ICUL Service Corporation
 
 
August 2012
 
 

 

Important News

Governor Quinn signs S.B. 3217, ICU Act Amendments Bill to standing O

Index measures trust in CUs for 15th consecutive quarter

aSmarterChoice.org shows continued significant usage by consumers

Illinois wraps up second year of REAL Solutions enhanced FiCEP program

NerdWallet Names SIUCU a Top Pick for Financial Literacy

Enroll in the Premium GM Program and write more auto loans

Check out CUBETV Guide

Governor Quinn signs S.B. 3217, ICU Act Amendments Bill to standing O
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn on July 27 signed S.B. 3217, the Illinois Credit Union League's (ICUL) legislative initiative to amend the Illinois Credit Union Act.

Signing of the bill, now known as Public Act 97-0855, took place at the American Association of Credit Union Leagues' (AACUL) Summer meeting at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago in front of 150 credit union leaders from across the country, including CEOs of the state credit union associations, senior association executives, and the executive board of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

During the Spring 2012 session of the Illinois General Assembly, the bill passed unanimously through both chambers (49-0 by the Illinois Senate on March 22, 2012 and 117-0 by the Illinois House on May 24, 2012).  The bill clarifies that the surviving credit union in a merger is a successor-in-interest and may enforce mortgages and other loans acquired from the merging credit union.  It also addresses (i) board authority to establish age eligibility voting standards, and (ii) membership status if a member doesn’t have at least one fully paid share.

Governor Quinn highlighted that he is a huge supporter of credit unions and actually belongs to three. He commended conference attendees for their service to their members and recognized that the credit union industry is a movement of which he is proud to be part.  Quinn also encouraged credit unions to continue providing low-cost financial alternatives to consumers and to be a part of the economic recovery. In closing, he signed S.B. 3217 and received a standing ovation from the attendees!

Index measures trust in CUs for 15th consecutive quarter
Especially over the past year, credit unions have seen a significant surge in awareness and positive commentary by their members, the media, as well as consumers.

While this has been due to a number of reasons and through myriad sources, the latest one to highlight the positive sentiment toward credit unions is the Chicago Booth/ Kellogg School Financial Trust Index.  The Index, which actually began with its first "wave" in December 2008, just published its 15th quarterly report last month and showed that trust in credit unions rose from 58 percent to 63 percent of those surveyed. These most recent results outpaced local banks, which saw their trust also rise, but only from 51 percent to 55 percent. Conversely, trust in national banks fell from 25 percent down to 23 percent.

As a quarterly measure of Americans’ trust in the private institutions in which they can invest their money, the Financial Trust Index measures investors’ trust  in the stock market, banks, mutual funds and large corporations. In different quarters, this information is supplemented with data on additional topics (e.g. real estate investment, opinion about recent events, etc.).

The Financial Trust Index was developed and is spearheaded by Paola Sapienza, Merrill Lynch Capital Markets Research Professor of Finance at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and Luigi Zingales, Robert C. McCormack Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. On a quarterly basis, data is analyzed from more than 1,000 American households, randomly chosen and surveyed via phone by Social Science Research Solutions.

Professors Sapienza and Zingales define trust as "an expectation that a person (or institution) will perform actions that are beneficial or at least not detrimental to others. While trust is fundamental to all trade and investment, it is particularly important in financial markets, where people part with their money in exchange for promises."

Although this index has consistently reported more trust in credit unions than local and national banks quarter over quarter, it should be cautioned that overall on the latest survey, only 21 percent of Americans surveyed trust the financial system -- the lowest point since March 2009, the earliest months after the financial crisis.

In the July 24 press release of its most recent results, Sapienza noted a "collapse" relative to trust in banks and Zingales said that perhaps national banks may be "too big to trust ."

E.J. Donaghey, CEO of University of Illinois Employees Credit Union and a Kellogg alumnus, who brought this index to the attention of the credit union movement said, "This is a story we all already knew. Credit unions are trusted," said Donaghey. "To have this kind of academic pedigree backing what we knew to be fact, is great."

aSmarterChoice.org shows continued significant usage by consumers
The first six months of 2012 have been spent actively reaching out to people via social media and news stories encouraging everyone to visit the consumer website, http://www.aSmarterChoice.org

ASmarterChoice and its social media components are designed for the credit union movement to use in driving more consumers toward credit union membership. This Web site provides consumers with positive credit union news, credit union member testimonials, and best-of-all: a credit union locator that will search out a credit union(s) they can join. 

For the first six months of the year, the site’s key performance indicators include:

Visitor Profile:

  • 132,579 people made 225,980 visits to aSmarterChoice.org from January 1 – June 30, 2012
  • 57.88% were new visitors
  • 18.14% or 40,996 visitors came directly by using www.aSmarterChoice.org
  • 81.86% or 33,740 visitors came by clicking a link from elsewhere -
    • 2.50% or 5,646 visitors came via campaigns
    • 6.09% or 13,758 visitors came from search engines
    • 73.27% or 165,580 visitors came from referring sites
    • Visitors viewed the “What Is a Credit Union” page 20,962 times

Credit Union Searches:

  • The number of visitors who needed only one search to successfully find a credit union they were eligible to join: 64,300
  • Total number of successfully conducted credit union searches: 119,091

Social Media Visits & CU Searches:

  • Facebook Visits: 1,373
  • Twitter Visits: 277
  • CU Searches from Social Media:  526

Other Highlights:

  • February 15-16: the first daily spikes in visitors up to 1,466 + 645 searches (15th) & 1,528 + 636 searches (16th) when MSN.com | Money: The 102 best money websites featured The “Find a Credit Union” site, which now points to aSmarterChoice.org, made personal finance writer Liz Weston’s list under the Savings and Investing category.
  • February 27– March 7: daily visits crested to 2,046 and climbed steadily to 2,629 plus 836 searches and on up to 2,671 with a high of 862 searches, which is attributed to the J.D. Power and Associates survey of more than 5,000 bank customers who switched from big banks last fall and a the resulting positive stories in a variety of publications and online as a result.

Relative to Illinois during the January - June 2012 timeframe, there were 5,329 visits by Illinois consumers, with 58 percent of those performing a search. 

This Web site allows your credit union to enter its field of membership information into a nationwide database to be used by individuals seeking credit union membership.  Each credit union can enter and update its information as needed.  The database is also nationwide and is used by CUNA, Leagues and credit unions when issuing press releases, generating ads and offering general information about credit unions to the public.

Now would be a great time to ensure your data, which is used for consumer searches, is up to date.  For assistance in accessing the site for this purpose, please contact Diane Rotolo, ICUL Member Services Secretary at 630-983-3211.

Illinois wraps up second year of REAL Solutions enhanced FiCEP program
With the completion of last month’s final webinar as part of the REAL Solutions® Enhanced Financial Counseling Certification Program (FiCEP) for 2012 in Illinois, 40 more individuals from 19 Illinois credit unions are on their way to “graduating” as Certified Credit Union Financial Counselors (CCUFC).

The final designation of becoming a CCUFC will be awarded by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) upon successful passage of two in-person proctored exams, the second of which occurred in June, by each program participant.

In bringing back the REAL Solutions® Enhanced Financial Counseling Certification Program (FiCEP) for the second year, two significant modifications were made to enable as many Illinois credit unions as possible to participate in the program. These enhancements included a reduction in cost and an increase in number and locations of proctored test sites. 

The Illinois Credit Union Foundation (ICU Foundation) board of directors generously agreed to cover the cost of the REAL Solutions enhancement, which had been shared among the participants last year, so the only cost to Illinois credit unions this year was the purchase of the FiCEP books and exams from CUNA.  The ICU Foundation also made scholarships available to help offset participant costs for this program.

Relative to testing sites, exams took place last year only at the ICU System offices in Naperville.  However, the expansion of new testing sites for the 2012 program included Chicago, Danville, Gurnee, Moline, Rockford, and St. Louis.

In the first year of the Illinois program, 23 individuals from 11 credit unions "graduated" as CCUFCs.  To commemorate the inaugural program, a "class reunion" was held with the new crop of CCUFC’s, along with 27 other individuals who had previously achieved this designation.  Another reunion is anticipated to be held in September with all Illinois CCUFC’s, where implementation of financial counseling at the credit union level will be discussed, as will continuing education.

As CUNA’s financial counseling certification self-study program, FiCEP enables all credit union staff to become more confident in helping members build a stronger financial future. FiCEP is designed for credit union staff members who work in the financial counseling, collections, and loan departments, or any others who are committed to helping members gain control of their financial futures. 

Modeled after the CUNA Certified Financial Counselor Schools, FiCEP includes two parts of four learning modules each. When participants successfully complete the proctored exams for both parts (eight total modules), they become a CCUFC ready and able to assist credit union members in reaching their financial goals.

The Illinois program for 2012, which began February 21, included 10 webinars -- one per module plus an orientation session to kick-off for the course, and a session dedicated to implementing financial counseling at participating credit unions – and two proctored exam sessions plus one in-person meeting to help participants learn how to use their new skills at work.  The webinars took place every two weeks and were archived. The benefits to credit unions participating in the program include: 

  • Proven financial counseling skills that become part of the credit union’s culture;
  • Written for all staff so anyone can offer financial counseling during every member interaction;
  • Certification that satisfies members’ needs as they continually look for the value of a credit union;
  • Differentiates a credit union by having certified financial counselors on their team; and
  • Helps members transform the way they deal with money through real-world counseling.

The Illinois Credit Union League and the ICU Foundation teamed up with the National Credit Union Foundation in 2009 to offer a program called “REAL Solutions for Low Wealth Households.” Currently 87 credit unions in the state are participating. REAL stands for Relevant, Effective, Asset-building, Loyalty-producing, and is being operated by 35 leagues representing 37 states. More than 1,000 credit unions are part of the program. Additional information about Illinois’ REAL Solutions effort may be found via the League's Web site.

NerdWallet Names SIUCU a Top Pick for Financial Literacy
NerdWallet finance blog recently released their top picks for university credit union financial literacy programs, and SIU Credit Union was named the Best for Car Buyers.  

"It’s an honor to be recognized," says Karli Feldhake, Marketing Director of SIU Credit Union. "We always strive to provide helpful financial resources to our members and the entire community."

SIU Credit Union’s website offers a variety of free resources including financial calculators, Illinois Motor Vehicle forms, and links to popular auto buying websites such as Kelly Blue Book– all designed to help improve financial knowledge and the car buying experience.

"Credit unions are great for free checking and loans, of course, but many people don’t realize that they’re also an excellent resource for financial literacy," says Laura Edgar, NerdWallet’s credit union specialist. "We were especially impressed with SIU’s collection of information on cars. Buying a car requires so much more than getting a good rate on a loan, and we think it’s wonderful that SIU encourages their members to view the process holistically."

NerdWallet is an unbiased personal finance website committed to promoting financial literacy. Their education blog offers tools and tips for students to manage their finances: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/education/. As a company, they're especially excited to spread the word about credit unions. They've crunched the numbers, and credit unions come out ahead of the big banks every time. Check out their pressroom to read reviews of free products and learn more: http://www.nerdwallet.com/pressroom.

Enroll in the Premium GM Program and write more auto loans 
The Invest in America Credit Union Member Discount from GM has been enhanced to drive more loans to your credit union.

By enrolling at the Premium Level, credit unions can maximize loans while offering this valuable discount and benefit of membership to their members.  Premium benefits have been enhanced in many ways:

  • GM Employee Pricing for eligible credit union employees that own a non-GM make vehicle;
  • Free custom marketing materials, including statement inserts and custom size banners, are available to help your credit union optimize program results and increase auto loans; and
  • Subvented-rate loans are not compatible with the Credit Union Member Discount from GM, driving loans back to the credit union.

Enroll now at the premium level so your credit union can receive enhanced benefits and take advantage of all it has to offer. Please visit the Invest in America Partner Center click on Credit Union Enrollment Forms. While at the Partner Center, you can learn more about the program by clicking on Enhanced GM Program.

If you have additional questions, please contact Leslie Norush, National Business Consultant from the Invest in America Program at: via e-mail or (800) 262-6285 ext. 542. 

Credit unions that are not currently signed up must enroll to receive enhanced benefits.  Enrollment and participation is FREE!

Check out CUBETV Guide
As a result of the strategic alliance between ICUL and the Michigan League, we are pleased to bring your credit union the Credit Union Weekly National Update as part of "CUBE TV". 

The National Update is an innovative webcast looking at the financial news that matters most to credit unions.  Each week, it provides a complete wrap up of credit union news, economic trends and business happenings. To view the National Update, check out the front of ICUL's Web site on any particular week.
 
Also recently available is the 2nd Quarter Compliance & Regulatory Review.  This special issue of CUBE TV will provide your credit union with information about compliance issues that took effect in the 2nd quarter of 2012 and provides links to additional information that may be helpful for your credit union to stay in compliance. 
Click here for the link to the 2nd Quarter Compliance & Regulatory Issue Review CUBE TV.

In addition, if you are looking for additional information and training on TDR’s and Workout loan requirements, the July CUBE TV will provide you with the additional information your credit union might need.  This would be a good segment to share with your credit union’s collection and accounting departments.  Click here for the link to the TDR’s and Workout Loan Requirements.

 


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