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DUBLIN, Ireland – The new Registrar of Credit Unions in Ireland, Brendan F. Logue, expects to have a positive relationship with the credit unions he oversees. Logue firmly believes principles should drive regulators, as much as rules do. One of his basic principles is to be accessible to credit unions, the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) and the Credit Union Development Association. Communication should be first hand, he told Credit Union Times, both from the credit unions to him and from him to the credit unions. Although Logue only began the job September 22, he already has three credit union speaking engagements lined up. He hopes most problems can be solved informally. However, Logue made it clear that if they could not, he has solid rules and regulations behind him. Logue is the first person to hold the position of Registrar of Credit Unions. The position was created by the formation of the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority (IFSRA) which came into existence in May 2003. Before that, financial services were regulated by a number of authorities, but they are now all under the umbrella of the IFSRA, which is, in turn, overseen by the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland. Their main task will be to create the climate where consumers can make informed, responsible financial decisions and to make sure financial institutions of all types offer safety to their clients. Until now there has not been the staff to regularly examine credit unions, although there was enough staff to examine credit unions reported to be in trouble. Over the next two years, Logue will hire and develop a staff of 25 people. He estimates that each person will have a case load of about 20 credit unions to examine regularly. Logue sees many challenges ahead for credit unions in Ireland. He recounted when credit unions were formed in Ireland in the 1960s they were for people without access to financial services. People had no savings and were at the mercy of the money lenders and pawn brokers for loans. Today’s demographics are different. The Irish population is better educated and the”Irish miracle”, which has seen the relocation of many international companies to Ireland, has created jobs and boosted income. A large percentage of people now have access to banks. There are 440 credit unions with 2 million accounts, but there are only a single digit number of banks, which still prefer dealing with the very financially solvent. The differences in numbers, Logue said, can create technological challenges. While banks can offer ATM networks and on-line banking, smaller credit unions still have a long way to go to be able to provide these services. Many Irish credit unions are church parish credit unions or community credit unions. Logue says “Fragmentation does not go well with technology.” Fragmentation does have an advantages from a democratic point of view. On the technology side, ILCU did try to introduce a computer system that all credit unions could tap into to help them offer more technology-based services, but it failed, leading to a major shake up at the League. This has left each credit union on its own to develop its own systems. Besides technology there are new products and services that credit unions can offer and need to offer to compete with banks. However Logue feels that credit unions are more personal and friendlier then banks. He says there is a social component in credit unions, where members come in regularly more for social then financial reasons. This would not be supported in a more formal banking environment. Another change in the credit union movement that Logue has noticed is that in the beginning of the movement, credit unions were very paternalistic. With the more sophisticated consumer, paternalism is an outdated financial service model. However, he does feel that the democracy and community involvement are two of the greatest strengths of the movement. Credit unions have expressed concern to the change in regulators hoping that whoever took the Registrar post would understand the nature of the movement. Logue knows about credit unions, not from study, but because credit unions have been a part of his family. He says he is a credit union member as are his wife, sons, and grandchildren. He also has bank accounts. He says he makes his decisions based on convenience and the best deal making him not just the overseer but also an ordinary consumer of financial services. Being able to see things from both sides will be an advantage in his new job. Liam O’Dwyer, ILCU’s CEO says he is “looking forward to working with new registrar.” His concerns were the same issues that Logue will be addressing. O’Dwyer said, “We obviously welcome his appointment and look forward to a good working relationship. We hope that he will be conscious of the strong volunteer ethos and the social and economic objectives of the movement in Ireland. The League welcomes strong role for the regulator, with due recognition that Credit Unions in Ireland serve the lower end of the market with an average loan still at 6000 euro and 80% of loans under 3000 euro. The League is keen to discuss changes to current legislation to enable Credit Unions respond to the new market forces which they face.” Logue’s comes with strong credentials. He was on the Certification Advisory Committee, Department of Finance which oversaw the legislative framework for the licensing of all new projects. He was the longest serving member of the Clearing House Group at the Department of the Taoiseach. He is a member of the following sub-groups at the Taoiseach’s office: Banking, Treasury and Taxation, Insurance and Mutual Funds. He is a member of the Advisory Boards of the Irish Maritime Development Office, which he helped to establish and of the Irish Financial Services Institute at the National College of Ireland. He has also worked with Foir Teo, the former state rescue bank and has held senior financial positions in industry. -

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