August 2018

In this month’s priority report, we will provide an update on our advocacy efforts during this important election season, talk about other MCUL activities and priorities and share some updates from CUSG. 

Before getting started, I want to welcome Patty Corkery, MCUL’s new EVP/COO, and Kieran Marion, our new SVP of Advocacy, to our team. They will be great additions and we’re sure to see our important advocacy efforts strengthened with their involvement. So, let’s talk advocacy. 


This year’s election season is now halfway over, with the August 7th Primary Elections now behind us. 

Focusing on the state legislature, our PAC Board of Trustees made endorsements in 23 out of 38 state Senate races, and 54 out of 110 state House races. In those races, 20 endorsed candidates, or 87%, won their Senate contests, and 52 out of 54, or 96%, won their House race. As a result, we are very proud of our high success rate once again this cycle.  Of course, engagement in the election process is an important pillar for our overall advocacy efforts. 

MCUL didn’t endorsement any gubernatorial primary candidate yet this year, but we will continue to monitor this race as it moves into the fall. Attorney General Bill Schuette defeated Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, state Senator Patrick Colbeck, and Dr. Jim Hines for the Republican nomination. He will face former state Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer, who defeated hard-charging Dr. Abdul El-Sayed and millionaire entrepreneur Shri Thanedar. Both winning candidates are expected to select their Lieutenant Governor choices soon. The MCUL considers both Schuette and Whitmer to be good friends of credit unions and support their issues. In an open race like this, and one that is expected to be very close, the MCUL will likely just encourage member credit union leaders to get involved in fundraisers and election efforts for the candidate of their choice. This is already happening and it is likely the best position for the MCUL to take this year. We have been in a similar position in certain congressional races. 

For instance, U.S. Representatives Sander Levin, John Conyers and David Trott have each announced their retirements from Congress. With three open seats to be filled in November, our MCUL and MCULAF leadership have been working to identify candidates with values and priorities that most align with our credit union community In order to determine if and when we should take a position in these races. 

Prior to the August Primary, the MCUL PAC Trustees announced their endorsement of Michigan’s 11 congressional incumbents. Each one of these delegation members provided us with a statement of support for credit unions and our not-for-profit tax status during last year’s tax reform. Many of them also supported the recent regulatory relief legislation, S. 2155, signed into law last May. 

In the three open seat races, MCUL  endorsed Andy Levin, son of retiring incumbent Sander Levin, in his bid for Michigan’s strongly-democratic Ninth Congressional District. During a meeting with MCUL staff and credit union leaders, Levin stated that he was supportive of maintaining our not-for-profit tax status and expressed his strong understanding of the cooperative structure of credit unions here in Michigan and across the country. I’m pleased to announce that he won his primary election, and will likely win in November. 

MCUL has remained neutral in the open seat primaries in Oakland and Wayne Counties. With Congressman Trott stepping down in the 11th District, Republican Lena Epstein emerged to face Democrat Haley Stevens. Both featured credit-union friendly candidates and defeated multiple candidates with much longer political resumes. In the 13th District race to succeed longtime Congressman John Conyers for the full term beginning next year, Democrat former state Representative Rashida Tlaib defeated her closest challenger, Detroit City Council Chair Brenda Jones, along with several other candidates, including the outgoing Congressman’s great nephew, state Senator Ian Conyers.  

Interestingly, Jones beat Tlaib to finish out a partial term remaining this year that was created by Conyers’ resignation. Democrats dominate this district, so Jones expected to be the presumptive winner of the partial term in November’s General Election, and Tlaib will be the presumptive winner for the full term beginning in January. Therefore, we expect that the MCUL will be working toward an endorsement of Tlaib very soon. 

Right now, one of the most impactful things we can do as a credit union community is ramp up our grassroots efforts and contribute to our state and federal PACs. Benefitting our state PAC, the Lapel Pin Campaign continues to be a strong source of fundraising. To date, we’ve raised more than $137,000 and sold nearly 1,800 pins. Benefitting our federal PAC, the Grand Raffle campaign is also in full swing. To date, 92 credit unions have signed on to participate, and that number continues to grow. I encourage you to reach out to our Government Affairs team and join our state and federal PAC campaigns if you have not do so already.  


Turning attention to regulatory affairs, in recent weeks Michigan state-chartered credit unions received a letter from the IRS dated July 30, 2018. The notice to credit unions stated they are no longer recognized as a tax-exempt subordinate in a group exemption letter. As a result, the Department of Insurance and Financial Services has been contacted and is investigating the situation.  

MCUL is working hand-in-hand with DIFS to ensure this issue is resolved. While we work to identify and resolve this issue, we ask that you forward any correspondence from the IRS related to this matter to John Kolhoff at DIFS and to Sarah Stevenson at MCUL.  John will continue to update credit unions on the status of this issue with MCUL’s continued support.   

Additionally, MCUL submitted a comment letter to the NCUA in support of its latest payday alternative loan proposal — or PALS 2. We’re pleased to see the NCUA looking for new and additional opportunities to allow credit unions to provide small-dollar loans and help members avoid predatory lenders.  


As we focus on promoting the CU difference, it’s important to remember that we can accomplish great things, when we work together. When it comes to telling our story, it’s up to us to set the stage. If we don’t, the banks and other credit union detractors will do it for us.  

As we plan out our 2019 CU Link awareness campaign, we’re focused on the impact we can make by syncing together with CUNA’s “Open Your Eyes” campaign. Backed with Michigan-specific research to maximize messaging and awareness, we’re offering a level of continuity that expands beyond boarders — everywhere our members go, from work to home to vacation, we’re there. 

In fact, during the week of International Credit Union Day, consumers will get their first look at the “Open Your Eyes” campaign. For the second consecutive year, our partner, Michigan-based GSTV is collaborating with CU Solutions Group to offer a free week of credit union advertising for every league across the country. GSTV locations from each state will feature customized spots showcasing the benefits of membership and guiding consumers to a credit union. 

As CUNA continues to develop this campaign, we understand the importance of localized media and we’re working to ensure you receive the full value of cooperative advertising. Just a short time ago, CUNA unveiled their goal to raise $100 million over the next three years to promote and sustain this national branding initiative. As CUNA considers the best approach for funding a national awareness campaign, the MCUL has encouraged CUNA to do so in cooperation with state campaigns but also, in other states, we are encouraging local funding and local spend. This has worked in Michigan and will work elsewhere. We do not believe that a national campaign is sustainable over the long-term unless funding and spend are localized. However, we applaud the bold effort to encourage a nationwide awareness and the MCUL is fully supportive of deploying the best tactics for achieving this.. 

By combining the successes of CU Link with the “Open Your Eyes” campaign, we’ll be able to tap into an extraordinary level of reach and awareness in the years ahead. Watch for more details about CU Link in the fall. When we talk about message coordination, we will reserve the right to make the right kind of message modifications that help us tell our unique story in  Michigan. For instance, in Michigan, we don’t believe that membership awareness is a significant issue. In fact, perceptions regarding convenience, technology sophistication and breadth of services are more important message points. 


The Michigan Credit Union Foundation continues to promote the CU Difference by awarding nine credit unions with community reinvestment grants totaling just more than $60,000! So far, MCUF funds have helped Arbor Financial Credit Union and Western Michigan University grow their teen Summer Finance Camp, Alpena Alcona Area Credit Union build a new student-run credit union branch that serves students and teachers in low-income areas, and CP Federal Credit Union begin to develop a career kick-start program combining youth financial education with savings accounts reserved for post-secondary education. And then, with the help of MCUF and MCUL, Michigan Tech Employees and Torch Lake Federal Credit Unions are helping members recover from devastating flash floods this past June. 

While the foundation approved a new round of grants just last month, more funds are available. If your credit union is planning to launch a financial education or community reinvestment program, contact Beth Troost to discuss funding opportunities. 


Finally, MCUL is hosting several important educational events throughout the remainder of 2018. In September, we have back-to-back events with our Executive Summit from the 12th through the 14th, followed by the Fall Leadership Development Conference the 14th through the 16th. 

The Executive Summit — held in Bay Harbor — is an event designed for CEOs. It provides a cohesive environment to network, uncover new opportunities and engage in fresh perspectives from experts and peers. This year’s agenda will cover trending topics like cannabis banking, trends in employment, social media security, and of course strategic planning. 

Just an hour away at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, the Fall Leadership Development Conference is crafted specifically for credit unions and board members. This year’s fall conference will feature topics like risk management, data breach, financial technology and much more. As always, guests are welcome to join attendees at Fall Leadership for a weekend getaway. 


Turning attention to CU Solutions Group, our Technology Solutions team continues to grow the LifeSteps Wallet mobile banking enhancement suite.  

It’s important to realize that members can go to any credit union or bank, download its app and enjoy the same five or six standard banking features. Tools like account balances, transfers, mobile check deposit and bill pay are the new norm. The challenge now is how to stand out and differentiate from the competition. That’s precisely what we’ve done with the LifeSteps Wallet product. 

As previously reported, LifeSteps Wallet creates a custom mobile banking app that wraps around the core mobile banking features — those five or six standard tools — then expands into consumer resources built around home, auto, shopping and financial wellness. It’s an engaging experience that brings members back to your app time and time again — not just for normal banking activity, but as a useful and time-saving tool they can use on a regular basis. 

All the tools and resources within the app are designed to lead the member back to key products and services offered by your credit union. While they’re searching home values or pricing a new car, your mortgage and auto loan rates are just a tap away. This allows members to engage at their own pace and on their own terms, and your credit union is right next to them every step of the way. 

Since its launch in late 2017, LifeSteps Wallet has had a strong and positive reception. To make sure that this technology is available to all credit unions regardless of size or sophistication, this past quarter, CUSG developed two versions of LifeSteps Wallet: LifeSteps Wallet Lite and LifeSteps Wallet Plus. Both Lite and Plus versions include the original app’s core functionality — the same standard banking features in addition to the consumer resources previously mentioned. However, we’ve slimmed down and expanded customization options with the Lite and Plus versions respectively so that we’re meeting the needs of all asset size credit unions. 

All three versions of LifeSteps Wallet are now available. Our technology team is in the process of onboarding and customizing features for several credit unions and we have dozens more in the pipeline.  If your credit union is interested in setting up a demo, contact your MCUL league representative today. 


CUSG Marketing Solutions continues to make strong progress with enhancements to the Love My Credit Union Rewards Sprint program. When we rolled out the revamped Sprint Credit Union Member Cash Rewards last January, we anticipated a positive reception with our great new offer, but halfway through 2018, we’ve already surpassed the total number of lines paid to members throughout all of 2017! 

We all know that switching mobile carriers isn’t easy. It’s like changing financial institutions or finding a new doctor — it’s often a painful and taxing process. Nevertheless, credit union members are making the switch to Sprint through Love My Credit Union Rewards because the value of our program is so strong. When this happens, members see added value in their credit union membership. 

For those of you not currently offering the Sprint Credit Union Member Cash Rewards to your members, they receive $100 cash rewards for every new line when they activate with Sprint. Current Sprint customers receive a $50 cash reward for every line transferred into the Sprint program, and for every year after the first, all participants receive $50 annual loyalty rewards every year for each active line. 

When credit unions take advantage of our partner offers from Sprint, TurboTax, TruStage and others, they’re helping their members save money on the products and services they use every single day. It helps position the credit union as a trusted partner and a valuable resource, and the numbers speak for themselves. It’s no surprise that the program is currently offered by more than 1,500 credit unions nationwide. 

Along with best-in-class client management and support, we provide free, easy-to-use marketing materials that include high-quality print and digital assets. If you’d like to offer your members exclusive discounts from partners like Sprint, TurboTax, TruStage and ADT Home Security, visit our website or contact your MCUL league representative for more details.  


Finally, the CUSG Performance Solutions division is garnering strong, positive feedback after piloting its new strategic and operational planning software Planning Pro. 

Now available to credit unions nationwide, Planning Pro is a complete planning solution that’s built to help credit unions improve plan documents and measure results effecively. It provides all the resources needed to create your strategic plan as a living document, where you can create and automatically update presentations, use call report data to bring the right questions to the table, compare data with peer groups, survey employees and much more – and it all takes place in a simple, intuitive user interface. 

We built this application because, until now, strategic planning has been a complex, painstaking process that draws heavily upon an organization’s resources. It usually entails multiple programs, spreadsheets, documents, presentations, research and analysis ... it’s a tremendous amount of time and upkeep for any organization. 

In response, we designed Planning Pro to streamline the entire process. It allows you to build and update your strategic plan with input from multiple team members using a single tool. You can monitor team member progress on key priorities, goals and action items, automatically create and update presentations, and generate simple and insightful surveys. The program also offers best practice tools and guideposts so that nothing falls through the cracks. 

Our HR Performance Solutions team is scheduling demos with credit unions nationwide. If you’d like to check on the team’s availability, call or visit us online at 


That’s it from the Michigan Credit Union League and CU Solutions Group. We hope you found this report valuable and insightful. As always, if you have questions about anything covered, please reach out and let us know. Thank you again for your time and consideration. We’ll see you next month. 

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