The provincial election is scheduled for May 9, 2017. However, do credit unions have any interest in this exercise?
Last month I came across campaign materials that the Credit Unions National Association (US) circulated prior to the US elections in November 2016. The materials were informative, easily shared with credit union members, and encouraged credit union supporters to take issues up with candidates for office; letting elected officials know that credit unions matter!
In BC, large credit unions have ‘government relations’ staff. So does Central1. But little information is shared with the membership. The bias is to pursue technocratic communications and not involve the public. I think that is a mistake. The currency of politics is votes.
My particular interest is in the future of small and medium sized credit unions. I do not think that their interests are well-served by these technocratic relationships, or by Central1, since it is largely controlled by the very large credit unions.
I think small credit unions have to get in the face of politicians and let them know what they need. The pending legislative review in BC makes this even more important. Tentatively, I drafted these questions which could be shared with our memberships:
- Deposit Insurance coverage. Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation, a crown agency, guarantees all BC credit union deposits without limit. The Minister of Finance has said the coverage is under review. The big banks have defacto unlimited insurance because they are TO BIG TO FAIL. Any reduction to credit union coverage would disadvantage BC based credit unions. Will you ensure BC credit unions have competitive deposit insurance protection?
- Regulatory burden for BC credit unions. Since the financial crisis in 2008 a raft of new requirements and limitations have been placed BC credit unions. The crisis was a failure of big US investment banks and international securities arrangements, in which BC credit unions had no role. The increased regulatory burden is excessive, costly and penalizing smaller service providers. A review of the legislation is pending. Will you ensure legislation will be more even-handed and will continue to enable communities to provide themselves with needed financial services?
- Relocation/Migration. BC credit unions control @25% of the banking services market. They are a successful provincially based industry that has served the BC marketplace well. The Federal government is trying to induce credit unions to transfer to that jurisdiction; to enable them to become ‘national’ players through mergers and acquisitions. Relocation would likely lead to consolidations, a loss of head office jobs, and a diminished commitment to BC consumers. Will you ensure BC legislation continues to nurture our own financial cooperatives?
The 42 BC credit unions are consumer owned cooperatives, we have 1.9 million members and jointly comprise @$70 billion dollars in assets with 8700 employees. BC credit unions are rooted in communities across the province and they are the only financial institution in some 20 centres. BC credit unions are active in personal, residential and commercial lending and maintain a market share of @25%. BC credit unions foster economic development and provide philanthropic support to hundreds of projects every year.