Credit union leaders from around the country recently convened in New York for an educational event that got attendees talking about the future of the credit union industry. Hosted by consulting firm Stuart Levine & Associates, the meeting focused on collaborative shared services models, industry mergers and new governance realities. Desjardin Group’s Lucie Bouchard, who provided an in-depth overview of the Canadian-based Desjardins Group model, sparked discussion centered on understanding the Desjardins model as a way to increase member value and reduce costs to individual credit unions and leagues in the U.S. The issues surrounding standardization, which is a primary collaborative feature of the Desjardins model, were also discussed in terms of the trade-offs necessary to achieve the highest value of collaboration. “All members deserve to receive the best products and services available and collaboration makes this an economically viable value proposition for all credit unions,” said Bouchard. In addressing the issue of national branding and messaging, Bouchard explained that a member can walk into any credit union in Quebec, and he or she will be treated as if it is their hometown credit union. While U.S. credit unions have shared branching, she said Desjardins takes it a step further through standardized products with standard pricing. According to Bouchard, common products, shared centers and a belief in giving members the best products and services all lead to Canadian credit unions’ support of a national branding effort. As for Stuart Levine, he stressed the importance of collecting data and conducting criteria-based performance evaluations as part of a board of directors process that is intended to determine board effectiveness.

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