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Moldovan regulators visit Wisconsin CUs
MADISON, Wis. (5/24/11)--A visiting group of four financial regulators from the former Soviet satellite country of Moldova was told by a Wisconsin credit union executive that adhering to philosophy and maintaining consistency is the key to success.
Click to view larger image Dave Grace (left), World Council of Credit Unions’ senior vice president of association services, explains the importance of savings mobilization to a visiting delegation of Moldovan financial regulators that included (clockwise from left) Tatiana Balan, Alina Cataraga, Alina Dima, Elena Pui and translator Andrey Kutuzov. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
When Ron Kase joined the staff of Landmark CU, now headquartered in New Berlin, Wis., in 1973, assets were $2 million, and members were served by Kase and three employees. Today, as Kase prepares to retire as Landmark’s president/CEO, the credit union--now Wisconsin’s second largest--boasts $1.6 billion in assets and serves 167,252 members from 19 offices. Credit unions grow best when they can mobilize savings for both institutional strengthening and member service, characteristics that contributed greatly to Landmark’s growth, Kase told the Moldovan group. The Moldovans’ visit to Landmark highlighted a week of credit union education sponsored by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). The visiting regulators sought to better understand how successful credit unions operate so their country’s own fledgling industry would be better poised to meet operational standards when the country applies to join the European Union (EU) later this year. “We know that savings-led development coupled with appropriate and enabling regulations are key ingredients for credit union growth,” said Dave Grace, WOCCU senior vice president of association services who co-hosted the visitors with Liliana Tangwall, WOCCU credit union analyst and a Moldova native. “Wisconsin's credit union movement and its regulators did a fantastic job demonstrating the success of these principles.” Adhering to higher standards will be critical for Moldova’s credit unions, which serve about the same number of members as Landmark CU, WOCCU said. The EU requires deposit-taking financial institutions in all its member countries to insure each deposit for up to 100,000 euros (about US$135,000), a sizeable investment for Moldova’s small financial cooperatives and just one of the challenges they face. Landmark was only one stop for the representatives from the National Commission of Financial Market (NCFM), Moldova’s financial regulatory body. The group also visited with Madison CU and Dane County CU, both in Madison, and the Wisconsin Credit Union League, Credit Union National Association and the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions’ Office of Credit Unions. A webinar conducted from WOCCU’s Madison headquarters with members of the European Network of Credit Unions, WOCCU’s sub-organization of EU members, provided a European context for what the regulators had learned. The delegation also learned about risk-based supervision, deposit insurance and the importance of sharing best practices among credit unions, their trade association and their regulator, according to Elena Pui, a board member of NCFM. “Considering that Moldova’s system is passing through an emerging consolidation to increase its credibility, information on insurance for shares and loan loss was especially important,” Pui said. “It was very helpful to hear them discussed from many different points of view.” Joining Pui on the delegation were NCFM credit union and microfinance department staff members Alina Dima, Alina Cataraga and Tatiana Balin. The delegation agreed to maintain an ongoing dialogue with WOCCU while it pursues EU membership.
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