Thursday, June 30, 2016

How to Comply in the New World of Complaints

NASHVILLE–It’s not enough anymore to receive a member complaint and to respond with just an apology.
Not surprisingly, with Washington now much more involved, member complaints have become a formal process with penalties involved when those complaints aren’t addressed and resolved. 
That has required credit unions to create complaint tracking systems and one CU that has done so shared some of its processes and lessons learned during the NAFCU annual meeting here.
One thing that was clear: complaints are not just what a teller might hear. Complaints can come via numerous channels, including regulators, and can be related to everything from credit reports to RESPA letters to mortgage rules and much more. 
“Complaints run the gamut, but the key is complaint management,” said Mitchell B. Klein, an attorney who is also the chief risk officer with Citadel FCU. “All of these types of complaints need to be managed in some fashion and in a timely way. You don’t want to get in trouble with NCUA or any other agency. You need to be able to show that you responded on a timely basis. Some complaints have response times set by the agency handling the complaint, such as CFPB and the NCUA.”
When a member complaint is filed with a regulator, rules require a credit union to research the issue and answer members within a specific amount of time—with the time limits often varying by rule.
Keep Track
“Keep track of complaints,” urged Klein. “Make sure to adequately address complaints, identify potential problem areas, and stay compliant. It’s a great way to self-assess, and you might find out you’re not compliant with one of the regs.”
Klein made clear that just because a member files a complaint it doesn’t mean the credit union is in the wrong. But it still must research the complaint.  
“Obviously, sometimes, we’re wrong, and we have to admit it and correct it. But we also have to be able to tell the member that either we were wrong or they were wrong and tell them in a polite way. When you look at a complaint, one of the things we try to do as credit unions is make the member happy and give the best service possible. A lot of times you read a complaint and realize that you are right and they don’t have a claim and they are just angry, and you have to tell the member that in a nice way. You have to watch what you say to your members. That’s why all the responses from the credit union come from me. And the person who is answering at the credit union might be angry and that can show in the response.”
Management Solutions
When it comes to tracking and managing complaints, how a credit union handles the issue is often dependent upon its size and complexity.
“There are complaint management solutions out there you can purchase; they are not inexpensive,” said Klein. “If you’re smaller like we are, we use Excel spreadsheets. The number of complaints we get doesn’t merit buying software right now.”
Tracking complaints also mean dedicating someone inside the credit union to handle the process. In Citadel’s case, it uses both a centralized and decentralized approach, with Klein managing the overall process and responsible for much of the interaction and contact with members. An executive assistant is assigned to logging all complaints and monitoring them, but it is often up to various departments to research and address the issue.
“Ultimately, someone has to be responsible for complaint management. (Member contacts) need to be written well and in a way that reflects our values,” he said. “With Excel spreadsheets, you need to use them in combination with Outlook so there are constant reminders for each complaint.
NCUA's Consumer Assistance Center
Klein noted that any complaints that come to the credit union from NCUA must go to the chairman of the supervisory committee, who is responsible for investigating complaints. Complaints to the NCUA are handled by its Consumer Assistance Center, which is now moving everything online to its portal at Only a CU’s CEO is to access the portal.
In the case of complaints filed with NCUA’s CAC:
  • The complaint is received and given case number.
  • It is sent to the CEO.
  • The member gets an acknowledgment.
  • The supervisory committee has 60 days to look into the complaint and respond.
  • The response is sent to the member and the CAC is cc’d.
  • If resolved, CAC will close the case.
  • If no response in 60 days or no resolution, CAC will investigate further, as it will if the member disputes the answer.
There is also an additional investigation phase that can take place.
Five Potential Outcomes
Klein said there are five potential outcomes with complaints filed with NCUA:
1. If the complaint does not include consumer protection laws or regulations that the NCUA does not enforce, it will be dropped by the agency.
2. Credit union resolves the issue and everyone is good, case closed.
3. The complaint is subject to a pending lawsuit, and NCUA will leave it to courts.
4. The complaint did not violate federal laws. Case closed. The complaint did violate federal laws; NCUA launches an investigation.
5. If no one is happy, an appeal is involved, and the NCUA Ombudsman can get involved and seek to find the resolution.
When The CFPB Gets Involved
In cases involving the CFPB, whose oversight is limited to credit unions larger than $10 billion, the agency maintains a consumer complaint database and it allows consumers to file complaints. Consumers can follow the complaint as it is being resolved and comment on the response. All complaints logged into the database are available for viewing by the public.
“What has gotten a lot of complaints is that the CFPB really doesn’t vet what the complaints are, and they get listed on the website, even the smallest complaints with no merit,” observed Klein.
One internal change Citadel has made, said Klein, is in dealing with member complaints that come by phone. He said the credit union’s mortgage servicing department had pointed out that they could often help a member on the phone in 10 minutes, but we were required by previous internal processes to instead send them a letter.
“It was a bad member solution,” said Klein. “We came up with a solution in which I approved overriding of the rules. Now if a member calls, and we resolve it on the phone, we don’t make the member send an error resolution notice. We just log on the account and note what we did.”

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

AutoLink Refinance Savings Calculator

Your members might be interested to know that they can calculate their potential savings from refinancing their auto loan through your credit union.  Take a moment today to let them know that this service is available to them on your credit union website.  They might be surprised at how much they could be saving!

Refinance Savings Calculator

What We Do

Super charge your auto lending with Auto Link™ and myEZ Car Care®!

Getting started is easy with our turnkey system.

Contact Us

Auto Link
PO Box 3274
Radford, VA 24143

Monday, June 20, 2016

How to Make the CEOs Job More Difficult Than It Has to Be - TEAM Resources

Guest Post by TEAM Resources Publisher, Kevin Smith
Nobody disputes the fact that credit union CEOs have tough jobs. There are millions of things to keep up within a challenging environment; technologies, economics, regulations, leadership, staff issues, and development … oh, and “managing” a board of directors made up of volunteers who (generally) don’t have backgrounds in financials institutions. The not-for-profit, cooperative model with a volunteer board of directors is part of what makes credit unions so very awesome, right?
So, why do so many CEOs make their own jobs more difficult when it comes to the board?
“Just what am I getting at?” you ask. Well, I’ll tell you, and thanks for asking.
There are an awful lot of board members out there in the credit union movement who follow governance practices that were out of date two decades ago. I know this is the case because I‘ve been working with credit union board members for almost 12 years, and my boss, Tim Harrington, for longer than that.
Too often board members are focused strictly on last month’s or last year’s financials, or on how big the new branch will be, or what the MSR uniforms will be, or on approving CEO expenditures of $5k or above. All of this is with the best of intentions. But it’s not strategic; it’s not moving the credit union forward; it’s misplaced energy.
“What’s this have to do with the CEO?” you ask. I’ll tell you, and thanks for asking.
Too often the CEO is unintentionally the “gatekeeper” for the board at the credit union, where virtually all of the information going to the board gets vetted or handed off. This isn’t nefarious in nature, but a reminder that the directors are volunteers typically from outside of the financial services sector. They are looking to the CEO to help them manage their own information load. (Just think about how much information is available to us all these days.)
More CEOs should be encouraging their boards to study modern governance. They often don’t. They often won’t. It’s a shame. They are making their jobs much harder than it should be.
Sometimes CEOs want to keep their directors in the dark so the CEO can do what he/she wants.
Sometimes the perception is that it’s just too much work, effort and money, to get directors educated. And then, when they do, there’s turnover and more “newbies” to educate.
Sometimes, the perception is that educated board members ask too many questions and cause too many problems for the CEO. And why would the CEO want to encourage that? (He said, rhetorically and sarcastically.)
These CEOs have it all wrong. Smart directors with a firm understanding of modern governance best practices (a la John Carver or Richard Chait) make the CEO’s job easier, without a doubt.
Don’t believe me? Ask Sharon Moore, CEO of City Credit Union in Dallas, TX. She says she’s lucky because her board keeps up with training and appreciates her encouragement for them to do so. According to Ms. Moore, her job is much easier because the board focuses on strategy, not on operations. They are asking the right questions, and they get involved only at the right level. They are not all up in her business over details that are not their expertise (nor their proper concern). And … AND … they provide insight to the mission and vision of the organization, from the members’ point of view (remember that whole not for profit, cooperative thing?) because they have time to do it.
Ms. Moore says she doesn’t see enough CEOs encouraging governance training for their boards but knows if they did, the directors would pay attention, and the CEO’s job would get a lot easier as a result.
This didn’t happen overnight for the directors. It was a process. It still is a process. But it’s one that yields tangible results for the CEO, for the credit union, and for the members. Sharon Moore was the catalyst for her directors getting more training, for their getting a better understanding of good governance.
Nobody needs to make their job harder for themselves. There are too many outside forces doing that for us.
Kevin Smith, Publisher, TEAM Resources

Friday, June 10, 2016

NCOFCU Member Business Providers

The National Council of Firefighter Credit Unions Inc. (NCOFCU) is your credit union’s partner in boosting revenue and reducing overhead. 

By harnessing our collective buying power, we are able to bring you, through your membership, the business-critical services, and products vital to your credit union.

Check all out all your member discounts here, AffirmX, AutoLink, MyBoadPacket, Credit Union Digital University, IWS and VinigSparks.

AffirmXYour NCOFCU membership entitles you to one (1) license of “”. This is a $240 dollar value provided to you with your membership in NCOFCU. Your membership also entitles you to their NCOFCU member discounted pricing on all their compliance services. For more about their products and services 
To schedule a demo contact;
Heather Riley Client Service/Project Coordinator
o: 888.972.3624, ext. 7014 e:

Your credit union has the best rates on loans and products, but only 15.74% of the national auto market share went to credit unions in 2014 — down 7.2% from 2013.
The online shopping paradigm shift is changing the way your members buy vehicles and get auto loans. Auto Link™ is a complete member marketing package for your credit union that will increase auto loan revenue by engaging your members in the new digital world. For more information contact: Ed Bourgeois       504-273-0337

Discounted for NCOFCU Members:
25% off fees (25% off standard fees) Additional Discounts for small asset size member credit unions.
To receive discount, please use the on-line form and mention you were referred by "NCOFCU Member Discount

Credit Union Digital University (CUDU)

20% off already NCOFCU discounted prices on their CUDigitalIU Basic, Plus & Pro
For over 15 years, Credit Unions have protected their organizations, ensured accountability, prepared for audits and examinations, as well as supported the professional growth of their employees and directors with Credit Union Digital University’s smart approach to training. For more information contact our representative: Tony Roberts 888.201.4394**7517

IWS & Credit Unions (2015 Conference Sponsor)   
IWS is committed to offering our credit union members vehicle protection programs such as Vehicle Service Agreements (VSA), Mechanical Breakdown Insurance (MBI) and GAP. This commitment has driven them to become the most innovative, progressive and respected company in the credit union industry. IWS has agreed to provide NCOFCU with a small royalty for each protection purchased to assist us in reaching our vision. For more about their products and services visit and contact our representative Michael Leon 847.894.6436


Vining Sparks specializes in assisting Credit Unions with Asset Liability management, CD and government bond investments and structure, as well as loan participation's across the country. They are also one of the world’s top 20 underwriters of newly issued debt by agencies of the U.S. Government They have agreed to provide NCOFCU with a small royalty for each investment purchased to assist us in reaching our vision. Vining Sparks is a member of FINRA/SIPC. For more about their products and services for credit unions contact our representative, Lee Chandler 800-786-1245

NOTE: NCOFCU has worked hard in providing these products and services and we want to know how they work for you. Should you have any questions or comments or suggestions for new services, please contact Grant Sheehan CEO at or call 305-951-3306

You Wonder How they Do It?

"New charges filed by federal prosecutors Tuesday against former CFO Michael A. LaJoice detailed how he carried out an $18.6 million fraud scheme over 13 years at Clarkston Brandon Community Credit Union in Clarkston, Mich.

A fraud expert who reviewed the court documents said LaJoice got away with it because there was no separation of duties at the credit union and no independent verification of investment accounts LaJoice fictitiously created to conceal his fraud.

Federal prosecutors said LaJoice stole more than $2.5 million by issuing cashier’s checks from various credit union accounts without authorization. These checks were deposited in LaJoice’s bank accounts at Capital One Bank, Comerica Bank, Scottrade and the $2 billion Genisys Credit Union in Auburn Hills, Mich."

Read complete story and how he did it at; Feds Uncover New Details in CFO Embezzlement:

'via Blog this'

Monday, June 6, 2016


What You Can Now Provide to Your Members!

NCOFCU in Denver, CO. Update

Early Bird registration expires July 1st, 2016

Don't miss this great opportunity to visit Denver, CO. "the gateway to the Rockies", and attend the "Go To" conference for credit unions serving firefighter's, first responders and their families.
"NCOFCU 2016 Annual Educational Conference" 

September 28th - October 1st, 2016 
Grand Hyatt Downtown.
For information and registration click: 
Early Bird registration expires July 1st, 2016

Are Sweetheart Financial Packages Encouraging Small CUs' Demise?

 "GLENDALE, Calif.–Is the disappearance of thousands of smaller credit unions being hastened, at least in part, by CEOs at those institutions taking sweetheart financial packages being offered by acquiring credit unions?

The CEOs of two small California CUs who have been in a public spat with a much-larger CU that they believe is seeking to force them into mergers, say they believe that is the case.

John Drake, CEO at the $110-million Schools FCU in Rancho Dominguez, Calif., and Stuart Perlitsh, CEO at the $355-million Glendale Area Schools FCU here, told that small credit unions with solid capital are not just surrendering to heavy marketplace pressures from big credit unions, such as that which they have felt from the $11.2-billion SchoolsFirst FCU, with which they have been in a dispute, but that in many cases CEOs at small CUs are throwing in the towel thanks to lucrative SERPs or limited-year contracts offered up by the acquirer. 

“I am aware of some aggressive predatory credit unions that essentially see a credit union with a net worth totaling $10 million that will offer the CEO a salary contract of say $250,000 per year for three or four years if they fold,” said Perlitsh. “So the CEO takes the bait and the big credit union scoops up the $10 million.”"

“The merged CUs’ CEOs love it—they get some major pay to watch the grass grow for a few years,” said Perlitsh. “The board of the acquired institution might pick up a board seat, or get appointed to some ‘marketing committee’ or ‘technology committee’ with a tidy little conference travel budget. Everyone wins, except the members.”

Perlitsh wondered if members of the small credit union would vote to approve the merger if they knew the CEO and board members were getting “juiced” in the process

Read Complete Story At
Sweetheart Financial Packages Hastening Small CUs' Demise?:

'via Blog this'

Saturday, June 4, 2016

NCUA Reports Continued Credit Union Loan Growth in First Quarter of 2016

"ALEXANDRIA, Va. (June 3, 2016) – Credit unions continued to increase their lending, with loans outstanding increasing 10.7 percent in the year ending in the first quarter of 2016, the National Credit Union Administration reported today.

 “The credit union system again experienced solid performance during the first quarter of 2016,” NCUA Board Chairman Rick Metsger said. “Overall, new and used auto lending was especially strong, and the system gained one million members. With an influx of deposits, federally insured shares at credit unions also neared the $1 trillion mark coming in at $991.7 billion.

 “As credit union lending has increased, long-term investments have declined and reduced the system’s interest rate risk. However, delinquency and charge-off rates are slightly higher than a year ago, and member-business loan delinquencies are rising even more. Credit unions making such loans should take note and ensure that they perform proper due diligence to mitigate the risk.

”NCUA released the new figures today, based on Call Report data submitted to and compiled by the agency for the quarter ending March 31, 2016."

NCUA Reports Continued Credit Union Loan Growth in First Quarter of 2016:

Thursday, June 2, 2016

NCUA Webinar on Changes to Military Lending Act Regulations

Webinar on Changes to Military Lending Act Regulations

Learn More about Enhanced Protections for Service Members and Their Families

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (June 2, 2016) – The National Credit Union Administration will host a webinar, “Preparing to Comply with Regulatory Changes to the Military Lending Act,” on Wednesday, June 29, starting at 2 p.m. Eastern.

During this webinar, staff from NCUA’s Office of Consumer Protection will provide a high-level overview of the significant changes to the regulation implementing the Military Lending Act, most of which go into effect by Oct. 3. The law now covers most non-mortgage-related consumer credit extended to active duty service members and certain dependents.