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credit unions

CUDA issues cautious welcome to the publication of the Retail Banking Review

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Speaking following the publication of the Report, Kevin Johnson, CEO of CUDA, stated that the Review has a welcomed focus on the interests of financial services customers and their communities, but we will need to see detail, such as the definition of terms like ‘reasonable access’, to determine how practical these proposals are.

It is good to see the recognition of credit unions as key players in providing real competition and value to retail consumers of financial services. However, a lot more detail and action is required to ensure the potential that credit unions have becomes a reality. The Credit Union (Amendment) Bill 2022, which is about to be published, needs to be enacted straightaway to facilitate credit union services to be delivered consistently across the country.

The Report sets out recommendations that will reduce the ability of providers of banking services to solely decide who should have services and who shouldn’t. We welcome this as current practice is not consistent with supporting the financial wellbeing of all in our society, and credit unions will continue to lead the way in ensuring that the interest of their consumers is the priority and hopefully others will follow that example.

It is also disturbing that a recommendation is needed requiring providers of retail banking products and services to set out and publish customer charters.

In a sector wide submission to the Credit Union Policy Review February 2021, we recognised the need for a long-term vision that is reflective of the unique role of credit unions and how they will improve the financial, social and environmental well-being of credit union members and their communities. It is encouraging that the Review Team state in this report their understanding that the Department of Finance and the Central Bank will engage constructively, developing new legislation, if required. Hopefully this will also extend to enhancements to credit union regulations.

CUDA looks forward to continuing to constructively work with all the members of the Credit Union Stakeholder Group to continue to improve the customer experience and value proposition that people can get from their credit union.

CUDA Congratulates New Registrar of Credit Unions on her Appointment

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The Central Bank of Ireland has today announced the appointment of Elaine Byrne as the new Registrar of Credit Unions (CBI press release available here.)

CUDA CEO, Kevin Johnson stated ‘We have had the pleasure of working with Elaine in her role as Deputy Registrar for the past 16 years.  In congratulating Elaine on her appointment we very much look forward to a constructive and positive engagement with her and her team.  Elaine takes on the important role of Registrar at an incredibly busy time for credit union regulation, an agenda that includes implementation of the outcomes from the Credit Union Policy Review, role of CUs in the Consumer Protection Code review, impacts of the Individual Accountability Framework, business development initiatives, role of credit unions in the Retail Banking Review, various EU / EBA directives as well as our ongoing work on capital and liquidity requirements for credit unions.

 

Credit unions simply the best as they top annual rankings for eighth year in a row

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Following the announcement today by the CX Company of their annual Customer Experience survey, carried out on their behalf by Amárach Research, Kevin Johnson, CEO of the Credit Union Development Association (CUDA) stated …”It is a remarkable achievement for credit unions to maintain their position in the number one spot for an amazing eighth year. Credit unions have topped the poll every year since the CX Company survey started back in 2015.

Membership has grown consistently over that period and the credit union brand remains the most trusted in Ireland as they continue to deliver the best consumer experience in the country.  Credit Unions have significantly modernised in the past decade – their governance, product offerings, and service delivery methods have advanced considerably.  Members can still access the traditional set of personal loans and savings, and now they have mortgages, current accounts, ‘one stop shop’ retrofit loans, revolving credit, community loans, agri loans and loans for small businesses.  These are accessible face to face, over the phone or via online facilities.

Credit Unions excel in Customer experience and the CX framework is a useful way of measuring what is embedded in their DNA. So it’s not just the member-engaging staff, it’s the teams that support these staff and the great culture that’s driven from the volunteer Boards of Directors.”

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

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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.”