Russian Businessmen Get Primer From Minn. CUs

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A delegation of 11 financial managers, directors and chief financial officers from established businesses across Russia visited US Federal Credit Union in Burnsville, Minn. The group was part of a three-week intensive management training program through the Center for Citizen Initiative's (CCI) Productivity Enhancement Program (PEP).

Staff from US FCU and the Minnesota Credit Union Network took part in the half-day training session, discussing the credit union difference, the purpose and function of the Network, and various aspects of financial management, including asset liability management, budgeting, portfolio management and risk assessment.

The PEP program, which was created in 1996 and is administered by the CCI, works with civic organizations throughout the country to provide training and expert advice on American financial practices and techniques to Russian entrepreneurs. Thus far, 45 states have hosted such training sessions. The group, which arrived Aug. 29 and will depart Sept. 21, has complete eight-hour days filled with training sessions and brainstorming periods to summarize what they learned and what they can implement back home in Russia.

The Russian Financial Managers Delegation has also visited several other financially-oriented businesses in the Twin Cities metro area in addition to the credit union, including the Federal Reserve, Piper Jaffray, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Minneapolis, and RSM McGladrey.

A hosting relationship with the Burnsville Rotary Club brought this most recent group of Russians to Minnesota. Bill Raker, president & CEO of US FCU, is a member, and he was part of the coordinating committee for this delegation. He spoke to them Monday about the credit union difference

"It was wonderful to see that, after my presentation and after answering all of their questions, they really were able to grasp the fundamental difference between a for-profit bank and a cooperative not-for-profit credit union," Raker said.

Russia is a member of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), with 218 credit unions and 170,000 members across the country. However, with 145.5 million people, the penetration rate is 0.17%, according to WOCCU.

"I'm hopeful that the seed we planted with the Russian delegation will someday grow into a more established cooperative financial movement in their country," said CCUN President Kevin Chandler.

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