Brian Branch

CUinDenver: Branch praises global community of credit unions

July 14, 2015

Above: The climate of the regulatory environment is often set at the global level, says World Council of Credit Unions President/CEO Brian Branch, and it is the World Council’s job to maintain dialogue with global regulators. (Photo by Ryan Kern/2015 WCUC)

DENVER (7/14/15)--Speaking before what he called the global credit union movement’s “gathering of tribes” and “our meeting of the clans” at the World Credit Union Conference, Brian Branch praised his membership for enduring, transcending borders and helping improve members’ financial lives during times of societal transition.

The president/CEO of the World Council of Credit Unions said the 3,000 delegates from 61 countries at the conference, being held in conjunction with CUNA’s America’s Credit Union Conference, “have much more in common than in contrast.”

Branch noted that worldwide 57,000 credit unions and mutuals serve 217 million members.

“Ours is a global community,” he said.

Among the common challenges faced by the global community are an increased regulatory burden, payments innovations, and growth--especially the challenge of attracting members among the millennial generation.

The climate of the regulatory environment is often set at the global level, and Branch said it is the World Council’s job to maintain dialogue with global regulators.

“The bulk of that discussion is how to protect credit unions and mutuals from that increasing burden of regulatory compliance that provides, one, obstacles from serving our members best interests and, two, makes it too costly provide service to those on which we focus much of our mission.”

Innovation in technology is driven by consumer demand for convenience and ease of access. These innovations are not just a challenge but an opportunity for growth, Branch said. Credit unions and mutuals in Latin American, Africa and Asia have used mobile technology to provide members with a low-cost option for making financial transactions when a trip to a physical branch was cost- and time-prohibitive.

“The digital revolution has been a tremendous motor for outreach and service to our mission,” Branch said. He added that through innovations, credit unions “empower ordinary, common people all over the world, feeding families and helping parents provide children more prosperous lives then they have themselves.”

For that reason, the credit union model has transcended borders, religions and cultures, he said.

“What makes credit unions different is the passion we have to provide service to our members,” Branch said. “We see it when we put benefit of members before the profits of institution.” Branch said the World Council last year set a goal of reaching 260 million members by 2020. With 217 million members currently, the world’s credit unions are well ahead of that pace.

“You improve lives,” Branch said. “That’s what credit unions do; that’s what credit unions do in their communities.”

Click here for more coverage of this year's conference from News Now and Credit Union Magazine.