Consumers Increasingly Find Credit Unions Offer More than Traditional Banks
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Quietly, a major shift is taking place in thefinancial services industry. Over the pastten years, roughly 28 million consumershave chosen to use a credit union as theirprimary bank. And credit unions continueadding members at a record pace.
Robert Corolla, CEO of BP Federal CreditUnion based in Houston Texas, attributesthis phenomenon to two things: betterrates for lenders and depositors, andcredit unions’ reputation for helping peoplerather than making a profit.
“Historically, credit unionsstarted as a grassrootsmovement of people,”explains Corolla. “Creditunions are still controlledby its members, for thebenefit of its members...not those of stockholders.”
BPFCU, like other credit unions isexperiencing a tremendous growth rate.“Awareness is growing. In the last eightyears, lending portfolio has tripled, andwe are planning for aggressivedeposit/member growth in the near future,” says Corolla, who has had a birds-eye view of the non-profit organization’sgrowth for 27 years. Starting as a teller, he worked his way up through the ranks to eventually be selected as CEO.
Corolla is only one of many BPFCU employees with a long tenure. More than half of the team members have been withthe credit union for a decade or more. “We experience very little turnover, due in large part to the tremendous sense ofpersonal fulfillment our team members feel as they serve the needs of the credit union members,” he explains. “Unliketraditional bank employees, our professionals are not just order takers; they become personal advocates for our members.Their only concern is how they can make a positive difference in someone’s financial life.”
A Lifetime of Savings and Personal Attention
BPFCU is sponsored by international energy giant BP, a major employer in the Houston area. Membership is open toall employees of BP and BP vendors, as well as their families, with as little as $25 to open an account. Once a member,eligibility is permanent.
Directed by a volunteer board of directors from the local communities, BPFCU is a non-profit organization. All earnings arecontinually plowed right back into the pockets of members in the form of savings and over-the-top services. For example,at the time of this writing, BPFCU money market accounts payed four times that of one of the largest financial servicescompanies in the world. And, it offered a 5-year CD paying 3%. Returns on interest-bearing checking accounts are alsohigher than average.
Borrowers benefit from competitive rates on credit cards and loans for homes, vehicles, personal use, recreationalactivities, home equity, home improvement, and lines-of-credit. They also enjoy the benefits of membership -- personalrelationships with BPFCU’s administration. Lending decisions are made locally, without unnecessary red tape, in order totake advantage of opportunities as they arise. “It’s never an interruption when a member wants to come and talk abouttheir financial needs,” says Corolla. “My office door is always open, and we encourage members to speak with us.”
Fortunately, this old-fashioned personal attention doesn’t mean members have to forgo the convenience of modernbanking practices. In addition to its three branches, BPFCU has 55,000 surcharge-free ATMs worldwide, online banking24/7, and mobile technology for check deposit via phone or tablet.
“Every new technology and service we introduce is chosen based on its potential toimprove the lives of our members,” says Corolla. “And we will continue to stay onthe leading edge so our members will always enjoy outstanding service that is easy,convenient and flexible.”
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