Tuesday, May 22, 2018

CUNA Mutual Group Executive Benefits Program Passes $3 Billion in Assets Under Management

Our Executive Benefits Program for credit unions continues to generate rapid growth. As announced today, the program recently reached its $3 billion milestone in assets under management. 

Now in its 20th year, the program leads the industry, serving more than 1,200 credit unions with plans for over 3,800 executives. In the past five years, assets under management more than doubled -- up from $1.3 billion at year-end 2013. And, it boasts a 97 percent retention rate, which allows invested funds to continue growing. 

“Customers stay with us because of the service and credentialed support we provide in the fiduciary and compliance components of our plans,” said Bruce Bauer, CUNA Mutual Group senior executive benefits specialist. "Of particular benefit now is the company’s expertise relative to new excise tax planning, which requires understanding, strategy and collaboration with a credit union-knowledgeable attorney.

“We began our Total Benefits Pre-Funding plan in 2012 with the help of CUNA Mutual Group,” said David Solis, chief financial officer, GECU, El Paso, Texas. “They recommended a funding program to include Business-Owned Life Insurance (BOLI) and a managed investment account through their vendor, City National Rochdale. For six years, the funding program has allowed GECU to offer a robust total benefits pre-funding plan for its employees.”

For more information, see today's full press release, contact your CUNA Mutual Group Executive Benefits Specialist or go to www.cunamutual.com/executivebenefits. 

Giving Back, One Bucky Badger Statue at aTime

By Taylor Kilgore, CUNA Mutual Group
At CUNA Mutual Group, giving back to the community is part of our corporate culture. Kim Mahaffey, Manager, Research and Coordination, found a way she can make it fun and align with her passion for art.

More than 80 life-size Bucky Badger statues – decorated with various designs – are now on display in  support of local nonprofits throughout the Greater Madison, WI area for Bucky on Parade. Kim, who works at our corporate headquarters here in Madison, designed three of them.

 As a University of Wisconsin – Madison Badger fan and artist, it only seemed natural for Kim to participate. Three of the four designs she submitted are on display.  These include:

• “We are Bucky,” featuring photos of Badger fans.
• “Funky Buckingham,” which has an abstract sports theme.
• “Fifth Quarter” with a marching band theme and real instruments.

Each Bucky statue is six and a half feet tall and weighs about 150 pounds.

“Getting them in the house was a little bit of an issue, but they made it in,” said Kim. “And, we built some rollers to put them on. So, I could move them around my kitchen easily. As you can imagine, it’s been very interesting having life-size Bucky statues in my kitchen.”

Kim made great use of her project management skills to juggle working full-time and completing the three statues on her nights and weekends. Despite the time constraints, she was excited to use her talents and give back to her hometown.

All for a Good Cause

Bucky on Parade is not only decorating Madison this summer. It’s also supporting non-profit organizations. Each Bucky is sponsored by a Madison company, and the proceeds will support Garding Against Cancer, Madison Area Sports Commission and other local non-profits. CUNA Mutual Group is pleased to be sponsoring one of the statues.

“I’m really proud to work for a company that gives back to the community and encourages me to do the same,” said Kim. “It feels good to do something I’m passionate about that also helps other people.”

If you are in the Madison area, check out Bucky on Parade and Kim’s incredible work.

Learn more about how CUNA Mutual Group gives back and how we focus on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a business.

What makes giving back fun for you? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Help Members Stay Ahead of Unexpected Auto Repairs

by Nick Rohan, CUNA Mutual Group
Auto lending season has arrived for credit unions. Thanks to consumers’ ample access to credit, low debt burdens, strong job growth, growing hourly earnings and rising home values, auto sales are expected to top 17.1 million units in 2018. 

This outpaces the 16.5 million sales rate that economists believe is the inherent long-run demand. But what about protecting all of those shiny new rides out on the road? 

Growth in dealer-direct financing, indirect lending and online loan channels means that fewer members being covered by a mechanical repair coverage policy (MRC).

Traditionally, MRC has been offered at the time of closing the auto loan. However, because of time constraints, channel shift and administration challenges during the auto loan process, MRC is left out of the conversation all too often. 

Technology now allows for a combination of digital and traditional interaction touch points - outside of the loan event – providing more opportunities for members to learn about their options to guard against expensive repair bills. Fast, easy-to-use online tools allow members to research, compare and buy coverage at competitive prices. If members have questions, they can receive expert customer service through a dedicated call center. And, to help plan their expenses, members can pay upfront in full, or through a payment plan that fits their monthly budget.

“By guiding members through a transparent experience, they can now clearly review and consider their coverage options, where, when and how they prefer,” said Dan Gallagher, product executive, CUNA Mutual Group. “Ultimately, this puts members first by providing them with the right tools to make the right decision to protect their auto investment and safeguard against unexpected expenses down the road.”

For credit unions, expanded opportunities to extend MRC options through direct marketing can help them avoid missed to opportunities generated by indirect loan volume. The program also offers coverage options to members, who may not hold an outstanding auto loan balance, but could benefit from the added protection.  

“The new Mechanical Repair Coverage direct marketing channel expanded our reach to more members, helping them limit the cost of repairs,” said Mark Walls, VP of Consumer Lending, Neighbors Federal Union. “And, it took minimal staff time to get this program up and running quickly.”

Ultimately, fewer missed opportunities, more protected vehicles and the ability to cover repair bills at the garage are a win-win-win for credit unions and members alike. 

Learn more on how your members can benefit from this solution here. With auto buying season in full swing -- and summer vacation season around the corner -- the time is right!

Monday, May 14, 2018

How to Prevent Summer Slide in the Workplace

By Anne Corrigan-Watson, Senior Performance Consultant

As the school year comes to an end and summer quickly approaches, you may be hearing terms like “summer learning loss” or “summer slide”. These terms generally refer to the tendency for students to lose some of the academic skills they learned during the previous school year. 
However, did you know that a similar phenomenon can also occur in the workplace?

For instance, if employees are not receiving the training and development necessary to do their job, they are more likely to lose their skills over time—or even leave the company.  In fact, research shows  that 40% of employees who do not receive the necessary job training to become effective will leave their positions within the first year.

To be fully engaged, employees need to be productively working on behalf of their organization, and access to training and development can help.  So, how can you engage your employees in continual learning and avoid the summer slide?

One solution is to encourage your staff to attend our lending excellence webinars, available at no charge to our credit union partners who use our lending solutions. Our new summer learning series is designed to help employees excel in their role by sharing product essentials tips, such as how to recognize opportunities to offer products.

Register for an upcoming webinar today, or check out the full schedule of our 2018 lending and coaching webinars here.
For more information on how to keep learning and development a top priority at your credit union and avoid the workplace summer slide, watch this video.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Claims Cares About Giving Back

By Taylor Kilgore, Communications Consultant
Here at CUNA Mutual Group, a team from our Claims Department dedicates time to companywide volunteering and donation drives. They also work to make an even greater impact where we live and work. These volunteers are known as the Claims Cares Committee. For more than 10 years, they have gone the extra mile through volunteering, fundraising and monetary donations.

One of their longest-running partnerships is with the Ronald McDonald House here in Madison, an organization that provides cost-free housing for families with hospitalized children. It provides home-cooked meals seven days a week for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House. Claims Cares uses the meal preparation time as a team building activity while striving to make a positive impact in the community.

“When your child is sick, it takes a huge emotional and financial toll,” said Shauna Thayer, Marketing and Communications Director, Ronald McDonald House, Madison. “To not have to worry about meals is huge for these families.”

In 2017, The Ronald McDonald House in Madison served 1,200 families. Support of local businesses is crucial to fulfilling their mission to serve these families.

“We have a small staff, so without businesses like CUNA Mutual Group, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” added Shauna.

According to Relayia Hodges, Senior Claims Professional, it’s part of our company culture: “We’re doing more than just processing claims or assisting with insurance products,” she said. “We are really here in the community.”

Learn more about how we give back and focus on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a business.

Whether it’s in a group or individually, you can always make an impact on your community by supporting local non-profits. Tell us what volunteer opportunities you participate in on Facebook or Twitter.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Credit Union Trends Report: April 2018

Our Credit Union Trends Report for April 2018 is now available online. The report covers data from February 2017 and includes details on credit union memberships, loans, savings and more. 

Highlights include the following: 

  • During February, credit unions picked-up 417,000 in new memberships, loan and savings balances grew at a 11.0 percent and 5.6 percent seasonally-adjusted annualized pace, respectively. Firms hired 326,000 workers, nominal consumer spending was unchanged, and long-term interest rates increased 28 basis point. Real GDP growth is expected to accelerate to 2.8 percent in 2018, faster than the 2.6 percent pace reported in 2017. 
  • At the end of February, CUNA’s monthly estimates reported 5,757 CUs in operation, 1 fewer than one month earlier. Year-over-year, the number of credit unions declined by 240, more than the 222 lost in the 12 months ending in February 2017. 
  • Total credit union assets rose 1.5 percent in February, below the 1.6 percent gain reported in February of 2017. Assets rose 6.2 percent during the past year due to a 5.9 percent increase in deposits, a 16.6 percent increase in borrowings, and a 6.4 percent increase in capital. 
  • The nation’s credit unions increased their loan portfolios by 0.5 percent in February, faster than the 0.2 percent pace reported in February 2017. Loan balances are up 10.4 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 82.6 percent, up from 79.2 percent in February 2017. 
  • Credit union memberships rose 0.37 percent in February, down from the 0.41 percent gain reported in February 2017. Memberships are up 4.6 percent during the past year due to robust demand for credit, solid job growth and comparatively lower fees and loan interest rates. 
  • Credit union loan delinquency rates rose to 0.84 percent in February, above the long-run “natural rate” average of 0.75 percent. Expect the rate to fall in March due to tax refunds and bonuses allowing some members to catch-up on late loan payments.

For more details, access the full report at cunamutual.com.

Is There A Cost to Convenience?

Steve Heusuk, Senior Manager, Competitive and Market Intelligence

The financial sector has been on a mission to redefine the experience it provides. Companies continue chasing new channels, faster technologies, less friction in the customer journey and any other innovation to reach the holy grail of convenience.

But, are there unintended consequences to this singular focus on convenience? As engagement becomes easier are credit unions and members growing further apart?

Look at auto lending. Credit unions traditionally won loan decisions based on lower rates and fees. Banks, on the other hand, typically won business based on dealer relationships and/or recommendations. But there are indications these dynamics are changing.

Total outstanding credit union auto loans from the indirect channel grew from 43 percent in 2012 to 58 percent in 2017. And, they're projected to reach 61 percent by 2021. Clearly, credit unions have made inroads at the dealership – traditionally bankers’ turf.

That would be a nice story – if it ended there.

Deeper analysis shows credit unions are winning more business with members who don’t consider the credit union their Primary Financial Institution (PFI). In fact, from Q4 2015 to Q4 2017, auto loans held by this segment grew 44 percent, according to a 2018 survey conducted by Competiscan. By contrast, auto loans held by members who consider the credit union their PFI grew only 7 percent.

Learn more about this potential risk. Read the full article.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Three Business Lessons Learned from Mountaineering

What does success look like?

Grace Vandecruze, an accomplished leader in the financial services industry, recently answered that question for us when she visited our campus to speak to our Consumer Experience team.
Not only is Grace a trailblazer among insurance executives, she's also an avid mountaineer and has summited some of the world’s highest mountains.
Along her journeys, she has learned many lessons about success and how to achieve it as part of a team—and she shared a few of them with us.

Here are three key takeaways we’re applying to our transformational journey as an organization:
1.     It takes a team to achieve a major goal.
You can’t climb a mountain alone. It takes an entire team, and each person has a role to play that helps everyone successfully complete the journey. Make sure you connect and leverage relationships and the strengths of others. 
In business, it’s no different. At CUNA Mutual Group, we exist to help people achieve financial security. As we build new capabilities and transform our organization to better meet the needs of today’s consumers, we’ve faced challenges and learned we can overcome these challenges when we’re aligned and working together.

2.     Understand the value of small steps.
When you reach the top of a mountain, your journey is not complete. In fact, you’re only halfway there—you still need to make it back down. It’s crucial to keep your focus every step of the way.
Summiting a mountain is not a linear journey, and neither is an organizational transformation. As we work to design better experiences for our customers, we’ve experienced many twists and turns along the way. However, taking an agile approach throughout our teams has helped us navigate more efficiently, and we’ve seen the value in taking iterative steps to move closer to the end goal. 
3.     There is no failure—only learning and adapting.
In mountaineering, there is no failure. Mountaineers 
view any setback or challenge as an opportunity t
learn and rethink the strategy.” -- Grace Vandecruze 
“In mountaineering, there is no failure,” said Grace. “Mountaineers view any setback or challenge as an opportunity to learn and rethink the strategy.” Adjusting your approach doesn’t mean failure, it means you learned something.

There are many lessons from mountaineering that parallel with the business world. For us, the biggest takeaway is that success will come as the entire team moves forward together. It’s not just about making it to the top—reaching any long-term goal takes time, teamwork, and the ability to learn from mistakes.

Which of these lessons will you follow as you climb on to reach your major goals?

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Volunteering Has a Dual Impact

By Taylor Kilgore, Communications Consultant

While April is National Volunteer Month, here at CUNA Mutual Group we care about making a difference in our communities all year long. In the first quarter of 2018, we gave more than 2,500 volunteer hours to nonprofits and causes in our communities.

We’re grateful to the many employees who are bringing our corporate culture to life in this way. Here are a few examples of how our employees have been making a difference so far this year. We hope they spark ideas for you about ways to give back where you live and work.

Student Exchange Program in northern Colorado
Doreen Warrender, Lending Consultant, volunteers with AFS Colorado Rockies (AFS), a non-profit group that facilitates high-school student exchanges. She works to pair families with students and finds activities for the students.

“I’ve volunteered for more than 10 years. During that time, I have applied and received Dollars for Doers grants, a program which CUNA Mutual Group donated money based on my volunteer time,” said Doreen. “This money helps make our activities more meaningful by paying for expenses that we couldn’t otherwise afford.”

Fostering Young Professionals in Madison, WI
Abbe Smith, Media Specialist, sits on two boards that foster professional development and volunteerism for youth: Habitat Young Professionals and the Social Media Breakfast. Abbe believes connecting young people to volunteerism is essential as many organizations depend on volunteers to run successfully. 

“I am very passionate about my community,” said Abbe. “It’s important to ask, ‘what can we do to make this a better place?’.”

The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA
David Andrews, Financial Service Representative, has volunteered with the Pasadena Tournament of Roses for the last 17 years. He is one of 935 volunteers in his chapter, who help make the Rose Parade possible.

“I participate because I enjoy the people I have grown to become friends with over the years,” said David. “Also, it feels good to do something that makes so many people around the world happy.” 

Packaging Meals in Waverly, IA
Kerri Swancutt, Technology Analyst, recently helped package meals at Waverly High School for Meals from the Heartland. Six other CUNA Mutual Group employees worked together to fill bags with rice, soy and dried vegetables, which were sent to local and global communities.

“It was fun to work with my team, getting to know each other a little better,” said Kerri. “My biggest delight was knowing what we were doing was going to impact so many people.”

There are many ways you can impact your communities – whether on a board or committee, a team-building activity or a one-time event. Why not spend some time volunteering during National Volunteer Month?

Are you or someone you know making a difference in the community? Connect with us on Twitter or Facebook.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Wealth Management: We're Joining Forces With PenFed

Today, with PenFed Credit Union, we announced the availability of new wealth management and investment services for more than 1.6 million PenFed members through our affiliate, CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI)

“CUNA Mutual Group and PenFed share a common mission that centers around helping people plan for and secure their financial futures,” said Rob Comfort, president, CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. “This new relationship will provide much broader access for PenFed members to critical financial advice that will help more members and their families.”

PenFed is the nation’s second largest federal credit union with more than $23 billion in assets. Today, it offers its members a comprehensive portfolio of wealth management services including financial planning, investment management and trust and fiduciary services. PenFed Wealth Management currently has financial advisors across the continental U.S. and Hawaii.

CBSI is the leading broker-dealer and registered investment advisor serving the credit union industry and offers a full range of investment and insurance solutions empowering credit unions to help their members achieve financial security. CBSI has approximately 285 credit union programs, 430 advisors, and more than $25 billion in assets under management.