CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Credit unions continued to gain in popularity in the crowded financial services marketplace last year, Forrester Research reports. Credit unions were named as primary financial provider by 16% of consumers in 2003, up 9 percentage points from 2001, the largest gain among 11 categories of providers, according to a new report from the Cambridge-based think firm. That ties credit unions with "small, local banks" at 16%. Large banks were named by the most, 30%. The same study found that the average large-bank customer had an annual household income of $62,000, assets totaling $220,000 and was 43 years old. The average credit union member had the same income and was of the same age but had average assets of about $175,000, according to the Forrester Research study. The average assets and income for people claiming small banks as their primary financial services provider were the smallest in the list, at $153,000 and $56,000 respectively. While claiming primary loyalty from only 1% of the population studied, discount brokerages claimed the wealthiest clientele, with average income of $98,000 and assets of more than $725,000.

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