As a nation, in both the business and consumer sectors, we continue to face financial hardships. While banks have been dubbed the culprits and are paying for their many mistakes that led to the 2008 economic turndown, credit unions have been able to offer a financial safe haven to the pool of potential members who have left their failing banks in search of more stable institutions. In 2009 alone, we saw 155 banks go belly-up, presenting a golden opportunity for credit unions to snatch up unhappy account holders and bring them to the other side.
One of the biggest fears of consumers who are considering moving their account to a credit union is the loss of branch convenience. With 97 percent of credit unions having less than 10 branches, and 69 percent having only one, potential new members could be swayed to a large national bank with thousands of locations instead of a credit union. Fortunately, credit unions have a unique solution to this problem: shared branching. Shared branching provides members branch access at more than 4,000 locations nationwide, offering credit union members the convenience they expect, and keeping even the smallest credit unions “right in the neighborhood”, wherever their members may be.
With the increasing popularity of mobile and online banking, some may think that access to physical branches will soon no longer matter, especially within the younger generations. However, research has shown that members still prefer to have a tie to a physical branch, even though they still use the other banking options, and that banking at branches is still important, especially with the added convenience of shared branching.
In a recent study conducted by Raddon Financial Group and CO-OP Shared Branching on the profitability of shared branching, findings showed that younger users do not limit their ability to access their accounts and branches remain significant for them. Although the younger member segments do not have as large a base in the organizations analyzed, they are more likely than the older segments to utilize shared branching. In the 18-34 age bracket, 17 percent are users of shared branching, while 13 percent of the 35 and older age range are users of shared branching.
There has never been a better time for credit unions to grow their membership. Take advantage of the mistakes made by banks and the added convenience of shared branching. Get your name out there, market your brand and show your community why credit unions are the way to go.