NCUA's granting Navy Federal Credit Union a field of membership expansion to all armed forces personnel, families and the Department of Defense is a logical move in view of the merging of military resources and objectives as one illustration suggests: the conversion of McGuire Air Force Base into a multi-armed forces mega-base.

While a number of credit unions with a military focus are waxing optimistic about what this means for them, the long range outlook may not be so bright. Navy FCU has the savvy, resources and expressed intent to grow rapidly. We all know that branch convenience is one of the primary drivers of member use and retention. This rationale is stated as the reason Navy will not be successful in existing unserved markets, but Navy FCU has announced its intent to add 150 branches over the next five years.

Where will these new branches be located? They will likely be located where the highest number of potential members live and work. In many markets in the Northeast and in other communities across the nation, military households can account for 15% to 35% of total households. If I were Navy FCU I would put branches where the greatest number of members can be developed and served. These locations are where many military-based credit unions feel they have control of their markets.

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