WASHINGTON-During her speech last week before CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference, NCUA Board Member Deborah Matz introduced an initiative to aid credit unions in networking to share experiences and learn "best practices" from fellow credit union leaders. "This is my contribution to [NCUA] Chairman [Dennis] Dollar's Access Across America initiative which seeks to expand credit union services to neighborhoods and communities that lack access to low-cost financial services." Matz said. "Access Across America has been so successful in making more people eligible for credit union membership. PALS (Partnering and Leadership Successes) will give credit unions the tools to take the next step and turn potential members into real – saving and borrowing – members." She explained that credit unions throw a lot of money into marketing to different ethnic groups or a wider field of membership, but some CEOs have told her "there has been very little return." Sharing successful marketing secrets is just one of many uses Matz said she envisions for the program. A PALS workshop will be held April 1 in San Francisco to promote partnerships between credit unions and the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, she said. Other planned workshops include a July session on marketing to the Hispanic community and a September meeting on innovative strategies to reach a credit union's entire field of membership. Matz said of that session, "Credit unions will share their successes with mobile and shared branching, branches in supermarkets and in check cashing outlets and other novel approaches." Future PALs workshops may cover alternatives to predatory lenders, financial literacy programs, or cost-effective technology, she explained. Additionally, Matz said she hopes that in the future PALS will be accessible on her Web site, including links to the Web sites of credit unions' successful initiatives.

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