MADISON, Wis. (10/6/08)--The economy’s troubles present an opportunity for credit unions, according to several Filene Research Institute Fellows, who are blogging on the economy. The bloggers comprise a panel of research fellows in Portland, Ore. They recently answered some questions on the blog about credit unions and how they can help the economy for “September Madness.” The “madness” mimics “March Madness” collegiate basketball brackets with major financial institutions moving their way to a “stressful sixteen and awkward eight,” according to Filene. All of the bloggers encouraged credit unions to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the faltering economy. “I’m bullish about the opportunity for credit unions,” said Dorian Stone, McKinsey and Co. partner. Jim Wilcox, University of California-Berkeley professor, agreed. “For credit unions, it’s going to be raining members,” he said. Credit unions need very aggressive and more sophisticated marketing to add members, Stone said, acknowledging that “there’s a blind spot in the media that affects credit unions.” “Every credit union should call up their local paper and ask to have lunch to explain the key issues about the crisis, then explain how credit unions can play a [role],” said Robert Manning, professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The fellows also expressed concerns. Peter Turfano, Harvard Business School professor, said he worries that as consumers make a flight to quality, credit unions will make a flight to safety by not serving new groups. Credit unions should be convinced to take advantage of the market by knowing that “people who take out loans with a credit union are less likely to default because of the affinity,” Stone said. Regarding regulatory fallout, “the tax advantage is going to be back on the table when this is all done, and if credit unions can show what they did both before and during the crisis, they will be in better stead,” Turfano said. For more information, use the link.