Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Where do you go from here, Credit Unions?

By Margie Church

Unless you've been stranded on a desert island without connectivity to America for the past six weeks, you know all about November 5. A grassroots movement that credit unions were slow to embrace, Bank Transfer Day took off without them, leaving some racing to ride the wave of free publicity it created. 

In case you missed these eye-opening results:
  • Approximately 650,000 people have joined credit unions since September 29. This equates to more new members in October than in all of 2010.

  • Credit unions realized approximately $4.5 billion in new deposits through October.

  • 40,000 new memberships were opened on November 5, and

  • Credit unions saw $80 million in new share accounts,1 and

  • Credit unions originated $90 million in new loans.1

We may never discern what portion of this growth was motivated by Bank Transfer Day versus consumer anger about new fees and big bank arrogance. What matters is that Americans reacted, and credit unions were the big benefactors.

History has proven that Americans are fond of grassroots movements. And Bank of America likely smelled a grass fire when it cancelled its plans to institute the debit card user fee. But we all know big banks aren't going to go quietly into the sunset, licking their wounds, having finally learned not to mess with the Average Joe. They, and other banks, will find ways to increase existing fees and introduce new ways to get what they're always after – bigger profits for themselves.

Credit unions are sure to see an uptick in new business as long as this topic is kept in front of consumers. What can you do? Pick the low-lying fruit. Deepen your relationship with members by contacting them with another relevant and timely message now. 

Free checking is only one way credit unions save their members money every month. At this time of year, everyone seems to be cash-strapped. Boost your members' budgets by offering your lower-interest rate credit card. Tantalize them with savings examples when they transfer higher-rate balances. To those members who already have one of your credit cards, offer a great rate on a personal loan to help pay off holiday expenses or plan a winter get-away.

As we close out 2011, and look forward to next year, we have one piece of advice: full steam ahead.

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