One of the biggest mistakes credit unions can make in serving their business members is treating them like their traditional members.
Christine Barry, research director at Aite Group, shared that insight during a June 15 webinar on how credit unions are reaching out to that growing segment.
“A lot of financial institutions are still serving small business owners from a consumer platform,” Barry told attendees. “While 92 million Americans consider themselves to be members of credit unions, the rate of growth has slowed over the last two years. A lot of credit unions need to expand their target markets.”
Indeed, the average small business owner only uses three products with their financial institution, Aite found. Part of that disconnect may stem from the decline in satisfaction some are seeing with their credit unions and banks as a result of the economic crisis.
Among their main complaints were a limited lineup of products and services tailored to their needs, poor customer service and a dearth of online offerings, Barry said. The potential expected losses to interchange income have also led some credit unions to aggressively identify new revenue streams.
As with many consumers, small businesses are dealing with what Barry described as the new normal–having to doing more with less.
“The good news is that with challenges, there are new opportunities. Credit unions are in a better position to grow their penetration in the small business space,” Barry noted.
One of those areas poised for potential growth is remote-deposit capture, according to Aite. A snapshot poll of webinar attendees revealed that 33% are likely to charge their business members for remote-deposit capture. Fifty-six percent said they were undecided and 11% said probably not.
Barry said credit unions have been slow adopters of RDC, while banks have moved much faster in embracing the remote service. Only 10% of credit unions surveyed by Aite have implemented RDC. Still, they see the tool as a way to leverage technology to attract deposits from outside their footprint and deepen small business relationships, she added.
“It’s a way to test the waters in new markets. Many credit unions don’t have the money to open branches there,” Barry said. “If they have credit [members] there, it might enable them to win their deposit business without having a physical presence.”
Another area primed for more expansion is online small business banking. Barry said 70% of credit unions serve their business members from a retail platform that unfortunately, no longer meet their unique needs. Mom and pop businesses may see the model as useful but larger businesses tend to require more online tools.
Small business owners told Aite which online products they would use if their financial institutions would offer them. Among them, cash forecasting, electronic invoice generation and receivables management, expedited same day bill payment and auto-categorized transaction data.
“Small businesses are looking for tools to better manage their cash. It’s the greatest challenge for some of them,” Barry said. “If they do leave their bank or credit union site, they’re going to things like Quicken.”
Credit unions surveyed by Aite appear to be listening. Forty percent said they are likely to deploy a new business banking solution.
Mobile banking is another area poised to make strides with small business members, according to Aite. A snapshot poll of the webinar’s attendees asked from an industry perspective, what effect will the mobile channel have on banking. Fifty percent said it will be a paradigm shift that will change the banking industry. Twenty-five percent said it will be just another delivery channel while 17% said mobile banking could be a competitive differentiator that will drive client acquisition.