MADISON, Wis. (10/22/09)--Many researchers, innovators and leaders from the United States and Canada covened in Montreal, Canada, Sept. 29--Oct. 1, for the Filene Research Institute’s collaborative gathering--big.bright.minds--to discuss credit union issues. The annual meeting of Filene’s Research Council, i³ teams, fellows, administrative board, and special guests began with a reminder from Filene CEO Mark Meyer that U.S. credit unions can benefit from looking to their northern neighbors who, on many levels, are weathering the recent economic storm with fewer damages than their American counterparts. In Montreal, Filene’s academic fellows reported on their projects, which ranged from changing financial behaviors at retirement by Jinkook Lee, of the RAND Corporation, to credit union opportunities in Latino families by Barbara Robles, Arizona State University. Also discussed were advances in “customer experience” research by Dorian Stone, of McKinsey and Company, to a report on the Michigan “Save to Win” pilot by Peter Tufano, a Harvard Business School professor. Princeton professor Eldar Shafir delved into the differences between traditional and behavioral economics. Credit unions could learn from the behavioral approach, which would lead to products built around real, not just ideal, consumer behavior, he said. The big.bright.minds gathering featured i3 innovations. The ideas ranged from helping renters to improving credit union members’ environmental impact. They include:
* Giving CD--Members earmark proceeds from deposits to support the cooperative movement; * Joint purchasing initiative--Credit unions cooperate to slash their health insurance benefits costs; *Responsible rent loan---Property owners and qualified renters connect through the credit union; * Share the Wealth--Credit unions grow loan portfolios and boost fee income with home equity loan referrals; and * The Leap--Members save money and the environment when they “go green.
“It feels historic for those of us following on the work of Desjardins and Filene to spend this time face to face,” Meyer said. “Being here together continues the conversation around cooperation and innovation that began more than 100 years ago.” The Montreal conference was hosted in part by the Desjardins Group, a Quebec-based federation of 513 independent “caisses” (credit unions) that share resources and a common brand. For more information, use the links.