SAINT PAUL, Minn.–Affinity Plus FCU was already several months into a “Ditch Your Bank” campaign when Bank Transfer Day hit, and the event helped augment what was already robust growth.

More than anything, said CEO Kyle Markland, Bank Transfer Day heightened awareness. “We have continued to see record member growth month after month,” he explained. “We started to experience it even before Bank Transfer Day; if you look at our membership, we’re at about 16% annualized growth.”

Markland said new memberships have not plateaued or declined at all. Before Bank Transfer Day, a normal month meant about 1,000 new members, but since that time Affinity Plus has been netting closer to 2,000 per month.

In August more than 3,000 new members joined, with another 2,400 in September, though Markland said that the $1.5-billion credit union usually sees an uptick during those months anyway because of members joining at branches on college campuses at the start of the academic year. Affinity Plus entered 2012 just short of 139,000 members and Markland said it expects to finish the year with more than 162,000.


More Than Just Checking Accounts

Members aren’t just signing up for checking accounts, either.

“The new members are coming in and bringing in a level of products and services close to what a five-year member would have,” Markland said. “They’re bringing on average 5.8 products and services per member, so our loan-to-share still remains close to 100%.”

While APFCU normally does $400 million to 500 million in mortgages each year, 2011 saw it underwriting nearly $700 million in mortgages (about 5,100 loans, said Markland), and the CU has already sold close to $600 million in mortgages for 2012. Markland said that new member loans are “pretty evenly mixed between mortgages and car loans.”

Because Affinity Plus has been able to lend so much, it has largely not had to worry about pricing to chase off deposits or not wanting to accept them. Markland said the Affinity Plus is taking a long view of the recent growth, and has opened several new branches to expand into new markets, including the northern suburb of Roseville, which is the biggest branch, serves the most members and sees the most deposits.

More than 100 new employees were hired over the last year, and Markland expects another 100 to come onboard over the course of the next 12 months.

The next year will also see Affinity Plus enter the second phase of the “Ditch Your Bank” campaign. “A lot of phase one was tongue-in-cheek humor and was pretty aggressive,” he explained. “Instead of being so much about how bad the banks are, we’re starting to change it to be more of who we are and what we stand for, instead of really picking on the banks.”

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