(Rome, Italy) - Today in Rome, Italy, credit union leaders from around the world convened for the first combination International Leadership Institute and triennial Forum that World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. (WOCCU) has ever attempted, the World Credit Union Conference. As the successful opening day of the inaugural Conference concludes, the forecast for this ambitious experiment looks sunny. WOCCU's four-day conference plan pulls together the best elements of each of its two biggest meetings to form the premiere gathering of credit union people in the world, with 1,124 professionals from 41 countries attending this year.
With many of this year's participants former attendees of WOCCU's Leadership Institutes, WOCCU opted to retain the ceremonial welcome features of the past, such as the Flag Ceremony and the International Welcome Reception. Gary Plank of the US, WOCCU board 1st vice chair, acted as master of ceremonies, kicking off an enjoyable evening. Canada's L.R. "Bobby" McVeigh, WOCCU board chair, gave the official welcome, encouraging participants to "share the good, share the bad," and try to learn from one another. Two Italian hosts, president of FEDERCASSE Alessandro Azzi and general manager of ICCREA Luigi Dante, each gave welcomes of their own before exchanging gifts and handshakes with Plank and McVeigh.
As in other years, participants became acquainted with the meeting's host country and one another not only through this formal welcome ceremony, but also through a Discover Rome Orientation and Tour earlier in the day. The younger professionals present had the chance to mingle on their own, in the first of several WYCUP events leading up to the awards presentation on closing night. WYCUP, or the WOCCU Young Credit Union People Scholarship, allows WOCCU to nurture up- and-coming talent by presenting five hard-working credit union professionals under 35 with free entry to the following year's international meeting. Throughout the Conference, all nominees and last year's winners will have the chance to network and learn together.
Another highlight of the day was the Regulator's Roundtable, a unique discussion between credit union regulators from around the world. WOCCU initiated the Roundtable only two years ago, seeing the necessity for a meeting of the minds within this specialized niche of the credit union industry. The event continues to grow in popularity.
After a day of stimulating events for everyone, the first World Credit Union Conference is in full swing, and both participants and organizers are looking forward to three enjoyable and fulfilling days. The official program of break-out sessions and general sessions commences tomorrow and runs until Wednesday, July 27.
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, 57,000 credit unions in 103 countries serve 208 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.