Within the industry, you hear a lot of people talk about why they are a part of the credit union movement. Today, I'm going to tell you why I'm not.
When I wrote my first Gen Y Back Talk column, I talked about how I moved and needed to find a new financial institution. I looked to join a credit union but came up empty. Two years later I'm still not a credit union member.
The first problem is I live in Hoboken, N.J. None of the credit unions on the list are actually located in Hoboken. There are few in New York City and a few in Jersey City, the next town over. Hoboken is a small town, famously a mile square to be exact. I walk to work. I don't own a car, and I take the train to most places I need to go out of walking distance.
In those ways I operate similar to a freshman at college. They don't have cars, and they travel outside of campus mainly for entertainment purposes.
The one place I don't want to have to take the train or travel out of the way for is to go to my financial institution.
After my credit union search, I did a quick Internet search for banks in Hoboken. A list of 25 banks and locations within Hoboken came up.
With a little more research, I did actually find three credit unions located within Hoboken. I'm not eligible to join any of the three.
My geographic area doesn't speak for all credit unions and doesn't speak for all areas across the country. But I think it provides a good example of a major credit union flaw.
Hoboken has become known as a city that young people flock to after they graduate from college. As I just explained it is also an area without a solid credit union representation.
Credit unions are outnumbered and out resourced by banks, but the credit union industry is also supposed to be a cooperative movement. I know there are credit unions that do work together and there are shared branching networks that embrace the idea of working together to solve this problem.
However, if the industry is going to move into the future, you're going to have to figure out, together, how to reach potential members like me that appear to be unreachable. The more I've learned about credit unions, the more I've wanted to join one. The industry, I feel, just hasn't provided me with the opportunity.