Washington CU Effort a Model for Expanding Shared Branching as Transactions Jump by 77% in ’04. SAN DIMAS, Calif. – The newest model for how to market shared branching to credit union members and the public at large appears to have gotten underway in Washington State, where credit unions banding together have managed to both promote shared branching to credit union members and help bring the notion of sharing branch resources a respect it has sometimes lacked. Key to the effort has been the notion of involving at first a small group of credit unions who believe in and participate in shared branching and pooling their marketing effort to spur greater awareness of shared branching among both credit union members and the public at large. The effort in Washington got underway when roughly 12 credit unions around the state stepped up and shared resources to promote shared branching, according to Sarah Canepa-Bang, CEO of the Financial Service Centers Cooperative. FSCC is the shared branching network whose members are largely on the West Coast. The investment and effort has paid off handsomely, by helping Washington State CUs have the fastest growing shared branching network in the country, adding 62 new shared branches in 2004, FSCC said, and bringing the state to 129. In addition 26 credit unions in the state now participate and transactions increased by 77%, the network added. Further, credit union members have not been the only ones who have noticed the ads. The public at large, including bank customers, have taken note. Sometimes banking customers who later joined credit unions reported going to their banks and asking why they could not use other bank branches in much the same way as credit union members can use other credit union branches. “Our credit unions routinely report that awareness of shared branching has helped them gain new members,” Bang said. “People see the ads and really want to be part of such a convenient way of banking.” She also said that CUs in other states, especially Illinois, have expressed an interest in stepping up in a similar “seeding” approach that would see a relatively few credit unions step up and make an investment that could expand the awareness of shared branching widely. Kevin Foster Keddie, CEO of the $1 billion Washington State Employees Credit Union related how the effort had not begun with large goals but merely with the smaller goal of letting their members know more about the shared branching opportunity and how it could help them improve their banking lives. They started with the standard statement stuffers and lobby advertising but soon moved up to advertising on buses and billboards and then onto radio and television ads. The overall campaign has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, Foster Keddie said, but the cost to each credit union has been diminished by the participation of all. The credit unions which began the initiative in late 2002 were the $5.1 billion BECU, the $235 million Group Health FCU, the $298 million Verity FCU, the $296 million Qualstar FCU, the $420 million Seattle Metropolitan CU, the $1.4 billion First Technology CU, the $1 billion Western FCU, the $2.4 billion Alaska USA FCU, and Washington State ECU. Similar efforts have been underway in Spokane as well, FSCC said. Results of the advertising have begun to show up in surveys too, the organization said. A survey of both members and non-members of credit unions in Western Washington found that 65% of credit union members know about shared branching and what it is, compared to FSCC’s survey from 2002 which found that 54% did. In addition, the same survey which found that 65% of credit union members knew about shared branching also found that over 50% of the public at large did as well. “With that sort of result we are really excited about a new model for how to introduce shared branching to a larger population of both credit union members and the public at large who are looking for a more convenient way to do their banking,” Bang said. -

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