Mon | Feb 24, 2020

New role for JCCUL

Published:Saturday | March 9, 2019 | 12:23 AMNeville Graham - Business Reporter
JCCUL billboard promoting the credit uunion movement.
JCCUL billboard promoting the credit uunion movement.

As credit unions creep slowly towards oversight by the central bank, which is now expected to take effect in July, the movement's umbrella group that acted as watchdog is trying to carve out a new direction for itself as a kind of consultant to the community banks.

Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League Limited, JCCUL, has already begun the process of restructuring the group, and is shuffling around staff while looking for new talent, following a retreat last summer that sought to map its new course after 77 years as the overseer of, to now, the self-regulated sector.

At the meeting that included various sector interests, "we took the decision that the League needs a change in strategic direction as we see to extract more value from our activities on behalf of our members in a Bank of Jamaica-regulated environment," said JCCUL General Manager Robin Levy on Thursday.

"We are looking to act in a consultative capacity rather than the regulatory role we've played for the last 70-odd years. Our membership will need that guidance as they seek to be compliant with the new requirements," Levy said.

Bank of Jamaica is taking charge of a sector which has contracted to 25 players, from around 43, as credit unions merged to satisfy the central bank’s more stringent requirements for capital adequacy. The sector, which has about one million members, is currently valued at $113 billion by assets, and holds $87 billion of savings on behalf of members.

In preparation for the transition to central bank oversight, JCCUL has shuffled around its managers, and made cuts from the line-up, including one risk officer attached to the JCCUL Stabilization Fund, whose contract was not renewed.

Vera Lindo, as manager in charge of membership services, will now have Phueona Reynolds, who was formerly in charge of the Stabilization Fund but has been given a new job as monitoring and risk assessment manager, reporting to her.

Sandra Hucey is now chief risk officer in charge of risk assessment for the league, in keeping with regulatory and accounting requirements.

Both Lindo and Hucey will report directly to Levy.

The former chief operating officer, Susan Thompson, who was a de facto deputy general manager, is not a part of the new line-up.

"What we've gone for is a leaner, flatter organisation,” said Levy.

“The operations of the Stabilization Fund have been subsumed into that of the membership services department. The Stab Fund will still exist but it will be a unit within that department,” Levy said.

The position of chief operating officer was eliminated. Thompson was offered an alternative but she declined, the GM said.

But: “Going forward, we still see her acting in a consultative capacity. There are some exciting avenues that we would like to explore and we could benefit from her input," Levy said.

The Stabilization Fund which over the years has served to protect the deposits of credit union members holds about $1.7 billion of assets.

All deposit-taking institutions are required by law to insure the savings of their customers through the state-operated Jamaica Deposit Insurance Scheme, which is administered by the Jamaica Deposit Insurance Corporation. Levy said some of the Stab Fund proceeds will be paid over to the insurance scheme, some would also be retained by JCCUL to fund its new services to its credit union members, and some “will be remitted to the credit unions themselves as they ready themselves for the new regulatory environment," Levy said.

The reorganisation of JCCUL is ongoing. A review of the 15-member board, as well as the group’s rules, are under way.

"A special sub-committee of the board is now examining the matter of governance changes that will make us better able to deal with the new environment and give that extra fillip to our efforts. They're also charged with looking at rule changes that will enable us to move ahead," Levy said.