In February, a delegation of 11 Belize credit union staff and volunteers traveled to Plano, Texas to participate in an IDB-funded study program as part of a project of the Belize Credit Union League. The study program focused on three major points: credit and delinquency management of business loans, improving delinquency control and collections activities, and loan underwriting forms, policies and procedures.
On their first day of the three-day study tour, the group met with two local credit unions. At the first credit union, In Touch Credit Union, they met with Ken Opie, senior vice-president and chief lending officer, and Scott Alton, vice-president consumer lending, to discuss lending strategies and regulatory challenges that In Touch faces. In addition to discussing lending, the group also discussed In Touch's rebranding efforts which it recently had undergone in order to expand community appeal beyond its initial employer group.
The delegation also met with Larry Seidl, senior vice-president and chief operations officer of Dallas Telco Credit Union, to discuss how Dallas Telco works through strategic partnerships to offer business and consumer loans to their members. He shared how they have developed relationships with CUSOs and car dealerships to provide more efficient loan services to their members - sharing risk/participating in large loans that they may otherwise not be able to offer and improving services for their members. Dallas Telco collections staff (referred to as membership development) work closely with loan officers to improve underwriting at the credit union.
The delegation also attended a full-day workshop on business lending led by Mike Smith, business services officer with CU Business Group. The workshop focused on how loan types and amounts and ownership structure affect business lending and interest rates, terms and structures of business loans. Smith also deeply explored small business lending, covering analysis, pricing and managing of small business loans.
On the last day of the study, Matt Garcia, project manager of World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), facilitated a webinar on delinquency management. The group also participated in a roundtable discussion with Jack Coffey, COO of City Credit Union, sharing his credit union's lending philosophy and experience.
The Belize Credit Union League is currently partnered with Southwest Corporate Credit Union through WOCCU's International Partnerships Program.