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CU System Archive

CU System

Filene Address social environmental concerns

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MADISON, Wis. (5/27/08)--Credit unions can address mounting social and environmental concerns as they build a foundation for innovation and growth, according to a recent Filene Research Institute study.
By doing this, credit unions can outperform their competitors in today’s business and--even more important--outrun them in tomorrow’s technologies and markets, say Stuart Hart and Monica Touesnard of Cornell University’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise in “Back to the Future: Integrating into Credit Union Strategy.” Rather than competing directly with banks, it makes more sense for credit unions to go “back to the future” by using their unique historical and organizational characteristics. The characteristics include tax-exempt status, cooperative ownership, community lending and focus on the underserved to offer a set of products and services that differentiates them from banks and other financial services providers, Hart and Touesnard conclude. The broad domain of sustainability offers such a landscape of opportunity, say the authors. Current strategies to minimize waste and emissions for operations might include green building initiatives and paperless services such as bill pay and online banking. Product stewardship strategies designed to integrate stakeholder services into business processes might include sustainability reporting initiatives and in-house sustainability consulting services. For the future, a strategy of clean technology promises to develop competencies such as financing green products and investment in clean technologies. Sustainability strategies also hold potential to create a shared road map for meeting unmet needs, such as REAL Solutions products and services. REAL Solutions is a National Credit Union Foundation program to further credit unions’ efforts to serve low-wealth and modest means households. “The opportunities in this report suggest that financial institutions are just beginning to experiment with programs and initiatives related to sustainability,” said George Hofheimer, Filene’s chief research officer. “As a result, we have yet to realize the challenges and opportunities implicit in sustainability strategies.”

CU System briefs (05/23/2008)

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* SACRAMENTO, Calif. (5/27/08)--Bert McLane was appointed May 16 to the new position of chief examiner of the California Credit Union Division, which oversees state-chartered credit unions. He will report directly to the governor-appointed Deputy Commissioner of Credit Unions. McLane previously served as credit union manager in the Credit Union Division since 2002. He has worked in regulatory agencies since 1985 and has been with credit union regulatory agency since 1990, according to a press release … * EAST LANSING, Mich. (5/27/08)--The Michigan State University (MSU) FCU announced it has contributed $2.5 million to support the university's Wharton Center for Performing Arts to help fund a new Institute for Arts and Creativity. The $1.450 billion asset credit union will continue its support of the university's Broadway series. The new institute will provide participatory learning programs at the Wharton Center and throughout the state for audiences of all ages (MSU Today May 22) …

Pa. treasurer testimony describes CUs Better Choice

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (5/27/08)--Pennsylvania State Treasurer Robin Wiessmann praised the Credit Union Better Choice program--a payday lending alternative--and confirmed her commitment to supporting the program in testimony before the Pennsylvania House Finance Committee May 20. The testimony was in support of House Bill 2295, which extends part of the investment authority for Treasury’s funds. The extension will allow Treasury to continue to broadly invest in securities, including equities and mutual funds, until Dec. 31, 2010. It also provides the appropriate authority to obtain reasonable returns with reasonable risk assessment (Life is a Highway May 23). Wiessmann described the Credit Union Better Choice program, which was developed in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association. The program is “believed to be the only program in the nation to provide a statewide alternative to payday lending, protecting consumers from the exorbitant fees that oftentimes trap them in a debt cycle,” she said. “Credit Union Better Choice provides consumers with low-cost, short-term loans and an investment in their futures through the program’s financial literacy and savings components,” Wiessmann continued. Wiessmann concluded her remarks saying: “I am committed to keeping an eye out not only for future risks, but also for emerging opportunities for positive returns for the Commonwealth. Positive returns can be enhanced, however. I strongly believe that we can do well for our funds and, at the same time, do good for Pennsylvania stakeholders. The KeystoneHELP and Credit Union Better Choice programs are perfect examples of this philosophy.” Christina Mihalik, association assistant vice president, governmental affairs, attended the hearing.

Sunmark FCU shares best practices in hiring keeping staff

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LATHAM, N.Y. (5/27/08)--Making the workplace fun is one of the best ways to attract and retain employees, a New York credit union CEO told participants at a seminar sponsored by The Business Review Wednesday. “Financial services can be a little dry,” Bruce Beaudette, president/CEO of the $432 million asset, Schenectady, N.Y.-based Sunmark FCU, said. “We still manage to have a lot of fun. It works well for retention and for attraction [of employees]. We do a lot of things to create the fun.” Beaudette was one of three panelists participating in a seminar focused on recruiting and retaining employees as part of The Business Review’s best practices seminar series. One way to keep employees enjoying their work--which is important--is to pay them referral fees to find workers to fill company positions, Beaudette told the paper. Asking oddball questions--about one’s hobbies for instance--when interviewing is a good way to catch candidates off guard and find out what they are passionate about, he added. Distance is one barrier to finding good workers, Beaudette said. With gas prices at or near $4 a gallon, people don’t want to travel more than 15 minutes to work. Before, they had no problem driving 45 minutes to work, he added.

Supercharge membership growth via free audio conference

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MADISON, Wis. (5/27/08)--Credit unions can learn strategies for increasing their membership growth, as well as hear about the work and preliminary findings of the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Membership Growth Task Force in a free audio conference Thursday. at 11 a.m. to noon CDT. The “Supercharging Your Membership Growth Audio Conference” will begin with an overview of the task force’s purpose, activities, and findings to date. From there, the conference will become an open forum so participants can provide their ideas and feedback, and share success stories. Participants from fast-growing credit unions will be encouraged to share any policies, practices, and strategies they’ve found especially helpful. Overall, the focus will be on several areas deemed by the task force to be critical in increasing membership growth:
* Awareness and image; * New markets; * Best practices; * Efficiency and back-office issues, and * Growth metrics.
The CUNA Membership Growth Task Force--chaired by Texas Credit Union League President/CEO Dick Ensweiler--was established to investigate, report on, and encourage credit unions to embrace opportunities, techniques, and processes that will increase membership retention and growth. For more information or to register for the free audio conference, use the resource link. Program content questions may be directed to 800-356-9655, ext. 4249.

New York league has new name headquarters

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LATHAM, N.Y. (5/27/08)--The New York State Credit Union League, which has represented New York’s credit unions for 91 years, is now known as the Credit Union Association of New York.
Pictured is a front view of the new home of the Credit Union Association of New York in Albany. N.Y. (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of New York)
In addition to the new name, the association will take on a new identity with a new look, new corporate website and Web address, new contact e-mails, new tagline and a new address. “By leading with the words ‘credit union,’ this new name instantly communicates what we’re all about,” said association President/CEO William J. Mellin. “By no longer beginning our name with ‘New York State,’ we will clear up any confusion about our organization being a state agency. All of our constituents--legislators, government agencies, credit unions and the public--will know at a glance who we are and who we serve.” A new logo, representative of a compass, expresses the association’s role in navigating the current business and legislative climate to help credit unions reach their goals. Together with the new “Leading the Way” tagline, the symbol, like the needle of a compass, points the way forward. As part of the re-branding, the name of the Association’s weekly newsletter, League Lines, will change to The Point. Employee e-mail addresses also will change to a more commonly accepted standard--firstname.lastname@cuany.org. The new website, www.cuany.org, will debut in late June with easier navigation, more resources and a search engine to help visitors find what they want quickly and easily. Breaking news and upcoming events will be a highlight of the website’s new homepage. The association’s main press room will also reside on the homepage with separate press rooms for each of the association’s core areas: governmental affairs, member services, outreach and regulatory compliance. The association now is operating out of its new location: 1021 Watervliet-Albany Rd., Albany, NY 12205, a building shared with frequent partner, Members United Corporate FCU. All telephone numbers, as well as the P.O. Box 15118, Albany NY 12212-5118 mailing address, will remain the same.

Mississippi associations officers awards announced

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JACKSON, Miss. (5/27/08)--Over 600 managers, volunteers, staff and guests from more than 60 Mississippi credit unions attended the Mississippi Credit Union Association’s 71st annual meeting in Biloxi, Miss., May 7-10. The association membership re-elected four directors and elected two new directors during the meeting. New directors are:
* Doug Adams, MUNA FCU, Meridian; and * Dion Williams, Central Sunbelt FCU, Laurel;
The incumbent directors include:
* Billy Bridges, Mutual CU, Vicksburg; * Lavina Crocker, MS DHS FCU, Jackson; * Lt. Col. Dean Todd (Ret.), Keesler FCU, Biloxi; and * Elmer Dickens, Gulf Coast Community FCU, Gulfport.
During the event, two individuals also were awarded the state’s highest honor, induction into the Mississippi Credit Union Hall of Fame:
* James Vance, board chairman, Meridian Mutual FCU, Meridian; and * J.R. “Russell” Stubbs, director, McComb (Miss.) FCU.
Also, Central Sunbelt FCU, Laurel, was named the top 2007 Credit Unions for Kids fundraiser.