Day's Highlights Include Lively Debate and AGM

July 26, 2005

The 3rd day of World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) inaugural World Credit Union Conference saw an entertaining debate by two top credit union leaders, a lunchtime presentation on credit union storytelling as a means of outreach to members, the WYCUP competition presentations and WOCCU's Annual General Meeting (AGM).

In the morning's general session, Jim Blaine, CEO of the State Employees Credit Union of the US, and Rob Nichols, CEO of the Australian National Credit Union, Ltd., led a joint talk on "Credit Union Values: A Discussion that Needs to Happen" moderated by Liam O'Dwyer of the Irish League of Credit Unions. What started off as a calm question-and- answer session became a lively debate on the definition of a credit union, with Blaine insisting the credit union "is a cause, not a business," while Nichols stood firm on the fact that the credit union is essentially a customer- friendly bank.

While both men opposed de-mutualization, their widely differing viewpoints on most topics made for an interesting and well-rounded talk that ended in an entertaining "credit union vs. bank" demonstration by Blaine. Responding to Nichols' assertion that credit unions are commodities like banks, he compared banks to apples and credit unions to oranges. Holding a piece of fruit in each hand, he said "they're alike in many ways. But there are several differences that are sometimes difficult to describe but very important." To illustrate his point he took a bite of the apple, and Nichols countered that by biting the orange with its peel still on.

Following this highly successful talk were the first four break-out sessions of the day, with leaders from credit unions around the world sharing their expertise on a broad range of topics, including De-Mutualization, Creating a High Performance/High Fulfillment Culture, Information Technology and a look into Italian and German Cooperative Banks.

During a lunch presentation, Alexandra Paproski, director of strategic relationships for Canada's VanCity, gave a luncheon address entitled "Standing Out: How Vancity has used Storytelling to Act Small While Growing Tall." She described the process of collecting anecdotes from 2,000 employees in a massive brainstorming session on the history of their credit union. After this informative lecture, the second set of four break-out sessions commenced, treating such topics as Asset Liability Management, Serving Generations of Members and Attracting and Retaining Top Directors.

The day ended with the World Council Annual General Meeting and the presentations of the WYCUP competition entries.

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 300+ technical assistance programs in 89 countries. Worldwide, 68,882 credit unions in 109 countries serve 235 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at