Madison, WI—Weak membership growth, competition, low consumer awareness and restrictive legislation are the top concerns for credit unions globally, according to World Council of Credit Unions' recent triennial member survey.
"Increasing the number of members was a primary theme," said Dave Grace, senior manager of association services, who oversaw the survey of World Council's national and regional members. "Three of the top four responses – weak credit union growth, lack of consumer awareness and competition – center on membership. While it is more of a concern in developed countries, most respondents indicated that it was a concern no matter what country they were from."
The survey, which had a response rate of 85%, revealed that the top four issues were a concern from both local and global perspectives.
Regarding membership growth, Grace feels there are benefits in seeing how other national movements are bringing the 18 to 34-year-old segment into credit unions today. "Many of the historical connections via churches, employers and unions need to be revisited," said Grace. "We're optimistic that the credit union's value-based position will resonate with youth if they know about the foundation of credit unions."
The survey also indicated that members felt World Council should continue work on legislation in close coordination with national movements, develop regulatory standards and the promotion of good governance principles, as well as help build more cohesiveness within the credit union system.
In addition, the results showed that members wanted World Council to provide technical tools, such as its PEARLS financial performance monitoring software, continue its advocacy work before local and international regulators and governments and keep on hosting regional and international meetings so members have access to training, best practices and networking opportunities.
Grace added, "Members value our efforts in international credit union development and want us to show that credit unions are – as one respondent wrote – the 'best option in microfinance'."
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 51,000 credit unions in 100 countries serve 196 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.