Archive Links

Consumer Archive
CU System Archive
Market Archive
Products Archive
Washington Archive

CU System Archive

CU System

Ohio CU friends fare well in redistricting

 Permanent link
DUBLIN, Ohio (9/28/11)--U.S. legislators in Ohio who support credit unions or are deemed credit union friendly fared well in the state's new, consolidated 16 congressional districts, said the Ohio Credit Union League. The redistricting measures in the state were announced earlier this month, the league said (eLumination Newsletter Sept. 21). Although all remaining districts encountered some tinkering, long-time credit union champions U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D) , Steve LaTourette (R) and Tim Ryan (D) should be unaffected, said John Florian, league vice president of government affairs. U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D), another credit union advocate, should retain the revised district, said the league. However, the redistricting means that two strong supporters of credit unions--U.S. Reps. Jim Renacci (R) and Betty Sutton (D)--will be pitted against one another in one of the heavily modified districts. Sutton has long supported expansion of member business lending authority and credit unions' tax status, while Renacci was a strong voice on the House Committee on Financial Services for delaying the interchange amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act, the league said. Other credit union friends--U.S. Reps. Steve Chabot and Steve Stivers, both Republicans--appear safe in their districts. "Overall, credit unions came out well in the process," said Florian. The new districts were recently signed into law by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Florian told News Now.

SECU commits 1M for hospice house

 Permanent link
RALEIGH, N.C. (9/28/11)--SECU Foundation, funded by Raleigh, N.C.-based State Employees’ CU (SECU) members, has committed $1 million to the Crystal Coast Hospice House (CCHH) campaign to build the first inpatient hospice facility in the Crystal Coast area. This is the largest gift to date for the CCHH Campaign. The 10-bed Hospice House, which will be located in Newport, N.C., will serve five counties. “A gift of this magnitude demonstrates the notable need our community has for the inpatient hospice facility,” said Sarah Strange, president of the Crystal Coast Hospice House. “Hospice houses have become a standard of care that is available to most residents in North Carolina and around the country,” said Dale Britt, Capital Campaign Co-Chair of CCHH. “This gift takes us so much closer to opening the doors of the new SECU Crystal Coast Hospice House.”

IBankrateI Decline in free checking at big banks

 Permanent link
MADISON, Wis. (9/28/11)--Free checking at big banks is on the way out in 2011, while the banking industry increased fees, charges and penalties for account overdrafts, said the Bankrate 2011 Checking Account Survey. This could create opportunities for credit unions to bolster their membership through free checking and fewer or lower fees. The survey found that only 45% of noninterest checking accounts now are free--down from the zenith of 76% two years ago (Bankrate.com Sept. 27). However, if customers meet certain conditions, such as signing up for direct deposit, banks still will offer free checking, Bankrate said. In this year’s study, records were set in two categories. For the 13th consecutive year, fees for non-sufficient funds--or overdrafts--reached a new high at the nation’s largest banks. Also, ATM fees climbed to their highest level for the seventh consecutive year. To obtain its data, Bankrate.com surveyed the five biggest U.S. banks and five largest thrifts in the 25 largest US. markets during the period of Aug 1-12. It considered one interest and one noninterest account at 247 institutions offering checking accounts. The survey joined several others that recently have indicated large banks are eliminating free checking since the Federal Reserve announced its rules capping interchange fees. For more information on the survey, use the link.

Express CU gives second chance to business member

 Permanent link
SEATTLE, Wash. (9/28/11)--Elizabeth Morris provides an example of both the credit union people-helping-people philosophy and the potential of how member business lending (MBL) can help the economy. A designer of upscale designer women’s jackets, Morris needed the support of a financial institution to market her line. She also needed “second chance financial services,” as she describes it, after experiencing some personal financial difficulties. “I was in design for years, and I was trying to market myself, but I needed some help,” she told News Now. Washington Community Alliance for Self Help, an organization that empowers aspiring entrepreneurs with limited resources, put Morris in contact with Express CU, which has $10 million in assets in Seattle, Wash. At Express CU, Morris was able to open both a personal and business draft/checking and share/savings account, which allowed her to keep her personal and business finances separate. Morris also needed to process debit and credit cards in her business. ECU does not provide merchant services, but the business checking allowed her to use a bank’s plastic card merchant service processing program for her business. The funds she collected were deposited into her ECU business draft/checking account. The bank refused to deposit plastic card processing into anything but a checking account, which she had at the credit union. No other financial institution would provide Morris with a checking account because of her previous financial difficulties. The credit union checking account was vital to the success of her business, she said. “They gave me a chance when no one else would,” she said of Express CU. “It wasn’t just about money. It was about re-establishing myself as a business person.” Morris initially sold her jackets mainly through word of mouth and put together the jackets in her spare time. With a series of microloans from Express she has contracted out labor for her jackets and displayed her work at regional and national shows. She even sent a jacket to First Lady Michelle Obama and received a thank you letter from the White House. Morris’ goal is to start wholesaling her jackets. She also wants to sell her line in high profile national retailers such as Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Dillard’s. Express CU President/Chief Operating Officer Norma Hernandez said she views members such as Morris as partners with the credit union. “When Elizabeth, and so many of our members like her, who have put a lot of work into putting their lives back together or starting their lives over, take time to come here, look us in the eye say, ‘This is what I’ve done,’ we want to give them an opportunity to keep moving forward,” Hernandez said. “They need the support a partner can provide. We want to be that partner.” 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.

iUSA Todayi Fee gap between banks CUs could widen

 Permanent link
MADISON, Wis. (9/28/11)--The gap between the historically low rates credit unions offer their members and the higher rates big banks charge their customers could become even wider as a result of the new debit interchange fee cap regulations, according to a Tuesday USA Today article. The Federal Reserve’s final rule set a cap of 21 cents for debit card fees, and allows an additional five basis points of the value of the transaction to cover fraud losses. But the law mandating reduction in debit card fees exempts credit unions and banks with assets of less than $10 billion. The USA Today article, “Your Money: Act to avoid bank services fees,” advises consumers to consider credit unions and small banks as an option for free checking. The article, written by personal finance columnist Sandra Block, cites a survey conducted in the spring by the U.S. Public Research Interest Group, which found that consumers could find deals at regional banks and credit unions. “Similarly, a Bankrate survey found that three-quarters of credit unions offered free checking, and 96% offered it for account holders who had direct deposit or agreed to receive electronic bank statements,” Block wrote. Only 45% of non-interest checking accounts are free, down from 65% in 2010 and 76% two years ago, according to the Bankrate.com survey. The average monthly fee for a non-interest checking account is $4.37, an increase from $2.49 last year. The average fee for an interest-bearing checking account is $14.15, up from $13.04, according to the survey. To read the article, use the link.

CU System briefs (09/27/2011)

 Permanent link
* BRUNSWICK, Maine (9/28/11)--A woman who at one time was named outstanding employee of the year at Atlantic Regional FCU, Brunswick, Maine, pleaded guilty Friday to stealing more than $500,000 from the credit union over six years. Marsha Richard, 42, a former employee for 23 years at the credit union, faces a maximum possible sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. From the late 1990s to October 2010, Richard tracked checks deposited by members and returned for nonsufficient funds. In November 2004, Richard allegedly took funds for return items collected from members' accounts and credited her own account or the accounts of family members or friends, then used the money for living expenses. No members lost any funds in the scheme. A presentence hearing is scheduled for Jan. 3, with sentencing set for Jan. 23 in U.S. District Court in Brunswick (The Times Record Sept. 26) … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (9/28/11)--Francis R. "Fran" Muto, who retired in June as president/CEO of People First FCU, Allentown, Pa., has died, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association has learned (Life is a Highway Sept. 27). Muto was president/CEO of the credit union for 36 years, since 1974. He served on the association board from 2003 to 2008 and was the recipient of the 2011 William W. Pratt Award for the Outstanding Professional of the Year. Under his leadership, the credit union grew from a single-sponsor organization with assets of $4 million to a full-service, community-chartered institution with more than $375 million in assets, said the credit union's website. Funeral arrangements had not been finalized yet Tuesday …

Garden Savings FCU airs latest humorous commercial

 Permanent link
PARSIPPANY, N.J. (9/28/11)--The latest installment of Garden Savings FCU's string of humorous commercials and videos depicting the differences between banks and credit unions has been released. The Parsippany, N.J.-based, $205 million asset credit union said the latest installment, the "pool fishing" spot, brings back recurring characters from previous ads but adds a twist, according to the New Jersey Credit Union League (NJCUL) (The Daily Exchange Sept. 27). "The premise is pretty much the same," Michael Powers, the credit union's chief sales officer, told the league. "We're admittedly taking a little bit of an off-beat approach with the hope that people will watch through to the end of the spot, which of course highlights the primary point of the commercial, and that is 'when it comes to banking, a credit union is just plain BETTER.'" "That's essentially the credit union message in a nutshell," said Garden Savings FCU President/CEO Lou Vetere, "and it's right in line with the strong 'Banking You Can Trust' message that the NJCUL puts forth." The commercial is airing on cable systems in Morris County and Newark on several channels through the end of October. It has a similarly paired radio commercial airing on WDHA-FM during the same period. The commercial is also posted on the credit union's Facebook page and on its YouTube channel. To view the video, use the link.

St. Vrain Valley members OK merger with Elevations CU

 Permanent link
BOULDER, Colo. (9/28/11)--In a special membership meeting Monday, members of St. Vrain Valley CU, Boulder, Colo., gave their stamp of approval to merge with Elevations CU, also based in Boulder. The announcement of the majority yes vote gives the final go-ahead to consummate the merger, which will be effective Saturday. "It was an exciting day for our board, our management and in particular our staff," said Eva Gaudio, St. Vrain president/CEO. Full integration of the two credit unions' systems likely will take several months, said the credit unions. Once the merger is complete, St. Vrain members will be able to use all Elevations branches across the Front Range of Colorado and services on the same platform. All member deposits will continue to be federally insured up to $250,000. Gerry Agnes, Elevations president/CEO said, "We feel honored to have earned their trust to bring St. Vrain into the Elevations family, and we will make sure our new Longmont constituency enjoys the highest quality of service and product offerings that everyone has come to expect from our organization." St. Vrain Valley CU will become part of Elevations CU, overseen by the Elevations board of directors and Agnes. Gaudio will join Elevations' executive team as senior vice president of government and student affairs. All St. Vrain employees will become Elevations employees.