Broadcasts

Here you can access Swoboda’s YouTube channel, our sponsored podcast series, and other broadcast output, comprising:

  • Video and audio recordings of our webinars, such as ‘meet the author’ conversations and online discussion forums
  • Recordings of our past conferences including panel discussions and highlight videos
  • Relevant podcasts from a range of sources, in particular the Talking Credit Unions series, hosted and produced by veteran credit unionist Chris Smith and sponsored by Swoboda. (You can make sure you don’t miss out on new Talking Credit Unions podcasts by subscribing to the series on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or other major podcast platforms: just search “Talking Credit Unions”.)

We hope you enjoy the excellent speakers and interviewees offering insights on relevant contemporary topics for credit unions and community finance. The majority of our broadcast output is available for free to everyone but some content will be reserved for our members.


podcast

Talking Credit Unions #33 Credit Unions are ethical… aren’t they?

In this episode of Talking Credit Unions, Chris examines the prevailing topic of credit union ethics, initially with Barry Clavin, an ethics and sustainability expert and adviser, who was instrumental in the ethical and sustainability strategies of first The Co-operative Bank and subsequently The Co-operative Group. Barry recently authored a paper for Swoboda on this topic ‘The Co-operative Bank: A case study of The Co-operative Difference’.

In their discussion, Chris quizzes Barry on the value of strong credit union ethics
and differentiating credit union ethics from banks and other financial institutions. Barry highlights the importance of the input of credit union members. Chris and Barry examine the benefits of having a set of ethical policies that all or most credit unions agree to conform to which would differentiate them from competitors. This then presents the challenge of creating a model of ethics which credit unions can agree on.

Chris also gathers the opinions of Louise Shields, CEO of Claddagh Credit Union, and John Smith, formally the CEO of HEY Credit Union and now their Governance Officer. Louise and John’s observations include the need for credit union ethics to go beyond just listening to member’s needs to supporting staff, suppliers, and community, as well as being a good corporate citizen.

Finally, Chris speaks with Mick McAteer, an economic and social justice campaigner with a focus on financial markets and public policy and a Director at the Financial Inclusion Centre, and Rob Harrison, a founder of the Ethical Consumer Research Association. Mick raised the important point of the role that consumer morality plays when choosing who to bank with. Rob then addresses the pressing question of ‘Are credit unions really ethical?’

Many credit unions are looking at their values as a source of inspiration but also of competitive advantage. This podcast and Barry’s paper make an important contribution to credit union thinking in this area.

Swoboda is honoured to be the sponsor of the Talking Credit Unions series.

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webinar

Manchester Conference 2023

The Swoboda Credit Union Conference in Manchester on 24th November 2023 was the biggest yet, addressing the theme of the digital future for credit unions.
Watch the Session 2 Video here!

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webinar

Manchester Conference 2023

The Swoboda Credit Union Conference in Manchester on 24th November 2023 was the biggest yet, addressing the theme of the digital future for credit unions.

Watch the Session 1 Video here!

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webinar

Manchester Conference 2023 - Highlights

The Swoboda Credit Union Conference in Manchester on 24th November 2023 was the biggest yet, addressing the theme of the digital future for credit unions.
Watch the highlights reel here!

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webinar

Webinar on the Co-operative Culture of Credit Unions

On 25th January, Fintan Ryan, once a credit union CEO in Ireland and Canada and now coaching credit union leaders, led a webinar for Swoboda credit union members on Strengthening the Co-operative Culture of Your Credit Union. Fintan also recently authored a paper for Swoboda on this topic.
During the webinar, facilitated by Paul Jones and Nick Money from Swoboda, Fintan led discussion and group work to help participants plan how to get their credit union culture right – the foundation of the credit union difference.

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webinar

Webinar on small loans in Ireland

Nick and Paul from Swoboda, and co-author Lorraine Corcoran from Afanite, were excited to present to a large webinar audience of Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) members and other credit unions and stakeholders on the recent Swoboda report, Small Loans: credit unions best kept secret?

Alongside data about the small loans market, Lorraine, Nick and Paul highlighted what they characterise as “the conundrum” of small loans for credit unions: they are very much valued by and availed of by a significant proportion of members, while at the same time, they generate minimal income and can be costly to manage, administer and control and may imply cross-subsidy from other members. How or should credit unions do more of this form of lending? In the Q&A, webinar attendees discussed these issues and more. You can watch the webinar for free, using the link details above.

The research was funded by the ILCU..
Use the password SmallLoans to access the recording.

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webinar

Recording of Family Loans Webinar, 13 September 2023

Swoboda Research Centre hosted an excellent webinar on 13th September, to discuss the report on the Pennine Community Credit Union (PCCU) study of their family loan and saving scheme. The report authors, David Harris and Tia Warbrick from PCCU and Paul A. Jones from Swoboda, presented the key themes and facilitated discussion among the attendees from credit unions across Britain.

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podcast

Talking Credit Unions #32 with George Hofheimer: The Human Touch vs Digital Banking

In this episode of the podcast series Talking Credit Unions, Chris Smith talks to George Hofheimer, the well-known credit union strategist from the US.

As we navigate the challenges that credit unions face in the digital era, George illuminates the path ahead, offering strategic insight into blending technological investments with the human service that defines credit unions. The traditional face-to-face service is not lost, but rather enhanced as George makes a compelling case for a harmonious merge of the old and the new.

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Talking Credit Unions #31 Are credit union members rate tarts*? Talking Credit Unions has some answers

In episode 31 of the Talking Credit Unions series, Chris Smith talks to Paul Jones and Nick Money from Swoboda about the role of dividend, the importance of savings and the necessary balance of interests between savers and borrowers that boards need to consider. Chris also asks questions of credit union leaders from across Ireland and GB to find out what they think of their saver members’ attitudes to returns, at a time when base rate rises are starting to be reflected in bank deposit prices. Will credit union members take their funds elsewhere for better rates? Can dividends be competitive? Do they need to be? Is there an emerging risk to credit union balance sheets and liquidity?

* “Rate tarts” – a term used in banking to describe someone who transfers balances repeatedly, chasing the best possible interest rates on savings.

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podcast

Talking Credit Unions is back: new podcast, episode #30

Chris Smith is back! With a new addition to the Talking Credit Unions podcast series, Chris is joined by Swoboda directors Paul Jones and Nick Money to discuss projects, papers and conferences coming up at the Swoboda Research Centre.

Chris speaks with Paul about new research into credit union lending, including analysis of small loans in Ireland, family loans, and payroll loans in Britain and revolving credit. Chris then picks up with Nick on the topic of sustainability and the role that credit unions can play, with new papers coming on this and on how credit unions can respond to the ESG agenda. The importance of good governance is discussed as Swoboda is working on an updated version of the influential 2017 credit union governance manual.

Chris highlights the next edition of the Swoboda conferences on 23rd May in Portlaoise, Ireland, with the topic ‘Who Do We Serve’. There is also mention of new faces at Swoboda, with two interns starting in early January and the introduction of new directors later in March.

Finally, Chris interviews Jonathan Moore on his recent Reflections paper for Swoboda, the opportunity through collaboration for credit unions raise their profile and influence.

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Talking Credit Unions #29: Salary advance schemes – here to stay?

Chris Smith has been investigating salary advance (also known as Earned Wage Access) for the Talking Credit Unions podcast series. Salary advance works like a short-term loan, where a provider enables an employee to draw down a proportion of the current month’s (or week’s) earnings in advance of payday. The provider has an agreement with the employer that the money borrow will be paid back through payroll on payday. As these are salary advances and there’s no chance of non-payment, it is not counted as credit and is not regulated as such, meaning no credit or affordability check. There is no interest, but a fee for each early salary access.

Nick Money blogged about these schemes a couple of years ago, as they were first emerging, where he considered how they might pose a threat to traditional instalment loans. Since then, salary advance offers have grown rapidly in Britain and Ireland, and many credit unions are seeing it become very popular with employers, potentially in competition with credit union payroll deduction arrangements. Due to the lack of checks, concerns have been expressed about their suitability for some customers.

In this podcast, Chris speaks to Matt Bland, CEO at The Co-op Credit Union (a British employee credit union), Lindsey Melvin, CEO at Flexiwage (a financial wellbeing and money management app for workers), Erik Porter, chair of Fair Money Advice and consultant to Wagestream (a leading salary advance provider in Ireland and Britain) and Emily Trant, Head of Impact and Inclusion at Wagestream.

Credit unions should be aware of the salary advance proposition and ensure they are able to demonstrate the strengths of traditional loan products. For more discussion of this important topic, go to the Publications page to find the expert Lindsay Melvin’s paper.

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Talking Credit Unions #28: Credit unions – did they survive the pandemic?

Chris Smith is back, with a podcast that investigates how credit unions have emerged from the pandemic. Chris notes that the past two years have provided the ultimate stress test for the financial, operational, competitive, and cultural resiliency of credit unions, while at the same time this crisis has amplified the essential role credit unions can play in the lives of their members and communities.

Chris speaks to credit unions and stakeholders in Britain and Ireland, and hears how this environment presents the opportunity for credit unions to re-think not only their operating norms but also how to position the organisation to make an even greater impact on employees, members, and communities. Chris’ interviewees are Dave McAuley, CEO at Donore Credit Union, Dublin, Dermot O’Neill, CEO at the Scottish League of Credit Unions, Robert Kelly, CEO at the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd (ABCUL) and Anthony Morrow, Founder of app-based money advice supplier OpenMoney.

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Podcast: Ukrainian credit unions and the war

In this Global Credit Union Podcast from the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), “Aleksandr”, a liaison to the Ukrainian credit union movement, talks about the dire circumstances facing both the people of Ukraine and its credit unions.

The podcasters are hiding Aleksandr’s real identify for his safety. However, the podcasters believe that the stories he shares about the devastating impacts of the Russian invasion of his country are very real. Aleksandr describes life for credit union employees and their members in Russian-occupied areas of the country, where there are shortages of food, water and other services. He also explains what Ukraine’s credit union associations and regulators are doing to help those credit unions that are still operational, and what those credit unions might need once the conflict is over.

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podcast

2020 interview with Ralph Swoboda

Over Christmas, we at the Swoboda Research Centre will be remembering our deceased colleague, Ralph Swoboda. We miss Ralph’s wit and wisdom, so we were pleased to come across a podcast from August 2020, containing an hour of reflections from Ralph during an interview with US journalist John McGarvey.

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Talking Credit Unions #27 – ‘Save and Sound’ oral history project update

The UK’s Credit Union Foundation launched an initiative in 2019 to to collect and preserve the memories of people involved in setting up and running credit unions before 2000 – the Save and Sound project. Through the use of oral history recordings, Save and Sound wants to make sure that the efforts of people who worked to set up and run credit unions in the early days of the movement in GB are not forgotten. Save and Sound was one of the topics addressed by episode one of the Talking Podcasts series, and in this latest issue, Chris Smith gets an update on progress from the project leader Abbie Shelton, and finds out from contributors Karen Bennett from Enterprise Credit Union and Anca Voinea from Co-op News about their interest in the project and why they think it is important.

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Talking Credit Unions #26 – Credit unions and problem gambling

Credit unions in Ireland and Great Britain are seeing potentially harmful gambling behaviour in the financial activity of their members. In Britain, the adoption of open banking in the underwriting process has proved a revelation, providing much more information on the extent of gambling. Being locked down appears to have made the issue worse in British and Irish communities. How should credit unions respond? In this episode of Talking Credit Unions, Chris Smith talks to Professor Sharon Collard of the University of Bristol, who has researched this topic, Barry Grant from the Extern Problem Gambling Project in Ireland, and staff from Enterprise Credit Union, Metro Moneywise Credit Union, St Anthony’s & Claddagh Credit Union and South Manchester Credit Union.

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Talking Credit Unions #25 – Do Credit Unions Alleviate Poverty?

Chris Smith asks an important question about the nature and purpose of credit unions: do they alleviate poverty? Is that what they are for? First, Chris asks Dr Paul A Jones, Director at Swoboda and Head of the Research Unit for Financial Inclusion at Swoboda’s partner, Liverpool John Moores University for an overview to open the discussion. Then Eileen Halligan, CEO at Swoboda member Central Liverpool Credit Union in Britain, and Des Morrisey, former CEO of Tallaght West Credit Union in Ireland, offer practitioner perspectives. Eileen records the importance of the credit union as a response to 1980s unemployment in Liverpool, and Des suggests how the historic credit union role in addressing poverty may need to change in a society where there are many more credit providers for formerly under-served people. Consistent themes are the importance of financial education, the value of the save-as-you-borrow model to low income members and the role of credit in enabling participation in modern society.

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Talking Credit Unions #23 – Fintech Solutions? CU Apps

Chris Smith explores the opportunity presented by the deployment for credit unions of fully functional smartphone apps, and how this might affect a credit union’s traditional, personal relationship with members. Chris interviews Declan McGallagly and Jack Allison from the provider CU Apps and a CU Apps customer, Karen Bennett, CEO at Enterprise Credit Union. This is a companion episode to #22, where Chris considered how credit unions utilise the messaging facility offered by Nivo. Chris is looking to understand how credit unions are adapting to serve members in increasingly digital world.

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Talking Credit Unions #22 – Fintech Solutions? Nivo

Credit unions are increasing utilising apps to deliver services to members, providing features such as secure communications, balance checking and transactions on mobile phones. For some, this was a vital part of their ability to sustain services during the pandemic. Chris Smith has investigated the emerging world of credit union fintech but interviewing providers and credit unions in the UK. In this episode, Chris looks at the Nivo messaging app with Nivo’s CEO, Mike Common, and Matt Bland, CEO of Co-op Credit Union.

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Talking Credit Unions #21 Credit Union Development Educator Events – are they magic?

The Development Educator (DE) programme for credit unions is an extraordinary international endeavour, with a mission to “…. help established and emerging leaders within the credit union movement understand and leverage credit unions’ unique business model to serve members and communities in new and better ways”. Over 4,500 credit union employees, volunteers, directors and supporters have attended over the years. There is an EU version, with events usually based in the UK, and a US version, which has been around for almost 40 years. In this podcast from Talking Credit Unions, listen to:

Lois Kitsch, the former National Programme Director for the National Credit Union Foundation (USA) responsible for the Development Education Programme, explain the impact of this type of immersive education,

Marlene Shiels, CEO Capital Credit Union (Scotland), explain the power of the events so far and the successes with many individuals,

Andy Davey, Operations Manager, Co-op Credit Union(UK), describes his DE journey, as a graduate, with both the EU and USA DE programmes.

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Talking Credit Unions #20 Sir Douglas Flint, Just Finance Foundation and Credit Union Boardrooms

In this episode, Chris interviews Sir Douglas Flint, chair of Standard Life Aberdeen, IP Group and the Corporate board of Cancer Research UK, and a trustee of the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. He was previously Group Chairman of HSBC Holdings and he has held other roles, notably as a non-executive director of BP. He is also chair of Just Finance Foundation (JFF), a UK charity established in 2016 to help bring about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s continuing vision of creating a fairer and more just financial system. JFF runs a programme of financial education in primary schools called Lifesavers, which is delivered in many areas by local credit unions. So his role at JFF has placed Sir Douglas in close proximity to credit unions.

Clearly, Sir Douglas has many years of experience of board rooms.

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Talking Credit Unions #19 CFCFE Credit Union Conference 29th March 2021

Chris Smith asks Nick Money, Director of Development at Swoboda, to introduce the forthcoming conference on Monday 29th March. This is Swoboda’s fifth conference, and its second which is online-only. The conference brings together credit union leaders, trade association representatives, policymakers and other stakeholders from Ireland, the UK and often other nations too.

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Talking Credit Unions #18 First Year as a CEO – an interview with Matt Bland, CEO at Co-op Credit Union

Matt Bland, formerly Head of Policy at the trade association ABCUL, joined Co-op Credit Union in January 2020. As Matt started his first CEO post, little did he know quite what challenges the year would bring. In conversation with Chris Smith, Matt reflects on the extraordinary times that he and his team have been navigating, while managing to exit the year with 30% growth in loans and new service channels. Chris also asks Matt for news on technology, collaboration and much more in this entertaining and informative discussion.

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Talking Credit Unions #17 Credit Union Mergers – A strategic opportunity?

Chris interviews Robert Kelly, CEO of ABCUL, on how credit unions might consider approaching ‘mergers from strength’, as one strategic option for long term sustainability. Credit unions in Ireland have experienced considerable merger activity in the last decade, driven in many cases by regulatory pressure. In the UK, there has been a less systematic pattern, with the majority of mergers occurring when one credit union finds the only alternative is failure. ABCUL has set up a Strategic Mergers Taskforce, to help its member credit unions take a more proactive stance. Chris and Robert discuss the opportunities from merger, as well as the challenges to making it a success.

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Talking Credit Unions #16 – Time for a new core system?

Following on from Swoboda’s paper on the subject of replacing the core IT system, Chris Smith opens the podcast series in 2021 with by interviewing the author and consultant, Todd Proulx, as well as the Swoboda chair and CUFA Ltd MD, Ralph Swoboda. Chris discusses with these credit union IT veterans how IT can support what members are demanding from their credit unions, how the market place is developing in Ireland and the UK and how credit union leaders might approach upgrading their capabilities to keep pace with member requirements. Deciding whether to replace the core system or ‘bolt on’ new applications to the existing core is a vital strategic decision, and Chris’ interviewees provide plenty of food for thought.

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Talking Credit Unions #15 – Diversity in the credit union boardroom

2020 has been a year that has renewed focus on diversity in all aspects of society. As co-operative organisations, owned by and serving their members, credit unions should be properly inclusive and representative, whether in their outreach in communities, in the delivery of products and services, in employment of staff – or in the leadership of the credit union through the board. To evaluate diversity on credit union boards, in this podcast Chris Smith seeks views from Robert Kelly, CEO at the Association of British Credit Unions (ABCUL), Marlene Shiels OBE, CEO at Capital Credit Union in Scotland, Valerie Walwyn-Tait, CEO at Plane Saver Credit Union, Dr Karl George MBE, Managing Director at The Governance Forum, as well as Rob Shearing, CEO, and Kevin Fearon, Chair, at Wolverhampton City Credit Union.

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Talking Credit Unions #14 Audio of CFCFE's measuring Social Impact of Credit Unions Seminar 25th Nov 2020

Swoboda have released a report from Dr Olive McCarthy of the Centre for Co-operative Studies at Cork University Business School (and Swoboda’s Advisory Board) on credit union perceptions of the opportunities and challenges for measuring and reporting on social impact – what Swoboda calls ‘the credit union difference’.

Olive spoke to staff from 23 credit unions and 11 stakeholder to gather insights into what organisations see as the opportunities and barriers in relation to evaluating systematically the contributions credit unions make to their members’ and communities’ welbeing.

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Talking Credit Unions #13 – Interest rate caps on lending

It’s a busy month for Swoboda’s Advisory Panel member Dr Olive McCarthy! In addition to the work on social impact that we have partnered on recently, Olive has been interviewed by Chris Smith about her work on interest rate caps, high cost credit and credit unions as an alternative, and the conversation is released as a podcast.

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Talking Credit Unions #12 – Why bother with international credit union projects?

Hard on the heels of last week’s review of credit union conferences, Chris Smith releases a new podcast looking at the value of international credit union projects. Chris notes some criticism of the involvement of employees or directors in such initiatives as expensive, or with unclear benefits tangible. Chris interviews a range of guests including Robert Kelly from ABCUL in GB and Marlene Shiels of Capital Credit Union in Scotland, and the conclusion is that while there are challenges, the reward from these projects can be huge.

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Talking Credit Unions #11 – Credit Union Conference Round-Up

A brief round-up on Swoboda, ABCUL and World Council of Credit Unions conferences. Chris speaks to Nick from Swoboda about our successful event on 22nd September and introduces the ABCUL and WOCCU conferences scheduled for 2021.

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Talking Credit Unions #10 – Trailer for Credit Union Conference, 22 Sept

A brief introduction from Chris Smith and Nick Money to Swoboda’s Credit Union Conference on 22 September, where credit union leaders and policymakers from across Ireland and the UK will discuss how to plan ahead in this extraordinary period. This will be a largely online conference, with a small number of places reserved for members at a Dublin venue.

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Talking Credit Unions #9 – Human Resources Specialists: Luxury or Necessity?

How prepared are our credit unions for the possible employment issues that the pandemic has forced onto their businesses? Some of the changes may be positive and some may be relatively painless. However, changing a workforce to suit the new circumstances, or restructuring, is always a challenge and there are clearly good ways to do it and pitfalls to avoid. Chris explores these challenges with the usual mix of interesting and informed commentators.

On this edition you’ll hear from Swoboda member CEOs Marlene Shiels at Capital Credit Union in Scotland and Christine Moore at Manchester Credit Union, together with Robert Kelly, CEO at ABCUL and Jan Coverley, a highly experienced, independent HR consultant who will be known to many in the UK credit union sector.

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Talking Credit Unions #8 – effective management of payroll deduction schemes

In this episode of Talking Credit Unions, Chris Smith interviews several credit union leaders with experience of payroll deduction and a specialist private sector provider, to understand how credit unions can best attract employer partners and develop the membership with a payroll deduction scheme.

With thanks to the contributors – Billy Doyle (Dundalk Credit Union), Ann Hickey (East Sussex Credit Union), Carol McHarg (1st Alliance Credit Union), Luke Mellard (Salary Finance Ltd), and Roger Shelton (TransaveUK Credit Union).

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Talking Credit Unions #7 – COVID-19: The Irish Credit Union Response

Chris Smith talks with Michael Byrne, CEO of Core Credit Union, and Dave McAuley, CEO of Donore Credit Union, Swoboda credit union members from County Dublin and Dublin City respectively. Chris explores with Michael and Dave some of the themes of the Irish Movements response to the crisis

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Talking Credit Unions #6 – British Credit Unions and COVID-19

Another excellent podcast from our good friend Chris Smith. In this episode, we hear the testimony of some British credit union CEOs on the challenges they have faced in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.

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Talking Credit Unions #5 – Matt Bland, CEO of Co-op Credit Union

In another podcast from his Talking Credit Unions series, Chris Smith interviews Matt Bland, CEO of Co-operative Credit Union, a credit union for employees of co-operatives in Great Britain. Formerly Head of Policy & Communications at the Association of British Credit Unions Limited (ABCUL), Matt has considerable expertise in credit union regulation and legislation, and insights into best practices from leading credit unions in the UK and across the world. Allied to his executive experience, this makes Matt a very interesting interviewee.

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Talking Credit Unions #4 – IT with Todd Proulx

Another podcast from Chris Smith’s series (#4 already!). This time Chris is talking to Todd Proulx, who presented to the CFCFE Manchester conference in January. Todd is responding to questions from Chris around the options for credit unions for IT, in terms of the need or otherwise for change, the solutions available and how credit unions might combine to afford them.

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Talking Credit Unions #3 – Robert Kelly, ABCUL CEO

This week, Chris Smith is in conversation with Robert Kelly, CEO of the Association of British Credit Union Ltd (ABCUL). Robert talks about the importance of the town hall consultations that ABCUL facilitated in 2019, and identifies his biggest challenge in the role so far as for “our members and the wider sector to see what future path we can take”. Important stuff.

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Talking Credit Unions #2 – CFCFE Manchester 2020 conference presenters

Chris Smith’s podcast is back with another episode of Talking Credit Unions!
In this edition, Chris speaks to the presenters at the CFCFE Manchester conference 2020, as well as to some attendees. If you weren’t there, it’s a great potted summary of the event, with pithy summaries from the speakers of their key messages. We’re grateful to Chris for this coverage, but more importantly we’re sure it will be of interest and useful to listeners.

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Talking Credit Unions #1 – Abbie Shelton on credit union history and Nick Money on Swoboda

Communications professional and long-time credit unionist Chris Smith has launched the UK’s first credit union-focused podcast series, ‘Chris Smith is Talking Credit Unions’. This exciting new addition to the movement’s resources offers interviews with relevant subject matter experts and news on projects and initiatives around the sector. Chris’ target listeners are workers, leaders and directors of credit unions, as well as ancillary businesses and trade associations.

Chris says: “I love the medium of radio and recorded voice and many people enjoy the opportunity to take information, in a fast moving world, via the recorded voice. I listened to podcasts from other national credit union movements and thought we can do better than that. We’re as interesting as them, aren’t we?”

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