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A database of membership surveys conducted by the Cornerstone Credit Union League provides a trove of invaluable insights regarding the financial habits of literally tens of thousands of credit union members. Among other things, the data reveals – on an aggregate level – why members choose institutions other than credit unions to meet their primary savings and borrowing needs.

We believe these findings can help you better understand and meet the financial needs of your members. So here, in the “voice of the member,” is the essence of what’s happening:


As credit union members, roughly 40% of us keep a majority of our savings at a place other than our credit union. For the most part, we use a bank for this, or a savings and loan, a brokerage/mutual fund, or a company savings plan or 401K. And why do we choose to keep most of our savings elsewhere? Our top two reasons are that we have found better interest rates and because other sources are more conveniently located. Several other reasons play smaller, but still important roles in our decision: namely, we already have payroll deduction elsewhere and we’re either loyal to another institution or are simply in the habit of using them.


For about 60% of us, our primary lender is not our credit union. Instead, we go to a bank or a car manufacturer/finance company for most of our loans. As for the main reasons we go elsewhere, first and foremost is that we’re able to find a lower interest rate. Next is because the loan application process at another lender is easier and more convenient. Finally, approximately one in ten of us have another primary borrowing source due to loyalty or just plain old habit.

You as the reader may now be saying to yourself, “Our credit union has competitive rates…we have good locations…our loan process is fast and simple.” Whether or not your members fall in line with the findings above, the real takeaway from this research is clear: perception is reality in the minds of your members. Therefore, is your credit union taking the right steps toward truly communicating all the benefits you offer?

Thanks for listening to the voice of the member!

This guest blog post was written by Doug Foister, the director of research at Cornerstone Credit Union League. 

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