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LAS VEGAS – Here’s a lesson Wescom Credit Union can share with fellow indirect lenders: don’t try too hard to sell checking products to your new members picked up through the indirect channel because the cross-sell doesn’t work. In fact, the Pasadena, Calif. CU has given up marketing promotion of checking products and instead is concentrating on lending and related products. “We experienced cost and frustration” in trying to promote a conversion of the newly-acquired indirect members to checking products, explained Brian Siegel, vice president of marketing and communications, speaking at a panel session at the annual Auto Lending Symposium here sponsored by CU Direct Corp. The fact is, he said, those new members acquired through indirect channels remain loyal to existing banks or CUs and despite Wescom bombarding them with checking literature and various incentives there were few takers. Siegel was reporting on the results of cross-sell research funded by CU Direct Corp. last October with XDM Corp. gathering data from Wescom members. A broader study with as many as 10 CUs participating is to start in July under auspices of a National Steering Committee to be picked by CU Direct, said Keven Ellison, CU Direct’s vice president of marketing and communication who served as moderator for the cross-sell session. In his remarks, Siegel emphasized that the study showed convenience and branch proximity are prime factors for moving business into CUs with indirect accounts. “Fewer than 20% of CUDL members could be defined as `proximate,’ that is living or working within three miles proximity of the credit union’s individual branches,” said a report on the study released at the panel session. The most intensive marketing efforts -when CUs take the time for personal outreach – said the report, are best invested in those “proximate” members. “Since buying a vehicle is an emotional experience for the buyer, it is crucial that those personal outreach efforts be made in the first few weeks following the purchase while the `high’ is still a factor,” the report continued. The indirect segment does remain “less affluent and financially sophisticated” than community members, said the report. But depending on the CU’s risk tolerance profile, a CU might test “unsecured credit offers such as credit cards, personal loans and lines of credit.” The report concluded that dealers “provide very little information about credit unions even to consumers of CUDL loans and they cannot be relied upon to be the primary place for developing the cross-sell relationship.” That should be the CU’s job, said the report. In his comments, Siegel said Wescom ended cross-selling of indirect members on checking a month ago “after about five or six years” pursuing this segment. Only 8% of Wesom’s indirect members have checking accounts versus 67% of traditional members. “We found out that you can cross sell indirect members but you have to have the right product and credit cards are ones that can work,” he concluded. [email protected]

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