Credit unions combined data on new members with new checking accounts in response to CUNA’s survey which is why the trade association’s initial estimate of new members was higher than it turned out to be.
CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel said, “When we asked about new members, credit unions included people who had been members but had opened share draft accounts. And having a share draft account deepens the member’s relationship with the credit union.’’
In September, the last month for which CUNA has estimates, of the 93.5 million credit union members, 47.9 million did not have share draft accounts and 45.6 million did.
CUNA which originally estimated that there had been 650,000 new credit unions in the month leading up to Bank Transfer day, on Monday said that there had been 214,000 new members of credit unions in October, following 227,000 in September.
Hampel said based on responses to its survey they estimate that 400,000 new share draft accounts were opened at credit unions in October. The data for new members for November isn’t available yet but Hampel said he has no reason to change his estimate that there were 40,000 new members on Bank Transfer Day, Nov. 5.
American Bankers Association Senior Economist Keith Leggett said he’s not surprised that CUNA revised its estimates downward and he said that there were likely flaws in the survey design.
“The survey obviously caused confusion because people dint know what they were being asked,’’ said Leggett, a credit union critic who write a blog on credit union trends.
“They obviously didn’t adequately control for selection bias. Those credit unions that responded are the ones that experienced an increase in members. There is no doubt that membership growth at credit unions was strong in the short term, just not as strong as CUNA said and it remains to be seen how much that will continue,’’ he added.