Welcome to the December issue of MCUL’s Priority Report.
Starting with Advocacy, working with CUNA, MCUL and credit union advocates continue to educate members of our congressional delegation on our federal and state legislative priorities.
As you may recall, over the past few months we’ve experienced several significant victories in the U.S. House. We had the passage of the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, the SAFE Banking Act, the Corporate Transparency Act, and finally, passage of the COUNTER Act, which makes reforms to the Bank Secrecy Act.
Unfortunately, the Senate has yet to consider those bills and with just a few weeks remaining in 2019 it’s looking like those bills could carry over to 2020. As it relates to robocall legislation, instead of trying to get the House passed Stopping Bad Robocalls bill through the Senate, it appears the Senate and House have instead reached an agreement to send the President a bill that purportedly reconciles the differences between the House passed bill and the original TRACED Act, passed this summer by the Senate. The new Pallone-Thune TRACED Act includes language that, among other things, requires carriers to offer call-authentication technology to everyone at no additional charge and requires Opt-in or opt-out robocall blocking be offered at no additional charge to consumers
While the expectation is the Senate will consider the COUNTER Act next year, given the bi-partisan support it enjoys, the same cannot be said for the Corporate Transparency Act which passed the House by a largely partisan vote and is unlikely to move in the Republican led Senate. Turning to cannabis banking, while Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo had hinted his committee would take up cannabis banking legislation in 2019, the calendar isn’t favorable for that to happen and action in the Committee could come in 2020 instead. It remains to be seen whether Senator Crapo will seek to use the House passed SAFE Banking Act as the template for what he seeks to achieve or whether he'll instead choose to start from scratch.
MCUL and CUNA have been working to build support for legislation to modernize the Federal Credit Union Act, and I am pleased to announce that Senators Dan Sullivan from Alaska and Mazie Hirono from Hawaii have introduced the Senate version of the Veterans Members Business Loan Act, a bill that would exempt business loans made to veterans from the MBL cap. MCUL has contacted our two U.S. Senate offices to educate them on the issue and urge them to co-sponsor.
Finally, I want to stress the importance of educating our federal officials on the credit union tax status, especially in light of recent attacks by various banking associations. During a House Financial Services Committee hearing early this month, a few members of the Committee posed questions to NCUA Chairman Rodney Hood and FDIC Chairwoman Jelena McWilliams about credit unions acquiring banks, whether the two regulators thought credit unions should continue to enjoy their not-for-profit tax status and if credit unions should be subject to Community Reinvestment Act requirements. This certainly isn’t the first time the questions have been asked nor will it be the last, but we must work harder together to educate our elected officials, so they reject the false narrative banks are putting forth.
We have had personal conversations with NCUA Chairman Rodney Hood and key members of the House Financial Services committee on this topic. In future meetings with our whole delegation, we will need to inform and educate regarding the positive public benefits of these transactions and refute the bankers’ arguments against them.
On the state side, our lawmakers continue to focus on the budget and potential supplemental budget for fiscal year 2020. As a result of this continued focus on the budget, the majority of legislation, including data breach, elder abuse, uniform assignment of rents and payday legislation, continue to be in the early stages. For
Data breach legislation was introduced in the Senate prior to the legislative fall break. This legislation includes a “follow your contract” clause which should provide credit unions relief by requiring that breached merchants provide financial institutions with more information faster.
Legislation has been introduced and continues to be tweaked to address financial exploitation and abuse of elders. MCUL, in conjunction with Senator Peter Lucido and the Michigan Busines Association, believe that this bill is a good compromise to help protect vulnerable and elderly adults without being overly burdensome on financial institutions.
Uniform Assignment of Rents has been introduced in the House. The legislation is awaiting a hearing in the House Judiciary. The legislation provides that in the event of default and foreclosure on a commercial property with renters, the credit union will automatically have the right to have the collection of rental income be assigned to the credit union. The only requirement is that the credit union perfects their interest in the rental income upon the foreclosure of the loan on the commercial property.
Payday Lending legislation has resurfaced this year. This legislation would create a new small-dollar loan program under the Deferred Presentment Transaction Act. Our team is working with its sponsor to include additional consumer protection measures. The legislation has been given an initial hearing in the House Regulatory Reform committee.
In a recent Lansing victory, military account escheat legislation was unanimously voted out of the Senate Families, Veterans and Seniors committee and off the Senate floor. The legislation creates a timeline of five years for escheating dormant account funds to the State for all active duty military regardless of where they are stationed. Currently credit unions are required to verify whether their members who are active duty military are overseas or on U.S. soil to determine when to escheat their dormant accounts to the state. This legislation would allow active duty military members the benefit of five years before their dormant account funds are escheated regardless of whether they are serving at home or abroad.
On the regulatory compliance front, be on the lookout for some changes to MCUL’s website for compliance resources and information. The League offers the best compliance, regulatory and advocacy resources and we are working on bringing this all together in an easy-to-navigate format that will include our InfoSight portal, the PolicyPro model policies library, our compliance and vendor management products called AffirmX, Complysight and CU Vendor Management and a growing suite of risk management and compliance tools.
We are also working through a number of requests for comment from the NCUA and USDA. USDA has issued an interim final rule specific to hemp with a request for public comment. We’re currently reviewing the rule to identify any points of impact to the financial services industry and will be watching the NCUA and potential amendments to its recent hemp banking guidance.
In light of the interim final rule, FinCEN, the FDIC, OCC and Conference of State Bank Supervisors issued clarifying guidance on providing financial services to hemp-related businesses. FinCEN will be issuing additional guidance after further review and evaluation of the USDA’s interim final rule.
Earlier this month, MCUL hosted a group of credit union leaders in our Lansing office to discuss cannabis examination guidance. The idea behind this was to submit to both DIFS and NCUA details regarding what kind of guidance the industry would like to see from them, going forward. The Examination Taskforce has wrapped up its survey, so be on the lookout for this in the coming weeks. Your feedback is important as we continue to work with DIFS and NCUA for the betterment of the industry and the examination process.
Turning to our Consumer Awareness priority, we learned from recent research that Michigan’s credit unions are highly satisfied with our localized “Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union” campaign. With that, we have secured the partnership with CUNA to use the campaign theme again for 2020. This year’s consumer research is helping to refine our messages so that we can continue to move the needle in Michigan for membership growth and share of wallet. More Michigan credit unions than ever before have integrated with the CU Link campaign this year which greatly expanded the reach and impact of the campaign. There is a huge value proposition, especially for small asset size credit unions, to tag ads and tie into the Open Your Eyes advertising. Larger credit unions have long understood this. But now we need to make a bigger push with our large number of smaller credit unions regarding this value proposition.
Through November, the campaign continues to reach millions of targeted consumers in our state and across the country. In the coming weeks, CUNA will launch campaigns in Washington, Oregon and Idaho which will bring the total to 17 states running the campaign. So, thanks for the support for the cooperative campaign and please take advantage of the opportunity to tie into your own credit union’s marketing efforts.
In addition to funding statewide financial education initiatives, the Michigan Credit Union Foundation has been helping credit unions across the state with their own community reinvestment projects this year. Twenty-two grants totaling nearly $90,000 have already been awarded this year.
Two of these grants are helping to bring Children’s Savings Account Programs to families in the Jackson and Muskegon school districts. These automatic enrollment accounts are dedicated to post-secondary education costs and are combined with in-class financial education conducted by the credit unions.
The enhanced financial counseling certification training program wrapped up this month, and I want to say congratulations to the 91 credit union employees who completed training this year. They are now better equipped to help members in need of basic financial counseling. More than 700 Michigan credit union employees have participated in this program since it began in 2010, and MCUF plans to continue offering support for this impactful program in 2020.
We want to take this end-of-year opportunity to commend each and every credit union for their understanding of the importance of board and staff education and networking. Furthermore, we want to thank those who chose MCUL as a valued, trusted partner for such important training, networking and insights.
At the chapter level you may be interested to know that Mid-Michigan led the state by sending 344 individuals to MCUL training this year. Blue Ox led all other chapters by averaging over 28 individuals per credit union registered for League events. Battle Creek, SoMI and Capital Area had 100% credit union participation utilizing the MCUL for training this year. Well done!
As we look ahead to the coming year, the League and CUNA continue to be positioned to deliver the information and networking that credit unions need to be successful. Check out our calendars for 2020. We look forward to serving credit unions large and small with great niche events for boards, executives and staff.
Now for an update of CU Solutions Group. Among the mobile banking offerings from our Technology Solutions division, work is wrapping up on lending platforms QCash and Access Softek for short-term, small-dollar lending, and personal finance management services, like enhanced P2P services. Next year, among the regular features for our techonology services will be single sign-on access and lightweight account integration.
We expect Marketing Solutions’ Sprint Program to continue to grow as the holiday shopping season gets into full swing. This will be amplified by Sprint retail stores’ ability to promote affinity offers, like Love My Credit Union Rewards, which means members of participating credit unions will have an opportunity in-store to learn about and take advantage of this deal. If you’ve wondered how such a partner offers increased member satisfaction and engagement, we’d be happy to share our most recent and compelling data.
For credit unions already offering the TurboTax discount, now is the perfect time to begin promoting the benefits of this offer to members. In the LMCUR partner center, you’ll find marketing materials and other helpful assets to get your started. If you’re not currently working with one of our reps, contact us and we can help develop a marketing strategy for you in the lead up to tax season.
Speaking of holiday shopping, encouraging healthy saving habits in members before and during this season of spending is possible and even easy with Save to Win, our prize-linked savings program. In January, first credit unions in California, Utah, George, and Hawai’i will offer this incentivizing program. Speak with your league rep or attend an informational webinar to learn more about what Save to Win can offer you and your members in 2020.
As the year winds down, credit unions have evaluated their employee performance software, and we’ve been listening to what they want to see and use. We’ve integrated the Performance Pro platform from our HR Performance Solution division with partner software products like payroll software and learning management solutions. Other features soon to be added include a feedback module that makes it easier to log informal feedback notes throughout the year, engagement surveys and data analytics, and on-screen click-by-click instructions for staff and management. If there are other features you’d like to see, we want to hear from you. And don’t forget to check out our new Planning Pro product for plan metric tracking.
The fourth quarter also saw the addition of the newest risk management tool to our Strategic Advisory Services: CU Risk Intelligence, a company that owns AffirmX and Complysight products and is expanding to include our CU Vendor Management product as well as other risk management solutions. And please consider our Governease product as a means of enhancing your board governance policies. Our strategic advisors can also help you get the most out of your planning, governance and risk management strategies whether you use our solutions or not.
Thanks for joining us for another issue of Priority Report. Once again, I’m proud of everything the Michigan credit union community was able to achieve in 2019, and on behalf of MCUL, I’m excited to collaborate with so many dedicated leaders and volunteers once again in 2020 as we continue to make a difference together.
As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me or my team if you have any questions or concerns. Have a Merry Christmas and a happy new year, and here’s to even more progress in 2020 as we work together to impact lives through this wonderful credit union movement that we’re all so passionate about.