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<p>CU Times Midwest Correspondent HELENA, Mont. – When Montana credit unions need guidance on compliance matters, they call “Jeanne.” Jeanne Bauman, assistant vice president of regulatory affairs at the Montana Credit Union Network, has become the circuit riding compliance “guru” for CUs in the state. Indeed, associates describe her as a one-woman band at the Montana Network running the compliance hotline, answering calls, writing technical releases on new state and federal laws, and supervising compliance training. And often those duties take her to the far-flung corners of this very rural state. The former legal secretary is often the featured speaker at chapter meetings covering new regs, does on-site training of CU staffs, conducts workshops and tackles individual compliance problems. “What Jeanne does in a state with a small league operation is really very impressive, and it underscores what leagues can do around the country to serve their members on compliance, a real bread and butter issue,” declared Kathy Thompson, CUNA’s senior vice president of compliance and one of Jeanne’s biggest cheerleaders. The Montana Credit Union Network remains a “model” for other leagues across the country, said Thompson, because it demonstrates a league’s dedication to compliance, an area which in recent years has taken on more importance as the maze of new laws impacting CUs becomes more complex. It’s one thing for state leagues and CUNA to perform their advocacy job well, but they also must serve their members in helping them on the new regulations that take effect because of new statutes, explained Thompson. Every time there are new laws, individual CUs have to deal with training staff to understand the laws coupled with the problem of turnover and the task of training “new people to handle new products,” said Thompson. Which brings the issue back to the 66-member Montana Network where Baumann has helped raise the compliance profile to a level where a recent member survey shows compliance support is viewed “as one of the top valued services from the League.” “We very much lean on the league for this kind of help which has been tremendous and that hotline is exceptionally timely,” said David Stenberg, manager of the $10 million Flathead Credit Union in Kalispell. The 800-hotline provides “answers to us from A to Z,” said Stenberg, noting a recent problem over account signature cards on a property lien for a grandfather and his 16 grandchildren that got quick answers for his CU. “It wasn’t a happy result for the grandfather, but we found out what we needed to comply with the law,” said Stenberg. The hotline receives a whopping 1,700 calls a year, which is a jump from the 500 calls when the service began in 1996. The Montana compliance program continues to earn high marks from its users who like the quick turnaround on service questions. “No where could you get this kind of great service in which they call back that afternoon with answers to your questions,” said Chuck Rude, president of Russell Country Federal Credit Union in Great Falls. He lauds the MCUN for providing “educated and talented” staff for the compliance job. Beside the hotline, MCUN provides each CU a comprehensive compliance manual covering 58 different state and federal compliance issues. The diverse topics range from home equity rate conversions to how to handle account endorsements. Lately the topics have focused on the impact of the Office Foreign Assets Control Act relating to Sept. 11. Bauman said she is particularly heartened by the MCUN Board’s decision in January to hire a full time compliance specialist to assist her and free her to do more training and devote attention to a new Web site which will contain the compliance manual along with updates. Plans are to get the website operating by April. In her training duties, Bauman, who joined the league out of college in 1989, takes her training “road show” to seven locations. “Even in seven locations some credit unions have to travel over 100 miles to attend the closest one,” she says. “We’re now trying out telephone and Web-based training, and last year I did training on Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code through the telephone and it worked great,” she said. Once a year the Network also brings in a professional trainer/attorney to cover various compliance topics such as employment law, check/share drafts, mortgage lending and ACH. And, of course, at chapter meetings “Compliance Hot Topics” is always a favorite which means a trip to eight to 10 chapter meetings a year. Bauman holds an associate of science degree from Minot State University in Minot, N.D. with a specialty as a legal assistant. “After almost six years at the League, I decided I’d better get into the legal profession, so I went to work for the League’s retained law firm, Jackson Murdo Grant and McFarland,” she said. Within nine months, the League asked Bauman to work in compliance, and today it is a job “that I love-and that’s because of the credit unions that I have the pleasure to work with every day.” -</p> <p>[email protected]</p>

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