Northwest Credit Unions: Leveraging Bank Transfer Day in Order to Serve

Leveraging the affect of Bank Transfer Day to achieve a growth in members—and along with it the full financial services relationship with those new members—was a priority for credit unions before, during and after Nov. 5, 2011.

From developing innovative methods to serve the members, to promoting new products and services, or simply increasing the ease of access to the financial institution, Northwest credit unions are leading by example in the field of “people helping people.”

The following are examples of what Northwest credit union did to solve unique issues they were faced with over the past 12 months:

BECU: A New Normal

  • Asset increase: $1,085,907,070 (11.43%)
  • Member increase: 81,348 (11.5%)

At the height of Bank Transfer Season, BECU’s individual neighborhood financial centers were helping as many as 380 consumers join the credit union per day. Branches were flooded with people, and the down-the-road need to prepare to serve those members was on everyone’s mind. Even now, there is a new normal at BECU, because some branches continue to enroll as many as 140 consumers per day.

To expedite the conversation about the credit union’s operating model, about how members can access funds, and about the credit union’s ATM and shared-branching network, BECU developed a placemat that will now used by all front-line staff that explains to consumers how to best use their credit union.

Valley Credit Union: Maintaining Member Growth

  • Asset increase: 4,293,396 (7.7%)
  • Member increase: 36 (.83%)

Like many credit unions, Valley Credit Union has faced several quarters of a gradually shrinking membership base. While Bank Transfer Day didn’t completely reverse the trend, the positive membership growth that Valley has experienced over the past 12 months represents an exciting opportunity to increase its loan-to-share ratio.

To keep its name in the public view, the credit union launched a community-wide marketing campaign to reel in rate shoppers while emphasizing their status as a community financial institution. Combined with a new staff incentive program to keep energy high and people focused, the credit union has increased its loan-to-share rate by 4.5 percent.

Express Credit Union: Leveraging Community Partners

  • Asset Increase: $51,363 (.5%)
  • Member increase: 187 (7%)

As a financial institution, serving the asset-poor is challenging. But when it is done right, the word gets out—and membership and affinity for the credit union grow.

Express Credit Union has filled a niche as an alternative to predatory payday lenders. Rather than investing in external marketing, Express uses dollars from grants and donations through its non-profit service organization to offset the charitable activities of the credit union, which include deploying financial education, coaching and counseling programs into Seattle’s low-income communities.

Word of mouth has helped deliver a 29-percent increase in lending so far in 2012, and the credit union is on target to achieve 11-percent member growth by year’s end. But the real achievement and critical focus for Express Credit Union is community outreach and education for the most financially vulnerable. Credit union staffers conduct 300 classes annually with partners who receive financial literacy grants and education curricula, and they reached 2,790 low-income participants in 2011 alone. An additional 4,700 took advantage of the credit union’s personal coaching and budgeting program.

In what is a reversal of roles for two common credit union practices, Express’ products and services are used as tools to reinforce its social mission and financial curriculum.


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Posted in Advocacy News, NCUA.