DENVER (8/3/15)--A recent Q&A in the Denver Business Journal featured five credit union executives who discussed the current competitive landscape for cooperative financial institutions.
Taking part in the interview were: John Rivera, senior vice president of Bellco CU, Greenwood Village, Colo.; John McCloy, president/CEO of Westerra CU, Denver; Gerry Agnes, president/CEO of Elevations CU, Boulder, Colo.; Todd Marksbury, CEO, Public Service CU, Denver; and Terry Leis, president/CEO of Credit Union of Colorado, Denver .
Participants answered three questions:
Regarding misconceptions about credit unions, all five CEOs agreed that some consumers believe that most credit unions have unworkably strict limitations on membership.
Historically credit unions served specific groups defined by their employment, religion or association, McCloy said. But federal regulations have changed to make not-for-profit financial cooperatives available to more people. Credit unions typically serve a geographic area, he said.
“Most credit unions are community-based now and some even have options for those outside their local market to join,” Agnes said.
On the changing needs of members, Agnes, McCloy and Leis said the digital revolution is reshaping the way consumers access their accounts. “Five years ago we never thought we would be able to accept a deposit that is made by simply taking a picture of the front and back of a check with a phone and sending it to us,” Leis said. “Banking has simply gotten faster, more convenient and safer.”
Leis and Marksbury also said that another misconception is that credit unions are not full-service financial institutions. “Modern credit unions have a complete lineup of products and services,” Leis said. “For example, our credit union offers mobile banking, remote check deposit, access to thousands of surcharge-free ATMs and business accounts for small businesses.”
McCloy noted that more members want to keep their money in local communities. “Consumers are more aware of who they are banking with,” he said. “They want to know how their accounts work and how they can save money working with local people. They want to understand financial services and choose the ones that fit their needs.”
As for new demographics, Rivera and McCloy said their credit unions were working to attract more millennials. “We've seen a 66% increase in the number of millennials who have joined Bellco in the past few years, and we expect that number to increase,” Rivera said.
Leis said while his credit unions strive to meet the needs of Gen Y, “credit unions are for everyone. We are always striving to meet the needs of all generations.”