What’s driving membership growth at 3 Calif. CUs

August 31, 2015

ONTARIO, Calif. (8/31/15)--Three California credit unions cite the importance of select employee groups (SEG), rebranding with increased advertising, and indirect lending as among the reasons for their strong membership growth, according to the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues.

Competitive products and services and the growing economy don’t tell the whole story, said the league on its website. It interviewed three credit unions with high membership growth:

  • America’s Christian CU, Glendora, Calif., ranked No. 2 in its asset category on CUNA’s member growth chart, with a 45% membership increase to 66,000. Two of its top 17 SEGs are driving its growth, said Fawn Imboden, the credit union’s vice president and chief development officer. Community involvement by five employee teams is helping attract new members, many of them concerned about societal issues and Christian values, she told the league. The credit union serves churches, church members, schools and ministry organizations nationwide. Eighty percent of its loans are in member business lending;
  • Golden 1 CU, Sacramento, Calif., was ranked No. 7 on CUNA’s member growth chart in its asset category, with a 7.5% increase in growth to 717,000 members. Its brand relaunch last year, coupled with increased advertising, drew new members, Erica Taylor, vice president of communications and community relations, told the league. It is also targeting its outreach, with Generation X and Y making up most of the new members. “They’re in the market to buy homes and new cars,” Taylor said.  She also attributed attention in the local news media when Golden 1 announced it acquired naming rights for a new stadium housing the Sacramento Kings basketball team; and
  • At First Tech FCU, Beaverton, Ore., membership growth is coming from multiple areas, including indirect lending, said Stephen Owen, chief retail and marketing officer. The credit union represents employees of technology giants Microsoft, Amazon, Cisco, Intel, Hewlett Packard, and others. Roughly 30% of its new members are through indirect auto lending from several states, but SEG relationships still trump other methods of growth, he told the league. First Tech works to retain new members as well. For new SEG employees relocating from a foreign country, it sets up banking services before they arrive. Its onboarding process for new members includes debit card activation, online and mobile banking, privacy policies and more. It also doesn’t “over-message” its members, but sends only relevant messages based on background triggers, he said.

California credit unions overall averaged a 5% membership increase the past couple of years, the league said.