Time For Focus On Members, Walletshare

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PLEASANTON, Calif.-Credit unions will be putting new emphasis in the latter half of 2011 on gaining members and wallet share as the economy grinds toward recovery.

That is what Sam Kilmer, VP of market development for Harland Financial Solutions, said his company has observed, noting that high unemployment and continued consumer debt deleveraging will force CUs to think more openly about their business. "We have seen our clients become more creative about the ways they seek business."

Kilmer said those strategies are focused on two areas. "You have strategies and efforts to increase reach and bring in new members, and other tactics and approaches specifically designed to improve what you get from existing members."

What more credit unions are realizing, according to Kilmer, is that waiting for members to make the move on their own driven simply by their dissatisfaction with banks is not the optimal growth strategy. Kilmer pointed out that credit union membership has not increased much during the recession and remains somewhat stagnant.

"We are seeing internally here that online account opening continues to gain momentum," Kilmer stated. "It is gaining momentum because not only is it a channel to reach new members but also a way to improve the credit union's efficiency. You kill two birds with one stone."

Business intelligence solutions are on the rise at CUs, as well, Kilmer said. "We are seeing more MCIF technology so the credit union can better understand their membership and member segments, member profitability, and see what their share of wallet is. Credit unions are taking a close look at their data to see where they can pick up pockets of new business."

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Growth strategies