03 1 / 2014

Over the last few years, I have written extensively about all of Statewide’s products and services. I have communicated with so many of you. It has been my pleasure to keep you informed and in touch with your credit union. 

I have taken a position with another company. I am passing the reins off to the rest of the team here at Statewide. They want you to know that you should still reach out with any questions or comments that you have. They are ALWAYS here to help, and love hearing from you.

So, farewell, friends. 

-Bruce

29 11 / 2013

UPDATE 2013.12.02: This event has been delayed until Friday, December 6. The kids had an event last week and sold more than they thought. They are working hard this week to get a stock of items to bring. 

Stuff those stockings with pottery this holiday season? That doesn’t even make sense, does it? If you have seen our upcoming event, where some cool, special needs kids from Brandon High School will be stopping by and bringing their awesome, hand-made pottery with them, then it probably doesn’t sound that weird at all.

They will be setup in our Flowood Branch lobby for a few hours Monday, December 2nd. Starting at about 9:30am, swing by and pick up a few last-minute or just-getting-started gifts for those special ones in your life. All of the proceeds go to toward their program, which allows the kids to afford some fun, educational things such as pottery. They bake these in the kiln right there on campus! 

I’m not quite sure what all they will be bringing, but in years past, items have included business card/recipe holders, bowls, spoon rests and more!

See you then!

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05 11 / 2013

[UPDATE 2014.01.03 Link under the words “student scholarships” and “over the past 7 years” shows some of the students that have been helped in the past 2 years by the scholarship this event bolsters.]

Each year, Statewide FCU participates as a sponsor of an event that we feel makes a difference in the Starkville community. That event is the MSU Alumni Golf Tournament and it happened a few weeks ago in October. 

Ok, so right about now you’re thinking, “How does a golf tournament make a difference in the community.”

A few years back, Dr. John Forde, Dean of Communications Dept at Mississippi State University, organized a golf tournament as a way to raise money for student scholarships. Money raised by the players of this 4-person scramble, as well as from the sponsors, is used to help students attend Mississippi State University focusing on Communications as a major. 

Many students have been helped over the past 7 years, simply by people coming together around this common goal. Why not throw a little fun into the mix while we are at it. 

Keep up the great work, Mississippi State University! We are very glad to be a partner!

[here are a few photos from the tournament. You can see more over on our Statewide FCU Facebook Page]

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10 10 / 2013

A few weeks ago, we started a Tshirt campaign, raising money for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. We wanted to do what we could to help this charity. For this campaign, we were offering some Limited Edition Making Strides Tees for $15, and over $4 from each shirt went to the charity.

How this got started is I called up a friend and graphic designer and asked if he wold be interested in designing a shirt for the cause. I explained to him that we did not have money to pay him, but he still agreed to do it. He was ecstatic about the idea of helping a cause like this, so he donated his design time. I hit him up at a very busy time of the year for him too, so it was great that he still helped out. We really appreciate his dedication. (You can find his information on his site here.)

He really did a fantastic job on this shirt design. Also, the folks at teespring.com were more than helpful through the whole process. They were so flexible and even allowed other products such as hoodies, tank tops and long-sleeved tees to be sold from that campaign. We only sold the tshirts from the branches to keep confusion down, but some members visited the site on their own and ordered one of these other products. Teespring even kept the same “profit” margin on the other products so that we could give the same percentage to the charity. 

This campaign was a real success, raising $475 for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer cause! We look forward to seeing these shirts out in the community.

Side Note: We have had some interest from other people wanting to purchase a shirt, even after our campaign ended. Is that something you would like? Is there interest for us to open it back up for another week to sell?

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06 8 / 2013

For years now, two of our branches have had extended hours for our drive thru. We will no longer be offering these extended hours after August 16th, 2013. After that day, the hours of operation for all branches and all lanes will be as follows:

8:15AM - 4:45PM

We have a great many other ways that we can serve you. We want your money with us to be accessible, and we have many services that help aid that accessibility. 

eBranch. Your one-stop shop for all things Statewide online. From here, you can check your balance, make transfers or even pay bills…all for FREE!

mobile banking. Everything you need…right in your pocket. We have a Statewide FCU app for Android, iPhone and BlackBerry. Get text alerts and even pay your bills…right from your phone!

direct deposit. Get your employer to do the work for you. Talk to your payroll office about moving your direct deposit to Statewide.

atm. Brandish your FREE debit card at nearly 30,000 FREE ATM’s nationwide. [check out our mobile app to search for the nearest ATM location to you]

11 7 / 2013

How does a tax-exempt credit union help you? Let’s start by first talking about some policies and just what tax-exempt means exactly. 

Since the inception of credit unions in the United States in 1909, they have been tax-exempt, meaning that they do not owe taxes on things purchased for the business or for the land on which they reside. Also since that time over 100 years ago, credit unions have played an important role in Americans’ financial lives. The biggest reason? They are member-owned. As member-owned, cooperatively controlled financial institutions, credit unions truly exemplify the self-help spirit of America. 

Income generated by credit unions over and above their operating expenses goes back to their member-owners in the form of dividends or into retained earnings to fund future endeavors and to provide safety and soundness. Income that would be greatly reduced if credit unions had to pay taxes. Having that tax-exempt status is important, because credit unions have no other way to generate capital than through normal operations. This is not the case with banks, which can raise capital in a number of other ways. 

Many of the banks have recently been lobbying Congress to do away with credit unions’ tax-exempt status. Congress will begin holding hearings later this summer on which, if any, federal tax exemptions to allow. Their goal is to start with a “clean sheet of paper” in determining which exemptions should be discontinued. A worthy goal as far as the national budget is concerned, but one that could be very detrimental to credit unions.

At this point, you’re thinking, “So, credit unions would lose some of their income. So what? What would that mean for me? How would that affect me?” 

Many things will change if this takes place. Services that we are now able to provide for free or for a reduced cost will become items that we will have to charge for. Loan interest rates will increase. Savings rates will decrease. All of the extra costs will be passed along to you, our members. If the tax exemption is done away with, it is estimated that some $30M+ in benefits will be lost by Mississippi credit union members alone. I don’t know about you, but to me that is a lot of money.

I think I have answered your questions of, “So what? What would that mean for me?” Now, let me tell you what you can do about it. Visit any branch through July 23 and sign your name thrice (that’s three times) to our “Don’t Tax My Credit Union” cards. We will separate these and send one to each of our three Congressmen, with your signatures on them. Mississippi has a goal of sending 50,000 of these cards to Congress, so please be a part of that. Also, you can visit a special site that was setup so you can send an email to the Congressmen

We want to be the place that saves you money and provides you with safety and stability for many years to come. We want to stay a tax-exempt credit union, because, as I’ve outlined above, a tax-exempt credit union helps you. Send a clear message to Congress…”Don’t Tax My Credit Union!”

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11 6 / 2013

While on a flight the other day, I was observing people. I like to people-watch. There is much you can learn from watching people. You can see how they interact with other people and situations around them. Some of these people were yawning…some reading…some interacting with their families and some just keeping to themselves. 

One of the people with me had never flown before this trip. Think back, it can be a scary, exciting, unknown and exhilarating experience. It is hard for me to remember, as the case might be with you as well, because it was very long ago that I first flew as a kid. 

While contemplating this, it hit me…I take the things that happen on a flight for granted. I take for granted that I know you will get smashed downward into your seat as the plane takes off. I take for granted that you can turn on your individual air vent, easily regulating your temperature. I take for granted that the plane might experience turbulence, causing your stomach to leap into your throat. I even take for granted all of the safety items that I have knows about for years. I mean, I know exactly how the seatbelts work, the oxygen masks (even though I hope to never actually NEED to use them), the tray table, drink service and more. It is nothing new. 

For the one with me new to these things, there were a lot of questioning looks. I had to stop, remember that I was in that very same position years ago, and remember that someone helped me though it. So, I explained a few things and helped her to know the process of how things would happen. She was nervous about flying, so anything that she could know to expect would help her anxiety. 

We need to do that from time to time. We might be experienced with whatever task we are doing, but look around you. Is there someone that is unaware? Are you taking for granted something that you could help them with? How about asking a friend or family member if they are a member of Statewide FCU already and if not, help walk them through the process and any questions they have? Take that extra moment and lend a hand. 

30 5 / 2013

Last week, I told you about A Cooperative Meeting: Day 1. It was all about the start of the Mississippi Credit Union Association’s 76th Annual Meeting and Convention in Biloxi. Now, on to Day 2…

I awoke early, to take in the sunrise shimmering off of the bay on the backside of the Beau Rivage. There was a long, thin island just past where our hotel was, and beyond that, the Gulf of Mexico. The water was calm this morning, as not much marine activity persisted. 

Away I went, on a mission to meet up with other Statewide FCU employees and board members for a private breakfast. Our data processor, the ones that make sure we can process all of your transactions when needed, EPL, was the gracious host of this breakfast. When I reached the table, I got bacon vision. You’ve heard of tunnel vision? Well, it’s like that, but with bacon. I digress. 

Then, we were off to the first sessions of the day. In years past, there has been a general session to kick off the day, and then everyone splits up into smaller, break-out sessions. Not this year. They were all going to be in general sessions, with everyone in the same large meeting room. 

The first speaker was from CUNA Mutual Group, instructing us on some technological trends that we will be seeing in the near future, if we are not already seeing them. Nothing was all that surprising in this session, even though there was some really good information in there. You see, Statewide FCU keeps up with many of the trends and technologies that help your credit union to stay among the best. It is important for you to know that. Many of the things he mentioned, we are already doing. I will pass on a quote from him:

"View payments as essential to your members, as many other companies are. Payments are used everyday, so they must be fast, and easy.”

How often do you make payments? What is your preferred method of payments…mobile…online…in person? (take a moment to comment)

Next, we heard from the hilarious Marshall Ramsey. His outlook on life was a great eye-opener for all of us. He recently fought and won a bout of skin cancer, and it has totally changed how he views the world. He is still just as cynical as ever, but that is what we all love about him. The way he pokes fun at serious issues reminds us all that we can find humor, even in hard times. If you are not familiar with his work, go take a look. You won’t be disappointed. 

This is the part where I skip ahead, so as not to lose you…

  • lunch
  • talking with coworkers
  • another couple of sessions
  • snack break

The final session of the day was from Patrick Adams. It was called “Playing Hide and Seek with the Future,” and boy, was it good. His basic premise was that too many times, credit unions hide from the future, rather than actually seeking it out. “There is a reason the windshield in your car is bigger than the rear view mirror. You’re supposed to be looking forward. There is a reason a hospital gown has a lot more in the front, and not so much in the back,” Adams said. His humor, much like Marshall Ramsey, is a very effective way to get his points across. This session really got me thinking, “Do we seek out the future enough?” Ultimately, I would have to say that we do a good job of that here. We, as a management team, are constantly listening to new ideas, trying to tweak our processes and engaging the membership (you) so that we are purposefully seeking out the future. It is how you are best served, and it is the best use of your money.

Below are a few shots form the event, showcasing some of the smiling faces of Statewide FCU employees and board members. Each one of these people puts a lot of effort into what they do at work, so that your credit union experience is the best that it can possibly be. 

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28 5 / 2013

There is a way for you to have twice the chance of winning a huge pot of cash during our Credit Union Colossal $50k Cash Giveaway (we had to make the title a mouthful to convey the double fistfuls of money you could win).

In a previous blog post, I announced a referral campaign that Statewide FCU was sponsoring. The details of the campaign were listed, including how to pick up your referral cards and where to have the people you refer to join Statewide return them. However, the detail about how you can get twice the chance to win was not fully fleshed out. 

So, here it is. After you visit a branch and pick up your referral card, you take them to friends and co-workers that you think will become a member of Statewide. This is not a difficult or expensive process. It merely takes $30: $25=stays your money as deposit in the account & $5=one time fee for processing and paperwork. It is also important to note that the reason I mentioned “friends and co-workers” is because they are likely eligible to join Statewide FCU. At this time, everyone is not eligible to join. We have certain groups that, if you work for them, you are eligible…as well as any of your family members. We have a TON of these groups though, so there are many ways to be eligible to join. Plus, if you are eligible to join because of your employer, and smartly did so already, that means that your co-workers can as well.

So, we are to the point in this story that you have come in to one of our branches, picked up some referral cards and are passing them out to your co-workers. When you do, be sure to encourage them to open a completely FREE checking account or get a new loan with us AT THE SAME TIME, and another referral card will be filled out for you and placed in the monthly drawing. That’s right…each time one of the people you refer opens either a new FREE checking account or loan with us at the time of joining, you drastically increase your chances of winning loads of cash!

Now that you are pumped up and ready, refer some great people to us…we know you will!

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21 5 / 2013

A busy morning ensued, responding to emails, and changing a few things on the website for members. Then, I jumped in the car, grabbed some lunch on the go and headed south toward Biloxi. It was a sunny Thursday and it was off to a bustling start. What was in Biloxi? The 76th Annual Mississippi Credit Union Association Meeting and convention at the Beau Rivage. That’s what. 

We arrived at about 3:30 on Thursday and the hotel check-in line was about as long as it always is. There must always be a steady stream of demand for rooms around this time of year. I can think of a couple of reasons the Beau Rivage has that demand: 1. The pool….. 2. Beautiful rooms overlooking the water and Biloxi. 

Why was it important that some of us go to this Annual Meeting? The Mississippi Credit Union Association is our advocate, as credit unions in this state. They fight for us in Washington and keep us abreast of any situations and trends of which we need to be made aware. They are in our corner, ensuring that we are champions, so that we can keep helping our members win with their finances.

Five O’Clock rolls around and it is time for the actual business meeting. The state of the association’s financials and some other important facts are presented, as well as some formalities. Here are a few facts they presented about credit unions in the nation, and more specifically in Mississippi, that you might find interesting:

  • Membership in Mississippi credit unions increased 3.9% in 2012
  • There are a total of 7,070 credit unions in the U.S.
  • There are 85 total credit unions in Mississippi, which is 1.2% of the total national credit union share. That is pretty big!
  • Mississippi credit unions are the 3rd highest well-capitalized credit unions in the nation. 

Some of these stats speak very well for Mississippi and the credit unions operating here. On so many lists, we are at the very bottom of the nation. Well, this is one that we do quite well at. What it means is that Mississippi credit unions are quite healthy financially. Another stat, not given at this conference but still notable, is that Mississippi is the 3rd most charitable state in the nation. That is something to be proud of, because we certainly are not the highest in salary. 

Some awards were presented, including the “Most Charitable” award given to the credit union that raised the most for Credit Unions for Kids. For the past 3 years, that has been Statewide FCU, but this year, it went to Jackson Area FCU. We love that CU4Kids was still helped, and we still had a big part in helping them, but we want to be back up on top of that ranking. You can help us get there by utilizing our Skip A Payment program. We do not keep any of the voluntary contributions collected through the Skip A Payment program, but rather pass them all on to Credit Unions for Kids. Note more of the details of that program in our previous blog post. With your help, I know we will reclaim this title!

After the business meeting was over, we all congregated in the exhibit hall, with all of the different sponsoring vendors. Heavy hors d’oeuvres were served, and everyone was encouraged to walk around, mingle and talk to the different exhibitors. Some of the vendors there had prizes you could win, so as to entice people to their booth. So many great vendors were there, and the conference really could not happen without their support. 

I helped with CUNA’s Southeast Management School booth, to educate people curious about this school. Many people came by to talk about this accredited, graduate level school that takes place at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. I am proud to say that I will be finishing my 3rd and final year next month, as well as graduating. It has been a great experience. We have many graduates of this program here at Statewide FCU.

It was a great first day of the convention, and Day 2 promised to be even more jam-packed with events. [look for our next post about Day 2 coming soon]

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