Madison, WI-World Council of Credit Union's, Inc. (WOCCU) board chair L.R. (Bobby) McVeigh attended the first AGM of the Federation of Romania Credit Unions last week, at which he gave a presentation on evolvement of the Romanian credit union system. After congratulating the attendees on the advent the auspicious event, McVeigh noted the precarious situation of the Romanian credit union system in the previous year.
"As you look back to a little over a year ago, it was questionable whether the credit union system in Romania could survive because the existing national federation (UNCAR) had no intention of adhering to international accounting or financial standards. Following a meeting of several local credit unions with myself and Mr. Bierecki, just over a year ago, seven credit unions took the 'leap of faith' and formed the new Federation. It is a distinct pleasure for me to be here today and to extend my sincere congratulations on behalf of World Council of Credit Unions on a job well done. Today, nine members of the Association are adhering to international financial standards, are regulated and supervised by the Federation, and continue to grow and thrive."
There are over 2000 CARs (credit union organizations) in Romania, but most do not have effective supervision, transparency in operations or quality decision-making. The number of CARs to able to survive even the next two years is questionable. In contrast Federation of Romania Credit Unions, and its members should continue to thrive and grow because of the good governance practices, transparency, financial standards and supervision made possible by training from World Council in conjunction with the Polish credit union system. The Polish system is not only talking of principles and philosophy of 'people helping people,'" said McVeigh, "they are 'walking the talk' and are setting an example that I only hope will be emulated by other systems around the world."
Earlier the same week, McVeigh and the CEO of met with the first vice deputy general of the National Bank of Romania, Florin Georgescu. McVeigh noted, "He is most supportive of looking at the regulations to assist in the development of credit unions; secondly, he has agreed with the monitoring and supervision principles and establishing financial standards. He has consented to work with the federation and is awaiting a proposal of what we suggest the government undertake to assist in the development of credit unions." He further noted, "This has been one of the most successful meetings that I have had the pleasure of participating in here in Romania in the last six years. This is very good news and we will continue to build on this success."
"There is no question of the need for a sound, safe credit union system in Romania. The people need it, the small world communities need it, the urban centres need it and the country needs it. Banks are still leaving a large segment of the population unfinanced and they have no desire to deal with middle and lower income families. Loan sharks and payday lenders continue to thrive. Romanians need a safe, sound, credit union system. Like the Polish, I challenge you to pick the 'best of breed' when it comes to providing new and innovative services on a cost-effective basis to your membership. You do not have to reinvent the wheel. Tap into the members who belong to World Council whether it is Poland, Canada, or other countries and don't be afraid to ask for assistance."
In his presentation, McVeigh issued six challenges to Federation of Romania Credit Unions for the following year:
1. Practice transparency in operations and governance. 2. Establish your 'brand' to separate you from the many unsupervised, unregulated credit unions that will eventually collapse. 3. Adhere to financial standards – no compromise. Don't add credit union members to your federation for growth alone; continue to ensure that they meet your financial standards and your governance standards. 4. Communicate – continue to communicate to the public and the government the credit union difference and that your members are regulated, supervised and practice international financial standards and transparency. 5. Work for legislative and regulatory change that will enable you to enhance the service to members and provide opportunity for all Romanians to belong a safe, sound credit union system. 6. Continue to develop and foster relationship with Poland and other successful credit union movements. Learn from the 'best of breed' business decisions, advertising, lobbying, etc.
McVeigh closed by commemorating Federation of Romania Credit Unions first anniversary with a gift from World Council.
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 105 countries serve 217 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.