Happy holidays, and thank you for joining us for the MCUL & Affiliates December Priority Report. In our last Priority Report for 2017, we have some exciting developments to discuss, but before we do, I’d like to offer a few of my personal holiday wishes.

As I get older, I get more emotional thinking of the many things for which I’m thankful. Those things certainly include my family, my life’s journey so far and all that I’ve experienced, and of course, my opportunity to work in the credit union movement that does so much good, for so many.

At the holidays, I think we all reminisce a bit more than usual. We think about Christmas time when we were young, time with family and the most hopeful and happy feelings. Of course, this isn’t universally true. So many individuals and families are unable to experience the joy of Christmas. We do so well that something like 40 percent of consumers don’t have enough savings to respond to an unexpected financial expense of even $400. They live paycheck to paycheck. And even among the more affluent, a single life challenge like a medical condition, a lost job or a divorce can send families reeling toward financial despair.

I grew up in a family of modest means. My mother was a young widow raising four boys on her own. I always found joy in Christmas nonetheless. It wasn’t so much about how many presents I got. It was about time with family, the smells of the Christmas tree, pumpkin pies and candles. I remember fondly the White Christmas that almost always arrived in Bountiful, Utah where I grew up.

Now, as I reflect on Christmas, I want to wish my credit union family a very merry Christmas and happy holiday season. May we reflect on all that brings the world peace and joy. Financial security is such an important part of that, and for our wonderful credit union callings, I hope that we can share great personal pride in what we’re all doing to help millions of members and households achieve financial security — and even survival in some cases.

Credit unions are truly wonderful and most members truly love their credit union. From all of us at the Michigan Credit Union League and CU Solutions Group, we share a passion for helping to support and advance the credit union movement. For that stewardship, I, and we, are immensely grateful.

Happy holidays!

Now on to this month’s update:

In early December, as you well know, Senate Republicans managed to pass a sweeping tax bill that, among many other things, maintained the credit union not-for-profit tax status. But even as the House and Senate worked to reconcile their bills — both of which maintained our tax status — and even with statements of support from Michigan’s entire congressional delegation, bankers’ associations both in Michigan and abroad continued to attack credit unions.

This is yet another example of why it’s so important for the Michigan Credit Union League and Michigan credit unions to stay engaged on important issues. While MCUL works closely with CUNA on these key developments, this is a team effort that requires the active involvement of our entire association, in partnership with CUNA, along with a strong grassroots response from our credit union community.

That level of engagement is critical right now, because we have strong momentum, and several major legislative victories in sight. In early December, the Senate Banking Committee passed the MCUL and CUNA-backed Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act — this bi-partisan bill was co-sponsored by our own Michigan Senator Gary Peters. It’s a common-sense regulatory relief bill that contains important regulatory reprieve for credit unions. We need to see this legislation brought up for a vote on the Senate floor, so we ask you once again to help us push this package over the finish line.

While MCUL and CUNA will continue forward with our own efforts, we need you to continue your outreach to our Senators. Let them know the stakes. Let them know that this bill means our members will have greater access to mortgage loans, along with increased small-business lending for their constituents and communities. You can work through your own channels, work with the Michigan Credit Union League or leverage CUNA’s easy-access portal at CommonSenseRegulations.com.

And while there is a lot going on in Washington, D.C., I also want to report on some great news for Michigan credit unions. In late November, CUNA announced winners for its 2017 CUNA Awards and I’m proud to report that four Michigan credit unions will be honored at the CUNA GAC next February. In each of their respective asset-size divisions:

Thank you, once again, to our award-winning credit unions, and to all credit unions, for your dedication and upstanding work.

In our own effort to promote the credit union difference, MCUL continues to develop new long-term strategies that will make the CU Link campaign more effective and efficient. With the CU Link “Steps” campaign wrapping up in December, new creative for the CU Link “There’s Strength in Our Numbers” campaign will go live in January 2018. Based on market research, we continue to shift more investment into digital video, digital radio and social media. While these channels continue to gain more traction, they also come at a lower cost investment — this is driving incredible ROI for the campaign with Michigan credit unions being the main beneficiary.

By now, Michigan credit unions will have already received their 2018 MCUL affiliation packets in the mail — and if you haven’t, watch for these in the coming days. As you review these affiliation materials, I ask you to consider making a full fair-share contribution to CU Link. We continue to see a strong correlation between the campaign’s investment and the level of public awareness that it generates. Because we believe so strongly in CU Link’s effectiveness, we will once again make a matching contribution of up to $1 million. And, of course, roughly 50 percent of full fair-share contribution dollars are eligible for marketing reimbursements that can be used for your marketing integration.

New this year, we will be strongly encouraging the use of CUSG’s marketing resources for these integration funds. That means that the dollars you get back for integration should be spent in consultation with our marketing company, FocusIQ for a variety of media opportunities that include digital advertising, custom videos, social media content, billboard ads, Gas Station TV and many other options. We hope that you appreciate that since these integration dollars come from our business unit, we want to encourage the use of our marketing services for your integration efforts vs. having you spend those dollars with another marketing company.

We’ll discuss the full range of marketing services like Gas Station TV and FocusIQ in Grand Rapids at the MCUL Lending and Marketing Conference, March 20th and 21st. While our education team is working to finalize the agenda for this event, as always, it’ll be an invaluable experience for any credit union professional in the field of marketing or lending.

While the Steps campaign will end here in Michigan, this month, CU Solutions Group is evolving the Steps campaign into a turnkey marketing pack that will be available to credit unions nationwide in 2018. Marketing Solutions and FocusIQ are developing template-based packages that’ll include low-cost, high-impact creative for print, digital, outdoor and social media.

In other CUSG Marketing Solutions news, with well over a half-million registered lines, CUSG’s Sprint program continues strong into 2018. Since June, the program has averaged more than 2,000 lines registered per day and the pace of growth is quickening. In fact, the week of November 26 was the strongest in 2017 with just shy of 30,000 lines registered in a single week. That pushed November’s pace to more than 2,800 lines per day. So, we encourage all Michigan credit unions to promote the Sprint credit union member discount in order to help members save from this great benefit of credit union membership.

CUSG Performance Solutions is adding to its offerings in 2018. In mid-December, CUSG and Angott Search Group launched the firm, CUSG Executive Search powered by Angott, a joint venture with full-service search and recruiting. CUSG Executive Search powered by Angott will draw on the firm’s industry-leading expertise to deliver executive search, recruiting, research, board consulting and training to credit union clients.

Performance Solutions is beta testing its strategic and operational planning product, CU PlanningPro, with select Michigan credit unions. CU PlanningPro is a powerful web application that helps your credit union create strategic and operational plans, define and achieve organizational goals and develop industry-related performance metrics. After piloting the software internally and with credit unions, CU PlanningPro is targeting an official launch in Michigan in early 2018.

Finally, I’d like to turn attention to CUSG’s Technology Solutions. LifeSteps Wallet was officially made available to credit unions on November first. After months of dedication and hard work, the team is putting final touches on the product and the first custom release of the wraparound container app will be delivered to Security Credit Union later this month.

As many of you already know, the Technology Solutions team is now servicing credit unions in regulatory compliance. Credit unions in Michigan and across the country have been receiving an alarming number of demand letters claiming they’ve violated the Americans with Disabilities Act — specifically concerning web accessibility guidelines. As a result, MCUL has written a letter to Deputy Assistant Attorney General John M. Gore, asking for clarity on ADA guidelines as they pertain to credit union websites.

In addition to our advocacy with CUNA on this challenge CUSG Technology Solutions has taken steps to protect credit unions and make ADA compliance a simple process. The team offers solutions ranging from simple auditing services that uncover ADA concerns with your website, to thorough scans that automate instant fixes for a large number of issues.

More details concerning the ADA bill, frequently asked questions around ADA compliance and access to CUSG’s auditing and compliance services can be found at CUSolutionsGroup.com. Please understand that there is no absolute safeguard to protect against frivolous lawsuits, but these CUSG audit services can help give greater assurances that your website is fully compliant.

Among other topics, ADA compliance and credit union websites will surely be a topic of discussion at the MCUL & Affiliates Compliance Conference, February 21st and 22nd in East Lansing. Credit union compliance professionals can learn best practices, get tips from the pros, meet knowledgeable business vendors and network with colleagues from across the state. Hotel rooms are being held at the Marriott at University Place in East Lansing until February 2nd, so make sure to book accommodations before then.

That’s all for this month’s edition of Priority Report — we hope you found this commentary valuable and insightful. Thank you, once again, for joining us. We wish you and your family a very happy holidays; we’ll see you again in 2018.

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