CUANM Newsletter
September 30, 2021
Inside this issue
  New Mexico Credit Unions Win Big at CRMNEXT Right on the Money Contest  

For the second year in a row, a New Mexico credit union has taken the first place award in the CRMNEXT Right on the Money contest. 

This contest recognizes credit unions and community banks whose innovative work is transforming the communities they serve. This year, Santa Fe's Guadalupe Credit Union was recognized for providing a free certified financial coach at each branch, its Biz Kids program for 12- to 18-year-olds, a small-dollar loan program, tribal financial education, and a special mortgage initiative. 

Three of this year's winners use the Kirby Kangroo children's program, which is run by the Credit Union Association on New Mexico. 

"New Mexico's credit unions continue to punch above their weight in national contests like this. Congratulations to the Kirby Kangaroo team, and Guadalupe Credit Union," said Juan Fernandez Ceballos, CEO, CUANM. 

Tongass Credit Union in Ketchikan, AK, finished second and Visions of New York finished third. 

In 2020, Santa Fe-based State Employees Credit Union took first place in the nationwide competition. In 2021, CRMNEXT had 98 total submissions. The next Right on the Money contest will start in June 2022. In total, CRMNEXT made $21,000 in donations to this year's winners.

New Mexico-based CU Sol, a credit union service organization, was a 2021 sponsor of the contest. Learn more at



  CUANM welcomes new Director of Cooperative Development & Momentum  

Melissa Besante Dineen joined the Credit Union Association of New Mexico in September 2021 as the trade organization's new Director of Cooperative Development & Momentum.

"I have always admired how credit unions care for their members while contributing to the financial well-being of surrounding communities," said Dineen. "I'm looking forward to working with NM's young leaders and trusted business partners to create new opportunities through strategic partnerships."


Dineen has nearly two decades of marketing, friend-raising, and fundraising experience spanning the tourism, banking, education, and arts industries. Dineen previously worked for Northwest Federal Credit Union in Herndon, Virginia, and most recently as the Director of Alumni Relations at Sandia Preparatory School in Albuquerque.

The Credit Union Association of New Mexico is a trade organization that helps credit unions
address member needs through services, products, education, and advocacy. First established
in 1958, CUANM has been helping credit unions help their members for over 50 years.



  CU CannaBiz Conference now Virtual Hybrid, too  

We are now offering virtual packages for the the first Credit Union CannaBiz Conference, Oct. 13-15. However, we'd love to see you in person at the Park MGM Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Join payment processors, cannabis experts, CEOs and professionals from across the nation to learn about cannabis industry trends, technologies and the requirements for financial institutions providing services to the cannabis industry - including BSA regulations.

This is a rare chance to meet with your credit union peers to learn best practices, what the challenges are for banking cannabis-related businesses, some top banking challenges for those businesses and ways financial institutions can help or are already helping to overcome obstacles in this fast-paced industry.

The Credit Union CannaBiz Conference was initially planned for 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the safety of attendees this year, the conference will adhere to current CDC guidelines, and the City of Las Vegas' mandate for mask wearing in all indoor public spaces. 

So, set the date and plan to attend this year's event! Registration is open now at



  World Credit Union Day is Oct. 21  

Every year we come together to celebrate the credit union movement. This year, join CUANM and the world in celebrating International Credit Union Day on October 21. 

International Credit Union Day is the international day to raise awareness of credit unions and what we can do for our members. This year's theme is Building Financial Health for a Brighter Tomorrow. 

CUNA and the World Council of Credit Unions sponsor the International Credit Union Day. 

CUNA has a host of images, customizable videos, logos, posters and even sample social media posts you can download HERE.

The WCCU is offering virtual events with presentations on financial health as well as hosting posters with the 2021 theme HERE




  How to Add Leverage to Your Strategic Giving Program  

In a survey by Markstein/Certus Insights, 70% of U.S. consumers said they expect companies they do business with to support social and environmental issues.* This attitude, combined with a distressed economy, makes this a perfect time to publicly emphasize and build on your credit union's strategic giving program. 

Our industry's reputation for community service gives you a great platform to build on. Build that platform even higher with a funding strategy that includes non-703/704 funding instruments approved by the National Credit Union Association (NCUA).

Is your credit union leveraging opportunities to actively support your commitment to the community, while broadening the base of investments supporting your executive benefits program? 

If not, now is a good time to learn more. The extended pandemic, social unrest, and turbulent times have shed light on critical gaps that call for community support. 

Economic realities for credit unions are additionally calling for action. The past year has brought declines in lending and fee income, an environment with interest rates and investment returns at an all-time low, matched with high deposits and rising liquidity. 

Directing funds to a charitable cause can help you manage excess liquidity in a way that supports community development and motivates credit union staff, leaders, and board members. 

A charitable donation account can provide a win-win-win scenario for your credit union to demonstrate commitment to your community. 

  1. Invest up to 5% of your net worth in non-703/704 investments that dually support charitable giving as well as your executive benefits program. Funding options include annuities, investments, business-owned life insurance, and combinations thereof.


  1. Donate your earnings and capital gains to 501(c)(3) charities.**


  1. Put excess liquidity to good work by providing financial support to an important community cause.


Here's a quick history of the credit union industry's ability to use non-703/704 investments to fund strategic charity initiatives. 

In 2003, the NCUA approved the use of non-703/704 investments to fund employee benefits. Adoption started slowly, following the tech bubble, and then declined following the economic downturn of 2008. As the economy recovered, credit unions started investing again, making use of the expanded universe of investment options available to them. 

In December 2013, the NCUA established ยง721.3(b)(2) for federally chartered credit unions, determining that gains for charitable funding accounts need to be tied to charitable donations. This funding strategy is now widely used across the industry, and adoption continues to grow. 

What makes sense for your organization?

To learn more about setting up a charitable donation account, and how to structure a charity and funding strategy that is right for your credit union, call us at 800.356.2644, Ext. 665.8576.

Andy Roquet is an Executive Benefits Specialist for CUNA Mutual Group, the leading provider of insurance and financial services to credit unions and their members.   WWW.CUNAMUTUAL.COM 


* Consumers Expect the Brands They Support to Be Socially Responsible, Markstein/Certus Insights Survey, Sep. 2019
**This applies to federally chartered and most state chartered credit unions. See state regulations for confirmation. 



  How does your overdraft strategy impact members? Five ways to quiet the critics and increase service value  



By Mark Roe, Executive Vice President of National Sales

Lately, there has been much criticism about overdraft programs, stemming from the lack of transparency inherent in some program strategies. Much of the current disapproval expressed by critics in the political and consumer advocacy arenas results from a lack of fairness and transparency. When it comes to providing right-on-time services that help your members effectively maintain their finances, an easy-to-use, easy-to-understand approach is always the right way to do business.


Prepare for a new normal in service delivery expectations

While the uncertainties of the pandemic continue, consumers most definitely have different expectations when it comes to their financial service experiences. To capitalize on the changing market, digital service providers continue to strategize ways to further increase their footprint. In this environment, credit unions that fail to provide responsible, supportive services that positively impact their members' well-being may face reputational risks and an erosion of trust among members. 


So how can your credit union align your overdraft philosophy with growing expectations for fully transparent, well-communicated and consumer-centric services? You can start by asking yourself:


  • Do our members expect their expenses to be paid if they don't have a sufficient balance?


  • Do they understand how their transactions will be handled if they have a negative balance?


  • Do they feel frustrated if their transactions are not paid?


  • Do they find the way our services work easy to understand?


  • Do all our members have access to the same options?


Amid all the talk about additional oversight of overdraft practices, the case for a fully disclosed, consumer-focused overdraft solution remains clear. When your members experience a situation where they don't have enough funds in their share account to pay their expenses, an overdraft service can be a reliable and valuable way to ensure their payments are being made.


Set the stage for a win-win 

With the right strategy in place, access to a right-on-time overdraft service can heighten member confidence in their financial stability and strengthen their connection with your credit union. Here are five ways to ensure your overdraft program makes a positive impact on your members in terms of value and peace of mind:

  1. Details regarding the benefits and responsibilities tied to program usage are easily accessible-whether in person or digitally-and whether at account opening or for members who have had an account for years.


  1. Member disclosures accurately reflect all program procedures.


  1. Fees and item processing are reasonable and responsible.


  1. Ongoing communication helps members understand their account status and provides reminders about all their options, including financial counseling opportunities, when needed.


  1. Comprehensive training and tools (i.e., prepared scripts) strengthen employee confidence and help them to provide better value for your program and your members.


Minimize risk and strengthen member relationships

To avoid risk, focus on providing transparent resources like a fully disclosed overdraft solution that supports your members when life throws them a financial curveball. You'll not only save yourself unnecessary stress caused by ongoing news cycles, but you'll also eliminate the negative impact inadequately disclosed policies and fees have on your members. 


As you consider how best to strengthen member relationships going forward, be mindful that transparency is crucial for creating a successful overdraft strategy-one that meets all regulatory and market requirements and provides the support your members expect.


JMFA can provide guidance for many areas, including your overdraft-related compliance concerns. We are available to help you implement an effective strategy to help you meet or exceed your performance and service goals with confidence.




JMFA is one of the most trusted names in overdraft consulting, focused on communication, transparency and improving client outcomes with a 100% compliant overdraft service. JMFA can help you deliver measurable results with proven solutions. To learn more, please contact your local JMFA representative or call us at (800) 809-2307.



  Don't be lulled into a false sense of security  

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the middle-class reports heightened confidence and optimism in their financial security and retirement prospects, according to new survey data from CUNA Mutual Group1. Most of the middle-class respondents (89%) said they expect to retire in their lifetime and 71% report feeling very or somewhat confident.


By Rob Comfort, CUNA Mutual Group



On the surface, this increased optimism and confidence seems like great news. However, even though the middle class is feeling more financially secure, their safety nets tell a different story.

Nearly half (45%) say they have only three months or less of emergency savings. And, more than half (57%) say they experienced setbacks as a result of the pandemic, with 30% saying their financial stability has decreased.

These numbers tell us the retirement crisis is still very real and stands to worsen through the pandemic. 

According to a 2020 Kehrer Bielan study, only 3% of credit union members are using their credit union's investment services - despite more than 50% reporting that they would like to.

What do these numbers tell us?

I believe they are clearly showing it is more important than ever for credit unions to address the long-term planning needs of hardworking, middle-market consumers.

To address the very low number of members utilizing the financial services offered through their credit union, one of the first things a credit union should do is make sure members are aware the investment program exists. 

However, the industry's traditional approach of relying on referrals as the core way to drive growth does not work in today's world. Before the pandemic, branches were closing at a rate of more than three per day for the last 10 years, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The COVID-19 crisis has only accelerated that trend. Referrals in financial institutions were down 30% - before the COVID crisis, according to a recent Kehrer Bielan study, and have continued to drop dramatically during the pandemic as branches closed and pipelines dried up.  

How do you get your investment services in front of the right members at the right time? When you gain a comprehensive, data-driven view of your customers, you're able to obtain valuable insights that help you effectively reach those right members that are most open to financial discussions. To ensure you're getting this type of member insight, you need to work with an investment services provider who has deep data and analytics capabilities. Getting this type of information helps you anticipate member needs with predictive and prescriptive methodologies. Make sure you're working with a provider who has tailored strategic plans specific to your credit union and prescriptive marketing programs that help stimulate program growth.

Other simple ways to build awareness with your members include:

  1. Ensuring the program's information is prominently displayed on the credit union's website. How many clicks does it take to find the information?
  2. Including educational content from the financial services program in the credit union newsletter.
  3. Offering educational workshops either virtually or in-person on various retirement or financial topics from the program.

Bottom line: Don't let the investment services program be a best-kept secret. The key is to encourage members to utilize the program so a financial plan can be created to better align their reality with their optimism. 



  National Credit Union Call Center Conference will ROCK 2021!  

Learn how to get the most out of your call center. Join us October, 11-13, 2021 at the Park MGM in Las Vegas for the annual National Credit Union Call Center Conference. 

This annual conference brings together call center experts, technology experts, and more to share best practices for call centers, which are often the first place you touch a member. This year's conference will hosted by Credit Union Association of New Mexico CEO Juan Fernandez Ceballos. Register for the 2021 conference at 

Note: The NCUCCC team is following guidance from local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding large gatherings, including CDC recommendations on preventing the spread of COVID-19. In addition, we are specifically focused on monitoring COVID-19 in the State of Las Vegas in conjunction with our partner hotel, Park MGM.
Visit to see MGMs's Seven-Point Safety-Plan and COVID-19 updates.