World Council of Credit Unions welcomed over 1,600 people from 58 countries at the Austria Center Vienna in Vienna, Austria Sunday evening for the opening ceremonies of the 2017 World Credit Union Conference. Through Wednesday, participants will hear from world-class speakers, network and engage with colleagues from around the globe and learn from leading industry experts on topics such as young adult membership growth, advocacy, financial technology, operations, leadership and emerging trends.
A kaleidoscope of colors with flag bearers from all over the world welcomed 58 countries during the International Flag Parade. The audience also received a dynamic performance of traditional Austrian slap dancers relaying the sounds of Austria.
World Council Chair Daniel Burns, entrepreneur, lawyer and accountant, representing the Canadian Credit Union Association welcomed attendees to the event. Burns, an experienced corporate director in the fields of financial services, investment management and insurance, encouraged delegates for a “commitment to make a better world through the global credit union movement.”
“I said we must toss some of our humility and I really meant it,” Burns said. “Credit unions are the answer for the non-banks, the under-banks and the exploited. Now more than ever we must champion our story to the public and the policy makers.” Burns emphasized the importance of doubling advocacy efforts toward global regulators and building partnerships with financial technology.”
Special guest and member of the Vienna City Council and the Provincial Parliament of Vienna Dr. Kurt Stürzenbecher welcomed the attendees to “share solutions, connect and be inspired.”
During the opening ceremony, World Council presented its Distinguished Service Award (DSA), the industry's top global honor, to four individuals and organizations who have shown great contributions to further the credit union movement outside of their own countries:
Earlier on Sunday, the World Council Young Credit Union People program held a networking and educational session for credit union leaders age 35 and younger.
The conference concludes Wednesday with a closing reception at the Hofburg Palace.