Brazil: '1 System, 1 Brand, 1 Sicredi'

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GLASGOW, Scotland-Brazil's credit unions have moved aggressively to create a national brand and presence in which nearly every nonmember-facing function has been centralized, with partnerships formed with the likes of Bain & Co. and Accenture to ensure product and service delivery.

Edson Nassar, executive director, retail banking, Banco Cooperative Sicredi (which operates under the brand name Sicredi), said the collaboration is paying off: Sicredi credit unions have grown 25% over the past two years. And it has done so at a time when the competition has grown, with 158 banks operating in the country with more than 20,000 branches and 133 million bank accounts.

Nassar showed one TV commercial created for all the Sicredi credit unions that evoked the national brand colors of gold and green in its imagry. Voiceover said in part, "There is a strength that is blowing even stronger...The power of Sicredi...We are partners in Sicredi. Growth is always reinvested locally. Be an owner and grow with us."

The Sicredi credit unions operate with the motto "One system. One brand. One Sicredi," explained Nassar. Sicreditis present in 10 states in Brazil, with 1,000 branches and more than 10,000 ATMs and 2,000 correspondent banking sites, including a new partnership with Rabobank.

SICREDPar is the holding company that represents 120 CUs and manages the bank, confederation and other companies, such as insurance, credit cards, etc., that are part of Sicredi, which is grouped into four regional offices.

"In 2008 we launched the transformation plan. We were looking for strategic partnerships, centralization and efficiencies," said Nassar.

Creating Scalability

To support the business model, Sicredi created the Sicredi Adminstraive Center (CAS). The center centralizes the operations of products, channels, marketing, accounting and other areas, and also provides overall strategy and technical support. "We have worked to hire senior executives with experience in banking," said Nassar. "The investment in people has brought many positives to the whole system."

"The centralization has created many benefits for the system," Nassar said. "The institutions that have the relationship with the members can focus on business, and CAS, together with the hubs, can support them with technology and operations, always based upon the system strategic plan."

Nassar said the driving goal is ongoing growth and scalability. "The first point in every meeting is the strategic plan, created in conjunction with Bain & Co. Phase 1 of our plan is to maximize our core, phase 2 is to expand in current markets and phase 3 is to expand in new markets. We talk about this every day."

Nassar showed his audience a dashboard of financial information captured on a computer monitor that allows Sicredi to monitor the performance of every branch and participating credit union. He said Sicredi had spent a year of seven-day weeks and all-nighters to convert all participating CUs into the same data-processing system. Today, that system includes business intelligence and CRM solutions that are used to create a centralized marketing department.

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