Just a few short years ago, the buzz was all about "going green." Then the bottom fell out of the economy, and everyone's focus shifted to "saving green."
But the two concepts are not mutually exclusive. In fact, this shift in our collective consciousness offers credit unions an opportunity to not only adopt more sustainable and responsible practices but also to expand their business to meet these changing consumer demands.
Here are 5 ideas you credit union can take to the, uh, bank.
- Sans Paper: Applications can be completed online. Statements can be e-mailed. Mortgages can be closed via computer videoconference. And both credit unions and consumers can save space with PDF copies and information to electronic media. No longer is it necessary to kill a forest each month to provide monthly account statements. Nor is it necessary to turn over your paper money . . . for more paper.
- Transportation: Automakers are racing each other to come up with the next "hybrid" vehicle. They're exploring plug-ins, fuel cells, hydrogen -- anything to loosen dependency on gas/oil and meeting the increasing demand from consumers for more environmentally-friendly automobiles. Have you switched your lending marketing focus to attract more "hybrid" auto loans? Or perhaps you can join the growing number of credit unions who are meeting their demand for bicycle loans.
- Green Architecture: More and more institutions are going after the US Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for new and refurbished locations. The public is increasingly more aware of and more demanding of their retail and service partners to be at the forefront in energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and sustainable resources. How do you evaluate these factors when considering new construction? And what are the short and long-term benefits that will affect your bottom line?
- Green Architecture, Part 2: Of course, credit unions don't have to be only LEED certified buildings going up in your neighborhood. Many homebuilders are leading with environmental benefits. And as our culture deserts the McMansions that helped drag the housing market to a near stall, they're going to be looking for houses that both fiscally and environmentally responsible -- and lenders who partner with them.
- Remote Deposit Capture: It wasn't one of the big banks that introduced the first iPhone Remote Department Capture Apps. It was a credit union. These and other tools help consumers save time, money, and gas with fewer trips to deposit checks -- allowing staff to concentrate on areas of customer service that require face-to-face attention.