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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif.-Becoming more efficient, installing up-to-date technology and reducing fraud all will be priorities for credit unions that seek to grow in 2011, but Eric Porter of CO-OP Financial Services says the most important is taking advantage of banks' current weakness.

Porter, CO-OP's EVP of business development and marketing, said he sees several areas in which credit unions can grow this year, as long as they keep pace with technology. The first is organic growth developed from members viewing their CU as their primary financial institution. Second is increasing profitability by streamlining disparate functions to create efficiencies. Third is continuing to attract new members at a time when confidence in banks is at an all-time low. Fourth, is cutting losses on fraud.

"The credit union must be its members' primary financial institution," he declared. "CO-OP has a product called Ad Lab that will get the word out to think of the credit union first instead of the banks. These are customizable campaigns. Credit unions need better marketing because they remain the best-kept secret in financial services."

One example of streamlining is when a credit union joins a shared branching network such as CO-OP's, if the CU decides to add home deposit or branch deposit, all of these services can be put on the same switch to maximize their investment.

"We believe credit unions should highlight the convenient access to their accounts they can offer their members," he said. "People can interact with their credit union anywhere at any time, and CO-OP makes this type of engagement banking possible. Members can access 28,000 surcharge-free ATMs, 9,000 of which are deposit-taking, and 4,000 shared branch locations. Credit unions need to push the fact they can have access to as many ATMs as Bank of America, surcharge-free."

CO-OP recently developed a new product called My Deposit Mobile, which enables members to deposit checks using their mobile phones. Porter said other innovations include a debit analytics program to help grow card usage, and therefore revenue, and an outsourced ATM fleet management service.

Porter noted the real-time fraud analytics are saving credit unions hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraud losses.

"Get more new members, attract more wallet share from existing members and reduce costs," he counseled.

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Growth strategies