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Texas CUs lose friend in baseball great Killebrews death

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (5/20/11)--The death Wednesday of baseball legend Harmon Killebrew--whose total of 573 homeruns ranks 11th on the baseball career list--means that Texas credit unions have lost a friend, according to Dick Ensweiler, president/CEO of the Texas Credit Union League. Killebrew went to bat for credit unions a couple of years ago after Hurricane Ike ravaged the Texas Gulf Coast, Ensweiler wrote in the league newsletter, LoneStar Leaguer (May 19). Ensweiler had visited the stricken area after the storm to survey damage to credit unions. He was so moved by credit union employees who went to work every day to help members devastated by the hurricane while suffering losses themselves, that he wrote a memo to himself "so I would never forget the bravery and selflessness of those credit union employees." He shared the memo via e-mail with friends, including Killebrew, who hit at least 40 homes eight times for the Senators and the Minnesota Twins during his career (The New York Times May 19). Killebrew called him and left a message: "What can I do to help?" Ensweiler asked him to assist in a golf charity event to benefit credit union employees who were left homeless or affected by the hurricane, and Killebrew agreed. "He then offered the organization he uses to coordinate his charity golf events to help our Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF) staff set up the tournament. Additionally, he would bring celebrities--current and former baseball players--to help add luster to the event," said Ensweiler. After six weeks of planning, Killebrew arrived at the Cowboys Golf Club and brought with him among others, Ozzie Smith, Tim Worrell, Frank Quilici, Frank Kostrow, Charlie Pride, Eddie Bonine and several Rangers, including Kevin Millwood, Cameron Loe and Jim Sundberg. "The event was all we could hope for," wrote Ensweiler. "Because of Harmon's stature with the players, they stayed until the end of all activities, posed for pictures, signed balls and other memorabilia, mingled and talked baseball, all of which made the event very special for those that participated." The event netted $60,000 for TCUF, all of which went to storm-affected employees of credit unions, he said, adding, "I have lost a good friend, and so did the credit unions of Texas."

E-banking satisfaction outpaces offline channels--study

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (5/20/11)--Customer satisfaction with online banking has increased its lead over customer satisfaction with the overall banking experience, with all types of financial institutions seeing a rise in satisfaction, says the U.S. 2011 ForeSee Results Online Banking Study. Credit unions have gained two points since 2010 in member satisfaction with their online banking service for a total of 86 points--higher than the online banking industry's overall total of 83 on a 100-point scale, according to the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based research firm, ForeSee Results. Nearly every category of banks and credit unions improved since last year's study, with large banks improving the most. Large banks--the ones with the big bucks to spend on online banking channels and who are moving consumers to channels that are less expensive to operate--saw a gain of five points--to 87 from 82. Community banks gained three points to 85. Top banks in two categories received 83, and 82 points. While credit unions' showing continues to be strong, the results indicate that they are facing more challenges in providing online banking services. When asked which banking channel they were most satisfied with, 55% of member/customers surveyed selected the online channel, 28% chose the branch, 13% the ATM, and 2% call center and mobile banking. "Brick-and-mortar banks will never go away, but the huge lead online banking has over other channels when it comes to satisfaction emphasizes the importance to a bank's relationship with its customers," said Larry Freed, president/CEO of ForeSee Results and author of the report. "The roadmap for improving satisfaction will vary from bank to bank, but the only way to manage and improve the customer experience is to measure it." The study measured seven elements of satisfaction with online banking, including navigation, ease of executing online transactions, privacy, the look and feel of the website, selection of bank products and services and the information available about them, website value, and site performance. Credit unions gave the highest priority for improvements to self-directed transactions and establishing the value of the website--both of which have high impact on satisfaction level, said the report. Their lowest priorities were in navigation and products and services, areas of low impact on satisfaction level, the report added. Researchers found that when member/customers are highly satisfied with online banking, they are:
* 41% more likely to continue using online banking services; * 52% more likely to continue using the website instead of costlier channels such as branches and call centers; * 50% more likely to purchase additional services; * 63% more likely to recommend the financial institution; * 63% more likely to trust their banking institution overall; and * 56% more satisfied with their institution overall, regardless of channel.

CU System briefs (05/19/2011)

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* ALTON, Ill. (5/20/11)--A Springfield, Ill., man was charged Wednesday with a robbery last month of Laclede Community CU's North Alton branch in addition to charges in connection with a May 5th robbery of Members First Community CU, Quincy. Adam Taylor Wright, 31, was charged with taking $10,000 from an employee of Laclede on April 22 by threatening the imminent use of force, and theft over $10,000, said a state attorney for Madison County. Members First was robbed of an undisclosed amount by a man wearing a Cleveland Indians baseball cap. He did not display a weapon (The May 18) … * LENOIR, N.C. (5/20/11)--A man claiming he had placed a pipe bomb in the bathroom of the Lenoir, N.C., branch of Raleigh-based State Employees' CU escaped Tuesday afternoon with an undisclosed amount of cash. No bombs or other weapons were found in the credit union, said Lenoir police. The robbery suspect did not show a weapon or use a written note to demand money. He escaped in a charcoal Buick sedan. The incident occurred at about 4:40 p.m. Tuesday. (Hickory Daily Record May 18) … * ALBANY, N.Y. (5/20/11)--The Credit Union Association of New York is the recipient of three 2011 Hermes Creative Awards--a platinum, gold and an honorable mention. Hermes Creative Awards is an international competition for creative professionals involved in the concept, writing and design of traditional materials and programs, and emerging technologies. The association received a Platinum Award in the Publications/Magazine category for the September 2010 issue of Connection, its quarterly full-color magazine. Get Carducated, Covera Card Solutions’ online video contest, was recognized with a Gold Award in the Web Multimedia, Games, Contests, Presentation category. Connection magazine also received an honorable mention in the Design/Publication Cover category for its March 2011 issue. The 2011 competition received more than 4,400 entries from throughout the U.S., Canada and several other countries ... * KANSAS CITY (5/20/11)--Rob Givens, president/CEO of Mazuma CU, Kansas City, announced Wednesday that he will retire from the $448 million-asset credit union, effective Jan. 1. He began his career at Mazuma in 2001. Since that time, the credit union has grown from $230 million in assets to more than $448 million while increasing Mazuma’s membership to more than 52,000 members and operating 10 branches within a three-county area. Givens has spent more than 25 years in the credit union industry, holding leadership positions at seven credit unions in California, Nevada and Missouri varying in asset size from $75 million to more than $2 billion … * NEENAH, Wis. (5/20/11)--Sherry Johnson, president of Evergreen CU, Neenah, Wis., will retire June 30 after 27 years of service with the credit union. She began as president in 1984 when the credit union was named Wisconsin Tissue Employees CU. She has led the credit union through a number of changes, including the name change, a change to a community charter, the opening of a new headquarters, and a sustained period of growth. Mike Brandt, vice president of lending at Evergreen CU, has been selected to replace Johnson … * ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland (5/20/11)--Jamie King, president/CEO and co-founder of Verafin, a provider of compliance, anti-money laundering and fraud detection software, has been chosen as one of Atlantic Business magazine’s Top 50 CEOs for 2011. “This award really recognizes the devotion of the entire Verafin team, including my fellow co-founders Brendan Brothers and Raymond Pretty,” King said. Verafin reported a 36% increase in customer growth in 2010, while maintaining a 99% customer retention rate. This year the company launched Winter ’11, a major new release of its fraud detection and anti-money laundering software. Verafin is a CUNA Strategic Services provider

MSCUA announces board recognitions

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JACKSON, Miss. (5/20/11)--With more than 550 people in attendance, the Mississippi Credit Union Association (MSCUA) announced the results of its board elections and recognized other individuals and organizations at its 74th annual meeting in Biloxi, May 11-14. Elected to three-year board terms were:
* Billy Bridges, Mutual CU, Vicksburg; * Elmer Dickens, Gulf Coast Community FCU, Gulfport; * Steve Pollman, Magnolia FCU, Jackson; and * Lt. Col. Dean Todd, USAF, (Ret.), Keesler FCU, Biloxi.
Elected to fill un-expired terms were Dennis Florreich, Meridian (Miss.) Mutual FCU (one year), and Kaye Ray, Central Sunbelt FCU, Laurel (two years). MSCUA board officers are:
* Chairman--Jimmy Smith, Singing River FCU, Moss Point; * Vice-chairman--Bridges; * Treasurer--Ray Scott, USM FCU, Hattiesburg; and * Executive committee member--Todd.
Four individuals were inducted into the Mississippi Credit Union Hall of Fame:
* John Baker, Mississippi Postal Employees FCU, Jackson; * George Kirby, Ferguson FCU, Monticello; * Lavina Robison, Missississippi DHS FCU, Jackson; and * Todd.
Recognition was paid to the these individuals and credit unions:
* Scotty Broome, retired president/CEO of Keesler FCU, Biloxi, for his 2011 induction into the Credit Union House Hall of Leaders; * Keesler FCU for its 2010 Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Program and Desjardin Youth Financial Education awards; and * Statewide FCU, Flowood, as the top 2010 Credit Unions for Kids fundraiser.

Maine league kicks off convention today

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PORTLAND, Maine (5/20/11)--The Maine Credit Union League will hold its 73rd Annual Meeting and Convention today and tomorrow. This year’s theme, “Maine’s Credit Unions--Unleash the Power,” highlights the strength of the state’s cooperative financial institutions. More consumers are using the state’s credit unions, and credit unions’ growth has been documented. Total assets for Maine credit unions grew nearly 4% in 2010, said the league. Combined assets now total $5.39 billion. Loans grew by more than $83 million or 2.3% for the year, while shares increased by 4.5% or $206 million. Membership at Maine credit unions increased 1% in 2010, with a net gain of 4,115 members in 2010. Membership at Maine’s credit unions is now 611,000. During the two-day annual conference, U.S. Reps. Michael Michaud (D-Maine) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) will address an expected 700 attendees. Former Maine Gov. Angus King Jr. will be the keynote speaker at the annual delegates’ meeting. Gov. King will discuss the powerful role that leadership has in building and continuing success in the marketplace.

PCUA receives state kudos on fin ed

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (5/20/11)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) and a key staffer received kudos as strong partners in promoting financial education this week at the fifth Annual Common Wealth Symposium in Grantville, Pa. Mary Rosenkrans, director of the Pennsylvania Office of Financial Education, which sponsored the event, recognized PCUA and Mike Wishnow, PCUA senior vice president, communications and marketing, as strong partners in promoting financial education in the state (Life is a Highway May 18). She noted the Investor Education in Your Workplace program, and the PCUA’s work with the Pennsylvania Securities Commission in offering the program to credit unions. Wishnow acknowledged the efforts of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation in supporting and promoting financial education programs. Secretary of Banking Glenn Moyer was the keynote speaker. He told attendees, “Financial education is an employee benefit that costs little to nothing and helps to improve both the financial capabilities of employees, as well as employee productivity.” Ted Beck, CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education and the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, spoke to the group on the National Strategy for Financial Literacy, including goals and core competencies. Credit unions were well represented at the conference, PCUA said. Participants included: Kim Dietrich, AmeriChoice FCU, Mechanicsburg; Tricia Heisey, Belco Community CU, Harrisburg; Trish Shermot, CTCE FCU, Reading; Nancy Urban, HealthCare First CU, Johnstown; and Holly Wilds, NE PA Community FCU, Stroudsburg.

2011 Exec Committee announced by CFO Council

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MADISON, Wis. (5/20/11)--CUNA CFO Council officers and executive committee election results were announced during the council’s 17th annual conference this week in San Diego. New council officers are:
* Chair--David D’Annunzio, senior vice president and chief financial officer (CFO), Heritage Trust FCU, Charleston, S.C.; * Vice chair--Brandon Michaels, CFO, Mazuma CU, Kansas City; and * Secretary/Treasurer--Kevin Durrance, CFO, Old Hickory (Tenn.) CU.
Suzanne Weinstein, CFO, Orlando (Fla.) FCU, and William Kennedy, CFO, Jersey Shore FCU, Northfield, N.J., were elected to the executive committee. They replace outgoing members Dan LeClerc, president/CEO, GHS FCU, Binghamton, N.Y., and Steve Smith, CFO, Sharonview FCU, Fort Mill, S.C. Mary Torsney, senior vice president and CFO, Financial Partners CU, Downey, Calif., was appointed to replace Peg Lamb, former CFO for Marine CU, LaCrosse, Wis., on the committee. Also serving on the committee are Robert Warren Jr., senior vice president and CFO, Virginia CU, Richmond, Va., and Kevin Brueseke, chief operating officer and CFO, Missouri Credit Union Association, St. Louis.

League surprises gov. with Positively Michigan campaign

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LANSING, Mich. (5/20/11)--The Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) surprised Gov. Rick Snyder last week with a video montage celebrating all that is good about Michigan, highlighting the theme of MCUL’s 2011 Annual Conference and Exposition, “Positively Michigan!”
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder last week addressed the Michigan Credit Union League’s 2011 Annual Conference and Exposition, “Positively Michigan!” (Photo provided by the Michigan Credit Union League)
The MCUL and Michigan credit unions launched the “Positively Michigan!” campaign to promote all of the good things in Michigan. “I love that campaign because that’s what it’s about, being positive in Michigan,” Snyder said at the opening of the league’s conference. Some people in the governor’s office have started using the acronym RPA--for relentlessly positive attitude--to describe their mindset. In the video, MCUL CEO David Adams said “great ideas can come from anybody.” “Michigan residents are able to submit positive ideas for helping Michigan at this newly created website,” Adams said. To view the website and video, use the links. In other action at the convention:
* Stephen Dubner, co-author of “Super Freakonomics,” suggested how credit unions can overcome the frequent complaint that switching financial institutions is too difficult and time consuming. He suggested that credit unions offer a “switch kit” to people who are thinking about switching. * Debbie Matz, chair of the National Credit Union Administration, told attendees that while some have questioned the agency’s aggressive action, it was needed. “NCUA’s actions have saved you hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance premiums,” Matz said. She also called on credit unions to step up their efforts to market to Generation Y by offering into mobile banking, deposits by phone and 24-hour service. * John Kolhoff, new deputy commissioner in charge of credit unions for the Michigan Office of Insurance and Financial Regulation, said that he is cautiously optimistic about the future. “Improvement in Michigan outpaced the nation,” Kolhoff said. * Washington analyst Bert Ely discussed the debit interchange issue, adding the Durbin Amendment was poorly thought out and the Fed is now worried about unintended consequences of the new law. “The retailers will … try to steer business to the institutions that charge lower fees,” Ely said.

Filene Sustainability report from colloquium available

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MADISON, Wis. (5/20/11)--A Filene Research Institute report on credit union financial sustainability and listing six key factors for return on equity is now available. Controlling key variables is vital to staying on course, according to speakers at a Harvard University Colloquium on Credit Union Financial Sustainability, sponsored by the Filene Research Institute. The report is based on issues discussed at the colloquium held in October. The Colloquium featured presenters: Frances Frei, UPS Foundation professor of service management at Harvard Business School; John Lass, senior vice president at CUNA Mutual Group; Dorian Stone, partner at McKinsey & Co. and Filene research fellow; and Peter Tufano, Sylvan C. Coleman professor of financial management at Harvard Business School and Filene Research Fellow. In today’s financial turbulence caused by a combination of market and regulatory forces, the key to keeping credit unions thriving, the speakers said, is to understand and control the intricate interrelationships among six primary factors that feed into the overall return on equity equation:
* Interest rate spread; * Fee income; * Loan-loss provision; * Operating expense; * Asset turnover; and * Leverage factor.
The report points out that any company, including a credit union, can only grow in a way that keeps these factors in good correspondence. “A key takeaway is that you should at least understand that you cannot be great at everything and that relentlessly seeking out problems coincides with above-average rates of improvement,” said Mark Meyer, Filene CEO. Credit unions tend to operate less efficiently than banks of similar size, according to the report, which cites case studies illustrating how efficiency improvements contribute to the success of other organizations. “Credit unions should adapt the mindset that every dollar that they do not spend efficiently is a dollar that they may be taking out of their members’ pockets,” said George Hofheimer, Filene chief research officer. The colloquium was supported by Harvard University Employees CU, the Massachusetts and New Hampshire Credit Union Leagues, and the Credit Union Association of Rhode Island. For more information, use the link.

Kansas gets first certified CU fin counselors

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WICHITA, Kan. (5/20/11)--Two employees of Wichita, Kan.-based credit unions have become the only two credit union professionals in Kansas to earn the Certified Credit Union Financial Counselors (CCUFC) designation, announced the Kansas Credit Union Association (KCUA).
Sara Holt of Mid American CU and Chris Wolgamott of Meritrust CU recently completed training with the Credit Union National Association's Financial Counseling Certification Program (FiCEP). The program enhances credit unions' services with proven financial counseling skills, differentiates credit unions with certified financial counselors and helps members transform the way they handle money through real-world counseling. Participants learn everything from controlling living expenses and understanding consumer credit to retirement and special issues. "Having two credit union employees well versed in financial counseling is a great asset to credit union members in our state," said Gina Evans, assistant vice president, education and training at KCUA. "Financial literacy is such a hot topic right now and is relevant to all consumers." Holt said she wanted to ensure Mid American CU offered relevant topics to its membership and had the knowledge to answer questions from members. Wolgamott noted that Meritrust CU will "continue developing new ways to aid our members in becoming more financially savvy and building solid financial futures." His credit union plans to start counseling members this summer.