Canadian Credit Union Panel Set to Discuss Shared Issues, Collaborative Opportunities

The credit union industry is based on “people helping people” ideals, on operational principles that not only define how they serve their members, but how they interact with each other. Through all of their differences, the 7,535 U.S. credit unions serving more than 92 million Americans all share the same last name.

It’s that last name—credit union—that helps tie the community together—and not just in the United States, but worldwide. This may be especially true with U.S. credit unions’ blood relatives to the north.

The two distinctly different systems share striking similarities: solid growth in all areas—assets, savings, deposits and loans; even membership and lending are up year over year. But they also share a growing regulatory burden. And now Canadians are even facing the prospect of a new federal regulator.

“Our resources are being stretched, and there is a new federal rule that will soon begin coming into play that regulates credit unions on a federal level,” said Dominic Vinci, vice president and COO of Canada’s Interior Savings Credit Union. “Regulation in Canada is vigorous and getting worse.”

As much as U.S. and Canadian credit unions are similar, however, the framework in which they operate is quite different and presents interesting challenges that require creative solutions on both sides of the 5,500-mile-long border.

For instance, Canada’s credit unions are subject to a graduated federal tax based on the size of the institution. The Canadian answer to the “corporate” issue, meanwhile, was to simplify it by chartering only one—Credit Union Central of Canada. Operating not only as a purveyor of products and services that are very similar to its American counterparts but also as chief advocate, Credit Union Central is also the industry’s trade association, serving 419 member credit unions, which in turn serve 5.1 million retail members.

Join a group of Canadian credit union professionals during the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) 2012 Convention and Annual Business Meeting for a panel discussion of the Canadian system and the lessons it can offer U.S. credit unions in terms of surviving as a tax regime, managing growth and dealing with new Federal rule that will open up cooperative banking nationwide to credit unions that until now were operating under regulatory authority on a province-by-province basis.

The session, entitled, “Lessons to be Learned from Our Cooperative Neighbors,” will be moderated by CUNA Mutual Group’s John Lass, a long-time credit union professional who has worked as a strategic advisor throughout the world. He will lead a discussion with Vinci and Brigette Goulard, vice president of Credit Union Central of Canada, covering these issues and more beginning at 3 p.m. on Oct. 3.

The session will add context to issues of scale and sustainability that are now affecting all credit unions. In addition to sharing their perspectives on capital alternatives and operational efficiency, the trio will also discuss international North American collaborative opportunities now available to all credit unions.

Registration information is available online, as are details about the week’s many events and an opportunity to support Credit Unions for Kids. For a full agenda and a complete description of all the breakout sessions, visit the Association’s dedicated Convention website.


Questions? Contact Training Programs Coordinator Yuri Jung: 206.340.4817,

Posted in Around the NW, Events, Federal, MAXX Annual Convention.