Small Credit Unions Return Big Value To Membership

Return of the Member score leaders for credit unions $20-$50 million in assets.


Unlike for-profit financial institutions, credit unions do not have a conflict of interest in serving either shareholders or customers. To credit unions, they are one and the same: members. Even the smallest credit unions can use this advantage to better serve their membership’s financial interests.

Credit unions don’t have a stock price by which to measure their success, so how can they gauge the value members receive from a credit union? Callahan’s Return of the Member (ROM) Index is an industry wide accepted measurement of member value.

ROM attempts to capture all aspects of a member’s relationship with the credit union by measuring the three core credit union functions of lending, savings, and product usage. The ranking system is an index calculation that takes into account a credit union's performance in comparison with its asset-based peer group.

Callahan's ROM score incorporates three components:

  • Return to the Savers starts with the concept of thrift and measures how well a credit union is providing deposit services to its members. This component includes measures such as the dividends a member earns, the average balances the membership holds, and the number of savings relationships the average member has with the credit union.
  • Return to the Borrowers recognizes credit unions were created to provide credit to their members at a reasonable cost. This measure rewards credit unions that offer a lower rate on loans, but it also considers the historical growth in lending and the variety of products offered to its members.
  • Member Service Usage measures how efficiently a credit union provides and promotes services to its members. The leaders in this category are those credit unions that have a high number of core account relationships with their members.

A more detailed analysis of how the ROM score is calculated is available here.

Credit unions of all sizes can score well in this measure, although traditionally the rankings are based on asset-based peer groups. This allows credit unions to compare themselves to institutions with similar resources. The following leader table recognizes credit unions with between $20 million and $50 million in assets, who lead their peers in ROM as of third quarter 2010.

Leaders In Return Of The Member Scores
Credit Unions $20M-$50M in Assets | Data as of 3Q 2010
Rk St Credit Union Percentile
Return to
Raw Score
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1 SD Med5 100 98.2 97.55 98.07 99.7
2 MN St. Francis Campus Employees 99.93 97.45 98.59 99.03 93.69
3 ME Changing Seasons 99.85 96.38 97.62 98.37 91.91
4 WA Spokane Firefighters 99.78 95.89 95.69 93.39 100
5 OH PEF 99.7 95.49 99.41 98.66 85.08
6 IL Members "FIRST" 99.63 95.06 95.84 93.17 96.73
7 ME Lincoln Maine 99.55 94.73 89.76 98.81 97.25
8 PA BVA 99.48 94.63 99.11 99.93 80.33
9 WI Governmental Employees 99.41 94.59 90.79 99.26 94.43
10 OR Sunset Science Park 99.33 94.38 86.71 99.78 99.41