Chicago area credit unions recently welcomed a group of about a dozen individuals from OSCUS in Ecuador as part of the World Council of Credit Unions’ international customized training program.
The four host credit unions included Baxter Credit Union, First Northern Credit Union, NorthStar Credit Union and South Division Credit Union. Each of the credit unions was charged with sharing information and their specific role in one of the delegation’s major areas of concern.
According to WOCCU, the challenges OSCUS faces in Ecuador are similar to its American counterparts. For example, striking the balance between serving its traditional membership (low wealth, undereducated) with loans and deposits, while at the same time trying to becoming more modern and relevant when competing in the marketplace with the big banks. The credit unions also wants to reach the youth market and grow membership to help build their reputation beyond being known as the “poor man’s bank.”
OSCUS has assets of $132.3 million (80% loaned out, and 2% in fixed assets), liabilities of $111.3 million (46% liquid deposits and 43% in CDs) and a loan portfolio of $102 million (with 2.56% delinquency and 275% in regulatory reserves).
“The delegation wanted to visit credit unions that were unique in each of these areas and that is why I recommended they come to Chicago,” said Victor Miguel Corro, WOCCU senior manager, international partnerships. Corro was also joined by Josh Fetting, WOCCU international partnerships officer, for the trip.
Lloyd Fredendall, CEO from NorthStar CU, kicked off the tour by introducing the governance and structure of the domestic credit union movement. With branches in Puerto Rico, BCU was a logical second stop on the trip and CEO Mike Valentine along with John Bratsakis, senior vice president of business development, highlighted the use of technology and the electronic delivery of services and risk management.
In addition, Ed Berg, CEO of First Northern CU, and his staff emphasized marketing efforts, including branch design and branding, while Geri Burek, CEO at South Division CU discussed community involvement efforts.
"The intention of this trip is they can go back and directly apply ideas and adopt new technology and services for the people, especially those they are trying to attract," said Corro.
“Anytime that you can share information, it can only benefit the credit union movement locally and on an international basis,” said Dan Plauda, Illinois Credit Union League president/CEO.