Back in 2009, voters’ views on the safety and soundness of credit unions and banks were nearly even.
CUNA made that discovery in a survey showing credit unions eking out a slight advantage over banks at 37% versus 36%, respectively. That one percentage point is miniscule compared to how voters felt when the trade group asked the same question about safety and soundness in 2004. Nearly eight years ago, respondents heavily favored banks at 49%, compared to 25% at credit unions.
This time around, CUNA’s 2012 National Voter Survey revealed that credit unions have moved out front at 49% compared to 34% for banks when it came to which financial institutions respondents favored for safety and soundness.
The latest survey drew responses from 1,000 randomly selected registered voters in locations throughout the country, according to CUNA.
The credit union’s industry growing favorability rating is remarkable in light of the fact that many of those polled were not even aware that credit unions are insured just the same as banks, said Richard Gose, CUNA senior vice president of political affairs.
Overall, 80% of voters had a favorable opinion of credit unions compared to 69% of banks. CUNA said the industry’s high percentage has held relatively steady between 2004, when the question was first included in the survey, and 2012.
Meanwhile, on the banking side, the industry’s overall favorability rating continued to drop from 90% in 2004 to its current 69%.
When it came to what financial institution voters thought was the best place for day-to-day checking and savings accounts, voters were even at 43%. Ten percent of respondents chose both, according to the data.
In 2004, banks, at 59%, had a 29-percentage-point lead over credit unions at 30%. Seven percent voted for both credit unions and banks. Those figures dropped to 52% for banks, 33% for credit unions and 11% for both in 2009.
Gose said from a credit union perspective voters’ views are all trending in the right direction.
CUNA’s latest survey of voters comes as credit unions across the country continue to reap the benefits of Bank Transfer Day. Since Nov. 5, nearly 700,000 people have opened new accounts at credit unions as a result of BTD activities.
Michigan is one of several states reporting BTD-linked gains. According to the Michigan Credit Union League, the state’s credit unions brought in 27,900 new members between Sept. 29 and Oct. 29. MCUL President/CEO David Adams said a number of factors have helped boost membership, including banks ramping scrutiny of banks, increased bank fees and the financial crisis that toppled the country’s economy.
There’s more proof that credit unions are getting more of the spotlight. A new J.D. Power and Associates report showed that the acquisition of new customers by smaller banks and credit unions increased by 2.2 percentage points to an average of 10.3% in 2012 from 8.1% in 2011.
The report, “2012 U.S. Bank Customer Switching and Acquisition Study,” said midsize and larger banks experienced an average defection rate between 10% and 11.3% last year. Credit unions and smaller banks saw a much smaller average rate at 0.9%.
Consumer backlash against bank fees, coupled with poor service and unmet customer expectations, has fueled increases in defection rates among customers of large, regional and midsize banks, according to the J.D. Power.
On the heels of Bank Transfer Day, the beneficiaries of the growing move from larger banks are primarily smaller banks and credit unions, J.D. Power said.
The study, which was released last Monday and examines the bank shopping and selection process, found that 9.6% of customers in 2012 indicate they switched their primary banking institution during the past year to a new provider. This is up from 8.7% in 2011 and 7.7% in 2010.