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British credit unions travel to major US conference in Florida

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02 Nov 18

Last week on a trip sponsored by Citi, ABCUL credit unions travelled to Florida for the largest gathering of community development credit unions in the US.

The conference brings together industry leaders from across the US community development credit union sector. In previous years Citi has funded ABCUL credit unions to attend conferences in Detroit, Dallas, and St Louis.  They also funded a US delegation to attend and contribute to the ABCUL Annual Conference in Manchester last March.   

The centrepiece announcement of the conference was made by the CEO of National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, Cathie Mahon, who launched the rebranded Federation as ‘Inclusiv’.

As Cathie announced the new identity she shared with delegates how the new brand reinforces the organisations decades-old mission.  Cathie said: "For decades, the Federation and community development credit unions have been building trust and delivering relevant products to underserved people with dignity and respect. Inclusiv will build on the 44 year legacy of the Federation to grow the visibility and impact of mission-driven credit unions".

This year’s contingent of British credit unions included representatives of Enterprise Credit Union, First Scottish University Credit Union, Pennine Community Credit Union and Transave Credit Union. The group made visits to Manatee Community Federal Credit Union, GTE Financial and Suncoast Credit Union for a further insight to how a US credit union operates.

Following on from a successful workshop at the ABCUL Annual Conference in March, Marketing Manager at Pennine Community Credit Union (PCCU), David Harris presented a workshop sharing how he transformed PCCU’s digital marketing strategy and how it has coincided with a significant growth in the credit union’s lending book.

Since taking a new approach driven by social media, PCCU's lending has increased by 30%. Speaking about the approach, David recently told Co-op News: "It's not different from what we've been doing through our history; it's just that we're using technology.

“We’ve always listened to what’s happening in the community, but now through searches on the internet, we can see what people are searching for in terms of savings and loans and then design the products to match, and tell the people in our community we can help them.

“There might be a piece in the news about Christmas savings – we’d use that to drive people to our website by writing blog content on the products we have”.

ABCUL’s Matt Bland also addressed delegates in a plenary session drawing comparisons between credit unions in the UK and US. Reflecting on the week in Florida, Matt said: “It was another great experience to attend the conference and it was a privilege to present to our American colleagues giving a perspective of the UK credit union sector.

"The biggest benefit of our ongoing partnership with Inclusiv is building great connections with and learning from our colleagues across the Atlantic. As always we are hugely grateful to Citi for the generous support that allows this knowledge exchange to happen".

Senior Vice President of Membership & Network Engagement at Inclusiv, Pablo DeFilippi, spent time with the group who made the trip to Florida. Speaking after last year’s visit, Pablo said he saw the partnership between Inclusiv and ABCUL as a "great opportunity to be able to share our experiences and learn from each other as we face so many common challenges in successfully serving communities.

“It’s been great to continue our partnership with ABCUL and the UK credit union sector. We hope to be able to build on this partnership in the coming years to the benefit of underserved people in both the UK & US”.

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