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CU System Briefs (09/27/2013)

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  • COLONIE, N.Y. (9/27/13)--Police in Colonie, N.Y., are seeking three people involved in multiple loan scams at credit union branches in Latham, Colonie and Niskayuna. The suspects use counterfeit New York State driver's licenses, forged pay stubs and stolen personal identification information to apply for loans, police said (The Daily Gazette Sept. 26). One theft on Sept. 17 involved a woman who stole $15,000 in a loan scam from the Latham branch of Albany-based Capital Communications FCU. Another man and woman attempted the same scam at the credit union's Colonie and Niskayuna branches on Sept. 19 and Sept. 24, but they did not succeed in getting money. The suspects are facing possible charges of identity theft, grand larceny, attempted grand larceny, and criminal possession of a forged instrument ...
  • ELMWOOD, La. (9/27/13)--Monique Gaines, 42, of Kenner, La., a teller at Harahan, La.-based ASI FCU's Elmwood branch, was arrested last week in the theft of a member's $11,000 deposit on Sept. 18.  A video surveillance camera allegedly caught footage of Gaines accepting the deposit, putting the money in the back of her drawer and later putting the money in her purse, said the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office (The Times-Picayune Sept. 23 and The Advocate Sept. 25). She is charged with bank fraud and theft of $1,500 or more and is out on bail, said the Sheriff's Office ...

Calif., Nevada Leagues To Recognize Leaders

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ONTARIO, Calif. (9/27/13)--Six credit union leaders and volunteers--including 2013 Leo H. Shapiro Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, CEO of Vacaville, Calif.-based Travis CU--will be honored at this year's California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues' Annual Meeting and Convention.
 
The recipients of the Shapiro, Distinguished Service, Outstanding Volunteer, Tomorrow's Star and Kim Bannan Eternal Flame awards are among those to be recognized during the event, Oct. 28-30, in San Francisco.
 
Award recipients include:
  • Distinguished Service Award:  Teresa Freeborn, president/CEO, Xceed Financial FCU, El Segundo, Calif.;
  • Outstanding Volunteer Award: Roxanne Ostrem, board chairman, Ventura (Calif.) County CU;
  • Tomorrow's Star Award: Annice Kim, president/CEO L.A. Healthcare FCU, Los Angeles;
  • Kim Bannan Eternal Flame Award (individual): Randy Thompson, president, TCT Inc.; and
  • Kim Bannan Eternal Flame Award (organization): Catalyst Corporate FCU, El Plano, Texas.

Global Cybercrime Costs Near $400B, Councils Told

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HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (9/27/13)--Global cybercrime costs about $114 billion annually with another $274 billion thrown in to allow for the costs of staff time in tracking and fixing the damage done, Randy Romes, principal of information security at CliftonLarsonAllen, told attendees Wednesday, the final day of the CUNA Technology Council and CUNA Operations, Sales & Service Council joint meeting in Hollywood, Calif.
 
Click to view larger image Once cybercriminals penetrate computer systems, 80% of the internal propagation is the result of weak administrative credentials,  Randy Romes, principal of information security at CliftonLarsonAllen, told attendees Wednesday, at the CUNA Technology Council and CUNA Operations, Sales & Service Council joint meeting in Hollywood, Calif. Next year's joint conference is scheduled for Las Vegas. (Photo provided by CUNA)
"Cybercrime costs the world significantly more that the global black market in marijuana, cocaine, and heroin combined, which is estimated at $288 billion," he said.
 
"Hackers tend to go for the easy money, and credit union members are much easier targets than credit unions themselves," he said. "In instances of cybercrime, the weakest link is the end user."
 
Nearly 62% of illegal intrusions in 2012 were completed by exploiting remote access applications,  Romes said, citing a 2013 research report published by TrustWave. Once cybercriminals find their way into computer systems, 80% of the internal propagation is the result of weak administrative credentials. And once hackers make their way into a system's stored data, it takes an average of 1.5 years for them to be detected, according to the TrustWave report.
 
"The research shows that most of the compromised systems were managed by third parties--63% were managed by third parties; 37% were managed in-house," he said.
 
Romes has seen a sharp increase in losses due to "social engineering," which he defines as the use of nontechnical attacks to gain information or access to technical systems, such as pre-texting phone calls or unauthorized entry into a building. "The best defense against social engineering is to constantly be creating awareness among your staff to the types of threats they might be subject to," Romes told credit unions.

Consumer Reports, USA TODAY Tout CUs, CUNA Survey

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Consumer Reports, USA TODAY Tout CUs, CUNA Survey
 
MADISON, Wis. (9/27/13)--The trend of switching to credit unions, the Credit Union National Association's Women's Financial Survey, and credit unions besting banks on certificates of deposit rates and minimum deposits are topics picked up recently by three prominent national media:  Consumer Reports, USA TODAY and GoBankingRates.com.
 
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
The September issue of Consumer Reports, in its article "Dump your big bank and save," reported that many consumers were reluctant to switch from their banks because they were entrenched with the banks' online and mobile-banking services during the original Bank Transfer Day two years ago.  However, credit unions have "caught up" in mobile banking, with many having added or working to add smart-phone banking, and "now may be the time for you to stage your own Bank Transfer Day," the publication said.
 
It listed credit unions as the first of four alternative financial institutions that consumers fed up with big banks could turn to. Credit unions "offer all of the services of a bank (and federal deposit insurance) but tend to charge considerably less for checking accounts and loans. And they generally pay higher interest rates on savings," said Consumer Reports. It also noted credit unions scored 82 on the American Consumer Satisfaction Index--outscoring Chase (74), Citibank (70) and Bank of America (66).
 
USA TODAY Money earlier this month tweeted about CUNA's Women's Financial Survey, which scored a major media hit when the national publication featured the survey in its "USA Snapshot" on the front page of its Money section.
 
The tweet, pictured here, repeated the graphic used in the Sept. 9 edition, with the statement "52% of women surveyed say they have enough savings to cover six months' worth of expenses. Do you? pic.twitter.com/C7TN72UyCd."
 
In the article, "Credit Unions 'Destroy' Banks with Higher CD Rates, Lower Deposit Requirements," GoBankingRates.com (Sept. 25) said it "surveyed current CD rates to determine where high-yield opportunities exist, finding credit unions outperform for-profit banks.
 
"The fact is credit unions destroy banks with higher rates and lower deposit requirements," said Casey Bond, the publication's managing editor, in the article.  "There are definitely better deals on the local level in general, but right now, even community banks can't keep up with the savings credit unions are providing members." 
 
The publication reported what it found in average minimum deposits required and average rates (annual percentage yield) for CDs with three different maturity terms. They were:
  • Six-month CD:  $2,435 (0.28%) at credit unions and $3,678 (0.17%) at banks;
  • Twelve-month CD:  $2,401 (0.42%) at credit unions and $3,572 (o.27%) at banks; and
  • Twenty-four month CD: $2,499 (0.62%) at credit unions and $3,592 (0.43%) at banks.
Use the links to access each article.

CUs In Place To Assist Federal Employees

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MADISON, Wis. (9/27/13)--Credit unions, as they have done in the past, stand ready to help members and consumers who could be impacted by a possible federal government shutdown next week.
 
Although the shutdown is unlikely--and the economic impact would be small at first, according to a Thursday USA TODAY article--credit unions will be prepared should the situation escalate. Many federal employees are members of credit unions, and many other members receive government benefits.
 
"Credit unions always put members' needs first and this time is no different," John Bratsakis, president/CEO of the Maryland & DC Credit Union Association, told News Now. "We are proud that the majority of our credit unions serving government employees have products and services to assist in the event of a possible shutdown and are ready to help members cope with any financial hardships that could be a result of this.
 
"Many offer short term loans, will work with members to restructure loans if necessary and some offer a skip-a-payment option," he added. "Additionally, many offer free financial counseling to help members make informed decisions. Our credit unions will monitor the decision closely and will handle each situation individually to ensure the best care is given to their members."
 
If a shutdown were to last three to four weeks, it could do substantial harm to the economy, cutting its growth rate by half or more, Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics, told USA TODAY.
 
Some credit unions who serve government employees are already poised to take action.
 
"Many of our members were furloughed starting in May and we implemented 'Furlough Loans' back then and didn't start their payments until Sept. 16, which was after the last furlough date," Mike Funk, president/CEO of LibertyOne CU in Dallas, told News Now. "We also worked with our members on restructuring debt and helped advise them on things they could do to help them get through this time. We will be here for them if the government is shut down in much the same way."
 
Randolph-Brooks FCU (RBFCU) in Live Oak, Texas, is providing its members financial options to take care of their families in the event of government shutdown, the $5.6 billion asset credit union said in a release.
 
If a government shutdown occurs following the end of the government's fiscal year Sept. 30, some federal employees or benefit recipients might not be allowed to work or to receive pay until a compromise is reached. RBFCU said it will provide members with a one-time provisional credit if they are government employees or benefit payment recipients affected by the shutdown.
 
"These are uncertain times for our country, and we want to continue to provide our members with peace of mind when it comes to their finances," said Sonya McDonald, RBFCU senior vice president of planning and market development. "While we hope the government will resolve its budget issues, we are being proactive in providing solutions for our members in the event that a shutdown does occur."
 
Also, Service CU in Portsmouth, N.H., is offering a 0% loan, up to $6,000, for members who use the credit union for direct deposit of their government pay. And Belvoir FCU in Woodbridge, Va., is offering emergency loans, loan workouts, skip-a-pay and penalty-free share certificate withdrawals to members affected by a government shutdown (The Paycheck Chronicles Sept. 25). 
 
Providing service excellence is one of the tenets for the Credit Union National Association's, state credit union leagues' and credit unions' Unite for Good campaign toward a vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial provider. The other tenets are removing barriers, and raising awareness about the value credit unions provide their members and communities.

In Kentucky, CUs' Loan Growth Up 7.2%

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (9/27/13)--Kentucky credit unions increased their lending by 7.2% in the past fiscal year, reported a Louisville, Ky.-based publication bizjournals.com (Sept. 25). 
 
That's better than the national average for credit unions of 5.5%, according to the most recent National Credit Union Administration data.
 
Louisville's five biggest credit unions--by total assets--increased their outstanding loans by 13.8% from July 1, 2012, to June 30, NCUA said.
 
The five credit unions are: L&N FCU, Park Community FCU, Kentucky Telco FCU, Class Act FCU and Jefferson County FCU.
 
Collectively, those five credit unions expanded their membership by 6.6%--besting the national credit union average of 2.2%.

Credit Card Study: Gen X, Millennials Drive Interest In Mobile Wallets

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NATICK, Mass. (9/27/13)--Seventy percent of smartphone owners are aware of mobile wallets, but only 20% show much interest in using one at this time, says a new study. However, the group that shows the most interest are the Millennials and Generation X--the groups of young folks that are in the bull's eye of credit unions' growth hopes.
 
Millennials and Generation X are driving today's interest in mobile wallets, said based Phoenix Marketing International. The Natick, Mass.-based marketing research firm conducted  its Credit Card Monitor Study with 3,013 credit cardholders during second quarter.
 
Other findings:
  • PIN-based authentication with a mobile wallet has substantially greater appeal than near field communication (NFC) and QR code scans.  "Although the market is in early stages of development, consumers clearly prefer to enter a PIN at the merchant terminal or on their smartphone," said Greg Weed, director of card research. Cardholders surveyed preferred PINs by a 3 to 1 margin. He attributed that result to cardholders likely having greater familiarity with the PIN-based technology.
  • Seventy-two percent of cardholders surveyed gave first preference for providing mobile wallet services to the financial institution that provides their checking account, debit or credit card.  However, 40% said they would also consider PayPal or Amazon.
CU Wallet, a credit union-centric mobile payments/mobile wallet initiative, was launched in Los Angeles on Monday. It will combine technology with direct credit union ownership, for a mobile payments infrastructure for credit unions (See related story in Monday's News Now: 'CU Centric' Mobile Wallet Firm Launched).

Javelin To FIs: Boost Bill Pay On Websites

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SAN FRANCISCO (9/27/13)--Financial institutions, including credit unions, can increase household adoption of online banking by 22% by increasing bill payment adoption rates, according to Javelin Strategy and Research's 2013 Online Banking and Bill-Payment Forecast.
 
Without the increase in bill payment penetration, online banking adoption rates are expected to remain flat through 2018, the report said.
 
"Mobility is rapidly rewiring the way consumers think," said Mark Schwanhausser, Javelin Strategy & Research director of omnichannel financial services. "Mobile-toting Americans demand simplicity, any-time convenience, immediate answers, pre-emptive alerts, personally relevant information and advice, an attitude of transparency, and time-saving options--all done safely and securely.
 
"To win converts, bill paying services must satisfy those broad expectations and also offer specific bill-payment capabilities that clearly outperform the methods consumers use today," Schwanhausser added.
 
The report identifies a new segment of nearly 11 million consumers--Digital Drifters, who bank online and use mobile banking but do not pay bills at their financial institution. Most pay bills online through biller websites.
 
More than half of the Digital Drifters perceive that paying bills at the biller's site provides more control over their payments, vs. 39% who say this statement applies to bill payments at a financial institution.
 
Credit unions can reposition their services by emphasizing their legitimate strengths, which Digital Drifters' currently downgrade paying bills at a financial institution in comparison with paying at the biller websites, the report said.

CU System Briefs (09/26/2013)

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  • ONTARIO, Calif. (9/26/13)--CU Direct Corp., has appointed Keith Sultemeier, president/CEO of Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based Kinecta FCU, as a new associate director to its board of directors. Sultemeier has more than 13 years' experience in the credit union industry, said CU Direct, which provides lending solutions to the industry. He has been president/CEO of Kinecta since April 2012. Prior to that, he was executive vice president of San Antonio-based Security Service FCU. Also serving on the Board of Directors are: Chairman, John Lund, CEO of American First CU, La Habra, Calif.; vice chairman, Jeff March, CEO, Citadel FCU, Exton, Pa.; secretary and treasurer, Nader Moghaddam, president/CEO, Financial Partners CU, Downey, Calif.; Diana Dykstra, president/CEO, California  and Nevada Credit Union Leagues; David Reynolds, CEO, Security Service FCU, San Antonio; Barry Jolette, president/CEO, San Mateo (Calif.) CU; Sterling Nielsen, president/CEO, Mountain America CU, West Jordan, Utah; Donna Bland, president/CEO, Golden 1 CU, Sacramento, Calif.; Chuck Purvis, president/CEO of Coastal FCU, Raleigh, N.C.; and Joe Brancucci, president/CEO, GTE Financial, Tampa, Fla., ex-officio member of the board ...

Santa Rosa To Bank Locally With Three CUs

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SANTA ROSA, Calif. (9/26/13)--The Santa Rosa (Calif.) City Council this week decided to provide three local credit unions with up to $250,000 apiece to try to keep that money circulating in the local economy.
 
The three credit unions chosen were Santa Rosa-based Redwood CU, Community First CU and Sonoma County Grange CU. Two local banks also were chosen (pressdemocrat.com Sept. 24).
 
The financial institutions were selected because they met criteria to ensure the public funds would be liquid, safe and ensure a fair return, the newspaper said.
 
The real value in investing the money locally is accrued from its multiplier effect in the local economy--which the credit unions and banks should make available for business and consumer loans, Arvin Look, city financial planner for Santa Rosa, told the publication.
 
Removing barriers, fostering service excellence and raising awareness about the value credit unions provide their members and communities are the foundation for the Credit Union National Association's, state credit union leagues' and credit unions' Unite For Good campaign toward a vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial provider.

CUs Have Unique Opportunities, Says Member Centricity Speaker

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TAMPA, Fla. (9/26/13)--Credit unions possess competitive opportunities such as a common bond among members and a unifying cause to better their members' financial lives, customer centricity expert Don Peppers told more than 100 credit union attendees at CUNA Mutual Group's one-day Symposium on Tuesday.
 
Click to view larger image Credit unions' sense of community presents a strategic opportunity, customer centricity expert Don Peppers told more than 100 credit union attendees at CUNA Mutual Group's one-day free Symposium in Tampa, Fla. Tuesday. (Photo provided by CUNA Mutual Group)
Peppers headlined the free event, "Battle for the American Consumer: A Symposium on Member Centricity," open to credit unions. Peppers is considered an authority on customer centric strategies. An author of several books on the topic, he has been recognized by the Times of London as one of its "Top 50 Business Brains" and on Accenture's list of the "Top 50 Business Intellectuals."
 
Peppers spelled out ways credit unions can strengthen the trust and loyalty members have in them and compared credit unions' sense of community to that of the relationship financial services giant USAA has with its customers.
 
John Lass, CUNA Mutual Group senior vice president strategy and business development, led off the discussion on how credit unions can win the battle to become their members' primary financial institution. "The event provided some great insights for credit unions," Lass said. "Our challenge now is where we go with what we've heard today."
 
Also presenting at the daylong event was Michelle Eten, vice president of digital marketing at REI. One of the largest retail consumer cooperatives in the world, REI has built a customer centric retail model while remaining true to its cooperative roots.
 
Dorothy Leaderer and Jennifer Norr of CUNA Mutual Group's customer operations unit also presented on measuring the customer experience and using data to become more member centric.

Op-ed In Duluth: Don't Tax My CU

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DULUTH, Minn. (9/26/13)--"A federal income tax on Minnesota's member-owned credit unions is an additional tax upon credit union members," said an op-ed written by Larry Champeaux, president/CEO of Northern Communities CU, Duluth, in the Duluth News-Tribune.
 
Champeaux, who is also a member of the board of the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation, outlined the importance of credit unions' corporate income tax exemption. In 1934, Congress in passing the Federal Credit Union Act, recognized "that credit unions' unique cooperative structure was an important factor in granting them a different tax status than Wall Street-funded banks," he wrote.
 
"For-profit and not-for-profit business models exist in every industry, and the best part about America is that both of these models are given a chance to succeed side by side in the marketplace," he said.
 
He also noted that loss of credit unions' tax status "significantly would reduce credit unions' ability to continue their exemplary service to their members and their communities."
 
"Let's keep our communities growing. Please don't tax my credit union," he urged. To read the entire article, use the link.
 
The op-ed appeared just as credit unions and their 97 million members are planning a national virtual rally for Oct. 2 to further support the "Don't tax my credit union" campaign created by the Credit Union National Association and the state leagues.
 
Members and advocates from across the nation will light up social media via Twitter and Facebook with the message to accompany a physical rally at Credit Union House in Washington, D.C., 2 p.m.-3 p.m. (ET). That event will be streamed on www.DontTaxMyCreditUnion.org and on The Hill newspaper site (News Now Sept. 24). For more details use the links.

Campbell Named Filene's Director Of Innovation Labs

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MADISON, Wis. (9/26/13)--Filene Research Institute announced Wednesday that Cynthia Campbell has joined the nonprofit as its director of innovation labs. Campbell will lead Filene's new accessible financial services incubator.    
 
Campbell previously served as vice president-financial empowerment program manager at Tinker FCU (TFCU) in Oklahoma City, Okla.
 
"She brings a wealth of experience in serving low- and moderate-income consumers," said Mark Meyer, CEO at Filene. "A critical piece of innovation is execution. Cynthia's inquisitive mindset, success in building programs from scratch and program implementation skills position her to drive meaningful change for underbanked consumers through the incubator."  
 
While at TFCU, Campbell developed and implemented the Financial Empowerment Program, with nearly 20,000 financial education workshop attendees, free financial counseling, REAL solutions products, online budgeting tools and learning modules.
 
Her prior experience includes management and training, sales, and partner relations. Campbell is also a volunteer, lending her expertise to organizations such as Oklahoma Council on Economic Education, Oklahoma Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, National Youth Involvement Board and YWCA.
 
Funded with a $700,000 Ford Foundation grant, the incubator will test, package and scale financial products that benefit low- and moderate-income U.S. consumers. The goal is to commercialize at least one product among mainstream financial institutions, using credit unions to test viability and adoption.

Councils Announce Best Of Show, Award Recipients

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HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (9/26/13)--
Click to view larger imageCUNA Technology Council's Best of Show Award was presented Tuesday by Heather Moshier, council chair and executive vice president of information technology at San Diego County CU, to Wescom Resources Group. Receiving the award are Gina Kovacs, product specialist, and Jacob Clouse, sales engineer.
The CUNA Technology Council and the CUNA Operations, Sales and Service Council presented recognition awards this week at their meetings in Hollywood, Calif.
 
The CUNA Technology Council presented its Best of Show Award to Wescom Resources Group.  Conference attendees voted on the award following 15 seven-minute "speed demos" of products and services by service providers Monday and Tuesday at the conference. 

Gina Kovacs, Wescom product specialist, and Jacob Clouse, sales engineer accepted the award, on behalf of Wescom.
 
The council also handed out several awards of excellence Tuesday.  (See News Now related story, CUNA Tech Council Hands Out Five Excellence Awards, in Wednesday's issue.)
 
Click to view larger image The Best of Show Award presented Tuesday by CUNA Operations, Sales and Service Council, went to Red Canoe CU and Empower CU. From left: Ken Kelly, manager of training & development; Michelle Trekas, manager of sales & service training; and Rod Snyder, AVP of sales and branch performance. Accepting the award for Empower FCU was Justin Roth (right), director of cultural affairs.
At the CUNA Operations, Sales and Service Council conference, Best of Show Awards were presented Tuesday to Red Canoe CU, Longview, Wash., and Empower FCU, Syracuse, N.Y.

Accepting were Red Canoe's Ken Kelly, manager of training & development; Michelle Trekas, manager of sales & service training; and Rod Snyder, assistant vice president of sales and branch performance.

Accepting the award for Empower FCU was Justin Roth, director of cultural affairs.
 
The OpSS Council also presented Awards of Excellence to seven of its member credit unions:
  • Nymeo FCU, Frederick, Md., for branch design for credit unions in the $150 million to $500 million asset category;
  • Click to view larger image The CUNA Operations, Sales and Service Council presented eight awards to these council members Tuesday at its meeting in Hollywood, Calif. Eight credit unions received awards in seven categories. (Photos provided by CUNA)
    Numerica CU, Spokane Valley, Wash., for credit unions with more than $500 million in assets;
  • General Mills FCU, Minnetonka, Minn., for credit unions in the $150 million to $500 million asset category;
  • Neighbors FCU, Baton Rouge, La., for credit unions with more than $500 million in assets;
  • Element FCU, Charleston, W.Va., for branch design among credit unions with less than $150 million in assets;
  • TwinStar CU, Olympia, Wash., for call center e-support among credit unions with more than $500 million in assets.

44% Of Wisconsin School Districts Require Fin Lit Course

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MADISON, Wis. (9/26/13)--Roughly 44% of all Wisconsin school districts now require a course in personal financial literacy (PFL) in order to graduate from high school, according to the survey results released Tuesday by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).
 
Credit unions in the state will be glad to see a healthy percentage of schools with a financial literacy requirement, and will stand ready to help grow that number by assisting educators in addressing the financial literacy issue, said the Wisconsin Credit Union League in response to the survey results. 
 
Credit union financial educators reached 400,097 students nationally in 12,243 classroom presentations involving financial literacy during the 2012 school year, according to data from the National Youth Involvement Board.
 
The survey of Wisconsin school districts also showed that of those school districts that do not require a personal financial literacy course, 27% are considering adding such a requirement in the near future.
 
"The need to be financially literate has never been more important," Gov. Scott Walker said.  "While more than 40% of our school districts are requiring their students to take a PFL course in order to graduate, there is more we can do to teach all Wisconsin young people this important life skill." He encouraged educators across the state "to do their part to continue to integrate personal financial literacy instruction into our schools."
 
The survey was initiated and funded by DFI, in collaboration with the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), and conducted by  St. Norbert College Strategic Research Institute of De Pere.  DFI, which is the regulator of state-chartered credit unions in the state, is charged with providing administrative support and guidance to the Governor's Council on Financial Literacy, which was created by the governor's Executive Order #24.
 
"DFI is committed to assisting the Governor's Council fulfill its mission of measurably improving the financial knowledge of Wisconsin's citizens, especially our K-12 students," DFI Secretary Peter Bildsten said.  "This survey provides a benchmark by which the DFI, DPI and the council will be able to measure the results of our efforts to promote the integration of personal finance into our schools.  We intend to 'move the dial' on this important topic."
 
The survey, which included responses from 415 of Wisconsin's 424 school districts, showed:

"Wisconsin led the nation in the development of rigorous standards around personal financial literacy," said State Superintendent Tony Evers.  "It is important that school boards and district leaders continue to expand and enhance opportunities for students to meet these standards, whether it is through a required course, robust elective options, and/or integrating this content in grade levels as young as kindergarten."
 
For more detail about the report, use the link.  See related story, Fin. Lit. Is Fundamental, Cordray Says in today's News Now.

  • Seventy-four percent of districts include PFL content integrated within courses other than a discrete PFL course;
  • Sixty percent of school districts report offering PFL content at grade levels other than high school; and
  • In districts with a required course, 89% have aligned their PFL course to Wisconsin's Model Academic Standards for Personal Financial Literacy.

CO-OP Awards 16 Scholarships To CUNA's Community CU Growth Conference

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MADISON, Wis. (9/25/13)--CO-OP Financial Services has awarded 16 credit union professionals with scholarships to attend this year's CUNA Community Credit Union & Growth Conference (CCUC).
 
This is the fourth consecutive year that CO-OP has sponsored scholarships for the conference, which will take place Oct. 8-11,in Uncasville, Conn.
 
"Over the last four years, individuals from dozens of credit unions that would not otherwise be represented have been able to attend CCUC and apply conference takeaways to directly strengthen the credit union movement," said Todd Spiczenski, CUNA senior vice president, Center for Professional Development. "Thanks to CO-OP Financial Services' continued generosity, the CCUC message will be once again amplified by the insight and dedication of this year's scholarship winners."
 
The CCUC provides tools for credit unions to put their ideas into action and find new strategies to drive membership growth. Attendees will create ready-to-implement action plans to help their credit union reach its full potential. CUNA also will present four outstanding credit unions with the 2013 Community Credit Union of the Year Award.
 
Scholarship recipients include:
  • Megan Armstrong, Saratoga's Community FCU, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.;
  • Jim Bounds, Coastal Community and Teachers CU, Corpus Christi, Texas;
  • Eric Bruen, Desert Valleys FCU, Ridgecrest, Calif.;
  • Debbie Bullock, Martin FCU, Orlando, Fla.;
  • Asaf (Asi) Carmeli, Scient FCU, Gordon, Conn.;
  • Phillip Dunaway, Land of Lincoln CU, Decatur, Ill.;
  • Clayton Fuchigami, Maui FCU, Kahului, Hawaii;
  • Sherry Holliman, Northeast Arkansas FCU, Blytheville, Ark.;
  • Michael Mayhew, Baltimore County Employees FCU, Towson, Md.;
  • Nancy Montie, Besser CU, Alpena, Mich.;
  • Deloris Ransom, Salem Baptist FCU, Jersey City, N.J.;
  • Lynn Sabatino, Members CU, Cos Cob, Conn.;
  • Nancy Sieller, Torrington (Conn.) Municipal & Teachers FCU;
  • Laura Sorensen, SageLink CU, Durand, Mich.;
  • Carla Waldo, Mills42 FCU, Lowell, Mass.; and
  • Michael Waylett, Vision Financial FCU, Durham, N.C.

CUNA Tech Council Hands Out Five Excellence Awards

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HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (9/25/13)--
Click to view larger image CUNA Technology award recipients for innovation in information technology (IT) are, from left: Linda Bodie, CEO, Element FCU, Charleston, W.V.; Trey Kelso, vice president of business solutions, Virginia CU Inc., Richmond; Andrew Chung, IT architect, GESA CU, Richland, Wash.; Glenn Carney, vice president of technical services, accepting the award on behalf of Sam Passer, vice president of applications, CommunityAmerica CU, Lenexa, Kan.; and Eric Kapusinski, network engineer, Motorola Employees CU, Schaumburg, Ill. (Photo provided by CUNA)
Five Awards of Excellence were handed out Monday by the CUNA Technology Council at its conference in Hollywood, Calif.
 
The awards recognize exceptional innovation in the field of information technology (IT). This year's winners were:
  • Linda Bodie, CEO of Element FCU, Charleston, W.Va.;
  • Trey Kelso, vice president of business solutions, Virginia CU Inc., Richmond, Va.;
  • Andrew Chung, IT architect for GESA CU in Richland, Wash.;
  • Sam Passer, vice president of applications for CommunityAmerica CU in Lenexa, Kan.; and
  • Eric Kapusinski, network engineer for Motorola ECU in Schaumburg, Ill.
 
The conference, held in conjunction with a conference of the CUNA Operations, Sales and Service Council, ends today.

CU System Briefs (09/25/2013)

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  • ST. PAUL, Minn. (9/25/13)--Longtime volunteer and credit union advocate Allan J. Brennan was recently designated a Credit Union Builder by the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation. The honor was bestowed upon him by Postal CU (PCU) in Woodbury, Minn., where he served as a volunteer for more than five terms in a 17-year span. Brennan retired from the PCU board earlier this year. A PCU member since 1952, Brennan joined the supervisory committee in 1995 before being elected to his first term on the board of directors in 1996. Brennan served as chairman of the technology committee and was a member of the asset and liability, and policy committees. He joins 21 other individuals who have been honored the past six years with MnCUF's Credit Union Builder Award. The names of the recipients and the contributing credit unions are permanently displayed in MnCUF's lobby ...

NWCUA Touts CU Difference, Defends Tax Status On Fox Business

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SEATTLE (9/25/13)--Credit unions' not-for-profit cooperative structure and their tangible value to members were highlighted in a Fox Business interview Tuesday with Northwest Credit Union Association President/CEO Troy Stang, who discussed the credit union difference and defended the preservation of credit unions' tax status.

Click to view larger image Click for larger view
Adam Shapiro, the "Business News" anchor in the segment entitled "Credit Unions Vs. Banks" noted that credit unions have 95 million members who have deposited $1 trillion--about 6% of all consumers' deposits in the nation's financial institutions--in credit unions.  With tax reform, banks have renewed their push to eliminate credit unions' tax status.
 
"Credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives, and as member-owners, each member--or 95 million members--would be impacted in their own wallets" if credit unions' federal corporate income tax exempt status were eliminated, Stang said. "The benefits of the cooperative structure are returned back to members and [taxing credit unions] hits not only members in their wallets" but wallets "across America," he said.
 
The anchor pointed out that his research indicated that credit unions provide more competitive rates, offer more credit opportunities and provide services with low fees.
 
"To understand a credit union is really to understand its structure and the real tangible value" to members, said Stang who noted that value amounts to $120 per American member household.
 
Taxing credit unions "would certainly impact the margins of operating a credit union" and thus the profits returned as benefits to members, he said, adding, "Credit unions do pay many forms of taxes such as payroll taxes and real estate taxes that support the local economy."  The amount that would be collected if credit unions lost that status in an attempt to deal with the federal deficit would amount to "enough to run the federal government for about an hour," Stang said.
 
He also noted that "banks certainly would be interested in not having any competition on Main Street," but that "in America, it is very beneficial to have diversity in our financial landscape."
 
The program also reached out to the American Bankers Association but was still waiting on a response, said the anchor. To view the segment, use the link.
 
Credit unions and members will continue to make their voices heard on the tax status as part of the Credit Union National Association's and the leagues' Don't Tax My Credit Union grassroots campaign. They will conduct a virtual Don't Tax rally online on Oct. 2. Use the link for more information.

CUAid Activated For Colorado Flood Victims

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MADISON, Wis. (9/25/13)--The National Credit Union Foundation Tuesday activated the online disaster relief system, CUAid.coop, to raise funds for credit union people in Colorado affected by flooding earlier this month.
 
Days of record-setting rainfall and flooding had forced several Boulder, Colo.-area credit unions to temporarily close branches Sept. 13.
 
Credit union supporters in every state can make donations at www.cuaid.coop, said NCUF.
 
CUAid is the only program of its kind that enables credit union employees, volunteers, and members, as well as credit unions and credit union organizations across the U.S., to contribute directly to support other credit union people.
 
"Colorado has been severely affected by the recent Colorado floods," said Dan Santangelo, executive director of the Mountain West Credit Union Foundation.
 
"We, at the Mountain West Credit Union Association, initially didn't think we were going to need much CUAid funding, but after we started receiving inquiries, we were able to see the need from credit union members who could use a helping hand. It is estimated that more than 10,000 credit union staff, volunteers, and members are in need of some type of assistance."
 
To donate, use the resource link.
 
"To help alleviate the devastating effects of this disaster, we encourage credit union leaders all across the country to use CUAid.coop as a channel to collect donations from their employees, volunteers, and members," said Christopher Morris, NCUF director of communications.
 
As donations are posted through CUAid.coop, NCUF will coordinate with the Mountain West Credit Union Foundation in the disaster area to distribute money efficiently to affected credit union employees and members.  NCUF said 100% of the donations through CUAid goes to credit union disaster relief. In the event that all donations are not used for Colorado Flooding relief, NCUF will transfer unused funds to its "General Disaster Relief fund" for future disaster relief efforts.
 
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.
 
Organizations and individuals can use a variety of CUAid Web buttons for their websites.  Use the links to the donation form and to easily linkable buttons for the effort.
 
Last week the National Credit Union Administration announced it had activated its disaster policy during the weekend of Sept. 14-15 and encouraged credit unions in the flooded areas to make prudent loans with special terms and reduced documentation for members affected by the disaster. See News Now story, NCUA Activates Disaster Relief Policy After Colorado Flooding.

Dykstra Tells Council: Find Ways To Ignite Relevance

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HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (9/25/13)--
Click to view larger image Diana Dykstra, CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, addressed Tuesday's general session of the CUNA Technology Council and the CUNA Operations, Sales & Service Council in Hollywood, Calif.
"Your world is changing very quickly, and you must continually look for ways to remain relevant to members and potential members," Diana Dykstra, CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, told attendees of a combined conference of the CUNA Technology Council and the CUNA Operations, Sales & Service Council Tuesday morning
 
The conferences, which began Sunday in Hollywood, Calif., end today.
 
"Sometimes we spend too much time focusing on the way things were and not enough time thinking about what's coming," Dykstra said. "Baby boomers helped credit unions grow, but they're deleveraging now and they're not going to become net borrowers again. They're done. Today's net borrowers are age 18 to 34, but that age group is under-represented among credit union members. We have to do something about that," she added.
 
"Gen Y is 78 million strong, and they represent your future borrowers," said Dykstra, "but 71% of Gen Y have no idea what a credit union is, and over half of the unbanked belong to Gen Y. This generation represents a tremendous opportunity for credit unions, but a lot of younger consumers just don't want relationships with traditional financial institutions.
 
"Mobile banking is growing 68% a year," said Dykstra. "It represents the greatest opportunity for credit unions and the greatest threat. You must offer your members seamless access across all delivery channels. Your members won't tolerate disjointed delivery channels.
 
Click to view larger image Representatives from 15 technology companies who gave seven-minute "speed demos" of their products and services during the CUNA Technology Council conference this week in Hollywood, Calif., took the stage Tuesday as attendees voted on the Best of Show. (Photos provided by CUNA)
"Branch traffic declined for the first time in 2012," she said. "About 80% of consumers now visit a branch only once per quarter. And their top three reasons for visiting a branch are problem-resolution, to execute a process that's too complex to execute online, and to physically sign a document."
 
Also on Tuesday, four technology companies made seven-minute presentations or "speed demos" about their products. Five companies did the same in Monday's speed round. Tuesday's presenters included:
  • Michael Hall of Buzz Points (buzzpoints.com), a merchant-funded rewards program that integrates with social media platforms to increase consumer engagement;
  • John Levy and Michael Ball of IMM, which offers e-signature, workflow, and document solutions;
  • Jason Early and Shawn Swanson of EVault, which employs a cloud-based solution to offer credit unions data back-up and recovery services; and
  • Chuck Gulledge of OnApproach, who held up a copy of the book "Money Ball" to illustrate how his company can help credit unions manage data and reporting issues.

Council Speaker: Hispanics Represent CUs' Largest Growth Opportunity

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HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (9/25/13)--"Hispanics are the largest, fastest-growing, youngest, and most underserved ethnic group in the U.S.," said Miriam De Dios, CEO of Coopera, at the CUNA Operations, Sales, and Service Council meeting in Hollywood, Calif., on Monday.

Click to view larger image At the CUNA Operations, Sales, and Service Council meeting Monday in Hollywood, Calif., Miriam De Dios, CEO of Coopera Consulting, said many credit unions are seizing the opportunity to serve the nation's largest, fastest-growing, youngest and most underserved ethnic group--Hispanics. (Photo provided by CUNA)
"One out of six U.S. residents is Hispanic, but by the year 2050, one out of three U.S. residents will be Hispanic," said De Dios. "About 50% of Hispanics are either unbanked or underbanked. And their average age is 27. Hispanics are clearly credit unions' largest growth opportunity."

And many credit unions are seizing that opportunity. Over an 18-month period, a group of Coopera clients experienced 25% Hispanic membership growth, 47% growth in Hispanic checking penetration and 7% growth in Hispanic lending penetration.

De Dios encouraged credit unions to focus on both first- and second-generation Hispanics. "That's important because the first generation is in the workplace and earning income and is more likely to be unbanked or underbanked," she said. "The second generation, however, learns its financial behaviors from the first generation, and the second generation still needs to connect to the culture."

She said it was important to distinguish between "acculturation" and "assimilation." Acculturation refers to the preservation of one's birth culture and the addition of another culture, becoming "bicultural." Assimilation refers to the replacement of one's birth culture with another.

"Hispanics are creating a new model in which they are more likely to create a bicultural and bilingual identity," says De Dios.

The CUNA Operations, Sales, and Service Council and CUNA Technology Council are meeting jointly in Hollywood through Wednesday. Watch News Now and Credit Union Magazine for updated coverage.

Michigan Modernization Bill Brings Banks Vs. CUs Debate

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LANSING, Mich. (9/25/13)--A Michigan bill that would modernize the state's Credit Union Act is being debated in the state's legislature and has drawn the attention of banks.
 
The proposed bill--Senate Bill 496--would allow credit unions to have a broader field of membership beyond select employee groups, which advocates say would create more competition with other lenders (Ludingtondailynews.com Sept. 24).
 
Credit unions, by design, have always offered the same services that banks do, David Adams, president/CEO of the Michigan Credit Union League, told the paper. Although it would update the Credit Union Act, Senate Bill 496 would not significantly expand credit unions powers, but rather it would provide regulatory relief to help credit unions remain competitive and give them more flexibility, Adams added.  
 
However, Michigan banks oppose the bill, claiming that credit unions are attempting to become more like banks by going beyond their traditional fields of membership and saying that credit unions should pay taxes if their membership expands, said the newspaper.  
 
State regulators are pushing the membership-qualification changes, because regulators see no value in approving membership groups anymore, Adams told the paper.
 
Michigan likely would not make credit unions pay business taxes because they then would switch to federal charters, the bill's sponsor Gerald Van Woerkom, a Republican state senator from Norton Shores and vice chairman of the state's Banking and Financial Institutions Committee, told the paper.
 
To read the article, use the link.

Mortgages In Ark., Okla., Texas CUs Top $3.3B

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (9/25/13)--Credit unions in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas completed more than $3.3 billion in mortgage transactions during the first six months of 2013, according to the Cornerstone Credit Union League.

During 2012, credit unions in the three-state area wrote nearly $6.2 billion worth of real estate loans, said Rick Grady, league vice president of research (Leaguer Sept. 24).

"Given the increased pace in mortgages, it appears that volume will be surpassed in 2013," Grady said. "This excludes the peak buying months of July and August, data that will be compiled after the close of third quarter. Together, credit unions in the tri-state area manage over $18 billion in real estate loans."

Rick Pustejovsky, mortgage lending manager at FirstLight FCU in El Paso, Texas, told the league that in the past four months, his credit union saw a significant peak in mortgage loan applications.

"With interest rates starting to climb, consumers who have been sitting on the fence are now jumping into the real estate market because they want to take advantage of low interest rates while they're still available," Pustejovsky said.

While the purchase volume has increased dramatically, mortgage refinancing at the $837 million asset credit union has decreased, Pustejovsky said. He noted that this time last year, 40% of the mortgage refinances the credit union made were equity cash out. This year, less than 10% have been equity cash out.

"Property values took a real hit in the economic recession, so using the house as an ATM machine hasn't been an option for many homeowners," he said.

Pustejovsky, who is on the board of the Texas Credit Union Real Estate Network, said real estate lending is an opportunity many credit unions miss.

"From my perspective, more credit unions aren't actively engaged in real estate lending because they don't understand the benefits of offering this service, or they're concerned about the risks," he explained. "The key is having someone on staff who is experienced in handling your mortgage portfolio."

Another challenge is that realtors don't realize that credit unions are in the mortgage business, Pustejovsky said.

"But it's a problem that can be solved," he added. "I spend a great deal of time educating local realtors of what we can offer their clients."

See related News Now story in Market News: "FHFA: House Prices Up 1% In July."

Hispanic Heritage Month: Growth About Learning, Inclusiveness

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AURORA, Colo. (9/25/13)--As credit unions mark Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15-Oct. 15, Fitzsimons FCU, Aurora, Colo., is entering the second stage of a three-phase, five-year process to grow its membership in a way that better reflects the makeup of its local population.
 
The Aurora, Colo.-area has about a 26% percent Hispanic population, according to Fitzsimons CU President/CEO Sandy Neves. In 2011, Fitzsimons FCU's membership was about 12% Hispanic members.
 
"We just decided not only is it a business imperative, but we also wanted to serve the underserved," Neves told News Now.
 
Working with Coopera, a Hispanic growth firm that serves credit unions, Fitzsimons FCU developed on a five-year plan to more closely integrate the Hispanic marketplace into its membership.
 
"One of our mottos is, 'This is a marathon, not a sprint," Neves said. "It is going to take time, and you have to do it right. I'm not a patient person. I want things overnight, but this is a learning process, and it involved everyone in our credit union."
 
In the first, discovery, stage of the process, the credit union laid the groundwork for serving the Hispanic marketplace. This 18-month process included cultural education, budgeting, training and new product development. The credit union also added a Hispanic advisory board.
 
The first stage "doesn't net us anything," Neves said. "It's sheer work and commitment. We surveyed at the board level, the executive level, and the staff level to determine our level of commitment, then we trained in-house, developed new products and really took the time to learn more about our community."
 
Among new products the credit union offers Hispanic members is a checking program, a payday alternative loan, reloadable debit cards, remittance transaction, a noninterest-bearing savings account for members without Social Security numbers, financial education and a credit builder program.
 
Fitzsimons FCU also hired more bilingual employees. "We primarily hired them through attrition," Neves said. "We made a conscious decision to hire bilingual employees."
 
This year, Fitzsimons entered the second, emerging stage, in which it has begun serving the Hispanic marketplace. "Now we hope to see membership growth," Neves said. "We also hope to decrease the average age of our membership and increase our loan volume."
 
The credit union has partnered with a local crisis center to provide financial education to affected families. "We have also reached out to church groups and met with the Mexican consulate," Neves said.  "Little by little we are developing trust in the community."
 
In developing that trust, Fitzsimons will begin to reach the third, or best practices stage of its Hispanic outreach strategy: Being recognized as the preferred financial institution within the local Hispanic market.
 
The admittedly impatient Neves has learned not to expect overnight results. But she believes Fitzsimons is on the right track because of its organization-wide commitment to understanding and inclusiveness.
 
"The CEO has to guide this, the board has to be behind it every step of the way," Neves said. Everything flows from that: My executive team, IT, marketing, everyone is represented. Our Hispanic employees also advise us. We are more educated at every level of the organization."
 
Removing barriers, fostering service excellence and raising awareness about the value credit unions provide their members and communities are the foundation for the Credit Union National Association's, state credit union leagues' and credit unions' Unite For Good campaign toward a vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial provider.

Directors Must Guide Tech Planning To Capture Market Share

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MADISON, Wis. (9/25/13)--For many firms, mastering digital technologies might be the key to long-term survival and success, according to the September issue of Credit Union Directors Newsletter from the Credit Union National Association.
 
Building directors' information technology (IT) expertise allows boards to guide management in technology strategies and initiatives, a June report from McKinsey & Company illustrates.
 
Whether IT savvy or not, directors should review these questions as a starting point for shaping a fruitful conversation with management.
  1. How will IT help the credit union compete? Technology erodes boundaries between industries and providing opportunities for "attacker" models, said the publication.  In financial services, online consumer-payment products such as Square--a mobile app and device that enables merchants to accept payments--are challenging traditional payment solutions. For many traditional retail firms, technology has become a race to harness social media and location-based services in hopes of capturing market share. The credit union's executive team must identify emerging competitors and explain how technology helps it succeed against traditional and new competitors.
  1. What will it take to exceed members' expectations? Consumers--including credit union members--have been conditioned by e-commerce leaders like Amazon and Apple to expect an ultra-convenient, personalized experience. Simply meeting consumers' enhanced expectations can be a major effort for organizations that weren't born digital. Credit unions must automate end-to-end sales and service processes so members can transact in real time and in an error-free digital environment. Make sure your management team has clear plans for how to exceed consumer expectations.
  1. Do the credit union's plans link technology to improved performance? By seizing certain opportunities and mitigating emerging threats, firms can dramatically improve business performance. And while technology expenses can be high, they're relatively small compared with the potential to boost the credit union's operating performance by driving revenues and reducing overall costs. Ultimately, the credit union needs an integrated plan that shows how it will beat the competition and uses information across a multiyear horizon--not simply a revised annual IT budget.
  1. Are IT investments aligned with opportunities and threats? A dynamic IT portfolio should clearly reflect business opportunities and threats. Balance short-term opportunities such as upgrading digital channels, medium-term platform investments such as member databases, and carefully chosen longer-term bets--for instance, piloting new, digitally enabled business models. Review and rebalance the IT portfolio frequently; assumptions can change quickly. Many companies, for instance, recently cut investment in the Internet channel because customers switched to mobile apps. Also, manage the portfolio to keep execution risk in an acceptable range. On average, large IT projects run 45% over budget and take 7% longer than expected while delivering 56% less value than predicted.
  1. How will IT improve operational and strategic agility? IT has a significant effect on operational business agility--for example, time to market for new products--as well as on strategic business agility. IT's ability to rapidly design and implement changes to systems, at low cost and with minimal risk, underpins business agility. Increase IT agility by changing the systems landscape, improving data quality, optimizing IT delivery processes, and building flexibility into sourcing arrangements. Leading businesses measure and manage both business and IT agility, ensuring that the business can respond competitively.
  1. Do the credit union's IT systems deliver full value? Technology alone delivers no value. A clear strategy, the right technology, high-quality data, IT-literate executives and lean processes combine to create value. Any weak link in this chain will lead to poor value delivery from IT. For example, a new IT system to support cross-selling might not boost revenues unless management improves data quality, trains staff appropriately, and realigns sales processes and incentives. Ensure that the credit union develops the capabilities to drive full value from existing IT systems.
  1. How does the credit union measure IT accountability? Cybersecurity is a growing IT threat, but it's only one category of technology-related risk. Few executives understand the entire risk landscape, and many firms fail to measure and reduce IT risk. A comprehensive system for managing IT risk addresses the root causes, including inappropriate technology, incorrect policies, poor processes, and insufficient oversight. Determine who's responsible for overseeing all areas of IT risk.
As credit union executives work through these questions, they also must ask if the credit union is making the most of its technology story. Interest will rise among members and consumers as it goes digital. Be ready to communicate the benefits of the credit union's IT initiatives through well-timed external messages.

CU System Briefs (09/24/2013)

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  • ARLINGTON, Va. (9/24/13)--National Credit Union Administration Board member Michael E. Fryzel had praise during Saturday's grand reopening ceremony of Chicago-based Second Federal, a former savings and loan that is now a division of Los Angeles-based Self-Help FCU. Self-Help and Chicago's The Resurrection Project worked together to acquire the thrift and continue financial services in the low-income community.  "Second Federal has been a primary source of financial services for the Little Village community...for more than 130 years," Fryzel said. "Second Federal will continue to be available to help the community grow and prosper because of the commitment of Self-Help FCU."  Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Attorney General Lisa Madigan also participated. NCUA worked with all parties during the acquisition ...
  • MADISON, Wis. (9/24/13)--Summit CU, Madison, Wis., is hosting the third-annual "Co-op Connection" Oct. 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The free event, celebrating cooperatives and what they contribute to their communities, kicks off National Co-op Month. The event will feature live music from local musicians, including children's entertainer David Landau, The Disclosures and Pat McCurdy. Mayor Paul Soglin will speak briefly about the environment Madison provides for co-ops to thrive and the role co-ops play in Madison's local economy and quality of life (hngnews.com and The Star Sept. 22) ...
  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (9/24/13)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association has announced the deadlines for nominations to its state-level 2014 Awards and Scholarships Program. The awards honor individuals and credit unions for their accomplishments and leadership, and tprovide scholarship opportunities for professional development. The deadline for all state-level awards and scholarships is Dec. 31, with the exception of the Kanjorski Scholarship, which are due Nov. 15. The Kanjorski winner will be announced in December. Other winners will be announced in spring 2014, said PCUA (Life is a Highway Sept. 23) ...
  • BRIDGETON, Mo. (9/24/13)--Vantage CU has promoted Eric Acree to president/CEO, effective Sept. 18, the Bridgeton, Mo.-based credit union announced. Acree had been serving as interim president/CEO of the $725 million asset credit union since September 2012. He previously was executive vice president of operations, a position he had held since 2005. His nearly 23-year tenure at the credit union also included stints as copywriter in the marketing department, marketing director, and vice president of marketing and customer relationship management. "Eric has been a catalyst in helping Vantage grow into the leading and innovative organization it has become," said Vantage Board Chairman, Dr. Jerry R. Eichholtz, in the announcement on Vantage's website ...
  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (9/24/13)--Jeffrey C. Trelfa, vice chairman of Alpena Alcona Area CU in Alpena, Mich., died at his home Sept. 6, according to the Michigan Credit Union League (Michigan Monitor Sept. 23). He was 67. The credit union said Trelfa was committed to the cooperative spirit of "people helping people" and was active on the board, having served as a credit union volunteer for 15 years. He served on numerous credit union committees. He is survived by his wife, Annette; a son; four granddaughters; eight grandchildren; and one great-grandchild ...

NEW: CUAid Activated For CUs Affected By Colorado Flooding

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MADISON, Wis. (9/24/13, UPDATED 4:20 p.m. CT)--The National Credit Union Foundation has activated the online disaster relief system CUAid.coop to raise money for credit union people in Colorado affected by recent flooding.
 
Credit union supporters in every state can make donations at www.cuaid.coop.
 
CUAid is the only program of its kind that enables credit union employees, volunteers, and members, as well as credit unions and credit union organizations across the U.S., to contribute directly to support other credit union people.
 
"Colorado has been severely affected by the recent Colorado floods," said Dan Santangelo, executive director of the Mountain West Credit Union Foundation.
 
"We, at the Mountain West Credit Union Association, initially didn't think we were going to need much CUAid funding, but after we started receiving inquiries, we were able to see the need from credit union members who could use a helping hand. It is estimated that more than 10,000 credit union staff, volunteers, and members are in need of some type of assistance."
 
To donate, use the resource link.
 
"To help alleviate the devastating effects of this disaster, we encourage credit union leaders all across the country to use CUAid.coop as a channel to collect donations from their employees, volunteers, and members," said Christopher Morris, NCUF director of communications.
 
As donations are posted through CUAid.coop, NCUF will coordinate with the Mountain West Credit Union Foundation in the disaster area to distribute money efficiently to affected credit union employees and members.  NCUF said 100% of the donations through CUAid goes to credit union disaster relief. In the event that all donations are not used for Colorado Flooding relief, NCUF will transfer unused funds to its "General Disaster Relief fund" for future disaster relief efforts.
 
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.
 
Organizations and individuals can use a variety of CUAid Web buttons for their websites.  Use the links to the donation form and to easily linkable buttons for the effort.

Disasters, Security, Product Speed Rounds Highlight Councils' Confab

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HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (9/24/13)--Disaster preparation, security and productivity, and new products were highlighted Monday during a joint conference of the CUNA Technology Council and CUNA Operations, Sales and Service Council in Hollywood, Calif.

The conferences opened Sunday and continue through Wednesday.

"You can't realistically prepare for every possible type of disaster, so you prepare for the most likely worst-case scenario," Rich Griesser,  vice president of information technology (IT) for Hughes FCU in Tucson, Ariz., told attendees Monday morning.
 
It's important to differentiate business continuity planning from disaster recovery, Griesser said. Business continuity planning is about recovering all your services whereas disaster recovery is about your IT systems and functions.
 
Click to view larger image MShift's Andrea Robles and Jeff Chen demonstrated their AnywhereMobile mobile banking app at the joint conference of the CUNA Technology Council and the CUNA Operations, Sales and Service Council Monday morning. MShift was one of five technology companies selected to make seven-minute presentations in Monday's "speed round."
"Our goal was to build a disaster recovery center with sufficient capacity to support all mission-critical applications," said Griesser. "Our course of action was to identify needs, understand risks, assess criticality of data and apps, assess impact of hardware failures and downtime, and assess methods of recovery.
 
"Once I had a plan to achieve our goal, I had to present it to the board and senior leadership," he said. "I explained that our disaster recovery center would need to be an extension of our operating environment and it had to be ready at all times. I told them to think of it as a secondary branch that could process all transactions and serve all members--and that it wouldn't be cheap."
 
Griesser recommended being upfront with senior leadership on what it's going to take to be successful. "Anticipate your hardware, communications, cooling requirements and power needs, and understand all of the interdependencies between your systems," he said.
 
Click to view larger image eScope.net's Richard Williams and Darren Suprina demonstrate the company's Stonesoft intrusion-detection system and anti-evasion technology during Monday's seven-minute "speed round" presentation at the joint conference of the CUNA Technology Council and the CUNA Operations, Sales and Service Council. (Photos provided by CUNA)
In a second morning session, Andrew Jaquith, chief technology officer with SilverSky, delivered this message: Security and productivity are usually diametrically opposed to each other.
 
"Most organizations think about security considerations first and then they think about how that might affect productivity," he said. "Rarely does an organization think about how security and productivity might reinforce each other."
 
To help security and productivity fit well together, Jaquith offered these recommendations about security measures:
  • Make sure they don't interrupt workflow or unintentionally impose performance penalties.
  • Build sensible defaults into them that fit 90% of the cases.
  • Make sure security features blend into the environment so well that they're almost invisible.
  • Security features should contain opt-out features rather than opt-in features.
Also, five technology companies were selected to give seven-minute presentations in Monday morning's "speed round." The demonstrations included:
  1. MoneyDesktop's Shane Mount and Alec Gustafson, demonstrating its Insight and Target enhancements to its personal financial management program. The enhancements help consumers measure progress toward their personal financial goals and help credit unions track the success of their share-of-wallet initiatives.
  1. MShift's Andrea Robles and Jeff Chen, with their AnywhereMobile mobile banking.To encourage adoption of its m-banking app, MShift offers incentives to all participants in the transaction--members, merchants and credit unions. Members receive discounts on their purchases, merchants benefit from lower interchange fees, and credit unions reduce their transaction costs, said Chen.
  1. eScope.net's Richard Williams and Darren Suprina, with their company's Stonesoft intrusion-detection system and anti-evasion technology. The software detects "disguises," which is an emerging form of cyberattack, said Suprina.
  1. Digital Insight's Jeff Lauterer, who discussed the company's payments app for small businesses. The app helps credit unions' small-business members track their payments and receipts, and keep their books organized for tax purposes.
  1. MaaS360 by Fiberlink's Clint Adams, who talked about his company's mobile data management product that lets employees access company data from personal devices. Adams said research indicates that half of all employers will demand their employees to participate in bring-your-own-device programs in the near future. "Credit unions are faced with the challenge of providing access to their internal data on devices they don't own," he said.
Credit Union Magazine's Steve Rodgers is at the conference. Watch for updates in Credit Union Magazine and News Now this week.  See also related story, Tech/Ops Council Speaker: Business Decision-making 'Flawed,' in today's News Now.

Tech./Ops Council Speaker: Business Decision-making 'Flawed'

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HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (9/24/13)--Decision-making processes in the business world are seriously flawed, said bestselling author Chip Heath, who opened the joint conference of the CUNA Technology Council and the CUNA Operations, Sales, and Service Council Sunday evening in Hollywood, Calif.
 
Click to view larger image Bestselling author Chip Heath was the opening speaker for the joint conference of the CUNA Technology Council and the CUNA Operations, Sales, and Service Council Sunday evening in Hollywood, Calif. (CUNA photo)
The conference ends Wednesday.

Heath, co-author of "Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard," told attendees that they live with flawed decision-making in their personal and professional lives due to biases and irrationalities.

Among the facts Heath cited to support this claim:
  • In a survey of 2,000 CEOs, 60% said bad decisions were just as common as good decisions in their organizations.
  • Nearly 85% of mergers create no value for shareholders.
  • Within their first 18 months on the job, 40% of CEOs fail.
  • The first book of the Harry Potter series was turned down by seven publishers.
  • Medical diagnoses are wrong 40% of the time.
Heath outlined a four-step "WRAP" process designed to help people and organizations make better decisions.
  • Widen your options. "Many people let themselves be confronted with 'whether-or-not' decisions," says Heath. "When people assume there are only two options, they're engaging in 'narrow framing.' Don't assume there are only two options. Pretend those options have been taken off the table and look for other possible solutions."
  • Reality-test your assumptions. Heath recommends testing your assumptions before making decisions. "Job interviews are a classic example," he said. "Instead of taking job candidates out to lunch, give them a genuine problem to solve so you can see how well they'd solve problems on the job."
  • Attain some distance. Decision-making is often influenced by short-term emotions, Heath said. "That's why you need to 'sleep on it' or imagine what your decision would look like in five years," he added. "If you're wrestling with a problem, pretend the problem belongs to a friend. And then ask yourself: 'How would I advise my friend on this problem.'"
  • Prepare to be wrong.  Heath recommends setting 'tripwires' for yourself--safeguards that prevent you from getting too far off course, such as limits on cost-overruns for key projects.
Visit News Now and Credit Union Magazine for updates on the joint conference of the CUNA Technology Council and the CUNA Operations, Sales, and Service Council. For more coverage of the conference today, read "Disasters, Security, Product Speed Rounds Highlight Councils' Confab."

HELOC Funds a Target For Wire Transfer Fraud

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MADISON, Wis. (9/24/13)--Members sometimes call to ask for help transferring home equity line of credit (HELOC) funds to a checking account. Or they'll request assistance via e-mail or your online banking system's messaging system, sometimes to request wire transfers.
 
It's a perfectly normal occurrence--and that's what thieves count on, according to Credit Union Front Line Newsletter, which provides sales and service insights from the Credit Union National Association for branch staff and managers.
 
Scammers have learned to impersonate members on the phone and through other channels, building profiles through information they find in public databases or acquire by hacking into the member's computer. They can lift signatures from real estate documents available in public records, for use in fake faxed documents.
 
By the time they get in touch with you, they might already have your members' account numbers and passwords, or simply be fishing for them.
 
To combat this threat, consider these tips from Roger Nettie, a senior risk consultant at CUNA Mutual Group.
 
Thieves often use simple bait, impersonating a member who's a bit confused. They might present an urgent need for transferring HELOC funds to their checking account, then ask to execute a wire transfer of that money to another account.
 
They're counting on your ethic of helping members, which is exactly why some criminals prefer working with credit unions. But you can continue to provide excellent member service without compromising security, Nettie said in Frontline.
 
Watch for these red flags:
  • Members call to change the phone numbers or e-mail addresses on their accounts, and/or to reset a password. This could be the first step in perpetrating a HELOC wire fraud. The fraudster could be changing the contact information so that, later, the credit union will send confirmation requests to an e-mail or phone the fraudster controls. Flag these accounts so you can thoroughly examine future wire transfer requests made through remote channels.
  • Members employ a remote channel--phone, e-mail, fax, online banking messaging system--to request a wire transfer of funds previously transferred to the account from a HELOC.
  • You call a member to confirm a request and hear an unusual delay or clicking sound before the member answers. The scammer might have rerouted the member's regular phone number.
  • You receive a wire transfer request with a foreign bank destination.
  • You receive a funds transfer request from a member who has no history of funds transfers.
  • A member whose e-mail or phone number has changed recently requests a funds transfer.
It's important to know the circumstances under which HELOC fund transfers, wire transfers, and other transactions might indicate fraud.
 
Even requiring a member to sign a document in the presence of a notary public might not suffice, as scammers easily can duplicate notary seals.
 
Know whether your credit union has a standard procedure to follow should any of these red flags appear, and when to require a member to visit a branch.
 
If members ask why you're taking extra steps, don't hesitate to assure them your No. 1 priority is protecting their money from criminals.

NASCUS Elects Michigan Regulator As Chairman, Tierney As Advisory Council Chair

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ARLINGTON, Va. (9/24/13)--The National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) elected its board officers and advisory council officers, while three sitting board members officially began new three-year terms, during its 2013 Annual Meeting Sept. 18 in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho.
 
New board officers are:
  • Chairman, John Kolhoff, director for the Michigan Office of Credit Unions;
  • Chairman-elect, Michael Wettrich, deputy superintendent for credit unions, Division of Financial Institutions, Ohio Department of Commerce; and
  • Secretary-treasurer Mary Ellen O'Neill, Financial Institutions Division, Connecticut Department of Banking.
Kolhoff appointed Jay P. Bienvenu, senior deputy commissioner with the Massachusetts Division of Banks, to a one-year term on the board.

Three sitting NASCUS board members will begin serving three-year terms that end in September 2016:
  • John  Fields, deputy chief examiner with the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions;
  • Linda Jekel, director, Division of Credit Unions with the Washington Department of Financial Institutions; and
  • Steve Pleger, senior deputy commissioner with the Georgia Department Of Banking and Finance.
Other sitting members of the board include Orla Beth Peck, supervisor of credit unions, Utah Department of Financial Institutions; and Werner Paul, deputy commissioner, Virginia Bureau of Financial Institutions.
 
Also, two state credit union CEOs began new three-year terms on NASCUS' Credit Union Advisory Council, a group of 11 directors composed of credit union executives from around the country. They are: Lori Rush, Universal 1 CU, Dayton, Ohio, representing District 1, and Parker Cann, BECU, Seattle, Wash., representing District 4. Their terms expire in September 2016.
 
The Advisory Council also elected its officers.  Catherine Tierney, Community First CU, Appleton, Wis., will continue as chairman.  Linda Childs, Knoxville (Tenn.) Post Office CU, was elected chair-elect, and Patty Idol, Mountain CU, Waynesville, N.C., was elected secretary.
 
Other Advisory Council members include:Jason Boesch, Oklahoma RE&T Employees CU,  Oklahoma City;
  • Bob Fouch, Corporate Central CU, Muskego, Wis.;
  • Michael J. Kurish, Associated School Employees CU, Youngstown, Ohio;
  • Ron McDaniel, California CU, Glendale, Calif.;
  • Terry West, Vystar CU, Jacksonville, Fla.; and
  • Mike Williams, Colorado CU, Littleton, Colo.

One Way To Reach Youth: Tailgate Parties

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TOPEKA, Kan. (9/24/13)--Educational CU, Topeka, Kan., is connecting with local Millennials by
Click to view larger image Educational CU, Topeka, Kan., is connecting with local Millennials by traveling to area high schools and throwing free tailgate parties during the football season. Here a local high school student helps a classmate dye her hair.
traveling to area high schools and throwing free tailgate parties during the football season.
 
In a partnership with MVP magazine, WIBW radio, and Pepsi, ECU is throwing parties that includes, hot dogs, Pepsi products, snow cones, cotton candy and T-shirts.
 
The event also features face painting, a photo booth an inflatable obstacle course, and tailgating games for the students, their families and administration before their football game.
 
"The tailgate parties are a fun way for the students to get ready for the football game, and a way to promote school spirit," said Dan Wiggs, Educational CU marketing manager.
 
Click to view larger image Kansas high school students show their school spirit during an Educational CU tailgate party. (Photos provided by Educational CU)
Millennials, also known as Generation Y, represent an opportunity for growth for credit unions.

Roughly 86 million consumers strong, the group is 7% larger than the baby-boom generation, and accounts for about 27% of the U.S. population, according to the MetLife Mature Market Institute (Barron's April 29).

Millennials account for 21% total U.S. consumer spending, according to Christine Barton, a partner at the Boston Consulting Group.

Georgia CUs' Auto Loans Up, Says GCUA Poll

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DULUTH, Ga. (9/24/13)--Strong job growth and a rebounding housing market continue to drive consumer spending in Georgia, according to a recent report by Georgia Credit Union Affiliates.

The report showed robust automobile demand statewide, with new-auto loans at Georgia credit unions increasing 6.8% in the first half of the 2013, and used-auto loans rising 5.5% for the same period.

That persistent growth in vehicle loans reflects the state's steadily improving economy, which recently added 40,000 new jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and observed a 4% rise in average home prices during first quarter 2013--the most recent data available from the Federal Housing Finance Agency  purchase-only index.

"Jobs and housing prices are both key factors in lifting consumer confidence," said Mike Mercer, GCUA president/CEO. "As we see those conditions return to pre-recession levels, we expect lending at Georgia credit unions to expand as well."

GCUA compiled savings and lending data for the quarterly report from June 2012 to June 2013 at 43 credit unions statewide, representing 94% of credit union assets and 88% of members in Georgia.

While automobile financing led the way in consumer spending, the report also displayed a solid overall increase in overall loans at Georgia credit unions. For the first half of 2013, total loan balances were up 2.9%, and second-mortgage loans jumped by 4.4%.

Also, the report reaffirmed Georgia credit unions' traditionally lower interest rates on loans. "These substantial savings advantages continue to fuel growth at Georgia credit unions," said Mercer.

Total membership at the state's credit unions grew by 1.8% in the first half of 2013 and by 2.6% in the year ending June 2013.

Northwest FCU Certified As SBA Lender

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HERNDON, Va. (9/24/13)--Northwest FCU in Herndon, Va., has been certified to provide Small Business Administration (SBA) loan-financing options for community businesses looking to expand, consumers in the market for start-up funding, or realtors with clients seeking commercial properties. 
 
"As an SBA-certified lender, both existing business members and other business owners who want to join us can come directly to the credit union for financing," said Tony Price, the $2.57 billion asset credit union's new SBA manager. "Traditionally, larger, out-of-town financial institutions were the primary sources for business loans. Now members can have their borrowing needs met by an institution that's part of their own community."
 
Price will lead Northwest FCU's new SBA program, generating awareness and building the credit union's brand in the market. His commercial lending experience includes working at a local community bank, at Capital One and at Wachovia/Wells Fargo, where he spent 10 years.
 
"A common misconception is that SBA loans are complex or cumbersome, and they can be when you don't have someone to help guide you and manage the process," he explained. "Northwest Federal can help small businesses find the best loans for their needs, answer their questions and, in many cases, turn the loans around in seven to 10 days. It doesn't have to be complicated."
 
The Credit Union National Association 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.

League Names S.C. Fin. Lit. Educator Of Year

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (9/23/13)--The South Carolina Credit Union League has named Shannon McCrimmon of Landrum High School as its 2013 Financial Literacy Educator of the Year for instilling in young people the financial concepts that will help them succeed as adults.
 
The league presented the award and a $1,000 honorarium from the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation to McCrimmon.
 
McCrimmon, who is also an author of teen novels, worked with the school's faculty and Greenville-based SC Telco FCU's administration to organize reality fairs for two senior classes at Landrum High School. In the second reality fair, she enlisted volunteer parents and teachers, and invited teachers from other schools to witness the fair and its impact.
 
The two fairs reached more than 250 students. Another 250 students will learn the same lessons when the entire junior and senior classes of Landrum High School participate in a reality fair this fall.
 
The annual SCCUL Financial Literacy Educator of the Year award has been given since 2002 to teachers to raise awareness within the education community of not only the need for financial education but also exemplary work teachers do. SCCUL also presents annually the Financial Literacy Ambassador of the Year to credit union professionals committed to advancing the cause.
 
Financial literacy efforts are one way credit unions can raise awareness of the value of credit unions--one of the three components of the Credit Union National Association's and the leagues' Unite For Good Campaign, which rallies credit unions toward the strategic vision of America's consumers choosing credit unions as their best financial partner.

CU System Briefs (09/23/2013)

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  • SAN ANTONIO (9/23/13)--The Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation's 16th annual golf tournament, hosted with the Cornerstone Credit Union League's joint Leadership Conference & Expo and Marketing & Business Development conference in San Antonio, generated about $85,091 in net proceeds. Tournament proceeds help the foundation provide resources for financial education initiatives and educational grants, as well as scholarships for credit union professionals and volunteers. The tournament hosted 144 golfers and 58 sponsors, along with dozens of volunteers at the Canyon Springs Golf Club in San Antonio (Leaguer Sept. 19) ...
  • CHARLOTTE, N.C. (9/23/13)--Carolina Postal CU in Charlotte, N.C., will host voter registration Tuesday on National Voter Registration Day. The event will be outside its campus from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.  Voter registration volunteers and the North Carolina Consumer Council will be on-site. "People don't realize every year is an election year," said Joy Watts, CEO of Carolina Postal CU. "In 2013, there are over 15,000 elections throughout the U.S. It's important that you make your voice heard." Carolina Postal CU has partnered with non-partisan organizations Mecklenburg County League of Women Voters and the National Voter Registration to promote the event to encouraged people to register to vote (The Weekly Conversation Sept. 20 ...
  • ASHLAND, Ky. (9/23/13)--The Ashland (Ky.) CU is aiding the restoration of Putnam Stadium, which serve's Ashland  city schools' team, the Tomcats, by donating 10 cents every time a member swipes a credit card through a Tomcat checking account. The cardholder must choose credit rather than debit on the purchase to activate the donation. The 75-year-old stadium, which has crumbling concrete, will have 900 fewer seats this season after structural concerns were raised from an engineering report last month at an Ashland Board of Education meeting, said the stadium's website. It normally seats 4,500 to 5,000 sports fans.  Jason Strader, the credit union's vice president of operations and an avid Tomcat supporter, decided to help after reading about the stadium's deterioration. A brainstorming session among credit union staff resulted in the checking account. The credit union will give away some of the profits from the cards and give it back to the community, said the Daily Independent (Sept. 18).  Ashland CU had a booth at Friday's game and will have one again at the Oct. 18 game to answer questions about the checking account program  ...
  • FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (9/23/13)--Long-time Texas credit union leader Mary Nell Johnson James, former CEO of Lone Star Steel FCU, died Sept. 17, the Cornerstone Credit Union League reported.  She was 84. James was employed at the credit union for 32 years, starting as a part-time employee in 1955 and ending as CEO in 1987.  She also served as president of the Wright Patman Chapter of Credit Unions and on the board of directors of the Texas Credit Union League (now Cornerstone).  Memorial services were held Friday in Gilmer, Texas (Leaguer Sept. 20) ...

Shuttered Chicago Thrift Now a CU

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CHICAGO (9/23/13)--A Chicago savings and loan that was shuttered in 2011 has been reborn as a credit union to serve predominately low-income Hispanic communities on the city's southwest side.
 
The Second FCU, which re-opened Sunday with a press conference and cultural program, is the result of a collaboration between Chicago's The Resurrection Project (TRP), which works to revitalize the area, and Self-Help CU, which operates in North Carolina and Los Angeles. This is Self-Help's first involvement in the Midwest and the first time a credit union has acquired a community bank and resurrected it (Community Media Workshop Sept. 20). 
 
The unique arrangement was made after the Los Angeles-based Self-Help FCU and TRP bought Second Federal Savings & Loan last year.  The S&L's assets had been sold to Wintrust Financial Corp. but Wintrust did not want its mortgages.  Instead, the mortgages were spun off to TRP and Self-Help, and later Wintrust decided to sell the assets to TRP.
 
Rudy Medina, a former branch manager at the S&L, will serve as Second FCU's president/CEO.
 
The failed thrift had focused on the low-income Hispanic market and made home loans to undocumented immigrants who lacked Social Security numbers but had taxpayer-identification cards.  Most of the borrowers used cash to make their monthly payments.
 
TRP said it is dedicated to preventing foreclosures and community deterioration, driving out predatory lenders and providing financial services for residents through the new credit union.

Taxation, Other Issues Top Agenda At League Roundtable

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ROCKPORT, Maine (9/23/13)--Taxation and other issues such as regulatory burden, growth, building strong brands and card standard changes topped the agenda at the Maine Credit Union League's Leadership Roundtable last week in Rockport, Maine.  Nearly 90 credit union representatives attended.

"The cooperative principals and philosophy of credit unions are really resonating with consumers," league President John Murphy told attendees (Weekly Update Sept. 20). "As a result, we continue to see impressive growth across the board in assets, loans, savings and membership. However, there are some critical issues and threats facing credit unions, such as tax reform and regulatory burden."
 
Maine credit unions must continue to engage members in the Don't Tax My Credit Union  grassroots campaign, he said, adding, "Maintaining our tax exemption is our No. 1 priority and, even though each member of our congressional delegation has been supportive of our exemption, we need to demonstrate that importance by sending thousands of messages to our delegation."
 
Regulatory burden was also on the list of threats and challenges facing credit unions. "There have been 170 new regulations put in place since the start of the Great Recession in 2008," said Murphy. "The burden of new regulations continues to impact the ability of credit unions to focus on serving members. We, along with the Credit Union National Association, are committed to working with Congress and regulatory agencies to ease this burden and look for more regulatory relief, where it is appropriate."
 
Dennis Dollar, a former National Credit Union Administration chairman, concurred that threat of tax reform and regulatory burden are two of the most critical challenges facing credit unions today. "Making your case and reinforcing the value and benefits of your tax exemption are essential. Get your members to respond and have your voices be heard in large numbers."
 
He urged credit unions to take advantage of the many opportunities credit unions have before it is too late. "With anti-big bank sentiment at an all-time high, credit unions, as not-for-profit financial cooperatives, are positioned for their best growth opportunity in decades," he said.
 
John Costello, president of global marketing and innovation for Dunkin' brands, opened the roundtable by sharing experience and insight about the importance of building and maintaining a strong brand. "The credit union brand is strong, and you have many opportunities to leverage that strength for the future," he told attendees.  "The challenge, though, is staying relevant in a changing world. One way to do that is to engage your members in a two-way dialogue and find out what they want and how they want it."
 
Fiserv's Allison Edwards updated the group on the implementation of Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) credit card standards in the U.S., saying that process will be slow and will take years. "Without a mandate to currently do this and the considerable costs of EMV cards to financial institutions, a wait-and-see approach makes a lot of sense, especially with mobile payment technology potentially changing the need for EMV cards," she concluded.

Metsger Urges Oregon CUs, 'Maintain the Public's Trust'

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (9/23/13)--Higher interest rates are coming, and credit unions should already have plans in place to manage risk and protect their reputation, urged Richard Metsger, the National Credit Union Administration's newest board member, during a visit to his home state of  Oregon last week.
 
"We should have one goal...Today and tomorrow, our 95 million members must feel that credit unions are the one institution they can trust to have their best interests at heart," said National Credit Union Administration Board Member Richard Metsger at the annual meeting of Northwest Credit Union Association's Mt. Hood Chapter in Oregon. (Photo provided by the Northwest Credit Union Association)
"We should have one goal," Metsger told the annual meeting of the Northwest Credit Union Association's Mt. Hood Chapter of Credit Unions (Anthem Recap Sept. 20). "Today and tomorrow, our 95 million members must feel that credit unions are the one institution they can trust to have their best interests at heart."
 
(Metsger's statement fits in with the credit union movement's strategic vision where "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner." The Credit Union National Association and state leagues have rallied under the Unite for Good campaign to work toward this goal by fostering service excellence, increasing awareness of the value of credit unions to members and the community, and removing barriers, such as legislation and regulations, to that goal. Use the links for more information.)
 
With so many fixed-rate mortgages on the books, financial institutions face significant risk from rising interest rates, Metsger said. "I'm really, really concerned. Rates are at historic lows. There's only one way to go, and that's up. The only question is, 'How far, how fast?'"
 
Safeguarding the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund is the NCUA's top priority, Metsger said, which means ensuring that credit unions can serve their members' financial needs while also protecting the safety and soundness of the fund.  "We must make sure that the public's trust and faith remain strong," he said.
 
Metsger's public comments were his first in Oregon since being sworn in on Aug. 23 as the NCUA's newest board member. Metsger said he's spent much of the time since adapting to life inside Washington D.C.'s Beltway.
 
"I'm proud to be the first board member from the Northwest," he said. "But it's a different type of culture (in D.C.), and trying to learn how things operate has been interesting."
 
Metsger served in the Oregon state Senate from 1999 to 2011. During his tenure, he was known for his straightforward, honest and unscripted style, said the Northwest Credit Union Association in the Anthem. His remarks to the Mt. Hood chapter were characteristically delivered off-the-cuff and without a prepared speech.
 
He vowed that the visit to a local chapter meeting would not be his last.
 
"I'm pretty accessible, and I'm always happy to talk to credit union folks," Metsger said. "Going around the country, dropping into credit unions, seeing how they're being impacted on the ground--that's important," he added. "I like to hear what's really going on."

CUNA Chair: CUs Looking Out For Hard-working Americans

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MARSHFIELD, Wis. (9/23/13)--As tax reform debate picks up in Congress, credit unions are looking out for the interests of hard-working Americans on the issue, says Credit Union National Association Chairman Pat Wesenberg in a guest column Thursday in the Enterprise-Journal.
 
"For years, big banks have been trying to saddle their non-profit credit union competitors with new taxes. They see a congressional tax reform push as their best chance to sneak such taxes in," said Wesenberg, who also is president/CEO of Central City CU in Marshfield, Wis.
 
"Consumers should hope that the big banks don't succeed," Wesenberg wrote, adding that new taxes on credit unions would impact all Americans by reducing competition in the financial services sector.
 
Although credit unions and banks offer similar service, "they couldn't be more different in philosophy and structure," she said.
 
"As non-profit financial cooperatives, credit unions exist solely to benefit their member-owners. They do so by charging low or no fees and offering higher interest rates on savings and lower rates on loans. They've done that since the 1930s, when Congress authorized their creation and granted them non-profit status," Wesenberg said.
 
For every dollar in new credit union taxes, the government would wipe out $10 in member benefits, she said.
 
"The federal tax code certainly merits reform. But lawmakers must prevent change from coming at the expense of average Americans. Slapping credit unions with new taxes would do just that," she concluded.

Association Of Corporate CUs Re-elects Roy As Chairman

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WASHINGTON (9/23/13)--The Association of Corporate Credit Unions held its first annual membership meeting since the national financial crisis and re-elected an executive committee consisting of Steve Roy, CEO, Tricorp, Westbrook, Maine; Kathy Garner, CEO, Catalyst Corporate FCU, Plano, Texas; and Lee Butke, CEO, Corporate One FCU, Columbus, Ohio. Roy is expected to continue serving as ACCU Chairman.
 
"That means the ACCU chairman will be continue to serve as an ex-officio member of the Credit Union National Association Board of Directors," said Eric Richard, CUNA executive vice president and general counsel. "In addition, corporates will continue to have an ACCU representative on CUNA's Government Affairs Committee, which will continue to be Kathy Garner."
 
"CUNA and ACCU will collaborate on regulatory and legislative issues, as they arise, for the benefit of the credit unions we serve and who support our organizations," Roy said. "It's another step in the rejuvenation of the corporate credit union system." 
 
"Corporates and natural person credit unions are vital to each other.  CUNA will help provide a forum where the interests of both segments are recognized and strengthened," said CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney.

Michigan CUs Record Major 2Q Growth In Auto Loans, More

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LANSING, Mich. (9/23/13)--Michigan credit unions reported increases in loans for new and used automobiles at rates that surpassed the national averages, according to 2013 second quarter data released by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and analyzed by the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL).
 
Credit union membership increased for the eighth straight quarter--growth that also translated into 1,000 new employees at Michigan credit unions in the past four years.
 
"Michigan credit unions continue to play a key role in helping Michigan's economy make its comeback, said David Adams, MCUL CEO. "Families, students, and small businesses alike are turning to credit unions in record numbers because of the value they provide and the trust that they have earned. The data show that credit unions are increasingly becoming the lender of choice for more and more Michiganders."

He also noted that as membership and loan volume increases, credit unions "are able to hire more people and further the state's economic recovery in yet another way."
 
Highlights of the second quarter results include:
  • Michigan credit unions' market share for indirect new-auto loans in the second quarter was 17.1%, up from 14.8% in the same period in 2012, and up from 11% in 2011.
  • The credit union share of indirect used-auto loans increased to 39.9%, up from 36.5% in 2012 and 34.9% in 2011.
  • Michigan credit unions added more than 125,000 new members in the past eight quarters, with more than 16,000 added this year. Total credit union membership today is 4.57 million in Michigan.
  • For the first half of 2013, total deposits rose 4.2%, growing faster than loans, which were up 3.1%. Total loans as a percentage of assets are at their lowest level since 1994.
  • Loans to member businesses surged during the first half of 2013, increasing 8.4%--up from 7% during the same period in 2012.
  • Michigan credit unions added 1,000 new employees in the past four years at a time when some large banks moved their headquarters out of the state.

Blaine Touts Trust In CUs On Carolina Business Review

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RALEIGH, N.C. (9/23/13)--Trust, accountability and responsibility are the keynotes of credit unions and what sets them apart from other financial institutions, Jim Blaine, president/CEO of State Employees' CU (SECU) in Raleigh, N.C., told a panel on Carolina Business Review Aug. 23.
 
"The accountability and responsibility [to members] has not changed," Blaine explained when asked what is different since the financial crisis and how trust is created. "That is what a member-owned organization has by definition.     
 
"In our membership, they have a very powerful tool--they have an annual meeting," he added.   "Our boards are volunteers; they are not compensated. They are elected by our members and our memberships can arrive at the annual meeting and vote us all out if we get out of line. And that's a very good control on the organization."
 
The success of the $27 billion asset SECU is also because of the greater convenience and lower-cost delivery systems than in the past, along with a North Carolina focus, which has made it a desirable partner, Blaine said. "Quicker, better and cheaper works well with any business," he added.
 
"As long as we keep the personal touch--the community relationship--we will be effective," Blaine said.
 
Credit unions are diametrically opposite from banks because credit unions are cooperatives, owned by the people who use them. They are not investor owned, he explained. "As a banker, I would be working hard to extract money from my customers' pockets," Blaine said. "As a credit union, our job as a cooperatively owned organization is to leave money in our members' pockets."       
 
Credit unions' appearances on panels such as the Carolina Business Review help raise awareness about the value credit unions provide their members and communities. Raising awareness, fostering service excellence and removing barriers are the foundation for the Credit Union National Association's, state credit union leagues' and credit unions' Unite For Good campaign toward a vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner.
 
To view the Carolina Business Review YouTube segment, use the link.

NASCUS Summit Discusses Reg Capital, State CU Charter

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COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (9/23/13)--Regulatory capital and protection of the state credit union charter were among the topics discussed Thursday at the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors State System Summit in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho.
 
Thursday's sessions featured the Annual NASCUS Interagency Dialogue--one of two annual sessions where state regulators and the National Credit Union Administration board, NCUA regional directors and federal examiners meet to collaborate and share information on critical supervisory issues facing credit unions.
 
"This session highlights the critical partnership between states and the NCUA," said NASCUS Chairman John Kolhoff, director, Office of Credit Unions for the state of Michigan.
 
NASCUS credit union members joined NASCUS President Mary Martha Fortney to discuss issues affecting state credit unions. Attendees were particularly concerned about supplemental capital, preserving state authority and protection of the state credit union charter. 
 
The day closed with a session on the future of regulatory capital, featuring panelists Michael Scanlon, partner at K&L Gates, and Steve Farrar, NCUA loss/risk analyst.
 
Credit unions that make consumer loans will be happy with the proposed risk-based rule, Farrar said. The top risk-weighted capital requirement would be comparable to the banks' risk-weighted requirement of 10.5%, he added.
 
While the exact publication date of the proposed rule was subject to the NCUA board approval, he anticipated a final rule would be published in 2014, with an ultimate effective date of 2016.
 
 Farrar also discussed NCUA's modeling of the agency's risk weightings. Ninety percent of U.S. credit unions were well-capitalized under the risk-based proposal, he said. NCUA will also provide an application on its website when the rule is proposed that will allow credit unions to run their numbers to model their risk-weighted requirement under the rule, he said.
 
Friday's session featured an update from NCUA board member Richard Metsger, a director compensation dialogue, an overview of cybercrime emerging information technology trends insights and predictions for financial services for 2014.

Earlier in the week, Bill Cheney, president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association, appeared as part of a panel titled "Working Together on System Priorities: The Credit Union Leadership Forum. Cheney reiterated CUNA's commitment to reducing regulatory burden for credit unions. He also stressed the importance of a key NASCUS priority--keeping the state charter strong and preserving the dual chartering system.
 

CU Intern Aims To Help CUs Thrive In South Africa

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MARSHFIELD, Wis. (9/20/13)--Nomadelo Sauli's trek from Pretoria, South Africa, to Wisconsin to get the tools needed to help credit unions thrive in her country was featured, along with Credit Union National Association Chairman Pat Wesenberg, in Monday's Marshfield (Wis.) News Herald.
 
Sauli is deputy director of capacity building for the Cooperative Banks Development Agency (CBDA). She is interning this week at Central City CU, Marshfield, where Wesenberg is president/CEO.
 
"We're hoping she can go back and help credit unions in the whole country with ideas on how they can develop and help people," Wesenberg told the publication.
 
Sauli started her four-day internship at the $207 million asset credit union on Monday after graduating from a week-long Credit Union Development Educator training course in Madison, Wis.  At the credit union, she is learning about savings and loan products, financial analysis and management, and, what she says is most important, strategies for growing and marketing credit unions in South Africa.
 
The credit union sector is still young in South Africa and doesn't have many young people. When Sauli returns home, she will concentrate on increasing membership and deposits in credit unions through using savings challenges and educating young people about member-owner financial institutions.  She noted in the article that millions are underserved or unhappy with their banks, and credit unions can help members of smaller communities gain access to financial services.
 
Although South Africa has about 100 credit unions, fewer than 20 are registered with the government, Sauli said. She plans to return with information to help credit unions meet the banking requirements of the National Treasury.
 
The trip was organized by the World Council of Credit Unions. For the full article, use the link.

CU System Briefs (09/20/2013)

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  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (9/20/13)--The first meeting of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of Credit Unions was held on Sept.10, and marks the completion of a merger between the Wyoming Valley and Scranton Chapters, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association. John Hayduk, serving as interim chapter president, thanked everyone for their cooperation during the merger process, and expressed appreciation to PCUA for its support of credit unions (Life Is a Highway Sept. 19) ...
  • PLANO, Texas (9/20/13)--The InTouch CU Plano Balloon Festival will run today through Sunday in Plano, Texas. The credit union is the festival's longest running title sponsor after taking over that title seven years ago. Launches will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 7 a.m. The festival also offers a car show, inflatable rides, a rock climbing wall, live music performances and food ...
  • ROYAL OAK, Mich. (9/20/13)--OUR CU, based in Royal Oak, Mich., has selected interim CEO Tina Dix to serve as its new president/CEO. The financial executive has been with the $212 million asset credit union since 1983. Her years of experience in operations, strategic planning and community involvement have been key in forming the credit union's member centric culture and community service, said OUR CU. "The leadership shown by Tina Dix during the interim CEO position made it an easy decision for the Board of Directors to make her the permanent CEO," said Board Chairman Joseph Kripli ...

Randolph-Brooks Receives Access Award From Disabilities Group

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Click to view larger image Randolph-Brooks FCU (RBFCU) was awarded the 2013 Access Award from the Austin (Texas) Mayor's Committee for People with Disabilities for its Domain mall branch in Austin.  Pictured, from left, are:  Robert Finch, vice president of branch operations, RBFCU; Theresa Lockingen, branch manager, RBFCU Domain branch; Mayor Lee Leffingwell; and Mark Matthews, assistant vice president of business development and community relations, RBFCU.  (Photo provided by Randolph-Brooks FCU)
LIVE OAK, Texas (9/20/13)--Randolph-Brooks FCU (RFCU), based in Live Oak, Texas, was recently awarded the 2013 Access Award from the Austin Mayor's Committee for People with Disabilities for its Domain mall branch in Austin.
 
The award is annually given to businesses and organizations that not only meet the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but go above and beyond when providing goods and services to people with disabilities.
 
"At RBFCU, our mission is to improve our members' economic well-being and overall quality of life. That includes making our financial institution accessible to members, so they can use our resources and facilities to save time, save money and earn money," said Mark Matthews, assistant vice president of business development and community relations in Austin for the $5.5 billion asset credit union.
 
The RBFCU branch is considered to have superior accessibility, because of key features such as accessible parking spaces, ramps, restrooms and doors. The Domain branch also offers lower teller stations, sizeable office spaces and lower check writing stations to be completely wheelchair-accessible.

FBI: New Beta Bot Malware Targeting FIs, Payment Platforms

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WASHINGTON (9/20/13)--A new type of malware known as Beta Bot is targeting financial institutions, e-commerce sites, online payment platforms and social networking sites for fraud purposes, said the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) Wednesday.
 
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
Cybercriminals use Beta Bot to lock computer users' access to security websites and disable anti-virus programs, which leaves the computers vulnerable to compromise. Then the cybercriminals steal sensitive data such as log-in credentials and financial information, according to the FBI alert.
 
The infection vectors include an official looking but illegitimate Microsoft Windows message box named "User Account Control" that requests the user's permission to allow the "Windows Command Processor" to modify the user's computer settings. If the user complies, hackers can grab data from the computer.
 
The alert warned that the malware is also spread via USB thumb drives and online via Skype, where it redirects the user to compromised websites.
 
Although Beta Bot masquerades as the "User Account Control" message box, it also can make modifications on infected computer.  IC3 said that if the pop up box pictured here or a similar prompt  appears unsolicited on a computer, do not authorize any changes.
 
To remedy a Beta Bot infection, run a full system scan with up-to-date anti-virus software on the infected computer. If Beta Bot blocks access to security sites, download the latest anti-virus updates or an entirely new anti-virus program, save it to the USB drive, and loan and run it on the infected computer. Then reformat the USB drive to remove any traces of the malware.

Va. League Announces Endorsements For Top State Officials

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (9/20/13)--The Virginia Credit Union League Thursday announced its endorsements of two candidates for state governor and lieutenant governor, both of whom support preserving credit unions' tax status.
 
The league endorsed Terry McAuliffe for governor and state Sen. Ralph Northam as lieutenant governor, based on interviews with representatives of the league's Board of Directors and Governmental Affairs Committee and on candidates' written responses to a questionnaire about issues of importance to credit unions and their members in the state, said the league. The issues include tax reform, public deposits, financial literacy and member business lending.
 
McAuliffe expressed his support for preserving credit unions' tax exemption on corporate income tax. As part of his focus on job creation and ensuring small businesses have access to capital, McAuliffe noted his backing for changes in federal law that would allow credit unions to make more loans to small businesses, the league said in a press release.
 
McAuliffe "understands the unique role of not-for-profit credit unions in the marketplace and appreciates that some three million Virginians count on us as their financial services partner," said league President Rick Pillow. "Credit unions face a host of challenges at both the state and federal levels, and Terry's commitment to support us in Richmond and in Washington proved he truly is a friend to credit unions and the hard-working Virginians that depend on us."
 
Northan "expressed his unqualified support for credit unions' position on both the state and federal issues of greatest importance to us," said Pillow. He added the senator supports the preservation of credit unions' tax status and expressed strong support for ensuring state-chartered credit unions are afforded the same opportunities to succeed in the marketplace as their federally chartered peers, including credit unions' bid to provide more loans to small businesses.

The league also endorsed 11 incumbent candidates seeking seats in the Virginia House of Delegates.

CUs Push Against Banks Via CUNA's 'Don't Tax' Message

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MADISON, Wis. (9/20/13)--Credit unions are pushing back against banks' taxation arguments by using the Credit Union National Association's "Don't Tax My Credit Union" message in media, in tweets, and in visits with members of Congress.
 
Credit unions continue to meet with members of Congress to advocate for preserving credit unions' tax status. Shown with U.S. Rep. Charles Dent (R-Pa.) Tuesday in Allentown, Pa., are Pennsylvania credit unions (Life is a Highway Sept. 18). From left: Alan Musselman, First Commonwealth FCU and member of Pennsylvania Credit Union Association's Governmental Affairs Committee; Nate Muniz, PSECU; Dent; John Miller, First Commonwealth FCU; and Ed Williams, Discovery FCU and a Credit Union National Association Board director. They discussed taxation, credit union service, GSR reform and the growing scope and cost of regulation. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association)
Tweets to members of Congress through CUNA's plug-in tool at DTMCU.org, which was launched on Don't Tax Tuesday II, Sept. 10, have totaled 12,000, including the 5,000 messages tweeted that day by credit union members and credit unions that day.
 
The Don't Tax message continues to resonate with legislators, with the list of lawmakers supporting credit unions and their tax status growing. The latest to support credit unions' tax status in U.S. Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) (See related News Now story, Rep. Larson Pledges His Continued Protection Of CU Tax Status.)
 
CUNA's Don't Tax campaign is also featured extensively in an article in MintPressNews.com (Sept. 19) about banks' efforts to eliminate credit unions' tax status.
 
"Cooperatively run credit unions used by 96 million Americans could lose their tax exempt status if Congress approves a proposal from big banks to tax the not-for-profit financial institutions," said the first paragraph of the article. It points out that the $13 trillion U.S. banking industry, which controls 94% of financial assets in the U.S., is behind the attacks.
 
Paul Gentile, CUNA executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement, told MintPress.Com that bankers' arguments that credit unions have morphed out of their mission are "nonsensical.  We are all of a sudden not allowed to offer services to our members? They offer checking accounts, we offer checking accounts. They offer mortgages, we offer mortgages. The difference is that we don't offer complex, mega million commercial loans. We are here to serve our members."
 
The tax status is "not an issue except for the bankers," said Gentile. "There is not one member of Congress who has talked openly about supporting the taxation. Banks have been pushing this for the past 30 years. We give back about $8 billion a year in benefits. Credit unions charge fewer and lower fees; it's been like that forever."
 
Meanwhile, credit unions continue to visit with members of Congress, take opportunities at public meetings, and continue letter writing initiatives and more, to drive home the message: Don't Tax My Credit Union.

Calif. State CUs' Assets Up From Year Ago

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (9/20/13)--California state-chartered credit unions' total assets as of June 30 were $79 billion--up 4% from $76 billion one year prior, according to the California Department of Business Oversight Quarterly Report for the second quarter.
 
However, assets were down 1.4% from the $79.3 billion in the first quarter.
 
The department regulates state-chartered credit unions, commercial banks, industrial banks, foreign banks and trust companies
 
Second-quarter shares totaled $68 billion, a 3.6% rise from $65.7 billion one year ago, but down a fraction of a percent from the first quarter.
 
Credit union loans were up 1.6% over the year ended June 30, increasing to $40.6 billion from $40 billion in second quarter 2012.       
 
Second-quarter net worth rose 10.7%, to $8.4 billion from $7.6 billion a year prior, and up 2.7% from the $8.2 billion at the end of the first quarter.
 
Loan delinquencies totaled $478.7 million, down 12.5% from $547.2 million in second quarter 2012, but up $47.4 million, or 11%, from $431.4 million in the first quarter.

Gilliland To Headline CUANY Economic Forum

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Click to view larger image Steve Gilliland, speaker and best-selling author, will keynote the Credit Union Association of New York's Economic Forum, Oct. 8-9.  (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of New York). 
ALBANY, N.Y. (9/20/13)--The Credit Union Association of New York announced its lineup of speakers, including keynote speaker and bestselling-author Steve Gilliland, for its Economic Forum next month. Gilliland will take the stage Oct. 9 at the Albany, N.Y., event, which kicks off Oct. 8 and is open to all credit union leaders.
 
Gilliland is a member of the Speaker Hall of Fame. He addresses more than 250,000 people each year, with audiences from 29 industries in 50 states and in 15 countries. He is also the author of best-seller "Enjoy the Ride" and the founder of a multimillion-dollar company named one of the fastest-growing privately held companies in the region by The Pittsburgh Business Times.
 
"The Economic Forum is designed to provide credit union leaders with the most timely, relevant industry insights available," said CUANY President/CEO William J. Mellin. "This year's speakers will offer a great mix of inspiration, industry expertise and innovative thinking to help prepare us for the future."
 
Joining Gilliland on the agenda are featured speakers Dr. Barry Asmus, a senior economist with the National Center for Policy Analysis and one of USA Today's top five most-requested speakers in the U.S., and John Lass, senior vice president of strategy and business development with CUNA Mutual Group.

Dakotas Foundation Offers Grants For Financial Literacy

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BISMARCK, N.D. (9/20/13)--Applications for financial literacy grants funded by Credit Union Foundation of the Dakotas are due Sept 30.

The foundation is funded by participating North and South Dakota credit unions. It supports projects that provide access to financial services, financial education, savings and asset accumulation, and small-credit union development.

Applicants must be affiliated North and South Dakota credit unions or a community organizations. Non-credit union organizations may apply for grant funding, but must partner with a North or South Dakota credit unions and demonstrate how the project will impact credit unions and their members.
 
Funds may be used for:
  • Education of credit union employees and volunteers;
  • Public education initiatives related to consumer finance;
  • Projects and programs that support new, small or community development credit unions:
  • Enhancement to league/association projects funded by other sources consistent with the foundation's mission and purposes
  • Programs or projects that extend credit union services to the full range of membership, with emphasis on the un-served, underserved or low-income consumers;
  • Affordable housing projects;
  • Disaster relief;
  • Partnerships that provide services or carry out projects consistent with the Foundation's mission and purposes; and
  • Other purposes consistent with the foundation's 501(c) (3) mission and purpose.
Applicants also must:
  • Solicit endorsement and/or funding from at least one local credit union or credit union-related supporter;
  • Be able to leverage funds from other community, philanthropic, government or other sources to maximize benefit and ensure sustainability after the grant's funding ends;
  • Obtain letters confirming in-kind support or funding commitments from partners both within and outside the credit union movement; and
  • Have tangible, achievable goals and objectives.
To apply for a grant, use the link.

NASCUS Honors Cann With Pierre Jay Award

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COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (9/20/13)--Parker Cann, general counsel for BECU, Tukwila, Wash., and former Washington state credit union regulator, was honored with the 2013 National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) Pierre Jay Award at the NASCUS State System Summit this week in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho. 
 
Click to view larger image The 2013 National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors recognized Parker Cann, center, general counsel for BECU and former Washington credit union regulator, as the 2013 NASCUS Pierre Jay Award at the organization's State System Summit this week. Joining Cann are Troy Stang, president/CEO of the Northwest Credit Union Association, and Mary Martha Fortney, president/CEO, NASCUS. (Photo provided by the Northwest Credit Union Association)
Cann previously served as chairman of the NASCUS executive council.
 
Recipients of the award best demonstrate outstanding service, leadership and commitment to NASCUS and the dual-chartering system. The Pierre Jay Award, first awarded in 1997, is named after the first Commissioner of Banks in Massachusetts. Cann is the first Pierre Jay winner who has been both a state regulator and a credit union executive.
 
"When we created the Pierre Jay Award, it was meant for honorees like Parker who have made countless contributions to NASCUS and to the state credit union system," said Mary Martha Fortney, NASCUS president/CEO. "Parker continues to set such a high standard for excellence and was truly passionate about states' rights and the important work to preserve the safety and soundness of the state credit union system."
 
Among the general session speakers at this week's summit were Debbie Matz, National Credit Union Administration chairman, and Jeff Post, president/CEO of CUNA Mutual Group. (See News Now coverage in Thursday's issue. Use the links.)
 
The general session closed with a panel titled "Working Together on System Priorities: The Credit Union Leadership Forum" and included Bill Cheney, Credit Union National Association president; Dan Berger, National Association of Federal Credit Union president/CEO; and Fortney. The panel was moderated by Arty Arteaga, president/CEO of the Defense Credit Union Council. 
 
Cheney reiterated CUNA's commitment to reducing regulatory burden for credit unions.  He also noted the importance of one of the top NASCUS priorities--keeping the state charter strong and preserving the dual chartering system.
 

CU System Briefs (09/19/2013)

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  • VIENNA, Va. (9/19/13)--The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued an advisory to financial institutions Wednesday based on the Financial Action Task Force's updated lists of jurisdictions with strategic anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing deficiencies. These changes may affect U.S. financial institutions' obligations and risk-based approaches with respect to relevant jurisdictions ...
 

Did You Wear Jeans To Work Wednesday?

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MADISON, Wis. (9/19/13)--Credit union employees across the country donned their denim at work Wednesday to support their local Children's Miracle Network Hospital on Miracle Jeans Day.
 
Click to view larger image Staff at Northwoods CU, Cloquet, Minn., combined fundraising for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals on Miracle Jeans Day Wednesday with their efforts to preserve credit unions tax status by donning jeans with Miracle Jeans Day t-shirts and "proudly wearing our Don't Tax My Credit Union buttons," said the credit union in a tweet. (Photo provided by Northwoods CU)
Each employee donated $5 for the privilege of wearing jeans Wednesday. The annual fundraiser by Credit Unions for Kids for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals raises funds and awareness for 170 children's hospitals throughout the nation.
 
About 500 credit unions registered to participate in yesterday's event, said Felicity Guerin, development manager of Credit Unions for Kids at the Credit Union National Association. The final amount raised will be announced in early 2014 after all the funds are in, she said. Funds are raised both in the credit union community and online.  For those who want to make a Miracle Jeans Day donation or participate later, visit the links.
 
This year credit unions had the option to donate $25 and receive a free T-shirt. "Credit union employees donated enough for us to distribute 1,800 CU4Kids Miracle Jeans Day shirts," said Guerin.
 
In Montana, nearly all credit unions were expected to participate, according to Alana Listoe of the Montana Credit Union Network, who wrote a guest column about the event for the Missoulian.com (Sept. 17).  That would be an increase from last year, when half of Montana's 56 credit unions participated, she said.
 
The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association said this year's participants included 23 credit unions from that state as well as PCUA (Life is a Highway Sept. 18). Guerin also reported that 43 credit unions from California, plus the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues and CO-OP Financial Services participated, as did 33 credit unions from Texas and the Cornerstone Credit Union League; 29 credit unions from Michigan, and 29 New York credit unions and the Credit Union Association of New York.
 
Last year on Miracle Jeans Day, thousands of employees from more than 600 credit unions raised more than $300,000 for member hospitals in 47 states. That was a 74% increase in participation over 2011 participation. They were the biggest supporter of Miracle Jeans.
 
The credit union community is one of the largest fund raisers for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, raising funds under the Credit Unions for Kids brand since 1996. It has collected more than $110 million for children's hospitals.
 
The events also help raise awareness of the value of credit unions to their communities and members, one of the pillars of the national Unite for Good campaign, in which CUNA, the leagues and credit unions aim toward a strategic vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner.

NCUF Working With MWCUA To Assess Relief Funds Needed

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MADISON, Wis. (9/19/13)--The National Credit Union Foundation is working with the Mountain West Credit Union Association to assess the need for flood disaster relief beyond current CUAid general funds.
 
There is some need in Colorado for financial assistance, which may be covered by remaining funds in the NCUF's CUAid general disaster relief fund, NCUF said Tuesday on its Facebook page.
 
Several Boulder, Colo.-area credit unions closed branches last Thursday and Friday as a result of massive flooding in the area. While flooding did not affect most credit union facilities, the homes of some members and employees sustained damages. Credit unions have for the most part been fully operational since Saturday, but recovery will be ongoing.

Equifax: Diversify Strategy To Restore Credit Line Increases

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ATLANTA (9/19/13)--Card issuers have seen as much as a 90% decrease in credit line increase (CLI)-eligible card accounts since regulatory changes introduced by the CARD Act in 2010. A new white paper from Equifax advises card issuers how to restore credit line increases with a diversified data strategy.
 
Card issuers face a conundrum: how to overcome regulatory hurdles to restore the credit line increases that consumers and card issuers want, said the report, "Recapturing CLIs: How a Diversified Data Strategy Can Help Card Issuers Restore Credit Line Increases--and Boost Revenue."
 
In the past, card issuers used in-house data, credit bureau data and analysis to determine a cardholder's ability to pay. Those who met the criteria received an automatic CLI. Cardholders who received a 10% to 30% CLI boosted their balance by about 3% within one year, while consumers who received no increase cut spending by about 4% during the same period, said the paper. With consumers paying down their debt during the period studied, the results would be more compelling today, said the Atlanta-based Equifax.
 
The credit information company offered these tips to assessing consumers' ability to pay:
  • Create an internal income hub of information by consolidating income data across all portfolios the card issuer has access, such as mortgage records, auto loans student loans, personal lines of credit and data from other credit cards.
  • Institute a consumer outreach program to consumers whose credit profiles make them likely candidates for CLI increases and invite them to apply for a CLI.
  • Leverage annualized income data via the Big Data approach with companies that provide data that are instantly accessible and viable and verify income data that indicate a person's ability to pay.
  • Extend the shelf life of the consumer's stated income. Many card issuers avoid presenting regulators with information older than 12 months, but some Big Data statistics can demonstrate accuracy and stability of stated income over time, said Equifax's paper. Equifax noted that if card issuers could extend the viability of stated income to 18 months and use it for automatic CLIs, their CLI recapture rate could increase from 18% to as much as 27%.
For the full report, use the link.

Conway To Succeed McCormack As PCUA CEO

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (9/19/13)--Patrick Conway, who served as the president/CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association for the past 12 years, has been named the new president/CEO of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association.
 
Conway also served as president/CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County. He began his career in the district office of U.S. Rep. Bill Clinger, served as executive director of the Governor's Action Team under Gov. Tom Ridge, and ran for Congress in Pennsylvania's 5th district. 
 
"We are extremely pleased and fortunate to welcome Pat to the Pennsylvania credit union movement," said PCUA Board Chair Maria LaVelle. "While there were many strongly qualified candidates for the position, Pat's leadership skills, association experience, and political involvement make him a great fit for moving PCUA forward."
 
Conway is the PCUA's fifth president/CEO since its inception in 1934. "I feel honored and privileged to be given the opportunity to lead such a strong organization as PCUA," said Conway. "This organization has a strong tradition of advocating on behalf of Pennsylvania credit unions and for providing solutions to credit unions of all sizes. This is an exciting time for Pennsylvania's credit union movement and an exciting time for me personally as we continue to grow and thrive in what is clearly a challenging environment."
 
Conway will join the association on Oct. 28 and will work with current PCUA CEO Jim McCormack, who is retiring at year-end, after 32 years of service. McCormack will remain on as a consultant to PCUA through November 2014.

20 Michigan CUs To Support Local Biz In CU Lunch Local

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LANSING, Mich. (9/19/13)--More than 20 Michigan credit unions have pledged to support the second annual CU Lunch Local, Oct. 15. The event is a cash mob that pumped tens of thousands of dollars into the state's economy through its small businesses, said the Michigan Credit Union League.

During the daylong CU Lunch Local program, credit unions and their employees support local businesses by dining, shopping or buying local (Michigan Monitor Sept. 16). The event increases cash flow at local businesses and offers exposure for credit unions and local businesses.

CU Lunch Local is inspiring credit unions across the country to facilitate local cash mobs. Two new states are finalizing plans to join MCUL in the CU Lunch Local effort, the league said. 

Raising awareness about the value credit unions provide their members and communities, fostering service excellence and removing barriers are the foundation for the Credit Union National Association's, state credit union leagues' and credit unions' Unite For Good campaign toward a vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner.

Minnesota Maxwell, Herring, Desjardins Awards Announced

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (9/19/13)--The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation honored 10 credit unions with 13 social responsibility, philosophy/member service and financial education awards.
 
First-place winners by asset size in the state-level Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award category included:
  • Star Choice CU, Minneapolis, $20 million to $50 million in assets;
  • Minnesota Valley FCU, Mankato, $50 million to $100 million in assets;
  • Greater Minnesota CU, Mora, $100 million to $200 million in assets;
  • City & County CU, St. Paul, $200 million to $500 million in assets; and 
  • SPIRE FCU, Falcon Heights, $500 million to $1 billion in assets.
First-place winners in the Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Member Service Award category included:
  • St. Paul (Minn.) FCU, $50 million to $250 million in assets; and
  • TopLine FCU, Maple Grove, $250 million to $1 billion in assets.
First-place winners in the Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award category included:
  • Greater Minnesota CU,  $50 million to $150 million in assets; 
  • TopLine FCU, $150 million $500 million in assets; and
  • Postal CU, St. Paul, $500 million or more in assets.
First-place winners in the Desjardins Adult Financial Education Award category included:
  • Greater Minnesota CU, $50 million to $150 million in assets;
  • TopLine FCU, $150 million to $500 million in assets; and
  • US FCU, Burnsville, $500 million or more in assets.
Each first-place winner's entry progresses to the Credit Union National Association's national award competition. The winners are honored at the 2014 CUNA Government Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.

CUNA Mutual CEO: CUs Face Costly Fraud Threats From Many Sources

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COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (9/19/13)--Difficult economic times create opportunities for good organizations, but also for criminals, which is why credit unions must adopt loss controls to mitigate the most serious risks, CUNA Mutual Group President/CEO Jeff Post said Wednesday.
 
Click to view larger image Credit unions cannot become complacent in fighting fraud, because criminals continually devise new ways to steal, Jeff Post told attendees at the 2013 National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors' State System Summit Wednesday. (Photo provided by CUNA Mutual Group)
Speaking at the 2013 National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors' State System Summit, Post discussed the five most serious fraud risks CUNA Mutual has identified facing credit unions and offered loss prevention recommendations. They relate to employee dishonesty, funds transfer, plastic cards, data breaches and electronic crime.
 
"Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this session is there is no single fraud loss area," Post said. "Criminals seem to continually devise new ways to steal or defraud."
 
Employee dishonesty ranks low in number of insurance claims, but is by far the leader in claim dollars paid. Most losses are caused by cash theft, loan fraud and ledger manipulation. Employee dishonesty fraud lasts a median of 18 months before being detected, with a median loss of $140,000, Post said, citing the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners' 2012 Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse. However, the study showed more than one-fifth of these cases caused losses of at least $1 million. The longer a perpetrator works for an organization, the higher the fraud losses.
 
"For credit unions, there is no immunity to this exposure based on geography, asset size, or employee tenure. The one common denominator has been that the credit union either lacked the controls to catch fraud from the beginning or got more relaxed about the controls over time, which provides the ideal environment for a dishonest employee," Post said.
 
He recommended three "Ds" to reduce employee dishonesty:
  • Deter--Vet job applicants and establish a written fraud policy.
  • Detect--Segregate duties, require mandatory vacation and reward whistleblowers.  Conduct surprise internal audits and institute specific controls on cash handling, loan processing and access to member accounts.
  • Discipline--Develop a fraud policy that includes detailed procedures for handling these situations and guidelines for terminating or suspending dishonest employees. Train employees regularly on the fraud policy. 
Another large loss area for credit unions involves fraudulent transfers from home equity lines of credit. Credit unions reported more than $25 million in losses from 2007 to 2012, with an average loss of $175,000. Some approached $1 million.
 
"Telephone callbacks are too easily defeated by criminals, who hijack the member's home phone number through call-forwarding. So don't rely only on callbacks," Post said. Credit unions should be wary of large-dollar home equity line of credit transfers, limit the dollar size of transactions not requested in person and implement layered security, such as requiring passwords in addition to callbacks.
 
Regarding plastic card fraud, which was rampant when he became CEO in 2005, Post said credit unions have made good progress in managing fraud, but sophisticated crooks are still identifying weaknesses. Targeted payment fraud exposures, card data breaches, phishing scams and system intrusions continue to be legitimate threats.
 
Migration to Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) chip technology provides added security by making the skimming of magnetic stripe data more difficult, but credit unions should plan their migration to EMV carefully. "The new cards will contain a chip, but it will still have a magnetic stripe for a while," Post said. "Educate your members about using chip technology at merchants and ATMs that offer that capability."
 
As for data breaches in the credit union, the biggest concern is exposing members' personal identifiable information, Post said.
 
Electronic crime also is increasing. CUNA Mutual is seeing more outgoing funds and account takeovers. "I would characterize data breaches and electronic crime as not necessarily being high-loss areas yet, but they are definitely high-risk and have the potential to produce significant losses," Post said.
 
He urged credit unions to not get complacent. "Just because you may not have had a loss doesn't mean you should curtail your fraud prevention efforts. Know that CUNA Mutual Group will be here so we can work together to help prevent fraud."

Whitehouse Appointed To CUNA Mutual Group Board

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MADISON, Wis. (9/18/13)--CUNA Mutual Group has appointed Janet V. Whitehouse to its board of directors.
 
Whitehouse has three decades of experience in business and the insurance industry, most recently as president of Wentworth Advisory Group, which provides strategic advice to corporations in various stages of development.
 
A former grammar school teacher, Whitehouse served as a senior executive at two Fortune 500 insurance companies--Sun Life Financial and Unum Corp.--where she led mergers and acquisitions, financial turnarounds, organizational restructuring and business development ventures.
 
"Janet's proven leadership experience and vast knowledge of the insurance industry will be tremendous assets to the Board of Directors and our company," said Jeff Post, CUNA Mutual Group, president/CEO.
 
CUNA Mutual's board is chaired by Eldon R. Arnold, retired president/CEO, CEFCU, Peoria, Ill. Thomas C. Godlasky, retired CEO, Aviva North America, is vice chairman. Other board members include:
 
  • C. Alan Peppers, president/CEO, Westerra CU, Denver;
  • Joseph J. Gasper, retired president/chief operations officer, Nationwide Insurance;
  • Loretta M. Burd, retired president/CEO, Centra CU, Columbus, Ind.;
  • Bert J. Hash Jr., president/CEO, Municipal Employees CU of Baltimore Inc.;
  • Larry T. Wilson, retired president/CEO, Coastal FCU, Raleigh, N.C. ;
  • James W. Zilinski, retired chairman, president/CEO, Berkshire Life Insurance Co.;
  • Robert J. Marzec, retired audit partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers;
  • Randy M. Smith, retired CEO, Randolph-Brooks FCU, Live Oaks, Texas;
  • Caren C. Gabriel, president and CEO, Ascend FCU, Tullahoma, Tenn.; and
  • Post.

CU System Briefs (09/18/2013)

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  • VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (9/18/13)--Virginia Beach  police have identified the suspect shot and killed by an off-duty police officer during an attempted robbery at Chartway FCU as Courtney Andrew Holloman, 30, of Virginia Beach. Holloman died at the scene from a gunshot wound to the torso (The Virginian-Pilot Sept. 17). The incident occurred when Holloman, wearing a mask, dark clothes and gloves, entered the credit union branch and allegedly displayed what appeared to be a gun. He announced the robbery and the police officer identified himself as police to Holloman, who began to turn on the officer and was shot. The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, which is standard procedure. No one else was injured. The branch remained open and the credit union has made one-on-one counseling available for employees (News Now Sept. 17) ...
  • BELLEVUE, Neb. (9/18/13)--Brandi Coen, 32, of Portsmouth, Neb., was sentenced to 24 months of probation after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting theft by receiving over $1,500 in stolen cash from a Dec. 7 robbery of Sac FCU in Portsmouth.  Her former husband, Gabriel L. Coen, 29, was sentenced last week to the same term. The two said they did not know about the heist and that the money was given to them by Caleb Searcy, 22, who is now serving a four- to eight-year sentence in prison for possessing stolen money.  The Coens said they thought Searcy had received a loan from his father. Searcy said he found the money in the woods near a tent where he was living a few hundred yards from the credit union (wowt.com Sept. 17) ...

NEW: Conway Named New PCUA CEO

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (UPDATED: 9/18/13, 9:30 A.M. CT)--Patrick Conway, who served as the president/CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association for the past 12 years, has been named the new president/CEO of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association.
 
Conway also served as president/CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County. He began his career in the district office of U.S. Rep. Bill Clinger, served as executive director of the Governor's Action Team under Gov. Tom Ridge, and ran for Congress in Pennsylvania's 5th district. 
 
"We are extremely pleased and fortunate to welcome Pat to the Pennsylvania credit union movement," said PCUA Board Chair Maria LaVelle. "While there were many strongly qualified candidates for the position, Pat's leadership skills, association experience, and political involvement make him a great fit for moving PCUA forward."
 
Conway is the PCUA's fifth president/CEO since its inception in 1934. "I feel honored and privileged to be given the opportunity to lead such a strong organization as PCUA," said Conway. "This organization has a strong tradition of advocating on behalf of Pennsylvania credit unions and for providing solutions to credit unions of all sizes. This is an exciting time for Pennsylvania's credit union movement and an exciting time for me personally as we continue to grow and thrive in what is clearly a challenging environment."
 
Conway will join the association on Oct. 28 and will work with current PCUA CEO Jim McCormack, who is retiring at year-end, after 32 years of service. McCormack will remain on as a consultant to PCUA through November 2014.

CU To Support WSU Business Development Program

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WICHITA, Kan. (9/18/13)--Meritrust CU, Wichita, Kan., has pledged $225,000 over three years to support Wichita State University's (WSU) Center for Entrepreneurship outreach programs.
 
The $894 million asset credit union said it wants to strengthen its relationship with Wichita State to serve students and businesses in the region, said James Nastars, Meritrust president/CEO.
 
"We want to align with the university in areas that reflect our core values and our business mission, which includes helping our business members succeed," Nastars said. "The speaker series offered through the Center for Entrepreneurship provides training and assistance we think will benefit entrepreneurs, businesses and students alike."
 
WSU's center fosters and promotes entrepreneurial thinking through academic and community programs.
 
Meritrust has been a sponsor of Barton Business Week at the university, which brings together Kansas business representatives and students in the W. Frank Barton School of Business for a week of meetings and events each spring. It also supports WSU athletics and student services and is a Lifetime Distinction Member in the WSU Foundation Fairmount Society.
 
Initiatives the gift will fund include:
  • Meritrust Business Booster Series. Up to 15 weekly workshops that will Oct. 18 with featured topics such as capitalizing on creative business ideas, analyzing consumer purchase decisions, franchising tips, branding strategies and website expertise.
  • Meritrust Entrepreneurship Forum Series. Panels of business leaders or individual speakers will addressentrepreneurship topics. The series will begin in spring 2014 and run through fall 2016.
  • WSU Center for Entrepreneurship efforts. Meritrust CU's support will help the center fulfill its mission to advance business creation and economic growth in the region through education, research and community involvement.
Fostering service excellence, removing barriers and raising awareness about the value credit unions provide their members and communities are the foundation for the Credit Union National Association's, state credit union leagues' and credit unions' Unite For Good campaign toward a vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial provider.

Colorado CUs' Flood Recovery Underway

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BOULDER, Colo. (9/18/13)--Boulder, Colo.-area credit unions have for the most part been fully operational since Saturday in the wake of massive flooding, but recovery will be ongoing, representatives from credit unions told News Now Tuesday.
 
Some roads in Boulders remain closed; others are "literally washed out," Dennis Paul, assistant vice president for business and community development at Elevations CU, Boulder, told News Now. "But those numbers are decreasing every day," he added. "The intersections and roads are getting cleaned up. The ones that we can't open are going to take some time."
 
Elevations CU has also been at "100% capacity" since Saturday, but with one in four Boulder  households suffering damages, the credit union was receiving about 15 to 20 calls per hour for assistance on Tuesday, Paul said.
 
"The damage to individual households is even much higher than we anticipated," Paul said.
 
The credit union has established a $100,000 community challenge grant. Elevations will match each dollar donated by the community up to $100,000 to assist victims of the flooding.
 
"All funds will be specifically earmarked for victims and families displaced from the flood," Paul said.
 
The credit union has also instituted a resource team to work with members affected by the flood. "We'll work with members on everything from late payments to overdraft charges to loan payment deferrals and extending credit," Paul said.
 
Premier Members FCU, Boulder, opened all branches and its contact center on schedule Saturday after closing six branches on Thursday and three on Friday, but the credit union continues to hear from members, Andrea Balazs, community relations specialist at Premier Members FCU, told News Now. The homes of employees sustained damages.
 
"We have hundreds of members that were impacted in the Longmont and Boulder areas that were affected," said Balazs. The credit union is collecting donations for United Way to help victims and is assisting members with additional services.
 
"We are tracking where the requests are coming from," Balazs said. "We are looking at them on a case-by-case basis and trying to expedite them."
 
Premier is offering loans for repairs and skip-a-payment and waiving fees on early withdrawals from certificates of deposit. The credit union also waived $5,000 in fees on Visa gift cards.
 
Several Premier FCU employees were evacuated from their homes, Balazs said. "That was one of the reasons we weren't able to operate," she added. The homes of two employees were either destroyed or sustained extensive damage.
 
Boulder Valley CU, Boulder, re-opened all five of its branches Saturday after closing three on Thursday and two on Friday.
 
One Boulder Valley CU employee's basement was flooded, another's apartment was flooded and two employees were evacuated from their homes but have since been allowed to return, said Rick Allen, Boulder Valley president/CEO. "All told, we were lucky," Allen said.
 
As of Tuesday afternoon, the credit union had heard from three members who needed assistance, Allen said. "I know there is a lot more damage up in the mountains," Allen said. "I'm sure there will be issues there. Our members know we are always here to assist them."

Compliance Exams Change For Large Washington CUs

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (9/18/13)--Washington credit unions with assets of more than $500 million must take enhanced compliance examinations, which were effective Sept. 11, said the Washington Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) Division of Credit Unions (DCU).
 
For credit unions with less than $500 million in total assets, DCU said it will continue to monitor compliance as part of the safety and soundness examination.
 
"The DFI has been working on this for the past couple of years," John Trull, director of regulatory affairs for the Northwest Credit Union Association, told News Now. "The association has supported the delays so that the launch of the program goes as well as possible and that the process is in the best interests of everyone--our credit unions and regulators alike. We will be getting feedback from our members following compliance exams."
 
The enhanced program is:
  • Focused solely on consumer and regulatory compliance,
  • Conducted at a different time than the annual safety and soundness exams, and
  • Completed with a compliance rating and report issued to the credit union.
For the program, DCU said it plans to complete the separate compliance examinations of those credit unions with assets of more than $500 million during the next 20 months. It will continue future separate compliance examinations of the largest credit unions on roughly a 20-month cycle. The new program should result in a more effective consumer compliance examination process, DCU said.
 
A pre-examination letter will be sent to the credit union about eight weeks before the examination. The letter will describe the examination scope in detail and provide a list of information/documentation to be prepared in advance of the examination.
 
The examination scope will cover operational functional areas such as deposits, consumer lending, mortgage lending, mortgage servicing, privacy and consumer information, and/or cover several regulations.
 
The examiner-in-charge (EIC) for the compliance examination will contact a credit union representative to obtain the pre-exam information. During the examination, the EIC may meet with the manager and staff, the board chair and the supervisory committee. The EIC will arrange a date and time with management for the exit conference. A separate examination report will be issued about 30 days after the exit conference.
 
Significant concerns found during the consumer compliance examination will be followed-up by examiners during safety and soundness exams or a special limited scope compliance exam, DCU said.

13 Missouri CUs Become CDFIs In Mass Certification

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (9/18/13)--Thirteen Missouri credit unions were awarded Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) certification from the U.S. Treasury Department in an unprecedented, mass certification as part of Missouri Credit Union Association's "Community Development Across Missouri" initiative.
 
The mass certification was funded by the largest grant in the history of the Missouri Credit Union  Charitable Foundation. CDFI grant writing firm CU Strategy Planning created the initiative for MCUA.
 
The credit unions are now eligible to submit a grant application annually requesting up to $2 million for loan loss reserves, capital reserves, and new products and services to support increased lending.  Corresponding CDFI grants also were submitted for approval through the Community Development Across Missouri program. The loan loss reserves requested in those grant applications and the second wave of CDFI applications from Missouri in 2014 can unlock $200 million in loans to working class families  in the state during the next three years, while creating 14,500 jobs.
 
The new CDFI certified credit unions are:
  • lst Financial FCU, Wentzville;
  • Alliance CU, Fenton;
  • CU Community CU, Springfield;
  • Electro Savings CU, St. Louis;
  • Joplin (Mo.) Metro CU;
  • Metro CU, Springfield;
  • Missouri Central CU, Lees Summit;
  • Poplar Bluff  (Mo.) FCU;
  • Rolla (Mo.) FCU;
  • South Central Missouri CU, Willow Springs;
  • Unite Burlington CU, St. Louis;
  • United Consumers CU, Independence, Mo.; and
  • United CU, Mexico.
"Our success with receiving the Treasury's approval of these CDFI certifications validates the Credit Union National Association's educational efforts to all Americans and Congress that not-for-profit credit unions have always and continue to be of service to working class people of modest means," said MCUA President/CEO Don Cohenour.
 
MCUA Board Chairman Brian Eyestone said it demonstrates "what is possible for credit unions across America.  "CDFI certification opens the door to grant funding, which supports our credit union efforts to increase services and loans to good, hard working members hit the hardest with layoffs and employment at reduced salaries during America's economic recovery. Credit unions have always been about 'People Helping People.' The CDFI certification allows Missouri's credit unions an even greater ability to fulfill this mission."
 
CU Strategic Planning Founder Jamie Chase noted that the company's analysis of credit unions in Missouri revealed that 100 of the state's 134 credit unions meet the Treasury's eligibility requirements. "Our research shows the same is true of credit unions in every state. In fact, there are two more CDFI certifications pending in Missouri this year, and another 10 that will be submitted for approval in 2014."
 
"It is not easy for a credit union association to demonstrate the incredible leadership the MCUA showed with this groundbreaking program," said Stacy Augustine, president of CU Strategic Planning, adding that new doors are opening for the credit union movement as a result of the program.  For example, the Opportunity Finance Network's Annual Conference has added a track specifically for credit unions for the first time in that organization's 30-year history.
 
Creating awareness of credit unions' value and fostering service excellence are some of the components of CUNA's and the leagues' Unite for Good campaign, which rallies credit unions toward the strategic vision of America's consumers choosing credit unions as their best financial partner.

Southeastern CUs Grow, Hire During 2Q

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala., and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (9/18/13)--Alabama and Florida credit unions' growth in membership has resulted in the addition of 433 full-time staff to the two states' credit unions in the past 12 months, said the League of Southeastern Credit Unions.

Florida credit unions added 400 new staff, while Alabama credit unions added 33. The hires fall in line with the recent membership surge, said LSCU.  Alabama added 79,000 new members in two years, while Florida added 47,000 during that period.

Each state also grew in assets, with Alabama adding $1.6 billion in assets in the two-year period, and Florida adding $4 billion.

"Alabama and Florida credit unions have generally seen positive growth numbers for nearly three years," said LSCU & Affiliates President/CEO Patrick La Pine. "What has been lagging behind is positive loan growth. We have seen loan numbers begin to climb the past two years. Credit unions are hiring to meet the loan demand and also adding positions that were eliminated during the recession," he added.

Alabama credit unions grew loans by $125 million--including $5 million in new member business lending (MBL)--from first to second quarter. Florida credit unions added $494 million in new loans, with $27 million of those in new MBLs.  The two states exceed the national credit union average in used-auto loans and total auto loans.

The states also continued the trend of lower delinquencies and net charge offs. Alabama delinquencies fell for the fourth straight year to 1.22%. Florida's fell to 1.96%, a 1.2% decline in four years. Net charge offs in Alabama declined 0.14% in four years to a quarterly low of 0.59%, while in Florida, they were cut in half during that period, with second quarter net charge offs at 1.06%.

"To see our Florida credit unions inching toward the national credit union average in both categories is nothing short of amazing," said La Pine. " Consumers have more disposable income  and they are once again looking at autos, buying homes and slowing expanding their businesses."

Net worth of credit unions in Alabama is a collective 11%, higher than the national credit union average of 10.5%. Florida's is 10.3% and includes a half percent growth in the past two years.  A credit unions is considered well-capitalized if its net worth is more than 7%, said LSCU.

PCUA Says No Dues Increase For Third Year

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (9/18/13)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association's board of directors approved PCUA's 2014 membership dues, with no increases, at its Monday meeting. The dues formula will remain the same for the third consecutive year.

Dues will be based on June 30 Call Report data (Life is a Highway Sept. 17).

"I commend the board for its continued leadership in enabling the association to maintain the same dues formula for the last three years, as well as to continue funding a significant part of our statewide iBelong public awareness campaign," said Jim McCormack, association CEO.

Also, the board decided to continue Pennsylvania's iBelong campaign in 2014 on a regional basis.

iBelong is the only mandatory statewide public awareness/advocacy initiative in the country, PCUA said. The campaign promotes Pennsylvania credit unions in media such as TV, cable, radio, newspaper and magazines. Four other states have adopted iBelong during the past five years (News Now 9/3/13).

Other actions of the board meeting included modifying the Paul E. Kanjorski Advocacy Scholarship to the Paul E. Kanjorski Young Professionals Advocacy Scholarship, to specifically reach young credit union professionals, ages 18-35. The scholarship covers registration, lodging, and travel to the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference, Feb. 23-27.

The PCUA board also ratified the merger of the Scranton and Wyoming Valley Chapters into the newly created Northeast Pennsylvania Chapter of Credit Unions.

Tech Council Video Discusses Four CUs' Disaster Recovery

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MADISON, Wis. (9/18/13)--The CUNA Technology Council has released a new educational resource: A video white paper.
 
The video, "Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity: Are You Prepared?" documents four credit unions' stories of survival following the aftermath of major natural disasters.
 
Keesler FCU, Biloxi, Miss.; Nassau Financial FCU, Westbury, N.Y.; McGraw-Hill FCU, East Windsor, N.J.; and Tinker FCU, Oklahoma City, Okla., shared the video white paper.
 
Each credit union describes the impact storms had on their financial institution, staff and members--and how their disaster recovery/business continuity plans helped return them to operations to aid members in desperate need of financial assistance.
 
Among credit union representatives who describe their experiences on the video:
  • Tammy Williams, Keesler FCU assistant vice president of information technology. Williams describes how the Gulf Coast of Mississippi experienced a complete infrastructure failure in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which hit the coast on Aug. 29, 2005. Keesler lost one branch. Three other branches were flooded or damaged.
  • Robert Reh, Nassau Financial FCU chief information officer. One million people in the Long Island, N.Y. area lost power as a result of Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast on Oct. 29, 2012. "We had members, employees, even board members, whose homes were destroyed," Reh said.
  • Mike Sullivan, McGraw Hill FCU executive vice president/chief information officer. McGraw-Hill FCU's New York City branch was temporarily shut down by Hurricane Sandy. "You can prepare, and put plans in place, but our plans were wiped out," Sullivan said. "We had to come up with a Plan C."
  • Grant Woldum, Tinker FCU executive vice president/chief information officer. Tinker FCU experienced two tornadoes in 11 days in May. In the first tornado, during which Tinker's Moore, Okla., branch was destroyed, 14 employees and eight members survived in a safety deposit box vault. "Some of our employees' vechicles were found a mile away on top of other buildings," Woldum said. "Anyone who was outdoors had absolutely no chance."
To download the white paper, use the link.

CUNA GAC Named Finalist For Two BizBash Top Event Awards

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MADISON, Wis. (9/17/13)--The Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference--the credit union movement's premier national conference--has been named a finalist for honors in two events by the National BizBash Event Style Awards for Best Association Event and Best Trade Show.
 
CUNA's GAC was nominated for both categories by Hargrove Inc.
 
"No event reflects the spirit and drive of the credit union system more than CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference. It is the one conference each year where credit union leaders coalesce not only around a premier education opportunity, but a premier advocacy opportunity," said CUNA CEO Bill Cheney.
 
CUNA's GAC culminates in Hike the Hill visits by attendees to visit their congressional leaders to advocate for credit union issues such as preserving the tax status of credit unions and lifting their member business lending cap. The 2013 theme was "Powerful Cause, Positive Effect." More than 4,200 people attended. Speakers included Tom Brokaw NBC News; Jean Chatzky, The Today Show; Terry McAuliffe, former Democratic Committee chairman; Haley Barbour, former Republican National Committee chairman; and Richard Cordray, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director.
 
Congressional speakers included U.S. Reps. Spencer Bacchus, Jeb Hensarling, Steny Hoyer and Ed Royce, and U.S. Sen. Mark Udall. 
 
Founded in 2000, BizBash is the trade media for the event industry. BizBash publishes magazine and e-newsletters, hosts websites, and produces trade shows and award shows for corporate events and meeting professionals, event marketers, and sales, public relations, fund-raising and human resource executives.
 
CUNA's competition in the Best Association Event are:
  • Entrepreneurs' Organization University 2012;
  • ISES Minnesota Star Awards 2013;
  • ISES NYC Sustainability Summit 2012; and
  • Manhattan Cocktail Classic Gala.
Other Best Trade Show Nominees besides CUNA include:
  • Bklyn Designs;
  • Data Center Summit 2013;
  • The Makeup Show NYC; and
  • PepsiCo's 2013 National Fleet/Other Goods & Services Trading Summit &Trade Show.
Among other notable companies nominated in other categories were Nike, Lego, Nokia, AOL and Bing.   
 
Expanding what once honored the best in the event and meeting industry by region, BizBash is bringing back the Event Style Awards as a national program. After receiving nearly 1,000 entries from across North America, the judges have narrowed each category down to the finalists. The winners will be announced at the BizBash IdeaFest New York on Oct. 30.
 
Watch News Now for an upcoming announcement launching the 2014 GAC, Feb. 23-27, in Washington, D.C.

42 More CUDEs Join the Force For CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (9/18/13)--The Credit Union Development Education Training program graduated 42 credit union professionals with the designation as Credit Union Development Educators last week.
 
Click to view larger image Graduates of the Fall 2013 Credit Union Development Education Training stand outside of the World Credit Union Center Campus in Madison, Wis. (Photo provided by National Credit Union Foundation)
The Sept.4-11 training was held on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, Wis., and included representatives from the U.S., the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago and South Africa.
 
DE Training provides critical lessons in cooperative principles and credit union philosophy while incorporating challenges faced by credit unions. Participants were involved in group exercises, field trips and issue discussions with speakers from the credit union system. Participants are required to complete team projects proposing solutions for credit unions to help alleviate or eliminate challenging situations.
 
During 2014, for the first time, three DE training sessions will be held in one year.
 
The first DE training of 2014 will take place Jan. 22-29 at the Rizzo Conference Center, near the University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill, N.C. The next two trainings will be held April 23-30 and Sept. 10-17 at the Lowell Center in Madison, Wis.
 
E-mail  cude@ncuf.coop to be put on a list to be notified when registration is open.

Hawaii League Pledges $500K To Children's Medical Center

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HONOLULU (9/17/13)--The League of Hawaii Credit Unions has pledged $500,000 through Kapi'olani Children's Miracle Network to the Campaign for Hawaii's Children to rebuild and expand Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women & Children. The move reinforces the league's mission to help those most in need.

The pledge marks a new record for Hawaii Credit Unions, a long-term partner of Kapi'olani Medical Center and its Children's Miracle Network Hospitals' Credit Unions for Kids program.

The league and the credit unions of Hawaii have embraced Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and its "Credit Unions for Kids" program as "a major fund-raising initiative," said Dennis Tanimoto, league president. "Best of all, funds raised in Hawaii stay in Hawaii to benefit pediatric programs at Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women & Children--which has performed miracles for the people of Hawaii and the Pacific Basin for decades."

Both entities are not-for-profit organizations looking to serve local families who otherwise cannot afford quality care. "Our history with Hawaii's credit unions is a long and rich one, and we are proud to be partnered with an organization that year over year has increased its donations to the community. Hawaii's credit unions truly care about our community," said Martha Smith, CEO of Kapi'olani Medical Center.

To date, the 15-year relationship has raised more than $650,000, Smith said.

Tanimoto added that the connection with Kapi'olani Medical Center expands beyond keeping all donations in Hawaii, it is also a matter of personal ties with the hospital.

"My wife and I, as well as our two children and now three grandchildren, were all born at Kapi'olani Medical Center, so we are well aware of its great facilities, technological advancements, wonderful staff, and dedicated volunteers," Tanimoto said.

The campaign has raised $28.4 million toward a $30 million goal to fund the first phase of a multi-year master plan to rebuild Kapi'olani Medical Center.

Calif.-Nev. Leagues To Pilot Rewards Program To Feed The Hungry

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ONTARIO, Calif. (9/17/13)--The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues will pilot a debit and credit card reward program that will help feed hungry families in local communities while strengthening credit unions' credit and debit card programs.
 
The program was made possible through a partnership with MOGL, a restaurant rewards platform.
 
"Partnering with a company such as MOGL will allow our member credit unions to continue to practice their philosophy of 'People Helping People'--helping to eradicate hunger through the donation to food banks and supporting their communities," said Tony Kitt, the leagues' senior vice president of strategic innovation and planning.
 
Credit union members will be able to earn 10% cash back by using their credit or debit cards when they eat out at participating restaurants. For transactions of more than $20, a meal will be donated to a local community food bank through Feeding America.
 
The program uses merchant-funded rewards, allowing credit unions to provide additional benefits to their members at no additional cost, and can work in conjunction with a credit union's existing card reward program. The cash back on spending, combined with the social good of the Meal for a Meal program, encourages members to reach for their credit union cards more often, increasing loyalty and card usage, the leagues said.
 
MOGL is the largest restaurant rewards platform in California, with close to 2,000 restaurants enrolled. MOGL members have received more than $4 million in cash back, and its Meal for a Meal program has donated nearly 500,000 meals to Feeding America and its national network of food banks.
 
Fostering service excellence, removing barriers and raising awareness about the value credit unions provide their members and communities are the foundation for the Credit Union National Association's, state credit union leagues' and credit unions' Unite For Good campaign toward a vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial provider.

Mark Condon,CUNA Publishing SVP, To Retire

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MADISON, Wis. (9/17/13)--
Credit Union National Association Senior Vice President Mark Condon will retire Sept. 30 to pursue plans to pursue a master's degree in history and eventually teach.  (Photo provided by CUNA)
Mark Condon, senior vice president of Business and Consumer Publishing at the Credit Union National Association, will retire on Sept. 30, after 35 years with CUNA, to pursue a master's degree in history.
 
"Mark has put his stamp on a number of the core CUNA publications that have helped inform and educate the credit union system for decades," said CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney. These include Credit Union Magazine, E-Scan and News Now, as well as consumer publications such as Everybody's Money, the predecessor to Home and Family Finance.
 
Condon began at CUNA as an editor at Credit Union Magazine and served as vice president of publications before being named senior vice president. A longtime advocate of the cooperative philosophy, he was instrumental in forging key cooperative relationships such as CUNA's partnership with Coopera to help credit unions better serve the Hispanic market.
 
He also spearheaded CUNA's role in uniting credit unions into a shared credit union experience on International Credit Union Day. 
 
He regularly spoke to groups about the history of credit unions and their philosophy. "His historical knowledge and passion about all things credit unions always has been and continues to be impressive," said Cheney, noting Condon would be taking his love for history to another level by working on a master's degree with plans to eventually teach.
 
CUNA Chairman Pat Wesenberg presented Condon with a CUNA Board resolution acknowledging his contributions to CUNA and the credit union movement last week.

CFPB Fin Literacy Field Hearing In Wis. To Feature NCUF, Royal CU

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MADISON, Wis. (9/17/13)--A Financial Literacy and Education Commission field hearing on Youth and Post-secondary Financial Education, organized by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will feature representatives of the National Credit Union Foundation and  Royal CU, as well as CFPB Director Richard Cordray. The event will take place in Madison, Wis., Sept. 25.
 
Lois Kitsch, national program director at NCUF, will present the foundation's experiential learning programs during a panel entitled, "Panel I, Building youth financial capability through experiential learning." Also on the panel will be Jennifer Block, representing Royal CU, based in Eau Claire, Wis.
 
The panel will provide insight on opportunities and best practices for using experiential learning to help youth increase financial capability and to augment financial education lessons taught in the classroom.  Examples include use of school bank programs, entrepreneurship training and games/simulations to deepen knowledge of finances.
 
The panel will also include Alex Martinez, a student representative from a bank in school and Elizabeth Odders-White of the University of Wisconsin Madison Center for Financial Security, and moderator David Mancl, director of the Office of Financial Literacy in the Department of Financial Institutions.
 
The hearing will also include a second panel on preparing postsecondary students for financial independence.
 
Also speaking at the event will be Melissa Koide, deputy assistant secretary, U.S. Department of Treasury; Cordray; and J. Michael Collins of the Center for Financial Security, as well as Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and UW Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank.

Ways & Means' Sanchez Defends CU Tax Status

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WASHNGTON (9/17/13)--As credit unions continue their all-out push to preserve their tax status, another House Ways and Means Committee member spoke out in support of credit unions.  This time Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) supported credit unions' tax status by writing an editorial in Credit Union Digest, the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues' flagship magazine.

Just last month, the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), also spoke publicly in support for credit unions. Camp noted the "very important role" credit unions play in communities across Michigan and the rest of the country  (News Now Aug. 14). He added, "I will continue to look for ways to reduce regulatory burden and to help credit unions in their mission of serving consumers and small businesses with affordable financial services."  He made his remarks in a statement delivered to the Michigan Credit Union League & Affiliates.
 
The House Ways and Means Committee is the chief committee working on tax reform. The leagues' legislative advocacy team has worked with Sanchez, discussing credit unions' vital role in the communities they serve.
 
"Getting rid of their tax-exempt status would hurt credit unions and consumer choice, and drive up the cost of financial services for everyone, Sanchez wrote. "That's a bad deal for consumers. That's an even worse deal for our communities."
 
"As a longtime credit union member, I understand the very special role credit unions play in our communities," she wrote. "Credit unions make it possible for small businesses to expand their operations and hire more employees. Credit unions make it possible for students to pursue higher education."
 
Sanchez represents 158,000 credit union members in the 38th Congressional District. "These members include teachers, janitors, firefighters, and military personnel--the people who are the glue holding our communities together."
 
As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, she said, "I am committed to ensuring that our tax code helps protect middle class families." Although tax reform is long overdue, she emphasized  that reform should be "in a way that supports American industry and hardworking Americans" and "provides economic certainty. Preserving the current tax-exempt status for credit unions would help provide some much needed certainty.
 
"Congress has consistently supported the credit union federal tax exemption because of the special manner in which credit unions serve consumers," Sanchez said. "As nonprofit, member-owned and operated cooperatives, credit unions are focused on returning benefits to their members. That means higher savings yields and lower loan interest rates."
 
Eliminating credit unions' tax status "would severely handicap the ability of credit unions to compete with the big Wall Street banks. More competition means more choices and better terms for consumers," Sanchez wrote.
 
Sanchez noted that credit unions have "been historically good stewards of their members' finances. During the 2008 financial crisis, most financial institutions stopped lending money. Not credit unions."  She cited their increased lending to individuals and small businesses, and said that during the housing crisis, California credit unions "addressed 80% of their delinquent loans, and less than half of 1% of those loans were foreclosed.
 
She provided examples of credit unions offering 0% interest loans with no credit checking for janitors or school food service employees required to buy their own uniforms and skip-a-payment options to furloughed school employees.
 
"Credit unions provide crucial support to our families and communities. This support is why it is important that we preserve the tax-exempt status for credit unions," she concluded.
 
Sanchez also serves on two crucial subcommittees: the subcommittee on select revenue measures, which has jurisdiction over federal tax policy, and the subcommittee on oversight, which includes oversight of the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department.  She is ranking member of the Ways and Means' Manufacturing Tax Reform Working Group, which reviews manufacturing sector tax law.
 
Earlier, House Ways and Means Committee members Kevin Brady and Kenny Marchant, both of Texas, also issued strong statements supporting credit unions and their tax status.

Mergers Of CUs Continue Adding Up

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MADISON, Wis. (9/17/13)--Several credit union mergers are continuing the national trend toward consolidation.
 
Recent mergers include:
  • The National Credit Union Administration and the California Department of Business Oversight approved the merger of CarePoint FCU, Anaheim, Calif., with Financial Partners CU, Downey, Calif. The merger was strongly supported by both credit union boards of directors and is slated to take effect on Nov. 1, after which the combined credit union will operate as Financial Partners CU. The merger will result in a credit union with more than $856 million in assets and 60,000 members throughout Southern California, Texas, Florida and several other states.
  • Flint, Mich.-based Security CU (SCU) with $367,000 in assets, has acquired Craftsman CU of Detroit through a purchase-and-assumption agreement with NCUA. The purchase agreement came about because the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services liquidated Craftsman CU. SCU will absorb Craftsman's assets, membership and about 50% of its loans (The Burton View Sept.12).
  • Greater Milwaukee CU, West Allis, Wis., intends to merge into Summit CU, Madison, Wis., the two credit unions announced Sept. 9. Greater Milwaukee CU has roughly $14 million in assets and 2,000 members. Summit CU has more than $1.9 billion in assets and about 130,000 members. The takeover will strengthen Summit's rank as the second-biggest credit union in Wisconsin, behind Landmark CU in New Berlin. The merger will become effective Dec. 1 (The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sept. 9).
  • SkyOne FCU, Hawthorne, Calif., will acquire Gardena, Calif.-based AM FCU. The merger of the $336.5 million asset SkyOne and the $20.4 million asset AM has been approved by the NCUA and the credit unions' memberships (SNL Bank and Thrift Daily Sept. 10).
  • The membership of Arlington, Texas-based Security One FCU voted Aug. 28 to merge into Texas Trust CU, Mansfield, Texas, with $764 million assets, pending approval of the state regulator. NCUA already has Ok'd the consolidation. Security One FCU has $57 million in assets. Security One's 25 employees will join the Texas Trust work force. Texas Trust will assume all of Security Ones' assets and liabilities (PR.com Aug. 31).
  • Effective Aug. 31, Rock Valley CU (RVCU), Loves Park, Ill., merged with Del Monte Eastern Region Employees FCU (DMCU) of Rochelle, Ill., after approvals of both boards of directors, regulatory approval from NCUA and a majority vote of the DMCU members at a special meeting June 26. The combined entity will have assets of more than $83 million, according to an RVCU press release.
  • Clearpath FCU, Glendale, Calif., with $86.8 million in assets, will merge with $6.3 million asset Lithuanian CU, Los Angeles. Also, Credit Union of Southern California, Brea, Calif., will merge with Firestone Financial FCU, Anaheim, Calif. Both mergers were approved Aug. 1 by the California Department of Business Oversight, according to its monthly bulletin.
  • NCUA has approved a merger of USU Charter CU, Logan, Utah, with $140 million assets, into Ogden, Utah-based Goldenwest FCU, with $850 million assets.  When the merger is finalized Oct. 1, the combined entity, operating as Goldenwest FCU, will have 26 branches and nearly $1 billion in assets (Standard-Examiner Aug. 24).
  • Indiana Members CU, with $1.3 billion in assets, and Warren MSD FCU, with $17 million in assets, both based in Indianapolis, completed a merger Aug. 1. Indiana Members CU is the surviving entity and now has 25 branches throughout Central Indiana (SNL Bank and Thrift Daily Aug. 16).
  • $1.89 billion asset Chartway FCU in Virginia Beach, Va., will consolidate two of its divisional credit unions--Utah Central CU, Salt Lake City, and HeritageWest FCU, Tooele, Utah, effective Oct. 1. They will operate under the HeritageWest name (SNL Bank and Thrift Daily Aug. 15).
  • Savage Arms CU, Westfield, Mass., with $1.2 million in assets, was granted permission to merge into Pioneer FCU, Springfield, Mass., with $44.8 million in assets, last month by the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.

Minn. Foundation Offers $10K In CU Fin. Ed Grants

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (9/17/13)--The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation is offering $10,000 in grants to assist state credit unions in implementing financial education projects.
 
Minnesota credit unions can apply for grants through Oct. 1.
 
The grants are part of the foundation's mission to provide resources for credit unions and communities to prosper and thrive.
 
"Minnesota credit unions are doing amazing things to teach the basics of personal finance to their members and to members of the community, young and old," said Pat Brekken, chair of the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation. "The foundation is proud to support these efforts."
 
Beginning in 2013, the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation has committed 50% of its annual budget to financial education grants, with application periods in the spring and fall. The foundation board of directors will evaluate applications based on factors such as credit union value, community impact, collaboration and creativity.
 
Examples of financial education projects/initiatives include:
  • Establishing an in-school branch;
  • Partnering with a community organization to teach personal finance skills;
  • Teaching financial literacy classes in local schools;
  • Creating a credit union youth advisory board that incorporates learning components;
  • Hosting seminars on credit, debt and budgeting, etc.;
  • Coordinating retirement or estate planning workshops;
  • Offering youth checking or credit card products with required learning benchmarks;
  • Providing services, coupled with education classes, for high-risk members, and;
  • Supplying local schools with a financial education curriculum.

Off-duty Officer Shoots, Kills Robber At CU

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (9/17/13)--An off-duty police officer shot and killed a man Saturday during an attempted robbery at a Virginia Beach branch of Chartway FCU.
 
The incident occurred about 10:10 a.m. when a man wearing a mask, dark clothing and gloves entered the branch, waved what appeared to be a gun at tellers and announced the robbery (The Virginia-Pilot Sept. 16).
 
As of Monday afternoon, the credit union had not verified that the man was brandishing a gun, said Heidi Worker, Chartway FCU corporate communication director, told News Now.
 
"Law enforcement officials are still conducting their investigation," Worker said. "Hopefully we'll know more soon."
 
Police have not identified the robber. No other injuries were reported.
 
The branch was open Monday.
 
The credit union provided one-on-one counseling for employees, Worker said.

Iowa Lottery CEO, BIG Dream Organizer To Keynote Iowa CU Convention

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DES MOINES, Iowa (9/16/13)--The annual Iowa Credit Union Convention will take place Wednesday through Friday in Des Moines at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center, according to the Iowa Credit Union League.
 
More than 500 credit union CEOs, directors, executive staff, guests and vendors are expected to attend the conference, which is themed "New Thinking, New Possibilities" and will focus on sparking innovative change in the industry.
 
Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds will welcome attendees on Thursday. Entrepreneur Mitch Matthews, opening keynoter, will share the story behind BIG Dream Gathering and teach attendees to dream bigger and achieve more for the benefit of the credit union industry.
 
Terry Rich, CEO/president of the Iowa Lottery and Friday's closing keynote speaker, will discuss taking risks, the formula for successful innovation and the practical applications for success.
 
The convention will offer 14 breakout educational sessions covering topics such as healthcare reform, proactive lending strategies for growth, cooperative marketing, the economic outlook and more.
 
Proceeds from the Iowa Credit Union Foundation's Benefit Night trivia competition Thursday will be used to fulfill the foundation's mission of helping Iowans build wealth, responsibility and independence.  For real-time updates, follow the convention hashtag at #IACUConv.

CU System Briefs (09/16/2013)

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  • DAVENPORT, Iowa (9/16/13)--Kelly Taylor, 52, of Davenport, Iowa, was sentenced Thursday in a U.S. District Court there to one year plus one day in prison on fraud charges stemming from a $500,000 check-kiting scheme. Taylor had pleaded guilty to bank fraud, which occurred at Scott Schools CU between Aug. 28, 2012 and January (Houston Chronicle via chron.com and Quad City Times Sept. 13). As a result of the theft, Scott Schools, a small credit union that served school districts in eight counties of Iowa and Illinois, merged into Bettendorf, Iowa-based Ascentra CU on July 1, said the Times. Taylor allegedly wrote checks on a business account she and her husband had at the credit union and deposited them into their personal account at the credit union, without sufficient funds in the business account. She then wrote checks from the personal account and deposited them in the business account, also without sufficient funds ...
  • RALEIGH, N.C. (9/16/13)--State Employees' CU, based in Raleigh, N.C., today will kick off its fourth annual SECU Supports the Troops campaign, which will run through Oct. 31. All of SECU's 250 branches in the state will collect "wish list" items to provide holiday care packages for North Carolina deployed soldiers. As with its previous campaigns, SECU's goal is to pack 5,000 gift boxes with toiletries, first aid items and snacks, as well as thank you cards and letters from local school children expressing words of encouragement. The cards and letters are a big hit with the soldiers. "What a lift it was to a very tired group of girls and guys when all of the care packages came in after a hard day's work," wrote William Crouch, master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, in a note of appreciation for packages received by his unit last year. "I've never seen so many grown-ups so excited to read the letters included in the boxes. Everyone was on cloud nine--the gift boxes were a great lift to everyone's spirits." SECU also will accept monetary donations to assist with shipping costs ...

Illinois In Top 10 States For Financial Ed Presentations

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (9/16/13)--Illinois credit unions placed in the top 10 for the number of financial education presentations conducted and students reached during the 2012-13 school year, said the Illinois Credit Union League.

The results are based on data from the National Youth Involvement Board (NYIB).
 
In Illinois, 480 presentations were conducted with more than 18,500 students learning to manage their finances.
 
The top three Illinois credit unions that contributed in terms of presentations conducted were:
  • RIA FCU, Rock Island--88;
  • Alliant CU, Chicago--64; and
  • Abri CU, Romeoville--52.                                           
The top three Illinois credit unions in terms of students reached were:
  • Great Lakes CU, North Chicago--2,286;
  • Abri CU--2,231; and
  • First Illinois CU, Danville--1,951.
Overall, credit union financial educators reached nearly as many students as the previous year.  NYIB's data underscore credit unions' commitment to youth during the school year, when nearly 400,100 students were reached through more than 12,200 classroom presentations.
 
The NYIB is the only organization that collects classroom presentation data from credit unions nationwide each year. It tallies the number of financial education presentations conducted, specific topics discussed, and the number of students reached at each event--which helps provide regulators, legislators and others a valuable example of credit unions' philosophy at work.
 
Financial education is part of credit unions' efforts to raise awareness about credit unions. Fostering service excellence, removing barriers and raising awareness about the value credit unions provide their members and communities are the foundation for the Credit Union National Association's, state credit union leagues' and credit unions' Unite For Good campaign toward a vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial provider.

Several Colorado CUs Closed In Flash Floods

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BOULDER, Colo. (9/16/13)--Days of heavy rain and torrential flooding forced the closing Friday of several Boulder, Colo.-area credit unions.
 
Elevations CU and Boulder Municipal Employees FCU said they closed Friday and Premier Members FCU temporarily shut down three of its six branches. Boulder Valley CU closed two of its five branches.
 
The record-setting rainfall came from a storm system that soaked much of the West last week. Up to 10 inches fell in an area from the Wyoming border southward to the foothills west of Denver. Much of eastern and northern Colorado remained under a flash flood warning, meaning flooding was imminent or already reported, the National Weather Service said (USA TODAY Sept. 13).
 
"This is by and large a pretty dry climate, so managing that volume of rain is challenging," Dennis Paul, assistant vice president for business and community development at Elevations CU, told News Now. "What really put us through the ringer was the inability to navigate."
 
Most roads and intersections in the Boulder area were impassable by Wednesday, and the Boulder Office of Emergency Management advised local businesses to close.
 
"Our decision (to close) was driven by what professional and emergency response personnel were recommending," Paul said of Elevations' closing. "There is just a minimal amount of mobility right now in terms of roadways and intersections."
 
Above Boulder, mountain communities that experienced wildfires the past few years don't have vegetation to absorb the rain, a situation that exacerbates the flooding and adds debris to the mess, Paul said.
 
At least one Elevations employee's home experienced flood damage, he noted.

"We don't have a tally [of damages], but we spent Thursday afternoon bailing water out of her basement until they could get the sump pumps in place," Paul said.
 
The flooding, though more sporadic, has also affected areas around Denver and Boulder, Dan Finerty, director of marketing and communications at the Mountain West Credit Union Association, told News Now.
 
"It's really affected a lot of people," Finerty said. "Although the news reports focus on what happening in Boulder and Longmont, it's really hit the Denver metro area as well. Our staff has been affected and I'm sure credit union employees throughout the area have been affected."
 
Finerty said credit unions' representatives at a chapter meeting Thursday night in Denver were largely upbeat. "People said they were affected, but they were working to keep everything operational," Finerty said.

See News Now's related story, NCUA: Disaster Policy Now Active For Colo. Flooding, in today's issue.

Grassroots At Work: N.J., W.Va. Lawmakers Speak Out For Tax Status

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WASHINGTON (9/16/13)--Grassroots efforts by credit unions have resulted in members of Congress from New Jersey and West Virginia adding their voices to the growing chorus singing: Don't Tax My Credit Union.
 
For an example of how one credit union representative attending a Town Hall meeting brought up the issue of preserving credit unions' tax status--and U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell's (D-N.J.) pro-credit union response--use the link to the C-span video.
 
In the video, XCEL FCU Director of Marketing Tom Quigley during a question-and-answer period at Pascrell's meeting told the congressman that "XCEL has 18,000 members and there are about are 1.3 million credit union members in New Jersey." He noted credit unions are trying to preserve their status, "and we're looking for your support" to maintain their exempt status "or we are literally out of business."
 
"Not every tax exemption is a loophole; some have to fight for it," said Pascrell, who is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is drafting the tax reform law. "If you do away with certain deductions, that is like a having a tax increase," he said, comparing credit unions' tax deduction to deductions for charity contributions, mortgage interest deductions and more.
 
"These are all under attack right now. What we should be attacking is the loopholes that exist in the law so people can put their money offshore and you and I have to pay more taxes...I want to do as much as I can to stop that immediately and will do everything in my power to do so," said Pascrell.

"Credit unions do a terrific job; they're not competition with the banks; they're the competition that we need so that people can make good choices," adding that he favors reducing corporate taxes. "You have my word on that. In fact I'm on that legislation that will keep that deduction."
 
The West Virginia Credit Union League, which was hiking the Hill in Washington, D.C., last week, garnered the support of two members of Congress: U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.).
 
In a letter to the league Friday, Manchin wrote, "I have heard from many credit unions in West Virginia that share your concerns about potential changes to the federal corporate income tax exemption for credit unions. A repeal or scaling back of this exemption, which has been in place for nearly 100 years, has been mentioned as one of the countless proposals to address our unsustainable federal deficit. As our national debt approaches $17 trillion, I believe that we must cut spending, fix our broken tax system, and reform entitlement programs in order to reduce our debt and provide the economy with certainty and stability.
 
"However," Manchin continued, "it's essential that we remember that credit unions have always operated on a not-for-profit basis, and they serve as the backbone of communities throughout West Virginia and the United States. As a credit union member myself, I know that credit unions already pay a number of taxes, including payroll and property taxes, and that repealing this exemption could have a significant impact on credit unions and their communities."

He added that a common sense environment is needed, and that he would be "very mindful of your concerns should I have the opportunity to vote on this proposal in the future."
 
League President Ken Watts also noted that during a luncheon with Rep. Rahall that the congressman "expressed his strong support for credit unions and stated his interest in allowing the credit union tax exemption to remain intact."
 
For more on grassroots activity, go to a related story, Hike the Hill Visits Backed Online Advocacy Efforts Last Week, in today's News Now.

Kansas Court Rejects RBS Arguments In NCUA RMBS Lawsuit

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (9/16/13)--A U.S. District Judge in Kansas has rejected three arguments made by RBS Securities in a motion to dismiss the National Credit Union Administration's lawsuit over losses from residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) sold to U.S. Central FCU.
 
The suit centers on losses related to 20 offerings involving 29 RMBS or certificates sold by RBS to U.S. Central, which no longer exists. The agency filed the lawsuit--one of nine similar lawsuits against RMBS brokers who sold securities to U.S. Central and four other corporate credit unions prior to 2008--as the corporate credit union's liquidating agent.
 
A previous judge had dismissed NCUA's claims in part but also allowed NCUA to file an amended complaint. NCUA amended its complaint and the matter is now before U.S. District Judge John W. Lungstrum, who filed the ruling Thursday.
 
In ruling not to dismiss the lawsuit, the judge denied three RBS arguments:
 
1.  NCUA lacked detailed, originator-specific information in its allegations that the originators of the loans underlying the RMBS "systematically abandoned underwriting guidelines" and misrepresented the certificates.  NCUA's amended complaint is based on a "forensic analysis of 13,708 loans from the six dismissed offerings, average loan-to-value (LTV) and owner-occupancy ratios" and allege they were "significantly understated and thus misrepresented."
 
Thursday's ruling noted that NCUA's "forensic analysis, based on the particular loans underlying the six dismissed offerings, support a plausible claim of misrepresentations involving the LTV and owner-occupancy ratios. Not only are those alleged misrepresentations independently actionable, they provide a connection to the particular certificates at issue and thus support a plausible claim based on the abandonment of underwriting guidelines. That is true for claims based on these six offerings, even without originator-specific allegations." 
 
2. RBS couldn't be held liable for merely repeating misrepresentations by borrowers on the underlying loans. NCUA had alleged that owner-occupancy ratios were misrepresented. The court rejected RBS's argument, saying it was adopting an analysis made in a similar lawsuit that  NCUA brought against another securities broker, Credit Suisse.
 
3.  NCUA's allegations of actual losses exceeding expected losses were "implausible." Lungstrum ruled that "although (NCUA) has not changed its figures and graphs, the amended complaint now makes clear that the 'actual loss' and 'expected loss' used for comparison for each certificate actually represent 'actual gross loss' and 'expected gross loss,' in the sense that they refer to the amount of principal remaining on the defaulted loans prior to any recovery through a foreclosure sale."  The clarification shows NCUA "has actually compared gross, pre-recovery default figures, and not post-recovery figures as indicated in the original complaint."
 
The court went on to say that NCUA's use of "loss" in the context may be misleading, but "nevertheless, the court agrees with (NCUA) that the fact that actual defaults exceeded expected defaults within a short time after issuance has relevance. Although such evidence may not be as strong as a surge in actual over expected losses, it nevertheless does support the inference that the loans were not underwritten properly."
 
The court also did not buy RBS's allegations that changing the comparison of losses to a comparison of defaults weakened NCUA's allegations.

CUNA's Social Media Continue To Attract New Visitors

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WASHINGTON (9/16/13)--A Smarter Choice, the website launched by the Credit Union National Association and leagues to help consumers find a credit union to join, racked up 167,105 visitors during the first eight months of 2013 and continued to attract new visitors to asmarterchoice.org.
 
That total involved 135,270 "unique" visitors, 80.1% of whom are new visitors to the site. Nearly one in five visitors is a repeat visitor, said CUNA.
 
The site benefitted from credit unions' increasing visibility in the press. Mentions of A Smarter Choice in the media influenced some viewers to visit the site. For example, on June 10th, a mention of A Smarter Choice on "Good Morning America" resulted in 3,019 visits alone.
 
A Smarter Choice, which does not pay others to promote  its content in tweets or as likes on Facebook, also is seeing success from these two social media outlets.  As of Aug. 31, A Smarter Choice had 7,122 likes on Facebook and it currently has 1,476 Twitter followers. Its Facebook fans are predominantly women (61%) and in the 35-to-54 age range (30%).
 
States generating the most visitors to the site were California, with 19,339 visits; New York, with 13,473, and Texas, with 10,158.  Eight other states--Washington, Florida, Illinois, Georgia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Oregon--brought between 5,000 and 10,000 visitors to A Smarter Choice.
 
To help prompt more visitors to return to the site more than once, CUNA is planning to update A Smarter Choice's content regularly through a blog that will highlight the credit union difference, encourage visitors to become credit union members, offer financial education, and spotlight credit unions' efforts and activities in their local communities.
 
"The updated content will give the press more opportunity to mention A Smarter Choice, which will drive more consumer traffic to the site and  help make more people aware of the great things that credit unions do for the community and their members," said Paul Gentile, CUNA's executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement.
 
"Making more people aware of the value of credit unions is a key goal of CUNA and the leagues' Unite for Good campaign," he added.
 
The Unite for Good campaign aims to rally credit unions to remove barriers, create awareness and foster service excellence so that Americans will choose credit unions as their best financial partner.

How CUs Are Preparing For EMV

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DES MOINES, Iowa (9/16/13)--Credit unions and other clients of payments processor The Members Group (TMG) are readying their portfolios for the U.S. migration to the Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) standard.

That development was broadcast live Wednesday in a podcast by Dan Lozier, TMG director of client relations.

EMV is a global standard for inter-operation of integrated circuit cards (IC cards) and IC card- capable point-of-sale terminals and ATMs, for authenticating credit and debit card transactions.

There are essentially three EMV implementation strategies TMG's clients are pursuing, said Lozier:
  1. Rolling out new EMV cards at the time of a natural reissue of the cards;
  2. Segmenting the portfolio, issuing EMV cards to select cardholders; and
  3. Continuing to monitor the EMV landscape before setting a defined plan.
Each of the three EMV implementation strategies is supported by TMG, said Georgann Smith, TMG vice president of marketing, and the podcast's host. The processor is consulting with clients individually to determine the best course of action for their portfolios.

Clients' EMV roadmaps are largely determined by the number of cardholders in a given portfolio who travel, Lozier said. Limiting fraud, however, is another motivating factor as the October 2015 liability shift nears.

The podcast, titled "How Your Colleagues are Preparing for EMV," is available for on-demand listening. Use the link.

TMG podcast topics currently in the library include:
  • A look at the future of compliance;
  • Trends in the prepaid cards market;
  • Data analytics for credit and debit card portfolios;
  • Where to place your bets in the digital-wallet space; and
  • How photo cards work to boost walletshare.
Financial institution leaders can access the free episodes anytime. They can also sign up for alerts on upcoming episodes by subscribing to TMG's channel at BlogTalkRadio. Use the link.

TMG creates customized, technology-driven card processing and payment solutions for credit unions and community-based financial institutions across North America.

League Takes CU View To Maine Roundtable On Aging Population

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PORTLAND, Maine (9/16/13)--The Maine Credit Union League is presenting credit unions' viewpoint in a series of roundtables examining the challenges and opportunities Maine faces with its aging population. Speaker of the House Mark Eves  (D)  is conducting the roundtable discussions to address the issue.
 
"I am reaching out to leading voices in our state to invite them to join me at a series of roundtable meetings to focus and engage on the important topic of Maine's aging population," Eves said. "We have the opportunity to manage that change or let it manage us. The goal of these meetings is to create a shared understanding of the opportunities and challenges and move from awareness to action," he said (Weekly Update Sept. 13).
 
The Maine league was part of a group of organizations asked to appoint a representative to attend and participate in these discussions. Kyle Casburn, president/CEO of Seaboard FCU in Bucksport and a member of the league's board of directors, was selected to represent Maine's credit unions at the sessions. The first session was Tuesday in Augusta.
 
Charles Colgan, an economist at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School, addressed the group and warned attendees that "labor costs will skyrocket if the state's leaders fail to entice more young people to move here."
 
"Speaker Eves assembled a diverse group from the business community, education, governmental agencies, law enforcement, healthcare and service providers," Casburn told the league. "Each group brought a unique perspective on issues, such as how to plan for a shrinking work force, recruiting younger people to move to Maine, and aging's impact on transportation, housing and caregiving.
 
"For credit unions, we have a particular interest in helping prevent elder abuse and financial fraud," Casburn added. "I shared the challenge of our members transitioning from net borrowers to net savers and how it will impact our income, and how the reduction in our pool of borrowers will make competition for loans even more severe in the coming years."
 
The remaining sessions will be held Oct. 1, 15 and 29, said the league.

CUs' Short-term Loan Program Saves Consumers $25M+

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (9/16/13)--Nearly 71,000 short-term loans have been issued in Pennsylvania though the Credit Union Better Choice since the program was launched in 2006, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association reported.
 
Roughly, 67 participating credit unions issued 70,877 loans totaling more than $34 million since the program's inception, PCUA said. The program has saved borrowers about $25 million over using a traditional payday lending product.
 
"The ongoing growth in the number of loans issued is indicative that consumers still need an alternative to payday loans to meet their financial needs," said PCUA President/CEO Jim McCormack.
 
The Credit Union Better Choice loan is a payday lending alternative product through which credit unions offer borrowers a 90-day loan with a $500 limit.
 
Members use the loans for Christmas gifts, taxes, car repairs, heating fuel, and funeral expenses.
 
The program was developed through a collaboration of PCUA, the Pennsylvania Treasury Department and the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities.
 
A typical $500 payday loan costs consumers $15 for every $100 borrowed for two weeks, or about $450 over 90 days. A $500 Credit Union Better Choice. What's more, at the end of the loan term, the consumer has $50 in a savings account. The program builds the wealth-building component by providing financial education to help members make better informed financial decisions.
 
Pennsylvania consumers saved an average of 80 cents in loan fees and costs for every dollar borrowed through a Credit Union Better Choice loan rather than through a typical loan from a payday lender. That translates into more than $25 million consumers kept in their pockets by using the loans.

CU System Briefs (09/13/2013)

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  • OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (9/13/13)--Mark Ziegler has been appointed CEO of Y-12 FCU, a $689 million asset credit union based in Oak Ridge, Tenn. He will succeed CEO Tom Hilton, who will retire later this year after holding the president/CEO position for more than 20 years (Oakridgetoday.com Sept. 11). Ziegler has more than 30 years of credit union leadership experience, and is currently chief lending officer at MAX CU, Montgomery, Ala. He is also president of the credit union's wholly owned subsidiary MAX Capital LLC. Ziegler also has served as senior vice president of operations at Allied Solutions, a financial services provider to credit unions, and as chief lending officer at the former Community CU (now ViewPoint Bank) in Plano, Texas ...
  • TEMPE, Ariz. (9/13/13)--Tempe (Ariz.) Schools CU will change its name to Landings CU, effective Nov. 1.  The $132 million asset credit union announced earlier this year that it planned a name change to remove perceived barriers to membership and establish the foundation for future growth. "This name is strong and distinctive, just like our members," said Margaret Hunnicutt, president/CEO.  "The name honors our past and lays the foundation for our future." The new name "pays tribute to the city's founding as a safe landing place for settlers arriving on Hayden's Ferry," she said. For more information, watch a video announcing the name change ...
  • BELLEVUE, Neb. (9/13/13)--SAC FCU, Nebraska's largest locally owned credit union, has reached a major milestone in membership, with 75,000 members. The more-than-$670 million asset credit union also has experienced consistent growth in deposits, loans and assets, it said in a press release. Gail DeBoer, president/CEO of the Bellevue, Neb.-based credit union, attributed the growth "to our commitment to our members. We demonstrate this commitment through our products, services, low fees, competitive rates and excellent member service. We are their financial partner at every stage in life" ...

Maine's CUs Make Three-year, $75K Pledge To End Hunger

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AUBURN, Maine (9/13/13)--The Maine Credit Unions' Campaign for Ending Hunger made a $25,000 donation as it announced its three-year, $75,000 commitment to the Good Shepherd Food Bank's efforts to end childhood hunger in Maine.

Click to view larger image Maine's credit unions announced a $75,000, three-year commitment to Good Shepherd Food Bank in Auburn, Maine, to help expand childhood hunger programs in schools statewide. Pictured at the presentation of the first installment on behalf of the Maine Credit Unions' Campaign for Ending Hunger, which has raised $4.8 million since it began in 1990, are, from left, John Murphy, president of the Maine Credit Union League; Luke Labbe, chair of the league's Social Responsibility Committee; Jon Paradise, league assistant vice president of governmental and public affairs; and Kristen Miale, president of Good Shepherd Food Bank.  (Photo provided by the Maine Credit Union League)

 
The announcement was made Monday at the food bank in Auburn, Maine. The funds will support the food bank's BackPack and School Pantry Programs. The food bank conducted the first BackPack packing session for the 2013-2014 school year, following the announcement. The BackPacks were assembled by volunteers from Maine's credit unions. The funds distributed for the program are part of the record-setting $471,000 the credit unions raised in 2012.

"Maine's Credit Unions are dedicated to 'people helping people' of all ages," said John Murphy, president of the Maine Credit Union League. "The problem of childhood hunger in our state is extreme. With one in four Maine children being food-insecure, Maine ranks first in New England in terms of child food insecurity. It is our hope that through this joint effort with the Good Shepherd Food Bank, we will make great strides towards ending childhood hunger in our state, both through providing much needed funds, and raising wide-reaching awareness."

The BackPack Program provides children with nutritious, easy-to-prepare food to eat during weekends and school vacations when crucial school meals are unavailable. This school year, the Good Shepherd Food Bank will operate the BackPack Program in 20 schools in five counties, serving 800 kids per week. The contribution will provide about 185,000 meals to children during the school year.
 
The School Pantry program allows school staff to provide children in danger of hunger with nutritious food to take home to their families. By the end of this school year, the Good Shepherd expects to have 16 School Pantries statewide, with a goal of providing 90,000 meals this year. The funds will benefit existing food pantries and allow the opening of future food pantries in schools across Maine.
 
Since 1990, the Maine Credit Unions' Campaign for Ending Hunger has raised $4.8 million to help end hunger in Maine including a record-setting $471,000 in 2012.

CUNA Advice In USN&WR: Don't Delay Buying Home To Get Better Rate

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MADISON, Wis. (9/13/13)--First-time homebuyers got some advice from the Credit Union National Association in Wednesday's U.S. News & World Report about what not to do when buying a home.
 
One mistake homebuyers should avoid is delaying the buying process in hopes of obtaining a better rate, said Mike Schenk, CUNA's vice president of economics and statistics, in the article "Here's How A New House Goes From 'Solid Investment' To 'Worst Decision Ever.'"
 
Adjustable rates are now at rock bottom at 3%, Schenk said. If a homebuyer is ready to make the commitment, talk to a lender about securing a loan at an adjustable rate instead of a fixed rate, the article said.
 
Other mistakes first-time homebuyers make, said the article, include:
  • Searching for the dream home before getting prequalified for a loan;
  • Thinking short-term, instead of about the resale value of the home;
  • Making an emotional decision that ignores problems; and
  • Overlooking hidden costs, such as maintenance, utilities and property taxes.
The article also appeared in Businessinsider.com. Use the link to access the full article.

CUNA Council Paper Develops Strategies For Community-based CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (9/13/13)--A new white paper from the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council offers strategies community-based credit unions can use to meet marketing and business development challenges.
 
Credit unions are finding that switching to a community-based charter does not necessarily mean automatic growth, according to the paper, "Developing Strategies for Community-Based Credit Unions," which offers suggestions and examples from the industry.
 
To stand apart, a credit union must find its market niche, the paper suggests. "Credit unions simply cannot be all things to all people," writes the paper's author, Mark Arnold, a credit union brand expert and strategic planner. "As exciting as community charters are, we must learn that trying to please everyone only really results in watering down who we are and what we do best. You must identify this niche market and do all you can to best serve it."
 
Arnold suggests credit unions use these strategies to identify their market niche:
  • Be clear. Do you know why a consumer is likely to desire membership with your credit union? What consumer needs does your credit union fulfill? What benefits and differentiators do you bring to the table to help you stand out from the crowded financial services field?
  • Be focused. Think from the perspective of a potential member. How often do you see marketing messages promoting local banks and credit unions claiming they can do it all? They may get some business, but could earn more if specialize in performing one or two things well, building a strong reputation and fine-tuning the marketing message. This is why you need a marketing niche strategy--it will focus on you.
  • Be tailored. After identifying its niche market, the credit union must craft a message that reaches and speaks to that market while reinforcing the credit union's brand identity. The message should explain what the credit union has to offer, why its different, and why potential members should join.
To download the white paper, use the link.

Texas 'Don't Tax' Efforts Put Advocacy In Limelight

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AUSTIN, Texas (9/13/13)--The Cornerstone Credit Union League has had great success in Texas advocating for credit unions' tax status with a tool that highlights congressional support of credit unions and their tax status. It also shows that credit unions are informed about the legislative process and are closely monitoring events surrounding the debate on tax reform.
 
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The league publishes a brochure, "Taxation and Credit Unions: Where do your lawmakers stand?" every two years with statements supporting credit unions and their tax status from Texas' governor, lieutenant governor, and all 38 of its members of Congress. Each statement is accompanied by the delegate's official photo.
 
The brochure, released in August, is distributed to all 465 Texas affiliated credit unions, said Tom Haider, Cornerstone's executive vice president and chief advocacy officer. In fact, one of the league's staff is in Washington, D.C., today, visiting members of Congress and handing out the brochures with a cover letter thanking the lawmaker for supporting credit unions.
 
When asked how the league managed to get positive statements from 100% of Texas' representatives, Haider described the process as much like "herding cats." The league started early--in March--in contacting each official. Many had provided statements of support in a similar brochure two years ago. The league sent those statements, asking if the member of Congress still subscribed to that statement or wanted to issue a new one.  With new members of Congress, the league circulated the previous brochure to show what other lawmakers had said.
 
"They are told the brochure is sent to all credit unions in their district. We use it in conjunction with Project ZIP Code to show them how many credit union members are in their district," Haider said. "It helps lawmakers see that it's a good idea to provide a strong statement." The strongest tax-status comments are highlighted in the quotes.
 
"The purpose is to help our members of Congress appreciate that their view on taxation is a critical issue to our credit unions," Haider said. 
 
The brochures also help when credit unions meet individually with their representatives back in the districts.  "When a congressman is at a luncheon meeting with a dozen credit unions, it helps to be able to share the brochure and say, 'here's your statement," with their thanks."
 
It is easy to slip into a sense of awe when visiting a congressional office and let the congressman steer the conversation.  "This is a valuable tool that helps give confidence to credit unions in those meetings. It shows we are informed and aware about what is going on in D.C., and that we're watching," he said.
 
Garnering strong statements of support from key House Ways and Means Committee members is critical because any tax legislation will go through that committee.
 
The league succeeded in getting strong statements from committee members and U.S. Reps. Kevin Brady in District 8 and Kenny Marchant in District 24.
 
"I believe that credit unions play an important role in our communities and are major contributors to the national economy, the financial system, and the communities they enter, and the members and families they serve," said Brady.
"They provide lending opportunities to small businesses, families, and many hard-working Americans that would not otherwise be available. For these reasons, I strongly support the tax-exempt status of credit unions because they serve as not-for-profit banks."
 
Marchant said, "I was a champion of credit unions for 18 years in the Texas State House of Representatives, and I remain one today as a U.S. Congressman. Credit unions are unique in that their sole purpose is to serve the financial needs of their members, as opposed to maximizing profits. Any taxation of these financial institutions could result in an end to the important services they provide. Therefore, I do not support a change of any kind in the status of credit unions as tax exempt."
 
Other strong statements of support came from U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (District 35) and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, who serves on the Senate Finance Committee, which will oversee the tax issue in the Senate.  Check the resource link to see their comments and those of the other Texas representatives.

Study: CU Financial Advisers Produce More Revenue

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MADISON, Wis. (9/13/13)--Credit union financial advisers are more productive than broker-dealers in community and regional banks, according to a study released this week by Kehrer Saltzman & Associates.

The average adviser in a credit union produced gross revenue of $262,972 last year--about 8% more than the average bank adviser, said Tim Kehrer, the director of the survey and a senior research analyst at Kehrer Saltzman (FA Magazine September).

The 2012-2013 Kehrer Saltzman Credit Union Investment Services Benchmarking Study collected data from 798 credit unions with investment services and a survey of 45 credit unions about their investment services.

Though credit union advisers trailed advisers from the largest banks in average annual revenue, credit union advisers performed better than advisers in banks of comparable size and structure, said Kenneth Kehrer, a principal with the firm.

10 Million Data Points Show Members' Mobile Log-inTrends

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PLANO, Texas (9/13/13)--By knowing more about how members are using mobile banking, credit unions can not only help improve the member experience, but also possibly leverage the time that members spend using smartphones into profitable business, according to Robb Gaynor, chief product officer at Austin, Texas-based Malauzai Software.
 
Rather than predict where mobile banking is heading, Gaynor uses data gleaned from more than 170,000 registered users from 115 credit unions and community banks to determine where mobile banking is right now--minute by minute.
 
Gaynor provided a "State of Mobile Banking" presentation to some 80 credit union executives and board members during the Cornerstone Credit Union League's Leadership Conference held last week in San Antonio.
 
"Ten million log-ins later, we have a lot of data about what your members are doing with mobile," Gaynor said.
 
Among the findings:
  • Members log in about three times a week and generally spend about 90 seconds online per visit.
  • Once logged in, members check their balance and transaction history 70% of the time.
  • Seventeen percent of the time, they deposit checks remotely.
  • Ten percent of the time, they follow links to additional marketing information.
"Credit unions need to make sure their members, once logged in, have been given something to consider," Gaynor said. Members may check their balances initially, but while they are out and about, they could be encouraged to stop in at a local car dealer if the credit union markets an encouraging offer. And with smartphones in hand, members can even locate car dealerships that are nearby, he said.
 
While credit unions can use mobile banking opportunities to cross sell their own services or generate advertising revenues, members can use mobile banking to protect themselves from financial loss. Gaynor told the Leadership Conference audience that another popular feature with mobile users is the ability to turn off and turn on debit cards. By keeping the card inactive, except when it is needed, members can take an active role in helping to stop fraud, he said.
 
Catalyst Corporate FCU has partnered with Malauzai to develop quick-to-market mobile banking solutions for credit unions. Malauzai builds customized apps to help members connect to their credit union via smartphones and other mobile devices.

Missouri Launches Final Stage Of Consumer Awareness Campaign

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ST. LOUIS (9/13/13)--Consumers in Missouri are learning more about the benefits of credit union membership because of a statewide consumer awareness campaign, Bank On MOre, said the Missouri Credit Union Association.

Bank On MOre is a multi-pronged consumer awareness crusade that targets non-members in Missouri. Research and strategic planning began in August 2012 with the campaign's website (see link), social properties and advertising officially launched in March (The Missouri difference Sept. 11).

The third and final stage began Aug. 26 and includes radio ads, billboards, digital and print media. The ads will run through Oct. 19.

The 2013 leg of the campaign will conclude with "Make the Switch Week" Oct. 13-19. In conjunction with International Credit Union Day on Oct. 17, the week will include activities for participating credit unions such as:
  • Two "Make the Switch Week" flash mobs in Kansas City and Columbia;
  • Piggy cutouts that encourage members and non-members to pose with the pig and share photos on social media platforms;
  • Trick-or-treat bags for credit unions to give to parents and youth during the weeks leading up to Halloween; and
  • T-shirt giveaways that include The Credit Unions of Missouri brand and Bank On MOre messaging.
Consumers are noticing the ads and visiting the Bank On MOre website, which connects potential members to credit unions, said MCUA. In just 10 weeks, the campaign garnered 14,000 unique visits to its website and 186 million impressions.

To view the ads, use the link.

CU Manager, Charged In Theft, Dies Of Natural Causes

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BROOKSVILLE, Fla. (9/12/13)--A former branch manager of Tampa, Fla.-based Suncoast Schools FCU, who was to plead guilty next week for stealing nearly $230,000 from the credit union's Brooksville branch, apparently died in her sleep Monday.
 
Jennifer Hoefler, 41, died at her Floral City home from what appeared to be natural causes.  Her husband checked on her at about 11 a.m. and discovered she wasn't breathing. She had been struggling with medical problems, and her problems began when she became addicted to pain killers, her attorney told the Tampa Bay Times (Sept. 11).
 
Hoefler signed a plea agreement and was set to formally plead guilty to one count of bank fraud on Sept. 19 in a U.S. District Court in Tampa. She faced up to 30 years in prison but likely would have not received the maximum time because she had no prior criminal record.  As part of the agreement, she was to pay nearly $229,755 in restitution.
 
The thefts occurred from January 2011 until her arrest on March 19 and involved unauthorized cash withdrawals and forged cashier's checks. She had been a model employee for nearly two decades, the credit union told the newspaper. The credit union reimbursed members and liability insurance will cover some of the losses.

CU System Briefs (09/12/2013)

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  • EASTPORT, N.Y. (9/12/13)--Willie Petteway of Brooklyn, N.Y., was charged with attempting to scam a Long Island credit union out of $60,000 by opening lines of credit with fake identities. Police say Petteway allegedly withdrew $20,000 on Aug. 27 from Suffolk FCU's West Babylon branch and then tried to do the same thing on Sept. 5 at the credit union's Medford branch (Long Island Business News' libn.com and Newsday Sept. 11). He was charged with grand larceny, possession of a forged instrument, attempted identity theft and more. He is also wanted by the New Jersey State Police Gaming Bureau in connection with a $60,000 theft ...
  • ST. LOUIS, Mo. (9/12/13)--The Missouri Credit Union Association has hired Maria Langston as vice president of events and Halley Hayden as vice president of communications to round out its member relations department, which supports the marketing and communication needs of its member credit unions. Langston will also act as the executive director of the Missouri Credit Union Charitable Foundation. She previously worked for 12 years at Children's Miracle Network Hospitals of Greater St. Louis. In her last position as executive director, she focused on fundraising events and logistics for events such as Miracle Treat Day and the hospitals' radiothons. In her new position she will coordinate and execute MCUA conferences such as the annual MCUA Convention and Exposition.  Hayden returned to MCUA after working for Schupp Co. as an account executive, where she worked on brands such as Miller Lite, Coors Light and Missouri Baptist University. Prior to her Schupp experience, Hayden held various positions at MCUA and has more than five years' experience working with Missouri credit unions ...

CUNA Mutual Ranks 19th In InfoWeek Tech Innovators List

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MADISON, Wis. (9/12/13)--CUNA Mutual Group has been ranked No. 19 in this year's InformationWeek 500--a list of the top technology innovators in the U.S. The company was honored for its Retirement Radar mobile annuity planning application.
 
It is the 11th year CUNA Mutual Group has been named to the InformationWeek 500 and the second time it has ranked in the Top 20. It was the highest-ranked insurance company on the 2013 list, which was announced Monday. Use the link to access the full list.
 
"As a company, we are very focused on developing mobile products and services that not only deliver the best customer experience for credit union members, but also strengthen market share for credit unions," said Rick Roy, CUNA Mutual Group senior vice president and chief information officer.
 
"Applications like Retirement Radar help engage members in the complex process of retirement planning," Roy added. "Radar builds upon the credit union movement's principle of helping people reach their financial future, and delivers a new advantage for credit union financial advisory programs in the mobile arena."
 
Retirement Radar is a tablet/mobile-optimized Web application using gamification principles to create an improved engagement between customers and their financial adviser. The gamified approach illustrates a customer's retirement "radar" through life element icons, such as age and gender, asset size, risk tolerance and legacy plans to illustrate the best retirement revenue plan.
 
Launched in November, Retirement Radar is a key component of CUNA Mutual Group's strategy to grow lifetime annuity sales. The number of financial advisers regularly selling its lifetime annuity product line increased to 100 from 30 in one year, and the company will expand to 750 by 2016. Radar's design has quickly generated market "buzz," with potential new distribution partners and sales channels within the insurance and financial services industries.

Filene Study: Use Microloans To Boost Biz Lending

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MADISON, Wis. (9/12/13)--Many credit unions want to enter or expand business lending, and one opportunity to do so is through offering microloans, according to a new Filene Research Institute study.

"Microloan Feasibility Study: Can Small Business Lending Become Big Business For Credit Unions?" by Dave Grace, managing partner, Dave Grace & Associates, indicates that market conditions, borrower demand and lending characteristics suggest that microloans and credit  unions may be a good match.

The implication for credit unions is that microloans are exempt from credit unions' regulatory cap on business loans, and credit unions can develop win-win relationships with microborrowers.

"Microlending can be profitable, but like most new business lines it will take adjustments and understanding of the market to succeed," Grace said.

Microloans are small-business loans for up to $50,000. Micro loans are generally used for start-up cash but are sometimes given to newly launched small businesses for working capital.

To prepare for microlending, credit unions should partner with small-business development centers, other microlenders, the Small Business Administration or business chambers to drive loan demand.

The report said credit unions also should consider:
  • Building loan-loss reserve funds;
  • Forging partnerships with providers of business development and technical services to better ensure borrowers' success;
  • Developing special underwriting criteria and training lenders;
  • Implementing proactive loan referral efforts; and
  • Offering other businesses services--checking and credit card accounts, tax preparation--to generate new revenue streams.
Lessons from international microlending can help credit unions mitigate the higher risks of microloans, compared with traditional loan products.

Lessons learned include: 
  • Price high enough to compensate for risk.
  • Start borrowers on short loan cycles.
  • Begin with smaller loan amounts.
  • Collect on loans as soon as they go bad.
  • Have payment schedules that reflect cash-flow cycles.
For more information, use the link.

World Council, Irish League Meet With Basel Officials On Liquidity Rules

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BASEL, Switzerland (9/12/13)--Representatives from the World Council of Credit Unions and the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) met Monday with representatives from the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision Secretariat to advocate for more favorable treatment under the Basel III Liquidity rules for credit unions' deposits in banks.

Click to view larger image World Council of Credit Unions' and Irish League of Credit Unions' (ILCU) representatives visiting the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision Secretariat included, from left, Ed Farell, ILCU head of finance; Kieron Brennan, ILCU CEO; Martin Sisk, ILCU president; and Michael Edwards, World Council vice president and chief counsel. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
Although credit unions are not subject to the liquidity rules, the rules will likely affect credit unions worldwide because credit unions' bank counterparties must be Basel III compliant and have told Irish credit unions that their deposits are classified as a form of "wholesale funding" that requires the banks to hold extra reserves under Basel III.

World Council Vice President and Chief Counsel Michael Edwards and ILCU's CEO Kieron Brennan, President Martin Sisk and Head of Finance Ed Farrell met with Basel Committee Deputy Secretary General Karl Cordewener and Neil Esho, a senior member of the Secretariat.

In the Republic of Ireland, early adoption of the Basel III liquidity rules has resulted in Irish credit unions' deposits at banks being reclassified from "retail" or "small business" to "wholesale funding provided by other legal entity customers," even though Irish credit unions did not withdraw their deposits from banks during the global financial crisis as the wholesale funding provided by other legal entity customers" classification assumes would occur during a stress period.

Irish banks have cited the increased cost of capital related to deposits that are "wholesale funding provided by other legal entity customers" as a reason to reduce the interest that they pay on credit unions' deposits from as much as 3% a year to as low as 0.6%. This reduction in yields will likely cost Irish credit unions about $79.9 million or more a year in lost interest income, unless European Union regulators clarify and grant credit unions more favorable treatment. Credit unions in other jurisdictions may experience a similar drop in yields on their bank deposits as Basel III is phased in.  (See Related News Now story, "CUs' European Network, EU Policymakers Talk Basel; FACTA, Inclusion").

"We will continue to engage international standard setting bodies at all levels until this matter is resolved in a way that allows credit unions to carry on their financial inclusion mission," said World Council President/CEO Brian Branch.

World Council also has brought the credit union movement's concerns about the Basel III liquidity rules to the attention of the European Banking Authority (EBA), the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor and the World Bank.

In August, the European Network of Credit Unions--which is composed of World Council's European Union members, including ILCU--filed a comment letter with the EBA urging the agency to clarify that credit unions' deposits in banks should be placed in a category other than "wholesale funding provided by other legal entity customers."      

Rep. Perlmutter States Support Of CUs And Tax Status

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DENVER (9/12/13)--After working closely the past month with the congressman, the Mountain West Credit Union Association announced Wednesday that U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) has issued a public statement of support for credit unions and their tax status.
 
"Congressman Perlmutter has always had a vision for empowering credit unions with the ability to serve our members and communities," said MWCUA President/CEO Scott Earl. "He clearly understands the difference in the way financial institutions are structured, and how credit unions are an important part of the economic structure of their local communities. We are honored to have a strong financial champion for consumers in our congressional delegation."
 
A long-time supporter of credit unions and a strong advocate of establishing early relationships with lawmakers, Perlmutter developed his relationship with credit unions while working as an attorney before becoming a public official. In that role, he represented credit unions, which helped him understand issues unique to credit unions.  He said it is important to "plant a seed" with lawmakers because they have the power to rewrite laws and "you don't know when that seed is going to germinate," he told CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference in 2012 (News Now March 21, 2012).
 
"Colorado credit unions and Mountain West Credit Union Association have enjoyed a long and valuable relationship with Rep. Perlmutter, and we appreciate his ongoing willingness to talk to us about key issues like the credit union tax status," said Christopher Kemm, MWCUA vice president of political affairs. "Ed has been an important ally on Capitol Hill. We look forward to continuing our work with the congressman and his staff."
 
Perlmutter gave his support to credit unions' tax status one day after the Credit Union National Association and state leagues conducted their second social media campaign, Don't Tax My CU Tuesday II, to deliver the "Don't Tax" message to members of Congress.
 
Don't Tax My CU Tuesday II was the second day-long round of social media activities by members, credit unions, leagues, and others in support of keeping credit unions' federally mandated tax-exemption on income tax.  (See related story, CUs' 'Don't Tax Tuesday' Ups Message Total To 850,000, in today's News Now).
 
The latest social media event was timed to coincide with the return of lawmakers to Washington after their August recess. Many credit unions across the country took advantage of the recess to meet with lawmakers in their districts and urge them to support credit unions' tax status.
 
Also, an opinion-editorial in Sunday's Miami Herald written by George Joseph, president/CEO of Dade County FCU in Doral, Fla.. noted that "this week, credit union supporters will make their case and tell lawmakers directly that they do not want their credit unions taxed. Citizens must reach out to their representatives and call on members in both houses of Congress to join the fight against repealing the tax exemption status of credit unions."

The editorial also noted that credit unions from throughout the country will be "Hiking the Hill" this week on behalf of the tax status.  For the full article, use the link.

Economic Forum Speaker Urges CUs To Assess Impact Of QE Tapering

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PLANO, Texas (9/12/13)--Credit unions need to assess the impact of Federal Reserve policymakers preparing to taper their quantitative easing (QE) policy as the U.S. economy improves, according to an economist who will speak at an upcoming Catalyst Corporate FCU forum.
 
Ed Yardeni, an economist and president of Yardeni Research, will speak at Plano, Texas-based Catalyst Corporate FCU's 36th annual Economic Forum, Oct. 22-23 in Frisco, Texas.  
 
"Financial institutions need to assess not only the outlook for the federal funds rate, but also how the bond and mortgage markets will respond to the Fed's eventual tapering of QE and its ongoing forward guidance," said Yardeni. "Assessing these developments is bound to be especially tricky given the leadership transition at the Fed and the new composition of the Federal Open Market Committee."
 
Yardeni is referring to the completion of Ben Bernanke's term as chairman of the Federal Reserve and the rotation of new members onto the Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed's monetary policymaking group, in early 2014.
 
What does this easing mean for consumer credit?  said Yardeni. If the Fed does phase out QE by the middle of next year, as Bernanke has suggested, it will be because the U.S. economy is continuing to improve. More specifically, the unemployment rate would most likely be down to 7% in this scenario, he added.
 
"The good news for credit unions is that the quality of their consumer loan portfolios would improve significantly as delinquencies continue to decline," said Yardeni. "The not-so-good news is that competition will heat up among financial institutions to lend to consumers."
 
Yardeni has been following and forecasting the Fed's moves for investors since working for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the late 1970s, under Paul Volcker.

A+FCU Simplifies Giving For Major Life Events

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AUSTIN, Texas (9/12/13)--To simplify gift giving for life's major events, A+FCU, based in Austin, Texas, has introduced three new registry accounts online:  myGrad, myWedding and myBaby.
 
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The registries provide a convenient, secure way for friends and family to give monetary gifts, said the more than $1 billion asset credit union, which also provides members with focused, financial education worksheets and resources for each life event.
 
Gift registries have evolved since 1924, when Marshall Field's Chicago Department Store introduced its bridal registry. Today it is common for couples to sign up for multi-purpose registries to select items from multiple retailers or for honeymoon registries.
 
Several credit unions have offered wedding gift registries in the past.  In 2006, the Filene Research Institute examined how wedding gift registries could solidify the relationship between couples and their credit union, and reported on credit unions with wedding and newlywed gift registry programs (News Now April 21, 2006).  
 
In 2006, Mountain America FCU, West Jordan, Utah, began its program, which in two years had more than $400,000 in deposits and $700,000 in loans, and the Texas (now Cornerstone) Credit Union League touted gift-giving programs as a way to attract younger members to credit unions (News Now July 2, 2008).
 
In 2009, Water and Power Community CU, Los Angeles, began offering wedding registry savings accounts tied to financial management classes (News Now May 27, 2009).
 
A+FCU's registries go a step further, giving registrants the opportunity to receive monetary gifts to use as needed, whether helping furnish a nursery, footing the bill for a honeymoon or saving for college expenses.  The registries accept both debit and credit cards.
 
"These unique products allow us to better serve our members and ensure that we are providing them with relevant financial solutions throughout their lives," said A+FCU CEO Kerry A.S. Parker.

Duke FCU Teams With Grad School On Short-term Loans

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DURHAM, N.C. (9/12/13)--Duke University FCU, Durham, N.C., has partnered with the Duke University Graduate School to assist graduate students with short-term loans.
 
These loans help students avoid seeking loans from alternative financial providers such as payday lenders. About 8% of credit unions offer payday loan alternatives, said Credit Union National Association Director of Data and Statistics Marc Shafroth. In many instances, credit unions also reach out to members that take out these loans to offer financial counseling and encourage them to take on more stable sources of financial services.
 
Duke University FCU, with $111.2 million in assets, offers two loans programs to graduate students: A program for housing or computer loans, and an emergency loan program.
 
Graduate students are paid monthly stipends. The first is issued in September after Duke has confirmed that students are on campus and ready to start classes. This can be an inconvenience for incoming students who want to put down payments on a house or apartment but need the stipend money.
 
The Graduate Student Assistance Program (GSAP) offers students loans of up to $2,500 for up to one year. The current interest rate on the loan is 8.75%. Students can use the money to settle into a new home or purchase a new computer.
 
To qualify for a GSAP loan, graduate students who receive a stipend from Duke must be members of the credit union, with a minimum deposit of $25 in a savings account.  
 
Another loan program, the Helen & Gordon McKinney Emergency Loan, was created by the graduate school with funds from the Helen McKinney trust. The emergency loan was introduced and advertised at orientation during financial seminars.
 
So far, all five applications for the emergency loan have been approved.

MCUA Monitoring State Lawmakers Veto Session

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ST. LOUIS (9/12/13)--The Missouri Credit Union Association was on hand  to monitor any activity when state legislators reconvened Wednesday in Jefferson City for the 2013 veto session.
 
"This veto session is a great opportunity for us to meet with lawmakers, to further enhance our relationships and discuss issues important to our credit unions across the state," said David Kent, MCUA director of state legislative affairs (Missouri Difference Sept. 11).  
 
Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed 29 bills passed by the Missouri General Assembly, and all 29 bills are expected to come up for a veto override vote. A two-thirds majority is required in both the Missouri House of Representatives and Missouri Senate to override the governor's veto.
 
No bill affecting credit unions is scheduled for debate during the veto session.
 
Under the Missouri constitution, veto sessions may last up to 10 calendar days. However, this veto session is only expected to last only two days, and ends today.

Consumers CU To Stream Live Photos On Billboards

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KALAMZOO, Mich. (9/11/13)--Consumers CU, Kalamazoo, Mich., will stream live updates to digital billboards from an annual event welcoming back Western Michigan University students Friday.
 
The credit union has partnered with Adams Outdoor to stream live photos from the university's Bronco Bash throughout the Kalamazoo area. Each year, the Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo communities come together to welcome students back to campus with the bash.
 
"Consumers looks forward to participating in Bronco Bash each year," said Jennifer Knapp, Consumers CU events and education coordinator. "It's fun to get to know the students and welcome the freshmen to Kalamazoo."
 
Billboards will be updated via live stream throughout the event, and those who appear in the photos are invited to visit Consumers Credit Union's Facebook page after the event to view and share the billboard images.
 
As in past years, Consumers will take its Cash Car to the event. All who enter the Cash Car have the opportunity to leave a winner by answering financial trivia questions for prizes and surprises.

CU System Briefs (09/11/2013)

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  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (9/11/13)--Counterfeit checks bearing the name of Grove City (Pa.) Area FCU are in circulation, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway Sept. 10). The checks are drawn off of First National Bank. The routing number and account number are both valid, as is the check imprint. However, the color is different. The legitimate checks are green while the counterfeit checks are blue. PCUA said individuals who have been presenting the counterfeit checks reported receiving the checks in the mail although the individuals did not request them. The credit union advised using caution before processing any guaranteed funds check ...
  • DEER PARK, Texas (9/11/13)--Dawne Deanne Wilson, 43, former manager of Deer Park (Texas) FCU, was sentenced to six years in state jail for stealing about $218,825 from the credit union.  Wilson entered a guilty plea to first-degree felony theft charges on June 19 in a Harris County Court (Deer Park Broadcaster and yourhoustonnews.com Sept. 9). Wilson was manager and sole employee of the credit union from 2004 to 2011 and handled daily operations without direct supervision, said the newspaper. The thefts allegedly occurred from January 2007 until 2011, when an outside audit uncovered fraudulent loan activity. The money was stolen through several methods, including funding fake loans in members' names or under fictitious names and depositing the proceeds into a personal account ...
  • JACKSON, Mich. (9/11/13)--Kesean Wilson, 21, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of armed robbery related to the Oct. 10 robbery of Jackson City County CU, Jackson, Mich. During the robbery, Wilson allegedly entered the credit union, put a handgun to the head of a member, jumped a counter and took money from two teller stations (mlive.com Sept. 9).  He also allegedly took $100 the member was withdrawing from an account. Witnesses said that during the robbery, he apologized and said he had to do it for his family. Police later found Wilson in a dumpster after he fled police and crashed into a house. The plea bargain involved dismissing one count of armed robbery and lesser charges of bank robbery and eluding police. Wilson's sister, Bre'Anna Crawford, 19, received a sentence of two years and two months to 15 years in prison for her role in the robbery. Wilson faces a minimum 12 1/2 to 19 1/2 years in prison ...

Leadership Conference: CUs Tell What Keeps Them Up At Night

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SAN ANTONIO (9/11/13)--What keeps credit union execs up all night? Six Texas credit unions tackled that topic at the Cornerstone Credit Union League's Leadership Conference & Expo in San Antonio last week.
 
Compliance and tax issues, competition, an aging membership and growth, squeezed margins and emerging payment systems were among the answers from a panel facilitated by Shawn Bailey, president/CEO of Texas City, Texas-based AMOCO FCU, said the league (Leaguer Sept. 10).

The panel  included:
  • Lily Newfarmer, Tarrant County CU, Fort Worth;
  • David Frazier, Community Resource CU, Baytown;
  • Jackie Kapalski, CTECU, Bellaire;
  • Michael C. Engel, Chemcel FCU, Bishop; and
  • Christa Hollier, Golden Triangle FCU, Groves.
As CEO of a $306 million asset credit union, Frazier noted there isn't one thing alone that keeps him awake. His concern is about several threats coming together at once, including interest rates, compliance issues and taxation. "Having come from the banking side, I can say that it is a very different environment," he said. "Credit unions are altruistic and I really enjoy this environment. I'm concerned, however, that our philosophical values would change if we lost our tax-exemption," Frazier said.
 
Newfarmer agreed.  "I'm really good at dealing with the things I can control, but it's the things I cannot control that cause me to lose sleep."  She named squeezed margins and regulatory burdens as things she can't control.  Other areas of concern included emerging payment systems that mean members are using their debit cards less, and secondary capital.
 
Competing with larger financial institutions in the community is a real challenge, said Kapalski. CTECU has $57 million in assets.  "We're the little guy on the block," she said. "With an aging membership, we're really having to focus on how to grow our membership and attract a younger demographic."
 
The market is saturated with credit unions and financial institutions, which means "building relationships with our members is critical to our survival," agreed Hollier.
 
Competition comes from everywhere, said Engel, adding that it's important to know your market and understand where there is growth potential.
 
When asked if board terms should be limited, Engel noted that longevity has value.
 
Limits aren't necessary so long as the board member is productive and contributing to the overall growth of the credit union, said Newfarmer. "We have seasoned board members, and we have younger board members, and they all bring value to our organization."
 
Turnover isn't a good thing, said Frazier. "It takes a long time to develop the necessary skills, knowledge and understanding to serve on a credit union board. This is a complex businesses, so I think we need longevity on the board."
 
The panelists also discussed new products and services in the works, including electronic loan applications, personalized mobile apps, remote deposit capture, revamps of online loan applications. Bailey noted that "technology has to be a high priority. If you don't have your arms around technology, you are putting your credit union at a disadvantage."

DuTrac Community Opens Iowa's First High School CU

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DAVENPORT, Iowa (9/11/13)--DuTrac Community CU in Dubuque, Iowa, and Davenport West High School have opened Iowa's first in-school credit union in a high school.

The collaborative project will provide students with opportunities to learn how to manage their money and work opportunities in the financial sector.

The Davenport West Falcons Branch, a division of DuTrac Community CU, offers "a career-development opportunity for students who may be interested in working in the financial sector in the future," said Andrew Hawkinson, president/CEO of DuTrac. "Students are working in a professional environment and are expected to meet real-world standards in terms of a dress code, customer service and compliance standards. The branch will also undergo an audit, just like any of our branches."

The branch opened on the first day of school, Aug. 12, with membership open to students and staff members only. A ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony will be held Thursday. Branch hours are 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Friday. The branch has 120 members so far.

The branch is staffed by West High School students with the support of a full-time DuTrac employee and the business academy teachers at West High School. It offers a checking account that is accessible only through a debit card, and a savings account.

The credit union is a school-driven program with a focus on financial education for students. "It's important for everyone to learn good money management skills," said Steve Verdon, WHS Business Academy teacher. "It's important for students to learn the difference between the fund balance shown in their checking account and the actual funds available for them to use. For example, insufficient funds charges can mount up quickly."

Another tool that will be available is "Advance," an online budgeting tool that can help students set savings goals for items such as a prom dress, class ring or a yearbook.

Amash Endorsement Makes Michigan CU Support Unanimous

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LANSING, Mich. (9/11/13)--U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) offered credit unions a powerful endorsement when he released a statement saying he supports credit unions as Congress begins negotiations for tax code reform. The announcement was made by the Michigan Credit Union League on #DontTaxTuesday.
 
With Amash's statement, every member of the Michigan congressional delegation has issued a statement that either directly supports the credit union tax status or expresses general support for the credit union industry.
 
"I'm not in favor of increasing taxes or imposing unnecessary regulations," Amash said. "Achieving solid economic growth and expanded opportunity for all Americans means reducing government's burdens on the institutions that serve them. Financial entities like credit unions provide important services like being reliable places to deposit money and helping individuals and families afford the necessities of life."
 
Michigan Credit Union League CEO David Adams thanked Amash for his support.
 
"This very strong statement from Congressman Amash reinforces the high level of bi-partisan support that credit unions and their members have within the Michigan congressional delegation," Adams said. "We now have unanimous support from all 14 members of the House delegation as well as from our two U.S. senators. The credit union community should let all Michigan lawmakers know how much we appreciate their support as broad-based tax reform continues with this Congress."
 
Adams thanked the Battle Creek Chapter for hosting a meeting with Amash at Kellogg Community FCU, Battle Creek.
 
"This kind of grassroots advocacy is responsible for the unanimous support from our delegation in Michigan," Adams said.
 
While all of the credit union movement's current federal legislative issues were discussed, credit union leaders spent most of the time discussing the importance of the credit union tax exemption and the challenges faced with the new regulatory requirements.

Representatives from Kellogg Community FCU; United Educational CU, Battle Creek; OMNI Community CU, Battle Creek; Marshall (Mich.) Community CU; and Lake Trust CU, Lansing, communicated the need to support the credit union tax exemption and regulatory relief. Sixteen credit union leaders participated in the discussion.

Special Report: HealthCare First CU Helps Blind, Visually Impaired Students

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JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (9/11/13)--It's a story quite representative of the extra mile credit unions are willing to go to support their communities. For a second consecutive year, HealthCare First CU in Johnstown, Pa., has helped with a summer academy conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to teach financial education to blind or visually impaired students bound for college.
 
"HealthCare First CU developed the program, and it has been terrific for us," Shelley Faust-Jones, vocational rehabilitation specialist for special programs, Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, told News Now. "The partnership has been incredibly more than we imagined. Their financial expertise and enthusiasm to teach youth--especially youth with special needs--was overwhelming to us."
 
Just two summers ago the Pennsylvania agency asked the credit union to wade into the program, and the $57.5 million-asset credit union's started its assistance with the academy on a basic level--developing a program on how to use ATMs.
 
But after getting its feet wet, the credit union decided to plunge into the pool. Faust-Jones said HealthCare First "developed its own program for our blind and visually impaired youth. So they plan it and teach it, and execute the whole program. They've been terrific."
 
Knowing nothing about working with visually impaired students, HealthCare First FCU agreed when first contacted by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to help students learn how to use the credit union's ATM in the Hiram G. Andrews Center in Johnstown. The mission of the center is to offer quality individualized post-secondary education, which provides career opportunities and independent life skills--including vocational rehabilitation and disability services.
 
From there, the credit union took a new look at its "Plastic Money 101" class for student financial education and made changes to better serve blind and visually impaired students, Nancy Urban, marketing director at HealthCare First CU, told News Now.  "The department was shocked we would even attempt this," she added. 
 
This summer, the class was about 50% low-vision students and 50% totally blind students.  There were 19 students in the class this year and 21 last year. Urban and Paula Nihoff, president/CEO of HealthCare First CU, conducted the presentations.
 
When presenting PowerPoint presentations to visually impaired students, the credit union used big graphics with extremely large type, bright colors and large illustrations so the students would be better able to see. HealthCare First also converted its PowerPoint presentations into Braille for blind students, Urban said.
 
As part of the effort, laptops with large screens and big numbers and letters also were supplied by the department at the Andrews Center, as well as iPads that could read to the students, she added. The credit union covered important financial matters in class, including college costs, plastic money, differences between credit and debit, and budgeting and how to write a check.
 
Also, this year, the department and credit union set up an account for the students and provided them with their own debit card with $35 on it to use during the two-week academy. 
 
"The students used it at the mall and at McDonalds," Urban said. "We showed them how to use a register and to keep it up to date. Those that could see somewhat were able to go online and check their registers."  
 
The credit union's financial education component was part of a broader curriculum in the two-week summer academy in which the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry taught participants about computers, cooking, activities, getting on a bus, and how to pay at a fast-food restaurant and at stores.
 
"We were surprised by their great enthusiasm, insight and questions," Urban said. "These kids had great questions that even adults don't ask. One asked, 'If people overspend and get charged fees, how can people pay overdraft fees if they don't have money in the first place?'"
 
Urban and Nihoff were invited to the graduation ceremony for the summer academy. "It was the most moving thing I ever saw," Urban said. "The students in the program talked about how great it was making friends and learning to do things on their own. Their parents were there, and the students all sang a song."
 
This article is part of a News Now series of exclusive, special reports on credit unions' outreach efforts and innovative ideas. Fostering service excellence, removing barriers and raising awareness about the value credit unions provide their members and communities are the foundation for the Credit Union National Association's, state credit union leagues' and credit unions' Unite For Good campaign toward a vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial provider.

Pennsylvania Foundation Officers Elected

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Michael Kaczenski (center) conducts his first meeting as chairman of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation board. Dave Ackerman, vice chairman, is at right; Joe Wambach, executive director, is on the left. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association)
HARRISURG, Pa. (9/11/13)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation held its first meeting with new Board Chairman Michael Kaczenski, CEO of Sun East FCU in Aston, Pa., presiding.

It was the first meeting for new board members Amy Lichwa, Norwin Teachers FCU, Irwin, and Jeff Albert, People First FCU, Allentown (Life Is a Highway Sept. 10).

The board also elected these table officers:
  • Dave Ackerman, USX FCU, Cranberry Township, re-elected as vice chairman;
  • Jeff DeBree, Penn East FCU, Scranton, re-elected as treasurer; and
  • Barb Bowker, PSECU, Harrisburg, secretary.
Also, George Nahodil, Members 1st FCU, Mechanicsburg, presented a report on Junior Achievement of Central Pennsylvania's Young Men's/Young Women's Futures Symposium program, which the foundation has supported with grants for the past 10 years.

Minn. Social Studies Standards Change, Opportunity For CUs

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (9/11/13)--Changes to Minnesota's academic standards in social studies mean credit unions have more opportunity to provide personal finance educations to students of all ages in the state, said the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation.
 
As the 2013-2014 school year ramps up, the foundation is encouraging credit unions to expand their personal finance education efforts.
 
"Credit unions are well-positioned to educate their members, their communities and today's young people on the basics of personal financial management," said Pat Brekken, chair of the foundation. "Through forming relationships with schools--including teachers, administrators and students--we can have a tremendous impact on our state's financial future."
 
The changes to the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies, which became effective in May after a year-long revision process, include additional requirements in financial education for students of all ages. All state academic standards are revised on a schedule approved by Minnesota's legislature. Districts are required to put state standards into place to ensure "all students have access to high-quality content and instruction," said the Minnesota Department of Education's website.
 
"As educators get acquainted with the new standards, credit unions have a great opportunity to use their financial expertise to help meet the needs of teachers," said University of Minnesota Extension Educator and Extension Professor Lori Hendrickson. "Whether it's a one-time guest-speaking arrangement or an ongoing relationship, students appreciate the real-world perspective that outside experts can provide."
 
The new standards include these fundamental concepts of economics and personal finance:
  • Distinguishing between wants and needs, and understanding income and expenses;
  • Creating a budget, establishing savings goals and tracking success;
  • Evaluating investment options using criteria such as risk, return, liquidity and time horizon; and
  • Understanding the benefits and costs of credit and how it impacts an individual's ability to borrow, rent, get a job and achieve other financial goals.

CUNA Council White Paper Explores Fraud And Technology

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MADISON, Wis. (9/11/13)--The increased sophistication of technology behind fraud and fraud prevention is the topic of a new white paper from the CUNA Operations Sales & Service Council. 

"Fraud Trends: New and Repurposed Scams and Schemes" examines some of the trends and forces behind the continued uptick in fraud--including the ease of online access, the "new mafia" and economic factors.

"People are storing more of their sensitive information on remote devices," says Jim Fuher, fraud prevention manager at Spokane (Wash.) Teachers CU. Online fraud, remote deposit capture and mobile scams will continue to increase during the next decade, he predicts.
 
By the same token, the tools to combat fraud--behavioral analytics, online fraud monitoring reports and automatic member alerts--are quite effective, and didn't exist until recently.
 
Technology tools under development and consideration include:
  • Anti-malware software for mobile devices. At the March 2013 BAI Payments Connect conference, Al Pascual, senior analyst for security risk and fraud, at Javelin Research and Strategy, urged the development of this software--particularly for iOS mobile devices, which are more vulnerable to attacks.
  • Geo-location tracking. Through surveys, consumers have shown their acceptance of this technology, which would help financial institutions track member and customer account activity and report suspicious transactions, the paper said.
  • Voice biometrics. This is the only biometric measurement that works across all channels, including the call center--which can be particularly vulnerable during distributed denial of service attacks, the paper said.
  • Malware and/or account takeover detection software. Some financial institutions are beginning to offer this free to their members and customers. Many find that the cost of providing it is mitigated by the fraud prevention and detection protection it provides, the paper noted.
  • Positive pay via online banking. This program prevents check fraud and strengthens internal controls by comparing checks presented on accounts against checks that members issue daily notes Smart Business Network Inc. (SBN).
  • ACH blocking service. The member decides which companies are authorized to post automated clearinghouse transactions--blocking those that are not authorized, according to SBN.
  • Automated alerts. Members can set limits for such things as maximum balance, minimum balance, daily transactions and others, and receive alerts if their account exceeds set parameters.
  • Multifactor authentication. These systems require members to authenticate their identities using more than one method--for example, a personal identification number and a security question. Federal Financial Institution Examination guidelines and other industry regulations call for this, so most financial institutions now have it in place.
  • Enterprise-wide fraud detection and management systems. Many vendors offer these systems and services--helping financial institutions manage the anti-money laundering and fraud challenges from a global perspective, covering the entire organization's needs.

NEW: Mich. Lawmakers Unanimously Support Tax Status

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LANSING, Mich. (9/10/13, UPDATED 10:50 a.m. CT)--U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) offered credit unions a powerful endorsement when he released a statement saying he supports credit unions as Congress begins negotiations for tax code reform. The announcement was made by the Michigan Credit Union League on #DontTaxTuesday.
 
With Amash's statement, every member of the Michigan congressional delegation has issued a statement that either directly supports the credit union tax exemption or expresses general support for the credit union industry.
 
"I'm not in favor of increasing taxes or imposing unnecessary regulations," Amash said. "Achieving solid economic growth and expanded opportunity for all Americans means reducing government's burdens on the institutions that serve them. Financial entities like credit unions provide important services like being reliable places to deposit money and helping individuals and families afford the necessities of life."
 
Michigan Credit Union League CEO David Adams thanked Amash for his support.
 
"This very strong statement from Congressman Amash reinforces the high level of bi-partisan support that credit unions and their members have within the Michigan congressional delegation," Adams said. "We now have unanimous support from all 14 members of the House delegation as well as from our two U.S. senators. The credit union community should let all Michigan lawmakers know how much we appreciate their support as broad-based tax reform continues with this Congress."
 
Adams thanked the Battle Creek Chapter for hosting a meeting with Amash at Kellogg Community FCU, Battle Creek.
 
"This kind of grassroots advocacy is responsible for the unanimous support from our delegation in Michigan," Adams said.
 
While all of the credit union movement's current federal legislative issues were discussed, credit union leaders spent most of the time discussing the importance of the credit union tax exemption and the challenges faced with the new regulatory requirements.
Representatives from Kellogg Community FCU; United Educational CU, Battle Creek; OMNI Community CU, Battle Creek; Marshall (Mich.) Community CU, and Lake Trust CU, Lansing, communicated the need to support the credit union tax exemption and regulatory relief. Sixteen credit union leaders participated in the discussion.

USA Today Highlights CUNA Women's Financial Survey

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MADISON, Wis. (9/10/13)--The Credit Union National Association's Women's Financial Survey scored another major media hit Monday when it was featured on the front page of the USA TODAY's Money section.
 
The Credit Union National Association's Financial Survey provided the source data for this USA Snapshot on the front page of Monday's USA TODAY's Money Section. (CUNA Photo)
The survey was the data source for the paper's USA Snapshot statistical graphical feature. The graphic featured the question, "Do you have enough savings to meet your expenses for six months?" About 52% of survey respondents answered 'Yes," and 48% answered , "No."
 
The Women's Financial Survey polled 1,042 via the Internet from a population of women nationally, with an even distribution of respondents born in each decade from 1920 to 1980.
 
Released last month, the survey found the No. 1 financial concern for women is saving for retirement (News Now Aug. 7).
 
Findings showed that women use 401(k)s (45.3%) and pension plans (35.8%) the most to save for retirement, while 40% of women reported owning multiple retirement plans.
 
The survey also found that 51.2% of women were not confident in their financial ability, despite the fact that 38% of the married female respondents manage their household finances exclusively and 46% co-manage their household finances. This was particularly true with the youngest demographic, those born from 1980-1993, where 59.1% lacked financial confidence.
 
The Women's Financial Survey was also featured Aug. 28 on Forbes.com in an article about women and emergency savings. The article said that roughly 59% of women age 45 to 60 don't have an emergency fund that would cover their expenses for even six months. To read the article use the link.
 
Also recently, CUNA's Women's Financial Survey led off a story Sunday on MainStreet.com about "The One Thing You Shouldn't Do When Investing for Retirement."

Cal/Nev. Leagues Announces State CUNA Awards

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ONTARIO, Calif. (9/10/13)--The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues recognized three credit unions with financial education awards.
 
The Golden 1 CU and Silver State Schools CU were honored with first-place state awards in the Louise Herring for Philosophy in Action Award program. Silver State and Mendo Lake CU received first-place honors in the state Desjardins Financial Education Awards. 
 
The Golden 1 CU, Sacramento, Calif., won a first-place Louise Herring Award in the $1 billion-plus asset category for its college scholarship program for credit union members and their dependents. In its first year, the credit union awarded amounts of $1,000, $2,500, and $5,000 in renewable scholarships (covering up to four years of college) to 33 students, for a total award amount of $320,000.
 
Las Vegas-based Silver State Schools received a first-place award in the $250 million to $1 billion asset category for its Piggy Bank Project, a collaborative effort between the credit union, Bracken Elementary School, The United Way of Southern Nevada, Young Philanthropist Society, Junior Achievement, and Andson Foundation. The project is a combination of an on-campus bank, financial literacy in the classroom, and student homework designed to include parents. In the first year, students saved more than $18,000.
 
The Piggy Bank Project also earned Silver State a first-place Desjardins Youth Financial Educational Award in the more-than-$500-million-asset category.
 
Mendo Lake CU in Ukiah, Calif. received a first-place Desjardins Youth Financial Educational Award in the $50 million to $150-million asset category for its National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) financial curriculum and its Money Wise and Banzai programs.
 
The Banzai program, the newest component of MLCU's Community Financial Literacy Initiative, resulted in three classroom presentations and numerous teacher contacts made. MLCU has 183 students participating in the Money Wise program with a total of more than $22,500 in their savings accounts. In addition, MLCU's Harbor on Main partnership for the NEFE program earned the credit union an invitation to be a founding member of the Lake County Youth Coalition, whose goal is to provide access to resources focused on health, wellness and career opportunities for Lake County youth. 
 
Each awards program is administered at the state level by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, and nationally by the Credit Union National Association. Entries were submitted to the leagues and judged by a committee from the Mountain West Credit Union Association.
 
Each first-place winner's entry progresses to the Credit Union National Association's national award competition. The winners are honored at the 2014 CUNA Government Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.

Rep. DelBene Supports CU Structure

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (9/10/13)--Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) offered a firm endorsement of credit unions last week, saying she  "strongly supports the not-for-profit, cooperative nature of credit unions and the services they provide to their members in the Northwest and across the country," the Northwest Credit Union Association reported.
 
DelBene made her statement of support for credit unions when she announced she will become the second member of the Washington delegation to co-sponsor the Credit Union Small Business Job Creation Act when Congress reconvenes this week (Anthem Sept. 5).
 
H.R. 688 would raise the cap on the amount of money credit unions can lend to small-business members. Currently, credit unions--many of whom were originally chartered to make business loans--can only lend up to 12.25%--of their assets to businesses. The bill would raise that cap to 27.5%, creating an estimated 140,000 new jobs nationally at no expense to taxpayers, according to the Credit Union National Association.
 
More than two dozen Northwest credit unions are managing close to the current cap, said Jennifer Wagner, NWCUA vice president for legislative advocacy. Others offer no business lending programs "because the start-up costs are significant and the 12.25% cap limits them enough to not make the investment worthwhile," she said.

Three Minnesota CUs Recognized For Strengthening Communities

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (9/10/13)--Two Minnesota credit unions recently gave back to their communities, while another was recognized for its community-building efforts, the Minnesota Credit Union Network reported.  
 
Royal CU, based in Eau Claire, Wis., presented a $,6,000 donation to The Family Place, a day center for families living without permanent housing in St. Paul. The organization was chosen to receive a portion of the funds raised at RCU's Charity Classic race, held on June 29. More than 200 children participated in the half- and quarter-mile races, each receiving a participation award. The Sojourner House in Eau Claire, Wis. and Grace Place in St. Croix County, Wis., also each received $6,000 donations.
 
Hiway FCU, St. Paul, was officially proclaimed as a Yellow Ribbon Company by the Lt. Governor of Minnesota at a ceremony held at Camp Ripley near Little Falls, Minn. The Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Proclamation recognizes companies whose combined efforts in key areas support those affected by military deployments and enable successful transition into the workplace. 
 
The credit union's path to receiving the designation began when it merged with Ft. Snelling FCU in March of 2009, said Glen Durbahn, Hiway FCU's vice president of marketing and member relations.
 
"At that time, we opened our doors to thousands of new members who incorporate all branches of the military," Durbahn said. "It was our goal to partner with agencies and groups to help in the support of Minnesota's military personnel and their families."
 
USFCU sponsored myTalk 107.1 FM radio station's Back to School Drive benefitting The Caring Tree during July and August. The Caring Tree collects, purchases and distributes school supplies to students in need across the state of Minnesota.
 
During the three-week drive, community members and USFCU employees donated more than 500 school supply items, including backpacks, notebooks, folders and boxes of crayons. Monetary donations were also collected from community members, amounting in a donation of $166 to The Caring Tree. USFCU also presented The Caring Tree with a $500 donation during myTalk 107.1 radio station's live broadcast from USFCU's Burnsville branch.
 
 
"We had a lot of fun working with community members and myTalk to support The Caring Tree," said Bill Raker, US FCU president/CEO. "It's great to see how much of an impact we will have on students in need who are headed back to school this fall."
 
Fostering service excellence, removing barriers and raising awareness about the value credit unions provide their members and communities are the foundation for the Credit Union National Association's, state credit union leagues' and credit unions' Unite For Good campaign toward a vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial provider.

Minnesota CU Leader Honored With State Foundation Builder Award

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (9/10/13)--Jeff Schwalen, president/CEO of Hiway FCU in St. Paul, Minn., was recently honored with the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation Credit Union Builder Award. The distinction recognizes those who have dedicated time and energy to building the credit union movement, said the foundation.
 
Nominations for this award are made by credit unions and other organizations in honor of or in memory of a significant individual who has been instrumental in their success.
 
Schwalen served as Hiway's president/CEO for the past 10 years. During his tenure, the credit union experienced a steady rise in membership, assets grew by $350 million, and Hiway developed a reputation for offering innovative products and services to its members.
 
Active in the Minnesota credit union movement, Schwalen has served as a table officer and member of the Minnesota Credit Union Network board of directors from 2007 to 2013. He was also an active member and past chairman of MnCUN's Political Involvement Committee and CENCOPAN Partnership Steering Committee, a group active in international credit union development in Paraguay.
 
Schwalen has been a longtime proponent of Credit Unions for Kids, serving on Minnesota's steering committee and leading Hiway to becoming a fundraising force for Children's Miracle Network and the local Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare.
 
Schwalen, who will retire in October, joins 20 other individuals who have been honored during the past six years with the MnCUF's Credit Union Builder Award. The names of the recipients and the contributing credit unions are permanently displayed in the Minnesota Credit Union Network's lobby as a tribute to their accomplishments.

Northwest, Kansas CUs Have Strong Second Quarter

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SEATAC, Wash., and WICHITA, Kan. (9/10/13)--Northwest and Kansas credit unions had strong second quarters, according to separate recent reports.
 
The 175 credit unions in Oregon and Washington did well, based on an analysis of the National Credit Union Administration's Financial Performance Reports, said the Northwest Credit Union Association (Anthem Sept. 3). 
 
Return on assets in the quarter remained strong, up 1.26% in Washington and 0.89% in Oregon. Delinquency rates continued their decline in Washington (0.70%) and Oregon (0.84%). Net worth was up 10.23% in Washington and 9.45% in Oregon.
 
For all of NWCUA's 175 credit unions in the second quarter, deposits were up 5%, membership increased 4%, and loan growth rose 4%.
 
Kansas state-chartered credit unions' assets climbed 5.47% to $4.87 billion in the quarter, compared with second quarter 2012, according to the Kansas Department of Credit Unions Quarterly Call Report Statistics (The Wichita Eagle Sept. 6). 
 
Also, credit union loans were up 6.65% from a year ago, totaling $3.18 billion, the report indicated.
 
Overall U.S. credit union membership growth is moving three times faster than U.S. population growth, according to the Credit Union National Association's monthly sample of credit unions for July. That report also reflects a continuation of strong, overall first-half-of-the-year results (News Now Sept. 4).
 
Total memberships expanded rapidly in July--increasing by 0.4% in the month and pushing them over the 98 million mark.

Washington CU Changes Name To Reflect Expansion

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BELLLINGHAM, Wash. (9/10/13)--To better reflect its connection with its community and to highlight community membership rules, GaPac Community FCU has changed its name to WestEdge CU. The new name was announced Aug. 24.  
 
The name change was made to better indicate that the credit union is open to anyone in Whatcom County, Wash. (The Bellingham Herald Sept. 8).
 
The new name, WestEdge, represents the credit union's dedication to serve, the credit union said. The $52.2 million asset credit union was created in 1952 to serve Pacific Coast Paper Mill employees. That company became part of Georgia-Pacific West Corp., the newspaper said.
 
The name WestEdge is a way of saying the credit union is located on the West Coast and its goal is to give its members an edge, Linda Sant, WestEdge, vice president of marketing, told the paper.

ATMIA Publishes Best Practices To Prevent Gas and Explosive Attacks

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LONDON (9/9/13)--The ATM Industry Association (ATMIA) has announced the publication of a new best-practice manual for helping the prevention of gas and explosive attacks on ATMs. Also, ATMIA has published a directory of special solutions for these attacks.  
 
Explosive attacks against ATMs are of increasing concern worldwide and are especially prevalent in Europe. The use of explosives, mostly combustible gas and with a migration to solid explosives, is a trend for the European ATM industry.
 
"To combat the current rise in gas and explosive attacks in several European countries, the ATM industry and law enforcement have got together to plan a counter-strategy which is working well," said Mike Lee, CEO of ATMIA. "We commend these admirable new security best practices for mitigating the risk of this kind of attack." 
 
ATMIA in Europe formed a special Task Force on ATM Gas and Explosive Attacks in April because of serious levels of attacks in seven European countries. The task force commissioned from its Steering Committee a set of best practices for the prevention of attacks, together with a directory of specialist solutions providers for Europe's ATM operators.
 
The 16-person steering committee is comprised of representatives from banks, independent ATM operators, ATM schemes and law enforcement from six countries.
 
The manual contains eight case studies that share insight on the industry's response to gas and explosive attacks in six European countries, Australia and Brazil. It is available for all ATMIA members to download from the global Best Practice Library.

ATMIA, established in 1997, is a non-profit global trade association with about 3,700 members in 60 countries.

ASI Announces 2013 Special Assessment

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DUBLIN, Ohio (9/9/13)--There will be a special premium assessment of 7.5 basis points of total shares for credit unions with private insurance from American Mutual Share Insurance (ASI) , that company announced Friday.

The premium will be assessed of all primary insured credit unions of record with ASI  as of Sept. 30 and does not apply to federally insured credit unions with excess share insurance underwritten by ASI or its wholly owned subsidiary, Excess Share Insurance Corporation.

ASI President/CEO Dennis Adams said, "Although we are seeing signs of an end to the recession, we still find ourselves facing low yields on our high‐quality bond portfolio. In addition, we remain committed to sufficiently funding our loss reserves at a slowing, but not yet normal, rate this year."

ASI, chartered in 1974, is licensed by the Ohio Department of Insurance and regulated by both the Ohio Department of Insurance and the Ohio Department of Commerce. It is a credit union‐owned share guaranty corporation and it insures the savings of credit union members up to $250,000 per individual member account.

NCBA's Beall: Co-ops Offer CUs Opportunity For Growth

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MADISON, Wis. (9/9/13)--By working with their fellow cooperatives--and thereby serving one of the seven cooperative principles---credit unions have a tremendous opportunity for growth, Mike Beall, president/CEO of the National Cooperative Business Association told an audience of Credit Union National Association employees in Madison, Wis. Friday.
 
Mike Beall, president/CEO of the National Co-operative Business Association, addressed Credit Union National Association employees Friday. (CUNA photo)
"I'm convinced if credit unions worked in their communities with other co-ops, they would see membership growth" sparked by those relationships, Beall said. Similarly, credit unions could also promote credit union membership with the membership of the other local co-ops, he added.
 
Beall is very familiar with credit unions, having served as the president/CEO of the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association and the Missouri Credit Union Association before accepting his position with the NCBA in 2012.
 
Beall highlighted a vibrant, cooperative economy in Austin, Texas, as one where co-ops assist each other starting new business ventures. "What I find is that other co-op leaders may have a passion for brewing or baking, but don't have a lot of financial background. How do they get a business loan? How do they comply with local and state regulations? Credit unions have a good basis and background for that."
 
Lending to other cooperatives, especially food cooperatives, could also help credit unions increase their member business lending portfolios, Beall said. He also noted that, from a values standpoint, food co-ops' competition with for-profit competitors is similar to competition between credit unions and banks.
 
"If you listen to (food co-ops) talk in their industry meetings and took out the words 'food co-op' or 'consumer co-op' and inserted 'credit unions,' it's the same discussion,"  Beall said. The food co-ops talk about how to compete with the Wal-Marts of the world,  and credit unions have the same discussions about big banks. "We can do it together. I think NCBA can play a big role in that."
 
For credit unions, working with other co-ops is similar to working with underserved segments of the community: Community involvement is rewarded with membership growth. "Do whatever it takes to make your business plan hum," Beall said. "Do whatever makes your membership grow."
 
Before Beall's discussion, CUNA employees shared their experiences from a series of "field trips" they made to Madison-area cooperatives throughout the summer. Among the Madison-area co-ops CUNA employees visited were Union Cab, Willie Street Co-op, Summit CU, Isthmus Engineering and REI.

Rep. Brady Meets With Houston CU Chapter On CU Issues

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Click to view larger image U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (8th District - Houston), right,  met with representatives from several Houston Chapter credit unions during the Congressional Recess to discuss issues of interest to the credit union system and get an update on what Congress may do this session. (Photo provided by the Cornerstone Credit Union League).
HOUSTON (9/9/13)--Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) told Texas credit unions here that, in his experience on Capitol Hill, credit unions are the "gold standard" when it comes advocacy efforts, and he complimented the group on their advocacy efforts in the past.
 
During a meeting with the credit union and Cornerstone Credit Union League representatives during the congressional district work break, which ends this week, Brady met with the credit unions to discuss issues of interest to the credit union system and give an update on what Congress may do this session. Federal tax policy was one of the hot topics discussed.
 
Brady briefed the group on the tax reform issue, providing an overview of the options and challenges facing the Congress.
 
Brady reminded the group that the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee, which is responsible for tax-related issues, wants to move forward on tax reform this year. He strongly encouraged the group to stay in touch with him and other members of Congress about the issues of concern to the credit union system. 
 
The Credit Union National Association and credit union leagues nationwide are planning to welcome back Congress tomorrow with another #DontTaxTuesday promotion. Round two of the Don't Tax My Credit Union campaign will provide yet another opportunity to engage credit union staff, volunteers and members, and to let Congress and Washington know that a tax on credit unions is a tax on 98 million members.

CU System Brief(3)

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas. (9/9/13)--The Cornerstone Credit Union League has recognized Randolph-Brooks FCU, Universal City, Texas, with its Juntos Avanzamos designation for serving the financial needs of Hispanic families in Texas (Leaguer Sept. 4). The league will present the credit union with a Juntos Avanzamos flag on Sept. 5. The Juntos Avanzamos or "Together We Advance" designation is presented to credit unions that have successfully completed and passed a rigorous application process that demonstrates their commitment to Hispanic families. Some of the services RBFCU provides includes bilingual services and information and affordable products and services that fit the needs of Hispanic families ...

America's Christian CU Recognized As Adoption-Friendly Workplace

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GLENDORA, Calif. (9/9/13)--America's Christian CU, Glendora, Calif., has been recognized by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption as one of the 100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces for 2013.
 
The $254 million-asset credit union currently ranks in fourth place among other small businesses in the country.
 
America's Christian CU established a workplace program to support employees looking to adopt children.
 
"We believe every child deserves a forever family and will continue to support the important work of the Dave Thomas Foundation in their tireless efforts to serve foster children around the world," said Mendell L. Thompson, America's Chistian CU president/CEO.
 
Every year the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption announces America's top 100 adoption-friendly employers, the top 10 by size, and the leaders in each industry from its annual survey of U.S. employers. Rankings are determined by an analysis of a company's adoption benefits, including the maximum amount of financial reimbursement and paid leave for families who adopt.
 
There are more than 100,000 children in the U.S. foster care system waiting to be adopted. Every year, more than 26,000 children in foster care turn 18 and age out of the system without families. The seventh annual Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces list helps increase foster care adoption awareness while celebrating businesses that support adoptive families.

Carolina CU Marks Two Years Of Student-Run Branch On College Campus

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (9/9/13)--Carolina Collegiate FCU is starting a second year of a student-operated Financial Service Center on the campus of the University of South Carolina in Columbia.  
 
Click to view larger image Student workers pose at Carolina Collegiate FCU, which is starting a second year of a student-operated Financial Service Center in the Russell House on the campus of the University of South Carolina in Columbia.  (Photo provided by Carolina Collegiate CU)
The Financial Service Center represents the shared vision of the University of South Carolina and Carolina Collegiate FCU to improve the financial well-being of students, faculty and staff. 
 
"The center provides a good opportunity for financial education," said Carolina Collegiate CEO Anne Shivers. "Year one has been a win-win for both the students and the credit union."
 
Students are learning and teaching each other about being fiscally responsible in a financially challenging environment, how to avoid debt, and methods of evaluating savings, spending patterns and finances.
 
"The reality is we are doing this all by ourselves," said student employee Carmen Harris. "We had to really learn to step up and solve problems."

Student employee Joe Mader explained why he became involved with the credit union; he wanted to learn more about the financial services industry, "attain business skills, and acquire business experience that one can't quite get in a classroom."

"I have learned a lot and utilized my new experiences to help progress both my schooling and my career," Mader added about his work.

As an added benefit for students, Carolina Collegiate offers a Stress Free student checking account with perks, including Benefits Plus discounts at more than three dozen local restaurants and retailers.
 
The Financial Service Center by Carolina Collegiate, is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, with limited hours on Saturdays. Members may also use the two additional Columbia Carolina Collegiate branches.

Golf Tournament Raises $50K for Calif./Nev. State Foundation

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NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (9/9/13)--The Richard Myles Johnson Foundation/CUNA Mutual Golf Tournament--held Aug. 19 at the Newport Beach Country Club in Newport Beach, Calif.--raised nearly $50,000 for the state foundation for credit unions in California and Nevada. It's the largest amount raised in recent years, according to the California Credit Union league.
 
The event drew 102 players and 14 sponsors. CUNA Mutual Group, based in Madison, Wis., served as title sponsor.
 
"The RMJ/CUNA Mutual Golf Tournament was a huge success. The funds we raised will go a long way toward funding the Bite of Reality, our signature youth financial education program for teens in California and Nevada," said RMJ Executive Director Tena Lozano.
 
In addition to CUNA Mutual, other major sponsors included CO-OP Financial Services; CU Direct; Educational Employees CU, Fresno, Calif.; Wescom CU, Pasadena, Calif.; SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana, Calif.; First Tech CU, Mountain View, Calif.; and the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues
 
The Richard Myles Johnson Foundation, founded in 1958, is dedicated to supporting credit union efforts in spreading the financial literacy message to young people. It is funded through donations from credit unions, league chapters, corporations providing credit union services, and individuals.

Three CUs Assist With Cleanup

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MERCED, Calif. (9/9/13)--Volunteers from three California credit unions teamed up Aug. 24 to rebuild a local outdoor educational site.
 
About 120 volunteers representing Educational Employees CU, Fresno, Merced (Calif.) School Employees FCU and Merco CU, also of Merced, put in nearly 300 collective hours of work to spruce up Camp Green Meadows, an outdoor school located in Fish Camp near the Wawona entrance to Yosemite National Park.
 
The volunteers accomplished in one morning a volume of work that would have taken the Camp Green Meadows staff months to complete, Green Meadows Principal Bob Basset told the Merced Sun-Star (Sept. 2).
 
Among the projects the credit union volunteers completed were painting picnic tables, splitting firewood, rebuilding an archery backstop and constructing a retaining wall.
 
Camp Green Meadows is operated by the Merced County Office of Education. The school serves students from throughout California in single-day and weeklong outdoor settings and functions as a recreation camp in the summer.
 
In addition to credit union employees and their families, students from Merced and El Capitan high schools assisted with the work.

Digital FCU Registers More Than 100,000 Members For RDC

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MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (9/6/13)--Bolstered by a tech savvy membership and a hands-on education strategy, Digital CU has enlisted more than a quarter of its  membership in remote deposit capture.
 
Introduced in March 2008, online deposit helps members to remotely deposit checks via an Internet-connected PC, and through iPhones, Android phones, and corresponding tablets. Since then, DCU has handled more than $1 billion dollars through these very popular, self-service channels. In the process, the credit union has accomplished many of its original goals, including greater member convenience, reduced member attrition, an expanded reach for members who do not live near existing DCU branches, and reduced processing costs compared with more costly deposit channels such as shared branching and lockbox operations, said Julie Moran, DCU vice president of support services.
 
"Because we were one of the first financial institutions in the country that enabled members to deposit a check from their homes or business, we had to provide a lot of education on how to use the service," Moran said. But, because the service was so easy to use, members quickly grasped and embraced using it." 
 
An in-branch campaign with demonstrations of the RDC technology helped convince members of the convenience of the technology, Moran said. That effort continues today. Branch personnel are equipped with iPads, and they will demonstrate the service each time a member joins, as well as provide demonstrations to existing members who utilize the branch to deposit checks.
 
"A large portion of our membership is not close to a branch," Moran added. "Shared branching is pretty popular with them. This gave them a fast, easy way to make deposits."
 
While a good portion of DCU's membership base is located within New England, the credit union has members in all 50 states. Members who relocate outside the area are able to maintain their banking relationship because of DCU's strong online presence, and the ability to use online deposit.
 
DCU has also seen lower infrastructure costs for supporting lockbox operations for what was previously a very active deposit by mail operation, Moran said. In 2010, online deposit transaction volume surpassed mailroom volume for the first time, and the gap has continued to widen ever since, she added.
 
Also, DCU's members have become less reliant on shared branching to make deposits. Because online deposit is a relatively less expensive service than other deposit methods, the credit union has been able to redirect the costs normally associated with processing deposits. "This is a tangible cost savings," said Moran, "and we have been able to redeploy the resources across tens of thousands of these transactions for further service improvements for our members."

CU System Brief(2)

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HONOLULU (9/6/13)--Farouk Wang, long-time board member of Hawaii FCU, has died at the age of 70, the credit union said. Wang had served on the credit union's board of directors for more than 30 years, including a term as board chair and serving most recently as treasurer. He also helped shape the path of all credit unions in Hawaii as the chair of the Hawaii Credit Union League (HCUL) and a  director of the CUNA Mutual Group. He is survived by his wife, Noreen, their son, Shareef, daughters, Aisha and Jamilah (husband, Ronald) and two grandchildren, Jasmin and Ronin ...

New Mexico CUs Show Good Member, Loan Growth

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (9/6/13)--New Mexico credit unions saw increases in loans and membership in 2012, according to figures from the Credit Union National Association.
 
Credit union loans outstanding jumped 7.2%, totaling $4.9 billion last year--a gain from $4.6 billion in 2011 (Albuquerque Business Frist Online Aug. 27).
 
Credit union membership statewide expanded to 710,600 from 692,000 in 2011, per CUNA statistics.
 
Also, New Mexico's credit union assets rose to nearly $8 billion last year from $7.4 billion the prior year.
 
The rate of delinquencies decreased last year down to 0.84% from 0.92%, as loans and assets grew.
 
In a related matter, credit union membership growth nationally is moving three times faster than U.S. population growth, according to the Credit Union National Association's monthly sample of credit unions for July. That report also reflects a continuation of strong, overall first-half-of-the-year results (News Now Sept. 4).

Total memberships expanded rapidly in July--increasing by 0.4% in the month and pushing them over the 98 million mark, Mike Schenk, CUNA vice president of economics and statistics, told News Now. To see the full article, use the link.

Nevada CU's Small-Business Workshop Helps Startups, Existing Businesses

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RENO, Nevada (9/6/13)--Great Basin FCU in Reno, Nev., recently hosted a free Small-Business Workshop at its main branch to help area business owners as the economy recovers from the recession. Those business owners are seeking new opportunities to help their businesses grow and thrive.
 
Click to view larger image Marcy and Emily (from left)--a mother-daughter team from Reno looking to start their own business--meet with Great Basin FCU Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Denoo and Small Business Administration  Reno Branch Manager David Leonard. (Photo provided by Great Basin CU)
The $126 million asset credit union said it was heartened by the overwhelming interest from members and the community to attend the workshop. Nearly 30 business owners and budding entrepreneurs were in attendance. Speakers included Jennifer Denoo, chief operations officer at Great Basin in charge of the business loan program, as well as David Leonard from the Small Business Administration (SBA) of Northern Nevada.
 
Leonard discussed the various SBA loan types and special programs available to business owners. "Many folks are not aware of the incredible counseling and outreach centers available right here in our area," he explained. "From SCORE [The SCORE Association "Counselors to America's Small Business" is a nonprofit association comprised of 13,000-plus volunteer business counselors throughout the U.S. and its territories], to the Nevada Small business Development Center, to special programs for veterans, there really is a lot of assistance out there available to help our local businesses succeed."
 
Several attendees said they were excited to learn about the specialty programs they qualify for. "I had no idea that I qualified for several categories to which I can apply," said one attendee.
 
"I wasn't aware of the HUB Zones prior to the workshop. I'm also glad to know my credit union offers SBA loans," another said.
 
"So many of our own members came to learn about the vast amount of resources available to them and their businesses," Denoo said. "We really want them to know we are here to be their partner in business. They don't have to figure this all out on their own. Big or small, established or just in the planning phase--we can help them navigate and succeed."
 
The Credit Union National Association 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.

Five Star CU Agrees To Buy Bank

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DOTHAN, Ala. and CAMILLA, Ga. (9/6/13)--Five Star CU, Dothan, Ala.,  has signed an agreement to  purchase substantially all of the assets and assume deposits and other liabilities of Flint River National Bank, Camilla, Ga.. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and pending shareholder approval of FRNB.
 
Under the terms of the agreement, FSCU will purchase all loans, investments, real estate, accrued interest receivables, and other banking-related assets of FRNB, with an estimated value of roughly $21 million, after a discount to the loan portfolio agreed to by the parties) and will assume all deposits, and accrued interest payable of about $21 million. It will continue to operate its new credit union branch at FRNB's current location.
 
"We welcome FRNB's customers and employees to the FSCU family and look forward to integrating ourselves into these additional communities in southwest Georgia," said Five Star CU president/CEO Bob Steensma.
 
"Unsuspecting" former Flint River National Bank customers are likely to be pleasantly surprised to discover the benefits of being a credit unions members, said Credit Union National Association Chief Economist Bill Hampel.
 
Five Star CU's purchase of FRNB is the fifth credit union acquisition of a bank since 2011.  Municipal Employees CU of Baltimore announced in April it has agreed to buy the $61 million asset Advance Bank, also of Baltimore (News Now April 5).The National Credit Union Administration approved New Berlin, Wis.-based Landmark CU's request to purchase and assume Hartford Savings Bank last month (News Now March 18).
 
GFA FCU, Gardner, Mass., acquired Monadnock Community Bank in December (News Now Dec. 12). United FCU, based in St. Joseph, Mich., purchased Griffith (Ind.) Savings Bank in December 2011 (News Now Dec. 15, 2011).

First Missouri CU Gives Away $4K In Gasoline

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ST. LOUIS (9/6/13)--First Missouri CU in St. Louis had an early morning gift for customers at the Petro Mart in south St. Louis County on Aug. 28. The credit union gave away $4,000 worth of gasoline to customers, with employees of the credit union pumping gas and chatting with drivers about products and services offered by the credit union.

The first 200 vehicles that came to the station received cards worth $20 in free gas. The giveaway is an outreach effort by the $54 million asset credit union to educate consumers about the benefits of credit unions. "We want to educate possible members that banking locally benefits the community and account holders," Jana Wolfe, marketing director of First Missouri CU, told the Missouri Credit Union Association (The Missouri difference Sept. 4).

"Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives, owned by their members," said Don Cohenour, president/CEO of the Missouri Credit Union Association. "This means credit unions can offer better rates on checking accounts and loans, in addition to providing non-traditional benefits to the local community--like a gas giveaway promotion. Credit unions truly are consumer focused and are a great asset to the local community."

Credit union growth is up in recent years, with outreach efforts in place the help spread the word about credit unions and the better rates offered to consumers, said the league.

The First Missouri gas giveaway promotion was included in an article highlighting credit union outreach efforts in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

To read the article, use the link.

Such events can foster service excellence while raising awareness about the value of credit unions. Fostering service excellences and raising awareness, along with removing barriers, are the components of the Unite for Good campaign launched by the Credit Union National Association and state leagues to work toward the vision of Americans choosing credit unions as their best financial partners. Use the links for more information.

Belvoir FCU Celebrates Military Servicemembers

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WOODBRIDGE, Va. (9/6/13)--Belvoir FCU, Woodbridge, Va., recently hosted its Eighth Annual Celebrate Fort Belvoir to give back to the military, their families, and the surrounding community.
 
Click to view larger image Belvoir FCU recently hosted the Eighth Annual Celebrate Fort Belvoir to give back to the military, their families and the surrounding community. (Photo provided by Belvoir FCU)
The event welcomed thousands of military families, Fort Belvoir residents and community members to a day of family fun, entertainment, free food, and showcased more than 40 local vendors.
 
"We are honored to be celebrating our base and partnership with Fort Belvoir with Belvoir Federal's largest annual event. It is our duty to serve our members just as they have served our country," said Patty Kimmel, Belvoir FCU CEO.
 
Patrons enjoyed two bounce houses, a rock wall, two face painters, a balloon artist, more than five local restaurant and bakery samplings, music from radio station WMZQ, a visit from former Washington Redskins player Derrick Dockery, and local vendors.
 
Throughout the event, patrons were able to enter to win prizes donated by event sponsors. There were 32 prizes awarded to attendees which totaled over $2,000 in value. Prizes included restaurant gift cards, golfing, free nights at hotels, retail gift cards, movie tickets, car wash certificates and event tickets.
 
Such events can foster service excellence while raising awareness about the value of credit unions. Fostering service excellences and raising awareness, along with removing barriers, are the components of the Unite for Good campaign launched by the Credit Union National Association and state leagues to work toward the vision of Americans choosing credit unions as their best financial partners. Use the links for more information.

Gary Oakland Receives Wegner Award For Lifetime Achievement

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MADISON, Wis. (9/5/13)--The National Credit Union Foundation Wednesday named Gary Oakland, retired president/CEO of BECU in Seattle, Wash., as the final one of three winners of the 2014 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement.
 
This is the first time in NCUF's history that three awards for Lifetime Achievement will be given. Oakland's award will be one of four total Herb Wegner Memorial Awards presented at a special dinner hosted by NCUF at the Grand Hyatt Washington on Feb. 24 during the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference.
 
"Gary is a slam dunk as a choice to bestow the Wegner Lifetime Achievement Award," said John Gregoire, Chair of NCUF Wegner Awards Selection Committee and President of The ProCon Group in Madison, Wis. "Gary's contributions to the credit union movement were so obvious as everything he touches turns to success for the average American consumer. It's evident in the growth of BECU, the state supervision system, dual credit union chartering, Biz Kid$, NCUF, and much more. It's also an honor to see Gary receiving the award rather than giving one."
 
NCUF is issuing four 2014 Herb Wegner Memorial Achievement Awards. The foundation previously named Tim Haegelin, retired president/CEO of Generations FCU in San Antonio, Texas, and Jim McCormack, president/CEO of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, as recipients of the 2014 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement.
 
Sarah Canepa Bang, president of CO-OP Shared Branching-FSCC LLC and chief strategy officer of CO-OP Shared Branching, will be presented the 2014 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Individual Achievement.
 
There will be no outstanding program or organization award in 2014.
 
Over the course of his career, Oakland has supported the credit union movement in many ways. Those include serving on the board of the Credit Union National Association and as board chair for the Washington Credit Union League, the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors, Filene Advisory Council and Board, and the National Credit Union Foundation.
 
In his time as CEO of BECU, Oakland guided the credit union to provide aid for more than a dozen low income nationwide. With his leadership, BECU was also able to play key roles in the founding of two low-income designate credit unions: TULIP CU and Express CU. Oakland also oversaw BECU's creation of Prime Alliance (now Mortgage Cadence), a credit union service organization that provides mortgage solutions to roughly 600 credit unions.
 
Under Oakland's leadership, BECU grew from 108,000 members when he took on the position of CEO in 1986 to over 775,000 members at the time of his retirement in 2012.
 
Oakland was known for accommodating the needs of Boeing employees and providing guidance in responsible financial practices. He also led the credit union to a statewide field of membership to allow more members of the community to benefit from the credit union advantage: member-focused service with better rates and fewer fees.
 
While this growth trajectory could have changed the organization's culture, Oakland held BECU true to its founding principles and the credit union philosophy of People Helping People. In 2006, BECU had an opportunity to return a portion of its reserves to its member base. He instated the Member Advantage account, which reversed the interest rate tiers, providing more return for smaller savings accounts and creating incentive to start saving at a time when U.S. savings rates were at or below 0.
 
Among Oakland's most influential accomplishments was the role he played in the launch of the PBS program, Biz Kid$, an award-winning financial education show for youth. Through leading the production initiative, committing $500,000 initially and $1 million over-all, bringing together a group of credit unions that raised $2.6 million per year, and ultimately making the project a possibility, Oakland has become the face associated with the show's success.
 
After five seasons, Biz Kid$ has won two Emmy Awards and was nominated for 11 more. It claims nationwide recognition and makes a daily difference in the lives of its youth audiences.
 
In 1995, at a member's suggestion, he led the establishment of the BECU Foundation, a chartered foundation that provides college scholarships to students who excel in academics, leadership and community service. Since its creation, the BECU Foundation has awarded more than $1.5 million to 715 students.
 
Oakland served on the Board of Seattle's Neighborhood Children's Club, helping many children get on the right track to a productive future, and has guided BECU to support a number of non-profit organizations that provide affordable housing, including Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together, Impact Capital and Plymouth Housing.

United Nations To Conduct Global Census On Cooperatives

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NEW YORK (9/5/13)--Following the 2012 International Year of Cooperatives, the United Nation's Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) is beginning a first of its kind effort to conduct a global census on the cooperative system, which includes credit unions.
 
The International Year of Cooperatives raised the awareness of cooperatives and provided significant anecdotal evidence of their contribution to socio-economic development. The United Nations General Assembly resolution A/RES/66/123 not only proclaimed 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives but also encouraged governments, in collaboration with all stakeholders, to intensify and expand the availability and accessibility of research on the operations and contribution of cooperatives.
 
As has been the case with initiatives around global remittances flows and access to financial services, the United Nations again intends to play a catalyst role by initiating research on the scope, size and impact on an under-studied area. The International Year of Cooperatives brought to light the lack of comprehensive data on cooperatives and raised questions on how to successfully support their development. Today, only certain sectors of cooperatives--such as insurance, banking--and nations collect data.
 
As such, United Nations DESA is conducting a global census on cooperatives and mutuals with the assistance of in the field of cooperatives, Dave Grace & Associates. This activity will consolidate existing aggregate data on cooperatives and include new sources of information on cooperatives. The census began in August and results will be available towards the end of 2013.
 
The United Nations asks all partners in the cooperative system to participate in the forthcoming census.
 
For more information regarding the census contact Wenyan Yang, chief, social perspective on development, Division for Social Policy and Development, DESA or the research team at coopsyear@un.org.

Leagues Keep Up 'Don't Tax My CU' Energy

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WASHINGTON and PORTLAND, Maine (9/5/13)--State credit union leagues are continuing their efforts to promote the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign to preserve credit unions' federal tax status in Maryland and the District of Columbia and in Maine.  
 
Today has been named "Don't Tax My Credit Union Day" by the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association (MDDCCUA). Credit union CEOs, employees and members will take to the streets of D.C. to rally and voice support for "Don't Tax My Credit Union," which saves members more than $138 million per year.
 
MDDCCUA will issue a public plea for an additional 5,000 contacts or signatures of support by Sept. 12. More than 8,000 contacts have already been made to Congress by Maryland and Washington, D.C., consumers.
 
If Maryland and District of Columbia credit unions are required to pay income tax, it could wipe out the $138 million in annual savings two million consumers in Maryland and the District of Columbia receive by choosing credit unions as their financial partner, said MDDCCUA.
 
Meanwhile, Maine Credit Union League President John Murphy appeared on Maine Public Broadcasting Network's Maine Calling, an interactive radio call in show hosted by Jennifer Rooks. Chris Pinkham, president of the Maine Bankers Association, also appeared.
 
Murphy discussed credit union tax advocacy efforts. He also covered the basic differences between banks and unique, not-for-profit credit unions that are owned by their members. Chartering and field of membership issues also were discussed during the show.
 
The fact is that credit unions have an obligation to their members to provide the products and services they expect and deserve, Murphy said.
 
Callers also noted the member-owned structure of credit unions, and the value that structure provides. Credit unions are willing to take their time and work with their members a little more, one caller said.
 
To listen to the show, use the link.
 
National contacts for credit unions and credit union members contacting Congressional members as part of the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign total 800,000, CUNA said.

CUNA Regulatory Compliance School Announces Dates For 2014

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MADISON, Wis. (9/5/13)--The CUNA Regulatory Compliance School will take place April 6-11 in Hollywood, Calif., and Sept. 14-19 in Chicago. Registration and school details are available at training.cuna.org/rcs.  
 
CUNA Regulatory Compliance School offers attendees a thorough understanding of the current regulatory environment through an overall compliance update and in-depth examinations of individual regulations. Participants can register for either Introduction or Update learning tracks, to account for varying degrees of compliance familiarity.
 
"Our goal in hosting this school is to make sure that credit union compliance professionals feel capable of performing their duties effectively in 2014," said Melisa Kallestad, manager of compliance for the Credit Union National Association. "CUNA Regulatory Compliance School is as much about building our attendees' confidence and resources as it is the specifics of regulation."
 
CUNA's compliance experts are devoted to equipping attendees with the tools and knowledge to meet future compliance questions head on. CUNA's Washington, D.C., compliance team will focus on today's most pressing compliance issues at the general session. Breakout sessions allow attendees to choose specialized pursuits that are of the most value to them while networking with fellow credit union compliance professionals.
 
This year's program will feature a two-day pre-conference CUNA Marketing Compliance for those attendees interested in the specifics of marketing compliance.  
 
Attendees will also have the opportunity to earn the nationally recognized CUNA Credit Union Compliance Expert (CUCE) designation, by successfully completing the optional exam.  
 
For more information about CUNA Regulatory Compliance School and to register, use the link.

California CUs Receive $122,000 in FHLB Grants

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SAN FRANCISCO (9/5/13)--The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco awarded $122,000 in Access to Housing and Economic Assistance for Development (AHEAD) grants to two California credit unions Tuesday.
 
Mendo Lake CU, with $135 million in assets, Ukiah, Calif., received $92,000 for three projects. A $42,000 grant will help fund construction of a six-unit mobile housing unit demonstration model for migrant farmworkers in Santa Rosa Calif. A $25,000 grant will assist with the development of children-at-risk resource center in Ukiah, Calif., and a $25,000 grant will provide business development, consumer, and home loans to Indian tribes within a nine-county region of California.
 
Meriwest CU, with $1 billion in assets, San Jose, Calif., received $30,000 in grant funds to develop a second career job training program in Campbell, Calif.

Special Report: Maps CU's CDFI Certification Reflects Community Focus

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SALEM, Ore. (9/5/13)--Maps CU's path to community development financial institution certification indirectly began when it changed to a community charter in 2009.  At that time, the credit union sought to create a membership that truly reflected the makeup of its community, Jill Nowacki, the credit union's vice president of development told News Now.
 
"We made an effort to serve our entire community," Nowacki said. "Stemming from that we saw that the work we were doing positioned us as a true community development financial institution."
 
Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) certification is a designation given by the U.S. Treasury to entities that primarily serve low- to moderate-income members, or have a primary mission of community development.
 
Maps CU, based in Salem, Ore., with $470 million in assets, partnered with CDFI certification and grant writing firm CU Strategic Planning through the CDFI application process, which included documentation, target market analysis and narrative of the credit union's community development efforts.
 
But before it formally applied for CDFI certification, Maps CU established its identity within its community. The credit union partnered with two community development corporations to provide financial education to underserved population segments.
 
"The partnerships enabled us to offer financial education, which is an area in which we are strong, rather than just going out and marketing to underserved markets," said Nowacki.
 
Similarly, the credit union partnered with a local literacy center to provide education.
 
"We actually hesitated because we wanted to build trust and talk about the value of having a financial account, but we didn't want to simply say that account should be at Maps. But the literacy center asked us if we would do account opening because oftentimes the biggest obstacle to opening an account can be transportation to the financial institution or the hours of operation," Nowacki added.
 
In defining its underserved market, Maps CU discovered some surprises.
 
"I don't think we picture youth or young adults as being underserved, but often they are," Nowacki said. "They have limited credit history. They often have lots of student debt and limited income. It's not easy being a college graduate in this economy."
 
For those reasons, the Maps CU's Credit Builder Loan, originally conceptualized primarily for the Hispanic market is also a hit with Gen Y, Nowacki said.
 
The credit union also serves the youth market with three high school student branches and three elementary school savings clubs.
 
The credit union even extended its reach to a local correctional facility. Maps CU supports a college program at Mill Creek Correctional Facility. The credit union provides students with eight hours of financial education, financial management books and offers two $500 scholarships to program participants who are being released with one year and aspire to continue their education.
 
With its CDFI designation,  Maps hopes to gain access to financial assistance to bring more services to its underserved community. The credit union is waiting on approval a grant request that would help it fund a lending program to provide affordable car loans to working families.
 
"We are hoping to put in place a program that enables us to expand lending to people who are having trouble accessing affordable credit for transportation," Nowacki said. "The reason why it is critical in our community is because we have a very limited public transportation system, with limited hours and services.
 
"Providing a family with a car can literally change their lives," she adds.
 
Having the ability to make that kind of difference has been the result of a long journey for Maps CU, said Nowacki. "When we first thought about serving our community, we thought we had all the financial services anybody would want and we could just print our marking materials in Spanish, but it's much more than that.
 
"We took the time to know our community partners and identify everyone's needs. It's a lesson in patience, but more importantly, it's a lesson in how much more effective you can be if you stop and learn about the community you serve."
 
This article is part of a News Now series of exclusive, special reports on credit unions' outreach efforts and innovative ideas. Fostering service excellence, removing barriers and raising awareness about the value credit unions provide their members and communities are the foundation for the Credit Union National Association's, state credit union leagues' and credit unions' Unite For Good campaign toward a vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial provider.
 

Survey: More Than 80% Of U.S. Citizens Pay Off Debt, Rather Than Save

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BOSTON (9/5/13)--More than 80% of U.S. citizens surveyed admit that they would rather pay down their debts than save for their future, according to a recent online poll conducted by American Consumer Credit Counseling  (ACCC). 
 
"With outstanding consumer debt surpassing $2.8 trillion, Americans are being forced to choose between paying down rising debts and saving for a healthy financial future," said Steve Trumble, ACCC president/CEO. "Although diminishing credit card debt is important, a balance must be struck between preparing for financial downturns and limiting the amount of debt that you hold."
 
The survey also found that 58% of consumers do not regularly deposit money into a savings account--a risky financial move that could land consumers further into debt.
 
Of the 397 consumers surveyed in the recent ACCC web poll at ConsumerCredit.com, 83% say paying down credit card debt is more important than putting away funds for a rainy day or future investments such as retirement or their children's education. Also, 27% of those surveyed confessed that they hold over $20,000 in credit card debt, which typically holds the highest annual interest rate. 
 
ACCC's national survey also found that 25% of respondents reported they simply do not earn enough money to stash away any savings for the future, while only 6% confessed that their excessive spending habits restrict their ability to save.
 
There are several steps that can help consumers pay down their debts, while stowing away money for future financial security, said ACCC. Some initial steps that consumers can take include:
  • Create a budget to see what your total monthly financial commitments look like and then list all your debts from lowest to highest, organizing debt by the highest interest rates.
  • Pay off an entire balance. It's really a matter of choice when it comes to choosing to either pay off the lowest debt or tackle the card with the highest interest rate. However, many consumers reap an emotional reward when they can quickly pay off an entire balance, which often motivates them to continue.
  • Pay only the minimum amount on other debts while you are trying to pay off your targeted debt payment and, if possible, always pay more than the minimum to pay off that debt faster.
  • Cut back on any non-essential expenses such as entertainment, and utilities such as cable while trying to pay down debt and save for the future. Apply this extra savings to the targeted debt payment.
  • Include a savings column in your budget, even if it is as little as $5, and put that money aside in a separate account.
  • Don't give up. Proper planning and realistic goal-setting will lead to financial success.
The saving and debt repayment poll is the latest in a series of ACCC web surveys for 2013 that focus on financial education, budgeting and planning topics. The online survey can be found using the link.
 
Credit unions in several states run prize-linked savings programs such as Save to Win to encourage members to save money.

Forbes Cites CUNA Figures: CUs Have Become the Auto Lenders Of Choice

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NEW YORK (9/4/13)--A Sunday Forbes.com article cited Credit Union National Association figures to show credit unions have become the auto lender of choice for an increasing number of U.S. consumers looking to purchase cars, Forbes.com said Saturday.
 
"That's partly because credit union membership is growing; partly because credit unions can often beat the interest rates banks charge, due in part to tax breaks; and according to credit union officials at least, because the Great Recession eroded public trust in big banks," wrote Forbes contributor Jim Henry in an article, "Credit Unions Gain Share In Autos, Trading On Local Image." 
 
The article cited comments by Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, in which he said the CFPB recognizes that credit unions were not one of the causes of the recent financial crisis.
 
Credit union membership is growing at roughly 2% annually, compared with about a 1% annual growth rate for the overall U.S. population, according to CUNA statistics provided to Forbes.
 
Also, credit unions issued 22.2% of all outstanding U.S. auto loans as of the end of the second quarter--an increase from 21.7% at the end of second quarter 2012, Experian Automotive told Forbes.  Banks accounted for 35.6% of loans in the same time frame, which is nearly flat, compared with 35.7% a year earlier.
 
To read the article, use the link.

NEW: Gary Oakland Receives Wegner Award For Lifetime Achievement

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MADISON, Wis. (9/5/13, UPDATED 4:00 p.m. CT)--The National Credit Union Foundation Wednesday named Gary Oakland, retired president/CEO of BECU in Seattle, Wash., as the final one of three winners of the 2014 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement.
 
This is the first time in NCUF's history that three awards for Lifetime Achievement will be given. McCormack's award will be one of four total Herb Wegner Memorial Awards presented at a special dinner hosted by NCUF at the Grand Hyatt Washington on Feb. 24 during the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference.
 
"Gary is a slam dunk as a choice to bestow the Wegner Lifetime Achievement Award," said John Gregoire, Chair of NCUF Wegner Awards Selection Committee and President of The ProCon Group in Madison, Wis. "Gary's contributions to the credit union movement were so obvious as everything he touches turns to success for the average American consumer. It's evident in the growth of BECU, the state supervision system, dual credit union chartering, Biz Kid$, NCUF, and much more. It's also an honor to see Gary receiving the award rather than giving one."
 
NCUF is issuing four 2014 Herb Wegner Memorial Achievement Awards. The foundation previously named Tim Haegelin, retired president/CEO of Generations FCU in San Antonio, Texas, and Jim McCormack, president/CEO of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, as recipients of the 2014 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement.
 
Sarah Canepa Bang, president of CO-OP Shared Branching-FSCC LLC and chief strategy officer of CO-OP Shared Branching, will be presented the 2014 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Individual Achievement.
 
There will be no outstanding program or organization award in 2014.
 
Over the course of his career, Oakland has supported the credit union movement in many ways. Those include serving on the board of the Credit Union National Association and as board chair for the Washington Credit Union League, the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors, Filene Advisory Council and Board, and the National Credit Union Foundation.
 
In his time as CEO of BECU, Oakland guided the credit union to provide aid for more than a dozen low income nationwide. With his leadership, BECU was also able to play key roles in the founding of two low-income designate credit unions: TULIP CU and Express CU. Oakland also oversaw BECU's creation of Prime Alliance (now Mortgage Cadence), a credit union service organization that provides mortgage solutions to roughly 600 credit unions.
 
Under Oakland's leadership, BECU grew from 108,000 members when he took on the position of CEO in 1986 to over 775,000 members at the time of his retirement in 2012.
 
Oakland was known for accommodating the needs of Boeing employees and providing guidance in responsible financial practices. He also led the credit union to a statewide field of membership to allow more members of the community to benefit from the credit union advantage: member-focused service with better rates and fewer fees.
 
While this growth trajectory could have changed the organization's culture, Oakland held BECU true to its founding principles and the credit union philosophy of People Helping People. In 2006, BECU had an opportunity to return a portion of its reserves to its member base. He instated the Member Advantage account, which reversed the interest rate tiers, providing more return for smaller savings accounts and creating incentive to start saving at a time when U.S. savings rates were at or below 0.
 
Among Oakland's most influential accomplishments was the role he played in the launch of the PBS program, Biz Kid$, an award-winning financial education show for youth. Through leading the production initiative, committing $500,000 initially and $1 million over-all, bringing together a group of credit unions that raised $2.6 million per year, and ultimately making the project a possibility, Oakland has become the face associated with the show's success.
 
After five seasons, Biz Kid$ has won two Emmy Awards and was nominated for 11 more. It claims nationwide recognition and makes a daily difference in the lives of its youth audiences.
 
In 1995, at a member's suggestion, he led the establishment of the BECU Foundation, a chartered foundation that provides college scholarships to students who excel in academics, leadership and community service. Since its creation, the BECU Foundation has awarded more than $1.5 million to 715 students.
 
Oakland served on the Board of Seattle's Neighborhood Children's Club, helping many children get on the right track to a productive future, and has guided BECU to support a number of non-profit organizations that provide affordable housing, including Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together, Impact Capital and Plymouth Housing.

Maine League: Congressional Contacts Key To 'Don't Tax My CU'

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PORTLAND, Maine (9/3/13)--Nothing can beat in-person contacts with congressional leaders during the ongoing "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign headed by the Credit Union National Association and the state credit union leagues, according to the head of the Maine Credit Union League.  
 
"It is great to see credit unions posting photos on Twitter, putting banners in lobbies and utilizing other creative ways to highlight the 'Don't Tax My Credit Union' Campaign, but what really matters most is getting members and staff to take the time to contact our Congressional Delegation," said Maine League President John Murphy (Weekly Update Aug. 23).
 
The mobilization of grassroots is well-underway in Maine, with more than 80% of Maine's credit unions, representing 575,000 members, actively involved in reaching out and educating members about the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" Campaign, said the league. To date, the number of contacts from Maine to the four members of Maine's Congressional Delegation now stands at more than 5,000.
 
Last month, efforts to encourage members to get involved by contacting members of Congress were stepped up at several Maine credit unions.
 
"We are pleased to see more credit unions sending e-mail blasts to members, posting messages on social media, and providing letters and links to make it easy for members to respond," Murphy said.
 
"With 630,000 credit union members in Maine, we can make a big difference in this campaign if we get members, and staff, to take the time to send a letter or e-mail or make a phone call and tell Congress 'Don't Tax My CU,'" he concluded.
 
National contacts for credit unions and credit union members contacting Congressional members as part of the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign total 800,000, CUNA said.

CU July Membership Growth 3X Population Growth

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MADISON, Wis. (9/4/13)--Credit  union membership growth is moving three times faster than U.S. population growth, according to the Credit Union National Association's monthly sample of credit unions for July. That report also reflects a continuation of strong, overall first-half-of-the-year results.
 
Total memberships expanded rapidly in July--increasing by 0.4% in the month and pushing them over the 98 million mark, Mike Schenk, CUNA vice president of economics and statistics, told News Now.
 
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"The recent rate of membership growth is unlikely to be sustained throughout the year but the data does show credit union memberships are up by 2.7% compared to year-ago levels--that's about three times faster than the U.S. population growth rate, which has been expanding at an annual rate of slightly less than 1% recently. That's a clear indication that more consumers continue to recognize the credit union difference and understand that credit unions are the best choice for consumer financial services," Schenk concluded.
 
Schenk also noted: "Overall credit union loans grew by a strong 1% in the month and by 5.5% over the past year. Strong increases were seen in almost every major loan category we track, with unsecured personal loans leading the way, reflecting a 2.1% increase in July and 8.8% year-over-year."
 
Automobile loan growth also was very strong: New autos expanded by 1.8% in the month (11.9% year-over-year) and used autos grew by 1.6% in July (9.7% year over year), Schenk said. Fixed-rate first mortgages (1.3% in July and 9.4% year over year), and credit cards (1.2% in July and 6.7% year over year) showed solid gains and even adjustable rate first mortgages "showed signs of life" (1% in July and 1.5% year over year), he added. 
 
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Savings balances declined somewhat, which given the fast growth in loans, led to an increase in the movement's aggregate loan-to-savings ratio--which gained one full percentage point--to 68.5% at the end of July from 67.5% in June, Schenk said. 
 
"The combination of a continued labor market improvement, significant pent-up demand, and seasonally strong borrowing should result in additional relatively strong loan growth in the coming months," Schenk explained. "All else equal, this should have a positive influence on credit union bottom-line results as short-term, liquid investments yielding close to zero are replaced with higher-yielding assets."
 
Asset quality improved marginally in the month as dollar delinquencies ended at 0.97%, compared with a reading of 0.99% at the end of June. The movement's aggregate delinquency rate has declined in six of the past seven months, said Schenk. 
 
"CUNA economists continue to stress the likelihood of slow improvement in economic conditions, with a continuation of slow-but-sure labor market improvement, marginal income gains and more loan growth," Schenk said. "This suggests that the improving asset quality trends we've seen will continue in the coming months. More importantly, the improvements are likely to push the aggregate delinquency rate back down near the 1% long-run norm in 2013."

Top 10 News Now Articles For August

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MADISON, Wis. (9/4/13)--An article about the resignation of Alloya Corporate FCU CEO Bill Walby was the most-read News Now article in August. However, the ongoing court battle about the fate of the Federal Reserve's 2011 implementation of the Dodd-Frank debit interchange fee cap was also one of the month's hottest topics.
 
The top 10 articles for the month included:
 
10. CUNA 'Inside Exchange' Lays Out Case For Ending Corporate Fund Assessments

WASHINGTON (8/16/13)--The clear case for swiftly ending corporate credit union stabilization fund assessments is one of many topics touched on in the Credit Union National Association's latest Inside Exchange video.
 
9. CUNA: Court Interchange Ruling Could Devastate Small Issuers

WASHINGTON (8/1/13)--The Credit Union National Association Wednesday said that a U.S. District Court decision striking down the Federal Reserve's price caps on debit interchange fees will have "a potentially devastating impact on the ability of small debit card issuers, particularly credit unions, to continue offering this vital payments service to their members and customers."
 
8. Al George, 'Epitome Of Volunteerism,' Has Passed Away

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (8/29/13)--Al George, a former California Credit Union League and Credit Union National Association chairman, has passed away.
 
7. Fed Seeks Extended Stay In Interchange Case

WASHINGTON (8/27/13)--The Federal Reserve Board has filed a consent motion for a stay of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Richard Leon's July 31 interchange decision, pending appeal.
 
6. Judge Fierce On Fed Interchange Rule

WASHINGTON (8/15/13)--Judge Richard Leon on Wednesday set a tight schedule for the Federal Reserve Board to revise its debit interchange cap rule, asking Fed attorneys to return to his court room within one week with the board's thoughts on issuing an interim final rule.
 
5. FBI Warns FIs Of Possible Sept. 11 Cyberthreat

WASHINGTON (8/15/13)--Credit unions are being warned about a possible cyberthreat to both U.S.- and foreign-based financial institutions  in September, and the Credit Union National Association is encouraging credit unions to be on the alert.
 
4. Interchange: Next Steps Covered In CUNA 'Inside Exchange' Video

WASHINGTON (8/8/13)--Interchange, and the next steps for credit unions to expect as the result of a federal court ruling, is the subject of the latest episode of "Inside Exchange."
 
3. Fed to Appeal Interchange Ruling, Request Stay Extension

WASHINGTON (8/21/13)--Fed General Counsel Scott Alvarez today said the Federal Reserve Board plans to appeal a recent district court decision that turned the agency's debit interchange fee rule on its head and instructed the Fed to rewrite and/or revise regulations that require a cap on fees card issuers may charge merchants for their debit transaction services.
 
2. What CUs Need To Know About Wednesday's Interchange Developments

WASHINGTON (8/22/13)--Federal Reserve Board General Counsel Scott Alvarez on Wednesday said the Fed plans to appeal a recent district court decision that invalidated the agency's debit interchange fee rule. The U.S. District Court judge currently handling the case said that he would allow the status quo to be maintained for now.
 
 1. Alloya Corporate CEO Walby Resigns, Effective Sept. 15

WARRENVILLE, Ill. (8/26/13)--Alloya Corporate FCU announced Monday that Bill Walby will resign as Alloya's CEO for personal reasons. His resignation is effective Sept. 15, 2013.

CNBC Notes Banks 'Experiment' With New Service Fees

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MADISON, Wis. (9/4/13)--A recent CNBC article highlighted that banks are experimenting with new kinds of fees to be applied to some old, reliable, and expected services.
 
Banks are couching teller contact as a "premium" service to migrate customers to electron services. If members agree to waive personal contact, fees are waived.
 
In December, customers of PNC Bank with "Virtual Wallet" accounts could see a $7 monthly fee if they bank in a branch. Among the ways to waive the $7 charge: be a student, hold a minimum balance of $500, or pledge to bank only online, by mobile or at an ATM.
 
Capital One offers an account that is fee free--if customers don't use any of the banks branches.
 
At Bank of America, customers rejected a fee-free checking that did not offer branch access. Only 10% of new checking customers signed up for the "eBanking" accounts, which charged $8.95 monthly if a customer used a teller. Last week, BofA stopped offering the accounts.
 
Bank fees ignited the grassroots movement Bank Transfer Day, Nov. 5, 2011, which helped prompt a gain of 2.2 new member accounts at credit unions (News Now Feb. 27).

ATMIA and IPF Form Payments Alliance

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. and HURST, Texas (9/4/13)--Taking a look at payments industry feedback, IPayments Forum (IPF) and the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA) have revamped the ATM Acquirers Alliance to form the new Integrated Payments Alliance.
 
The name change and restructuring of the initiative makes the new alliance more inclusive,  according to Lyle Elias, IPF Chairman and a founding director of ATMIA.
 
"We reached out to the ATMIA membership and found there was a consensus among them that the makeup of the group should be inclusive of all payments industry segments, not just ATM acquirers," he said. "The mission and structure of the organization needs to be one of developing a framework for interoperable integrated payments that is inclusive of vertical industries, such as money services businesses, mobile operators and merchant acquirers, as well as government regulators."
 
Cash advocacy will be a central focus of the Integrated Payments framework, Elias said.
 
ATMIA and the Integrated Payments Alliance will soon publish new best practices for Cardless ATM Transactions.
 
"The time is right for cardless transaction standards to be developed and adopted by the payments industry", Elias said, "In the past we've struggled with payments interoperability because of too many proprietary protocols and competing business models."
 
Elias and Mike Lee, ATMIA CEO,  are working on a white paper, which builds a future model for the concept of intermodal currency, which Lee predicts will dominate the future of payments and money.
 
"The future of payments is through developing 'Intermodal Money' systems, where all forms of value transfers are readily available, secure, reliable and instant," he says.  "Intermodal money will revolutionize payments the same as Intermodal Transportation revolutionized shipping and global commerce."

CU System Briefs(2)

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  • BIRMINGHAM, Ala., and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (9/3/13)--LEVERAGE, a subsidiary of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions, announced the hiring of Jay Brady as its new vice president of transactional services and Jordan Sullivan as a business analyst. Sullivan most recently was CEO of Secure First CU in Birmingham, Ala. He previously served as vice president of operations for Alabama Central CU, also in Birmingham, and as program development manager for Integrated QSG. Brady most recently served as executive consultant with FIS in St. Petersburg, Fla. He assisted financial institutions with their card portfolios from evaluation and assessment to growth objectives and plan implementation ...
  • FLORENCE, Ala. (9/3/13)--A federal judge Thursday sentenced a former employee of Valley CU to two years of probation for her role in the theft of more than $61,000. Stacey Marie Mathes of Muscle Shoals, Ala., allegedly conspired with two other individuals to change the credit union's records (TimesDaily.com Aug. 29). Mathes, Beth Ann Ledbetter and Tonya M. Payne were indicted April 1. Ledbetter and Mathes are sisters. Mathes faced a possible sentence of six to 12 months in federal prison and a possible fine, according to her attorney. Mathes and Payne pleaded guilty to bank larceny in May. Ledbetter pleaded guilty to the same charge in June. Senior U.S. District Judge of the Northern District of Alabama Inge Johnson did not require Mathes to pay a fine because she had made full restitution in the case. Mathes will be required to serve six months of home detention but will not have to wear an ankle monitor ...

CUNA Monthly Estimates Show July Loan Growth, Savings Decline

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MADISON, Wis. (9/3/13)--Credit union loans outstanding grew in July and credit  union savings balances declined, according to the Credit Union National Association's monthly  sample of credit unions.
 
Loans grew 1% to $634 billion in July, compared with a 0.5% increase during the same period last year. Unsecured personal loans rose 2.1%, followed by new-auto loans (1.8%), used-auto loans (1.6%), fixed-rate mortgages (1.3%), credit card loans (1.2%), and adjustable-rate mortgages (0.9%). Other mortgages and home-equity loans declined 1.1% and 0.1%, respectively.
 
Savings balances dropped 0.6% in July to $925.1 billion, compared with a 0.8% decline in July 2012. Money-market accounts and one-year certificates grew 0.6% and 0.1%, respectively. Share drafts (3%), regular shares (0.9%) and individual retirement accounts (0.9%) all decreased in July.
 
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Regarding asset quality, credit unions' 60-plus-day delinquency rate remained at 1% during the past six months.
 
With loan growth outpacing savings growth in July, the loan-to-savings ratio increased one percentage point--to 68.5% from 67.5% in June. The liquidity ratio--the ratio of surplus funds maturing in less than one year to borrowings plus other liabilities--was 18% in July.
 
Total credit union membership grew 0.4% during July to 98 million.
 
The movement's overall capital-to-asset ratios remained at 10%. The total dollar amount of capital is $111 billion.
 
News Now will include CUNA's economists' analysis of its monthly sample of credit unions later this week. 
 

Innovative 'Don't Tax' Efforts To Build Support In Congress

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MADISON, Wis. (9/3/13)--
Click to view larger image Dannemora FCU, Plattsburgh, N.Y., put a face to some of the 96 million members who would be negatively impacted if Congress decides to take away credit unions' tax status.  The credit union's "I am 1 of 96 Million" Don't Tax My Credit Union Photo Campaign aims to capture some of the individual members, whose photos are posted on its Facebook page.  For the full effect, check out the Facebook page here.
(Photos provided by Dannemora FCU)
Credit unions were working hard in their districts to convince lawmakers to support the credit unions' tax status as part of the national "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign. Efforts were paying off, with more congressional delegates committing to preserving the corporate income tax-exempt status of credit unions.
 
Among the latest was U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), who stated his support for credit unions' tax status in a reply letter to a constituent dated Wednesday.  He specifically highlighted the structure and benefits of credit unions in the First District, which he represents.
 
"The First Congressional District...is one of the most rural and poorest congressional districts in the nation," wrote Butterfield. "As your representative, I support credit unions receiving tax exempt status in order to continue the delivery of financial services to those you may find in the First District, and to people that large banking institutions may find financially undesirable." He added he "will do what I can to ensure credit unions continue to receive tax exempt status."
 
Click to view larger image U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) is flanked by credit union advocates from Spokane, Wash., who presented her with thick binders of information from voters who support credit unions. "We brought you a present today, from more than 13,000 of your constituents," said Tom Johnson, president/CEO of Spokane Teachers CU. The binders contained 762 letters and petitions signed by 13,575 Eastern Washington residents who want Congress to know that they love their tax-exempt status credit unions just the way they are, said the Northwest Credit Union Association  (Anthem Recap Aug. 30). (Photo provided by the Northwest Credit Union Association)
Some of the efforts used by credit unions to get their point across have been creative. Dannemora FCU, based in Plattsburgh, N.Y., posted photos of individuals posing by a sign that says "I am 1 of 96 Million" members. Each photo also includes the member's name, alongside a "Don't Tax My Credit Union" poster. The growing number of photos posted (57 as of Friday) presents a compelling visual of faces of people benefiting from credit unions' tax status.
 
Credit unions also are conducting in-district office meetings with lawmakers to push the need to preserve credit unions' tax status. In Pennsylvania, Danville-based M-C FCU CEO Jim Barbarich and Retail Operations and Member Business Director Brian Wiktor and Pennsylvania Credit Union Association Vice President of Governmental Affairs Christina Mihalik met with U.S. Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) in his district office (Life is a Highway Aug. 28).

The meeting focused on the implications of credit union taxation and the obstacles credit unions face with the current regulatory environment. PCUA said Marino was sympathetic to the challenges small financial institutions like credit unions face through growing regulatory complexities and government overreach.
 
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U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), right, met with Williamsport, Pa.-based Horizon FCU CEO Traci Donahue and Board member Paul Nyman after a roundtable meeting of business members of the Clinton County Economic Partnership with Thompson and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) (Life is a Highway Aug. 28). Also attending: Lock Haven Branch Manager LeAnna Harter and Marketing/Communications Coordinator Judy Harris. Nyman took the liberty of "pinning" Thompson with a "Don't Tax My Credit Union" button. (Photo provided by Pennsylvania Credit Union Association)
Others are taking to the media to get the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" point across.  In the Charlotte Business Journal (Aug. 28) John Radebaugh, president/CEO of the North Carolina Credit Union League, which will merge with the South Carolina Credit Union League on Jan. 1, used the interview about the merger to discuss the top policy issue for credit unions: tax reform.
 
"Credit unions are exempt from federal corporate income tax, and they pass those savings on," Radebaugh told the publication. "So we're being very proactive about educating our congressional legislators on the benefits of that exemption.  It's good policy to have a nonprofit financial system in the U.S. That's really our huge focus.
 
"Regulatory burden continues to take its toll--complying with a never-ending stream of regulation. We're making sure we have regulations that make sense. But our main focus has been the tax exemption," he added.
 
Click to view larger image Even when the topic of tax reform isn't on the agenda, credit unions take advantage of meetings with congressional delegates during the recess. For example, Credit Union Association of the Dakotas Vice President of Advocacy Jeff Olson was invited to participate in an invitation-only roundtable with U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), shown speaking, Aug. 21 (CUAD Memo Aug. 22). The Dakotafest centered on the Farm Bill and crop insurance, but Olson said he got the opportunity to visit briefly with the congresswoman about tax reform and the House Ways and Means Committee's work on tax reform. (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas)
Meanwhile, key legislators overseeing Congress' tax code reform legislation will stop in Memphis, Tenn., Sept. 9, as part of their national tax reform tour. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) will conduct a kitchen table conversation at the Sullivan Family Farm, where they will hear about the family's experiences navigating the tax code and managing the farm's finances.

Then they will tour the FedEx Express World Hub and hold a roundtable discussion with the company and customers from the small-business community, discussing how the tax code affects the way businesses operate and how tax reform could help businesses grow, create jobs and increase wages.
 
For more on the Credit Union National Association's and state leagues' campaign, go to www.donttaxmycu or use the links.

McCormack To Receive Wegner Lifetime Achievement Award

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MADISON, Wis. (9/3/13)--The National Credit Union Foundation has named Jim McCormack, president/CEO of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, as one of three winners of the 2014 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement.
 
This is the first time in NCUF's history that three awards for Lifetime Achievement will be given. McCormack's award will be one of four total Herb Wegner Memorial Awards presented at a special dinner hosted by NCUF at the Grand Hyatt Washington on Feb. 24 during the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference.
 
"Jim has done outstanding work at PCUA throughout his career," said John Gregoire, chair of NCUF Wegner Awards Selection Committee and president of The ProCon Group in Madison, Wis. "Countless credit union members have been positively affected by his work, which is evidenced by the passion and commitment of his numerous supporters."
 
NCUF last week named Tim Haegelin, retired president/CEO of Generations FCU in San Antonio, Texas, as the first recipient of the 2014 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement.
 
McCormack began his credit union career in 1971. Before joining PCUA in 1981, he held positions with CUNA Mutual Group both in Pittsburgh and at its corporate headquarters in Madison, Wis.
 
McCormack is also CEO of Pacul Services Inc., PCUA's service corporation, and CEO of Pennsylvania Credit Union Service Centers Inc., which administers the credit union shared branching network in Pennsylvania.
 
Under McCormack's leadership, PCUA created the Pennsylvania Credit Union Better Choice Program. The program is a public/private partnership between the state treasurer's office, state credit union regulator and 72 Pennsylvania credit unions with 215 branches statewide. It offers an alternative to payday lending, with the goal of helping consumers transition from a predatory lending environment to a wealth-building environment through credit union membership. Since inception, credit unions have made 65,000 Better Choice loans valued at $32 million, saving consumers $23 million over traditional payday lenders.
 
McCormack orchestrated a joint exercise between the PCUA Board and a steering committee of credit union professionals to develop the only mandatory statewide public awareness/advocacy initiative in the country, the iBelong campaign. The campaign promotes Pennsylvania credit unions in media such as TV, cable, radio, newspaper and magazines. Four other states have adopted iBelong over the past five years, with several others considering it as well.
 
More than twenty-five years ago, McCormack founded state credit card processing, which now serves more than 200 credit unions. PCUA administers one of the largest correspondent card programs in the country and offers debit and other payment products and services.
 
Since the 1980s, McCormack has launched many ATM initiatives for credit unions, including the creation of CU$, a selective surcharging compact among Pennsylvania credit unions, that provides consumers enjoy surcharge-free access to credit union ATMs throughout Pennsylvania.
 
McCormack has also demonstrated leadership in credit union advocacy. He cultivated a strong relationship with U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski, former senior member of the House Financial Services Committee and the main driver of H.R. 1151, the National Credit Union Membership Access Act. McCormack also led lobbying efforts to modernize the Pennsylvania State Credit Union Code, maintaining equal powers between state and federally-chartered credit unions, and overcame significant banker opposition.
 
He spearheaded the relationship with the Credit Union National Association and attorneys in litigation at both the federal and state levels defending the substantive and procedural rights of credit unions regarding community chartering. He organized the successful strategy for defense of credit union tax status in Pennsylvania court system.
 
McCormack has served for many years on national boards and committees, including CUNA, CUNA, CUNA Service Group/CUNA Strategic Services, NCUF and the Credit Union Service Centers. He was a charter member and table officer of the Credit Union House Board. McCormack currently serves on the CUSC Board, League Info Sight Board, and is a Credit Union Business Services Trustee.

Filene: Big.bright.minds 2013 To Be Crashed

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MADISON, Wis. (9/3/13)--Filene Research Institute is gathering the biggest and brightest minds from the credit union system Oct. 1 in Princeton, N.J., for big.bright.minds2013. The event is invitation-only and usually exclusive to the Filene board, research council, fellows, current i3 members and benefactors. But this year, big.bright.minds is getting Crashed.  
 
"With support from Filene, we're offering our Crashers the chance to be on the inside at this event," said James Marshall, leader at The Cooperative Trust. "For four days, our members will rub shoulders with some of the most illustrious people in our industry. Along with them, we'll also attend a master class on behavioral economics with ideas42 and a workshop on optimizing channels for member experience with Harvard Business School's Dennis Campbell."
 
The Cooperative Trust stems from more than 10 years of Filene research examining the young-adult issues that credit unions and cooperatives face. In 2010, Filene organized a group of 25 young credit union professionals called The Crash Network to crash the Credit Union National  Association's Governmental Affairs Conference. With a three-year funding commitment from CUNA Mutual Group, The Crash Network became The Cooperative Trust in 2012.  
 
As Crash the GAC, the trust's flagship event, enters its fifth year, Crashers attend conferences and meet-ups all over the credit union and cooperative systems. It networks young people working in credit unions and cooperatives with on-going support from CUNA's Center for Professional Development and PSCU Financial Services. The trust provides hundreds of young adults with opportunities to attend events, for mentorship and to network with like-minded individuals nationwide. 
 
This year's big.bright.minds Crashers include:
  • Amanda McMeans, vice president of client management, MarketMatch, Columbus, Ohio;
  • Blake Woods, public relations and new media manager, Lake Trust CU, Lansing, Mich.;
  • Danielle Frawley, vice president of marketing and communications, Fort Community CU, Fort Atkinson, Wis.;
  • Francesca McFadden, marketing specialist, Gates Chili FCU, Rochester, N.Y.;
  • Heather Ristow, operations director, Heritage CU, Madison, Wis.;
  • Ken Gardner, marketing and human resources intern, Greater Texas FCU, Austin, Texas;
  • Maia Graham-Derham, manager, Financial Access Program, Assiniboine CU, Winnipeg, Canada;
  • Michael Molaka, vice president of operations, BrightStar CU, Sunrise, Fla.;
  • Nilsa Gebert, branch manager, Focus CU, Wauwatosa, Wis.; and
  • Stephanie Sievers, CEO, Aneca FCU, Shreveport, La.
To learn more about the Crashers, use the link.

Plenty Of CU Stories Ignite Unite For Good Campaign

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MADISON, Wis. (9/3/13)--The credit union world is full of stories, human ones, where credit unions have made life better by sharing their people helping people tradition and making a difference. But many people still aren't aware of the things credit unions that are so different.
 
Click to view larger image Credit Union National Association Vice President of Marketing and Communications Amy Nigrelli gave a tour of the revamped CUNA.org, which launched in March, during new league staff orientation last week in Madison, Wis. The site offers improved navigation and search functionality and allows CUNA to better highlight major events and campaigns, such as the Unite For Good and the Don't Tax My Credit Union campaigns. The Unite for Good site is collecting stories about the good credit unions do.
The Credit Union National Association and the state leagues created the Unite for Good campaign so that credit unions share their stories and show they bring value not only to their members, but to the community at large. The campaign rallies around three prongs--building awareness, fostering service excellence and removing barriers--to help credit unions move to the shared vision of Americans choosing credit unions as their best financial partner.
 
Unite for Good was one of the programs discussed last week in a league staff orientation and training session conducted on the credit union campus in Madison, Wis.  Staff from CUNA and other organizations discussed the various programs, including Unite for Good and the efforts to preserve credit unions' tax status. CUNA's Madison campus staff also attended, receiving one of their many regular updates on credit union issues and programs.
 
Click to view larger image Jeff Carpenter, Credit Union National Association vice president of membership development, highlighted CUNA's Unite For Good campaign, which works toward the shared vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner, during league staff orientation at CUNA's Madison, Wis., location last week. (Photos provided by CUNA)
CUNA's Unite for Good website, www.uniteforgood.org, is collecting examples of what social good credit unions are doing. Other sites such as the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas cusocialgood site also are inviting credit unions to share their work, and several leagues are collecting examples and helping promote credit unions' good work in their state.
 
In a nutshell, here are four examples of the most recent ventures credit unions have undertaken to help others. Note that in each instance, the members take away information or skills they can use for the future, and in some cases the credit union works along with the members it is helping.
 
In Indianapolis, FORUM CU launched Bright Start, a youth entrepreneur program that promotes early entrepreneurial skills for kids and teens. The credit union said it believes an entrepreneurial spirit can positively impact a child's life by teaching responsibility, promoting financial independence, improving communication skills and inspiring self esteem. It also provides detailed steps--such as conceptualizing an idea, marketing and running the business--youth can take to create and run their own business.  FORUM's program also sponsored a contest for kids with their own business. Youth ages 8-19 could submit a two-minute video explaining their business and what they've learned from it. Forum awarded $100 to each of three winners.
 
In Wichita, Kan., a team of Meritrust CU employees, including President/CEO James Nastars and two leadership teams headed by Byron Stout, vice president of human resources, and Jamie Taulbee, vice president of marketing, spent Saturday, Aug. 26, priming and painting the finishing touches for one of the new Habitat for Humanity homes being built in the Cottonwood Corner community in north Wichita. The homes are for well-deserving families who themselves have put in sweat equity toward building the homes.
 
A part of a Habitat for Humanity Community Challenge, Meritrust partnered with several businesses to build the home.  Helping our neighbors is a priority for Meritrust," said Nastars.  "These folks have worked hard to fulfill their dream of home ownership, and we're honored to be a part of helping them reach their goal."
 
While youth often receive financial education, one credit union, FivePoint FCU in Nederland, Texas, partnered with five nonprofit organizations in Jefferson, Hardin and Orange counties to teach and provide financial education to adults. The credit union reached 266 adults in 18 financial education sessions and 20 financial counseling sessions, both in person and through webinars. FivePoint FCU was awarded a first-place state level Desjardins Adult Financial Education Award by the Cornerstone Credit Union League for its program (Leaguer Aug. 27).
 
At Northwest FCU in Herndon, Va., 85 children and one oversized dog--Westie, the credit union's Youth Savings Club mascot--enjoyed a day of storytelling at each of its six branches. The summer reading program was a "thank you" to its youngest members for saving their money in the club.
 
Members of the Yorkshire Volunteer Fire Department joined in at Northwest's Manassas branch. Firefighters read stories and shared safety tips and stickers with the children, who had a chance to climb aboard and explore a fire engine. Northwest staff and firefighters also visited the nearby Children of America Education Childcare and Academy to read and discuss safety.
 
At the Leesburg branch, Northwest's youngest business account holder, 14-year-old Grayson Albers, CEO of GG's Frozen Treats, provided refreshments. Children received goodies and a copy of Westie's Triple Decker Decision, a book written by Joelle Hahn, senior marketing specialist.  "It's a tale of mascot Westie's special 'Allowance Friday' and teaches the importance of balancing how you save, spend and share your money," Hahn said. The book also teaches sign language for the key words "save," "spend" and "share."
 
Northwest President/CEO Chris McDonald said it is important that parents help shape their children's attitudes and understanding of money early on. "These lessons learned in childhood go a long way in creating a next generation of financially responsible adults."
 
Credit unions with programs that demonstrate their difference can share their stories at www.uniteforgood.org.