Great Meadow FCU Scores Big While Thinking Small

The upstate New York cooperative mixes mobile offerings with online and in-person social relations to drive member, share, and loan growth.

 
 

The word is out in one upstate New York community that Great Meadow Federal Credit Union ($25.5M, Granville, NY) is the place to go for financial services.

GMFCU’s second quarter loan-to-share ratio of 88.3% bested the 77.7% national average and 57.6% average for credit unions of $20 million to $50 million in assets, according to data from Callahan & Associates

Loan growth, share, and member growth also were well above peer averages. The average credit union of its size lost members year-over-year in the second quarter, whereas Great Meadow grew its roster by 28.0%.

What’s happening here?

“We ask new members why they are coming to us, and the overwhelming response is: ‘Word on the street is this is where I should have my accounts.’ Or ‘I heard you helped this person and they told me you might be able to help me, too,’” says GMFCU president and CEO Ryan Roberts. “That along with our other marketing efforts have kept us growing and achieving our goals as an institution.”

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So has offering such modern must-haves as mobile banking that includes remote deposit checking and an on-off feature for the debit/ATM card.

“It’s an excellent app,” Roberts says.

Roberts joined the credit union — nestled in a rural village on the Vermont border — in 2005. He became its chief executive five years ago, about the time the credit union began offering checking accounts for the first time.

CU QUICK FACTS

Great Meadow FCU
Data as of 06.30.16

HQ: Granville, NY
ASSETS: $25.5M
MEMBERS: 3,612
BRANCHES: 3
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 8.6%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 21.2%
ROA: 0.50%

Today, the credit union is the primary checking account holder for more than 30% of its members, a share of wallet Roberts says is steadily rising. And he expects the same trajectory for the credit card offering GMFCU launched at the end of 2015.

“We are on pace to end this year with more than 800 accounts and $1.2 million in balances,” Roberts says. “We did all this with our team buying into our sales culture that is for the benefit of the member.”

Roberts also says the notion his credit union looks like a big one on paper is not an uncommon refrain.

“Our NCUA examiners have told us repeatedly we’re a small credit union that acts, looks, and feels to them like a large credit union,” Roberts says.

According to the credit union leader, that’s the result of working to help members in every way it can while retaining that small, local feel.

“Our largest challenge will be to continue this way of operation with our continued growth,” he says.

MOBILE BANKING GROWTH

FOR U.S. CREDIT UNIONS | DATA AS OF 03.31.16

© Callahan & Associates | www.creditunions.com
Year U.S. Credit Unions $20M-$50M In Assets
2013 29.99% 33.06%
2014 38.61% 44.76%
2015 45.98% 54.71%
2016 51.37% 62.27%

Source: Peer-to-Peer Analytics by Callahan & Associates.

REMOTE DEPOSIT CHECKING GROWTH

FOR U.S. CREDIT UNIONS | DATA AS OF 03.31.16

© Callahan & Associates | www.creditunions.com
Year U.S. Credit Unions $20M-$50M In Assets
2013 8.17% 5.51%
2014 13.39% 8.97%
2015 21.27% 15.13%

Great Meadow is part of a trend of mobile adoption rising sharply among small credit unions.
Source: Peer-to-Peer Analytics by Callahan & Associates.

Stealing The Deal

Lending — specifically auto lending — has been a major driver of bottom line and relationship growth at GMFCU.

“We do direct only,” Roberts says. “We've grown by stealing car loans when members come in for other loans.”

Great Meadow Federal Credit Union uses CO-OP's CardNav to provide debit/ATM card on-off capabilities by mobile app. Find your next solution in the Callahan & Associates online Buyer's Guide.

Refinance specials and car-buying informational sessions with members are part of the GMFCU’s strategy, as is using the credit union’s Facebook page to post pictures of members showing how much they saved by refinancing their car loan with the credit union. Roberts also shares his thoughts with members by blogging about such topics as Brexit and the difference between a savings account and a CD.

5 Ways To Make 'Small' A Success

Ryan Roberts, president and CEO of Great Meadow Federal Credit Union shares how his credit union thinks big and acts small.

  • In my office I have a large whiteboard that says "Best is the Standard." Everyone in the credit union needs to believe and work to achieve that.
  • You have to understand and implement a sales culture in a way that is best for your membership. Every team member must be a part of that culture, or you will not succeed. We define great service as giving the member more than what they came in expecting.
  • Incentive plans work. We implemented an incentive plan for all members of our team that pays them for each "sale" or "goal" achieved. We have individual incentive pay and team incentive pay.
  • Be willing to change and adapt. If you don’t, you will not be around for long. Listen to your team — they know your members.
  • Work with staff to find how you can help members while staying within the risk tolerance of the credit union.

All In The Family

GMFCU does relationship pricing and lending. The former includes interest rate breaks of up to 0.25% on loans and CDs, depending on the number of products the member has, and the latter includes loaning all the way to E paper with no credit score minimum. That does not include real estate, typically, but the credit union does lend to Amish residents who often have no credit score.

The overriding philosophy is a firm belief in decentralized lending and service at its three branches. 

“Our staff knows our members and treats them like family,” Roberts says.

That includes digging into credit portfolios not only to show how much the member can save but also to deepen the deal.

“One loan turns into multiple loans, a home equity or mortgage refinance, and a credit card consolidation or balance transfer all over to GMFCU,” Roberts says.

The move to PFI status often naturally follows.

“It’s been an easy sell after saving members thousands of dollars in interest and then saying, ‘Why is your checking account at XYZ Community/Regional Bank?’" Roberts says. 

Besides positive growth, evidence the approach works is in the credit union’s low delinquency rate. GMFCU’s process to head off problems begins three to 15 days after a member is late with a payment.  And every employee — from the loan officers to the collections staff — encourages open communication.

“These are just quick reminders by phone or mail that we did not see the payment and if they need anything don't hesitate to call,” Roberts says. “We let them know we’re there to help. This approach, while costly in time and effort, pays off in the long run.”

 

 

 

Aug. 22, 2016


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