Poll: Credit Unions Care, but 'Have Skimpy Offerings'
People believe credit unions care more about their customers than banks do, but banks are still getting their business, possibly due to widespread perceptions that credit unions have skimpy offerings, according to new data from Harris Poll.
The study, commissioned by Basking Ridge, New Jersey-based Affinity Federal Credit Union, surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. adults online from February 27 to March 1 of this year. It found that 61% of consumers think credit unions care more about members than banks do, but only 16% of consumers actually use a federal credit union as their primary financial institution.
The study also found that fewer than half of Americans (42%) think credit unions offer mortgages, and only 45% believe credit unions offer mobile or online banking. About a third (29%) said it’s hard to find a credit union they’re eligible to join. Overall, nearly half of the respondents said they think banks offer more products and services than credit unions.
The findings highlight a major opportunity for credit unions, said Affinity Federal Credit Union President and CEO John Fenton.
"It's common for consumers to be more familiar with the services and offerings of traditional banks, but it unfortunately discounts other financial organizations that can often more adequately serve them," he said. "This astounding data proves that more education about banking options is needed. Credit union benefits are vast and varied, providing unique services like personalized counsel and education to members to help them achieve their financial goals, such as purchasing their first home."
According to the study, almost all (89%) of Americans believe checking accounts are the most important product a financial institution can provide, followed by savings accounts (78%), customer service support (62%), mobile and online banking (59%), mortgages (36%) and student loans (15%).
Millennials are still wary of financial institutions, however: 34% said they distrust their financial institutions when it comes to being charged too much in fees, according to the survey. Some older respondents weren’t far behind, however; the rate was 32% for people age 34-44 and 33% for people age 45-54. Only 19% of people age 55-64 and 16% of people 65 and over said they felt the same way.
Additionally, men distrust their financial institutions much more than women do, according to the survey (48% versus 23%).
The survey results also indicate millennials want more of a say at their financial institutions. A full 59% said they want a larger voice in the products and services their financial institutions offer, compared to 51% for people age 34-54, 44% for people age 45-64 and 36% of people 65 and older.
“Millennials polled in our Harris Polls survey made it known that they are leading several trends in modern banking,” Affinity FCU reported.
Affinity FCU has $2.7 billion in assets and about 140,000 members.