The National Federation restated its opposition after H.R. 1479, the Community Reinvestment Modernization Act, was introduced into the House of Representatives. The bill would extend CRA to mortgage banks, financial holding companies, insurance companies, securities companies and so-called "mainstream" credit unions.
The bill would exempt credit unions designated as low-income and most, if not all, community development credit unions. Even though most National Federation member CUs would not be affected, the association said, "We believe that adding CRA to the compliance costs faced by credit unions may, in fact, have the unintended consequence of decreasing credit union investment in low-income communities. It may divert resources and focus to compliance instead of maintaining or expanding the voluntary investments that credit unions have made, and are increasingly making."
The National Federation pointed out that the damage credit unions are taking from the current economic situation does not stem from their own bad loans or risky lending practices but from the economic troubles of other financial organization impacting their members.
"In California, Florida and other areas where the crisis is most acute, credit unions have suffered losses not because of loans they made, but because of the collateral damage inflicted by other financial institutions," the National Federation noted.
Star One Expands
Contract With uMonitor
Star One Credit Union said it is renewing and expanding its relationship with uMonitor, the Memphis-based member acquisition and retention specialist.
Star One will upgrade the look and feel of its uOpen and uFund switch kit services, including real-time integration with its Fiserv XP core platform. The $4.1 billion CU, the largest in Silicon Valley, will also deploy the uTransfer account-to-account funds transfer solution.
Star One, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., has been a uMonitor client since 2006. New members can set up and fund deposit accounts and sign up for online banking and ATM cards through the service. They also are presented preapproved card and loan offers based on the credit union's decisioning model.
uMonitor's products include account opening and funding, lending, reporting, branch and SEG management, bill pay, document management and adviser-client relationship tools.
CYouth Web Site
Callahan and Associates has tossed its hat in the bid to help credit unions reach out and better connect with younger members with the launch of its CYouth Web site.
The idea behind the ongoing Gen Y education effort is to use Gen Y Callahan professionals to find out how to reach the 13-30-year-old market.
The site was developed and will be updated by a group of Callahan's Gen Y consultants.
Inspired by YouTube, the Web site (www.creditunions.com/cyouth) features frequently updated online episodes and presentations by the Callahan CYouth team. Members will be on the ground to monitor the pulse of younger individuals and offer advice and perspective to credit unions, based on in-depth interviews, case study examples, and their own personal experiences.
Some episodes educate on aspects of Gen Y's generational allegiances, value systems and prototypical behaviors, while others provide specific suggestions aimed at making credit unions more appealing to younger individuals. The site is also accompanied by a CYouth blog featuring updated postings by team members on a variety of topics related to reaching younger members.
"The credit union message of responsibility, transparency, and cooperation naturally resonates with younger potential members," said Dane Coalson, research analyst and Callahan Gen Y consultant. "With all the negative press that banks and other financial institutions have received, credit unions have a real opportunity to reach Gen Y."
CUDL Hooks Up With Kia
Credit Union Direct Lending, the California indirect network on auto loans, said last week it has entered a new partnership with auto manufacturer Kia Motors America.
The new partnership will provide members at CUDL's participating CUs manufacturer discounts on the purchase of new Kia vehicles. The program will be rolled out in the states of Washington and Oregon, providing CUDL credit union members discounts on all 2008 and 2009 new Kia vehicles.
Credit union members purchasing a new Kia vehicle will receive either a $500 or $1,000 discount, depending on the vehicle model purchased.
The discount program will run through April 30, and will be offered to CUDL's 71 credit unions and 22 partnering Kia dealerships in Washington and Oregon.
Executives from CUDL and KMA confirmed that the partnership includes expanding the discount program into other markets across the country, although a time table has not yet been finalized for additional roll-out. The CUSO's auto lending network currently includes 700 credit unions and their 20 million members nationwide, and includes more than 260 partnering Kia stores throughout the U.S.
"This is a great opportunity for us to continue to build the Kia brand and provide additional financing options to new and existing customers as well as to our dealers," said Tom Loveless, vice president sales, KMA.
Guthrie Phillips Group
Sold to Akcelerant
Akcelerant Software LLC has made its second major acquisition in a year.
The suburban-Philadelphia company said it has bought its largest competitor in the collections and recovery software space for community financial institutions, the Guthrie Phillips Group of Vancouver, British Columbia.
The now wholly owned subsidiary has been re-named Akcelerant Software Canada ULC and the combined company now serves about 350 credit unions.
Akcelerant's plans for GPG's TopNotch collections product include building interfacing capabilities to one of Akcelerant's premier business partners, SWBC, through the integration of SWBC's Payment Reminder Service.
The company-which last year also acquired the TAPS loan-origination software business of FORUM Solutions-said it now maintains multiple, preferred partner or distribution agreements with banking core processing providers that supply data processing services for more than 65% of the community banking industry.
CU Tech PR Specialist
Offers Social Media Help
Need help with social media? A veteran public relations and marketing consultant in the credit union technology space is hoping you'll turn to him.
Mike Lawson of DML Communications (www.dmlcommunications.com) in San Diego is now offering consulting help for credit unions that want to learn how to use online social media tools such as blogging, video logging, podcasting, Facebook and Twitter.
"These tools can create numerous marketing opportunities for organizations that leverage them correctly," Lawson said. "In addition, they can reinforce their brand, differentiate themselves from the competition, and build a community of trust."
One of the few costs in using such services is staff time, and Lawson recommends that staff comfortable with the new tools be at the helm.
"We feel that with the state of our economy, what better way is there to enhance your brand than these virtually free online channels," he said. "These channels allow you to leverage your audience's passion by allowing them be your ambassadors and brand builders."
Va. CU Launches Spanish
Ads With NCUF Grant
The $224 million Fairfax County Federal Credit Union has launched a half-a-million-dollar, Spanish-language media campaign to promote the credit union to the regions Spanish speaking residents.
The credit union attracted additional money for the campaign after the National Credit Union Foundation made an innovation grant of $99,900. The credit union used that grant money to attract $430,000 in support from Spanish-language affiliates of CBS radio, Cox Cable, Telefutura, Univision, and WJAL-TV.
"The launch of our media campaign in January has already resulted in 17% of our new members coming from Hispanic origins and 60% opening checking accounts," reported Matthew Kaudy, chief marketing officer for the credit union. "I am forecasting the trend to continue upward as the frequency of our message continues to increase and we continue to expand our messages through additional channels."
More than 25% of Virginia's estimated 400,000 primarily Spanish speaking residents are in the CU's geographic area, according to the credit union.
"Other financial institutions entering the Hispanic market primarily implement only a limited, short-term strategy: simply translating their current products into Spanish," observed Fairfax County Federal Credit Union CEO Joe Thomas.
"We must go much further than simply translating existing products into Spanish. The recent changes in the geographic concentrations of Hispanics, as well as the explosive increase in their buying power, require institutions to formulate a long-term strategy that effectively meets Hispanics' varied needs," he added.
Among the differences in the Fairfax campaign is the use of an emotional appeal to introduce banking products to people who may have never had much use or trust for savings or checking accounts or credit and debit cards.
"Education about the benefits of the credit union system is imperative to the success of all programs reaching out to the Hispanic market," Kaudy emphasizes. "Our campaign is designed to educate Hispanics about the credit union by connecting them emotionally. For example, one television ad on Univision features our Hispanic-branded checking account 'Cuenta Corriente American' while incorporating overseas footage from Salvadoran and Bolivian cooperatives drawing a connection to American credit unions."