By David Adams
As we stand here at the midpoint of 2013, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on what we’ve accomplished so far at MCUL & Affiliates and as a credit union community, and what lies ahead for the remainder of the year.
Our 2013 Annual Convention & Exposition is now in the books and I’m pleased to report it was a huge success. More than 1,000 credit union leaders, volunteers, vendors and guests joined us at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center for three days of networking, learning and sharing. Our annual golf outing and silent and live auctions were better than ever and I thank those of you contributed to these efforts which benefit Children’s Miracle Network through the Credit Unions for Kids program.
The Fall Leadership Development Conference is next on the calendar, Sept. 13-15 in Traverse City, where among other topics, we’ll be discussing board leadership during times of major change. And right after that we’ll continue the networking and sharing at the Executive Summit at the Inn at Bay Harbor.
On the legislative front, we continue to focus on our top priority at the federal level: preserving the credit union tax exempt status. As I discussed in my message last month, we have joined forces with state leagues across the country and CUNA to support the “Don’t Tax My Credit Union” campaign. With Congress rewriting the tax code and the bankers lobbying aggressively against us, this is such a critical issue and I encourage you to educate yourself and your members about it. Visit the website, www.donttaxmycreditunion.org, and MCUL’s own website to access a variety of tools, such as our CapWiz links, to write letters to your lawmakers. Share the message and the need for action with your staff, volunteers and members in your newsletter, through social media and by whatever means you can. Last month, I sent out a call to action to our credit unions to engage, as the policy that will ultimately shape the tax code legislation is being formed now. I would renew that call here – the time to act is now, and it has never been more important.
Earlier this month, we took the message straight to Washington where, along with several credit union leaders, my governmental affairs team and I met with NCUA Chair Debbie Matz and CUNA leadership, before hitting the Hill to sit down with our lawmakers. Key meetings included discussions with Dave Camp, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and Sander Levin, ranking member on the Ways and Means Committee, as well as Michigan's three members of the House Financial Services Committee, Reps. Bill Huizenga, Gary Peters and Dan Kildee. Several members of our delegation also spent time on the Senate side of the Capitol for meetings with the offices of Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow. Sen. Stabenow, a majority member of the Senate Finance Committee, continues to be outspoken in her support of the CU tax exemption.
I’d like to share with you a powerful example of what can happen when you share the “Don’t Tax My Credit Union” message with your members, and they in turn share it with their lawmakers. Genisys CU, one of the largest in Michigan, recently sent out an email blast to their members, educating them about what is happening in Washington and stressing just how important it is to contact their representatives in Congress and tell them “Don’t Tax My Credit Union!” Just a few short hours after that email was sent, more than 500 Genisys members had done exactly that. Now just imagine what would happen if every one of our credit unions did likewise and their members followed suit. This is what it means to Unite for Good. Our message is so much stronger when we speak together. Later, that number had surpassed 800 contacts – from one email.
One more note on the tax status fight. Ten years ago, the MCUL asked all of our federal lawmakers for a public statement of support for the credit union tax exemption, which were then published in Contact magazine. With so many new members in our congressional delegation, we have renewed that request and so far have received several statements. We expect a very successful showing on this from our congressional members, and look for the published statements in our weekly and monthly publications and in the fall issue of Contact.
The CU Link Cooperative Advertising Campaign continues to gain steam with more and more of our contributing credit unions integrating the messaging into their own marketing efforts. Believe it or not, we are already in the planning stages for next year’s campaign, so stay tuned for more information on that.
On that front, look for our annual membership survey in your inbox soon. As we begin to plan our campaign, our education offerings and our events, we need your input. We take your feedback very seriously and appreciate your time and insights so that we can best serve you.
Of course, the second half of the year will look a bit different here at MCUL & Affiliates as the merger of CUcorp and CUSG is set to take place on July 1. CUSG shareholders approved the move at a recent meeting and we’re very excited about the future of the company. We are very proud of what our CUcorp staff and management have achieved in terms of offering credit unions products and services in the areas of business opportunities, insurance programs, operational support and lending and payment solutions along with a variety of services for their members. As part of CU Solutions Group, our team will continue to offer new and innovative ideas, services and products to meet the ever-changing needs of credit unions as the financial industry grows and expands in the future. CUcorp’s products and services make a perfect addition to the CUSG lineup of credit union solutions, and we’re confident that this will be a seamless transition that will only serve to strengthen our company and its nationwide footprint.
For example, our CUcorp Lending and Insurance Solutions division, which will transition to CU Solutions Group, has been working with our partner Advanced Fraud Solutions to help credit unions with check fraud.
Speaking of CU Solutions Group, the year is off to a tremendous start for us. In membership enhancements, I’m thrilled to report that May was the best sales month for Invest in America’s Credit Union Member Discount from GM in nearly two years. Last month the program generated 9,026 authorization codes for the GM credit union member discount, which is the highest number since September 2011. So far this year, there have been more than 33,000 sales of new GM vehicles through the program, generating more than 13,000 loans. All of this speaks to the continued success of the Invest in America program, and as you know we’re always looking for ways to expand our offerings. One of our most recent additions, Credit Union Auto Club, is really taking off and is the perfect way to complement those new vehicle sales and new loans.
Another relatively new CUSG product, SaveUp, is also taking off strongly. This member engagement program has been adopted by more than 40 credit unions nationwide, including several here in Michigan that are building the program into their marketing and business development plans. As of the end of May, the online member engagement program has helped users save $449 million and pay down $296 million in debt.
With the ever-growing tech world slowly but surely creeping into everything we do, our Marketing Solutions division is focused on helping credit unions make the right decisions and strike the proper balance between traditional, online, social media and mobile marketing.
One thing we are constantly working on with our own hard-working employees is how to boost productivity and motivation. We’re working hard to make sure our organizational and staff goals are aligned, and Performance Pro from our Performance Solutions division simplifies that process.
You’ll find more information about all the happenings at CU Solutions Group in this month’s Priority Report newsletter.
All of this is taking place at a very exciting time in our credit union community. We’ve just received and analyzed the credit union performance data for the first quarter of 2013 and I’m pleased to report that membership continues to soar and our members are also deepening their relationships with credit unions. In the first quarter of this year, checking account balances grew by more than nine percent, student loans reached $100 million for the first time, business loans were up 6.9% and Michigan credit unions financed more than $1 billion in home loans. The growth in deposits and lending shows very clearly that families, students and businesses understand the value of credit union membership now more than ever.
Because our credit unions provide members access to historically low rates on loans, and lower fees on checking accounts, this in turn frees up cash for households and allows members to pay down debt, save for the future and spend more at local businesses. Our credit union community is proudly playing a critical role in the state’s economic recovery and I thank you for all that you do and look forward to even more success in the second half of the year.
View the “Michigan Priority Report” on CUBE TV for a video summary of MCUL & Affiliates CEO David Adams’ June Priority Report introduction.