AUSTIN, Texas (3/4/15)--Consumers love the local flavor that credit unions provide, but lack of awareness and some misplaced perceptions may be preventing many of them from making the switch to community-based financial institutions.
If all things were equal, two out of three U.S. adults (66%) would rather bank at credit unions or community banks than one of the big national banks--yet only 23% of consumers who are not currently banking at a credit union or community said they are at least somewhat likely to switch in 2015, according to a new study.
The 2015 Consumer Banking Insights Study--commissioned by BancVue on behalf of nearly 300 community financial institutions (CFIs)--found that a lack of products (11%) and awareness (11%) are two reasons consumers cite for not using a CFI as their primary institution. More than 1,000 U.S. adults were surveyed online.
According to the study, for 71% of U.S. adults, features such as free checking, ATM fee refunds and access to the latest banking products are more important when it comes to choosing a financial institution. Fully 31% of megabank customers said they want to use a local credit union or community bank but feel that those institutions lack the products they need.
However, according to a recent survey by Bankrate.com, nearly three-quarters of credit unions (72%) offer free checking, compared with only 38% of the largest banks in the United States (News Now Feb. 27).
Also, 97% of credit unions responding to CUNA's 2014 Technology Spending Survey offer online banking, and just over 40% of members who have checking accounts are signed up for online banking (News Now May 28, 2014). Credit unions have been quick off the block in offering mobile banking with 60% of respondents offering the service.
Lack of awareness is also a hurdle. For example, 34% of consumers who don't have an account with a credit union or small bank said they don't use a local financial institution because they haven't thought about it (30%) or are unaware of their options (11%), suggesting a major need for stronger outreach and marketing efforts on the part of community financial institutions.