This week, the Cornerstone League and Heartland Credit Union Association boards of directors approved the Cornerstone-HCUA merger agreement. In June, both leagues announced plans to explore a merger, and a Letter of Intent was signed on June 21. Over the summer, the organizations have undertaken an extensive due diligence process.
Additionally, members of the Cornerstone and HCUA leadership teams have traveled to nearly two dozen cities within the five-state region to answer members’ questions in real time.
The board approval marks the end of the due diligence process and enacts the next phase of merger. Membership voting is the next and most important milestone and will be completed by Oct. 31.
“Now that the two organizations have conducted extensive due diligence and the two boards have approved the agreement, it’s time to turn it over to our membership,” said Cornerstone League Board Chairman James Boyd, also president/CEO of Abilene Teachers Federal Credit Union in Abilene, Texas.
“This is an exciting time in credit union history and on behalf of the Cornerstone board of directors, I hope Cornerstone and HCUA members see the tremendous value our shared league model will bring to them.”
“Our regional meetings with members led to insightful conversations and highlighted the opportunities of a combined league,” said James Nastars, Heartland Credit Union Association’s board chair and president/CEO of Meritrust Credit Union in Wichita, Kan. “Joining together would provide numerous opportunities to build upon current strengths, ensure growth, and continue to advance credit unions.”
“Combining our two entities can create a powerhouse, strengthening the organization’s position in the marketplace and our value proposition to our members across Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas,” said Caroline Willard, Cornerstone League president/CEO. “By carrying forward the best of what each league has to offer, we can ensure that more than 700 credit unions are supported with top-notch advocacy, education, and operational support.”
“Since the announcement of the merger exploration in June, it’s been impressive to see how the staff of the Cornerstone League and Heartland Credit Union Association work together and complement each other,” said Lisa Simmons, interim CEO of the Heartland Credit Union Association. “Uniting the employees of the two organizations would create a well-balanced team with more perspectives, experience, and talents to better serve our members.”
For merger details – including a timeline and archived articles – visit the merger FAQ page on the Cornerstone website.
Westerra Credit Union Increases Single-Family Home Conforming Loan Limits Early to Give Consumers More Buying Power
Westerra Credit Union is implementing 2023 baseline conforming loan limits early, giving homebuyers the opportunity to take advantage of better loan terms up to $715,000 for a single-family home versus the 2022 conforming loan limit of $647,200. A conforming loan is a mortgage loan that both meets the underwriting guidelines of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and that does not exceed the conforming loan limit. Conforming loans also typically offer lower interest rates than other types of mortgages.
By implementing the increase in the baseline conforming loan limits early, Westerra may provide more members the ability to qualify for a home purchase at more favorable terms than what is available with typical Jumbo financing. This could make a difference for homebuyers in Colorado markets that have seen a huge rise in home prices and demand over the past few years.
“We are always looking for ways to help our members and providing the increased loan limits well before the 2023 deadline is just one example of that,” said Michelle Burke, VP of Mortgage Lending, Westerra Credit Union. “We know how overwhelming home buying can be, especially in the Denver Metro Area and Front Range where home prices have risen substantially, and we want to help alleviate some of that stress.”
Westerra Credit Union mortgage loan officers help homebuyers make a game plan before falling in love with their dream home. There are many strategies to give buyers the ‘edge’ when purchasing a home and Westerra gives members that personal touch with loan customization and full pre-approvals with Close On-Time Guarantees to eligible borrowers.
For more info, home buyers can be found at https://www.westerracu.com/borrowing/mortgage
TruWest Credit Union is excited to celebrate 70 years of distinguished service on August 12th. A cooperative with a rich history of service to its members, involvement in the community and dedication to its employees, TruWest lives and breathes the long-standing philosophy of “people helping people.”
From a humble start in 1952 as Motorola Credit Union, TruWest has expanded its membership to over 93,000, providing trusted financial solutions and services to members in 12 branch locations in Arizona and Texas.
“The TruDifference is woven into everything we do,” said Alan Althouse, president and CEO at TruWest® Credit Union. “It is a pledge to provide members great rates and great service and a culture of caring for our members, our employees and the community.”
Since its opening, TruWest has shown a commitment to supporting the communities in which it operates. The member-owned organization has championed several charitable causes and organizations including The American Lung Association, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Dell Children’s Medical Center and Mesa Community College’s First-Year Experience Program.
As part of celebrating 70 years of service in the community, TruWest will launch the 70 days of 700 hours of service challenge for its employees starting August 12th. Through October 21, TruWest staff will have the opportunity to provide 700 combined hours in community service.
“TruWest believes in giving back through volunteer efforts,” said Jennifer Kimmell, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at TruWest® Credit Union. “We are excited to encourage our employees to really represent what TruWest believes in – providing community service from all employees over 70 days.”
The organization is also launching a 70th anniversary TruWest Visa® credit card giveaway, awarding a grand prize of a $10,000 statement credit and seven second place prizes of $1,000 statement credits. For every TruWest® Visa credit card purchase, members will receive an entry into the drawing. For additional information regarding TruWest® Credit Union’s credit card giveaway, visit truwest.org/70thvisagiveaway. Additionally, throughout August and September, members who share their TruWest memories on the credit union’s social media pages will be entered for a chance to win a $70 gift card.
To learn more about the history of TruWest Credit Union, and the organization’s commitment to service and the community since its inception, visit truwest.org/70.
The 8th Annual Alan M. Hart Memorial Charity Golf Classic, hosted by Hanscom FCU Charitable Foundation at the Red Tail Golf Club in Devens, MA, raised $150,000 this year for Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program. Funds raised during this month’s event, headlined by Allied Solutions, contributed to the Foundation’s $750,000 commitment to support Home Base over five years. A portion of the money raised this year will be used to sponsor Run to Home Base, a fundraiser held at Fenway Park every summer.
Golfers participated in the scramble-style tournament that included longest drive and hole-in-one contests, breakfast and lunch at the clubhouse overlooking the 18th green, and this year featured special guest Orlando Cabrera of the 2004 World Series-winning Red Sox team. Another returning fan-favorite fundraiser of the tournament was a putting contest with beverage prizes sponsored by August A. Busch and Co. and the Armed Forces Financial Network.
Home Base is dedicated to healing the invisible wounds of war for veterans, service members, and their families through world-class clinical care, wellness, education, and research. Recent years have been particularly challenging for veterans coming to Home Base for treatment. Keynote speaker and Brigadier General (ret.) Jack Hammond, Executive Director of Home Base, spoke movingly during the opening ceremony of the support the Foundation has given to his organization. “You are deeply committed to the veteran community,” he said. “It goes back to the whole philosophy of Hanscom FCU. Your connection to our people, our veterans, is something we truly value and we deeply value your friendship.”
He later remarked, “I think what’s most special about this is the fact that it truly demonstrates the support of a grateful nation for our warriors and their families. Too many of them come home from war and, given all the circumstances and the kind of abrupt pull out of Afghanistan, and you see what’s going on in the world, they wonder if what they did was worth the sacrifice they made and if anybody actually cares about what they did. This shows that people care.”
Teresa S. Conrad, Chairperson of the Foundation, said in her opening remarks, “Our commitment to our veteran community is paramount to Hanscom FCU’s strategic goals and mission. I am proud of what we’ve been able to raise for Home Base each year with this tournament.”
Named after longtime director of Hanscom FCU, founding chairman of the Foundation, and avid golfer Alan M. Hart, the Classic aims to honor both his memory and his commitment to community service.
A video about the event can be viewed below or at www.hfcu.org/golf.
Co-op Solutions announced that the company and its credit union partners raised nearly $30,000 for charity by donating the proceeds from its 2022 Presidents Cup Golf Tournament sponsorship and reactivating its #shadesupFOREkids social media initiative.
A total of $16,100 was raised for Credit Unions for Kids, the industry’s charitable arm in support of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. An additional $13,500 was raised for Financial Well-Being for All, the National Credit Union Foundation’s financial wellness campaign.
“The Presidents Cup is a truly world-class professional golf event, in which all proceeds go to charity,” said Samantha Paxson, Chief Experience Officer for Co-op. “In that spirit we were proud to host our credit union colleagues, who joined us in stepping up to help sick children receive the hospital care they need regardless of ability to pay. In addition to CMN Hospitals, the work of NCUF was also supported, so that together we raised funds for both medical and financial wellness, two keys to uplifting communities and living the credit union mission of People Helping People.”
The Presidents Cup took place September 21-25 at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. Co-op offered tickets to its industry partners, clients and friends for a day on the course, with a recommended donation of the face value – or a portion – of each ticket. Before the event, Co-op ran #shadesupFOREkids, which encourages everyone in the movement to take selfies on-board their airline flights with the window shade up. Co-op made a $10 donation for every selfie posted with the hashtag.
“The credit union industry is integral to our ability to provide 32 million treatments each year through 170 member hospitals in the United States and Canada,” said Nick Coleman, Director, National Strategic Partners, for CMN Hospitals. “The donation by Co-op and contributions by its partners is a tremendous boost and it is with deep appreciation that we thank the entire Co-op team.”
Though the event has concluded, the donation page remains open here.
“International Credit Union Day is now right around the corner, on October 20,” said Todd Clark, President/CEO of Co-op. “The upcoming holiday season will present financial hardships and other challenges for many people that credit unions are uniquely well positioned to address. We encourage everyone in the credit union movement to help make International Credit Union Day 2022 a truly special one by renewing their commitment to charitable giving this Fall.”
The National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation) is currently seeking candidates for its volunteer Board of Directors. Four seats have terms expiring at the end of 2022.
Three seats are eligible for applications—two incumbents will seek re-election—while the fourth seat will be appointed by CUNA. To be considered, applications must be received by 5 pm CT on Friday, October 28, 2022.
The Foundation is the charitable arm of the U.S. credit union movement. Through innovative grants, experiential learning and education programs, industry events and resources, it serves as a catalyst to improve people’s financial lives through credit unions.
“Over the last decade, the Foundation has rallied the credit union movement to focus on improving financial well-being for all,” said Executive Director Gigi Hyland. “We have established a system-wide understanding of both the need in our communities, and the opportunity for credit unions to grow and thrive by addressing it. Now the credit union movement must act.
“The Foundation’s role as a catalyst is to ignite that action. To support and explore opportunities for innovation, to inspire change at a local level that has national impact. The strategic counsel of our Board of Directors is critical to that work.”
The seats and qualifications for each are as follows:
The application packet and further information is available on the Foundation’s website, www.ncuf.coop
Mahalo Banking, a CUSO that provides online and mobile banking solutions for credit unions, announced that it has successfully implemented its digital banking platform at Manitowoc, Wis.-based UnitedOne Credit Union (UnitedOne). The new solution delivers a consistent digital experience to UnitedOne’s members across all devices.
With assets of $300 million, almost 20,000 members and seven branches, UnitedOne serves residents, businesses and students of Eastern Wisconsin communities. Previously, UnitedOne leveraged its banking services with separate internet and mobile providers, but the credit union recognized a need to connect the two applications to cohesively establish a unified digital experience for its members. UnitedOne selected Mahalo’s digital banking solution to launch an omni-channel experience that provides members with access to desired banking features, as well as abundant information about the credit unions’ offers and services, on their device of choice.
“We are thrilled that this partnership has enabled UnitedOne to organize our products and services into an easily accessible, highly functional digital space to create a streamlined member experience,” said Aletia Novak, Business Systems Manager of UnitedOne. “Our previous digital banking vendors were slow to make the system updates we required for ease of use. In contrast, Mahalo keenly implements the functionalities needed by our members and our team with new enhancements monthly, and they have done everything possible to make our digital banking experience the best it can be.”
Using intelligent and intuitive feature sets, Mahalo’s solutions-oriented platform functions to help credit unions of all asset sizes connect with their members, gain a technological advantage to grow membership and effectively compete in the digital age. Designed and engineered by credit union industry leaders, the digital platform is built on intuitive architecture with deep integration into the credit union cores and streamlined third-party integrations.
“Working alongside a group of previous credit union experts that innately understands the needs, challenges and future of our industry is incredibly empowering. Mahalo has demonstrated an unmatched ability to meet our members’ needs and expand on our services with improvements that consistently align with current digital banking trends. We believe this strongly compatible collaboration is going to tremendously promote our continuous growth moving forward,” Novak said.
The Mahalo platform provides an innovative omni-experience that offers credit union members access to seamless mobile and online banking services regardless of their preferred channel. The digital banking platform is developed with robust security solutions at the forefront of its design, providing credit unions with a strong capability to protect their members from fraud.
“Implementing omni-channel solutions is incredibly instrumental in helping credit unions match member expectations for their digital banking experience and pushing these organizations into the future,” said Denny Howell, Chief Operating Officer of Mahalo. “Our team is proud of the continuous contributions we’ve made to the UnitedOne digital banking experience and how this has considerably improved its ease of use for both the credit union and its members. This partnership is one of many that consistently drive us to augment our platform’s functionality and continue discovering ways to enrich members’ digital banking experiences without causing disruptions.”
GoWest Credit Union Association led a delegation of 25 credit union advocates to Capitol Hill for its Fall Hike the Hill, held Oct. 20-22. The Hike featured the unique component of being the first GoWest Hike experience for young professionals (YPs).
A group of 10 YPs representing credit unions from across the six-state region received on-site advocacy training, spent one on one time with Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA-6) to learn about the legislative process, and participated in meetings with elected officials on the Hill.
“I feel much more confident about how to engage in advocating for credit unions…and much more knowledgeable about the issues that are really important for us to stay on top of, so credit unions can continue for future generations,” said Dawn Lepore from Vantage West Credit Union in Tucson, AZ.
“Bringing the group of young professionals to Capitol Hill was both invigorating and inspiring,” said Jennifer Wagner, executive vice president and chief advocacy officer for GoWest. “The energy and enthusiasm of up-and-coming credit union leaders, along with their commitment to advocacy, helps fuel the vision for what credit unions can accomplish in the future.”
The larger group had 34 meetings in just two days. Following those meetings, two Members of Congress, Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA-2) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO-5) signed on to co-sponsor legislation that, if passed, would modernize the Federal Credit Union Act to reduce the number of board meetings required for credit unions. This brings the number of co-sponsors of this bipartisan legislation to 102 in the House and 18 in the Senate.
Advocates also asked their elected officials to oppose the “Credit Card Competition” legislation targeting interchange, which is pending in the Senate and in the House, as it is potentially harmful to credit unions and their 133 million members across the nation. Following the Fall Hike, GoWest advocates, who have already sent more than 1,200 messages to their Senators, contacted their congressional representatives asking them to oppose the new House version of the legislation.
“Being on the Hill ahead of the midterm elections was timely,” said Ryan Fitzgerald, vice president, federal advocacy. “Between the quality, in-person meetings, and the added support of thousands of advocates from across GoWest’s six state region, credit unions’ voices were heard, and we are already seeing results.”
The group rounded out the trip by attending the National Credit Union Administration’s (NCUA) Board of Directors meeting in person on Thursday, Oct. 22.
Harborstone Credit Union ($1.9B, Tacoma, WA) has selected Geoff Bullock to serve as its next chief executive officer (CEO) and succeed Phil Jones, who is retiring after fifteen years of leading the credit union. Bullock currently serves as Executive Vice President and Chief Member Experience Officer of Royal Credit Union ($4.3B, Eau Claire, WI) and is expected to transition to his new role before the end of October 2022. He was placed by DDJ Myers, the well-known leadership development firm that recently became an ALM First Company.
“Geoff is an inspirational and innovative leader,” says Ann Anderson, Chair of Harborstone Credit Union’s Board of Directors. “Based on our thorough and independently-led executive search process, we’re confident Geoff is the strongest fit to drive Harborstone into its next phase of growth and success.”
Bullock’s unique combination of strategic planning, enterprise-wide decision-making, product innovation and advocacy for the member and employee experiences has led Geoff to national recognition in recent years. This includes being named Next Top Credit Union Executive in 2017, a CUNA Rockstar in 2019, and a CUES Emerge Mastermind in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
“It was clear throughout this process that Harborstone is a special place, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” says Bullock. “Ann Anderson and the board exuded the credit union’s mission, and their knowledge and professionalism blew me away. DDJ Myers was amazing to work with and did a wonderful job of highlighting Harborstone’s remarkable mission, its focus on DEI and the care Harborstone has for its communities and members.”
Bullock is a mission-driven leader and credit union enthusiast. He is currently working towards his Doctorate in Change Leadership at the University of Southern California and holds a Master of Business Administration in Finance from Concordia University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from North Park University. Bullock has also completed CUES CEO Institute Certificates through Wharton, Cornell and the University of Virginia.
In his free time, Bullock enjoys spending time with his wife, Nicole, and working on nightly puzzles with his two daughters Alaya (12) and Annika (9). He is also a cheer dad and a huge advocate for foster care and adoption, having served as a foster parent his entire adult life.
The National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation) has committed up to $250,000 from its CUAid program to support Puerto Rico-based credit union employees and volunteers affected by Hurricane Fiona.
The grant will be made to the Inclusiv Network (Inclusiv), which will then manage individual donations to those affected by the hurricane. The two organizations previously partnered to coordinate CUAid disaster relief in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017.
To date, Inclusiv has identified 100 credit union employees and volunteers on the island whose homes, vehicles and personal property have been damaged, in some cases irreparably. In addition, several credit unions—or cooperativas—have reported substantial flood damage.
CUAid is a disaster relief fund, administered by the Foundation, that supports credit union employees and volunteers when catastrophe strikes.
“CUAid is the living embodiment of our people helping people philosophy,” said André Parraway, the Foundation’s chief financial and operations officer. “When disaster strikes, the credit union movement responds.”
Historically, the Foundation would solicit donations prior to distributing dollars. Following a series of catastrophic events in 2017, however, CUAid was restructured to be able to provide immediate financial support.
“We have been working around the clock to get a holistic picture of the need in Puerto Rico,” added Pablo DeFilippi, executive vice president of Inclusiv. “We know dozens of credit union employees have been impacted, and several credit unions received damages as a consequence of flooding. This CUAid grant will help those individuals, and the credit unions they work for, get back up and running. That’s an important first step in supporting the rest of the island through what will be a long, challenging recovery.”
Individuals or organizations can contribute to CUAid at any time. The restricted nature of the fund ensures every penny donated goes directly to supporting credit unions and their people recover from catastrophic events.
Author: Mike Lawson
Married to a most gorgeous and wonderful wife, raising 5 kiddos (including twins!), enjoy helping others tell their stories, and love surfing SoCal waves. Keep it simple.