It's simple: they cooperate. They share marketing tips, technology, ATMs and even branches with each other. It's a concept called "shared branching." The 1,650 credit unions around the country that participate give their members convenient access to more than 4,000 branch locations, where they can do virtually any transaction they would normally do at their own credit union's main office. This gives credit unions the fourth largest branch network in the country, trailing only three major banks.
"Credit unions are highly organized to offer members the same reach and access to financial delivery channels, without the overwhelming expenditures of large banks," said Carroll Beach, President/COO of CO-OP Shared Branching. "Those savings go back to the member in the form of high savings rates and lower loan rates."
Delta Community Credit Union in Atlanta was one of the first to employ shared branching across the country. "We started over ten years ago. While our online, remote and proprietary branching has always been leading-edge, these channels didn't meet everyone's needs. Shared branching has increased our accessibility," said Carol Sundberg, Senior Vice President, E-commerce at Delta. "We have members all over who travel extensively. We can't put brick and mortar everywhere demand exists, but with shared branching we can serve our customers needs wherever they go."
Perhaps surprisingly, a study completed this year by the Raddon Financial Group of Lombard, Ill., found that credit union members who take advantage of shared branching use it often, and that younger credit union members were among the heaviest users of these "brick and mortar" locations.
"Convenience is prized by consumers, young and old," said Beach. "While younger segments are inclined to use new electronic channels for their personal finance, they still want access to their accounts through branches."
Members can find which credit unions offer access to their accounts through a sophisticated locater service that can be found online, by phone or by GPS. "Whether I'm at home or traveling, I always have convenient access to my accounts," says Peter Insalaco, Carrollton, Texas, a longtime shared branching user. "Shared branching is convenient. It's a good deal."
About CO-OP Financial Services
Based in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., CO-OP Financial Services is the industry leader in access and convenience products for credit unions. Nearing 30 years of credit union service, CO-OP connects credit union members to their accounts through network services, payment processing, e-commerce, CO-OP Shared Branching and call center services. With a total of 3,000 credit union members, 30 million cardholders, 28,000 surcharge-free ATMs, 4,000 shared branch locations and 160 million-plus monthly transactions, CO-OP Financial Services is the nation's largest credit union service organization, offering the tools, counsel and leadership to help credit unions prosper. To learn more, visit www.co-opfs.org. Follow CO-OP on Twitter at:http://twitter.com/COOPFS and keep up with industry issues via the CO-OP Insight Vault blog at:http://co-opinsightvault.com.