Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Press Release: Credit Union First Responder Finance : New Website



PRESS RELEASE

National Council of Firefighter Credit Unions, Inc.             CU First Responders Finance, LLC 
Grant Sheehan, CEO                                                                  Murray Halperin, Managing Member
(305) 755-3302                                                                          (561) 393-3770
ceo@ncofcu.org                                                                         info@financeresponders.com

                
February 11, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Business Lending Website: FinanceResponders.com


Boca Raton, Florida –CU First Responders Finance, LLC (CUFR) has launched FinanceResponders.com.
Through this website, National Council of Firefighter Credit Unions (NCOFCU) member credit unions can offer commercial and business loans to volunteer and municipal fire departments, first responder businesses and associations.

CUFR’s Referral Credit Union solution allows smaller credit unions to provide incremental and tangible value for their customers, while giving them the opportunity to recruit new members. FinanceResponders.com provides the avenue for the Referral Credit Union to originate direct commercial real estate, business loans and generate non-interest income.

CUFR provides the business lending expertise, pre-screens the loan request and matches it to a lead lender in our program. When lead lenders fund a loan, they can opt to portfolio the entire loan or sell participation's back to the referring credit union.

CU First Responders Finance, LLC is a collaboration of credit unions and finance service providers that are committed to the development of first responder credit unions, their members and communities nationwide. It is a partnership between NCOFCU and Biz Lending & Insurance Center, Inc. For more information call (561) 393-3770 or visit financeresponders.com.
The National Council of Firefighter Credit Unions is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 professional credit union association serving firefighters, first responders and their families since 2001. At present, there are over 100 firefighter credit unions, representing over $15 billion in assets and 800,000 members throughout the U.S. and Canada. For more information visit ncofcu.org.


See you in New Orleans
 

Are Credit Unions Serving First Responders Ready for the Coronavirus?

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to grow are credit unions serving first responders ready?

Credit unions serving first responders will be a primary point of contact as first responders come off duty and into the credit union.

ARLINGTON, Va.—How effective are credit union plans for addressing pandemics and business continuity?

Feature Coronovirus low res 

It’s a question credit unions need to be asking right now as the coronavirus outbreak continues to grow. Death tolls this week topped 1,100, with a record 100 officially reported as getting sick in a day. The coronavirus has already surpassed SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in number of affected and killed.

Experts told CUToday.info the growth of the coronavirus that CUs should be reviewing their pandemic and business continuity plans, which likely have not been visited since the SARS outbreak in 2002.

Bruyere Brandy“I think it's too early to tell what kind of impact the coronavirus may have here in the U.S.,” said NAFCU Vice President of Regulatory Compliance Brandy Bruyere about the potential effects on personal health and credit unions’ business. “We're just trying to make sure credit unions have the resources they need to take a look at this so they can be ahead of this.”

Noting the last time many credit unions have likely visited their pandemic planning was in 2002-2003 during the SARS outbreak, Bruyere said CUs need to make plans to minimize the possibility of any effects from a pandemic.

“Address any negative effects from a pandemic and have a documented plan for continued operations,” said Bruyere. “Make sure critical operations can remain in effect. Pandemic planning does differ from more traditional continuity planning, in part because the impact can be difficult to anticipate. So, pandemic plans need to be flexible, and the plans need to reflect the credit union’s size, complexity and business operations.”

The Biggest Risk

Bruyere noted that while NCUA’s supervisory priorities this year do not include reviewing CU pandemic planning, “the agency does have the right to go beyond their stated priorities. I think it's possible they could  look at these plans to make sure credit unions have taken a look themselves.”

The biggest risk to credit unions from a pandemic, said Bruyere, is personnel.

“One of the things regulators flag in all of their guidance on pandemic planning is the risk to staff,” said Bruyere. “In these kinds of situations you might have broad absences. You can even see that with localized outbreaks of the flu. Employee protection strategies are important, which include education on how a disease spreads. Address, for example, minimizing face-to-face contact with others if you believe there is an issue in your area. Maybe replace meetings with conference calls…”

Bruyere noted the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) recently updated its business continuity management section of its handbook.

“This covers all the bases and includes, but is not limited to, pandemic planning,” she said.

Recommended Steps

molinaCarlos Molina, senior consultant, Risk and Compliance Solutions, agreed most U.S. workers are not at significant risk of infection at this time, but the situation is evolving.

“It’s never too early to get ahead by addressing employee concerns, taking measures to keep the workplace sanitary and ensuring your employees feel safe,” said Molina.

In a Risk Alert recently sent to CUs, CUNA Mutual group recommended steps to address a pandemic:
 
Communicate and educate carefully: “Credit unions who reasonably believe they could serve members or have employees who could potentially travel to and from an infected region should be prepared to provide reassurance and education. A statement from credit union management should be made available that the situation is being monitored, and human resources or risk management departments should be prepared to provide information or access to appropriate agencies like the CDC, Department of State, or local health organizations,” CUNA Mutual Group said.

Emphasize good workplace hygiene: “Remind employees of general good workplace hygiene practices such as covering one's mouth when coughing or sneezing, avoiding contact with sick individuals, and washing hands frequently. Consideration should be given to providing tissues and hand sanitizer throughout credit union locations. Waste bins should be emptied frequently and surfaces properly disinfected,” the company said.

Reinforce sick leave policies: “Encourage employees to review company sick leave and paid time-off policies and encourage employees to stay home if they are feeling ill. Remote work arrangements should be utilized if previously agreed upon. A point of contact should be identified to answer any employee questions related sick leave use, or the accrual process,” the Risk Alert stated.

Decisions to send employees home should be made carefully: “Any decision made to send a visibly ill employee home should be done so within existing policy guidelines. Attention should be paid to state wage and hour laws for non-exempt employees where wages may be due even for the period of time they were sent home. If a policy is currently in place that requires an employee to inform the credit union of any direct threat to the safety of other employees, including illness, it should be noted that the credit union must keep all employees' health information confidential, and should ensure that any policy is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),” CUNA Mutual Group said.

Avoid mandatory medical examinations and quarantines: “Unless you have a reasonable belief that an employee poses a ‘direct threat’ to the workplace, the ADA prohibits mandatory medical examinations. Any attempt to isolate or quarantine employees without prior authorization by a public health agency or official can lead to risk liability under the ADA, medical privacy laws, state wage and hour laws, and potential national origin discrimination claims,” the company stated.

Other Resources

CUNA Mutual Group outlined additional resources that are also available:
 

Thursday, January 9, 2020

NCUA’s Modern Examination and Risk Identification Tool (MERIT) will be released during the second half of 2020

The NCUA’s Modern Examination and Risk Identification Tool (MERIT) will be released to all examination staff during the second half of 2020, agency board Chairman Rodney Hood told credit unions Tuesday.
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In the agency’s annual letter outlining the NCUA’s supervisory priorities, Hood also said that NCUA Connect, a common entry point for authorized users to gain access to NCUA applications, also will be made available this year.

The NCUA has conducted a limited launch of the MERIT system.

Hood said that unlike the current examination process, known as AIRES, credit unions will be able to use MERIT for several activities, including the secure transferring of documents, providing status updates, requesting due date changes on corrective actions and securely accessing completed examinations.

In his letter, Hood provided details of the agency’s supervisory priorities for the year:

  Bank Secrecy Act & Anti-Money Laundering

Hood said the agency will continue to emphasize the need for credit unions to comply with customer due diligence and beneficial ownership rules that went into effect in May 2018.

The agency also will work with other banking regulators on such issues as updates to the BSA/AML examination manual, providing clarification and ways to improve required filings on transactions and ensuring that they are filed in a timely fashion.

The NCUA also will work with other regulators on issuing guidance on “politically exposed persons.”

A politically exposed person is defined as someone who has been entrusted with a high-profile political function and who may be more exposed to bribery as a result of the position her or she may hold.

Consumer Financial Protection

The scope of consumer financial protection reviews is largely risk-focused and are based on a credit union’s compliance record, products or services and any new or emerging concerns, Hood said.

He added that each year, the NCUA selects specific consumer financial protection rules on which to focus during exams.

In 2020, the agency intends to focus on compliance with the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, fair credit reporting, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act requirements for the handling of non-public information about consumers, and percentage rate and late charge issues in the Truth in Lending Act.

The agency also will test for compliance with small dollar lending rules, including those associated with the Payday Alternative Loan model. NCUA examiners also will determine whether short-term, small-dollar loans that are not modeled on the PAL program comply with federal rules.

NCUA board member Todd Harper has called for the agency to implement a separate consumer protection examination and asked that three staff members be hired to develop that test.

The agency board last month adopted its 2020 budget without those additional staff members included, although board member J. Mark McWatters expressed some sympathy with Harper’s position.

Credit Risk

Agency examiners also will determine if credit unions analyze the ability of borrowers to meet debt service requirements without undue reliance on the value of collateral.
The agency also this year will implement enhanced examination procedures for credit unions with high concentrations of a specific loan type.

The NCUA has come under fire for its supervision of credit unions that held a high concentration of tax-medallion loans. The failure of two credit unions that held taxi medallions as collateral cost the Share Insurance Fund more than $700 million.

Cybersecurity

In 2018, the NCUA began using the Automated Cybersecurity Examination Tool, which is now being updated. Credit unions will be able to complete self-assessments through the updated tool this year.

The agency also will continue its cybersecurity assessments for credit unions with assets over $250 million and begin completing assessments with those with assets of more than $100 million.

Liquidity Risks

Examiners will review credit union liquidity management and planning this year, with a particular focus on credit unions with low levels of on-balance sheet liquidity.

Agency examiners also will assess the potential impact of changing interest rates and credit union contingency plans.

Other issues

The NCUA will assess the possible impact that LIBOR cessation may have on credit unions, as well as planning for the new Current Expected Credit Losses standard.

The agency also said it expects to update its guidance for credit unions that provide services to hemp-related businesses.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

FIREFIGHTERS FIRST CREDIT UNION GIVES BACK OVER $2 MILLION TO FIREFIGHTERS AND THEIR FAMILIES

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Firefighters First Credit Union distributed more than $2 million in profit sharing proceeds to their membership comprised of career firefighters and their families nationwide. This marks the 38th year the organization has honored their legacy built upon “firefighters helping firefighters.” This year’s distribution brings total profits returned to members to over $48 million. 



“Firefighters do so much more than respond to fires. They make communities safer, stronger and better prepared for emergencies,” said Dixie Abramian, Firefighters First Credit Union’s President/CEO. “They stayed strong all year—through wildfires, hurricanes, floods and other emergencies that happened nationwide. We are heartened by how much firefighters and their families give back to their communities and are proud to share our success with them. No group is more deserving than the Fire Family.” 

Firefighters First Credit Union gave back to members by improving their financial lives in many ways. In addition to Annual Profit Sharing, they offered many account enhancements, including: out-of-network ATM fee reimbursements, they don’t charge for domestic wire transfers, stop payments and expedited person-to-person Popmoney® transfers. 

The approach to profit sharing at Firefighters First Credit Union was simple. Payouts represented a refund on the interest members paid on loan accounts and a bonus on the dividends earned in savings accounts. Individual payouts varied based on the scope of the member’s financial relationship with the Credit Union. The more members banked with Firefighters First Credit Union and utilized their services—Firefighter Insurance Services, Firehouse Financial and Firefighters First Trust Servicesthe
more members received in their annual payout. They posted the payouts to member accounts on December 31, 2019.

“During the Great Depression, banks stopped lending. At Engine Company No. 28 in Los Angeles, firefighters passed a cigar box to help rookies buy their gear. With a handshake and a promise to repay, Los Angeles Firemen’s Credit Union was born. Today, Firefighters First keeps that spirit of “firefighters helping firefighters alive,” states Scott Gibbons, Board of Directors Chair. “Our Board of Directors takes member ownership seriously. We’ve retained profit sharing as an important benefit to our members.” 

Firefighters First Credit Union will celebrate their 85th anniversary in 2020. “We’re serving 3rd and 4th generation firefighters and their families,” said Abramian. “Firefighters exemplify trust, loyalty, and service. We want to reflect that in the way we take care of their financial life. They make what we do worth doing.”

For more information, please visit www.FirefightersFirstCU.org/Payout. 

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About Firefighters First Credit Union
Firefighters First Credit Union was formed in 1935 as Los Angeles Firemen’s Credit Union and serves full-time, paid firefighters nationwide and their families. In 2014 they changed their name to Firefighters First Credit Union to better reflect their member base and in 2017 received their Federal Charter. Firefighters First currently has assets of almost $1.5 billion serving over 49,000 members.


December 2019 Media Contact: Kelly Ramsay
Senior VP, Marketing
323.550.2216
KRamsay@FireFirstCU.org




Wednesday, December 18, 2019

NCUA: Q3 2019 State Credit Union Data Report Now Available

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Dec. 17, 2019) – Federally insured credit unions generally saw continued positive trends in the third quarter of 2019, according to the latest NCUA Quarterly U.S. Map Review (opens new window).

Growth trends in the credit union system continued in the third quarter of 2019, though loan growth slowed from a year earlier. Median loan growth in the year ending in the third quarter was 3.8 percent, and median asset growth was 1.9 percent. Almost 90 percent of federally insured credit unions reported positive net income at the end of the quarter.

The review tracks performance indicators for federally insured credit unions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and includes information on two important state-level economic indicators: the unemployment rate and home prices.