February 21, 2017

Three Advocacy Topics to Consider As You Head to GAC

By Christopher Roe, SVP, Corporate & Legislative Affairs

Each year, more than 5,000 credit union attendees gather at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington, D.C., for the same purpose: to advocate for the credit union industry. We’ll be at GAC, too, hiking the hill alongside credit union leaders and members and advocating for credit union system priorities.

As you head to Washington, D.C., or follow the conference from afar, here are three advocacy topics to think about.

  1. Credit unions need regulatory relief.
    Credit unions offer members many benefits, including affordable financial services. However, as regulatory burden increases, credit union members end up paying the price. According to CUNA, regulatory burden subjects 105 million credit union members to higher loan rates, longer wait times for loan approvals, limited access to modernized technology and fewer and more expensive services and products. This translates to a loss of $71 each year per credit union member.

    Given that credit unions didn’t cause the Great Recession, small credit unions are disproportionately impacted by new regulations because they lack the scale of big banks.

    How can you join us, CUNA and other credit union leaders to start the advocacy conversation with Congress? Ask Congress to pass legislation that takes into account that credit unions are small financial institutions and shouldn’t be treated like big banks.

  2. Credit unions need negligent merchants to be held to data security standards.It’s no secret that today’s risk landscape is evolving constantly. And, credit unions are a target – especially when it comes to data breaches.

    Because negligent merchants are not liable for lax data security standards, credit unions are exposed each time a cyberattack strikes a merchant. (Consider the recent Arby’s breach, for example.) After the breach, credit unions are responsible for covering the costs of the resulting fraud, blocking transactions, reissuing cards, increasing staffing and monitoring consumer accounts. But, credit unions and their member owners aren’t compensated for the harm caused by the negligent merchant.

    How can you join us, CUNA and other credit union leaders to start the advocacy conversation with Congress? Ask Congress to pass legislation that would impose data security standards on merchants to protect consumers and reduce criminal access to financial information.

  3. Credit unions need to preserve their tax status.
    As you know, the credit union federal income tax status allows many credit unions to survive and provide members with accessible and affordable financial services. In fact, credit union members have benefited by $10 billion dollars in the last year because of the tax status. Because credit unions are structured as not-for-profit financial cooperatives owned by their members, the credit union tax exempt status ensures the “People Helping People” philosophy and mission to promote thrift and access to credit can continue well into the future.

    How can you join us, CUNA and other credit union leaders to start the advocacy conversation with Congress? Tell Congress that credit unions earn their tax status each and every day, and that a tax on a member-owned, not-for-profit credit union is a tax on Americans of modest means.

We hope these serve as thought starters as you make your way to GAC. If you’re attending, stop by booth 343 to say hi and enter for a chance to win a $1,000 charitable donation. If not, join us in conversation on Twitter!

February 14, 2017

Are You Financially Compatible With Your Crush?

By Steve Mendez

With Valentine’s Day here, many of us are thinking about our romantic relationships. It's also a good time to think about your relationship with money. Why? Because it can affect your love life more than you may realize.

Financial relationships affect personal ones.
A net search on the top reasons couples break up will show money issues, nearly every time. Whether it’s hiding debt, not paying bills or being too controlling with cash, couples who are mismatched in money habits face pretty bad odds. In fact, they’re more likely to join more than 4 in 10 American first marriages that end before “death do you part.”

Men and women have financial preferences - even if they don't talk about them.
Studies show that, when it comes to dating and relationships, people with good financial habits are looking for partners who behave the same way. A 2016 Economic Times survey found the following:

  • Most men prefer partners who spend carefully and live within their means. 
  • Most women prefer partners who are smart investors. 
  • And, careful spending and investing were the top two most appealing traits to both men and women, followed by thriftiness, generosity and willingness to spend loosely.
Age matters.
It’s important to note that age also plays a role here. The survey showed couples in their 20s disagree more often about spending too much and not saving enough. While couples in their 30s and 40s argue more about making wise investments.

Debt can be awkward.
OK, we’ve covered saving and investing. But, what about the D-word (debt)? Research shows that, overall, 94 percent of men and women are willing to help a partner repay an outstanding debt. But, one in five women will only do so if they're made part owner of the asset. This could be awkward if you’re still paying off student loans.

You can find your financial compatibility.
So, you want to put your best financial foot forward. Whether your relationship is new or a lasting one, how can you approach the topic without seeming too materialistic? It's simple: 
  • Take your time. 
  • Make financial conversations more specific as the relationship develops. 
  • Learn your partner’s habits around spending, saving, investing, etc. over time. 
  • Be open about yours.  
How well do you understand your financial habits and your relationship with your money? If you have a love interest, how well do you understand his or hers? Now might be a great time to check them out.

February 9, 2017

Convenience is Driving Our Lives - And Your Business Model

By Tim McAdow, Vice President, Sales Operations & Marketing

Could you ever go back to using a flip phone or having no cell phone at all? How about staying connected with family and friends without social media, traveling without GPS or working out without an exercise tracker on your wrist?

Today's consumers rely on technology more than ever to make their everyday lives easier. And, their growing need for simplification is dramatically changing how they interact with their credit unions.

As Raffo Wimsett, Campus Relations Partner at Commonwealth Credit Union in Kentucky says in this short video, innovation has taken member expectations to new levels. "Life's busy. Now I can just hit my thumbprint on my phone, and that takes me right into my online app. And now I have everything I could want -- one, two, three -- laid out for me."

Watch the rest of Raffo’s story to learn how the need for convenience is shaping the way he serves members.

What's your credit union's plan for serving members where, how and when they prefer? Check out Succeeding in Today's Convenience Economy to learn three key steps credit unions should consider implementing to meet their members' growing expectations.

February 8, 2017

Plastic Card Fraud: The Best Defense Tactics to Minimize Losses

By Robert Jarosinski

While many types of fraud impact financial institutions today, the growing concern over plastic card fraud is worth noting.

Credit unions aren’t strangers to this kind of fraud. And, with worldwide card fraud expected to increase 45 percent by the end of 2020, it’s time to take action.

As card fraud continues to evolve, credit unions must use the best defense tactics to minimize their losses. Some of these include:

  1. Implementing EMV.
  2. Building a strong organizational risk culture.
  3. Developing a keen awareness of risks and fraud tactics.
  4. Integrating consumer efforts.

Card fraud doesn’t discriminate by the size or location of the credit unions it affects. So, now is the time to better understand what you can do to avoid it.

Join our Credit Union Protection webinar, titled “Card Fraud Trends Continue to Grow,” on Wednesday, Feb. 22. Robert Jarosinski, Sr. Consultant, Risk & Compliance Solutions, will provide attendees* with insights and action steps to help mitigate the evolving plastic card fraud risk.

Interested in attending all of more of our 2017 Credit Union Protection Webinars? View the entire schedule here.

*Available exclusively to Bond policyholders

January 25, 2017

Succeeding in Today's Convenience Economy

By Tim McAdow, Vice President, Sales Operations & Marketing

The Convenience Economy
Consumer demand for convenience is driving unprecedented advances in technology. Innovation is everywhere, from new devices to start-up ventures. And, most of it aims at helping people manage the technology that keeps them always-on and on-the-go.

In this climate of convenience, businesses that simplify the customer experience are succeeding. For example, the explosion of cable TV providers and channels has made watching television overly complicated. Solutions like Netflix simplify the experience, allowing viewers to watch what they want, when they want. It stands as an example of adapting in today’s convenience economy.

Meeting this ever-growing demand for simplicity is especially important for credit unions. As one industry executive said, "Our real competition is convenience."

How to Succeed
Meeting your members' demand for convenience is changing the entire dynamic of the credit union/member relationship. Face-to-face engagement is on the decline. Members increasingly prefer conducting business when and where it suits them, not around the credit union’s office hours or locations. Staff needs to be equipped to make the most of every interaction, in-person or online to effectively serve members and achieve your strategic goals.

As more transactions move to digital channels, successful credit unions will empower members to manage their finances as easily as possible. Three keys to success will be:
  • Delivering a streamlined, efficient end-to-end lending process to support credit union growth.
  • Using digital tools to engage employees and arm them to better meet evolving member expectations.
  • Understanding that data is a roadmap to tendencies and behaviors that focuses how you optimize member interaction.
How to Protect Your Success
The downside to convenience, however, is increased risk. As you offer more channels and streamline access for members, your risk grows. Failing to meet protection and regulatory requirements can lead to a damaged reputation and lost business. Therefore, it’s critical to strengthen your risk and compliance practices and procedures as you evolve your customer experience.

Remember, convenience goes both ways. As easy as you make it for members to join and do business with you, they can just as easily leave.

January 16, 2017

How Will You Approach Lending in 2017?

By Eric Nelson

Charles Darwin once said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” In an age of rapidly evolving technology, consumer expectations and industry challenges, these words are as true as ever today - especially for credit unions. 

While 2016 made credit unions rethink how they lend to members, market conditions suggest this year will present strong, continued credit union loan growth. In fact, loan balances are forecast to grow by 9 percent in 2017 in our industry. 

In a recent article, Maximize Lending in 2017: Three Keys, in Credit Union Magazine, our SVP of Commercial, John Wallace, provided insight on how credit unions can achieve their lending potential. His top tips include:

  • Capitalize on pent-up auto lending demand. Record sales of 17.75 million new vehicles are forecast for 2017.
  • Develop a simple, seamless consumer experience. Members have applied for more than $3.3 billion in auto loans via mobile apps!
  • Adapt to new ways of issuing and servicing loans.
Overall, 2017 presents a great opportunity for continued credit union loan growth. By staying current with trends in data, digital channels, technology and online experiences, you can invest to meet changing member needs. And, to retain and grow lending share, look for solutions that can further support your members' financial security. 

How are you approaching lending in 2017?

January 15, 2017

MLK Day: Why Do We Give Back?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has inspired many of us in many different ways. His legacy of service is one that many across our industry will honor on MLK Day this year, including us.

With this in mind, we asked our employees to tell us why giving back and serving others means so much to them.

Their stories inspire us, and we think they might hit home with you too. After all, “people helping people” is a big part of the credit union difference.

You can see more of what employees had to say about volunteering here.

Why is giving back important to you?

January 12, 2017

MLK Day of Service: What Are You Doing for Others?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’” This focus on “people helping people” is a cornerstone of the credit union movement. Credit unions invest time and effort in volunteering and local giving all year long in the communities they serve.

Many will also be sharing their sprit of giving this coming Monday – for MLK Day, the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service. It’s a great way to honor Dr. King’s legacy, as he devoted his life to advancing equality and economic opportunity for all, and he and taught us everyone has a role to play.

We’ll be observing a “day on, not a day off” on Monday with dedicated volunteer efforts in our Fort Worth, Madison and Waverly locations. And, individual volunteer work will cascade across Great Bend and the many other cities where our employees live and work.

We’ll share some of our story through social media as a way to honor Dr. King and the credit union difference on Monday. So, if you’re not already connected with us through Twitter, FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn, we welcome you to join us there!

No matter what inspires you to volunteer, remember: You can join us and countless credit unions who will make Monday a day of service.

How will you give back?

January 11, 2017

Is Your Risk Management Effective? Our 2017 Credit Union Protection Webinars Can Help

By Brad Neumann

Managing risk is critical to protecting your credit union. Think about it. When you’re blindsided by a problem, a lack of risk management is usually to blame. But, when you recognize existing risks and anticipate new ones, you’re in a better position to safeguard your credit union against losses.

We offer Credit Union Protection webinars for this very reason. In 2017, we’ll host 13 live webinars on a variety of risk and compliance topics. Through these, our experts will provide insights on the risks, trends and losses impacting credit unions today. They’ll also feature ways to mitigate risk.

Offered exclusively as a no-cost benefit to CUNA Mutual Group Bond policyholders, the webinars have had nearly 40,000 registrants over the last five years and attendee satisfaction is consistently high. In fact, over 40 percent of attendees report that the webinars have helped them mitigate risk and/or recover from loss.

As an added benefit, credit unions can qualify to win a $1,000 donation to a charity of their choice – just by attending the webinars.

Here’s how it works: Attending six or more of the 2017 Credit Union Protection Webinars earns your credit union a chance to win the charitable gift through a random drawing. The more attendees from your credit union, the better your credit union's chances are for winning the donation, because every attendee from your credit union earns you an entry for each webinar attended.

View the complete schedule of the 2017 Credit Union Protection Webinar series and register to attend here

Each webinar will be recorded and made available on-demand for credit union leadership and staff to access in the Protection Resource Center.

We hope to see you at our next webinar, titled “Card Fraud Trends Continue to Grow,” on Wednesday, Feb. 22. Register here!

December 14, 2016

New Research Shows How Credit Unions Can Better Support the Sandwich Generation

According to Pew Research Center, nearly half of U.S. adults aged 40–59 years have a parent aged 65 years or older and support either a younger child or a grown one. Squeezed from above and below, these Boomers and Gen X Americans are known as the sandwich generation. 

To explore this further, we commissioned a new study via the Filene Research Institute that published this week. It's called “Relieve the Squeeze: The Sandwich Generation.” Results suggest this generation may be at its financial tipping point. Here's why:

  • More than 70 percent of respondents said money was tight while only 28 percent reported they were living comfortably.
  • The majority of respondents were either just meeting their basic needs or meeting them with just a bit leftover, while 8 percent said they couldn’t even fully cover basic expenses.
  • Half of respondents said providing financial assistance to their parents and grown children made it difficult to pay their own household expenses.

The research provides insights to help credit unions understand this population and offers suggestions for the types of financial products and services to best support the sandwich generation.

Credit unions have an opportunity to alleviate some of the stress burdening their sandwich generation members. This includes introducing targeted products and services that can lessen the strain such as:

  • Flexible savings accounts
  • Specialized access to parents’ and adult children’s banking accounts
  • Facilitated communication between generations
  • Multigenerational financial planning
  • Solutions that address the rising costs of healthcare

To read member stories and learn more about the needs of the sandwich generation, download the full report.