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dawn.kennedy@cuda.ie

Credit Union bodies welcome engagement with Minister Fleming on proposals contained in Department of Finance Review of Credit Union Policy Framework

By News

The four credit union representative bodies – CUDA, CUMA, ILCU and NSF – met with Minister with responsibility for Credit Unions Seán Fleming and officials from the Department of Finance today, Thursday 10th March. At the meeting the Minister outlined a list of proposals contained in his Review of the Credit Union Policy Framework.

The proposals were summarised under five key objectives;

  • Objective 1: Recognition of Role of Credit Unions
  • Objective 2: Supporting Investment in Collaboration
  • Objective 3: Supporting Governance
  • Objective 4: Improving Member Services
  • Objective 5: Transparency of Regulatory Engagement

Minister Fleming spoke about the importance of credit unions growing their loan books and proposed a number of measures to assist credit unions in this regard. In particular, he proposed bringing forward legislation to enable credit unions to invest more easily in Credit Union Service Organisations (CUSOs). This would allow credit unions to pool their resources in delivering new loan products to their members such as mortgages and small business loans.  They will also be enabled to establish Corporate Credit Unions to facilitate mechanisms such as a central liquidity system.

The Minister also proposed a number of measures to allow credit unions to introduce members to another credit union where the referring credit union was unable to provide a certain loan product or service. He also proposed legislative change to allow credit unions to share a larger loan between them.

In relation to Governance, Minister Fleming recognised the important role volunteers play within credit unions, and has proposed that this be included in legislation. Further proposals would reduce the work load on volunteer Directors and Board Oversight Committees in the future.

Also included in the measures outlined by the Minister were proposals aimed at making regulatory engagement with credit unions more transparent through the establishment of a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between credit unions and the Central Bank.

Responding to the Minister’s proposals, the four representative bodies welcomed the opportunities for lending for credit unions. However, there was general consensus that the proposals do not go far enough in addressing the key area of regulatory engagement. They recommend strengthened formalised structures that would include the four bodies, the Central Bank and the Department of Finance. This key infrastructure would serve to identify existing barriers to lending and prevent future impediments to progress and service to members and communities. The bodies believe that further engagement in this area is needed.

CUDA Welcomes Government Announcement on Home Energy Upgrades

By News

Welcoming the announcement by Government today, Tuesday 8th February, in relation to Home Energy Upgrades,  Kevin Johnson, CUDA (Credit Union Development Association) said:

“This is a fantastic development for the homeowner and not ahead of time. The grants are designed to support “one stop shops” for homeowners, which is exactly what is needed. CUDA along with its partner Retrofit Energy Ireland (‘REIL’) were first to introduce this grant format to the retrofit market back in 2019, and the high demand from homeowners was immediately evident.

The grant, coupled with the access to finance, the savings that will be made, and the provision of retrofit experts all in one place takes the concern and reticence away from homeowners who are keen to make their home more energy efficient.

We are glad to see the Government are taking a long-term approach to this, with a commitment to fund the schemes over the next decade – this is something we have been campaigning for several years now. ”

Pro Energy Home Scheme was piloted by CUDA in 2019

“From dealing with members, credit unions have become increasingly conscious that many struggle to improve the energy rating of their home and successfully apply for the available grants. It became abundantly apparent that a simple end to end service model was badly needed. The ProEnergy Homes Scheme was piloted by CUDA in 2019, and rolled out on a limited basis during that summer. It was quickly oversubscribed. Demand from credit union members through the initial 25 participating credit unions generated over 1,100 enquiries from credit union members over a short space of time.

The initiative took all the “leg-work” away from the homeowner. All they had to do was fill out an application form, after which REIL will conduct an assessment on their property and present them with a report. As the trusted provider of financial services in communities throughout Ireland, credit unions are uniquely positioned to support the delivery of a one-stop-shop model for home energy retrofits. Credit unions have advanced tens of thousands of members with home improvement finance over the past year and increasingly, achieving a warmer and more efficient home is top of the agenda for our members. ”

Further information on the ProEnergy Homes Scheme can be found here

 

 

Central Bank Consultation – Application of Minimum Competency Rules to Credit Unions

By News

The Central Bank of Ireland has today (19 January 2022) commenced a public consultation on the application of the Minimum Competency Code 2017 and the Minimum Competency Regulations 2017 to credit union core services.

Commenting on the consultation, Kevin Johnson CEO of CUDA (Credit Union Development Association), stated ‘Credit unions have fully embraced the process of business innovation as evidenced by the fact that two-thirds of credit union staff now hold CUA and/or QFA  (Credit Union Advisor, Qualified Financial Advisor).

Many people not familiar with the sector may be surprised by the level of change that has occurred across credit unions with increased digital access, a wider range of lending products including mortgages and small business loans right through to special services like the end-to-end home retrofit scheme which has proven so popular.

Credit unions are still the recognised as the most trusted brand in the country and this is a direct consequence of how they treat people – with compassion and understanding.

During 2021, CUDA’s own Credit Union Director Programme focused on supporting directors across the country to develop key skills to better understand today’s more complex banking world and to enable them to deliver the most appropriate products and services to their members.’

Central Bank of Ireland’s Update on Financial Condition of the Credit Union Sector

By News

The Central Bank today (14 December) published its eighth edition of the Financial Conditions of Credit Unions Report. The report provides an update on the financial performance and position of credit unions, to inform credit unions and provide input for boards as they undertake their own strategic analysis and decision-making.

Commenting on the Central Bank of Ireland’s update on the financial condition of the Credit Union sector, Kevin Johnson CEO of CUDA (Credit Union Development Association), stated

“As seen in the report credit unions have the funds and the market reach, and we are delighted to see the breadth of services now available from many of them. The credit union movement could play a more active role, within their respective communities, in supporting housing association ownership, home ownership and retrofitting through sustainable and prudent lending, particularly as banks continue to reduce their presence in local towns and villages across the country. While credit unions have invested heavily in their digital capabilities in recent years to meet the convenience needs of many consumers, they have not abandoned those, of all ages, that prefer the face-to-face customer experience, whether it’s a simply transaction or a complex query.

The sector can only achieve its potential though continuing with their business model change, and this has to be enabled by an appropriate legislative and regulatory framework. Given the right structure, this could increase from current level of €5.25bn to €10.5bn.  We are constructively engaged in the Government Policy Review process and look forward to amended legislation that will enable all credit unions and their members prosper.”

CXi Report – Credit Unions win for the 7th Year in a Row

By News

Following the announcement of Credit Unions winning for the 7th year in a row, Kevin Johnson, CEO of the Credit Union Development Association, commented…

‘As banks continue to reduce their presence in local towns and villages across the country, credit unions are winning both the hearts and heads of consumers who consistently appreciate and trust the credit union brand and are now moving their accounts and borrowing needs across in increasing numbers as banks branches close. Credit unions have been loyal to their communities for years and that loyalty is now paying off.

While credit unions have invested heavily in their digital capabilities in recent years to meet the convenience needs of many consumers, they have not abandoned those, of all ages, that prefer the face-to-face customer experience, whether it’s a simply transaction or a complex query.’

BoI branch closure decision may see consumers move to Credit Unions in many Irish communities

By News

Commenting on the Bank of Ireland branch closures, Kevin Johnson CEO of CUDA (Credit Union Development Association),

“Friday’s closures will be felt by consumers in up to 80 towns and villages throughout the country. While there is undoubtedly a move towards a more digital offering in the financial services sector, there are still a significant cohort of people who are not ready to make that change. The migration of banks to self-service branches has been a difficult transition for many people – particularly older customers, many of whom still favour face to face interaction. However, today has taken this migration one step further, with people in the affected locations no longer being given even a self-service option.

While Credit Unions have made great strides in terms of digital developments, the community ethos means than maintaining a high-profile local community presence is integral for the movement. As with Ulster Bank’s planned exit, we believe the announcement today will drive more and more people across the country to becoming members of their local Credit Union so that they can avail of traditional banking through both digital and face to face means, a pattern we’ve seen in other countries including Canada and the USA.”

 

Transfers of Engagements:  A ‘Learning’ Model – CUDA & CU CEO Forum

By News

This paper is the product of a joint initiative between the Credit Union Development Association (CUDA) and the Credit Union CEO Forum. The paper offers unique insight to the lessons that emerge during the transfer of engagements process from the perspective of three stakeholder groups, namely the ‘Board of Directors & CEO’, ‘Regulator’ and ‘Members’. These insights are gathered from published research, the authors’ experiences and their conversations with CEOs who have participated in multiple transfers of engagements.

Method

Twenty-six transfer of engagements lessons are documented. A majority of these lessons are acquired by the ‘Board of Directors and the CEO’, next by the ‘Regulator’ and last by ‘Members’. This is reflective of the effort contributed by the respective parties and the proportionality of responsibility they have in the transfer of engagements process.

A ‘learning model’ is constructed to guide the creation of ‘strategic’ transfers of engagements. The imperative that emerges is that the Board of Directors and CEO (of transferee Credit Unions) have a vision and purpose of what they seek to achieve from a transfer of engagements for their members. Critical to this is an understanding of what members really value.

Recommendations

  • A more streamlined and less costly transfer process should be put in place by the Regulator, particularly where the transferor is small in asset size and the transferee has a breadth of transfer experience.
  • The Regulator should introduce a risk categorisation of Credit Unions, similar to the CAMEL grading mechanism, this would create a greater understanding of each Credit Union’s strengths and weaknesses at the outset of transfer of engagements discussions.
  • Member Resolution for the transfer of engagements should occur prior to Credit Unions embarking on the lengthy and costly due diligence, business planning and integration planning phases of the transfer process.
  • A significant exposure for transferee Credit Unions exist during the period from completion of the due diligence to the completion of the legal and regulatory process. As a solution, the authors suggest the implementation of a process whereby the transferee Credit Union has approval input in situations where such exposures could potentially occur, for example via a Heads of Agreement mechanism.
  • The Regulator should commence a review of loan category limits. Future transfers are likely to create Credit Unions of significant scale whose business model could be hampered by existing lending limit.

The Paper can be downloaded here.

CUDA’s Standing Orders Podcast series is specially designed to inform and support member credit unions.   In this episode, Peter is joined by Donal McKillop, Professor of Financial Services at Queen’s University Belfast, and Chair of the Credit Union CEO Forum, and Kevin Johnson, CEO of CUDA.

They talk about the experience of mergers across the sector and the structural options going forward. Donal and Kevin, with the assistance of others in the sector, have researched and analysed the successes and learnings of mergers over the last five years and have recently produced a paper on the subject titled, ‘Transfers of Engagements: A ‘Learning’ Model’.

Standing Orders Podcast can be streamed directly from CUDA’s website at the link here or is available on all the usual podcast channels including Apple, Spotify and Google Podcasts, where you can subscribe to get notified when new episodes become available.

 

Credit Union Sector Levy Regulations 2021

By News

The Minister of State, Sean Fleming T.D today, 27th September 2021, issued a press release on the Credit Union Levies for 2021. Commenting on this Kevin Johnson, CEO of the Credit Union Development Association, stated:

We note that the Minister has decided to continue with the levies for Resolution and for Stabilisation at the previous years levels.  It is disappointing that the Minister deems it appropriate to continue to charge a levy for stabilisation as no financial assistance has been provided to credit unions under the Stabilisation Scheme to date and no applications for such support have been made by a credit union.

While CUDA continues to support the purpose of a stabilisation fund, we believe the fund has reached an optimum size and therefore the Stabilisation Fund Levy should be set at 0%.

Credit Unions and CUDA back New Fund to deliver 10,000 new homes

By News

CUDA and Initiative Ireland announce approval of new Fund, which aims to lend €600m to Approved Housing Bodies, to support delivery of 10,000 new homes over 10 years

Up to 100 Credit Unions across the country are expected to participate in the first Credit Union backed house-building fund which is anticipated to deliver 10,000 units over the next 10 years. CUDA first entered into a partnership with Initiative Ireland in August 2020 to establish a new Fund that would lend to Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs), with the goal of supporting the delivery thousands of much needed affordable and social homes. The Fund has now received final approval from the Central Bank enabling Credit Unions who have committed to the strategy, to now commence investment.

The new fund will enable Credit Unions from across Ireland to avail of regulatory changes which empower the Credit Unions to lend to Approved Housing Bodies through regulated funds. Initiative Ireland, which specialises in funding social and affordable housing developments nationwide, will act as an Investment Advisor to the fund, sourcing and managing projects with Approved Housing Bodies. CUDA, with membership of over 50 Credit Unions nationwide, which manage over €7bn in assets, shall support engagement with member and non-member Credit Unions as a sub-adviser to the Fund Distributor, with the expectation that the fund could lend over €600m to deliver over 1,000 new homes per annum.

Commenting on the announcement, Minister of State with responsibility for Financial Services, Credit Unions and Insurance, Sean Fleming TD said,

I would like to commend the partnership between Initiative Ireland and the Credit Union Development Association which will see the delivery of thousands of social and affordable homes by our Affordable Housing Bodies. Since I became a Minister, it has been a personal priority of mine to facilitate Credit Union investment in large scale social housing projects. Credit Unions, which are an embedded in our towns and villages, are to become one of the key funders of new homes in so many communities across the country. I truly believe that the involvement of credit unions is absolutely appropriate and a watershed moment in terms of scaling up the delivery of homes for so many.”

Kevin Johnson, CEO of CUDA said,

“CUDA and Irish Credit Unions have been working on this development for some time and we are not surprised by the huge interest amongst Credit Unions. As a result, the Fund will be open to all Credit Unions regardless of whether they are CUDA members or not. Through this new fund, CUDA members will play a key role in supporting an increase in supply of much-needed housing nationwide. The fund will provide competitive finance to Approved Housing Bodies which play a key role in the delivery of social and affordable housing today. The Fund will offer an ongoing sustainable and affordable source of funding for Housing Bodies and enable Credit Unions to deploy considerable members savings into a conservative, sustainably managed strategy.”

 Padraig Rushe, CEO Initiative Ireland said,

“Initiative Ireland specialises in funding the delivery of private, social and affordable housing across Ireland, working with developers. Through the Fund, we can now also provide flexible and fast funding to Approved Housing Bodies to commission and acquire completed developments. Combined with our existing finance offering for developers, we can help to deliver a balance of private, social and affordable housing where it is most needed.”

Consumers already switching to credit unions

By News

While the departure of Ulster Bank, the withdrawal of services by other banks, and now the possible departure of KBC will be upsetting for staff and customers at these entities and we sympathise with them, it is likely to be a positive milestone for credit unions.

Larger credit unions, most of which offer a comprehensive range of personal loans, SME loans and mortgages, current accounts, and excellent online facilities, have already experienced consumers switching from Ulster Bank. There is a trust issue between banks and some of their customers and while inertia has prevented many from leaving the banks, customers of these banks now need to make a decision as to who to bank with.

We believe the fact that more and more credit unions, working collaboratively, now have a full suite of products will play in their favour.  This coupled with their commitment to supporting local communities throughout the pandemic is why credit unions continue to see a strong growth in performance and have expanded their position as the ‘most trusted’ organisations in Ireland.