PLEASANTON, Calif.–In the San Francisco Bay Area, $3.7-billion Patelco Credit Union is still seeing a “Bank Transfer Day Effect” long after the actual day itself.

According to Alison Jones, VP of marketing, Patelco has seen 25% to 50% more members each month, year-over-year, from January through September.

“The numbers have been consistent,” she told Credit Union Journal. “October 2011 was when we saw a big jump in new members, and we averaged 3,900 new members from October through December. For the first nine months of 2012 we have averaged 2,900 per month.”

Patelco recently hosted a series of focus groups and Jones said the consensus was people “just don’t like banks.”

“Bank Transfer Day was all about letting people know their options and credit unions benefitted from that,” she assessed. “Credit unions are seen as a better alternative as a financial institution, especially for people who do not trust banks. We are still seeing anti-bank and anti-Wall Street sentiment.”

The influx of new members has helped Patelco build its loan portfolio, Jones continued, with a “significant” year-over-year increase in car loans. In the first eight months of this year Patelco has booked 9,000 car loans, up from 5,500 in the same eight months last year, a 62% increase. New checking accounts are up 20%, and Jones said mortgage loans are up “tremendously,” but added it is difficult to ascertain how much impact new members have had on mortgages as that category is up across the board due to interest rates.

 

The Bottom Line

“The bottom line is the new members that are joining are active,” she said. “They are not just joining the credit union because it is a 'cool’ thing to do, they see the value of it.”

As the members continued to pour in well into 2012, Jones said Patelco developed an onboarding program that starts with a letter, then six weeks of sequential e-mailing. PCU dedicates branch staff to call the new members to make sure they received their new debit cards, can access online banking and to give them a “real person” to talk to and establish a relationship.

The new members “pretty much fit the profile of members who discovered us long ago,” reported Jones. “There is a segment out there that still does not know what a credit union is, but the real benefit of Bank Transfer Day is so many people found out credit unions are an alternative to banks. And, even better, it was organic. Rather than credit unions going out and talking about themselves, it just happened.”

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