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From the October-01, 2008 issue of Credit Union Times Magazine • Subscribe!
CU Safety and Soundness Pitches Are Getting More Specific
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The industry's safety and soundness message, promoted heavily since the IndyMac collapse, was undergoing refinements this month to push specific products and services as part of the campaign. <p>"When the Dow dropped sharply last Monday morning, we sent out contact information to our member credit unions asking for tangible product information on how credit unions are ready to serve the public," said a spokesman for the North Carolina Credit Union League.</p><p>Going beyond just deposit insurance, the North Carolina trade group was one of the first to compile a list of key products and services targeted to members in financial distress. </p><p>The league received a number of responses on various loan programs that it compiled into a news release distributed last week to papers and TV outlets across the state.</p><p>For one, Champion CU of Canton was cited for "rolling out a 'Fresh Start Auto Loan,' allowing members to refinance auto loans at a lower rate plus offering 'Stay Warm Fuel Loans." </p><p>The release quoted Michael Clayton, president/CEO, as understanding that "a lot of folks are having a hard time making ends meet, and we're in a strong position to help people weather the storm."</p><p>And there was Carolina Postal CU of Charlotte touting its 15.99% capital level "more than double the required 7%." The CU said it was ready to take on members' mortgages from other institutions "that are delinquent or those that may have been caught in a subprime trap."</p><p>Meanwhile, the Maryland and D.C. Credit Union Association was set to launch a new safety and soundness radio campaign Oct. 6, while the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association was reissuing press releases stressing again that CUs "have not engaged in the risky lending practices like many other players in the financial marketplace."</p><p>Diana Roberts, president/CEO of Hershey FCU and chair of the PCUA, said, "We as credit unions have no need to tighten our lending policies since we have always been lending prudently."</p><p>At the same time, CUNA began reaching out to high-profile, national news media to plug CUs as a safe haven in a time of turmoil in hopes the message would resonate with lawmakers and the public at large. The trade group managed to get coverage on deposit safety and federal insurance on CNN, in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. One CNN segment featured a Forbes editor declaring CUs are run conservatively and "you want to go for a credit union," adding that in this kind of crisis atmosphere, "grab them while you can."</p><p>--firstname.lastname@example.org</p>
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