3 Ways To Strengthen SEG Ties

Innovative outreach methods welcome SEGs and generate excitement about the institution’s financial brand.


Managing relations with Select Employee Groups is a cost-efficient strategy to increase or rejuvenate membership.

According to Callahan's Peer-to-Peer software, credit unions with SEG charters have higher membership growth and a higher average member relationship, so how can credit unions maximize SEG member opportunities? One way is to create an experience for members. Another way is to get involved with SEG activities. A third way is to generate excitement about the credit union and its services.

1. Create An Experience

Unfortunately, credit unions' messages can get lost on employers. To combat this, create a personalized experience for members. BCU ($1.4B, Vernon Hills, IL) individualizes its banking platform based on the SEGs it serves. Online financial suites incorporate employer-specific branding, as do call center scripts, member application forms, loan applications, and apparel.

FORUM Credit Union ($945M, Indianapolis, IN) takes a page out of the playbooks of Southwest, Walt Disney, and the Grateful Dead and makes its brand the experience. More than half, 55%, of the credit union's new members from the past five years were connected directly to SEG efforts, so the credit union now actively goes where the members are. Based on the principle it is experience, not transactions, that form the foundation of relationships, FORUM visits its SEGs anywhere from once a month to once a year. It creates special offers available only during the site visit and incentivizes referrals. It also assists the SEG with company goals, offers on-site seminars, and sponsors enter-to-win contests. To gauge the success of its initiative, FORUM sets per visit goals such as recruiting one new member and signing up one existing member for one new service.

2. Participate In Events

AOD Federal Credit Union ($220M, Bynum, AL) participates in its SEGs' charity events and gives its own employees up to 20 hours paid time off for volunteer work. In turn, many of its employees team up with SEG volunteer programs. BMI Federal Credit Union ($365M, Dublin, OH) donates to its SEGs' charities as well as participates in SEG events such as Teen Day, Senior Day, and golf outings. Such interaction helps the credit union stay in touch with SEG employees and helps the credit union identify active SEG members.

Beyond charitable and social events, it is important to not loose sight of the opportunities provided by everyday activities. For example, Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union ($246M, Germantown, MD) identified an opportunity in new hire orientation. The credit union serves a research foundation, whose grant-funded employee base turns over frequently. By participating in orientation, the credit union was able to reach up to 30 new employees monthly and sign up five to 10 new members per session.

3. Generate Excitement!

To keep a fresh perspective and generate buzz about credit union products, find one interesting hook that can help develop SEG relationships. Xceed Financial Credit Union ($721M, El Segundo, CA) layers its more traditional marketing techniques — such as SEG visits, enrollment days, and financial education seminars — with appearances by its financial superhero, Numbers Guy.

Cutting Edge ($35M, Milwaukie, OR) creates a buzz in its SEGs through Brady Bucks. The credit union plants money featuring the face of president and CEO, Brady Howe, around SEG sites. SEG employees can redeem the money for a savings account at the credit union or pass it along to a friend to do the same.




April 12, 2010


  • Great and wonderfully "credit union" ideas!
  • Thank you, Steve. These are excellent suggestions.
    Rebecca Wessler
  • Excellent article but I would take this a step farther. Credit Unions need to offer their SEGS (and perspective SEGS) a suite of solutions that extends beyond "banking" products that includes such things as financial planning, investment advisory, risk management & insurance services. With small businesses on the radar as great prospects for membership, credit unions need to offer such services as employee benefits, both compulsory and voluntary. Finally, many members are looking for online access to products such as insurance so that they may receive competitive quotes without having to visit or call an agent. Adding these to the items mentioned in the article provides credit unions with some distinct competitive advantages in a very competitive financial services field. Bottom line, we need to take demonstrable steps to reinforce to SEGS that we are well positioned to be their primary financial institution.
    Steve Ryerson