2014 Top 10 Stories 

Two thousand fourteen was an exciting year for MCUL & Affiliates. From the league’s efforts to promote skilled trades to an increasing number of Financial Reality Fairs, there was a lot of interesting news. Below is a look back on the top stories of the year. 

No. 1 – Snyder Joins with League to Support Skilled Trades Initiative
Speaking at MCUL & Affiliates’ AC&E in Grand Rapids, Snyder said that encouraging more young people to explore careers in skilled trades is a “top priority.” He thanked MCUL for its support of the effort, referring to new Career and Technical Training materials for students that MCUL unveiled to credit unions.

"We have thousands of open jobs and still too much unemployment, and it's really getting people career-connected and the skilled trades are the best place to look," Snyder said. 

This past week, Snyder issued an executive order to put more emphasis on skilled trades. 

No. 2 – MCUL-Led Effort Results in New Plan for Electronic Vehicle Titling
MCUL & Affiliates worked closely with Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and lawmakers to develop and pass a plan to require electronic vehicle titles in Michigan. In September, Gov. Rick Snyder signed the package of bills.

Michigan currently has a paper-based title system that critics – including some credit unions -- say leads to fraud. Under the new system, liens against vehicles will be held electronically in a centralized system.  

No. 3 – NCUA Gives in to Calls to Overhaul Risk Based Capital Proposal
MCUL & Affiliates CEO David Adams was one of the strongest voices calling for NCUA to overhaul its Risk Based Capital proposal. 

NCUA eventually relented and said that the changes would be so comprehensive that a second comment period would be required. The agency has not yet released the updated proposal. 

In a May guest column in CU Journal, Adams said the RBC proposal “would be a regulator-driven diminishment or destruction of our industry.” 

No. 4 – Lake Trust CU Announces $30 Million Project to Redevelop Headquarters Site
Lake Trust CU is working on redevelopment of its current headquarters building on the edge of downtown Lansing, a project that could result in a $30 million investment and the addition of hundreds of jobs in the city. 

Lake Trust is moving its headquarters from the Lansing location to Brighton, where it is building a $30 million headquarters that will consolidate employees from offices in Lansing, Howell, Brighton and Plymouth. 

“I would encourage all credit unions in Michigan to reinvest in their communities,” Snodgrass said. 

No. 5 – Credit Unions Receive Accolades as Top Workplaces
MSUFCU was chosen by The Detroit Free Press as tops in the large category of its annual Top Workplaces survey.

In addition to MSUFCU, six credit unions received recognition on the list of top mid-size employers. They are Community Choice CU in Livonia, DFCU Financial in Dearborn, Genisys CU in Auburn Hills, Michigan First CU in Lathrup Village, CP FCU in Jackson and Michigan Schools and Government CU in Clinton Township. 

MSUFCU was also among four Michigan credit unions named in the inaugural list of the Best Credit Unions to Work For by CU Journal

MSUFCU was ranked the top credit union to work for among those with more than $1 billion in assets and Consumers CU was at the top of credit unions between $500 million and $1 billion in assets.

Also making the list for mid-size credit unions was Michigan First CU and Credit Union ONE.

No. 6 – Early Political Endorsements Raise MCUL’s Profile, Help Credit Union-Friendly Candidates Win
Leading up to the 2014 elections, MCUL & Affiliates made bold choices to make early endorsements of candidates in two key races, becoming the first organization to offer endorsements for both. 

MCUL made the early endorsements for Sen.-elect Gary Peters and Gov. Rick Snyder, just one day after he announced his run for a second term. 

“Both were nationally high-profile races, and won their elections with the Michigan Credit Union League as their first significant endorsement in this election cycle,” MCUL CEO David Adams said. “This is an example of our state’s credit union movement establishing itself as a political force in Michigan politics.” 

MCUL also endorsements Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, Attorney General Bill Schuette, U.S. Rep.-elects John Moolenaar, R-Midland; Mike Bishop, R-Rochester; David Trott, R-Livonia; Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, and Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield. All of those candidates won.   

No. 7 – DIFS Grants Interest Rate Derivatives Authority to State-Chartered Credit Unions
The state Department of Insurance and Financial Services granted state-chartered credit unions the authority to purchase interest rate derivatives for the purpose of mitigating interest rate portfolio risks.  

DIFS Director Annette Flood signed Order No. 14-033-CU on June 23 to allow state-chartered credit unions the authority under the Michigan Credit Union Act.  

MCUL &Affiliates, together with DFCU Financial, requested derivative authority based on the current provisions of the MCUA. DFCU and MCUL provided that the use of derivatives is commonplace in the financial industry as part of sound risk-management practices. Credit unions, like their banking counterparts, have interest rate risk and are being directed by their respective regulators to mitigate that risk. Appropriately used derivatives are a cost-effective means to mitigate that risk and a tool necessary to compete with other services providers, including federally chartered credit unions and banks. 

No. 8 – Adams Calls For Exemption From CFPB Oversight
Two U.S. senators introduced a bill that would raise the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s threshold for supervision from $10 billion to $50 billion. But some – including MCUL & Affiliates CEO David Adams – believe the measure should exempt all credit unions from CFPB supervision as well as from CFPB rules.

"While this legislation represents an important first step, smaller community institutions like credit unions need more comprehensive regulatory relief in the form of an outright exemption from CFPB rules and supervision," MCUL CEO Dave Adams said. "Through their reckless behavior, big Wall Street banks earned CFPB oversight – and the time has come for Congress to recognize that credit unions have no business being subjected to the same regulatory burden." 

No. 9 – Billboard Campaign Against Expanded Payday Lending Impacts Battle in Capitol
MCUL & Affiliates’ billboard campaign against expanded payday lending in the state is having the desired effect. 

"Based on the large amount of feedback from policymakers and staff, we know that this strategy – supported, aggressive lobbying by our government affairs staff and thousands of grassroots contacts from credit union members around the state – is having an impact,” said Ken Ross, executive vice president/COO for MCUL & Affiliates. 

The payday lending bill, which died in lame duck session, would have allowed for loans of up to $5,000, with a monthly account service fee of 9.75 percent of the original amount borrowed. With this additional fee in the Regulatory Loan Act, payday lenders would be able to make bigger loans with higher fees. Payday lenders are looking to expand their products ahead of anticipated action by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is widely expected to dramatically curtail the traditional payday lending product found in many states. 

The bill could return in 2015. 

No. 10 – Credit Unions Hosting More Financial Reality Fairs
Credit unions and chapters from across the state are hosting more teen Financial Reality Fairs with materials and support provided by the Michigan Credit Union Foundation. At the fairs, students are given a career and income, then must decide how they will spend the money they are “earning.” Students often find that while they may want the shiny new car, they might have to settle for something a bit more budget-friendly. Since June, six Financial Reality Fairs were hosted by credit unions and chapters, reaching 387 students.    

Contact Beth Troost at Beth.Troost@mcul.org to learn more about hosting a Financial Reality Fair.

Submissions to Monitor may be emailed. Bryan Laviolette is the editor of Monitor. Contact him by email or call (800) 262-6285, ext. 233. The newsletter of the Michigan Credit Union League is published Monday mornings or Tuesday mornings when Monday is a holiday. There is no Monitor the week after Christmas and the week after the Annual Convention and Exposition. The MCUL reserves the right to edit submissions for clarity and space.
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