Thursday, October 1, 2015

Improper Conduct Towards Employees

Below is a standard notice that is sent out or given from time to time to members regarding interactions with our employees. Our employees work in a public setting and every now and then we have some individuals who would like to pursue contact with our employees outside of the credit union. Sometimes it is just a case of mistaken motives, sometimes it is not. In the end though we need to be able to provide a workplace that is free from unwanted advances. 

Here is the notice;

We thank you for your membership with North Alabama Educators Credit Union. Please understand that our employees are here to provide friendly member service to all of our members in the course of their work transactions. Sometimes, members mistake that friendliness as an opening to request personal employee information or seek contact with our employees outside of the credit union. Please do not approach our employees regarding a request for personal contact information, social media requests, or contact outside of the credit union. We instruct all of our employees to reply with a simple “no thank you” which should be more than enough to prevent continued requests. Our employees are here to provide friendly member service and nothing else. Please refrain from any comments or activity that could be deemed as unwanted advances towards our employees. As an employer, I am responsible for maintaining a workplace that is free of unwanted advances. I thank you in advance for your cooperation. 

The notice along with a phone call at times is usually all that is needed to rectify any ongoing issues. As an employer, our primary focus must be upon our employees in maintaining the best workplace environment. Most members understand this so we rarely have problem issues to begin with. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Federal Reserve Says "Not Yet" on Rates

The graph above is not a pretty one, especially for those looking to save money. It reflects the history of the Federal Reserve overnight rate from January 1998 to January 2015, although that graph can be extended to show a continued flat line to September 2015 since the Federal Reserve did not raise rates this week. The target rate has been set at 0.00% to 0.25% for seven years. Deposit rates and investment rates have been extremely low during this time as a result. 

Compare a quarterly dividend rate on $10,000 at 0.15% that would pay $3.69 versus earning $98.63 for the same dollar amount at a 4.00% rate. (Basic average historical rate). This is a huge difference and is just destroying deposit earnings on account holders, especially senior citizens who had planned for higher earnings in their retirement years. 

Banks and credit unions can't offer good deposit rates in this environment because their earnings on investments is low too. The average investment yield of North Alabama Educators Credit Union is only 1.15% which is actually higher than our average peer group ratio of 1.08%. The very large credit union category peer group only has a 1.20% average yield on their investments. (All as of June 30, 2015). 

Loan rates of course have been historically low during this same time period so the spread between what a credit union pays on deposits versus what they earn on investments and loans has been reduced. This environment of low rates has been great for borrowers but horrible for savers. Nothing new to anyone there. 

The Federal Reserve Board met this week and the possibility of an initial interest rate increase was good in the eyes of many pundits. It didn't happen. When rates will be raised is a matter of intense speculation. The borrowers have had it pretty good for many years now. It's about time for savers to have some good years! 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Labor Day Recognition

With the upcoming Labor Day weekend upon us, it is fitting to recognize the talents and service of our own employees here at North Alabama Educators Credit Union. The credit union is fortunate to have a group of employees who serve the membership well with their dedication to member service. Having worked myself as a teller many years ago, I know full well how challenging and important these front line employees are to the success of a financial institution. Members work with our front line staff day in and day out and their service is what keeps them doing business with North Alabama Educators Credit Union. Our back office and support area employees do their part in helping members with all the electronic service channels that exist these days. Management and the Board of Directors greatly appreciate the work of our employees. The benefits provided to our employees is a good package and reflects the appreciation of their efforts on behalf of all members. We certainly want to do more whenever possible.

I know that our employees will enjoy a long weekend filled with family gatherings, college football kickoff parties, outdoor events, and just general relaxation on their own terms. They deserve it.

If you are a member of North Alabama Educators Credit Union and really appreciate the service of one or more employees here, please take a moment the next time you visit to let them know. All employees love to be recognized for good deeds. Trust me, it would be appreciated!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Together Magazine Summer Issue

Our summer issue of the "Together" magazine  is being mailed out within the week. As usual there are some useful lifestyle topics such as preventing vacation mishaps, shopping smart for school supplies, when to repair or replace major appliances, member referral program, and other information within the magazine.

Take a few minutes to look over the publication. The "Together" magazine won a national APEX 2015 award in its class earlier this year. The magazine offers good content for everyday living. Check it out!

CLICK HERE for the online digital version of our "Together" magazine.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Independence Day Recognition

On this and every Independence Day, it is important to recognize the birth of our country and appreciate the liberties that we do enjoy in these United States. While our history as a nation may not have always been perfect, our country has evolved over time and remains the beacon destination for many throughout the world seeking freedom and economic prosperity. 

Our independence from Great Britain was a bold and courageous decision. The lives that were lost at that time in our history paved the way for the country that we now enjoy today.  

Independence Day is a celebration of our country's origin. Like any good birthday, the best part is being around for yet another birthday. 

On behalf of the staff and officials of North Alabama Educators Credit Union, we wish everyone a safe and enjoyable Independence Day celebration. If you do sing Happy Birthday for our nation, be sure to add "and many more..." for good measure! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Several years ago we had a credit union member disputing a large ATM transaction that had been done at one of our own ATM locations. Since all ATM transactions are recorded on video we asked the member to come down to the office and review the video with us. The member was very concerned about the transaction and was prompt in wanting to view the video and assist with the investigation of the disputed transaction.

The time/date of the disputed late evening transaction was retrieved on the video recorder and the member eagerly watched the video with credit union management. We could see a person walk up to the drive-up ATM. The video at the ATM itself was good but only showed a male person with their hat pulled down and hand being used to block out their face. It was impossible to identify the person involved from the video. The person using the stolen ATM card of course did not want to be identified so their efforts were successful in keeping their face hidden. 

What the card thief did not realize however is that the credit union utilizes multiple outdoor video cameras to record vehicles and activity going on throughout the parking lot. Pulling up these other video sources both before and after the actual ATM transaction were very revealing in ending the mystery of the transaction. One other camera recorded a dump truck pulling into the parking lot while another camera recorded the person stepping down from the truck as they moved towards the ATM. These images were very clear and unobstructed. 

Upon viewing the dump truck and the person exiting the truck, the shocked member quickly realized who it was and said "Oh my God, that's my son!" 

The son had gone into the member's purse at home, taken out the Debit Card, driven down to the credit union's ATM, taken out the maximum daily cash allowed at an ATM, and then returned the Debit Card to the member's purse upon returning back home. The son knew the PIN from being around the mother on previous card transactions. To make matters worse, the member said she had been already helping out the son financially by making the payments on the son's dump truck loan. 

It was an unfortunate sad situation for the member. The member did not elect to file police charges on their son. Unfortunately, financial theft among family members is a fairly common occurrence. In this case, having good video surveillance was the difference in identifying who the criminal was and preventing a financial loss to the credit union. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Ads for Gold utilize Fear Factor

For some time now, radio and television ads have been promoting purchases of gold as a safe investment in uncertain financial times. While gold can be part of a good strategy in an overall investment portfolio, the decision to purchase gold should not be driven by fear tactics. Recent radio ads have been hinting that somehow your savings, CD, and IRA accounts could be seized by the government as a "bail-in" rather than a "bail-out" to troubled banking institutions. These fear based ads cite Cyprus as a real life example where bank depositors in Cyprus initially saw a tax on their deposits to cover the financial collapse in 2013 that was taking place there. These ads imply that the same tactic could take place here in the United States, thus placing depositors at risk of losing their savings. 

To begin with, any sales pitch that focuses on fear is a red flag from the start. Why not focus on gold as a good investment? Or is it? Today gold was selling for $1,170.90 per ounce. The high price in 2014 was in March when prices peaked at $1,370.50 per ounce. That is a 14.56% decrease in value. Gold prices reached a high of $1,889.70 per ounce in August 2011. Had an investor purchased $50,000 worth of gold in August 2011, that gold would today be worth $30,981, a 38.00% DECREASE in value in less than four years. Gold is best used as a long-term investment where holders can ride the significant highs and lows of gold pricing over time. Gold at best should be just part of an overall investment portfolio that utilizes multiple investment options.

The notion that deposits could and would be seized by the United States government as part of a bail-out plan for failing banks or the government itself is just plain ridiculous. Cyprus as a country could not print its own money. The United States does and has been doing so since the country's inception. Depositors in the United States have federally insured deposits up to $250,000. What type of civil unrest would occur if insured deposits were suddenly seized by the very government providing the deposit insurance in the first place?  This doomsday scenario simply would not take place. If it did, the value of gold certainly would not be tied to the dollar. 

Advertising is designed to motivate action. Fear in advertising is one tool utilized to obtain that consumer sale. These fear based gold buying ads frankly border on being illegal as they attempt to incite panic with depositors of financial institutions within the United States. Deposits in federally insured financial institutions in the United States remain safe which is also why the savings rates are usually low. Safety and yield usually go hand in hand. Better to keep your principal balance and earn a small amount than to lose 38% of your investment, in my humble opinion.