PHOENIX, Ariz. – The sharp climb in new Arizona credit union members-rising three times as fast as the rest of the U.S.- is drawing media interest here. The Arizona Republic, the state’s largest paper, did a front page Jan. 10-article on its business page describing the member increase and the reasons for the surge, “citing better rates and lower fees” as compared to banks. The article also carried a rejoinder by Phoenix bank executives complaining that CUs can price their services cheaper “and more aggressively because of their tax status.” The “credit unions on a roll” article noted that the 40% rise in Arizona members-now at 1.5 million-took place over the last five years. Pat Bodnar, vice president of public affairs for the Arizona Credit Union League, said she helped the Republic writer, Russ Wiles, get data for his article through sources at CUNA. “I’ve worked with Russ over the years and recently he was doing something on the Patriot Act and we got to talking about the increase in Arizona members,” said Bodnar. The growth in CU members in Arizona is not surprising, she observed, since the state, behind Nevada, has the fastest population growth in the U.S. The Republic article also quoted several CU members on their reasons for joining a CU citing personalized services, less “hassles,” and the ability of CU staffs to “bend over backwards” to provide assistance. The article went on to mention that commercial banks “are not happy with the growth” citing the emergence of some big players on the Phoenix scene including Desert Schools Federal Credit Union, which counts 250,000 million members in the state. But the Wiles-article concluded that “if bankers aren’t complaining more loudly, it may be because they, too, are enjoying near-record profits thanks to low deposit rates, robust mortgage refinancings and other factors.” -

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