Credit Union CEO Forum, December 2020
The study explores how Covid-19 may affect Irish Credit Unions. Academic research was assessed to identify potential insights. Eight were identified and included, the important role of Credit Unions in the smoothing of lending and liquidity to households and small firms; that industry consolidation occurring in the aftermath of a recession is driven by both mergers and failures; that collaboration enables Credit Unions to achieve economies of scale and engage in activities that individual institutions may regard as too costly or risky; and FinTech and the digitalisation of products and services is increasingly shaping the business model of Credit Unions.
The sector was benchmarked as it was in September 2007 (prior to the Financial Crisis) against how it was in September 2019 (before the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic) to assess if credit unions are now better placed to weather a prolonged economic downturn. Compared to 2007 Credit Unions in 2019 are better capitalised, liquidity levels are higher and loan arrears are lower, however operational cost to income ratios are much higher and ROAs lower.
Case Studies, undertaken by the CEOs of ten credit unions, completed the analysis. Views were sought to five questions including what will be the longer lasting changes required by the Movement as a consequence of the COVID-19 Pandemic? The CEOs believed that sectoral consolidation and more shared service arrangements were needed to provide the breadth of products and services and the technology based delivery mechanisms required by members. A renewed focus on Business Model Development was a necessity. Digital solutions were viewed as the future as they drive down cost and provide far better member/customer experiences. The introduction of measures to facilitate organic credit union growth (risk based capital, operational standardisation, collaboration, management skills development…) were needed. More was sought from the representative bodies to help mitigate sectoral pressures.
The study assesses whether smartphone apps can be utilised to improve financially capable behaviours. Four smartphone apps, packaged together under the title ‘Money Matters’, were provided to working-age members (16–65 years) of the largest credit union in Northern Ireland (Derry Credit Union). The smartphone apps consisted of a loan interest comparison app, an expenditure comparison app, a cash calendar app, and a debt management app. The assessment methodology used was a Randomised Control Trial (RCT) with the U.K. Financial Capability Outcome Frameworks used to set the context for the assessment. For those receiving the apps (the treatment group) statistically significant improvements were found in a number of measures designed to gauge ‘financial knowledge, understanding and basic skills’ and ‘attitudes and motivations’. These improvements translated into better financially capable behaviours; those receiving the apps were more likely to keep track of their income and expenditure and proved to be more resilient when faced with a financial shock.
This research considers how accounting change in central government, in both Westminster and Scotland, has been argued for and implemented over the last 35 years. It demonstrates the need for accounting change to be seen as both rational and promoted by those in authority if it is to be successfully embedded in an organisation. Anything less is likely to just lead to cosmetic changes. Changes tend to occur by layering the new on the old, and criticism or proposed abandonment of valued existing techniques will likely hamper the implementation of new techniques. The research also highlights the differences between Scotland and Westminster, with the suggestion that embedding of change may be more difficult in Scotland and concludes with implications for policy makers when introducing and managing accounting change.
This report investigates, through a survey and interviews, the implementation of IFRS in the central government departments of the three devolved administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It seeks to examine the impact of reporting under IFRS, the merits and drawbacks of adopting IFRS, the impact on policy and decision-making and identifies lessons to be learnt for the future.
Through extensive document analysis, surveys of various stakeholder groups and a number of semi-structured interviews with key actors, this report examines the accountability information made available publicly to charity stakeholders, stakeholder needs for such information and the perceptions of key providers of information about stakeholder information needs.