I wonder if the Credit Unions are going to give banks a real challenge now? For many years, many Credit Unions tried to be banks.
But a number of them have gone back to basics - to deepen their understanding of the relationship with their owners.
It is with some joy that I hear today that an old colleague and friend, John Lahey has been appointed CEO of the Alterna Group. John is quite the best executive I have ever worked with and it bodes well that Alterna looked to him. Here is the ROB's take:
John Lahey spent his career promoting big banks. Now, he's out to turn their weaknesses against them.
The Alterna Group, which includes one of Canada's oldest and largest credit unions, Alterna Savings, is expected to announce today that Mr. Lahey will become its next chief executive officer, effective July 9. Mr. Lahey, who worked for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce for close to a quarter of a century before becoming CEO of FirstOntario Credit Union, will split his time between the Toronto and Ottawa offices of Alterna, which has more than 150,000 members in Ontario.
By the time he left CIBC six years ago, he had been responsible for 1,350 domestic branches and was well versed in the challenges of retail and small business banking. Now Mr. Lahey is working on strategies to help credit unions compete against his former employer and the other mammoth banks that dominate Canada's financial service sector.
"One of the challenges with the banks, because they're so large, their offers are often mass-market offers," Mr. Lahey said in a recent interview. "It's like Henry Ford: you can have any colour you want as long as it's black. Because they're large, and because their volumes are so horrendous, they standardize everything. I think the huge advantage that credit unions have is to personalize what they do."
If anyone can do this - it will be John