Attendees listened to four panelists share their stories of successful programs their credit unions have rolled out during the Small Credit Union Roundtable at the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference Sunday in Washington, D.C.
After the panel discussion, panelists answered questions and gave more details about the programs during small group discussions.
The success stories included:
Offering mortgages. The only credit union in a town of 5,000, Town and Country Credit Union offers a mortgage program that allows many of its members the opportunity to own a home.
“Many members had a hard time getting a mortgage,” says Denny Siemers, CEO of the $30 million asset credit union in Harlan, Iowa. “It was wonderful to see them get their first house.”
The key to developing the program was selecting and partnering with a vendor that met the credit union’s needs, Siemers says, along with having policies in place.
“If you have these in line, you’ll have the peace of mind that you’re doing good things for your credit union and your members,” Siemers says.
Serving Hispanics. Developing trust is critical to forming relationships with Hispanic members, particularly immigrant populations who do not have access to financial services.
“Most of these folks are immigrants who have come from countries where financial institutions are not trusted,” says Erick Orellana, CEO of $5.4 million asset Comunidad Latina Federal Credit Union in Santa Ana, Calif.
The credit union has worked with community organizations, churches, and the school district in Santa Ana to establish that trust, Orellana says.
Comunidad Latina also offers Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) lending. Often, these immigrants do not have a Social Security number, and while they may be able to open accounts at banks and other credit unions, they are not able to obtain a loan, and as a result, turn to predatory and payday lenders.
“They don’t know they can choose not to pay,” says Orellana, who notes 95% of the credit union’s loans are ITIN loans. “We’re providing a lifeline.”
Engaging through the CUNA Member Activation Program (MAP). Participating in MAP allows credit unions an avenue to spread information to its members. It’s also a way to increase member engagement in other credit union efforts, says Amy Brodersen, CEO at $34 million asset Family Focus Federal Credit Union in Omaha, Neb.
“Members will open the message because it comes from you and they trust you,” Brodersen says.
Sending MAP messages is simple and can be done by anyone in the credit union, whether it’s the CEO or a member of the front-line staff, and often the information is timely. A recent MAP campaign on cybersecurity was particularly relevant for the credit union’s members.
“Members are engaged in it because they hear about the topic in the news and their cards were being compromised,” she says.
Serving the underserved. Located near the cotton fields and oil basin in Texas, Caprock Federal Credit Union serves many migratory workers and their families, who often
“We offer them real solutions for where they are in life,” says Dale Hansard, CEO of the $31 million asset credit union in Lamesa, Texas.
An example is the “Let Us Fix Your Credit” Loan. Many of these members make around $25,000 a year, but it’s not uncommon to see them receive $8,000 to $10,000 tax returns, Hansard says. However, they’ll often come to the credit union midyear seeking funds for other obligations, such as medical debts or buying new school clothes.
The loan not only gives them access to funds they need, Hansard says, but it also begins a conversation about budgeting and what steps to take to avoid the need in the future.
“We plant a seed,” Hansard says. “They set up a savings plan for the future.”
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