How Different are Credit Unions in Branch Management?

Developing your credit union’s approach to sales management and coaching can improve cross-sell ratios, product penetration and overall growth.


Branches are evolving from transaction centers to relationship builders, with 33.7% of credit union members using online banking to check balances, perform internal transfers, pay bills and at some credit unions, deposit checks using remote deposit capture. With the increasing usage of remote tools – including ATMs, Kiosks, and Mobile Banking, how can credit unions effectively focus on branches to increase product usage among members and drive new business growth?

In their survey of 1,000+ financial institution branches, Crowe found significantly different practices in sales management between credit union branches and the other financial institutions. Most areas of difference were related to business development. Overall branch management was similar with some small differences. Business development at credit unions may refer to two areas: developing new SEG relationships or increasing business members. Either may be restricted by the credit union's charter, leading to the differences summarized above.

Only one-third of credit unions reported formal incentive compensation programs for managers, half that of all institutions with $500 million to $1 billion in assets. Yet a higher percentage of credit unions reported requiring specific skills training for branch managers. There is no data, however, on what type of incentive program credit unions may offer to their branch managers, such as tying incentives to Member Service Representative goals. Although, with a higher classification of skills, credit union branch managers have been effective at passing knowledge on to the front-line staff, outpacing the competition by eight percentage points. 100% of credit union respondents replied that branch managers are expected to conduct coaching sessions. Developing your credit union's approach to sales management and coaching can improve cross-sell ratios, product penetration and overall growth.

Marc Healy, Assistant VP at Desert Schools ($3.3B in Phoenix, AZ) oversees the credit union's 37+ in-store branches. The credit union stepped up development its sales culture in late 2007. As part of the overhaul, district managers, branch managers, and front-line staff went through significant training and receive ongoing coaching in the branches. This coaching is key to the success of the effort. Healy notes, "Staff should talk about their own improvement and be comfortable discussing opportunities for improvement." Desert Schools helps employees feel comfortable and improve by sticking to a 4:1 ratio in coaching sessions – identifying four things the MSR did well in a recent member interaction and one thing to improve in the next member interaction. Supervisors ask staff two questions: What did you do well? and What can you do better next time? to get four areas where the staffer did well and one area to focus improvement on. Healy says, "Nine times out of ten the individual knows the answer to both questions. We don't want this to be a top-down approach – recognition of improvement must come from the staff themselves."