ONTARIO, Calif. (5/8/14)--Despite improvements to the economy, loan-to-share ratios have remained weak at California and Nevada based credit unions, prompting one credit union leader to implore member-owned institutions to step up their marketing efforts moving forward.
Dwight Johnston, chief economist for the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, reports that both California and Nevada have fallen behind the rest of the country in loan-to-share ratios and membership growth (In the News May 7).
"We don't have first-quarter numbers yet, but we're hearing from most credit unions the first quarter was a bit on the slow side," Johnston said.
California and Nevada credit unions have seen some improvements of late, especially in California where membership growth climbed 1.3% last year, grabbing hold of 25% of the state's population.
That mark falls well short of the national rate of membership growth last year of 3.4%.
While the answer to this growth problem could be different for all credit unions, to help member-owned institutions in both states catch up to their national counterparts, Johnston offers a variety of measures to take.
First, credit union leadership should identify the job sectors in which the majority of their members work, whether that be construction, manufacturing, education, and so on.
"Pay particular attention to the gains since the recession lows," Johnston said. "Some of the sectors are growing strongly, and the outlook for future gains in business/professional and health care are especially bright."
Johnston also recommends that credit unions focus on job sectors within close proximity to their branches. With a bit of research, perhaps through the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' website, credit unions can identify where there are gains to be had.
Lastly, Johnston suggests implementing a target marketing campaign.
"For those who don't have the resources, there are organizations that can work with you to develop strategies and materials to accomplish this," Johnston said.
"The message is clear," Johnston added. "California and Nevada credit unions are lagging. Given the bright prospects ahead, there is no reason this should become a permanent conditions. It's time to dig deep."