my new mortgage

My fiancee and I just closed escrow on our first house together about 3 weeks ago. It appears that the mortgage company we used will be selling the loan to Wells. Not then end of the world as I’ve used them before.

I went to their site tonight to sign up for online banking, and can’t. Called their 1-800 number and after getting transferred it appears that I have to make my first payment either on the phone (for $20) or in a branch before I can access my account online.

Sweet. Can’t wait to see how everything else turns out.

it’s earnings season!

3rd quarter earnings are being released left and right. Amazon had an amazing run up after closing today (14%) when they announced their earnings for Q3 2006. Weyerhaeuser and GM will announce their earnings tomorrow. What does this mean to CU’s??

Watch your outgoing ACH transactions. We learned a lot about where our members are moving their money to when we started to watch ours. How much are your members transferring out to ING? How much to Sharebuilder, Scottrade, or Sogo Invest? With some minor uncertainty with the Fed meeting this week, as some decent earnings in the stock market, don’t be surprised to lose some core deposits and CD’s in the next few weeks.

So what’s a CU to do?

I believe the saying is, "He who has the most data wins." Finding out where your members’ money is going is numero uno priority. Once you know why it is leaving and where it is going to, find out why you can’t meet their needs, or why Sogo Invest is beating you.

Get to the bottom of why your investment solutions aren’t cutting it. Call them!! Blog about it!!

Why you (and your members) need Form 8888

What is Form 8888 you say? It is the draft version of the new IRS direct deposit form for your tax refund! Currently, your basic 1040 just gives one line to fill the depository institution’s information on. Form 8888 will let the taxpayer designate up to 3 different FI’s to send their refund to.

I’ve talked about helping our members sock some money away, and with the current negative savings rate, all FI’s need to help their members/customers save. B of A has their keep the change program and Tarrant County CU has their change is good program. Many FI’s have Christmas club accounts, tax accounts, etc, but we need to help our members save money, not just give them some where to put it.

CU’s have an opportunity here to use 8888 and encourage their members to spend half, save half.

What would you do with your savings?

I think a creative credit union should help their members save and launch a similar campaign to what Volvo has done here. I know other CU’s and banks have done things like the My Ugly Room campaign. It’d be a perfect fit to do a savings campaign and have people vote online for the best usage of the savings. Maybe the CU matched the amount saved of the winner???

The Reality of Virtual Economies

In-game money is beginning to attract real-world tax attention. From the article:

Second Life, for example, was specifically designed by San Francisco-based Linden Lab to have a free-flowing market economy. Its internal currency, the Linden dollar, can be converted into U.S. dollars through an open currency exchange, making it effectively “real” money.

And it is a lot of money:

The increasing size and public profile of virtual economies, the largest of which have millions of users and gross domestic products that rival those of small countries, have made them increasingly difficult for lawmakers and regulators to ignore.

Additionally, there is this twist:

“You could argue that to a certain degree the law has fallen (behind) because you can have a virtual asset and virtual capital gains, but there’s no mechanism by which you’re taxed on this stuff”

What possibilities does this open up? Ginko Financial is already taking advantage of a virtual economy:

According to Ginko, it has more than L$61 million (US$220,000) on deposit from nearly 10,000 account holders, all of whom earn 0.10 percent interest a day – equal to about 44 percent a year.

Should Credit Unions develop in-game extensions? How about depositing money into a in-game branch and withdrawing it at a real, physical branch?

You can get more news about second life, including the exchange rate between the Linden Dollar and the US Dollar here: http://secondlife.reuters.com/

CU’s and HSA’s

CUNA released an article yesterday about HSA’s and how the HSA market share will lean heavily towards the banking industry side of the playing field and that CU’s market share will slip. The article also says that about 15% of the market share currently resides with CU’s and that will slip to 5% by 2010.

It’s no secret that most CU’s are struggling right now with profit margin issues, inability to bring in core deposits, and heavier than normal loan write-offs. All of that leads right to impact of your bottom line.

HSA’s provide a wonderfully inexpensive product to offer to your members. Not only will it greatly benefit members who use it to pay their medical expenses, but it’s cheap core deposit money.

Visa is even coming out with solutions to help its customers (FI’s and consumers) spend their HSA money easier and help with the IRA guidelines. Click here for that article.

HSA’s are great for both the FI and the consumer, so what’s stopping the CU’s for owning this? We here for our members, right?

If you aren’t sure what an HSA is or want more info, try the Wikipedia article or the US Treasury resource here.