Power 1 Credit Union's website boasts: ''We're not a bank. We're
better.'' By the definition of a credit union as a non-profit
financial institution owned by its members, that statement should
be 100% true. But in a world where consumers often choose where
to shop based on factors such as parking availability, proximity
to home or work, or even the ease or difficulty of turning into
the parking lot, convenience of location is an important factor
in adding value for your members.
Here is a sobering comparison: the largest bank branch network
is operated by Bank of America with 4,596 branches. Contrast this
with State Employees (NC), the credit union with the most branches,
which has 160. Despite the disparity, credit unions are succeeding
in the financial services market with credit union assets growing
by 12.3% over the past year.
It is also unrealistic to expect a credit union to expand its branch
network to give Bank of America a run for its money (no pun intended).
However, credit unions do not lack alternatives. With the growth
of internet banking in recent years, credit unions are offering
members the convenience to make transactions and find information
24 hours a day from their homes or offices. Many credit unions also
provide for their members by participating in shared branch networks.
Currently, 11.4% of all credit unions (1111 credit unions) participate
in shared branch networks. Overwhelmingly, as asset size increases,
a higher percentage of credit unions participate in shared branch
networks. This reflects on these credit unions' need to serve larger
and more widely dispersed membership bases, but also is an indication
of their commitment to cooperative efforts. Not surprisingly, credit
union-owned branch networks increase as assets increase in size.
Yet small and midsize credit unions, which can benefit the most
from cost-effective branch strategies, are less likely to participate
in a shared branch network. Many larger credit unions are realizing
the value of an industry-wide solution to their own bricks and mortar