Credit unions continue to see significant changes in their balance sheets and operating environments. First the boom in the housing market, and now the subsequent mortgage meltdown, credit crunch, volatile markets and concomitant fears of prolonged recession. These are the primary vehicles of change for credit unions. Having responded to demand from members for mortgages and for home equity lines, many credit unions are now wondering what's in store. None can avoid addressing these economic and market developments if they are to continue to meet member needs. And there is widespread acceptance that, while it is vital to offer the products and services members demand, it is equally important to understand the risks that meeting those demands introduce to the balance sheet. This is where the real value of education for credit unions is going to play its part.
Basic knowledge of ever-changing market conditions and industry trends is a prerequisite for everyone at all levels of the credit union industry, and there are various ways in which it can be obtained. Clearly one of the most convenient ways to gain knowledge is by reading industry publications, particularly magazines that focus on providing explanation and discussion of investment and balance sheet management issues. There are also many other credit union industry publications with various themes ranging from leadership to technology and compliance.
Online Opportunities and Industry Events
Of course, there is no substitute for specialized, interactive training to meet specific needs. The convenience of live webcasts and online training will only grow in popularity for this purpose. The beauty of both forms is that they ensure that you do not have to leave your desk to participate. A live webcast has the advantage of being current and is an unmatched way of keeping large groups of people up-to-date on a wide range of issues. Online training is better suited for acquiring and developing specific skills at a desired level. An online ALM training program, for example, might offer board members an understanding of how derivatives reduce risk on the balance sheet, without requiring them to know how the actual transactions are executed and accounting issues resolved.
Industry events, forums and seminars also provide an invaluable opportunity to participate in first-hand discussion of topics that are both in-depth and relevant. While there are a vast number of trade shows and conventions across the nation, educational conferences – although growing – are still less frequent, and it makes sense to take advantage of them as they occur. Such events are outstanding resources to help you keep up with regulatory and technology issues, as well as trends in balance sheet and investment management, pricing and marketing.
Future Forum: May 19-21, 2008 in San Diego , California
Educational resources such as the above are critical to improving our knowledge in the financial industry and putting that knowledge to work for the benefit of our members. WesCorp's Future Forum is one such event. This year it will be held at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines Resort near San Diego , California from May 19-21. Attendees will hear from an extraordinary assembly of some of the most outstanding speakers on such relevant topics as the U.S. economy, innovative business strategies, and member value. The line-up of speakers will include Bryan Sims, the 24-year-old Founder and CEO of Brass/MEDIA Inc., who will give the scoop on Generation Y and what motivates this critical market segment. Sims is one of Business Week magazine's “Top Entrepreneurs Under 25 Years of Age.” In addition, Bill Dallas, the nationally renowned entrepreneur, investor, and Chairman of Dallas Capital Management, looks at strategic financing and what it will take for institutions to survive this tough economic cycle.
The Future Forum is immediately followed by the CFO Forum (May 21-22) , in which you can join a number of experts from the financial and regulatory arenas for substantial discussion on credit union industry hot topics, including regulatory issues, accounting standards, capital ratios and implications of the subprime fallout.
WesCorp is America 's largest corporate credit union with approximately $31 billion in assets and more than 1,000 member/owner credit unions throughout the United States . If you would like to learn more about Future Forum or any other aspect of WesCorp's commitment to credit union education, please call (800) 442-4366, ext. 6465 or visit www.wescorp.org .