The Pulse (10-30-13)


The Pulse (10-30-13)

Oct. 30, 2013 ● Volume 02, Issue 43


The Pulse Archive

Credit Union News

McDonough elected to board leadership role as Schwalen retires

Last week, the Minnesota Credit Union Network Board of Directors elected Kelly McDonough as its Secretary/Treasurer. McDonough, President/CEO of First Alliance Credit Union in Rochester, was first elected to the MnCUN Board in 2010.

She replaces Jeff Schwalen as a table officer upon his retirement from Hiway Federal Credit Union. Schwalen served on the MnCUN Board for seven years and was honored in September – for his service to MnCUN and by his credit union with a Credit Union Builder Award from the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation.

The MnCUN Board also passed an official proclamation at its Oct. 25 meeting to honor Schwalen for his valuable contributions and many years of service to the credit union movement.

MnCUN President & CEO committed to "viable, affordable" membership option

In a recent communication to Minnesota credit union presidents, MnCUN President & CEO Mark D. Cummins outlined his commitment – and that of the Minnesota Credit Union Network – to the state’s financial cooperatives. Cummins thanked and praised credit unions for their steadfastness during tough economic times, and he discussed MnCUN’s continued efforts on the legislative, regulatory and public awareness fronts.

Cummins expressed that MnCUN’s goal for all Minnesota credit unions is to have a viable and affordable option for membership, continued education and support throughout the year.

"We pledge to be strong advocates for you at the state legislature and – alongside CUNA – in Washington, D.C.,” Cummins said. "We will continue to help you navigate today’s increasingly complex regulatory environment. And we will work to enhance public awareness and understanding of the credit union difference.”

Throughout the course of the year, the staff at the Minnesota Credit Union Network has worked hard to accomplish a wide variety of initiatives in accordance with MnCUN’s strategic plan. For additional information about the Network’s strategic initiatives, various accomplishments, and testimonials from MnCUN members, visit the Membership page of the Network website.

With questions about membership with the Minnesota Credit Union Network, please contact MnCUN Vice President – Association Services Kristina Wright by email or phone at (651) 288-5507.

Cummins defends credit unions & people they serve in letter to editor

Minnesota Credit Union Network President & CEO Mark D. Cummins defended the credit union tax status and pointed to the value credit unions bring to communities in a letter to the editor that appeared in the Oct. 21 issue of the St. Cloud Times. Cummins emphasized that eliminating credit unions' corporate income tax exemption "represents the most serious threat to our industry, farmers and communities that we've faced."

Cummins' letter was in response to an earlier letter in the same newspaper submitted by the Minnesota Bankers Association. That letter suggested credit unions should be taxed the same as banks. As noted in the letter, the debate comes at a time when lawmakers are considering major tax reform. Cummins emphasized that Congress is taking a close look at all tax exemptions, including credit unions' tax status.

Credit unions put helping communities before turning a profit, the letter stressed. "Any benefits received from the exemption are passed to members," Cummins wrote. "In fact, every $1 of credit unions' corporate income tax exemption puts $10 into the pockets of members and communities. Credit unions also pay millions of dollars in property, sales and payroll taxes each year."

Because of their cooperative structure, credit unions offer lower interest rate loans and reduced fees. "The substantial savings Minnesota credit unions provide to consumers far outweigh any revenue that would be raised by taxing credit unions," Cummins added.

To read the full letter to the editor, go to the Credit Unions in the News page of the Network website and click on the title "Letter: Keep Tax Exemption for Critical Credit Unions.”

In an effort to keep credit unions’ tax status intact, all Minnesota credit union employees, volunteers and members are urged to take part in the "Don’t Tax My Credit Union” campaign and contact their legislators. It’s important that Congress supports preserving the credit union corporate income tax exemption as they consider tax reform. And, it’s crucial that credit unions have as many voices as possible delivering this message to Congress.

For tools and information on how your credit union can take part in this campaign, visit the Tax Advocacy Resources page of the Network website. With questions, please contact MnCUN Political Advocacy Director Ryan Smith by email or call (651) 288-5533.

Excellence in financial education draws Commerce Commissioner to Cook

Rich Crettol (right), CEO of Cook Area Credit Union, tells Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman about the credit union's financial education efforts.
Cook Area Credit Union hosted a meeting last week with Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman to discuss the credit union’s recent successes and future plans in providing financial education to students and the community.

Cook Area Credit Union was an important stop on the commissioner’s fall "outreach tour,” in which he is visiting credit unions, banks, community organizations and local businesses across the state.

In recent years, financial literacy and financial capability have been a major focus for Commissioner Rothman and the Department of Commerce. Through the outreach tour, the commissioner is learning more about the efforts of Minnesota organizations to help improve the lives of consumers by stressing the importance of personal financial management.

The commissioner applauded Cook Area Credit Union for its financial counseling and educational programs for members and the community, and for its involvement in the North Woods School, a K-12 school in Cook.

"It is really amazing and terrific to see how they have reached out to the local school district and kids – to be able to show the value of personal finance and financial education,” Commissioner Rothman said. "I commend them for doing that.”

Credit union staff spent the afternoon discussing their various programs, including:

  • educational workshops and financial counseling through a partnership with Lutheran Social Services;
  • contributions to schools as guest speakers on topics such as buying a car, balancing a checkbook and student loans;
  • a partnership with BizKid$, the PBS financial education TV show and curriculum that the credit union offers to all five schools in their district – free of charge;
  • its Credit Builder Loan Program, which helps members with poor credit or no credit reduce debt, improve credit rating, and establish good saving habits;
  • participation in National Credit Union Youth Week in April, which works to engage students of all ages and teach them basics of personal finance;
  • college scholarships for high school students, a program that was established in 1982; and
  • an annual Family Fun Night in October, which welcomes hundreds of kids, up to age 12, and uses the opportunity to teach financial education to attendees.

"With the financial education we provide, people know that we're here to help them,” said Rich Crettol, CEO of Cook Area Credit Union. "This is how we take care of our members.”

The meeting also involved members of Cook Area Credit Union’s new student focus group, called the B.O.S.S. (Bunch of Students Saving). This group was formed in September to advise the credit union on financial education initiatives, offer personal finance education to their peers, and provide the credit union with guidance on opening a student-run, in-school branch during the 2013-2014 school year.

Cook Area Credit Union also has a student internship program for high school juniors and seniors.

"We see the internship program as a critical step in what we’re doing,” Crettol said. "As students get work experience and learn the importance of ‘people skills,’ we can continue to provide education in a hands-on way. And in the near future, we’ll be able to use the in-school branch to educate all students about saving.”

Nominate a credit union CEO to be on CUNA's Board of Directors

The Credit Union National Association is seeking nominations for its Board of Directors, and Minnesota credit union professionals are eligible! Among the eight seats up for election, Minnesota credit unions may nominate a candidate for the District 4, Class A seat. Class A credit unions are those that have less than 25,000 members.

Eligible candidates must be an employee or voting board member of the nominating credit union, and the nomination must be seconded in writing by at least two other credit unions from the same district and class. Nominations are being accepted through Tuesday, Nov. 26. Ballots for contested elections will be mailed Dec. 2 with voting taking place through Jan. 15. Election results will be announced in the Jan. 15 edition of CUNA’s News Now.

Newly elected directors will take office after CUNA’s Annual General Meeting on Feb. 24.

Any Minnesota credit union interested in nominating a candidate to become a CUNA board member should go to the CUNA Board of Director Elections page to download a nomination packet. Packets are also available by calling (800) 356-9655, ext. 4013 or you may 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.

  • Royal Credit Union will sponsor a community-wide Holiday Toy Drive and host a United Way Holiday Craft Fair in November … more
  • SPIRE Federal Credit Unionproves it’s a pillar in the community, running a tight operation during the recession that helped keep itself and members afloat … more
  • TopLine Federal Credit Union’s Vicki Erickson talks with 12 News about fraud protection on debit and credit cards … more


Congress targets tax reform; credit unions focus message on lawmakers
MnCUN, CUNA meet with state & federal legislators on key issues

Final Emergency Liquidity Rule issued
October edition of The NCUA Report now available
CFPB publishes Remittance Transfer Rule exam procedures
Guidance issued on Qualified Mortgage Fair Lending Risks
CFPB releases eRegulations
Rule specifies electronic filing of financial reports required

Out for Comment

Proposed standards for assessing diversity policies and practices
Proposed Stress Testing Rule

Minnesota Credit Union Network
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(651) 288-5170
(800) 477-1034