MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica — Numbers don't often lie, but there is usually more context required to understand most situations. That was the primary message delivered to 43 credit union supervisors from 17 Caribbean island nations who participated in the Caribbean Credit Union Supervision Workshop, a three-day workshop co-sponsored by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and the International Monetary Fund's Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Center (CARTAC). The importance that strong financial performance numbers play in ensuring safety and soundness continues to increase as credit unions grow in size and influence throughout the region.
Credit unions in the Caribbean, more so than most areas of the world, are being swept up in moves toward increased prudential supervision and government efforts to improve the institutions' financial health. Growing liquidity in the region has brought the need for better supervision and stronger regulations to ensure that credit unions are making prudent investments on behalf of their members, who need access to deposit insurance systems comparable to those offered by banks. Credit union assets in eight Caribbean nations currently represent 10% or more of their country's gross domestic product, demonstrating their financial influences on their countries' economic systems. As economies improve, more nations will be joining that group, according to WOCCU Director Yvonne Ridguard, president of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU), a WOCCU member organization.
"We support credit unions having prudential and proportional oversight appropriate to their activities," Ridguard said. "The workshop provided the kind of expert training and understanding of credit union activities that is needed in the region."
Participants received detailed training and examined case studies on asset quality assessments, credit union capital structure, credit union and bank comparisons and WOCCU's PEARLS monitoring system. Representatives from central banks, financial ministries and cooperative departments in the region, as well as credit union supervisors from the National Credit Union Administration in the United States, the Deposit Insurance Corporation of Ontario, Canada, and CCCU participated in the workshop.
"This may be one of the most important training sessions that WOCCU and its partners have conducted," said Dave Grace, WOCCU's vice president of association services and workshop co-facilitator. "Open dialogue helped participants that traditionally only focused on the cooperative nature of credit unions recognize their financial aspects, while many supervisors that formerly only focused on the financial aspects walked away with greater appreciation for the credit union mission. We see it as a watershed moment."
WOCCU, along with the Canadian Cooperative Association, will co-sponsor a similar regional meeting of African credit union regulators and national associations representing 10 nations Dec. 1 – 3, 2010, in Malawi.
Materials from the Caribbean workshop can be found on CARTAC's Website, www.cartac.org/pageselect.cfm?page=67.
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.