RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif.—A 10-member contingent from China's rural credit cooperative (RCC) and regulatory systems visited California credit unions and their trade association last week to better understand credit unions' role among U.S. financial service providers. The trip, arranged by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), brought eight managers and directors from China's Guizhou Provincial Rural Credit Cooperative Union and two managers from the Guizhou branch of the Chinese Banking Regulatory Commission together with California credit union and league executives to study competitive advantages, particularly those offered as part of "the credit union difference."
"This was a meeting of complementary approaches, with each group learning from the other," said Brian Branch, WOCCU's executive vice president and COO who led the five-day visit. "WOCCU is committed to continuing to help the Chinese RCCs adapt credit union principles and systems to provide access to financial services to China's rural communities."
The Chinese contingent visited the California Credit Union League, WesCorp and San Mateo Credit Union in Redwood City, Calif., to learn from a variety of sources how the U.S. credit union system is organized and the benefits credit union members receive over bank customers. The group sought tools and techniques applicable for use in China's RCCs.
The list of Chinese visitors included Jiang Min and Zhang Guoze from the Guizhou office of the China Banking Regulatory Commission. The Guizhou Provincial Rural Credit Cooperative Union was represented by Gong Xiaogang, Jiang Li, Ma Hong, Suo Meiying, Wang Liming, Wu Yong, Xue Wen and Zhao Qiling. In addition to Branch and other WOCCU staff, numerous California credit union, league and industry officials and multiple translators participated in the visit.
Having undergone significant reforms over the past decade, particularly in the country's Guizhou Province, China's rural credit cooperatives and rural cooperative banks are working to modernize their management and operational practices while trying to maintain their member focus. Participants were particularly interested in the strategic planning processes many California credit unions use and how this enables them to provide better member service. The visitors also expressed particular interest in San Mateo Credit Union's management of human resources, including the performance evaluation program and compensation strategy.
Participants described the transition of RCCs, which currently serve 200 million households on mainland China, as moving from social, mission-driven entities operating largely as charities to market-driven financial institutions with a social mission. RCC participants explored U.S. credit unions' networking efforts to maximize member service breadth and quality in hopes of understanding strategies that would help their institutions evolve and expand their own service profiles, according to participants.
The Chinese regulators explained the role of the provincial central organizations as one of setting uniform systems and standards from the top down. This approach provides for greater efficiency and consistency, they admitted, but the challenge then becomes how to provide better service to members at the credit union level.
"This meeting was another in a series of efforts by WOCCU to share experiences as financial cooperatives and measure how those experiences might be applied to RCCs in China," said Barry Jolette, CEO of San Mateo Credit Union and WOCCU's first vice chairman. "This ultimately will lead to a partnership between RCCs and California credit unions."
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, 51,000 cooperativas de ahorro y crédito en 100 países atienden a 196 millones de personas. Obtenga más información sobre el impacto global del Consejo Mundial en www.woccu.org.