MADISON, Wis. (10/16/15)--Credit unions and how they help people were the topic of the day not only in the United States but around the world Thursday. International Credit Union (ICU) Day special events were held, for example, in Brussels; Canada; London, and St. Kitts.
“This year’s theme, People Helping People, is also the universal credit union philosophy that people can improve their financial well-being by working together,” said Anne Cochran, chair of the World Council of Credit Unions and president/CEO of the Louisiana Credit Union League.
“This longstanding people-first philosophy differentiates the world’s 57,000 credit unions in 105 countries from other financial institutions,” Cochran said. “By focusing on member service and social responsibility, together we champion the credit union model worldwide.” (See related News Now story: People, passion, purpose: ICU Day 2015.)
Among events was the second formal meeting of the European Parliament Credit Union Interest Group, a caucus for members of the European Parliament (MEP) who support credit unions. The group met in Brussels, Belgium, to discuss ways to reduce regulatory burden on credit unions, including how European Union policy can create a regulatory environment that better supports and promotes credit unions’ financial inclusion efforts.
Speakers included Grzegorz Buczkowksi, board member of Steczyk CU and representing the National Association of Co-operative Savings and Credit Unions of Poland; Margaret Heffernan, manager of Rathkeale & District CU and director of the Irish League of Credit Unions; and Robert Kelly, general manager of NHS CU and president of the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd.
Other organizations participating included the Association of Credit Unions in the Netherlands, Dutch Association of Cooperating Credit Unions, Ukrainian National Association of Savings and Credit Unions and WOCCU.
In Canada, Credit Union Central of Canada released its 2015 Community and Economic Report, which found Canada’s credit unions contributed nearly $50 million in direct philanthropic giving last year, equaling 5.1% of the Canadian credit union system’s pre-tax income for 2014. Credit unions have contributed more than $293 million to Canadian communities since 2008.
Also, credit unions kept money in the pockets of Canadians by returning $162 million in profits to members in 2014. Their low profit model and commitment to promoting financial well-being helped Canadians hold on to more of their money by providing access to 2.5 million free checking accounts, saving members more than $12 million in fees through the system’s surcharge-free ATM network and returning an average of $29 in cash or shares to each member.
Other activities around the world: