Consumers across the country are discovering credit unions – the smarter choice in the financial industry!
aSmarterChoice.org uses news stories and member testimonials to educate consumers about credit unions. The national credit union locator on the site enables users to quickly and successfully find a credit union in their area. In addition, this website offers marketing materials that credit unions can use to promote this valuable tool. The free marketing resources available to credit unions include:
- Credit Union Difference Banner: Through a rotating banner, you can educate members and potential members about the difference between credit unions and banks. Each image of the banner completes the sentence "credit unions are better than banks because…” and shares powerful facts about how credit unions stack up against banks.
- Credit Union Locator Tool: Post this tool on your website as a way to help members to share the credit union difference with those they know. Encourage members to share this locator with their friends and family.
In the month of April alone, nearly 400 Minnesota consumers visited aSmarterChoice.org, with 64 percent of visitors conducting successful searches to find a credit union they were eligible to join. On the whole in 2013, more than 2,300 Minnesotans have been to aSmarterChoice.org, with 60 percent of visitors using the search tool.
But we need your help! Credit unions need to update their own information within the locator to ensure that it’s accurate and comprehensive. Take the time to review information posted on the website. To edit your credit union's profile, visit aSmarterChoice.org's update your records page or contact Scott Shoberg at the Network office for login credentials.
CEO Conference registration now open!
On July 17-19, the Minnesota Credit Union Network will host its fourth annual CEO Conference. Exclusively for credit union presidents and executives, this event features discussion of the issues, obstacles and opportunities facing your credit union and your staff. Highlights of the 2013 CEO Conference include:
- Opening general session addressing "The Battle for the American Consumer”
- Wednesday evening welcome reception and dinner with Network staff
- Thursday dinner at Fitger's Tycoon Alehouse
- Roundtable sessions to stimulate discussion
- Keynote speakers, including credit union industry leaders Mark Sievewright and CUNA Senior VP of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan
- Open dialogue with Minnesota’s NCUA Supervisory Examiners
- Media spokesperson training
- And much more!
The 2013 CEO Conference is open to presidents or chief executives only. Join your peers at The Inn on Lake Superior in Duluth to discuss issues, learn from each other, and work together toward potential solutions to the many challenges facing credit unions today. Go to the 2013 CEO Conference page to register by Tuesday, July 9!
MnCUN pays tribute to two exceptional credit union advocates
Verne Palmberg (above, right), longtime Board Treasurer for West Financial Credit Union, was chosen as the 2013 Outstanding Volunteer of the Year. Jeff Schwalen (below, right), who has led Hiway Federal Credit Union as President for the past 10 years, is the 2013 Outstanding Professional of the Year.
The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) recently honored two prolific credit union advocates with the state’s most prestigious awards – Outstanding Credit Union Volunteer of the Year and Outstanding Credit Union Professional of the Year. This recognition is given to those who have demonstrated excellence, leadership and who embody the credit union mission. These awards were presented during a banquet held in conjunction with the MnCUN 2013 Annual Meeting & Convention.
The Volunteer of the Year Award is given each year to a credit union volunteer who personifies the spirit and ambition of the credit union mission. Recipients are chosen based on their involvement with credit unions at local and state levels, along with participation in other activities that better their communities and help advance the credit union movement.
This year’s honoree is Verne Palmberg of West Financial Credit Union. Palmberg has served credit unions as a board member for a total of 22 years, with nine of those as Board Treasurer for the West Financial Board of Directors. Palmberg is an influential force for the credit union, leading the push for a successful merger and helping attract community members to a local grocery store credit union branch. He is a tireless volunteer who is actively engaged in promoting the benefits of becoming a credit union member.
"The contributions, when you look at his history, are just obvious. He has so much experience,” said fellow West Financial Board member Pat Middleton. "Verne is a giver. If there was a line to get, he’d be at the end of it. If there were a line to give, he’d be the first one there.”
The 2013 Outstanding Professional of the Year Award was given to a remarkable person who is the epitome of professionalism and who truly stands behind the "people helping people” philosophy. This award is given each year to a person who works to selflessly and wholeheartedly promote the credit union ideal, and this year’s honoree is Jeff Schwalen, Hiway Federal Credit Union.
Schwalen has served Hiway Federal Credit Union as President & CEO for a decade. During his time at the helm, the credit union has seen a steady rise in membership, assets that have grown by $350 million, and has developed a tradition of offering innovative products and services to its members. Schwalen has been instrumental in making sure the credit union continues to thrive.
He takes the prosperity and well-being of the credit union, his staff and the members very seriously. Schwalen is an active team player among the staff and Board of Directors, and he makes it a priority to listen to his employees – from senior management to front office staff.
"The whole credit union movement deserves somebody like him,” said Hiway Board member Merritt Linze. "I think he’s very inspiring, because the people around him are looking at him and he sets a tone that everybody follows.”
Schwalen is also heralded by his peers in the industry, nominated for this award by fellow credit union president and MnCUN Board Member Nick Meyer of Minnesota Valley Federal Credit Union.
"Nothing is too small for Jeff to get involved in.” Meyer said. "If it helps the credit union movement, if it helps his members, his community, if it helps his employees, he’s willing to go whatever distance he needs to.”
The Professional and Volunteer of the Year Awards are coordinated by MnCUN’s Award Committee and judged by an unbiased, external committee.
"The Minnesota Credit Union Network is pleased to honor Verne and Jeff for the tremendous contributions they have made over the years to their credit unions and to the movement,” said Mark D. Cummins, MnCUN President & CEO. "Their dedication in promoting credit unions and inspiring others is commendable. The Network is grateful to have people like Verne and Jeff working for the credit union movement, and I congratulate them on receiving these distinguished awards.”
Credit unions and vendors are invited to join the Minnesota Credit Unions for Kids committee (MnCU4Kids) for its 18th annual Golf Tournament on Wednesday, June 26, at the Refuge Golf Course in Oak Grove. The tournament begins with lunch at noon, followed by a shotgun start at 1 p.m. After the tournament, there will be a social hour, silent auction and awards dinner.
Golf with MnCU4Kids and the Hiawatha Chapter of Credit Unions
Credit unions and vendors also have the opportunity to serve as tournament sponsors. With sponsorships ranging from $150-$5,000, there are a variety of opportunities to support the event. Tournament proceeds will benefit Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare.
For more information about the golf tournament and to register, visit the Event Calendar section of the Network website.
Also this month, the Hiawatha Chapter will hold its 28th annual Southern Minnesota Credit Union Open at Somerby Golf Club in Byron. Set for Thursday, June 13, this tournament is open to all credit unions and is hosted by First Alliance Credit Union, Accentra Credit Union and HomeTown Federal Credit Union. To R.S.V.P. your golf team, contact Lisett Comai-Legrand at First Alliance Credit Union.
Lee Benedict named a CU Builder by the Minnesota CU Foundation
Lee Benedict, President & CEO of Soo Line Credit Union, has been designated as a Credit Union Builder by the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation. The credit union board of directors, who nominated him for this honor, formally presented him with his new designation at its May 20 board meeting.
Benedict has had a long career in the credit union movement, retiring this month after 45 years of service – 33 of those years as President & CEO. During his tenure, Benedict navigated three credit union mergers, obtained two community charters, and maintained a dual presence in the Twin Cities metro area and in greater Minnesota. In addition to his leadership at SLCU, Lee also spent 13 years of service on the Board of Directors at CU Companies, including a term as Board Chair.
"Lee is a fixture at Soo Line and has directed his credit union through many changes in his career,” said Minnesota Credit Union Foundation Board Chairman Pat Brekken. "His dedication, commitment and contributions are noteworthy, and I am privileged to bestow this honor upon him.”
Benedict joins 19 other individuals who have been honored over the past six years with the MnCUF's Credit Union Builder Award. The names of the recipients and the contributing credit unions are permanently displayed in the Minnesota Credit Union Network's lobby as a tribute to their accomplishments. The honorees receive acknowledgment from the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation, and donors are also listed online and in the Foundation's annual report.
To learn more about MnCUF’s Credit Union Builder Award and to view a list of those who have been honored with this recognition, visit the Foundation website.
The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) will host a free credit union workshop in the Twin Cities on Friday, June 28, focusing on examinations, strategic planning, fraud detection, leadership and fair lending compliance. The NCUA Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives staff and representatives from the Credit Union Executives Society will be on-hand to share their insights, along with Real Solutions, CUNA Mutual Group and the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.
NCUA hosts Credit Union Workshop June 28 in Minneapolis
NCUA’s OSCUI fosters credit union development and the effective delivery of financial services for small credit unions, new credit unions and credit unions with a low-income designation. Additional information and online registration can be found on the Event Calendar page of the Network website.
MnCUN conference call details tax exemption threat
Agencies issue final garnishment order
CFPB releases amendments to Ability-to-Repay Rule
CFPB delays effective date for financing of credit insurance premiums
IRS issues early draft of revised Form W-8BEN and Form W-9
Upcoming effective dates