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CUDA Congratulates New Registrar of Credit Unions on her Appointment

By News

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

By News

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.”

Just 6% believe banks will retain cash services “indefinitely”

By News

Majority believe that buck stops with Government and Central Bank for cash-banking in local communities

 Despite the public and political backlash to the recent attempts at branch closures and the withdraw of cash services by AIB, the vast majority of people believe that it’s only a matter of time before local banking services, including cash, are significantly curtailed.

A new survey, commissioned by Credit Union Development Association (CUDA) and undertaken by iReach, reveals that as many as 60% anticipate that cash services in banks will be removed in time, with just 6% believing banks will retain these services indefinitely.

The survey of 1,000 people nationwide also found that over half (56%) believe that the responsibility to retain cash services should be centrally positioned in the hands of the Government and/or the Central Bank.

Kevin Johnson, CEO of CUDA spoke of the findings,

“It seems that many people feel we are on borrowed time in terms of the rollout of digital banking and the withdrawal of face-to-face banking services, with 60% of respondents feeling that AIB’s decision to retain cash services is only temporary.

Just 6% of respondents believe that cash services as they currently exist will survive indefinitely, with a further 15% feeling that while they believe cash services will be retained, we will have to pay a lot more for them.

It is very much a sign of the times we are in, and the shift to digital banking, that one of the fundamental purposes of the banking system as we know it – namely the circulation of cash – is under threat of becoming redundant. There are many sides to the argument – some people will argue that digital is the way forward and a cashless society is the next logical step. Others will maintain that a solely digital-based banking system would only serve a certain sector of society, would skip a large swathe of people who don’t have the requisite skillset to adopt it, and leave the economy over- exposed to a major cyber-attack.”

Recent statistics from Eurostat1 found that there are 275,000 people in Ireland over the age of 65 who are not using the internet.

Mr Johnson commented,

“That’s a hugely significant demographic and sector of our society. Most of these people require access to banking services and expressly, to cash banking services and a walk-in branch. The prospect of national banking service providers orientating their business development in such a way as to potentially disempower over a quarter of a million people requires serious consideration at Government level, and requires policy making that mitigates such negative societal impacts and detriment – particularly for older consumers.”

The CUDA survey also questioned respondents as to who they feel responsibility to ensure that local communities retain access to cash-banking should fall to, with a third believing that it should remain the responsibilities of the banks to retain services.

 

 

 

Mr Johnson continued,

“Here we see that the majority (56%) believe that the buck stops with the Government and the Central Bank to ensure that people have access to cash banking services in their local communities. A further 30% believe that it’s up to the banks to ensure that local communities have such services.

These numbers are even more extreme amongst KBC and Ulster bank customers, with just 17% believing that it’s up to the banks and 72% saying that it’s up to Government and the Central bank to sort this issue.”

Mr Johnson concluded,

“The retention of cash services in local communities is critical and is a national issue that needs forward-looking centralised planning. In this regard, Credit unions would be happy to support the Government in developing a solid solution to ensure that consumers current and future needs are met.”

 

 

1 Eurostat: Individuals’ level of digital skills (until 2019) https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/databrowser/view/ISOC_SK_DSKL_I/default/table?lang=en

 

ENDS

Note to the Editor

CUDA

CUDA, the Credit Union Development Association, was legally incorporated in 2003. In its early days, it acted as the representative voice for owner member Credit Unions, with legislators and regulators. The organisation has since evolved and in addition to providing a ‘voice’, has become increasingly engaged in providing support facilities in the areas of regulatory compliance, risk management, shared services and competency development.

CUDA is a Credit Union owned network that enables member Credit Unions to engage in beneficial activities which would not have proved possible to do as single stand-alone entities.

It manages the diverse interests of members to the mutual benefit of the network. In acting as a catalyst for the growth and development of Credit Unions, CUDA now makes many of its support services available to all Credit Unions.

 

 

Appendix

  1. AIB recently announced plans to remove cash services from 70 of its branches throughout the country. It has since reversed this decision following backlash from the public and Government.

Do you believe this reversal is:

  • Permanent – they will retain cash services indefinitely 6%
  • Permanent – they will retain cash services indefinitely but will increase their charges for cash transactions 15%
  • Temporary – they will remove cash services in time 60%
  • I don’t know 19%

 

  1. In your opinion, whose responsibility is it to ensure that local communities have access to cash-banking?
  • The banks– they should look after their customers 30%
  • The Government – to ensure that banks or an alternative provides this service 28%
  • The Central Bank – to ensure that banks or an alternative provides this service 28%
  • Nobody – we just have to move with the times 13%

 

 

 

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.”

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.