BRISBANE, Australia – Credit unions, corporations, and other institutions do not need more rules and regulations. What they need, Tim Laing told the more than 1,000 delegates at the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) Forum here June 22-26, is more stringent enforcement of the regulations that are already in effect. Laing’s comments were in response to the Enron-type scandals that have hogged financial headlines worldwide for the past few years. Although credit unions still have not experienced scandals of this scale, they are not immune based on certain trends. Laing talked to Credit Union Times from his Eden Mill, Ontario, Canada home prior to leaving for Brisbane. Laing is a communication advisor to large corporations and financial institutions throughout the world. This is his second presentation before the WOCCU Forum. Laing believes there are two secrets to eliminating the white collar corporate crime – current rules and regulations should be properly applied. More rules and regulations, if not used, will be useless, Laing said. The other deterrent to corporate or credit union crimes, he says, is an old-fashioned virtue called integrity. Laing admits some people call him nave, but he says doing the right thing has a feel-good factor. Doing the right thing can be something as simple as admitting a mistake or saying `no’ when an employee is asked to disregard some law. Because credit unions represent the community, fellow employees and are owned by their members, community values can themselves be a deterrent to crime. But Laing cautioned that as credit unions grow, local mores can get watered down. The CEO who once knew each of his members personally, becomes more and more removed. In fact geographically, management can be hundreds or even thousands of miles away from some members. There is a different dynamic with strangers than with neighbors, he said. Distance and size does not rule out the need for integrity at all levels within a credit union. This should be expressed as a credit union value for all employees, from the janitor to the CEO, to board members to suppliers. Laing told of an unnamed client who lost a considerable sum of money when they departed from their own investment guidelines. “How should we spin it?” they asked Laing. His advice: “Don’t spin it, tell the truth.” They did. Integrity does need to be backed up with some rules and regulation, Laing said, but the combination is needed for a society to function as it should. Laing keeps the message constant. On each of his e-mails is the phrase “Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Be Memorable.” -

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