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Citing growth hurdles, Missoula Federal Credit Union set for rebrand

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Missoula Federal Credit Union continues expand into other parts of Montana, and come Sept. 3 it will have a name that no longer ties it to its home city – Clearwater Credit Union.

The $542 million-asset institution’s new name, board and management wrote, is the result of a lengthy contemplation and research process.

According to a statement from the CU, the current name “hinders a sense of belonging for non-Missoulians and limits our ability to demonstrate our values in new communities.”

“As part of our strategic planning process, we identified the need for growth in order to remain competitive for our members and bring values-based banking to more Montanans,” the credit union said. “As we grow, we need a name that ensures everyone knows they belong here.”

As reported by Credit Union Journal in February 2018, Missoula FCU expanded its field of membership from just three counties to 20 counties in western and central Montana.

Missoula FCU posted its strategic plan on its website as part of the explanation to members as to why its name needed to change as part of a growth strategy. In the 35-page document, the credit union outlined four interrelated challenges: a need for scale, “intense” local competition, an aging membership and competition from fintechs. To meet these challenges, the CU says it is “pivoting to a values-based strategy.”

“While we are committed to economic efficiency and product innovation, we will seek to differentiate our brand and member experience based on shared core values,” the strategic plan says in part. “Our members, and consumers in general, increasingly want to do business with organizations that share their core values. Money is power, and where one does his or her banking can become an important expression of his or her values.”

The credit union also posted a seven-page document of the findings of its naming research.

As part of the name change, Missoula Federal is not changing to a state charter, but it is deleting the word “federal.” It told its members this change makes the new name “shorter and more pleasing to say,” and hopefully staves off becoming an acronym. “That is, we hope to be known as Clearwater, not CCU,” it said.

Removing federal from the name also gives us the CU “flexibility” to convert to a state charter in the future if such a move works strategically, the credit union added.

In its most recent call report, Missoula Federal Credit Union had $973,444 in net income for the first quarter of this year, down 48% from the $1,889,786 in net income it reported in the same quarter one year earlier. As of March 31, 2019, its net worth ratio was 10.46% (“well capitalized”).

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