ST. JOHN'S, Antigua - Veteran lenders know that solid underwriting standards and effective member service can help a good loan program expand and perform at even higher levels. Four Arizona credit union executives traveled to Antigua last week to share that knowledge and other industry information with the Caribbean island's financial cooperative community as part of World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) International Partnerships program.
The Antigua & Barbuda Cooperative Credit Union League and the Arizona Credit Union System (ACUS) signed a partnership agreement in March under the auspices of the WOCCU program. The relationship is one of 28 current international partnerships operating as part of the program.
Melanie Smith, assistant vice president of branch support for Arizona State Credit Union, Phoenix, and Lisa Krogstad, learning development specialist for First Credit Union, Chandler, offered member service training to the staff of all five credit unions in St. John's, Antigua's capital. Robin Romano, CEO of Marisol Federal Credit Union, Phoenix, and an ACUS board member, provided training in loan underwriting to help credit union staff and credit committee volunteers better understand how to calculate debt ratio, use gross income standards and implement standardized loan policies.
"Debt ratio management and assessing risk were two of the most important aspects of loan underwriting we covered during our training," Romano said. "The credit unions' loan portfolios would become more efficient if they were to implement a debt ratio and check the member's credit history by calling and verifying it with other financial institutions. Currently, most credit unions in Antigua require the member to have 25% of the loan amount saved before granting the loan, ultimately limiting their loans. Using good underwriting skills allows them to be less afraid to make more loans."
The member service training sessions attracted groups of three to more than 20 staff members from Antigua's credit unions. The loan underwriting training also was met with a high turnout, including Jennifer Whyte, the new general manager of St. John's Cooperative Credit Union.
"Having the experience to meet with the Arizona delegates and discuss important issues such as managing our loan portfolio, collections and reducing default was very important not only for my loan officers, but also for me as a new manager," Whyte said. "It has helped me to develop self-confidence and learn to trust my instincts."
While the other representatives were busy with the training sessions, Mary Lee Blommel, ACUS member service consultant, and Josh Fetting, WOCCU's International Partnerships program specialist, facilitated the Antigua & Barbuda League's strategic planning session. The session took place over a two-day period with league and credit union board members and credit union managers to develop a series of goals that would allow Antigua's credit union movement to grow through league involvement.
By the end of the planning session, participants had crafted new mission and vision statements for the Antigua & Barbuda League, identified key areas of assistance and recognized possible league projects to provide assistance to its member credit unions. Participants agreed the planning session was extremely valuable to credit union stability and growth efforts.
"I am optimistic about the future of the league after having completed our strategic planning sessions with the presence and input of the Arizona Credit Union System and World Council of Credit Unions," said Ellis Southwell, president of the Antigua & Barbuda League. "We now have clear goals to take to the Antigua & Barbuda Cooperative Credit Union League forward. We also are appreciative they could bring us the loan underwriting and member service training which our members have clamored for. We look forward to collaborating on future initiatives to bring benefits to our members."
El Consejo Mundial de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito es la asociación gremial y agencia de desarrollo para el sistema internacional de cooperativas de ahorro y crédito. El Consejo Mundial promueve el crecimiento sustentable de las cooperativas de ahorro y crédito y otras cooperativas financieras en todo el mundo a fin de facultar a las personas para que mejoren su calidad de vida a través del acceso a servicios financieros asequibles y de alta calidad. El Consejo Mundial realiza esfuerzos de defensa activa en representación del sistema global de las cooperativas de ahorro y crédito ante organizaciones internacionales y trabaja con gobiernos nacionales para mejorar la legislación y la regulación. Sus programas de asistencia técnica introducen nuevas herramientas y tecnologías para fortalecer el desempeño financiero de las cooperativas de ahorro y crédito y profundizar su alcance comunitario.
El Consejo Mundial ha implementado 290 programas de asistencia técnica en 71 países. A nivel mundial, 57,000 cooperativas de ahorro y crédito en 105 países atienden a 217 millones de personas. Obtenga más información sobre el impacto global del Consejo Mundial en www.woccu.org.