LAS VEGAS-Proud of recent growth, the management of California-based Financial Service Centers Co-op Inc., did lots of crowing this year-four million monthly transactions, $118 billion in assets and 13 million members-and in the process took time out to needle its shared branch competitors. In remarks opening FSCC's 15th annual meeting here and without identifying its chief competitor, Credit Union Service Corporation, Gail Picken, national sales director, stressed the easy contact CU members have with FSCC staffers as compared to what was described as a bureaucracy and "layered management" at competitors. "There are no unnecessary layers between the network and the credit union," explained Picken in detailing the direct contact FSCC has with its member CUs. At "Network X," however, CUs often must go through a state CUSO and a state league before reaching administrators. Discussing recent improvements and innovations, FSCC with 258 member CUs, has been offering several advanced systems on technical support, automated CU-to-CU adjustments and secret shopper programs, she said. Seeking to dissuade the mistaken image of FSCC as a California organization, officials of FSCC said the network had witnessed at least nine recent conversions to FSCC, most of which had been located on the East Coast. Queried about a response to the comments, Carroll Beach, president/CEO of CUSC, maintained his organization with its own switch and expanded message format surpasses the California firm on all fronts. And he added, "but I'm not going to get engaged" in a tit-for-tat exchange. "All I can say it is good for the industry that we're both doing something on shared branching," Beach concluded.
In her annual "State of the Network" speech, Sarah Canepa Bang, CEO of FSCC, noted the average assets of its members is $427 million which she admitted does show a following among large CUs. And yet the number is down from $500 million indicating more small CUs are joining shared branching. The average number of members in an FSCC CU is 43,320, she said. Very positive signs, according to Bang, are the number of CUs that are offering outlets in the network and the 74% ratio on CUs which are "opening their doors as acquirers."
She said a shared branching network cannot succeed unless outlets are available and that is an issue FSCC has been pounding on.
In her speech, Bang ticked off a series of steps FSCC has taken to improve service citing a 24/7 help desk, free in-house training, disaster recovery preparedness and the CU for Kids Gift Cards. Bang said CU interest is very high now in 12 branch kiosks FSCC has in operation.