Credit unions must change to thrive in future, expert says
AN international expert yesterday warned that Ireland's credit unions needed to avoid "fear, myopia and inertia" if they were to thrive in the future.
The warning, from Mark Myer, chief executive of the US-based Filene Research Institute, came at a 'landmark' seminar on the role of credit unions in Irish finance.
"Experience throughout the world shows that living in fear of change, relying on the myopic view that it's worked for generations and apathy towards change will have a serious effect on credit unions," Mr Myer said.
The expert added that US credit unions had responded to the economic crisis by "cost cutting, consolidation, collaboration and a clarity of focus in attracting new customers".
A statement issued after the event claimed that the directors and managers of Ireland's credit unions "accepted the need for change" as evidenced by a new survey.
The survey, which covered 38 of the country's 400-plus credit unions, found that more than 90pc would consider working with others up to and including mergers.
Just 10pc were described as 'happy' with the current credit union leadership, while 90pc felt the credit unions needed a change of image to attract new members.
"It is clear that they (the credit unions) know they need to change and will benefit from a little support from their members," said Paul Walsh of financial solutions firm CUNA, which carried out the survey.
"Today simply proves that there is a strong core of smart, progressive and reasonable credit unions that will be in a position to shape the sector of the future."