The following article has been shared from the Northwest Credit Union Association. Click here to read the original article.
More than 1,800 credit unions have united to form a cooperative for in-branch personal banking. Credit union leaders in the Northwest share their thoughts on the network’s growth.
As convenience increasingly becomes a key feature consumers look for when deciding where to bring their business, credit unions are better positioned than ever to illustrate their value. This week’s announcement from the CO-OP Shared Branch network is a case in point. The credit union cooperative has passed Chase in number of branch offices, and is now the second largest network of financial institution branches in the country.
CO-OP Shared Branch now encompasses a total of 5,671 physical locations. Chase, at number three, has 5,567 branches as of July 18, according to FDIC figures. The credit union network added more than 400 branches over the past two years, surpassing Bank of America. The network is less than 500 locations away from the top spot, which is currently held by the 6,150-branch Wells Fargo.
“We’ve seen firsthand the many ways the CO-OP Shared Branch network has strengthened Northwest credit unions’ member relationships through easier account access,” said Jason Smith, the Northwest Credit Union Association’s Vice President, Strategic Resources. “This news further demonstrates the value of membership, showing consumers that credit unions’ cooperative structure enables them to offer the highest standards of service and convenience.”
Carlyn Roy, President/CEO of Washington-based TAPCO Credit Union, emphasizes the benefits of the Shared Branch network for credit unions large and small. “From my perspective, there is huge value in what the network has done for credit unions of all asset sizes, and members nationwide,” she said. “TAPCO has only four branches, but shared branching gives us a greater ability to serve our members, especially when they travel.”
Roy’s personal anecdote further illustrates this point. “When my boys were in middle school, they opened their first accounts at a credit union. When they went off to college, they kept their memberships at the same credit union. Shared branching gave the credit union the ability to retain them as members. Since college, they’ve lived in over a dozen states, and have never had to open an account at another financial institution.”
“As a smaller credit union, the Shared Branch network helps put us on a more level playing field with big banks,” Roy explains. “It’s one of the most unique things about the credit union industry – demonstrating that we truly are cooperatives. While credit unions are competitive with each other, we also have the ability to help each other.”
Jim Morrell, President/CEO of Washington-based Peninsula Community FCU, echoes this enthusiasm for the cooperative principles that credit unions put into action through shared branching. “Consumers often are attracted to Bank of America or Chase Bank due to brand and name recognition. What stronger way to raise awareness for the Credit Union Movement than by sharing this cooperation amongst cooperatives?”
“This growth benefits the credit union industry and individual credit unions by giving our members confidence in the overall credit union system,” he explains. “The CO-OP Shared Branch network is a proven channel that supports members’ needs to perform certain transactions in person.”