Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from everyone at the Michigan Credit Union League and Affiliates (MCUL). We thank you for your continued affiliation and engagement that helps us accomplish so much together on behalf of the credit union movement.
During this time of year, our leadership would like to reflect on everything the credit union community has accomplished throughout 2018. Our commitment to community reinvestment initiatives, financial education and providing more than 5.3 million members access to important, affordable financial services makes a big difference in the lives of our members and the communities we serve.
When it comes to giving, the League is particularly proud of the impact we made this year with the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN). This is such a great cause that we all rally to support each year. It was even more personal for President and CEO Dave Adams this year, as his newly arrived grandsons Samson and Oliver received expert care for three months in two children’s hospitals and are now home with their Mom and Dad as healthy babies.
Back in September, Adams challenged all Michigan credit unions to participate in the MCUL Keke Challenge. When all was said and done, we had nearly 20 Michigan credit unions submit their own videos. Together, MCUL and participating credit unions raised a total of $16,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network. Added to the amount raised during AC&E, we were able to donate $135,000 to CMN Hospitals in 2018. That’s truly something to be proud of and sets the bar high for 2019.
As you review your recently received affiliation packet for 2019, we strongly encourage your continued support for MCUL and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). We’re proud of our 100 percent affiliation with MCUL and 97 percent affiliation with CUNA. That affiliation with both MCUL and CUNA makes all credit unions stronger. We also ask you to consider a full fair-share to the CU Link campaign. 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, MCUL will once again make a matching contribution of up to $1 million. And, of course, 50 percent of full fair-share contribution dollars are eligible for marketing reimbursements that can be used for your marketing integration.
CUNA is also launching an awareness campaign next year called, “Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union.” MCUL supports this effort and hopes to sync up our messaging with CUNA’s as soon as the 2020 campaign, but in the meantime, we encourage your continued support for the MCUL CU Link campaign, where your dollars are matched 100 percent and spent in your local media markets here in Michigan.
This cooperative advertising has helped Michigan credit unions in our advocacy efforts and has helped our industry achieve a 52 percent market share of consumers who belong to a credit union, higher than any other Top 10 state in the U.S. Michigan credit union members also continue to be twice as likely as bank customers to say that they trust us to look out for their financial well-being. That is why credit union membership has grown at a record pace for the past five years at a level nearly 4 times the population growth in the U.S.
Now, I want to turn it over to MCUL EVP/COO Patty Corkery for more on the League’s priorities.
At the state level, we ended the year strong with the passage of a few pieces of important legislation, including Lienholder and Remote and Electronic Notarization legislation. With these wins, we were able to successfully modernize the notary act as a whole, bringing it into the 21st century. I have mentioned that the Lienholder bills give credit unions the right to inspect collateral and caps fees at storage yards. The Electronic notary legislation allows for more ease in the notarization of documents. We’ve also seen progress on important data breach legislation in this fast-moving lame duck session. These issues were brought to MCUL from credit unions and we look forward to hearing from more from you next year on issues where our advocacy can help you and your members.
I’m also happy to report that this was a record setting year for the Grand Raffle and the MCUL federal PAC. More than 67 thousand tickets were sold by 110 credit unions — over 13,000 more tickets than last year — with the winning ticket being sold at Advantage One Credit Union. This campaign raised a total of $304,150, which surpassed last year by $32,000. Building this fund ensures that we have the means to build and sustain relationships with federal policy makers and educate them on the credit union difference. This money also enables us to fully fund Michigan’s fair share for CULAC as we work in tandem with CUNA to support credit union friends and issues around the country. Thanks to everyone who helped make this year a success.
Taking a look at upcoming Governmental Affairs events in the spring of 2019, I encourage you to participate in both CUNA and the MCUL Governmental Affairs Conferences. This year, it is especially important to reach out and let our legislators know what a force we are and how important our issues are to over 5 million Michiganders! And, considering our new congressional members, I also suggest chapters reach out and plan legislative breakfasts, as well as smaller events like meet & greets or pints & politics early in 2019. These events can really help our industry build meaningful relationships with local lawmakers and explain the issues that are most important to credit unions.
On the Regulatory Affairs side, I’m pleased to announce that we have resolved the IRS 990 issue that caused many state-chartered credit unions to receive notices earlier this year regarding their tax-exempt status. The IRS confirmed our suspicion that the notices were made in error and they have committed to working with the Department of Insurance & Financial Services to address and resolve the issue. DIFS has notified us and all affected credit unions. We owe Senator Stabenow a special thanks for helping resolve this issue.
Speaking of DIFS, the State is expected to fill two key leadership vacancies following John Kolhoff’s move to the Texas Credit Union Commission and Pat McPharlin’s expected retirement at year-end. We will be working hard in 2019 to build strong relationships with their replacements and of course we thank both Pat and John for their years of service in these important regulatory roles.
Now, onto promoting the credit union difference. MCUL and FocusIQ are working in tandem to develop new creative for the 2019 CU Link campaign. CU Link is driving home the message that members can receive great savings when they utilize all of the products and services credit unions have to offer. This focus on share of wallet takes awareness to the next level. We also want to reinforce that credit unions provide fast, safe, easy access to financial services through mobile banking as well as branches, call centers and fee-free ATM networks. We want to help communicate the brand promises of credit unions including trust, value, convenience, security, and commitment to community and the financially challenged.
With a majority of our audiences consuming our message through digital media, online advertising and video will be a strong focus in the upcoming year. Additionally, digital radio will be expanded beyond Pandora, to encompass Spotify and IHeartRadio.
This new campaign will begin broadcasting in April. Look for more information in the coming months on the CU Link Campaign.
Your financial support for the Michigan Credit Union Foundation will also be important in 2019. The MCUF recently updated the High School Financial Reality Fair experience which will improve the event for both students and credit union facilitators. This past year, we had 49 fairs, reaching approximately 4,300 students, and nine fairs are already scheduled for 2019.
Next year, the Foundation, on behalf of Michigan credit unions, will continue to fund sponsorships for two highly visible and important financial education initiatives in April: the Money Smart Kids Read program and the High School Personal Finance Challenge.
Support for these statewide programs allows credit unions to engage with communities and increases awareness for the industry’s social mission statewide. For information on how you can get involved or support the Foundation, visit the MCUF page on our website.
Shifting to Education and Events, in the coming year our team is focused on aligning subject matter of events with credit unions’ strategic priorities.
Starting with February’s Compliance Conference, the agenda will highlight developing talent and leadership, followed by the Lending & Marketing Conference in April, which will provide a fresh perspective on the consumer experience and brand intimacy in the digital world.
Our 2019 education and events schedule is posted here. Our top-notch training this year will offer forward-thinking ideas about delivering on brand promises, omni-channel technology, modernizing branch strategies and more. We welcome your participation and feedback so that the MCUL and CUNA can provide great training options for boards, executives and staff.
Starting with Technology Solutions, we continue to improve popular products like our web design and hosting services.
The team recently released its final batch of content management system updates for the year, which among other improvements, expanded white-label options for Leagues, CUSOs and other partners in the credit union space. This helps us provide a best-in-class website platform for easy client management of each website. As we move into next year, we’ll be working on a full reinvention of the CMS interface that I think will do a lot to improve the overall user experience. More details on that will come out in the next couple months.
As we highlighted last month, our technology offerings are also growing to include a strategic partnership with QCash Financial. QCash is a digital lending platform that offers credit union members short-term, small-dollar loans. In other words, this partnership offers a safe and financially-sound alternative to payday loans. The product currently leverages each credit unions experiential data to allow for fast loan approval without reliance on credit report data.
On a broader level, the opportunities that QCash offers will strengthen relationships between credit unions and their members. We recognize the relevance of this service both as a standalone resource for credit unions and as piece of their greater mobile strategy. That said, in 2019, we’ll pursue possible integration of the QCash platform with the LifeSteps Wallet product.
Moving on to Marketing Solutions, the Sprint program will expand cash rewards and annual loyalty cash to unlimited lines that are opened with Sprint through participating credit unions. And CUSG is investing in supplemental advertising to spread awareness about this great offer, which comes as an added benefit to all credit unions currently offering cash rewards to their members. For those not already a part of the nearly 2,000 credit unions offering Sprint cash rewards, it’s an easy process to contact us and get started.
This program is a great membership enhancement for credit unions as well as a source of non-interest marketing reimbursement income.
Shifting to our TurboTax product, as a new tax season approaches, we remind you of the value of CUSG’s exclusive TurboTax offer. This year, all Americans will navigate new tax codes and related tax issues. So, to help credit unions best position this opportunity to their members, we’re hosting several webinars highlighting the benefits of TurboTax software and other tax-based resources you can make available to your members. Whether you’re already promoting the Turbo Tax member discount or looking to better understand its features, you can register on our website and reserve your spot for one of these free webinars.
Turning to Performance Solutions, I’m happy to report that the Performance Pro team will launch their mobile app in the next few weeks. This product will present the software’s core functionality in a simple and clean interface allowing users to access data, track updates and catch up on appraisals while on the go. The app is a welcome addition for current clients and an added benefit for credit unions currently considering performance appraisal software. This new feature is unique among competing products and allows supervisors and employees to complete the evaluation input process anywhere and anytime. Helping credit unions deliver effective tools that save time and money is something we’re passionate about at CUSG.
The team is also quickly approaching the launch of a CEO and Board-targeted suite of products. This will include the recently launched Planning Pro, our strategic planning, tracking and collaboration software; Governease, our upcoming repository for identifying, selecting and customizing governance policies; board training resources; CUSG’s Board Portal product; and CEO Review, a software-led consultation service that simplifies and enhances the CEO appraisal process. These products are available a-la-carte and as part of a bundled suite that comes at a discounted rate.
And finally, our Strategic Advisory Services team also has several big projects in the works. As a precursor to their upcoming Center for Board Excellence, the team has assembled a collection of free resources, including publications, white papers, industry data and other useful applications for boards. As they work toward the completion of the Center for Board Excellence in 2019, these resources are available now on the Strategic Advisory Services tab of CUSG’s website. These resources, coupled with the product suite mentioned earlier, demonstrate CUSG’s commitment to helping boards and CEOs with the important tasks of planning and governance.
In 2019, the team will also focus on building a product suite for Governance, Risk and Compliance management. The goal will be something that credit unions of all sizes can use to increase efficiency, profitability and financial performance with both software tools and advisory services to help use them. Look for more details on that in the coming months.