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|The Pulse (06-04-14)|
The Pulse (06-04-14)
June 4, 2014 ● Volume 03, Issue 22
Credit Union News
Beginning in December 2013, a string of articles debating the taxation of credit unions have been published in Prairie Business Magazine. On May 29, Minnesota Credit Union Network President & CEO Mark Cummins submitted a letter to the editor, entitled “Minnesota Credit Union Network weighs in on tax debate.”
The first article in this series, “Level the playing field for lending institutions,” was written by South Dakota Bankers Association President Curt Everson. In April, American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research President Steve Pociask responded with “Eliminating credit union tax exemption bad public policy.” In May, Minnesota Bankers Association President/CEO Joe Witt submitted his beliefs via “Credit union supporter's commentary misses the point.”
In his article, Cummins calls for a common sense conversation about the core differences between banks and credit unions which affect each financial institution’s practices and motivations.
“Since 1923, Minnesota credit unions have served as community-focused institutions that are able to offer products and services to consumers across the country with fewer fees and better rates,” said Cummins. “This is because credit unions focus on people – all members are owners – not profits, which banks generate for the benefit of a small handful of shareholders.”
Cummins added that credit unions’ tax status allows them to return earnings to members, helping individuals and businesses reach their financial goals while providing consumers with buying power- improving the economy as a whole.
“The tax debate is tired, as banks continue to beat the same drum that credit unions have an unfair advantage and are the ‘deadbeats’ of the financial service industry,” Cummins added. “The truth is, credit unions are outstanding corporate citizens that do pay taxes. In fact, credit unions pay millions of dollars in property, sales and payroll taxes each year.”Prairie Business Magazine is a business to business magazine for North Dakota, South Dakota & western Minnesota with a focus on the promotion of business success in the Bakken oil region, Red River Valley and South Dakota, according to the Prairie Business Magazine website. Each of the four articles relating to the credit union tax status are available to read on the Prairie Business Magazine website.
RBC Proposal: What’s next, and thank you!
The comment period for NCUA’s proposed risk-based capital rule closed on May 28. The next step in NCUA’s process are the listening sessions to be held in Los Angeles (June 26), Chicago (July 10) and in Alexandria, Virginia (July 17). Those interested in attending any of these in-person sessions can find additional information, including registration, for the sessions on NCUA's website. It is our understanding that, while seating is limited, space remains available for the various sessions, including the closest Chicago session.
In addition to the comment letter filed by the Network, the following is a list of MnCUN member credit unions that have comment letters posted on the NCUA website to date, and we anticipate some others may also be added. Thank you for your willingness to comment and for your efforts to engage in regulatory advocacy on behalf of your credit union and the credit union industry!
Last month, representatives from the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) traveled
to Paraguay to recognize the 20th anniversary of Central de Cooperativas del Area Nacional Ltda. (CENCOPAN). Formed in 1994, CENCOPAN provides its member credit unions with services similar to those offered by trade associations and corporate credit unions in the United States.
MnCUN and CENCOPAN have been paired through the World Council of Credit Unions’ “International Partnership Program” since March of 2004. The two organizations were also celebrating a decade of partnership, which has allowed for the exchange of knowledge, information, and experiences among the two countries.
During the visit, MnCUN President & CEO Mark D. Cummins spoke at CENCOPAN’s International Seminar, which was entitled, “Credit Unions: A True Alternative for Economic & Social Development.” Cummins provided an overview of the changes in payments systems and the evolution of technology in the U.S. He advised the credit unions in attendance to advance technologically or risk becoming irrelevant.
“If you don’t adapt and make changes to your product and service offerings, you risk becoming irrelevant to your members – and they will move on without you,” Cummins said. “You have a great opportunity to be very successful if you are cognizant of the changes taking place and continually seek to serve the next generation of consumers.”
In keeping with the theme of technological changes, CENCOPAN’s Board Chairman Pedro Elias Loblein Saucedo introduced a new line of products during his session at the seminar, which included a live demonstration. The new “Socio” suite includes credit cards, debit cards, pre-paid cards and mobile banking products, which are intended to attract new members and provide broader access to banking services throughout the country. According to CENCOPAN, 70 percent of adults do not have a formal relationship with a financial institution, and the organization is currently marketing these products to credit unions.
“Over the past 10 years, our partnership with the Minnesota Credit Union Network has been very valuable for CENCOPAN and for the credit unions of Paraguay,” Loblein said. “We appreciate your guidance and experiences in developing this industry and helping to improve the level of sophistication of our organization. We are now someone that feel very confident in doing business with.”
In recent years, CENCOPAN has streamlined its internal departments and overall organizational focus, rebranding the association and opening a new office in a visible part of the capital city, Asuncion. CENCOPAN is also currently in the midst of a technological assessment, working with the International Development Bank to audit their offerings and define areas where it can make structural improvements in safety and security.
Going forward, MnCUN and CENCOPAN will shift the focus of its relationship, scaling back time and travel commitment while maintaining an open line of communication.
“It’s gratifying for us to see that we have made even a small difference in improving the options and offerings of credit unions to the people of Paraguay,” Cummins said. “As we are continually inspired by their cooperative philosophy, we wish CENCOPAN every success in the future and are proud of the work we have done together over the past decade.”
Main photo: During the May 2014 visit, MnCUN Vice President – Association Services Kristina Wright (left) and President & CEO Mark D. Cummins (right) met with the 30 de Agosto Ltda. Cooperativa. This credit union, chaired by Dario Quinonez Martinez (center), was the first in the country to implement safe deposit boxes, an innovation inspired by a visit he made to Minnesota during the partnership exchange. Now several Paraguayan credit unions offer safe deposit boxes to their members.
Attention all Minnesota credit unions – the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is seeking credit union to participate in its free monthly Financial and Statistical Trends (F.A.S.T) program. CUNA's Economics & Statistics Department uses F.A.S.T. to track monthly financial data on credit unions, which is then used to produce national estimates of credit union financial conditions to respond to legislative and media inquiries. The report – Monthly Credit Union Estimates – is posted to CUNA’s website at the beginning of each month.
To participate in F.A.S.T., credit unions must complete a simple two-page form online each month with input from your monthly financials. At the end of each month, participants can view and print a national one-page executive summary and an asset-based peer group analysis along with its individual credit union statistics (including savings and loans graphs). To join the F.A.S.T. program and contribute your credit union’s financial data, please email Kurt Quickel with your credit union’s name and the name of the person who’ll be entering the data or complete the online form. With questions, contact Quickel at (800)356-9655, ext. 4399
In an effort to effectively and efficiently provide news and information to our members, the Minnesota Credit Union Network conducts a website profile verification twice per year. To help maintain database accuracy, professionals and volunteers from member credit union are to please take a moment and Review Your Profile on the Network website by Friday, June 6 and update any information that has changed.
If you don't remember your username or password, visit the Reset your Password page. With questions about your profile, contact MnCUN Director of Facilities & Technology Scott Shoberg by email or at (651) 288-5525.
NCUA publishes merger guide
The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), through the Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives (OSCUI), recently published a guide entitled, “Truth in Mergers: A Guide for Merging Credit Unions.” According to NCUA, the guide is intended to assist credit unions in undergoing discussion regarding merger and is a “primer” for the merger process. While it is likely created with a view toward small credit unions, it is a good initial resource for all credit unions considering a potential merger.
A press release, as well as the merger guide, can both be found on the NCUA website.
When women join the Global Women’s Leadership Network, they are asked, “Why did you join?” Members’ top answers—regardless of age, position, country or culture—include: networking, mentoring, making a difference or helping others, leadership development and participating in open and honest discussions. Since its inception, this network has involved more than 600 women from 40 countries, all with a common vision and drive.
The Global Women's Leadership Network is a World Council of Credit Unions initiative to advance credit union women in leadership. It provides a unique opportunity for credit union women to make a global impact by sharing business knowledge and experiences with industry peers. Regional Sister Society groups have been established in multiple locations in the U.S. and throughout the world. By supporting the professional development of credit union leaders, the Network empowers members to expand their credit unions’ impact and make a difference in their communities. Together, members position themselves for growth and help their colleagues discover the power of an international network in influencing their careers and impacting credit unions worldwide.
Six women from Azerbaijan, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Thailand and the U.S. recently received a 2014 Global Women’s Leadership Network scholarship. Scholarships facilitate network membership and participation in the Global Women’s Leadership Forum and World Credit Union Conference in Gold Coast, Australia. This year’s recipients will compete to receive additional support for the implementation of field projects that they will lead in their communities. Designed by the recipients themselves, these development projects will harness the energy and expertise of network members around the world, who will have an opportunity to volunteer and assist with implementation. Anyone can and is encouraged to get involved. Those who decide to take a personal interest in the projects will foster the scholarship recipient’s professional development, as well as make a tangible difference in the international credit union community.
Triza Tsiga Magreta, a 2014 scholarship winner from Malawi, appreciates the opportunities provided by the Network scholarship, stating that, “Women in group undertakings have an edge to learn from other successful fellow women in a trust-covered environment.”
To learn more about the Network, visit the Women's Leadership Network website or contact the Women's Leadership Network by email.
Credit Unions in the News
Follow the links on the stories below to read more about the outstanding programs, new initiatives and well-deserved recognition received by your peers recently. Got news of your own? Send stories, pitches, press releases and published articles to MnCUN Director of Communications Connie Kuhn.
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