Packed house for board and supervisory training
NAFCU’s board and supervisory committee track sessions were presented to standing-room only crowds, attracting up to 300 credit union professionals per session.
During the July 1 presentation, “Financial Statements in Plain English,” Dan Clark of Dan Clark Associates, LLC, discussed the kinds of balance sheets credit union boards may come across. He urged participants to keep one thing in mind: “Net income feeds net worth.”
Clark also discussed other topics such as depreciation, acquiring assets, the allowance for loan-and-lease losses, income or performance statements and more.
Credit union volunteers who completed courses designed for boards and supervisory committees were provided with a NAFCU certificate of completion. More than 1,600 volunteers have earned certificates from the association so far.
Assessing business models
As the financial services industry continues to change and evolve, many credit unions are revisiting their business models to assess their viability in the years to come. Bill Goedken, president and CEO of Goedken Consulting Group, LLC, noted that the enactment of the Dodd- Frank Act is among the factors that will pave the way for different business models to emerge within the credit union industry. But, he said, credit unions shouldn’t expect a single approach to be a silver bullet.
As they face a future where much is uncertain — except for increasing regulatory burden and less fee income — credit unions will find that there is more than one way to adjust their business model to meet today’s challenges, Goedken explained. For example, he said, credit unions could move into a model that emphasizes member contacts and personal service. This approach relies on maximizing delivery channels, shared branching and a robust website.
Another model he discussed relies on robust investments in technology in order to enhance efficiency. Many of the administrative functions would be outsourced, and the credit union would maintain a low number of branches.
In the end, he said, credit unions pondering their next move regarding their business strategies will have to make the right choice for their members.
The story of a turnaround
When an institution is going in the wrong direction, it can be challenging for it to find the correct path. However, with the right leadership and an effective strategy, returning to a healthy state can be a reality for any struggling credit union. That was certainly the case with GTE Federal Credit Union. After experiencing multi-million-
dollar losses since 2008, the rebuilding of GTE Federal is a turnaround story worth telling.
During the NAFCU Annual Conference, GTE CEO Joe Brancucci and Chairman Brad Hines described the steps they took over the past year to improve GTE’s performance.
Hines and Brancucci said that they have forged a board-CEO relationship of mutual respect and solidarity that they believe is crucial to the success of any credit union, but especially for one going through difficult times.
Hines said that “when we decide on a direction, there’s 100 percent commitment to it, and the board and management move together as a whole.”
Brancucci noted that the relationship between CEOs and boards is a work in progress. The health of the relationship should be reassessed on a quarterly or even monthly basis. “The point is the relationship — the partnership — has to work for the credit union to run well and serve its members,” he said.
Small CUs talk concerns
Credit unions with $75 million or less in assets gathered for a Small Credit Union Roundtable during the NAFCU conference. They touched on a number of topics during the town-hall style session, including compliance, examinations, lending, the corporate credit union system and their take on the cooperative spirit within the industry.
Participants indicated that compliance remains one of their most daunting challenges. For example, no one among the credit union professionals said they were a certified compliance officer. Many said they rely on NAFCU for assistance and NAFCU’s Compliance Blog. Another roundtable attendee suggested that smaller institutions could look to larger credit unions for assistance with their compliance duties. Several talked about pooling resources through shared branching and CUSOs. Others noted they have been assisted by larger credit unions.
Debt Protection & Credit Insurance Benchmarking Survey Results
A Solutions Theater presentation from NAFCU Services and Securian detailed credit unions’ experiences with adding debt protection services to their array of products. The Debt Protection and Credit Insurance Benchmarking Survey found that 20 percent of the 121 NAFCU- member executives said they offer debt protection services to their members, while 79 percent offered credit insurance.
Overall, 81 percent of the executives said they were satisfied with the debt protection program due to its flexible design and accurate program pricing. In addition, the study showed that debt protection programs harness greater fee income for credit unions.
Study of payment trends and member preferences
Since only one in four members hold a credit card from their credit union, credit unions have a great opportunity to expand their penetration in the credit card arena, according to Kevin O’Donnell, vice president of Discover Financial Services.
O’Donnell provided credit unions at the conference with an overview of a 2011 study of payment trends and credit union member preferences related to debit and credit cards.
The survey found that more credit union members are paying off their credit card balances at the end of the month. It also highlighted card features that are of importance to members, such as no annual fee, fraud prevention, strong reward programs and low annual percentage rates. O’Donnell noted that these features could provide opportunities for credit unions to lead more of their members to their card services.
Legislative update panel
During a legislative update panel, Brad Thaler, NAFCU’s vice president of legislative affairs and Dan Berger, the association’s executive vice president of government affairs, thanked credit unions for their support of legislation that would have delayed the Federal Reserve’s debit interchange rule. Between the personal visits, phone calls, e-
mails and other correspondence, NAFCU estimates that credit unions and their members made more than 100,000 contacts to lawmakers. Thousands of these contacts were made via SaveYourDebitCard.com, which was launched earlier this year by NAFCU to facilitate credit union communications with decision makers on the Hill.
While the bill did not pass, the Fed did delay the implementation date to Oct. 1. The Fed’s final rule caps debit interchange fees at 21 cents per transaction plus five basis points. The NAFCU panelists noted that there is a small-issuer exemption for institutions with $10 billion or less in assets; however, it remains to be seen whether the exemption will be effective.
The panel also updated credit unions on the latest developments regarding member business lending, housing finance reform, data security and more.