BUFFALO, N.Y. (12/10/14)--Like it or not, credit unions face a lot of competition in the financial services industry, and they're not only competing with banks.
With that in mind, Laurie Baker, board chair of the Credit Union Association of New York, sat down for a Q-and-A with The Buffalo News recently to talk about the direction the association is heading to meet that competition.
When asked what was top of mind for the association, Baker said what's most important right now is ensuring value to member credit unions and assisting them in encouraging relevance in the marketplace.
"There's so much going on in the financial industry right now, and competition is not just necessarily with financial institutions," said Baker, who's also chief operating officer for The Summit FCU, Rochester, N.Y., with $727 million in assets. "We'll be competing with all different kinds of businesses and products such as Apple Pay, Walmart and Google Wallet. We want to make sure that to the best of our ability, that credit unions are positioned for the future."
Baker, who is in her second year of service as league chair, was asked about where credit unions fit into the financial landscape; about the credit union tax status; and about competition between credit unions and banks.
But many of the questions revolved around advancements in banking technology and whether credit unions have evolved along with them.
"I think most credit unions realize that the different ways that the public and our members access information is changing, and it's critical that we have the tools in place to allow our members to function remotely," she said.
As for whether credit unions are adopting these new technologies, such as remote deposit capture, they are making strides, but there's room to grow, Baker said.
"In terms of online and mobile banking, I would say they are adopting mobile banking even more so than online banking," she said. "I think there's always a cost to invest (in technology), and I think it's likely more difficult for some credit unions, depending on their size, to afford the technology. So they'll have to be creative in the ways they access this."
Baker also was asked about shared branching, through which members can access their accounts through any credit union branch in a certain network, and whether that plays into a credit union's decision about how many branches to open.
"A credit union may have three of their own branches, but their members may have access to 2,000 or 3,000 nationwide," Baker answered. "By sharing those costs, it really allows credit unions to maybe more thoughtfully look at what their credit union needs in terms of branches, because their branches can access other institutions."