Act on Credit Union Environment Information

Act on Credit Union Environment Information

I am fortunate to serve on the Texas Credit Union League’s Communications Advisory Committee. At our meeting last month, representatives from the League shared some powerful statistics and information about our credit union environment. Below are some the highlights in the areas of age distribution, shifting ethnicity, and what Boomers want from their PFI. Trends

However, just like CUNA’s excellent E-Scan (a must read), information is useless unless you do something about it. So after each informational area I offer some suggestions for what credit unions can actually take.

Age Distribution

The following was shared from CUNA’s 2009-2010 National Member Survey:

  • Credit union members are getting older. Members’ average age is now 47, up from 1985.
  • To meet long-term lending goals, credit unions will have to attract more consumers from the 18-to-24 age group. And the news on this front is not good. The percentage of members age 18 to 24 is small and getting smaller.
  • Credit unions need a two-pronged strategy for achieving future loan growth. They need to continue to attract more consumers in the peak borrowing years of 25 to 44 and they need to attract even younger consumers 18 to 24.

—Action Steps


Credit unions have talked for years about getting younger, but the reality is we are heading in the wrong direction. Here are some suggestions:


(1)    Target the parents (who are credit union members) to get the youth.

(2)    Offer technology products such as online account opening, mobile banking, text alerts, etc. that youth want.

(3)    Embrace youth at your credit union: hire young, put Generation Xers on the board, promote young people to executive positions, etc.

(4)    Adopt a complete youth marketing strategy that includes social media, key events, college partnerships, etc.


Shifting Ethnicity


The following was shared from the U.S. Census Bureau:


  • Hispanics are the fastest growing portion of the U.S. population, representing about half the growth since 2000. After the 2010 census, demographers expect Hispanics to total 50 million or about 15% of the population. This figure will rise  to nearly 25% in 15 years.
  • The size and relative youth of Hispanic consumers make them attractive to credit unions looking to not only grow membership but to expand their pool of peak borrowers. The Hispanic population is also migrating to other regions beyond the western and southern regions.

Like the youth, Hispanics are a prime growth target. But reaching them is easier said than done. Here are some suggestions:


(1)    Hire bilingual staff throughout your credit union.

(2)    Make sure all your marketing material is in Spanish (not just one brochure).

(3)    Form partnerships with key Hispanic organizations in your area (Hispanic chambers, small businesses, etc.).

(4)    Immerse your credit union completely in the Hispanic culture, especially if you have branches in largely Hispanic population zones.


What Boomers Want from Their PFI


The following was shared from a CUNA Mutual Group Retirement Research Study:


  • More than 40% for credit union members are baby boomers and 17% of these members are likely to leave their credit union.
  • Currently boomers say credit unions do not play a significant role in their financial lives and they don’t rely on them for financial guidance and advice.


Boomers, boomer, boomers. If credit unions take them for granted, they will lose them. Here are some thoughts for not just retaining them but thriving with them:


(1)    Offer financial planning services and don’t treat it as an after –thought in your marketing strategy: make it a core product offering (just like loans and checking accounts).

(2)    Offer special products designed just for Boomers—not around their age but rather on their active and full lives.

(3)    Focus on advice rather than selling; if you give them advice the sale will eventually come.

(4)    Flood them with financial information through your website, financial seminars, etc. Don’t just make your website information but rather design it to help them manage their portfolios.


The information the League shared is invaluable—now it’s up to us in credit unions to do something with it.

People Hear What They See

People Hear What They See

In a recent session at Southwest CUNA Management School on “Advanced Branding for Credit Unions,” I had a Dallas branding company called Loudthought share a few case studies along with some of their ideas about the importance of branding.Hear & See


One thing their CEO, Jim Foley, said especially struck me: “People hear what they see.” He went on to say that people will trust their eyes before your words.


So think about that minute. You can say your credit union is all about service and being member focused. But what do your branches look like? Retail marketing—how your branches look and feel—matter. This is especially important for older members because the branch is where they conduct the majority of their transactions.


Or you could look at the other end of the age spectrum and think of children. If one of your strategic goals is to get younger, do you have a kids’ play area inside the branch? Have you considered the radical step of having video games in the lobby for teens?


But it’s not just how your branches look and feel. With branding, everything matters. Even how your bathrooms smell. What are your bathrooms communicating about your brand? With branding, perception truly is reality.


What do members see when they drive up to your branch? What do they see when they walk in? Are you promising them one thing and delivering something else?


Here are some quick questions you can ask:


(1)    How is the parking lot maintained?

(2)    Is there adequate parking available?

(3)    Are sidewalks litter-free and maintained?

(4)    Are doors and windows clean?

(5)    Is the landscaping maintained?

(6)    Is the member service area clean, orderly and free of food and drinks?

(7)    How does the lobby look?

(8)    Is the marketing literature displayed nicely?

(9)    How is your staff dressed and groomed?

(10) How is the staff at maintaining professional behavior (refrain from chewing gum, OVER-socializing, drinking or eating in the presence of members)?


Branding is just much about the details as it about the big picture. So keep in mind that you can say all you want about your brand—but people will first notice what they see.