Latest News

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

News

Message from the President: Summer in San Francisco

It’s summer in San Francisco, having arrived on the heels of a spring which I’d certainly describe
as being out of the ordinary. Many of us were euphoric over the success of the Golden State Warriors, who won their first NBA Championship since 1975. Regrettably, our members recently experienced a significant service failure, an event I would also consider to be out of the ordinary. Many of you are aware of (and were negatively impacted by) an ATM/Debit card network failure we experienced on the weekend of June 6th. First off, and on behalf of all of us at SF Fire Credit Union, I apologize for the inconvenience this caused. Having communicated with many of you during the outage, I know first-hand the stress this imposed on our membership. Failures such as this are unacceptable, and do not meet the level of service you expect and deserve, let alone meet the level of service we strive to deliver. I’d like to assure members that we’ve identified the cause of the failure, and have implemented safeguards to prevent this type of outage from occurring in the future.

Moving beyond these events, there’s certainly additional news and updates I’d like to share. I’m
pleased to report that our financial performance remains strong, with continued profitability and
ability to increase capital reserves. This is a direct reflection of our loyal membership, and being their financial institution of choice. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to meet your borrowing needs, be it a credit card, car loan, or mortgage. We also held several events which have proven popular with members, including a car sale (at a new Treasure Island location) and sensitive document shred days at all branches.

More is in store this coming summer and fall. We’re remodeling our Stonestown branch, with the goal of improving the ‘flow’ of the branch to improve the service experience at that location. Micro-chipenabled Visa Platinum credit cards, which offer a higher level of security as well as global usability, are ramping up in production. We’ve begun issuing chip-enabled cards to new cardholders, and expect to reissue all of our existing cards over the course of the next few months. A new Online Banking system is on the horizon. It will offer enhanced security, including unique user IDs for joint owners as well as two-factor authentication. And finally, our member events will continue, the next being at car sale the weekend of August 15th at the Cow Palace.

I hope to see you soon, be it at the Car Sale or at the Main Branch. If our paths don’t cross, know that I always welcome your questions or comments and encourage you to contact me via our website (“Ask Darren”), Twitter (@SFFireCU) or mail at our California Street address.


Darren Herrmann, President & CEO

Update Regarding June 6th ATM/DEBIT Card Network Failure

Many of our members were impacted by an ATM/DEBIT card network failure the Credit Union experienced the weekend of June 6th. As an organization who understands the importance of exceptional service, we recognize that this event and our recovery fell short of the service experience we strive to deliver. We apologize for the inconvenience this undoubtedly caused, as well the difficulty in reaching us due to the high volume of incoming calls and web chat sessions to our Contact Center during this time.

Cause of Failure

There are many ‘moving parts’ involved with a successful debit card transaction, which require various systems and entities to communicate with each other. We experienced a system error that disrupted this flow of data communication, which caused the network failure.

Measures to Prevent Future Occurrences

We’ve identified the origin of the system error which caused the failure, and have implemented safeguards to prevent this type of disruption from occurring in the future.

Review of Member Communication Channels

We’ll be evaluating the systems by which members currently communicate our Contact Center (phone and web chat), to provide faster response times during periods of high volume such as we experienced during this service failure.

Member Data is Secure

While the system outage involved a disruption of data communication, it’s important to know that this event did not compromise any account information and SF Fire Credit Union’s member data is secure.

City and County Payroll Going Digital May 19, 2015

The City and County of San Francisco’s pay process will be going digital, beginning May 19th, 2015. Employees will no longer have an option to receive paper paychecks. Instead, their pay will only be issued via direct deposit or a U.S. Bank reloadable pay card.

The Controller’s Office has worked hard to make this transition as easy as possible for employees. If you are a City employee who does not yet have direct deposit, you can fill out this short form indicating your preference, account information (should you choose direct deposit), and your contact information. The whole form should take less than five minutes and can be mailed to their office at:

Office of the Controller
One South Van Ness Ave
8th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

It can also be dropped off at their office, or sent via fax at (415) 701-3401.

Should you have any questions about the process, feel free to contact Megan Solomon at the City’s Payroll/Personnel Services Division directly at (415) 701-3465 or by email at megan.solomon@sfgov.org.

Message from the President: Spring Update

Spring has arrived, and ended what many wish had been a wetter winter in here San Francisco and across the state. One upside to these dry conditions was a sunny and mild President’s Day weekend, which always bodes well for our Annual Meeting of the Members. We had a tremendous turnout, and I enjoyed having the opportunity to chat with those who were able to attend. Highlights of the meeting included awarding this year’s recipients of the Arthur F. McIntyre Scholarship. Congratulations to Chase Gracia, Bridget Linney, Emily Walker, and Mitchell Laurio for being selected. We wish you continued success in your academic endeavors. The election results for the credit union’s Board of Directors and Supervisory Committee were also announced. Bridgette O’Rourke and Nicholas Russo were installed on the Board of Directors, as well as Janet Brock on our Supervisory Committee. On behalf of everybody at SF Fire Credit Union, I thank all of our elected officials for volunteering their time and the commitment they demonstrate in fulfilling the responsibilities of these important positions.

We’re always looking for ways to make improvements at the credit union, be it the level of service we’re able to provide or better managing our operating expenses. In March we launched the much anticipated Apple Pay™, with members now being able to make payments with the touch of a finger on their supported Apple devices. After reviewing our deposit insurance coverage, we made some prudent changes effective April 1st which we believe allows our members’ deposits to remain fully insured, and at the same time eliminates an unnecessary operating expense for the credit union. Our deposits continue to be insured by American Share Insurance (ASI), with coverage up to $250,000 per individual deposit account, a reduction from our previous coverage of $500,000 per account. (For more information, please click here.)

Rules and Regulations: Protecting Members from Elder Financial Abuse

In the “Rules and Regulations” series, we’re hoping to inform members of the regulatory reporting that we’re required to follow in order to comply with banking regulations. This article, we’re addressing elder financial abuse.

What is elder abuse?

When we talk about elder abuse as it relates to the credit union, we are referring to the financial abuse of an elder (any person residing in California who is 65 years of age or older) or dependent adult (anyone between the ages of 18 and 64 who has physical or mental limitations that restrict their ability to carry out normal activities or to protect their rights). Financial abuse is generally the taking of real or personal property for wrongful use, or assisting in doing so.

Unfortunately, the perpetrators most often include family members, specifically spouses, children or grandchildren. Other perpetrators may include individuals who seek out vulnerable seniors with the intent of exploiting them.

Change in Deposit Insurance Coverage

SF Fire Credit Union made changes to our deposit insurance effective April 1st, with the coverage provided by American Share Insurance (ASI) decreasing from $500,000 to $250,000 per deposit account.

Our previous coverage of $500,000 per individual account had been a combination of two deposit insurance policies offered by ASI. It included Primary Share Insurance on deposit accounts up to $250,000 as well as Supplemental Share Insurance on deposit accounts from $250,001 to $500,000.

New Deposit Insurance Coverage

Our Supplemental Share Insurance has been discontinued, and our deposit insurance now
consists solely of ASI’s Primary Share Insurance of up to $250,000 per individual account.
We made this decision based on our belief that ASI’s Primary Share Insurance can provide full deposit insurance coverage for our members, with the Supplemental Share Insurance being an unnecessary operational expense for the credit union.

Apple Pay Available March 17, 2015

We’re excited to announce that starting March 17th members will be able to make payments with their SF Fire Credit Union debit or credit cards through Apple PayTM!

Apple Pay allows a person to pay at stores and within other apps by placing their finger on their iOS device’s Touch ID button. It’s currently available on Apple’s iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, and iPad Mini 3 models.

Questions?

We’ve compiled a list of FAQs to help get you better acquainted, or to help with troubleshooting any issues you may run into. If you don’t find the answer to your question, please feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to help you.

Money Smarts: Assets and Liabilities

You may often hear talk about assets and liabilities, whether it’s on a television show about money, the internet or in books. What are assets and liabilities and how might they impact you and your financial health? Let’s take a look:

Assets: Assets are anything of value that you own. Examples of assets include: cash, funds in savings accounts (CDs, money market, IRAs), valuables (like jewelry or antiques), vehicles that you own outright and real estate (the current market value of the property, even if you still have a mortgage).

Liabilities: A liability is anything that you owe to someone. Although we mentioned above that real estate counts as an asset, the amount you owe on that property falls under the liabilities category. Other examples of liabilities include: credit card debt, student loans, vehicle loans, etc.

Understanding what your assets and liabilities are can help you to grasp your full financial picture, and help with calculating your net worth. Your net worth is your assets minus your liabilities.

Net worth = Assets – Liabilities

Reminder: Calling Within the 415 Area Code

We’d like to remind members that if you are calling our local number (415) 674-4800 from within the 415 area code, that you will need to dial 1+ the full 10 digit number if calling from a land line, or if calling from a mobile phone, dial the full 10 digit number.

For more information on this change, please refer to the Public Utilities Commission’s announcement: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/Telco/generalInfo/Area+Codes/415+Area+Code.htm

Refresh Your Portfolio with a Financial Check-Up

Do you own investments that you’ve held for years? Are you fuzzy on the objective of the funds and how they have performed relative to their benchmarks? Has it been a while since anyone has taken time to review and analyze your holdings? If this sounds like you, the New Year presents an opportunity to conduct a portfolio check-up with our CFS* Financial Advisors. We employ tools to help analyze our members’ fund positions.

Rebalance to Avoid Unnecessary Risk

Rebalancing can be a crucial element in helping to reduce risk while ensuring a portfolio remains aligned with an investor’s intended investment plan. Over time, the asset mix in a portfolio can begin to drift from its original allocation – this is especially true during periods of extreme volatility. If an asset class performs well for an extended period of time, it can grow to become a higher percentage of a portfolio and subsequently have a much higher impact on the intended overall risk and return of the portfolio going forward.