The Minnesota Credit Union Network recently welcomed participants of the International Visitor Leadership Program to its St. Paul office.
The seven professionals–from Argentina, Bulgaria, Israel, Malawi, Oman, the People’s Republic of China and Sri Lanka–visited the league to learn more about the role credit unions play in the U.S. financial industry.
The stop was part of a three-week visit to the United States designed to help the group gain insight to how other countries can aid in the integration of emerging markets into the world economy, learn about efforts to strengthen the global economy, and have a better understanding of the relationship between U.S. and foreign financial systems.
During the discussion, league staff members provided an overview of the network’s purpose and explained the credit union difference.
The leadership participants questioned how the economic crisis affected financial institutions in the U.S. Mark Cummins, MnCUN president/CEO, explained that while a few credit unions were severely affected, the impact was much less overall than for banks. He said that credit unions have the opportunity to expand their market share and grow business lending, an area where banks are still struggling.
The seven visitors also were quick to engage network staff in a variety of questions about how credit unions operate and are regulated. Helping to answer specific operations questions, Hiway FCU President Jeff Schwalen talked to the group about credit unions’ cooperative model, how profits are passed on to members, and the benefits of shared branching.
“It was a very educational experience meeting with these professionals from all over the world,” Cummins said. “They came with intelligent questions and showed genuine interest in how our financial system–specifically relating to credit unions–operates in the United States. It was a privilege to participate in this exchange of information and to help in their understanding of the credit union movement in this country.”
Following their visit to MnCUN, the group visited South Metro FCU in Prior Lake to learn more about credit union operations and the types of services the CU offers.