“What are you going to do in 10 years when small credit unions are gone and you are out of a job?”
This is what a prominent leader in the credit union industry said to me five years ago when I told them I was hanging up my hat as a Vice President at a credit union and starting a marketing consultancy business to serve the small credit union market.
Many people think small credit unions are going away and that they aren’t the ones making the impact in our market. That they are irrelevant and have no place in today’s market. I have heard this from various trade associations, vendors, and even other credit unions.
Today, small credit unions make up over 70% of the credit union industry. As of April 1, there were 5,492 total credit unions in the US. 3,881 of them are under $100 million in assets, what our industry categorizes as “small.” What does it mean when people are wishing away a large majority of the market?
I want to argue that these “small” credit unions have some of the largest stories to tell, largest impact on their members, and greatest brands of any in the industry. Five years after starting TwoScore, small credit union leaders across the nation regularly contact me saying how empowered and excited they are to tell their brand story and see the success of ALL small credit unions catch fire.
The financial landscape truly is an ecosystem. By definition, an ecosystem is something (such as a network of businesses) considered to resemble an ecological ecosystem especially because of its complex interdependent parts. The credit union industry is an ecosystem within itself. There are large credit unions, small credit unions, large community credit unions, small community credit unions, large SEG-based credit unions, small SEG-based credit unions. Credit unions focused on supporting small businesses. Credit unions focused on underserved communities. The important part of an ecosystem is the balance achieved by al of these interconnected elements being in place.
Want to help the credit union industry succeed? Don’t discount the small credit unions, their impact and their leaders who work tirelessly every day to build communities, serve members and their employees. Support them as their peers. We are one industry with thousands of these interconnected parts. Smaller ones succeeding will help all credit unions.