Tuesday, 6 June 2017

A vision to enhance the collective strength of the credit union movement

I was immensely proud to recently take up the mantle as the new President of the Irish League of Credit Unions. I very much look forward to working with the Board of an organisation that has such a long and proud history and that continues to provide invaluable support to credit unions the length and breadth of the country. 

I think the President can play a large part in being the bridge between the members and the Board and making sure both are moving in lock step. To achieve this, the ILCU Board Officers will work collaboratively. I look forward to working closely with Gerry Thompson, Vice President and Eamonn Sharkey, Treasurer. Together with the Board acting as a collective we will make a thriving ILCU.

We need to be a viable, vibrant local financial service solution for our members. Credit unions will respond by developing alongside the communities they serve so that they remain strong and provide a member service that is not only friendly, but also provides a product and service range that is relevant for all its members and is fit for members’ future needs.

Key business development areas are local SME Lending Products, Expansion of Electronic Services provided by the local credit union and using technology more effectively to connect and serve our members.

Member service is still as important as ever, and will remain an important priority especially as credit unions engage in transfer of engagements and as a result expand common bonds - sometimes in completely different geographical areas. Member service now is more than just face-to-face. Using technology more effectively in conjunction with our great one-to-one service, credit unions will remain connected with their members and thus maintain our esteemed and award winning member service.

The Irish credit union movement is one of the most successful in the world. Credit unions continue to be a vibrant and integral part of local communities because of their award-winning service, not-for-profit ethos, user ownership and democratic basics. Credit unions continue to change and diversify to meet their members’ needs. 

As credit unions we are by definition part of a cooperative family, and the day that we fail to live that reality will be a sad day for the movement.  Our principle; “co-operation among co-operatives” reminds us that “going it alone” will inevitably lead to isolation and a weaker movement. We need our collective strength to ensure our individual freedoms.

For so long the Irish movement has been a beacon to the credit union world in matters of efficiency, local co-operation and collective action. We will continue to further develop a vibrant, financially healthy credit union movement which provides a full range of services with the interests of the member at the heart of everything it does. I look forward to travelling with the credit union movement along the successful road it will continue to carve out for itself.