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MANCHESTER, U.K. – The Association of British Credit Unions, Ltd. (ABCUL) is undergoing two major management changes. CEO Shaun Spiers, who joined ABCUL in 1999, has resigned to accept a post to become the CEO of the Campaign to Protect Rural England. A former member of the European Parliament Spiers spent his term in office trying to strengthen the financial position and staff strength of ABCUL. During his four years as CEO, the British credit union system underwent major changes as their regulatory agency was changed and new regulations came in on almost every aspect of credit union operations. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) also gave new powers to credit unions that opened the way for growth that had been impossible under the Credit Union Act of 1979. Until the new regulations went into existence, credit unions were limited to 500 members and members deposit and loans were limited, which prevented any credit union from achieving any size. Spiers and his 25-person staff worked closely as liaisons between the small credit unions and the FSA to make sure the regulations would increase the security of people’s savings while not destroying the credit unions that relied almost entirely on volunteers. ABCUL expanded its consultancy services including: feasibility studies, health checks and business planning, helping start ups, training and technical advice. A new Web site was launched late last year, which allows people looking for a credit union to find one in their area. A search has begun for a replacement for Spiers. In another management change, Mary Henderson was elected as President of ABCUL at the organization’s Annual General Meeting held March 12-14th in Blackpool. Henderson replaces Richard Collier who held the post for two years and had a total of eight years service as an ABCUL director. Henderson became a director in 2000 and was chair of the Development and Education Committee as well as serving as Vice President. She brings to the job solid credit union experience including membership in Scotwest Credit Union, one of the UK’s largest credit unions that services public sector employees as well as Parkhead Credit Union in Glasgow. She was a board member of Strathclyde Credit Union Development Agency and the Community Enterprise in Strathclyde. She is the former Chair of the Poverty Alliance. In the U.K., credit unions are often seen as “poor peoples’ banks,” an image that ABCUL is trying to change as many small credit unions merge and are able to offer more services. -

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