Arizona Credit Union League Guides Caja Libertad on Multi-branch Operations

Partners Become First Credit Union Entities to Attend the Governor's Council of Arizona/Mexico Commission

June 28, 2005

(l-r): César Izurieta, director of Services, Caja Libertad; Pat Bodnar, SVP, ACUL; Francisco Ramírez, Operations manager, Caja Libertad; Sandy Watts, director of Communications, ACUL; Guillermo Tirado, HR manager, Caja Libertad; Paolo Lezama, Audit manager, Caja Libertad.

Madison, WI – Earlier this month World Council of Credit Unions' International Partnerships manager, Victor Corro, accompanied a delegation from Caja Libertad on a tour of Arizona credit unions. Libertad's Audit manager Paolo Lezama, Operations manager Francisco Ramírez, Human Resources manager Guillermo Tirado, and Services director César Izurieta joined their International Partner, the Arizona Credit Union League (ACUL), to learn about mutli-branch operations in large credit unions. Caja Libertad plans to expand to states in northern Mexico and asked the league for guidance, particularly in the areas of branch structure, policy and procedures, internal controls, risk management, and human resources (attracting quality employees, training for new and current employees, reducing turnover, and incentive programs).

During their week-long stay, the delegation visited three credit unions in Phoenix – Arizona FCU, Desert Schools FCU, and TruWest Credit Union – and one in Tucson – Pima FCU. They also attended a presentation by the league of a virtual branch, an ATM-like machine that has most of the functionality of a staffed branch, but can be installed in a factory or other location where members have greater access. The machine takes deposits, prints checks, and provides a variety of other services that typically require a trip to the credit union itself. It even allows for shared branching. "We are very impressed with this type of technology," said César Izurieta, Caja Libertad's director of Services. "It's amazing how such a small device can do so many transactions quickly and with security. We would like to study the possibility of offering something like this to Libertad's members back in Mexico."

ACUL also took the group to some of local tourist hot spots. "Not only did the gentlemen from Caja Libertad visit our member credit unions, but they also had the opportunity to see some of the sights, including the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball park, and enjoy dinner at Rustler's Rooste, an authentic western steakhouse," said Sandy Watts, director of Communications for the Arizona Credit Union System.

On the last day of their visit, Corro, the delegation, and members of the Arizona league participated in a break-out session on banking and financing services of the Governor's Council of Arizona/Mexico Commission. Both Corro and Austin De Bey, ACUL's Governmental Affairs specialist, spoke at the event. This was the first time any credit union entity has participated in the Council. As a result of their joint efforts to educate the commission on the credit union system and the International Partnership of the Arizona league and Caja Libertad, the partners were invited to speak at the next meeting of the Council in Sonora, Mexico.

"I was very honored to be part of the breakout session at the Council," said Corro. "In particular because it was the first time that the Arizona credit union movement had the opportunity to show the Council that it is an important player in delivering financial services. The participation of Caja Libertad further emphasized Arizona's role in the international financial system. This was definitely a highlight of the visit, and we hope to continue these exchanges."

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.

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