacy track component composed of legislative meetings, a smaller-market credit union track, and peer fireside chats were added. “The annual convention is now in line with the league’s ‘Advocacy First, Plus’ mission as was directed by the league board,” said OCUL President Paul Mercer. “The new name, InVest48, reflects the investment of credit union leaders’ time and energy into the annual event, which takes place over a 48-hour period.” Tuesday’s kickoff grand opening session was keynoted by Tucker Carlson, who shared his views on the upcoming 2012 presidential election, touched on the congressional budget stalemate, and shared personal anecdotes about politicians “I don’t think any of my tax dollars have gone to bail out credit unions; and I appreciate that,” said. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney addressed participants Tuesday, sharing how the national trade association sees important issues such as interchange, member business lending (MBL), supplemental capital, and corporate stabilization playing out. Knowing that many participants would later meet with state legislators, Cheney stressed the importance of advocacy. “Speaker [John] Boehner, an Ohioan, appearing at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference is a reflection that credit unions are recognized now more than ever,” he said. “We need advocacy leadership among all credit unions, at all levels for this to continue.” Elizabeth Vale, who oversees credit unions and community banks for the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, also spoke, providing an overview of the regulatory agency. She expressed the agency’s desire for open dialogue with credit unions. InVest48 also played host to the inaugural Up And Comers Network, a group of like-minded credit union staff viewed as the future leaders of the industry. The network was created to help Ohio credit union professionals share best practices, while learning from credit union leaders. The Up And Comers Network question-and-answer session was led by Lee Spivey, CEO of FirstDay Financial FCU, Dayton; Rose Bartolomucci, CEO of TeleCommunity CU, Akron; and Bill Allender, president of BMI FCU, Columbus. About 40 participants took part in the new InVest48 advocacy track, comprising an afternoon legislative briefing, meetings with state representatives and senators, and a legislative reception, open to all InVest48 participants, in the atrium of the Ohio Statehouse. During the meetings, Ohio credit union leaders informed their representatives about impending credit union, issues such as public funds, local government assistance, and MBL. Wednesday morning was highlighted by the annual Regs and Eggs: Morning Mingle with the Regulators. The session gave the new Ohio Superintendent of Financial Institutions, Charles Dolezal, his first opportunity to address Ohio credit union leaders in a group setting. Dolezal, who was accompanied by Deputy Superintendent for Credit Unions Mike Wettrich, said he is working closely with the league to update the section of the Ohio Revised Code affecting credit unions. Former National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Director of Public and Congressional Affairs John McKechnie also shared his views on the NCUA and the national regulatory environment. During the league’s annual meeting, new League Board Chair Tim Boellner, CEO of AurGroup Financial CU, Fairfield, was introduced. Howard Putnam, former CEO of Southwest Airlines, urged credit unions to simplify during times of difficulty. As a credit union member himself, he also praised the movement.“I know what you stand for, and I endorse moving things forward,” he said. “Be a great team, not a team of greats.” Former Ohio State Buckeye football legend, NFL player, and Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George keynoted the closing session, sharing his inspirational story of learning how to deal with the crossroads of life.

Op-ed Interchange will hit local families

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SAGINAW, Mich. (4/15/11)--The Federal Reserve's proposal on interchange fees "could potentially hit local families in the wallet" and have "the unintended consequence of squeezing consumers by potentially endangering vital services such as free checking," according to an opinion-editorial published in the Saginaw (Mich.) News (April 14) and written by a Michigan credit union CEO. Tim Benecke, president/CEO of Wildfire CU, a $609.3 million asset credit union in Saginaw, wrote that its member-owners "are families who have been credit union members for years in the Great Lakes Bay Region; local small business owners who built their dream with credit union loans; residents who bought a home thanks to affordable credit union mortgages." "That's why a plan in Congress that impacts all debit card fees could potentially hit local families in the wallet," he said, adding that "government should not choose winners and losers in the marketplace." The Durbin Amendment "does just that, and must be delayed, studied and fixed," Benecke said. He noted credit unions "are fighting back to protect our members' free checking and other services through a website called savemyfreechecking.com." Credit unions "absorb all the risks and costs of fraud. By cutting interchange fees by 75%, financial institutions of all sizes will be forced to cut programs rather than supporting consumers and making loans to help the economy. It will hurt those who can afford it the least--low-income households with basic checking accounts." Credit unions are calling on Congress to support a bipartisan plan to delay the implementation of the fee cap for a two-year study period, Benecke pointed out. For the full article, use the resource link. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) supports the bipartisan plan to delay implementation. CUNA and the state leagues have launched a grassroots "Call on Congress" campaign provides a toll-free phone number, website and other resources so that credit unions can mobilize their members in urging Congress to "stop, study and start" over on interchange.