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More CUs report growth topic alive in media
MADISON, Wis. (12/19/11)--The media continued serving up credit unions in a smorgasbord of positive stories on three fronts: credit unions' record growth related to Bank Transfer Day; credit unions' record-breaking high scores on a new customer satisfaction survey; and advice/comparisons of credit unions' services vs. those of banks.

Many articles had key input from state leagues and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). Leagues were armed with state-level statistics reflecting growth in their states. Examples are five separate articles featuring credit unions in Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, Wisconsin and Minnesota discussing their membership and asset growth. Among them:

  • "Credit-union customers spiked as banks floated fees" in the Orlando Sentinel (Dec. 8) offered up the League of Southeastern Credit Unions' (LSCU) statistics.  "It's no secret that credit unions have had many more people calling, checking out their websites and stopping in branches," LSCU spokesman Mike Bridges told the Sentinel. It also cited CUNA's figures. Mark Wolff, CUNA senior vice president and chief communications officer, said in the article that the statistics demonstrated the "dissatisfaction many consumers felt about their banks."
  • An article in Daily Record/Sunday News (Dec. 10), entitled "Credit unions, banks seeing growth," featured the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association and three York and Mechanicsburg, Pa.-area credit unions--Members First FCU, Heritage Valley FCU, and First Capital FCU--discussing their growth.
  • "Credit union industry sees increase in business in 2011," an article in the Wisconsin State Journal (Dec. 13), noted  that "it is boom time for credit unions across the U.S. and Wisconsin's credit unions are enjoying some of that success." In it, CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel noted that the banking industry crisis that began in late 2008 didn't prompt many bank customers to switch. "But more recently when (increased fees) started to hit pocketbooks, you could say it's the straw that broke the camel's back,"  he said.
  • "Thousands of Minnesotans move money to credit unions," published in the Twin Cities Daily Planet (Dec. 11), was one of a three-part series on banks, credit unions and the unbanked in Minnesota.  The Minnesota Credit Union Network told the newspaper credit unions in the state gained 11,000 new members after the end of September and that members save on average about $76 a year.
  • A Dec. 15 article in the Jamestown (N.Y.) Post-Journal, "Credit Unions Gain New Accounts on 'Switch Day,'" outlined growth of New York credit unions, with the Credit Union Association of New York estimating the state's credit unions added at least 39,000 members and grew $270 million in deposits after Bank of America unveiled its now-rescinded $5 monthly fee on debit cards. In it Affinity One and Southern Chautauqua FCU noted their growth and the response to Bank Transfer Day.
For stories on credit unions achieving a record-breaking high score in the 2011 American Customer Satisfaction Index, the headlines tell it all:  "Credit Unions Blow Big Banks Away in Customer Satisfaction Survey" (Business Insider Dec. 13); "Credit unions trounce big banks in consumer survey" (TD Ameritrade Dec. 15) and "Credit unions soar in customer satisfaction survey (Winston-Salem Journal Dec. 14) are three examples.

"These results are consistent with survey results done through the years that show people really appreciate the value of credit union membership," North Carolina Credit Union League President/CEO John Radebaugh told the Winston-Salem newspaper. "Some people might argue that negative headlines about banks helped drive the credit union numbers up even further this year, but it's our view that credit unions are doing the right things to earn the loyalty and trust of their members."

And finally, there are still items circulating advice related to fees and comparing services. A columnist who wrote "Sick of Fees? Here Are Some Banking Options" ( Dec. 15), said that "For people who want a full-service bank, but don't want to pay huge fees, credit unions are a great choice." Also, "given the choice between high-cost banks and lower-cost credit unions, it's not surprising that many customers are moving their money."

And a segment on KSL Newsradio (Dec. 14), "Should you use a bank or a credit union," advises consumers to determine first how they want to access their money. A credit union focuses on "providing savings and service to their members, which, in most cases, results in higher interest rates on savings accounts and lower interest rates on credit cards and loans," Preston Cochrane, CEO of AAA Fair Credit Foundation, told the station.
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