Thrills, Chills and Teller Tills

DALLAS-Neighborhood Credit Union is counting on help from Batman, Mr. Freeze, and Superman to reach out to youth this summer.

Those thrill rides named after comic book characters can be found at Six Flags over Texas, and attract thousands of young adults each summer, including 3,500 who work at the theme park. NCU was just named Six Flags' exclusive banking partner, and CEO Chet Kimmell believes the credit union's newest SEG will help the CU significantly lower its average membership age.

"We are not waiting for young adults to come to us; that is not winning proposition," said Kimmell. The $275-million CU is already presenting at Six Flags' employee orientation programs, but will also occasionally have booths on the park's ground's to speak with teenagers and their parents.

The CEO said NCU entered into discussions about the arrangement when the park's director of corporate relations attended a community event hosted by the credit union.

Six Flags encourages its employees to have direct deposit, and NCU is using the opportunity to become many of the employees first financial, Kimmell said. "For many of these young people, this will be their first financial relationship. We want to be able to get them in the door and grow with them."

In February, NCU began signing up employees from Six Flags and its sister attraction, Hurricane Harbor Water Park, and Kimmell said it is too soon to determine what challenges working with a theme park presents. "But I can tell you we have been signing hundreds of new members. The challenge really has been getting processes in place to bring all these young people on board."

The goal is to make at least 50% of the Arlington, Texas-based park's employees credit union members by the end of the season, Kimmell said. "We want to get a large number signed up because they are seasonal. We will open savings and checking accounts, but we are not going after balances. A lot of them are starting out and have not received their first paycheck. This is a longer-term play."

Kimmell understands there are limitations to serving members that are seasonally employed. "There will be some things that we cannot do from a lending perspective. But a lot of the youth will have parental backing. Some may be going to college or graduating from high school and taking their first job. We will try to understand each individual's situation."

The credit union also enjoys some perks from the relationship, getting free admission tickets to hand out to its staff for jobs well done. NCU also plans to hold its annual company picnic for its 115 employees at Six Flags, which will host the CU at a discount.

Kimmell noted it won't be hard to get staff to volunteer to promote the credit union at Six Flags. "It won't be like twisting people's arms to go visit a manufacturing facility."