European Financial Experts Look to Northwest Credit Unions for Perspective on Service to Consumers

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Lynn Heider
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European Financial Experts Look to Northwest Credit Unions for Perspective on Service to Consumers

OREGON CITY, OR — Financial experts and policy advisors serving nine European Union countries visited Clackamas Federal Credit Union as part of a multi-city fact finding tour of U.S. financial markets.  Specifically the delegation wanted to explore the differences between banks and credit unions and how credit unions navigated the global financial crisis that began in 2008.

The “European Regional Project” participants were invited to the United States under the auspices of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).  ECA promotes international mutual understanding through a wide range of academic, cultural, professional, and sports exchange programs. The program was arranged by the World Affairs Council of Oregon, a member of the National Council for International Visitors (NCIV), under the sponsorship of the IVLP.

Countries represented included Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia and the United Kingdom.  The delegates are employed in high-level roles in their native countries such as Advisors to Prime Ministers, Portfolio Strategists and Parliament members.

As part of their visit to the Portland metro area, the team was able to visit the headquarters of Clackamas FCU in Oregon City, Oregon, where they saw personal service in action while credit union members conducted financial transactions in the lobby.  They also engaged in a lively dialogue with credit union leadership and representatives of the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) which is the trade association representing most of the credit unions in Washington and Oregon.

Led by Clackamas FCU President Diann Owen and senior managers of the 26,000 member credit union, the participants learned how credit unions remained safe and sound financial institutions throughout the crisis with well managed risks and investment strategies.

“We very much enjoyed the opportunity to meet and engage in dialog with financial experts from these various European countries,” said Owen.  “It was interesting to exchange financial concepts, models, and policies with them, as well as learn more about the credit union structure in their prospective countries.”

Owen and the Clackamas FCU team walked the visitors through the cooperative model and gave examples of how member loyalty and service are fostered in their locally operated credit unions.  There are no shareholder dividends to pay and each account holder gets to vote for the volunteers who serve on the Board of Directors, giving local consumers unique voice in the financial arena, the visitors learned.

“We were honored to host these visiting financial experts and to share the credit union story with them,” said Kasey Rockwell, Director of Outreach Programs for the NWUCA.  Rockwell has helped to facilitate many such visits in her 15 years with the trade association. “The cooperative financial services model is inspiring to learn about, and even more so when it’s possible to see it in action, in a real credit union. We really appreciate Clackamas FCU and its team for making this experience possible.”

The goal of the International Visitor Leadership Program, as with all people-to-people exchanges of the U.S. Department of State, is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other countries.
The Northwest Credit Union Association is the not-for-profit trade association serving 160 of Oregon and Washington’s credit unions and their 4.4 million members. The NWCUA is the voice of the Northwest credit union movement, providing legislative, regulatory and public advocacy in addition to education, compliance, networking support and business solutions to its members. For information on how to join a credit union, please visit http://www.asmarterchoice.org.

Click here to download the press release.

Posted in Advocacy News.