7 Strategies for Growth from Wallet Share Leaders

When it comes to deepening relationships with members, it takes multiple efforts and multiple programs. Credit union leaders in wallet share discuss strategies that are helping drive growth.


When it comes to deepening relationships with members, it takes multiple efforts and multiple programs. Credit union leaders in wallet share discuss strategies that are helping drive growth.

Keep It Simple Smarty
"The important thing about loans is to keep it simple," says Dick Brake, senior VP of member services at Tower Federal Credit Union ($1.7B in Annapolis Junction, MD). Brake says that if you create 50 products, it is really important that they'll be used by a lot of members. It's not efficient to have many product lines and have them only used by a few. "When you have fewer products you can service and manage them better."

Learn From Others
"We don't throw out a lot of products every year," says Frank Beres, marketing manager at Blackhawk Community Credit Union ($296 million in Janesville, WI). "We take our time and try to see what would work well. If others are having success with a product, we'll consider moving forward with it."

A Twist on Accounts
Recently, Blackhawk wanted to transfer members with a typical money market account into a high yield money market savings account. The effort was successful for both the credit union and its members. Blackhawk targeted members with money market balances over $10,000 and those with a combined share balance over $10,000. With the new savings account, members benefited from a better rate (4%) than their money market account, and an added check writing feature. Blackhawk in turn saw a lot of money move in and retained strong balances.

Reverse Marketing
When promoting accounts for members 18 and younger, the key is to communicate to the parent. "It's tricky to market directly to youth," said Frank Beres of Blackhawk. "You don't necessarily market to them because the parent is most likely going to be the one who brings them in to open that account."

In 2006 Blackhawk introduced youth accounts for today's under-24 consumers. "We saw a need and thought this would be a value to young people going to college or getting jobs," said Beres of Blackhawk. The cooperative offers youth accounts that include low spending limits and parental permission. The credit union offers several packages designed to help youth members learn to save, spend and borrow responsibly.

Nothing goes better with a great deal than convenience. Maryland area home buyers are raving about Tower's in-house title company. "The members really like it because they know they're going to get a quick turnaround," says Brake. "It really gets the members to keep coming back." The credit union has also been approached by various realtors who've heard they can close a loan quickly at Tower.

Online Discounts
Tower's real estate presence is popular on line as well. Website visitors who apply for a mortgage online get a 25 bps off for doing so. Today, the credit union gets 80% of its real estate loans through the internet. Other Tower loans have reached 60% to 70% online.

Staff Incentives
Incentives can rev up any effort, and they can come in many forms. Sandia Laboratory ($1 billion in New Mexico) offers team based incentives. Depending on their department, staff can earn incentives if they meet goals for membership growth or loan growth. If organizational goals are met, everyone at the credit union is rewarded.

City County Credit Union of Florida ($266 million in Ft. Lauderdale, FL) has continued to thrive since it moved to a phone-based system for sales in 2005. The credit union's robust incentive program makes the six phone sales positions coveted amongst many of the staff.

Loyalty Programs
Members needs incentives too.  That's why City County in Florida also provides membership levels that reward participation in the credit union's products.  "Our membership program states - the more members have, the more members get," says Jennifer Burns, at City County.  The program, started in May 2005, doesn't take into account how long individuals have been members but it does monitor their activity monthly.

"We're always reminding members of our great deals, those who we don't catch one way we catch in other ways," Dick Brake of Tower adds.




July 23, 2007


  • This is a very interesting articles with so many ideas to implement with not only with our members but also with our staff.
    Sandra M. Chavez