WALTHAM, Mass. - In an era when under-30 members are the must-have group, RTN Federal Credit Union is bucking the trend by focusing on building relationships with members over 50. The $385 million credit union, located about 10 miles west of downtown Boston, has found success with its over-50 Infinity Club. The rewards program offers the standard free checks and ATM withdrawal perks, but also includes exclusive member-only excursions that have high participation numbers. Like many credit unions, RTN's membership is aging. Although the credit union has a multiple sponsor charter and about 200 SEGs, it still maintains close ties with original sponsor group Raytheon. The defense contractor used to be one of the area's largest employers, but in the past 15 years has sent the majority of manufacturing jobs to the southwest, leaving behind mostly aging engineers. And while the credit union wants to attract young members, it also recognizes the value of an older . and loyal . membership base that sticks with a primary financial institution. "When we put together this program, we referred to statistics that showed the average person over 50 has 3.8 account relationships with financial institutions, with $18,000 in each account, so what we're aiming to do is become two of those 3.8," Connors said. If average account balances are any indication, the program has been very successful; the average Infinity Club member aggregate deposit balance is in excess of $85,000. While the vacation excursions spur valuable water cooler mentions among SEGs, RTN backs up the buzz by running special rate offers available to all 29,000 members, but especially attractive to Infinity Club members. For example, the credit union is offering a whopping 8% APY on 2006 IRA contributions. "We're really knocking the socks off our projections with that rate. And of course ultimately, this promotion is also encouraging members to get their adult children to a) join the credit union, and b) make IRA investment," Connors said. The credit union is currently organizing three outings: a six-day trip to Ft. Myers, Florida to watch the Boston Red Sox in spring training, a St. Patrick's Day Festival day trip and a 12-day Caribbean cruise this fall aboard the Celebrity Constellation. While the cruise is available to all members, the others are for Infinity Club members only. Day trips typically sell out, and last year's cruise attracted 60 members. Connors accompanies members on the outings, and develops relationships that border on personal banking with high depositors. Those relationships, he said, provide invaluable word of mouth referrals that are worth the extra hours he spends facilitating the program. Interestingly, cost is not a major factor in the program. RTN contracts with a travel agent to secure special deals for members, but does not subsidize the lower fares. "The board believes very much in this program, and the success of it is reinforced to them when they are out talking to people and hearing feedback. For me, I know if a conversation comes up about the credit union in the Raytheon cafeteria, our best promotional campaign is the woman who went on one of our trips, sitting there with her co-workers. How do you measure that? It's impossible, but we know it's there," Connors said. -firstname.lastname@example.org
Why Fight an Aging Membership? RTN's Infinity Club Goes With the Over-50 Flow
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