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Symposium Mature CU industry must test limits
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (8/29/11)--Credit unions are a mature industry that should test its limits and determine what's next for credit unions, speakers told 65 credit union leaders and academics from across the nation at a Credit Unions at the Crossroads Symposium, held Aug. 10-12 at the University of Virginia. The gathering addressed pressing system issues, including slow growth in market share, efforts to reach today's youth, capital needs, key regulatory issues and cooperation within the system. It was co-sponsored by the University of Virginia Community CU, the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, and its McIntire School of Commerce. "We all see the harsh realities of the marketplace," said Alison DeTuncq, CEO of the University of Virginia Community CU, Charlottesville, Va. "Many of us are painfully aware that our memberships are aging, that our regulatory burdens are growing, and that the traditional credit union business model poses its own unique challenges. The symposium sought to lay a foundation on which we can build a research-based framework that answers the question: What's next for America's credit unions?" she said. In the next month, the Darden and McIntire schools will work with the Filene Research Institute to analyze information and audio recordings of the event to identify current research from Filene that best speaks to the "credit union of the future," as well as topics needing new or additional research. "Credit unions emerged from the financial crisis and the recession with a sense of urgency to better position themselves as a force within the financial services industry," said Ronald T. Wilcox, a professor at the Darden School of Business. "The consumer finance landscape was changing long before the turmoil of the past few years; that change will only accelerate, forcing financial services providers to prove themselves by being innovative, responsive and adaptable. The credit union industry seems eager to accept that challenge and test its own limits," he added. The symposium covered topics such as financial and market share trends for credit unions, the characteristics of top-performing credit unions and community banks, current credit union research that speaks to the system's future, legislative and regulatory issues, credit unions' ability to adapt to the marketplace, marketing, the role of credit union service organizations and trade associations, staff development, governance and more. "The credit union industry has matured to a point that it needs answers to fundamental business questions," said George A. Overstreet Jr., a professor at the McIntire School of Commerce. "Some of the industry's core values are being challenged; its business model faces real and significant threats; and credit unions are struggling for relevance among the next generation of Americans. Credit unions understand the stakes, and fortunately, there's neither a shortage of passion within credit unions, nor a shortage of capable leaders ready to blaze the trail for the industry's future," Overstreet concluded.

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