About 18 months ago, the credit union opened up a branch in the Goodwill store on Fredericksburg Road in San Antonio, a sprawling facility in an old airline hanger. Since then, the CU has welcomed 450 new members from people who used the store, a marked increase from the CU's projections when they opened the branch.
"We were very conservative in our projections when we first got started with this," explained Eve Hern?ndez, vice president of marketing for the CU. "We had projected only ten new members per month, so of course we are thrilled with what we have seen so far."
The credit union offers a payday loan alternative product, called MoneyExpress, which resembles a payday loan but caps its interest rate at 18% and offers repayment periods of between six and nine months. In addition, the loans are tailored to allow the member to more easily borrow just what they need from the program and not more.
"Our alternative payday loan is designed to end the payday loan cycle by providing members the temporary cash flow they need with an affordable payment and interest rate over a longer period of time. While we offer a very nontraditional payday loan product, we are often able to restructure a member's debt to change behavior and end the payday loan cycle," the credit union said.
Other generations members also take advantage of a product called OptionCheck. OptionCheck is an alternative for individuals who are unable to open traditional checking accounts due to records in ChexSystems. OptionCheck provides education on how to manage checking accounts, shows members the steps they need to make restitution on old checks, and moves them to traditional checking accounts when they have satisfied the education and restitution requirements.
Hern?ndez reported that generations is so pleased with the impacts it has had through the branch that it plans to open five more in Goodwill stores in the San Antonio area.
Federation Promoting Retired Execs as Resource
The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions is promoting the idea of community development credit unions using retired credit union executives as resources, particularly through an organization called Credit Union Retired Executives.
CURE is a virtual network of retired credit union executives who volunteer their time and expertise to provide free, confidential advice to all credit union professionals.
While the average CDCU tends to be smaller, many provide a full array of financial products and services to their members, services that are often considered "complex" by the credit union's regulators, the National Federation said. Tack-on constantly changing regulations and requirements that must be met by all CDCUs, regardless of their size and capacity, and one can begin to imagine just how difficult it can be to successfully operate a credit union dedicated to serving the poorest members of our nation.
"CDCU managers can benefit from specialized advice, which has typically been available at a cost that puts that knowledge out of reach for most CDCUs," explained National Federation Director of Membership Services Pablo DeFilippi. "All credit union professionals will benefit from the collective knowledge and expertise of CURE's network, and we are pleased to encourage our member credit unions to take advantage of this service."
"Given the challenging times facing all credit unions, and particularly CDCUs, this resource is more important than ever," said National Federation President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal. "This showcases the fundamental principles of cooperation inherent in our credit union system, and we are confident that this initiative will make the expertise and sophistication of mainstream credit unions much more accessible to CDCUs."
Pacific Credit Union Network Meets in Fiji
Members of the newly formed Pacific Credit Union Network convened in Fiji last month during the Pacific Credit Union Technical Congress, a four-day educational event sponsored by Credit Union Foundation Australia, World Council of Credit Unions and the Fiji Savings & Credit Union League.
"The distance between credit unions located on South Pacific islands has kept many of them from developing the critical mass necessary for growth," said Peter Mason, CUFA's executive officer. "The new network will provide the political and technological relationships to help them better serve their members."
Organizers also named the first members to the new network's advisory committee, who will help lead the group's development initiatives. Advisory committee members include Anane Vadei, Fiji, who was represented on the committee by fellow countryman Manoa Seruvakaula; Michael Koisen, Papua New Guinea; Faataga Faataulofa, Samoa; and Penisimeni Fifita, Tonga. CUFA will serve as the network's secretariat, with WOCCU providing facilitation and resources.
In addition to the network, congress highlights included sessions on board-management relationships, strengthening credit union legislation, understanding the cost of delinquency, credit union marketing and a regulatory forum.
The network and congress are the latest cooperative efforts between WOCCU and CUFA designed to help develop credit unions in the South Pacific. This is a region in which CUFA's influence especially has been of great value in fostering credit union growth, according to Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and COO. "CUFA has provided critical leadership in developing and supporting Pacific region credit unions for many years," Branch said.