CFCFE seeks to provide high quality, accurate and accessible action research. This web page hosts all CFCFE’s research papers, currently available for free download. Scroll through the papers, or search using your preferred keywords. We welcome feedback and comment on all our research; contact us here.
CFCFE produces papers by its own personnel, as well as working with a range of partners, including the Centre for Co-operative Studies and the Financial Services Innovation Centre at University College Cork (Ireland), the Centre for Business in Society at Coventry University (UK), and The Finance Innovation Lab (London, UK).
Our current research themes are: Business Model & Strategy, Maximising Membership, Governance, Leadership, and Efficiency & Effectiveness. If you would like to partner with us for a publication, to enable your work to reach practitioners and policy-makers in Ireland, the UK and beyond, please contact Dr Paul A. Jones, Director or Research at CFCFE, email@example.com. Our Guidelines for Researchers can be viewed here.
Over the last few years, the importance of flexible, efficient and modern technology has risen up the agenda for many credit unions. 2020 has made this even more pronounced, as the ability of organisation to serve members effectively while staff are remote from...
CFCFE is looking ahead to 2021, and we are keen to continue to expand our range of research outputs and authors. If you are a consultant or researcher with something to say to the credit union movement in Ireland, the UK or Europe, we would be very keen to hear...
We're delighted to release a report from Dr Olive McCarthy of the Centre for Co-operative Studies at Cork University Business School (and CFCFE's Advisory Board) on credit union perceptions of the opportunities and challenges for measuring and reporting on social...
In the summer we produced an assessment of the rules around credit unions holding Annual General Meetings (AGMs) online, instead of or - as well as - face-to-face (Virtual AGMs: a guide for credit unions. Part I: the Compliance Issues). Now we are releasing a new...
The ability of a board to do its job effectively is a vital feature of a successful credit union. In this paper, the experienced credit union consultant Lucy Harr considers how credit union boards can become high performers and thereby excel in delivering value to...
Annual General Meetings (AGMs) are critical events in the year of well-governed co-operatives, and credit unions take them very seriously. Credit union AGMs are traditionally face-to-face meetings, but many are anticipating a challenge to doing theirs in the...
We have now produced the second paper in our series on the response by credit unions to the COVID-19 pandemic, this time covering Irish credit unions. The paper can be viewed and downloaded here. (Last week CFCFE published a well-received report on the response of...
A fundamental principle of the credit union sector is ‘people helping people’. The COVID-19 health crisis, with its associated social lockdown and economic shocks, has presented operational and commercial challenges to credit unions that go way beyond previous...
Now available - CFCFE's fourth publication so far in 2020. Financial capability: supporting members towards greater financial wellbeing is authored by Dr Lindsey Appleyard, Professor Sally Gibb and Dr Hussan Aslam at Coventry University’s Centre for Business in...
We are delighted to present our latest publication, Open Banking: An introductory guide to credit unions, written by Marloes Nicholls, Head of Programmes at the Finance Innovation Lab. Marloes presented a summary of the paper to attendees at our Manchester...
“What is the most overlooked quality of the world’s most successful credit unions? Answer: their values.” So opens this thought-provoking paper on credit union values by Ed Mayo, the Secretary General of Co-operatives UK and a member of the CFCFE Research Advisory...
Earlier in the year, CFCFE members raised two issues that we decided to investigate through a survey. These issues were: The time and effort they spend managing regulatory and compliance issues, and The difficulty they have in cutting through day-to-day...
As CFCFE approaches its second birthday, we want to accelerate our research outputs for our members and the wider community finance sector. To date, CFCFE directors have produced several papers (here), but we want more output and more diversity of voices. If you...
This research paper is published today. This is a 'hot topic', and the paper does not advocate for or against the introduction of remuneration for board directors elected from the membership who traditionally have not been been paid. But we are aware that some...
Back in September 2018 we circulated this short report to our members, and for several it has already been a valuable input to the development of their own lending strategies. The paper summarises survey and focus group data from two large credit unions on the...
We sent this paper to our members in September, considering the benefits of a 'credit union for credit unions'. It's now available to non-members - download here. Using case studies from the US, Canada and Australia, the paper shows how central finance facilities...
Over the past 40 years home mortgages have grown to represent about half of credit union lending in the States. This paper was developed in the belief that the US experience would provide useful insights to credit unions over here that are looking to expand into...
This project is a ‘think / do’ paper on revolving credit as an opportunity for credit unions in Ireland and Great Britain. Revolving lines of credit are a core service of credit unions in other countries, notably Australia, Canada and the USA. This paper identifies...
Our first publication was a review of the business model for credit unions in Ireland, and the case for change. The key messages are that: the objective evidence demonstrates the case for change to the existing business model, international examples show an...
Previous CFCFE Publications
Summary of Proceedings, Manchester Conference 17th January 2020
This short report summarises the presentations and discussions from CFCFE’s Credit Union Conference. ‘Meeting the Needs of Members Today and Tomorrow’. We were delighted to welcome 96 delegates from England, Ireland, Scotland, Romania, the USA and Wales to a day of wide-ranging topics relating to adapting to change to meet member needs. The Proceedings can be downloaded here or by clicking the image to the left.
Paul Jones drew attention to the following points as he closed the conference:
- The importance of leadership within the sector. He said that wherever credit unions succeed, there are always people with effective leadership skills driving those credit unions forward, coming not just from ‘the top’ but from everyone in the organisation.
- The importance of technology. Success is also based, in the modern digital age, on technology, to deliver products and services and to build community and relationships between the members. Technology must now be at the forefront of the way in which all our credit unions do business.
Thank you to our presenters and attendees for their contributions. The conference programme and some presentations are available on our Events page.
Summary of Proceedings, Conference 21 May 2019
This is a brief record of the presentations and discussions that took place at our Successful Lending conference, in Dublin. Over 90 delegates from England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland came together to share experience and best practice in meeting the borrowing needs of credit union members. The report can be downloaded here or by clicking the image to the left.
At the end of an information-filled day, Dr Paul Jones, Director of Research, noted some of the themes that had emerged, including the importance of:
- Good analytics to evaluate and anticipate the needs of members
- Rigorous analysis of loan performance to reveal effectiveness and profitability service delivery
- Realising that much can be done to improve loan products and delivery within current legislative and regulatory constraints
- Speed, efficiency and convenience of loan application and delivery channels
- Ensuring our credit unions have a modern, digital suite of services to compete effectively
- Working with Government and the regulator in the respective jurisdictions to ensure that legislation and regulation in relation to lending is fit for purpose.
Measuring the ‘Credit Union Difference’ – a new Toolkit
The credit union difference is in part reflected in its social impact. A new Toolkit has been developed to enable credit unions to identify, measure and report on this.
The Toolkit is the result of a collaboration between Small Change, CFCFE and Liverpool John Moores University’s Research Unit for Financial Inclusion, funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, CCLA and CFCFE members. The project team worked closely during 2018/19 with GB credit unions to develop the materials, in particular CFCFE members Hoot Credit Union (Bolton) and Unify Credit Union (Wigan). The Toolkit comprises a Guide to reporting, a Framework spreadsheet to capture information systematically and Facilitator slide pack for leading a workshop on the process. This is a work in progress, and we aim to refine the Toolkit by working closely with more credit unions in the coming months.
For more information, click here or on the picture.
Summary of Proceedings, Members Conference 18 January 2019
This is a brief record of the presentations and discussions that took place at our recent conference in Manchester, attended by 100 delegates from the movement in England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Romania and Scotland. The report can be downloaded here or by clicking the image to the right. The themes were Collaboration and Communities, with presentations from several practitioners.
A number of key points, practical insights and learning outcomes emerged during the day. At the close, Dr Paul Jones, Director of Research, picked out just a few, including the importance for collaboration of:
- Clarity about business outcomes
- Good and effective governance – and the role of the board in driving collaboration
- Coping with the loss of autonomy
- Recognising that there is not one sole path to collaboration – there are multiple models and approaches
- Developing relationships based on trust.
And in relation to ensuring the social and economic difference of credit unions, Paul stressed the criticality of:
- Ensuring a culture clearly based on co-operative values and principles
- Communicating those values and principles to the membership and the community.
Paul ended by thanking all participants for coming to the conference and making the day such a success. Go raibh míle maith agaibh! Mulţumesc mult!
Further conference materials, including presentations and brochure, are available here.
Relevant pre-CFCFE publications
Our subjects include co-operatives and mutuals (such as credit unions), social enterprises (such as the UK’s community finance development insitutions) and co-operative banks and building societies, as well as social businesses in other sectors that engage with community finance (such as housing associations seeking affordable credit to residents). The Centre’s current focus is Ireland and the United Kingdom, but in due course we will undertake research across Europe. In all cases, our work is informed by experience and knowledge from around the world.
We engage academic, professional and practitioner experts who are recognised for their expertise, integrity and quality of work in Centre-relevant areas. The Centre has a special, collaborative relationship with the Research Unit for Financial Inclusion at Liverpool John Moores University. Certain research papers and publications will be published in collaboration with the University.
We select research projects in consultation with our members, funded by subscription and / or external grants, and seek to engage and work with similar organisations throughout Europe and internationally. We are happy to discuss projects brought to us by interested third parties such as academics, consultants or sector agencies. Please contact us if you wish to discuss a research project partnership.