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CU System Archive

CU System

Ill. CUs fare well in spring assembly session

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (8/1/11)--Gov. Patrick Quinn signed two bills of importance to Illinois credit unions during Illinois General Assembly’s (IGA) 97th Spring session. Also, from the nearly 10,000 bills and amendments filed this session, Illinois Credit Union League staff developed a working list of over 100 measures on which substantial advocacy efforts were directed, due to their potential impact on credit unions and their business operations. “Despite this continued challenging environment, credit unions maintained an effective voice before the IGA in terms of passing positive legislation, as well as amending and/or helping to defeat adverse legislation,” said Stephen Olson, ICUL executive vice president, general counsel and chief operating officer. Among the two bills of importance to Illinois credit unions signed by Quinn, H.B. 3050 was an Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) initiative to amend the Illinois Credit Union Act and implement changes as a result of an executive order created the consolidated agency. Through negotiations with IDFPR, the bill was amended by ICUL to maintain key components negotiated as part of the agency consolidation in 2004, including the preservation of a Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) division with its own director performing the function of credit union regulatory supervision. The measure also made changes in the act concerning out-of-state credit union reciprocity, powers of a credit union relating to partial asset spin-offs, and vacancies in the board of directors. The league remained neutral on the bill, since it contained a civil penalties assessments provision proposed by the IDFPR. However, as a result of the negotiations with ICUL, significant due process provisions were added to the measure. The provisions included a right-to-cure period before any penalty for a violation of the act or rules could be assessed, a graduated assessment scale to protect smaller credit unions, and a right to appeal and obtain administrative review of any assessment. The authority to assess penalties against officers and directors personally was removed. The bill unanimously passed both chambers and becomes effective Jan. 1. H.B. 2101, a joint initiative of the Illinois County Treasurers Association and ICUL, clarifies the existing authority of counties to invest funds with credit credit unions. ICUL supported the bill, which passed the House on April 5 and unanimously passed the Senate on May 17 and became July 14 with Quinn’s signing. More than 50 bills relating to the mortgage foreclosure crisis were filed during the session. The league’s worked with sponsors in an attempt to “fine-tune” the mortgage foreclosure process to make it more efficient and expedient, and avoid provisions that penalize lenders--and, ultimately borrowers--through increased fines and penalties. As the end of session approached, SB16, with language from another negative bill (H.B. 1109) amended on to it, ultimately became the vehicle proposed by the City of Chicago to obtain state authorization for local governments to hold lenders responsible for maintaining and securing abandoned residential property. The measure also proposed to give municipalities a super-priority lien for fees and fines assessed against lenders. Due in large part to the grassroots lobbying efforts of Illinois credit unions, the IGA adjourned without voting on S.B. 16. “This is just one of many examples where ICUL, on behalf of and in collaboration with its member credit unions, played a very critical role in protecting a favorable operating, legislative and regulatory environment,” said Dan Plauda, ICUL president/CEO. The IGA is now in recess until October.

Irelands McMahon wins WOCCU Distinguished Service Award

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GLASGOW, Scotland (8/1/11)--Social involvement advocate Jim McMahon, an Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) board member, was honored with World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) Distinguished Service Award, the international credit union movement’s top honor. McMahon’s award was presented along with two WOCCU Ambassador Awards and five WOCCU Young Credit Union People (WYCUP) scholarships during the closing ceremonies of the World Credit Union Conference Wednesday.
World Council of Credit Unions Director Ron Hance (left) presents the international credit union movement's highest honor to Jim McMahon, Irish League of Credit Unions, during the closing ceremonies of the World Credit Union Conference Wednesday.
A retired educator and school administrator, McMahon joined Clones CU in 1961 and by 1968 had been elected to its board of directors. He has represented credit unions throughout Europe, working with European Union officials during the introduction of the euro currency and on issues involving consumer credit. McMahon is a former WOCCU director and also has been a consultant to the European Association of Co-operative Banks, the International Co-operative Banking Association (ICBA) and the ICBA European Regional Committee. He most recently has returned to serving as treasurer of Clones CU. “I regard this as one of the greatest honors that could be bestowed on me,” McMahon said. “I urge you all to keep the credit union flag flying wherever you go.”
Garth Warner, CEO of Servus CU, Edmonton, Alberta (right), accepts the Ambassador Award from World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) President/CEO Pete Crear and WOCCU Chair Manuel Rabines on behalf of his credit union.
This year’s WOCCU Ambassador Awards recognized both a credit union from Canada and a volunteer from Scotland. Servus CU in Edmonton, Alberta, received the award for its long-standing support of WOCCU and its conference. For the past four years, Servus has included the World Credit Union Conference in its employee incentive program, sending between 50 and 75 participants to the conference each year. Servus CEO Garth Warner accepted the award.
John Cormack (center) from Capital CU, Edinburgh, Scotland, receives the Ambassador award from World Council of Credit Unions' Manuel Rabines and Pete Crear.
John Cormack, board president for Capital CU in nearby Edinburgh, Scotland, also received the Ambassador Award for his longtime support of WOCCU and the World Credit Union Conference. Both Warner and Cormack, who will soon retire, accepted the award from outgoing WOCCU President/CEO Pete Crear. WOCCU also honored five young credit people with WYCUP scholarships, which will enable them to attend next year’s World Credit Union Conference in Gdañsk, Poland, at no cost. The 2011 WYCUP honorees were: Yola Charles, Trinidad & Tobago; Michelle Coelho, Australia; Marcy Lovberg, Canada; Edel McKenna, Ireland; and Tracia Pounder, Barbados. Other awards presented earlier in the week at the WOCCU annual general meeting honored outgoing WOCCU President/CEO Pete Crear and WOCCU First Vice Chair Grzegorz Bierecki.
Manuel Rabines, Ron Hance and Pete Crear present World Council of Credit Unions' Young Credit Union People winners, from left: Edel McKenna (Ireland), Michelle Coehlo (Australia), Marcy Lovberg (Canada), Tracia Pounder (Barbados) and Yola Charles (Trinidad & Tobago). (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
Neville Parsons, a former WOCCU director from Australia and a Rotary Club member, recognized Crear as a Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary’s highest honor, named after the international organization's founder. Paul Armbruster, head of Germany's International Raiffeisen Union, also presented Crear with the Raiffeisen Medal for his years of service to the global cooperative movement. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church honored Bierecki, president/CEO of the National Association of Cooperative Savings and Credit Unions (NACSCU), Poland’s credit union trade association, for NACSCU’s work developing credit unions in the former Soviet satellite country. Vladimir Sidorowski presented Bierecki with a medal representing the award. “I am honored by the award and very happy to see the continued development of credit unions in Ukraine,” Bierecki said. WOCCU’s World Credit Union Conference ended Wednesday with a celebration of the organization’s 40th anniversary and a farewell to Crear.

CU System Briefs (07/29/2011)

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* BALTIMORE (8/1/11)--MECU of Baltimore, Inc. paid its members a cash bonus totaling more than $2 million at the end of June. The bonus consisted of loan interest rebates and extraordinary dividends. The amount received by each member was based on the amount of interest each individually paid on loans and the amount of interest earned on deposits for the first half of the year. MECU has paid its members the cash bonus yearly since 1981. In 2008, the MECU board of directors decided to pay half the cash bonus at the end of June and the remainder at the end of December to help members dealing with financial issues during the recession. It is expected that members will receive the second half of the cash bonus in December … * MADISON, Wis. (8/1/11)--Becky Hansen of Ascentra CU was the winner of Credit Union National Association (CUNA) 2011 CUNA Branch Operations & Business Development School contest. Hansen won a free registration to the school, which will be held August 15-18 in San Diego. Contestants were asked to finish the sentence: “Branch operations and business development go together like_______ and _______.” Hansen’s winning entry, judged on creativity and originality, was “Branch operations and business development go together like Paula Deen and Butter.” The integration of the two credit union disciplines is a central theme for the CUNA Branch Operations & Business Development School. The event is designed to help credit union professionals enhance credit union membership, develop staff by building leadership skills, and discover exciting new ways to take credit union operations to the next level. CUNA’s early-bird registration discount of $100 is available to credit unions that enroll through July 29. To learn more about the conference, please visit training.cuna.org/fuse

Summit CU partners in solar finance program

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MADISON, Wis. (8/1/11)--Summit CU, with $1.6 billion of assets, Madison, Wis., is partnering with the city of Milwaukee to help homeowners finance installation costs for solar panels. Summit CU will work with Milwaukee Shines, the city of Milwaukee’s solar program (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel July 29). A study of solar installers found financing options to be a barrier to homeowners who wanted to install panels, according the city of Milwaukee. Solar installations, which have increased since the Milwaukee Shines program began two years ago, remain a challenge for homeowners, according to Amy Heart, who manages the Milwaukee Shines solar program, told the newspaper. Heart said she hoped that Summit CU involvement in the program will help spur a long-term change in how local lenders view investment in renewable energy. The first 20 participants in the loan program will receive $1,000 off the cost of the solar installation. The financing arrangement with Summit CU replaces an earlier version, which would have placed an assessment on property owners’ tax bills. That plan was dropped after Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac objected to the programs, the paper said.

League of Southeastern CUs sees growth in assets members loans

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (8/1/11)--Credit unions in Alabama and Florida are showing growth in assets and membership while also continuing to meet the lending needs of their members, said the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU). In the first quarter of 2011, Florida credit unions added $1.1 billion in assets, or 2.6%, on par with the national credit union average, while Alabama credit unions added $763 million, or 5%, which is nearly twice the national credit union average. For Alabama, it continues an upward trend of five years of growth that has added $3.9 billion in assets to its 127 credit unions. Membership grew in Florida by 15,000 members in the first quarter, and Alabama added 6,000. In a sign the economy is improving, Southeastern credit unions are seeing a decline in provisions of loan losses, delinquent loans and net charge-offs. Alabama credit unions’ delinquent loans and net charge-offs are well below the national credit union average, while Florida credit unions are above the national credit union average, but saw a 20 basis points fall in delinquent loans in the first quarter, and a 39 basis points improvement in net charge offs. Southeastern credit unions are also working with small businesses. In the first quarter, Alabama and Florida credit unions collectively made $54.8 million dollars in member business loans. This is a 5% increase year over year from 2010. “We know the weak economy is continuing to hamper our credit union members,” said LSCU President/CEO Patrick La Pine. “However, we are encouraged by the number of quality loans our credit unions are making. Plus, credit unions are meeting the needs of their members looking for member business loans, as well as new- and used-auto loans. With our growth in assets and members, plus the amount of loans being made, it feels that the worst is behind us.” Southeastern credit unions are making new- and used-auto loans well above the national credit union average. Total auto loans to loans in Alabama and Florida are both above the national average with Alabama loans 10% above and Florida loans 2.5% above. Alabama credit unions used-auto loans are 27%, while the national average is 18%. Florida credit unions are close to the national average in used-auto loans, but above the national average in new auto loans at 14%, while the national average is just under 11%. This shows that more members are making purchases and understand their credit union has money to lend, LSCU said. Credit union members’ savings are growing at a strong pace, the league said. Southeastern credit union members saved a total of $1.8 billion in the first quarter. A further look inside the numbers show that Alabama members’ savings stayed steady at 5.5%, nearly twice the national average, while Florida members saved at a 2.8% clip. This is slightly below the national average, but an almost 4% improvement from the 2009 results.

Indiana CU Foundation funds Web innovation

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INDIANAPOLIS (8/1/11)--The Indiana Credit Union Foundation has awarded $5,000 in funding to a new innovation developed by the Indiana ignite initiative. The initiative is a joint venture between the Indiana Credit Union League and three Indiana credit union representatives who are alumni of the Filene Research Institute’s i3 group. It is focused on developing innovations that can help credit unions better the financial lives of their members. The “Commitment to Change” project is a Web-based community service aggregator which will allow credit unions in Indiana to track, promote and communicate the successes they experience as they give back to the communities they serve. The funding from the foundation is allowing for design, development and programming of the tool, which will eventually be housed on the league’s website. The website was introduced on July 21 at the ICUL/Hoosier CUES meeting in Indianapolis. It is temporarily located at www.cucommitment.org. The working group members who came up with the idea for the site explained its genesis: “We know how much effort our credit union peers put into projects that make the state of Indiana a better place to live and work. After several focus groups, we learned that the methods for measuring these efforts are as varied as the projects themselves. The value of this tool comes from organizing and sharing information about all of Indiana credit unions’ common bonds and community initiatives. We are grateful to the foundation for helping to make our vision a reality.” The tool also can have an impact on legislative conversations. Statewide data collection about financial literacy and community service efforts can reinforce the positive exchanges that are already taking place between credit union representatives and legislators. “This is exactly the kind of project the foundation seeks to support,” said foundation Chairman Karla Salisbury of KEMBA Indianapolis CU. “It will bring expanded visibility to credit union efforts throughout the state and showcase credit unions’ commitment to our founding philosophy.” As a prelude to its request for foundation funding, the ignite working group members turned to their credit union counterparts in Indiana to gauge support for the Commitment to Change project. Sixteen credit unions and chapter groups committed $4,250 to get the project started, the foundation said. “The Commitment to Change project is a great example of collaboration between credit unions driven by the forward-thinking individuals involved in ignite,” said league President John McKenzie. “The support that the foundation, credit unions and chapters have provided demonstrates the value of ignite as a resource and of this project in particular.” Fishers, Ind.-based Trabian Technology, Inc. is developing the tool, which also will allow credit unions to search and generate ideas, cooperate with one another on similar initiatives and to share their successes using social media tools. “This tool is essentially a microsite that will help credit unions track everything from dollars, to man-hours to which communities have been on the receiving end of credit union generosity,” said CEO Matt Dean. “It will feature a robust search option that can be used by legislators and media outlets in addition to members of the credit union community.” The site continues to be refined, with rollout on the league site planned for later this year.

SECU provides 1M challenge grant

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RALEIGH, N.C. (8/1/11)--State Employees’ CU (SECU) Raleigh, N.C., through its SECU Foundation, presented a $1 million challenge grant for a new North Carolina 4-H Learning and Education Center.
State Employees’ CU, Raleigh, N.C., recently presented a $1 million challenge grant for a new North Carolina 4-H Learning and Education Center. Pictured, from left, Sarah Osborne, 2010-11 State 4-H Council secretary/treasurer; Courtney Miller, 2009-10 South Central District 4-H officer; Talor Brown, 2011-12 State 4-H Council reporter; Bryan Hartman, 2011-12 State 4-H Council vice-president; Justin Simmons, 2011-12 State 4-H Council secretary/treasurer; Allyson Brake, 2011-12 State 4-H Council president; Sally Dixon, 2010-11 State 4-H Council vice-president; and LeAnthony Boone, 2010-11 State 4-H Council president. (Photo provided by State Employees’ CU)
The 8,400 square-foot facility, to be named the SECU 4-H Learning Center, will be located in Richmond County, serving as an educational destination for all North Carolinians, including school groups, 4-H members and families and the general public. With almost 500 attendees from across North Carolina, SECU Foundation Executive Director Mark Twisdale presented the challenge grant to the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service Foundation at the State 4-H Congress dinner held on July 20 in Raleigh, N.C. Aimed at making North Carolina, world and U.S. history come alive, the SECU 4-H Learning Center will provide N.C. youth with a laboratory and outdoor learning stations to provide interactive experiences that will engage fourth and eighth grade social studies students. For students who cannot make the trip, the center will provide teaching kits, exhibits and on-line curriculum experiences. An estimated 40,000 youth and adults will be served annually at the center, with additional school groups engaged through the travel program. SECU has $23 billion in assets.

CUNA council white paper focuses on technology security

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MADISON, Wis. (7/29/11)--Security issues continue to evolve with the introduction of new technology and the development of new tactics by fraudsters. That makes creating barriers to repel intruders an ongoing challenge, according to according to a new CUNA Technology Council White Paper. “Technology Security: Mitigating Current Threats and Emerging Challenges” is based on information gathered from six information technology (IT) leaders at credit unions and five experts from security and technology firms. The white paper discusses measures that credit unions can take to strengthen security, including:
* Restricting Internet access to employees based on a case-by-case review; * Providing ongoing training for employees on security policies, risky behavior and social engineering; * Taking an enterprise-wide approach to security with measures such as naming a designated security officer; * Scrutinizing vendors, which is especially important for new technologies such as cloud computing and mobile banking; * Developing policies and procedures to address the use of social media, which poses a potential risk to the credit union’s reputation; and *Strengthening multi-factor authentication to repel intruders and comply with Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council supplemental guidance on authentication issued in June.
Security threats are an everyday part of the electronic exchange of ideas, data and funds in today’s marketplace. While these concerns cannot be avoided entirely, the white paper offers measures that credit unions can take to mitigate risk as they continually take aim at the moving target of technology security. The paper is available online. For more information, use the link.

Consider consumers in different ways Tufano says

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Click to view larger image Closing speaker Peter Tufano stressed the importance of making financial education simple, easy to understand and fun in order to help develop a savings culture among members.
GLASGOW, Scotland (7/29/11)--Financial education is too often boring, which is why so many credit union members fail financial literacy tests, according to Peter Tufano, Pete Moores Dean and a professor of finance with the University of Oxford’s Saïd School of Business. Financial education that is simple, easy to understand and, above all, fun is more likely to help credit unions develop a savings culture among their members, according Tufano, the closing speaker at World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) World Credit Union Conference. “Credit unions should be open to all people, just like it says in the Rochdale Principles,” said Tufano, who assumed his Oxford position July 1 after spending 22 years on faculty at the Harvard University Business School. “However, sometimes a credit union’s structure makes it hard to do well while trying to do good.” Tufano is a specialist in consumer finance, with particular emphasis on applying research insights to better meet the financial services needs of everyday households. Based on the research he presented to the general session audience, consumer financial education and personal economic security is in a very rocky place.
Click to view larger image "Credit unions are stronger and the outlook brighter than you may think," said NCUA Chair Debbie Matz, while reminding credit union attendees their responsibility to be vigilant and act in the face of future challenges.
In one study, researchers asked whether consumers could come up with $2,000 within 30-days’ notice to cover a minor emergency. Great Britain ranked the highest with 49% of adults surveyed claiming they could meet that level of need, while just 46% of adults responded positively in the U.S. Other countries went precipitously downhill from there. The answer, of course, is more effective financial education and the cultivation of a stronger savings culture among members to the degree that those members have the capability to support it. Often, age and economic standards play a major role in debt literacy. Creating educational programs that operate more like video games may be part of the solution, said Tufano, who pointed to www.financialentertainment.org as a good example of what he defined as a new and, perhaps, more effective approach. “You have to understand your member, not only by understanding what they know, but what they think they know,” Tufano said. “If there is a natural metaphor for money, it is water. Because water can both nurture us and drown us.”
Click to view larger image CUNA Chair Harriet May (left) and President and CEO Bill Cheney (center) present outgoing WOCCU President and CEO Pete Crear with a resolution.
Wednesday's closing session also featured a presentation by Debbie Matz, chair of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and the United States’ top credit union regulator. Matz stressed the strength of the industry but also encouraged a more global view when it comes to current trends involving capital adequacy, industry consolidation and meeting consumer needs. “Credit unions are stronger and the outlook brighter than you may think, but we can't afford to become complacent in facing the challenges of the future,” said Matz, who is serving her second term as NCUA chair. “I am struck by the level of contact many of you have with your members. You live the credit union credo of ‘not for profit, not for charity, but for service.’” Matz was introduced by Credit Union National Association (CUNA) president/CEO Bill Cheney and Chair Harriet May, president/CEO of GECU of El Paso, Texas. The pair also presented outgoing WOCCU president/CEO Pete Crear with a resolution from the CUNA board of directors honoring Crear's 40-plus years of service to the global credit union movement.

As debt ceiling looms CUs plan for members

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MADISON, Wis. (7/29/11)--Facing the possibility of major disruptions to the federal government's operations from an impasse, credit unions serving federal workers are putting in place contingency plans to help affected members. Credit unions that serve government employees are familiar with this type of contingency planning. In April many credit unions with federal employee members were prepared to offer assistance to members in the event of a government shutdown over a possible federal budget impasse. Chris McDonald, president/CEO of Andrews FCU, Suitland, Md., said preparing for a disruption for the second time is easier on some levels, but not emotionally. “From a procedural standpoint, it’s much easier but it’s discouraging too,” McDonald said. “We’re dealing with real lives here. Our members are trying to get through the tough financial decisions in their lives and they can’t figure out why Washington can’t work this out, why Washington is playing politics on their backs. We’ve made the commitment to do everything we can so they don’t feel that.” Jason Lindstrom, chief marketing officer at $275 million asset Belvoir FCU Woodbridge, Va., said having a plan in place alleviates any anxiety for both the members and the credit union. “If they do ask us about needing help we have a plan in place,” Lindstrom said. “We actually had a couple calls from members this morning--not asking for help--but thanking us for being there to help them.” Belvoir FCU, Woodbridge, Va., has introduced an Emergency Assistance Loan, skip-a-payment for members who currently have loans with the credit union, and free financial consultation services to help members. Belvoir FCU serves the Fort Belvoir community and several select employee groups. Andrews FCU, which serves the District of Columbia, Andrews Air Force Base, McGuire Air Force Base (N.J)., and military installations in central Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, will advance mid-month payroll scheduled for August 15 to active duty military members who have direct deposits with the credit union. The one-time advance provides military members with the means to pay mortgages and other important expenses even when their government paycheck is unavailable. The amount advanced will be based on the mid-month payroll received in July. Andrews FCU will also offer 0% annual percentage rates loans to members who receive other government direct deposits, including military retirement pay. The 0% APR loans will have a 30-day repayment term. Justice FCU, with $514 million in assets, Chantilly, Va., will offer current and potential members a special Furlough Relief loan. Affected current members will also be offered deferred payments on any existing consumer loans or credit cards that are carried with Justice FCU, which exclusively serves employees of the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, law enforcement communities, their family members, related associations, and contractors. The special Furlough Relief loan will allow current and potential members a 0% interest rate for 60 days, at which time the interest rate will convert to 4.90%. The repayment term will be 12 months and the maximum amount will be up to $3,000. “Supporting our members in a time of financial stress is important to us,” said Justice FCU president/CEO Pete Sainato. “Providing assistance to our law enforcement community is a vital part of our operation. We were there for our members during the last government furlough and plan to be there for them this time should the government shut down.” STAR USA FCU, Charleston, W. Va., is working with federal government employees who may be impacted by a shutdown, and also “retiree” members who are receiving government benefit checks like social security. STAR USA is offering short term loan would be at a 5% APR anyone DD those who are not delinquent prior to any shutdown. STAR USA has a community charter and serves many federal employees who work at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Huntington, W. Va. The credit union also has a high number of retired employees who receive government benefits. “I think everyone believes it’s going to be worked out in a short period of time,” said STAR USA president/CEO Dan Smithson. “But we feel that we know our membership well enough that we can help them through a difficult time if it comes to that.”

WOCCU welcomes new member The Gambia

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GLASGOW, Scotland (7/29/11)--The National Association of Cooperative Credit Unions of The Gambia (NACCUG) is the newest member of World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). The WOCCU board of directors unanimously approved NACCUG’s application at its meeting immediately preceding the 2011 World Credit Union Conference here last week, bringing the number of WOCCU membership organizations to 44 members representing 55 countries. “I am especially pleased that NACCUG has chosen to join WOCCU,” said outgoing President/ CEO Pete Crear, who attended his final board meeting last week. “The inroads we have made into Africa, as well as on other continents, shows that the global credit union movement is growing in strength and reach, and I am happy to have seen one final example of that growth before my retirement.” Founded in 1991, NACCUG is The Gambia’s only credit union trade association and represents all 61 credit unions in the country. The Gambia’s credit unions serve 40,000 members and have $10.8 million in total assets. NACCUG provides advocacy, training and marketing services and acts as a central finance facility to its affiliates. WOCCU held its 2008 African Technical Congress in The Gambia in collaboration with NACCUG, and NACCUG officials participated in WOCCU's African Regulators’ Roundtable meeting in Malawi last year. “Today, the credit union movement in The Gambia steps forward proudly to join their peers within the wonderful international credit union fraternity,” said Baboucarr Jeng, NACCUG general manager. “We look forward to becoming a full and active member of the WOCCU family.” NACCUG’s membership was effective as of its approval last week by the WOCCU board. Crear will retire from his post Aug. 3 and will be succeeded as president/CEO by WOCCU Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Brian Branch.

CU Home Buyers Plan wins innovation tournament

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MADISON, Wis. (7/29/11)--The Filene Research Institute and the Crash Network--a group of young credit union executives from around North America--posed a challenge earlier this year to other young credit union executives to increase home ownership. “The Collider,” a tournament that funneled the question from 19 initial ideas to a winning product in just 10 weeks, asked “How can credit unions increase the availability of affordable home ownership in North America?” Filene and the Crash Network kicked the competition off in mid-April. The Crashers had to come up with new, responsible approaches for affordable homeownership. In less than two weeks, 19 pitches rolled in from the group. Round two demanded concept documents from 10 teams, which a panel of judges then drilled down to the final four ideas. “This was an experiment for us,” says Mark Meyer, CEO of the Filene Research Institute. “But we were blown away by the level of creativity and quality of ideas coming out of the Crasher group.” In the end, “The Credit Union Home Buyer’s Plan” by Robert Christiansen of Servus CU, Edmonton, Alberta, took home the gold. “The Credit Union Home Buyer’s Plan” offers matching incentives on member-contributed savings to assist members in saving for a down payment for the purchase of a home. The credit union makes an annual matching contribution on member-contributed savings every year over the life of the plan. “In an industry where nearly no financial institutions offer meaningful incentives for saving, this product could serve to drastically differentiate the host credit union from its competitors at essentially the same cost a credit union would spend on a marketing campaign,” Christiansen said. The judges agonized over which team would be crowned the ultimate Collider champion. Crashers Bill Clancy, Lake Michigan CU, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Amanda Thomas, Members First CU, Columbus, Ohio; Matt Vance , Industrial CU, Bellingham, Wash.; Lisa Brown, Tallahassee-Leon FCU, Tallahassee, Fla.; and Sean Capaloff-Jones, UMassFive College FCU, Hadley, Mass., offered healthy competition as they tested out concepts in income-based mortgage payments (CCPE Loan Program), lease-to-own options on foreclosed homes (Smart Move Mortgage), and separating the value between land and properties (Land Trusts). Christiansen’s idea will get a boost into the marketplace with the assistance of a Filene Research Institute implementation team. In addition to winning that support, Christiansen will present “The Credit Union Home Buyer’s Plan” at Filene’s annual big.bright.minds meeting in October. big.bright.minds is a gathering of Filene’s research council CEOs, i3 innovators, and academic research fellows. “I’m thrilled to have been selected for the winner of The Collider and am looking forward to working with Filene’s implementation team to build the CU Home Buyers Plan,” Christiansen said. For more information and a photo of Robert Christiansen, use the link:

United FCU to buy Griffith Savings Bank

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ST. JOSEPH, Mich. and GRIFFITH, Ind. (7/29/11)--United FCU (UFCU), St. Joseph, Mich., and Griffith Savings Bank, Griffith, Ind., Wednesday jointly announced the signing of a definitive agreement under which UFCU will purchase substantially all of the assets and assume deposits and other liabilities of Griffith. Under the terms of the agreement, UFCU will purchase all loans, investments, real estate, accrued interest receivables, and other banking-related assets of Griffith (with an estimated value of roughly $81 million, after a discount to the loan portfolio agreed to by the parties) and will assume all deposits, Federal Home Loan Bank advances, and accrued interest payable of about $81 million. “We are extremely pleased to have the opportunity to expand our market presence into Northwest Indiana,” said UFCU’s CEO, Gary L. Easterling. “We welcome the Griffith customers and employees to the UFCU family and look forward to continuing the tradition started by Griffith Savings Bank of delivering community-focused value to the people of Griffith.” UFCU will continue to operate its new credit union branch at Griffith’s current location. Griffith will be retaining certain assets that will be used to fund accrued liabilities relating to its employee benefit plans, which will not be acquired by UFCU in the transaction. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2011. Griffith intends to liquidate after the closing and distribute any remaining net assets at the time of liquidation to its depositors. Although the amount of the distribution cannot be determined at this time, depositors who retain accounts at UFCU will be credited with their pro rata distribution upon Griffith’s liquidation. Other depositors will be sent their distributions. Established in 1949, United FCU had total assets of $1.3 billion as of June 30 and operates 22 offices in Michigan, Nevada, Arkansas, North Carolina and Ohio. Griffith had total assets of $88.5 million as of June 30, and operates a single location. Griffith was initially formed in 1930 as Griffith Building and Loan Association.

Western CUNA Management School celebrates 50 years

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CLAREMONT, Calif. (7/29/11)--More than 150 credit union professionals networked extensively during the Western CUNA Management School’s (WCMS) special two-day 50th anniversary conference and graduation held July 20 and 21 at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif. Throughout, some of the school’s more than 3,500 alumni over the past five decades mingled with current students. The event--sponsored by CO-OP Financial Services--included a reception, breakout sessions and graduation ceremony. CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney served as the 50th graduating class commencement speaker, and Google Vice President of People Operations Laszlo Bock was the conference keynote speaker. Other conference speakers included WCMS President James D. Likens, long-time WCMS faculty members Martha Andresen (Pomona College English professor), Harry Eggleton (Emergent Consulting president), and David Tansey (Josephson Institution of Ethics business ethics speaker), as well as WCMS Dean Michael Steinberger, CO-OP Financial Services Inc. President/ CEO Stan Hollen, and Filene Research Institute CEO Mark Meyer. At the July 21 graduation, Cheney--a former WCMS board member--shed light on the mission credit unions have to convince consumers the industry is a “smarter choice” over banks. “We have to create an operating environment that will allow credit unions to grow, and we need your help to accomplish this,” Cheney said. “For you to show a commitment to credit unions at this point in the history of our nation and economy shows how much you value our movement and the people we serve. I am counting on you.” During the two-day conference, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, (R-Calif.), was featured in a video message during lunch, saying credit unions are committed to helping give consumers a choice. Royce also spoke about the member business lending cap bill he authored. “What this bill will do is create 100,000 new jobs,” he said. “I ask you to contact your senator and urge their support. That’s my call to action.” Conference keynote speaker Bock addressed Google’s unique culture and discussed the “heart” of business. He noted parallels in the people-oriented management approaches of credit unions and Google. He encouraged credit unions to “use data to make better people decisions.” Likens’ focused on the theme of “adaptability”. As the economic, political, and social environments continue changing, credit unions have always been able to adapt and contribute to the future success of American consumers, he said. He gave a history of how credit unions have adapted over the years, referencing significant events. “We must continue to recognize the significance of such important forces of change and be adaptable to them,” Likens said as he addressed the opening general session audience. “We operate in an ever evolving world, and as it changes, credit unions must adapt if they are to survive and remain vital. For this to happen, credit unions need smart, adaptable leaders. That’s where WCMS comes in. We don’t train--we educate for the future.” Likens was “honored and humbled” by his students’ success, and thanked them for attending the momentous occasion. "If you have someone in your credit union that you want to attend this school, we want to find a way for them to attend. Money should not be a barrier." Steinberger said during the conference. "Credit unions are more relevant today than ever. WCMS is helping produce the next generation of credit union leaders." And Hollen added: “We’re proud of this prestigious school and its students. We are all proud to celebrate its achievements over 50 years. This year’s James D. Likens Alumni Recognition Award went to Susan Streifel, CEO of Woodstone CU, Federal Way, Wash. The Charles M. Clark Memorial Award went to Jay Lee, operations officer for Mattel FCU, El Segundo, Calif., and risk management and technology officer for City of Downey (Calif.) FCU. The Likens Award, founded by the Alumni Association of WCMS, is given to a graduate who has made significant achievements in the credit union field since graduation. The Clark Award is given to the senior student nominated by his or her class who best represents high moral character, leadership, credit union dedication, and academic achievement. WCMS’ program for credit union professionals is held over three years, with two-week terms during consecutive summers, led by a faculty made up of carefully chosen professors, consultants and credit union leaders. Students also complete two major projects that analyze their credit unions.

Thousands arrive for Belvoir FCU event for military civilians

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WOODBRIDGE, Vt. (7/28/11)--Belvoir FCU in Woodbridge,Va., celebrated the sixth annual Installation Appreciation Day on Saturday in Fort Belvoir, Va. With thousands in attendance, Belvoir Federal demonstrated their appreciation for the military and civilian families associated with the Fort Belvoir community. The event was due in part to the contributions from surrounding businesses, credit union partners and vendor sponsorships. With these combined efforts, the $269 million asset Belvoir FCU provided free activities, including: a rock climbing wall, car showcase, fire truck display, face painters, a clown, musical entertainment, free food and celebrities signing autographs. The Washington Nationals Major League Baseball team and the USO of Metropolitan Washington provided games for attendees. Belvoir Federal also held a drawing for more than 20 prizes, including a vacation cruise. During the three-hour event, Belvoir Federal’s CEO/President Patricia Kimmel, presented the USO a $5,000 check to illustrate the continued support of the base and the mission to continually serve its members. Garrison Commander Colonel John Strycula and Command Sergeant Major Gabriel Berhane were also present during the check presentation to the USO. Strycula commented on the wonderful relationship the base has with the credit union and hopes the partnership continues to grow in the years to come. “Belvoir Federal is honored to be the credit union for Fort Belvoir and enjoys giving back to the community whenever the occasion presents itself,” Kimmel said. Belvoir Federal has served the Fort Belvoir and U.S. Armed Forces community since 1946.

Rabines named WOCCU chair at World CU Conference

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GLASGOW, Scotland (7/28/11)--Manuel Rabines, general manager of Federación Nacional de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito del Perú (FENACREP), the trade association serving Peru's credit unions, has been named chair of World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) board of directors.
Click to view larger image Outgoing World Council of Credit Unions Chair Barry Jolette (left) congratulates incoming Chair Manuel Rabines during Tuesday's general session at the World Credit Union Conference's general session on Glasgow, Scotland.
Rabines, who succeeded previous chair Barry Jolette, president/CEO of San Mateo CU in Redwood City, Calif., formally accepted the chair’s chain of office during the World Credit Union Conference’s general session on Tuesday in Glasgow. “Together with my family, there is nothing more important to me than the credit union movement,” Rabines said. “The challenge for WOCCU is to continue being an enduring voice for credit unions around the world and dedicate its greatest efforts to articulating and defending our cause.” Rabines joined the Peruvian credit union movement in August 1962 as an assistant at Santa Elisa CU, then Peru's largest financial cooperative, and eventually became its CEO. Since 1988, he has held the position of FENACREP’s general manager, interrupted from 1990-1992 when he served as Peru's deputy minister of labor.
Click to view larger image "The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) needs to be the enduring voice for credit unions around the world," said incoming WOCCU Chair Manuel Rabines.
Other new board officers, elected at WOCCU’s annual general meeting Monday afternoon, included: First Vice Chair Grzegorz Bierecki, Poland; Second Vice Chair Anne Cochran, U.S.; Treasurer Daniel Burns, Canada; and Secretary Louise Petschler, Australia. Veteran directors Penny Reeves, Canada, and Catherine Roberts, U.S., left the WOCCU board Monday, and their positions were filled by Scott Kennedy, Canada, and Patrick Jury, U.S. Tuesday’s general session also included a panel discussion focused on credit unions’ social responsibility and how “giving back” to members can actually propel credit union growth forward. The panel, moderated by WOCCU Secretary Louise Petschler, included Tamara Vrooman, CEO of VanCity, Canada’s largest credit union; Jeff Post, president/CEO of CUNA Mutual Group; and Peter Marks, group chief executive of The Co-operative Group, the United Kingdom’s largest business cooperative. Panel discussion topics included business ethics, the challenge of good governance, developing a connection with and commitment to the community and dealing with difficult regulatory requirements.
Click to view larger image Tuesday panelist Peter Marks (second from left) makes a point about cooperatives as fellow panelists (from left) Tamara Vrooman and Jeff Post and moderator Louise Petschler look on at the World Credit Union Conference's in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
Throughout the session and the subsequent question-and-answer period, panelists stressed that a high ethical level can generate multiple types of return that are both profitable and critical, especially in light of credit unions’ strong performance during the global economic crisis. “Values and trust form a critical stepping stone, but providing good products at competitive prices is necessary for success,” Post said. “We’re facing the greatest opportunities of the past 40 or 50 years. If we can figure out how to vault the regulatory hurdles, we're going to shine.” Vrooman agreed, noting that serving the member is not only the right thing to do, but one of the best possible business strategies. “We are the good guys, and we have tremendous responsibilities given the trust of our members,” Vrooman said. “Now we have to execute that trust with confidence, because it's confidence that will allow us to be a success in the future.” Tuesday’s slate of speakers also included Dame Pauline Green, president of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), who discussed the 2012 United Nations International Year of Cooperatives and the importance of having all cooperatives participate in order to strengthen the cooperative image globally. “WOCCU is one of ICA’s most important members, and I am delighted to see they are a big part of the International Year of Cooperatives,” said Green, a former member of the European Parliament. “Acting together, we have a chance to create the strongest growth opportunities for cooperatives and credit unions that we have seen in decades.” WOCCU's World Credit Union Conference ran through Wednesday.

CU System briefs (07/27/2011)

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* COMPTON, Calif. (7/28/11)--Mid Cities CU, Compton, Calif., received a $30,000 grant from The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. “Mid Cities board and staff are excited to receive grant assistance to help our aging members to reach their financial goals,” said Melia Keller, president/CEO. With 26% of the credit union’s members over the age of 65 with an additional 8% turning 65 within the next five years, the grant will allow the credit union to implement senior programs and counseling to better assist our core group of members.” The grant was issued to Mid Cities CU by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions--not the National Council on Aging, as earlier stated in a July 22 News Now story. Mid Cities CU has clarified its information on the grant that was reported in News Now … * SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (7/27/11)--The third annual “Run for the Troops” Fun Run was held on July 9, at the Elmen Trailhead Park in Sioux Falls, S.D. Organized by the Credit Union Association of Dakotas Sioux Valley Chapter Social Responsibility Committee, the event consisted of a 5K and 10k run, and 2-mile family walk. This year, $700 was raised by the 40 participants, including surprise participant U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.). Senator Thune’s staff had informed him of the fund-raising event, which is open to the community. The proceeds will benefit military members and their families. In the photo, from left, Autumn Myers, Darla Erb, Sen. Thune and Gretchen Miller. (Photo provided by Credit Union Association of Dakotas) …

The Members Group names Iowa CUs biggest concerns

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DES MOINES, Iowa (7/28/11)--Tackling of-the-moment issues, including debit regulations, alternative payments and social media, The Members’ Group (TMG) Client Conference speakers recently addressed concerns of credit unions in attendance. Among the contemporary issues addressed at the conference were the emerging technologies consumers are using to make every-day financial transactions. TMG Client Conference survey respondents indicated this was a big area of importance for them, with half claiming they are likely to add an alternative payments platform within the next 12 months. Another 43% said it was somewhat likely they would add alternative payments within the next 12 months. Debit card portfolio management was a second popular topic for credit union attendees. More than 80% of event survey respondents believed debit to be their customers’ preferred method of payment. When asked what other issues are of importance, survey respondents listed topics like chip-and-Personal identification number (PIN)/Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV), maximizing portfolios in the current environment and how to remain competitive. Each of the nine sessions, led by presenters such as McDonald Marketing’s Kelly McDonald, PolicyWorks’ Andrea Stritzke and The Financial Brand’s Jeffry Pilcher, achieved high rankings by a majority of those responding to the event survey, TMG said. “The educational sessions were helpful because they were all so relevant to the issues facing financial institutions right now,” said Lisa Hommel, a vice president at Vermont State Employees CU, Montpelier. “Compliance, regulations, new products and fraud have an impact on all of us, regardless of our size or to which type of members we cater.” TMG is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Affiliates Management Company, which is owned by Iowa credit unions and their members. As a financial and credit union service organization (CUSO), TMG provides card processing and payment solutions to credit unions and financial institutions across North America. TMG’s core products include credit, debit, ATM and ATIRA-branded prepaid solutions, and online reporting, automated clearing house and asset liability management services. TMG plans to repeat the event next July in San Diego.

Mo. credit unions make a difference in Joplin

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ST. LOUIS (7/27/11)--Hundreds of people in Joplin received assistance from the Missouri credit union community in the wake of a May 22 tornado. Credit unions and their business partners donated $109,250 to the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) and the Missouri Credit Union Charitable Foundation (MCUCF) in the days and weeks following the tornado Missouri Credit Union Association (The Missouri Difference July 26). “We’ve seen an enormous outpouring from our friends in the credit union movement,” says Mike Beall, association president/CEO. “It’s heartwarming to be involved in such an industry that so takes care of its own.” MCUCF distributed initial grants in the amount of $500 to 322 adults, 106 children, eight employees, and one volunteer. Following the immediate distribution, additional funds were disbursed to applicants based on need, including 103 that were determined critical. Don Ackerman, president/CEO of TelComm CU in Springfield, decided he and his staff wanted to do more to help the people of Joplin. The credit union staff and volunteers took to the phones to gather donations of clothing, supplies and food for distribution to local residents in need. Ackerman and other volunteers have made several trips to Joplin with vans full of supplies. “We can’t thank them enough for all that they have done,” says Karen Jones, business development at Joplin (Mo.) Metro CU.

Membership growth prompts UW CU to buy Borders property

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MADISON, Wis. (7/28/11)--The UW Credit Union, Madison, Wis., has purchased a former Borders building to accommodate membership growth and increased workforce needs. The credit union plans to move the branch retail space and investment services offices from its current headquarters building just blocks away to the former book store building. UW CU’s corporate offices will remain in the current location. The Borders building was constructed in 2001. To accommodate the relocation, the interior will be remodeled and drive-up lanes will be added to the rear of the building. UW Credit Union expects to have the transition completed by December 2011. Since the credit union opened its headquarter offices in 1995, its membership has grown to more than 158,000 from 69,000, according to Brad McClain, UW CU executive vice president and chief financial officer. “Over the last two years, we’ve seen membership grow, on average, by about 13,000 per year,” McClain said. “We’ve quickly outgrown our current space, so we’ve had to identify ways to accommodate our increasing space needs” In addition to membership growth, $1.6 billion UW CU has increased its workforce to keep up with the needs of the membership. The move will provide for additional employee workspaces and parking for future growth at the corporate office, McClain said. “When Borders announced it was closing their location so close to our headquarters, we identified the opportunity to utilize the convenience of this retail space,” said UW CU President/CEO Paul Kundert. “By relocating our retail branch services to the new building, we will accommodate space needs created by growth and make it possible for our corporate office to serve our needs for many more years.”

Buffalo CU offers Money and Me

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (7/28/11)--For five mornings, beginning Aug. 15, $76 million-asset Buffalo Metropolitan FCU will provide lessons to teens on financial responsibility through Money & Me. Money & Me is a hands-on experience that teaches teenagers the basics of money management and how to make it work for them. The program covers budgeting, credit advantages and pitfalls, responsible checking account habits, how to save for a big purchase and investing for the future. “In the past year, we have seen how essential it is to ensure that all Americans gain the financial literacy they need to thrive,” said Buffalo Metropolitan FCU CEO Patricia Edinger. “By offering Money & Me, we can start by educating the next generation of savers and investors here and now.” Participants will receive a letter of reference teens can use for college and job applications. An opening deposit to the credit union’s teen account program will also be given to any participants wishing to open a Savings Account. Money & Me is a program of the New York Credit Union Foundation, the charitable arm of the Credit Union Association of New York.

Greater Nevada CU promotes car loans with laughing gas

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (7/27/11)--Greater Nevada CU of Carson City, Nev., with $465 million in assets, promoted a recent loan campaign by using social media--and asking members to put on silly face.
Tiffany O’Day (left) recently won $500 in gas cards as the first-place winner of Greater Nevada Credit Union’s Laughing Gas Photo Facebook contest. Her entry was titled “gas prices are even scary in space.” Photo provided by Greater Nevada Credit Union)
The credit union ran the Laughing Gas Photo Facebook contest May 1 to June 12 asking members to submit photos wearing GNCU’s Embarrassing Car Contest Glasses, which were provided by local GNCU branches. Winners were selected based upon the photos with the highest number of Facebook votes. The contest generated 1,914 votes. “We wanted a fun and engaging way to promote the benefits of borrowing through our credit union, and we received some very creative submissions in the process,” said Ron Willard, GNCU vice president of marketing. Wilard said the credit union also used the contest to test the waters with using social media to market one of its programs. “This indicates we can engage our customers electronically,” Willard said. “We’re pleasantly surprised at the feedback we’ve received.” Carson City resident Tiffany O’Day won $500 in gas cards as the first-place winner. Second- and third-place winners were awarded $350 and $150 in gas cards, respectively. Use the link to see the all three winning photos.

Case closed in Corp America v. U.S. Central

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BIRMINGHAM (7/27/11)—A U.S. District Court judge in Alabama has stated a settlement has been reached and the case is closed in a lawsuit brought by Corporate America CU against 13 executives and former executives and volunteer board members of U.S. Central FCU. The July 25 court order stating that the case is resolved was signed by Judge Inge Prytz Johnson of the U.S. District Court of the Northern Division of Alabama. The suit had centered around U.S. Central's action in December 2009 to convert $450 million of non-permanent capital to permanent paid-in-capital shares known as "PIC II." Back in March, Corporate America CU and RubinBrown LLP settled a lawsuit involving the St. Louis-based RubinBrown, hired to prepare valuation of PIC shares for conversion before U.S. Central suffered losses and went into conservatorship. Both settlements are confidential and no terms are disclosed.

Minnesota league promotes growth through MBL

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (7/27/11)--Mark D. Cummins, president/CEO of the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) proclaimed Minnesota credit unions have the potential to significantly improve the state economy, in the July 25 issue of Finance & Commerce. A regular columnist for Finance and Commerce, a daily publication covering business in Minnesota, Cummins wrote that credit unions have the capability and capacity to help the state’s businesses create jobs. The column, titled, “Credit unions stand ready to help boost the sluggish economy,” noted that during the past year credit unions have increased member business lending by 5%, while the state’s banks decreased business lending activity by 8%. “Credit unions are eager to increase their efforts to help the state’s small businesses create jobs, but they are being held back by a cap that limits member business lending (MBL) to 12.25% of assets,” Cummins wrote. Referencing member business lending legislation in the U.S. House and Senate, Cummins stated that the passage of these bills could inject $181 million into Minnesota’s economy and help create nearly 2,000 jobs. He highlighted the fact that these new jobs and new loans would be created at zero cost to the public. “I would argue that not passing this legislation leaves money on the table that could help small businesses and hire some of the 6.7% of Minnesotans actively seeking jobs,” Cummins concluded. “Now is the time to pass this bill and allow credit unions to fully serve the small businesses that are the engine of our state’s economic growth.” The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions are asking Congress to increase credit unions’ MBL cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Doing so would open up more opportunity to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers, CUNA said.

Dow Chemical Employees CU managers help the homeless

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LANSING, Mich. (7/27/11)--Sixteen management team members of the Dow Chemical Employees’ CU (DCECU), Midland, Mich., recently volunteered at the Good Samaritan Rescue Mission, a Bay City shelter for the homeless. The team spent five hours cleaning, painting, performing yard work and assembling hygiene kits (Michigan Credit Union League Michigan Monitor July 25). “Many assume that homelessness only affects people in metropolitan areas, such as New York City and Detroit, but it can happen to anyone,” said Dennis Hanson, Dow Chemical Employees’ CU president/CEO. “In addition to a corporate contribution, we worked together to help make the mission a better place for the men, women and children who are affected by homelessness in our community.” In 2010, Good Samaritan Rescue Mission had an average of 50 residents per day. The mission also provided more than 43,000 meals to those in need. “It was a very humbling experience,” said Barb Ostroski-Enos, DCECU marketing director. “You don’t realize how privileged you are until you meet people who have nothing. It felt amazing to give back to the community.”

NCUF investor education reaches thousands of Wis. employees

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MADISON, Wis. (7/27/11)--The Wisconsin Credit Union League is making a difference statewide with the Investor Education in Your Workplace (IEiYW) program. IEiYW is a free, online financial and investment education program made possible thanks to a grant from the Investor Protection Trust. The league has helped train 14 CFE Certified Financial Educators (CFEd) who worked to enroll up to 3,600 employees across the state to participate in online investor education courses. With additional outreach efforts planned by the CFEds and other IEiYW project partners, they are on track to provide training to 4,000 people by the end of the year. To help fund the initiative, the Wisconsin Credit Union League received additional grant funding this year from the National Credit Union Foundation’s REAL Solutions program. “Our project was designed to deliver quality, unbiased, online investor education to 4,000 consumers in the state of Wisconsin, all at no charge,” said Jim Drogue, league vice president of credit union development. “The benefits of IEiYW are two-fold. The courses not only help credit union employee make wise financial decisions, but also help credit unions educate and serve their members.” The league has worked with The University of Wisconsin, Department of Financial Institutions, Precision Information and the Investor Protection Trust, during all phases of their investor education initiative, which was originally named REAL Progress & Pathways to Prosperity (RP3). Each IEiYW course contains 10 hours of self-paced, unbiased online training on money and investing. The training covers topics such as:
* Investing basics, goals, strategy and choices; * Certificates, money market, mutual funds, stocks and bonds; * Formula investment plans and dollar cost averaging; * Education planning; and * Retirement planning and terminology.
“The focus on member financial education is so great in credit unions across the country that we sometimes take for granted the knowledge of employees,” said Lois Kitsch, National REAL Solutions Program Director at the National Credit Union Foundation. “I hope to see more states taking on programs such as IEiYW so that we not only see more members achieve financial freedom, but credit union staff as well.” The Wisconsin league and IEiYW project partners are currently in discussions with a number of credit union leagues to expand the program in the next year to potentially reach 10,000 to 20,000 people in up to eight states. Those interested in learning more about the possibility of bringing the program to their state, should contact Jim Drogue at jdrogue@theleague.coop, or 1-800-242-0833, ext. 6005.

CUNA council white paper evaluates crisis communications

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MADISON, Wis. (7/27/11)--“How can credit unions communicate more effectively in the midst of a crisis?” A CUNA council white paper has the answer. Many credit unions have disaster recovery plans identifying how to function operationally during the time of a crisis. With crises varying from power outages, to public relations blunders, to major catastrophic events, how well does the disaster recovery plan address the credit union’s plan for communication? The new white paper from the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council titled, “Crisis Communications,” stresses the importance of preparing for crises and how to engage with various audience groups when a crisis occurs. Credit unions may experience a variety of events that can cause long-lasting emotional, financial, and reputational damage. Robberies, fraud, severe weather and cyber-attacks are just a few of the threats that credit unions face, and understanding the potential risk and having an action plan to respond are critical. Credit unions should be proactive in preparing for situations that can damage not only their reputations, but also daily activities and communication channels with internal audiences (employees and staff members) and external audiences (members and the public at large). This white paper reviews the basics of crisis communications, including defining a crisis, perceptions of a crisis, and message strategies implemented in a crisis situation. Several emerging crisis communication issues relevant to credit unions include:
* Online reputation management issues within social media; * Perception of crises: Differences between current versus highly likely events; * Reputation threats and challenges; and * Implications and evolution of mobile technologies.
Also, the white paper reports the results from a pilot survey for credit union professionals regarding the current challenges and opportunities they see for crisis communication practices. Credit union professionals contributed their main crisis situation concerns and their perspectives about future training and education opportunities in crisis communications. The paper is available online. Use the link.

World CU Conference Put a human face on finance

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GLASGOW, Scotland (7/27/11)--People helping people--some in extreme duress--through provision of financial services is central to the credit union philosophy, a fact that Monday’s speakers at World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) World Credit Union Conference brought to the forefront in their remarks. If the past is prologue, then the global credit union movement is poised for a bright future as long as it does not abandon its moral and philosophical core, three financial leaders said during their general session remarks.
Click to view larger image Outgoing World Council of Credit Unions President/CEO Pete Crear (left) presented his successor, Brian Branch, to World Credit Union conference attendees during Monday's general session.
Opening speaker Pete Crear, WOCCU’s departing president/CEO, reflected on his six years of service and on WOCCU’s past 40 years, noting the organization’s successes and future opportunities. Incoming President/CEO Brian Branch, who has served as WOCCU’s executive vice president and chief operating officer for nine years, personalized the nature of services WOCCU and its members provide, charting a course to help advance the critical mission credit unions around the world pursue, Crear said. Keynote speaker the Right Honorable Gordon Brown, MP, the United Kingdom’s former prime minister and a current parliamentarian, noted not only credit unions’ current importance, but the opportunity to expand their growing influence in a rapidly changing world. “I congratulate World Council on its 40th birthday and applaud credit unions everywhere for adding morality to the discussion of money,” said Brown, who also had served as the U.K.’s chancellor of
Click to view larger image "[Credit unions] have brought a human face to the banking industry," former United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown told Monday's general session audience at the World Credit Union conference.
the exchequer, the country’s chief financial minister, before coming prime minister. “You have brought a human face to the banking industry and should be incredibly proud of what you have done.” In a rapidly changing world, credit unions will increase their influence as more people in developing countries become consumers, driving up the demand for accessible and affordable financial services, Brown said. However, a large segment of the population will be left behind, and they will become acutely aware of their deprivation thanks to the rapid expansion of technology and media. Credit unions’ opportunities to serve will increase at all levels, but expanded services will be possible only in countries with legal structures that allow credit unions to operate fully and effectively, he added. “Look carefully at laws that may restrict credit union operations and do what you can to change them so that credit unions can operate fully and effectively,” he said. Branch stressed the need for the technological empowerment of consumers, especially those in developing countries who lack basic financial institution access. By providing personal options such as financial services delivered through cell phones, credit unions can better serve consumers who otherwise would have no institutional access, expanding the global movement’s reach and improving its effectiveness by bringing the credit union to its members. “As credit unions, we have a tremendous marketing advantage that our for-profit competitors do not have in our ability to come together and form cooperative solutions,” Branch said. “We can move forward boldly, knowing that our value is defined through our service to our members.”
Click to view larger image Audience members applaud during Monday's general session at the World Credit Union Conference in Glasgow. (Photos Provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
Such capabilities and the increased awareness of credit unions by a growing number of governments, communities and individuals is based on decades of hard work not only by WOCCU, but also by credit union movements in countries worldwide, said Crear. “Early in my career I learned that we are judged by the results of our actions, not by what we intend to do. We don’t always succeed, but we always try,” Crear said. “When I look at the results [of the global credit union movement] today, I see that you have indeed risen to the challenges, and I am humbled by your commitment.” WOCCU’s World Credit Union Conference continues through today.

2011 World Credit Union Conference kicks off

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GLASGOW, Scotland--A nod to the past, a focus on the future and a changing of the guard among both staff and volunteer leadership set the parameters for the 2011 World Credit Union Conference, which runs July 24-27, World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) annual event.
Click to view larger image The World Council of Credit Union's 2011 World Credit Union Conference kicked off in Glasgow on Monday. Scottish rockers The Red Hot Chilli Pipers opened Sunday's ceremonies for the conference.
More than 1,700 participants from 62 countries descended on Glasgow, which has the United Kingdom’s highest concentration of credit unions, for what has become the world’s largest international credit union gathering. Flags of the 62 nations, including first-time appearances by Afghanistan and Haiti, unfurled in parade on Sunday to help open the conference, co-hosted by WOCCU member the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd. (ABCUL) at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre. Colorful costumes and lively conversations mixed with the music of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers to bring the enthusiasm and energy of the opening ceremonies to a fever pitch. “It’s great to see so many of you here,” said WOCCU Chair Barry Jolette, president and CEO of San Mateo CU, Redwood City, Calif., in his welcoming remarks. “World Council is a remarkable organization that does incredible things to change people’s lives. You all are a part of that effort in helping your own members.”
Click to view larger image "It's great to see so many of you here," said WOCCU Chair Barry Jolette to more than 1,700 registrants from 62 countries as part of Sunday's opening ceremonies.
Jolette, who ends his two-year term as chair, is one of two WOCCU leaders stepping down at this year’s conference. Credit union industry veteran Pete Crear, who has led WOCCU as its president/CEO since 2005, is retiring following the event. The baton will be passed to current WOCCU Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Brian Branch in a public ceremony scheduled during Monday’s general session. Antony MacRow-Wood, board president for co-host organization ABCUL, welcomed participants with the good news that the United Kingdom’s parliament is removing the barriers to credit union service and is in the process of enacting new laws that will allow the country’s post offices to serve as credit union branches. Attendees in Glasgow this year also are helping WOCCU celebrate its 40th anniversary. The trade association opened its doors Jan. 1, 1971, and has grown to 43 organizational members representing 54 countries. The anniversary and Crear’s retirement will be celebrated during the conference's closing events Wednesday night.
Click to view larger image Scotwest CU's Charles Sim brings the British Union Jack to center stage as part of Sunday's Parade of Flags. (Photos provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
The importance of credit unions and the magnitude of this year’s conference have not been lost on either the Scottish people or its government, according to Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s minister of energy, enterprise and tourism and one of two government officials who welcomed attendees Sunday. “We need credit unions now more than ever,” Ewing said. “The Scottish people have a proud tradition of credit unions, and the Scottish government will continue to support credit unions for the good work that they do on behalf of members.” Prior to Sunday’s opening, WOCCU held several other meetings with various credit union groups, including the third annual Forum sponsored by WOCCU’s Global Women’s Leadership Network. More than 60 women credit union leaders worldwide gathered to network, attend educational sessions and hear from various speakers, including radio broadcaster Liz Barclay, host of You and Yours, a program devoted to money and finance that airs on BBC4. Participants in WOCCU’s Young Credit Union People (WYCUP) program also held their networking session Sunday afternoon, the first of several sessions devoted to meeting the needs of credit union professionals and volunteers age 35 years and under. Five of the program’s participants will be chosen to receive WYCUP scholarships, winning all-expenses-paid trips to the 2012 World Credit Union Conference in Gdañsk, Poland, next July. (Photos provided by World Council of Credit Unions) WOCCU's World Credit Union Conference continues through Wednesday.

Greylock FCU and Steinerfilm Employees FCU merge

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. (7/26/11)--Two Massachusetts credit unions announced a merger Monday that is slated to take effect at the end of the month. Greylock FCU, a $1.24 billion asset credit union based in Pittsfield, Mass, and Steinerfilm Employees FCU, a $290,000 asset credit union based in Williamstown, Mass., have announced plans to merge, effective July 29. Both organizations have approved the merger, and approval from the NCUA has been granted. With the merger, Steinerfilm Employees FCU’s assets will be assumed by Greylock. As of July 29, Steinerfilm members will receive all of the benefits available to Greylock’s more than 70,000 members, including: access to all 13 branches and 18 ATM local locations; access to 28,000 nationwide Co-Op network ATMs; expanded branch and telephone center service hours; and free online services. Steinerfilm members will have access to additional services, including mortgage loans, small-business services, investments and insurance products.

CUs pledge 1 billion to higher education financing

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WASHINGTON (7/26/11)--In the face of heated debt-ceiling and budget negotiations with Washington, nearly 200 credit unions have partnered with Credit Union Student Choice, collectively pledging $1 billion to higher education financing solutions. This historic pledge comes at a critically important time for higher education, according to Jon Jeffreys, Credit Union Student Choice president. While students prepare for fall semester classes and finalize their funding needs, Congress is engaged in negotiations over the Federal budget--an impasse that could significantly impact the flow of educational funds, such as vital Pell Grants, to students, colleges and universities. "Our credit union partners have stated loud and clear that they support students and families, and in turn, the colleges and universities that are the bedrock of many communities," said Jeffreys. "While it's imperative that students first maximize scholarships, grants, and Federal Stafford loans, this pledge reaffirms our credit union partners' commitment to providing fair-value private student lending solutions." With education costs continuing to rise, millions of students rely on loans to pay for college. While federal student loans provide the best financing option, many students also rely on private student loans to fill funding gaps. Credit unions partnered with student choice provide school]certified private education loans to students in need of additional financing options, while also providing information to help families make responsible decisions on the best ways to pay for college. While the pledge refers mainly to the private student lending solution, Jeffreys adds that many credit unions also can serve as a resource for colleges and universities that may need financial contingency plans in case of any disruption of funds is caused by ongoing Federal budget negotiations. "Colleges and universities are keeping a close eye on budget negotiations, as that could potentially have a direct impact on Federal funding that is vital for higher education programs," said Jeffreys. "While some believe the likelihood of a major disruption is low, it's important to note that credit unions stand ready to assist with contingency plans. The credit union commitment to America's families and their education aspirations remains unchanged regardless of what happens in Washington, D.C."

Maine league achieves 100 success in legislation

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PORTLAND, Maine (7/26/11)--The Maine Credit Union League had a 100% success rate on legislation on which it took a position at the conclusion of the first regular session of 125th Maine Legislature. During the session, a total of 69 bills were monitored. Of those, the league provided testimony and took a position on 14 of them (Weekly Update July 22). The league and Maine’s credit unions also were successful in defeating and/or significantly modifying several key bills, including a state interchange bill, legislation that would have required foreclosing entities to produce the original mortgage note as part of a foreclosure, and several bills that would have enabled priority liens to be placed above a financial institution’s first mortgage. The session also saw the league issue a nearly unprecedented amount of calls to action on the state level to which Maine credit unions responded in large numbers by contacting legislators on the original documents bill, state interchange bill and the bill that would have let condo associations attach a priority lien to collect six months of association fees. “The active role and involvement that credit union staff and officials took this past session made a significant difference in the outcome of certain pieces of legislation,” said league President John Murphy. “From testifying and sending e-mails, to making phone calls and attending meetings, [the] league appreciates the grassroots support of our credit unions in helping to make this a successful legislative session.”

CU employee attends 1st White House Hispanic conference

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INDIANAPOLIS (7/26/11)--Marco Dominguez, director of community sales at Finance Center FCU, Indianapolis, attended the first White House Hispanic Policy Conference held in mid-July at the White House.
Marco Dominguez, director of community sales at Finance Center FCU, Indianapolis, attended the first White House Hispanic Policy Conference held in mid-July at the White House. (Photo provided by Finance Center FCU)
Titled “Winning the Future: President Obama’s Agenda and the Hispanic Community,” the summit was attended by 160 leaders from the Hispanic community representing 25 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. More than 100 government officials representing the Hispanic community led discussions on President Obama’s agenda. Key speakers at the conference included Alejandra Castillo, National deputy director of the Minority Business Development Agency; Martin Castor, chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; Sara Manzano-Diaz, director of the Women’s Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor; and Ramona Romero, general counsel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “In terms of personal experience, it was great because I had the opportunity to meet so many people and see that concerns and initiatives here in Indianapolis are the same as those throughout the nation,” Dominguez told News Now. “We have established a Hispanic advisory board. We are listening to the community and paying attention to the growth of the community. I am so proud of that.” The conference helped bring together key administration officials with Hispanic community leaders and ensure that everyone understood the president’s agenda and its potential impact on the Hispanic community. The open space format of the conference allowed the attendees to lead conversations, ask direct questions of administration members, and express their ideas and concerns on key issues such as homeland security, immigration and civil rights. At the end of the first day of the conference, President Barack Obama surprised the attendees with a short address on his administration’s plan for the Hispanic community, including education and immigration reform. The second day of the conference allowed attendees the opportunity to present on stage their ideas regarding the Hispanic community. Dominguez spoke on concerns that immigrants to the U.S. are allowed to pay taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (I-TIN), but that not all those who receive an I-TIN are allowed to stay in the U.S. legally. He also presented on Finance Center FCU’s financial literacy program, with basic financial lessons available in Spanish and English; and its Latino advisory board made up of prominent Indianapolis leaders. The board addresses the financial concerns of the Hispanic community in Indianapolis. Dominguez is a trusted member of the community who participates in many organizations, including The Indiana Minority Health Coalition, Press Club Foundation, Boy Scouts of America, and the United Way of Central Indiana, His leadership in the Indianapolis community earned him an invitation to the conference, said Finance Center FCU.

iAkron Beacon-Journali CUs Growing

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AKRON, Ohio. (7/26/11)--Ohio credit unions have outpaced national averages for nine quarters, with local credit unions part of that trend, an Akron Beacon-Journal article noted Monday. The reason for that growth is a trend among consumers to move their money to community-based financial institutions, Paul Mercer, president of the Ohio Credit Union League, explained in the article, headlined “Credit Unions seeing growth; institutions no longer mom and pop shops.” Mercer said the distress caused by the financial crisis caused consumers to direct their finances to locally based financial institutions. In Ohio, credit union membership was up 1.2% in 2010, outpacing the national growth rate of 0.66%, according to the Ohio Credit Union League CSE FCU in Canton was among the credit unions cited in the article. The credit union grew membership by more than 10.69% in 2010. Among Ohio credit union with more than 100 million in assets, CSE ranked No. 1 in share or deposit growth at 16.93%, third in loan growth at 12.7% and fifth in membership growth at 6.93%. Much of that growth can be attributed to a decision six years ago to work more diligently to meet the needs of underserved members, according to Paul Snyder CSE FCU’s vice president of marketing. That decision helped the credit union grow its loan portfolio. Medina County FCU, Wadsworth, was also cited in the article. Medina has grown its assets from just under $40 million in 2007 to $58 million in May, according to Brad Riley, the credit union’s vice president of finance and administration. To read the full article, use the link.

Woman sentenced in fraud scheme at defunct CU

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BLUEFIELD, W. Va. (7/25/11)--A former employee of the now-defunct N&W Poca Division FCU in Bluefield, W. Va., was sentenced Thursday to four years and three months in prison for her role in a $2.4 million fraud scheme that resulted in the credit union's liquidation. Rebecca L. Poe, 36, of Falls Mills, Va., a former employee at the credit union, also was ordered to pay restitution totaling more than $2.4 million (wvva.com July 21 and The State Journal July 21-22). The embezzlements occurred from 2003 to August 2008 when Poe allegedly created fictitious deposits into her account and the accounts of family members for personal use. The credit union received no funds to support the deposits. Also, she took funds through credit union loans and posted fictitious payments to the accounts as well as issued official checks from the credit union to herself, family members and third parties for expenses without recording the checks in the credit union's books. U.S. District Judge David A. Faber during the sentencing said her conducted substantially jeopardized the safety and soundness of the institution. The National Credit Union Administration placed the credit union into involuntary liquidation in October 2008. Another former co-worker, Pamela Mullins, 46, of Bluefield, has pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the crime and is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 19.

Governor during Rhode Island financial crisis dies

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (7/25/11)--Former Rhode Island Gov. Bruce Sundlun, whose first acts of office in 1991 included shutting down 45 credit unions and banks after the collapse of their private deposit insurance company, has died at the age of 91. Sundlun died Thursday at his home in Jamestown, R.I. He served as governor from 1991 to 1995 during one of the state's deepest recessions and the worst banking collapse in the state's history (newsblog.projo.com July 21). The crisis occurred after Heritage Loan and Investment Bank President Joseph Mollicone and $13 million disappeared in 1990. The bank collapsed, causing a run on other banks and credit unions insured by the Rhode Island Share and Deposit Indemnity Corp. (RISDIC). That led to RISDIC's collapse. On Jan. 1, 1991, Sundlun as governor shut down the 45 institutions (News Now April 10, 2002). The closures and the struggle to find a method to pay off depositors dominated his first 18 months of office. Depositors got their money back through a $700 million bailout plan financed by state sales tax revenues. The events also changed the share insurance landscape for credit unions. Today, only one private share insurer remains.

Smishing attacks members across the country

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MADISON, Wis. (7/25/11)--Financial institutions--including credit unions--from around the country have been reporting for several days that their customers and members are being "smished" with bogus text messages claiming to be from bank or credit union related services. The messages attempt to con the recipient into divulging sensitive financial information, such as credit card and banking account numbers. They advise the recipients their card has been deactivated and to to call a number listed in the message to reactivate the card. In some cases, the recipients, including credit union members, have called the number and provided the requested information (stgnews.com, 11news.com and GoDanRiver.com July 21). In credit unions' case, the bogus text message says it is from "Credit Union Services," said a scam alert from CUNA Mutual Group that did not name any credit unions whose members received such messages (Daily Exchange July 22). A number of banks also have been targeted in both phishing and smishing attacks. In Southern Utah, many people received phone calls and text messages the past few days from someone claiming to represent Wells Fargo bank (stgnews.com July 21). The text messages use a variety of telephone numbers, including numbers from legitimate businesses, which makes it harder to shut down the bogus text messenger.

Federation funds eight grants to service older adults

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NEW YORK (7/25/11)--Eight community development credit unions (CDCUs) will receive $240,000 in grants to enhance the economic security of low-income older members and the disadvantaged aging in their communities, announced the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions Friday. The CDCUs will receive the funding to reach out to older adults struggling with debt and limited resources. Savings programs, low-interest loans, consumer counseling and debt-reduction plans will be offered as part of the "Economic Security for the Low-Income Aging" campaign. Participating CDCUs will partner with local economic security sites that provide one-on-one counseling to help seniors regain their economic footing and will receive a total of $80,000 in federation grants. "Low-income seniors have been battered by debt, while others have been pummeled by rising prices, or preyed upon by so-called "payday" lenders and unscrupulous debt consolidation scammers," said Senior Program Officer Melanie Stern, who leads the federation program. "Our emphasis on economic security, offered at the local level by well-established, federally regulated, and consumer-friendly credit unions, could be a real ray of hope," she said. The "Creating a Path" program is funded by the New York-based Atlantic Philanthropies, through its Aging Program, which seeks to help vulnerable seniors become financially secure and advancing supportive measures by effecting long-term change. "Many credit unions already offer competitive loan and savings rates, as well as free checking accounts to their members, but through this program, we will help the credit unions chosen for the pilot to tailor their existing services to low-income seniors and those approaching retirement age," said federation President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal. "Additionally, we will help these institutions develop partnerships to get the word out to other older adults who may never have realized now beneficial a credit union could be for them." The federation and the selected CDCUs will collaborate with several national organizations working with older adults--including the National Council on Aging, the National Disability Institute and others--in implementing the campaign and in disseminating its information gleaned from it. Recipients include:
* Cooperative FCU, Woodbridge, N.Y. The $17 million asset credit union will partner with Catholic to provide the underserved aging with financial education and counseling, transactional services, savings accounts and loans with built-in savings components. * East River Development Alliance FCU, Long Island City, N.Y. The $102,419 asset credit union serves residents of four public housing developments. It will work with its partner, The East River Development Alliance, to develop a "Senior Saver Campaign" offering a senior savings product; a gateway product emphasizing loans for credit building; free direct deposit; free automated rent payment; free identity theft protection service; and free accounts for up to three grandchildren. * Fairfax County FCU, Fairfax, Va. The $238.5 million asset credit union will partner with the Virginia Workforce Resource Center to provide affordable financial products and services and access to public services and benefits available. It plans to offer one-on-one counseling and financial education workshops; customize existing and create new products and services to allow seniors to save, borrow, build credit, reduce debt; and provide information to help avoid fraud and scams. * Holy Rosary CU, Kansas City, Mo. The $9.2 million asset credit union serving seven Catholic parishes and a community senior center will partner with the Don Bosco Senior Center, to provide financial education/counseling at the center and offer enhanced savings accounts, and credit builder loans. * Mid-Cities Financial CU, Compton, Calif. The $26 million asset credit union will partner with Los Angeles County office of Community and Senior Services to create an educational website with retirement planning information and short courses, and offer education booklets, branch seminars and community seminars. * North Side Community FCU, Chicago. The $10 million asset CDCU will work with partner Rogers Park Community Council. The federation's Creating the Path grant will enable the credit union to focus on marketing and community outreach efforts; new relationships; new products; and financial programs for low-income older and potential new members. * Opportunities CU, Burlington, Vt. The $33 million asset credit union and its partners will expand current products and services and launch new ones to leverage local social service agencies' skills in providing casework and counseling to older adults as part of a SENIOR POWER PATH program. They plan to offer a revolving pool of low cost, small loans for emergencies and personal loans, refund anticipation loan, and a Senior Financial Safety curriculum developed by the Institute for Financial Literacy. * Pyramid FCU, Tucson, Ariz. The $77 million asset credit union will partner with United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona to promote economic security for the aging with products and services such as debt consolidation loans, benefits fairs, payday alternative loans, and retirement savings planning.

Elevations St. Vrain to merge

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LONGMONT, Colo. and BOULDER, Colo. (7/25/11)--St. Vrain Valley CU, Longmont, Colo., and Elevations CU, Boulder, Colo., Thursday signed a letter of intent to merge, resulting in a local financial institution with roots in both Longmont and Boulder. The merger is subject to a “yes” vote by the members of the $81.3 million asset St. Vrain Valley CU. The merger also requires approval by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and the State of Colorado, Division of Financial Services. If approved, the merger would take effect Oct. 1. Each credit union would operate separately until integration of the two organizations, which would require several months, is complete. The merger would mean added convenience for both memberships, with a total of 11 branches from Loveland to Westminster, and access to additional products and services. The $968.2 million asset Elevations CU began in 1952 serving faculty and staff of the University of Colorado-Boulder. St. Vrain Valley CU opened in 1954 to serve the St. Vrain Valley School District. Once the merger is approved, the organizations would operate under the Elevations name, with Gerry Agnes continuing as president/CEO. Eva Gaudio will join Elevations’ senior executive team, and two St. Vrain board members will sit on the combined board of directors. Full integration of the two operations would take place during the spring of 2012.

Hawaii Firsts CDFI grant to help underserved in Hilo

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WASHINGTON (7/25/11)--Hawaii First FCU in Kamuela, Hawaii, will use a government grant to help establish a second location for its award-winning Community Resource Center (CRC), expanding service to underserved residents of Hilo, who are separated from the current CRC by distance and an active volcano. Hawaii First FCU was awarded $1,242,690 on July 18 through the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund as part of the $23 million awarded to 25 credit unions. The $40.4 million asset credit union is a pioneer of community development banking in Hawaii, launching development services even before the Treasury Department founded the CDFI Fund, Hawaii First FCU said. Today, its CRC in Kamuela, is a best practice revered by credit union industry experts, the credit union said. That’s why Hawaii First sought to duplicate the CRC in Hilo and extend services to a low--and very low--income target population (LITP) on the other side of the island. Those in LITP in Hilo are isolated from much needed financial services by travel time of three hours to the Kamuela CRC. “Credit unions in struggling communities, like the Big Island of Hawaii in particular, can leverage CDFI awards to have a significant impact on improving individual lives, our communities and helping with economic recovery,” said Laura Aguirre, spokeswoman for Hawaii First FCU. “Our programs align with the vision of CDFI Fund, which is the creation of an America in which all people have access to affordable credit, capital and financial services.” This CDIF grant will help Hawaii First FCU provide financial education, credit counseling and affordable loans for its members. The funding is a part of a nationwide round of awards totaling $142.3 million for 155 CDFIs serving struggling communities in states nationwide.

Rule change means more risk CUNA tells IUSA TODAYI

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MADISON, Wis. (7/25/11)--A provision of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that took effect Thursday will double the amount of money financial institutions make available to customers after they deposit a check. That could create more risk for financial institutions, including credit unions, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) said in USA TODAY Thursday. “The provision requires banks and credit unions to make a minimum of $200 available to depositors in one business day, up from the current minimum of $100,” wrote USA TODAY financial columnist Sandra Block in an article titled, “Credit score is free if you’re rejected for a loan.” Exceptions to the provision are made if financial institutions can hold on to funds for a longer time period if the check is in excess of $5,000 or if the customer has repeatedly overdrawn the account, the newspaper said. Most banks already exceed the new requirement, Nessa Feddis, senior counsel for the American Bankers Association, told the paper. “I don’t think many consumers are going to notice [the change],” she added. However, some financial institutions are worried that the rule change will make it harder for them to spot fraudulent checks, Block wrote. “There’s going to be more of a risk exposure to financial institutions in general as a result of this [rule change],” Mary Dunn, CUNA deputy general counsel, told the paper. To read the article, use the link.

California law affects short sales

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ONTARIO, Calif. (7/25/11)--A new California law will protect homeowners who are pursuing short sales by prohibiting second lien holders from pursuing deficiency judgments. Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 485 into law on July 18. SB 458 extends the protections of SB 931 to ensure that any lender that agrees to a short sale must accept the agreed upon short sale payment as payment in full of the outstanding balance of all loans. A short sale is a transaction in which the homeowner owes more than the property is worth. To sell the home, all lien holders must approve the sale because the amount owed will be short of what is owed by the borrower. Under the previous law, a first mortgage holder could accept an agreed-upon short sale payment as full payment for the outstanding balance, but the rule did not apply to second or “junior” lien holders. The measure also will encourage more short sales in California, according to Melissa Ameluxen, the California Credit Union League’s director of state government affairs. Additional borrower protection could encourage some owners to proceed with short sales who may have just moved into foreclosure for fear of liability to second lien holders, Ameluxen said. “Only lenders that actually agree to the short sale will be affected, and sellers that cannot complete an acceptable sale may still explore additional options, such as foreclosure or even bankruptcy,” she added.

WOCCU Record number of countries see more savings reserves

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MADISON, Wis. (7/25/11)--Credit union organizations from a record 100 countries provided data for World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) recently released 2010 Statistical Report, which reveals the continued growth and resiliency of the global credit union movement.
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The report shows an estimated 188 million people worldwide are served by 52,945 financial cooperatives and includes data from new reporting countries Iran, Tanzania and Zambia. An additional 24 countries have financial cooperative systems but did not report figures. Aggregate credit union savings for 2010 grew to $1.23 trillion from a record-high $1.1 trillion reported in the 2009 Statistical Report. Credit unions continued the global deleveraging trend in 2010 as they collectively reduced debts and grew capital reserves by 10% over 2009 levels, the highest rate in five years. Credit union members increased their savings in all regions except Europe, and decreased borrowing in the Caribbean, Europe and North America. Credit union movements in Africa, Asia and Latin America continued to grow the fastest, keeping pace with their surging economies. Credit unions received recognition in 2010 for their role in expanding financial access in rural and underserved areas in a report released by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor and The World Bank Group. The report, “Financial Access 2010: The State of Financial Inclusion Through the Crisis,” revealed that 45% of financial cooperative branches--more than any other type of financial institution--are located in rural areas where financial services tend to be least accessible. Next year, credit unions will join cooperatives from all sectors to celebrate the United Nations designation of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, highlighting cooperatives’ contributions to poverty reduction, job creation and social integration. 2011 is the 39th consecutive year WOCCU has collected annual statistics on the international credit union movement. WOCCU reports data based solely on country responses to the survey and does not make estimates for non-reporting countries. The report provides the most comprehensive data on the global credit union movement and is cited widely by governments, international institutions and analysts, WOCCU said. To download a free copy of the 2010 report, use the link.

Filene outlines model CU warns of ALL errors

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MADISON, Wis. (7/25/11--A new report, “The Allowance for Loan Losses: Critical Issues for Credit Union Leaders,” helps credit unions get a handle on a calculation that has become increasingly elusive amid regulatory and economic turbulence, said the Filene Research Institute. As credit unions face unpredictable delinquencies, lingering high unemployment, frightening charge offs and strategic defaults, Michael Sacher, a certified public accountant and industry veteran, describes the various accounting standards and matches them with the changing expectations of chief financial officers and credit union examiners. “We have been hearing, with increasing regularity, requests from Filene members for guidance with the complex judgments required to properly manage the allowance for loan losses (ALL),” said Mark Meyer, Filene Research Institute CEO. “This report will help.” Regulations and accounting standards are designed to control and measure credit losses. However marketplace volatility created by collateral devaluation and negative earnings has brought increased scrutiny to ALL. Add to the mix complex accounting requirements previously not applicable to most credit unions, and the result is confusion, disagreement and contention. The research “combines the theory, reporting requirements, financial market information needs, and common sense into a clear picture of how credit union loan valuation reporting should be handled,” writes Dr. Harold Sollenberger, a professor emeritus of accounting at Michigan State University, in his foreword for the report. The report breaks down into four parts:
* An introduction to the current ALL trends among U.S. credit unions; * An examination of the relevant accounting standards and interpretations, including credit union-specific guidance around Financial Accounting Standards Board and National Credit Union Administration requirements; * A model ALL approach for credit unions, with specific guidance and suggestions for qualitative and environmental factors; and * Common ALL mistakes and a Great Recession post-mortem that identifies specific areas for review for those involved in day-to-day management or long-term supervision of the allowance.
Credit unions and other interested parties can register for a free half-hour video discussion of the report on Thursday at 1 p.m. (ET). For details on the report and to sign up for the video, use the link.

Numerica CEO hits road to give away 25K

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SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. (7/25/11)--Dennis Cutter, president/CEO of $1 billion asset Numerica CU, Spokane Valley, Wash., recently took a road trip around Spokane, making stops at five non-profit organizations--giving them each $5,000. The donations were a surprise for the organizations, which included Women’s & Children’s Free Restaurant, the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, Union Gospel Mission, The Hutton Settlement, and the American Childhood Cancer Organization. “I thought it went better than I expected,” Cutter said in a video of the event recorded by Numerica CU employees who joined him for the road trip. “Everyone was very, very appreciative, but I think that the best part was the surprise.” “Giving back to our communities is what a credit union is all about,” Cutter said when asked why he wanted to spend the afternoon hand-delivering donations rather than mailing them. Use the link to view the video.

N.Y. CUs originated 735M in MBLs last year

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ALBANY, N.Y. (7/25/11)--Loan originations at New York credit unions last year increased 22.5% from the first quarter of 2010 to first
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quarter 2011, nearly double the 12.7% increase of loans originated by credit unions nationwide. New York credit union growth figures for assets and shares all exceeded national averages as well, said the Credit Union Association of New York (CUANY). Member business loans originated by New York credit unions totaled $735 million through March 2011--a 62.3% increase from March 2010. More than half of the MBL portfolio is made up of commercial and industrial loans. Other highlights for New York credit unions:
* They originated $1.3 billion in first mortgages through the end of March, up 38.6% from March 2010; * The membership growth rate was 2.43% since the previous March, which is more than four times the national 0.56% average for the same period; * Assets grew 6.95%, vs. 4.59% for credit unions nationally; * Shares rose 7.82%, compared with the national average of 4.92%.
With an average core capital of 11.1%, New York credit unions remain more highly capitalized than New York banks and thrifts, as well as credit unions and banks nationwide. "These numbers show how well our credit unions have weathered and continue to weather the current recession," said William J. Mellin, president/CEO of CUANY. "During this challenging economy, where consumer trust in traditional financial institutions has slipped, more and more people are learning about credit unions and their commitment to their members and the communities they serve."

Satisfaction with social media websites low says study

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (7/22/11)--It's no secret that credit unions are getting into the social media trend, with Facebook and LinkedIn pages, YouTube videos, and more as they try to attract younger members. A new study, however, is giving low scores to social media in customer satisfaction. Satisfaction overall with e-business has risen 2.6% to 75.4 on a 100-point scale on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI), largely due to increased satisfaction for portals and search engines. However satisfaction with social media websites remains low, yet stable, with an unchanged aggregate scale of 70, said Larry Freed, president/CEO of ForeSee Results in the company's Annual E-Business Report 2011 on the index. Social media websites, which have been included in the study for only two years, received the fourth lowest score of all companies, said the report. Only airlines, cable television and print newspapers have managed to satisfy customers less than social media websites. This has implications for credit unions using social medias to market their brand, products and services to maintain connections with their members. Social media sites could become a potential weak link in the satisfaction chain for credit unions not paying attention to how well their sites use social media. Among the social media websites, Wikipedia ranked at the top, with a score of 78, a 1.3% increase over its score last year. Facebook remained the lowest-scoring site in the group, with a score of 66 or a 3.1% increase from last year, said Freed's report. One surprise, said the report, was what site wasn't on the list of measured companies this year: MySpace. "The ACSI could not gather enough responses to calculate a statistically reliable score for the site, which is telling of the site's shrinking market share," the report said. YouTube.com (Google) was ranked 74, a 1.3% change from last year. The site ranks lower than online streaming sites such as Netflix (85) and Blockbuster (78). Twitter.com and LinkedIn and other players in the social media space were represented as aggregate sites because so many users access the service through other sites or platforms. The aggregate companies clocked in with a 70, same as last year. So what makes Wikipedia a better customer experience? According to the report, it follows a nonprofit model, which allows users to navigate the site free of advertising. "This could be a contributing factor to the high satisfaction score, as users indicate they are the least likely or all measured social media users to be influenced by advertising." Despite its score, Facebook continues to be the social media site of choice for most users--750 million users. Customers have shown that, so far, they have been willing to suffer through a poor user experience to enjoy the benefits Facebook provides. However, Facebook will face new competition from Google+. Google traditionally has seen ASCI scores in the 80s. The winner in a contest between the two will be the social network that provides the best customer experience, said the report. ForeSee Results, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., is the same group that in an earlier study ranked credit unions well ahead of banks, 80 to 76 points respectively, in a similar consumer satisfaction ranking. Use the link to download the full e-business report, which includes scores for e-business for social media sites, portals, search engines and online news sites.

WesCorp directors press case for dismissal of suit

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LOS ANGELES (7/22/11)--Western Corporate FCU's directors and officers Wednesday informed a federal court in Los Angeles that a lawsuit brought against them by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) stemming from WesCorp's collapse is rendered "implausible" because of arguments NCUA makes in two other lawsuits recently filed against companies that sold residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) to WesCorp. NCUA, as WesCorp's liquidating agent, sued JP Morgan Securities and others in June. It sued RBS Securities and others in early July. Earlier the agency had sued WesCorp's directors for negligence, saying they misled the corporate into purchasing AAA-rated residential RMBS. According to the judicial notice filed by the WesCorp directors and officials in the U.S. District Court Central District of California Western Division in Los Angeles, NCUA in both the RBS complaint and the JP Morgan complaint alleges that those companies "misled WesCorp into purchasing AAA-rated RMBS by making misrepresentations and omissions in registration statements, prospectuses and prospectus supplements" and that they "misrepresented to WesCorp the quality of the mortgages in the pools of RMBS and the credit enhancement protections against financial loss." NCUA said in its RBS and JPMorgan suits that WesCorp "was not aware of the untrue statements or omissions" or "did not know of these untruths or omissions" made by the securities firms "at the time WesCorp purchased the certificates." NCUA also stated that investors such as WesCorp "had limited or no access to information concerning the actual quality of loans underlying the RMBS" and that WesCorp would not have purchased the securities had it known of the misrepresentations and omissions. NCUA's allegations in the two suits are "admissions that undercut and render implausible" the allegations it made against the WesCorp directors and officials, said court documents by the WesCorp group. NCUA had argued in that case the directors had acted "'clearly unreasonably' under the circumstances known to them at the time." The agency's "admissions will make it even clearer that the director defendants and the officer defendants made decisions based on the information available to them at the time. If that information was less than the truth, it was, at least according to the NCUA, the fault of others, and not the fault of the defendants here," said the judicial notice. The notice also said an NCUA press release "contradicts and therefore renders implausible…" its arguments against the WesCorp officials/directors and "highlights how difficult it was at the time to foresee problems with mortgage-backed securities." The directors filed a similar judicial notice after the JPMorgan suit was filed by NCUA.

McGraw Hill offers first-of-kind fin-lit series

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EAST WINDSOR, N.J. (7/22/11)--To promote financial literacy and help New Jersey school teachers and families deliver relevant financial planning information to young people, McGraw-Hill FCU has developed its 2011 Financial Literacy Series. The monthly seminars, free to teachers and families, provide up-to-date information about financial literacy subjects and allow teachers to receive continuing education credits. The series, launched in April, began as a way to help schools meet new state graduate requirements, which call for a financial literacy component in the curriculum of all high schools. Typically, the teaching responsibility for financial literacy material falls to social studies, family/consumer science and business education teachers who may have little or no training in providing financial instruction. The East Windsor, N.J.-based credit union developed the series with the New Jersey Department of Education, the New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education, and the McGraw-Hill Schools Education Group. Topics include how to manage your credit score, how to plan and pay for college tuition, financial planning and investing, credit and debt management, money management, personal budgets and how to become an informed consumer. Information for the seminars is based on The McGraw-Hill School Education Group's financial literacy materials and real-life examples from credit union professionals. The goal is to make sure everyone leaves with a better understanding of how to navigate the path to financial independence, said Shawn Gilfedder, McGraw-Hill FCU president/CEO. "It is our hope that this series will contribute to the education of many individuals as the teachers and parents share what they have learned with the young people in their lives, as well as with their own friends and family," Gilfedder said. "The more people we can get to understand how important it is to establish financial literacy at a young age, the more we will be able to improve the financial health of our region as a whole."

Dakotas CUs on a scholarship roll

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BISMARCK, N.D. (7/22/11)--Thirty-eight credit unions in North Dakota and South Dakota provided scholarships to high school and/or college students. A total of 121 separate scholarships worth $74,250 were given, according to a survey by the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (CUAD). The survey, conducted by the association in May, asked credit union managers and chapter chairs in the two states to list scholarships they provided. With 81 credit unions (nearly 100%) responding, the 2011 data show a great generosity and commitment to education on the part of Dakota credit unions, the association said. Three chapters also provided $3,200 in scholarships. In addition, CUAD provided $5,000 in scholarships, for a grand total of $82,450. The survey results will be compiled in an official report to be distributed to education officials, showcasing opportunities provided to students by the credit union industry in the Dakotas. The data also will be a powerful legislative tool to use with media outlets to illustrate to elected officials how credit unions give back to their communities and to highlight credit unions’ commitment to youth and education, the association said.

Texas Trust CU joins the planking craze

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MANSFIELD, Texas (7/22/11)--Employees of $680 million asset Texas Trust CU can add “planking” to their list of skills and experience.
Click to view larger image Texas Trust CU employees celebrated their 75th anniversary lying down, or more accurately by “planking,” spelling out the credit union’s initials on the front of its headquarters lawn Wednesday morning. (Photo provided by Texas Trust Credit Union)
Planking--also known as “the lying down game”--is the trend of lying face down on public structures for a photograph. While the game apparently originated in 1997, and become known as planking in Australia, it has recently gained popularity. Thirty-three Texas Trust employees started their work day Wednesday by planking on the credit union headquarters lawn in Mansfield, Texas. The Official Planking Facebook page has more than 180,000 fans and photos showcasing plankers worldwide. “This planking phenomenon is taking off, and we thought it would be fun to join in,” said Jim Minge, Texas Trust CU president/CEO and one of the plankers. “With this being our 75th anniversary year, Texas Trust is celebrating and creating memorable moments for members. We thought this would be one of those moments.”

Illinois first FiCEP training concludes

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (7/22/11)--Nearly 30 individuals from 14 Illinois credit unions are on their way to graduating as Certified Credit Union Financial Counselors (CCUFC) of the REAL Solutions Enhanced Financial Counseling Certification Program (FiCEP). With support from the Illinois Credit Union Foundation, the Illinois’ REAL Solutions program started its participation in FiCEP on March 8. While 27 other CCUFCs exist in the state, this was the first coordinated effort to train all Illinois credit unions. Modeled after the CUNA Certified Financial Counselor Schools and as its Financial Counseling Certification Program, FiCEP enables all credit union staff to become more confident in helping members build a stronger financial future. It is designed for those who work in financial counseling, collections, and loan departments, and other staff committed to helping members. Including the Illinois effort, seven states currently conduct the training on a coordinated basis. Five others are in either the recruiting or finalizing stages. The Illinois program concluded Wednesday with the second of two in-person meetings held at the Illinois Credit Union System Center in Naperville. Participants shared their visions for how they will incorporate their new expertise within their credit union. The Illinois REAL Solutions program coordinators plan to get the new CCUFCs together occasionally for networking, support and encouragement as they begin this new endeavor at their credit unions.

Merger involves CUs in Calif. Nevada

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LAS VEGAS and EL MONTE, Calf. (7/22/11)--Sonepco FCU of Las Vegas will merge into SCE FCU, giving the El Monte, Calif.-based SCE FCU entry into the Nevada market. The proposed merger still must be approved by the National Credit Union Administration and voted on by Sonepco members (Las Vegas Review-Journal July 21). The boards of both credit unions have approved the merger. Dennis Huber, CEO of SCE FCU, will oversee a credit union that includes California branches in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego counties and Nevada branches in Clark county. The newly formed credit union will have nine board members, 150 employees and a capital ratio of about 8.6%. Sonepco CEO Sue Longson in a statement called the merger a “natural progression” since both credit unions have a history of serving employees at energy companies. Sonepco FCU, with $56 million in assets, was organized in 1955. It serves employees of Nevada Energy and their families and other members of the local community. SCE, with $500 million in assets, was organized in 1952. It serves multiple employee groups though it has historically served employees of Southern California Edison. Under the terms merger, Longson will remain in Las Vegas and assume a senior management position with the new credit union, according to the Journal.

CU System briefs (07/21/2011)

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* FRESNO, Calif. (7/22/11)—A California man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for armed bank robbery stemming from a series of robberies in 2009 that included two credit unions. Michael Minjarez, 40, of Stockton, was convicted in the robberies of Central State CU, Stockton, on Aug. 28, 2009; of Valley First CU, Madera, on Oct. 5, 2009, and three robberies at two banks in the Central Valley area in September 2009. He was sentenced to life in prison under the federal “three strikes” law ( July 18) ... * MACON, Ga. (7/22/11)—A former credit union employee, Kimberly V. Brown, 35, of Macon, Ga., was indicted on charges of identity theft while she was employed at Robins FCU, Warner Robins, Ga. The charges include aggravated identity theft, theft by a credit union employee, and making false statements to a federally insured institution (Macon Telegraph July 21). From October 2007 through March 2008, Brown allegedly applied for three loans and five credit cards using stolen identities and false information, and allegedly obtained cash advances on the credit lines and spent the money as well as pocketed proceeds from the loans. An audit three years ago discovered suspicious activity, according to the indictment, which was filed in a U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia … * TULSA, Okla. (7/22/11)—A Tulsa man charged with Monday’s robbery and false bomb threat at Tulsa (Okla.) FCU, allegedly told the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he didn’t remember robbing the credit union but realized he must have done so when he found a large sum of money blowing around in his car while he was driving. Steven Paul Wooten, 41, called the FBI and took responsibility for the holdup, said an FBI affidavit. The incident occurred when a man entered the credit union, put a briefcase on the teller counter and told the teller there was a bomb inside. He fled with about $3,000 and left the briefcase. The credit union was evacuated and a bomb squad determined the briefcase was empty. Photographs of the robbery that appeared in the media prompted a number of calls identifying Wooten. When he was questioned by family and friends, he contacted the FBI ( Tulsa World … * CHARLOTTE, N.C. (7/22/11)—Carolina Postal CU based in Charlotte, N.C., is spearheading a drive for donations on behalf of a Hickory area teenage member paralyzed July 11 in a fall during a rodeo in Oklahoma. Kelly Blanton suffered a broken neck and spinal cord injuries while practicing for the International Finals Youth Rodeo competition in Shawnee, Okla. The fall occurred when her horse bucked during the breakaway roping event. The story was widely reported in the North Carolina media, said the North Carolina Credit Union League. Carolina Postal is collecting donations throughout its branch system and encouraging other credit unions in the Hickory area to take up collections. Hickory Springs FCU has joined the effort, and Postal said other credit unions plan to join as well … * SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (7/22/11)—David Toepp, president/CEO of Mortgage Center LLC, a credit union service organization based in Southfield, Mich., has announced he will retire during first quarter of 2012, after more than 30 years service in the mortgage industry. Toepp has been with Mortgage Center for 16 years. Under Toepp’s leadership, the CUSO has grown to service $1.6 billion in mortgage loans for 75 credit unions in Michigan, according to an announcement from Board Chairman John Normandeau. Mortgage Center was founded in 1990 to provide mortgage products exclusively for credit union members ... * WASHINGTON (7/22/11)--James T. Molloy, former Congressional FCU board chairman and U.S. House of Representatives Doorkeeper, died Tuesday of complications in a Rochester, N.Y., hospital. He was 75. In 1970, Molloy became a member of the credit union and its board of directors. In 1973, he became chairman and served continuously for 35 years, according to the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association. Molloy served as a director of the D.C. Credit Union League board and chairman of its Scholarship and Awards Committee. He gave the invocation at many of the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conferences. Although he officially stepped down in 2009 from its board chairmanship, "he remained an advocate for the credit union until his final days," the credit union said on its website. He is survived by his wife, a daughter and son-in-law, and two grandchildren. Services will be Saturday in Orchard Park, N.Y. …

Mid Cities CU granted 30K by national aging council

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COMPTON, Calif. (7/22/11)--Mid Cities CU, Compton, Calif., received a $30,000 grant from the Economic Security for Low Income Aging through the National Council on Aging (NCOA). The grant assistance will “help our aging members to reach their financial goals,” said Melia Keller, Mid Cities president/CEO. “With 26% of the credit union’s members over the age of 65 with an additional 8% turning 65 within the next five years, the grant will allow the credit union to implement senior programs and counseling to better assist our core group of members.” At this time, the programs at the $25 million asset credit union have not been launched, Spencer Shimasaki, Mid Cities marketing administrative specialist, told News Now. “We’re looking at offering travel discounts and improving financial literacy in areas such as financial planning and budgeting,” he added. “These ideas are based on comments from member surveys in which seniors said they wanted a rewards club and senior discounts [on the credit union’s products and services].” NCOA is a nonprofit service and advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. Its mission is to improve the lives of older adults, especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. NCOA works with thousands of organizations nationwide to help seniors find jobs and benefits, improve their health, live independently, and remain active in their communities. It brings together nonprofit organizations, businesses and government to develop solutions.

CUNA expands Wash. Office roles for Magill Newton

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WASHINGTON (7/22/11)--Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney announced Thursday that, effective Sept. 1, Susan Newton and John Magill will each take on components of the CUNA Washington office chief-of-staff position held by Richard McBride, who is retiring at year end.
As Executive Vice President for Government Affairs and Special Assistant to the President, Magill, a 30-year veteran of Capitol Hill before coming to CUNA in May 2006, will continue to offer strategic counsel on legislative and political issues while overseeing the day to day operations of those key advocacy areas. He will also handle a number of administrative and other related matters inherent in the daily operations of the CUNA Washington office. Prior to this change Magill was CUNA senior vice president of legislative affairs. Newton, as Executive Vice President of System Relations, will provide strategic counsel on credit union system issues, manage CUNA’s many external relationships, and continue to serve as head of league relations, state advocacy, and executive director of the American Association of Credit Union Leagues. Newton came to CUNA from the Texas Credit Union League in 1996 as senior vice president of league relations. “CUNA has a terrific advocacy team in place to further our strategic advocacy goals and a series of new initiatives we have planned to build upon our political strength in Washington and the states,” said Cheney when he announced the staff changes. “Susan Newton and John Magill are both extremely qualified, accomplished executives who have the right experience to take on these added responsibilities.” Additionally, Cheney announced that under a new management structure, Newton and Magill will report directly to him, as will Executive Vice President and General Counsel Eric Richard, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer John Franklin, Chief Economist Bill Hampel, Chief Financial Officer Joanne Duncan, and Senior Vice President of Communications Mark Wolff. McBride’s chief-of-staff position is not being filled. “The changes I am putting in place will create a flatter, more responsive organizational structure that will enrich communications within the organization,” said Cheney. “The result will further enhance our efficiency and effectiveness.” CUNA’s McBride is retiring at year-end after 15 years with the association, and will serve in a transitional role between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31. Cheney took the opportunity of the staff announcement to thank McBride for his service to CUNA. “Rich is one-of-a-kind and an unsung hero at CUNA; his perspective and insights have contributed immeasurably to the association’s success over the years and have been of help to me personally during my first year as CEO. All of us at CUNA are grateful for his dedicated service and wish him the best in his retirement.”

Hanscom FCU highlights growth busy year

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HANSCOM AFB, Mass. (7/21/11)--Hanscom FCU had a number of successes during 2010, despite a stubbornly shaky economy, the credit union told members during its 57th Annual Meeting. It ended 2010 with $856 million in assets--an 11% increase--to become the sixth largest credit union in Massachusetts. The Hanscom AFB, Mass.--based credit union's members' share savings and certificates grew by $82.1 million, a 12% increase, as did total membership, to 44.326. A judicious approach to managing members' money and prudence in investments were factors in its achieving a 1% return on assets--double its peer ratio. The credit union ended the year with a net worth to asset ratio of 9.29%, above the 7% minimum required by regulators. "These results are due to thoughtful expense control that does not compromise service," said Paul Marotta, Hanscom FCU board chairman. It also noted its 15th year of providing a year-end loyalty dividend. It paid 2.5% on shares and consumer loans--more than $730,000--on Dec. 31 to members, which, Marotta noted, "isn't an easy thing to do. To make it appear routine is a testament to the people who make up Hanscom FCU and the philosophy of financial responsibility that guides them." In other highlights of the year, the credit union:
* Presented 94 workplace education seminars on topics such as identity theft, financial planning basics and wise use of credit; * Taught eight-week financial management courses to 160 high school students in the JROTC programs at two high schools; * Continued monthly seminars for students at Shriver Job Corps, helping young people prepare for their financial future; * Expanded its Bedford office and established a new full service branch in Boston; * Redesigned its website to feature a rate comparison tool, enhanced ATM and branch locators, and fewer clicks to find information; * Introduced an automatic savings plan so members can save for the down payment on their next vehicle while paying on the current vehicle loan; * Offered members the ability to transfer funds to anyone with an e-mail address or mobile phone number for free with its new online service; * Introduced an online service to help children learn and expand good savings habits; * Expanded its loan discount on hybrid vehicles to include the next generation of green vehicles, including electric and compressed natural gas options; * Offered members an identity theft monitoring service; and * Provided members with an option to skip a loan payment once per calendar year.

CU System briefs (07/20/2011)

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* MERIDEN, Conn. (7/21/11)--Credit Union National Association (CUNA)
President/CEO Bill Cheney addressed nearly 50 Connecticut credit union representatives attending the Credit Union League of Connecticut's Professional Education Series session on CUNA and related industry activities. He discussed the debit interchange legislation and rule, opportunities for credit unions to pursue the issue further, and provided updates on the credit union industry, including challenges such as the loss of revenue resources, regulatory demands of the National Credit Union Administration, National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund assessments related to last year's corporate credit union crisis, and the current positive image of credit unions in the media and with the public. Here, Cheney, left, listens to a point from Tony Emerson, president/CEO of the league. (Photo provided by the Credit Union League of Connecticut) … * CHARLESTON, W. Va. (7/21/11)--Samuel Glenn Garwood, 48, of South Carolina was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Charleston, W.Va., on two counts of robbery at two credit unions in West Virginia. He is charged with stealing $4,191 from Pioneer FCU, South Charleston, on May 26, and $3,460 from Universal FCU, Barboursville, on June 1. If convicted, he faces a prison sentence of up to 40 years and a maximum $500,000 fine (Associated Press Newswires July 20) … * ST. LOUIS (7/21/11)--U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) met with nearly 30 leaders from 18 Missouri credit unions Monday to discuss credit union issues and concerns. The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) hosted the event at its headquarters in St. Louis. At the meeting credit unions thanked McCaskill for her support of the debit interchange amendment delay and discussed member business lending (MBL). S. 509, the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act, would raise the artificial cap on credit unions' MBL to 27.5% of credit union assets from 12.25%. MCUA President/CEO Mike Beall outlined the issue, and credit union leaders provided examples and shared concerns and countered banker complaints against the bill. "Your arguments are compelling, and I will give the bill further study," McCaskill told the group. The meeting also addressed supplemental capital, the nation's debt ceiling troubles and the upcoming 2012 Senate race in which McCaskill is running for re-election. "It was an excellent opportunity to thank Sen. McCaskill for her work on behalf of credit unions on the debit interchange delay issue," said Beall, noting MCUA is looking forward to working with her on MBL and supplemental capital issues … * HERNDON, Va. (7/21/11)--Northwest FCU Foundation has awarded 21 students a combined $90,000 through its two scholarship programs, the Ben DeFelice and Central Intelligence Retirees Association (CIRA) scholarships. Recipients include Student Government Association officers, an Eagle Scout, a Silver Girl Scout, outstanding swimming and gymnastics athletes who coach handicapped children, an award-winning student filmmaker, officers of service organizations that raise funds for cancer research, and founders of organizations that bring social awareness and funding for hunger, poverty and other causes. "They all have had a tremendous impact on their communities and those around them," said Gerrianne Burks, front right, chairman of the foundation and president/CEO of Northwest FCU. Pictured are the 2011 scholarship winners with Burks, Foundation Vice Chairman Juri Valdov, and board members Bill Cook and Mary DeFelice. (Photo provided by the Northwest FCU Foundation) …

CUs banks team up to help unbanked in Dubuque

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (7/21/11)--A new coalition of credit unions, banks and community groups has organized to improve the financial futures of Dubuque, Iowa, residents who lack traditional checking accounts.
Click to view larger image Bank On Dubuque organizers met Monday to accept a proclamation from the Dubuque (Iowa) City Council deeming July as "Bank On Dubuque Month." From left: Kevin Shields, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.; Bob Upton, DuTrac Community CU; Tami Rechtenbach and David Klavitter, Dupaco Community CU; Eric Dregne, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque; Paula Connors, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque; and Joe Gonzalez, Health Services CU. (Photo provided by Dupaco Community CU)
The initiative, "Bank on Dubuque" or "Bank On DBQ," offers low- and moderate-income residents free or low-cost checking accounts and access to free financial education. A credit union or bank can help residents avoid costly alternative financial services and protect and build their assets. The "Bank On DBQ" accounts require no minimum balance and offer a second chance for people with previous trouble with banking. Fraud is the exception. Accounts feature:
* No or low opening deposits, monthly maintenance fees or minimum balances; * Direct deposit of paychecks or monthly benefit checks; * Free ATM/debit cards; and * Access to online banking, bill pay and money transfers.
Participants also have access to financial education, including learning how to budget, paying bills on time, or saving for a car or their first home. Eight participating financial institutions--including four credit unions--are funding the effort, with in-kind operational support from the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. The credit unions include Alliant CU, Dupaco Community CU, DuTrac Community CU and Health Services CU. Formed in 2010, the Dubuque effort is based on a national model called "Bank On Cities Campaign," sponsored by the National League of Cities. "Bank on DBQ" is the first such program in Iowa. Iowa has 4.7% unbanked and 16.8% underbanked households, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. With 22,560 households, Dubuque has about 1,000 households that would be unbanked and 4,000 underbanked. The program's 12-month goal is to open 500 new Bank On DBQ accounts, with 80% still open at the end of that period. Organizers hope at least 20% of new clients will participate in the financial education and training, facilitated by the Iowa State University Extension.

Miracle Jeans Day is Sept. 14

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SALT LAKE CITY (7/21/11)--Miracle Jeans Day, supporting Children's Miracle Network Hospitals through Credit Unions for Kids, will be Sept. 14. Individuals or groups can participate in Miracle Jeans Day with a minimum donation of $5. Credit Unions for Kids is the brand under which America’s credit unions fundraise for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The collaborative effort, which is driven by a “people helping people” philosophy, includes individual credit unions; local chapters; state leagues/associations; two national trade organizations; business partners and several trade publications. The program was introduced nationally in 1996 and since that time the credit union movement has raised more than $80 million for affiliated children’s hospitals. Both credit union employees and members can participate in Miracle Jeans Day:
* Credit union employees donate five dollars to the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital and, in exchange, they are permitted to wear jeans to work on Wednesday, Sept. 14. * Credit union members donate a dollar to display their name on a special Miracle Jeans Day paper icon in their credit union’s branch.
Credit union employees can participate as groups or individuals. Group participation requires a minimum of five people with a minimum donation of $5 each to receive a Miracle Jeans Day sticker. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals is a charity that raises funds for 170 children’s hospitals across North America. As of 2011, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has raised more than $4.3 billion--most of which is donated a dollar or two at a time. To order icons or merchandise, or for information on participating in Miracle Jeans Day, use the link. Links for league and credit union materials are also provided.

Rejected consumers now can access free credit scores

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (7/21/11)--Starting today more consumers will have free access to their credit scores. New rules require credit unions and banks to tell consumers their scores if their credit applications are denied. They will also have to explain other factors considered in the decision (WBIR July 18). Financial institutions will automatically send out "Risk-Based Pricing Notices” to members and customers who were denied loans. The notices will provide members with their credit scores, the agency that provided the score, how to contact the agency, and factors that may have contributed to a low score said Kimberly Bohannon of UT FCU, Knoxville, Tenn. Bohannon told WBIR that credit scores are somewhat proprietary, depending on the agency doing the scoring and the factors considered in compiling the score. Those are among the reasons they haven’t been easily accessible to consumers. The guidelines are meant to help consumers make better educated decisions about their finances, according to experts. All U.S. credit scores fall somewhere between 300 and 850, according to the credit information group Experian. The average American has a score of around 678. Most lenders consider anything below 620 to be subprime, or below standard.

N.J. CUs launch Phase 2 on muni deposits campaign

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (7/21/11)--The New Jersey Credit Union League (NJCUL) has launched the second phase of a postcard campaign to convince Gov. Chris Christie (R) to sign a bill that would allow the deposit of public funds at credit unions. The bill, drafted by the league, awaits Christie’s signature--after passing both houses of the legislature (The Daily Exchange July 19) The Department of Banking & Insurance has voiced public concern about the bill, joining ongoing opposition from the state’s banking lobby, said the league. The league has set a goal of sending 5,000 postcards to the governor’s office. It has asked the state’s credit unions to encourage employees, volunteers, and members to complete postcards with their names and addresses. The pre-addressed postcards ask Christie to “Let Credit Unions Help Lower Property Taxes.” NJCUL has led multi-faceted grassroots campaign in support of the legislation that has included municipal deposit reform-themed radio spots, two credit union days at the State House, credit union exhibits at various government-related conventions, and 5,000 postcards to legislators.

White paper CUs must replace aging memberships

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EMERYVILLE, Calif. (7/21/11)--A nationwide survey of credit union members indicates that credit unions must replace their aging members and increase loyalty among younger members. The survey results are summarized in a white paper released by myCUsurvey, which conducted the study. The white paper highlights three key areas where credit unions are at risk, and reveals where credit unions offer a unique advantage in the financial services industry. Among the key findings of the survey:
* Credit unions have to replace their aging membership. The white paper reveals that nearly 75% of all credit union members are age 50 or older. It also shows that younger members under age 35 are the least satisfied membership segment. “Clearly the growth opportunity for credit unions lies in their ability to increase satisfaction among younger members to increase membership and promote loyalty,” said myCUsurvey. * The size and location of the credit union is irrelevant. Unlike banks, where customers are concerned with convenience and service as measured by the size of the institution, credit unions have a level playing field. The survey indicates that the size of the credit union as measured by assets or number of branches had no effect on member satisfaction. “The inference is that credit union members are seeking something different from their financial experience, and are looking for a relationship with their institution, not just relationship banking,” said the company. * The in-branch experience is the key to improving member loyalty. Nearly three quarters of all respondents indicated that their last in-branch experience was “excellent,” which indicates that credit union executives have an opportunity to increase member satisfaction and recruit younger members through their branches, said the firm.
“Clearly, this member satisfaction survey reveals that credit union members are seeking something different from their credit union relationship,” said Dr. Jack Bieda, founder of myCUsurvey. “Any organization strives for 100% customer satisfaction, and for credit unions to improve their members’ satisfaction, they have to ask themselves how to engage more effectively with members, especially younger members, to give them the experience they want and keep them coming back.” While tracking demographics and measuring the experience with service and employees are indicators, other factors also drive member satisfaction, according to Bieda. He advised credit unions to assess additional performance factors such as employee knowledge and performance, loan rates, and availability of products and services. Establishing a baseline for satisfaction performance is the first step, which is the purpose of the most recent member satisfaction survey, Bieda said. The myCUsurvey Credit Union Member Satisfaction Survey polled more than 5,000 credit union members nationwide, and is designed to provide a benchmark for myCUsurvey customers to compare their own member satisfaction results. The survey was conducted using myCUsurvey’s integrated Web/interactive voice response system. The survey measured six key areas, including likelihood to recommend, branch satisfaction, service satisfaction, and employee satisfaction. Regional scores are broken into the five National Credit Union Administration geographic zones to make it easier to assess results on a regional basis.

NCUFs annual report focuses on fin ed

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MADISON, Wis. (7/20/11)--The theme of the National Credit Union Foundation’s (NCUF) 2010-2011 annual report reflects its new focus on financial education. Titled “Building Consumer Financial Capability Through Financial Education,” the report highlights NCUF activities from late 2010 to early 2011. The foundation shifted its focus to financial education in late 2010. “In the following pages, you’ll see how NCUF programs and grants are working to build consumer financial capability through financial education,” writes Bucky Sebastian, NCUF executive director, in the report’s introduction. “You’ll also see how our programs change lives through the ‘people helping people’ philosophy that drives the credit union movement.” The report also includes:
* Descriptions of REAL Solutions’ financial education initiatives; * Financial-education grant highlights; * Credit Union Development Education (DE) program updates; * CUAid--disaster relief updates; * Community Investment Fund (CIF) overview and investor listing; * 2011 corporate supporter listings; * 2010 NCUF donor listings; * 2010 financial statements; and * 2011 Herb Wegner Award winners.
To view the report, use the link.

CO-OP to sponsor 30 scholarships to conference

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MADISON, Wis. (7/20/11)--Thirty scholarships to the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) 2011 Community Credit Union & Growth Conference will be awarded through a partnership between CUNA and the CO-OP Financial Services. The conference will be Oct. 24-27 in San Francisco. This is the second year that CO-OP Financial Services is sponsoring scholarships to the event. The conference will focus on how to turn growth-generating ideas into action plans. CUNA also will present the 2011 Community Credit Union of the Year Award during the event. "Through CO-OP Financial Services' generous sponsorship, we will be able to expand our diverse audience at this CUNA signature event," said Todd Spiczenski, vice president of CUNA's center for professional development. In explaining why CO-OP is sponsoring the attendance of 30 people again, Stan Hollen, president/CEO of CO-OP Financial Services, noted, "The conference offers a top-notch speaker line-up and highly relevant breakout sessions. Supporting participation at this event is a strong fit with our commitment to help credit unions prosper and bring innovative ideas into practice." To be considered for a scholarship to the CUNA Community Credit Union & Growth Conference, applicants must:
* Be a credit union employee or volunteer; * Be with a credit union that is affiliated with its league/CUNA during the program for which the scholarship funds are requested; and * Stay at the designated conference hotel.
Thirty scholarships will be awarded in full, with each valued up to $995. Scholarships are available regardless of charter type--recipients do not have to be from a community chartered credit union to obtain a scholarship. Applications are due Sept. 2. Recipients will be contacted by Sept. 15. To apply, or for more information about CUNA's 2011 Community CU & Growth Conference or the 2011 Community Credit Union of the Year Award, use the appropriate links.

Ohio CUs MBLs grew 20.1 in 1Q

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (7/20/11)--Ohio credit unions posted a strong first-quarter financial performance, in line or better than national credit union trends, as financial institutions operate within a more “normal” economic environment, according to the Ohio Credit Union League’s (OCUL) Quarterly Performance Summary. Annual growth figures for assets, shares, and loans through the first quarter of 2011 all exceed or are similar to national averages, with member business lending origination showing a $23.7 million gain (20.1%) from March 2010 to March 2011, the report indicated. “Growing, progressive and modern is how Ohio credit unions are best described today,” said Paul Mercer, OCUL president. “Despite a difficult economy and regulatory pressures, Ohio credit unions are thriving by creating financial products and services designed to help members, and member businesses, succeed. This model has worked well for 75 years, and will continue to benefit our state’s nearly three million members.” Small-business lending is becoming an increasingly important part of a credit union’s suite of products, the league said. During the first quarter, Ohio credit unions originated $28.4 million in business loans, up from the $23.7 million reported during the first quarter of 2010. As of March 31, about 101 of Ohio’s 384 credit unions reported outstanding business loan balances, totaling $386.6 million. Business loan balances in Ohio grew 8.3% from the previous March, which is faster than the national average (6.4%) during the same period. “Ohio small businesses are in need of credit to help them sustain, grow and create jobs. Credit unions are in a strong position to lend, and have embraced the need,” Mercer said. “With congressional help, we can do more.” The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions are pressing Congress to increase credit unions’ MBL cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Doing so would open up more opportunity to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers, CUNA said. Ohio credit unions originated $329 million in first mortgages in the first quarter, 2011, up 33.4% from the same period in 2010. The new originations propelled outstanding first mortgages 5.7% to $4.2 billion at the state’s credit unions. Year to date, U.S. credit union first- mortgage loan originations increased 12.7% from March 2010, with Ohio credit union originations ticking higher at 14%, a $1.2 billion increase over the previous year. Credit unions in Ohio have historically reported above-average auto loan growth and have avoided the large declines experienced nationally, with balances rising by 1.3% annually. Similar to national trends, growth was reported exclusively in the used-auto loan portfolio. Used-auto loan balances in Ohio increased 6.6% annually, as new-auto balances fell 6.7% during the past 12 months. Asset quality in Ohio remains strong, with the delinquency rate falling to 1.21% from the reported 1.36% in March 2010. Delinquency in Ohio remains well below the national average of 1.63%. Credit card delinquencies declined 39 basis points the past 12 months to 1.33% as of March. Credit card balances also posted growth during the year, as balances increased 3.2% annually to $722 million as of March. Credit unions in Ohio added 30,749 members over the past year, growing membership by 1.2% to 2.69 million members. That growth rate was more than double the national average of 0.56%. The first-quarter statistics mark the ninth straight quarter in which Ohio has seen membership growth, after years of relatively flat growth. Credit unions in Ohio and nationally have seen total revenue slide during the past year because of historically low interest rates. Total revenue for Ohio credit unions fell 2.7% to $283 million during the first quarter. However, Ohio credit union economic indicators remain positive overall, with capital levels at 10.93% on average, which is higher than Ohio banks and thrifts, and credit unions and banks nationally, said the league.

Georgia CUs help residents afford life

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DULUTH, Ga. (7/20/11)--A new report by Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) shows how credit unions in the state are using community outreach and financial education initiatives to help Georgians achieve their financial goals. As the economy rebounds, many Georgians are setting their sights on improving their financial situation and adopting a “new normal” lifestyle of saving and frugality, said GCUA. “Credit unions help working people afford life,” said Mike Mercer, GCUA president/CEO. “Average people share common goals--owning a home and a reliable car, being able to send their kids to college, saving for a rainy day, building their retirement nest egg. These are goals we all can relate to. Credit unions help people get there.” The 2011 REAL Deal Outreach Report highlights the impact Georgia credit unions made in 2010 to provide products and services to improve the lives of consumers with middle-class aspirations. Some of the report’s findings:
* 84% of credit unions surveyed offer used-vehicle loans for low-credit-score borrowers; * 79% of credit unions provide a small-value loan of less than $500; * 70% of credit unions have free checking--no monthly or per-check fees and no minimum balance requirements; * 69% of credit unions offer a program to help modest-income members save; * 31% of credit unions provide a mortgage product for moderate-wealth or first-time homebuyers; * Credit union members saved an average of $180 per year on interest expense when financing a $25,000 new auto for 60 months at a credit union, compared with another banking institution in Georgia; and * Small businesses in Georgia were awarded $196 million in business loans from credit unions.
Through outreach to communities and schools, Georgia credit unions offer financial education programs to people of all ages. Credit unions held more than 2,000 educational events in 2010 for youth and adults, according to the report. Also, more than 60% of credit unions offer basic financial education programs and tools to members, and 69% have programs to help modest-income members save. As a natural extension of credit unions’ “people helping people” philosophy, many families have benefitted from partnerships between credit unions and charitable organizations. More than $3.8 million was donated to charitable/community organizations by credit unions in 2010, and more than 51,000 volunteer hours--worth in excess of $1 million--were contributed by credit union staff.

CDFI Funds awards 28M to CDCUs

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WASHINGTON (7/20/11)--The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) Monday awarded $142,302,667 to 155 Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), including 25 credit unions, serving economically distressed communities nationwide. The organizations awarded are headquartered in 40 states and the District of Columbia. The awards are granted through the fiscal year 2011 round of the CDFI Fund’s cornerstone program, the Community Development Financial Institutions Program, and represent the largest single round of monetary awards in the CDFI Fund’s history, announced director Donna J. Gambrell. The awards will help the specialized, community-based financial institutions spur local economic growth and recovery, and expand access to affordable financial products and services. The 25 awards to credit unions totaled nearly $25.7 million, according to the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. The federation also received $1.5 million, as did the North Carolina Minority Support Center, a Durham, N.C.-based CDFI supporting CDCUs statewide. Credit union awards represented 18.06% of the number of CDFI Fund awards granted in this round. All but three of the credit unions receiving awards are federation member CDCUs. A full breakdown of the credit union awards from this round is available on the federation’s website. Use the link. Federation President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal broke down the numbers further. “The total amount of $28,696,617 made to credit unions and credit union support organizations, compared to the $142,302,667 made to all CDFIs, represents 20.17% of award dollars. This is a very good showing for our movement by historical standards.” CU Strategic Planning, a firm that specializes in credit union grant writing, said it established a record by winning $5.3 million in the CDFI grant awards for seven credit unions in six states. Of the more than $448 million in application requests by CDFIs, only 31.7% was approved. For credit unions, that percentage was higher--47.2% of funds requested were approved--and that was in part because of CU Strategic Planning, said the firm. It more than doubled the CDFI success rate with 76.7% of the funds it requested for credit unions approved.

Texas CUs in strong position says league.

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (7/20/11)--Texas credit unions are benefitting from the state’s strong economy by experiencing significant growth in assets, loans and savings, according to the Texas Credit Union League (LoneStar Leaguer July 18). Private-sector employment in Texas has recovered with more strength than the U.S. as a whole. Part of the reason behind the recovery is the state manufacturing sector’s reliance on computer, electronic and petrochemical firms, according to a monthly report by Houston-based private equity firm SigmaBleyzer. While credit unions in many areas of the country have struggled with loan growth, Texas credit unions have remained relatively strong in lending, the league said. In the first quarter, overall loan growth increased 2.5% in Texas, compared with a decrease of 1.1% nationwide. Used-auto loans jumped 8.6% in Texas during the quarter; nationally used-auto loans increased at a 3.5% rate. New-auto loans dropped 5.5% in Texas during the first quarter, compared with a 14.6 decline nationwide. First mortgages rose 6.8% in the first quarter in Texas. Nationally, first mortgages were up 3.3%. Credit cards grew at a 6.6% rate in Texas, compared with a 1.9% rate nationwide. The delinquency rate was 1.03% among Texas credit unions during the first quarter, compared with a national rate of 1.63%. Responsible lending resulted in strong asset quality for Texas credit unions, the league said. Assets increased 7.2% in Texas during the first quarter. Nationwide, assets rose 4.6%. The yield on total assets jumped 4.28% at Texas credit unions. The yield on total assets increased nationwide at 4.14% rate. Texas consumers also continue to save, said the league. Savings rose 7.7% at Texas credit unions during the first quarter, compared with a 4.9% increase nationally.

Study Connecticut FIs double mobile tech use

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HARTFORD, Conn. (7/20/11)--State-chartered financial institutions--including credit unions--in Connecticut are expected to more than double their mobile technology offerings this year, according to a 2010 survey of electronic banking activities in the state by the Connecticut Department of Banking. Greg Bordonaro discussed the results of the survey in his weekly “Financial Sense” column posted on HartfordBusiness.com (July 18). The study showed that 10% of state chartered credit unions offered mobile banking to their members in 2010, but that figure was expected to double this year. Less than 20% of state-chartered banks made mobile banking available to their customers, but that number was expected increase to nearly 50% in 2011. The survey also found that less than 10% of Connecticut credit unions had a social media presence in 2010. Credit unions use their websites for loan activity, according to the survey, with 60% reporting they provide loan application downloads and nearly 60% providing loan history information.

CU System briefs (07/19/2011)

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* TULSA, Okla. (7/20/11)--A man claiming to have a bomb in a briefcase robbed Tulsa (Okla.) FCU Monday morning. The man stood in line and allowed a person who arrived after him to be waited on first. The robbery suspect walked up to the teller at about 10:40 a.m. and presented a note that his briefcase, which he had placed on the counter, had a bomb inside. He fled with the money, but left the briefcase. The credit union was evacuated, and a bomb squad brought in. The bomb squad took the briefcase outside and determined it was empty (Tulsa World July 19) … * WEST LAFAYETTE Ind. (7/20/11)--A second suspect has been arrested in a takeover-style robbery that occurred the morning of May 24 at Purdue FCU, West Lafayette, Ind. Xxavier Jones, 25, was arrested in Maywood, Ill. (Journal & Courier July 16). Details of his arrest and the charges were not available. Christopher A. Whirl, 24, was arrested earlier and is being held in Racine, Wis. In the robbery incident, two men armed with semi-automatic handguns entered the credit union, with one jumping onto the counter and demanding cash. One suspect placed his handgun against an employee's chest before they fled with an undisclosed amount of money. Whirl was arrested after the getaway vehicle was discovered to be registered in his name. The vehicle contained two cell phones--one with a photo of a handgun used in the robbery and a photo of a suspect, believed to be Jones, pointing the weapon at the phone. The two men are awaiting extradiction to Tippecanoe County… * NASHVILLE, Tenn. (7/20/11)--Phillip M. Cochran has been promoted to vice president/chief investment officer of the Volunteer Corporate CU, based in Nashville, Tenn. He will continue to manage VolCorp's investment portfolio and oversee sales of all liquidity and investment products to member credit unions, including marketable securities. Cochran joined VolCorp in 2004 in the consulting department developing asset liability management models for member credit unions and leading strategic planning sessions for executive management and board of directors. In July 2007, he became investment services manager and began working with credit unions on their investment portfolios. He took over management of VolCorp's portfolio in May 2009. With 12 years' experience in the financial services industry, Cochran previously worked with Robinson Investment Group, Brentwood, Ind. … * TACOMA, Wash. (7/20/11)--TAPCO CU, a $251 million asset credit union based in Tacoma, Wash., has selected Carlyn Roy as its new CEO. Roy has 25 years' experience with credit unions, most recently serving as executive vice president and chief operating officer at OSU FCU, Corvallis, Ore. Prior to that, Roy was vice president of lending services at the Oregon Credit Union League, where she developed and led one of the first credit union lending call centers in the nation, and at the Oregon branch of a national mortgage corporation serving credit unions. She also has served as a consultant for credit unions and trade associations throughout the U.S. and Canada, and was contributing editor to several Credit Union National Association publications. She is a graduate of Western CUNA Management School and Pacific Lutheran University … * SAN JOSE, Calif. (7/20/11)--Stephen Baker, 64, of San Jose, Calif., died on July 6. He was vice president of Treasury operations at San Jose-based Technology CU and had planned to retire Aug. 3. He is survived by his wife, Anita; his son, Michael, three brothers and two sisters (The San Diego Union-Tribune July 15) … * RACINE, Wis. (7/20/11)--William Terence "Terry" Tanger died July 13 at the age of 55 in Milwaukee, Wis. He worked as a vice president/branch manager at Racine, Wis.-based Educator's CU. The $1.3 billion asset credit union's employees were very caring and supportive during his more than two years of battling kidney cancer. Tanger was a veteran of the Milwaukee music scene, performing more than 30 years in various bands. He is survived by his wife, mother, step brother and stepsister (The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel July 15) …

CUs creative in how they give back to community

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MADISON, Wis. (7/19/11)--Cleaning out frog ponds, donating men's neckties, working as clowns in parades, bowling while dressed up as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, swimming in gelatin, helping people get in touch with their inner cowboy … what won't credit unions do to give back to their communities? Beyond the typical food drives, the shred-a-thons, charity golf tournaments, and children's hospitals walks and runs, credit unions are finding creative ways to give back to their communities--and make giving fun. Here's a sampling of some credit unions' recent voluntarism.
* About 20 managers of Kohler (Wis.) CU volunteered at the Riveredge Nature Center in Newburg, Wis., by spending the day cleaning out frog ponds, painting building areas, moving stones, mulching and building a foundation and play area for a toddler house. They finished several projects before the center's summer camp begins. "Our managers love these work days in the community," Ken Sackmann, chief lending officer at the $247.5 million asset credit union, told The Sheboygan Press (July 10)."We know it makes a big difference for the organizations we volunteer for, and it gives us all a chance to work side by side in a completely different setting." * Clowning around to make people happy is a family affair for the volunteer clowns at Northland Area FCU, Oscoda, Mich. The clown troupe is made up of employees who often include their children and grandchildren in their adventures. Northland clown Katie Quigley brought daughters Erika, 7, and Brooke, 10, on their first clown excursion during a Fourth of July celebration in West Branch. Erika was concerned that only children were receiving candy during the parade. She passed her candy out to elderly people seated along the parade route. "They were thrilled--I think she made everyone's day," said Quigley. Also dancing through the crowd were West Branch staffers Janelle Tambling (alias Dazzle) and Dawn Poltz (Bubbles). The Northland Clown Troupe has entertained communities in Northeastern Michigan since 2006, said the Michigan Credit Union League (Michigan Monitor July 18). * Employees at LBS Financial CU, a $988.2 million asset credit union based in Long Beach, Calif., donated more than 100 men's neckties to the Cal State Long Beach Career Development Center as part of a tie exchange program to reinforce a professional appearance in the workplace (Press-Telegram July 11). * Twenty employees at EECU, a community credit union in Jackson, Mich., dressed in costumes to participate in Junior Achievement's annual Crazy Bowl fundraiser in February. This year's theme was cartoons. Four EECU teams represented the Smurfs, the Flintstones, Scooby Doo and the Teenage Mutuant Ninja Turtles. They raised $930 and EECU added in an additional $1,430 sponsorship to the event. EECU also donated four $25 Visa Gift Cards for door prizes and a number of goodie bag items (Michigan Monitor). * Whitefish (Mont.) CU, Montana's largest credit union will support a number of charities in its branches' six service areas. For example, it will help folks get in touch with their inner cowboy at the Pistol Creek Rodeo in Ronan, near the credit union's Polson branch by donating prizes for victorious contestants. For this year's Glacier Symphony and Chorale's Festival Amadeus, it is underwriting ticket costs for all students in the Flathead Valley to promote the arts among young Montanans. And it revved all engines to provide prizes and ad costs for the 12th Annual Thompson Falls Rods & Classics Show & Shine by a Dam Site, a classic car show with participants from throughout the state. Proceeds go to the Sheriff's Relief Fund, Cancer Network, food banks and the local animal shelter. * American Heritage FCU in Philadelphia held its 18th Annual Gelatin Olympics in Northeast Philadelphia. Sliders gathered pledges from sponsors, dressed up in zany costumes, and plunged into a pool of 700 gallons of bright red gelatin. Employees helped with the Ultimate Gelatin Slide, the Gelatin Eating Contest, and Gelatin Balloon Toss, all to benefit the Kids-N-Hope Foundation for the Children's Seashore House of Children's Hospital in Philadelphia. Last year, the event raised more than $25,000 to support a music therapy program at the hospital (Life is a Highway June 8). * Ticonderoga (N.Y.) FCU concluded its second annual cell phone drive earlier this year. It collected 111 cell phones as well as chargers and accessories and donated them to the STOP Domestic Violence Center of Essex County. The cell phones will be turned into emergency 911 Life Lines for people in need.

Small CUs consolidating says Celent study

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BOSTON (7/19/11)--Trends in the consolidation of credit unions--especially smaller credit unions, which are "disappearing"--are the topic of a new report. Credit unions with less than $2 million in assets are disappearing quickly, while those with $2 million to $10 million are not far behind, said Celent, a Boston-based research firm, in its report, "Tipping Scale: Credit Union Consolidation." It also noted that credit unions over $500 million in assets are "vastly outgrowing" any other category relative to their tier. "Looking at the entire credit union spectrum, the number of credit unions in the U.S. is declining rapidly, from 10,316 at the end of 2000 to 7,339 at the end of 2010," said the company. "In the past, credit unions simply required a branch or two, a core banking system, and an ATM," said Bart Narter, senior vice president of Celent's Banking Group and author of the report. "In the past 10 years, Internet banking, bill pay, know your customer and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) compliance are table stakes. Going forward, competition will be driven by demand for mobile banking, consumer and business remote deposit capture, and branch capture." Smaller credit unions don't have the scale to create these offerings and even the larger credit unions are dwarfed by the size of their bank competitors, said the report, which examines the overall credit union count within each tier. It also reviews efficiency ratios and examines the trajectory of shares and deposits for each category over the past 10 years.

Court rules Polish and Slavic CU didnt violate ECOA

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. (7/19/11)--A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit against Polish & Slavic FCU, saying the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based credit union did not violate the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) when it denied a Belarusian man membership. Andrei Chizh had filed suit Sept. 13, 2010, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Brooklyn, saying he was unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of national origin when he was denied application for membership in Jan. 6, 2010. He is Belarusian. The credit union had told him he should fill out an application to a Polish/Slavic organization within its field of membership to qualify for membership, according to court documents. Polish & Slavic FCU, the nation's largest ethic based credit union with $1.4 billion in assets. ECOA makes it unlawful for any creditor to discriminate against any applicant, with respect to any aspect of a credit transaction. According to court documents, Chizh maintained that by applying for plural accounts via membership at the credit union he was an applicant for credit. The credit union maintained he had not applied for credit and was denied membership because the documents he submitted--a driver's license with a post office address instead of a permanent physical address, a letter from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, an expired Belarusian passport, and a copy of a bank statement that was "extremely poor quality"--did not meet the credit union's membership standards. Red flags were also raised when he presented 20 different credit cards in his name, many of them issued in 2009. In agreeing with the credit union and dismissing the case, U.S. District Judge Sandra L. Townes said in the July 11th opinion that Chizh "seeks to conflate the process of applying for membership with the process of applying for credit. He had asserted that ECOA "protects not only people who filled a credit application, but also people who intend to apply for a credit account. "Neither the facts nor the law support this interpretation," said Judge Townes. "A precondition for credit eligibility is different from an aspect of a direct application…applying for membership in a federal credit union or for a savings account does not automatically constitute a direct application to a creditor for an extension of the right to defer payment. No count has read a requirement into the ECOA that federal credit unions must apply the rules governing an application for a credit card, personal loan, vehicle loan, mortgage or other extension of credit when considering for a savings account, a checking account or membership in the organization." Courts, she said, "have done just the opposite."

Filene brief details six DE training case studies

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MADISON, Wis. (7/19/11)--The Filene Research Institute released a new research brief detailing the solutions to six fictional industry case studies presented from participants of the Credit Union Development Education (DE) Training held April 6-13 in Madison, Wis. The brief, “Credit Union Development Education Program,” is written by Filene’s Mark Meyer, CEO, and George Hofheimer, chief research officer. Meyer and Hofheimer attended the April DE training and completed the research brief as their post-training project. During the training program, participants learn lessons in cooperative principles and credit union philosophy while incorporating challenges credit unions face. In addition to group exercises and speaker presentations, training participants are required to complete and present team case studies proposing solutions for credit unions to help alleviate or eliminate challenging situations in any given area. Filene’s new research brief details the solutions put forward by participants. Included in the April DE Training were case studies on:
* Interchange income; * Mergers and small credit unions; * Plans for credit union growth; * Plans for increasing financial capability in America; * Leveraging 2012 as the “Year of the Cooperative” to promote cooperatives and credit unions; and * Credit union development in Iraq.
“If more professionals apply these concepts in their organizations, credit unions could be poised for a renaissance,” wrote Meyer and Hofheimer. The DE class of 2011 “presents novel ideas about some very realistic issues in the credit union system. While the case studies are fictional, they do represent scenarios your organization may be facing today.” To download the report, use the link. The report can also be found on filene.org or ncuf.coop. It is free to download for both Filene members and non-members.

N.J. league chapters revamped

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (7/19/11)--The New Jersey Credit Union League has restructured its chapter system in an effort to make it easier for credit unions to participate (The Daily Exchange July 18). The four new chapters are:
* Northern Chapter of Credit Unions; * North-Central Chapter of Credit Unions; * South-Central Chapter of Credit Unions; and * Southern Chapter of Credit Unions.
Each chapter will have a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. Applications for officer positions are due Aug. 10. Elections will be held online. For a guide on the changes, lists of credit unions by chapter, bylaws for each chapter, and chapter official applications, use the link.

Pa. housing program suspended affects CUs processes

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/19/11)--The closing of an emergency mortgage loan program in Pennsylvania may affect the foreclosure notice process for state and federal credit unions, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) (Life is a Highway July 18). The state Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) has been shut down due to insufficient funding, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) announced. HEMAP allows homeowners to apply for emergency mortgage loans to avoid foreclosure. The PHFA believes that there will not be enough funds to pay out on new applications while continuing to make disbursements on prior approved applications. As a result of the HEMAP suspension, lenders can begin mortgage foreclosure actions without using the Act 91 notice, which provides homeowners with information about access to the program. Mortgage foreclosure in Pennsylvania is a civil legal action, advised Rich Wargo, PCUA executive vice president/general counsel. Notices and procedures apply to state and federally chartered credit unions. Credit unions considering foreclosure action should confer with counsel to ensure the correct steps are taken regarding notice and other aspects of the procedure, Wargo added. The PHFA said it expects funds to be available through the federal Emergency Homeowners Loan Program (EHLP). The agency advised lenders to counsel borrowers to apply for EHLP assistance.

Article highlights Minn. CUs MBL efforts

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (7/19/11)--Several Minnesota credit unions are ramping up their efforts to offer member business loans (MBL) to small businesses, according to a Friday article in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. The article’s main focus was on Spire FCU, a $523 million asset credit union based in Falcon Heights, Minn., which is bolstering its commercial lending to serve a growing desire for real estate investments. “The credit union has doubled the size of its commercial-lending team to six this year after demand for apartment buildings, duplexes and single-family rentals started picking up toward the end of 2010,” the article said. “… Spire had 53 loan requests averaging $233,000 through June, a marked increase from the 31 requests that averaged $55,000 in the same period last year,” the article continued. “The credit union closed about $1.5 million in commercial loans through June, a figure that Vice President of Business Services Cliff Wantz expects to grow significantly in the quarters ahead.” The credit union is being cautious and paying attention to the importance of borrower relationships, diversified strategies and expertise, Dan Stolz, Spire president/CEO told the Journal. “Diversification is king,” Stoltz said. “When you have a loan mix dependent solely on one product, whether it be autos or homes, if one of those takes a beating, your whole portfolio is going to take a hit.” Postal CU, a $489 million asset credit union in Woodbury, Minn., saw its commercial lending go up roughly 10% during the first two quarters of 2011 from a year earlier, Brian Sherrick, Postal executive vice president of lending member services, told the Journal. However, the credit union mostly has been reactive with business lending, getting involved in a few investment properties but not necessarily marketing the service, Sherrick added. SharePoint CU, a $169 million asset credit union based in Hopkins, Minn., has roughly $2 million in MBL outstanding, but only uses MBL to supplement its business, rather than as a central component of its portfolio, Phil Kopischke, SharePoint President/CEO, told the Journal. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions are asking Congress to increase credit unions’ MBL cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Doing so would open up more opportunity to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers, CUNA said.

Perkins to lead West. Bridge Corporate successor

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SAN DIEGO (7/19/11)--Philip Perkins, president/CEO of Western Bridge Corporate FCU, has been named president/CEO of United Resources FCU, Western Bridge’s proposed successor. The agreement is contingent on the approval of the National Credit Union Administration and the successful chartering of United Resources FCU. “This is an important step in not only the birth of the new corporate, but [it] also ensures stability and success of our business plan for the next several years,” said Paul Lewis, CEO, San Diego Medical FCU and chair of United Resources Executive Personnel Committee. Also serving on the committee were proposed United Resources FCU board members Bill Before, chief financial officer, Spokane Teachers FCU, Liberty Lake, Wash., and Jim Aley, chief financial officer, Honda FCU, Torrance, Calif. The committee also reached consulted with several local credit union leaders. Prior to joining WesCorp CU (the predecessor to Western Bridge) in 2009, Perkins served as senior vice president and senior portfolio manager of Delaware Investments, Philadelphia. Perkins’ financial career spans more than 25 years and includes executive positions with the Global Markets and Emerging Markets divisions of Deutsche Bank, A.G. in London and Moscow. He began his career as a trader at Salomon Brothers.

Internet Crime Complaint Center spots scam trends

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WASHINGTON (7/18/11)--Distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) are on the rise, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center's (IC3) Scam Alerts released Thursday. Although credit unions may not be specifically targeted, at least one bank's Internet banking services were hit by this type of attack, said IC3, which tracks information from law enforcement and complaints submitted by victims. One reason for the DDoS increase is the availability of software tools that allow anyone to participate in a DDoS, said the scam alert. Gaming sites have been targeted by multiple hacking groups--some in response to the company itself, others in response to group rivalries. Some DDoS attacks--usually to smaller e-commerce based businesses--distract the organization from other criminal activity. One group disrupts the organization's website traffic while others compromise servers and retrieve data. One company reported that an attack on its organization lasted 10 days, although its Web hosting company tried multiple solutions to stop the attack, said IC3. A financial institution was unable to stop an attack on its Internet banking services segment of its site because of an overwhelming load--more than 8,000 hits per second--on the bank's login screen. Although attackers did not succeed in penetrating the network, the inundation of hits on the communication lines meant customers could not access their accounts. Other trends in cybercrime:
* Extortion e-mails targeting professionals, mainly physicians, with allegations that could harm their reputation and threatened loss of business. The e-mails offer to remove the content from archives for $250. Others hire people to write "complaints" about a company and add them to a website. The going price is $10 per post. * Scams promising large winnings and threatening victims if they don't comply. Spam attachments claiming to be from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission initiate a Nigerian scam that threatens to send an agent to the recipient's home for questioning if the recipient doesn't sent $250 for issuing a "clearance document." * E-mails that impersonate the FBI and contain a Trojan virus. The messages say the FBI has noted the recipient has visited 40 illegal websites and instructs the recipient to answer questions in a document, which happens to have malicious software carrying a virus. These are similar to e-mail campaigns that generated in 2005 and 2006. * Threatening calls that impersonate IC3. In two scenarios, which involved threatening victims with court and jail time for using "payday loans,"the cybercriminals had information such as the victims' Social Security numbers and bank account information. * E-commerce fraud. Since mid-March merchants have experienced a "serious increase in fraud attempts," said IC3. Criminals had complete identity information, including name, address, and Internet Provider address of the consumers. IC3 said the information could have been obtained one of four ways: stolen in data breaches; spear phishing that targets consumers with specific e-mails from organizations they do business with; installation of malware; and fake e-commerce donation sites that take advantage of people's willingness to help others during disasters and catastrophes.
Meanwhile, the old tried and true scams are still operating, many of them reeling in credit union members among the victims. In Vineland, N.J., for example, several members of Members First of NJ FCU, reported they had received text messages saying their cards had been deactivated and to call a number. They called the number and were instructed to change the personal identification number (PIN) code for "security reasons." They did, and later found that debits had been made from their accounts. One member reported $591 missing, another lost $286, and a third lost $120. The credit union reimbursed their accounts (The News of Cumberland County July 15).

CU System briefs (07/15/2011)

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* WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (7/18/11)--A tip to would-be credit union robbers: Don't take a cell phone photo of yourself brandishing the weapon and leave it behind when abandoning the getaway car. That's what happened when two men entered West Lafayette, Ind.-based Purdue FCU on May 24 and displayed weapons. One robber jumped on the counter, demanding cash. One suspect placed a handgun against an employee's chest. The robbers fled with the money in a dark sport utility vehicle (SUV), which police later found abandoned. Both men also left their cell phones in the vehicle. One phone had several photos of a handgun and a man pointing the weapon at the camera. Christopher A. Whirl, 24, Chicago, a co-owner of the abandoned SUV, was arrested and charged with one count of armed robbery and one count of theft. Xxavier Jones, 25, also of Chicago, is still at large. Police said they think the photo is of Jones (Journal & Courier July 15) … * DETROIT (7/18/11)--Dante DeMiro, 44, who pleaded guilty to operating a Ponzi scheme that defrauded an Iowa credit union, a bank , municipalities, school districts and trade unions, was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in federal prison for bank and wire fraud. The Milford, Mich., man also was ordered to pay restitution of nearly $13 million he received by "investing" funds in "low-risk certificates of deposit" through MuniVest Financial Group and MuniVest Services LLC. Instead, he used the money to buy real estate and luxury items, pay other investors, make loans and gamble. He regularly sent victims fake investment summary reports. The frauds occurred from 2007 to 2010 (Detroit Free Press July 13 and Chicago Tribune July 12) … * POTTSVILLE, Pa. (7/18/11)--A former employee of Hidden River CU, Pottsville, Pa., was sentenced Wednesday to six to 23 months in prison for embezzling more than $58,000. Jennifer L. Doyle, 31, pleaded guilty June 2 to theft by deception, tampering with records and misapplying entrusted, government or financial institution property. She also was ordered to pay more than $58,295 in restitution as well as costs and $50 to the Criminal Justice Enhancement Account. Court records indicated she took investment checks and instead of allocating them to the correct account, deposited them in her personal accounts and used several methods to hide the deposits (republicanherald.com July 14) … * HAGERSTOWN, Md. (7/18/11)--Ongoing Operations, a credit union service organization (CUSO) and CUNA Strategic Services provider, has announced the election of its new board of manager officers. Jeff Goff, vice president of administration for HEW FCU, Alexandria, Va., was elected chairman; Bruno Sementilli, CEO of Quorum FCU, Purchase, N.Y., was elected vice chair; Jeff Arvai, CEO of Transportation FCU, Washington, D.C., was re-elected secretary; and Sean Zimmermann, vice president operations & technology of Tower FCU, Laurel, Md., was re-elected treasurer. The CUSO, originally founded by several credit unions in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, is celebrating its fifth anniversary this summer. It offers a full range of business continuity solutions for credit unions nationwide … * FORT WORTH, Texas (7/18/11)--American Airlines FCU (AA CU), based in Fort Worth, Texas, will implement Bounce ProtectionPlus, an overdraft program that allows members to reduce their overdraft fee to a penny in many situations, the $5.2 billion asset credit union announced (PR Newswire July 13). Instead of charging the standard $25 fee each time a member has an overdraft, AA CU it will charge one cent if the member either corrects the overdraft before 10 p.m. CT the same day or has a small overdraft that did not take the end-of-day account balance into the negative by more than $10. "We know that our members occasionally have an emergency or make a small error when balancing their checking account," said Nancy Crouch, AA CU's director of card services. "And we believe that a small mistake shouldn't result in a big penalty," she added. The changes apply to all debit card and ATM transactions on checking accounts that have opted-in to the service …

Ratings agency affirms Southeast Corporate rating

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CHICAGO (7/18/11)--A ratings agency has affirmed the "A+" long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) and "F1+" short-term IDR of Tallahassee, Fla.-based Southeast Corporate FCU, with a "stable" rating outlook. The rating reflects Southeast's IDR is current at its Support rating Floor and reflects that the corporate credit union's standalone financial position--absent external support--remains an "E" (requiring external support), said Fitch Ratings, a Chicago-based firm (BusinessWire July 1). Southeast "continues to benefit from the various support mechanisms put in place to maintain liquidity in the corporate credit union system and that it is still operating with regulatory forbearance " from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), Fitch said in a press release. Southeast is in the middle of raising $80 million in perpetual contributed capital from its member credit unions by October as a part of its 10-year strategy and recapitalization plan (News Now May 24). The company began its 90-day capital subscription process and expects commitments by October. It also plans to reduce its balance sheet to $2 billion and its operating expenses to $10.6 million, and manage its legacy assets. Fitch said the corporate continues to face capital challenges and additional "other than temporary impairment" (OTTI) charges on its legacy assets. To date, Southeast has recorded $43.5 million of OTTI on 25 mortgage-related securities, said the ratings agency. "The company's Individual Rating could move positively if it makes notable progress towards achieving the objectives of its business and capital plan," Fitch concluded.

Maine CUs 1Q growth outpaces national trends

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PORTLAND, Maine (7/18/11)--Maine credit unions met or, in many instances, exceeded national trends in key growth areas, according to a First Quarter Performance Report. The report--recently released by the Maine Credit Union League to member credit unions--indicated growth in assets, shares and loans and reinforced the strength of Maine’s credit unions (Weekly Update July 15). Some of the highlights for first quarter 2011 include: a 9.3% increase in the amount of first mortgages outstanding, 4.96% share growth, and total capital levels at 10.6% of assets--well above Maine thrifts and U.S. banks--and 12.1% growth in member business loan balances, nearly double the national average when compared with first quarter 2010. Other positive signs the report found include an 11 basis-point decrease in the delinquency rate over the same period a year ago, and an increase in the average member relationship--the outstanding combined loan and share balances per member--to $13,504. “As indicated in this quarterly report, Maine’s credit unions remain vibrant and healthy, and reflect the fact that an ever-growing number of Maine consumers continue to turn to Maine’s credit unions,” said league President John Murphy. Callahan & Associates compiled the report for the league.

With end of Minn. shutdown CUs aid still stands

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (7/18/11)--With the Minnesota government ending its statewide shutdown, at least one credit union says that those who suffered from the two-week-long shutdown still can find extra assistance. Affinity Plus FCU, a $1.3 billion asset credit union in St. Paul, announced Thursday it will set aside $25 million for a loan program to help state employees to help cover skipped loan payments. It also will provide refinancing or low-interest loans, said its website. The credit union's offer was featured in the Winona Daily News (July 15). The credit union's St. Paul-Lafayette branch in the metro area and local branches Friday held a "State Shutdown Aid Fair" Friday during business hours. The credit union offered refreshments and discussed options with members for a personalized approach to ease any financial hardship. Among the personalized solutions offered: a financial assessment, budget planning individual product and services solutions, skipping payments, mortgage modifications, including refinancing mortgages and more. Just after the credit union's announcement the state revealed the governor and lawmakers were working on a deal to stop the shutdown. Late Thursday night they announced they had reached a deal and that the state government would re-open soon. Friday was to be the last paycheck for workers affected by the shutdown.

CUs helping storm victims in several states

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MADISON, Wis. (7/18/11)--Several credit unions nationwide are helping victims of devastating storms recover by providing loans, supplies and donation checks.
Click to view larger image Presenting a $5,000 donation check for tornado debris removal to Steve Kirkpatrick (second from left), president of the United Way of Madison County, Ala., were, from left, Greg Olmsted, Marquetta Cantrell, June Landrum, and Selina Billions, all officers of the Northeast Alabama Chapter of Credit Unions. A $2,500 donation from the credit union chapter had been matched by the Southeastern Credit Union Foundation for the debris removal. The foundation is associated with the League of Southeastern Credit Unions, which serves credit unions throughout Alabama and Florida. (Photo provided by the League of Southeastern Credit Unions)
The Northeast Alabama Chapter of Credit Unions and the Southeastern Credit Union Foundation presented a $5,000 check Thursday to Steve Kirkpatrick, president of the United Way of Madison County, Ala., for debris removal needed in the aftermath of April tornados. Members of the chapter include Alabama CU, Tuscaloosa; Alabama Telco CU, Birmingham; Councill FCU, Normal; Family Savings CU, Gadsden; Family Security CU, Decatur; North Alabama Educators CU, Huntsville; Redstone FCU, Huntsville; Rocket City FCU, Huntsville; Stevenson (Ala.) CU; and Wolverine Employees CU, Decatur. Individual credit unions also have assisted disaster victims in many ways since April. A $2,500 donation from the credit union chapter had been matched by the Southeastern Credit Union Foundation for the debris removal. The foundation is associated with the League of Southeastern Credit Unions, which serves credit unions throughout Alabama and Florida. Other examples are:
* Great Lakes CU (GLCU), North Chicago, Ill., is helping storm victims with a discounted Signature Loan program available to members in three counties of Illinois and Wisconsin. The limited-time loan program is--a 12.99% annual percentage rate with a 48-month maximum term and borrowing limits to a maximum of $5,000. “Some area residents are struggling in the aftermath of the recent violent storm and are encouraged to apply at any of GLCU’s seven Lake County branch locations or online,” said Vikki Kaiser, president/CEO. “We would like to assist people with any unexpected expenses they may have incurred since the storm [July 11] wherever possible, whether it is to help pay for downed-tree removal or to help pay for any repairs they may need to their home or vehicles.” * Pioneer West FCU, Charleston, W.Va., collected relief supply items--blankets, baby items, nonperishable food, health and beauty items, toiletries, disposable plates and utensils, and monetary donations--in a community-minded effort to help victims of severe tornados in Joplin, Mo., in May (Charleston Gazette July 13). More than 150 people were killed when tornados struck Joplin and surrounding areas. All four branches of the credit union participated--including employees and members--with a pickup truck full of the donations slated to head to Missouri last week.

SECU investment CUSO exceeds 100M

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RALEIGH, N.C. (7/18/11)--Credit Union Investment Services (CUIS), an investment service organization of State Employees’ CU (SECU), Raleigh, N.C., has exceeded $100 million in assets. With 230 non-commissioned, multi-licensed representatives statewide, CUIS focuses on the average credit union member. Most members made initial investments of $1,000, the previous minimum required to open an account with CUIS, according to $22 billion asset SECU. CUIS recently made a move to accommodate more investors by lowering the initial investment amount to $250. All CUIS representatives are salaried and receive no commission. Representatives advise investors based on the member’s objective, time horizon, risk tolerance and overall financial condition.

Father Kramer CU Lake Trust CU intend to merge

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CENTER LINE, Mich. and LANSING, Mich. (7/18/11)--Father Kramer CU, with $7 million assets, Center Line, Mich., and $1.6 billion asset Lake Trust CU, Lansing, Mich., have announced their intention to merge. State and federal regulators--the Office of Finance and Insurance Regulation, the National Credit Union Administration--and Father Kramer CU members still must approve the merger. “We’re able to offer additional value for Father Kramer members and they help to strengthen the cooperative through their participation, which is great for the current Lake Trust membership,” said Lake Trust CEO Stephan L. Winninger. “Over the years it’s become increasingly difficult to manage our credit union in the face of a challenging economy,” said Arnie Lesner, Father Kramer board chairman. “The challenging economy has depressed our earnings, and we’ve continued to see our assets decline, both of which have limited our offerings to our members.” The boards of both credit unions support the merger.

Share It Members on how shared branches help them

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/18/11)--Pennsylvania Credit Union Service Centers Inc. (PaCUSC) announced the first week’s winner from its “Share It and Win” campaign to promote shared branching to members of participating credit unions. Credit union members were asked to submit an entry answering the question, “How has shared branching helped you?” Members were directed to the campaign website--ShareIt.coop--to enter the contest and learn more about shared branching as a benefit of being a member of a credit union (Life is a Highway July 15). PaCUSC reported more than 3,000 members visited ShareIt.coop during the first week of the contest, and PaCUSC received 328 entries. A team of communications professionals affiliated with the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association reviewed the entries based on personal emotion, validity and overall effectiveness of communicating shared branching as a benefit. Denise from American Heritage FCU, Philadelphia, submitted the winning entry. She typically vacations at a new location each year, and during one trip, found shared branching to be almost too good to be true. Her entry said: “Each year I go on vacation and choose a different location each time. Last year I went to Las Vegas and needed to withdraw money from my account because of an emergency. Although I received information about shared branches, I did not believe it. I was directed by a member of my branch to a shared branch. When I arrived, I expected to have to go the ‘customer service’ route and wait to have information verified, etc. Well, I had to do none of those things! Instead I was able to conduct my business within five minutes through teller services. This experience was pleasant and as efficient as using my own branch and the tellers were equally as polite.” PaCUSC provided American Heritage FCU with a $100 Visa gift card, which the credit union will present to Denise for her winning entry.

CUNA Councils celebrate 5000 members

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MADISON, Wis. (7/18/11)--The six CUNA Councils have reached the 5,000-member milestone, a result of several years of consistent growth. “What’s really significant about the 5,000-member milestone is the fact that we’re helping more and more credit union executives handle immediate problems and plan for future successes,” said Erin Mendez, Council Forum chair and executive vice president/chief operating officer of SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana, Calif. "The CUNA Councils allow credit union professionals the ability to reach out to one another, explore best practices, solve problems, obtain feedback and tap into resources that are specific to their role at the credit union," she said. To celebrate the event, Councils Vice President David Rohn announced the “More Than Ever” campaign that gives current members and new members the opportunity to win one of five prizes. Until Aug. 31, credit union executives can join the Councils at a special rate. Current members can help Councils celebrate by submitting their story about what membership means to them now more than ever! Anyone joining or submitting a story is entered in a drawing to win: a grand prize of a $5,000 CUNA education/training scholarship; a complimentary registration to a Council conference; a 2012 Council membership; an Apple iPad; or a $100 Visa gift card. Founded in 1994, the CUNA Councils originally included the Marketing (now Marketing & Business Development), HR (now HR, Training & Development), and CFO Councils. In the years that followed, three additional Councils were added: Lending, Technology, and Operations (now Operations, Sales & Service). Membership has doubled since 2003, and prior membership milestones include reaching 3,000 members in 2005 and 4,000 in 2007. For more information, use the resource link or call 800-356-9655, ext. 4368.

Breakouts set for CUNA Community CU and Growth Conference

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MADISON, Wis. (7/18/11)--The Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Community Credit Union & Growth Conference, to be held Oct. 24-27 in San Francisco, will include breakout sessions covering topics such as best practices, the state of the credit union movement, growth strategies, innovation and membership growth. Among the sessions and speakers:
* “Best Practices from Successful Community Credit Unions,” Jim Blake, president/CEO, HarborOne CU, Brockton, Mass., and Erika Bell, vice president of strategy and services, Latino Community CU, Durham, N.C.; * “Return on Innovation,” Matt Davis, director of innovation, and Denise Gabel, chief innovation officer, Filene Research Institute, Madison, Wis.; * “Creating Sustainable Growth Strategies,” Josh Allison, relationship development manager, Horizon CU, Spokane Valley, Wash.; * “C3: Aligning Credit Unions, Communities & Consumers Through Microenterprise,” Scott Butterfield, principal, Your Credit Union Partner, Seattle.; * “Executing Innovation: A Panel Discussion,” Julie Ferguson, owner, JRF Consulting Services LLC, Philadelphia; Amy McGraw, manager, growth, business development and marketing, Public Service CU, Romulus, Mich.; and Brett Wooden, business development manager, Unitus Community CU, Portland, Ore.; * “Product Strategies to Attract and Create the Loyalty of the Hispanic Community,” Miriam DeDios, vice president, and Warren Morrow, CEO and founder, Coopera Consulting, Des Moines, Iowa.; * “Leadership Skills That Lead to Growth,” Julie Ferguson, owner, JRF Consulting Services LLC.; * “New Vision for Lending: An Interactive Discussion,” David Polet, program manager/voice of customer, CUNA Mutual Group, Madison, Wis.; * “How to Avoid the Five Biggest Post-merger Heartaches,” Frank Drake, partner, Smith Debnam Narron Drake Saintsing & Myers, Raleigh, N.C.; * “Credit Union Mission, Meaning & Staff Motivation,” Matt Purvis, vice president, Northwest Community CU, Springfield, Ore.; * “Strategic Recruitment for the Ideal Board,” Jeff Rendel, president, Rising Above Enterprises, Corona, Calif.; and * “The Benefits of Serving Members of Modest Means,” Mark Lynch, REAL Solutions field coach, National Credit Union Foundation, Madison, Wis.
For more information, see Thursday’s News Now or use the link.

CU in Texas preparing for fed government shutdown

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LIVE OAK, Texas (7/15/11)--While federal officials debate the nation's debt ceiling, a Texas credit union has announced it will provide services to members affected by any shutdown of government services or delays of payments from the government. Randolph-Brooks FCU (RBFCU), a $4.3 billion asset credit union based in Live Oak, Texas, said Thursday that if the debt ceiling isn't raised, some federal employees might not be allowed to work and people who receive benefits such as Social Security might not receive payment until a compromise is reached. RBFCU said it would provide members with a one-time provisional credit if they are government employees or benefit payment recipients affected by the shutdown. "Serving our members is our first priority," said Sonya McDonald, senior vice president of market development. "Hard-working government employees and Social Security recipients shouldn't suffer because our lawmakers in Washington can't come to an agreement on spending." The provisional credit will be extended to members identified as government employees or benefit payment recipients and who have an established direct deposit with RBFCU. They will not be required to pay interest or fees to receive the provisional credit. "People are already struggling with the high costs of gas, food, and other expenses," McDonald said. "We want to alleviate as much worry as possible for them during this stressful financial time. While we hope the government will resolve its issues, we are being proactive in providing solutions for our members in the event that a shutdown does occur." Meanwhile, as the state of Minnesota finished its second week under a state government shutdown due to that state's budget crisis, credit unions there said they still stand ready to assist government employees and others affected by the shutdown. Last night Republican state legislators were weighing a deal offered by Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, for possibly ending the shutdown. Media reports said the shutdown could end soon. However, if it doesn't, credit unions and the Minnesota Credit Union Network reported they are ready to assist members with programs to help tide over missing a paycheck. Today is the last official payday for state employees under the shutdown. So members so far have had access to their regular paychecks. However, if a shutdown continued, credit unions likely would see more members needing assistance.

Ohio CUs fare well in state budget

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (7/15/11)--Ohio’s credit unions fared well when Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly signed House Bill 153, the state’s two-year biennial budget bill for fiscal years 2012-2013, said the Ohio Credit Union League. Many state agencies felt the brunt of budget reductions, said the league (eLumination Newsletter July 13). The spending allowance for the Credit Union Fund was reduced by 4.90% or $177,000 to $3.45 million for fiscal year 2012, and the level will remain the same for fiscal year 2013. The league said it held “numerous meetings with key elected officials throughout the budget process to ensure credit unions incurred no negative effects from the budget.” Budget tightening in other states resulted in higher taxes on credit unions and new provisions such as Wisconsin’s budget provision that makes it easier to switch credit union charters to bank charters. These incidents demonstrate the importance of keeping elected officials informed of credit unions’ role in the community, the league said.

CU builds loan portfolio saves members 40K

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FINDLAY, Ohio (7/15/11)--As is the case with most credit unions, Hancock FCU, based in Findlay, Ohio, is facing the challenge of decreased loan demand. So it looked for ways to build its loan portfolio and centered on refinancings. To help offset costs related to the difficult financial environment, the credit union’s loan officers began asking members about their existing loans at other financial institutions, and suggesting how they could save money by receiving a lower interest rate or shorter-term loan at Hancock FCU (e-Lumination Newsletter July 13). The credit union’s lending officers developed an “apples-to-apples” illustration that showed members how much they could save over the life of the loan--and members took advantage. The lending team kept track of the amount they saved members with branch office savings “thermometers.” The thermometers stimulated additional interest from members, and, through the end of June, the credit union had increased its loan portfolio by more than 5% from June 2010. To date, the $58.8 million asset Hancock FCU said it has saved its members more than $40,000.

Young CU pros in Dakotas launch flood relief program

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BISMARCK, N.D. (7/15/11)--The Young Credit Union Professionals (YCUP) Network of the Dakotas has launched a “Fill-the-Boat” campaign to help families deal with the flood aftermath in North Dakota and South Dakota, which impacted thousands of credit union members. The campaign is accepting basic household supplies through July 29 at 34 credit unions in the two states where donors can drop off items such as garbage bags, mops, brooms, rubber gloves and bleach. “The flooding across the Dakotas has been devastating,” said Roxanne Mullenberg, YCUP member and employee of Postal Family FCU in Fargo, N.D. “Many families have been affected by a combinations of home loss, severe damage to their residence, or forced evacuation from their homes. Having family and friends directly impacted in Minot, N.D., I just felt that we had to do something to help.” “Credit unions were founded on the basis of the 'people helping people’ philosophy and that’s not just with their finances,” said Tanya San Miguel, vice president of operations at Sioux Empire FCU in Sioux Falls, S.D. “The YCUP network was ready to step in and get the ball rolling.” A list of recommended items and drop-off sites in North Dakota and South Dakota can be found at the “Fill-the-Boat” website. Use the link. Credit union supporters in every state can make donations though a secured online disaster relief system--CUAid.coop--website that accepts credit cards and wire transfers. Use the link.

iFoxi picks up report highlighting CUs Christmas Clubs

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NEW YORK (7/15/11)--Credit unions' Christmas Clubs saw a comeback after the financial crisis, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) said in an article posted on SavingsAccounts.com, which was picked up by Fox Business.com Thursday. The article, "Christmas in July: The return of the Christmas Club," said Christmas Clubs--the interest-bearing savings accounts designed to help people save money each month and receive a lump sum withdrawal before the winter holiday season hits--are "an old idea, but one that's becoming more popular as purse strings grow tighter and people spend less and save more.” The product was in and out of vogue for "decades leading up to the credit card boom, when the idea fell out of style and disappeared from many mainstream banks,” said the article. CUNA was reported as saying the most recent financial crisis in the late 2000s brought new interest in the clubs, "which reached their zenith in 2009." "Today, small financial services institutions and most credit unions still offer a Christmas club product," the article reported. It listed standard features.

Chicago CU makes its first SBDF loan

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CHICAGO (7/15/11)--North Side Community FCU’s new Small Business Development Fund (SBDF) loans provide entrepreneurs the funding to help start a business or expand an existing business. In February, the Chicago-based North Side received funds from the Office of the City Treasurer to offer Chicago-based small businesses micro loans.
Click to view larger image Owners of Rolling Clean Car Wash, Denise Buckman-Morris, from left, and husband Kevin Morris, meet with Tom Laures, North Side Community FCU’s small-business loan officer, after they closed on a $15,000 loan in June to help with marketing, salary and general operation costs for their business. (Photo provided by North Side Community FCU)
An existing business can borrow up to $35,000 while a start-up operation can qualify for up to $15,000. Typically, these loans are used for build out, working capital and acquiring machinery, tools and inventory. The loan term is up to five years at a prime +2% interest rate. As of June, the current rate is 5.25%. Recently, the credit union made its first small-business loan to Denise Buckman-Morris and her husband Kevin Morris, who were almost ready to open their doors after she and her husband invested more than $70,000 into their start-up car-detailing business, Rolling Clean Car Wash. However, they realized they needed some working capital to get the operation off the ground. As members of the North Side in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood for several years, they learned of the new SBDF. In June, they closed on a $15,000 loan to help with marketing, salary and general operation costs for the business, which is located in Chicago’s Austin Community. “This loan allowed us to get a great jump-start on the business and provide some cushion to fall back on,” Buckman said. “It’s a great program because it helps start small businesses when they can’t get help elsewhere.” Buckman said the loan will allow the hiring of 10 full-time and 13 part-time employees, and provide opportunities and training in a community that has high unemployment and a need for business investment. “Job creation and retention are key elements that we look for in a loan application,” says Jennifer Sierecki, manager/CEO of North Side. “Small-business growth is vital in developing and sustaining our communities.” North Side is outreaching to Chicago neighborhood chambers of commerce and community development organizations to help spread the word about the new loan fund. As a collaborating partner, the Jane Adams Small Business Development Center provides technical assistance for prospective borrowers.

CU System briefs (07/14/2011)

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* INDIANAPOLIS (7/15/11)--An Indiana man, Leon Fuller, 24, was sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison for the Feb. 24, 2010, holdup of an Indianapolis branch of South Bend, Ind.-based Teachers CU. U.S. District Judge Larry McKinney sentenced Fuller to 130 months and ordered him to be placed on supervised release for five years. Fuller pleaded guilty to the armed bank robbery and brandishing a firearm. In the incident, he walked into the credit union, brandished a gun, and forced a member to walk with him to a teller counter. After obtaining cash from a teller, he fled on foot. Fuller was nabbed within hours of the robbery with a large amount of cash in his coat pocket and another $4,528 in his apartment (Indianapolis Star Tribune July 14) … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/15/11)--Mike Wishnow, association senior vice president, communications and marketing for the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA), has been appointed to the Pennsylvania Economic Education and Personal Finance Literacy Task Force. The nine-member group was selected by the Department of Banking and the Department of Education, said PCUA (Life is a Highway July 14). Required by law, the task force will assess the trends and needs in economic education and personal financial literacy; consider how funds are used to support these areas; and make recommendations to the governor and General Assembly on legislative or regulatory changes to improve the two areas … * SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. (7/15/11)--Carla Altepeter has been appointed president/CEO of Numerica CU, a $1.1 billion asset credit union based in Spokane Valley, Wash., effective Sept. 1. Altepeter is currently president/CEO of CitizensFirst CU, Oshkosh, Wis., a position she has held since 1992. She will succeed Dennis Cutter, who is retiring Aug. 31 after serving 40 years as the credit union's president/CEO. Altepeter serves on various local and national boards and committees. She serves as vice chair of the Wisconsin Credit Union Foundation board of directors and of the Wisconsin Credit Union Review Board. She is a past member of the Wisconsin Credit Union League Governmental Affairs Committee, a past board member of the Credit Union National Association, and board member and past chair of the Credit Union Executive Society …

Illinois faith-based CU coalition moves forward

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (7/15/11)--An alliance of Illinois faith-based credit unions is regularly meeting to provide critical support and networking for each other.
A group of interns involved with a coalition of Illinois faith-based credit unions that regularly meets to help each other, posed together recently. With the group are Hiram Crawford (second from left), director with Israel Methcomm FCU, Chicago, and Illinois Credit Union League Regional Director Joyce Jackson (in middle). (Photo provided by the Illinois Credit Union League)
The group comprises more than 20 credit unions with an average of $500,000 in assets and nearly 290 members, said the Illinois Credit Union League. Their goals include networking to help each other with marketing, problem solving, reaching better efficiencies of scale in sharing resources, and gaining secondary capital. Marketing efforts include designing a basic website template so all of the credit unions can achieve an Internet presence. From an operational standpoint, the group coordinated FedComp data-processing training. This opportunity, made possible by a group scholarship from the Illinois Credit Union Foundation, provided about 30 individuals with the opportunity to improve the efficiency of their data-processing systems, performance and record keeping. Also, all the credit unions have worked with National Credit Union Administration Economic Development Specialist Malia Peel to obtain the agency’s low-income designation, a process that takes about 90 days. Currently, eight of the credit unions, as part of the alliance, hold the title. The coalition also is working with Olive Harvey Community College and other city colleges of Chicago to expose interns to credit unions and use their assistance in these projects. About four interns helped research certificate of deposit investment options for the credit unions. Other initiatives on the horizon include providing financial literacy training for board members--a regulatory mandate for federal credit unions and a “best practice” consideration for state-chartered credit unions--and developing community partnerships.

Study Americans re-set retirement expectations

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LOS ANGELES (7/14/11)--Credit unions should prepare for a renewed focus on retirement planning and education as Americans re-set their post-recession retirement expectations. According to a new study, Americans emerged from the recession with a significant shift since 2001 in their expectations around the purpose, timing and funding of retirement. The SunAmerica Retirement Re-Set Study, sponsored by SunAmerica Financial Group in collaboration with Age Wave, is based on a national opinion telephone survey conducted in April by Harris Interactive among 1,001 Americans age 55 and older. "While the recession clearly had a financial and emotional impact, it was very encouraging to see that three out of five Americans 55 and older have remained hopeful for the future," said Jay S. Wintrob, SunAmerica Financial Group president/CEO. "Americans are emerging from the experience with new knowledge, new discipline and have re-set their vision of an ideal retirement." Credit unions might need a re-set, too, of their retirement savings products and financial education. Americans are clearly interested in more financial help and from many sources, said the report. Before, during and after the recession, only about 50% of Americans felt financially informed. Today, 80% want education and advice on saving and investing for retirement at their workplace and 92% feel that financial management should be a standard part of a high school education. Key findings about today's pre-retirees and retirees:
* They have a new outlook, with 54% viewing retirement as a new chapter in life rather than a winding down. That compares with 38% holding a similar view a decade ago. * Retirement is being postponed. Pre-retirees now say they intend to delay retirement by five years--from 64 to 69--because of increasing longevity, the recession and financial need. * Retirement no longer means the end of work. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed indicated they would like to remain productive and work some in retirement to stay active and involved. * Financial peace of mind is now six times more important than accumulating wealth, with 82% of respondents naming it their key financial goal. * Unexpected multigenerational family assistance is the new retirement wild card. Pre-retirees must balance their retirement plans with the possibility supporting aging relatives, adult children, grandchildren and siblings. Nearly half of those surveyed expect to provide this support, and 70% believe their adult children will need financial assistance.
Many of those surveyed felt the negative impact of the recession. One-third said their financial assets still have not recovered to pre-recession levels and nearly half (46%) indicated their home is worth less now than before the recession. Today's retirement mindset re-set is defined by:
* A more flexible balance of work and leisure; * A re-setting of values and obligations, with better appreciation for quality family/friend relationships with friends while 96% said it is important to protect themselves and their families against financial uncertainties. "The financial services industry will be called upon to provide new solutions in retirement planning as people are concerned about a need to plan financially not only for parents, but also adult children, grandchildren, siblings and in-laws," said Wintrob. * Re-setting long life expectations. Of those surveyed, 67% said they want to live to 100, remain productive, establish deep relationships, witness new discoveries and experience years of leisure. However, their concerns include health problems, being a burden to family and running out of money. Also, the study found that Americans may not have as many years to save for retirement as they expect. Nearly half of today's retirees retired earlier than planned; 41% did so because of unexpected health problems and 19% due to loss of employment. * Re-setting retirement for Boomers. The boomers likely will have less in entitlements, less money for retirement and less respect from younger generations. However, they likely will be more active and youthful, and have more opportunities to learn and grow than previous generations. * Re-setting financial strategies. Seventy-six percent agreed the last few years were a needed financial wake-up call; 84% today exercise more cautious investment strategies. Protecting assets is five times more important today than investing aggressively to make up for lost time. Retirees now want investments guaranteed not to lose value and investments that protect their income from market loss.
"This is a significant shift and a clear lesson resulting from the recession, with Americans now seeking the preservation of assets as a top investment goal," said Wintrob. "The appetite for risk has clearly diminished. As Americans approach and enter retirement over the next decade, their need for asset protection, risk management and lifetime income solutions will take on even greater significance."

Court NCUA can sell building from liquidation

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LAS VEGAS (7/14/11)--A federal bankruptcy court has given the go-ahead so the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) can foreclose on a vacant Las Vegas office building, a liability the agency inherited when it liquidated the Henderson, Nev.-based Ensign FCU in 2009. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Washington, D.C., lifted the stay last month, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal (July 13). The agency holds a $1.5 million loan on a vacant, 10,000-square-foot, one-story office building that was used as collateral for a $1.4 million loan in 2005 by the credit union to Los Angeles real estate investor Isaac Norman and two partners, Hamid Mahban and Ali Moradshahi. The property was appraised at $5 million before the collapse in 2008 of the real estate market, said the article. The real estate partners had leased it to the state of Nevada and Clark County, but the government entities terminated their leases to save costs. The borrowers did not have the income to make the loan payments and defaulted on the loan. When NCUA started foreclosure proceedings, the borrowers sued to stop the sale of the property. The credit union was closed on Sept. 25, 2009 (News Now Sept. 25, 2009) and involuntarily liquidated on Nov. 13, 2009. It had 7,900 members and $98 million in assets at the time of liquidation. EDS CU of Plano, Texas, assumed the members' share accounts.

Rein-Zima fills final N.J. foundation board seat

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (7/14/11)--The New Jersey Credit Union Foundation announced the addition of Cindy Rein-Zima, president/CEO of Hamilton (N.J.) Horizons FCU, to its board of directors. Rein-Zima fills the ninth and final board seat, vacant since a 2009 bylaw change that expanded the number of board seats from seven to nine. Foundation board officers are:
* Chairman--Ann South, president/CEO, Novartis FCU, East Hanover, N.J. * Vice chairman--Michael Hou, United Teletech Financial FCU, Tinton Falls, N.J.;and * Secretary/treasurer--Paul Gentile, president/CEO, New Jersey Credit Union League, Hightstown, N.J.
Remaining NJCUF board members include:
* Kevin Brauer, senior vice president, Members United Bridge Corporate, Warrenville, Ill.; * Eileen Crean, president/CEO, Members 1st of NJ FCU, Vineland, N.J.; * William Kennedy, chief financial officer, Jersey Shore FCU, Northfield, N.J.; * Rodney May, senior vice president, Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU, Middletown, Pa; and * Tracy Sussmann, president/CEO, Mid-State FCU, Carteret, N.J.

CU donating 1060 per weekday to charities

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PLYMOUTH, Mich. (7/14/11)--Community Financial CU, Plymouth, Mich., is giving away $1,060 every weekday for 60 days as part of its Summer of Sharing program to help local nonprofit organizations. Charities, communities or school groups can be nominated by people going online at Summerofsharing.org to answer the question, “What good could you do with $1,060?”(PR Newswire July 13). The $457 million asset credit union launched the program June 13 to celebrate its 60th anniversary. “We know tough economic times can impact groups that rely on donations to keep running,” Said Sarah Cosineau, Community Financial marketing manager. “Community Financial has remained a strong financial choice for our members, and the Summer of Sharing is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to our communities for their faith in us.”

Mid-Atlantic Corporate announces ITSecurity Conference

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MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (7/14/11)--Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU, Middletown, Pa., is offering credit unions practical advice during its first IT and Security Conference, Aug. 16-17 in Harrisburg, Pa. Brian Krebs, editor of Krebsonsecurity.com, a daily blog that focuses on cyber security news and investigations, will be the keynote speaker. He will talk about organized cyber-crime gangs and the threat they pose to corporations, sharing what he has learned during 16 months of in-depth investigations. Kreb’s blog has been named one of the best non-technical security blogs. Kirk Drake, president/CEO of Ongoing Operations LLC, A CUNA Strategic Services provider, will discuss business continuity and disaster recovery best practices. In the six years since he founded Ongoing Operations, the company has supported clients through more than 35 disasters and 250 tests. Other industry specialists presenting at the conference will discuss social-media risk, business continuity, disaster recovery, incident response, e-mail archiving, storage visualization and patch management. They include:
* Tyler Britten, EMC2 Corp.; * Angie Singer Keating, Reclamere Inc.; * Alan White, Del SecureWorks; * Jill Hearn, EMC2 Corporation; * Mark Bell, Digital Defenses Inc,; and * Rocky Giglio, Arraya Solutions.
For more information, use the link.

Redwoods Amazing Savers contestants make progress

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SANTA ROSA, Calif. (7/14/11)--Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Redwood CU’s (RCU) Amazing Savers contestants are reshaping their financial lives during 2011 as they compete for a $10,000 prize. The Amazing Savers contest follows five teams of RCU members through the year as they work with coaches from the credit union to improve their finances through budgeting, refinancing, reducing debt and investing. Among the savings realized so far by each team:
* Team Van Patten is saving $387 each month by refinancing its car loan and credit cards. * Team Flores reduced its auto loan interest rate from to 4.74% from 7.50%, saving $130 per month. It also plans to start a 401(k) to help with retirement savings. * Team Jaworski saved $800 and will pay off its car loan two months early by refinancing. It also increased its credit score by 84 points, is saving $274 a year on insurance and received additional coverage plus renters insurance by shopping different carriers. * Team Lynch reduced credit card interest rates to 7% from 29.99%, cutting its payments half and saving more than $2,000 in interest alone. It also has found creative ways to save on everyday expenses through coupons and other deals. * Team Campbell has put aside a $6,000 emergency fund to help through tight times as a small business owner, and has cut its grocery spending by more than 50% using the provided budgeting tools.
The contestants’ financial transformation progress is chronicled online through contestant and coach blogs. RCU also is promoting the contest through staff T-shirt days; radio, print and online ads; and on Facebook and Twitter. Followers of the contest can cast their vote for the contestant they believe has made the most progress. At the end of the year, the team with the greatest improvement to its finances will win $10,000 to put toward its financial goals.

CU helps keep local business open senator told

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ST. LOUIS (7/14/11)--Nine Missouri credit unions took action July 7 to urge U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) to move forward on member business lending (MBL) legislation. The Small Business Lending Enhancement Act (S.509) bill would raise the MBL cap to 27.5% of total credit union assets from 12.25%, with requirements that address safety and soundness concerns. There is an MBL bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 1418, with identical language (The Missouri difference July 12).
Emily Brown (left), owner of Emily Hart Bridal, shows Amber Eichman lace details of her gown’s train. Brown opened the bridal shop after receiving a loan from Community America CU, Kansas City. (Photo provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association)
More than a dozen credit union presidents and MBL staff outlined concerns and emphasized the need to support and pass the Senate bill during a conference call with Blunt staff member Jamie Hollenberg. Emily Brown, a CommunityAmerica CU member and owner of Emily Hart Bridal, described to Hollenberg how she was turned down by two banks before getting a loan and line of credit from a Kansas City branch of the $1.71 billion asset Lenexa, Kan.-based credit union. This allowed Brown to purchase her new location. “Without the credit union, I probably would have had to close the doors,” Brown said. “In one year since getting the loan, business has grown 200% and I have hired several people.” It’s estimated that by lifting the cap, 1,676 new jobs could be generated in Missouri and an additional $154 million in business loans could be made to small-business entrepreneurs in the first year, said the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA). Nationwide, it would bring 140,000 new jobs and $13 billion in new member business loans. “This is a zero-dollar stimulus that is needed, and it has no cost to taxpayers,” said Mike Beall, MCUA president/CEO. CU Community CU, Springfield, is one of several Missouri credit unions nearing the arbitrary MBL limit. “It’s frustrating because I have to turn people down every day, even though our credit union has money to lend,” said Carolina Decker, CU Community vice president of lending. “These are good loan opportunities with small-business owners who need our help, and we are limited in what we can do.” Credit unions participating in the call included:
* Alliance CU, Fenton; * Assemblies of God CU, Springfield; * Central Communications CU, Kansas City; * CommunityAmerica CU, Kansas City; * CU Community CU, Springfield; * Mazuma CU, Kansas City; * Metro CU, Springfield; * United CU, Mexico; and * West Community CU, O’Fallon.
Participants urged Blunt to co-sponsor and support the MBL bill. Currently, there are no Missouri co-sponsors on the Senate bill. U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-District 3) is a House MBL bill co-sponsor. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions are pressing Congress to increase credit unions’ MBL cap and support the bills in Congress so they can open up more opportunity to offer MBLs.

Community CUs conference celebrates innovation growth

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MADISON, Wis. (7/14/11)--With the theme, “Where innovation takes flight and growth happens,” the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) 2011 Community Credit Union & Growth Conference will be held Oct. 24-27 in San Francisco. Keynote speakers at the conference include Jeanne Bliss, founder of CustomerBliss, and Doug Hall, CEO of Eureka! Ranch. Hall’s session, “Accelerating Your Innovation Process” will provide practical ideas for new product and service design. Bliss will offer insight on superior customer service during her session, “I Love You More Than My Dog: The Impact of Company Culture.” “Ms. Bliss and Mr. Hall, in addition to the rest of the thought leaders at this conference, will provide insights on best practices, the state of the credit union movement, growth strategies, innovation and membership growth,” said Bill Cheney, CUNA president/CEO. General sessions and speakers include:
* "Legislative and Regulatory Update," Ryan Donovan, CUNA vice president of legislative affairs, and Mary Dunn, CUNA senior vice president and deputy general counsel; * "Economic Outlook for Credit Unions," Steve Rick, CUNA senior economist; and * "The Credit Union Road Trip," Mark DeBellis, president, PSB Integrated Marketing.
Conference sessions and workshops will be built around issues such as serving members of modest means, supporting microenterprise, reaching out to the Hispanic community and generating sustainable growth strategies. Attendees also will discover methods for growing credit unions from an organizational perspective, such as creating a high-performance sales culture and recruiting board members that reflect the changing demographics of a credit union’s membership. CUNA will present the Community Credit Union of the Year Award at the conference. The award is bestowed on community credit unions that have reached new heights in serving their communities. Only four credit unions receive the award each year, with a first place and honorable mention winner in each asset category of less than $250 million and more than $250 million. The deadline for Community Credit Union of the Year submissions is July 25. To facilitate participation by operational teams, CUNA is offering a special rate to credit unions that bring three or more attendees.

CU System briefs (07/13/2011)

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* VANCOUVER, Wash. (7/14/11)--The Small Business Administration's (SBA) Portland district office has awarded Columbia CU two awards: Credit Union Lender of the Year for the second consecutive year and Outstanding Performance for Underserved Markets for 2010. SBA's Small Business Week gala honored more than a dozen local companies and individuals. Columbia CU is the only credit union in the western Washington and Portland area to earn SBA's Preferred Lender status … * DOWNEY, Calif. (7/14/11)--Downey (Calif.) FCU is in its ninth year
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
of awarding student enrichment grants to Downey educators. It awarded grants to 35 educators in 2011. Robert Peterson, choir director at Warren High School, received a grant that enabled the school's Art Club to work on a musical-themed mural outside the choir room entrance. Peterson, former student Yesenia Calderon, Michael Bracamontes and art teacher William Russell designed the mural. Russell and art teacher Nadia Roldan worked with the students for about four months after school and on Saturdays on the project. From left: front row: Roldan, art students Carlos Valladares and Ayana Pepaj, and men's choir student Gabriel Guzman. Back row: Men's choir student Landon Eaves; Peterson; Kari Johnson, DFCU's community education and development representative; and Russell. (Photo provided by Downey FCU) … * CHATSWORTH, Calif. (7/14/11)--A member of Lake Forest, Calif.-
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based Eagle Community FCU was presented a new 2011 Nissan Sentra as winner of Autoland's 2010 Member Giveaway Sweepstakes. Connie Bethurum's entry was selected from hundreds of thousands of entries, said Autoland, a credit union car-buying service based in Chatsworth, Calif. And held by CU Vehicles LLC, a collaborative credit union service organization. Bethurum received the new car, as well as $1,500 from the $186 million asset credit union for vehicle tax, title and registration expenses. More than 270 credit unions participated in the sweepstakes. In addition to the grand prize, the sweepstakes also featured monthly prizes of $150 in gas cards. Shown at the ceremony are, from left: Lynne Crother, Autoland account executive; Bethurum; and Bethurum's husband. (Photo provided by Autoland) … * DALLAS (7/14/11)--Sooper CU, a $242 million asset credit union based in Denver, Colo., has won the CU Members Mortgage's 2011 Q2 Marketing Achievement Award. To increase loans within its Gen Y membership segment, Sooper CU used new marketing tools and garnered 18 new mortgage loans in three months. It combined a personalized URL (PURL) with a postcard and push e-mail campaign. The credit union also marketed the campaign on its website and within its branches. Dallas, Texas-based CU Members Mortgage provided additional incentive to members for visiting Sooper's PURL, helping the credit union gain more business and exposure in the community, said Linda Clampitt, senior vice president of CU Members Mortgage … * WARRINGTON, Pa. (7/14/11)--Mario Incollingo Jr., 72, who was CEO of Feasterville, Pa.-based IGA FCU when it shocked the nation's credit unions and became the first credit union to convert to a bank, has died, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway July 13). Incollingo died Saturday at his home of thyroid cancer (Philly.com July 12). He was president/CEO and a director of the credit union when it converted to IGA Federal Savings Bank on July 1, 1998 (News Now June 2, 2006). A year later, it converted to stock ownership. Within months it was a subject of a hostile takeover bid. It was bought, along with Jade Financial Corp., by PSB Bancorp, which then merged with First Penn Bank. Incollingo became chief operating officer and director at First Penn Bank before retiring in 2003. In 2007, he came out of retirement to serve as president of Colonial American Bank in Horsham through October 2008 …

CU System brief (07/12/2011)

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BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. (7/13/11)--Jason LaPierre, 36, of Kingsbury, N.Y., has been sentenced to three to nine years in prison for embezzling more than $400,000 while employed at the Hudson River Community CU in Corinth, N.Y. LaPierre--who was a pastor as well as a former human resources and marketing employee at the $155.8 million asset credit union--pleaded guilty in May to second-degree grand larceny. LaPierre stole the funds over four years by forging about 300 cashier's checks from the credit union and depositing them into his personal accounts at another institution. He took about $100,000 a year and used the money for groceries, dinners and entertainment for his family of eight. He also was ordered to make restitution. The fraud was discovered after an auditor was called in to investigate complaints from vendors that they had not been paid (The Daily Gazette July 12 and Associated Press Newswires July 11) …

CUs involved in service mark infringement lawsuit

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LOS ANGELES (7/13/11)--Two Los Angeles area credit unions with similar names and overlapping fields of membership in the educational industry are involved in a lawsuit alleging service mark infringement and unfair competition. Schools FCU, a $104 million asset credit union based in Rancho Dominguez, Calif., filed the lawsuit Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles against the $8 billion asset, Santa Ana-based SchoolsFirst FCU. The smaller credit union is seeking damages and an injunction to stop SchoolsFirst FCU from using its name, logo and Internet domain name. Schools FCU--formerly called Los Angeles Schools FCU--changed its name to Schools FCU on April 14, 2005, and has used its service mark and logo in the its marketing promotions and advertisements in the area since then, said the complaint. SchoolsFirst FCU--the former Orange County Teachers FCU--changed its name on April 14, 2008. The suit alleges that as a "direct competitor" of Schools FCU, the larger credit union "intentionally adopted" and used a new name that "is confusingly similar to and infringes" on the name of Schools FCU. The complaint also alleges that the larger credit union did not inform the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office of the smaller credit union's "prior and superior rights" in the service mark. "Defendant's intentional use of a name so similar to Plaintiff's Service Mark has already caused substantial customer confusion as to the origin, affiliation, or sponsorship of the defendant's services and is likely to cause such consumer confusion," said the complaint, which alleged Schools FCU also suffered "actual damages."

International CU Day launches for 2011

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MADISON, Wis. (7/13/11)--International Credit Union (ICU) Day--with the theme “Credit Unions Build a Better World”--is Oct. 20. Through the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) website, credit unions can access resources to thank members on ICU Day and begin celebrating the International Year of Cooperatives. Among the resources the CUNA website offers:
* Art--Download the poster design, website icon and coloring page; * Copy--Borrow wording on the history of ICU Day and the press release announcing ICU Day; * Celebration ideas--See how other credit unions celebrated in the past, and share plans for 2011; and * Promotional products--Purchase gifts to thank current members and welcome new ones.
With the selection of a new vendor, CUNA offers better pricing on products, especially those bought in bulk, according to JoAnne Sepich, ICU Day coordinator. “We’ve really made an effort this year to provide credit unions with quality products and better pricing,” Sepich said. “It’s the start of a special year for credit unions and all cooperatives.” ICU Day is also the launch of the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC). The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2012 as the IYC to highlight the contribution cooperatives make to socio-economic development. The World Council of Credit Unions has customized the theme for credit unions and added a graphic for ICU Day 2011. Credit unions in the U.S. have access to the full-color poster art--through the CUNA website--which builds on the ICU Day 2011 theme and logo. To access CUNA ICU Day resources, use the link.

New York Desjardins winners recognized

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ALBANY, N.Y. (7/13/11)--The New York Credit Union Foundation recently honored four credit unions with the 2011 New York State Desjardins Youth Financial Education Awards for teaching personal finance concepts and skills to children. Clarence (N.Y.) Community & Schools FCU was the first-place award winner in the $50 million asset and under category for its Youth $avings Program offered to grades K through 12 in all six schools in the Clarence School District. CORE FCU, East Syracuse, was the first-place award winner in $50 million to $150 million asset category for its Students as Educators program. The program gives high school students the opportunity to learn about personal finance, shows them how to teach their peers and serve as mentors and role models for younger students in the school district. Participants also teach in teams during adult education sessions with school board members and credit union personnel. Teachers FCU was the first-place award winner in the $50 million and over asset category for diverse financial education offerings tailored to all grades and skill levels. Teachers FCU hosted five National Endowment for Financial Education High School Financial Planning Program train-the-trainer workshops for educators, administrators and youth advocates on Long Island, N.Y. First-place winners will be submitted to the Credit Union National Association for its National Desjardins Award consideration.

CUs 2.6M loan finances solar roof project

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BRIDGEWATER, N.J. (7/13/11)--An article in the July 8 edition of the Hunterdon County Democrat highlighted Financial Resources FCU’s $2.6 million loan to help finance a solar panel system for a local manufacturing plant. The loan from the $372 million asset Bridgewater, N.J., credit union will be used for photovoltaic solar panel system on the roof of the Fram Trak plant in Middlesex, N.J. Albert Santelli Sr. of Santelli Family Limited Partnership said Fram Trak would not have been able to obtain the loan without Financial Resources FCU. The company had had been dealing with banks for “decades,” he said. The solar panels will cover a rooftop area of about one-and-a-half acres and produce more than 600 kilowatts of electrical power, the equivalent to a year’s worth of power for roughly 60 homes. The energy-saving project is the largest of its kind in Middlesex borough, according to the article, titled, “Credit Union Helps Fram Trak Go Green with Solar Panels.” The system will offset nearly 100% of Fram Trak’s current power usage, which translates to a reduction of more than 800 tons of carbon emissions per year.

Martin FCU Higher bank fees boost unbanked numbers

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ORLANDO, Fla. (7/13/11)--Higher bank fees generated by financial reform regulations may end up increasing the "unbanked" population, according to Orlando, Fla.-based Martin FCU and others interviewed by the Orlando Sentinel (July 11). Florida's economy has about $9 billion in household wealth that is unbanked money, including about $2 billion held by the state's rapidly increasing Hispanic population. Martin FCU makes it a point each Monday to visit the Mexican Consulate in west Orlando to court immigrants as they secure documents to make a new life in the U.S. Many are unbanked. The credit union lets Hispanics know it has accounts available that are safe for them and their money, Nine Fayad, marketing specialist at the $128 million asset credit union, told the Sentinel. Fayad noted that banks facing federal financial reforms will raise fees to recoup revenue lost as a result of some of the new provisions. The reforms are affecting everyone in banking, she said, The first question everyone asks, she said, is what the fees will be. Recouping losses by raising customer account fees and minimum balances will create more barriers for the nation's unbanked, said Stanley Smith, a banking and finance professor at University of Central Florida. Other sources interviewed said the higher fees would force more back to the "quick-cash" industry to check cashers, payday-advance lenders, wire-transfer services and pawn shops. The article pointed out that "credit unions--which typically charge lower fees than big banks--are beginning to offer products such as money-transfer services" and short-term alternatives to payday loans and that several hundred credit unions offer the services. However, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) told the newspaper that credit unions are proceeding cautiously by balancing their fees so that they pay for the product or service delivered without being too high. Credit unions also offer prepaid check cards, with low fees and no overdraft fees, said the article.

Pennsylvania CUs approve PCUA bylaw changes

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/13/11)--Members of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) approved and ratified new bylaws, under which member credit unions will be grouped by asset size for the purpose of electing directors to the PCUA board. “The move to asset-based voting categories was all about fair representation on the PCUA board, and the voting results show that our members appreciate that,” said PCUA Chairman Michael Kaczenski, CEO of Sun East FCU, Aston (Life is a Highway July 12). Starting with the 2012 election cycle, PCUA member credit unions will vote according to these asset categories: $30 million or less; $30 million to $100 million; and more than $100 million. “This change represents the last piece of a very long and well-thought out series of governance retooling,” said PCUA President/CEO Jim McCormack. “Our board had the vision to begin retooling the organization’s governance and got the ball rolling in 2002. We’ve evolved by transforming the name from ‘league’ to ‘association,’ downsizing the board, adopting term limits, and--most recently--[adopting] asset-based voting categories.”

Study Consumers save 4.3B in late fees with bill pay

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HOUSTON (7/13/11)--More U.S. citizens used expedited bill-pay services in 2010, saving $4.3 billion in late fees, according to a May study by Javelin Strategy & Associates. As service providers expand their mix of expedited payment solutions offered to their financial institution clients, more credit unions will be able to deliver this service to members, the study found. Expedited payments pose a significant opportunity for financial institutions looking for consumer friendly ways to generate revenue in the aftermath of the Dodd-Frank Act amendment, the CARD Act and overdraft reform, said the study, “Expedited Payments: Consolidator Originated Routing Solutions May 2011” (PR Newswire July 12). The study evaluated four different routing options available for expedited payments: overnight check, money transfer services, direct biller connection and virtual card technology such as PreCash’s Billocity. Javelin found financial institutions are under-using this service, even though consumer demand for online and mobile expedited payments is rapidly increasing. Only seven of the top 40 U.S. banks--or 20%--offer expedited payments to their customers. Also, 58% of consumers who never made an expedited bill payment at their financial institution’s website--but who have made such payments at a biller site in the past 12 months--indicated they would like to use a financial institution site to make an expedited payment in the future. With demand for expedited bill-payment services growing, consumers are expected to garner $6.4 billion in savings by 2015, Javelin said. A National Federation for Credit Counseling survey conducted in 2009 found 58 million U.S. adults pay their bills late, and consumers paid $20 billion in credit card-bill late fees in 2009. To read the study, use the link.

Latest mergers in Kansas Calif. Wash.

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MADISON, Wis. (7/13/11)--Three more mergers of U.S. credit unions--one each in Kansas, Washington and California--have been announced and are pending. Among the pending mergers:
* CU of America (CUA) and First Choice CU, both in Wichita, Kan., intend to complete a merger by the end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012 (The Wichita Eagle July 12). The merger will create a $450 million asset credit union with 47,000 members, under the name of CUA. First Choice has three branches, plus a high school student branch. CUA has nine full-service branches in three cities, plus an employee-only branch at a hospital and a high school student branch. * Catholic CU and Yakima Valley CU (YVCU), both of Yakima, Wash., received approval of their merger application from the Washington Department of Financial Institutions and the National Credit Union Administration (Yakima Herald-Republic Online News July 7). YVCU members will next vote on the merger, since YVCU will merge into Catholic CU. The combined credit union will have $471 million in assets and nearly 50,000 members, with eight full-service branches. A new name and brand will be designed once the merger is complete. * 1st Choice FCU, Castro Valley, Calif., received approval June 2 to merge with and into SF Police CU, San Francisco, said the California Department of Financial Institutions. 1st Choice CU has $8.1 million in assets and two branches--one in Castro Valley and one in San Leandro. The $634.5 million asset SF Police CU has four branches: two in San Francisco, one in San Mateo and one in Pleasanton.

New Mexico governor appoints FI regulator

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SANTA FE, N.M. (7/13/11)--New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has named Albuquerque banker Cynthia Richards as the state's Financial Institutions Division director, effective July 25. The agency regulates more than 5,000 financial institutions, including credit unions (Associated Press via NewsChannel10.com July 12). Regulation and Licensing Superintendent J. Dee Dennis Jr. made the announcement Monday. Richards replaces Bill Verant, who was ousted after Martinez took office. With nearly 30 years of banking experience, Richards has served as vice president of American Bank, Rio Rancho, and Western Bank and First Community Bank in Albuquerque.

Court dismisses patent infringement case

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WASHINGTON (7/12/11)--A U.S. Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court's decision dismissing a mobile banking patent infringement case filed by MShift against Intuit, four credit unions and several banks. The decision was rendered Friday. MShift, based in Fremont, Calif. had filed the lawsuit initially against Digital Insight Corp. (DI), now called Intuit Financial Services (IFS), on Feb. 19, 2010, in the U.S. District Court for the California Northern District (San Francisco). Later it amended the suit to include the credit unions, eight banks, and Mobile Money Ventures (MVV), a mobile technology provider. The defendants' motion to dismiss before the lower court had alleged the patent in question is outmoded and "solves a problem that no longer exists." The credit unions named in the complaint include Meritrust CU, Wichita, Kan.; Professional FCU, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Fort Worth (Texas) Community CU; and USE CU, San Diego. The banks named in the suit were: Community Trust Bank, Sanford Institution for Savings, Gate City Bank, Busey Bank, Dension State Bank, Fidelity Bank, Internet Bank of Indiana and Vision Bank. MShift's suit alleged its patent for a system for converting wireless communications for a mobile device was infringed by Intuit and the others. The patent No. 6,950,881, referred to as Patent '881 in the suit, was granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Sept. 27, 2005, to Awele Ndili, MShift's former CEO (News Now Sept. 15, 2010). The patent was for a "conversion engine" that provided language to translate the contents of a Web page so it could display on mobile phones. Originally mobile phones were text-based browsers that didn't speak the Web HTML language, and they could not display Web pages the same as the pages displayed on desktop computers, said the complaint. In addition to the translation language, MShift also restructured multiple text boxes, which were graphic features or "input entries," into standard links that could display on the mobile devices. According to the defendants' motion to dismiss the case, none of this technology is necessary today, and there is no "first language" and "second language" involved in conversions because most mobile devices display the pages the same as on desktop--without the need to restructure. The suit claimed MShift contracted with Digital Insight as a reseller of its technology. It sought damages for the patent infringement claim against all the defendants, a breach of contract against IFS, and unfair competition against IFS. However, in the decision affirmed Friday by the U.S. Court of Appeals, the lower court had noted that "MShift has failed to meet its burden of showing the existence of genuine issues of material fact regarding whether the accused DI/MMV system infringes claim 20 of the '881 patent." It also "has not been able to uncover any competent evidence that the accused DI/MMV system works differently than how every witness and declarant has described under oath." "Not every patent case needs to churn on for years," said the lower court in the ruling that was affirmed. "Businesses have a legitimate need to know where they stand when accused of infringement…Mshift has now taken eleven depositions and has received over 186,000 pages of technical information in the months since the initial case management conference…It would be a waste of resources to allow MShift to go on additional fishing expeditions in vague hopes that something might turn up. Enough is enough." In a side note, Intuit announced two weeks ago it was expanding its mobile banking reach with the acquisition of MMV (Dow Jones Newswires June 27). Purchasing MMV gives Intuit ownership of all the technology used in Intuit’s mobile banking software provided to about 320 U.S. banks and credit unions.

At 101 Harry Hahn retires from CUs

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ERIE, Pa. (7/12/11)--After 60 years associated with credit unions, Harry Hahn, 101 has finally decided to retire, according to Erie Times-News (July 10). Hahn, who will turn 102 on Aug. 9, formally retired last month as a nonvoting director emeritus of the Erie (Pa.) FCU to spend more time with his bride, Theresa, age 92, whom he married late last year. Hahn--described by Erie FCU CEO Mary Beth Wilcher as having a "little hearing problem" but as "sharp as a tack"--also worked with Hammermill Employees FCU, where he served as board director, treasurer and supervisory committee member, before its merger with Erie FCU. He also was active in the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) and served on its board of directors for 15 years. He received its Lifetime Achievement Award and was its Volunteer of the Year. Jim McCormack, president/CEO of PCUA, described Hahn to the newspaper as humble, low-key and sincere. Hahn was a mentor to many, he said. "I owe so much to him, and a lot of people in Erie and the state would say the same thing," he said. Hahn credited his long career and his long life to moderation. "Do things moderately and be a volunteer. It is so self-satisfying to help out other people." He wanted to get across the message of helping others, rather than dwelling on his accomplishments. His greatest accomplishment, Hahn told the newspaper, "was to help people. Contact with people provided me with a fuller life."

CU goes the extra mile for member in trouble

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TAYLOR, Mich. (7/12/11)--How many banks would go the extra mile for a customer in trouble? Total Community CU, a $47 million asset credit union based in Taylor, Mich., did just that recently, in a classic demonstration of what makes credit unions different, according to the Michigan Credit Union League. Phillip Matous, president/CEO of the $47 million asset credit union, told the league last week that he recently found out about a member who arrived at the credit union around Memorial Day weekend, crying (Michigan Monitor July 11). A relative had just kicked the woman and her daughter out of the relative's home and they faced having to spend the night in her car, he told the league. The credit union's staff went into action. "Our staff took up a collection among themselves and used funds they had been collecting from jean day ($2 to wear jeans on certain days). "An employee with a bit of time that day went home and got some food for the lady and her daughter. She took all the money the staff contributed and rented a room at a local motel for three days for the lady and child, stocked it with food, bought her a gas card and a phone card," Matous reported. "During those three days, one of our member's fellow employees found a place she could stay after her time in the motel." "Today our member came in and told the staff she saved three weeks' pay and found an apartment. It brought tears to my eye," he said. So, how many banks would do that?

NuVision deploys Gen Y Street Team

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HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (7/12/11)--"It's not your father's credit union" was the message delivered by NuVision FCU's three Gen Y street teams during the Huntington Beach, Calif. Fourth of July Celebration. The credit union deployed three groups of three people on July 2, the first day of the festival, to communicate to young Gen Y attendees that NuVision is part of a transformation of the traditional credit union idea, with many credit unions open to wider fields of membership such as communities. Armed with information sign up cards and a grab bag with a chance to win either $1 or $100, the teams succeeded in gathering more than 400 information cards from the event's celebrants interested in hearing more about the $1.2 billion asset, Huntington Beach-based credit union. LJ Tarman, NuVision vice president of marketing and public relations, noted that team succeeded "in reaching out to a young demographic who may not be aware that credit unions like NuVision are now open to the general public." In addition to the street teams, NuVision boosted its presence at the festivities with an information booth all three days of the Pier Festival, runners in the Surf City 5K run, and the Miss Huntington Beach float in the parade. Its booth, dubbed the "NuVision Lounge," featured a charitable cause with the opportunity to purchase Children's Miracle Network Hospitals "balloons" for $1.

Ecuadoran CUs visit four Chicago area CUs

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (7/12/11)--About a dozen individuals from OSCUS, a credit union in Ecuador, recently visited four credit unions in the Chicago area to learn about credit union practices, as part of the World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) International Customized Training program. The host credit unions included Baxter CU (BCU), Vernon Hills; First Northern CU, downtown Chicago and Rockford; NorthStar CU, Warrenville; and South Division CU, Evergreen Park. Each credit union was shared information and discussed its specific role in one of the delegation’s major areas of concern. The challenges OSCUS faces in Ecuador are similar to U.S credit unions’ challenges. They include finding a balance between serving its traditional membership (low wealth, undereducated) with loans and deposits, while trying to be more modern and relevant when competing in the marketplace with big banks. Also, youth in Ecuador are not looking to credit unions for financial services. OSCUS aims to capture that market, gain new members and realize steady growth so it is not known just as the “poor man’s bank.” The credit union’s statistics include assets of $132.3 million (80% loaned out, and 2% in fixed assets; ranked fifth in assets among Ecuador credit unions), liabilities of $111.3 million (46% liquid deposits and 43% in certificates of deposit), and a loan portfolio of $102 million (with a 2.56% delinquency rate and 275% in regulatory reserves). “The delegation wanted to visit credit unions that were unique in each of these areas, and that is why I recommended they come to Chicago,” said Victor Miguel Corro, senior manager of WOCCU’s International Partnerships Program. Corro was joined for the trip by Josh Fetting, WOCCU International Partnerships officer. Lloyd Fredendall, CEO, NorthStar CU, kicked off the visit by explaining the governance and structure of the U.S. domestic credit union movement. BCU was a second stop on the trip, and CEO Mike Valentine and John Bratsakis, senior vice president of business development, discussed the use of technology and the electronic delivery of services and risk management. Also, Ed Berg, CEO of First Northern CU, and his staff emphasized marketing efforts, including branch design and branding. Geri Burek, CEO of South Division CU, discussed community involvement efforts. “The intention of this trip is they can go back and directly apply ideas and adopt new technology and services for the people, especially those they are trying to attract,” Corro said. “Anytime that you can share information, it can only benefit the credit union movement locally and on an international basis,” said Dan Plauda, Illinois Credit Union League president/CEO.

Mich. foundation sets 100 K goal for 2011

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LIVONIA, Mich. (7/12/11)--The Michigan Credit Union Foundation (MCUF) seeks to give $100,000 back to Michigan credit unions in the form of scholarships and grants during 2011 as part of an initiative to increase the foundation’s presence in the state. The initiative is being driven by the foundation’s board of trustees and is in response to work done at state credit union foundations nationwide, according to the Michigan Credit Union League (Michigan Monitor July 11). MCUF Executive Director Stacy Dugan said. Michigan, with its strong network of more than 300 credit unions, has the presence to meet the $100,000 goal, Dugan added. “MCUF is working to create recognition among Michigan credit unions as the source for support of employee education and grants for credit unions to reach out to their communities,” said Doug Burroughs, foundation Board of Trustees president. “MCUF seeks to elevate its profile and is looking to state credit union foundations with a similar league size and credit union footprint as role models.” The foundation created a video of trustees and credit union professionals who have benefited from the monies the MCUF offers. MCUF will add donation capabilities to its website, possibly by the end of the year. Online forms for scholarship and grant applications are also in the works. In addition to scholarships and grants, the foundation supports community outreach and engagement initiatives by credit unions through the Michigan Credit Union League’s Community Reinvestment Initiative grant program.

IUSA TODAYI CUs MBLs helping Iowa businesses

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DES MOINES, Iowa (7/12/11)--By providing member business lending, Iowa credit unions are helping commercial enterprises by filling the void in business lending that occurred when banks cut back on the loans since the start of the financial crisis, according to a Monday article in USA TODAY. In an article titled “Credit unions growing commercial lending business,” USA TODAY said total loans by banks declined by more than $500 billion from March 2009 to March 2011, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation data. The publication noted that “Over the past year, credit union business lending is up 5%, while bank business lending is down 3%--a decline of about $95 billion, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA)." Credit unions are moving into business lending partly because of slow demand for consumer credit--such as auto and home loans--Pat Keefe, CUNA vice president of communications and media, told the newspaper. “Businesses are looking for new sources of credit; credit unions are looking for new sources of borrowers,” Keefe added. “They’re improvising strategies to do business lending.” The article also mentioned the efforts of Veridian CU, a $1.78 billion asset, Waterloo, Iowa-based credit union, to provide a $25,000 line of credit to a Des Moines, Iowa, medical-supply company so it could fill large customer orders. The company could not get a bank to extend it a line of credit, the paper said. “We’re still doing everything we’ve ever done,” John Poley, Veridian head of commercial lending, told the paper. “We just so happen to be able to now step into a void in that lending space that [banks have] created.” To read the article, use the link. CUNA and credit unions are pressing Congress to increase credit unions’ MBL cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Doing so would open up more opportunity to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers, CUNA said.

WOCCU opens bidding on online charity auction

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MADISON, Wis. (7/12/11)--Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, the charitable arm of World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), opened bidding on its online charity auction Monday. Bidding will take place online at www.biddingforgood.com/woccu through July 26. All proceeds will be used to expand WOCCU’s credit union development work worldwide. The online format allows everyone to bid, including friends and family outside the credit union industry or those unable to attend the live event at WOCCU’s World Credit Union Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, July 24 through July 27. This year’s auction features hundreds of items from around the world, including sports tickets, artwork, jewelry and travel packages. “We have fantastic items this year, all donated by our fellow credit union colleagues around the world,” said Judy Ensweiler, wife of Texas Credit Union League President/CEO Dick Ensweiler, who is co-chairing the auction this year with Crissy Cheney, wife of Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney. “By bidding, you’ll not only get something great, but you’ll be supporting WOCCU’s development work and expanding credit union access to people worldwide.” Auction items were donated by credit unions, leagues, credit union service organizations and vendors from throughout the worldwide movement. For more information about the auction, use the link or contact Jeri Davis at 608-395-2088 or jdavis@woccu.org.

Money Mission included in Jumptart clearinghouse

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MADISON, Wis. (7/12/11)--Money Mission--an online financial literacy video game--has been approved for inclusion in the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy Clearinghouse, announced the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the Wisconsin Credit Union League Monday. Money Mission uses videos to teach personal finance basics--such as recognizing opportunity costs and budgeting--to high school students. Lessons are reinforced through interactive gameplay--teens’ preferred learning style. “Money Mission brings financial literacy training into the new millennium,” said Jill Nordstrom, director of member solutions for the Wisconsin CU League. Money Mission also offers scholarship opportunities to high school seniors. “Money Mission is now included in the nation’s most comprehensive collection of financial education resources for students,” said Terry Costin, CUNA senior vice president of sales and marketing. “This further demonstrates that Money Mission is an effective financial education tool, as only resources that meet the national standards in K-12 Personal Finance Education are selected.” More than 10% of Wisconsin credit unions and several credit unions in Illinois and North Carolina provide Money Mission to their members. For more information, use the link.

Pa. CUs continue to outperform national stats

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/12/11)--While Pennsylvania credit unions continue to outperform the nation’s credit unions in growth of assets, loans and members, results from the first quarter show mixed results with increased earnings, slow loan growth, and a record low in asset yields. The data were taken from the Pennsylvania Profile, a quarterly economic summary of Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) members, with statistics provided by the National Credit Union Administration and the Credit Union National Association. Savings balances rose 4% in the first quarter, greater than the 3.6% growth in first quarter 2010. Credit union savings balances are expected to continue growing in 2011 and 2012, according to PCUA (Life is a Highway July 11). However, consumers will struggle with tight household budgets, which could affect their ability to save, PCUA said. Asset yields fell to 4.06% in the first quarter--a 21 basis-point decline from the fourth quarter of 2010--and the lowest yield on assets in Pennsylvania credit union history. The first quarter drop in asset yields marks the fourth consecutive year of declines, a result of low interest rates. Increased loan growth in 2012 should boost asset yields. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate continues to drop, falling to 7.8% in March from 8.5% in December. An improving job market will improve credit quality and is expected reduce loan delinquencies, according to PCUA.

CU System briefs (07/11/2011)

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* ATASCADERO, Calif. (7/12/11)--A virus in an phony e-mail purporting to be from the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA) triggered an attempt to steal $83,000 through wire transfers from the city of Atascadero's account at Rabobank, the city said (The San Luis Obispo Tribune July 8). Three of the transfers--made on July 1 and adding up to $30,000--were sent to Tinker FCU, a $2.3 billion asset credit union based in Oklahoma City, Okla. Tinker does not do business with the city. Credit union employees flagged the transfers and informed the city about the transactions. The credit union will return the money to the city. Two other transfers made that day did not complete because of invalid account numbers. Another five unsuccessful attacks were mounted July 5 but were caught by Rabobank. The transfers in that attack were headed to financial institutions in California, Florida, Maryland and Pennsylvania … * SEATTLE (7/12/11)--Claudiu Tudor, 37, of Renton, Wash., was sentenced to five years in federal prison for fraud stemming from accessing consumers' bank accounts through skimming devices at ATMs and stealing more than $225,000 from 130 people. Tudor was convicted of bank fraud, conspiracy to commit access device fraud and aggravated identity theft, said the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle (The News Tribune July 9). The ATM skimming devices were placed at ATMs across the Puget Sound area, including at a Tukwila, Wash.-based BECU's branch in Puyallup. Tudor and a co-defendant installed the devices, along with tiny cameras to capture personal identification numbers (PINs) as they were keyed into the ATM. They used the information to make phony debit cards and raided consumers' accounts. They were caught after someone saw them loitering near an ATM in Woodinville and called the Sheriff's Office … * WHITEFISH, Mont. (7/12/11)--A former branch manager at Whitefish (Mont.) FCU was sentenced in a U.S. District Court in Missoula, Mont., Thursday to 30 days in a federal prison for embezzling nearly $677,000 from the credit union. Kathleen Sammons, 52, of Charlo, worked in the credit union's Polson branch, was charged with embezzlement and money laundering. She also was ordered to pay $676,872 in restitution and stay under supervised release for five years, including 17 months of home confinement. She told authorities she used Wite- Out to paint over the numbers in the daily cash counts, substituted other numbers and faxed the altered sheets to the accounting department so the Wite-Out would not be detected. She covered her theft during audits by withdrawing large amounts from high-balance members, then returning the money after the audit was over. A surprise audit on June 23, 2010, discovered the vault was $676,000 short. She used the funds to pay for a home, donate to local charities, pay for high school sports and banquet trips, make loan payments for members and cover thefts of cash by others (Missoulian.com July 7) … * BEAVERTON, Ore. (7/12/11)--Lynn Heider, an award-winning television news director in multiple high-profile markets, has been named assistant vice president, public relations and communications for the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA). For the past three years, Heider has served as news director for KOIN-TV, Portland, Ore. Prior to that she served as news director at WTEV and WAWS TV in Jacksonville, Fla.; WEWS in Cleveland, Ohio; and KSHB, Kansas City, Mo. The addition of Heider to the management team is part of the organization's commitment to elevate the association's role in strategic advocacy on behalf of member credit unions, said NWCUA CEO John Annaloro and NWCUA President Troy Stang in a joint statement. In addition to managing multi-million dollar budgets, Heider also helped KOIN-TV ascend to the No. 1 rating for the 11 p.m. newscast market … * FRANKLIN, Va. (7/12/11)--Bronco FCU has selected Brian Hedgepeth,
its former director of retail services, as its new CEO, announced the Franklin, Va.-based, $204 million asset credit union. Board Chairman Charlie Wrenn made the announcement on behalf of the board and staff. Hedgepeth has held the credit union's retail services director position for four years. Before that, he had experience with two banks, beginning with Virginia National Bank (later Sovran, then NationsBank) in 1981. In 1994, Hedgepeth moved to Crestar (now SunTrust), where he worked until taking a position at Bronco in 2007. (Photo provided by Bronco FCU) …

Brothers sentenced for multiple-state ID theft ring

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NEWARK, N.J. (7/11/11)--Two Brooklyn, N.Y., brothers each received sentences of 30 months in prison stemming from their participation in an identity theft ring that operated in six states and stole information to access home equity lines of credits (HELOCs) from bank customers and credit union members. Adewale Adenuga, 28, and Fuad Adenuga, 26, each had pleaded guilty last fall in a U.S. District Court in Newark, N.J., to one count of conspiracy to commit identity theft and wire fraud, said a press release from the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey (Targeted News Service (July 7). The multi-state identity theft ring operated in, among other places, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, and Florida. The Adenuga brothers gained access account and other information used by members and customers of credit unions, banks, and credit card issuers, including Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Washington Mutual, and TD Bank, according to court documents cited in the release. They stole account holder names, addresses, account numbers, Social Security numbers, and account balance information, which they used to perpetrate several fraudulent schemes related to HELOC accounts, credit card fraud, and withdraw thousands of dollars from accounts at credit unions and banks. The brothers and co-conspirators also traded the information over e-mail, impersonated account holders on the phone and in person, changed customer address information in bank files, transferred money from existing accounts to new accounts in the names of the identity theft victims, and withdrew funds from the new accounts by using debit cards at ATMs and money orders for cash. In addition to the 30 months in prison, the Adenuga brothers were sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay more than $177,217 in restitution. They also could face additional civil penalties. Co-defendant Ibrahim Yusuff also pleaded guilty to the same charge. He is scheduled to be sentenced July 21.

Alloya Corporate video presents case for capitalization

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WARRENVILLE, Ill. (7/11/11)--Alloya Corporate FCU--formerly the Members United Bridge Corporate FCU--has turned to a video to present its case for capitalization to member credit unions. Aug. 31 is the deadline for member credit unions to decide whether to capitalize the Warrenville, Ill.-based Alloya. The corporate has posted a video testimonial featuring four credit union executives sharing views about Alloya's day-to-day value to their credit unions (The Daily Exchange July 8). They include:
* Curt Cecala, CEO of TCT FCU, Ballston Spa, N.Y.; * John Fiore, president/CEO of Motorola Employees CU, Schaumburg, Ill.; * Kenneth Poyton, president/CEO of Postal Government Employees FCU, Providence, R.I.; and * Amy Sink, senior vice president/chief financial officer of Teachers CU, South Bend, Ind.
To access the video use the link.

Nearly 20K raised for CU people in N.D. flood

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MADISON, Wis. (7/11/11)--Since activating its online disaster relief system, CUAid.coop, last week, the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) has collected nearly $20,000 from the credit union community to assist people affected by recent flooding in North Dakota. “The flood waters in Minot are slowly receding, so the overall devastation is still unknown,” says Jeff Olson, vice president of advocacy and awareness for the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas. “The community’s water system was compromised, so the entire community (population of 41,000) has had to resort to boiling water the last two weeks. Some of the estimates have more than 4,100 residential homes lost or heavily damaged, including 3,000 homes under 10 feet of water. While we are humbled by the CUAid response so far, additional contributions are necessary and would be greatly appreciated,” Olson added. “We are sincerely grateful for your kind consideration,” he told credit unions. Credit union supporters can make donations through a secured website that accepts credit cards and wire transfers. CUAid is the only program of its kind that enables credit union employees, volunteers and members and credit unions and state credit union foundations across the U.S. to contribute directly to support other credit union people. As donations are posted, NCUF is coordinating with the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas to distribute money to credit union employees and members in the affected areas. CUAid was developed by NCUF in cooperation with state credit union foundations, state credit union leagues, and the Credit Union National Association’s Disaster Preparedness Committee in 2006. The secure online tool links the entire credit union system to raise money for disaster relief.

Liquidation prompts resignation on NJCUL board

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (7/11/11)--Calvin Jackson has resigned from the New Jersey Credit Union League (NJCUL) board following the liquidation of $1 million asset St. James A.M.E FCU, Newark, where he served as a director. NCUA liquidated St. James A.M.E FCU on June 24. The credit union’s members were assumed by $194 million asset North Jersey FCU, Totowa, N.J. Jackson resigned pursuant to league bylaws requiring a director to be with a credit union in good standing (The Daily Exchange July 8). He served on the board since 2008. His three-year term would have expired Dec. 31, 2012. The resignation means that two seats will be open in the NJCUL Tier A--for candidates from credit unions under $33.875 million in assets--during the current next election cycle. All league member credit unions will receive an amended call for nominations reflecting the Tier A vacancy.

CUNA tells IN.Y. TimesI why CUs aggressive on mortgage loans

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NEW YORK (7/11/11)--Credit unions have emerged in the mortgage lending market largely because they could keep on lending during the financial crisis since they didn't get caught up in subprime loans, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Chief Economist Bill Hampel told The New York Times Friday in an article about credit unions' mortgage lending. The article, "Credit Unions Join the Fray," suggests that credit unions are aggressively entering the mortgage lending area as a good an option for consumers. Hampel noted that from the mid-1990s to mid-2000s, credit unions accounted for 2% of the first-mortgage market, but it more than doubled in 2008-2009 to 4.5%. Credit unions didn't make subprime loans, so when other institutions crumpled under those loans, credit unions kept on lending, Hampel told the Times. In the article, the publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance indicated credit unions have emerged as fairly aggressive because they've decided mortgage loans are a good use of assets. The loans are "an opportunity to help our members achieve the American dream of owning their own home, said Queens, N.Y.-based Melrose CU spokesman Robert Nemeroff in the article. However, the credit union maintains prudent lending policies for a sound mortgage portfolio and a healthy borrowing situation for the member, he said. CUC Mortgage Corp., established by the Credit Union Association of New York, told the Times that New York has seen a 15% increase in mortgage loans, especially to first-time homebuyers. For the full article, use the link.

N.Y. CU Foundation names two new trustees

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ALBANY, N.Y. (7/11/11)--The New York Credit Union Foundation, the charitable arm of the Credit Union Association of New York, appointed two new board trustees at its recent annual meeting.
Alfred Frosolone, CEO, Niagara’s Choice FCU, Niagara Falls, N.Y., was appointed to fill a vacant seat and Louis Jimenez, CEO/treasurer, Montauk CU, New York, joins the foundation board as the newly elected chair of the association. Rounding out the foundation Board of Trustees are:
* Linda Bourgeois, CEO, UFirst FCU; Plattsburgh, N.Y.; * Kevin A. Brauer, senior vice president, Members United Bridge Corporate FCU, Warrenville, Ill. ; * Brian Clarke, chief financial officer, Bethpage FCU, Bethpage. N.Y.; * John C. Gibardi, president/CEO, Entertainment Industries FCU, New York; * Chris Guild, account consultant manager, CUNA Mutual Group, Madison, Wis.; * Gerard Herrling, principal, CarPort Consulting, Fort Worth, Texas; * Shirley Jenkins, secretary/Board of Directors, Municipal CU, New York; * James L. Mack, business development executive, Sunmark FCU, Latham, N.Y.; * William J. Mellin, president/CEO, Credit Union Association of New York, Albany, N.Y.; * Vicki O’Neill, president/CEO, ACMG FCU, Solvay, N.Y.; * Mark Pfisterer, president/CEO, AmeriCU, Rome, N.Y.; * Christine Peters, CEO, Family First of NY FCU, Rochester, N.Y.; * John Prumo, president/CEO, GPO FCU, New Hartford, N.Y.; * Bruno Sementilli, president/CEO, Quorum FCU, Purchase, N.Y.; * Mike Vadala, president/CEO, The Summit FCU, Rochester, N.Y.; and * Robyn Young, CEO, Great Erie FCU, Erie, N.Y.

YouTube video provides overview of NCUFs CIF

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MADISON, Wis. (7/11/11)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) has posted a four-minute YouTube video that provides an overview of NCUF’s primary funding mechanism, the Community Investment Fund (CIF).
The informal video features Josie Collins, NCUF’s resource development and donor relations director. The video includes information on how the funds are distributed and how credit union organizations can invest. Collins describes CIF as an innovative way for credit unions to participate in and support the programs and services that NCUF and the state credit union foundations provide. “CIF is a unique, social investment opportunity,” Collins says in the video.

Iowa CUs work to advance Panamas CU system

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PANAMA CITY, Panama (7/11/11)--Iowa Credit Union League (ICUL) executives and CEOs from three member credit unions traveled to Panama June 24-28 to help their counterparts in the Central American country address growth and development issues related to regulation and the development of a central finance facility.
Click to view larger image Iowa Credit Union League (ICUL) executives and CEOs from three member credit unions visited Panamanian credit unions as part of the World Council of Credit Unions’ International Partnerships Program. From left, Victor Miguel Corro, WOCCU International Partnerships senior manager; Mike Whittie, president, Federal Employees CU, Des Moines, Iowa; Tim Chapman, CEO, Members Community CU, Muscatine, Iowa; Ana Giselle Rosas de Vallarino, executive director of Panamanian Autonomous Cooperative Institute; Jim Niederhauser, ICUL director of credit union growth; Murray Williams, ICUL chief operating officer; Pat Drennen, CEO, 1st Gateway CU, Camanche, Iowa; and Warren Morrow, CEO, Coopera Consulting, Des Moines. (Photo provided by Iowa Credit Union League)
The annual exchange was the latest in a relationship between ICUL and the Panama credit union trade organization Corporación Fondo de Estabilización y Garantía de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito de Panamá, R.L. (COFEP), made possible in 2005 through World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) International Partnerships Program. “ICUL’s significant contributions to the program these past six years truly reflect the cooperative nature of our industry and show the value in sharing resources through this partnership,” said Victor Miguel Corro, WOCCU senior manager in charge of the program. While in Panama, the visitors and WOCCU hosted a day-long conference for more than 50 Panamanian credit union attendees. The conference provided best practices and addressed challenges facing Panama’s credit unions. Presentation topics included collaboration, new business development ventures, innovative ways to generate loan interest and development of a central finance facility to manage systemwide liquidity. Murray Williams, ICUL chief operating officer, spoke to the group about the importance of finding collaborative and innovative solutions to their members’ needs. Jim Niederhauser, ICUL vice president of member services, discussed the demands placed on credit unions by Generation Y. Warren Morrow, CEO of Coopera Consulting, a subsidiary of ICUL, showed how U.S. credit unions are growing by serving the underserved Hispanic market. Corro talked about the importance of international partnerships in strengthening the global credit union movement. The conference wrapped up with a panel of Iowa credit union CEOs discussing best practices from their institutions. Panel participants included ICUL Vice Chair Tim Chapman, CEO of Members Community CU, Muscatine; ICUL Board Member Pat Drennen, CEO of 1st Gateway CU, Camanche; and ICUL Board Member Mike Whittie, Federal Employees CU, Des Moines. Discussion topics included the typical day for a U.S. credit union executive, best practices in generating loan demand and an open forum discussion on the benefits of a central finance facility. During the visit, Iowa executives also participated in a meeting with the Panamanian credit union regulator. Ana Giselle Rosas de Vallarino, executive director of Panamanian Autonomous Cooperative Institute (IPACOOP) met with the Iowa delegation, WOCCU and COFEP to discuss the need for a cooperative central finance facility among Panamanian credit unions. A meeting with Panama’s cooperative trade association, CONALCOOP, addressed broad alliances across the cooperative movement and a microfinance fund to help start up small businesses in the country. “Sharing and learning from others is at the core of credit unions’ people-helping-people philosophy,” said Williams. “Collaboration will be critical to the future vitality of the U.S. credit union movement, and the same is certainly true in Panama.”

CU System briefs (07/08/2011)

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* RALEIGH, N.C. (7/11/11)--Raleigh, N.C.-based State Employees' CU (SECU) raised a record $59,000 for March of Dimes March for Babies
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recently, with about 300 SECU team members participating in the annual three-mile march. Credit union staff in the area collected donations through various events, including a Cutest Baby and Pet Contest, gift basket bids, raffles, candy bar sales and individual donations. Many branches outside the Triangle area also raised funds and participated in local walks, adding thousands more to the total. "Once again, the SECU team has outdone themselves. Their passion and commitment to this mission is bigger than the problems in our economy," said LaRonda S. Scott, division director of the Eastern Carolina Division of March of Dimes. Pictured are members of SECU's team. (Photo provided by the State Employees' CU) … * BURNSVILLE, Minn. (7/11/11)--Bob Stowell, right, senior vice president/chief operating officer of Burnsville, Minn.-based US FCU, i
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s pictured with friends made during a Burnsville Morning Rotary Club humanitarian mission to Haiti in February. Organized by Haiti Outreach, the mission focused on providing assistance near Pignon, an area devastated by the 2010 earthquake. Stowell and his group collaborated with Haitians to build and maintain community-initiated projects to advance their development. For three days, he worked on the major Pignon project, building a pump house. He also attended the dedication of a well, which cut Haitians' travel time to a water source from four hours to 45 minutes. Stowell, who is incoming district governor for Rotary District 5950, also visited the village of Ronkit to begin planning, funding and constructing a school. He likened his work with the service organization with his role in the credit union industry. "It's all about serving others," he said, "whether it's a fresh water supply for a Haitian mother or helping a member achieve a financial dream, it's great to know that others will have a better way of life because of the work we have done." (Photo provided by US FCU)…

CU System briefs (07/07/2011)

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* CHESTERFIELD, Va. (7/8/11)--DuPont Fibers FCU, Chesterfield, Va., will change its name Aug. 1 to Argent CU to better reflect its overall membership, which has evolved over the years since it was founded in 1956, and its Greater Richmond, community charter. The $190 million asset credit union said the new name has an affinity with the DuPont name. "DuPont" is French, and "argent" is the French word for money. Also, in Latin, "argent" means silver or coins. "DuPont Fibers FCU is changing names, not direction," said President/CEO Rose Gilliam, who added the credit union is "still dedicated to being our members' trusted financial partner for life. Simply, we are Argent CU, the new name for money" … * GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (7/8/11)--Xtend Inc., a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based cooperative credit union service organization (CUSO), announced that two board directors were re-elected during the CUSO's Eighth Stockholders' Meeting last week at its headquarters. Steve Searfoss of South Bend, Ind.-based AAA FCU and Barb Niedbala of Rogers City, Mich.-based Calcite CU, were re-elected to three-year terms. The meeting, the CUSO's largest to date, served as a kickoff for networking events hosted by its sister CUSO, CU*Answers. Xtend President Scott Collins said Xtend hopes to set a pace of growth within its network of partners to bring more opportunities across the board, including establishing new partnerships with fellow CUSOs or helping credit unions drive more loan pipeline activity in their shops …

45M people manipulate IDs on applications study says

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (7/8/11)--Roughly 45 million people in the U.S. have deliberately maneuvered their identities in applications for a variety of financial and other transactions, according to a study by ID Analytics Inc. They maneuvered their identities in applications for credit, for cell phone service, for auto loans and other transactions, said the San Diego-based consumer risk management company. ID Analytics Inc. is a CUNA Strategic Services provider. Its ID:A Labs conducted the study with data from its network, which contains more than 1.4 billion unique identity events for 300 million people. The study looks beyond typos and name changes to examine deliberate and improper variations of Social Security numbers, names, and dates of birth. Its findings:
* Eight million people use two or more Social Security numbers; * Sixteen million people use multiple dates of birth; and * Ten million people manipulated their identities by co-mingling some of their spouse's information (Social Security number or birth date) into their own identity.
The company provided examples from three of the most prolific offenders:
* Offender No. 1, who resides in Philadelphia, Pa., has 165 variations of Social Security numbers, 44 different dates of birth, and three different first names; * Offender No. 2, who resides in Brooklyn, N.Y. has 146 Social Security numbers, eight dates of birth, and eight different first names; and * Offender No. 3, who resides in Cleveland, Ohio, has 106 Social Security numbers, 12 dates of birth, and six different first names.
"This is the first national study of people who are explicitly manipulating identity information," said Stephen Coggeshall, Ph.D. and chief technology officer at ID Analytics. "While there is extensive research on the crime of identity fraud and its victims, there is far less on the actual perpetrators of the crime. Now, for the first time, there is a comprehensive view of who identity manipulators are, where they are living and specifically how they are manipulating their personal information," he added. "Deliberate identity manipulation is far more prevalent than we imagined," Coggeshall said. "We aren't including people using nicknames or making a typo on a Social Security number or date of birth, but rather repeated and intentional alteration of key identity elements, in some cases by spouses and parents." He added the study uncovered fraudsters, people manipulating their identity to hide in plain sight, as well as those seeking to avoid poor credit ratings. The worst cities for identity manipulation are metro areas in Michigan--including Detroit, Flint and Lansing--and Texas, which includes Dallas, Houston, and border and coastal towns such as Corpus Christi, El Paso and McAllen.

CUNA economist touts CU lending on IBloomberg RadioI

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WASHINGTON (7/8/11)--Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Chief Economist Bill Hampel was live on Bloomberg Radio Thursday discussing the economy and its recovery--and got in a plug for credit union lending in the process. During the nationally aired show, "The Hays Advantage,” featuring Kathleen Hays,Thursday afternoon, Hampel noted that consumers are feeling better about their own finances, but they are still very worried about the economy. “Consumers are basically able to spend more than they did before; they just aren’t yet willing to do so quite yet,” Hampel said. “One of the things that we see in credit unions is a lot of credit unions have plenty of money to lend, and are quite willing to lend to their members. As we’ve said before, [credit union] members and consumers have improving credit ratings--but they’re just not willing to borrow, not yet --but I think that’s going to be turning around quite soon,” he said. The CUNA economist noted that there’s plenty of available supply of credit, but it’s really up to the consumer to take action, at least at this point. “The consumer is quite able to borrow; but the consumer has to pull the trigger,” Hampel said.

Visa CEO notes interchange rules impact on CUs

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NEW YORK (7/8/11)--As it made its first filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) since the Federal Reserve's final ruling on restricting debit card interchange fees, Visa Inc. said in a conference call Wednesday that it expects credit unions and small banks and other programs to see "unintended consequences" from the rule. Visa CEO Joseph Saunders said Wednesday in the conference call that the 21-cent limit for debit card payments, excluding a fraud-protection fee, allows card issuers to "at least partly defray the cost of running a secure, reliable and efficient debit card program (Dow Jones Newswires via NASDAQ.com July 7). However, Visa continues to believe that the cap "will have unintended consequences as it relates to small banks, credit unions, prepaid and government programs, as well as industry investments in security, innovation and reliability," Saunders said. He indicated the card company would continue to provide "some level of incentives to specific merchants" to ensure they route payments through Visa's network. Any increases in incentives would be "primarily due to significant increases in global volume" rather than regulation or legislation. The company could make concessions about how much it charges financial institutions for processing transactions in order to preserve and grow the business under the new structure, said Visa Chief Financial Officer Byron Pollitt during Wednesday's conference call on the impact of the Fed's rule. In its SEC filing Wednesday Visa said it expects its revenue for this year to grow 11% to 15% and more in 2012. Earnings per class A share are expected to increase more than 20% this year and percentages in the middle to high teens in 2012. Visa's guidance has implications for other credit card programs, said Dow Jones. MasterCard has told its investors to expect more than 20% earnings per share growth this year, next, and in 2013.

LSCU honors pros CUs for service

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (7/8/11)--The League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) recognized seven credit unions and executives for their work and dedication, with LSCU Awards during the closing general session of its second Annual Convention & Exposition (AC&E) on June 18. Each award was also accompanied by a video highlighting the good works of the recipient. The awards are granted to professionals, volunteers and credit unions that have made outstanding contributions to the development and growth of the credit union movement in Alabama and Florida. The LSCU Award categories and winners were:
* Distinguished Service Award--Bill Marquardt (posthumous), former CEO, $288 million asset City County CU of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Marquardt’s picture also will hang in the Credit Union House in Washington, D.C.; * Professional of the Year--Joe McGee, president/CEO, $367 million asset Legacy Community CU, Birmingham, Ala.; * Volunteer of the Year--Maurice W. Johnson, chairman, $1 billion asset Pen Air FCU, Pensacola, Fla.; * Credit Union of the Year (less than $100 million in assets)--$72 million asset NAHEOLA CU, Pennington, Ala.; * Credit Union of the Year ($100 million to $500 million in assets)--$410 million asset Alabama CU, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; * Credit Union of the Year ($500 million or more in assets)--$1.2 billion asset CFE FCU, Lake Mary, Fla.; and * Brother’s Keeper--All Alabama and Florida credit unions, for their efforts following the tornadoes in Alabama in April.

Man pleads guilty to shooting teller during robbery

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GREENSBURG, Pa. (7/8/11)--A Crafton, Pa., man pleaded guilty Thursday to charges stemming from a Jan. 8, 2010, robbery that left two tellers of Westmoreland Community FCU injured. David Louis Mathis, 47, faced a possible life sentence. However, he pleaded guilty to using a firearm during a crime of violence in exchange for an agreement that he would serve the mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and five years on probation, said Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (July 7). During the robbery, Mathis walked into the Greensburg, Pa.-based credit union shortly before 4 p.m. and fired a 9 mm pistol at a teller's computer monitor. The bullet went through the monitor and struck the teller in the stomach. A second bullet appeared to target another teller's head, but the teller ducked and the bullet hit the wall behind her. Two other shots were fired at random, said the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Jan. 8, 2010). He also pistol-whipped another female teller when the teller who was shot couldn't open the vault. According to the Tribune-Review, Mathis fled the credit union with $6,878 and got into a sports utility vehicle driven by Lamont Laprade, 34, of Huntington, W.Va. The getaway vehicle was pointed in the wrong direction and became blocked by a member pulling into the credit union. Mathis and Laprade opened fire on the other vehicle before turning the SUV around and fleeing. They abandoned the SUV and fled through snow on foot. State Troopers found Laprade hiding in a barn two miles away. Mathis was arrested the next day at a mall trying to buy shoes and clothing after spending the night in the cold. Laprade faces six charges, including armed bank robbery and conspiracy. Sentencing for Mathis is set for Oct. 26.

UIECU celebrates first year as universitys Visa provider

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (7/8/11)--The University of Illinois Alumni Association (UIAA) and the University of Illinois Employees CU (UIECU) are celebrating the first year of the Official Visa Card of the University of Illinois. In July 2010, UIAA selected the $252.6 million-asset, Champaign, Ill.-based UIECU, which has served University of Illinois families for nearly 80 years, to provide an Illinois-branded Visa credit card to its 625,000 members. The endorsement replaced a 19-year relationship with MBNA and its successor, Bank of America. UIAA said the credit union could provide better credit card terms and service to alumni than the major banks that have traditionally sponsored such affinity programs. In the first eight months of the program, the new partnership issued more University of Illinois-branded credit cards than any college or university during the previous calendar year nationwide. As part of the program, Illinois alumni and fans may carry one of six card designs representing the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield campuses. Cardholders also have the option to enroll in a rewards program. In one year, more than 2.5 million points have been earned by the program’s cardholders--translating to hundreds of free airline flights. “One year later, our cardholders are already saving over $250,000 annually in interest expense due to our low rates,” said E.J. Donaghey, UIECU president/CEO. As part of the partnership, a royalty is paid to the university’s alumni association from the transaction fee paid by merchants when they accept the card for payment. The royalties help fund alumni association programs, communications and services that benefit alumni, students and the University of Illinois.

Five more CU mergers in the works

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MADISON, Wis. (7/8/11)--Consolidation in the credit union industry continues nationwide, including a merger between two of the largest credit union trust companies. Among the mergers in the works:
* BECU Trust Co., Tukwila, Wash., will merge with Members Trust Co., Tampa, Fla., forming the largest credit union service organization for trust services in the U.S., according to the two companies. Under terms of the merger agreement, BECU, with $165 million in assets under management will gain an ownership interest in Members Trust Company, which has $700 million in assets under management. * Towpath CU, with $76 million assets, Fairlawn, Ohio, and $39 million-asset TeleCommunity CU, Akron, Ohio, have merged. The continuing credit union will retain the Towpath name (Beacon Journal July 6). Alan McArthur, Towpath CU president/CEO; and Rose Bartolomucci, president/CEO of TeleCommunity CU, will operate the credit union as a team, with McArthur serving as CEO and Bartolomucci serving as president. * Charleston Newspapers FCU, Charleston, W.Va., with $2.4 million assets, has merged into $75 million-asset Members Choice WV FCU, also of Charleston (Daily MailJuly 4). * Birmingham (Ala.) News Employees CU, has merged into $560 million-asset Alabama One CU, Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Birmingham News July 1). * Huntingdon County FCU, with $11.9 million assets, Huntingdon, Pa., has merged into SPE FCU, with $65 million assets, State College, Pa. (Centre Daily Times July 5).

CenCorp completes capital offering

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SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (7/8/11)--Central Corporate CU (CenCorp) announced it completed its Perpetual Contributed Capital (PCC) offering July 1. CenCorp said it received strong support from its existing members, with more than 90% of member credit unions giving PCC commitments of $80 million so far. CenCorp said it anticipates contributions will rise as the process is finalized and paperwork is revised from additional members. “This is a significant milestone for CenCorp,” said Bill Walby, CenCorp CEO. “With the capital change, CenCorp is positioned to serve members under its revised business model and comply with new regulatory requirements. The high participation rate from members demonstrates that a credit union-owned cooperative for correspondent services continues to make sense. We are fortunate to have received this level of support.” CenCorp, based in Southfield, Mich., is a corporate credit union that provides wholesale investment, credit and correspondent services to more than 300 credit unions.

June bankruptcies down says another report

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NEW YORK (7/8/11)--Another study confirms that the number of U.S. citizens filing for bankruptcy is declining, although that doesn’t necessarily portend an improving economy, according to a Wednesday article in The New York Times. U.S. bankruptcy filings in June totaled 120,623--an average of 5,483 per day, which is a 6.2% decline from May, when filings were 122,775--or 5,846 per day, according to a report from Epiq Systems, a company that monitors bankruptcy filings. For a related News Now Tuesday article about another bankruptcy report and credit unions, use the link. Compared with filings in June 2010, average daily filings are down nearly 10%, Epiq’s study found. In the short term, access to credit can influence the bankruptcy rates. When lenders tighten their standards, bankruptcy filings usually increase because consumers feeling the pinch no longer can use credit cards or other loans to float them through a rough financial period. When there is a rise in new loans being issued, filings tend to fall--at least for a while, the Times said. Overall bankruptcy filings should drop 5% to 10% this year, leveling at roughly 1.46 million--in large part because consumers have a little more access to credit now than in recent years, Robert Lawless, a University of Illinois College of Law professor who specializes in bankruptcy, told the Times. That estimate compares with roughly 1.56 million filings in 2010 and nearly 1.45 million in 2009. To read the article, use the link.

Auto loan originations for Q1 up 20

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ATLANTA (7/7/11)--Auto loan originations for first quarter 2011 rose 20% over originations during first quarter 2010, according to Equifax's May 2011 National Credit Trend Report. While that is a good trend, credit unions will need to improve their share of the auto loan market--what historically has been termed their bread and butter. Credit unions' new-auto loan balances declined 16.5% in 2010, while used-auto loan growth increased modestly (3.4% ), says Credit Union National Association's U.S. Credit Union Profile Year-End Summary for 2010. Last year, credit unions' market penetration was 5% for new-auto loans and 11.4% for used-auto loans. Yet, 94.7% of credit unions offered new-auto loans and 95.7% offered used-auto loans last year. In March 2011, auto loan originations nationwide represented $1.8 million, the largest monthly total since summer 2008, said the report from Equifax, a credit information solutions provider. That total eclipsed the $1.6 million monthly totals driven by the "Cash for Clunkers" program in summer 2009. During first quarter, lenders made $87 billion in new-auto loans--a 21% increase over the loans in first quarter 2010. For March, loan amounts totaled $33.6 billion, up from $30 billion in the same month last year. The loans continue to approach pre-recession lending levels for $34.7 billion in March 2007. Other findings among Equifax's statistics for March:
* Average auto loan amounts among all borrowers were relatively unchanged from March 2010. Credit unions, banks and savings and loans originated loans averaging $18,661, compared with $18,463 in March 2010. Auto finance companies originated an average $19,013 loan, compared with $19,236 for March last year. * Average new-auto loan payments among all borrowers are slightly lower than the same period's averages in 2010. Borrowers at credit unions and other financial institutions average a $366 payment, compared with $377 in March 2010. Auto loan companies averaged $397 versus $404 in March 2010. * Average loan amount for prime borrowers is about equal to or slightly higher than pre-recession levels. * Auto delinquencies and write-offs are approaching pre-recession levels , with both continuing to improve in 2011.
"While some sectors of the economy--most notably housing--continue to struggle, the auto lending sector has displayed positive gains on loosening of credit to both prime and subprime borrowers paired with improvements in consumer payment behavior, which is reflected in the declining number of auto loan delinquencies," said Michael Koukounas, senior vice president of special client services at the Atlanta-based Equifax. The study is based on data from more than 55 million consumers and 81 million businesses worldwide.

Pedestrian killed in CUs parking lot

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KOKOMO, Ind. (7/7/11)--A pedestrian crossing a credit union's parking lot in Kokomo, Ind., was killed Monday morning when a driver lost control of her pickup truck after it left the drive-through lane. Kelsey R. Comer, 23, of Monticello, was killed just after 10:30 a.m. Monday as she walked in the parking lot of Financial Builders CU, according to several news reports (Kokomo Perspective.com, theindychannel.com and WISH TV.com July 5). The driver of the pickup truck, Blanche Stewart, 81, of Kokomo told police she had left the drive-through lane and was westbound in the lot when she lost control of the truck and hit a parked van, the credit union building, and Comer, who died at the scene.

MCUA board seats new officers

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ST. LOUIS (7/7/11)--The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) board of directors finalized its executive team at its annual planning session by naming Mike O’Brien, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at St. Louis Community CU, as its secretary, and Rick Nichols, president of River Region CU, Jefferson City, as its treasurer. They join: Chair--Dennis Pierce, president, CommunityAmerica CU, Lenexa; First Vice Chair Brian Eyestone, president, Southpointe CU, St. Louis; and Second Vice Chair--Judy Hadsall, president, CU Community CU, Springfield. The board spent two days in St. Louis discussing the future of credit unions in Missouri, and the role MCUA will play in assisting them. Discussion included regulatory and legislative concerns; economic conditions and the financial health of credit unions; continuing education and professional development (The Missouri difference July 5). “The planning session this year put a spotlight on what the association can do to help keep credit unions a vibrant, growing consumer-friendly banking choice for Missouri citizens,” said Mike Beall, MCUA president. Other 2011 MCUA Board of Directors include:
* Tony DiGiovani, president, CSD CU, Kansas City; * Carolyn Ross, president, Northland Teachers Community CU, Gladstone; * Bob Eike, president, Century CU, St. Louis; * Louie Delk, president, Conservation Employees CU, Jefferson City; * Kirk Mondy, president, Poplar Bluff (Mo.) FCU; * Coby Lamb, president, Northwest Missouri Regional CU, Maryville; * Ex Officio--Stan Moekli, president, Electro Savings CU, St. Louis.

CUMIS lawsuit CU staffer fraud came before bankruptcy

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (7/7/11)--CUMIS Insurance Society Inc., a provider of employee fidelity insurance to credit unions, and which also is part of CUNA Mutual Group, has filed a lawsuit to prevent a former credit union staffer convicted of fraud from discharging debt under bankruptcy. CUMIS is trying to recoup insurance money paid to Staley CU, Decatur, Ill., stemming from her fraudulent actions while employed at the credit union, saying the fraudulent actions occurred before she declared bankruptcy. Plaintiff CUMIS filed suit Friday against defendant Diane Shelton, a former loan officer at the credit union, in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of Illinois, in Springfield. The insurance company paid nearly $1.7 million to Staley CU as a result of alleged fraud perpetrated by Shelton and two others--Terry Hart, a mortgage broker, and Mark Brown, an appraiser. The three allegedly conspired to inflate values on homes for the purpose of causing Staley to issue purchase-money mortgage loans using the homes as collateral, according to the complaint. CUMIS issued an employee fidelity bond to Staley that insured against dishonesty by Staley employees, including Shelton, said the complaint filed. When Staley found out about the fraudulent loan mortgage scheme, the credit union terminated Shelton’s employment and conducted an investigation into her actions. Subsequently, Shelton pleaded guilty to the charges, was convicted, and sentenced to more than 12 months in prison. After Shelton reported to prison March 2, she filed for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and is looking to discharge all her debts. Co-defendant Brown entered into a plea agreement with the U.S. attorney and also is in prison. Co-defendant Hart committed suicide on the day he was to be sentenced, according to the court documents.

CUNA cites rates in articles picked up by media

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MADISON, Wis. (7/7/11)--Credit unions offer better interest rates than banks, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) said in an article that was picked up by several newspapers nationwide. The article, “Shoestring Living: Banks vs. Credit Unions,” which was distributed by Gatehouse News Service, discussed some of the general differences--nonprofit, member-owned--between credit unions and banks. The last point of comparison concerns interest rates. “It all boils down to dollars and cents, doesn’t it?” the article said. “According to the Credit Union National Association, loans through credit unions have lower interest rates than banks across the board, while credit unions boast higher savings-related interest rates.” The article mentioned that credit unions now can compete with banks on programs for online bill pay, child and teen banking, and special savings accounts--such as those for holiday savings and high school prom.

Missouri governor vetoes duplicate CU bill

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (7/7/11)--Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a credit union bill in the state House that was nearly a duplicate of a bill in the state Senate, to avoid “ambiguity” (Missouri News Horizon July 5). Nixon vetoed House Bill 465, but signed Senate Bill 306 into law Tuesday. “The only difference in the two bills is the advice and consent of the Senate in the Senate bill for approval of the director of credit unions,” Peggy Nalls, senior vice president of public legislative affairs for the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA), told News Now. “There was no substantive change between the two bills; it was just that the House bill didn’t have that provision so [the state government] chose the Senate bill. “We supported it, and the state Credit Union Division supported it, so it was a relatively easy thing to do,” Nalls added. The bill was introduced to make clearer some language in the Credit Union Act, including:
* Clarification that the Credit Union Division is under the Department of Insurance and that the director is appointed by the governor; * Confidentiality of exam records; * Due process for removal of credit union directors and officers; * The lifting of the $25,000 limit for volunteer unsecured loans; * The removal of the outdated reserve transfer calculation; and * The allowance for electronic balloting in mergers and conversions (The Missouri difference July 5).
All provisions of the new language are effective Aug. 28, said MCUA. The Missouri Credit Union Division, in a communication to all Missouri state-chartered credit unions, said it will soon distribute guidance on how the bill will affect credit unions

MnCUN international visitors meet on CU difference

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (7/7/11)--The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) welcomed participants of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) to its St. Paul office Friday.
Click to view larger image The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) hosted participants of the International Visitor Leadership Program Friday. Mark D. Cummins (left), MnCUN president/CEO, provided participants an overview of the credit union difference and how credit unions are structured during their visit to MnCUN’s office.
Click to view larger image Hiway FCU President Jeff Schwalen (second from right) described the credit union cooperative model, how profits are passed on to members, and the benefits of shared branching to participants of the International Visitor Leadership Program during the group’s visit to the Minnesota Credit Union Network’s office. (Photo provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Network)
Seven professionals--from Argentina, Bulgaria, Israel, Malawi, Oman, the People’s Republic of China and Sri Lanka--visited MnCUN to learn more about credit unions, their role in communities, and initiatives for financial recovery. The purpose of the group’s nearly three-week visit to the U.S. was to investigate how other countries can help integrate of emerging markets into the world economy, to learn about efforts to strengthen the global economy, and to gain a better understanding of the relationship between U.S. and foreign financial systems. Participants learned the role credit unions play in the U.S. financial industry. MnCUN staff provided an overview of the network’s purpose and explained the differences between credit unions and banks. The IVLP participants asked how the economic crisis affected U.S. financial institutions. Mark Cummins, MnCUN president/CEO, explained that while a few credit unions were severely affected during the financial crisis, the impact was more greatly felt within the banking industry. Credit unions now have the opportunity to expand their market share and grow business lending, an area where banks continue to struggle, Cummins said. The seven visitors asked about how credit unions are regulated and how they operate. Jeff Schwalen, president of Hiway FCU, St. Paul, answered questions and talked about the credit union cooperative model, how profits are passed on to members and the benefits of shared branching. Following its visit to MnCUN, the group visited South Metro FCU in Prior Lake, Minn. to learn more about credit union operations and the services they offer. During their U.S. trip, IVLP participants also visited New York, Boston and Charlotte, N.C.

NYU CU uses grant to reach low-income students

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NEW YORK (7/7/11)--Through a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), $13 million-asset New York University FCU, New York, is offering a financial education program to help low-wealth students reach their financial goals.
Click to view larger image Through a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation, New York University FCU offers “Making Ends Meet,” a financial education program to help low-wealth students reach their financial goals. Here, university students help Mira Ness (top right), president/CEO of the credit union, with financial education seminars during the NYU’s “welcome week.” (Photo provided by New York University FCU)
The New York Credit Union Foundation also helped fund NYU FCU’s program. Since starting the program in the 2010-2011 school year, more than 5,000 students have attended one of the credit union’s “Making Ends Meet” seminars. The credit union’s delinquency and overdrafts have also decreased since the program’s inception. “Making Ends Meet” leverages targeted group financial education using the National Endowment for Financial Education curriculum. The content has been modified to change behavior related to account overdraft and late loan payments and to strategically deploy one-on-one coaching to cease the behavior and move students into credit and asset building upon graduation. “Ironically, few college students receive good financial education,” said Christopher Morris, NCUF director of communications. “Credit unions are the ideal institution to help students achieve financial freedom and NYU FCU’s program is evidence of that.” Students frequently face the stress of credit card debt and are often unequipped to handle their own personal finances. The number of 18- to 24-year-olds declaring bankruptcy has increased 96% in 10 years, according to the Richmond Credit Abuse Resistant Education (CARE) Program. NYU FCU’s program included classroom-style learning and one-on-one coaching in tandem with waived fees for participation, while working with the lifestyle of the college student. During the school year, the credit union hosted financial education seminars for the freshmen students on topics such as budgeting, credit reports and credit cards. NYU FCU also saw financial results and increased membership. The credit union’s delinquency decreased to 0.37% from 0.72% from December to March. Overdraft fees decreased to $625 from $980 and the credit union opened more than 200 student checking accounts.

Texans CUSO wins right to sell development it financed

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DALLAS (6/7/11)--A federal court in Dallas has granted the mortgage lending credit union service organization (CUSO) of Texans FCU the right to sell a real estate development it financed with a $31 million loan. The CUSO, Credit Union Liquidity Services LLC (CULS), was granted its motion to dismiss an appeal from Mariah Bay Leasing Corp., which had filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 on Feb. 19, 2010, by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas. Mariah Bay had appealed after the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, also in Dallas, denied its reorganization plan. The case centers around a retail development in Rockwall, Texas, which CULS financed. After Mariah Bay filed for Chapter 11 reorganization under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, it filed an amended version of its reorganization plan. CULS had the first lien on the property, rent, proceeds and profits generated by the property, according to the court records. On Aug. 2, 2010, CULS moved to convert Mariah Bay's bankruptcy case to a liquidation under Chapter 7. Mariah Bay failed to confirm its reorganization plan on Oct. 3, 2010, and CULS foreclosed on the property. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas granted the motion to convert the case to a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 7 trustee assumed management . On Oct. 5, 2010, the court also denied confirmation of Mariah Bay's Chapter 11 reorganization, and Mariah Bay appealed. CULS filed its motion on March 22, 2011, to dismiss the appeal on the grounds of ripeness (the appeal improperly concerns a non-final order), mootness (the conversion of the underlying bankruptcy case to Chapter 7 renders the appeal unnecessary or the property has been foreclosed and is no longer subject to appeal) and standing (that the Chapter 7 trustee alone could appeal the decision). In its motion to dismiss, the court said that "dismissal is warranted on the grounds of mootness alone and thus does not address the parties' arguments as to standing or ripeness." In the decision, U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle said that "while Mariah Bay claims that the Bankruptcy Court's quickly converting to Chapter 7 denied it the opportunity to amend its Chapter 11 reorganization plan, it nevertheless did not appeal the conversion order." She said the "proper course would have been for Mariah Bay to appeal not only the denial of its reorganization plan, but also the granting of CULS' motion to convert and motion to lift stay order. However, because Mariah Bay had the opportunity to resist conversion through objection or appeal and did not, any claim based on the denial of its Chapter 11 reorganization plan is moot. "Mariah Bay's appeal of the denial of the reorganization plan is moot on either of two grounds: (1) Mariah Bay's bankruptcy case was permanently converted from a Chapter 11 reorganization case to a Chapter 7 liquidation case, making confirmation of its reorganization plan impossible; and, alternatively, (2) Mariah Bay no longer owns the real property the reorganization plan was based upon, effectively making the plan impossible to implement." Texans CU was placed into conservatorship by the National Credit Union Administration in April.

CU System briefs (07/06/2011)

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* FRESNO, Calif. (7/7/11)--Carolyn Jean Jones, 45, a former mortgage servicing representative at Bakersfield, Calif.-based Kern Schools FCU, was sentenced to 12 months in prison for embezzling more than $250,000 from the credit union in 2003, according to U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner. U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii also ordered she pay restitution of $245,000 and be under supervised release for 36 months. Jones was employed in the credit union's Home Loan Processing Center. From March through November 2003, she opened fraudulent lines of credit with existing members' information and diverted funds from those lines into accounts she controlled (US Fed News July 5) … * SOUTH BEND, Ind. (7/7/11)--Tremaine Grant, 26, one of three men who robbed a South Bend, Ind.-based Teachers CU branch in 2009, was sentenced to almost 18 years in federal prison. He pleaded guilty to bank robbery with a deadly weapon and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence for his role in the Dec. 7, 2009 robbery. Grant and co-defendants Armand White, 24, and Dion Davis, 27, stole more than $65,000 during the heist. They admitted to accosting a credit union employee she arrived for work, pointing a gun at her and forcing her to let them into the credit union, where two other employees were already at work. They pointed the gun in each employee's face, ordered them to the floor and threatened to kill them. White, who had no criminal history, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and Davis, who had previous burglary and drug convictions, received 12 years in prison. Grant's sentence was longer because he had seven prior felony convictions, including two prior robberies, said U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Miller (South Bend Tribune July 2) … * ST. LOUIS (7/7/11)--The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) will host a meeting for credit unions with U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) at McCaskill's request in St. Louis on July 18, said MCUA. The 10:30 a.m. CT meeting is key to credit unions' efforts to build a stronger relationship with the senator and move forward on issues important to the future of credit unions. After the meeting, MCUA will host a discussion on the 2012 U.S. Senate race in the state (The Missouri Difference July 5) … * ROCK HILL, S.C. (7/7/11)--1st Patriots FCU has named Tami Settlemyer as its new CEO, the Rock Hill, S.C.-based, $29 million asset credit union announced last week. Settlemyer succeeds E. Diane Catoe, who retired on March 31. Settlemyer has more than 20 years in the banking industry. She worked 10 years at Lancaster-based Founders FCU, receiving a Best All Around Branch Operations award five consecutive years and Outstanding Regional Manager of the Year award for four consecutive years (HeraldOnline.com July 3) … * CAPITOLA, Calif. (7/7/11)--Bay FCU employees raised $24,451 to help defer hospitalization and health care costs for local children through the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, announced the Capitola, Calif.-based,over-$600 million asset credit union. One hundred percent of Bay Federal's donations will treat children through programs at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, including the hospital's community outreach dental and immunization programs. Employees participated in a month of fundraisers including a silent auction, pizzathon at a local pizzeria, and raffling chances to throw a pie at their favorite manager. The amount includes a $10,000 "Miracle Match" grant from the Co-op Network. "Many of our employees are parents, so the needs of ill children are particularly close to their hearts," said Bay Federal President/CEO Carrie Birkhofer … * PITTSFIELD, Mass. (7/7/11)--Pittsfield, Mass.-based Greylock FCU
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celebrated growth by welcoming its 70,000 member, Andrew Bravo, 18, a graduate and school valedictorian of Lenox Memorial. Bravo opened his accounts at Greylock's Lee branch. Senior Vice President Pete Mirante presented a $1,000 check to Bravo to support his college education. "When we realized our 70,000th member was a college-bound senior, we felt this $1,000 award was an appropriate way to mark the occasion," Mirante said. Bravo joined during National Credit Union Youth Week in April. The $1.3 billion asset credit union's Youth Week promotion attracted more than 60 members and resulted in more than 100 accounts opened. Only 229 credit unions have reached the 70,000 member milestone, said Executive Vice President John Bissell. From left are Mirante, Bravo, and Member Service Officer Mindy Brown (Photo provided by Greylock FCU) …

Newtek touts lifting MBL on iFox Biz Newsi

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NEW YORK (7/7/11)--Barry Sloane, president/CEO of The Small Business Authority, appeared Thursday on Fox Business News as part of its series “The Government is Killing My Business” to discuss how lifting the credit union small business lending cap could infuse billions of dollars into the nation’s economy. The Small Business Authority, powered by Newtek is a CUNA Strategic Services provider. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions are pressing Congress to increase credit unions’ member business lending cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Doing so would open up more opportunity to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers, CUNA said. Sloane cited the $13 billion figure and emphasized the infusion would be free of government bailout funds or taxpayer subsidies. “That would be an incredible stimulus to the economy,” Sloane said. Despite the potential positive effects, banks have been lobbying to keep the credit union MBL cap at its current 12.25%, he said. The reason for the strong push-back: An increase in the credit union cap would represent a competitive threat to banks, Sloane said. The financial crisis showed that credit unions with the same exposure to residential mortgages as banks were at least as well-equipped manage the risk, Sloane said. Among the reasons for that was effective regulation by the National Credit Union Administration, he said. “Credit unions should be allowed to leverage their capital and deploy the dollars they have in small- and medium-sized business loans across the U.S., Sloane said. “Our economy has capital that can be used to go into small businesses without bailouts or subsidies.”

MWCUA launches new branch website

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PHOENIX, DENVER and CASPER, Wyo. (07/7/11)--Mountain West Credit Union Association, the recently merged tri-state association for Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming credit unions, has unveiled its brand identity and launched a new website. The new website is created to be a central location for all the communication needs among the association and member credit unions. Upon first visiting the new website, all members will be asked to create a log in and password to access member information. Media, lawmakers and consumers can browse public areas of the website for more information about the association and the credit union difference. To see the new logo, use the link.

21 grads from SE CUNA Management School

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (7/6/11)--Twenty-one credit union leaders from eight states graduated June 17 from the 2011 Southeast Regional Credit Union Schools' (SRCUS) CUNA Management School in Athens, Ga. The Southeast CUNA Management School is held each summer at the University of Georgia's Georgia Center with faculty from Terry College of Business and credit union industry experts. "This class that has graduated at the 40th anniversary of SRCUS started in 2009 at the beginning of the economic downturn," said SRCUS Chair Barbara Lehew-Bickley. "It began as our smallest class ever, yet the graduating class finished at 21 students." The curriculum is delivered over three years, with students in residence annually during the summer for eight days of course work. Between annual sessions, they apply their new knowledge to projects that require strategic analysis of their credit unions and research of relevant issues facing the credit union industry. Students are from Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. For more information about CUNA Management Schools, use the link.

Ariz. Colo. Wyo. leagues merger final

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PHOENIX, DENVER, and CASPER, Wyo. (7/6/11)--Member credit unions of the former Arizona Credit Union League & Affiliates and the Associations of Colorado and Wyoming are now part of a single cooperative network, the Mountain West Credit Union Association, which was effective Friday.
The membership voted in favor of merging the organizations in March. "A year ago this wasn't even on our radar screen," said Scott Earl, president/CEO of the new association. "It is unbelievable to me that we have traveled so much ground so quickly. It has been very busy and very exciting. I am certain that as we move forward, we are building a stronger organization and that credit unions will only see increasing value." Mike Williams, board chairman, noted that at the first Mountain West board meeting "the organizations have come together in such a short amount of time. We have an extraordinary amount of talent and passion to make the future of this organization a success." The Mountain West Credit Union Association's board of directors includes a number of directors from each state's previous board. In addition to Chairman Williams, board officers include:
* Co-Vice-Chairs: Bob Ramirez, president/CEO, Vantage West CU, Tucson, Ariz., and Marsha Tynsky, president/CEO, Trona Valley Community FCU, Green River, Wyo.; * Treasurer: John Uchida, president/CEO, Space Age FCU, Aurora, Colo.; and * Secretary: Susan Frank, president/CEO of Desert Schools FCU, Phoenix, Ariz.
New board members include:
* Keith Cowling, president/CEO, Credit Union of Denver; * Colleen Curtis, president/CEO, Southwest Healthcare CU, Phoenix; * Dan Desmond, president/CEO, TruWest CU, Scottsdale, Ariz.; * Dave Maus, president/CEO, Public Service CU, Denver; * Sundie Seefried, president/CEO, Eagle Legacy CU, Arvada, Colo.; and * Jim Yates, president/CEO, First Education FCU, Cheyenne, Wyo.
Tuesday, the association also introduced its brand identity and website. For more information, use the link.

Bankruptcies down for first half of year

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (7/6/11)--U.S. consumer bankruptcy filings dropped 8% during the first six months of 2011 from the same period a year ago, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) using data from the National Bankruptcy Research Center. From Jan. 1 through June 30, personal bankruptcy filings totaled 709,303 nationwide, compared with the 770,117 filings for the period in 2010. The overall June consumer filing total was 119,768, which represented a 5% decrease from 126,270 bankruptcies filed in June 2010, but also was a 4% increase from May's filings of 114,803 filings. "The drop in bankruptcies for the first half of the year shows the continued efforts of consumers to reduce their household debt, and the overall pull back into consumer credit," said ABI Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano. The decline in bankruptcies dovetails with the economic forecast that Credit Union National Association (CUNA) economists issued in March in their 2011-2012 forecast for credit unions, as well as figures collected in 2010 related to loan delinquency and chargeoffs for CUNA's U.S. Credit Union Profile. Although these cannot be compared specifically with bankruptcy statistics, loan delinquencies and chargeoffs are often an early sign of financial trouble. Delinquencies and chargeoffs in mortgage-related loans are even a better indication of trouble leading to a possible bankruptcy. In December of 2010, credit unions experienced mortgage delinquencies of more than 60 days at 2.3% of total outstanding loans for first mortgages and 1.55% for home equity lines of credit and second mortgages. Net chargeoffs were at 0.42% of average outstanding loans for first mortgages and 1.40% for HELOCs and second mortgages. CUNA's economic forecast indicates that "credit quality will improve in 2011 and 2012. Overall loan delinquency and chargeoff rates will fall as job growth picks up. Provisions for loan losses will also decline as credit unions shift from building their allowance for loan loss accounts to maintaining the current level." The forecast expects a delinquency rate of 0.90% in 2011 and 0.80% in 2012, and an annualized net chargeoff rate of 0.90% and 0.80%, respectively. For more information check the U.S. Credit Union Profile resource link. According to The Wall Street Journal (July 5), the declines are a positive indication that a flood of consumer filings has slowed. In 2010 more than 1.5 million personal bankruptcies were filed, the largest number since Congress reformed the bankruptcy system in 2005 to make it more difficult for consumers to walk away from debts.

Scottish Parliament welcomes WOCCU conference

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EDINBURGH, Scot. (7/6/11)--A motion by Members of the Scottish Parliament officially welcomes the World Credit Union Conference, which will be in Glasgow later this month, according to the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd. (ABCUL), the credit union association member organization of World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). WOCCU is sponsor of the conference, which will be held at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Center July 24-27 in Glasgow. (For more information on the conference, use the link.) A motion by Johann Lamont, MSP, Scottish Labour's deputy leader and MSP for Glasgow Pollok, has so far been signed by 30 MSPs. The resolution says that Parliament looks forward to the arrival of up to 1,700 credit union delegates from around 60 countries to Scotland for the conference. It congratulates WOCCU on its development work with credit unions across the globe and praises the contribution of the directors, staff and volunteers of Scotland's 110 credit unions. It also calls for support for the movement's development as outlined in the ABCUL Scotland Credit Union Charter. "MSPs of all parties have a great record of supporting the credit unions in their areas, and it's very encouraging to see this level of support from the Scottish Parliament not only for the arrival of the World Credit Union Conference, but also for the measures required to ensure the development and growth of Scotland's credit union movement," said Frank McKillop, ABCUL policy and relations manager in Scotland, on ABCUL's website.

Speakers set for Western CUNA School graduation

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CLAREMONT, Calif. (7/6/11)--The slate of speakers has been set for Western CUNA Management School’s (WCMS) 50th anniversary celebration and conference July 20-21. Laszlo Bock, Google senior vice president of people operations, will serve as keynote speaker; Bill Cheney, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) president/CEO, will deliver the commencement address; and U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) will discuss current legislation affecting credit unions. Sponsored by CO-OP Financial Services, the two-day event will be held at the Pomona College campus in Claremont, Calif. The celebration and conference, “Half a Century of Leaders,” also will include an opening session from WCMS President James Likens and receptions, breakout sessions and the graduation ceremony for the school’s 50th class. Bock will discuss ways credit unions may learn from the experiences of Google in his keynote address, “Don’t Be Evil: The Head and Heart of Google’s Culture.” Bock joined Google in 2006, and has since spoken nationwide on how Google uses and maintains its unique corporate culture that includes more than 7,000 employees. The company currently ranks fourth on Fortune Magazine’s list of the “100 Best Companies to Work for in America” and 102nd on the Fortune 500 list of largest U.S. corporations. Cheney became president/CEO of CUNA in July 2010, having previously served as president/ CEO of the Ontario, Calif.-based California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues. Prior to that, he worked in the same capacity at Xerox FCU (now known as Xceed Financial FCU) in El Segundo, Calif., where he guided the credit union’s growth to more than $800 million in assets from $350 million. Cheney served on the WCMS Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2010. Royce represents California’s 40th District based in Orange County, and has been one of the strongest advocates for credit unions in the House of Representatives. A member of the House Committee on Financial Services, he serves on two other subcommittees that directly affect credit unions: the subcommittee on capital markets and government sponsored enterprises, and the subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer credit. In addition to recognizing WCMS’s role in the credit union movement, Royce will discuss legislation under consideration that will directly affect credit unions, including member business lending caps. Founded in 1960, WCMS serves credit unions from the participating 13 western states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. The school is dedicated to training credit union leaders in both the business skills and people-helping-people philosophy of the credit union movement. More than 3,500 students have graduated from WCMS, and are serving in positions of leadership and responsibility at some of the leading U.S. credit unions.

CUNA Mutual sells equipment insurance business

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MADISON, Wis., and CINCINNATI (7/6/11)--CUNA Mutual Group has sold its equipment insurance business, based in Wauwatosa, Wis., to Great American Insurance Group of Cincinnati. Great American announced Friday it has entered into an agreement with CUNA Mutual to offer its equipment management products to organizations such as credit unions that previously purchased the Equipment Maintenance Insurance product underwritten by CUMIS Insurance Society Inc. CUMIS is a member of CUNA Mutual. Great American said it expects the transaction to expand its market share in equipment management for the credit union and financial services segments. Under the agreement, Great American will immediately assume responsibility for the underwriting and servicing of the CUNA Mutual portfolio and for the operations and staff in the Wauwatosa offices. CUNA Mutual said it was important to find a buyer with the same level of commitment to credit unions and their members. Noting that Great American “is dedicated to this line of business, has a great service reputation and strong financial strength ratings,” John Wallace, CUNA Mutual vice president of credit union protection, said, “We know our customers will be well taken care of.”

Ohios small CUs in good shape says league

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (7/6/11)--Small credit unions in Ohio did well in 2010, and overall credit union performance in the state during the first quarter 2011 was above national averages, said the Ohio Credit Union League. Smaller credit unions--those with assets of $35 million or less--are in “good shape,” despite the problems and hardships of the past few years, according to a special report, “A Snapshot of Ohio’s Dynamic Small Credit Union Market,” from the league (eLumination Newsletter June 29). Overall, Ohio credit unions with assets of $35 million or less outperformed their Midwest peers in nearly all balance-sheet growth categories. Loan growth in 2010 was 0.2%, but bucked the national trend by remaining positive. Share growth recently exceeded the national average after years of lagging. The group also avoided the spike in delinquencies seen by others, which could be because many of the state’s credit unions don’t offer mortgages or they have very strict underwriting standards, the league said. Ohio’s smaller credit unions posted a positive bottom line during the past two years, besting the negative national averages. While member growth is -0.24%, it is experiencing an upward trend, said the league. Also, overall credit union performance in the state fared well during the first quarter 2011, with annual growth figures for assets, shares and loans all exceeding or similar to national averages, according to the latest Ohio Credit Union Quarterly Performance Summary from the league. Loan volume increased 14% over March 2010, with delinquencies declining 15 basis points to 1.21%--below the national average of 1.63%. Membership growth remained positive for the ninth consecutive quarter and now exceeds the national average, the league said.

WOCCU Groupon to promote Kenyan orphanage

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MADISON, Wis. (7/6/11)--World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and Groupon’s G-Team, a site for supporting causes with collective action, have partnered to provide a Groupon promotion in support of Busia Compassionate Centre, an orphanage in rural western Kenya. Through Thursday, every donation through Groupon’s G-Team will be equally matched by the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions.
Click to view larger image A little girl at Busia Compassionate Centre, an orphanage in rural western Kenya, gets ready to start a school project. Credit unions can make donations via Groupon--a site for supporting causes with collective action--through Thursday. Donations will provide educational scholarships for children at the orphanage. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
WOCCU started working with Busia Compassionate Center in 2006 in partnership with a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program to mitigate the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in western Kenya. One of the program’s three goals was to provide educational grants to children of HIV/AIDS-affected households through the area’s savings and credit cooperatives, or credit unions. Primary school tuition is government-subsidized in Kenya, but secondary school education requires additional funding, a resource Busia Compassionate Centre lacks. When the USDA program concluded in 2010, WOCCU continued to support the orphanage with the help of the global credit union movement, providing scholarships to cover secondary school tuition and books, uniforms and school supplies for both primary and secondary students. WOCCU also helped the orphanage with major building upgrades. These included installing toilets and a septic tank and wiring the orphanage with electricity to give children a greater sense of security and the chance to study or walk to the toilets after the sun goes down. “This Groupon promotion will only work if a minimum of 50 people each give $10,” said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer, who will become WOCCU’s president/CEO in August. “Please share this promotion with your co-workers, friends and family and help the 69 children at the orphanage get a strong foundation to build brighter futures for themselves.” All Groupon G-Team donations will go directly toward providing scholarships so Busia Compassionate Centre residents can attend school. Donors interested in contributing can use the link though Thursday. To learn more about the children at Busia Compassionate Centre, use the link.

CU System briefs (07/05/2011)

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* COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (7/6/11)--Ent FCU's employees and members
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raised a record $42,561 for the 2011 Colorado Springs Heart Walk, a fundraising event that benefits the American Heart Association. More than 115 employees participated as registered walkers in the event. The $3.2 billion asset credit union also conducted company-wide fundraisers, including events such as barbeques, raffles, jeans days and bake sales. Ent's members also contributed with donations at the credit union's area service centers. Pictured is Ent's walk team before the Heart Walk, which was held at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. (Photo provided by Ent FCU) … * ST. LOUIS (7/6/11)--St. Louis-based Gateway Metro FCU recently
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helped a small business start up with the credit union's first small business loan. The loan opens a new area of member service for the $174 million asset credit union. Dr. Lorie Lofquist, D.C., and Dr. Angela Woodson, D.C., shown here with Gateway Metro employee Tracy, will officially open their business, the Chiropractic Wellness Center of South County, with a Grand Opening on July 18. "All of our questions and concerns were dealt with in a timely and efficient manner," said the new business owners. "The entire process was made simple especially by Tracy when she would contact us and give us clear directions about the next step … You have made our small business dreams a reality and now we can joyfully help the public with their chiropractic needs." (Photo provided by Gateway Metro FCU) …

Public Service CU rolls out first mobile shared branch (07/04/2011)

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ROMULUS, Mich. (7/5/11)--Public Service Credit Union (PSCU), Romulus, Mich., can serve members of multiple credit unions with the first mobile Co-Op Services Shared Branch. The new PSCU "Branch A-Go-Go" made its debut in June. The mobile branch includes an ATM available to all consumers, and a full service branch open for banking transactions for PSCU members and credit union members who are part of the Co-Op Services Shared Branching network. "We already have shared-branching services at three of our branches, and we know how much it is utilized and appreciated by the members who use them," said Dean Trudeau, PSCU president/CEO. "Helping people get easy access to financial services is a trademark of credit unions and this mobile unit represents a giant leap forward in strengthening that objective." Plans for the mobile branch range from festivals, events and schools as well as taking the branch to PSCU's business partners on paydays.

Texas Trust CU focuses on loans to power growth jobs (07/04/2011)

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MANSFIELD, Texas (7/5/11)--Texas Trust CU announced an aggressive new small business lending program last week, in which tens of millions of dollars will be available in both conventional and Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. The Mansfield, Texas-based, $680 million asset credit union is focusing on loans of $3 million or less, particularly in the medical and healthcare sectors. The loans will extend the available pool of loan funds to a greater number of small businesses than if Texas Trust offered only a few large loans, said, Mark Joyce, executive director of business services. "We are open to any sound request for loan funds from small businesses," he said. Joyce noted that Texas Trust CU came through the recession "in a very strong position. We aren't in the tenuous position that so many banks are in today. That allows us to make funds available to the small business community, an area where banks have been so reluctant to invest." The credit union sees the loans "as an important way for Texas Trust to invest in the community we serve, encouraging job growth and economic activity. This will benefit not only our members, but everyone in and around the cities and communities of North Texas and East Texas," Joyce said. The Credit Union National Association and credit unions are pushing for Congress to increase the member business lending cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25% to help generate $13 billion in new small business loans and 140,000 new jobs without costing taxpayers.

Minnesota foundation supports iBizKidi (07/04/2011)

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (7/5/11)--The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation (MnCUF) has provided a grant to BizKid$, a public television program aimed at financial education for students. The Emmy Award-winning series, launched in 2008, teaches students how to use credit wisely and reinforces the importance of budgeting, saving and giving back to the community. The foundation has helped fund the program for the past three years, said MnCUF Chairman Pat Brekken, president of Richfield-Bloomington CU, Richfield. "Thanks in part to the foundation's grant, our credit unions can use this relevant and engaging tool to provide financial education to their members and communities across the state," said Brekken. BizKid$ has national support from America's Credit Unions, a coalition of more than 130 credit unions, leagues, foundations and affiliates--including the Minnesota foundation--and from the National Credit Union Foundation. The credit union system and its affiliates have contributed more than $10.4 million to the series' production, its website and its curriculum. In its fourth season, which began airing in April, BizKid$ returns with 13 episodes focusing on life skills such as goal-setting, protecting against identity theft, and understanding taxes. BizKid$ has a viewership range of 271 million and has aired on more than 340 PBS stations nationwide. It has the highest pick-up rate with public broadcasters of any children's program broadcast by American Public Television. More than 1.2 million people tune in to each episode. This fall, Minnesota credit unions can also participate in an online series of financial education training offered through the University of Minnesota Extension and funded by MnCUF. The webinars aim to improve financial literacy levels of Minnesota educators, including classroom teachers, agency staff, financial professionals and others who teach personal finance.

Ohio league supports state probate bill (07/04/2011)

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (7/5/11)--The Ohio Credit Union League testified recently before a state House Judiciary and Ethics Committee in support of a bill that would modernize Ohio's probate act and include credit unions as fiduciaries or custodians of funds for probate purposes. Senate Bill 127 sponsor state Sen. Kevin Bacon (R-Columbus) amended his original measure to include credit unions, said the league (eLumination Newsletter June 29). "To put this into perspective, credit unions in Ohio were not eligible to accept probate funds for their members until 2006," testified John Koslowski, league general counsel. He also stressed that the General Assembly must continue modernizing the state's laws for the benefit of people, businesses and communities. The league constantly pursues legislation, regulation and policies that provide credit unions with the authority and tools to offer affordable financial products and services.

Owning home still American dream for 90 polled (07/04/2011)

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NEW YORK (7/1/11)--Despite the housing crisis, nearly 90% of Americans polled in June continue to say homeownership is an important part of the American dream and that people in financial crisis over housing should get support. They also increasingly blame financial institutions and lenders for the housing problems. In the nationwide telephone poll, conducted by The New York Times/CBS News Juny 24-28 with 979 adults, researchers found blame for the financial crisis is shifting from regulators to financial institutions (The New York Times June 30). In the most recent poll, 42% blamed lenders and 29% blamed regulators. That compares with 28% and 40%, respectively, in the publications' 2008 poll. A few respondents in each poll blamed borrowers who took on loans they couldn't afford. Consumers polled also indicated more support for helping people in financial crisis over housing than for supporting those without jobs for months. About 45% of respondents said the government should do more to improve the housing market; 16% said it should do less. Roughly 53% said the government should help people who are having trouble paying their mortgages. Almost all said the mortgage tax deduction should not be eliminated. Other findings: Roughly 45% of respondents said buying a home is risky; before the financial crisis, housing was considered one of the safest investments. Half of those surveyed said the market downturn affected their long-term plans, with one in five respondents saying the crisis prevented them from moving to another city or taking a different job. Nearly 25% of those surveyed said their home is worth less now than what they owe on their mortgage. Those who said the economy's downturn is permanent rose to 39%, up from 28%. Many respondents dismissed stocks as a long-term savings vehicle in favor of a savings or money market account (22%); a house (26%); or a 401(k) or individual retirement account (41%). Roughly 58% said lenders should require a 20% down payment when selling a house; 36% said they should not. Of those surveyed, 28% said that strategic default (foreclosing on a home because it has lost too much value) is justified. Three-fourths of respondents said neighborhood foreclosures are a problem in their communities.

FirstCorp asks CUs to join the revolution (07/04/2011)

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PHOENIX (7/5/11)--Claiming it has survived the financial crisis, First Corporate CU invited credit unions to "Join the Revolution" during its 34th annual business meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz. First Corporate CU delivered its business and capital compliance plan to its membership on Thursday. First Corporate CU credit union-members have until July 31 to notify the corporate about perpetual contributed capital conversion and nonperpetual capital account subscriptions. "Now that we have survived the crisis, developed a business and capital compliance plan and have proven the critics who said ‘bigger is better' wrong, our next test will be administered when the future of FirstCorp is in the rightful hands of our member-owners," said Pete Pritts, president/CEO of the Phoenix-based corporate. FirstCorp will make the necessary operating adjustments "to live and fight another day," said Greg Harden, FirstCorp executive vice president and chief investment officer. FirstCorp board and committee election results were also announced at the annual meeting. Elected to three-year terms to the board of directors via acclamation were:
  • David E. Doss, president/CEO Arizona State CU, Phoenix;
  • Bruce Rodela, president/CEO, Frontier Financial CU, Reno, Nev.; and
  • Robert Swick, president/CEO, Hughes FCU, Tucson, Ariz.
FirstCorp 2011-2012 Board officers are:
  • Chair--Doss;
  • Vice Chair--Rodela;
  • Treasurer--Robert Ramirez, Vantage West CU, Tucson, Ariz; and
  • Secretary--Dan Desmond, president/CEO, TruWest CU, Tempe.
Incumbent Robin Romano, CEO, Marisol FCU, Mesa, Ariz.; was appointed to a three-year term to the FirstCorp Supervisory Committee, and incumbent Stephen Dunham, president/CEO, Canyon State CU, Phoenix, was appointed to a three-year term to the FirstCorp Credit Committee. In another development, Fitch ratings agency on Friday affirmed and witdrew its ratings of FirstCorp, including its long- and short-term issuer default rating (IDR) of ‘A-' and ‘F1+,' respectively. The rating withdrawal reflects Fitch's view that FirstCorp is no longer considered relevant to Fitch's coverage due to lack of market interest. Fitch will no longer provide rating or analytical coverage of the corporate. Fitch affirmed and withdrew the following ratings:
  • Long-term IDR ‘A+'
  • Short-term IDR ‘F1+'
  • Individual ‘E'
  • Support ‘1'
  • Support Floor ‘A+'

Senate Banking chair seeks interchange input from S.D. CUs(1)

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BISMARCK, N.D. (7/5/11)--Senate Banking Committee Chair Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) is soliciting feedback from South Dakota credit unions on how the Dodd-Frank regulatory legislation has impacted their businesses, in a credit union-only conference call at 2 p.m. (CT) today. "South Dakota credit unions have a great opportunity [today] to discuss Dodd-Frank, one year later, with the Senate Banking Committee chairman," said Jeff Olson, vice president of advocacy and awareness for the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas. "This will be a vehicle for participants to share how the financial regulatory legislation directly impacted their respective credits unions, and more importantly, their members." The Credit Union Association of the Dakotas host the call from its headquarters in Bismarck, N.D. Participating credit unions will be Black Hills FCU, with $894 million assets, Rapid City; Bell FCU, with $35 million assets, Sioux Falls; Dakota Plains FCU, with $38 million assets, Lemmon; Service First FCU, with $121 million assets Sioux Falls; HealthCare Plus FCU, with $34 million assets, Aberdeen; and Sioux Falls (S.D.) FCU, with $159 million in assets. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney said CUNA's focus would turn to ensuring that the small issuer exemption provided in the final rule would work as planned. Cheney said many credit unions may be forced to adopt new member fees or take other measures if the two-tiered system does not work as planned.

Top 10 iNews Nowi stories for June (07/04/2011)

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MADISON, Wis. (7/5/11)--Regulatory and compliance issues dominated News Now's monthly top 10 stories list for June. The stories are: 10. Two small CUs placed into conservatorships ALEXANDRIA, Va. (6/28/11)--Just two-and-a-half weeks after issuing a cease-and-desist order to the $7 million-asset credit union, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) assumed control of Borinquen FCU of Philadelphia on Friday. 9. CUNA Reg CC changes could spike compliance costs WASHINGTON (6/6/11)--A Federal Reserve proposal to amend Regulation CC to increase next business day availability and encourage electronic check processing and returns "would substantially increase fraud-related and compliance costs if adopted," the Credit Union National Association said in a Friday comment letter. 8. Fed to consider final interchange rule June 29 WASHINGTON (6/22/11)--The Federal Reserve Board Tuesday announced it will consider a final rule to implement a statutory cap on debit card interchange fees at an open meeting on Wednesday, June 29. 7. CUNA delves into corporate fund prepayment issues WASHINGTON (6/14/11)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) continues to evaluate credit union interest in its proposal to allow credit unions to prepay some of their corporate credit union stabilization fund assessments, and NCUA Deputy Director Larry Fazio on Monday said that whether or not a given credit union participates in the plan would not affect its NCUA examination or treatment by examiners. 6. CUNA: Strong Senate support can be used to shape interchange rule WASHINGTON (6/10/11)--Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney said the Senate clearly acknowledged with its 54-45 vote Wednesday that there are issues with the debit card interchange fee cap that need to be examined before a rule goes into effect. 5. Compliance: What to know about Reg Z changes WASHINGTON (6/24/11)--CompBlog, the Credit Union National Association's newest addition to its electronic information toolshed for members, has started a conversation about what credit unions should focus on in the changes the Federal Reserve made this spring to its Regulation Z. 4. Fed final interchange rule reflects CU input, Cheney says WASHINGTON (6/30/11)--Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney said that the Federal Reserve "listened to the real concerns of credit unions" as it developed its final debit interchange fee cap rule, which was approved by a 4 to 1 vote by the Fed on Wednesday. 3. Gen Y and the future of CUs SAN ANTONIO (6/23/11)--Young credit union professionals educated a mostly over-40 crowd about nurturing young talent in their credit unions, dispelling a few myths about Generation Y workers during a Discovery breakout session Tuesday afternoon at America's Credit Union Conference & Expo in San Antonio. 2. CU efforts intensify at Fed as interchange delay fails in Senate WASHINGTON (6/9/11)--Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney said Wednesday that the U.S. Senate's failure to delay implementation of the Federal Reserve's debit card interchange fee cap is deeply disappointing and CUNA and credit unions will continue pressing the Federal Reserve to improve the proposed rule to minimize negative effects on credit unions and their members. 1. Supreme Court to look at RESPA case WASHINGTON (6/27/11)--Credit unions will want to be aware of last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision to hear a Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act--or RESPA--class action case that involves title insurance.

CU loans rise 0.4 in May(1)

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MADISON, Wis. (7/5/11)--After experiencing a good month in May, credit union loan portfolios are positioned to record gains in 2011, according to a Credit Union National Association (CUNA) economist's analysis of May's monthly estimates of credit unions.
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Credit union loans outstanding increased 0.4% during May, compared with a 0.2% increase in April. Unsecured personal loans led loan growth with a 1.7% gain, followed by credit card loans (1%) and adjustable-rate mortgages (0.9%). Used-auto loans and fixed-rate mortgages grew 0.7% and 0.3% respectively, while home-equity loans and new-auto loans declined 0.2% and 0.6%, respectively. Credit union loans totaled $576.4 billion, compared with $579.7 billion in May 2010, according to the monthly estimates. Loans balances increased for the second consecutive month and the May increase (0.4%) was double the increase CUNA reported in April (0.2%). May loan growth also was about four times faster than the growth posted in May of 2010 (0.1%), Mike Schenk, CUNA vice president of economics and statistics, told News Now. "While this month's loan growth was relatively weak in the broader scheme of things, the good news is that it appears that momentum is picking up and that portfolios may be back on track to record gains in 2011," Schenk said. "Having said this, we continue to stress that weak labor markets and a lackluster housing market will keep many consumers focused on paying down debt rather than acquiring more--and that suggests that annual increases will be far below those normally seen in economic recoveries. CUNA economists' baseline forecast for movement-wide loan growth in 2011 remains at 2%." Unsecured personal loans (1.7%), credit cards (1.0%), adjustable rate mortgages (0.9%), and used-auto loans (0.7%) reflected the most significant increases in May, he added. "Another interesting development this month is the fact that the loan growth we saw, while small, occurred at the same time that credit unions reported a decline in savings balances, which was -0.67%," Schenk said. "Because loans grew and savings declined, credit union loan-to-savings ratios increased to 69.5% from 68.7%--the first increase in six months. "This is welcome news if it turns out to be the beginning of a trend because the nation's credit unions are awash in liquidity, and their large investment portfolios with near-zero yields are putting a significant drag on earnings," he continued. "Of course, on a seasonal basis, loan growth tends to outpace savings growth in the summer months so further improvement in this ratio is expected."
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Credit union savings balances decreased 0.7% in May, compared with a 0.7% increase during April. Money-market accounts led savings growth, increasing 0.6%. Regular shares fell 0.1%, followed by individual retirement accounts, which decreased 0.4%. One-year certificates dropped 0.5%, and share drafts declined 4.7%. Credit union savings in May totaled $829.9 billion--or $32 billion more than the $797.9 billion in May 2010. Regarding asset quality, credit unions' 60-plus-day delinquency rate slightly improved, declining to 1.61% in May from 1.63% in April. "Slowly improving labor markets should help to buoy incomes and fuel further improvement in asset quality as the tepid but sustainable U.S. economic recovery continues," Schenk said. The loan-to-savings ratio remained at 69%. The liquidity ratio--the ratio of surplus funds maturing in less than one year to borrowings plus other liabilities--fell slightly to 18%. The movement's overall capital-to-asset ratio remained at 10%. The total dollar amount of capital is $97 billion.

CU System briefs (07/04/2011)

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HARAHAN, La. (7/5/11)--GEA FCU, St. Gabriel, La., is the newest branch of $460.1 million asset Neighbors FCU, based in Baton Rouge, according to the Louisiana Credit Union League (eNews June 29). Neighbors now has 600 new members from the merger, finalized in April. The GEA FCU branch will remain open and serve all employees of the PCS Nitrogen, Honeywell and Williams-Olefins plants. Long-time GEA Manager Amanda Decoteau will remain at the location ... SEATTLE (7/5/11)--Members of Watermark CU, a $557.3 million asset credit union in Seattle, have approved a merger with Sound CU, a $537 million asset credit union in Tacoma, Wash. The merger, to be effective Sept. 1, will form Washington State's fifth-largest credit union, operating under the name of Sound CU. It will be based in Tacoma and have nearly $1.1 billion in assets, with 21 branches. Sound CU CEO Rick Brandsma will remain in the position, while Watermark CEO Sharon Sanford will stay on as a consultant during the transition. The vote was the final step in the merger process. No layoffs are planned (The Seattle Times June 24) ... HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/5/11)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) has slated a pilot Reality Fair at the State Capitol in November, announced PCUA's newsletter, Life is a Highway (July 1). The fair is a program of the National Credit Union Foundation and supported by PCUA and the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation. PCUA plans to follow the pilot with four fairs across the state toward the end of the school year in April 2012 ... READING, Pa. (7/5/11)--CTCE FCU, an $84 million asset credit union in Reading, Pa., opened five offices Friday as shared-branch outlets (Life is a Highway July 1). Four of the branches will be open seven days a week. The outlets are in Reading, Westlawn and Shillington. One is inside Redner's Warehouse Markets in a shopping mall, and three are inside Giant Food Stores. Pennsylvania has 131 shared branching outlets ... FRANKLIN, Va. (7/5/11)--Bronco FCU CEO Bob Petty has announced his retirement. Petty has been with the Franklin, Va.-based credit union for 27 years, the past 13 as CEO. "Under Bob's leadership, first as a manager, then a board member, and lastly as CEO, assets have grown from $13.3 million to $201 million," said Charlie Wrenn, chairman of Bronco's board. "Members grew from 3,650 to over 20,000," he added. Petty also has served on various committees and the board of the Virginia Credit Union League, including serving as board chairman. He is also a member of VACORP FCU and the Credit Unions Care Foundation of Virginia ...

CU System briefs (07/01/2011)

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* HARAHAN, La. (7/5/11)--GEA FCU, St. Gabriel, La., is the newest branch of $460.1 million asset Neighbors FCU, based in Baton Rouge, according to the Louisiana Credit Union League (eNews June 29). Neighbors now has 600 new members from the merger, finalized in April. The GEA FCU branch will remain open and serve all employees of the PCS Nitrogen, Honeywell and Williams-Olefins plants. Long-time GEA Manager Amanda Decoteau will remain at the location … * SEATTLE (7/5/11)--Members of Watermark CU, a $557.3 million asset credit union in Seattle, have approved a merger with Sound CU, a $537 million asset credit union in Tacoma, Wash. The merger, to be effective Sept. 1, will form Washington State's fifth-largest credit union, operating under the name of Sound CU. It will be based in Tacoma and have nearly $1.1 billion in assets, with 21 branches. Sound CU CEO Rick Brandsma will remain in the position, while Watermark CEO Sharon Sanford will stay on as a consultant during the transition. The vote was the final step in the merger process. No layoffs are planned (The Seattle Times June 24) … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/5/11)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) has slated a pilot Reality Fair at the State Capitol in November, announced PCUA's newsletter, Life is a Highway (July 1). The fair is a program of the National Credit Union Foundation and supported by PCUA and the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation. PCUA plans to follow the pilot with four fairs across the state toward the end of the school year in April 2012 … * READING, Pa. (7/5/11)--CTCE FCU, an $84 million asset credit union in Reading, Pa., opened five offices Friday as shared-branch outlets (Life is a Highway July 1). Four of the branches will be open seven days a week. The outlets are in Reading, Westlawn and Shillington. One is inside Redner's Warehouse Markets in a shopping mall, and three are inside Giant Food Stores. Pennsylvania has 131 shared branching outlets … * FRANKLIN, Va. (7/5/11)--Bronco FCU CEO Bob Petty has announced his retirement. Petty has been with the Franklin, Va.-based credit union for 27 years, the past 13 as CEO. "Under Bob's leadership, first as a manager, then a board member, and lastly as CEO, assets have grown from $13.3 million to $201 million," said Charlie Wrenn, chairman of Bronco's board. "Members grew from 3,650 to over 20,000," he added. Petty also has served on various committees and the board of the Virginia Credit Union League, including serving as board chairman. He is also a member of VACORP FCU and the Credit Unions Care Foundation of Virginia ...

Texas Trust CU focuses on loans to power growth jobs

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MANSFIELD, Texas (7/5/11)--Texas Trust CU announced an aggressive new small business lending program last week, in which tens of millions of dollars will be available in both conventional and Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. The Mansfield, Texas-based, $680 million asset credit union is focusing on loans of $3 million or less, particularly in the medical and healthcare sectors. The loans will extend the available pool of loan funds to a greater number of small businesses than if Texas Trust offered only a few large loans, said, Mark Joyce, executive director of business services. "We are open to any sound request for loan funds from small businesses," he said. Joyce noted that Texas Trust CU came through the recession "in a very strong position. We aren't in the tenuous position that so many banks are in today. That allows us to make funds available to the small business community, an area where banks have been so reluctant to invest." The credit union sees the loans "as an important way for Texas Trust to invest in the community we serve, encouraging job growth and economic activity. This will benefit not only our members, but everyone in and around the cities and communities of North Texas and East Texas," Joyce said. The Credit Union National Association and credit unions are pushing for Congress to increase the member business lending cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25% to help generate $13 billion in new small business loans and 140,000 new jobs without costing taxpayers.

CU loans rise 0.4 in May

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MADISON, Wis. (7/5/11)--After experiencing a good month in May, credit union loan portfolios are positioned to record gains in 2011, according to a Credit Union National Association (CUNA) economist’s analysis of May’s monthly estimates of credit unions.
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
Credit union loans outstanding increased 0.4% during May, compared with a 0.2% increase in April. Unsecured personal loans led loan growth with a 1.7% gain, followed by credit card loans (1%) and adjustable-rate mortgages (0.9%). Used-auto loans and fixed-rate mortgages grew 0.7% and 0.3% respectively, while home-equity loans and new-auto loans declined 0.2% and 0.6%, respectively. Credit union loans totaled $576.4 billion, compared with $579.7 billion in May 2010, according to the monthly estimates. Loans balances increased for the second consecutive month and the May increase (0.4%) was double the increase CUNA reported in April (0.2%). May loan growth also was about four times faster than the growth posted in May of 2010 (0.1%), Mike Schenk, CUNA vice president of economics and statistics, told News Now. “While this month’s loan growth was relatively weak in the broader scheme of things, the good news is that it appears that momentum is picking up and that portfolios may be back on track to record gains in 2011,” Schenk said. “Having said this, we continue to stress that weak labor markets and a lackluster housing market will keep many consumers focused on paying down debt rather than acquiring more--and that suggests that annual increases will be far below those normally seen in economic recoveries. CUNA economists’ baseline forecast for movement-wide loan growth in 2011 remains at 2%.” Unsecured personal loans (1.7%), credit cards (1.0%), adjustable rate mortgages (0.9%), and used-auto loans (0.7%) reflected the most significant increases in May, he added. “Another interesting development this month is the fact that the loan growth we saw, while small, occurred at the same time that credit unions reported a decline in savings balances, which was -0.67%,” Schenk said. “Because loans grew and savings declined, credit union loan-to-savings ratios increased to 69.5% from 68.7%--the first increase in six months. “This is welcome news if it turns out to be the beginning of a trend because the nation’s credit unions are awash in liquidity, and their large investment portfolios with near-zero yields are putting a significant drag on earnings,” he continued. “Of course, on a seasonal basis, loan growth tends to outpace savings growth in the summer months so further improvement in this ratio is expected.”
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
Credit union savings balances decreased 0.7% in May, compared with a 0.7% increase during April. Money-market accounts led savings growth, increasing 0.6%. Regular shares fell 0.1%, followed by individual retirement accounts, which decreased 0.4%. One-year certificates dropped 0.5%, and share drafts declined 4.7%. Credit union savings in May totaled $829.9 billion--or $32 billion more than the $797.9 billion in May 2010. Regarding asset quality, credit unions’ 60-plus-day delinquency rate slightly improved, declining to 1.61% in May from 1.63% in April. “Slowly improving labor markets should help to buoy incomes and fuel further improvement in asset quality as the tepid but sustainable U.S. economic recovery continues,” Schenk said. The loan-to-savings ratio remained at 69%. The liquidity ratio--the ratio of surplus funds maturing in less than one year to borrowings plus other liabilities--fell slightly to 18%. The movement’s overall capital-to-asset ratio remained at 10%. The total dollar amount of capital is $97 billion.

Owning home still American dream for 90 polled

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NEW YORK (7/1/11)--Despite the housing crisis, nearly 90% of Americans polled in June continue to say homeownership is an important part of the American dream and that people in financial crisis over housing should get support. They also increasingly blame financial institutions and lenders for the housing problems. In the nationwide telephone poll, conducted by The New York Times/CBS News Juny 24-28 with 979 adults, researchers found blame for the financial crisis is shifting from regulators to financial institutions (The New York Times June 30). In the most recent poll, 42% blamed lenders and 29% blamed regulators. That compares with 28% and 40%, respectively, in the publications' 2008 poll. A few respondents in each poll blamed borrowers who took on loans they couldn't afford. Consumers polled also indicated more support for helping people in financial crisis over housing than for supporting those without jobs for months. About 45% of respondents said the government should do more to improve the housing market; 16% said it should do less. Roughly 53% said the government should help people who are having trouble paying their mortgages. Almost all said the mortgage tax deduction should not be eliminated. Other findings:
* Roughly 45% of respondents said buying a home is risky; before the financial crisis, housing was considered one of the safest investments. * Half of those surveyed said the market downturn affected their long-term plans, with one in five respondents saying the crisis prevented them from moving to another city or taking a different job. * Nearly 25% of those surveyed said their home is worth less now than what they owe on their mortgage. * Those who said the economy's downturn is permanent rose to 39%, up from 28%. * Many respondents dismissed stocks as a long-term savings vehicle in favor of a savings or money market account (22%); a house (26%); or a 401(k) or individual retirement account (41%). * Roughly 58% said lenders should require a 20% down payment when selling a house; 36% said they should not. * Of those surveyed, 28% said that strategic default (foreclosing on a home because it has lost too much value) is justified. * Three-fourths of respondents said neighborhood foreclosures are a problem in their communities.

Public Service CU rolls out first mobile shared branch

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ROMULUS, Mich. (7/5/11)--Public Service Credit Union (PSCU), Romulus, Mich., can serve members of multiple credit unions with the first mobile Co-Op Services Shared Branch. The new PSCU “Branch A-Go-Go” made its debut in June. The mobile branch includes an ATM available to all consumers, and a full service branch open for banking transactions for PSCU members and credit union members who are part of the Co-Op Services Shared Branching network. “We already have shared-branching services at three of our branches, and we know how much it is utilized and appreciated by the members who use them,” said Dean Trudeau, PSCU president/CEO. “Helping people get easy access to financial services is a trademark of credit unions and this mobile unit represents a giant leap forward in strengthening that objective.” Plans for the mobile branch range from festivals, events and schools as well as taking the branch to PSCU’s business partners on paydays.

FirstCorp asks CUs to join the revolution

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PHOENIX (7/5/11)--Claiming it has survived the financial crisis, First Corporate CU invited credit unions to “Join the Revolution” during its 34th annual business meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz. First Corporate CU delivered its business and capital compliance plan to its membership on Thursday. First Corporate CU credit union-members have until July 31 to notify the corporate about perpetual contributed capital conversion and nonperpetual capital account subscriptions. “Now that we have survived the crisis, developed a business and capital compliance plan and have proven the critics who said ‘bigger is better’ wrong, our next test will be administered when the future of FirstCorp is in the rightful hands of our member-owners,” said Pete Pritts, president/CEO of the Phoenix-based corporate. FirstCorp will make the necessary operating adjustments “to live and fight another day,” said Greg Harden, FirstCorp executive vice president and chief investment officer. FirstCorp board and committee election results were also announced at the annual meeting. Elected to three-year terms to the board of directors via acclamation were:
* David E. Doss, president/CEO Arizona State CU, Phoenix; * Bruce Rodela, president/CEO, Frontier Financial CU, Reno, Nev.; and * Robert Swick, president/CEO, Hughes FCU, Tucson, Ariz.
FirstCorp 2011-2012 Board officers are:
* Chair--Doss; * Vice Chair--Rodela; * Treasurer--Robert Ramirez, Vantage West CU, Tucson, Ariz; and * Secretary--Dan Desmond, president/CEO, TruWest CU, Tempe.
Incumbent Robin Romano, CEO, Marisol FCU, Mesa, Ariz.; was appointed to a three-year term to the FirstCorp Supervisory Committee, and incumbent Stephen Dunham, president/CEO, Canyon State CU, Phoenix, was appointed to a three-year term to the FirstCorp Credit Committee. In another development, Fitch ratings agency on Friday affirmed and witdrew its ratings of FirstCorp, including its long- and short-term issuer default rating (IDR) of ‘A-’ and ‘F1+,’ respectively. The rating withdrawal reflects Fitch’s view that FirstCorp is no longer considered relevant to Fitch’s coverage due to lack of market interest. Fitch will no longer provide rating or analytical coverage of the corporate. Fitch affirmed and withdrew the following ratings:
* Long-term IDR ‘A+’ * Short-term IDR ‘F1+’ * Individual ‘E’ * Support ‘1’ * Support Floor ‘A+’

Senate Banking chair seeks interchange input from S.D. CUs

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BISMARCK, N.D. (7/5/11)--Senate Banking Committee Chair Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) is soliciting feedback from South Dakota credit unions on how the Dodd-Frank regulatory legislation has impacted their businesses, in a credit union-only conference call at 2 p.m. (CT) today. “South Dakota credit unions have a great opportunity [today] to discuss Dodd-Frank, one year later, with the Senate Banking Committee chairman,” said Jeff Olson, vice president of advocacy and awareness for the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas. “This will be a vehicle for participants to share how the financial regulatory legislation directly impacted their respective credits unions, and more importantly, their members.” The Credit Union Association of the Dakotas host the call from its headquarters in Bismarck, N.D. Participating credit unions will be Black Hills FCU, with $894 million assets, Rapid City; Bell FCU, with $35 million assets, Sioux Falls; Dakota Plains FCU, with $38 million assets, Lemmon; Service First FCU, with $121 million assets Sioux Falls; HealthCare Plus FCU, with $34 million assets, Aberdeen; and Sioux Falls (S.D.) FCU, with $159 million in assets. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney said CUNA’s focus would turn to ensuring that the small issuer exemption provided in the final rule would work as planned. Cheney said many credit unions may be forced to adopt new member fees or take other measures if the two-tiered system does not work as planned.

Top 10 INews NowI stories for June

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MADISON, Wis. (7/5/11)--Regulatory and compliance issues dominated News Now’s monthly top 10 stories list for June. The stories are: 10. Two small CUs placed into conservatorships ALEXANDRIA, Va. (6/28/11)--Just two-and-a-half weeks after issuing a cease-and-desist order to the $7 million-asset credit union, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) assumed control of Borinquen FCU of Philadelphia on Friday. 9. CUNA Reg CC changes could spike compliance costs WASHINGTON (6/6/11)--A Federal Reserve proposal to amend Regulation CC to increase next business day availability and encourage electronic check processing and returns “would substantially increase fraud-related and compliance costs if adopted,” the Credit Union National Association said in a Friday comment letter. 8. Fed to consider final interchange rule June 29 WASHINGTON (6/22/11)--The Federal Reserve Board Tuesday announced it will consider a final rule to implement a statutory cap on debit card interchange fees at an open meeting on Wednesday, June 29. 7. CUNA delves into corporate fund prepayment issues WASHINGTON (6/14/11)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) continues to evaluate credit union interest in its proposal to allow credit unions to prepay some of their corporate credit union stabilization fund assessments, and NCUA Deputy Director Larry Fazio on Monday said that whether or not a given credit union participates in the plan would not affect its NCUA examination or treatment by examiners. 6. CUNA: Strong Senate support can be used to shape interchange rule WASHINGTON (6/10/11)--Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney said the Senate clearly acknowledged with its 54-45 vote Wednesday that there are issues with the debit card interchange fee cap that need to be examined before a rule goes into effect. 5. Compliance: What to know about Reg Z changes WASHINGTON (6/24/11)--CompBlog, the Credit Union National Association’s newest addition to its electronic information toolshed for members, has started a conversation about what credit unions should focus on in the changes the Federal Reserve made this spring to its Regulation Z. 4. Fed final interchange rule reflects CU input, Cheney says WASHINGTON (6/30/11)--Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney said that the Federal Reserve “listened to the real concerns of credit unions” as it developed its final debit interchange fee cap rule, which was approved by a 4 to 1 vote by the Fed on Wednesday. 3. Gen Y and the future of CUs SAN ANTONIO (6/23/11)--Young credit union professionals educated a mostly over-40 crowd about nurturing young talent in their credit unions, dispelling a few myths about Generation Y workers during a Discovery breakout session Tuesday afternoon at America's Credit Union Conference & Expo in San Antonio. 2. CU efforts intensify at Fed as interchange delay fails in Senate WASHINGTON (6/9/11)--Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney said Wednesday that the U.S. Senate’s failure to delay implementation of the Federal Reserve’s debit card interchange fee cap is deeply disappointing and CUNA and credit unions will continue pressing the Federal Reserve to improve the proposed rule to minimize negative effects on credit unions and their members. 1. Supreme Court to look at RESPA case WASHINGTON (6/27/11)--Credit unions will want to be aware of last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to hear a Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act--or RESPA--class action case that involves title insurance.

Ohio league supports state probate bill

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (7/5/11)--The Ohio Credit Union League testified recently before a state House Judiciary and Ethics Committee in support of a bill that would modernize Ohio's probate act and include credit unions as fiduciaries or custodians of funds for probate purposes. Senate Bill 127 sponsor state Sen. Kevin Bacon (R-Columbus) amended his original measure to include credit unions, said the league (eLumination Newsletter June 29). "To put this into perspective, credit unions in Ohio were not eligible to accept probate funds for their members until 2006," testified John Koslowski, league general counsel. He also stressed that the General Assembly must continue modernizing the state's laws for the benefit of people, businesses and communities. The league constantly pursues legislation, regulation and policies that provide credit unions with the authority and tools to offer affordable financial products and services.

Minnesota foundation supports IBizKidI

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (7/5/11)--The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation (MnCUF) has provided a grant to BizKid$, a public television program aimed at financial education for students. The Emmy Award-winning series, launched in 2008, teaches students how to use credit wisely and reinforces the importance of budgeting, saving and giving back to the community. The foundation has helped fund the program for the past three years, said MnCUF Chairman Pat Brekken, president of Richfield-Bloomington CU, Richfield. "Thanks in part to the foundation's grant, our credit unions can use this relevant and engaging tool to provide financial education to their members and communities across the state," said Brekken. BizKid$ has national support from America's Credit Unions, a coalition of more than 130 credit unions, leagues, foundations and affiliates--including the Minnesota foundation--and from the National Credit Union Foundation. The credit union system and its affiliates have contributed more than $10.4 million to the series' production, its website and its curriculum. In its fourth season, which began airing in April, BizKid$ returns with 13 episodes focusing on life skills such as goal-setting, protecting against identity theft, and understanding taxes. BizKid$ has a viewership range of 271 million and has aired on more than 340 PBS stations nationwide. It has the highest pick-up rate with public broadcasters of any children's program broadcast by American Public Television. More than 1.2 million people tune in to each episode. This fall, Minnesota credit unions can also participate in an online series of financial education training offered through the University of Minnesota Extension and funded by MnCUF. The webinars aim to improve financial literacy levels of Minnesota educators, including classroom teachers, agency staff, financial professionals and others who teach personal finance.