CUs Again Ranked Ahead Of Banks In Consumer Survey Of Perceptions

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For the second year in a row, credit unions have done better than financial services competitors in consumers' perception of in whose best interests they act.

The findings, released by Forrester Research, also provide some insights into customer/member loyalty, as the degree to which customers/members believe their financial services providers act in the customers/members' best interests indicates their likelihood of staying with those providers.

The Forrester survey asked 5,000 consumers whether they agreed with the following statement: "my financial provider does what's best for me, not just its own bottom line." The result: 67% of consumers agreed with that statement when applied to credit unions, second only to USAA, a San Antonio-based financial services company that caters to military personnel and their families, with a score of 68%.

In results released in 2005, credit unions also trailed USAA, the giant military-based provider of a host of services, including insurance.

But a bevy of "untraditional" competitors weren't far behind credit unions, including Geico (59%), AAA (59%), State Farm (55%) and Vanguard (55%).

Credit unions' more "traditional" competitors had some of the lowest ratings: Washington Mutual at 33%, Wells Fargo at 32%, Bank of America at 30% and Citibank at 19%. Wachovia Bank dropped nine percentage points in the survey to 36%.

Not surprisingly, the findings were forwarded onto members of Congress by the credit union trade associations.

"We at the Credit Union National Association feel the Forrester survey is more strong evidence that credit unions are fundamentally different from for-profit banks both structurally (as not-for-profit cooperatives) and philosophically (as institutions whose mission is service to members)," CUNA CEO Dan Mica wrote in a letter distributed to members of Congress that included copies of the Forrester survey and chart, shown at left.

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