The Pulse (07-02-14)



The Pulse (07-02-14-14)

July 2, 2014 ● Volume 03, Issue 25


The Pulse Archive

Credit Union News

MnCUN files comment letter on NCUA proposed associational common bond rule

Last week, the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) responded to a proposal by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to amend the associational common bond provisions of NCUA’s chartering and field of membership rules. The proposed amendments specifically establish a threshold requirement that an association not be formed primarily for the purpose of expanding credit union membership. In addition, the proposal expands the criteria of the totality of the circumstances test by adding a “corporate separateness” factor.

NCUA also proposes to grant automatic qualification to certain categories of associations, such as alumni associations, religious organizations, electric cooperatives, homeowner associations, labor unions, scouting groups and associations that have a mission of preserving or furthering the culture of a particular national or ethnic origin.

“MnCUN appreciates NCUA’s efforts to automatically qualify certain groups,” said MnCUN President & CEO Mark Cummins. “However in our comment letter,  we asked for NCUA to provide guidance as to what it will consider when reviewing an association under the threshold requirement.”

 MnCUN also voiced concern that the “corporate separateness” factor would cause a disincentive for federal credit unions in creating associations, especially foundations. In addition, MnCUN voiced concern with how NCUA would conduct quality assurance reviews of associations that were previously approved for inclusion in a federal credit union’s field of membership and asked whether time for remediation or appeal of any decision would be provided.

With questions contact MnCUN General Counsel John Wendland by email or by phone at (651)288-5519.


CUs, leagues throw a social media party for FCU Act's 80th birthday

On June 26, 1934, 80 years ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act into law, solidifying the growing movement of member-owned, not-for-profit financial institutions.

Last week, credit unions and leagues took to social media, to celebrate and remind their employees and members of the ongoing importance of that day for the credit union movement.

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA)--capitalizing on the fact that Thursdays in the social media universe are called "Throwback Thursdays," where people post items about anything pertaining to the past--encouraged credit unions and to post old photos, such as photos of original branches or headquarters, in honor of the day.

Leagues and credit unions that participated were tracked on the hashtags: #throwbackthursday, #TBT and #FCUA80 to social media posts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Google+.

"On this day, June 26, 80 years ago, Congress had passed the Federal Credit Union Act and President Roosevelt signed it into law," Credit Union National Association Interim President/CEO Bill Hampel observed in a statement marking the occasion. "It set federal oversight in place and provided for the development of credit unions as a way to promote thrift among the American people." Now, 80 years later, there are more than 6,600 independent, consumer-owned, volunteer-led, democratically controlled credit unions, vital to the well-being of their nearly 100 million members, he noted.


TV news personality, public affairs consultant provide perspectives, tips on media engagement at MnCUN's CEO Conference

Credit unions have a compelling story to tell.

That was the recurring theme that arose among nearly 40 Minnesota credit union CEOs in a roundtable session hosted by media experts at the Minnesota Credit Union Network’s 2014 CEO Conference in Duluth last week. The discussion was led by Tom Hauser, media veteran at Channel 5 Eyewitness News, and Blois Olson, media and content strategist for Twin Cities public affairs firm Fluence Media.

Hauser and Olson drew from their decades of experience interacting with the news media to encourage credit unions to become more active in media relations. As an industry that is often referred to as a “best kept secret,” both speakers urged attendees to look for opportunities to be part of the conversation and to play up credit unions’ strong connections to their members and the communities that they serve.

“You’re hiding what a great story you are,” Hauser said.

Olson said that credit unions have a “word of mouth” advantage that they can use to increase consumer awareness and to attract new members.

“Credit unions are growing,” he said, referencing data that 47,000 consumers joined a Minnesota credit union in 2013, and another 63,000 in 2012. “People are choosing you because you’re local, trusted and not-for-profit institutions. You need to leverage that.”

The following tips were shared during the roundtable session.

  • Be transparent. If you receive an interview request, embrace the opportunity. If you appear to be distant from the public, people will feel there’s a mystery, which breeds mistrust.
  • Be nimble. As smaller institutions – especially when compared to big banks – credit unions generally have the ability to respond quickly to press inquiries, without several layers of approval and hierarchy.
  • Be aware. Look for opportunities to take national or statewide issues and trends that could be localized. Consider the daily news you consume and how those stories could be “retold” through the lens of the credit union. Find ways to make yourself part of the conversation.
  • Do your homework. Research the media outlets you plan to target, and do your homework. Identify the writers, editors and/or reporters who are the appropriate targets. Get to know them. Invite them out for lunch or coffee. Educate them on what a credit union is and how you’re different from “just another bank” in town.
  • Repeat. Newsrooms are no different than other employers. They have staff that turn over. Be sure to refresh your contacts a couple times a year.
  • Make the most of rural markets. Smaller markets are hungry for news – including newspapers, TV stations and radio. Get to know your contacts, make regular pitches, and attach your name to something positive. Feel-good and community focused stories are always good angles.
  • Be willing to step outside your comfort zone. For those who haven’t been active in media relations, being interviewed (especially on camera!) can be an intimidating experience. Developing a familiarity and a trust with reporters will help you overcome that. Also, Hauser said that, as a TV reporter, he won’t put something bad or of poor quality on TV. “That makes us look as bad as it would you,” Hauser said.” Our goal is to make things as clear and concise and coherent as possible. There’s nothing to fear.”
  • Use your advantage – you know your members. Credit unions know their members. Take advantage of that. Talk up your community connections. Use your members to put a personal spin on stories or angles you’re pitching.

Additional sessions at the CEO Conference discussed hot issues of the day. NCUA Region IV Director Keith Morton spoke to attendees about the current regulatory environment and took questions from attendees. Former state demographer Tom Gillaspy discussed the changing demographics of Minnesota and its impact on credit unions. And Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Board Chair Dennis Pierce spoke with attendees about this member advocacy program and provided an update on the search for a new CUNA President & CEO.

Minnesota makes top 5 in the “Smartest States for Financial Literacy” list 

Last month, WalletHub released a study that positioned Minnesota as #5 in its ranking of the “Smartest States for Financial Literacy.” WalletHub is a financial decision-making site that provides tools and information to consumers and small business owners to help them make better financial decisions and save money.


Minnesota credit unions share those goals and regularly provide financial education programs to over 1.6 million members who are served at more than 400 locations in communities throughout the state. Minnesota also ranks highly in many indicators related to personal finance, according to a recent study by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. This study confirms that Minnesotans rank higher in personal savings, retirement planning and other key areas of personal financial health, when compared with results in other states.


Here’s how credit unions throughout the state work to build financial management skills:


  • Student-run credit unions – Minnesota is currently home to five student-run credit unions located in four high schools and one K-12 school throughout the state. Student-run credit unions provide offer unique learning experiences for students involved in their operation, along with lessons in personal financial management.

  • Interactive museum exhibit – The Duluth Children’s Museum’s popular “Moneyville” financial education exhibit, established in partnership with Minnesota Power Employees Credit Union, features interactive, hands-on tours through a mock city to learn economic concepts and experience real-life decision-making scenarios.

  • Protection for senior citizens – This April, Minnesota became the first state in the nation to issue guidance to state banks and credit unions regarding privacy laws and the reporting of elder financial abuse. The Minnesota Department of Commerce was joined by Catholic United Financial Credit Union, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, AARP Minnesota and the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office to announce the guidance.

  • Education for children & young adults – According to a 2013 survey of Minnesota credit unions, 90 percent provide financial services programs or tools to members under the age of 18. These efforts include partnering with local schools and state agencies to teach basic skills about money management in elementary, middle school and high school classrooms.


Another component of the state’s success in personal financial education is the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation. The Foundation is an organization dedicated to providing the resources for credit unions and communities to prosper and thrive.


Financial education is one of the Foundation’s core tenets, which supports recent changes in the state education standards. In May 2013, the Minnesota Department of Education implemented changes to the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies to include additional requirements in financial education for students of all ages. The standards contain several fundamental concepts of economics and personal finance, such as saving, budgeting, investing and using credit wisely. This allows credit unions to continue providing financial education in their communities.


“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.”

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. The Foundation recently awarded $7,500 in grants to assist with implementing financial education projects. Additional information and details are available on the Financial Education Grants page of the Foundation website.


“Credit unions’ local focus is something members trust, and the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation is happy to support Minnesota credit unions in developing and continuing financial education initiatives,” Brekken said.


To further this grant program, the Foundation will host its inaugural Financial Literacy 5K race on Saturday, July 12, at Lake Normandale in Bloomington. Proceeds from the Financial Literacy 5K will provide funding for MnCUF’s Financial Education Grant Program, which supports programs, projects or initiatives that positively impact credit union members and Minnesota communities. For additional details about the Financial Literacy 5K, visit the MnCUF website.

“All of these partnerships and programs are just a sampling of the many financial education efforts coordinated by Minnesota credit unions,” said Minnesota Credit Union Network President & CEO Mark D. Cummins. “Through financial education efforts and other community initiatives, credit unions across the state help consumers develop the skills and expertise they need to help create a stronger financial future for all Minnesotans.”


'Selfies' via new website will help show the face of 100 million CU memberships

 MnCUN President & CEO
Mark Cummins takes a selfie at CUNA's
America's Credit Unions Conference

Collecting and displaying the faces of thousands, if not millions, of credit union members through "selfies," and to show the face of the credit union movement as it closes in on the milestone of 100 million memberships, is the aim of a new website was unveiled Friday by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the state credit union leagues. 
The website,, allows credit union members to upload their selfies--those ubiquitous photos or videos people take of themselves, typically with a smartphone or tablet--and post to the site. The pictures submitted will be posted to the website. 
The website is part of CUNA's overall "100 Million Credit Union Memberships" campaign, aimed to draw attention to credit unions reaching this milestone membership later this summer. 
"The strength of our movement is the people who own it and benefit from it," said CUNA Interim President/CEO Bill Hampel. "In advance of reaching the 100 million membership mark, we want as many people as possible to understand, and see, the strength of our movement through the faces of our membership." 
Photos or videos posted have the opportunity to be among the first featured on the website. To upload a video or photo, just visit the website, fill out the form, upload from your computer (or via social media), and submit. 
Social media can also be used by members to share submitted selfies with the hashtag #100MM on Google+, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Doing so, CUNA's Hampel said, can additionally demonstrate the power of the credit union movement online and on social media. 

Attend the Twin Cities Chapter Golf Outing

Join your colleagues on the course for an afternoon of fun and networking at the 26th annual Twin Cities Chapter Golf Tournament on Monday, July 14! This tournament is a best ball scramble held at Forest Hills Golf Club in Forest Lake. For more details, download the course information and directions flier. With questions about this event, contact Cassandra Maloney General Mills Federal Credit Union by email or call (763) 764-6993.

Download a PDF of the tournament registration form for full sign-up and payment details. 


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.  

Mid-Minnesota FCU President & CEO named “Outstanding Alumni” by Central Lakes College

SouthPoint FCU offers storm damage relief program

Wings Financial Credit Union chooses MnIPC for deposit services


Congressman Nolan meets with Minnesota credit unions in Duluth 

MnCUN provides advocacy though "good news" stories

MnCUN to host forum on elder financial abuse

MN law reduces redemption period for delinquent taxes on all properties to three years

NCUA launches new consumer compliance regulatory resources 

NCUA launches interest rate risk resource page

FHA announces guidance on deceptive marketing/advertising for reverse mortgages 

FFIEC launches new cybersecurity webpage

CFPB releases archived webinar covering TILA-RESPA Disclosures rule 

NCUA hosting free webinar on mobile apps

Upcoming effective dates


CO-OP introduces “Empowering People. Amplifying Dreams” at THINK14 to target millennials  

CO-OP Financial Services has introduced, “Empowering People. Amplifying Dreams,” which is a multi-faceted marketing program to promote credit unions to prospective members, targeting consumers born after 1980, and it features singer/songwriter Daria Musk as a spokesperson.

“Credit unions are the best option for consumers as a primary financial institution in wide variety of ways, including personalized service, convenient access to funds and great lending rates,” said Stan Hollen, President/CEO of CO-OP. “Yet studies show very low awareness of credit union benefits, especially among the young. CO-OP is a financial technology organization with nearly half of the more than 7,000 U.S. credit unions as clients. We are launching this initiative so that consumers can better understand how our industry empowers individuals to achieve their financial goals.”

The initiative draws on the career of Daria Musk to tell the credit union story. Musk has staked out a unique place in pop music both as a performer and an entrepreneurial, early-implementer of content channels. In 2011 she began to establish a market for her music by performing a live concert via Google+’s video chat feature, “Hangouts.” She told her story of trial, risk and success at the THINK 13 Conference, sponsored by CO-OP, last April.

“The approach Daria took to launching her career has its financial equivalent in credit unions,” said Samantha Paxson, Vice President, Marketing, for CO-OP. “She broke into the music business without a large budget and without a traditional recording contract. Credit unions are generally smaller institutions, but because of the cooperative, people-helping-people spirit that characterizes the movement, they have the unique ability to help Gen Y members realize their own life dreams.”

The campaign will make use of primarily digital content sources from both CO-OP and Musk to cross promote credit unions and her music. The campaign will follow Musk’s story as a consumer of financial services, focusing on how her credit union membership is helping her as a young person become established financially.

A key component of CO-OP’s initiative is a new website designed to tell consumers more about the advantages of credit union membership.

“The website focuses on the Millennial generation’s specific challenges and illustrates how credit unions provide the products and services that not only meet their challenges, but enhance their lives as a result,” said Paxson. “There is widespread dissatisfaction among consumers with their banks and they are open to switching financial institutions. But, they want to do their research first. We intend our website to be a key resource as younger consumers consider their financial futures.”

The CO-OP campaign will also be supported by an array of paid advertising and marketing; public and media relations and events; and promotion through Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.

More information is available on the “Empowering People. Amplifying Dreams” campaign at CO-OP’s new consumer website.

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

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