Posts Tagged CUNA

A Smarter Choice (.org) for Your Finances

Posted by on Thursday, 17 February, 2011

A common question in the Credit Union industry is “how do we change credit unions from being ‘the best-kept secret in financial institutions’ to ‘It’s no secret: Credit unions are consumers best option for financial services.’”

Insiders may get it, but to everybody else – well, it’s still a secret.

A new website, going on-line Feb. 28, aims to start changing that.

ASmarterChoice.org will debut at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) on February 28. The site is aimed at telling the credit union story to consumers-at-large and the press. Above that purpose it will also work at convincing more of those potential members to consider and then join a credit union.

The new website is being developed through a partnership between CUNA and State Leagues- Its development costs were borne entirely by the state associations; the website’s services are free to all visitors.

A key component of aSmarterChoice.org is the first, consolidated and comprehensive “credit union locator” which will direct consumers to a CU they can join with minimal hassle and no confusion. The CU locator will include all credit unions – regardless of their charter, affiliation, size, or business models.

The website name, aSmarterChoice.org, emphasizes the exceptional value and service credit unions provide to more than 92 million consumers today.  As not-for-profit cooperatives, credit unions return earnings back to their members in the form of better rates and lower fees.  Independent surveys consistently rank credit unions above banks and thrifts as the institution consumers trust to look out for their best interests.

The stimulus for the project came from a task force assembled by the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL), made up of chief executives of several state associations. In their deliberations, the task force identified a key goal for the new web tool: Helping credit unions build membership.

In addition to the tools provided by aSmarterChoice.org the site will also spread the latest good word of credit unions appearing in the national, regional and local news media and much more.

aSmarterChoice.org has the potential of spreading the CU difference like never before, allowing us, passionate credit union professionals and enthusiasts to add another tool to our “share the CU spirit” arsenal. What ways do you think this can revolutionize our industry?  Post your ideas and comments below!


Top 10 must-read credit union articles for February 2011

Posted by on Thursday, 10 February, 2011

February’s Top 10 must-reads include content from the World Council of Credit Unions, Credit Union Times, and CNN Money in addition to excellent news and research from CUNA’s Credit Union Magazine, E-Scan, and CUNA News Now.  What do you think… did we miss any? Do those listed deserve to be must-reads this month?

Marketers embrace tablet technology

Reach an audience that’s young, high income, and likely to respond.

This article originally appeared on escan.cuna.org. Learn more about subscribing to CUNA’s EScan resources and reports by visiting their website.


Consumer Confidence Jumps in January

Read CUNA Senior Economist Mike Schenk’s take on why consumer confidence rose in January and what it means for the overall U.S. economy.


Take control of your CU’s appraisals

Ask several key questions when reviewing each appraisal.


CUNA backs SEC’s CU swap clearing exemption

The SEC’s proposal to exempt CUs with less than $10 billion in assets from mandatory securities-based swaps clearing requirements has CUNA’s backing, but CUNA would like it to go even further.


Iowa CUs Seek Greater Collaborative Strength

With the help of World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), Iowa Credit Union League officials traveled to Poland in the hopes of learning ways Iowa’s credit unions to save money while better serving their members from credit unions and cooperatives overseas.


Embrace end-to-end E-lending

Electronic lending, from application to funding, will be a requirement to remain competitive.


Twelve selected for Indiana’s 2011 ignite project

Twelve Indiana CU representatives have been selected to be part of ignite, an initiative of the Indiana CU League focused on developing innovations that can help CUs better the financial lives of their members.


Fed action may affect benefit costs

Additional defined benefit plan funding may be warranted if corporate bond yields drop.


Apple FCU Offerings Aim to Help Make College a Reality

How is Apple Federal Credit Union helping local families of college-bound students turn the dream of earning a college degree into a reality?


Standing on shaky ground

For up to 50% of Americans, a job loss or medical crisis could spell financial ruin.


The Huffington Post and debit card interchange

Posted by on Friday, 21 January, 2011

The Huffington Post llThe Huffington Post news and opinion website has posted a new column from CUNA CEO Bill Cheney on the costs to credit unions and consumers of the coming rules on debit card interchange. See below for a link to the full article. Here is an excerpt:

“Some recent media reports have said small banks and credit unions are the big winners in the regulatory battle over how much revenue financial institutions should derive from the use of debit cards. (In industry terms, this is known as debit interchange revenue). Credit unions and small banks have a deserved reputation for being consumer-friendly. So logic would dictate that if you’re a credit union member or a small-bank customer, you should be feeling pretty good, right?”

- Bill Cheney
CUNA President & CEO
Posted on January 20, 2011 on www.thehuffingtonpost.com

Read the entire column, New Interchange Rules for Debit Cards: A Perceived ‘Win’ Is Really a Loss from Bill Cheney here. If you’d like to post your own comment, you can do so under the “reader comments” section on The Huffington Post.


10 must-read credit union articles for January 2011

Posted by on Thursday, 13 January, 2011

The Credit Union National Association produces a number of excellent credit union-focused news and research via Credit Union Magazine, E-Scan, and CUNA News Now. Here are ten must-read articles from these publications for the month of January, 2011.

Marketing to Hispanics? Find the Right Translator

Make marketing messages understandable and culturally relevant.


Collection Strategies Adjust to Economy

A kinder, gentler approach is more likely to succeed.


‘NCUA-safe’, Suze Orman Attract Millions in Donated Ad Space

The “NCUA-safe” ad campaign featuring personal finance expert Suze Orman touting the virtue of federal credit union insurance has tallied more than $2.6 million in free advertising for the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).


Ten Credit Card Predictions for 2011

Expect APR increases and lower delinquencies.


Gift Cards as a Meeting Incentive?

Can a federal credit union increase participation at its annual meeting by giving $25 gift cards to members in attendance?


There’s ‘No Such Thing’ as an Easy Core Conversion

If you let things slide, you risk ‘having a wave come over your head.’


Ill. League Obtains $1.4M Reg. Fee Holiday for Credit Unions

Why are all 290 Illinois state-chartered credit unions are seeing a boost to their bottom lines in 2011?


Credit Unions On Top in Customer Satisfaction

CUs and small banks lead their larger rivals in customer satisfaction and loyalty, reports the Prime Performance 2010 Bank and CU Satisfaction Survey.


Fed Action May Affect Benefit Costs

Additional defined benefit plan funding may be warranted if corporate bond yields drop.


Fed Offers Two Plans for Interchange Fees

The Federal Reserve issued for public comment its proposed rules addressing interchange fees.


Top 10 Posts for 2010 and a Thank You from CUNAverse

Posted by on Thursday, 30 December, 2010

The CUNAverse Team2010 was an exciting year for our team - it was the year we kicked off CUNAverse!  In just 7 months since we launched CUNAverse 10,000 people have checked out the blog, we’re nearing 100 posts, many of you have commented and sent tweets and we’re looking forward to keeping the conversation going in 2011.

We wanted to take the time before 2010 came to a close to thank you for helping to make our launch in to the blogosphere such a blast.  As we near 2011 please leave us a comment here on the blog, send us a tweet, or drop us a message on our facebook page to let us know the types of things you’d like to see on CUNAverse next year.

For those of you that have just joined in on the CUNAverse conversation, here is a look back at our top 10 blog posts from 2010:

1. Does Your Credit Union Have a Social Media Policy?

2. What Credit Unions Can Learn From Pizza Hut

3. What Credit Unions Can Learn From Ritz Carlton

4. Compliance: Are You Ready For 2011?

5. Why Celebrate International Credit Union Day?

6. Turnover Increase on the Horizon for Credit Unions

7. Culture of Fear or a Culture of Love

8. Worried that CUs Aren’t Focused Enough on Upcoming Truth In Lending Changes

9. Taking Your Credit Union From Good to Great

10.  First Feedback on Bill Cheney as New CUNA President/CEO


CUNA Intern Published in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine

Posted by on Wednesday, 29 December, 2010

We have very talented and dedicated staff working for America’s credit unions here at CUNA. Our interns are no exception.

In fact, one of our Editorial Interns, Casey Mysliwy, was published in the December 2010 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Casey helps produce material for CUNA’s Center for Personal Finance web publications such as Home and Family Finance Resource Center and MoneyMix: Launch Your Life.

We know how talented she is, and we are very excited that a respected and established personal finance periodical such as Kiplinger’s recognizes her talents as well. Casey’s success is a testament of her talents and reflects the expertise of CUNA staff.

Watch this video to learn more about Casey’s article, and take a moment to read the article online.


Credit Unions: Born in a Log Cabin

Posted by on Wednesday, 17 November, 2010

From left to right, Edward A. Filene, Roy F. Bergengren, and Claude R. Orchard

“In a log cabin in the Rocky Mountains, the Credit Union National Association was formulated in 1934.  High up on a mountain somewhere within the park…a tablet [will be] attached to the face of a rock, not too high for easy reading by the curious tourist, which will record this important historic event.” — Roy Bergengren, Crusade, 1952

Roy’s prediction was right.  In fact, on August 10, 1954, in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Estes Park Conference, a plaque was mounted on the wooden building named ‘Texas Cabin’ that birthed the Credit Union National Association.  But, a plaque is a mere reminder of the history that occurred.

When credit union leaders began discussing the formation of a national organization, there were no funds for a large gathering.  Many of the conference attendees used vacation time to attend.  August, being a prime vacation period, seemed an ideal time for attendees to “synchronize” their meeting.

Since a number of meetings had already occurred in the East, Bergengren and Orchard wanted to find a central locale for the event. A number of meetings had occurred in the East and the pair hoped to offer Western attendees a break from long continental travel with respect to the travel of Eastern attendees.

They used a ruler and map to find a suitable location not too far from either coastline. Claude Orchard suggested Estes Park because he had vacationed there and found it to be a fine location. The ruler found Estes Park to be three-and-a-half inches from the Pacific Coast while only six inches from the Atlantic Coast–an excellent compromise.

While the geographic location and time of the meeting proved critical, the unique geology of the camp provided the perfect backdrop.  Roy recounted, “it seemed to me that the mountains had a powerful restraining influence on our deliberations.  We literally lifted up our eyes unto the mountains.  I felt many times that the proximity of the eternal hills helped us materially to keep our balance and complete our mission” (Crusade, p. 239).  Then when the deliberations became too much, attendees had the chance to hike, play ball or go for a horseback ride.

When reflecting upon Estes Park, Roy Bergengren found symmerty in the birth of Credit Union National Association, America’s pioneering spirit, and U.S. presidents.  ”Once upon a time a candidate for the Presidency of the United States was seriously handicapped  if he had not been “born in a log cabin…It was althogether fitting and keeping with tradition that the Credit Union National Association should also come into being “in a log cabin” (Crusade, p. 238).

With all that is happening in the world these days, and the hectic lives we lead, we should all remember that one of the greatest accomplishments of the credit union movement was to write its founding document in a log cabin.

Texas Cabin, Estes Park YMCA Camp, 1934

Source: Bergengren, Roy F.  1952.  Crusade: The Fight for Economic Democracy.


Divided Congress: What does it mean for credit unions?

Posted by on Wednesday, 10 November, 2010

Ryan Donovan

From Ryan Donovan:

Several months ago, a video of a man actively pondering the meaning of a double rainbow in Yosemite National Park became an Internet sensation.  “Double rainbow!  What does it mean?”  No one who saw that video will forget it anytime soon, and I couldn’t help but think about that video last week when, in the aftermath of Election Day, I was bombarded with the question, “What does a divided Congress mean for credit unions?”

The short answer is “not much.”  Here’s why:

1. Congress was already divided.  While the next Congress will be indisputably divided, a strong argument can be made that the current Congress (now in lame-duck form) is already divided, despite the fact that Democrats hold majorities in both chambers.  In an environment where 60 votes are necessary to pass legislation in the United States Senate, the Republican minority in the Senate has wielded significant power, tempering the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.  In January, Republicans will control the House of Representatives and Democrats will have a majority (note the word choice) in the United States Senate.  Still, it will take 60 votes to pass anything in the Senate, and the group that can put 60 votes together on legislation will control the Senate.  A divided Congress returns to Washington; it is simply divided in a different way.

2. The legislative outlook is unchanged despite the election.  For credit unions, the legislative outlook in the next Congress is the same today as it was before the election.  Housing finance reform and the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will be the top issues before the Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee.  Capital reform will be among the legislative initiatives credit unions pursue in the new Congress.  The outcome is dependent on the proponents putting together the votes to enact legislation.  And in today’s political environment getting anything done in the new Congress will require putting together 218+ votes in the House (including the Republican leadership) and assembling a coalition of 60 votes in the Senate.  It’s a high hurdle no matter who is in charge; and in a politically charged presidential cycle, it becomes even more difficult.

3. Credit unions have balanced support in Congress.  Credit unions have earned balanced support from Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.  While we certainly have Democrats and Republicans in our midst, the credit union system is not Democratic leaning, like labor unions; and it is not Republican leaning, like the Chambers of Commerce.  When a wave, like the one we saw last week, hits our ship, it is our balance that keeps us from floundering.  While we are not aligned with either party, we do have a very vested interest in seeing credit union friendly candidates elected to office.  So, we were rightfully disappointed to see one of our champions lose reelection last week.  This particular loss cannot be taken lightly, but it is also not the end of the world.  Credit unions are fortunate to have many friends in Congress, including a number who will be sworn in for their first term in January.  In most cases, these candidates won election thanks to help from the credit unions in their district, including several credit unions that went to their members to encourage them to vote.  While we did not win each race in which credit unions actively participated, in every instance, the credit union effort helped to turn out the vote for the credit union friendly candidate.  We should embrace credit union members being politically active in supporting our issues because no one has a more vested interest in a credit union-friendly Congress than credit union members themselves. 

To credit unions, it should not necessarily matter whether Democrats control Congress, Republicans control Congress or if there is a divided Congress.  What matters is that there are plenty of credit union supporters in Congress – and plenty of voters ready to elect credit union friendly candidates.  Last week’s electoral wave did not crush the credit union vessel by any means, but over the next two years it is our responsibility to work to solidify and expand the base of support for credit unions in Congress.

Ryan Donovan is the Vice President of  Legislative Affairs at the Credit Union National Association.


To Compare Pay or Not to Compare Pay

Posted by on Wednesday, 3 November, 2010

Beth Soltis

From Beth Soltis:

Some credit unions have asked me whether they should do a compensation analysis when they have frozen salaries and have not budgeted for pay increases in 2011.  The answer is an unequivocal yes.  And I’ll explain why.

First, recruitment and retention efforts should be tied to an organization’s market position.  How do you know what components of your compensation package to highlight if you don’t know where you stand in the market?  How do you know how to converse with employees frustrated by stagnant pay if you don’t know where you stand in the market?  Your market position can shape how you present your compensation package and how you communicate with employees about it.

Second, how can you motivate your employees to perform at their best if you don’t know where you stand in the market?  Appropriate (affordable, cost effective, and in line with market demand) compensation levels encourage and reward high performance, which in turn drives organizational performance.  Knowing your market position is crucial in developing motivation and reward strategies.

Finally, it is essential to monitor your compensation plan to ensure it is successful.  A successful compensation plan meets three key criteria – internally equitable, externally competitive, and accurately reflects the credit union’s compensation philosophy – according to CUNA’s 2010-2011 Complete Guide to Setting Salaries.  And the only way to be sure these three key criteria are met is to do a compensation analysis.

A lot of credit unions are in the position of being unable to provide pay increases to their employees.  In the 20+ years that CUNA has conducted the Complete Credit Union Salary Survey, we have never seen numbers like this: 43% of credit unions with $1 million or more in assets initiated a salary/wage freeze in 2009, according to CUNA’s 2010-2011 Complete Credit Union Staff Salary Survey. This percentage has almost doubled from 23% in 2008. Additionally, 43% of credit unions anticipate doing so in 2010.

And credit unions are not alone.  In fact, 64% of employers froze pay increases in the last 18 months, according to a 1st quarter 2010 study by Buck Consultants. However, due to the impact of heavy workloads and stagnant salaries, experts advise employers to analyze their ability to provide wage increases and/or variable pay to reward and retain their employees as soon as business conditions allow.  And whether or not employers can provide pay increases, at a minimum they should acknowledge the heavy workloads employees are shouldering and show appreciation for employees’ efforts.

Obviously, credit unions can only pay what they can afford.  But armed with the knowledge of where compensation falls compared with the market, credit unions can ensure the effectiveness of their recruitment and retention efforts, their motivation and reward strategies, and their compensation plan.

Have you conducted a compensation analysis lately?  What benefits and improvements have you seen after completing your analysis?

Beth Soltis is the Senior Research Analyst for the Market Research department at the Credit Union National Association.


Three Things to Watch For on Election Night

Posted by on Tuesday, 2 November, 2010

Since we won’t have the late, great Tim Russert to guide us in reading the tea leaves on Election Night, here are three things to watch for as you try to guess whether donkeys or elephants will run the halls of Congress next year.

1. Whither goes New York and Pennsylvania? Four upstate New York districts (the 19th 20th, 23rd and 24th) and three Eastern Pennsylvania districts (the 8th, 10th and 11th) each feature Democratic incumbents in tight toss-up races.  GOP sweeps in these districts (especially in New York, where the Democratic Gubernatorial and Senatorial candidates should win easily) will give an early indication that it could be a long night for Democrats.

2. How closely do exit polls and turnout reports align with early balloting results? Recent reports have indicated a surge of early voting in key Democratic districts across the country, which seems contrary to the conventional wisdom of an “enthusiasm gap” between Republicans and Democrats.  If this late surge in blue precincts bears out on Election Day, could it help Democrats hold in swing districts?

3. Will the West Coast just keep us up late, or into the next day(s)? If control of the House and Senate is still up for grabs as polls on the West Coast close, it may be days before we know who controls each chamber.  Virtually every scenario for GOP takeover of the Senate includes must-wins in California (Fiorina over Boxer) and Washington State (Rossi over Murray). And there are six tight House races (CA-3, CA-11, CA-20, OR-5, WA-2, WA-9) in California, Oregon and Washington as well. The kicker: Oregon and Washington vote almost entirely by mail, and a ballot mailed and postmarked by Election Day must be counted.  So if any of these races are close…it could be days before we have results.