Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Firefighters First Credit Union has announced it is paying a year-end bonus to members of $2 million.
LOS ANGELES–Firefighters First Credit Union has announced it is paying a year-end bonus to members of $2 million.
Since 1981, the credit union has returned more than $46 million to members.
Firefighters First Credit Union said it rewards its members for having a strong engagement with the credit union, saying deeper membership engagement via investment accounts, insurance policies and business loans is greatly welcomed and an active growth strategy. “It is rare to find an organization today that shares any percentage of their profits. However, at Firefighters First Credit Union, this is part of our foundation. While many credit unions have ceased sharing their profits, we feel strongly about giving back to our members to help improve the financial lives of our Fire Family,” said President/CEO Dixie Abramian. “At the discretion of the board of directors, it is an important part of our tradition. The payouts vary based on member relationships – if you have a mortgage or a money market with us, your member payout will be much higher than if you have only an auto loan.”
Firefighters First said it continues to focus on providing terrific service to members, especially with a national expansion strategy now underway. The credit union currently serves approximately 544 fire departments nationwide.
Payouts represent a rebate on the interest paid on loan accounts and a bonus on the earning on savings accounts, the credit union said.
More information on the payout, including a video, can be found at: www.firefightersfirstcu.org/payout
Friday, January 4, 2019
NEW YORK–How many times will the Fed raise interest rates in 2019? It’s a question of keen interest to credit unions, and the answer according to many investors is zero—the Fed will not act.
The current Fed funds rate is set to a range between 2.25% and 2.5%.The reason, according to analysis by the Wall Street Journal, is declining confidence in U.S. economic expansion, which is expected to slow over the next year even as the economy remains strong.
The Federal Open Market Committee voted to raise rates at its December meeting, finishing the year with a slow but steady effort to nudge rates upward. The rate increases have been met with criticism by President Trump. Many analysts, including inside credit unions, had predicted the Fed would raise rates twice more in 2019. Now, some are saying not so fast.
Fed Funds Futures Flat
“Fed-funds futures, which investors use to bet on the direction of Fed policy, on Wednesday showed a 91% probability that the central bank’s policy makers will finish the year with interest rates at or below their current level,” the Journal reported. “That is a reversal from early November, when futures prices indicated a 90% probability that rates would end 2019 higher than they are now. Futures even show a small chance that rates will fall this year—raising the possibility of a market shock or economic downturn by year’s end.”
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note also recently fell below 3%.
“In the two weeks since Fed officials last met, stocks have fallen, yields on corporate debt have widened relative to those on safer government bonds and other measures of financial conditions have tightened considerably,” the Journal reported. “By raising costs for businesses and households to borrow and invest, tighter conditions could slow growth more than central-bank officials anticipated.”
Thursday, January 3, 2019
WASHINGTON–As the partial federal government shutdown stretches on, more credit union have announced offers of assistance.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which handles human resources for the government's civilian workforce, has advised thousands of employees who won't be paid during the government shutdown to reach out to creditors in order to work out alternative payment schedules. OPM has even released sample letters it suggests federal workers affected by the shutdown use to ask for help from mortgage lenders and landlords.
The latest to offer help to members missing paychecks due to the shutdown include:
- AmeriCU Credit Union in Rome, N.Y., which is offering interest-free furlough loans, fee refunds, and penalty-free certificate withdrawals. "We want to help alleviate the financial stress that a shutdown like this could cause our members,” Ron Belle, chief experience officer for AmeriCU, told local media. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure we’re here for our members with the right assistance and services when and where they need it.”
- Mid Oregon Credit Union in Bend, Ore., which reported it has several hundred members who are employees of the Deschutes National Forest, Ochoco National Forest, the Fremont-Winema National Forest, BLM and US Fish and Wildlife Service. Mid Oregon is offering short-term loans, “skip-a-pays,” as well as a willingness to work with members on mortgage and auto loan payments.
- Vermont State Employees Credit Union is offering a Member Emergency Loan (MEL), with a low rate on amounts up to $1,500. “It’s a frightening prospect to suddenly lose income at any time of the year, but winter in Vermont is an especially difficult time to find yourself suddenly without funds,” Valerie Beaudin, head of Consumer Residential Lending, told local media. Members may be eligible for the MEL if they have been in good standing with the credit union for at least six months and have proof of federal employment/furlough status. Loan applications can be completed online at www.vsecu.com or at any of VSECU’s nine branch locations.
- In Michigan, Traverse Catholic Federal Credit Union has partnered with the local Bayside Market to help members of the Coast Guard and their families with free groceries. An account into which people can make donations to cover the costs of the groceries has been set up at the credit union.
- In Riverdale, Utah,America First Credit Union is providing a special Furlough Assistance Loan. The personal loan of up to $4,000 will be made available to federal employees who have been furloughed due to the recent government shutdown. Additionally, America First, which has more than 988,000 members, is also offering members no-cost counseling services, loan extensions and numerous free and low-cost benefits. To be eligible for the Furlough Assistance Loan, individuals must be America First Credit Union members and have missed a paycheck due to the shutdown, the CU said. The Furlough Assistance Loan will be available one-time only and offers terms up to seven months, with one-month interest free. The loan has a zero percent interest rate for the first 30 days and then a 4.99% interest rate that begins to accrue on day 31.
Other Offers of Help
- Radcliff, Ky.-based Fort Knox FCU, which is offering affected members a personal loan with no payments due for the first 90 days, or the option to withdraw up to $10,000 of certificate deposits early without penalty by visiting their local branch. FKFCU is also offering the opportunity to extend the payment due date on their current loans by 30, 60 or 90 days, depending on need as determined by the credit union, or applying for a new low-rate VISA credit card or instant cash line of credit to ease financial stress during the shutdown.
- Keesler FCU in Biloxi, FCU., which is offering a payday advance for members who have federal payroll direct deposit established with the credit union.
- In Maine, Northeast Credit Union has announced the availability of several special programs to assist federal workers, including deferments for up to three months on NECU consumer loans, a special low-rate on a 12-month Signature Loan with deferred payments, and continuation of direct deposit pay at the member’s request.
- In Chantilly, Va., Justice Federal Credit Union is offering special assistance in the form of an unsecured, low interest rate loan and deferred payments to members of the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security and other members furloughed as a result of a shutdown. Members with a minimum of six months of membership with Justice Federal may apply for a Special Assistance Loan up to member’s net pay, not to exceed $3,000 at an annual low rate of 2.94% for 24 months. The actual loan amount is based on the member’s net pay deposit, with direct deposit required. Members may opt to defer their first loan payment for up to 90 days. In addition, existing members in good standing with a Justice Federal consumer loan, or credit card may request to defer payments, and request assistance with a Justice Federal First Mortgage Loan.
- In Massachusetts, Hanscom FCU, which serves Hanscom Air Force Base, said some of its members are eligible for a “LifeLine loan” during the time the government is shut down and paychecks are not being issued. In addition, Hanscom FCU said it will waive penalties for premature withdrawals on term share certificates and allow qualified members to skip consumer loan payments with no fee. Members whose paychecks are affected by a shutdown or a furlough are also able to apply for a 0% APR LifeLine loan with a 60-day term, up to 100% of one’s net monthly pay or $5,000, whichever is less. For those needing more than 60 days to repay, the loan will be converted into installment payments over a 12-month term at a low fixed rate of 8.49% APR.
- The world’s largest credit union, Navy FCU, has announced a plan to cover direct deposit for eligible members during the government shutdown. Coverage for this loan begins if a shutdown extends into the next pay period and pay is interrupted. The credit union is offering assistance to Federal government employees and active duty members of the Coast Guard whose pay has been disrupted by the shutdown, and have an established direct deposit account. Navy Federal will also continue to accept registration for the program until three days after the scheduled pay day.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
PLANO, Texas.—Member First Mortgage has launched its Western Division. The new division is led by Executive Vice President Linda Clampitt.
Clampitt and her management team bring more than 100 years of combined experience partnering with credit unions and assisting them in providing a superior mortgage experience for their members, the CUSO said.
“The Western Division will help expand the national footprint of Member First Mortgage by offering multiple partnership levels designed to utilize state of the art origination and digital marketing technology enabling credit unions to increase their market share, their income, and to help as many of their members as possible achieve the American Dream of home ownership,” the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company stated.
“We are thrilled to join Member First Mortgage and bring new, innovative mortgage solutions to credit unions,” said Clampitt in a statement. “Member First Mortgage has an excellent culture committed to credit unions and the members they serve. We have an excellent opportunity to grow Member First into the premier provider for credit unions nationwide.” The CUSO said its leadership team and board are ready to bring “new and revolutionizing ideas to mortgage lending, allowing credit unions to be on the cutting-edge of home finance.
“We have exciting plans to make digital marketing and streamlined approval processes the new standard for credit unions,” said Clampitt. “The end result will be superior service to members with profitable results for credit unions.”
“It is the perfect time to add Linda and her team,” said President and CEO Jerry Reed. I sensed a shared synergy, drive, determination, strong work ethic the first day I met the Texas team.”
The company said it has been built on the credit union philosophy of People Helping People, and serves the home financing needs of credit union members as well as non-members.
Member First Mortgage is a full-service Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae seller/servicer with an experienced staff offering expertise in every area of mortgage lending—from purchase, to refinance, conventional, jumbo, government and construction lending, the company noted.