Base Camp – Opening Remarks from CEO

Kevin Johnson, on behalf of CUDA, welcomed all to the conference. He stated how continued growth of membership and savings, demonstrates that consumers desire the trustworthy approach that your credit unions deliver.  However, this success and the challenging headwinds of low interest rates, unfair limitations on business development relative to competitors, and unsustainable high costs of serving members means things have to change. Many of these issues are not of our making and while CUDA will continue to campaign to bring about legislative and regulatory change, he believes that our collective efforts should also go into what we can do ourselves to help our credit unions. Without change we run the risk of credit unions disappearing, which will damage our communities and wider economy.

He spoke of how a small number of greedy bankers, timid politicians, and ineffective regulators, nearly bankrupted our country, and that is one journey nobody wants a repeat of. Recounting how credit union founders didn’t look for someone to deliver a silver bullet to their problems, they did it themselves. Their Leadership was manifested in simplicity and alignment. Where change is required to the legal framework then we can work together to articulate it, and work together to prove that we can do things prudently. If it requires delivering a better experience for the members, together, we can do things more effectively and more efficiently – and how attendees will hear from a range of speakers and credit union colleagues, that will stimulate their thinking, give real practical examples of how to grow your loans, your non-interest income and about conquering some of the fears that may be holding us back.

He concluded by stating that CUDA appreciates all its members and would really like to have more sharing as its Owner Members, aligning their strategy with CUDA’s collaborative approach as we travel together on the journey to the model credit union, and in so doing, achieving the vision of improving the financial, social and environmental well-being of credit union members and their communities

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Session 1 – Address and Q&A from Registrar

Addressing the CUDA Annual Conference, Registrar of Credit Unions, Patrick Casey, provided an overview of where the sector stands today.

He highlighted the importance of credit unions in the Irish financial services landscape, referencing their strong capital position, while noting depressed income generation, the impact of the low interest rate environment and high cost metrics across the sector.

He indicated the importance of ongoing focus on commercial challenges and the need for responsive business model change. In his comments, he highlighted the continued importance for credit unions to strengthen core prudential foundations across governance, risk management and operational capability.

The Registrar concluded: “Collaboration is key to prudent business model development, both as credit unions seek to avail of scale benefits and access technical expertise not currently available.” The Registrar acknowledged the role of CUDA’s Solution Centre in “facilitating access to collaborative opportunities for many credit unions represented at the conference.”

Following his address, the Registrar engaged with the audience in a Questions and Answers session. The questions raised by attendees were varied and very much focused on moving the sector forward. The Registrar reiterated that the main challenges faced by credit unions are commercial in nature rather than regulatory and that the sector must focus on getting its commercial fundamentals on a stronger footing. He expressed optimism that some credit unions are vastly outperforming sectoral averages in terms of commercial performance and so there are approaches that can be replicated by others to improve their performance if they are committed to having strong leadership and good governance.

The full text of the address by the Registrar is available: here

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Session 2 – CUDA Strategic Plan

At the Conference CUDA announced details of its 2020 – 2022 Strategic Plan – Journey to the Model Credit Union. This is an ambitious plan towards a shared vision where credit unions improve the financial, social and environmental well-being of credit union members and their communities.

The Strategy was developed in collaboration with CUDA Owner Members to ensure alignment with their strategies and has a range of measures for credit unions of all sizes, community and industrial.

The Strategy is dedicated to assisting CUDA member credit unions to develop their business model with 4 key focuses;

Over the coming months, CUDA will tailor Relationship Plans with each Owner Member to ensure the alignment of CUDAs Strategy with their operations.

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Session 3 – Peopl. Insurance Launch

The realisation of non-interest income streams is an integral step along the way of business model development for credit unions.

Peopl. Insurance, from Credit Unions has been created out of a simple belief that Insurance in Ireland isn’t working for our members, and our communities.

With core funding from CUNA Mutual, and marketing funding from partner Credit Unions,  Paul Walsh launched Ireland’s fairest and easiest insurance Brand, powered by and for Credit Unions and their communities.

As the Registrar noted in his address; “The recognised trust and regard of members is a strong basis from which to grow new products and services. In transitioning, credit unions must retain the valued member-centric ethos they are recognised for. Members’ trust that has been built up over time can be lost very quickly if their best interests are not protected – which presents food for thought as you seek to pursue a more complex business offering.”

Peopl. Insurance delivers by retaining the member-centric ethos that credit unions are recognised for. We can, and have, created a revolutionary new way in which members can get Fairer, Better and Easier insurances.

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Session 4 – Hive User Group Stories

The four credit unions in the Hive User Group shared their stories in a session titled ‘Making it Happen’.

Each credit union has seen great success in driving commercial growth over the past number of years and shared practical examples of some of the areas that have driven growth for them.

Hive was the key platform development of the Solution Centre’s Digital Transformation Programme. It has been collaboratively developed by a group of credit unions to manage their digital loan enquiries, grow conversions and launch Fintech plugins while sharing development costs.

As the platform grows and develops it will continue to improve the ability of credit unions to grow lending, manage costs and better engage members.

The CUDA mortgage framework continues to support credit unions in delivering a regulatory compliant mortgage offering to their members. There has been renewed interest in mortgage products recently with the revised lending regulations and for many credit unions, a prudent mortgage offering will be an integral part of a diversified loan portfolio

You can enquire about our solutions here

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Session 5 – Pat Falvey, I have the Power

Pat Falvey was an unorthodox, but genuinely inspirational keynote speaker.

As Ireland’s most accomplished adventurer, Pat has led successful expeditions through the harshest and most challenging environments on earth, setting numerous world records for his high altitude and polar exploits.

Yet it was Pat’s personal story of how he came to stand atop the world that captivated attendees. From humble beginnings he was a millionaire at 21, but had lost it all by 29. Adversity, to Pat, is just part of the journey.

Pat described his fascination as being about people and what drives them. In any journey, be it a commercial venture or summiting Everest, he believes that the team that have set a clear goal and have the drive and determination to see it through will succeed.

If you want something bad enough you have to fight for it! You have to give up your time and your peace and your sleep for it.

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Summit – Model Credit Union

The Model Credit Union builds sustainable performance by differentiating based on its unique selling points – ethos and trust. It targets members needs with compelling value propositions personalised for members and plays an active role in their decision making. The Model Credit Union harmonises its business and financial models to compete, utilising digital and CUDA shared services.  Strong leadership and good governance sustain performance and allow it receive permissions to pursue new business opportunities.

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