MADISON, Wis. — Credit unions worldwide see a greater "internationalization" of regulation, and credit union associations should prepare crisis communications plans to help both themselves and their member institutions cope with the worsening global economy. Those resolutions topped the agenda for January's meeting of World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) G7 members held recently in Florida.
The WOCCU G7, comprised of the world's seven largest credit union systems, meets annually to discuss issues affecting financial services in general and credit unions specifically. Due to the severity of the global financial situation, the group also held conference calls last year to better understand and analyze the current financial crisis.
"The financial issues facing credit unions today are as bad as they have ever been, not only for U.S. credit unions, but also for credit unions in many of WOCCU's member countries," said Pete Crear, WOCCU's president and CEO. "Collectively, credit unions in WOCCU's G7 group serve nearly 115 million people worldwide. The actions taken by G7 members affect nearly 65% of credit union members globally."
Participants agreed that regulatory "internationalization" presents challenges for credit unions and requires increased coordination at a global level. WOCCU staff and volunteers regularly lobby at the request of member organizations before various government bodies. In 2008, they successfully influenced credit union regulatory issues in both Poland and Costa Rica. One of Africa's first credit union laws was passed in Kenya late last year, the result of a six-year effort by WOCCU, U.S. leagues and credit unions and the Kenya Union of Savings and Credit Co-operatives Ltd., the country's own credit union association. Taking a more unified approach to global credit union regulatory development would strengthen credit union systems and institutions so each could better serve members, the group agreed.
Participants also stressed the need for crisis communication plans suitable for both associations and the credit unions they serve. Credit unions worldwide enjoy a high degree of member confidence and trust, G7 delegates said. Providing crisis plans will be critical to maintaining trust and service to members during tough times.
WOCCU G7 representatives in attendance included Dan Mica, CUNA & Affiliates, United States; David Phillips and Garth Manness, Credit Union Central of Canada; Kieron Brennan and Uel Adair, Irish League of Credit Unions; Wicktor Kaminski, National Association of Cooperative Savings & Credit Unions, Poland; and Michael Alleyne, Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU). Louise Petschler, Abacus Australian Mutuals, attended the meetings remotely. Representatives from Brazil, the seventh of the G7 countries, were unable to attend.
In addition to Crear, WOCCU officials and executives participating included Chairman Melvin Edwards, CCCU; First Vice Chairman Barry Jolette, United States.; Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Brian Branch; and Vice President of Association Services Dave Grace.
The G7 will next meet in conjunction with WOCCU's World Credit Union Conference in Barcelona in July.
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 103 países atienden a 208 millones de personas. Obtenga más información sobre el impacto global del Consejo Mundial en www.woccu.org.