Successful Community Charter CEO Shares Insights

Distinguishing yourself, communicating and providing diverse services are keys to success when transitioning to and competing as a community chartered credit union.


For more than two decades community chartered credit unions have been a staple in Wisconsin , helping to create a competitive and aggressive financial market. Even in this environment, First American Credit Union (FACU) under CEO Tom Barnes has not only survived but flourished as a community chartered credit union.

Based in Beloit , WI with assets exceeding $128million and 12.18 percent asset growth in 2004, FACU has undergone 11 expansions since its founding in 1933. Barnes discussed the importance of credit unions differentiating themselves as they seek to recruit and maintain community members on Callahan & Associates year-end Trendwatch call last week.

FACU effectively distinguishes itself through constant and committed neighborhood participation. Specifically, staff and management alike actively engage in local community service programs, contributing to the United Way and serving on the Chamber of Commerce and School Boards. To emphasize the credit union ethos of member ownership and community, FACU runs weekly ads in four publications showcasing member businesses. The ads feature both the business and the credit union's name, creating a win-win situation. For Barnes, getting out in the public eye and staying involved is critical.

Barnes' suggestions also relate to making a successful transition from a SEG-based to community membership credit union. Citing communication and services as the key to attracting new members, Barnes drew on the importance of overcoming common misconceptions surrounding credit unions held by potential members.

Credit unions offer a broad spectrum of services that potential members may be unaware of. As the chart below indicates, FACU has a full range of financial services available to its members, which include businesses. Such diversity benefits the credit union and members alike. With a larger pool of potential members the key is to increase both the credit union's profile and the community's level of knowledge. Communicating to the community both the changed membership status and the variety of services and benefits available to members is integral as a credit union transitions into a community charter.




March 14, 2005



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