The Pulse (04-02-14)

The Pulse (04-02-14)

April 2, 2014 ● Volume 03, Issue 13


The Pulse Archive

Credit Union News

Annual Meeting & Convention early bird pricing ends tomorrow - Thursday, April 3

Tomorrow is the last day for credit union professionals & volunteers to save $40 by taking advantage of the early bird pricing for MnCUN's 2014 Annual Meeting & Convention. The Minnesota Credit Union Network's Annual Meeting & Convention offers numerous education and networking opportunities, as well as the state's largest credit union exhibit hall.

Join us at the new Radisson Blu Mall of America April 25-26 for two days of business meetings, engaging speakers, educational sessions and networking. Whether you are a credit union professional or volunteer, from a large or small credit union, you will find programs specifically geared toward your needs.

Register today to attend this important industry event. For more information and to register, visit the Annual Meeting & Convention page of the Network website.

Credit union industry encourages awareness efforts

The Minnesota Credit Union Network and credit union organizations nationwide are coalescing around a singular idea – credit unions need to tell their stories! As dissatisfaction with big banks continues to rise, credit unions are well-positioned to gain new members and provide the excellent service that is the hallmark of credit unions.

But too often, consumers don’t know that they have a choice.

“Time and time again in my 23-year credit union career, I’ve been faced with this question from my friends, neighbors and community members: ‘Yeah, there is a credit union in my community. I don’t really know what they do. Don’t you have to join or something?’” said National Credit Union Foundation Executive Director Gigi Hyland during the 2014 Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference. “As a credit union system, we are not the best at creating awareness about who we are and what we do. We must change that.”

That sentiment was echoed by NCUA Board Member Michael Fryzel recently in an interview with the Credit Union Journal.

“The help credit unions provide and the tremendous impact they have in their communities and on the people who live there is a story that must be continually told,” Fryzel said. “I urge all credit unions to take the time to share the good that they are doing so that the real story of what credit unions are all about is known.”

Over the past year, the Minnesota Credit Union Network has been working to advance its public affairs initiatives and build on consumers' awareness of credit unions. To streamline and refine news sharing capabilities, the Network has created a new webpage devoted to the Minnesota credit union news

When stories are submitted to MnCUN – either via press release or through a brief synopsis provided in an online form – they become part of the Network’s "cycle of news.”

  1. Stories are posted to the brand new MN Credit Union News page of the Network website.
  2. On a weekly basis, stories are aggregated and highlighted in the Pulse newsletter.
  3. MnCUN posts stories to the CU Social Good and Unite for Good social media sites, which aggregate positive credit union stories on a national level.
  4. MnCUN publishes the "good news” stories in its regular Connected to Community newsletter, which is delivered to legislators, public opinion leaders, members of the media, and more.
  5. Stories are also regularly pitched to Fluence Media, which publishes Morning Take and Business Take newsletters for business executives, opinion leaders, legislators, public affairs contacts, and influential people around the state.
  6. Stories are also regularly pitched to the credit union trade press and beyond, generating additional coverage.

Beginning in 2014, MnCUN will also send a weekly news digest to media outlets around the state. Send us your press releases or use the share your story button on the Network website.

“We hear it time and time again – to know credit unions is to love credit unions. But the step that’s missing is creating awareness,” said MnCUN President & CEO Mark Cummins. “By sharing your credit union’s stories and making that information accessible, you are positioning yourself to consumers as a trustworthy, community-focused financial institution.”

To submit a news stories to MnCUN, visit the online form or contact Network Communications Director Connie Kuhn with any questions.

Minn. credit unions celebrate building members’ personal finance skills during Financial Literacy Month

To celebrate Financial Literacy Month in April – as proclaimed by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton – the Minnesota Credit Union Network and credit unions around the state will be holding events and showcasing their year-round efforts to provide financial education to credit union members and communities.


“Credit unions have a positive track record in Minnesota communities on financial literacy thanks to persistent efforts to educate and equip people to live in a fiscally-responsible manner,” said MnCUN President & CEO Mark D. Cummins. “Through financial education efforts and other community initiatives, credit unions across the state are widely known as local financial institutions that consumers can trust.”


Minnesota is currently home to five student-run credit unions located in four high schools and one K-12 school. Each year, the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation provides financial education grants to fund initiatives that positively impact credit union members and communities throughout the state. According to a 2013 survey of Minnesota credit unions, 90 percent provide financial services programs or tools to members under the age of 18.


Minnesota also ranks highly in many indicators related to personal finances, as outlined in a new infographic. Recent consumer studies confirm that Minnesotans rank higher in personal savings, retirement planning and other key areas of personal financial health, when compared with results in other states.


Minnesota is home to more than 1.6 million credit union members, served at more than 400 locations around the state.


Below are some of the events that Minnesota credit unions will celebrate throughout Financial Literacy Month in April.

April 10 – Great River Public Library, St. Cloud

MnCUN will host a press event to highlight the efforts of two area credit unions. St. Cloud Federal Credit Union will discuss its Financial Fitness Workshop Series offered this month, and Catholic United Financial Credit Union will provide an overview of its identity theft awareness seminars and its efforts to protect seniors.

April 16 – Como Park Senior High School, St. Paul

In conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, MnCUN will highlight the success and efforts of St. Paul Federal Credit Union, which has two student-run credit union branches in Twin Cities area high schools. Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman will visit Como Park Senior High School in St. Paul to celebrate Financial Literacy Month with the students and celebrate this unique financial education opportunity.

April 17 – Duluth Children’s Museum, Duluth

MnCUN will host a press event at the Duluth Children’s Museum to highlight its popular “Moneyville” financial education exhibit, which was established in partnership with Minnesota Power Employees Credit Union. This display features interactive, hands-on tours through a mock city to learn economic concepts and experience real-life decision-making scenarios. Moneyville can be toured by the general public or coordinated as a school classroom field trip program.

April 21 – Aquila Elementary School, St. Louis Park

Partnering with United Educators Credit Union, Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman and Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Brenda Cassellius will read children’s books about personal finances to nearly 100 second graders at Aquila Elementary School. United Educators Credit Union and University of Minnesota Extension will lead additional activities, and each student will receive a book bag with a parental guide to teaching financial literacy.

“These partnerships and programs are just a sampling of the many financial education efforts coordinated by Minnesota credit unions,” Cummins said. “Credit unions are proud to offer their skills and expertise to improve consumers’ knowledge of personal finance and to help create a stronger financial future for the state of Minnesota.”

Affinity Plus recognizes 20-year leader with a “CU Builder Award” from the Minnesota CU Foundation

Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union has honored Debbie Bruns as a Credit Union Builder through the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation (MnCUF). Bruns, who dedicated more than 20 years to the credit union in the community of Grand Rapids, is set to retire this month.

“Debbie never wavered from her strong passion to put people first – including members, employees, and those she interacted within her community,” said Affinity Plus President & CEO Dave Larson, calling Bruns “instrumental” to the credit union’s growth and success.

Bruns was originally hired as a branch employee, soon after promoted to manager, and then served as a branch director for seven years. Today, Affinity Plus has three locations in Grand Rapids with more than 30 employees.

She is credited with completing Affinity Plus’s first loan in the Grand Rapids market, which took place in a bowling alley. Since that time, she has been a community leader and has positioned the credit union as a fair and reputable lender, building the largest auto loan portfolio in Itasca County.

“Her service has been nothing short of outstanding,” Larson added.

The Credit Union Builder 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.


“Community leaders like Debbie are the heart and soul of credit unions, dedicating their careers to building this amazing industry and serving members from across the state,” said MnCUF Chair Pat Brekken. “The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation is proud to honor Debbie for her passion and commitment to Affinity Plus and the entire credit union movement.”


Bruns joins 25 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.

New staff or promotion? Announce it in Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal’s People on the Move

If you have a new hire or have promoted someone in your credit union, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal (MSPBJ) wants to know about it. MSPBJ’s “People on the Move” is a great way to recognize professional accomplishments and announce staffing and board changes.

To submit a People on the Move item, visit the MSPBJ website

MSPBJ accepts submissions on an ongoing basis, and announcements with print-quality photos (300 dpi or higher resolution) may also appear in the weekly print edition. Submissions may take between two and four weeks to be published online.

Also, be sure to share your People on the Move news with the Network as well. When your news is submitted to MnCUN it becomes part of the Network’s "cycle of news” and receives additional coverage.

Minnesota Jump$tart Coalition & Minnesota Department of Commerce celebrate Financial Literacy Month

Two independent events and one joint event to be held by Jump$tart Coalition & Minnesota Department of Commerce Wednesdays this month.

Below are some events celebrating throughout Financial Literacy Month in April:

Executive briefing on financial education in recognition of April's designation as National Financial Literacy
Wednesday, April 9, the Minnesota Department of Commerce will hold an executive briefing on financial education at the Radisson Plaza Hotel Minneapolis Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman will discuss the pressing need for financial literacy education in the state and its impact on our economic vitality. Jim Eisenreich, President of Minnesota Jump$tart, will review programs that are being implemented in our schools. Tom Jasper, Vice Chairman, Funding of TCF Bank, will give an overview of TCF's two new programs focused on financial literacy - the TCF Financial Scholars Program and the TCF Financial Learning Center. He will also provide an update on the bank's progress toward its goal to improve the financial IQ of more than 2 million people over the next three years.

Session is offered at no cost, but space is limited. RSVP to Sarah Greene at or 612.455.1784.

Join the Minnesota Jump$tart Coalition for its annual financial literacy event
Wednesday, April 30, Jump$tard Coalition will be hosting its annual financial literacy event at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.  The event will feature award winning journalist Chris Farrell. Farrell is a columnist for Bloomberg Businessweek and the Star Tribune. 
The event is free, but pre- registration is required.

Fourth Annual Minnesota Department of Commerce Financial Literacy Roundtable
Wednesday, April 23, Camille Busette, Assistant Director of the Office of Financial Education, of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will join the Minnesota Department of Commerce
as the keynote speaker for their fourth annual Financial Literacy Roundtable.

The roundtable will focus on how financial institutions, government, non-profit, and private organizations can empower all Minnesotans on the path to Financial Literacy and Capability. 

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.  

MnCUN’s Mark D. Cummins to serve on CUNA Strategic Services board for 2014

Central Minnesota CU collecting donations for cancer patient

Banks vs. Credit Unions: Financial Foes?

Credit union difference is more than tax status

Central Minnesota CU sets up fund for Sartell police officer’s family

Two Harbors Federal Credit Union joins Minnesota Housing approved lender network

Mandatory mediation bills fail to advance in Minnesota House & Senate

Meetings held to discuss Patent Transparency and Improvements Act

MnCUN maintains advocacy efforts for continued credit union access to the secondary mortgage market

Hike the Hill changing seasons 

CUNA releases updated risk-based capital calculator

Spotlight on mobile banking

Upcoming effective dates


Six Steps to Improving Your Employees’ 401(k) Plan Results

By Rob Peters

In a 2013 survey of U.S. workers1, a defined contribution retirement plan such as a 401(k) was the second most important employee benefit, behind only health insurance. Survey participants ranked the importance of various employee benefits on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being very important. Two thirds of the employees ranked defined contribution retirement plans as 8, 9, or 10.

However, knowing the importance of a retirement savings plan doesn’t mean employees will manage them well and get the results they’ll need.

If your credit union has already taken the crucial step of having a retirement plan in place, consider these additional steps to help employees make good decisions about their plans:

  1. Initiate automatic enrollment.  A 2013 survey report2 by WorldatWork in association with the American Benefits Institute shows the difference it can make when employees must opt out of a 401(k) plan rather than opt in.  Of the companies surveyed, 37 percent of those with auto enrollment had 80 percent to 89 percent of employees enrolled, compared with 21 percent for companies without auto enrollment. It’s similar for the companies with 90 percent or greater participation: 36 percent had auto enrollment and 19 percent didn’t.
  2. Set a higher automatic enrollment contribution rate. Enrolling employees at a 3 percent contribution rate may underfund their retirement needs. Try enrolling them at 6 percent minimum and chances are you’ll see little difference in take rates.
  3. Offer automatic increases. Give employees the option to have their contributions automatically increased by, say, 1 percent per year until they reach 10 percent. The gradual increase is painless.
  4. Include target date funds (TDFs) or managed accounts. These options give your employees easy access to long-term professional management of their investment. This is especially helpful to employees who feel under-educated or overwhelmed about choosing investments.
  5. Use TDFs or managed accounts as your plan’s Qualified Default Investment Alternative (QDIA).  When participants don’t elect a fund for their contributions, the plan’s fiduciaries must have a prudent default investment in place. JP Morgan analyzed a sample of 401(k) plan participants’ returns for 2010 through 2012 and found that TDFs and managed accounts yielded far less volatile returns and higher average returns than do-it-yourself investors.3 This demonstrates  the value of professional management and funds with increasingly conservative risk/return profiles.
  6. Stretch your match. In the WorldatWork/American Benefits Institute survey mentioned above, 66 percent of the companies reported that more than half of their employees contributed at least the employer matching contribution. Set your matching percentage higher and encourage more employees to take advantage. And you can do it without increasing your cost. For example, rather than a dollar-for-dollar match up to 3 percent, match 50 cents for every dollar up to 6 percent.

Whichever steps you take to improve your employees’ participation, work with your plan provider to communicate the plan’s features to employees clearly and often.

Rob Peters is the senior manager of marketing for CUNA Mutual Group’s Asset Management Marketing department. Reach him at

1The Principal Financial Well Being IndexSM: American Workers (4th Quarter 2013),” ©Principal Financial Services, Inc.

2 “Trends in 401(k) Plans and Retirement Rewards: A report by WorldatWork and the American Benefits Institute, March 2013,” ©2013 WorldatWork.

3 “Understanding re-enrollment benefits for participants and plan sponsors,” © JPMorgan Chase & Co., March 2013.

CUNA Mutual Group is the marketing name for CUNA Mutual Holding Company, a mutual insurance holding company, its subsidiaries and affiliates.  Life, accident, health and annuity insurance products are issued by CMFG Life Insurance Company.  Property and casualty insurance products are issued by CUMIS insurance Society, Inc., Each insurer is solely responsible for the financial obligations under the policies and contracts it issues. 10004559-0314  ©CUNA Mutual Group, 2014 All Rights Reserved.

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

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