October 4, 2012
Canada’s credit unions crossed the border to visit the Northwest Credit Union Association’s (NWCUA’s) Convention Wednesday afternoon in windy Vancouver, Wash., where more than 800 from the credit union movement have convened.
The Vancouver Hilton’s Discovery Ball Room was nearly full as Brigette Goulard, vice president of Credit Union Central Canada, and Dominic Vinci, senior vice president and chief operations officer at Interior Savings Credit Union in Kelowna, British Columbia, took the stage for a conversation focusing on operating conditions for credit unions in Canada.
CUNA Mutual Group’s Senior Vice President of Strategy & Business Development John Lass moderated the session, which touched on Canadian credit union facts, regulatory conditions and topics that will continue to change the way not-for-profit financial cooperatives serve their members.
According to Guillard, the regulatory structure in Canada has provincial governments regulating banks and credit unions.
“All rules are provincial for both banks and credit unions, which makes it difficult to operate beyond the provincial boundaries,” she said. “The new federal charter may usher in change to this rule.”
The federal charter is a new option for credit unions in Canada and is considered a game-changer in credit union circles, as are mobile payments and governance issues.
Earlier in the day, Arnold Kuijpers, director of corporate affairs for Rabobank, a cooperative financial institution based in the Netherlands that supports nearly 900 foreign business locations and serves 10 million consumers.
Kuijpers explained the keys to Rabobank’s unique combination of immense scale and local, cooperative appeal, saying, “You have to be local and maintain intimacy with your members.”
“Size and scale allow for continued local and personal service,” Kuijpers said. “If you are providing the best services, you are what’s best for your community.”
And regardless of size, Kuijpers said, the bottom line comes down to doing the right thing in the name of the membership.
“The heat of the battle has to be felt in the end. How does it benefit the members?”
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