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WOCCU tour helps Chinese co-ops study CU difference
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (5/20/08)--A 10-member contingent from China's rural credit cooperative (RCC) and regulatory systems visited California credit unions and their trade association last week. The trip, arranged by the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), was arranged to help the visitors better understand credit unions' role among U.S. financial service providers.
Click to view larger imageFrom left, front: Brian Branch, World Council of Credit Unions executive vice president/chief operating officer; Zhang Gouze, officer, China banking Regulatory Commission; Barry Jolette, San Mateo CU CEO and WOCCU first vice chairman; Wange Liming, Guizhou Provincial Rural Credit Cooperative Union; O'Rourke, Sue Mitchell, Mitchell & Associates partner; and Chinese regulator Jiang Min. In back, Guizhou Provincial's Zue Wen, Wu Yong and Suo Mieying; WOCCU program specialist Andrea Dannenberg; Financial Service Centers Cooperative President/CEO Sarah Canepa Bang; interpreter Amy Yin; and Guizhou Provincial's Ma Hong, Jiang Li, Zhou Qiling and Gong Ziaohgang. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
Eight managers and directors from China's Guizhou Provincial Rural Credit Cooperative Union and two managers from the Guizhou branch of the Chinese Banking Regulatory Commission met with California credit union and league executives to study competitive advantages, particularly those due to “the credit union difference.“ “This was a meeting of complementary approaches, with each group learning from the other," said Brian Branch, WOCCU's executive vice president and chief operating officer, who led the five-day visit. “WOCCU is committed to continuing to help the Chinese RCCs adapt credit union principles and systems to provide access to financial services to China's rural communities.“ The group visited the California Credit Union League, WesCorp FCU and San Mateo CU in Redwood City, Calif., to learn how the U.S. credit union system is organized and the benefits members receive over bank customers. The group sought tools and techniques applicable to China's RCCs. The visitors included Jiang Min and Zhang Guoze from the Guizhou office of the China Banking Regulatory Commission. The Guizhou Provincial Rural Credit Cooperative Union was represented by Gong Xiaogang, Jiang Li, Ma Hong, Suo Meiying, Wang Liming, Wu Yong, Xue Wen and Zhao Qiling. China's rural credit cooperatives and rural cooperative banks are working to modernize their management and operational practices while trying to maintain their member focus. Participants were particularly interested in strategic planning processes and how this enables credit unions to provide better member service. The visitors expressed particular interest in San Mateo CU's human resources management, including its performance evaluation program and compensation strategy. Participants described the transition of RCCs, which serve 200 million households on mainland China, as moving from social, mission-driven entities operating largely as charities to market-driven financial institutions with a social mission. The Chinese regulators explained the role of the provincial central organizations as one of setting uniform systems and standards from the top down. This approach provides for greater efficiency and consistency, they said, but the challenge then becomes how to provide better service to members at the credit union level. “This meeting was another in a series of efforts by WOCCU to share experiences as financial cooperatives and measure how those experiences might be applied to RCCs in China," said Barry Jolette, CEO of San Mateo CU and WOCCU first vice chairman. “This ultimately will lead to a partnership between RCCs and California credit unions.“
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