From the August-05, 2009 issue of Credit Union Times Magazine • Subscribe!
Service Is Key to Opening Up New Markets, Panel Says
BARCELONA -- It may not be the normal way to design a new credit union, but Luis Pastor, president/CEO of the Latino Community Credit Union in Durham, S.C., never had a business plan.
But since his is the fastest growing credit union in the U.S., he must be doing something right. He was part of a panel on how to attract new markets to a credit union held at WOCCU's Annual Conference here.
His credit union was opened to immigrants, legal and illegal, as a response to the murder and robberies of many immigrants for the money they carried with them because they were unable to open bank accounts. By joining the credit union, immigrants had access to checking, lower-priced remittances and ATMs so they carried less cash. The program was so successful that the Charleston police contacted Latino Community and asked if the credit union would open a branch in their city, which it did.
Postor said the first goal of the credit union is helping his members. Yes, it does they do have MBAs on staff to keep them solvent, but Pastor says a credit union is simple: You take in deposits and you loan money out and you help people. The credit union now has 52,000 members.
Eric Dillon, chief operating officer at Servus Credit Union of Alberta, Canada, talked about the Young & Free program that his credit union developed and that is being operated in Texas and South Carolina. Those under 25 vie for a one-year job to be the spokesperson for the credit union for their generation. The job comes with a car, computer and salary. Candidates post videos, blogs and use other social media entries. Then people vote for the candidates. The program brought in more than 2,600 accounts, Dillon said. Next fall, the program will start looking for a third spokesman.
When the idea was first proposed, no one knew if it would work, but they decided to risk it. Dillon disputes that getting wallet share is enough for a credit union. He believes that it is necessary to also find new members as well and not rely on current members.
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