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Keeping you updated on what’s happening at SF Fire Credit Union.

Latest News & Firefighter's Corner

Sensitive Document Destruction Days

It’s that time of the year again. We invite you to take advantage of the Sensitive Document Destruction Days.

Industrial shredding trucks will be on-site at our Stonestown Branch on the following dates:

Wednesday, May 24th: 9AM – 5PM
Wednesday, July 26th: 9AM – 5PM

You’re invited to bring any personal documents, including:

  • File Folders
  • Checkbooks
  • Credit Cards
  • CDs & DVDs
  • Videotapes
  • Cassette Tapes

Items that can’t be shredded:

  • Wet Materials
  • Large Metal Clips
  • Plastics
  • Medical X-Rays
  • Binders
  • Cardboard
  • Books
  • Boxes

Please be sure to go through your belongings prior to the event. You do NOT need to remove paper clips, staples or binder clips. All documents will be destroyed on-site. Due to its popularity, expect a wait time. Limit: A maximum of 4 boxes or bags of material per member. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Contact Center and Branches Closed for Memorial Day- May 29th

Our Branches and Contact Center will be closed on Monday, May 29th in observance of Memorial Day. Our “After Hours” phone services will continue to provide access to the Shared Branching Network Contact Center. The Shared Branching Network Contact Center operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays. They are able to perform account inquiries and transactions for our members during the hours which our Contact Center is closed.

Closing a Retirement Income Gap

When you determine how much income you’ll need in retirement, you may base your projection on the type of lifestyle you plan to have and when you want to retire. However, as you grow closer to retirement, you may discover that your income won’t be enough to meet your needs. If you find yourself in this situation, you’ll need to adopt a plan to bridge this projected income gap.

Delay retirement: 65 is just a number
One way of dealing with a projected income shortfall is to stay in the workforce longer than you had planned. This will allow you to continue supporting yourself with a salary rather than dipping into your retirement savings. Depending on your income, this could also increase your Social Security retirement benefit. You’ll also be able to delay taking your Social Security benefit or distributions from retirement accounts.
At normal retirement age (which varies, depending on the year you were born), you will receive your full Social Security retirement benefit. You can elect to receive your Social Security retirement benefit as early as age 62, but if you begin receiving your benefit before your normal retirement age, your benefit will be reduced. Conversely, if you delay retirement, you can increase your Social Security benefit.
Remember, too, that income from a job may affect the amount of Social Security retirement benefit you receive if you are under normal retirement age. Your benefit will be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn over a certain earnings limit ($16,920 in 2017, up from $15,720 2016). But once you reach normal retirement age, you can earn as much as you want without affecting your Social Security retirement benefit.
Another advantage of delaying retirement is that you can continue to build tax-deferred (or in the case of Roth accounts, tax-free) funds in your IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan. Keep in mind, though, that you may be required to start taking minimum distributions from your qualified retirement plan or traditional IRA once you reach age 70½, if you want to avoid harsh penalties.
And if you’re covered by a pension plan at work, you could also consider retiring and then seeking employment elsewhere. This way you can receive a salary and your pension benefit at the same time. Some employers, to avoid losing talented employees this way, are beginning to offer “phased retirement” programs that allow you to receive all or part of your pension benefit while you’re still working. Make sure you understand your pension plan options.

Spend less, save more
You may be able to deal with an income shortfall by adjusting your spending habits. If you’re still years away from retirement, you may be able to get by with a few minor changes. However, if retirement is just around the corner, you may need to drastically change your spending and saving habits. Saving even a little money can really add up if you do it consistently and earn a reasonable rate of return. Make permanent changes to your spending habits and you’ll find that your savings will last even longer. Start by preparing a budget to see where your money is going. Here are some suggested ways to stretch your retirement dollars:

  • Refinance your home mortgage if interest rates have dropped since you took the loan.
  • Reduce your housing expenses by moving to a less expensive home or apartment.
  • Sell one of your cars if you have two. When your remaining car needs to be replaced, consider buying a used one.
  • Access the equity in your home. Use the proceeds from a second mortgage or home equity line of credit to pay off higher-interest-rate debts.
  • Transfer credit card balances from higher-interest cards to a low- or no-interest card, and then cancel the old accounts.
  • Ask about insurance discounts and review your insurance needs (e.g., your need for life insurance may have lessened).
  • Reduce discretionary expenses such as lunches and dinners out.

Earmark the money you save for retirement and invest it immediately. If you can take advantage of an IRA, 401(k), or other tax-deferred retirement plan, you should do so. Funds invested in a tax-deferred account may grow more rapidly than funds invested in a non-tax-deferred account.

Reallocate your assets: consider investing more aggressively
Some people make the mistake of investing too conservatively to achieve their retirement goals. That’s not surprising, because as you take on more risk, your potential for loss grows as well. But greater risk also generally entails potentially greater reward. And with life expectancies rising and people retiring earlier, retirement funds need to last a long time.
That’s why if you are facing a projected income shortfall, you should consider shifting some of your assets to investments that have the potential to substantially outpace inflation. The amount of investment dollars you should keep in growth-oriented investments depends on your time horizon (how long you have to save) and your tolerance for risk. In general, the longer you have until retirement, the more aggressive you can afford to be. Still, if you are at or near retirement, you may want to keep some of your funds in growth-oriented investments, even if you decide to keep the bulk of your funds in more conservative, fixed-income investments. Get advice from a financial professional if you need help deciding how your assets should be allocated.
And remember, no matter how you decide to allocate your money, rebalance your portfolio now and again. Your needs will change over time, and so should your investment strategy. Note: Rebalancing may carry tax consequences. Asset allocation and diversification cannot guarantee a profit or insure against a loss. There is no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful; all investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal.

Accept reality: lower your standard of living
If your projected income shortfall is severe enough or if you’re already close to retirement, you may realize that no matter what measures you take, you will not be able to afford the retirement lifestyle you’ve dreamed of. In other words, you will have to lower your expectations and accept a lower standard of living.
Fortunately, this may be easier to do than when you were younger. Although some expenses, like health care, generally increase in retirement, other expenses, like housing costs and automobile expenses, tend to decrease. And it’s likely that your days of paying college bills and growing-family expenses are over.
Once you are within a few years of retirement, you can prepare a realistic budget that will help you manage your money in retirement. Think long term: Retirees frequently get into budget trouble in the early years of retirement, when they are adjusting to their new lifestyles. Remember that when you are retired, every day is Saturday, so it’s easy to start overspending.

*Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. The Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members. For specific tax advice, please consult a qualified tax professional.
Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2017

CEO Update: Kathy Elser Named New CEO of SF Fire Credit Union

Our Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Katherine “Kathy” Elser as the new President and Chief Executive Officer. “What impressed us about Kathy is that she demonstrated the ability to balance prolonged growth while maintaining safety and soundness. She has the experience to lead during a time when credit unions continue to face disruptive and competitive forces. Her robust industry network will also serve our members well.” stated John Sweeney, San Francisco Fire Credit Union’s Board Chairman.

“San Francisco Fire is a vibrant and growing credit union that is deeply committed to its members and the communities it serves. A commitment to members is a top priority and passion of mine. I’m excited to see how I can lead the credit union to new levels while never losing sight of delivering an exceptional member experience.” said Elser.

Prior to San Francisco Fire, Ms. Elser was the CFO/SVP of Finance & Administration for Boeing Employees Credit Union where she was responsible for overall strategic positioning of the credit union and served as an Executive Management Team member. Elser’s career includes 20 years with BECU, a period during which she laid the foundation for and managed the institution’s exceptional performance and growth. She earned a reputation for being a collaborative leader, a dedicated mentor and a member advocate. Earlier in her career she worked in public accounting at Deloitte & Touche, LLP, and at various other financial institutions in both financial reporting and internal audit.

In 2012, Ms. Elser was awarded the Puget Sound Business Journal’s “2012 CFO of the Year”; category- Large Private Company. She serves on various community and industry executive committees and boards of directors. She also participates as a panelist and presenter at various credit union education forums and conferences. Elser is a graduate of the CUES CEO Institute and Cardwell 360 Leadership Institute. She holds a BS in accounting from Central Washington University and a MBA from Pepperdine University.

Protecting Your Accounts from Identity Theft

Identity theft is the fraudulent use of a person’s personal identifying information. Often, identity thieves will use another person’s personal information, such as a Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, date of birth, or account number to open fraudulent new credit card accounts, charge existing credit card accounts, write share drafts, open share accounts, or obtain new loans.

Here are a few basic steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft:

STAY SECURE ONLINE AND OVER THE PHONE

  • Protect your PINs and Security Questions. Avoid using information that has been shared (or can be discovered) on social media such as your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, your pet’s name, school mascot, etc.
  • Use Unique Passwords Reset and create passwords which are complex and unique from accounts held elsewhere (other financial institutions, email accounts, online retailers, etc).
  • Keep It Personal When resetting or creating new passwords, do so from your own personal computer, smartphone or tablet. (Do not make these changes on public or shared computers).
  • Do not share sensitive information, such as account numbers or social security numbers, over the telephone, through the mail, or over the Internet, unless you initiated the contact or know with whom you are dealing. Remember, SF Fire Credit Union will never contact you to obtain your account/credit card number.

SAFEGUARD YOUR EMAIL ACCOUNTS

Many people save sensitive information and documents in their email systems, which can be used by Identity Theft Criminals to commit fraud.

  • Be Wise About Wi-Fi Before you send personal information over your laptop or smartphone on a public wireless network in a coffee shop, library, airport, hotel, or other public place, see if your information will be protected. If you use an encrypted website, it protects only the information you send to and from that site. If you use a secure wireless network, all the information you send on that network is protected.
  • Avoid Phishing Emails Don’t open files, click on links, or download programs sent by strangers. Opening a file from someone you don’t know could expose your system to a computer virus or spyware that captures your passwords or other information you type.
  • Protect yourself Use firewall software to protect computer information. Be sure to keep virus and spyware software updated and current.

CHECK THE STATUS OF YOUR TAX RETURN FILINGS

  • Make Sure Your Website is Secure To protect personal data when e-filing taxes, experts suggest users look for clues that the website you are using is encrypted. Most browsers display either green in the browser bar, or a closed lock symbol, that shows users the site is secure.
  • File Your Taxes on Time Experts suggest you file your taxes as soon as possible. This decreases the ability of cyber criminals to file in your name.

MONITOR YOUR CREDIT REPORT

  • Make it a habit to check your credit. Free annual credit reports are available from all three credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax and Transunion. one report from each agency over the course of the year, to monitor for any unusual activity. (For example: Request Experian in February, Equifax in July and Transunion in November).

IF YOU SUSPECT FRAUD IS TAKING PLACE

  • If your accounts have been compromised, notify us as soon as possible. Our Contact Center can be reached at 1.888.499.FIRE (3473), and is available Monday through Saturday between the hours of 7AM and 8PM (Pacific).
  • Place a verbal password on your accounts to prevent thieves from calling in and finding out more about your financial transactions.
  • File a police report and maintain a copy in your file for future reference.
  • Keep an eye out for future attempts. Identity Thieves often will lay low for months and then strike again, hoping to catch you off guard.

Understanding the Surcharge-Free CO-OP ATM Network

At beginning of the year, the Credit Union reviewed its fee schedule to ensure that services continued to offer value to members, while at the same time providing enough revenue to cover increasing operating expenses. As a result, just a handful of fees will be changing on March 1st. The most notable changes are related to ATM usage, with the number of monthly ATM rebates will be reduced from twelve to six. We’ll also be limiting the number of free ‘out-of-network’ (Non Credit Union CO-OP™ Network ATMs) transactions to six per month, with a $2.00 fee on each transaction performed thereafter. We expect these changes to ATM fees to impact less than five percent of our membership, and with over 30,000 surcharge-free, ‘in-network’ ATMs in the Credit Union CO-OP Network and easy-to-use ATM locator tools available, we’re confident majority of our members will continue to have easy access to cash at minimal or no cost.

Surcharge-Free CO-OP Network ATMs & Free Cash-Back at Retailers

Locating a Surcharge-Free CO-OP Network ATM

You can locate a Surcharge-Free CO-OP Network ATM on our website:
1. Visit www.sffirecu.org.
2. Click on the red “FIND A BRANCH OR ATM” button under the section which lists our Contact Center and Branch Hours.
2. Enter your location in the search bar or simply click on the “Surcharge-Free ATMs” tab to get a list of available ATM locations.

Locate a Surcharge-Free CO-OP Network ATM using our free Mobile App:
(on an Apple iPhone or Google/Android phone)
1. Launch our mobile app on your tablet or smartphone.
2. On the log-in screen, touch/tap the "Locations” icon.
3. A map will appear which allows you to enter an address or zip code.

Social Security Workshop

Social Security Workshop
Wednesday, April 26th at 6:15 p.m.
Stonestown Branch
565 Buckingham Way, San Francisco, CA
Register with Kevin Rucker by April 21st
(415) 674-4874 | krucker.cfsinvest@sffirecu.org

A secure, comfortable retirement is every worker’s dream. And now because we’re living longer, healthier lives, we can expect to spend more time in retirement than our parents and grandparents did.  
 
Social Security income benefits are intended to supplement other sources of retirement income including your savings or employer-sponsored retirement plans such as 401(k) and 457(b) plans. For many of our members, Social Security is a critical source of income in retirement.
 
It can be a challenge to get informed about how Social Security works and how the program might fit into your retirement plan. SF Fire is here to help. Our knowledgeable speaker will provide an overview of the program – and answer your questions.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

*Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. The Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members. For specific tax advice, please consult a qualified tax professional.

Congratulations to the San Francisco Fire Department's Newest H-3 EMTs

The San Francisco Fire Department had 25 H-3 Level 1 EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) recruits graduate their intensive program training. This was the 12th H-3 Level I EMT Class. The ceremony took place at the Treasure Island Training Facility on February 24th.

Message from Marla: Exciting Year Ahead

Message from Marla

Having just experienced my first (and what will be my only) holiday season as the interim CEO, I’m pleased to provide an update as we begin the New Year. I continue to be impressed by the employees of SF Fire Credit Union. Their dedication to providing exceptional service is the driving force behind the organization, and why we have a loyal and engaged membership. Our membership has always been, and will always be, key to the success of the Credit Union. Whether it’s giving us the opportunity to meet your financial services needs or helping us raise funds for SF Firefighter’s Toy Program, we’re grateful for your support.

Looking Back at 2016

A year-in-review for any Credit Union should always include a review of its financials. While we’re still in the process of “closing the books” on 2016, it appears to have been another successful year. As of November 30th (and compared to year-end of 2015), the Credit Union’s assets has grown by $70 million. More importantly, our net income for the year has exceeded $7.7 million. Capital Reserves surpassed $97 million, which helps to ensure that we’ll be serving members for many years to come.
We also completed a number of significant projects to improve the level of service we provide, or to prepare us for the key initiatives we’ve got planned for the coming year. We made a significant upgrade to our core operating system to improve the performance of our current Online and Mobile Banking systems, while new replacement systems are developed. We also began production of EMV chip debit cards, which offer a higher level of security and acceptance abroad.

Key Initiatives for 2017

We have a busy year ahead, with many key initiatives planned for 2017. Highlights include several programs which have been highly anticipated by members. The re-issue of all debit cards to include EMV chip technology will begin this February, and be completed within a few months. We’ve been advised by our card processing partners to expect a Samsung and Android (Google) Pay launch this Summer. Having made the decision to work with an established Online and Mobile Banking provider (rather than utilize systems which are developed in-house), we hope to launch entirely new systems by October.

Upcoming Changes to Fees & Contact Center Hours

It’s an ongoing responsibility for us to assess and balance the needs of the membership, our employees, and the Credit Union itself. After reviewing our plans for the coming year, we decided upon several changes which will be implemented in the first quarter of 2017:

New Contact Center Hours: To better align demand (volume of calls) with the work-life balance of employees, we will be reducing our Contact Center hours effective February 1st. The Contact Center will be available Monday – Saturday from 7AM to 8PM, and closed Sundays and major holidays. As with our current ‘After Hours’ phone services, members will continue to have the ability to perform account transactions and inquires with our trusted partner, Shared Branching, when we are closed.

Changes to Fees: We reviewed our fee schedule to ensure that our services are appropriately priced, while at the same time providing enough revenue to cover our operating expenses. Just a handful of fees will be changing on March 1st, with the most notable related to ATM usage. The number of monthly ATM rebates will be reduced from twelve to six. We’ll also be limiting members to six free ‘out-of-network’ transactions per month, with a fee on each transaction performed thereafter. We expect these changes to ATM fees to impact less than five percent of our membership, and with over 30,000 surcharge-free, ‘in-network’ ATMs in the Credit Union CO-OP Network and easy-to-use ATM locator tools available, we’re confident members will continue to have easy access to cash at minimal or no cost (see “Changes to Fees” article).

In closing, I’d like to remind all that the New Year will also bring a new and permanent CEO to the Credit Union. The Board of Directors has had the privilege of reviewing a large and accomplished pool of candidates, and is confident an individual well-suited to SF Fire Credit Union will be selected in the coming months. I look forward to working with that person, and helping them assume their new position.


Marla Shepard
Interim CEO

2017 Arthur F. McIntyre Scholarship

About the Scholarship

Every year, the scholarship program awards $2,500 each to two high school-level and two college-level students.

The purpose of this scholarship is to educate our members about credit unions. The essay topic explains the credit union philosophy and relating it to the individual, the community, and the country as a whole — now, and in the future.

Eligibility

  1. Student must be a member of SF Fire Credit Union in good standing.
  2. Enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited university, college, community college,
    or high school.
  3. Current grade point average of 2.5 or higher.
  4. Previous scholarship recipients must wait one year after awarding of a scholarship to apply again.

2017 Winners

The 2017 Arthur F. McIntyre Scholarship Winners are:
Maeve Diepenbrock (High School)
John Salvemini (High School)
Marisa Hagan (College)
Ryann Miguel (College)

Recipients were publicly announced at our Annual Meeting on February 20th, 2017.

About Arthur F. McIntyre

Arthur retired from the San Francisco Fire Department in 1976, after 30 years of service – the majority of which were spent at Engine 17, located behind the Mint at 5th and Jessie.

In addition to his career as a Firefighter, Arthur was also a veteran of WWII, a referee for both High School and College level basketball, a supervisor of the officials for the Pac Ten Conference, and was a key advocate for the improvement of working conditions for Firefighters in San Francisco.

In 1951, at the request of then Fire Chief Edward Walsh, Arthur became the first manager of SF Fire Credit Union. Through his vision and tireless efforts, Arthur served as the spark that made the Credit Union what it is today.