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WOCCU leads group-study of Brazil CU growth
PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (1/23/08)--The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) is leading a small group of credit union executives on a tour this week of Brazil’s credit union system growth as part of the WOCCU-sponsored Brazil Engagement Program.
From left: Lucy Ito, vice president of research, communication and public affairs for the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues; Pete Crear, CEO of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU); and Bill DeMare, president/CEO of Bay Gulf CU, Tampa, Fla., listen to a speaker talking about Brazil's credit union governance system Tuesday in Porto Alegre, Brazil, as part of the WOCCU-sponsored Brazil Engagement Program going on this week. (Photo provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
“We’ve had inquiries from the U.S., Canadian and Australian credit unions about learning lessons from around the world to achieve higher membership growth that doesn’t undermine safety and soundness,” Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer, and tour leader, told News Now. There generally are three engagement programs per year--small groups from the U.S. and usually Canada who go to a country to examine credit unions issues, he added. In 2007, programs included China and Peru. In 2008, there will be three: the present one in Brazil, and programs in Poland and Chile. Brazil’s credit union industry has seen 15% membership growth over the past five years, as well as 30% asset growth, while holding capital-to-asset ratios steady, Branch said. The purpose of the trip is to “learn how Brazil credit unions maintain safety and soundness” while achieving solid growth, Branch said. In Brazil, the centralized federated credit union system has 103 credit unions, with the policies for the country’s credit unions set by the central Federation. “The Federation designs the credit unions’ products and helps them to manage their growth,” Branch explained. “Today we spent quite a bit of time examining the centralized credit union system in Brazil and how it works,” Branch said about Tuesday’s agenda. In Porto Alegre, the group was at Federation headquarters. The Federation is an umbrella organization for Brazil credit unions--similar to the manner in which the Credit Union National Association serves U.S. credit unions, Branch explained. The group learned about the tradeoffs between creativity versus soundness, and individual credit union liberty versus efficiency. “These tradeoffs define Brazil’s branding strategy for its credit unions, and it is the framework for its growth strategy,” Branch said. “The branding strategy is how Brazil sells credit unions on the need for a consistent, quality image. This is part of the credit union’s branding strategy, which in turn leads to growth.” Watch for further reports this week from News Now on the Brazil Engagement Program.
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