Monday, February 28, 2011

Tropical Junket for Credit Union Officials

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is advertising that credit union officials can attend an educational junket in the sunny Caribbean.

CUNA will hold its Credit Union Board Financial Literacy Workshop and Volunteer Institute at the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort and Spa on St. Thomas, Virgin Island. The Workshop starts on April 30 and the Institute runs from May 1 thru May 4.

The cost per night at the resort for a single occupancy room is $295 and for a double occupancy is $390 per night.

Assuming a credit union official attends both the workshop and institute and stays a minimum of five nights (arriving on April 29 and departing on May 4), at a minimum this official will incur resort charges of $1475. This does not count airfare, the cost of registering for the event, and other expenses.

I'm not opposed to educating credit union officials, but does it have to be at a Caribbean resort?

Credit unions receive a very valuable benefit in their corporate tax exemption. This exemption should not pay for junkets to the tropics for credit union directors and officials.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Credit Union Attack Ad

Tom Bengston of Northwestern Financial Review recently blogged about an offensive radio advertising campaign by Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union bashing the banking industry.

He states: "I wonder what comes of this kind of advertising? Do people really open accounts at Affinity Plus because it attacks banks? I find that hard to believe."

Bengston concludes that people "know an empty advertising campaign when they hear it."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

NYC OTB FCU Liquidated

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) liquidated NYC OTB Federal Credit Union, located in New York, New York.

NCUA closed NYC OTB Federal Credit Union after determining the credit union is insolvent and has no prospects for restoring viable operations. NYC OTB’s sponsor closing and the credit union’s subsequent declining financial condition led to the closure.

At the time of the liquidation, the credit union had $1,456,884 in assets and served 868 members of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation in New York City.

This is the third federally insured credit union liquidation in 2011.

Read the press release.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Legislation Introduced in Oregon to Tax CUs

A bill (H.B. 3263) that would impose a corporate excise tax on credit unions operating in Oregon was introduced in the state legislature.

The bill would subject any state-chartered credit union operating in Oregon with at least $50 million in assets and with at least 10 percent of its assets in commercial loans or holding one or more public deposits in excess of $250,000 to the corporate excise tax.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that Oregon is expected to have a budget shortfall of $1.8 billion or 25 percent of its fiscal year 2011 budget.

To read the bill, click here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

How Will Credit Unions Respond to Durbin Amendment?

Section 1075 of the Dodd Frank Act (also known as the Durbin Amendment) authorizes the Federal Reserve to regulate the pricing of interchange fees on debit cards. While small issuers (under $10 billion in assets) are exempted, most industry analysts believe that small issuer exemption will be ineffective.

The Credit Union National Association's testimony before the House Financial Services Committee provides some interesting insights into how credit unions will respond to the Durbin Amendment.

"According to CUNA’s 2010-2011 Fee Survey, 91% of credit unions offering debit cards anticipate making some sort of change to their rates, fees, and/or services as a result of the negative impact of the regulation. The most common changes credit unions anticipate making will be to introduce or increase debit card fees and to increase nonsufficient funds (NSF)/overdraft protection fees. About 40% of credit unions cite these potential changes ... Beyond this, 25% to 30% of credit unions say they might eliminate free checking accounts and/or lower deposit rates as a result of the regulation.

If the exemption for small issuers proved completely ineffective, the Board’s proposed 12 cent fixed fee could require credit unions to impose an annual fee in the range of $35-$55 per debit card, a fee in the range of 25 – 35 cents per transaction, or some combination of the two in order to maintain pre-reform revenue."

Read the testimony.

Separately, the February 2011 Economic & Credit Union Monitor from the National Association of Federal Credit Unions found that price controls on debit interchange fees will on average shave 35 basis points from credit unions' bottom lines. Almost half (48.3%) ot the surveyed credit unions are considering eliminating free checking accounts to make up for the loss of income from the Durbin Amendment. Additionally, 45.5% of the survey respondents are considering charging an annual or monthly fee to access a debit card. Slightly less than half (43.8%) said they may eliminate or reduce rewards programs and 8.6% are considering cutting staff.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Greensburg Community FCU Placed into Conservatorship

The National Credit Union Administration assumed control of operations at Greensburg Community Federal Credit Union of Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

Greensburg Community Federal Credit Union has assets of $2.2 million, providing financial services to persons who live, work, worship, or go to school in, and business and other legal entities within a radius of three miles of the U.S. Post Office in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

As of the end of 2010, the credit union reported that 9.02 percent of its $86,803 in loans were at least 60 days or more past due and it had $68,228 in allowances for loan and lease losses. The credit union also reported a net worth ratio of 30.41 percent.

Read press release.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

369 Problem Credit Unions at the End of January

NCUA reported today that the number of problem credit unions in January was 369. A problem credit union is defined as a credit union that has a CAMEL code of 4 or 5.

Shares (deposits) and assets in problem credit unions as of the end of January were $38.2 billion and $42.9 billion, respectively. NCUA reported that problem credit unions held 5 percent of the credit union industry’s insured shares and 4.75 percent of the industry’s assets.

There were 10 problem credit unions with $1 billion or more in assets holding $17.6 billion in shares. The number of problem credit unions with between $500 million and $1 billion in assets was unchanged at 6 with $3.9 billion in shares. There were 56 problem credit unions with between $100 million and $500 million in assets holding $12 billion in shares.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Har-co FCU Exploring Mutual Savings Bank Charter

Har-co Federal Credit Union, Bel Air, Maryland, has announced its intention to begin exploring the possibility of switching from a federal credit union to a FDIC-insured federal mutual savings bank charter.

Under a federal mutual savings bank charter, Har-co would be open to all citizens, but would still be mutually owned by its membership, and with no stockholders. Currently, the $188 million credit union is limited to serving the Harford County education community, students and their families.

The Board believes that the change in charter would give Har-co additional business flexibility to meet the current and future needs of its members. The Board of Directors also believes that the tax impact should be more than offset by the enhanced earnings capacity under the federal mutual savings bank charter.

On March 16, 2011, after the Board’s consideration of the written comments received from members, the Board of Directors will decide on whether to proceed with its conversion plan.

NCUA Closes Family First

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) placed Family First Federal Credit Union of Orem, Utah, into liquidation and Security Service Federal Credit Union of San Antonio, Texas, purchased and assumed Family First’s assets, liabilities and members. The credit union has been under NCUA conservatorship since July 30, 2010.

At closure, Family First had approximately $119 million in assets, net worth of -$12.5 million and served 18,000 members. The credit union has been insolvent since June of 2010, when it reported a net worth ratio of -5.55 percent. At the end of 2010, the credit union's net worth ratio was -10.49 percent.

The credit union reported a loss of almost $16.8 million for 2010 after reporting a loss of $5.8 million for 2009.

Interestingly, uninsured shares at the credit union were almost $6.5 million as of June 2010. By the end of 2010, almost all uninsured deposits had been run-off.

This is the fourth Utah credit union to be liquidated since the end of 2009 with Beehive being the last Utah credit union to be closed on December 14, 2010.

Read the press release.

Four TIP Charters Approved by NCUA in 2010

In 2010, NCUA approved 4 federal credit unions for trade, industry, and profession-wide (TIP) charters.

Three credit unions received TIP charters serving employees in the health care industry, the other for serving government employees.

In 2003, NCUA authorized that a credit union could serve individuals employed in a specific trade, industry or profession as a single common bond. Up to that point in time, a single occupational common bond was limited to individuals working for a specific company.

Between 2004 and 2006, NCUA approved an average of 12 TIP charters per year and in 2006, NCUA approved a record high 15 TIP charters. However, the pace of TIP charters approved by NCUA has slowed in recent years. Between 2007 and 2009, the average number of TIP charters granted by NCUA dropped to less than 6 per year.

Click on this link to review the report of approvals for 2010.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Stop the Debit Card Rule

What does ABA, CUNA, ICBA, and NAFCU have in common?

We've all joined together to fight the Durbin Amendment, which authorizes the Federal Reserve to set the rate of the interchange fee.

If the Federal Reserve sets the rate too low, it will mean that community banks and credit unions will be harmed and will be forced to make up for lost revenue by

Eliminating free checking

Charging for online banking

Eliminating or charging for rewards programs

Annual fees for debit cards

Check out video.

Go to to find out more.

Monday, February 14, 2011

OC Watchdog: CUs Lose Money, Execs Make Money

The OC Watchdog published a story comparing the performance of large state chartered credit unions in California and executive compansation at these credit unions. The story points out that while many of the credit unions were losing money, the executives at these credit unions were being well paid.

To read the story, click here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sixty-nine CU Mergers Approved by NCUA in 2010 Were for CUs Under Financial Stress

In 2010, NCUA approved 69 mergers where the reasons cited for the merger were poor financial condition, poor management, or loss/declining membership.

Below is the name of the acquired credit union, acquiring credit union, and reason for the merger (click on image to enlarge). This information is pulled from NCUA's Monthly Insurance Report of Activity.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

NCUA: Corporate Consolidation Raises Systemic Risk Concerns

NCUA issued a guidance letter on consolidation issues in the corporate credit union network.

The corporate credit union network is consolidating. In recent weeks, 3 mergers have been announced and more are likely to be announced as the new corporate regulations become effective, especially the new capital directives.

But this consolidation may result in a concentration of services or the aggregation of service volumes in one entity large enough to introduce systemic risk. NCUA views such a "too big to fail" scenario as unacceptable.

NCUA cautions about the potential operational risk that could arise from service interruption arising from a single large entity or the failure of such entity. NCUA advises that contingency plans need to address such concerns.

Moreover, the agency advises that contingency plans should not count on the agency providing systemic support in the future, as it has done with the conservatorship of four corporate credit unions during the finacial crisis.

The agency wrote:

"Going forward, an entity that will primarily be a service provider must be able to demonstrate the ability to safely generate adequate income not only to maintain existing services and the operational systems and staffing to deliver them, but must also adequately fund for identifying risks and for ensuring operational security and stability in the future. The capability for testing to identify and address any system weaknesses is critical to mitigate the risk of service interruptions."

Read the letter.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Executive Compensation Rules Proposed

The FDIC on February 7 issued an interagency notice of proposed rulemaking to implement Section 956 of the Dodd-Frank Act, a provision aimed to prohibit executive and incentive compensation plans that encourage risk taking.

The proposal is a joint rulemaking by the five federal members of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

All depository institutions with assets greater than $1 billion will be required to file an annual report that details the structure of its incentive-based compensation plans. The report must include a clear narrative of incentive-based compensation arrangements, and specific reasons the institution believes the structure of its incentive-based compensation plan does not provide covered persons incentives to engage in behavior that is likely to cause a material financial loss, and does not provide excessive compensation.

The proposed rule asks whether there are other types of financial institutions, such as a credit union service organization (“CUSO”), that the Agencies should treat as a covered financial institution to better promote the purpose of section 956 and competitive equity. Currently, no CUSOs wholly owned by a federally insured credit union have total consolidated assets of $1 billion or more.

Larger covered institutions will also have to provide a succinct description of any specific incentive compensation policies for the institution’s executive officers, and others who individually have the ability to expose the institution to possible losses that are substantial in relation to the institution’s size, capital, or overall risk tolerance.

The term “larger covered financial institution” for the Federal banking agencies and the SEC means those covered financial institutions with total consolidated assets of $50 billion or more. For the NCUA, all credit unions with total consolidated assets of $1 billion or more are larger covered financial institutions. For the FHFA, all Federal Home Loan Banks with total consolidated assets of $1 billion or more are larger covered financial institutions.

Along with other restrictions, the rule requires that at least 50% of incentive-based payments be deferred for a minimum of three years for designated executives at larger covered institutions.

The proposed rule would move the U.S. closer to international compensation standards by

requiring deferral of a substantial portion of incentive compensation for executive officers of large institutions;
prohibiting incentive-based compensation that would encourage inappropriate risks by providing excessive compensation;
prohibiting incentive-based compensation arrangements that would expose the institution to inappropriate risks by providing compensation that could lead to a material financial loss;
requiring policies and procedures for incentive-based compensation arrangements that are commensurate with the size and complexity of the institution; and
requiring annual reports on incentive compensation structures to the institution's appropriate Federal regulator.

To read the proposed rule, click here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Follow Up: Hawaii State FCU Directors Agree to Cut Their Benefits

In the wake of member criticism, the directors for the Hawaii State Federal Credit Union, the state's second largest, agreed to cut the benefits they give themselves. Read the article in the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

On February 3, I wrote about an investigative article appearing in Honolulu Star Advertiser about excessive perks the board members of Hawaii State FCU had awarded to themselves and possible conflicts of interest.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Oakland Municipal CU Closed

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) was appointed liquidating agent of Oakland Municipal Credit Union of Oakland, by the California Department of Financial Institutions (DFI); and Western Federal Credit Union of Manhattan Beach, California, immediately purchased and assumed Oakland Municipal’s assets, liabilities and members.

At closure, Oakland Municipal had approximately $88 million in assets and served 7,800 members.

The credit union reported a net worth ratio of 4.95 percent as of the end of 2010. It also reported that $8.3 million in loans were at least 60 days or more past due or 14.39 percent of its loans. Roughly $3 million in loans were charged off in 2010 for a net charge-off rate of 4.81 percent.

Read NCUA Press Release

Friday, February 4, 2011

Financial Performance of Credit Unions In Conservatorship

The following table provides a look at the year-end financials for four credit unions that are currently under NCUA conservatorship, A.E.A FCU, Arrowhead FCU, Family First FCU, and Keys FCU. (click on image to enlarge)

A.E.A FCU and Family First FCU are insolvent with net worth ratios of -7.63 percent and -10.49 percent, respectively. Family First, which was placed into conservatorship on July 30, has reported a negative net worth ratio since June 2010.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Article Exposes Concerns About Excessive Benefits and Conflicts of Interest at Hawaii State FCU

An article appearing in the January 30, 2011 Honolulu Star Advertiser reports on potential conflicts of interest and excessive benefits to the board members of Hawaii State Federal Credit Union, the second largest credit union in the state.

The article cites as examples of excessive benefits that the credit union pays for up to seven off-island trips annually for each board member with up to four trips to the mainland, covers travel expenses for spouses, and reimburses board members for health insurance costs.

Frank Diekmann, editor and publisher of Credit Union Journal, is quoted as saying that these benefits are pretty much in excess of what credit union boards receive regardless of the size of the credit union.

Additionally, according to documents obtained by the newspaper, regulators raised red flags with respect to "the use of a travel agency owned by the board chairwoman to book official trips, frequently at higher prices than what the airlines offered directly, and accepting free rooms at a Waikiki hotel where the annual membership meetings were held."

To read the article, click here.

Read editorial Uphold credit union trust

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Interest Rate Risk Exposure

During the current low interest rate environment, credit unions in search of yield have increased their holdings of longer term assets. Credit union regulators have expressed concerns about credit unions taking on more interest rate risk, as an increase in market rates would cause the value of these long-term assets to drop.

For example, the Texas Credit Union Department in its January 2011 newsletter advised:

"credit unions with a Net Long-Term Assets Ratio near or exceeding 25 percent, policies and procedures should be in place to fully evaluate the impact of a 100-300 basis point increase in market interest rates. Each credit union’s policies and procedures for this area will be reviewed closely during the examinations completed in 2011."

As of the end of the third quarter of 2010, there were 872 credit unions with $50 million or more in assets with a Net Long-Term Assets Ratio of 25 percent or higher.

The following table ranks the top 50 credit unions with $50 million or more in assets that have the highest Net Long-Term Assets Ratio as of September 30, 2010. (click to enlarge the image)


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