October 5, 2016

Three Ways to Tune-Up Your Credit Union’s Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is an ongoing arms race, with threats evolving constantly. These days, it isn’t a matter of if a credit union will be the victim of a cyberattack; it’s a matter of when.

Breaches bring many risks to the forefront, spanning credit unions’ financial, compliance and legal departments. A breach can also impact reputation by leading to erosion of members’ trust in your credit union. So, being prepared is critical.

As October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, here are three ways to tune-up your credit union’s cybersecurity.

  1. Set up a first round of defense. Ensure your credit union has a strong first round of defense by layering different types of protections. Start by setting up a firewall, making sure your antivirus/malware protections are up-to-date and implementing robust spam, web and email filters. Also, consider adding an intrusion detection system (IDS) or intrusion prevention system (IPS) to your arsenal. These are designed to detect suspicious network traffic and send alerts to the system administrator.

    After adding these protective layers, check that your data is encrypted no matter where it’s located – on the network, mobile devices and backup tapes/disks or as it’s transmitted over the Internet and in emails.

  2. Transform your staff into a cybersecurity asset – instead of a liability. Human error is a factor in over half of data breaches. Internal theft, lost or improper disposal of data or employee negligence – like opening and clicking on phishing emails – can all lead to breaches.

    Address the importance of information security by training new employees when they're hired, and continue this through the year (at least annually). Your goal should be to change employee behavior to reinforce good data security practices, particularly in the area of handling sensitive member data and in phishing and malware. Some example training topics could include incident response plans, user passwords, malware, email security and/or encryption. An effective cybersecurity awareness training program can make your employees more of an asset, rather than a liability, when it comes to data security.

  3. Refresh and review best practices often. With new threats presenting themselves all the time, it’s extremely important to continuously evolve your security. Conduct analyses like vulnerability assessments, penetration testing (or “friendly hacking”) and third-party network security reviews at least annually. Proactive measures like these allow you to identify and patch vulnerabilities in your current set-up.
Interested in learning more about the vulnerabilities impacting your credit union and protections against breaches? Log into our Protection Resource Center* to watch our latest webinar, titled “Understanding Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities and Protections,” featuring Randal L. Gainer, Partner, BakerHostetler, and Ken Otsuka, Risk Management Senior Consultant, CUNA Mutual Group.

Also, keep an eye out for more risk management insights on our blog, or tune into our Credit Union Protection webinars, provided exclusively to our Bond policyholders.

*Bond policyholders only

September 21, 2016

Whole Life vs. Term Life Insurance: What’s the Difference?

The overarching purpose of life insurance is to protect what matters most: your family. But, selecting life insurance can come with a lot of questions.

How much coverage should I have?
Can I afford coverage?
Do I even need life insurance?

To address these questions, it’s important to start at the beginning and understand the types of life insurance options available. You’ve likely heard of whole life and term life insurance already, but what’s the difference?

Whole Life Insurance

In a nutshell, whole life insurance is comprehensive coverage you can never outlive. And, know that these premiums remain the same throughout your lifetime. Whole life policies also never expire as long as you pay your premiums. This means, no matter how or when you pass away, your beneficiaries receive an income-tax-free money benefit. So, in exchange for permanency, whole life generally has a higher cost than term life.

With whole life insurance, you also have access to a future source of money as you grow older. This is because the policy builds cash value over time. It allows for loans (which incur interest) against the value of the policy. However, unpaid amounts decrease the benefit to your beneficiaries.

To fully illustrate what whole life insurance is, think of it like buying a car: As long as it’s paid for, it’s yours permanently until you no longer want it. And, in that time, it can offer cash value.

Term Life Insurance

While whole life is similar to buying a car, term life insurance is like leasing the car: You have the policy for a set term, and you pay a premium for it. But, once the term lapses, you have no benefit or cash value.

Term life insurance is a great option if you have big responsibilities right now. If you're getting married, buying a home, changing jobs, having a child, paying for college expenses, you can opt for a high coverage amount with an affordable payment.

Term life insurance covers you for a set period of time—the term of your policy. It pays income-tax-free money directly to your beneficiaries if you pass away during the term. And, your loved ones can use the money for funeral expenses, mortgage debt, bills, college expenses—anything.

With term life, you also have the option to convert your policy to whole life insurance if you want more comprehensive coverage in the future.

So, how can you determine which of these options is right for you? We suggest starting with what you want to pay. Then, use a tool like TruStage’s budget first calculator to find the right coverage for you. In the process, you’ll see how little life insurance could cost your family. Because, when it comes to protecting loved ones, any amount of coverage can make a difference.

September 15, 2016

We Want to See You Thrive

We’re proud to support credit unions. It’s an honor and we’ve cherished for more than 80 years. In that time, we’ve evolved along with the movement and the millions of members it serves. 

This is still our reality.

Today, we still tailor our products, services and expertise to the needs of hardworking Americans. We still drive insights and innovation to connect with people in ways that fit their lives. And, we still work to give credit unions the competitive edge they need – not just to survive, but to thrive -- in a competitive landscape that changes often and forgives very little.

We also know public awareness can make a vital difference to the future of our industry. While the movement serves millions of members, it still faces oceans of the population who aren’t familiar with the credit union difference – yet.

So, we invite you to join us for a social sharing campaign we call #CU_Thrive. It's open to credit union members, staff and anyone who enjoys the new video series we've just launched.

The series includes four new stories that feature the credit union difference and how a few people’s lives are shining a little brighter because of it.  Here are the first two:

    Taking a page from these new stories, we want to catch a glimpse of yours.

    Did your credit union help you get your first mortgage or a loan for a new car? 

    Do you sleep a little better at night -- between diaper changes -- because your credit union is helping you build a stronger financial future for your family?

    No matter what your "thrive" story is, we're hoping you'll share it with us through a social media photo. If you do, you'll earn a chance to win  a $100 Visa gift card (We'll select winners, randomly, in November). You can also enter by sharing the videos in our new series. Here's how:

    For credit union members or staff
    1. Shoot an original photo of something or someone symbolizing the credit union difference in your life.
    2. Draft a social media post of your photo, tag your credit union and include #CU_Thrive
    3. Share via TwitterFacebook or Instagram between now and November 11.
    For anyone
    Share #CU_Thrive with a link to any of the new videos we host through bit.ly/CU_Thrive (via Twitter or Facebook).

    So, show us! How has or is your credit union bringing great things to life for you and your family?

    We can't wait to #CU_Thrive!

    September 6, 2016

    NCUF Honors Larry Blanchard with CUDE Lifetime Achievement Award

    Larry BlanchardWe're proud to salute Larry Blanchard -- a long-time
    CUNA Mutual Group employee and one of the most influential leaders in credit union history -- for his recent honors from the National Credit Union Foundation.

    This summer, Larry received the Foundation's Credit Union Development Education (DE) Lifetime Achievement Award for his tireless dedication to the program and serving as an inspiration to DEs throughout the world.

    He's a leading professional for our industry in the areas of government affairs and public relations. Since the start of his career, he has successfully championed legislation to benefit consumers and credit unions. 

    He played a prominent role in a campaign that led to the enactment of the Credit Union Membership Access Act (H.R. 1151), expanding the choice of credit union membership to millions of new members. Without this major change affecting membership, the credit union movement might not exist as it does today. 

    He also served as chairman of our industry's system-wide steering committee on Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT). This successfully overturned IRS tax policies on many credit union products and services.

    This lifetime achievement award demonstrates the impact Larry has made in the lives of credit unions, members and staff throughout the credit union movement. 

    Hats off, Larry!

    August 30, 2016

    How Managing Medicare is Like Eating an Elephant

    By Cindi Hill, CFP®, CRPC®, Retirement Solutions Consultant, CUNA Brokerage Services

    Medicare is a massive, complex and overwhelming topic. Confess. Did the word alone make you want to run screaming from the room? You’re not alone!

    As a financial planner, you can’t avoid the topic entirely. Medicare will likely be a critical benefit in your clients’ retirement planning, and your clients are counting on you to help them navigate the nuances of these options. Frankly, you’ll be letting them down if you have nothing to offer.

    Instead of feeling overwhelmed, think about the old joke: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. That’s how you can tackle Medicare. 

    You don’t need to be a Medicare expert to help your clients

    Do you need to transform yourself into a walking encyclopedia on Medicare? No. But you do need to take three steps:

    1.    Tell them how important enrollment deadlines are. Miss them and clients could face PERMANENT penalties.

    Your clients must meet various deadlines when signing up for the different parts of Medicare. If they don’t, they could be penalized for life. Yes, you read that correctly: For life. Generally, a person’s initial enrollment period for Medicare Part A and Part B lasts seven months. This runs from three months before the month of their 65th birthday to three months after that month.

    Typically, Part A doesn’t have an enrollment penalty, but Parts B and D can have them
    The Part B penalty is rather steep, as noted by our friends at medicare.gov:

    “Your monthly premium for Part B may go up 10% for each full 12-month period that you could have had Part B, but didn’t sign up for it.”

    If assessed, this late enrollment penalty will last for as long as the client has Part B!

    2.    Recommend an annual review of their prescription plan, and share resources to help clients evaluate their coverage. Most people are paying too much!

    Ongoing research has found that only 5 percent of consumers who are participating in Part D (the prescription portion of Medicare) are getting the least expensive plan. Your clients might not have fully investigated their options when they first signed up—or they might not realize that plans can change every year. Even if they did their homework to begin with, they need to give their prescription drug plans annual check-ups to make sure they’re still the right choices.

    Luckily, there are two resources you can send them to that make that easy: 

    1. Medicare.gov/find-a-plan is for those who are more tech-savvy and comfortable navigating the Internet on their own.
    2. Shiptacenter.org is the State Health Assistance Program website. It’s a free call-in service that connects consumers to counselors—either on the phone or face-to-face—who are trained and certified to answer questions about Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Part D plans, Medigap and Medicaid.   

          Quick tip: Use an email or text blast to alert all your clients on Medicare that their annual renewal deadline is approaching, their plans and options might have changed and the resources they can use to investigate their options.

    3. Use planning tools to help clients better manage their retirement finances.

    Did you know the average consumer has little to no idea of what their healthcare expenses will be in retirement?

    According to Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, only 15 percent of pre-retirees have estimated health care and long-term care costs in retirement.  Considering health care costs are a primary expense in retirement, this could really derail a retirement plan.

    Fortunately, you can use a variety of financial planning tools to help clients predict and prepare for their healthcare expenses. One good example is MoneyGuidePro’s® financial planning software. It allows advisors to easily add health care goals and estimates these expenses.*

    Start eating your Medicare elephant today! Bon Appetit!

    For more insights from CUNA Brokerage Services, visit our Insights webpage.

    *MoneyGuide Pro is currently offered by CUNA Brokerage Services for use at credit unions.

    The views expressed in the communication represent the current views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the management of CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. 
    Securities sold, advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution to make securities available to members. Not NCUA/NCUSIF/FDIC insured, May Lose Value, No Financial Institution Guarantee. Not a deposit of any financial institution. CBSI is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America. The representative may also be financial institution employee that accepts deposits on behalf of the financial institution.

    August 25, 2016

    Millennial Matters: Do I Need Life Insurance?

    Millennials are a diverse bunch. They’re single, married, parents, students, entrepreneurs and so much more. But, no matter the life stage, millennials typically have one thing in common: They want to protect their family and loved ones.

    So, how can they accomplish this? Life insurance is one way. But, is it really necessary?

    For me, it is. I’m a recent homebuyer, engaged (and almost married!) with two fur babies. If something were to happen to me, there would still be a mortgage to pay, a significant other now surviving on his income alone and two cats to feed. Life insurance helps protect each of these important things if I pass away. 

    Now, just because I need life insurance doesn’t mean every millennial does. If I didn’t have a house, significant other and “dependents,” would I need it? Possibly not, as I’m young and in relatively good health. 

    However, you still need to think about those left behind. Do you have enough money saved up to cover your funeral expenses? (For reference, the average funeral cost ranges from $7,000 to $10,000.) And, are you debt-free? If you answered no to those questions, these expenses could become your family’s responsibility to pay, and you may want to evaluate a life insurance policy.

    But, where do you begin? With four out of five consumers overestimating the cost of term insurance – and millennials overestimating by 213 percent – you may feel like life insurance is out of reach. Start the evaluation process by deciding on a budget. Then, use a budget-first calculator to see how much coverage fits your budget. Because, when it comes to protecting loved ones, any amount of coverage can make a difference.

    August 17, 2016

    Five Ways to Expand Your Payment Capabilities with Confidence

    By Robert Jarosinski

    As payment methods evolve, new risks and challenges continue to emerge. In fact, today, less than 50 percent of breaches are known. Debit card compromises at ATMs are up 546 percent year-over-year. And, 91 percent of the losses our customers report are card-present counterfeit.

    With so many unknowns surrounding payments, your confidence may falter when you think about expanding the payment capabilities of your business. So, what can credit unions do to overcome these challenges? Here are five considerations.

    1. Understand the fraud landscape. Understanding the current landscape is necessary prior to expanding capabilities. Know what’s happening with breaches, card compromises, fraud and more.

    2. Layer key elements of protection. A one-size-fits-all solution for preventing fraud doesn’t exist today. So, fight from every angle using fraud management services, EMV, card-not-present tools and mobile wallet offerings.

    3. Embrace EMV. Despite EMV’s slow implementation, we already see staggering drops in counterfeit fraud, with EMV-based merchants reporting a 35 percent decline.

    4. Select the right mobile wallet. Today, you can choose from more than 150 mobile wallet options, including Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, PayPal and more. So, selecting the right solution can be tricky. Look for these three key elements when evaluating mobile wallets: tokenization, encryption and strong authentication options.

    5. Know how you benchmark against other credit unions. Defining the “new norm” in today’s landscape is difficult since a credit union loss barometer for the industry doesn’t exist (yet).

      To help address these challenges, we’re conducting a Credit Union Benchmark Survey to help credit unions understand their metrics and year-over-year fraud performance compared with their peers. So far, results show debit card fraud dollars are up 27 percent, year-over-year, and credit card fraud dollars are up 15 percent.

      We invite you to participate in our survey and stay tuned for our results, which will be released in August exclusively to Bond policyholders who participated in the survey.

    Looking for more payment insights? Log into our Protection Resource Center* to watch our latest webinar, titled “Expanding Payment Capabilities with Confidence,” featuring Andy Sun, Senior Product Analyst – Visa Chip Product, VISA and myself, Robert Jarosinski, Risk Management Senior Consultant, CUNA Mutual Group.

    Also, keep an eye out for more risk management insights on our blog, or tune into our Credit Union Protection webinars, provided exclusively to our Bond policyholders.

    *Bond policyholders only

    August 4, 2016

    Engaging Young People through Financial Literacy

     By Jeff Bosco

    Now, more than ever, young people need our help to learn how to skillfully plan a budget, save for the future and invest with confidence – before money management becomes a struggle. This is critical to their abilities to become financially healthy and fulfill their passions and goals.

    We don’t let our children graduate from high school without a solid grasp of the English language and basic math and science principles. Yet so often we overlook teaching crucial financial skills, such as balancing a checking account and understanding when to use credit cards. This must change.

    Young people are our future, and only through strong, educated and financially healthy members do we ensure the sustained success of our credit unions and the credit union movement. Working together, we can play a key role in educating young consumers about basic financial principals.

    Together, we can lay the foundation for future financial success.  Sharing our financial knowledge will help us build lasting relationships with these young people. It also encourages them to work with credit unions to plan and manage their finances for years to come.

    In 2016,
     CUNA Mutual Group worked with the National Credit Union Foundation to deliver 20 Financial Reality Fairs for high school students across the country. The series resulted in 40 credit unions reaching 5,000 students in nine states.

    Through these fairs, students learned how to maintain and improve their financial health and experienced all of the opportunities and benefits credit unions can provide. Simulated scenarios involving credit scores, insurance plans, daycare costs and more taught students how to successfully navigate the financial situations they’ll face when they reach adulthood and live on their own.

    This was just the beginning, though. The financial health and education of the next generation is an ongoing investment that we are committed to building. We’re continuing to engage and interact with young people to boost their financial literacy, and we hope our peers – credit unions, leagues, financial advisors, teachers and friends – will join us.

    Help us reach new members today by watching and sharing this
     financial literacy video, and then get involved by contacting the National Credit Union Foundation or your state credit union foundation to host a fair. Together, we can make a difference.

    JEFF BOSCO is the senior vice president of Wealth Management for CUNA Mutual Group. Contact him at

    This post was originally published via CUInsight.


    July 29, 2016

    Credit Union Memberships and Loans Continue to Grow

    Credit union loan balances and memberships continue to grow. That's according our Credit Union Trends Report for July 2016 (based on May 2016 data).

    The report offers an economic outlook for credit unions and their leaders, and you can review the full details 
    here. Or, see the highlights below:


    • During May, credit unions picked-up 431,000 in new memberships, loan and savings balances grew at an 11.9 percent and 6.7 percent seasonally-adjusted annualized pace, respectively. Firms hired 11,000 workers, nominal consumer spending increased 0.4 percent, and long-term interest rates increased 11 basis points. Consumers are feeling confident about their future financial conditions and will keep the economy moving forward through 2017.
    • At the end of May, CUNA’s monthly estimates reported 6,126 credit unions in operation, 2 fewer than one month earlier. Year-over-year, the number of credit unions declined by 291, more than the 260 lost in the 12 months ending in May 2015.
    • Total credit union assets fell -0.1 percent in May, slower than the 0.9 percent gain reported in May of 2015. Assets rose 7.0 percent during the past year due to a 6.9 percent increase in deposits, an 18 percent increase in borrowings, and a 6.4 percent increase in capital.
    • The nation’s credit unions increased their loan portfolios by 1.0 percent in May, faster than the 0.9 percent pace reported in May 2015. Loan balances are up 11.0 percent during the last 12 months. With loan balances growing faster than savings, credit union liquidity is tightening up as the credit union average loan-to-savings ratio reached 77.6 percent, up from 74.8 percent in May 2015.
    • Credit union memberships rose 0.4 percent in May, up from the 0.33 percent gain reported in May 2015. Memberships are up 4.3 percent during the past year due to robust demand for credit, solid job growth and credit unions having comparatively lower fees and loan interest rates.
    • Credit union loan delinquency came in at 0.72 percent in May, below the 0.74 percent reported in May 2015. Delinquency rates typically reach their lowest point in the 2nd quarter of a year, so expect the ratio to begin rising in the second half of 2016.

    July 28, 2016

    Millennial POV: What Are the Top Millennial Myths?

    Millennials have been part of the workforce for years. In that time, the generation has endured a lot of attention and still does. Some of this is rooted in fact, and some isn't.

    To examine what isn't true, we launched a Twitter Poll earlier this month. We asked our followers to choose the top Millennial myth. As you can see, most voters found all options equally false.

    We agree with this for three key reasons: our day-to-day experiences, new research and real-world feedback from Millennials.

    • Like most work environments today, ours is a multi-generational one. Our experiences with teams, work groups and leaders of all ages teach us the difference between sweeping generalizations and reality.
    • We also asked a Millennials who work in the credit union industry to share their thoughts with us. In February, we captured their myth-busting feedback on video. See it for yourself!

    In addition to myth-busting, we have this group's feedback on their top financial priorities and how credit unions can engage them better. And, you can see more insights on Twitter via #MillennialPOV.

    What do you think the top myths are today?