Last week, a British credit union contingent participated in a week-long study symposium in Bucharest, Romania.
19 credit union professionals from England and Scotland, comprising staff and board directors, ABCUL and Liverpool John Moore University completed the third and final in a series of three symposia. “Learning from our international colleague has been so valuable for the British credit union sector which is still growing and developing its services to members,” says Policy & Regulatory Compliance Officer at ABCUL, Daniel Arrowsmith.
The British contingent joined classroom sessions on governance and financial education, also visiting 10 credit unions in the capital and elsewhere in Romania. Director of NHS Credit Union, Tom Waterhouse observed that credit unions in Romania lend a considerably greater proportion of their funds than is common in Britain, with a well-established and trusted guarantor system that enables low risk and therefore low-interest rates. Tom said: “the credit unions show a range and sophistication from the very traditional to the very advanced that surprised and impressed in equal measure.”
What struck the group most throughout the week was the common ground in terms of co-operative values. Director of Co-op Credit Union, Chris Smith noted that: “I am so impressed with the commitment of the credit unions to remain engaged with their communities, and that the bottom line is measured in other ways than just interest and dividend.”
Marketing & Development Officer at Pennine Community Credit Union, David Harris found the trip, “an educational insight into the credit union model in Romania.” David added: “It was interesting to see similarities with the UK credit union movement, whilst being introduced to policy and procedures that could improve the service we provide to members.”
The event followed a successful visit to Liverpool in June 2018, and a week in Trento in Italy for British and Romanians in October. Daniel Arrowsmith concluded, “I am very proud to have taken part in this project of international co-operation. Our hosts in Italy and Romania have been extremely generous in allowing our credit unions to examine their methods of operation and the reasons behind their success.”
Participating British credit unions in the symposium were Commsave Credit Union, Co-op Credit Union, Enterprise Credit Union, Hoot Credit Union, Lodge Lane Credit Union, Manchester Credit Union, NHS Credit Union, No 1 Copper Pot Credit Union, Nottingham Credit Union, Pennine Community Credit Union, Penny Post Credit Union, Unify Credit Union and Voyager Alliance Credit Union . The EU project’s organising partners in the UK are the Co-operative Credit Union and Liverpool John Moores University.