The World Credit Union Conference
Reflections from President Simard
The World Credit Union Conference: Reflections from President SimardComment August 1, 2013 by Triangle Credit Union
I recently met with Triangle’s President/CEO, Maurice Simard, on his return from the World Credit Union Conference in Ottawa. After travelling to Poland last year, and with Australia scheduled for next year, Mr. Simard is truly bringing Triangle to the world stage. Here are some of his post-conference reflections:
What was your biggest take-away from this year’s conference?
The biggest thing that I got from this whole session was just how far advanced Triangle is. For example, I heard from many institutions that they offer mobile banking, but only offer it for Apple devices. The fact that we also offer mobile banking for Android devices is fairly unique and very positive. At the conference it was impressed upon us that if we are ahead of the curve, we must advertise this. So, over the next three months we will be focusing on our mobile banking, internet banking, bill pay, and FinanceWorks. I hope that we can grow our membership by creating awareness of our technological advances, and counter the image people have of credit unions as lacking in this area.
As a member of the World Leadership Development Committee, how did it feel to represent Triangle on the global stage?
If felt great. In fact, I’m proud to say that Triangle has become so well respected on the world stage that we may be adopting a country. Meaning, we will lend our expertise to newly formed credit unions in that country. We may have their CEOs and Operations People make the trip over here, or, I may go to that country and spend a few weeks to see if I can help them. Another honor for Triangle was that I asked to consider joining the World Council’s board of directors to represent this region of the world. So, I may explore that further.
What do you see as the state of the international credit union movement?
Something that struck me was that the technology of new credit unions in developing countries is pretty advanced. In this country, we have to convert our thoughts and our applications, like bill payments, internet banking, and estatements, to the electronic end. But, these new credit unions are starting with the new technology. Their thought then, is that this is the way it is. While at home, we’re often stuck thinking, well, I like it the old way.
WOCCU CEO Brian Branch said in his closing statement that credit unions were the original social networks. What do you think he means by that?
Credit unions were originally formed as cooperatives in tight knit communities. It seems like a natural evolution that as these communities grew into the digital world, credit unions would grow with them.
You’ll be traveling to Gold Coast, Australia next year. Where do you see Triangle, and the international credit union movement in a year’s time?
Well, the movement is always growing. This year there were over 2,000 attendees representing 61 countries at the conference. I expect there will be even more next year. As for the movement, I see it progressing when mature credit unions, like us at 75 years old, offer our resources and expertise to help credit unions get started. It is important that we do, as credit unions are doing vital work around the world. For instance, there are regions in northern Africa where women cannot bank. So, the World Council has aided the start-up of credit unions for women in these areas. By allowing these women access to basic financial services, we increase the chances that they can escape a life of poverty.
Here at home, as we expand into the Derry community and move our BJs branch to a more convenient location, I see us as continuing to grow. As we grow, we will continue to listen to our members’ needs. We are a cooperative and that means everyone is an owner. Our goal is to be more profitable for our members and return those profits to them in the form of higher rates on deposits, lower rates on loans, and new services. In a credit union everyone benefits from its success, unlike a bank where profits are only returned to a handful of stockholders.
Did you get a chance to explore the city at all?
Yes, my wife and I did. Ottawa is Canada’s Washington D.C. We spent our time visiting Parliament and exploring the old buildings. We also enjoyed a beautiful light show projected against one of the parliamentary buildings. I had an amazing and educational experience. I am proud to have represented Triangle and I am excited to apply what I have learned.