The Pulse (09-11-13)


The Pulse (09-11-13)

Sept. 11, 2013 ● Volume 02, Issue 36


The Pulse Archive

Credit Union News

Minn. CUs hit social media as Congress plans focus on taxes, housing

Two hot topics as Congress reconvenes in Washington this week are taxes and housing. As the tax reform conversations return to the halls of Capitol Hill, it is more important than ever for all credit unions to continue promotions for the " Don’t Tax My Credit Union ” campaign.

To aid in this effort, thousands of credit union supporters nationwide took to their social media channels for #DontTaxTuesday on Sept. 10. Many Minnesota credit unions were part of that group, spreading "Don’t Tax My Credit Union” messages via Twitter and Facebook to the state’s Congressional Delegation.

Some examples of these messages came from the following credit unions, two of which included blog posts focused on the benefits of credit unions’ tax status.

For ways your credit union can participate in "Don’t Tax My Credit Union,” visit the Tax Advocacy Resources page of the Network website. You may also contact MnCUN Political Advocacy Director Ryan Smith by email or call (651) 288-5533.

Along with the tax reform battle, housing policy is another issue in Congress that affects credit unions. CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said CUNA expects housing finance reform to heat up in the coming weeks.

"Leaders of the Senate Banking Committee, and the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, have strongly indicated their desire to move legislation to the floor in their respective chambers by this fall," Cheney said. "There are many variables that could come into play, of course, for both of these issues. But CUNA and the leagues are planning for all contingencies -- and will be ready as action develops.”

MnIPC acquires ProDraft, adding to processing solutions services

On Sept. 1, the Minnesota Item Processing Corporation (MnIPC) completed the purchase of ProDraft Services, LLC, a North Dakota-based credit union service organization (CUSO) that provides correspondent and EFT processing solutions.

MnIPC is a St. Paul-based independent item processor that has served credit unions for more than 30 years. As a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Minnesota Credit Union Network, MnIPC offers experienced item processing and affordable solutions to its clients nationwide.

Together, the combined companies will move forward under the MnIPC name.

The merging of these assets creates additional strength for MnIPC clients and offers a continuation of the services offered by ProDraft, with the benefits of enhanced technology, greater efficiencies and increased financial stability. In addition, the merger allows MnIPC to offer expanded products and services to its clients and be well-positioned for future growth opportunities.

"We are excited about the ProDraft purchase and are looking forward to the opportunities that the newly-acquired ACH and ‘payable through’ products and services will bring to MnIPC as we continue to market our services nationally,” said MnIPC Vice President Michelle Carlson.

The purchase of ProDraft significantly expands MnIPC’s footprint into neighboring North Dakota, which complements its nationwide expansion that began several years ago. Earlier this year, MnIPC announced a cooperative effort with CUsource in Montana, adding CUSOs to its client list and enabling the company to showcase its quality of service on a national level.

The acquisition of ProDraft allows MnIPC to increase volume, pricing power and overall efficiencies.

"Our recent expansion enables us to showcase our experience, reliability and affordability to a broader audience, all while continuing our tradition of superior customer service,” Carlson said.

MnIPC utilizes industry-leading technology to provide fully integrated, state-of-the-art item processing solutions, including:

  • MICR image capture,
  • Check 21 services,
  • remote deposit capture,
  • mobile deposits, and
  • a seven-year online image archive.

In addition, MnIPC offers flexible settlement arrangements, which allows clients to independently choose the banking institution that is right for them.

New social studies standards provide opportunities for Minn CUs

As the 2013-2014 school year ramps up, the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation (MnCUF) is encouraging credit unions to expand their efforts in personal finance education to students of all ages.

Changes to the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies, which became effective in May 2013 after a year-long revision process, now include additional requirements in financial education for students of all ages.

All state academic standards – including arts, health and physical education, language arts, mathematics, science, social studies and world languages – are revised on a schedule approved by the Minnesota Legislature. Minnesota’s social studies standards include civics and government, economics, geography and history.

"As educators get acquainted with the new standards, credit unions have a great opportunity to use their financial expertise to help meet the needs of teachers,” said University of Minnesota Extension Educator & Extension Professor Lori Hendrickson, M.Ed., AFC, CFCS. "Whether it’s a one-time guest-speaking arrangement or an ongoing relationship, students appreciate the real-world perspective that outside experts can provide.”

The new standards include several fundamental concepts of economics and personal finance, such as:

  • distinguishing between wants and needs, and understanding income and expenses;
  • creating a budget, establishing savings goals, and tracking success;
  • evaluating investment options using criteria such as risk, return, liquidity and time horizon; and
  • understanding the benefits and costs of credit and how it impacts an individual’s ability to borrow, rent, get a job and achieve other financial goals.

"Credit unions are well-positioned to educate their members, their communities, and today’s young people on the basics of personal financial management,” said Pat Brekken, Chair of the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation. "Through forming relationships with schools – including teachers, administrators, and students – we can have a tremendous impact on our state’s financial future.”

Get the fundamentals on CU financials and exams with MnCUN's workshops

Beginning this month the Network will host workshops around the state that will offer  Supervisory Committee members insight into credit union operations and tips that lead to worry-free exams. These unique educational opportunities, led by MnCUN's Audit & Compliance Consultant Marcia Armstrong Lewis and Director of Business Development Vickie Ganrude, are designed for credit union volunteers of all levels.

Dates and locations for each workshop are as follows:

"Supervisory Committee Workshop”
(5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.)
These evening sessions are geared toward the Supervisory Committee and will offer an overview of the NCUA exam process and financial statement basics, as well as the committee’s fiduciary and auditing responsibilities.

These sessions cost $69 per person and include session materials and a light dinner. To register and for more information, go to the Event Calendar page of the Network website.

Aggressive CU advertising prompts NCUA letter

The NCUA recently released a letter to federal credit unions about potential violations of common bond advertising requirements. The letter addresses advertising of member eligibility "without limitation” and "some overly aggressive marketing campaigns by federal credit unions to facilitate membership through associational groups.”

The NCUA asserts that these credit unions "are providing consumers with misleading information about single and multiple common bond membership requirements.” Though the vast majority of federal credit unions are following NCUA rules regarding advertising their membership eligibility, federally-chartered credit unions with associational memberships are encouraged to review their policies and practices periodically to ensure continued compliance with federal regulation. To read more about the letter, go to the Regulatory Compliance section of The Pulse.

This letter has no impact on state-chartered credit unions. However, state-chartered credit unions may check with regulators at the Minnesota Department of Commerce if they are concerned about the validity of any member eligibility promotions or advertising. 

Jeff Schwalen recognized for decade of leadership at Hiway FCU

Jeff Schwalen, President & CEO of Hiway Federal Credit Union, was recently honored with the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation (MnCUF) Credit Union Builder Award. This distinction recognizes those who have dedicated time and energy to building the credit union movement. Nominations for this award are made by credit unions and other organizations in honor of or in memory of a significant individual who has been instrumental in their success.

Schwalen served as Hiway’s President & CEO for the past 10 years. During his tenure, the credit union experienced a steady rise in membership, assets grew by $350 million, and Hiway developed a reputation for offering innovative products and services to its members.

"I have had the pleasure of working with Jeff throughout my entire time on the board and supervisory committee for Hiway,” said Board Chair Pam Tschida. "He takes his job very seriously. Jeff is committed to the prosperity and well-being of the credit union, his staff and our members and has made a significant positive impact to the community and credit unions in general. I truly appreciate and admire his commitment.”

Active in the Minnesota credit union movement, Schwalen has served as a table officer and member of the Minnesota Credit Union Network Board of Directors from 2007-2013. He was also an active member and past chairman of MnCUN’s Political Involvement Committee and CENCOPAN Partnership Steering Committee, a group active in international credit union development in Paraguay.

On a community level, Schwalen has served as a Scout Master with the Boy Scouts of America, as a member of the Minneapolis Builders Association, as a participant in the Junior Achievement financial education program, and as a member of the finance commission for his local church. Schwalen has been a longtime proponent of Credit Unions for Kids, serving on Minnesota’s steering committee and leading Hiway to becoming a fundraising force for Children’s Miracle Network and the local Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. 

"Jeff embodies the credit union philosophy of ‘people helping people,’ as evidenced by his long resume of accomplishments and achievements,” said Minnesota Credit Union Foundation Board Chairman Pat Brekken. "It is my distinct pleasure to acknowledge Jeff as a Credit Union Builder, and I wish him well in his retirement.”

Schwalen – who will retire in October – joins 20 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 Network's lobby. To learn more about this award and to view a list of those who have been recognized, visit the Foundation website.

Ring in October with a GREAT month membership drive

2013 Unclaimed Property Holder Report Guide available
Agencies issue QRM proposal
MNsure Opens in October; notice to employees required

NCUA Issues Letters to Credit Unions

Letter No. 13-FCU-03: Potential Violations of Common Bond Advertising Requirements


MnCUN partner AmeriCU opens new office to better serve Minn. CUs

Minnesota Credit Union Network
555 Wabasha Street N, Suite 200
St. Paul, MN 55102

(651) 288-5170
(800) 477-1034