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Out of today’s economic turmoil will emerge tomorrow’s opportunities. Credit unions need to take advantage of these opportunities. It’s time for them to be aggressive and take back the market.Economic events have stopped big banks in their tracks, leaving a ripe opportunity for credit unions to pluck competitors’ customers and capture market share.Consumers are looking for someone they can trust within this volatile economy. Credit unions have an inherent advantage because of their structure. Not-for-profit, member-owned and operated by members should be shouted far and wide by all credit unions. This is a valuable and powerful competitive advantage, and there are other opportunities credit unions should exploit.Be brand boastful. Credit unions have a distinct advantage in today’s marketplace because of the credit union structure and mission. Your brand promise must align with this message. A member-owned ideal is a powerful tool in conversion.Revisit your branches. There are some great deals to be made on land right now, and if you can afford to buy, even if it’s only to land bank for a couple of years, than you should do so, as long as it’s a market you want to be in and it fits with your business growth plan.But for organizations not in this position, it’s time to focus on optimizing existing assets. Credit unions should review their branch networks and analyze where the retail gaps are and fix them. Determine what you can do to strengthen your brand and culture across the networkCultivate culture. If “broke is the new black,” as I recently overheard, then culture is the new net for capturing the financial customer. Consumers want help managing their money. They need guidance through these challenging times. Financial leaders in credit unions must project confidence and engage employees in adopting a similar attitude. Today, consumers are looking to their financial institutions for comfort, security and confidence.Take advantage of these opportunities in the marketplace. Conditions are in your favor to gain the upper-hand from big banks. It’s time to advance and take back the market.Kevin Blair is president/CEO of NewGround, an international design and implementation firm serving the financial industry. He can be reached at 888-613-0001 or [email protected]

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Peter Westerman

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