Irish credit unions: Top o’ the mind

I recently had the great pleasure of traveling to Dublin, Ireland to meet with representatives from the Irish League of Credit Unions.  This trip was the first in what I hope will be a series of international jaunts to nations with a strong credit union presence.  Ultimately, my research will lead to a comprehensive White Paper and e-Book to be published sometime in 2014.  My hope is that by sharing best credit union practices from around the globe, all credit unions can learn from each other and the global movement will get even stronger – all, of course, for the ultimate beneficiaries – our valued members.

Why embark on such a quest?  To be honest, it wasn’t necessarily something that I had anticipated doing until I had the opportunity to work with the World Council of Credit Unions earlier this year and met some extraordinary CU professionals from different parts of the world.  I captured some of that experience in a blog post back in May.

Back to Dublin – I met with John Knox (Research & Development Dept.) and Kieran McDonnell (Communications) at the Irish League of Credit Unions.  My goal was to learn as much as I could about the Irish credit union system – how it is similar to the system in the United States, how it differs, what is unique to Irish credit unions, and what the current challenges & opportunities are.  While the aforementioned White Paper and e-Book will provide much more in terms of details, I wanted to share some of the highlights here on the blog.  I’ll cover a focus area, give a brief comparison between Ireland and the U.S. and then suggest a BEST PRACTICE to encourage all of us to learn from each other.

So here goes….

Membership: I was shocked to learn that 75% of Ireland’s population belongs to a credit union.  Go ahead, read that again.  75%!!  Furthermore, knowledge about and awareness of credit unions in communities, villages, and cities throughout Ireland is at a higher level than in the United States (where, as we know too well, credit unions struggle to create awareness.)  Indeed, when a couple of my ultra-friendly taxi drivers asked me why I was visiting Ireland, they knew what I was talking about when I said that I am a consultant for credit unions.  And yes, the ones that knew about credit unions were also credit union members!  BEST PRACTICE:  While adapting to the ever-changing demands of the marketplace, never forget that the surest way to create loyalty and awareness is to keep your promise to simply treat people well.

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