EliFORT WORTH, Texas-There's a place where pricing and philosophy intersect, and that's where credit unions need to be, all the time.
"We have learned that we have to sitck to our core values and the basics and stick by our members to offer the best benefits possible," said Eli Vazquez, SVP/CFO of American Airlines FCU. That's what we learned from the recession, and if we continue to do that, that's why people are moving their money to credit unions."
Other related lessons, he said, include:
• "We must continue to be an exceptional value for our members."
• "We need to be prudent and have adequate reserves for loan loss."
• "We need to manage our exposure properly."
At AAFCU, the focus is on the share draft and checking account. "Checking growth has been very strong," he said. "Members will continue to see us offer value to attract tem and be the PFI."
To that end, AAFCU rolled out a high-interest checking account at the middle of last year. It is paying 2.25% on checking if the member meets certain requirements, such as having e-statements. American Airlines FCU also rebates foreign ATM fees if the member has a certain number of debit card transactions per month.
"We're helping members to see the value of doing business with us," said Vazquez.
Member Value Statement
For example, AAFCU has created a Member Value Statement that goes out to all members showing them how much money they saved/made by doing business with the CU instead of a bank, and how much more they could be saving/making if they moved other accounts over to the credit union, as well. The truly unique thing about the strategy: each statement is tailored to the member-no blanket statements about how much a "sample" person could be saving/making, but actually tying back to which specific accounts that individual member has.
"Another lesson we have learned: we have to do a lot of blocking and tackling, looking at how we price our products every single day to provide sustainable value," Vazquez said. "If we do that, we don't have to be chasing every single move in the market. We take steps to return value to our members every single day, so they don't have to be be chasing a fad or temporary promotion."
And the ultimate give-back-the annual bonus-is structured to reward members based on the depth of their relationship with the credit union.