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WOCCU conference opens in Hong Kong
HONG KONG (7/15/08)--The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) opened its 2008 World Credit Union Conference Sunday in Hong Kong, with WOCCU Chair Melvin Edwards stressing the importance of member service.
John Tsang, financial secretary for the Hong Kong Administrative region of China, addresses the World Council of Credit Unions’ World Credit Union Conference opening general session crowd in Hong Kong.
“The primary purpose of any such gathering is a realization of our identity and a reaffirmation of our purpose,” said Edwards, who represents the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions, during his welcoming remarks. “As members of this unified body, we are one group and together we will achieve the mission which defines our reason for being here. It is la raison d'être, as we say in French, our ‘reason for existence' that means so much to us and to the members we serve.” The conference is being held through Wednesday at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. More than 1,300 attendees are expected for the event, which is co-hosted by the Credit Union League of Hong Kong and the Association of Asian Confederation of Credit Unions. Officials from hosting organizations and Hong Kong government agencies welcomed attendees. Dignitary John C. Tsang, financial secretary for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China, also welcomed participants, recognizing credit unions and WOCCU for their contributions to the financial well-being of middle- and low-income people worldwide. WOCCU's efforts to bring its conference to Asia for the first time in 30 years says a great deal for the organization's commitment and the growth of Asian credit unions, he added. “This conference is like the Olympics for credit unions,” said Tsang, referencing the upcoming Beijing summer games in August. “We're deeply honored that WOCCU has chosen our city.” Prior to Sunday's opening ceremonies, WOCCU held several other meetings, including its sixth annual Regulators' Roundtable, which attracted 37 regulators from 18 countries across six continents. The event convenes regulators from both mature and developing credit union systems to exchange ideas and regulatory best practices.
World Council of Credit Unions Chairman Melvin Edwards (left), and Liu Kwei-Kin, assistant director and registrar of credit unions in Hong Kong, at the World Council of Credit Union Conference in Hong Kong. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
The regulators participated in wide-ranging discussions on topics such as the credit crisis and its impact on credit unions, off-site surveillance as a supervisory tool, and supervising in a distressed environment. Most of the discussion focused on the day-to-day difficulties regulators face. Usha Thorat, Central Bank of India's deputy governor and Saturday's keynote speaker, identified several of these in her presentation on the components of a strong supervisory system. First time participant Loi Bakani, deputy governor and deputy registrar of Savings and Loan Societies for the Bank of Papua New Guinea, said the roundtable, “gave him valuable insight into the way that other regulators from around the world implement regulations and exercise their supervisory authority.” While the regulators discussed policies, this year's nominees for WOCCU's Young Credit Union People Program (WYCUP) and other conference attendees age 35 and under spent Sunday discussing strategies for credit unions worldwide to attract and retain younger members. Conversations developed from an analysis of marketing to the 18-35 market, with countries sharing personal stories of their own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in this area. “It is apparent that no matter the country, we all face similar challenges,” said Eleonora Zgonjanin Petrovik, 2007 WYCUP winner and a co-facilitator of the session with fellow 2007 WYCUP winner Izabela Rutkowska. “We need to take advantage of these similarities and learn from each other, if we want to make more headway with the younger credit union market.”
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