LAFCU ITM Don Stevenson, a 35-year LAFCU member, withdraws money during a demonstration of an ITM by a LAFCU ITM service representative, on screen, and Kelli Ellsworth Etchison, LAFCU’s chief marketing officer. (Photo: LAFCU)

This week’s print issue of CU Times is our second-ever to focus on the topic of Branch Evolution, a relevant subject for a time period when opening a brick-and-mortar location is not required to run a successful business. Credit unions are focusing more and more on improving their digital banking offerings in order to compete with other institutions, expand service to members who can’t make it to a physical branch and make all members’ lives more convenient. Meanwhile, according to Callahan & Associates, the number of deposit-taking credit union branches in the U.S. fell by 3.4%, or 646 locations, from mid-2017 to mid-2018 (the most recent available data).

Yet, the process of opening new branches, or remodeling existing ones, still plays a key role in many credit unions’ business strategies, as evidenced by the number of news releases that continue to flow into CU Times staff members’ inboxes on the topic. Here are some examples of new branch announcements I’ve received in the past two months, most of which highlight modern design and advanced technology:

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Natasha Chilingerian

Natasha Chilingerian has been immersed in the credit union industry for over a decade. She first joined CU Times in 2011 as a freelance writer, and following a two-year hiatus from 2013-2015, during which time she served as a communications specialist for Xceed Financial Credit Union (now Kinecta Federal Credit Union), she re-joined the CU Times team full-time as managing editor. She was promoted to executive editor in 2019. In the earlier days of her career, Chilingerian focused on news and lifestyle journalism, serving as a writer and editor for numerous regional publications in Oregon, Louisiana, South Carolina and the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition, she holds experience in marketing copywriting for companies in the finance and technology space. At CU Times, she covers People and Community news, cybersecurity, fintech partnerships, marketing, workplace culture, leadership, DEI, branch strategies, digital banking and more. She currently works remotely and splits her time between Southern California and Portland, Ore.

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