By Robert McGarvey
How does your credit union stack up against competitors? A 21st century reality – especially as fields of membership have broadened – is that credit unions do compete against each other. Rankings matter. But, just maybe, they also could matter a great deal to the movement as a whole.
Paradox? Read on for the unraveling.
Probably the biggest competition is from the money center banks with massive marketing budgets, and very talented marketers spending the money. But many consumers will in fact decide between two credit unions. A lot belong to two credit unions – I personally do – and in that case there usually is one institution that is the winner, the other gets a thin slice of business. What does it take to be the top credit union?
A new ranking is out via Forbes and market research firm Statista and the result is Best-In-State Banks and Credit Unions.
So how do Forbes-Statista arrive at their rankings? Here’s the explanation: “Statista surveyed more than 25,000 customers in the U.S. for their opinions on their current and former banking relationships. The banks and credit unions were rated on overall recommendations and satisfaction, as well as five subdimensions (trust, terms and conditions, branch services, digital services and financial advice).”
The biggest institutions are excluded from the rankings. Chase, B of A, Wells, and about 10 more banks with operations in at least 15 states were excluded. The only credit union with enough reach to be excluded is Navy Federal.
In every state, from one to five institutions were named “best.” All counted, 124 banks and 145 credit unions were named best.
Importantly, credit unions beat banks. Said Forbes: “Credit unions, which are member-owned financial cooperatives, outpace banks with an average score of 80 versus 75.2 for banks.”
“Customers prefer credit unions because they themselves are the shareholders,” says Statista CEO Friedrich Schwandt in Forbes. “This is somewhat in keeping with the motto ‘Small is beautiful.’”
Take note: win or lose, this is a story that every credit union should be getting out. That’s because credit unions as a group rocked in the rankings. To me, it’s just about irrelevant which institutions actually won. What matters more is that lots of Americans applaud what credit unions are doing and they prefer credit unions over banks.
Get that message out. Don’t be shy.
Of course you want to know which were the highest rated credit unions. Here’s the big winer: Louisiana based Barksdale Federal, with $1.34 billion in assets, with around 20 branches, mostly around Shreveport, scored 94.93.
Connecticut’s Thomaston Savings Bank scored 95.4, the highest rating in the survey. Its assets are just over $1 billion.
A powerful conclusion: $1 billion gives an institution enough bulk to play hard ball, successfully. Neither of the winning institutions is a powerhouse. But they are much liked by those know them. You don’t have to be a money center bank to wow consumers.
That is a good news for the movement story
And it is getting out.
Right now, many of the top credit unions in the Forbes research are issuing press releases to announce their score.
CUNA, too, issued a press release touting credit union ascendancy.
My advice to any credit union that scored high in the ratings is to issue a press release. I cannot promise that a Forbes victory will bring in a lot of new members but I will say it is very good to get out the news that many credit unions in fact rank among the best financial institutions. A lot of consumers persist in seeing credit unions as musty, dusty oldfashioned places and that just is not so.
Publicly celebrating victories is way to dispel those old myths.
And one credit union’s win in many ways helps the reputation of all.
How did your credit union do in the ratings?
My principal credit union – Affinity in New Jersey – ranked best in the state with a score of 83.32.
The credit union I belong to in Arizona did not finish in the top three. I have no plan to change credit unions to join a higher rated institution but, honestly, I make small use of this local credit union anyway. It’s fine for my purposes.
Sure, credit unions compete with each other – but probably the biggest hurdle to new members are beliefs that credit unions are closed universes with tight membership restrictions and also that they just aren’t modern financial institutions.
That’s why, win or lose, in these rankings, I see it in the interest of all credit unions to get out the word about how the industry scored in these ratings.
The bottomline: tell people about the Forces rankings, tell them how well credit unions did, and tell them they can in fact – easily – join a credit union.