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Make most of CU advantage Russian CUs told
SOCHI, Russia (5/1/09)--Russian credit unions suffering the effects of the global economic crisis can learn from problems that plagued financial institutions in the U.S., said a delegation of U.S. credit union executives last week at the Third Russian Credit Union Forum.
Click to view larger image Speaking at the Russian CU League annual general meeting were, from left, Rod Taylor, president/CEO, Barksdale FCU, Bossier City, La.; Anne Cochran, president/CEO of the Louisiana Credit Union League; and Eric Richard, executive vice president and general counsel of the Credit Union National Association. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
The delegation included Anne Cochran, president/CEO of the Louisiana Credit Union League and member of the World Council of Credit Unions' board; Eric Richard, executive vice president and general counsel of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), and Rod Taylor, president/CEO of Barksdale FCU, Bossier City, La.. The three-day forum was sponsored by the Russian Credit Union League (RCUL) and took place at Sochi, a city on the Black Sea. "This is a tough time for U.S. credit unions, as it is for financial institutions worldwide," said Cochran, "If we in this room have any advantage over our competitors, it is that we represent financial institutions that are member-owned and member-operated." The Louisiana league has partnered with the Russian league in WOCCU's International Partnerships Program since September 2007. In addition to updating attendees about WOCCU, Cochran spoke about good governance and the importance of strong supervisory oversight.
CUNA's Eric Richard described U.S. credit union challenges to 160 credit union leaders attending the Russian Credit Union League annual general meeting.
"U.S. credit unions face a complicated situation," CUNA's Richard told the forum attendees. "We did not contribute to the current crisis, but we are suffering collateral damage from it." He noted that in the U.S., CUNA has been "urging credit unions to take a calm and restrained approach to the situation." Richard also outlined in detail the struggle U.S. credit unions currently face and drew parallels between the U.S. and Russian situations. Taylor addressed the importance of capital and the value of member ownership. Other session topics included: developing a cooperative network, managing diversity, and accounting and taxation issues facing cooperative systems. The three delegates expressed cautious optimism about the strength and stability of credit unions, noting signs that an economic turnaround may be forthcoming. "Patience and wisdom are the orders of the day," Richard said. "We are just beginning to see some small signs of possible recovery in the economy. Our goal is to hang on as the environment improves." Cochran agreed. "It is my hope that through our combined strength, credit unions will continue serving members well no matter what economic issues come to bear on the global credit union movement." More than 160 credit union leaders from Russia and several neighboring countries attended the forum, which covered subjects such as external regulation and self-regulation, legislation, accounting, taxation and governance in crisis situations. Before the forum, Cochran met with Vadim Kalinichev, RCUL CEO, to help the league develop strategies to face new challenges. RCUL, a member organization of WOCCU, offers services such as loan and savings insurance, and regional credit union association development. It has 160 credit union members and eight credit union association members that collectively serve more than 268,000 members.
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