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MADISON, Wis. – More than one million members at 140 credit unions on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico now have another choice for growth and income investment products, marking the first time CUNA Mutual Group has marketed such services outside of the United States. CUNA Mutual’s International Division through the company’s MEMBERS Financial Services division will offer mutual funds, variable and fixed annuities, variable universal life and term and whole life products to credit union members here. The venture marks several firsts for Puerto Rico credit unions: It’s the first time members can receive financial planning help at their credit union, which will be offered by MEMBERS Financial Services and also the option to invest in growth-and-income products at their credit union instead of through a broker or bank. “We’re helping credit unions prevent member flight to other financial institutions that have traditionally offered investment products,” said Lon Sprecher, CUNA Mutual’s senior vice president, International Division. “(It’s) a perfect match to their needs and will help credit unions strengthen their products and services options, expand their relationships with members, and attract new ones.” U.S. legislation enacted in Puerto Rico in late 2002 requires credit unions to offer financial planning services. Before the change in law, credit unions were able to work with licensed brokers to sell investment products, but none took advantage of that opportunity, Sprecher said, adding the MEMBERS program is “the first investment program to be accepted, supported, and actively promoted by Puerto Rican credit unions.” Each of the four MEMBERS representatives hired so far are native Puerto Ricans trained at CUNA offices in Madison and Waverly, Iowa, and are licensed and regulated by the National Association of Security Dealers (NASD). The program will be based in San Juan, CUNA Mutual’s headquarters on the island with operations conducted at four offices located in the credit unions of Abraham Rosa, San Blas, Las Piedras, and one yet to be determined. MEMBERS products will also be offered in satellite credit union offices that do not have an individual representative. These offices will be visited regularly by one of the four representatives. While the investment outreach to Puerto Rican credit unions is a new venture, CUNA Mutual’s relationship with the island has been around since 1947 through its offerings of life savings, family funeral insurance protection, credit life and disability insurance and group term insurance. Founded in 1962, CUNA Mutual’s International Division has grown from the Caribbean and Canada to a global presence. Starting in Puerto Rico-where the division’s first director, Carlos Matos, founded the local credit union movement-the International Division now serves credit unions in 20 nations with offices in Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Trinidad, Great Britain, Australia, and Canada, and a representative in the Dominican Republic. -

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