Wednesday, November 2, 2011

No fee? Still flee?

by Margie Church

Bank of America's decision to drop its proposed debit card user fee has me wondering how credit unions will respond. The tremendous amount of negative national press has given Bank of America a black eye, yet it's given credit unions invaluable positive press. For free.  Some credit unions rushed to the unique opportunities presented by the user fee boondoggle and the Bank Transfer Day. They're communicating with members and rattling the chains of banks in their communities. 

Is your credit union going to take its "ball" and go home now, feeling the game is over? Or will you keep the pressure on to deepen relationships with your members and increase rolls because you're a better alternative?

The economy is slowly stabilizing. Consumers are cautiously spending, but they are spending. A new Bloomberg report stated this year, debit card spending in the U.S. increased 23 percent to $97 billion, and worldwide, debit card spending increased 35 percent to $62 billion. Credit card spending worldwide rose 21 percent to $469 billion from $389 billion a year earlier.* Holiday promotions are everywhere. Auto manufacturers are offering fantastic incentives to clear out 2011 inventories and they're promoting their luxury new models. Interest rates are rock-bottom low on auto loans. Many of you are promoting amazing new HELOC programs. These are all perfect ways to bring your relevant, timely, and personal messages to members and prospects alike.  Email is an inexpensive, fast way to be in touch even at year-end when budgets are spent or nearly so.
Some credit union officials have been fretting that those leaving big banks might be unprofitable members. Perhaps credit unions shouldn't be too quick to embrace them. Huh? If these people really were unprofitable, Bank of America, and others like them, would have found a different, quieter way to get rid of them long before now.** And we don't perceive these banks as the good guys just because they decided not to stick it to their clients. They just cried "uncle." Their greed will drive them to find another, less public, way to get the cash sooner or later.

Keep the heat on. Be the financial hero your community needs.

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