CU dividend gets boost

Civil servants who are members of Cayman Island Civil Service Association Cooperative Credit Union will be getting a six per cent dividend on their 2004 -2005 shares.

The six per cent dividend was voted on by a majority of the credit union’s 9,000 members, despite the advice of the board to accept a more restrained 4.5 per cent payback.

The difference will come from the credit union’s development fund, money originally allocated for property development.

Treasurer Lem Hurlston, former Cayman Islands Financial Secretary, is a long-time member of the board.

‘We recommended a smaller percentage because earnings were down, but the six per cent decision was constitutionally proper,’ he said.

The decision was made at the credit union’s 2004-2005 AGM held 5 June. The meeting was delayed until this month due to the postponement of the 2003-2004 meeting until October 2005. The 2005-2006 AGM is anticipated to be held in October or November.

The credit union now has $125 million in assets, which are growing by $2-million a month.

Mr. Hurlston said the AGM is interesting from a number of other standpoints including a resolution to conduct a feasibility study on long-term financing for up to $50 million in lending was passed.

CICSA Co-operative Credit Union Managing Director Scott Lewis is optimistic about the future now that the business is back on track.

‘We’ve resolved the backlog brought about by Ivan. Our current challenge is getting the business to implement necessary changes not yet in place.’

‘New policies need to be written, and operational changes are necessary to guarantee CICSA’s future success,’ he said.

Formerly a vice president at Cayman National Bank specializing in change management, Mr. Lewis has seen a lot happen in the months since taking over the position on 22 August 2005.

Mr. Lewis says several questions raised by members at the AGM reflected positive feedback on the changes over the past months.

‘We’ve been successful in significantly lowering loan delinquency in the past year,’ he says.

‘We have also successfully implemented technology to improve our operational efficiency with a new draft system and a new reconciliation system.’

Loans are increasing, and the third quarter results indicate the 2005-2006 six per cent dividend will be coming out of the surplus.

Furthermore, under Mr. Lewis’ leadership the CICSA Co-operative Credit Union has drafted new loan and human resources policies that are being reviewed by the board.

In a move to improve efficiency, the credit union will also work to upgrade the core accounting system. The organization has undergone two audits with a third scheduled after the June year-end.

The organization is looking into developing an insurance premium discount by creating a members’ property insurance pool to attract competitive bids.

A website is anticipated to improve communications with members through regular newsletter updates, and will eventually be interactive.

‘I would like to encourage our members to remember our motto: members helping members to succeed,’ said Mr. Lewis.

The Credit Union movement has 136 million members worldwide, and is uniquely tailored to serve its members.

The CICSA board and management carry out the wishes of the shareholders, and both loans and savings are insured through a captive program that returns any surplus premiums to participating members.

‘By working together we can achieve our common goals,’ said Mr. Lewis.

‘The global credit union movement has tremendous potential and our role is to steer it in the right direction here in the Cayman Islands.’

The company, a member of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions, employs about 30 staff, but the board and all committees are all voluntary positions, keeping overheads to a minimum.

‘I think that taking the credit union route is a great choice for anyone eligible to join,’ said Mr. Hurlston.

‘With a credit union membership, you profit from successes, it’s easy to save and borrowing is a straightforward process. It’s a win-win-win opportunity.’

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