SAN DIEGO-Of Navy Federal Credit Union's 220 branches worldwide, 15 are in San Diego County and more are planned, according to Steven Romano.

Romano, a retired Navy rear admiral and current EVP of branch operations for the $48-billion CU, said Navy Federal is "excited" about the possibility of Navy personnel growth in San Diego over the next three years. Although Navy Federal is headquartered on the opposite coast, San Diego has long been a Navy town, and the U.S. Navy has said there might be up to 8,100 more sailors stationed here, bringing with them approximately 6,700 family member, including newly commissioned ships as well as ships being moved from other bases.

"We are growing, and plan to build and relocate 20 branches per year, some of which will be in San Diego," he said. "We want to increase our ability to serve our members and provide local access to branching."

A Navy Federal branch at March Air Reserve Base in nearby Riverside will be open in June, followed by a branch in Mission Viejo, Calif. in August. The CU also is eyeing expansion in Northern California, with a branch slated for Travis Air Force Base,

"We are looking at Lemon Grove and San Marcos [two cities in San Diego County] for future branch locations," Romano said. "Our ATM network in San Diego and Riverside counties has 56 locations, plus there are numerous ATMs that participate in the shared branching network."

In addition, Navy FCU is relocating its Miramar branch from the Marine Corps location. The plan is to build a new branch near the commissary and exchange in December or January. "We are renovating branches to continue to provide modern and functional structures," he said. "The goals are growth, expansion and refresh. These are exciting times for Navy Federal and San Diego."

According to Romano, running Navy Federal's San Diego County branches is no different from operating in any other large market. "We built our branch network to provide access and convenience to the large number of members we have there. It is no different from any other presence. Our priority is to serve our members, which we do by offering superb products and services. We have some new capabilities we recently rolled out, including scan deposits to enable check deposits from a PC or a phone."


How Navy Federal Markets

Navy Federal has some communication with other San Diego-area CUs, Romano continued, especially interacting with its fellow credit unions at functions that involve the military in San Diego.

To get the word out to potential members Navy Federal markets online and it appears in local base newspapers that promote its specials. Romano said there is a focus on encouraging family members of Navy Federal members to join, with the help of occasional incentives.

The CU has Facebook "targets" in San Diego-targeted posts such as for a tent sale.

"Only San Diego members see those posts," he said. "We set up tables for ships returning to San Diego. Our staff welcomes people back and explains the benefits of the credit union."

Navy Federal also is active in numerous local events, such as the Coronado Bay Bridge Run, the Tierrasanta Patriots Parade, and the Fleet Week Festival, which is coming up in September.

"Once we get people in the door, one of Navy Federal's greatest strengths is the people who work in our branch networks," Romano said. "They go above and beyond to help members. You don't leave Navy Federal until you are satisfied. We talk about our history of service dating back 80 years, that we don't have shareholders, that every member is equal, and that we will be with the members for their entire life."

Each market Navy Federal operates in is "a little bit different," Romano said, but the core business of auto loans, mortgages and consumer loans, is "largely the same."

"The difference is the events we participate in that are locally focused," he said. "We are attuned to our members' specific needs, we know our members and our desire is to serve them in the best possible way."

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