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CU Member Loyalty Strengthened by Offering Investment Program, Study Reveals
Thursday, August 1, 2013 5:40 AM

An investment relationship with a credit union increases member loyalty by more than 40 percent, which helps cement the overall member relationship and lock in additional years of revenue from credit union services, according to a white paper recently published by CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI).

“The Opportunity for credit unions in Investment and Life Insurance Services” based on research and analysis conducted by Kehrer-Saltzman and Associates, examines key demographic and financial characteristics of credit union households and how they currently use financial service providers. The analysis measures how well credit unions have penetrated this opportunity, and identifies the characteristics of credit union members who have purchased investments and life insurance at their credit union. More than 2,000 households with a credit union member were included in the research.

Research showed credit union members have a strong preference to obtain financial services from their credit union over banks and other providers. Almost two-thirds of credit union member households would prefer a credit union to be their primary place to bank if it offered a full range of financial services, according to the white paper.

“Credit unions have a significant opportunity to not only capture the investment and life insurance business of their members, but also become their primary depository institution by offering an investment program,” said Hendrix Niemann, director of practice and wealth management for CBSI.

According to the research, once a credit union has established itself as the primary financial institution for a household, it enjoys a wide loyalty advantage compared to households that look to a commercial bank for their financial services. While 44.2 percent of all credit union households say they would not consider switching to another financial institution, this number jumps to 63.2 percent if they have purchased investments from a credit union they consider to be their primary place to bank. More than half of the credit union member households that have purchased investments and life insurance at any credit union say they would not consider switching.

“This dramatic increase in member loyalty has substantial benefits to the credit union offering investments and life insurance beyond the fee income generated by such sales,” said Niemann.

According to the study, this loyalty leads to a reduction in the use of other financial services providers (particularly banks), a shift of financial assets to the credit union, and an increase in the income from deposit and lending relationships with members, both because they use more services and because they keep those relationships longer. This is the central reason why a focus on providing investment and life insurance services is a strategic imperative for credit unions, the study concluded.

In addition, the study revealed:

  • Trust in credit unions is strongly correlated with whether or not investment or insurance products have been purchased. Households that have purchased an investment or insurance product are 62 percent more likely to have a great deal of trust in credit unions than all U.S. households.
  • Seeking financial advice is another key driver of investment and insurance penetration. Among all credit union households that seek professional financial advice, fewer than 7 percent consider a credit union to be their primary source of advice. However, it appears credit union households that purchase investments or life insurance at a credit union are much more likely to turn to a credit union for advice with 33 percent saying they do see their credit union as their primary trusted advisor.
  • Credit union households are even more concerned about retirement planning than U.S. households in general – 15 percent more likely to choose “providing for retirement” as their top financial goal than the general population.

For more information, download the white paper from CBSI’s web site.