Keeping up with compliance burdens, meeting consumer demands for multiple banking channels and branding products effectively are some of the key international credit union industry challenges that Brian Branch, president/CEO for the World Council of Credit Unions, has encountered in his first year as CEO, he told Credit Union Times in a recent interview.
Branch, who has been with WOCCU for 22 years, most recently as executive vice president/chief operating officer, became president/CEO in August 2011 when former president/CEO Pete Crear retired.
In September 2011, a reorganization of WOCCU resulted in the creation of five new priorities for the organization: membership expansion, deepening global advocacy, project development, credit union network building, and international training and education. Since then, WOCCU staff members have been traveling frequently and noticing that developing world credit unions face common challenges, Branch said.
“They’re all dealing with the challenge of compliance burdens,” Branch said. “Some credit unions are going from having little regulation to heavy regulation, and that interferes with their ability to serve low-income members. That’s driven a lot of our advocacy work, and we work both sides of the issue. For example, in Tanzania and Kenya, we’re helping to put regulations in place.”
Using technology to help bring credit union services to rural areas and low-income consumers is another effort on WOCCU’s priority list, Branch said.
Additionally, while utilizing collaborative technology solutions is a great option for credit unions with few resources, it’s important for them to display individualism in their branding efforts to stay competitive, he added. For example, WOCCU is helping facilitate 53 British credit unions’ conversion onto a data processing system through a collaborative platform that also allows each credit union to maintain a distinctive online look.
Going into his second year as CEO, Branch said WOCCU will continue focusing on the past year’s priorities as well as on acquiring donor funding for projects.
“We want to build that World Council sense of community and help credit unions connect with one another,” he said. “A lot of that is in messaging, branding and expressing what we have to offer to consumers.”