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"MADE TO MEASURE" SYLLABUS FOR THE "HOW TO" PROGRAMME OF CREDIT UNION BUSINESS EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT

Originally called “The Programme Of Individual Credit Union Development” the entire syllabus and its delivery was vetted by John Donaldson, then a Visiting Fellow, and Dr Peter Davis, then Head of Department for Member based Organisations of the University of Leicester and validated accordingly.  This process enabled ownership of the material texts and copyright to be retained by me. 

The “Made To Measure” Syllabus

As every credit union situation and group of learners is different, with individual demands and outcomes required, the delivery of most modules can be adjusted to suit the needs of attendees.  Exceptions are those modules where the content is obligatory; namely, what the Regulator expects a credit union to know.

Of course, at least one telephone conversation or meeting will have to take place with a prospective credit union customer to ascertain need before any assignment can be undertaken.

It is thought this “made to measure” approach to the delivery of credit union education is unique to this consultancy.

Some modules have been described as “state of the art”, particularly those on Record, Bookkeeping and Accounting for Credit Unions; Devising, Compiling and Execution of a Strategic Business Plan; Money Laundering Prevention and Reporting.  This last module addresses many of the techniques used to commit wrongful acts through a credit union and so open disclosure of the contents of this module is restricted.

How is the Programme delivered?

The modules can be delivered individually or in subject clusters.  Experience has shown that the ability to absorb (the learning) and act upon information (doing) occurs best when working in daily sessions for both new start-up credit unions and established ones; particularly if the prime objective is also team building.

Many credit unions decide the delivery of modules (the entire syllabus or major strategic business planning sessions) are accomplished best over an entire long weekend, e.g. Friday to Monday, Friday-Saturday, Friday-Sunday, etc.  Obviously this style of delivery is dependent upon matters such as funding, accommodation, childcare facilities etc. being available.

How much time is required for the delivery of the whole programme?

For a start-up credit union, this is hard to tell exactly, as it depends upon two factors that cannot be correctly measured at outset, namely – how long will it take a group of people to absorb the learning (particularly as to many the subjects addressed will be totally new) and to then put the learning into operation.

The Core subjects are those that the Financial Services Authority expects (you will!) the key people, the “Approved Persons”, to know plus there are optional subjects that all “Approved Persons” should know.

This syllabus of “learning and doing” gives both knowledge and skills that can be applied and transferred into the workplace, helping those who gain an understanding of them to develop careers and income outside the credit union. Some previous “graduates” of this process (always evolving) have gone on to:-

  • Obtain Bachelors, Masters and one Doctorate Degree
  • Become a high ranking official in the Financial Services Authority
  • Become Chief Executive Officers and Presidents of substantial credit unions
  • Develop their own businesses

Some core subjects must be studied by those individuals who are intending to be “Approved Persons” of a new credit union, but will not necessarily be involved in the day to day activities, such as “Accounting”, “Management” and “Loan Underwriting”.  The reason for this is quite simple - a Committee of Management or Board of Directors operates on a single and joint responsibility.

The subjects are covered via five separate tracks:

  1. What subjects do all those carrying out key roles in the credit union need to learn, remember and carry out?
  2. What accounting and management functions do all those responsible for the finances of the credit union need to learn, remember and carry out?
  3. How are loans made to owner-members and pursued “fairly” if not repaid?
  4. How to market the credit union, selling its products and services to prospective and existing owner-members?
  5. And for established credit unions “How to deal with challenges” from trading success or failure as well as ways of establishing themselves as major agents for positive change in the wider community.

Can sample time frames be supplied?

The core learning of the practical tasks such as the key ones of addressing the Strategic Business Plan; considering Policies and Procedures; establishing Roles, Responsibilities, Duties and Tasks can take between 48 and 64 hours, with teams taking tasks away from the learning area to work on in their own time.  (Say to 6 to 8 full days of eight hours duration – just like a job – that’s it!)

Obviously there are some exceptions to the above.  For example, before the delivery of the formal education programme, The Harp & Crown Credit Union Ltd (Police Service of Northern Ireland) Management and Lay Leadership Team, on a voluntary basis and in their own time:-

  • undertook individual study and together worked on delivering a Sales and Marketing plan and putting it into operation. 
  • visited another police credit union to master the accounting and use of the software programme. 
  • agreed their roles, responsibilities, duties and tasks

so classroom presence was only 40 hours over 2½ days, leaving a newly chartered credit union structure that satisfied the Regulator in Northern Ireland.

However elsewhere a credit union based in the community took eight years, while a work based situation took five years “thinking about the idea” and another six to develop its credit union.  More positively, another community credit union, Ipswich Credit Union Ltd. (now countywide) completed the education programme in four 12 hour days with home and active project work.

From this it can be seen speed of delivery for a new credit union and its continued trading success depends only upon the strength of commitment of those responsible for the care and custody of the credit union.  Outside resources, including funding provided by the State in different guises, are not shown to be the key factors for success.

So what are the factors for successful Credit Unions?

The only factors necessary for success are the demands at the start (and ongoing) for a credit union and its services by prospective owner-members; and with an existing one, the continuous and growing commitment by its owner-members and from that group, individuals prepared to come forward to serve it at various levels.

For more information on how the “Made to Measure Syllabus” for “The ‘How To’ Programme of Credit Union Business Education and Development” will suit you, contact 

 

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