Rather than court new members, some credit unions may focus their resources on building relationships with existing members this year.
CUNA Mutual Group Chief Economist Dave Colby offered that insight in the December issue of the Credit Union Trends Report.
There was a total estimate of 93.7 million members as of October, the latest period tracked in the report. This reflected a net increase of 1.1 million year to date. Colby said unlike previous years, credit unions should continue to see membership gains in the fourth quarter of 2011.
“We will not know the full membership impact of events surrounding Bank Transfer Day for quite some time. But, the real measures of success will be improvements in household finances by new and existing members,” Colby said. “Expect membership growth rates to slow in 2012 as credit unions focus resources on building mutually beneficial relationships with existing members.”
While total membership counts are up YTD and year-over-year, Colby said not all credit unions are growing their membership. Between the third quarter of 2010 and the third quarter of 2011, there were 4,106 credit unions, or 56% of all credit unions, reporting declines in membership, according to the trends report.
“From a consumer perspective, transferring to a financial institution for improved cash flow may be the first step to a personal economic recovery,” Colby said.