LAS VEGAS — It's an urging that has resonated within the industry for quite some time: "marketing like mad men" and building strong shared branching alliances are the keys to credit union survival, Peter Duffy, associate director of Sandler O'Neill & Partners, told NACUSO conference attendees yesterday.

Sharing data on the credit unions with more than $100 million in assets, Duffy said net interest margin data showed members absolutely want the best rates, branches, ATM and "the correct answer the first time" from credit union employees.

"With the exception of business loans, the balance sheet of banks and credit unions is a commodity," Duffy said. "So the question is how do you differentiate in a commodity business?" In 1993, 56% of credit unions' business came from regular shares and drafts, he said. Today, it's 44%. It costs credit unions 72 to 79 cents to produce one dollar a revenue today. For banks, it's 62 to 69 cents, Duffy pointed out.

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