Sleeves Rolled Up, A Better 2nd Half Is Seen

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SAN DIMAS, Calif.-Based on economic signs and the willingness of credit unions to spend a little more, Sarah Canepa Bang predicts CUs will have a stronger second half than the first six months.

"My sense in talking to credit unions is we have finally gotten used to the new world-the (NCUA) assessments and all the other things that have spun out of the recession," said the CEO of shared branching provider Financial Service Centers Cooperative (FSCC). "We are seeing a lot less wringing of hands and many more credit unions saying 'let's roll up our sleeves and deal with this' than we have seen in the last couple years."

According to Canepa Bang, that attitude is being driven by credit unions that are more comfortable with the "lay of the land" and are positioned to move forward. "We are seeing that in the number of (shared branching) contracts that are flowing in. Last year was tough for credit unions because people did not know what was coming around the bend, or even if they would have some branches."

Canepa Bang contended that shared branching has helped many credit unions weather the economic storm and extend their reach without putting up a new office. "We have helped when credit unions have had to close a location-they could tell members to go to a shared location nearby. Sometimes, in times of distress, the advantages of shared branching become more apparent."

Canepa Bang surmised that credit unions leveraging mobile technology to extend their reach and those that during the recession did more than "tread water" will fare the best later this year and next.

"I think the second half of the year will be better than we thought, especially for those credit unions that got up and did something. During the last two years it took a lot of guts to do some of the things that a few years ago we would not have batted an eye at-like introducing a new product or service."

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