Credit Union Affairs

What’s The Secret To Unitus’ Healthy Growth?

Steven Stapp

Unitus has been growing rapidly.

The recent announcement of our Gresham branch opening marks the fourth new Unitus branch to open in the past 24 months.

Each new branch allows us to meet more of the members who make up our thriving community of go-getters. Thanks to our collaborative relationship with you, our members, we recently launched a few member-focused programs and innovations:

  • Go Savings, which breaks the old rules of savings and rewards savers with an incredible 2.50% APY* starting rate
  • Unitus Card Guard, our new mobile app that helps keep your Unitus card secure, giving you controls such as spending restrictions, notifications of card activity, and the power to turn your card on/off instantly
  • The 50/50 referral program, which gives $50 to every member who refers a new member, plus another $50 to the new member who was referred. Runs through October 31.

As a member of our financial cooperative, you each have a voice. When you use that voice by providing us feedback and communicating your own personal stories, you help us all become more financially healthy. Thank you for that.

Meanwhile, in the midst of this growth, it has become harder to avoid the increasing number of headlines about mega banks (and plain big banks) closing branches and laying off thousands.

This is deeply sobering news as hardworking people lose their jobs through no fault of their own. News like this motivates us to work harder to fulfill the transformational promise of member-focused, transparent finances.

How We Make Strategic Decisions To Support Our Members

We never want to lose sight of the fact that the biggest reason for our growth is our unending commitment to putting our members first. So we wanted to shed light on how we make strategic decisions to support you, our members.

Of our four recent branches, maybe none has been more highly anticipated than our Gresham branch.

Through the varied communication channels we keep open with our members, many asked us to open a branch in Gresham. Your voices were heard!

As the fourth largest city in Oregon and a hub of growing business and culture, we are thrilled to be in this community and the neighboring areas to serve you personally.

This branch will provide coverage for people throughout East Multnomah County, complementing our previous three branches which focused more on inner Portland, lining the neighborhoods of Multnomah Village, Sellwood-Moreland, and North Williams.

Members visiting these newer branches will notice a new direction from our previous branches: they each take up significantly less space than the branches before them.

While traditional branches required more room to help more members complete more transactions, this space has become less essential as more members have transitioned to online and mobile banking. (It is true, after all, that our mobile app offers most of the convenience of the branch right from your pocket).

The new branches not only consume a smaller footprint, but allow for a more personally focused environment with members. They allow our staff to encourage members and coach them through their challenges and goals, developing a trusted relationship over time. That’s the foundation of our service philosophy.

Success Is The Natural Effect of Helping Our Members

Our member-focused business model means that our success results not from a desire to grow for the sake of growth, but rather as a natural effect of helping our members improve their finances. It stems from our core goal which is to better serve our members.

People are becoming smarter, faster in today’s information age. They are realizing the financial and lifestyle benefits of the cooperative system versus the more impersonal, transactional banking model of yore.

Our favorite member is the one who has a curiosity to learn and grow, and who speaks to us to let us know how we can serve them better.

With a Community 90,000+ Strong, We Get a Lot of Member Feedback

How do we allocate precious organizational resources toward the highest good for our members?

As we identify member needs, employees throughout Unitus keep a running list of ideas for future projects, products, and services to better serve members.

Starting with that wide funnel, we filter each idea, big and small, through two critical questions to determine which will maximize benefit for our members.

  • How will this idea improve our members’ finances?

Will it give them more back in savings through accounts or certificates of deposit? Will it help them save on a Home Equity Line so they can build bigger and better things at home? Will it help them buy an extra holiday gift for the ones they love?

  • How will this idea improve our members’ lives outside of finances?

Will it make members’ lives easier? Will it allow them to do the same things faster and more conveniently? Will it cut down on their commute time? Will it provide them a financial education tool they can use on their own time to empower themselves?

With that, we distill each idea down to its core member impact in order to embrace those ideas that will bring the most positive change in our members’ lives.

Communicating With Members and Making Decisions

Two other key measures we use to communicate with members and make decisions are the Net Promoter Score and online reviews.

Net Promoter Score provides a regular feedback loop with our members through surveys, which allows us to recognize key member needs and act on them.

Online reviews, such as through Yelp and Google, allow us to interact with members instantly and respond personally to member needs.

This upcoming year will continue to bring exciting changes that will benefit our members both financially and personally. Some digital enhancements, in particular, will make life easier for members.

In the meantime, don’t stop dreaming up new ways to grow!

Your well-being is our beacon, and we will continue seeking ways to help you go farther in your own amazing journey.

*Rates are variable and subject to change. APY effective as of 6/11/2018. The annual percentage yield (APY) specified for a tier will apply only to the portion of the account balance that is within that tier. Rates and their corresponding balance tiers are: 2.50%APY ($0-$2,499.99), 2.50%-2.00% ($2,500-$4,999.99), 2:00%-1:20% ($5,000-$24,999.99), 1.20%-0.85% ($25,000-$49,999.99), 0.85%-0.55% ($50,000-$99,999.99), 0.55%-0.25% ($100,000 or more). Available to consumer and trust accounts only. Fees can reduce earnings. Limit one Go Savings per Unitus membership. Subject to Reg D transaction limits. To open a new membership account, a $10 one-time membership fee and $5 Prime Share deposit are required. Insured by NCUA.

Posted By: Steve Stapp

About the Author: Steve joined Unitus as President/CEO in September of 2016. He guides strategic leadership for the Credit Union by partnering with the Board of Directors, leadership team, and staff in establishing long-range goals and strategic initiatives that provide superior member value.

Steve enjoys promoting credit union systems in developing nations as board chair of the World Council of Credit Unions, helping expand the credit union network domestically and internationally as a board member of the CO-OP Shared Branching Network, and educating people throughout the credit union industry with regular presentations on strategic planning, growth initiatives, and more.

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