Op-ed shows how small CUs can see success by finding niche

September 21, 2018

Finding its niche is the “secret sauce” to success for a small credit union in 2018, wrote Gary Parker, chair of CUNA’s Small Credit Union Committee Friday. Parker, who also serves as president/CEO of 1st University CU, Waco, Texas, wrote an op-ed in Credit Union Times, the second part of a series.

“It’s not the upper hand in all facets of financial services, of course – even billion-dollar credit unions struggle with scale and focus, which should give you an idea of how important this is for smaller credit unions – but rather an advantage in one narrow area that gives you the ability to stand out,” Parker wrote.

His piece names several examples of credit unions that have seen success after reevaluating its function and shaping its strategy going forward with a clear focus.

Examples he cites include:

  • Newrizons FCU, Hoquiam, Wash., adapted once the parent company of its select employee group closed the nearby facilities, becoming an “anchor” in its community for anyone facing difficult financial situation. With an emphasis on financial counseling and education, the credit union has seen  its loan portfolio grow and increasingly positive return on assets; and
  • HALLCO Community CU, Gainesville, Ga., changed policies to offer auto loans that reflected consumer preferences (streamlined processes, promotion of used car loans), and has seen its auto loan share of its loan portfolio climb to 78% (up from 59%), leading its total loan portfolio to grow to $54 million (up from $18 million) and assets up to $87 million (up from $28 million).

Parker also notes that CUNA will host its first-ever Small Credit Union Strategic Planning Workshop at the 2019 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference.