121105 CUNA Mutual Group Honors 6 Credit Unions For Lending Excellence

Six credit unions were recognized for their exemplary lending Monday by receiving CUNA Mutual Group’s Excellence in Lending Awards at the CUNA Lending Council’s 18th annual conference.

For more information:
Rick Uhlmann 608.665.8940 rick.uhlmann@cunamutual.com
Michelle M. Larson 608.665.8310 michelle.m.larson@cunamutual.com
Jess Noelck 608.665.7861 jess.noelck@cunamutual.com

Nov. 5, 2012
CUNA Mutual Group Honors 6 Credit Unions For Lending Excellence
Record 84 CUs Considered for Industry Awards Presented at CUNA Lending Council
MIAMI – Six credit unions were recognized for their exemplary lending Monday by receiving CUNA Mutual Group’s Excellence in Lending Awards at the CUNA Lending Council’s 18th annual conference.
Dan Murray, VP, Lending, CUNA Mutual Group, presented the 13th annual awards to:
  • United Nations Federal Credit Union, Long Island City, N.Y.: Consumer Lending, Assets More Than $250 million
  • Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union, Berkeley, Calif.: Consumer Lending, Assets Less Than $250 million
  • Sunmark Federal Credit Union, Albany, N.Y.: Mortgage Lending, Assets More Than $250 million
  • Northeast Community Credit Union, Elizabethton, Tenn., Mortgage Lending, Assets Less than $250 million
  • Gesa Credit Union, Richland, Wash.: Business Lending
  • U.S. New Mexico Federal Credit Union, Albuquerque, N.M.: Low-to-Modest Means

“We had a record number of applications this year,” said Murray. “But it wasn’t just quantity, there were many quality, deserving applicants. In a challenging economy, it speaks to the resolve and creativity of our nominees.”
Eighty-four credit unions were considered for this year’s Excellence in Lending Awards, the most in the award program’s 13-year history.
CONSUMER – Assets More than $250 Million:
United Nations FCU ($3.7 billion assets; 97,000 members)
A 2003 Excellence in Lending winner in the Mortgage category, United Nations FCU (UNFCU) is no stranger to providing a high quality suite of financial products and services. The Long Island City, N.Y., credit union offers a unique line of products and services to satisfy the diverse needs of its members, who are located in more than 200 territories and countries around the world. UNFCU mitigates loan risk through its Country Scoring process, a sophisticated risk monitoring system that takes into account loan-to-share, GDP growth and currency. The credit union also has an array of savings, loan, investment and insurance products that address the special needs of its widely dispersed membership. In short, UNFCU lives and breathes its mission of “Serving People who Serve the World.”
CONSUMER – Assets Less Than $250 Million:
Cooperative Center FCU ($102 million in assets; 13,000 members) 
The Berkeley, Calif., credit union built its lending program from the ground up by establishing strong relationships with vehicle dealers through an indirect program. Among some creative lending initiatives was its “Stimulus Bailout,” an unsecured debt consolidation loan to help members shed their high interest credit card or payday loans. Given its membership base is largely UC-Berkeley staff and students, private student loans became a component of Cooperative Center FCU’s lending portfolio. Further diversifying its lending portfolio is the small business program, which is SBA certified and tied to a state program that guarantees up to 80 percent of the loan amount.
MORTGAGE – Assets More Than $250 Million:
Sunmark FCU ($364 million in assets; 46,000+ members) 
Sunmark FCU of Latham, N.Y., took a holistic approach to mortgage lending through strategic hires, department restructuring, offering competitive rates and by expanding its products. Sunmark exhibited flexibility when it shifted from a refinance focus in 2009 and 2010 to purchase volume in 2011 and 2012. A decision to develop strong realtor relationships helped Sunmark grow its purchase business from 10 percent of its portfolio to 30 percent today. Sunmark also has a diverse marketing strategy, including direct mail. Product offerings have also increased, including no closing costs and no-PMI mortgage options being introduced in August, 2011. One campaign this year brought in 78 mortgage loans totaling $13.8 million.
MORTGAGE – Assets Less Than $250 Million:
Northeast Community CU ($80 million in assets; 9,000+ members) 
Northeast Community Credit Union of Elizabethton, Tenn., may not be big, but it thinks big. They developed a mortgage strategy and successfully executed on it by offering residential real estate loans with greatly reduced closing costs, then blanketed their area with news of it. Northeast Community CU established a $500 flat-fee closing cost on first mortgages and made it workable by negotiated lower costs with local appraisers and an attorney. The net result was a unique mortgage product that included closing costs other local lenders couldn’t come close to matching. Staff then rolled up their sleeves and began identifying members who had recently obtained a loan elsewhere and encouraged them to refinance.
Gesa Credit Union ($1.2 billion in assets; 109,000 members) 
Gesa Credit Union has set its sights on becoming southeastern Washington’s business lender of choice and is on its way to achieving that goal. In a short period of time, Gesa CU has developed a sound, profitable and sustainable member business lending portfolio. The program has exhibited strong loan grow, interest and fee income generation, excellent examinations and audits of their portfolio. Gesa hired experienced business lenders to provide prudent underwriting and strong portfolio management. Then, it formed a business loan committee to ensure sound decision making on loans and collection efforts. Despite a struggling economy, Gesa CU has put up impressive loan growth numbers ranging between $35 million and $47 million from 2009 to 2011.
U.S. New Mexico FCU ($725 million+ in assets; 67,000+ members) 
This Albuquerque credit union couldn’t be more proud or much better at serving MOMMs – Members of Modest Means. Throughout its 77-year history, U.S. New Mexico has prided itself on being responsive to serving this membership with products and services aimed at helping MOMMs attain financial security. The credit union keeps its finger on the pulse of their membership through a 30-employee volunteer committee that identifies MOMMs’ social and financial needs. The credit union responds with delivering a product suite designed to address the needs of that demographic, including programs such as Balance Financial Fitness, Eagle Advance, Credit Builder Credit Card, and CourtesyPay. Despite serving what some might consider to be an expensive membership, U.S. New Mexico FCU is financially stable and its delinquency and charge-offs tell a very positive story.
Judges for the 2012 Excellence in Lending awards included: Consumer Lending -- Patrick McElhenie, Sales, CUNA Mutual Group; Jason Osterhage, SVP, Lending, Alliant CU; Fawn Terwilliger, VP, Lending, Service CU; Mortgage Lending – Jennifer Cowles, VP/CLO, American Eagle FCU; Jim Jumpe, Marketing Director, CMG Mortgage Insurance Co.; Bill Vogeney, SVP/CLO, Ent FCU; Business Lending – Dale Frankhouse, Business Services Director, Sun FCU; Tom Keepers, Director, Product Management, CUNA Mutual Group; Keith Reynolds, Community President, CEFCU West, Citizens Equity First CU; Low-to-Modest Means – Aaron Bresko, SVP/CLO, GTE Financial; Vicki Lovett, SVP/CLO, Suncoast Schools FCU; Dan Murray, VP, Lending, CUNA Mutual Group.
CUNA Mutual Group, with support and expertise from the CUNA Lending Council, established the Excellence in Lending Awards in 2000 to recognize credit unions that have implemented outstanding lending programs while demonstrating sound financial performance. The annual awards provide an opportunity for credit unions to share best practices and ideas, build networks, and recognize and celebrate lending excellence.
The CUNA Lending Council is a community of credit union lending professionals dedicated to being the primary source of the best lending practices and educational opportunities in the industry.

CUNA Mutual Group insurance, retirement and investment products provide financial security and protection to credit unions and their members worldwide. With more than 75 years of true market commitment, CUNA Mutual Group’s vision is unwavering: To be a trusted business partner who delivers service excellence through customer-focused products and market-driven insight. More information on the company is available on the company’s website at www.cunamutual.com.

CUNA Mutual Group is the marketing name for CUNA Mutual Holding Company, a mutual insurance holding company, its subsidiaries and affiliates. Life, accident, health and annuity insurance products are issued by CMFG Life Insurance Company. Property and casualty insurance products are issued by CUMIS Insurance Society, Inc. Each insurer is solely responsible for the financial obligations under the policies and contracts it issues. Corporate headquarters are located in Madison, Wis.

(c) CUNA Mutual Group 2012, All Rights Reserved
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