By David Adams
We’ve just passed the midpoint of the year – half of 2013 is already behind us and as usual, it has been a very busy and productive time for the MCUL & Affiliates. I want to briefly share some of the successes of the second quarter and give you a look at what lies ahead for us in the remainder of 2013.
Let’s begin with one of the biggest developments – the merger of two of our affiliate companies. As of July 1, CUcorp has successfully and fully merged into CU Solutions Group. Through this move, CUSG gains CUcorp’s strong balance sheet while adding the Lending & Insurance and Consulting lines of business. We are very excited about the synergies this creates for product development and marketing while reducing brand confusion. The merger also resulted in the creation of a new company, MCUL Service Corp, which will house Michigan-specific partnership revenue that will fund things like the CU Link campaign and supplemental advertising.
So the new and improved CU Solutions Group now serves credit unions nationwide in six key areas: Marketing, Technology, Membership Enhancement, Performance, Consulting, and Lending and Insurance.
Let’s take a closer look at each of those. First, Marketing Solutions. We’re continuing to build momentum for our innovative offerings including SaveUp, Gas Station TV and PopStar digital signage. In the third quarter, mobile marketing services will be available beginning with short codes incorporated into the Invest in America GSTV ads which will allow us to improve tracking and offer instant access to discounts. I’m very proud to report that our hard-working team continues to stand out from the competition, bringing home 3 awards from Marketing Association of Credit Unions.
In Technology Solutions, our new website hosting positions CU Solutions Group as a best-in-class provider for reliability and security. ChannelPro, our new content management system, is slated to be completed in the third quarter. We’re also working to ensure our offerings to work on all platforms. For example, Creditunionsrock.com is now available in a mobile version, and Financial Resource Center calculators will now work on smartphones and tablets.
In our Membership Enhancements division, I’m pleased to report that Invest in America issued more than 45,000 GM authorizations in the first two quarters of the year, and 200,000 credit union members used Turbo Tax for their 2012 tax returns. We’re also having great success with Credit Union Auto Club with 151 credit unions enrolled representing more than 2.2 million members and $21 billion in assets. Credit Union Auto Club launched in February.
For Performance Solutions, the second quarter brought the release of a new, streamlined and simplified version of Performance Pro.
Our Consulting Solutions division has been so busy we’ve hired an additional consultant to keep up with the demand. So far this year, 83 credit unions have received consulting or training services.
For Lending and Insurance Solutions, demand continues to grow for our card services, back office and specialized support services. In 2013, we’ll offer four card services training and marketing sessions and 16 webinars.
Moving now to the league side, our most important advocacy issue at the federal level, and one that requires the involvement of everyone watching this video, is the preservation of the credit union tax exemption.
As I’m sure you’re aware, Congress is in the midst of a massive rewrite of the tax code, and this time, they’re starting from scratch. That means we need to convince them why our federal tax exemption should be put IN. We’ve been working this issue from every angle: using our publications to communicate with credit union leaders, sending out e-blasts and holding webinars for our membership, meeting with lawmakers in district and during our June Hike the Hill in Washington, sending letters to key members of Congress, and getting statements of support for the industry and the tax exemption from our friends on Capitol Hill.
But we can’t win this battle alone – we need you to engage your members and supporters in the fight as well. CUNA, in conjunction with state leagues, has rolled out the “Don’t Tax My Credit Union” campaign, and I urge you to take part. Visit the website www.donttaxmycreditunion.org to send a letter to your representative in Washington asking them to support our industry, and encourage your members to do the same. Use the tools and resources that are available at CUNA.org.
I can’t overstress how important it is that we all take action. We know that the fundamental structure of credit unions has not changed – we are still not-for-profit cooperatives that put our members first. But without the tax exemption, all that goes away. Now is the time to tell Congress that a tax on credit unions would be a tax on the 96 million Americans who rely on them. Now is the time to tell Congress loud and clear: Don’t Tax My Credit Union!
Speaking of our supporters in Congress, MCUL was proud to be among the very first to endorse Rep. Gary Peters for U.S. Senate. Peters has been a very good friend to our industry, and is the Democratic frontrunner for the seat being vacated by Carl Levin.
Gary Peters was also one of the speakers at our highly successful annual convention in May. Over the course of three days, more than 1,000 credit union leaders, volunteers, speakers and guests joined us at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center to network, learn and share. Through the generosity of our credit union community, we raised over $40,000 for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals during the event. We are looking forward to the Fall Leadership Development Conference and the Executive Summit in September, and hope to see many of you there.
With the never-ending flow of new rules and regulations coming through the pipeline, our compliance team has been busier than ever. In our tri-fold mission to advocate, inform and implement, we’ve sifted through more than 5,000 pages of regulations, put out 18 comment calls and submitted a dozen comment letters on different topics. We’ve also added 10 new compliance videos to CUBE TV, along with monthly FAQs and compliance updates in our publications. We’ve held free workshops for very small credit unions in conjunction with the Department of Insurance and Financial Services, and continue to offer additional support through PolicyPro, InfoSight, and our fee-based consulting.
When it comes to awareness of what we do and who we are, nothing does it better than the CU Link Cooperative advertising campaign. Launched in April, the campaign is currently running on TV, cable, radio, and online. This year, for the first time ever, contributions from our credit unions topped $1 million. Voluntary contributions from 171 credit unions total of $1.1 million dollars, and 65 of them are now integrating their marketing with the campaign thanks to the $500,000 MCUL & Affiliates allocated for that purpose. We are already in the process of planning the 2014 campaign, and we’ve got big ideas for how to build brand awareness across the state, including a potential CU Link marketing bus tour and a team of brand ambassadors hitting the streets. For the first time, we are deploying new market research to learn about the competition’s products, pricing and marketing. We’re arming ourselves with information and covering all the bases when it comes to spreading our message.
This is a great time to be a credit union member, and to be an MCUL member. Our affiliation rate is now at 98%, the highest it has ever been. Our dues continue to be among the lowest in the nation, with a 50% rebate in 2011, 2012, and, I’m pleased to announce, again in 2013.
We’re able to do that because our financials are so strong. Thanks to our diversified investment stream and the solid results of our subsidiaries, we are able to offer our members the greatest value for the lowest dues. Our overall net income of $2.5 million for MCUL is well ahead of the year-to-date budget, and the same is true for our subsidiaries. For the first half of the year, CUSG has revenue of $23 million, which exceeds the budget by $261,000 despite slightly higher operating expenses associated with the Sprint program. Early stock results for this year have produced strong results and we are excited about what the rest of the year will bring. In summary, our business model is performing well across the board, allowing us to provide enhanced member services at the league level and solid return on investment and dividends for CUSG investors.
Credit union membership continues to rise in Michigan and nationwide, and at MCUL & Affiliates we are united in our mission to help our credit unions grow, serve, and remain strong. I welcome your feedback and look forward to continued success in the remainder of the year.
View the “Michigan Priority Report” on CUBE TV for a video summary of MCUL & Affiliates CEO David Adams’ July Priority Report introduction.