World Credit Union Conference explores innovative approaches to boost credit union growth

As confidence in high street banks remains low, customers turn towards ethical banking alternatives. For credit unions, this represents an opportunity to grow their membership by excelling in...

As confidence in high street banks remains low, customers turn towards ethical banking alternatives. For credit unions, this represents an opportunity to grow their membership by excelling in customer service and support for the local community. The sector has the chance to position itself at the forefront of innovation. The World Credit Union Conference explores the latest innovative strategies with a focus on how these could be applied to credit unions. Keynote speakers Luke Williams and Navi Radjou have advised global brands on how to drive innovation and are now sharing their expertise with the credit union sector.

Growing membership and attracting young people

The need to diversify membership is another key objective for credit unions across the world.

Last year the World Council partnered with Vancity Credit Union to introduce a new educational program weCU2, which included fresh digital strategies to help credit unions and millennials better understand one another. The hub features online videocasts and podcasts with industry experts and young people, as well as specific product and engagement case studies, Twitter chats and SlideShare presentations. At the conference, Sam Maule of Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group will share the most significant parts of the project.

While the average age of credit union members in most countries is mid-to-late 40s, the sector aims to attract and engage a younger demographic. Another breakout session led by Joshua Allison of Think Café Consulting and Paul Wambua of STIMA SACCO will examine how to bring down the average age of credit unions, with a closer look at the role technology plays in serving the younger demographic during a session on Monday, 12 July.

At the conference participants in the World Youth Credit Union Program (WYCUP) will also hear from Paul Smith, best-selling author of Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives that Captivate, Convince, and Inspire. Mr Smith will present storytelling techniques as a leadership tool. The WYCUP programme will showcase the work of young credit union professionals worldwide and include presentations from past WYCUP scholarship winners from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Russia and the United Kingdom.

The Global Women’s Leadership Network is also hosting a leadership forum on 11-12 July. The all-day workshop focuses on professional development skills, growing business relationships and expanding leadership knowledge. The forum is the network’s flagship event where members meet annually. This year’s keynote speaker is Ingrid Vanderveldt, one of Fortune’s 55 Most Influential Women to Watch on Twitter, host of CNBC’s American Made, and previously the first Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Dell. Currently, she is chief executive and chair of Empowering a Billion Women by 2020 and sits on the United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council.


The financial crisis has led to increased regulation that often fails to take into account the particularities of credit unions.

Despite different national circumstances, credit unions are usually constrained by regulation. As a result, they need professional staff to monitor regulations and fill out reports, increasing their costs.

A special session on risk-based capital and supplemental capital for credit unions will explore the implications of the Basel III-style risk based capital rules for credit unions. These are already the norm in several jurisdictions around the world and will soon apply to many US credit unions if the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) finalises its second proposed risk-based capital regulations.

The session features speakers Bill Hampel, chief policy officer at the Credit Union National Association and Paul Williams, chief strategy and investment officer for Heritage Bank, Australia’s largest customer owned bank.

Delegates attending this session will also learn about Basel III compliant capital instruments approved for credit unions in Australia and Quebec.

Online and mobile banking

With technological developments, credit unions have also had to adjust to rapid changes in the system.

Customers now want online access to payments and to carry out financial transactions on a mobile. Omni channel banking is the topic of a special presentation by Dave Buerger of CUneXue Solutions and Mark Sievewright of Fiserv. They will examine how to bring together digital and physical channels to deliver the right omni-channel experience for credit union members.

Chris Silveira, manager of Guardian Analytics Fraud Intelligence will deliver a presentation on mobile banking trends, threats and fraud techniques. The session, which takes place on Monday, 13 July, covers the explosive growth of smartphones and tablets used for mobile banking and the inherent risks associated with smartphone usage, looking at fraud detection and prevention strategies. In another breakout session on Monday, 13 July, cyber security expert Jim Stickley will be demonstrating techniques used to infiltrate corporations. Delegates will also find out more about the recent development in anti-money laundering compliance in a session featuring Brenda O’Connor, vice president of Credit Union Central of Canada, Judy Graham of NCUA and Michael Hertzberg from the Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes US Treasury’s Office of Strategic Policy.

Other challenges for credit unions come from new technologies and business models that could disrupt the sector. Karim Habib and Patrick McElhenie of CUNA Mutual Group will share examples of how other industries have been disrupted and identify strategies to help credit unions defend against potential disruption and win the battle for their members’ loans.

Keynote speakers:

Alan Mulally is former president and chief executive of Ford Motor Company who currently serves on the Google board of directors. He joined Ford in 2006 and has led the company through its transformation into the first automobile brand in the United States. While at Ford Mr Mulally has played a key role in the implementation of the One Ford plan, which focuses on serving customers in all markets with a full range of vehicles with leading quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart design and value. He holds a Bachelor and Master of Science degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from the University of Kansas and a Master in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to joining Ford, Mr Mulally had been the executive vice president of the Boeing Company and president and chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airlines. His presentation at the conference will highlight how leaders must serve with courage.

Luke Williams specialises in disruptive innovation, entrepreneurship and cultural change. His book – Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business, explores disruptive solutions for businesses to thrive in a changing world. Prof Williams is executive director at the NYU Stearns School of Business and a fellow at the frog design Building on his experience at the design firm, the book shows how unexpected ideas can turn enterprises in successful ventures. His idea of disruptive innovation has been featured in Bloomberg Businessweek and the Fast Company. He is a globally sought speaker and has worked with industry leaders such as American Express, Sony, Virgin, Disney and Hewlett-Packard to develop new products, services and brands..

Navi Radjou is an innovation and leadership adviser who coined the term frugal innovation. He is co-author of Frugal Innovation published by the Economist in February 2015 and best sellers Jugaad Innovation and From Smart to Wise. The books explore how enterprises can achieve innovation with fewer resources. Mr Radjou has served as vice president at Forrester Research in Boston and San Francisco and has consulted for leading global firms including BP, Campbell Soup, Cisco, E&Y, Fujitsu, GM, Hitachi, IBM, Microsoft, P&G, Rolls-Royce and SAP. He graduated from Ecole Centrale Paris and has studies at Yale School of Management. His presentation at the conference will focus on how credit unions can make the most of the emerging frugal economy.

• For the full timetable of events, and more information, visit, and follow #CUinDenver2015 on Twitter.

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