How Other Countries Handle Capital

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LAS VEGAS-There were many CU leaders here last week hoping what was discussed in Vegas won't stay in Vegas.

With nearly 3,000 people on hand representing credit unions ranging from Australia to Zimbabwe, American credit unions got a primer in how other countries are handling certain common challenges, particularly secondary capital and regulatory burden, during the 1 Credit Union Conference co-hosted by CUNA and the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU).

While CUNA's Chairman, Harriett May, was telling an opening session that secondary capital remains a "legislative priority" for U.S. credit union in 2010, she also conceded that "if we run out of time in this Congress it will be a priority in 2011."

Just a day later, however, those same U.S. CUs were learning that other countries already allow for secondary capital. Brandon Khoo, executive general manager with the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority, noted that in his country credit unions have been able to secure and hold secondary capital since 1992, which drew a round of applause from the mostly U.S audience.

In Canada, noted Andy Poprawa, president and CEO of the Deposit Insurance Corporation of Ontario, most jurisdictions permit what are called Additional Membership Shares. Under that provision, members -usually from smaller CUs -are able to buy additional shares, providing capital to the CU, but without changing the one-member, one-vote policy. Credit unions can also issue subordinated debt.

Poprawa later outlined a provision in Ontario's laws that provides for simpler regulatory requirements for smaller credit unions, in exchange for not engaging in certain activities.

In this issue and next, Credit Union Journal provides coverage from the meeting, which represented for the first time a combination of CUNA's America's Credit Union Conference & Expo and WOCCU'S World Credit Union Conference. In 2011 the meetings will return to their usual format, meeting in San Antonio, Texas and Glascow, Scotland, respectively.

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