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CU System briefs (07/02/2008)

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* MADISON, Wis. (7/3/08)--Credit union board members and staff can attend two free CUNA Mutual Group Credit Union Protection webinars to help mitigate fiduciary risks and better understand director responsibilities. Director Responsibilities--What Every Director Should Know will be held July 9 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. ET. Fiduciary Risk--A Sleeping Giant Ready to Awake? Will be held July 9 and July 23 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Credit unions should register by July 7. Sign-in is required. Two days prior to the sessions, attendees will receive an e-mail with the webinar link ... * HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/3/08)--The merger between Clarion University FCU (CUFCU) and Pennsylvania State Employees CU (PSECU) was completed Tuesday. “The merger presents opportunities for members of CUFCU to enjoy many enhanced products and services offered by PSECU,” said PSECU President Greg Smith (Life is a Highway July 1) ... * ALEXANDRIA, Va. (7/3/08)--CommonWealth One FCU has merged with City of Alexandria Employees CU. The merger was approved in April. City of Alexandria served more than 7,000 members and had more than $30 million in assets. “With our combined capital and human resources we will be able to continue to make improvements to our product and service offering for our combined 40,000 members,” said John Blair Jr., president/CEO of Commonwealth One ... * RALEIGH, N.C. (7/3/08)--State Employees’ CU (SECU) will help the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) refinance and provide funding for loans made by College Foundation Inc. (CFI) to students and parents this year. “Helping students get an education is one of the most important investments we can make to boost their future income and continue to grow our state’s economy,” said Shirley Bell, SECU board of directors chairman. SECU members who have applied for federal and state aid will receive a reduction in the interest rate on North Carolina’s EXTRA Education loan, a supplemental loan to pay educational expenses. SECU has $15 billion in assets ... *
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RICHMOND, Va. (7/3/08)--Virginia CU sponsored the second annual Bike MS: Virginia CU Ride Virginia May 31 and June 1. Riders from the credit union raised $4,671.58 toward fighting multiple sclerosis, resulting in more than $9,343 donated to the cause. From left are: Sue Church, Bill Church, Chris Woodbury, Giles Ring, and Tom Allen. Sue Church, Woodbury, Ring and Allen are staff members at Virginia CU. (Photo provided by Virginia CU) ...

How many members know why CUs help

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NEW YORK (7/3/08)--In New York City, “the epicenter of the events that led to the crisis that put us where we are financially today,” Credit Union National Association Chairman (CUNA) Tom Dorety told credit unions attending the America’s Credit Union Conference & Expo to use the economy to help point out the good that credit unions do. “We need more member involvement in appreciating credit unions cooperative structure and services to strengthen ties to garner support for their cooperative structure and gaining recognition and support with local leaders, and we need to improve our connectivity with young people,” Dorety said. Dorety, CEO of Suncoast Schools FCU in Tampa, Fla., spoke during the closing general session Wednesday. Banks are “putting people out of jobs and cutting services, but they’re making their investors happy,” he said. “Credit unions overwhelming do the opposite--we’re making loans, helping with mortgages,” and they can use a strong network to make intelligent decisions that are in the best long-term interest” for members, he added. Many stories highlighting credit unions’ good work have appeared in national, state and local media. “But how many people know why we help?” Dorety asked. He noted that strategy follows structure. “Our actions are the direct result of who our audience is. Of course we’re helping members. Why wouldn’t we?” But it’s getting harder, with the overall competition credit unions face. Being better than a bank sets “a weak standard,” and “acceptance of the previous standard often means we have none of our own,” he said. Roughly 5%--the estimates run from 1% to 10%--of members “really get [what credit unions are about]. But what if that doubled? What if four million who understand who we are became eight million people who understand who we are?” he asked. Instead of debating terms such as “membership,” “joining” and “belonging,” credit unions ought to be discussing at the state, national and local level strategic plans on how to better leverage their actions. “Use the economy to our advantage. Small businesses are begging for more affordable credit. How can anyone be opposed to increasing the member business lending cap and providing better tools to measure safety and soundness in our current economic environment?” Dorety asked. He also noted that the Credit Union, Bank and Thrift Regulatory Relief Act (CUBTRRA, H.R. 6312), “was the result of remarkable effort by many people, state leagues and particularly staff at CUNA.” “All of us agree we need more enhancements on credit union charters, we need to convince Congress to act on the member business lending cap, and the prompt corrective action risk-based cap,” he added. For more on the conference, use the link to Credit Union Magazine's ACUC Daily.

Heath CUs are an idea that hasnt stuck

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NEW YORK CITY (7/3/08)--Credit unions are a good idea that hasn’t stuck, according to Dan Heath, idea collector, who keynoted the closing general session on “Ideas That Stick” during the America’s Credit Union Conference & Expo. The conference, presented by the Credit Union National Association in New York City, ended Wednesday. Heath said he is “a huge credit union fan. I’ve been a member of Amplify CU in Austin, Texas, for 20 years. I’ve carried two mortgages, two car loans, and a savings account and share certificate there.” He told credit unions: “I support what you do, and in my judgment, you have an extreme, grotesque advantage over banks. But you’re an idea that hasn’t stuck.” Ideas that stick are understood, are remembered and change something, he said. They are:
* Simple; * Unexpected; * Concrete; * Credible; * Emotional; and * Told in stories.
Ideas are not created equal, he said. Small talk doesn’t stick. To make credit unions’ ideas stick, there are ways to get people to believe: 1. Live it; 2. Hear the story; and 3. Hear the description--which is the least effective method. For more on the conference, use the link to Credit Union Magazine's ACUC Daily.

CUNA webinar to cover BSA requirements for CU staff

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MADISON, Wis. (7/3/08)--A Credit Union National Association webinar scheduled during the third quarter of 2008 can help credit union staff get up-to-speed on Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) requirements. The July 10 “Bank Secrecy Act Requirements for Staff” closely examines BSA, the Customer Identification Program, and possible penalties for non-compliance. Attendees also will walk through the information required to accurately complete the Currency Transaction Report, Suspicious Activity Report, and Exempt Person Form. In addition, internal auditors and compliance staff can ensure the thoroughness and accuracy of BSA audits with “Preparing and Conducting a Bank Secrecy Act Audit.” The Aug. 14 webinar will provide tools and information needed to prepare and conduct an accurate and thorough BSA audit. Participants also will hear from an industry expert on what the regulation requires and what examiners are looking for. Other webinars highlighted during the third quarter include:
* “The Rise of Social Media--Connecting With Online Communities” will help attendees gain a better understanding of social media and how to incorporate these tools into conventional marketing plans. The July 22 webinar will help participants to better understand the mindset and culture driving the adoption of social media among Generations X and Y, as well as the myths associated with the social media usage of older generations. The offering is held in cooperation with the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council. * “General Operations Regulations,” held July 9 and 16, will provide an overview of the major operations laws affecting credit unions. The two-part webinar will cover: the Bank Bribery Act, the Right to Financial Privacy Act, BSA, IRS information reporting and withholding requirements, National Credit Union Administration privacy regulations, the Office of Foreign Assets Control, and the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act. * “Tips and Tools for Managing Your Information Technology Vendors” is designed to help anyone involved in the process of choosing and managing the credit union’s information technology vendors. The Sept. 18 offering will discuss various considerations and software for contract management, negotiation techniques, regulatory issues and more.
More than 35 webinars will take place during the third quarter of 2008 to educate busy credit union personnel about: finance and economics; human resources and training; security; lending; management and leadership; board and volunteer; marketing and business development; operations, sales, and service; and regulatory compliance. Archived versions of many recently-held webinars also are available. During a webinar, students hear and see a presentation, ask questions of the instructor and refer to handouts. With a phone and a computer with an Internet connection, students have all the benefits of a face-to-face class without leaving the walls of their credit unions.

City of Charleston gives tax on CUs low priority

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PARKERSBURG and CHARLESTON, W.Va. (7/8/08)--A proposal for a business and occupation (B&O) tax on earnings of credit unions in Charleston, W.Va., has been given a low priority status by city officials, according to the West Virginia Credit Union League. After the league pointed out legalities surrounding the tax issue, the city decided to issue it a low priority for now and “put it out for further study,” Rich Schaffer, league senior vice president, told News Now. The league will continue to monitor the issue closely, he added. In May, the league wrote a letter to city officials warning that Charleston’s intent to tax credit unions would violate both state code and the Federal Credit Union Act, after learning through a third party that the city proposed the B&O tax as part of the state’s Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program (News Now June 9). As part of the program, state legislation had given five cities permission to find new ways to tax locally. Charleston was the first city to apply. City officials may have though they had more leeway than actually allowed by law, Schaffer told News Now last month. In a letter sent to City Manager David D. Molgaard and other city officials May 30, League President Kenneth R. Watts outlined the reasons why taxing a credit union would be a violation of state and federal code.

Farber Dont be a leadership poser

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NEW YORK (7/3/08)--Have you “shifted a paradigm” lately? “Empowered” someone, perhaps? If you’ve tossed around these empty platitudes without changing your actions, you’re a leadership poser--someone who wears the “leader” label without truly being one. Shame on you. So said Steve Farber, author and president of Extreme Leadership, speaking Tuesday before America’s Credit Union Conference & Expo, which ended Wednesday in New York City. “I’m concerned that ‘leadership’ has become a buzzword,” Farber said. “If we’re not careful, we’ll convince ourselves we’re doing something because we’re using new buzzwords.” He calls the process of closing the gap between what leaders say and do “extreme leadership”--a redundant term “because leadership, if you’re really doing it, is already extreme. There’s no such thing as real leadership without frequent OS!M: Oh (darn) moments.” Farber outlined four components of extreme leadership:
* Cultivate love. Some people aren’t comfortable mixing “love” and “business,” but “love is just good business. That’s where loyalty comes from.” Ask yourself, “Why do I love this work, and how do I show it?” Farber advised. “This will help you stoke your own fire. There’s no way to motivate or inspire others if you don’t feel it first.” * Generate energy. Companies that excel have passionate, committed--sometimes obsessive--employees. Farber cited Gillette, which employs enthusiastic shaving testers who “bleed so you can get a good shave.” Test your energy level, Farber suggested, by asking, “Do I generate more energy when I walk into a room--or when I walk out of it?” * Inspire audacity. Farber’s definition of audacity: “Bold and blatant disregard for normal constraints.” This isn’t about anarchy, he said. “It’s about creating what we want to create for all the right reasons.” Ask yourself the audacious question, “How will we change the world of our employees, customers, and marketplace?” * Provide proof. “If you say one thing and do another,” he said, “people won’t follow you anywhere. You have to prove yourself all the time.”

CUNA closed Friday for holiday

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (7/3/08)--The Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wis., offices of the Credit Union National Association will be closed on Friday, in observance of the Fourth of July Holiday. News Now will not publish on Friday but will resume regular publication Monday.

CU tax exemption legislation passes New York houses

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ALBANY, N.Y. (7/3/08)--Legislation that would exempt state-chartered credit unions in New York from paying special additional mortgage recording tax (SAMRT) in 2010 passed through the New York State Senate and Assembly last week. The legislation also would allow any federally chartered credit union that chooses to convert to a state charter an immediate exemption from the tax. Under current law, state-chartered credit unions are required to pay SAMRT, but the tax is not imposed on federal credit unions, the Credit Union Association of New York said in a release. “This legislation remedies a charter disparity and enhances the dual chartering system of New York,” said William J. Mellin, president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of New York. The legislation was sponsored by State Rep. Aurelia Greene (D-Metropolitan) and State Sen. Hugh Farley (R-Capital/Adirondack). The association and member credit unions advocated for the legislation at lobby day during the Governmental Affairs Conference in May.

Dill Ecuadors CUs effectively serving members

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QUITO, Ecuador (7/3/08)--Ecuador’s credit unions have shown sufficient development to operate more independently and with an eye to greater growth, said John Dill, president/CEO of the Credit Union Associations of Colorado and Wyoming.
Victor Miguel Corro (left), World Council of Credit Unions International Partnerships Program manager; John Dill, president/CEO of the Credit Union Associations of Colorado and Wyoming; and Jorge Huertas, Coopad general manager, met in Ecuador during Corro and Dill’s recent visit to assess credit union development. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
The associations have partnered with Ecuador’s credit unions through the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) International Partnerships Program since 2000. Dill visited with Red Transaccional Cooperativa (RTC), the largest credit union network in the country, in June. “Ecuadorian credit unions are pioneering many cutting-edge services for their members,” Dill said. “There is a need for Ecuador’s credit union movement to begin building a strong country-wide trade association in order to advance the business and advocacy interests of the movement in Ecuador and to safeguard the many forward strides that credit unions have made in just a short time,” Dill said. Dill, who was accompanied by Victor Miguel Corro, WOCCU International Partnerships manager, spent three days in Ecuador’s capital, Quito, meeting with RTC executives, board members and member credit unions. He also met with staff at Quito credit unions Cooprogreso and Coopad to review the services RTC offers its member credit unions. Dill traveled to Cuenca, Ecuador’s third-largest city, to assess the use of RTC products in two other credit unions. RTC allows members to access mainstream and modern financial products such as remittances, national shared branching, payment services, ATMs and debit card services. RTC offers international shared branching, a project accomplished through the WOCCU partnership with the help from Credit Union Service Centers, the Credit Union Associations of Colorado and Wyoming, CO-OP Shared Branching and software provider Multisoft. About 29 of 38 regulated credit unions in Ecuador belong to RTC. They offer members 154 countrywide points of service and 3,000 more abroad. “Credit unions in Ecuador are relatively new institutions vis-à-vis American credit unions, and therefore are clearly focused on providing new alternative financial services to the average Ecuadorian who has largely been shut out of other institutions,” Dill said. “As a result, membership growth is generally high, and the emotion and enthusiasm for the credit union model is inspiring to those of us who represent more mature credit union movements.” Dill also discussed an English Immersion Executive Program with credit union executives from Jardin Azuayo, a progressing credit union involved in mobile banking, which enhances member services through the use of technology. Jardin Azuayo would like to visit other credit union systems to study state-of-the-art technology solutions. The idea for the program came from WOCCU’s Hispanic Marketing Immersion Program. A pilot program involving Colorado and Wyoming is in the planning stages.