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When It Comes To Community Service, CUs Reap Awards

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MADISON, Wis. (9/30/13)--Credit unions don't go looking for awards for the good work they do in their communities. After all, community service is built into their DNA. But awards come naturally when a community or an institution recognizes those who go above and beyond in outreach efforts.
Nearly every week, throughout the year, a credit union somewhere is being presented an award by cities, universities, states, media, and too-numerous-to mention charities they've helped.  Often individual staffers receive accolades for their individual voluntarism. Credit unions also regularly bring in "Best of" awards from community publications and are named "best places to work" in their communities.
"Word is getting out about the value of credit unions in their communities," said Paul Gentile, Credit Union National Association executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement.  "Credit unions know the institutions they help appreciate their service. But receiving an award for that services doubles the impact in terms of awareness about credit unions' valued role in the community. It drives home the point that credit unions exist to serve."
Bob Corwin, president/CEO of Portland, Ore.-based Advantis CU, accepted the Corporate Philanthropy Award on behalf of the credit union from the Portland Business Journal. Advantis, Oregon Community CU and Unitus Community CU received the 2013 awards, which recognize local companies that direct the most money to nonprofits. The awards are based on total dollars given to nonprofits, volunteer hours, in-kind contributions and other generosity. (Photo provided by Northwest Credit Union Association)
A recent example involves three Portland, Ore.-area credit unions--Oregon Community CU, Advantis CU and Unitus Community CU--which received Portland Business Journal's 2013 Corporate Philanthropy Awards recognizing local companies that direct the most money to nonprofits, said the Northwest Credit Union Association (Anthem Sept. 17). The awards are based on total dollars given to nonprofits, volunteer hours, in-kind contributions and other generosity.
It's no surprise credit unions are on the list, Advantis President/CEO Bob Corwin said.  "Supporting local nonprofits is a natural extension of the credit union philosophy of people helping people, and we take every opportunity to assist the organizations that are working to make our communities strong."
OCCU contributed $494,915 and its employees volunteered nearly 2,100 hours at schools and community organization in 2012, said the Business Journal. Advantis contributed $141,469 to nearly 50 nonprofit organizations and its employees volunteered nearly 450 hours. Unitus contributed $66,890 in cash donations and raised $49,609 for nonprofit partners while its employees volunteered 1,200 hours in 2012 mentoring students and more.
Other recent award recipients:
  • Chocolate Bayou Community FCU in Alvin, Texas, received a certificate of commendation from the school board in Alvin for its work against bullying and its financial reality fairs to teach money management to area students.  (Photo provided by the Cornerstone Credit Union League)
    Chocolate Bayou Community CU, Alvin, Texas, received a certificate of commendation from the Alvin ISD School Board, in honor of various partnerships with the district, said the Cornerstone Credit Union League (Leaguer Sept. 17). The credit union was a major sponsor of a program in local high schools that equips students and adults to combat bullying, isolation and despair. It also brought financial reality fairs to high schools under the REAL Solutions program.
  • Quachita Valley FCU West Monroe, La., was awarded the first "A+  Award" from Ouachita Parish School Board for its school supplies drive and its corporate Adopt-A-School sponsorship. It actively sponsors and supports all 36 schools in the parish.  It also has a "credit union at school" in many area schools. Over the past nine years it raised more than $47,000 and helped 3,600 underprivileged students with school supplies.
  • Michigan First CU, Lathrup Village, Mich., received the 2013 Michigan's Economic Bright Spots award from Corp! Magazine for its continued investment in improving service and electronic access, including adding remote deposit capture and expansion of its member services team. "As our credit union's name states, we put our state and our members at the top of our priority list," said Michigan First President/CEO Michael Poulos.
  • The Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation was recognized by Junior Achievement of Central Pennsylvania for sponsoring very Young Women's/Men's Futures Symposium JA has conducted for the past 10 years. Two PCUF volunteers who have taught JA programs in elementary schools for more than five years also were recognized (Life is a Highway July 26).
  • Andrews FCU, Suitland, Md., beat out a record number of nominations when it was named  South Jersey Biz Editor's Pick for Best Credit Union for its 2013 Best of Biz contest. Andrews added nearly 7,000 members in 2012 and more than doubled its loan portfolio, and released its SmartSuite of products (online banking, online bill pay, telephone banking and mobile banking) to make managing money easier, said the publication.
  • Columbia CU, Vancouver, Wash., received the Albina Fuel Game Changer Award by Vancouver's Downtown Association (VDA)  for funding high-impact, low-cost LED lighting downtown with ridgeline lighting on six downtown buildings, lighting for eight city trees on Sixth Street and spotlights for artwork on the corner of Evergreen and Main Streets. "Columbia's support has been a catalyst for making our downtown area safer and more inviting," said VDA.

CU System Briefs (09/30/2013)

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  • FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (9/30/13)--Rick Grady, vice president of research at the Cornerstone Credit Union League, has been appointed chair of the city of Plano, Texas, Planning and Zoning Commission, the league announced (Leaguer Sept. 27). Grady, who has 25 years of credit union experience, joined the league in 2005. He is also a radio personality on the league's weekly Blog Talk radio show, "Your Money Your Matters."  Grady is a former chairman of the Community Relations Commission and is active in a number of professional and community organizations ...
  • FORT MILL, S.C. (9/30/13)--Sharonview FCU has announced the selection of William "Bill" W. Partin Jr., as the Fort Mill, S.C.-based, $1 billion asset credit union's president/CEO, effective Oct. 21. Partin has spent the past eight years with $1.2 billion asset, Burbank, Calif.-based Partners FCU, which serves the Walt Disney Co. As senior vice president there, he served on the senior management team that drove performance and was instrumental in helping double Partners' asset size. Partners was awarded the Raddon's Crystal Performance Reward in 2012.  "Bill comes to Sharonview with a great deal of experience in a leadership capacity and has a passion for creating a positive energy within the organization and the credit union movement alike," said Sharonview FCU Chairman Kenneth Dawson ...

N.Y. CUs: Reaching Young Adults a Top Priority

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ALBANY, N.Y. (9/30/13)--New York's credit union's say reaching young adults is their top priority for growth, according to a survey by the Credit Union Association of New York.

The survey found that 97% of the 115 credit unions responding also are satisfied or very satisfied with the value the association provides its credit unions.

Key findings include:
  • Reaching young adults is a priority. Credit unions were given a list of scenarios and asked to choose the top three that described how they saw their credit union evolving during the next three years. About 75% chose "stronger focus on young adults" among their top three scenarios. "Field of membership expansion" (42%) and "partnering with other credit unions" (35%) were the other most popular selections.
  • Taxation threats and regulatory burden are the top challenges. When asked to identify the most significant challenges facing credit unions over the next three to five years, 51% mentioned the threat of taxation in their responses, and 47% mentioned regulatory burden/compliance-associated costs. Marketplace competition (12%) and aging membership/lack of young adult members (10%) were other common responses.
  • Credit unions can maximize on consumer dissatisfaction with banks/opportunities to build public awareness. When asked to identify the most significant opportunities that could positively impact the credit union movement over the next three to five years, 29% of respondents mentioned consumer dissatisfaction with banks and/or opportunities to build increased awareness of credit unions. Potential loan growth (15%), technological advancements/opportunities (12%) and increased credit union cooperation/partnerships were other common responses.
"When it comes to the issues they're most concerned about, I believe New York credit union leaders are very representative of their peers nationwide," CUANY President/CEO William J. Mellin said. "The Don't Tax My Credit Union campaign is still a critical advocacy initiative of ours, as is working with National Credit Union Administration and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden. It's not surprising that our credit union leaders cited compliance support as the most valuable association service we offer, and it's a service that will continue to be crucial as we move forward."

Every asset category and region in the state was represented in the survey responses, with 39% of CUANY's total membership participating.
"These responses validate our efforts to connect credit unions with tools and resources for reaching emerging markets," said Mellin. "From our statewide Young Professionals Commission to various outreach workshops, we'll continue to support New York credit unions in attracting and engaging young adults and other key groups."

CUNA Technology Council Announces Executive Committee

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MADISON, Wis. (9/30/13)--The CUNA Technology Council announced its executive committee and officers during its 18th Annual Conference last week in Hollywood, Calif.

Executive committee officers include:
  • Chair, Belinda Caillouet, vice president, information technology, Spokane (Wash.) Teachers CU;
  • Vice chair, Guy Russo, chief information officer, CommunityAmerica CU, Lenexa, Kan.; and
  • Second vice chair, Mike Atkins, chief information officer, Bellco CU, Centennial, Colo.
Atkins was also re-elected to the committee as an incumbent.
Heather Moshier, executive vice president, information technology, San Diego (Calif.) County CU, will step down as chair, and Jeff Johnson, senior vice president, information technology, Baxter CU, Vernon Hills, Ill., will step down as vice chair. Both will remain on the executive committee.

John Drago, vice president, information technology, California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, stepped down from the executive committee after completing a three-year term.
The executive committee also includes:
  • Alex Barker, senior vice president, chief information officer, Mountain America CU, West Jordan, Utah;
  • John Best, chief technology officer, Wescom CU, Pasadena, Calif.;
  • Robert Reh, chief information officer, Nassau Financial FCU, Westbury, N.Y.;
  • Zandy Reinshagen, senior vice president, chief information officer, SACU, San Antonio;
  • Chris Saneda, senior vice president/chief information officer, Virginia CU, Richmond, Va.; and
  • Brad Sears, senior vice president, chief information officer, Grow Financial FCU, Tampa, Fla.

CUs Have Members' Trust, Need To Boost Advisory Services

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WAXHAW, N.C. (9/30/13)--Credit union members trust their credit unions more than any financial services provider, but members are less inclined to use a credit union financial adviser, according to a new study from Kehrer Saltzman & Associates.
That discrepancy provides an opportunity for credit unions to increase members' awareness of their services and capture more of their members' assets, according to a principal at Kehrer Saltzman (Investment Consultant Sept. 27).
More than three in five (61.8%) survey respondents said they view their credit unions with a great deal of trust, whereas 27% held that view toward banks and a 4.7% toward full-service stock brokerage firms.

The study found that only 12% of credit unions provide investment services to members. That may explain why just 18% of members surveyed ranked their credit union advisers as their most trusted source of financial advice.
Credit union members are three times as likely to go to an independent financial consultant for advice than they are a credit union financial adviser. Also, they are more than twice as likely to approach a stockbroker for advice, regardless of the low level of trust they hold toward stock brokerage firms.
About 6.9% of respondents look to their credit union advisers for financial advice, while early one in four (22.6%) go to independent financial consultants and 13.3% go to stockbrokers, according to the findings.
Many credit unions that do have investment services do not promote it to their members, who remain unaware that they can get quality investment advice at their credit union, said Kenneth Kehrer, a co-author of the study and a principal of Kehrer Saltzman.
The overall lack of investment services helps explain the discrepancy between members' great trust in their credit union and less trust in the advisers that work there, Kehrer said.
Credit unions have an "incredible" opportunity to better serve their members who would prefer to invest where they bank, Kehrer added.

Filene Report Examines Merger Of Healthy Equals

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MADISON, Wis. (9/30/13)--The Filene Research Institute has studied credit union mergers from several angles during the past two decades. Now it has examined a new trend--mergers of healthy equal credit unions.

A weak signal has emerged in the credit union merger landscape: "merger of equals" (MoE), according to "Credit Union Merger of Equals: A Preliminary Examination," Filene said.

MoEs occur when two healthy credit unions of similar size combine their assets and capabilities. While relatively few data exist to describe or explain this phenomenon, MoEs, while not common, represent a potentially important trend, said Filene. Although it is difficult to say what drives this emerging trend, qualitative discussions with credit unions across North America centers on a triad of:
  1. The need for scale;
  2. Regulatory pressures; and
  3. Consumer demand for more (expensive) services.
Consequently, more credit union leaders find themselves addressing the question: How prepared are we for a merger of equals?

In 2012, Filene and SchellingPoint developed an approach that allowed credit union leadership teams to answer the question. In a pilot, Filene asked 10 U.S. and Canadian credit unions, ranging in asset size from $150 million to $2.5 billion, to undergo an assessment of their organization's readiness for an MoE.
CEOs, senior leaders, and board members responded to, an online opinion survey and an online convergence form. The activities educated participants about the scope of an MoE and they shared their opinions on the multiple dimensions of MoEs.
While Filene's research indicates an MoE is a valid business tool in certain circumstances, it is not advocating for--or against--one. Instead it aims to reveal facts about a trend that may impact many credit unions in the coming years, the report said.
The report details Filene's interpretations of those participants' inputs, provides a structure for discussing these results, and pinpoints where discussion is required so credit unions can efficiently converge on next steps around MoE Topic.
To access the report, use the link.

Foundation Updates CUAid Flood Relief Website

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MADISON, Wis. (9/30/13)--The National Credit Union Foundation has made some tweaks related to its disaster relief fund site to accommodate fundraising for credit union people impacted by the floods early this month in Colorado and to help state foundations or leagues with their co-branded CUAid efforts.
After consulting with the Mountain West Credit Union Association, NCUF last week had activated the disaster relief system to raise funds for credit union employees and volunteers whose homes were damaged or destroyed by record rainfalls and flooding. MWCUA estimated that about 10,000 employees, volunteers and members need some assistance (See related News Now story, CUAid Activated For Colorado Flood Victims).
NCUF updated the campaign materials section of CUAid with new Web buttons that are specific to the Colorado flooding campaign.  Instead of a generic "Donate now at," the new buttons link to the Colorado fundraising efforts.  The site contains Web buttons, Web banners, materials for statement stuffers, point of sale items and sample promotional letters.
CUAid is the only program of its kind that enables credit union employees, volunteers and members as well as credit unions and related organizations across the nation to contribute directly to support other credit union people.