US Leagues Lend Expertise to Russian Credit Union League
(l-r): John Florian, Natalia Koltsova, translator, Valery Kasatkin, RCUL chairman, Anne Cochran, Sergey Borovik, RCUL board member, Alexander Norov, RCUL board member, Liliana Tangwall and Gene Brody meet on the first day of the visit. Photo courtesy of RCUL.
The Russian Credit Union League (RCUL)
invited a World Council of Credit Unions
advisory team to Russia to help develop a long-
term strategy for strengthening the league.
World Council's chief operating officer Brian
Branch, credit union analyst Liliana Tangwall
and five US league volunteers spent one week
working with league representatives and
government officials to analyze and provide
recommendations on RCUL's current services,
products and policies. Faced with the large
geographic expanse of the country, the team
reviewed with RCUL methods for communication and
information support to credit unions via
publications, web-based training and e-mail
The World Council advisory team meets with Podderzhka Credit Union representatives in Volokolamsk, Russia.
Though the Russian government passed credit
union legislation in 2001, it capped credit
union growth at 2,000 members and did not
provide for prudential standards or credit union
regulation and supervision.
Team members John Florian, vice president of
Ohio Credit Union League, and Dana Hofmann-Geye,
executive vice president and general counsel at
the Minnesota Credit Union Network worked with
RCUL advocacy strategies to update credit union
legislation. They met with officials at the
Ministry of Economic Development and Ministry of
Finance to help RCUL present models for credit
union supervision and regulation. Central Bank
officials were unable to attend due to the
assassination of Andrei Kozlov, deputy director
of the Central Bank, the day before the
scheduled meetings. Kozlov had led the Central
Bank's crusade against money laundering by
Lacking a common technology platform for
unions, RCUL looked to Pat Jury, Iowa Credit
Union League CEO, to help develop data
processing strategies. Jury guided the league on
conducting due diligence to assess the potential
for an industry-wide credit union technology
CEO Gene Brody, whose Bay Ridge FCU was
established by Russian immigrants in New York,
consulted with RCUL on marketing and branding
strategies. Brody and Branch were invited to
national radio about his credit union's
connection to the Russian movement.
Branch and Anne Cochran, Louisiana Credit
League CEO, outlined RCUL's role in providing
training and discussed various ways the league
could support their credit unions.
Liliana Tangwall visited Siberian credit
unions prior to the team's arrival to research
the RCUL member's operations and the role of
regional associations. She reported her findings
to RCUL and the advisory team.
The individuals of the advisory team brought
together a history of strong international
volunteer experience with World Council.
Florian, Hoffman-Geye and Jury are active in
their leagues' World Council international
partnerships; Brody hosted Russian credit union
delegates at the New York Credit Union League
and Bay Ridge FCU last year; and Cochran helped
pioneer the Strathmore-WOCCU African Management
Institute in Kenya.
The Russian credit union movement boasted
credit unions with more than 8 million members
at its peak in 1916. After the outlaw of credit
unions in the 1930s and the movement's revival
sixty years later, there are approximately 750
credit unions and 490 rural credit cooperatives
serving 500,000 members across Russia today.
World Council, the Irish League of Credit
Unions, Credit Union Foundation of Australia,
Desjardins, Alaska Credit Union League and
California Credit Union League helped Russian
credit unions establish RCUL in 1994.
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, 56,000 credit unions in 101 countries serve 200 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.