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CUNA Outlines Five CU Benefits For Bankrate.com

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NEW YORK (8/21/13)--Five key areas in which credit unions typically give back to their members were outlined by the Credit Union National Association in a Tuesday Bankrate.com article.
 
Because credit unions are nonprofit institutions, they give back generous perks to members such as free online classes, college scholarships, discounts on car loans, and even cash dividends, said the article, "5 credit union benefits worth scooping up."
 
The free service and items are reminders to members that credit unions are mutually owned, Mike Schenk, CUNA vice president of economics and statistics, told Bankrate. To find those perks, members should look in their credit union's membership statement, he added.
 
Also when looking for a credit union to join, consumers should ask the institution how it rewards its members, Schenk said.
 
Five areas in which credit unions give back to members are:
  1. College scholarships. Roughly half of U.S. credit unions offer their members college scholarships, Schenk told Bankrate. Although recipients are often evaluated for their community service and academic performance, many programs differ in criteria.
  1. Product discounts. Credit union members nationwide can take part in Invest in America, a credit union national awards program offering discounts on products such as computers, cars and mobile devices.
  1. Free financial literacy programs. Most credit unions offer educational courses, with many of them online, Schenk told Bankrate.
  1. Bonus dividends. Credit unions reward members in many ways. One way is to pay annual dividends to members--usually if the fiscal year turned out better than expected--said Schenk to Bankrate. Length of membership or account size may be among criteria for determining who qualifies for a dividend, he added.
  1. Savings reward programs. Credit unions are known for their prize-linked savings programs. One of the most popular is Save to Win, a lottery-type program that provides savers with opportunities to win cash prizes. Four states--Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina and Washington--currently offer the program.
To see the article, use the link.
 
In another media mention for CUNA, Bloomberg BNA picked up a story in which Mary Dunn, CUNA deputy counsel, said a proposed accounting standards update that defines a Public Business Entity will allow credit unions as non-public entities to qualify for more flexible accounting requirements (Aug. 19). The Financial Accounting Standards Board issued the update Aug. 7, with comments due Sept. 20.

Pinterest Leveraged For BECU's Home Loan Campaign

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TUKWILA, Wash. (8/21/13)--Pinboard photo-sharing site Pinterest played a major role in Tukwila, Wash.-based BECU's three-month "Project Home" campaign to promote home equity lines of credit and no-equity home improvement loans.
 
Each month, the $11 billion asset BECU's campaign focused on different home improvement topics (National Mortgage News Aug. 19). Pinterest was one component, along with BECU's newsletter, website and social media outlets. A news center on Wordpress acted as a content hub. BECU used the hashtag #BECUProjectHome to link the campaign to its other social media channels.
 
On Pinterest, the credit union challenged members to submit five photos of an ugly room in their house for a chance to win $500 to help with the do-it-yourself project. The goal was to get members to think about how to improve a room and then how to finance the project, the article said.
 
The promotion resulted in 565 new transactions, including new loan products and new transactions on existing loan product, Because Pinterest was only part of the campaign, it is not clear what loans it alone brought in.
 
However, Pinterest drew as much as five times the response rate as the other campaign elements did, said BECU. While other Project Home articles brought 1,500 to 2,000 clicks, the Pinterest contest drove 7,500 clicks from BECU's March newsletter alone. BECU's Pinterest followers increased by 183% to 500 followers.
 
In tracking the clicks in the campaign, BECU found many who clicked on Pininterest also explored BECU's other Pinterest boards on topics such as saving money and retirement tips.
 
The credit union gave this advice for other credit unions wanting to try something similar:
  • Tailor the campaign to the site, instead of fitting the site to the campaign.
  • On social networks, join the conversation instead of directing it. Talk about homes, rather than just about products.

Security Service FCU Ranks Fifth In U.S. On Dealer Satisfaction

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SAN ANTONIO (8/21/13)--San Antonio-based Security Service FCU placed in the fifth top spot among retail credit lenders in the nation for overall satisfaction, says J.D. Power's 2013 U.S. Dealer Financing Satisfaction Study, which cited dealer service, fast payment and an increased presence in Colorado and Utah as factors in the ranking.

SSFCU scored 917 on a 1,000-point scale based on finance offerings, the application and approval process, and sales representative relationship.

"We have approached our work with dealers as a partnership, and we're very passionate about the service we provide them," said Charles Goss, SSFCU senior vice president and chief lending officer. "These relationships drive the way we do business."

SSFCU moved to an entirely paperless process, which means it can approve a loan in as little as 15 to 30 minutes, with funding delivered to the dealership within 24 hours in all the credit union's regional markets.
 
The paperless process also saves the $7 billion asset credit union about 30 tons of paper or enough energy to power 30 average American homes for six months and enough water to fill 210,000 one-gallon bottles, it said, citing statistics from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

SSFCU also recently passed the $5 billion mark in indirect auto lending.  "According to the most recent reports, SSFCU funds one out of every four cars within the San Antonio area," said Danny Lane, SSFCU vice president, indirect lending.  "We see our business growing steadily since our expansion into Colorado and Utah."

The report was released in July and based on a survey of 3,962 dealers in March and April.

Global Fraud Losses Top $11.27B

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CARPINTERIA, Calif. (8/21/13)--Of the $21.604 trillion in purchases by all payments cards in the world in 2012, more than $11.27 billion was lost by issuers, merchants and acquirers due to fraud, says the Nilson Report. That is an increase in fraud of 14.6% over 2011.
 
The Carpinteria, Calif.-based publication pointed out, however, that the percentage of fraud remains near the historical low.  Although the percentage of fraud to total volume has increased the past two years, the increases come after an eight-year period where fraud percentages were flat.
 
Losses at card issuers--including credit unions and banks--made up 63% of the losses, with merchants and acquirers losing 37%, said Nilson. Card-issuer losses occurred mainly at the point of sale through counterfeit cards. Merchant and acquirer losses occurred mostly from card-not-present transactions on the Web, at a call center or through mail order because issuers can charge back fraudulent transactions.
 
Gross losses totaled 5.22 cents for every $100 in volume--up from 5.07 cents per $100 in 2011. PIN-based debit cards saw the lowest percentage of fraud, with 1.10 cents per $100 in volume. Global brands such as Visa and MasterCard averaged 6.13 cents lost per $100.
 
In the U.S., losses on all general purpose and private label, signature or PIN payment cards totaled $5.33 billion last year, up 14.5%. Issuers lost 64% or $3.41 billion, and merchants lost 36% or $1.92 billion. The U.S. accounted for 47.3% of the global card losses but generated only 23.5% of the total card purchase volume.
 
The U.S. has the lowest amount of cash as a percentage of total volume than all other regions except Canada, said the report. Cash withdrawals, protected by PINs, have lower losses, and when the fraud at an ATM is "on-us," the theft isn't reported to any network.
 
The absence of EuroMasterCardVisa (EMV) cards and terminals in the nation contributed to the U.S. losses, said Nilson.

For the record. total card volume was up 11.4% from 2011 for credit, debit and prepaid general purpose and private label payment cards.  Totals by card companies included: Visa with $537.27 billion, American Express with $309.70 billion, MasterCard with $280.82 billion, and Discover with $64.69 billion.

For the full report, use the link.

TransUnion: Auto Loan Delinquency Rate Flat, Debt Grows

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CHICAGO (8/21/13)--The rate of U.S. auto delinquencies--the percentage of accounts 60 or more days past due--during second quarter remained flat at 0.80%, compared with 0.79% for that quarter a year earlier, according to data from TransUnion's Industry Insights Report.
 
The delinquency rate for second quarter is an eight-basis-point drop from 0.88% in first quarter, said the Chicago-based credit and information firm. The report is a quarterly overview of data, trends and perspectives on consumer lending in the U.S.
 
Average auto loan balances rose 4.3% to $13,435, from $12,875 during second quarter 2012.  The increase from first quarter to second quarter 2013 was 1.3%. Michigan was the only state that did not experience an increase in balances.
 
"It's encouraging to see consumers take on more auto debt while delinquencies remain low," said Peter Turek, TransUnion vice president of automotive. "Consumers clearly are more confident in managing additional debt."
 
Although the debt of subprime borrowers increased more than 7% the past year, delinquency levels for this group remained roughly the same--at 5.02% for second quarter 2013 compared with 4.94% in the same quarter a year earlier. Subprime borrowers still account for about 14.9% of all new accounts.
 
"This is a positive sign since increased balances for the subprime group indicate that they are receiving new loans," Turek said. "The fact that the increase in delinquencies is only a minor one is especially important, as we often find that borrowers who have problems making payments do so within the first year of the loan."
 
Total auto account volumes rose 4% in the past year to $58.23 million for second quarter 2013, compared with $55.98 million in second quarter of 2012.  "We expected to see volumes rise in line with overall auto sales and other demand drivers, like replacement of older vehicles and improving employment numbers," said Turek.
 
Highest auto loan delinquency states for second quarter were Oklahoma with 1.53%, Mississippi with 1.46%, Louisiana with 1.35% and Alabama with 1.27%. North Dakota had the lowest delinquency rate, at 0.43%, followed by Minnesota and Vermont at 0.49% each, and Washington with 0.52%.

Employee Engagement Takes Teamwork, Planning

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MADISON, Wis. (8/21/13)--Studies show that organizations with high employee engagement are more productive and efficient. And these companies boast higher retention numbers, which avoids the costs of training new hires when employees leave.

But you can't fake employee engagement--nor can managers dictate it, according to the August issue of Credit Union Front Line Newsletter, the Credit Union National Association's monthly sales and service newsletter for branch staff and their manager.

"Top-down solutions might produce clarity, but they don't inspire buy-in or  practicality," Gallup Business Journal reports (May 30). "That's because top-down decision making about engagement fails to recognize the varying dynamics among work groups. More important, it misses an opportunity to engage teams in creating and 'owning' their own solutions."

Treat employee engagement as a process, not a one-time event. Action plans formed through open dialogue between managers and employees are a proven strategy to increase engagement for the long haul.

When evaluating employee engagement, Gallup Business Journal recommends asking employees five questions to generate participation, determine the most urgent goals, promote practical courses of action, and encourage ownership:
  • How do we define success? Gallup's employee engagement survey features a dozen statements such as "I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right" and "My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work." Different credit unions--even different departments in credit unions--will answer these questions differently. Managers should listen for unexpected suggestions and gauge the intensity of the feedback about issues already on their radar.
  • What's the ideal outcome? Encourage employees to think big, starting with the best solution--which might not always be the most expensive one. These conversations breed empowerment and create a benchmark for achievement.
  • How far must we go to reach the ideal? Talking about shortcomings as a team or organization isn't easy. But a transparent discussion builds goodwill and creates a platform for dialogue. And everyone can take responsibility for processes or products under their control.
  • Which opportunity will have the greatest impact? Engagement that isn't tied to performance is pointless. Employees want to weigh in on changes that can make their jobs more efficient or effective. You can't prioritize every issue--or none will be a priority. But giving staff input creates ownership, and encourages them to speak up if other improvement opportunities arise.
  • What's every team member willing to do? All employees should leave the discussion with "next steps" and the knowledge that their role is important to the team.
Managers can--and should--influence engagement, said Credit Union Front Line Newsletter. But by involving the team in answering these five questions, the credit union ties engagement to actions that can improve the workplace--and allow it to keep members' needs top of mind.

Youth Week 2014 Seeking a Theme

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MADISON, Wis. (8/21/13)--The Credit Union National Association is asking credit unions  nationwide to help it choose a theme for National Credit Union Youth Week 2014.
 
The week, April 20-26, is CUNA's official designation of an annual, national celebration for credit unions that support youth financial literacy all year long. It's an opportunity to formally acknowledge young members and encourage them to start and maintain a saving habit.
 
Credit unions with ideas for the theme should reply by Aug. 28. The top themes will be voted on in early September. To send a youth week theme, e-mail YWCoordinator@cuna.coop.
 
Themes from past years include:
  • 2013--Savings Sleuth, Solve the Mystery (detective/mustache)
  • 2012--Be a Credit Union Super Saver (superhero)
  • 2011--Money Rocks at My Credit Union (music)
  • 2010--Get in the Saving Game (sports)
  • 2009--The Magic of Saving (magic)
  • 2008--Got Green? Grow it at your credit union (environment)
  • 2007--Stash your cash at the credit union (pirates)
  • 2006--My Money. My credit union
  • 2005--Want it? Save it. Get it.
  • 2004--Youth Make a Difference
  • 2003--Youth Count at Credit Unions
  • 2002--Your future. Your money. Your choice.
April is National Financial Literacy Month, and CUNA's National Youth Saving Challenge will again run the entire month. Credit unions can participate in the challenge either during youth week or during the entire month.