SAN DIEGO -- The Filene i3 innovative team is at it again, trying to find new ways to encourage credit union membership.
This time the innovation team consisting of Teresa Freeborn, Kinecta FCU; Doug True, FORUM Credit Union; Geri Dillingham, North Island Credit Union; Jeff Kline, CommunityAmerica Credit Union; Liz Hayes, Affinity Plus FCU; Dwayne Naylor, Langley FCU and Bob Falk, Purdue Employees FCU is considering a National Member Portability project called Always a Member.
The concept involves creating a national credit union referral network for members moving geographically from one location to another.
While credit unions would ideally like to retain the relationship through electronic and alternative channels, initial research by the i3 group indicates that approximately 30-35% of members who move from a credit union's geographic area will ultimately end their relationship with that credit union to have accounts closer to where they are moving. The member may choose a bank if it is more convenient.
A recent i3 survey hosted by Credit Union Times reveals that credit union executives are interested in the concept. Ninety-five percent of the respondents rated the potential for an active credit union-to-credit union referral program favorably.
"We're very happy with the survey response," said Dillingham. "We wanted to determine interest level and this is just phase one of the project. It shows that the potential for this would be able to pay for itself. It's not only the right thing to do altruistically but this referral system in terms of retaining credit union members is a positive move for credit unions as a whole." In August Affinity Plus FCU, Purdue Employees FCU, and Langley FCU will pilot Always a Member, an online referral database placed at the teller or service representative's fingertips to determine which credit union branches are close to the member's new destination and for which they are eligible to join. The idea is to make the transfer from one credit union to another a simple one for members helping retain them within the credit union system. Future plans for this proactive national approach could ultimately be executed with the seamless wire transfer of savings prior to the member even moving.
"This could truly distinguish credit unions from the banking community," said Dillingham. "Can you imagine a bank referring a customer to another bank?" While many leagues have existing credit union locator programs, Dillingham says a comprehensive national database is still lacking. "Always a Member would take the current passive system and proactively execute the transfer of membership," said Dillingham. In addition to the positive response to the concept in general, 79% stated that their credit union would be interested in participating in such a program. Sixty-six percent stated that they would pay a nominal fee of $200 or less to join the national network, and 63% would be willing to pay between $25 and $50 to obtain a new member with a checking account through the referral network. The survey was sent to 3,000 credit union executives and managers. Seventeen percent visited the survey and 5% completed the questionnaire. Dillingham says there was a good geographic representation of respondents, with 27% located in the Midwest, 29% in the South, 15% in the Eastern United States and 29% located in the Western region.
The team plans to present its final report during the Filene i3 fall meeting.