Could Better Training Programs Have Helped To Avert CU Failures?

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ONTARIO, Calif.-Are credit union educational programs on the hook for some of the CU failures that occurred during the recession, failing to arm management with skills they needed over the last two years?

Despite the economic crisis making it clear some CEOs and boards were not prepared to navigate through the mess, credit union educators don't think curriculum is to blame.

James Likens, president and dean of Western CUNA Management School and professor of economics at Pomona College here, emphasized that "there is risk and there is uncertainty. Risk is something with a known probability. So you have asset/liability management for that. Uncertainty is something that happens and you did not know it was going to happen. The World Trade Center disaster-could you have prepared for that? People did not know the world economy would collapse. How would one prepare for that?"

In Madison, Wis., Christopher Stevenson, director of program development for the Credit Union Executives Society (CUES), holds the same opinion, and added that the turmoil in the financial industry has not changed CUES' approach to selecting instructors and designing curriculum. Stevenson explained CUES curriculum changes yearly based on circumstances within the economy and at credit unions.

However, he noted CUES curriculum now places greater emphasis on individuals with risk management skills, and those who have the ability to analyze historical data and help CUs chart a course for the future. "Just because people have managed a credit union through a tough period does not necessarily mean they are the best choice as an instructor now," responded Stevenson about whether veteran CU executives are more needed today as course instructors. "I think you need people with analytical skills and an execution focus."

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