Efficiency: Simplicity And Tech Can Help
Credit unions needing to serve more members with fewer staff during these hard economic times might consider simplifying their products, increasing their use of technology and cooperating with other CUs.
Those are among the strategies suggested by credit unions that lead the pack in the numbers of members they serve with limited staff (See charts, page 10). In most cases, the credit union leadership stressed that their adoption of these different strategies had grown out of the individual missions and circumstances, but all believed other credit unions could adopt some of them to improve their operations.
As might be expected from its name, NAPUS Federal Credit Union, which serves the members and employees of the National Association of Postmasters of the U.S. also relies a good deal on the U.S. mail to keep in contact with members. But the one branch of the $264 million credit union headquartered in Alexandria, Va., in the same block as its sponsoring association, makes a point of offering a wider variety of products and services than many might expect.
"We belong to the CO-OP Network and shared branching," said NAPUS CEO Becca Cuddy. "We also offer five different credit cards and the full line of loans, including mortgages."
According to Michael Spink, communications manager for Local Government, the credit union had its start as an effort on the part of SECU to draw in local and county government employees in North Carolina. The effort went well until, in the early 1980s, a lawsuit charging that SECU had expanded past its charter by serving local government employees succeeded. In response, the N.C. League of Municipalities and the N.C. Association of County Commissioners got together and sponsored the creation of LGFCU.
The new credit union is completely separate from SECU, offers its own products and services, has its own underwriting standards and a federal charter instead of a state one, Spink explained. But what it doesn't have is any of its own branches. Local Government has a relationship with SECU whereby Local Government pays SECU a fee for using SECU's back-office support and staff to conduct much of its face to face business.