In the past two years, the trend in banking across America has been towards credit unions and away from big banks.
According to reports, nearly 1.3 million people made the switch to credit unions in 2011, which was more than double the number who switched in 2010. The fall out over Wall Street bailouts and news stories on how to break up with a bank
Beyond the fact that people have been attracted to credit unions by lower fees and a better customer service experience overall, it appears credit unions’ products and services have come of age.
Technology has been a major factor in the growth of credit unions. With services like online banking, remote capture and mobile apps, there are not many services that banks offer that credit unions can’t. Technology has also lessened the need for a large branch network, a long-time strength of big banks.
Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter are also allowing credit unions to communicate and engage with members and potential members, particularly in younger demographics. These cyber communities are increasingly important to not just communicate to members, but to create brand loyalty through two-way, open conversations.
That same sense of community in the digital world has taken root recently with the push to shop locally. Events like local cash mobs and Small Business Saturday encourage people to support local merchants and small businesses.
By nature, credit unions are community based; engraining themselves in the societies they serve, through philanthropy and other community engagement efforts. Modern credit unions have done a much better job in recent years to communicate these programs and thus increasing the exposure to the “people helping people” philosophy that goes hand-in-hand with the push to buy local.
Credit unions have grown up and with the record-breaking membership growth have proven they are a valuable alternative to Wall Street banks.