ICUL Service Corporation
February 2012


Important News 

Legislative Action Alert issued!

ICUL Board election ballots due February 15

Annual Convention goes mobile!

So just what is a 'QR Code'?

REAL Solutions enhanced FiCEP program offered for second year in Illinois

SAS Lunch & Learns very productive

Legislative Action Alert issued!
The second year of the 97th Illinois General Assembly just began January 31 and ICUL has issued a Legislative Action Alert.


The Alert is regarding House Bill 4451 (Rep. E. Hernandez) and Senate Bill 2939 (Sen. E. Jones Jr.), Transmitters of Money Act ("TOMA", 205 ILCS 657/1 et seq.): Proposed Amendment Addressing General-Use Prepaid Cards.  H.B. 4451/S.B. 2939 seeks to extend and expand federal CARD Act fee and expiration restrictions and restraints to reloadable general-use prepaid cards. As consumer owned financial cooperatives, credit unions in Illinois oppose the measure, because it is anti-consumer, anti-credit union, anti-merchant, anti-payment system and anti-Illinois.


An update to this Alert was published on February 8.  For all of the details, please see the League's Web site.


ICUL Board election ballots due February 15
Ballots for affiliated credit unions to vote on the slate of 2012 League Board of Directors nominees were mailed on January 12, 2012 to all affiliated credit unions. 

Ballots need to be received by the independent teller of elections, Selden Fox, no later than February 15, 2012.  Winners will be announced on or before March 1, 2012. 

If you have any questions regarding the election process and/or view the nominee profiles, please see the League's Web site or contact Vicki Ponzo, ICUL SVP, Member Services.

Annual Convention goes mobile!
Information and resources related to the 82nd Annual Convention have been significantly enhanced and are now available via the League's Web site, including a new mobile web site.
Available online resources include adding the exhibitor packet (as well as a running sponsorship availability list), speaker bios and photos, and a special online registration page for the hotel.  Also included are maps of the new hotel floor plan and area restaurants, with an "Attractions" map yet to come.   This is in addition to the usual full attendee packet/brochure and running list of exhibitors that we have placed on the League's Web site in the past.
Secondly this year, a new, mobile Web site specifically for the Convention has been implemented.  With the location and other changes related to the Convention this year, this is an opportune time for a mobile site as a way to provide more information at the fingertips of our attendees. 

The mobile site is intended to work with smartphones (e.g., iPhone, Droid, etc.) via either scanning what's called a QR Code (see next story) or if a user enters the Annual Convention page URL ( directly from their smartphone, they will be automatically re-directed to the mobile site.  In addition, the mobile site is specifically designed for smartphones, so users of "tablets" (e.g., iPad, Kindle Fire, etc.), will still see the regular site as it still shows well on those devices.

Since the mobile site is not intended to be as comprehensive as the regular site, the League invites you to check out both sites.  The QR Code is available in the main hard copy brochure, on the League's main Convention page on its Web site and via the Snapshots page in this issue of Indepth.  It addition, it will be posted in many places throughout the new Convention facility (Schaumburg Renaissance Convention Center) and ICUL staff will be onhand to to assist attendees with using the mobile site.  Check it out today! 

For more assistance with using the new mobile site, please contact William Wille, ICUL PR Coordinator at (630) 983-3216 or via email.

So just what is a 'QR Code'?
Whether or not you are a smartphone user, you have probably probably noticed or heard the term QR Code or seen those ink blot-looking squares.  They have become very apparent in a variety of places including newspapers, advertisements, stores, marketing materials, and the list goes on.

If you’ve ever wondered what this is all about, QR stands for "quick response", which essentially mean it’s a two-dimensional bar code, that stores a website address (URL).  Anyone with a smartphone or a mobile device with a camera can then scan the QR Code through any one of a number of scanner apps and then quickly be taken to a mobile Web site that corresponds to that particular QR Code.

So be sure to bring along your smartphone or mobile device with a camera to the ICUL 82nd Annual Convention, April 26-28 at the Schaumburg Renaissance Convention Center. This year, you’ll be able to quickly access a number of resources right in the palm of your hand (see story above).

With QR codes, the convention will be more convenient and environmentally friendly. You can also use your smartphone or mobile device to learn more about and register for the convention today!

REAL Solutions enhanced FiCEP program offered for second year in Illinois
In bringing back the REAL Solutions® Enhanced Financial Counseling Certification Program (FiCEP) for the second year, two significant modifications are being made to enable as many Illinois credit unions as possible to participate in the program.

These enhancements include a reduction in cost and an increase in number and locations of proctored test sites.  The Illinois Credit Union Foundation board of directors has generously agreed to cover the cost of the REAL Solutions enhancements, which had been shared among the participants last year, so the only cost to Illinois credit unions is the purchase of the FiCEP books and exams from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).  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 will include Chicago, Danville, Gurnee, Moline, Rockford and St. Louis.

In the first year of the Illinois program, 23 individuals from 11 credit unions "graduated" as Certified Credit Union Financial Counselors (CCUFC).  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.

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 begins February 21, will include 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 will take place every two weeks and will be 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 your 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.

SAS Lunch & Learns very productive
As you may recall, the Small Asset Size (SAS) Advisory Group launched a new "Lunch and Learn" workshop series exclusively for credit unions under $25 million in assets during November and December.  A total of six meetings took place and touched every corner of the state.

Center to each of the six workshops included hearing from our regulators.  Brad Losch (IDFPR) presented at Alton and Decatur, Dave Anderson (IDFPR) attended Rockford and Gerald Schulz (NCUA) presented at Silvis, Rosemont and Morris.    The presenters shared their perspectives and insights about the industry’s economic progress, compliance matters and concerns as the small credit union industry moves forward. Their key points included: 

  • IDFPR regulators reported that a shortage in examiner staff contributes to delay in exam reviews.  However, they added that recent state actions indicate the possibility of additional staff in the near future.

  • IDFPR regulator reminded participants to be aware of Servicemember Civil Relief Act, Financial Exploitation of the Elderly training, and SAFE Act compliance requirements.

  • Regulators pointed out that the industry is improving, albeit slowly, and reminded participants to focus on interest rate and concentration risks.  Of particular concern were those credit unions with high concentrations in mortgage loans – pointing out that national data indicates a credit union's portfolio far outweighs that of banks as a percentage of assets.    Data also indicates that credit unions perform much better than banks in credit card lending in terms of delinquency. 

  • Expect an examiner to focus on vendor due diligence and business planning. It was further noted that historical key ratios play a significant part in determining a CUs safety and soundness. 

  • Credit unions that fail generally face one or all of the following:
    • Poor record keeping;
    • Fraud;
    • Concentration Risk;
    • Credit Risk;
    • Installing new programs sans third party due diligence or proper planning. 

Concerns and comments shared by credit union attendees included:

  • The increasing cost of running a credit union operation (health insurance, forms, disclosures, compliance);
  • Evaluate the definition of "small."  Determine if number of members is a better method to define "small" credit union – other than asset size;
  • The need to encourage larger credit unions to become "mentors" not "seekers";
  • The value in supporting smaller credit unions moving to merge to consider a like-size credit union as a partner, thereby strengthening the small credit union community;
  • The necessity to keep small credit unions interacting with peers of similar size; and
  • Thanks to Wednesday Medlen, a Community Plus FCU team member:  At the Decatur lunch and learn, she mentioned there is a listserv for other credit unions who offer youth programs and may offer credit unions some great advice and programs that will help grow their youth programs. It is through the National Youth Involvement Board and their website is

"Thank you to everyone who attended these inaugural meetings," said Joni Senkpeil, ICUL Director of Small Credit Union Development. "I came away from the L & Ls inspired and driven to keep this initiative front and center and look forward to working with each of you as we move into a new year."

Senkpeil announced the formation of the advisory group during last year’s SAS Credit Union Conference.  Members of the advisory group include: Michael Daugherty, CEO, Community Plus Federal Credit Union ($14.5 million, 3,200 members, Rantoul); Kimberly Hocking, CEO, Kaskaskia Valley Community Credit Union ($7.8 million, 2,200 members, Centralia); and Karen Jurasek, CEO, Generations Credit Union ($16.9 million, 2,600 members, Rockford); as well as ICUL staff members Vicki Ponzo, Senior Vice President of Member Services, and Senkpeil.  For more information about the advisory group, please click here.

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