Credit Union Board of Directors

A board of directors governs and sets the strategic direction of every credit union. Boards generally have sub-committees, which take care of the managing specific aspects of the credit union. The board is most often elected at the Annual General Meeting each year by the membership with members being elected for three-year staggered terms. This means that there are always some directors that need to be elected on a yearly basis.

Responsibilities of the Board

Cooperative banking means cooperative thinking. The board makes sure that members and communities receive their attention. The directors work for their customers, their communities and focus on their interests. Their customers are ultimately their members and owners. It is therefore of paramount importance to establish policies and guidelines to ensure security and stability in governance.

In addition, the board shapes and guides the credit unions’ vision of cooperative banking. In order to keep the credit union stable and running, the board has to identify, manage and monitor applicable risks. The board is accountable to the members of the credit union.

Read more about security standards in online elections

Structure of the Board

Depending on the size of the credit union, board structures may vary. The average board of directors has seven members but each credit union can decide in their bylaws how many directors they would like to elect to guarantee a good management. 

A typical board structure:

  • Chairman
  • Vice-Chairman
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Director
  • Director
  • Director

Committees in credit unions 

Moreover, directors are responsible for certain committees. These committees are essential for the smooth operation the credit union and all its components. These committees have specific duties, which include auditing, governance, human resources, election administration, and risk management. 

Board Elections

Board of directors elections are one of the most important elections in credit unions and caisses populaires. As already described above, the board sets the credit unions’ strategic direction on behalf its members. Ultimately, members control the board of directors through elections. Directors are generally elected by the membership but can also be partly appointed by local or regional chapters of the credit union under certain circumstances.

In general, the phrase ‘one member, one vote’ applies to all credit unions and caisses populaires. They can define certain criteria in their bylaws on who is eligible to vote and stand in board elections. 

If members want to stand for election, they have to fulfil the following criteria:

  • be Canadian / American citizen (depending where your credit union is located in North America)
  • 18 years and older
  • owner of credit union shares
  • be in good standing with the credit union

These criteria can of course vary and are written in the bylaws. 

Read more about the bylaws in credit unions