RESEARCH

The Swoboda Centre seeks to provide high quality, accurate and applied research from experts in their field. This web page hosts all our 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 our Director of Research, Dr Paul A. Jones, at p.a.jones@ljmu.ac.uk.

The Centre 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), The Finance Innovation Lab (London, UK) and Small Change Ltd (Northern Ireland, 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 p.a.jones@ljmu.ac.uk. Our Guidelines for Researchers can be viewed here.

Swoboda Credit Union Research Prize

2021 Research Prize Winners!

2021 Research Prize Winners!

CFCFE is delighted to announce that the 2021 Credit Union Research Prize has been awarded to a team of leading academics who will be addressing the highly topical issue of social value, or impact, reporting for credit unions. Dr Peter Cleary (Cork University...

2020 Prizewinners!

2020 Prizewinners!

We're excited to announce the winners of our first ever Credit Union Research Prize! In March this year, CFCFE launched a competition for this inaugural award. The Prize is aimed at bringing new voices and ideas into the sector, by supporting researchers who wish...

Reflections Series

Publications

Time for a New Core System?

Time for a New Core System?

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...

How to run a virtual AGM

How to run a virtual AGM

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...

Open Banking and Credit Unions

Open Banking and Credit Unions

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...

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.

Thanks to everyone who joined us. The credit union conference presentations are available here and the Registry’s here.

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.

Relevant pre-CFCFE publications

 

The directors of the Centre, through their other institutions, have previously collaborated on several important projects. Some of those from the Research Unit for Financial Inclusion at Liverpool John Moores University are available here for download by clicking on the images below. Most recent examples are an exploration of best practice in governance for credit unions (2017) and a study of the credit union experience of GB’s Credit Union Expansion Project (2016). The earliest is the seminal paper by Dr Paul A. Jones and others on sustainable credit union development in Britain from 1998.

Further reports published by the Research Unit for Financial Inclusion are also available; contact Nick Money, nick.money@swobodacentre.org, for further information.

Research approach

We aim to publish academically rigorous research papers and other outputs that will be of practical and actionable help to the Centre’s stakeholders, for them to identify and adopt new services, better engage their communities, improve their business practices, protect their values, mitigate the risks they face, and facilitate their collaboration for the common good.

We wish to be a thought leader in our field.

We collaborate with Members and other stakeholders to the greatest extent possible, to ensure that ideas and concepts are tested and proven.

We have a Research Advisory Board to support the Centre with its research methodology, standards and quality, and oversee peer review of publications.

We make our research available first to our members, and then to the public.

SCOPE

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.

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OUR RESEARCHERS

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.

If you would like to partner with us as a research author, please get in touch. Here are our Guidelines for Researchers.

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PROGRAMME

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.