Welcome to the Second Quarter 2020 MCUL Priority Report. In this issue, I’ll give you the latest updates on MCUL & CUSG’s first quarter of the year. Obviously, this quarter’s report will be much different than the usual report. As you all know too well, the global pandemic, COVID-19, has drastically changed our day-to-day life, as well as the day-to-day operations of our industry.
And I’d like to start this report by saying how heartwarming it has been to see Michigan credit unions, as well as our national movement, respond to this crisis so quickly and thoroughly, offering many different financial relief options to your members. These assistance programs, be them skip-a-pays, fee waivers or short-term loans, have meant a great deal to so many of the individuals and small business owners that make up our 5.54 million members.
Speaking of small business owners, the association has put together some resources to assist credit unions in becoming SBA-approved lenders, including a summary of what you need to know about the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program, as well as some FAQs to help navigate the process. Additionally, on the CU Link website, we have assembled a credit union finder that makes it easy for small business owners to find SBA-approved institutions in their area. More on CU Link and other important updates later in the report.
In non-coronavirus news, we recently received Q4 data for Michigan credit unions. Membership growth continues to climb at a faster rate than population growth. As I mentioned, our movement is now host to 5.54 million members, and in 2019, on average, more than 400 residents joined a credit union each day. You can read more about Q4 data on MCUL.org.
Now, I want to move onto an update of our association. After which, I’ll talk about CUSG priorities.
Starting with Advocacy, in March, Congress and the President took several steps to respond to the growing COVID crisis. In response, MCUL, working with CUNA, communicated credit union priorities and concerns to members of the Michigan congressional delegation and asked that those issues be addressed in COVID-19-related legislation.
Since early March, Congress has passed, and the President has now signed, three emergency stimulus bills into law. The initial bill, Phase 1, provided an immediate $8.3 billion in emergency funding for the development, manufacturing and procurement of vaccines and medical equipment. It also provided grants to the various levels of government to assist in the prevention of, preparation for and response to the virus. In the Phase 2 bill, Congress, among other things, provided funding to shore up nationwide nutrition assistance programs and increased assistance to states to bolster unemployment insurance programs. Congress also carved out new employee FMLA and sick leave protections during the crisis that apply to employers with fewer than 500 employees. The Department of Labor has issued guidance regarding the emergency FMLA and sick leave rules that can be found either on the Department of Labor’s website or on MCUL’s COVID-19 Information Center website.
Phase 3, or the CARES Act, was signed into law on Friday, March 27. There are several critical provisions of the law but perhaps the most significant, in terms of impact on our economy, is the Paycheck Protection Program, an expanded SBA 7(a) loan program, to provide small businesses, independent contractors and others with the financial resources necessary to cover critical business expenses. Key to the program, a loan will be forgiven if used primarily to cover payroll, but funds can also be used for interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. Credit unions and other non-bank institutions that don’t currently participate in the SBA 7(a) program are authorized to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program. More information on this program, the SBA and the credit union-related provisions in the CARES Act can be found on MCUL’s website.
The President and leaders in Congress have suggested a phase 4 stimulus bill will be needed to address issues not previously covered, and to provide additional funding to help Americans retain their jobs or create new job opportunities. We’ll keep you apprised as that bill begins to take form.
On the state side, the Governor and the state legislature is likewise in the thick of COVID-19 response measures. Executive orders are being issued by the Governor weekly to help provide guidance during this uncertain time. Executive Order 2020-33, which was recently issued by Governor Whitmer, sought to extend the State of Emergency declaration an additional 70 days to the middle of June. The state legislature decided to take action to reduce the number of days from 70 to 23 by the way of a senate resolution, and the shelter-in-place order has been extended through the end of this month.
Other impactful executive orders include 2020-36. This HR-focused executive order puts into place temporary restrictions on firing, disciplining or retaliating against employees who are at a heightened risk of infecting others with COVID-19. Executive order 2020-26 extends the state and local April tax filing deadlines to July. The other coronavirus-related Executive orders can be viewed by visiting the link on our COVID-19 Information Center at mcul.org.
Before COVID-19 stalled unrelated legislative activity, we were able to get military account escheats signed by the Governor. Our team was also successful in getting funding for registers of deeds to come online with e-recording in the supplemental fiscal year 20 budget. Prior to signing, the Governor removed this funding along with any other funding that was not directly tied to combating COVID-19. Our team is currently working to get the funding back into the fiscal year 2021 budget.
The League’s Regulatory Team has been working very closely with DIFS and NCUA in their efforts to communicate coronavirus-related updates with the industry. DIFS Office of Credit Unions Director Denice Schultheiss and NCUA Eastern Regional Director John Kutchey are also participating in a call with the industry to provide updates as well as answer questions from Michigan credit unions. Both agencies have issued a number of resources and FAQs, which are linked on MCUL’s website.
We’re also working very closely with InfoSight and the Compliance Consulting team. The team recorded a webinar with Glory LeDu, the Northwest Credit Union Association and Michigan credit unions to provide resources and best practices to the industry regarding COVID-19. We also participated in a free video series called “Compliance Cares” together with Strategic Advisory Services. This is a series of short videos on various topics to assist credit unions navigating the pandemic.
MCUL filed a comment letter following NCUA’s Combination Transaction and Credit Union Asset Acquisition proposal. We took the opportunity to thank the NCUA for their efforts in providing transparency to the industry. However, we also expressed our concern over the NCUA’s proposed requirement for bank customers to vote on membership in the credit union. This is unnecessary and would provide an undue burden on credit unions, particularly federal credit unions. It also runs counter to similar transactions on the banking side.
Switching gears to the CU Difference and Consumer Awareness, as people across Michigan are seeking stability during these uncertain times, CU Link has paused marketing the Open Your Eyes campaign. Instead, we have pivoted to a new campaign narrated by fellow Michigander, Mitch Albom. These ads are designed to calm and offer reassurance to the state’s 5.5 million members.
With an investment of nearly $600,000 into Michigan-based media during the second quarter, the ads highlight the safety and security that credit unions provide. Messaging strategies are designed to reassure members that funds are federally insured, offer support with emergency funding options, and offer a helping hand, because credit unions have always been there, through life’s toughest times.
This new series of ads directs viewers to a newly refreshed CULinkMichigan.com website, where visitors are channeled into individual consumers and small business owners. Small business owners will be directed to an SBA-approved credit union finder, information on the Paycheck Protection Program and links to other information resources.
Individual consumers will also find a resource center, including information on CARES Act stimulus checks, best practices on avoiding fraud and scams, and links to the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker with tips on what to avoid.
Additionally, the team has built out a series of integration assets from customizable videos to social media posts free for credit unions to download and use in their marketing efforts. I encourage you to visit the MCUL.org/culink page and download these free resources to integrate into your marketing plans and echo the message that credit unions are here to help in these uncertain times.
The economic impact of our current crisis is most impacting lower income and small businesses -- the populations that credit unions excel at serving around the calendar. The Michigan Credit Union Foundation (MCUF) is poised to help credit unions continue to best be of service to those most impacted. This included our current research efforts, evaluating opportunities for coordinated credit union responses to the pandemic in Michigan.
Additionally, MCUF can boost your credit union’s existing and future community support initiatives. From supporting small businesses, front-line workers and food banks, to longer term financial health initiatives, MCUF Community Reinvestment funds are available to supplement your crisis response activities for a bigger impact. Please contact Beth Troost at the Foundation to discuss support initiatives and request funds. All grant applications have been streamlined for quick and easy access.
The Foundation also provides support for the Michigan Enhanced Financial Counseling Certification Training program. Credit union employees will be able to put the skills and knowledge gained in this training to good use, guiding members through financial hardships that the current recession will bring.
MCUF is guided by an involved board of directors who share the vision and mission of the foundation and help shape its activities. Self-nominations are now being accepted for Trustees of MCUF for a June election. The six elected foundation board members serve two-year terms, which are staggered so that three board seats are up for election, or re-election, each year.
This year, we have two completely open board seats to fill. If helping the Foundation make a bigger cooperative credit union difference in Michigan appeals to you, we would value your self-nomination and appreciate your service. Please visit the MCUF website at mcuf.mcul.org for information about the Foundation’s mission and activities and feel free to contact me with any questions.
Moving on to Education, when we talk about the added values of membership and the cooperative spirit of the credit union community, it would be hard to find better examples of this in action than the remote learning that has recently been delivered by the League to support our members during the pandemic.
We know Michigan credit unions turn to us first to help guide their decision-making and strategy processes, and we take that seriously. Our team considers it a privilege to have already delivered nearly a dozen free and modestly priced remote sessions, which have provided opportunities to have critical questions answered by legal experts and industry leaders – and there are more to come in the following weeks.
Now, more than ever, I encourage you to make MCUL.org a first stop for daily updates and to find ongoing resources during the pandemic. Plus, there is still time to download recordings of recent sessions, register for upcoming webinars and signup for peer-to-peer listservs to connect with colleagues. And don’t hesitate to let us know what additional training would support your needs.
Annual Conference & Exposition
Before we wrap-up on the association side, let me take this opportunity to provide a quick update on the 2020 Annual Convention & Exposition. Those who were registered have already received an initial email to explain that the event is being moved to September 18-20 at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa in Traverse City. And yes, this was the date and location for the Fall Leadership Development Conference. Our team is working hard to bring together the critical components of the AC&E and the Leadership Development Conferences that we know you need and know you look forward to. And while I’m sure you have many questions for us, we reassure you that we’ll have answers for you as soon as the information becomes available. So, watch your email and visit MCUL.org for updates as we have them.
As organizations and consumers continue to adjust to the new pace and distance of business, CUSG has created free, time-relevant content and resources for credit unions. We’re also working to ensure current clients understand how to take full advantage of our products and services that already enhance remote work and business practices.
CUBE TV Studios has produced a series of credit union–focused videos that reinforce credit unions’ not-for-profit, people-first service mantra. They note the availability of emergency loans, loan restructuring and deferred payments, in addition to reassuring members that their savings are safe, secure and federally insured by the NCUA. As a goodwill effort to the industry, we’ve made these videos free to use by credit unions nationwide – they can also be customized for a nominal fee of $249. All video can be accessed at VidFuel.com.
For current MemberXP clients, a special COVID-19 feedback survey within the MemberView analytics platform has been created. This special survey can be leveraged immediately in COVID-19 email and website communications to collect and capture insights on how your credit union messaging, employees and crisis management processes are meeting the needs of members.
Our Love My Credit Union Rewards team is currently helping credit unions update their marketing assets and communications to account for the extended tax deadline. We’ve developed extended marketing plans for credit unions to increase member engagement and inform members on how the CARES Act impacts filing.
In the area of technology, it’s no surprise the focus for credit unions and service providers has been enabling, expanding and improving remote work and service delivery capabilities. Our CMS clients now have access to all modules in our library, at no extra cost – and BoldChat customers can add additional seats, at no charge, in order to help serve more members remotely.
For those looking to add communication and service delivery capabilities, you can enhance and expand communication via Pure Chat, our website chat feature. This solution can be implemented in one day and provides 10 licenses and the ability to have a group chat with two staff members at the same time. Additionally, new partner SilverCloud provides credit unions access to automated remote technologies such as automated member support, turnkey chat bots and enhanced employee support.
Now, more than ever, HR teams are faced with the challenge of keeping employees on the same page. Our Planning Pro software supports collaboration within a virtual team and is available for a quick implementation and free trial period. The software allows teams to collaborate on daily tasks that are tied to goals and strategic objectives. And reports can be quickly generated to bring management, executives and the board up to speed on strategic and operational plan progress.
Finally, crisis-related educational content from our Performance Solutions and Strategic Advisory Solutions teams have been made available to credit unions at no cost. Currently, more than a dozen courses cover a range of topics, including: Establishing Effective Virtual Teams, Becoming a Successful Collaborator, Managing During Crisis, Assessing and Responding to Risk, Governance and Financial Impact, Lending in Hard Times, and Top Questions Credit Unions are Asking – among several others.
This is just a portion of the resources CUSG has made available to credit unions and CUSOs. These and many more are available immediately through a special COVID-19 resource portal, front and center on CUSG’s homepage.
That’s it for this month’s report. In the coming months, MCUL will continue to bring you updates and resources surrounding the COVID-19 crisis. In the meantime, I hope each of you are staying as safe as possible. I speak for everyone at MCUL and CUSG when I say I’ll be happy when we can all meet again in person at our regular advocacy and education events.
Until then, feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns regarding how we can help you best serve your members.