Was Bank Transfer Day Good for Credit Unions? Depends Who You Ask

If asked whether you thought Bank Transfer Day helped credit unions or hurt them, what would you say? Approximately 30 key credit union leaders from Washington and Oregon answered that question when they were asked to pick sides—literally—on either side of the room during the Northwest Credit Union Association’s (NWCUA’s) first Leadership Symposium last week.

The symposiums replace the former Regulatory Forums and will continue to offer regulatory insights, networking opportunities and high-level dialogue through interactive presentations.

In a discussion facilitated by the Filene Research Institute’s Chief Finance and Strategy Officer Denise Gabel, CEOs and other strategic leaders were asked to stand to her right if they believed the outcome of the movement was harmful to credit unions, to her left if they thought it had a positive effect and in the middle if they were unsure.

Known for pushing teams of innovators to think “off the cul-de-sac,” Gabel’s exercise surfaced some interesting responses.

One regulator surprised those in attendance by sharing an opinion, quickly moving to the “benefit” line, saying that it was good to see credit union awareness driven by real consumers, not by financial institutions or by those who regulate them.

“Yes, but we got a lot of dead weight,” added an executive. “We got the members Bank of America chased away.”

As 2011 membership numbers are being finalized, annual growth is expected to follow the general patterns of recent years, yet showing spikes for larger, marketing-savvy credit unions during the Fall 2011 run-up to Bank Transfer Day.

Those in the middle are still waiting to see how many of these new members will do more than just sign up.

“We might have been effective communicating why credit unions are better,” said one CEO, “but we need both your loans and your savings.”

“You could not buy the positive publicity we got,” was a popular refrain from the supporters.

The CEO of a smaller credit union remarked that while there wasn’t a huge increase in membership, existing members opened more checking accounts.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to build on, she said emphatically, “and don’t let it die.”

The leadership group concluded that in the end, Bank Transfer Day presents an ongoing opportunity to market not merely membership but the full line of credit union products and services to new members.

The next Symposium is scheduled for June 21.


Questions? Contact Training Programs Coordinator Yuri Jung: 206.340.4817, yjung@nwcua.org.

Posted in Compliance News, Events.