The provincial government is about to launch a review of BC's credit union legislation, this review provides a moment to stop and reflect on current trends and desired outcomes. Late last year CCEC GM, Ross Gentleman, prepared a paper on BC Credit Union Futures - Trends and Choices as an attempt to stimulate some discussion and critical debate. The paper provides an overview of the history of the BC movement, the broader public benefits, and the potential consequences of consolidation (as mergers have become common).
One big issue relates to the future for smaller credit unions. Public policy appears to induce further amalgamations, and second tier credit union organizations are providing fewer supports, since the very large credit unions do not need them. And then evolving technology and the preferences of a consumer society have introduced new competitive pressures. What is the future for these community-based institutions?
Two credit unions now comprise more than 50% of total BC credit union assets. The scale of these large organizations has diluted the role of members, as owners and citizen-participants. The co-operative governance model may no longer provide the accountability and direction needed. If, and that is a big if, public policy continues to implicitly promote consolidation, what provisions should be made to ensure that the interests of communities (and members) are well served? Another perspective, generally speaking to a notion of 'open co-operatives', is available on shareable.net.