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Leagues CUNA reassure members their money is safe

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MADISON, Wis. (7/17/08)--Credit union leagues nationwide are reassuring members their money is safe after media reports regarding the IndyMac bank failure triggered concerns among consumers about the security of their deposits. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) also distributed a list of talking points for leagues to share with local media about the safety and soundness of credit unions. That factsheet is prominently posted on and the consumer website,
* Several leagues, including the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA), have been contacted by credit unions receiving calls from worried members. MCUA also corrected erroneous information about credit union deposits that aired on a local radio station, said Peggy Nalls, senior vice president of public and legislative affairs. “A radio station in St. Louis ran an interview Wednesday morning with a book author who said he didn’t know if credit union accounts are insured,” Nalls told News Now. “Amy McLard [vice president of public/legislative affairs] contacted the station and followed up with an e-mail to set them straight.” * The Louisiana Credit Union League hosted a seminar July 10 in Baton Rouge led by National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Insurance Analyst Deborah Spearing, according to Lacey Hyer, league public relations specialist. “Not one penny of insured savings has ever been lost by a member of a federally insured credit union,” Spearing told attendees. “In these uncertain economic times, credit union members are looking for a safe, sound place to invest their hard-earned money. And the credit union is just that place.”
Leagues also are putting together materials to distribute to credit unions and members and publishing stories in their newsletters to get the word out.
* The Maine Credit Union League created an insert and news article for credit unions to distribute to members called “Is My Money Safe--For Credit Union Members, the Answer is Yes!” * The Credit Union Association of Colorado and Wyoming put together a mini-communications kit for credit unions including talking points for staff, sample letters for members to be posted on websites, sample newsletter articles, how to link to the National Credit Union Administration Share Insurance estimator and background information for press releases. * The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association published an article in Life is a Highway Wednesday and sent a release noting credit union savings rates. “In 2008, savings in credit unions have grown nearly 7%. Research estimates that Pennsylvania credit unions provided $387 million in direct financial benefits to the state’s 3,388,545 members during the 12 months ending December 2007,” the league said. “These benefits are equivalent to $114 per member or $217 per member household.” * The Delaware Credit Union League plans to conduct “a survey to see how many credit unions received comments or questions from their members on this matter,” Alice Smith, league communications and governmental affairs director, told News Now. * The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues are encouraging credit unions to post messages on their websites and in newsletters. The leagues also encouraged credit unions to hold meetings with staff to make sure they are fully advised about safety and soundness issues, said Henry Kertman, league vice president of public affairs. * The Credit Union Association of New York also sent information to its credit unions. “Credit unions always have and will continue to lend responsibly, which is why they have been able to steer clear of the subprime crisis that is negatively impacting other financial institutions,” said William J.Mellin, president/CEO of the Association. “It’s also why New York’s credit unions, which count over 4.2 million members and have more than $40 billion in assets, have gone virtually unmentioned in the adverse financial headlines that have proliferated the news.” * Georgia Credit Union Affiliates released information about how state credit unions are helping those in times of crisis. In response to the recent IndyMac collapse, CSRA FCU, Augusta, is helping its members by allowing them to restructure their accounts with balances over $100,000, free of any early withdrawal fees, according to the league. CSRA CEO Charm McCall said the offer demonstrates to members that the credit union wants to ease any concerns members might have about their money. “Our members know that their deposits are insured up to $100,000 by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF). We want to reassure our members that their money is safe at CSRA,” McCall said. “If a member is more comfortable to restructure their certificates and shares with us, we can walk them through the process.” * The Credit Union Association of Oregon also sent a release to local press. "Oregon credit unions, which count over 1.4 million members and hold nearly 27% of our state’s financial market share, are going largely unmentioned in the adverse financial headlines," the association said. One hundred percent of Oregon credit unions are insured under NCUSIF, it added. * The North Carolina Credit Union League noted the issue in Weekly Update, and provided some resources for credit unions. "The bottom line," said John Radebaugh, league president, "is that credit unions are strong and well-positioned to serve their 3 million members in NC. They entered into this economic situation with strong balance sheets, and they will still be in very strong shape when things improve." * Wisconsin credit unions remain largely unaffected by the nation's mortgage crisis and economic downturn, the Wisconsin Credit Union League said in a press release Tuesday. Credit unions have remained strong because their community-based member-ownership puts members' interests first, according to Brett Thompson, Wisconsin league president/CEO. At the end of first-quarter 2008, Wisconsin credit unions' delinquencies remained at 1.20%, a decrease from the year-end 2007 rate of 1.29%. Net charge offs, or loans that are unrecoverable, are at .33%. "These figures show that credit unions have been making loans in their members' best interest," Thompson said. "Credit unions understand that members' ability to repay loans in a timely manner affects the stability of the cooperative, and as we've seen, our state's financial co-ops remain strong."
Use the link below to access CUNA's factsheet.

Wis. league creates Young Professionals Council

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PEWAUKEE, Wis. (7/17/08)--The Wisconsin Credit Union League this week announced its councils and committees for this year, including the newly created Young Professionals Council. The Young Professionals Council will be appointed annually at the discretion of the league president, to advise league staff on the direction and focus of the league’s initiatives to reach out to young adults. It will meet twice a year, under the direction of staff liaison Jill Weber, league director of member solutions. Council members, age 35 and younger, will be asked for input on practices to recruit young adult credit union members, employees and volunteers, and efforts to develop young credit union professionals into positions of leadership within the credit union industry. The council also may be asked to provide input on educational programs directed toward young adults and professionals. “We have a very talented group of individuals as a part of this first council,” Weber told News Now. “We hope to keep them around and increase their numbers. “The past two years, the league has provided incentives for credit unions to bring young adults to our annual convention, since that event is considered by most of our credit unions to be the premier event for networking and professional development,” Weber continued. “There are other ideas we have been considering to help with development of younger credit union employees into leadership positions within the movement. “The idea for a league council devoted to such issues stemmed from some of those discussions and was truly validated by one of our newer League Board members, who happens to be a Young Professional himself,” she added. Members include:
* Dominic Sloma, Best Advantage CU, Brillion; * Dan Fandrey, Blackhawk Community CU, Janesville; * Danielle Storck, Blackhawk Community CU, Janesville; * Ashley Borchardt, Bull’s Eye CU, Wisconsin Rapids; * Sarah Engevold, Central City CU, Marshfield; * Sarah Fecht, Community CU, Lacrosse; * Dan Winters, Cooperative CU, Racine; * Beth Krahn, County-City CU, Jefferson; * Josh Jones, Credit Union National Association, Madison; * Jennifer Schilling, Empower CU, Milwaukee; * Bill Fern, Enterprise CU, Elm Grove; * Ed Miller, Focus CU, Menominee Falls; * Scott Roesch, Fond du Lac (Wis.) CU; * Christine Petroff, Glacier Hills CU; West Bend; * Megan Pruno, Miller Electric CU; Appleton; * Mandi Paulick, Oshkosh (Wis.) Community CU; * Angie Retzlaff, Sheboygan (Wis.) Area CU; and * Elyse Smithback, St. Mary’s & Affiliates CU, Madison.
More than 100 credit union staff members from around the state are serving on Wisconson league councils, including: the League Council, Governmental Affairs Committee, the REAL Solutions Council, the Services Council, Audit Committee, and Young Professionals Council. The councils and committees advise league staff on the direction and focus of the league’s initiatives. The appointments were effective July 1.

Poll Many Maryland and D.C. voters are CU members

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COLUMBIA, Md. (7/17/08)--With the presidential election time just around the corner, a recent poll reveals that large proportions of Maryland and Washington, D.C. voters are credit union members. Of all Maryland voters, 48% are credit union members. Of all D.C. voters, 39% are members of credit unions, according to the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association. “This data demonstrates the popularity of credit unions as the preferred alternative to for-profit financial institutions,” said Mike Beall, association president. “Voters have realized that they save money by using credit unions, which are locally owned, for their financial services needs.” The poll, conducted by Garin Hart Yang for the association, was done by a telephone survey of 501 voters in Maryland and 254 voters in DC June 2-5. The poll further provides demographics of credit union membership in both Maryland and D.C. Among Maryland voters, 46% of men and 49% of women are credit union members. In terms of race, 45% of whites and 54% of African-Americans belong to credit unions. And those in the middle age categories are more likely to be credit union members--ages 18 to 34 (33% are credit union members); 35 to 49 (59%); 50 to 64 (52%); and 65 and over (39%). Among voters in D.C., 41% of men and 38% of women are credit union members. Among white voters, 32% are credit union members, while among African Americans, the proportion increases to 45%. D.C. voters ages 40 to 59 (46%) are more likely than their younger and older counterparts to be credit union members (35% of 18 to 39 year olds, and 34% of those 60 and over are credit union members.)

CUNA offers personal finance courses for CU staff

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MADISON, Wis. (7/17/08)--The first of a series of self-study personal finance courses to help credit union staff understand the basics of personal finance was recently added to the Credit Union National Association’s Web-based training service, CPDOnline. The online interactive courses--available in English and Spanish--are designed to help staff make more knowledgeable decisions about their own finances. Available topics include:
* Couples and Money. Learn the tools to help partners budget money and enhance their relationship. It teaches how to improve communication skills, set financial goals, and build a spending plan. Couples also evaluate their accounts, insurance, and loans to ensure everything is in order. * Used Car Buying. Offers strategies for finding and buying a quality used car. It helps users determine what they are looking for in a car, pre-buying research, calculating payments, dealer and seller negotiations, and using their credit unions.
More than 20 overall courses--including five additional staff personal finance courses-- will be added to the CPDOnline membership later this year. Upcoming personal finance topics will explore credit management, home buying, new car buying, checking accounts, and identity theft.

La. league implements new emergency response system

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HARAHAN, La. (7/17/08)--To more effectively communicate immediate emergency information--especially now in the midst of the hurricane season--the Louisiana Credit Union League (LCUL) has installed a telephone response system for credit unions. The Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions (LOFI), which represents Louisiana financial institutions at the Office of Emergency Preparedness, will record information and alerts related to immediate threats and/or disasters in the area, using the TelSpan system. Financial institutions will be able to dial in and hear messages or alerts at a time that is convenient to their schedules. LCUL is the only credit union league to utilize the TelSpan program, according to the league. “As Louisiana finds itself in the midst of yet another hurricane season, LCUL is making sure credit unions have access to as many resources as possible,” said Anne Cochran, LCUL president/CEO. “TelSpan will play a vital role in getting important information out in a timely manner and also in assisting credit unions across the state in the recovery process.” Heeding the importance of disaster preparedness, the league has a wide variety of resources available, including sample policies and checklists, to help credit unions in the disaster planning process. Packets were sent to credit unions at the beginning of hurricane season to better prepare them if a disaster were to strike. Included in the packets was a detailed checklist to serve as a template, along with a laminated pocket guide with both local and national disaster recovery resources. A sample tracking map was enclosed for credit unions to send their members. The tracking map includes pertinent information and can be customized with a credit union’s logo, the name of the credit union, and information specific to the credit union’s disaster recovery plan. Credit unions were asked to complete a survey form to provide the league with their appropriate contact information and an alternate disaster recovery location.

CU philosophy service debated at WOCCU conference

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HONG KONG (7/17/08)--Can credit union philosophy successfully co-exist with competitive member service? Superior service can't exist without a philosophical commitment, nor should it, according to a debate between two credit union chief executive officers during a general session at World Council of Credit Union's (WOCCU) World Credit Union Conference.
Click to view larger image Marlene Shields (left), chief executive, Capital CU, Edinburgh, Scotland, posed questions to Phylip Doughty, CEO, MECU Ltd., Australia, and Tom Dorety, (right) Credit Union National Association chairman at the World Council of Credit Unions Conference in Hong Kong Tuesday. Doughty and Dorety debated whether credit union philosophy can successfully co-exist with competitive member service. (Photo provided by Patrick Leung)
Credit Union National Association Chairman Tom Dorety, president/CEO of Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union, Tampa, Fla., and Phylip Doughty, CEO of MECU, Ltd., Australia, took on credit union philosophy and a host of other topics during Tuesday's debate at the Hong Kong Convention & Exposition Centre. Marlene Shiels, chief executive of Capital CU in Edinburgh, Scotland, posed questions and moderated discussion before 1,300 attendees from 48 countries. The global financial situation bore some debate, including the varied impact it's having on U.S. credit unions, which Dorety said have seen a distinct downturn in lending, and in Australia where, as Doughty said, “business is booming.” “There are three reasons large credit unions should be cognizant of financial trends,” said Dorety in his opening remarks. “There's the social part--we're supposed to look after all members. There's the political part--U.S. laws tell us to provide services to members of modest means. And there's the financial part--credit unions have the capability to offer services to people at all income levels. “In the end, it just makes sense to provide good service to all members,” he added. There also was considerable discussion about demutualization. Dorety disclosed that, based on his research, he and his board would stand to make substantial sums if $6.2 billion Suncoast Schools demutualized, although that has never been considered by the credit union. Additional shares would then be offered for sale to members, an approach distinctly different than that taken in Australia, where profits from demutualization are shared with members. “It's incomprehensible to think that a U.S. credit union board of directors could give away their credit union assets for personal gain, then offer to sell back to the members something they already own,” Doughty said. The issue of “greening” credit unions also came up. At MECU, Doughty said, staff works to reduce carbon emissions, plants 700 trees per year and even mulches food scraps from the credit union cafeteria. Such efforts are not only the right thing to do, but also comprise a good business strategy, according to Doughty. “If the price of your products is right, you offer great service and you're looking after the environment, members will come to you,” he said. Dorety agreed, noting that environmental consciousness was part of the credit union difference, especially for the younger generation. That concept was supported later that day during breakout comments on serving Generation Y by Ryan Visscher of Canada's Envision CU. “We spend a lot of time preaching that difference,” Dorety said. “If you can convince members there truly is a difference, they will care, especially the young ones.”

CU System briefs (07/16/2008)

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* DULUTH, Ga. (7/17/08)--Eugene Christie of Macon, Ga., a long-time member of Robins FCU, won tickets to see country singer Leann Rimes after winning the Georgia Credit Union Awareness Campaign Sweepstakes. Christie and his daughter also met the singer backstage after the concert. The contest was for a credit union awareness campaign sponsored by Georgia Credit Unions. The campaign featured commercials featuring Rimes. From left: Maureen Bock, Georgia Credit Union Affiliates; Kim Christie; Rimes; Eugene Christie; and Kristi Arrington, Georgia Credit Union Affiliates. (Photo provided by Georgia Credit Union Affiliates) * PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (7/17/08)--Northeast CU (NECU), Portsmouth, announced that it pledged $10 million toward student loan funding in support of the New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation. Because of a drop in private sector funding, many non-profit agencies have not been able to lend to all students, NECU said. The credit union is sending out letters and calling student members to let them know that the credit union is providing money for loans ... * HARAHAN, La. (7/17/08)--The Louisiana Credit Union League is updating the method in which it distributes its two newsletters, InfoSight Compliance and eNewsletter. Newsletters will now come from Members also can choose to receive additional information by using the “Preferences” link at the bottom of each message ... * DES MOINES, Iowa (7/17/08)--Veridian CU, Waterloo, Iowa, donated $100,000 to the Iowa Credit Union Foundation’s disaster fund to help members affected by flooding and tornados. Ascentra CU, Bettendorf, also contributed $5,000 to the fund ... * PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (7/17/08)--Northeast CU (NECU) announced Tuesday that it has kicked off its “Pennies for a Change” campaign in partnership with the United Way. Members can donate one penny on their NECU Visa debit card transactions. The money will support community building strategies in areas such as housing, healthcare, substance abuse and transportation ...

CUs a family tradition for one CEO

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (7/17/08)--Credit unions run in Jack Teausant’s family--his grandfather, mother, and sister have all been a part of the credit union he currently operates.
(Left) Sandy Burkart, Financial Plus CU president of marketing; Jack Teausant, Financial Plus CEO; and Marilyn Dudgeon, former manager of Financial Plus. Burkart, Teausant’s sister, was hired at the credit union in 1978. Dudgeon, his mother, was hired in 1951 to handle public relations part-time and later served as a manager. Financial Plus was started by Teausant’s grandfather, Charles Munks, in 1951 as Glass Workers CU. (Photo provided by Financial Plus CU)
Teausant is CEO of Financial Plus CU in Ottawa, Ill. Financial Plus, formerly known as Glass Workers CU, was started in 1951 by 36 members of the Glass, Ceramic and Silica Workers of North America. His grandfather, Charles Munks, was one of those members. Teausant’s mother, Marilyn Dudgeon, was hired as a part-time employee in 1951 to handle public relations. In 1954, she was hired as the credit union’s first full-time employee and manager. Teausant joined the credit union in 1976 as a manager trainee. He previously worked as the comptroller of a local manufacturing company and was asked to help Glass Workers CU merge with another local credit union. Two years later, Teausant’s sister, Sandy Burkart, was hired as a teller. Burkart, who has an art degree and a background in advertising, eventually worked her way up to vice president of marketing--a position she holds today. In 1979, Teausant was promoted to president. Under his leadership, the credit union changed its name to Financial Plus CU. It had $9.915 million in assets and 8,700 members when Teausant started as president and now has $150 million in assets and 19,500 members. Financial Plus CU has been in Teausant’s family for 57 years, but they do not take its success for granted. “We recognized that we have to work as a team,” Teausant said. “The reason why we’ve grown is because of our mission statement: ‘Exceptional Service to Members.’”