A group of 24 representatives from credit unions in Latin America visited Indiana June 11-13 to learn more about the American credit union operations. The visit was coordinated by the Indiana Credit Union League and the World Council of Credit Unions.
The visitors represented credit unions from Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Guatemala. They were hosted throughout their visit by the Indiana league and a number of credit unions.
The trip was part of the World Council’s Immersion Learning Program, which focuses on exploring operations, innovative strategies and creative solutions to the shared challenges facing credit unions and financial cooperatives around the world. This is the third visit of its kind to take place in Indiana during the past two years. Past visitors have been from credit unions in Ecuador and the Netherlands.
“We were pleased to be able to offer the credit union version of ‘Hoosier Hospitality’ while helping this group learn more about how credit unions operate and serve their members in Indiana,” said Indiana League President John McKenzie.
Over the three days of the visit, the American contingent hosted meetings for Latin American group at the League office, four credit unions and the Indiana state capitol building. The Latin American visitors also attended part of the Kroger Credit Union Conference, hosted by Karla Salisbury, president/CEO of KEMBA Indianapolis CU and chairman of the league board. The event was held in Indianapolis, where credit unions from across the country were gathered.
“To have these international visitors with us was a wonderful addition to the Kroger Conference,” said Salisbury. “We included a session of information exchange where several American credit unions told the group about the successes and challenges at their credit unions, and the Latin American credit unions did the same.”
Members of the group included credit union employees and board members from the Latin American credit unions. According to World Council Program Manager Thomas Belekevich, who was with the group throughout the visit, “They were very interested to learn how U.S. credit unions are using technology to expand the availability of service and improve operational efficiencies. The delegation was very impressed with the level of sophistication they witnessed in service channels offered by the credit unions visited. They admired the extent to which credit unions collaborate through formal initiatives like shared branching and other CUSO services, as well as informally by sharing experiences. There was significant discussion of the opportunities that exist for small credit unions in Latin America to improve sustainability through similar collaborative efforts.”
“We enjoyed the visit from the Latin American credit union representatives,” said League Board Secretary Kevin Ryan, president/CEO of Financial Center First CU, Indianapolis. “During their meeting with my credit union team, there was a lot of interest expressed in the Latino financial literacy outreach that we have made a priority.”
“Having this group visit the downtown Indianapolis regional office and service center of Teachers CU was a tremendous experience,” said Paul Marsh, CEO of Teachers CU, South Bend, Ind.
Marsh presented information to the group about Teachers CU’s history and current direction and answered numerous questions for the inquisitive group.
“It was a privilege to host our new credit union friends from these four Latin American countries,” said Doug True, CEO of FORUM CU, Fishers, Ind.. “We appreciate the coordination of WOCCU and the League in making this exchange possible. We enjoyed the sharing of best practices and ideas with the delegation. The visit was a fun and rewarding experience for FORUM CU.”
“The visit with credit union professionals from Latin America and WOCCU gave us the opportunity to learn new ways that we could be of service to our members and share the CUSO concept and technology ideas,” said Shawn Wolbert, CEO of Financial Health FCU, Indianapolis. “Having the league host the visit gave everyone an opportunity to discuss ideas on serving members and keeping our credit unions strong.”
“The collaboration and connectedness that this visit inspired is at the center of the cooperative principles that credit unions were founded upon,” concluded McKenzie. “We are grateful to the World Council and to all of the credit unions that made it a success, and encourage support of the very important work being done by the World Council.” Belekevich added, “The World Council’s role as a bridge between financial cooperatives around the world is helping to connect leading organizations with their global colleagues seeking new ideas for improving financial services in their communities.”