The Pulse (08-27-14)



The Pulse (08-27-2014)

August 27, 2014 ● Volume 03, Issue 34


The Pulse Archive

Credit Union News

Minnesota Minded — MnCUN commences press tour to talk about the state of Minnesota credit unions

The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) began a series of press events this week highlighting “the state of Minnesota credit unions” and focusing on membership growth, lending and other current trends. At each event MnCUN will provide an overview and statistics, and local credit unions will talk about how they benefit the communities they serve through various initiatives.

MnCUN and member credit unions are speaking the media about credit union growth, due to consumer demand for locally-focused financial partners with values that connect their own. To accompany the press tour, MnCUN released an infographic titled “Minnesota Minded,” which illustrates that credit unions are Minnesotans’ trusted, local financial partner and that credit unions are closely connected to the communities they serve. Click here to view the infographic.

Media engagement and education is a part of MnCUN’s public affairs strategy. This is the second press tour MnCUN has conducted this year, the first being in April – known as Financial Literacy Month – which focused on credit unions’ efforts to provide personal finance education to members and communities. April’s slate of events included press events in St. Paul, St. Cloud, and Duluth, and an editorial board meeting in Mankato. This fall’s press tour will engage additional media markets such as Brainerd, Rochester, Moorhead, and the Twin Cities.


MN credit union growth highlighted at St. Paul press event on Monday

Continuing to advance on its public affairs strategy, and to educate and engage members of the media, the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) held a press event in St. Paul on Monday to discuss how the state’s credit unions are “Minnesota Minded.” The event included data on the credit union growth since the financial crisis. In the past two years, Minnesota credit unions have experienced growth of more than 100,000 new members and increased in nearly every measurement of credit union strength. This demonstrates the trust that consumers place in Minnesota credit unions, which hold over $19 billion in assets and serve more 1.6 million Minnesotans at over 400 locations.

The Monday press event in St. Paul featured the community involvement and financial education initiatives led by Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union and Wings Financial Credit Union.

“Affinity Plus and Wings are two great examples of the many ways that credit unions throughout the state work within their communities to build a stronger Minnesota,” said MnCUN President & CEO Mark D. Cummins. “Every day credit unions help create a brighter financial future for their members and their communities.”

Financial education for youth is a vital component of credit unions’ commitment to serving members and communities.

“It’s important for youth to build financial skills,” said Wings Financial Credit Union President & CEO Frank Weidner. “In 2014, Wings is partnering with schools throughout Minnesota to teach more than 5,000 students about the basics of financial education, along with the impact that social media and identity theft can have on their future higher education and employment opportunities.”

One way Affinity Plus members and employees make a difference in their communities is with “Plus it Forward,” a program designed to inspire people to perform intentional acts of kindness.

“Being involved in communities is a top priority, and we engage with our 181,000 members to assist in giving back to Minnesota charities,” said Dave Larson, Affinity Plus President & CEO. On Oct. 13, Affinity Plus will “Plus it Forward” by working in their many local communities to “spread kindness.” Larson said that community service efforts will include raking leaves for senior citizens and supporting military members and their families.

The “Minnesota Minded” press tour showcases information which illustrates that credit unions are Minnesotans’ trusted, local financial partner and that credit unions are closely connected to the communities they serve. The following statistics are highlighted in a new infographic.

Financially Fit:

  • Minnesota credit unions hold more than $19 billion in assets. (Q1 2014 press release, based on NCUA/Network data)
  • Minnesota credit unions have gained more than 100,000 members since 2011 (Q1 2014 press release, based on NCUA/Network data)
  • Minnesota credit unions provided $88 million in yearly direct financial benefits to the state’s 1.6 million members, equal to $55 per member or $105 per household (Source: Datatrack, NCUA and CUNA “The Benefits of Membership” report, March 2014)

Partnered with People

  • Business owners in Minnesota hold nearly $1.2 billion in loans with credit unions, with an average loan size of nearly $150,000 (CUNA’s CU MBL Overview, March 2014)
  • More than 400 credit union locations serve over 1.6 million members in Minnesota.
  • Nearly 95% of Minnesota credit unions helped their members improve or preserve their creditworthiness. (July 2014 MnCUN CU Difference Survey)


Community Connected

  • Minnesota credit unions help the state’s economy grow by investing in homegrown businesses and participating with their local chambers of commerce and other community organizations. (July 2014 MnCUN CU Difference Survey)
  • Minnesota credit unions are dedicated to providing financial literacy materials and presentations to local schools, reaching more than 7,000 students.  (July 2014 MnCUN CU Difference Survey)
  • Profits stay in the local community.

11 Minn. credit unions win awards, advance to national competitions

The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) recently announced the state-level winners of the 2014 Dora Maxwell, Louise Herring and Desjardins award competitions. These awards – sponsored each year by MnCUN and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) – recognize credit unions’ efforts in community service, member service and financial education.

The 2014 Minnesota award-winners, listed by asset size, are:

Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award

The Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award was created in 1987 and recognizes credit unions for the activities they coordinate that benefit the community or a specific charity. This award promotes social responsibility among credit unions by formally recognizing their achievements outside the credit union.

  • $20-$50 million: Star Choice Credit Union
  • $100-$200 million: Lake State Credit Union
  • $200-$500 million: Richfield Bloomington Credit Union
  • $500 million-$1 billion: SPIRE Credit Union

Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Member Service Award

The Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Member Service Award is given to a credit union for its practical application of the "people helping people” philosophy in internal operations. Created in 1990 with four asset categories, this award promotes the credit union philosophy by formally recognizing credit unions that demonstrate in an extraordinary way the application of the movement's principles in serving their members.

  • <$50 million: Star Choice Credit Union
  •  $250 million-$1 billion: TopLine Federal Credit Union
  • >$1 billion: Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union

Desjardins Financial Education Award

The Desjardins Youth and Adult Financial Education Awards formally recognize the leadership of individual credit unions and chapters in their efforts to better educate youths and adults in financial literacy.


  • <$50 million: Cook Area Credit Union
  • $50-$150 million: United Educators Credit Union
  • $150-$500 million: TopLine Federal Credit Union
  • >$500 million: Wings Financial Credit Union


  • $150-$500 million: Great River Federal Credit Union
  • >$500 million: Hiway Federal Credit Union

Twenty-seven Minnesota credit unions submitted award entries this year, and they were judged by the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas’ Awards Committee to ensure unbiased results. The winners in each award category now advance to CUNA’s national contest where they will compete with credit unions across the country, with judging to take place in October.

"This year’s Minnesota award-winners demonstrated extraordinary commitment to their members and communities in their efforts to provide financial education, build relationships and fill needs in their communities,” said MnCUN President & CEO Mark D. Cummins. “Each of these credit unions deserves this recognition, and we wish them well in the national competition.”


Toolkit available for turnkey participation in Foundation Fridays fundraiser

The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation introduced Foundation Fridays in 2013 to raise money and raise awareness of the Foundation and its committees – Minnesota Credit Unions for Kids (MnCU4Kids) and the Minnesota Family Involvement Council (FIC). Contributions made through this collaborative fundraiser will support financial education, college scholarships, and the Gillette Children’s Hospital. Each participating credit union can access the turnkey toolkit online including how-to information, sample press releases, lobby posters and more!

During October, credit unions can designate one Friday (or several) as a Foundation Friday. On this day, tellers and call center staff will conclude each member interaction by asking for a contribution to help support financial education, college scholarships and Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. At the end of the month, credit unions can forward all donations to the Foundation, to be split evenly between the Foundation general fund, MnCU4Kids and the FIC. It’s that simple!

Below is a brief explanation of the work of the Foundation and its committees.

  • The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation is an organization that provides the resources for credit unions and communities to prosper and thrive. Foundation grants are focused on financial education, professional development and disaster relief efforts that aid the credit union movement in Minnesota and beyond.

  • The Minnesota Family Involvement Council works to provide credit unions with financial awareness solutions. The FIC conducts an annual scholarship program, awarding funds to Minnesota credit union members to help advance their college education. This endeavor is made possible through its annual Silent Auction.

  • Minnesota Credit Unions for Kids is a collaboration of credit unions, chapters, leagues and business partners engaged in fundraising activities to benefit Children’s Miracle Network-affiliate hospitals. All money raised through Minnesota’s Credit Unions for Kids program supports Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, which helps kids with disabilities and chronic conditions. Gillette is based in St. Paul, with clinics located around the state.

To sign up for Foundation Fridays now, send your name, credit union, phone number and email address to


Mark Cummins participates, calls out regulators in ALS “ice bucket” Challenge

Last week, Minnesota Credit Union Network President & CEO Mark Cummins accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge that has become a social media phenomenon to raise awareness for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).


“I’ve been nominated by a number of league presidents. I completely understand why they would do that, but also a number of our credit union presidents,” Cummins said before being doused with ice water “...I figured, we’re all Minnesotans. A little water and a little ice that’s not big deal to any of us.”

Cummins nominated two credit union regulators, Justin Burlson from the National Credit Union Administration and Shane Deal, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Commerce.

As of Tuesday, Aug. 26, The ALS Association had received $88.5 million in donations compared to $2.6 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 26). These donations have come from existing donors and 1.9 million new donors to the Association.

The ALS Association’s mission includes providing care services to assist people with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and their families through a network of chapters working in communities across the nation and a global research program focused on the discovery of treatments and eventually a cure for the disease. In addition, The Association’s public policy efforts empower people to advance public policies in our nation’s Capital that respond to the needs of people with ALS.

Watch the video of Mark Cummins taking the Ice Bucket Challenge online. For more information about The ALS Association, visit the ALS Association website.


Nominations open for top women in finance program - deadline Friday, Aug. 29

Finance & Commerce recognizes accomplished women from across the state of Minnesota at an awards event each November.  This year’s Top Women in Finance event commemorates the program’s 14th year of honoring these amazing women. Credit unions can participate in this outstanding event by nominating some deserving colleague. 

Click here to nominate for Top Women in Finance 2014! Nominations due Friday, Au 29.

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.  

Wings Financial CU to add four Twin Cities branches


US Federal CU supports Northfield’s Defeat of Jesse James Days Horseshoe Hunt


Ideal CU week-long community appreciation event draws large crowd


MnCUN and CUNA partner to advocate for credit unions at national conference

NCUA highlights examiner focus on cyber security 


OSCUI updates its regulatory and supervisory information search engine, FAQ+ 


NCUA Chicago Listening Session posted 


CFPB issues compliance bulletin on mortgage servicing transfers


For Members, Mobile is a Must 

By Steve Hoke

Providing access to financial services from a mobile device is in

creasingly a critical factor in attracting new credit union members. According to a new survey by Pew Internet & American Life Project, 63 percent of adult smartphone owners now use their phones to go online, and 34 percent of this group says they usually choose their smartphone over their computer for this task.

When financial institution’s websites are not optimized for smartphone use, they end up missing out on the huge millennial demographic.  One in six millennials now say they are likely to seek a new financial provider because of a poor mobile experience2.  If credit unions do not innovate through mobile offerings both members and new customers may go elsewhere. Do you know for certain that your credit union’s website is optimized for mobile devices? Make sure to visit your website from your smartphone to see what your members experience.

Mobile-optimized sites allow smartphone users to shop and browse, in an optimal manner, wherever, whenever they want. With mobile media consumption now outpacing all other means for per day average usage, including TV, PC and the rest,3 that means more than ever major purchases such as buying a new car and applying for its financing are being done on mobile devices.  63% of auto shoppers researched and shopped online using their mobile device while at a dealership.4

In addition to mobile optimized websites, apps are also a primary means of researching and making a major purchase on a smartphone. In fact, smartphone users report spending 80 percent of their mobile time in apps.5

Apps made up 47 percent of Internet traffic and 8 percent of traffic came from mobile browsers, according to a study by Enders Analysis. In that study personal computers clocked in at 45 percent.6   Although total Internet usage on mobile devices has previously exceeded that on PCs, this marks the first time it's happened for app usage alone.

One such app helping credit union members research and shop for a car, is the AskAuto® app available to credit unions through CUNA Mutual Group.  With the AskAuto app, your members can scan the vehicle identification number (VIN) of cars they are interested in to get helpful information including the average retail cost and EPA mileage estimates. This can all be accomplished while still on the dealer’s lot. The application saves the information along with notes and ranking preferences to allow for an easy comparison between vehicles.  And when the buyer chooses a car they can also apply for a loan from their credit union directly through the app. 

The AskAuto app is an example of a tool that can help raise your credit union above the fray and attract new members in engaging ways while delivering on the new member expectation of a mobile mindset.

For more information about the AskAuto app or other CUNA Mutual Group Lending Products, please contact your Sales Executive at 1-800-356-2644.

Steve Hoke is Director of Loan Growth Products at CUNA Mutual Group.

1. “Cell Internet Use 2013,” Pew Research Internet Project, Maeve Duggan and Aaron Smith, 9/16/2013,

2. “Consumers Want Better Mobile Banking, Study Suggests,” Lendup Blog, Mitchell LaPoff, 7/11/2013,

3. “State of Mobile 2013, Digital Buzz Blog,” 2013, 

4. “Mobile Device Use at the Dealership,” Placed Inc, Jan. 2014 

5. “State of Mobile 2013,” Digital Buzz Blog, 2013, 

6. “Mobile Apps Overtake PC Internet Usage in U.S.,” James O’Toole, CNN Money, 2/28/2014,

If this describes you, then you are invited to join The Crew. This group 
If this describes you, then you are invited to join The Crew. This group 

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