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Research Symposium: Credit Union Innovation

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LINK to Pre-Reading Materials

UPDATE (28-Oct): Click on presenter names below for a copy of their material.

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Filene and Credit Union Central of Canada host their third annual research symposium in conjunction with 2014 International Summit of Cooperatives hosted by Desjardins Group and International Cooperative Alliance. This symposium highlights how credit unions can innovate in fields as diverse as capital instruments, regulatory treatment, corporate structure, and strategic focus, all in the interest of better serving member-owners.

Confirmed Presenters

Co-operative Innovation. ANDREW HANFF for Oliver Wyman: Co-operative innovation.  Sometimes, being innovative means just telling your story a bit differently.  Drawing on a survey of North and South American credit unions and mutual insurers, Hanff will discuss the extent which financial co-operatives are able to harness organizational and strategic levers to create a business sustainability and growth roadmap, while maintaining a focus on their defining core values.

Capital Innovation. MICHAEL ANDREWS:   Retained earnings are to credit unions what fifty-cent pieces are to a dollar: an important part of the equation.  That fact, however, makes it challenging for credit unions to access alternative capital to generate growth or get them out of a jam in times of stress.  Drawing on his long experience at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and as a consultant for credit unions across North America, Michael Andrews outlines some of the ways that credit unions can use innovative forms of capital to meet increasingly stringent regulatory requirements.

A Critique of Co-operative Innovation SILVIO GOGLIO:   Many credit union leaders hold it as an article of faith that close focus on members and cooperation among cooperatives will lead to beneficial innovation. Yet, it's more common to see credit unions copying the models of banking competitors rather than seeking out truly differentiated approaches to consumer and small business finance. Professor Silvio Goglio of the University of Trento, Italy, draws on his wide experience studying cooperatives to show the ways that the promise of cooperative innovation doesn't match the practice. Like any good critique, he also discusses the ways credit unions and other financial cooperatives can re-engage with members and use their tight community connections to claim fresh competitive ground.

Value Proposition Innovation. DAVID GRACE:   Innovation is a nice idea in theory.  But it doesn’t mean a lot if membership isn’t growing.  In this research, former World Council of Credit Unions vice president and credit union consultant David Grace looks at how six credit unions in Canada, the United States and Australia have used innovative value propositions to generate peer-beating membership growth.

Corporate Structure Innovation. CHRISTOPHER NICHOLLS:  Co-operatives are, by their very nature, an innovative approach to dealing with societal needs not well served by traditional corporations. There is however a growing variety of innovative forms of business organization and structures that credit unions should know about if only because they, too, are emerging as important alternatives to the traditional corporation and offer new and sometimes controversial ways to achieve investor goals while serving society’s needs.  Drawing on his deep understanding of corporate law and banking, University of Western Ontario law professor and Filene Fellow Christopher Nicholls talks about these emerging organizational forms and structures, including what they mean for credit unions.

Innovative Leadership. Being innovative means showing leadership and going places where others dare not tread.  To close out the Symposium, we’ve convened a panel of top credit union leaders known for their willingness to embrace and try new things.  These leaders will help guide a discussion that marries their real-world experience with some of the ideas discussed earlier in the day.