From left, Hawaii State FCU’s Aaron Vallely (SVP, retail experience and operations), Ish Eustaquio (SVP, retail banking division) and Ryan Hirata (vice president, marketing manager) at the new Kapahulu Branch at Safeway in Honolulu. (Photo: The Element Group)

A well-designed credit union branch can certainly evoke awe among visitors, but investing in brick and mortar is about much more than aesthetics. The physical branch impacts brand development, member growth and loyalty, operational efficiency and revenue – and more credit unions are finding that to stay competitive, they must deliver exceptional in-person experiences that demonstrate their ability to stay on top of cutting-edge technology while continuing to provide the personal touch they’re known for.

One recent example of the industry’s effort to upgrade its spaces is a partnership between LEVERAGE (the League of Southeastern Credit Unions’ for-profit service corporation) and The Element Group, a Portsmouth, N.H.-based firm that designs and implements retail branches and headquarters facilities for financial institutions. As a result of the partnership, credit unions nationwide can work with LEVERAGE’s business development consultants and Element to bring their branch modernization visions to life.

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Natasha Chilingerian

Natasha Chilingerian has worked in the credit union space for over a decade. She joined CU Times as managing editor in 2015 and was promoted to executive editor in 2019. Before that, she served as a communications specialist for Xceed Financial Credit Union (now Kinecta Federal Credit Union) in Los Angeles from 2013-2015, and as a CU Times freelancer from 2011-2013. She has been a professional writer and editor for more than 17 years, specializing in news and lifestyle journalism as well as marketing copywriting for companies in the finance and technology space.

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