The Headlines From a Very Eventful Year

CHICAGO–Say what you want about 2018, it didn’t lack for news when it came to the world’s credit union community. reported more than 4,000 different news items, in addition to more than 100 opinion pieces, more than 240 in-depth Feature stories, 110 new videos/commercials, and on-site coverage from more than two-dozen CU meetings. 

2018 marked the strongest growth for credit unions since 1986, but it was a year during which CUs and their members also dealt with the extraordinary challenges and tragedies from hurricanes, flooding, fires, bomb threats and more. Industry leaders and pioneers passed on, the nation survived the mid-term elections and government shutdowns, control of the House switched to the Democrats and a new regulatory agenda, and rates continued their slow but steady rise. 

Feature 2018

In Iowa, the state’s bankers were particularly aggressive in pushing to revoke the CU tax exemption, and the state’s CUs were even more aggressive in pushing back.

In addition to the membership and loan growth, there was plenty of other good news. Congress passed a regulatory relief bill championed by CUs, while NCUA returned nearly three-quarters of a billion-dollars in the form of refunds of assessments paid in a decade ago to cover anticipated losses from failed corporate credit unions. And on top of all of that, also hosted the inaugural (and extraordinary) CUTomorrow Conference in Austin, where peer-group leading CUs shared proven strategies in the spirit of credit union cooperation.

Below is a look at some of the more notable stories of 2018 as reported by CUToday. These are not always the most significant news nor those that received the most clicks, but instead stories that represent some of the developments from the year that were new or different.

What The Tax Reform Bill Really Means to Credit Unions

WASHINGTON–The just-passed tax reform bill will have significant implications for credit unions–or will it? 


Report: McWatters on Short List for CFPB Post  

WASHINGTON–NCUA Chairman J. Mark McWatters is on the shortlist to potentially head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to one industry report.

Ring In New Year With…Compliance Deadline for 2 HMDA Rules  

WASHINGTON—Monday is the compliance deadline for two CFPB final rules related to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act – phase 2 of Regulation C and Regulation B. Ahead of the deadline, the CFPB released the HMDA Check Digit Tool and an updated Rate Spread Calculator to enhance data quality. 

All About Gross Income

DOTHAN, Ala.—For Five Star Credit Union, it all comes down to the gross income. So much so, it has received a Raddon Crystal Performance Award six of the last seven years, and one of the biggest reasons for the success is the credit union is good at making money.

Pennsylvania CU Association Sends Cease-And-Desist To Calif. Law Firm Sending Letters over ADA, Websites

HARRISBURG, Penn.–With credit unions across Pennsylvania receiving demand letters from a California law firm alleging that their websites are out of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association said it has replied by sending a letter requesting the firm cease and desist its misleading communications. 

CUNA Projecting Negative Bottom Line In 2018 Due To Headquarters Move; Positive Numbers In Following Years

WASHINGTON–At its recent meeting the CUNA board agreed to a 2018 budget that projects a negative $4.9 million bottom line primarily due to the one-time costs associated with its move into new leased office space in Washington, D.C.

This Will Only Help: One CU Awards Member $49,999 Prize for His Savings Habits

DALLAS–A member of Neighborhood Credit Union here has won $49,999.99 as part of its savings competition.

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Credit Unions & #MeToo

HENDERSON, Nev.—Two credit union diversity experts believe the Me Too movement is going to have implications for CUs, too.

Prior To Mergers, Many Acquired CUs Report Big Increases In Salaries, Benefits Paid Out

WASHINGTON—A number of credit unions that were merger targets in recent years reported a material increase in year-over-year quarterly salaries and benefits before their mergers were completed, according to one analysis. 

CU To Be Part Of Pilot Test By Visa Of Payment Cards With Fingerprint Scanners

FOSTER CITY, Calif.–Visa announced it will start a small-scale trial of payment cards with built-in fingerprint scanners, with a credit union being one of the two financial institutions participating in the trial.

NCUA Outlines Plans to Significantly Reduce Time Spent on Call Reports

ALEXANDRIA, Va.–Credit unions should be spending less time on call reports in the future.

NCUA reported it is moving forward with a modernization effort it says will reduce the number of data fields on its call report by 40%. The NCUA board was told at its January meeting by agency staff that even the most complex credit unions will not need to dedicate as much time and resources to filling out the reports.

Senator Questions CU Tax Exemption as Bankers Blast 'Credit Union Power Grab'

WASHINGTON–A letter to NCUA Chairman J. Mark McWatters from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) that questions the validity of the credit unions' federal tax exemption has drawn responses from both credit unions and bank groups alike, with the latter saying it’s pleased to see someone challenging what it called the “credit union power grab.”

Iowa’s Bankers Launch Campaign Attacking CU Tax Exemption

DES MOINES, Iowa–Iowa’s bankers have launched a multi-media campaign that includes television ads calling for an end to the credit union tax exemption.

Fed Hits Wells Fargo With Strong And Unusual Penalty

WASHINGTON–Wells Fargo has been hit with a hard—and unusual—penalty by the Federal Reserve–it will not be permitted to grow until it cleans up its act.

NCUA Board Votes to Return $735 Million to CUs in Q3

ALEXANDRIA, Va.–In what was referred to as a “historic day” that “no one thought would ever come,” the NCUA board has voted in favor of making an equity distribution to credit unions from the NCUSIF of $735.7 million to be paid in the third quarter of this year.

On 20th Anniversary of Ruling, CUs Return to DC

WASHINGTON–It was the day that changed everything for credit unions–and it’s marking its 20th anniversary as credit unions once again return to Washington for CUNA’s GAC. On Feb. 25, 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court in the case First National Bank & Trust Co. vs. National Credit Union Administration ruled 5-4 against NCUA–and credit unions–on the issue of field of membership.

CU Delegation Meets With Trump at White House, Talks Deregulation

WASHINGTON–A delegation of credit unions that met with President Trump at the White House said they were quite pleased with the president’s understanding of the regulatory burden facing CUs.

Amazon, Big Banks In Discussions Over Creating ‘Checking Account-Like’ Product As…

SEATTLE–Amazon is reportedly in discussions with several big banks, including JPMorgan Chase, about creating a checking-like product that it could offer to its customers.  


State's Community Bankers See 'Opportunity'

DES MOINES, Iowa—The sheer number of community banks in this state has always led to banker assaults on the credit union tax exemption, including the ongoing attacks in the legislature. But what will stall bankers’ latest efforts, according to the Iowa CU League, is what has virtually always won in the past—alerting legislators of the impact CU taxation will have on the pockets of so many Iowans.

Going, Going…Nowhere. Another Study Supports Popularity Of Branches

NORCROSS, Ga.—Branches remain essential for handling banking matters for a significant number of consumers, according to a new report.

Court Upholds Portions of NCUA FOM Rule, But Strikes Down 2 Provisions

WASHINGTON—The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Thursday upheld two challenged portions of NCUA’s field of membership rule and struck down two provisions in a lawsuit filed against the agency by the American Bankers Association.

Credit Unions (Plus 1 Bank) Again Finish On Top Of Consumer ‘Experience’ Ratings

WABAN, Mass.–One bank and credit unions overall deliver the best customer experience in the financial services industry, according to the just-released 2018 Temkin Experience Ratings, an annual consumer experience benchmark of companies based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers.  

The End Of The Signature? Signing For Card Purchases Set To Disappear; Many Can’t Remember Last Time They Signed Anything

PURCHASE, N.Y.—Mastercard has announced that merchants in the U.S. and Canada can forego cardholder signatures for in-store credit and debit purchases, effective April 13.  The announcement comes as the company also releases new research on consumer behavior around signatures in general.

Data Show More People Stretching Further To Make Mortgage Payments

IRVINE, Calif.–New data show what many have already surmised when it comes to home ownership—increasingly buyers are having to stretch financially to make a purchase

The ROI on Financial Education

ONTARIO, Calif.—April is Financial Literacy For Youth Month, when credit unions step up efforts to educate young people about the value of managing their finances. But in the longer term, as those kids grow into adults, is there any way to measure what credit unions might be getting out of their work this month and all year long? 

CEOs Of Nasdaq, BofA Sound Alarm Over Cryptocurrencies

NEW YORK—Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman and Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan are ringing alarm bells about the cryptocurrency market, calling for regulation of certain trading and warning about the potential to abet criminal behavior.

Olympian Michael Phelps In Q&A With CUs

PHOENIX–Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history with 28 medals, didn’t arrive accidentally on all those podiums. He was fixated on goals, overcame a dark period in his life, and for anyone who ever doubted them, sought to jam their doubts “down their throats.” In all of that, he found some lessons for credit union execs as both leaders and as individuals.

NCUA Chairman McWatters’ Living Arrangements Questioned in Washington Post Story

WASHINGTON–NCUA Chairman J. Mark McWatters’ living arrangements–he resides in Dallas and commutes to the agency’s Alexandria, Va. headquarters for board meetings once per month–were the subject of a profile in the Washington Post. Noting McWatters is paid $165,300 annually, the story described him as a “the federal government’s most unlikely telecommuter.”

Congress Passes Reg Relief Bill; Here's What's Included for CUs, Banks

WASHINGTON–After years of efforts by credit unions and their trade groups, the House has voted 258-149 to pass S. 2155, the reg relief bill formally known as the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act.

Here’s How CEO Pay At Large SCUs Compares To Average Employee Pay

WASHINGTON—In 2016, chief executive compensation at state-chartered credit unions was on average 13.12 times the average employee salary and benefits in 2016, according to a new report that suggests that ratio is actually understated.

Consumers Increasingly Rank Security Above All Else in Online Account Openings

ATLANTA–Consumers are increasingly ranking security ahead of ease of use and speed when it comes to how they perceive online account openings, according to a new study.

Credit Unions Could Be Hit With Wave of Lawsuits Over Overdrafts

ARLINGTON, Va.–Credit unions could be facing a wave of class-action suits related to overdrafts policies.

Judge Rules BCFP Structure Is Unconstitutional

WASHINGTON—A federal judge in New York has ruled that the BCFP's leadership structure is unconstitutional, disagreeing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit's decision in the PHH Corp. lawsuit that upheld the Bureau's current structure.

CUNA Asking CUs For $100M Over Three Years To Back Awareness Campaign

BOSTON—CUNA is asking credit unions for an aggressive $100 million in contributions over three years to fund the launch of its credit union awareness program, “Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union.”

Kiplinger’s Identifies What It Says Are Top Credit Unions, Banks In U.S.

NEW YORK–Kiplinger’s has published its rankings of America’s best banks and credit unions, naming its top two in each category.

Another Credit Union To Pay Relief Settlement To Student Loan Borrowers

FRANKLIN, Tenn.—Southeast Financial Credit Union will provide $650,000 in loan relief and cash refunds to more than 500 Massachusetts students, according to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

Student Loans

More Than Half Of Consumers Say They’ve Looked For New FI During Last Year

CHICAGO—More than half of consumers in a new survey said they searched for a new financial institution or new account in the past 12 months, while 28% indicated they have opened an account at an online provider, according to new research.

Report Examines 20 CUs that Have Acquired 22 Banks

WASHINGTON—Twenty credit unions have now acquired 22 banks, and the moves—says one expert who has written a paper on the growing trend—have proven to be sound as long as the credit union does its homework.

Two Years That Changed Everything: CU Membership Access Act Turns 20

WASHINGTON–It was the culmination of eight years of lawsuits that included a stunning loss in the Supreme Court, and a final two years of hard work, desperation, intense grassroots member engagement, as well as a level  creativity and effort unlike anything that had ever been experienced in the history of credit unions. And it marks its 20thanniversary today.

CoastHills CU Responds to Ex-CEO's Lawsuit

LOMPOC, Calif.–CoastHills Credit Union said it “disputes” claims made against it and a number of board members in a lawsuit filed by its former CEO and that it plans to “vigorously” defend its reputation. 

Report Indicates The Kinds Of Raises CU Employees Can Expect In 2019

MADISON, Wis./WASHINGTON–The average anticipated 2019 salary bumps in credit unions with assets of $1 million or more for management and non-management positions will be 3% and 2.7%, respectively, according to the  2018-2019 CUNA Staff Salary Report, which is now available.

Big Percentage Of This Portfolio Going Away?

MADISON, Wis.—What are credit unions going to do if they lose 40% of their auto lending portfolio? It’s a difficult question to answer, and unfathomable to many. But is also a question that can’t be avoided, which is why the Filene Research Institute has been looking into how autonomous vehicles and dramatically different views on automobile ownership in the future will affect credit unions and their loan portfolios in the future.

Credit Union’s Football Tie-In Gets A Penalty Flag From ESPN

KALAMAZOO, Mich.–Credit unions across the country have announced all manner of sports tie-ins, but one CU here found itself the subject of some negative attention on a national broadcast as the result of its sponsorship.

CUNA Mutual, PSCU Announce Joint Effort to Expand Usage of Data, Analytics

MADISON, Wis./ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.–CUNA Mutual and PSCU said they are joining to“explore opportunities surrounding the expanded use of data and analytics.”

Math Lesson: Data Show How Fast Student Loans Growing At CUs

NEW YORK—Private student loans are the fastest growing loan category among credit unions, according to a new report.

How CECL Might Lead to New Lending Structures

ATLANTA—New pricing structures and new approaches to lending will likely result from the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB) new Current Expected Credit Loss model (CECL), predicts one analyst, who acknowledges many lenders are still trying to fully understand the new rules. 

New Study Suggests CUs Losing Millennials Due to Fees

LAKE FOREST, Ill.—Credit unions and banks are moving in different directions when it comes to service charges on deposits, a new report reveals–and it may be costing credit unions when it comes to Millennials.

National CU Foundation Names Winners of 2019 Herb Wagner Awards

MADISON, Wis. – The National Credit Union Foundation has announced the winners of its 2019 Herb Wegner Memorial Awards. Diana Dykstra and Crystal Long will be recognized with Outstanding Individual Achievement Awards, while Nusenda Credit Union Foundation will be recognized as an Outstanding Organization by the Foundation.

Minnesota’s CUs Introduce Clean Energy Lending Initiative

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota’s credit unions have launched a clean energy lending platform called “CU Green.”

A Record 700,000 Join in Just 1 Month

MADISON, Wis.–Credit union membership rose a whopping 706,000 in August and is now up 5.02 million over the past year–the population of South Carolina–according to the latest Trends Report from CUNA Mutual Group.

BECU Seeking Permission to Keep Name Should it Convert to Bank Charter

TUKWILA, Wash.—The $18.6-billion BECU has asked the state regulator to approve language that would allow it to keep the BECU name should it convert to a cooperative savings bank charter. 

CU Support Proves No Guarantee for Victory; House Flips to Dems

WASHINGTON–The House of Representatives has flipped from red to blue following the mid-term elections, but what it might mean to credit unions remains uncertain.  

NCUA Approves 2019-2020 Budgets

ALEXANDRIA, Va.–The NCUA board has voted 2-0 in favor of its proposed 2019-2020 budgets. The approved 2019 Operating Budget is $304.4 million, representing 1,173 full-time equivalents (FTEs). Of that, the Capital Budget is $22.0 million, and the Share Insurance Fund Administrative Budget is $8.4 million

NCUA Says Failed CUs Have Cost $750 Million in 2018

ALEXANDRIA, Va.–One day after a board meeting at which NCUA confirmed the share deposit fund had paid out nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars during the third quarter to cover costs related to CU failures, the agency has provided an update on the half-dozen CUs that have failed in 2018. 

Many Builders Now Forced To Offer Incentives

DALLAS–While housing sales have seen a recent  uptick in one month’s data, overall sales are declining in many markets, leading builders to offer price cuts, free upgrades and even prizes and free trips to brokers.

Latest NCUA Data Reveal Intriguing Trends According To CU Asset Size

ALEXANDRIA, Va.–Overall credit union performance remained robust through the first three quarters of this year, but new data show it’s the CUs of more than $1 billion in assets that continue to fuel the engine, with credit unions with less than $100 million in assets generally showing declines in loans, membership, and net worth over the year.

NCUA, State Regulators to Pilot Alternating Examinations

ALEXANDRIA, Va.– NCUA said effective with the new year it will pilot a program with six state regulators in which it will launch alternating examinations for a select group of federally insured, state-chartered credit unions.

2018 To Close As Strongest for CUs Since 1986

WASHINGTON–2018 will close as the fastest year for credit union growth since 1986, according to data released by CUNA.

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