Wednesday, March 25, 2009

CUs an emergency first responder in economy

MANCHESTER, N.H. (3/24/09)--Credit unions in New Hampshire have taken on the role of emergency first responders in the ongoing economic crisis, according to a local newspaper.

By offering higher interest rates, more mortgage refinancing programs and continuing consumer education to help members and the general public, credit unions are doing a better job than banks, said the Nashua Telegraph (March 23).

The 23 credit unions headquartered in the state are making substantial efforts to help consumers, Rob Kimmett, senior vice president of marketing for the New Hampshire Credit Union League, told the newspaper.

By "sticking with the basics," credit unions have remained successful, even during the Great Depression, Kimmett added.

The basics, seasoned with some incentives, have created a credit union recipe for success, the paper said.

Some examples:

Triangle CU, Nashua, offers an online savings account that was introduced in October and yields a return of 3.25%;

Bellwether CU, Manchester, encourages its members to call whenever life's challenges--sickness, divorce, death--happen, or else the credit union contacts its members directly, said President/CEO Mike L'Ecuyer, adding that deposits at the credit union have been going up;

Granite State CU, Amherst, has been "hauling in mortgages," the past few months, said Jody Ducharme, marketing communications liaison. She cited the non-profit credit union model for providing an edge over banks during tough economic times; and

St. Mary's Bank, Manchester, the nation's first credit union, is experiencing business as usual, said Steven Macek, director of retail lending. In the second quarter of 2008, the credit union recognized that members were facing difficulties, so it went through alternatives, modifications and short sales to help raise awareness and educate members about foreclosures.

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