Michigan Credit Union League

President's Report November/December 2006

As we look forward to next year, I want to share with you the priorities that the MCUL and CUcorp have identified for 2007.  We value the strong support from our credit union community and recognize that our charge is to serve you and your needs.  We hope we have identified a strong set of priorities and welcome ongoing feedback so we can continue to enhance our focus.

Funded by dues, investment income and education fees, the MCUL is focused on being a premiere state association for credit unions.  That means that we will concentrate on credit unions' common objectives in areas of state/federal lobbying, public affairs, information services and education services.  Our network of six service representatives (consultants) will continue to facilitate access β€” particularly for our smaller credit unions β€” to service solutions provided by the MCUL and its subsidiaries and partner service providers.  More specifically, here are the 2007 MCUL plan priorities:

  • Improve affiliation and perceived value of MCUL/CUNA for each size class of credit union and expand SAS credit union support.
  • Expand coordinated assistance to help credit unions with their financial challenges and regulatory "advocacy" needs.
  • Improve service quality in core areas of expertise β€” advocacy, regulatory compliance, education, public affairs and information.
  • Achieve administrative efficiencies through facility planning and other measures.
  • Continue to enhance all facets of three-tiered advocacy β€” grassroots lobbying, cooperative advertising and the Community Reinvestment Initiative (CRI).
  • Expand national leadership efforts on legislative advocacy, social mission, technology support, etc.

Embedded in the above priorities are some specific "big issues" that we will be tackling in 2007.  We plan to transition our association services function (20 employees) to Lansing by January 2008.  This will enable the MCUL to be even stronger and more prominent in Lansing.

Cooperative advertising will be expanded with new creative and higher levels of funding for a new two-year campaign.  Complementing this direction will be the establishment of a new CUcorp department called CU Integrated Marketing Solutions, headed by Lori Bahnmueller.  This new department will replace Images & Ink and will leverage a newly established partnership with the Berline Group, the advertising agency of record for the MCUL's cooperative advertising campaign.

Social mission outreach and documentation efforts will be expanded with CRI.  We will work even harder to make this program a part of a broader national effort to encourage all states and all credit unions to have this kind of formal, dedicated focus to the social mission.  This is critically important in light of the scrutiny placed on the credit union tax exemption and the banking industry's attempt to link service to people of "modest means" as a sole justification for the tax exemption.

The MCUL will certainly become more proactive in identifying ways to assist credit unions, especially smaller ones, with their financial and regulatory challenges.  We already do a lot in this area, but we want to do even more and communicate more effectively all the resources and services that are available.

On the CUcorp side, our priorities include the development of new alliances with other state league service corporations and companies like HR Value Group and League InfoSight.  CUcorp provides management services to both of these companies in cooperation with CU Village.  Through our subsidiaries, we are broadening our service offerings and strengthening product expertise through these national collaborations.

Specifically, a significant new thrust for CUcorp will be its management of HR Value Group.  This company is owned by 20 state leagues and CUNA Mutual Group and provides executive search services and HR consulting to credit unions.  We see great opportunity to benefit Michigan credit unions through this alliance.  We will be able to assist smaller credit unions with HR outsourcing, as well as help all credit unions with executive and staff recruiting and turnkey HR products such as Performance Pro, Compease and CU Careerbuilder.  Our turnkey operations and disaster recovery manual products will also help credit unions with policy formulation.

So, as we look to the new year ahead, we're excited about how all the pieces fit together.  Successful, profitable subsidiaries provide a source of income for MCUL.  This income, coupled with investment earnings, allows the League to keep its dues among the lowest of any state league.  We're proud of the fact that our sound financial structure gives us the opportunity to do more for less.

As a special promotion this year, we will be offering affiliated credit unions an opportunity to receive a complimentary iPod Nano, compliments of our partner, Sprint.  All credit unions have to do is affiliate with the MCUL (90 percent already do), support cooperative advertising (50 percent already do) and partner to promote the exclusive credit union member discounts for Sprint wireless services (40 percent already do).  These three decisions will be rewarded with the iPod.  We chose the ipod promotion because the MCUL also plans to develop and promote "podcasts" as part of our expanded information and education offerings.

On behalf of the MCUL, CUcorp, and CU Village boards and staff, best wishes for a happy holiday season and a successful and prosperous 2007.  We thank you in advance for your support, and look forward to another great year ahead.

Here are updates on some other issues that I'm sure you'll find of interest.  And don't forget to scan the attached MCUL Governmental Update and Regulatory Roundup for important news and information from Lansing and Washington.

The MCUL Cooperative Advertising Forum recently met to consider the 2007-08 creative concepts.  The Forum approved two radio and TV scripts that complement the 2005-06 consumer testimonial approach and differentiate credit unions from banks with key attributes, superior service and better rates.  In an effort to reflect the economic challenges troubling Michigan's economy, one spot focuses on a manufacturing employee who raises concerns about job security.  The other spot features an elementary school teacher.  Both spots should be produced yet this year.  Two radio components and print collateral will be introduced with the new TV in early 1st quarter 2007.  Meanwhile, the MCUL is working with its new print partner EPI to upload the collateral suite to a Web-based retail center where participating credit unions can customize the materials online and order prints.  The new service is expected to increase use of the comprehensive collateral resources available to participating brand campaign credit unions.

A&K Research will begin consumer brand campaign awareness research in December at the conclusion of the 2006 media schedules.  The research will include all DMAs and will consider consumer perception of credit unions and banks after exposure to the latest media flights.  DMA meetings are being planned in January to introduce the new slate of creative and related strategy as well as provide preliminary research results.

The MCUL Family Involvement Council (FIC) and Michigan State University Extension are teaming up to host two youth seminars at the Michigan State University 4-H Exploration Days youth conference in June.  Members of the FIC will teach two half-day sessions, one on personal finance and another on credit union leadership.  Approximately 2,500 youngsters ages 11-18 attend each year.  Credit unions are invited to sponsor students to attend the conference.  Sponsorship and conference information will be distributed to credit unions as soon as it becomes available.

The 2007 MCUL Education Calendar is taking shape .  Many exciting and informational sessions are being planned in 2007 based on attendee feedback from throughout the year.  Of special note, the MCUL Executive Summit will be taking place in late August on Mackinac Island.  The MCUL Annual Convention & Exposition returns to Detroit May 17-19.  New to the calendar in 2007 will be a Lending School held in April featuring Brett Christensen and a Compliance School in August with Ty Parker.

Austin, Texas, will host the 2007 Management Issues Conference Jan. 14-17 . Michigan credit union executives and volunteers have until Dec. 30 to save on registration costs and book hotel accommodations for the popular event.  The conference features a keynote presentation, "The Disaster Experience," designed to put participants into the throes of a real-life disaster situation as it unfolds.  Breakout session tracks are targeted to both management and board members, with plenty of social time for networking.  The event will take place at the Omni Austin Hotel.  Complete information and on-line registration is available at www.mcul.org , Keyword MI2007.

For the first time, the MCUL Lending Conference will be held in Mt. Pleasant at the popular Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort . Traditionally scheduled in March, the conference will be held earlier than usual, Feb. 6-7, which is expected to draw a larger attendance.  Also moving to a different month and new location is the MCUL Marketing Conference, slated for March 7-8 at the Inn at St. John's in Plymouth.  On-line registration for both events will be available soon on the Education calendar at www.mcul.org .
Some 22 credit unions are participating in Financially Made , the teen saving and financial literacy program created by the MCUL.  These credit unions have committed to educating 86 students about budgeting and money management, and collectively will match up to $14,500 into students' savings accounts. The MCUL is working on securing media for the program.

MCUL Vice President Lori Bahnmueller was interviewed by WNEM-AM (1250) News Radio in the Saginaw/Bay City/Midland area on tips for selecting a reputable credit counseling agency.  This interview was generated by "Consumer Tips," the new radio outreach program created by MCUL Public Affairs.  Similarly, Public Affairs Manager Mary Davis and Communications Family CU (MM) President/CEO Jim Dahl participated in an interview on WSGW-AM (790) Saginaw on International Credit Union Day.

The popular MCUL Regulatory Update Webcast took place Nov. 2 , facilitated by Stephon Johnson and Tom Leduc.  Session topics included FACT Act Update and Red Flag Proposal, Indirect Vehicle Loans, Supervisory Committee Audits, Underserved Areas and FOM Issues, Authentication for Internet-Based Services, SAR (Suspicious Activity Report) Update, Disaster Recovery and Pandemic Flu Guidance.

The final pieces are being put in place for the new MCUL Education on-line registration site being developed by CU Village.  The new system has been partially utilized and will eliminate the manual process of League staff entering registration information into a database/billing system by allowing registrants on-line access to this process.  A number of key issues are still being addressed to make the system as user-friendly as possible and input continues to be welcome.  The most recent enhancement, developed in response to member feedback, is the ability for members to change their passwords.

A Payday Loan Alternative was introduced to Michigan credit unions during an October Webinar hosted by the MCUL and presented by Doug Fecker, CEO of Wright-Patt CU in Dayton Ohio.  Wright-Patt CU and several other Dayton credit unions have developed the Stretch Pay Loan as an affordable option to traditional high-rate payday loans and have now formed a CUSO to allow other credit unions to participate in the program.  To receive a Stretch Pay Loan, members pay an annual fee plus interest of 18 percent.  The CUSO aggregates the annual fees and uses this fund to reimburse credit unions for their losses.  For more information, contact the MCUL Alan Babcock at amb@mcul.org .

MCUL Consultants are available to assist credit unions with regulatory exam res ults.  Consultants can provide recommendations on exam responses, construct action steps, identify available resources and assist credit unions in making the appropriate improvements.  These often include developing financial goals, writing new policies and complying more effectively with regulations.  Many credit unions have benefited from this valuable assistance.

MCUL Consultants are available to provide orientation to new board members on their duties and responsibilities.  New board members often have no idea what their role really entails, creating confusion between board decisions and management decisions.  This training can help sort out these issues and get new board members off to a good start.

There are many tools available on the MCUL SAS Web pages developed for small credit unions that can also be useful for larger credit unions.  These are located on the SAS Credit Union page at www.mcul.org .  The tool utilized the most often by all credit unions is the SAS List Serve.  This e-mail tool was developed several years back to facilitate sharing of questions and solutions and can be used by any member credit union.  Other tools and resources found on the SAS page include information from prior SAS credit union conferences, board of directors orientation, confidentiality policy, conflict of interest policy, Mentor Listing information and registration, board evaluation sheets and loan analysis worksheets.

The American Education Services (AES) turnkey student loan program continues to gain momentum .  Currently, eight large credit unions have signed up to offer this product to their members.  Credit unions can choose the $elect referral program in which the underwriting and all servicing is handled by AES, or the TEAMS program where the underwriting is done by the credit union and all servicing is handled by AES.  Criteria for participation in the $25,000 scholarship fund will be out early in 2007.  The CUcorp continues to work with AES to produce customized marketing pieces for credit union members.  The customized pieces will have the β€˜STU' logo on it – the brand name for the Michigan credit union student loan program.  The co-branded web site is also under construction.

GeniSys Lending and Payment Solutions will offer four combined Marketing/Fraud Sessions in 2007 . The sessions will take place March 29 at the Michigan Credit Union Center in Northville Twp; April 4 at the Airport Hilton in Grand Rapids; May 8 at the Holiday Inn in Grayling; and May 10 at the Landmark Inn in Marquette.  More information on these sessions will be released in January.

CUcorp has begun promoting the 2006 Michigan Marketing Awards , sponsored by the MCUL and CUcorp Images & Ink.  An awards entry form was designed, printed and distributed to credit union CEOs in mid-November.  A .pdf file of the entry form is currently posted on the MCUL Web site.  The awards entry deadline is scheduled for the end of December with judging taking place Jan. 10 and award distribution slated for the 2007 MCUL Marketing Conference.

Credit unions across the United States have received a letter outlining both the Sprint Nextel program and CUcareerbuilder program , highlighting the benefits of each.  Incentives will be mailed in December to 99 credit unions in seven different states nationwide which are supporting CUcorp's Sprint Nextel program.  More than 9,200 lines were added in CUcorp's Sprint Nextel program from September through November, bringing the total number of lines as of Nov. 30 to 54,367.

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