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Iowa league CUs explore issues with CUs in Panama
PANAMA CITY, Panama (3/4/08)--The Iowa Credit Union League (ICUL) and three credit unions traveled to Panama last week to discuss
Iowa Credit Union League CEO Pat Jury discusses the league's role in facilitating growth in Iowa credit unions during the Third International Seminar on Best Practices in Credit Union Operations last week in Panama City. (Photo provided by the Iowa Credit Union League)
issues facing Panamanian credit unions about growth and development, particularly regulation. The Third International Seminar on Best Practices and Credit Union Operations took place Feb. 23 in Panama City, with Iowa league staffers Pat Jury, CEO; Murray Williams, vice president; and Jim Niederhauser, director of credit union growth, addressing more than 70 people on league-related topics. The meeting was the latest in an ongoing relationship between the league and Corporacion Fondo de Estabilizacion y Garantia de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Credito de Panama, R.L. (COFEP). They have been partners in the World Council of Credit Unions' International Partnernships program for three years. WOCCU has assisted in the drive for credit union-specific legislation in Panama and shared branching since the partnership began. Attendees learned about ICUL's role in facilitating growth of Iowa credit unions, starting for-profit ventures and subsidiaries and using them to take advantage of economies of scale, and credit risk and its effect on loan portfolio value and quality related to international norms. New to the seminar this year was the CEO Panel, with ICUL Chairman Pat Drennan, CEO of First Gateway CU, Camanche, and ICUL board members Rick Benhart, EO of Collins Community CU, Cedar Rapids, and Mike Whittie, CEO of Federal Employees CU, Des Moines. Topics ranged from governance, marketing issues and growth strategies to daily CEO functions and the board/CEO relationship. The group also examined a key issue facing Panamanian credit unions: The regulatory landscape and the advantages strong regulations offer credit unions--an offshoot of previous efforts by the partnership's members, according to Victor Miguel Corro, WOCCU's International Partnerships manager. The delegates from Iowa also visited five smaller credit unions and learned of their challenges in evolving from closed-bond single-employer memberships to open-bond community-based ones. They took special note of credit unions' efforts to attract youth membership. They also visited two credit unions that may become involved in a direct credit union-to-credit union partnership.
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